Image Prompt 045 Response – I’ve Already Trained One

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I chose the picture of the two cats on the piles of boxes for my twenty-minute sprint this week.  A quick copy edit later, this is the result. I hope you enjoy.

I’ve Already Trained One:

Angelica peered over the edge of the box she sat in, waiting to see when the door would open.  The large hairless cat would be back soon. She and Jonathan preferred to have eyes on the door when he did return.  It was good to know when the bumbling creature was around.

“Did we leave everything prepared?” Jonathan asked.

“We rearranged the items in the tiered beds room,” Angelica replied.

“And the large bed room?” Jonathan asked.

“Of course,” Angelica replied.  “I always do that first thing in the morning.

“Our dishes were properly filled today,” Jonathan mused.  “Yesterday was reasonably successful then.”

“He made more of the interesting noises than usual as he rearranged things,” Angelica reminded him.

“Yes, it is always a successful day when he verbalizes more,” Jonathan agreed.

“Do you think we need to particulate something?” Angelica asked.  “He’s especially verbal when we do that.”

“Not today.  We did one last week.”

“Best not to overdo that technique,” Angelica agreed.  “I was sure to lay on his pants today.”

“We must give him whatever added warmth we can manage,” Jonathan said.  “I don’t understand how he survives without his fur.”

“The fur on his head probably needs grooming as well,” Angelica said.  “Provided it doesn’t taste too awful. I don’t know what he does to end up with all that gunk in it.”

“It seems to be voluntary,” Jonathan said.  “He was in the water room the other day and I saw him putting something in his fur that smelled like what we usually find in it when we try to groom him properly.”

“It’s getting late,” Angelica said, glancing out the window.  “He’s usually returned before dark.”

“It’s not so late that it’s concerning yet,” Jonathan replied.  He was older, so Angelica trusted him to know what he was talking about.

They both perked up when they heard the sound from the door.  There was always a specific grating noise before the door itself opened.  They jumped down from their boxes and hurried to jump onto the counter beside the door.

“Say hi to the welcoming committee,” their furless cat said as he walked in.

There was a second furless cat behind him.

“Oh, how cute,” she said.  “They’re waiting for you.”

“Yeah,” theirs said.  “They always greet me at the door.  I think maybe they miss me when I’m not around.”

“They’re lovely,” the other one said, stepping closer and reaching out to touch Jonathan.

Jonathan ducked his head as she reached for him.  He didn’t let just anyone touch him.

“Hey, sweet girl,” their furless cat said as he stroked between Angelica’s ears and down her back.

Angelica purred and pushed into the touch, but kept her eyes on Jonathan and the new furless cat.  She thought this one was female.

Jonathan had evaded her touch and jumped down to the floor.

“He doesn’t seem especially friendly,” the furless cat said, crouching down beside Jonathan.

“He can be slow to warm up,” their furless cat said.  “Just give him time to get used to you.”

The female furless cat stood up again and stepped closer to their furless cat.  “Is she friendly?”

“Usually,” their furless cat replied, still stroking Angelica.  “She loves attention.”

The new furless cat reached out and rand her fingers along Angelica’s back.  It wasn’t a rough touch, so Angelica remained still. She watched the newcomer.

“You’re beautiful,” the female said.  “And so soft,” she added, as she continued to stroke Angelica.

Their furless cat continued stroking her as well, and the female seemed to be learning from him how to do so, her strokes becoming more and more like his as they continued.

“Alright up there?” Jonathan asked.

“So far,” Angelica replied.

“Do you want some attention too?” the female asked, crouching down again.

Jonathan retreated to the other side of their furless cat.  This newcomer wasn’t very well versed in their language apparently.

“She’s alright,” their furless cat said, crouching down to stroke Jonathan.

Jonathan purred for him.  Perhaps they would reward him for his good behavior later.  He was giving them proper attention, and he hadn’t tried to pick Jonathan up like he had the last time a strange furless cat was in their space.

The female stood again and returned to stroking Angelica.

Angelica purred since the furless cat was doing a reasonably good job in her ministrations.  She even scratched under Angelica’s chin without any prompting.

“This one seems trainable,” Angelica said.

“If she responds to your training she might be worth the effort,” Jonathan replied.  “I’ve already trained one.”

Jonathan didn’t see the point in training anything that didn’t show promise in advance.

Angelica went back to purring, wanting to encourage this new furless cat to treat her properly while their furless cat ministered to Jonathan.

“Alright,” their furless cat said after a while.  “Be nice to Victoria while I get everyone’s dinner together.

Jonathan followed their furless cat into the food room, leaving Angelica alone with the newcomer.  Since she continued to be stroked and petted, Angelica saw no issues with the other two leaving. This one had a good touch already.

“You’re much happier to see me than your fellow,” the female furless at said.  “Maybe you can put in a good word for me later. I’d love to see if he’s as soft as you are.

Angelica laughed at that.  She was far softer than Jonathan.  All the furless cats said so.

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Image Prompt 045 – Cats and Ireland

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It’s the Second Friday of the Month, so today is an Image Prompt day.

I’ve included two images to work from.  Pick one (or both if you’re feeling ambitious) and write something inspired by the image.  You can use something in the image, the feeling it invokes, or whatever the image makes you think of.

If you write a piece and end up posting it somewhere online, please link back to it here on a comment so we can all enjoy it too.

I’ll be posting my own piece next week.

Image Prompt 045-001 2018-10-12 Locke and Lilly 10-07-16 002

Image Prompt 045-002 2018-10-12 Shamrocker Tour05-04-23 043

Halloween Costume Construction

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It’s that time of year again.  I’m prepping for NaNoWriMo and Halloween.  I tend to wear a costume both on Halloween proper, and thus to the NaNoWriMo Kickoff Write-In that night, as well as for the NaNoWriMo Kickoff Party the Saturday before.  This year, I’m going to be a rainbow.

I will admit, that this is partially as an excuse to have rainbow hair.  I have an appointment for the day before Kickoff Party to get my entire head of hair dyed rainbow.  It’s going to be epic.  And of course, I’ll be sharing some pictures here.  I have a great costume planned out with some variations so it’s technically two different outfits since there are folks who will see me both days.

I found rainbow striped fabric to make a couple tops out of, that I’ll be able to wear to work again afterward.  I also got eight different colors of fabric to make the skirts out of.  They are going to be eight panels so the whole skirt will be a giant rainbow.  I’m making one longer one and one shorter one.  These will also be something I can wear again after the holiday.  I’m trying to be more sustainable with my Halloween costume planning these days, and put it together out of things I can wear again.

The final piece of the costume will be a cloud hat.  I’m using a blue witch hat as the base, which I’ll be decorating with white fluffy clouds, teardrop gems, and if I can manage it, a little sun hanging off the top to shed light through the cloud to make the rainbow.

I’m super excited about the whole thing.  I love to sew, and I’m doing my best to document the process so I can share some of the materials and the in between steps here.  Below is my progress so far.  I have another few weeks to finish it off between NaNoWriMo preparation tasks.

The Fabrics:

Haloween Costume Constructions 2018-10 (2)

The Patterns:

I’m doing Top C of 5662 and top B with detachable rose of 9763

Haloween Costume Constructions 2018-10 (4)

(I’m actually only using the pocket pattern piece from the 5452 skirt pattern, but it will be a similar looking full skirt when I’m done.)

Progress So Far:

I’ve gotten all the fabric washed, and I’ve cut out all the fabric pieces for the tops.  I missed that I needed interfacing for one, so I still have to get that and cut out the two pieces I need from it, but aside from that, I’m ready to start sewing on the tops this weekend.  I’ll probably get the skirt pieces cut out first, get the interfacing I need, and then get my sewing machine all set up and tensioned correctly.  Thankfully the fabrics are all the same weight, so I should only have to do that once.  I have my grandmother’s old Singer from the 1960s, so tensioning involves a tiny screw driver, but it’s totally worth it for the smooth sewing action of a well-made machine.

Haloween Costume Constructions 2018-10 (3)

Haloween Costume Constructions 2018-10 (8)

Also, I ironed the rainbow!

The Worlds I’ve Created: Alimonhal

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World building is one of my favorite parts of the writing process.  I adore coming up with all the rules for the magic, the names for the places, and the different kinds of people that you’ll discover in my world.  A good 90% of my world building doesn’t even appear in a book anywhere, it’s just fascinating information I have to draw on as I’m creating new stories in that world.

With NaNoWriMo on the horizon, I’ve been looking back through some of my older work for inspiration, and I thought I’d share a bit with you about one of my oldest worlds.  Like many of my worlds, there are many stories I’ve written there, but none of them have ever made it out of my computer for very long.  There’s one world in particular that I’m incredibly fond of, but may never publish a story in.  This was my very first complete world building experience.  I called in Alimonhal.

Alimonhal evolved over time, like all my worlds, but I created the bulk of it during the summer after my sophomore year in high school.  I also wrote my first novel that summer, set in Alimonhal, which will likely never to see the light of day.  Oh, the Deus ex machina problems that book has.  And like many teenage works, it also had a healthy dose of Mary Sue issues, as well as insertions of most of my friend group at the time.  I’ve grown so much since then.

There are a few surviving stories from the world that I still tinker with on occasion, and it is the setting for one of the few short stories I’m actually proud enough of to share.  It was a high fantasy setting based loosely on medieval times, except that it wasn’t on earth and the races of Alimonhalians were delineated in ways that were a bit more concrete than humans.  Some of it was based on physical characteristics like height, build, or pupil shape, but it also extended to what foods were poisonous to you, what kinds and how much “magic” you might be able to control, and how acute your senses would be.

I’d developed four races originally, each with its own distinctive features and relationship to and opinions about Art, which was the name I gave to magic in my world.  My cast of characters for the first book included a few multi-racial characters, who had to deal with a good amount of prejudice because of it.  There were also characters from multiple races and countries, because even in my fictional world, I was looking for diversity and a chance for inclusion and empathy.  Each country was largely one race with pockets of other races and multi-racial individuals or communities.  Each country also dealt with those minority communities differently.  I tried to make my world as complex as my real one, with faction and politics, and divisions that made sense based on the history of that world.

I developed new species to fill in for the traditional livestock and pets you would find on earth.  Some more closely modeled on their inspiration than others.  I tried to make the horse substitute more distinctive, but obviously didn’t make much effort to disguise a variety of cat species large and small.

By far my favorite part, was the magic system.  I called it Art, and it could do almost anything if you had enough of it and enough training in controlling it.  But there were limitations.  Most people could only master one, or maybe two forms of Art.  So one Artist might be adept at elemental manipulation of water, but be unable to work with any other element while another had telekinesis, but no other Artistic skills.  Each Artist also had a finite amount of power.  Someone truly powerful might be able to pull off something like teleportation of themselves and possibly another person, but only over a short distance, and they’d be tired afterward, so be unable to do so again in quick succession.  Someone less powerful could send a scroll to a location they knew, but couldn’t teleport themselves.

I built in ways to get around that as well.  Artists could work together to share their available power.  They could direct it together, or one Artist could let another have complete control to use their skills with the power resources of both.  This kind of joining was a skill as well, so not just anyone could do it without training.  There were also certain types of crystals that could store Artistic energy and certain types of wine or fruit that could enhance an Artist’s natural abilities temporarily.  The wine at least had suitable side effects to limit how much or how often an Artist could use it without issues.

I had all this back story for the magic, how people learned it, how the countries split off the way they did, why the races had distributed geographically, and how the current political climate had come about.  I developed more as I continued to write more after that first novel, coming up with complicated aristocratic ties and long ago intermarrying between countries aristocracies.  Almost none of it appears directly in any of the novels or stories I worked on.

That’s the beauty of world building.  I have a vast knowledge about my world and how it functions, but the reader doesn’t need to know most of it.  Only what’s important to the current story makes it onto the page.  Alimonhal even had a map.  I made it in MS Paint because it was the only tool available to me at the time.  I even printed it out once and taped it all together.  I hung onto that map (which I’d marked up with notes from another story, or my attempt to run the story as an RPG with friends) until this past year.  The tape had disintegrated and the pages were permanently yellowed and curled.  It was a reminder of how hard I’d worked to create that world.  Putting that map in the recycling bin was a bittersweet moment.

I’ve moved onto other worlds and created other places for my imagination to run wild, but I occasionally return to these older stories and my very first world.  It shows me how much I’ve grown, but also how passionate I was about my stories and characters from the very beginning.  It also helps me fondly remember my friends at the time, who I can see in almost every character that gets dialog.

I hadn’t developed many tools yet for world building when I created Alimonhal, so the work is scattered across stories, word documents, journals, notebooks, and that map that still exists on a hard drive somewhere.  These days I make copious use of excel for my world building information, as well as supplemental word documents.  I keep story bibles so that I can be consistent in all the things I’m writing in a given world.  I have friends who use Scrivener or other specially designed software for their novels and world building.  What kind of tools do you use for your world building?

Image Prompt 044 Response – Shelter in Place

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I chose the picture of the fountain at the McKimmon Center.  I wrote this at my weekly write-in and the prompt from the room was to crash a spaceship into it, so I hope you enjoy a little random scifi.  As usual, this is the product of a timed sprint and a quick copy edit. I went a bit over my usual twenty minutes so I could get to the actual crash, so this is a bit closer to a thirty-minute sprint.

Shelter in Place:

Sarah was on duty at the front desk in the McKimmon Center doing her statistics homework.  It was a work-study position, so they had to let her work on stuff when there was no one around that needed help or directions.  It was the only reason she had both rent and all her homework done.

She heard the rumbling and thought it was thunder at first, but when the noise just kept up, she got up and checked outside.  It was bright and sunny. The only clouds were the fluffy white ones that never caused rain. The rumbling noise was still there, and it was getting louder.  She didn’t see anything, so she went back to the desk. If it was worth worrying about, she’d get an alert soon. It could just be related to one of the ever-present construction projects in and around campus.  She’d started ignoring a lot of noises after they began reconstructing Hillsborough Street. You could hear it in any building within a block of that edge of campus.

Sarah was just getting back to her statistics homework when her phone went off.  It was a campus alert telling everyone that there was a national warning asking everyone to get indoors as quickly as possible and shelter in place.  All campus personnel were to stop what they were doing, go to the nearest building, and follow the shelter in place procedures.

Frowning, Sarah left her homework on the desk, but grabbed her backpack with her computer and did a quick sweep of the main area on her way to the bathrooms designated for shelter in place.  She was only half way across the main entryway when someone came on the building’s speakers announcing the shelter in place call and asking everyone to follow staff to the designated location.  She clicked on the link in the alert, hoping the main page would have additional information, but there wasn’t much. Just that the warning and shelter in place directive had come from the US government.

“Do you know where to go?” Someone asked as they walked into the main hall from one of the side rooms.  There was a line of people behind them.

“If you’ll all follow me,” Sarah said, putting her phone back in her pocket.  “Shelter in place locations are in the center of the building in the bathrooms there.”  It was a pretty typical shelter in place location. Sarah had been doing what she thought of as hide-in-the-bathroom drills since she was in kindergarten.  Back then they’d been called tornado drills. They were better than the code red drills.

When they reached the bathroom, Sarah held the door open to the women’s restroom and let everyone else file in past her.

“Should we go to the men’s room?” a guy asked her, pausing before entering.

“For shelter in place purposes, it doesn’t matter,” Sarah replied.  “This one is closer, so we’ll all shelter here.”

There were about a dozen people in the bathroom when Sarah stepped in and let the door close behind her.  Her supervisor, Greg, was in the back corner with a few other people Sarah didn’t know, plus the eight people that had come out of the meeting room to ask her for directions.

“Everyone make yourselves as comfortable as you can,” Greg said.  “We could be here a while. It’s Monday morning and the bathrooms are always fully cleaned over the weekend, so feel free to sit if you need to.”

Sarah leaned against the wall near the door and watched everyone.  A few people looked at the floor, but no one sat down. She understood.  Bathroom floors were a weird place to sit down, even if you knew it was freshly cleaned.

The rumbling noise was still audible, even from where they were in the center of the building on the first floor.  It must have been really loud outside. It sounded a bit like being inside an airplane during takeoff or landing. Just a huge rushing air noise.

Another alert went out, urging anyone not already inside to get there as fast as possible and anyone driving to pull over and shelter in place in their vehicles.  Sarah knew she should probably be scared. It wasn’t a weather emergency, and the US government was telling them to hide. Did that mean the government had finally pissed someone off enough to attack the US?  But why would they go after anything in the Raleigh area? She’d think they’d target something like the military bases near the coast before anything else in North Carolina.

The rushing air noise got louder, and Sarah thought she heard a couple loud banging noises.  That’s when the wall started to shake. Sarah stood up and had time to take one step away.

There was a horrible crunching and crashing noise, accompanied by the walls shaking and drywall cracking, and dust raining down on them.

Sarah dropped to her knees and threw her hands over her head.  Years of public schooling had ingrained the need to protect her head.

The next sound was so loud it left Sarah’s ears ringing.  The ground shook and the wall beside her pushed inward, drywall falling on her.

There was silence after that.  Sarah coughed, and pushed up, hoping there wasn’t anything heavier than drywall on top of her.

The drywall cracked and fell on either side of her.

Sarah looked up for find everyone covered in gray and brown debris.  There was dust everywhere, and she could see blood on some people.

“Is everyone alright?” Greg asked, right before the fire alarm went off and the sprinkler system activated.

The sprinklers only stayed on for a few seconds.  Long enough to soak everyone, but not long enough to do anything if there was a fire.

Sarah got to her feet carefully, thankful for her backpack, which took the brunt of the hit from the bits of wall that had accompanied the drywall.  She turned to look behind her.

The main lobby was gone.  So was most of that half of the building.  She was looking at the courtyard where the fountain should have been.  She could even see a few cars in the lot on the other side, though none of them were right side up.

Where the fountain should have been, was a pile of metal.  It looked like it had been rectangular originally. Maybe slightly rounded on one end, but it also looked broken.  There was a crater around it, and it had dug itself partially into the ground of the courtyard. There were broken bricks scattered everywhere.

Sarah’s phone chimed, and she checked it automatically.  An unidentified object had fallen from orbit and landed near the McKimmon Center.  Those in the affected area were to remain sheltering in place where possible, or follow emergency evacuation procedures if their building warning systems indicated.  Everyone else was to remain sheltered in place.

Sarah looked back at the weird object.  It didn’t look like a satellite. What else might have been in orbit?  She didn’t think anyone made spaceships that looked like that.

Image Prompt 044 – Raleigh and Dublin

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It’s the Second Friday of the Month, so today is an Image Prompt day.

I’ve included two images to work from.  Pick one (or both if you’re feeling ambitious) and write something inspired by the image.  You can use something in the image, the feeling it invokes, or whatever the image makes you think of.

If you write a piece and end up posting it somewhere online, please link back to it here on a comment so we can all enjoy it too.

I’ll be posting my own piece next week.

Image Prompt 044-001 2018-09-14 McKimmon Center Spring 2012 (1)

Image Prompt 044-002 2018-09-14 Dublin05-04-21 015-Guiness Theatre

Inspiration

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As I gear up for NaNoWriMo (yes it’s only September, see last week’s post for why that’s not early) I’ve begun thinking about ideas I could work on for this year.  I haven’t settled on anything yet, but I’ve been looking back through things that inspire me as I think through ideas, and I just wanted to share a few of them today.

1) Books

Books 2

2) TV Shows and Movies

TV Movies 3

3) Traveling

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4) My NaNoWriMo Community

NaNoWriMo T-Shirts

5) My NaNoWriMo Co-MLs

6) Roleplaying Adventures

2015-05-29 RPG BookShelf

What inspires you to keep creating?