Monday, May 31, 2010

3 Haiku Poems for a Special Picture

Mum and Sarah

Haiku #1
My small baby girl
Walks towards the camera
She's no longer small.

Haiku #2
Walking  and smiling
Wrapped around her Dad's finger
Time is frozen here.

Haiku #3
When I look at this,
I burn it into my mind,
smile sweet and bitter.

All writing and art copyright A. Dameron 2000-2010

Friday, May 28, 2010

Constructive Criticism, aka Everyone's a Critic

What's your definition of Constructive criticism?

Here's how I see it:

1) It has to have something to do with the story. No pulling in controversial issues or personal grudges.

2) Point out exactly where the question/criticism/whatever is and tell me what you think. And why. Reviews of just "It sucks." doesn't tell me how to improve it.

3) Constructive criticism helps to improve someone's writing, not cut it down. If you have a personal/professional axe to grind, don't take it out on the next writer. If you can't be impartial to the author of whatever you're looking at, don't do it.

4) Be respectful. This is a big issue for me. Do not blast someone, then backpedal and claim "a misunderstanding" and paint yourself as the victim. Not cool at all. Do not type half a page of insults and cut downs and disguise it as "helpful criticism". It isn't.

What do you consider "constructive criticism?"

All writing and art copyright A. Dameron 2000-2010

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

"Eureka!" she yelled in the bathtub...

I've got several fanfics and other things going on at once. I know that these times are usually pretty busy, with multiple windows open on the computer and plot threads all over the place. My Muse picks this time to pack up and go to Bermuda, and I can rarely convince Her to come back until she's damn good and ready.

But She left me a some ideas before she left. Now I have a good idea of how to write my "5 + 1" fic (which is a short fiction piece with 5 times an event happened and 1 time it didn't. Like "5 times [insert character here] cheated death and the 1 time [he/she] bit the dust.) and how to continue another story that I was stuck on. Eureka! moments never happen for me when I'm at the computer, of course. It's when I'm trying to get off a busy exit on I-85 or trying to keep my son from opening every box in the pantry or sitting with my younger daughter with her Legos.

And most times, it's when I don't have anything to write on or write with. I've taken to lugging a notebook and a pen with me wherever I go. If I don't write it down, I lose it. My brain functions that way.

How do ideas come to you? and how do you "capture" or remember them?

All writing and art copyright A. Dameron 2000-2010

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The Wedding Dress

Jessica gazed at herself in the full-length mirror. A familiar stranger stared back at her. The curly auburn ringlets framed her face and cascaded over her shoulders. As she looked, the dewy emerald eyes sparkled in the sunlight. Jessica felt the light touch of the breeze from the open window. It brushed past her cheek, a touch of benediction.

"It’s perfect," she said aloud.

The dress had been her grandmother’s, a rustle of white ivory silk. The skirt flowed gracefully over Jessica’s hips in two tiers: a shiny outer layer over a transparent wrapping. The hem was higher than it seemed—Jessica was determined not to trip over her feet on the big day!

She carefully reached over and smoothed a wrinkle in the sleeve. It was a net of white lace that ended at the elbow. No puffy sleeves. That had been the trend fifty years ago. Each pearl had been detached carefully and re-sewn with a loving hand. They lined the bodice in graceful curves. The pink roses puckered up at her breast and waistline. A light blue sash wound around her hips.

The sash had been Jessica’s addition. Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue, she thought. Jessica wanted to add some color to her outfit. White and cream were elegant in a detached sort of way, a sign of unmistakable purity.

She smiled and turned in front of the mirror. The white toe shoes fit snugly on her feet, tied with a length of pink ribbon, like a dancer’s. No heels. She had been adamant on that point. She wore heels twice a year, once at Christmas and once at Eastertime.

"Why can’t you be more ladylike, Jessica?" Elizabeth Gordon had sighed. Her mother was fond of bringing up the subject. "No man would even look your way. No one will be able to see the prettiness underneath all the mess. Mark my words, you’ll be an old maid if you don’t fix yourself up."

Jessica had gazed down at her mother. Elizabeth had her own ideas about life. She was entitled to them. Far be it from Jessica to erase all that she had ever known. Jessica had taken Elizabeth’s hands within her own.

"Don’t you worry, Nana. Under this down-to-earth glamour is an incurable romantic. I’ll find the right man when the time is right, and you’ll be around to see me married. It just takes time, that’s all."

"Time," Elizabeth had snorted, but her eyes sparkled. A smiled played around the corners of her lips. "Change is overrated. Tradition is what holds us together, Jessica. You will see."

Tradition. Jessica laughed and did a complete pirouette on her tiptoes. The dress flowed all around her. The news of her engagement to Mike stunned everyone, included her mother. All of their friends knew and cheered for them. Eventually, the Gordons accepted the idea that their wayward girl had found true happiness in a most untraditional way.

The sky-blue sash behaved as it should, draped in soft folds. Her grandmother nearly fainted when Jessica proposed the idea, but Nana made no effort to stop the alternations.

"Sake’s alive! It ain’t broke! So why fix it?" Nana McCray had been the belle of five counties. This was her coming-of-age dress, a cascade of bustle and ruffled flounces. It was the same gown in which she had wedded Jesse Carson. Dutifully, Elizabeth Gordon left it be for her marriage to Joseph Gordon. Now Jessica Gordon had the nerve, the unmitigated gall to change it?

"Times change, Nana," she reminded her grandmother in the gentle tone she reserved only for the family matriarch. "Your dress will still carry on the proud tradition, Nana. When my daughter weds, she will do the same."

Nana Carson’s eyes filled with tears. "At least—try not to mess up the design too much, dear. I’ve never tried to stop you from living your crazy life, and I won’t stop you now." She sighed. "This’ll break your Momma’s heart…"

"Momma knows," Jessica replied. Oh, that had gotten a reaction from the Ice Queen herself: her jaw dropped in pure astonishment, the gray eyes glazing in mixed horror and pride. "She said she didn’t mind a bit, Nana. Just as long as I don’t turn it into a miniskirt or anything like that."

Nana looked scandalized, so Jessica patted her hand. "Don’t you worry, Nana. I’ll do nothing of the sort. You’ll see."

I hope I did okay. Jessica reached for the finishing touch: the headband covered with white and gold, adorned with soft lily and baby’s breath. The veil settled past her shoulders. Another light breeze passed through the floral curtains and stirred the veil. Jessica gazed at the mirror one last time. Past and present shimmered in the threads of this dress, each woman passing down her memories and her traditions. Jessica knew she had not broken them, only enhanced them. Perhaps her own daughter would include her own unique piece to the mosaic, when her time came.

The door opened behind her. Elizabeth smiled as she entered the bridal room. Jessica felt a stirring of unease; what would her mother say? That unease vanished when Elizabeth nodded her approval.

"It’s beautiful, dear," she whispered. "You’ve done good work. Here." She reached into her pearl handbag and brought out an emerald pin in the shape of a winged angel.

"What’s this, Momma?"

"My contribution," Elizabeth said. "I wanted to wear this on my wedding dress, but Nana wouldn’t let me. It wasn’t ‘proper’, she said." She pressed the pin into Jessica’s hand. 

Jessica carefully latched it into the blue sash at her waist, where everyone was sure to see it, including Nana. She straightened and saw the gleam in her mother’s eye, that look of quiet defiance and gratitude.

"Is this all right, Momma?"

"Yes, Jessica. It’s all right. Everything is all right." She surveyed her daughter from head to foot, taking in the wedding dress. Changed, but still the same. It would always be the same as long as loving hands touched it.

Jessica extended her hand. "Walk me down, Momma?"

Elizabeth nodded. "Yes, Mike’s waiting. I think he will definitely like what he’ll see."

She put her hand in Jessica’s. Together, they walked out of the room in a rustle of satin and white ivory silk.

Copyright 2006 by Annie Dameron

Friday, May 21, 2010

Trying to cram writing in between...

...keeping my girls out of trouble, resizing art, RP'ing on Twitter, and cleaning the house. Not to mention hubby was home today to fix his car. So yeah, it was real life 1, writing...maybe a .5

And no, I wasn't trying to procrastinate on anything. Much. That's why I leave my laptop on most of the time...if I get 5 minutes to scribble/type/jot down a few words, that counts on the effort. On the word count...okay, maybe in the long run. It doesn't look like much right now. They say a page a day is 365/366 pages a year, which is novel-sized. Yeah.

I found a collection of stories that I wrote when I was 12 years old and in my Thunderbirds/anime/manga phase. I read through it and I was like AAAGH! Gimme a break. I was 12. Still. One of these days I ought to share some of those awful passages under "teenage writing angst".

Hopefully, I'll have more time this weekend.


Thursday, May 20, 2010

Some archaeological digging in the files

I have a box of old sketchbooks in my closet that have all kinds of old snippets, poetry, etc. In my first few years of marriage, I'd carry a hard-backed sketchbook around with me and squeezed in writing whenever I could. No two books are the same...the only thing they had in common was the fact they were unlined. I guess my mind doesn't function very well in between lines. Even when I was a teacher, I could never write in a straight line. My students always snickered at my loopy instructions on the blackboard. I'm left handed too, so smudge galore. There were a few times when I flipped the book the other way (opens right to left...think Japanese manga books) to make it easier for me to write.

Yeah, I've never really been one for traditional. Sue me. LOL!

Anyway, there's a ton of old ideas, half-baked thoughts, sketches and other stuff buried in there. I've been looking through them and picking out some of the more interesting stuff, which I'll get around to posting eventually. Funny how your view changes after ten years or so.

In other news, writing fanfic and updating my art gallery. I really need more time in the day to get everything done, but I'm a mum! Impossible is my middle name! LOL! Some fantasy stuff in the works...plans revealed very soon.

Off for more writing, as long as my migraine allows me.


Monday, May 17, 2010

Original Fiction: An Apple for Miss Margaret

Disclaimer: Any resemblance to any living person, place or thing is wholly coincidental.
Author's Notes: I wrote this as an assignment for my Long Ridge Writers' Course. This is dedicated to all those hard-working teachers who spend their time, money and effort in educating our kids.
Rating: K (G)
Word Count: approx. 1434 words

An Apple for Miss Margaret

Demetrius stared at the test booklet in front of him. The cover read "State Math Test, Grade 5." His name, "Demetrius Wells", was nearly printed underneath the title. The answer sheet lay next to the booklet. It was a confusing mass of filled-in circles, like random dots on a leopard. His hands shook as he stared at the sheet’s unbroken seal. Demetrius clasped his fingers together to hide the nervousness.

"Eyes up here, please," said a pleasant voice.

He brought his eyes to the front of the room. Miss Margaret stood at the front of the classroom, all in her radiant glory. She glanced up at the clock and said, "You may open your test booklets and begin."

There was a rustle of paper as the children did so. Someone coughed in the back of the room. A pair of girls twittered like a pair of frightened magpies. Then all was quiet, save for scratching of number-two lead pencils on answer sheets.

Miss Margaret noted the time on the chalkboard. "Start: 8:30. End 9:15." Then she started up and down the narrow rows, checking her students. They all bent over their papers, eyes riveted to the black and white text.

Demetrius was not so distracted. He kept one eye on his test. The other eye followed Miss Margaret as she glided on her way. The long blue dress flowed over her slim form. A splash of freckles across her nose gave her a playful look. Her eyes glowed beneath wire-rimmed glasses, bluer than a perfect summer ocean, with sunshiny sparkles on their surface. Her golden hair caught the glint of sunlight and shimmered like a halo.

Demetrius wished he could draw that lovely glow. He loved Miss Margaret. He was sure of it. She was pretty and kind and patient, even when he mixed up his b’s and d’s, his p’s and q’s. He dreaded the read-aloud hour every afternoon. Most times, he sank in his seat and hoped Miss Margaret would overlook him. Yet she called his name every time.

"Demetrius, the next paragraph, please," she would say.

"The boys decided to ride their bikes to the ice-cream parlor," Demetrius read. That was what he meant to say. It came out as "Da Doys decibed to ribe their bikes to the ise-krem parlur."

He knew it was wrong as soon as he said it. Shame colored his face a dark crimson and he hid it under his book. A horrible silence fell after his sentence, then the other students snickered at his raspy voice.

Miss Margaret glared at them and they fell silent. She brought her attention back to Demetrius. 
"Repeat it after me, Demetrius. ‘The boys…"

Tears welled up in his eyes. "The boys…" "…decided…"

"Good.. Demetrius, look at me."

Reluctantly, he raised his head. Miss Margaret gazed at him, those blue eyes to his dark ones. The other students held their breath and waited for the strike to fall. They shifted uncomfortably in their seats when she smiled instead.

"One more time," she repeated. "You can do this."

Miss Margaret repeated the words seven, eight times, until he got them right. After school, she sat him down at the long table and made him practice his letters. She held his hand, guiding his stiff fingers, and said, "Follow me, Demetrius. This is how you do it." They wrote the letters over and over until he got them right.

Sometimes, she allowed him to draw pictures to go with the letters. The letter "B" became a wooly bear with a protruding stomach. The letter "P", a self-important penguin. That was what he loved, transforming what he feared into something more familiar. He could draw people’s faces and animals. Miss Margaret pointed out it was almost the same thing.

"The letters are just like simple drawings," she said. "Characters in a comic strip or in a picture. Think of them that way and it will be easier." Demetrius knew he would never be perfect, yet he tried and tried. Miss Margaret never complained about the long hours. That made him try even harder.

A bell over the intercom brought him back to reality. Now there was another dilemma. 
Everyone had heard the rumors that Miss Margaret was leaving. Demetrius did not know why. He did not want her to leave. What would he do without her?

"You will grow strong, Demetrius," she had told him. "I only helped you on the right path. The rest is up to you." She was right, of course. She was always right, but his heart was still torn like a butterfly’s wing. How could he show her how much she meant to him?

He reached into his desk and touched the present hidden deep within: one shiny red apple and a note. He had labored for hours on that note, forcing his fingers to write words and sentences. "Miss Margaret, Thank you. I will miss you with all my heart. I will never forget you. Love, Demetrius."

Then he felt Miss Margaret’s eyes on him. Demetrius returned his attention back on his test. He struggled to make sense of it, not for his own sake, but for hers.

At nine-fifteen, Miss Margaret collected the tests. Another test waited for the students, and then another, up until lunchtime. In the general chaos, no one noticed Demetrius as he slipped his gift into her desk. Then he gathered his belongings and lined up obediently with the rest of his class. Soon, he was on his way to Mr. Petersen’s classroom and another torturous hour.


The next day, he overheard the other children. Miss Margaret had gotten a gift from a "secret admirer." No one knew exactly what it had been, but it waggled tongues. "Probably someone who wants a good grade," sniffed one of the girls.

"Teacher’s pet."

Demetrius’s ears burned with shame. How could someone think that a simple gift could be taken as a bribe? He had meant no harm. The cynical comments tore at his conscience. He kept his eyes lowered as he colored his picture within the neat lines. The only saving grace was that no one suspected him, Demetrius, at all.

The bell rang. He got to his feet quickly, wanting to flee before anyone suspected him. Miss Margaret dismissed the others but asked him to stay. Embarrassment made his thin shoulders tremble.

"Yes, Miss Margaret?"

Her voice held a note of wonder as she said, "I have been teaching for five years and no one has given me such a special present. Thank you, Demetrius."

Something within her voice made him look up. There was joy in those azure eyes, wrapped in some sadness, too. All at once, the tumult eased. He fell in love all over again, but it was bittersweet this time.

"I have something for you, Demetrius," she said. Miss Margaret pulled open her drawer and took out a box of charcoal sketching pencils. "Take these and do some good with them. I know you’ll be successful." She gave them to him. "You’re on your way, Demetrius, but it’s all up to you now. You don’t need me anymore."

He turned the box over in his hands. These were pencils he had never dreamed of seeing, much less owning. A sense of purpose filled him and silenced all the doubts. Miss Margaret believed in him and that was enough.

He straightened in newly discovered pride. "Thank you, Miss Margaret."

"You’re welcome, Demetrius. Now go to your next class. Mr. Petersen will be waiting." And she smiled at him one last time. As he left, he took that smile with him.


Years later, Demetrius sat in his studio, the charcoal pencils in his hand as he made the finishing touches to his latest work. It was simple: an apple sitting on a teacher’s desk, gleaming in a bright ray of sunshine through the open window. He smiled as he wrote his name and a special inscription at the bottom of the piece.

"Demetrius Wells. An Apple for Miss Margaret." Every word, every letter, was in its correct place and they said what he wanted to say. He turned the pencil in his hand and slipped it back into its box.

copyright 2006 by Annie Dameron

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Writing Prompt: "I Was Glad"

Prompt from The Writer's Book of Matches: 1,001 Prompts to Ignite Your Fiction by the staff of Fresh Boiled Peanuts, a literary journal.
"I was glad."


"I was glad, what kind of epitaph is that?"

"Short, simple and to the point. I like it."

"Glad of what? Glad about what?"

"Does it matter? Sounds like he had a good lie. Maybe he died smiling."

"Maybe, but considering what he went through, he was probably glad it was the end."

"It's 'I was glad'. Not 'I am glad'. There's a difference."


"Counts for a lot. I don't think he had an evil one in his body. He treated everyone kindly."

"Do unto others before they do it to you."

"You have to admit that that his enemies had nothing to complain about."

"Yeah, because he let them run roughshod over him. Of course they wouldn't complain about their meal ticket, right? I wouldn't have."

"They left him alone. That's all he really wanted."

"He could have done so much more in his life. Instead, he lived alone and puttered around. And he was glad about that?"

"Some people want an uncomplicated life, and just want to be left in peace."

"He was the wrong person to inherit a lot of money."

"Yeah, he was, but he was glad of that fact."