Tough Times for Non-Humans

Even non-humans suffer from these difficult economic times, but occasional signs prove they, too, find ways to meet the challenges.

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Are humans recycling their old rags instead of throwing them away? Come to the Brownie Rag Co-oops for the latest in wearable rags. Just arrived: a shipment of old shop rags with grease and Prussian blue stains! No rag with less than five holes — Guaranteed!
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Will trade lodging for milk: Family of seven dwarves seeking respectable minotauress needing a home. Offering cozy shed-to-stable conversion with separate entrance and corral. Must be non-charging and non-goring — please provide references. Must supply own salt & mineral blocks; adjacent grazing lot is provided.
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Injured rock troll cracked. Will work for mortar.
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We three maidens of the Rhein offer a portion of our Rheingold in exchange for a barrel of fish heads.
 (Whaddya mean “we”?I never agreed to that!

Shut up, shut up, I’m the oldest!

You can’t boss me around, sister!

Oh, like you’re going to swim for the Rheingold, I don’t think so! You just sit on a rock and sing — that’s not getting us any fish heads!

Yeah, well you just comb your hair with lah-ti-dah trout ribs!

Oh, huh!…)

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Announcement:
In response to current economic challenges, PRA (Pack Rats Anonymous) has undergone reorganization and renaming. PRA (Personal Recycling Association) re-welcomes its former PRA members. Forget about your (Fill in #) Step Program—there’s no more need to count how many paces you try to take to the wastebasket or curb. No longer must you hide that interesting bit of cardboard under your jacket or conceal your broken crayon collection.

As we open our membership to the nouveau poor, we count on our old Pack Rats to teach newcomers things to do with empty kitty litter jugs, tuna cans, metal and plastic bottle caps, tape wads, and tangled bits of string. Show your projects and collections with pride!

Our annual conference will have a re-new look, too. Guest speaker Sally Whereditgo (author of Don’t Pitch the Pickle Jar and Primal Soup in the Veggie Drawer) heads an all-species line-up of expert penny pinchers including the following:

Count ‘lad the Lesser: Double Duty—Compost in Your Coffin

Zelda the Zombie: Extreme Eyes (The Definitive Guide to Recycled Anatomy)

Ursula Buttercup: Sleeping through Hard Times and The Werebear Pawbook of Hibernation

Penelope Periwinkle: Pitch the Pickle Jar—Picking Pixie Playgrounds

Plus our own Pack Rat, Gordon the Ghoul: Re-upholstery — New Life for Old Blue Jeans; Hiccup — Monononey Shaving Whazzit Tips from Claunalulul Clulalarrkish Cluracaun Cellar; 1000 Uses for Empty Thread Spools; and The Lamia’s Calorie Counter for That Sleek Snake Shape

Workshops include quilting blankets from retired sweatshirts, braiding rugs with old landline phone cords, making mud-based paint, repairs with chewing gum, and candy wrapper origami.

For further information, watch for our fliers tossed in dumpsters or blowing around parking lots near you.

Booting Out the Children of My Mind

I’m probably a bad mom.

My first book, Under Every Moon, is a speculative poetry collection written over the course of 30-ish years during which some poems were published in magazines. Stylistically, the poems reflect my wandering nature and range from forms to free verse, rhymed to unrhymed, and in varying lengths.

The second book, Leyfarers and Wayfarers, is a collection of short stories, some previously published, some new, all speculative. Stories in it represent various sub- and sub-sub-genres (science fiction, fantasy, steampunk, slipstream, science-fantasy mash-ups, urban fantasy, historical fantasy) ranging in styles from traditional to literary to experimental.

Both books contain illustrations I did. I also enjoy drawing.

My own copies already gather dust. It’s a cooled relationship with these word-kids. I tend to their marketing per publisher requirements, but my heart moved on.

Other stories make the rounds through submissions. More are in work, and I’m stretching into new-for-me territory of creative nonfiction. As nice as it is to see my published books and individual works available, the call of writing more is too insistent and I’m too restless to ignore it. When I finish with one work, I make sure it’s dressed, shoes shined, and teeth brushed, then I boot it out into the wider world. I tweak and nit-pick at it if it comes home without finding a place of its own, then boot it out again so I can spend time with the next mind-child(ren). If a particular story is part of a larger milieu, it might receive additional attention, but for the most part, I don’t spend a lot of time cooing over the children of my mind. Because…

Because the story volcano between my ears is still erupting. Publication hasn’t cooled it in the least.

For a writer, maybe that’s as it should be.

To find available works, links are as follows:

Under Every Moon is at http://www.amazon.com/Under-Every-Moon-G-Francis/dp/0615870694/

Leyfarers and Wayfarers is at \http://www.amazon.com/Leyfarers-Wayfarers-G-L-Francis/dp/0692336834/

My short story “Suntosun Shipping” is in Different Dragons II (anthology) at http://www.amazon.com/Different-Dragons-II-Various-Authors/dp/1936099713  http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/476499 and at http://www.createspace.com/4996168

Other works now accepted for publication will be added as they come available.

Bulldozer Restoration

The gutter needs fixed, and there are new places to patch on the roof. I’m itching to paint a bright color on the walls—soooooo tired of off-white, eggshell, and linen blah—but can’t do that until sheetrock repairs are done. Oh, yeah, and there’s some carpet I’d love to send on a permanent camp-out at the landfill.

Time doesn’t agree with me. Time makes sure lessons of patience are thoroughly understood. So, I inch along such renovations rather than bulldoze through them. I’d rather bulldoze even if it looks messier for a while. But bulldozing usually illuminates some part of a project I didn’t consider or didn’t know was a problem until sub-surfaces reveal their not-so-shiny faces.

A particular writing project—stories set on a world called Kamanthia—seemed an excellent candidate for bulldozer editing. I love the story, the concept, the characters, but I followed some less than good advice. It turned into a thinly disguised sermon rather than a story. And though aspects of that version might be enjoyable for a Christian-only audience, they diminished the impact and explorations of the core story.

Restoration time. Easy peasy, sure. Just remove the POV sequences of the Christian character (I’ll call her S— for now). Restore the story back to the POVs of the original characters living on Kamanthia. Bulldozing went fine as I simply lifted out S—’s chapters.

I hit the first boulder.

Four chapters into the story, a vital scene is/was in S—’s POV. **deep breath** Most of it was dialog—not too hard to shift the POV to R—, the main character.

The next boulder was bigger: an action scene vital to the story, including perceptions in S—’s POV. Major rewrite. Scrolling ahead through chapters, I found more scenes like that. Eeek!

The easiest solution would’ve been to simply pull up an archived file with the original story in it. Except that it’s not possible. The original version is forever buried in an computer that died sadly and badly before I could move or save all its files.

I’m reasonably certain this restoration will result in a much better, more intense story. It would’ve been nice to have the original for reference rather than relying on my own occasionally glitchy memory.
But maybe the loss is for the best. I’ve learned a lot, changed a lot. The original draft’s cringe factor would now register on the Richter scale.

Parking the bulldozer. Inching my way through the landscape of Kamanthia.

The Ultimate Carnival Ride

Carousel? Maybe, but not often.
Ferris wheel? Rarely that slow & gentle.
Rollercoaster? Tilt-a-whirl? Kamikaze? Yeah, that’s more like it.

No, I haven’t been going to amusement parks and carnivals. These are metaphors of a busy life, the essence of living in a world where challenges come from every direction, from the purely physical to the mental, intellectual and spiritual compass points.

Just when the climbs & plunges of the rollercoaster slow, just when it looks like I can step off the train, an Octopus wraps around me, then morphs into a Tilt-a-whirl car spinning chaotically or a Hammer plastering me to the back of the cage or (if the carney has trickster hands on the controls) stopping up-side-down. Kinetic forces reassert and…

Yikes! A drop tower, a toboggan splash, then I’m back on a spiraling coaster.

I’m still not sure how I managed to write and illustrate my two books—Under Every Moon and Leyfarers and Wayfarers—born in the midst of this, but others are on the way. Unrelated accomplishments accumulate (art, metalwork, beading, fiber arts among them) alongside housework, my work schedule, and a thousand interruptions. (As of right now, three chew toys and seven tennis balls have vanished in the last five minutes, and the dogs require a referee for the last visible toy. If the 4+ times daily precedence holds true, I’ll excavate the suddenly missing toys from under or behind the couch or buried between the cushions. Oh, and the cat is scratching the bottom of the water bowl—ah, the melodious sound of claws on stainless steel!—indicating the dogs drank it dry. )

None of the rides are beyond endurance. I totter wobbly-legged down the midway and into the funhouse. Check my short/tall/thin/fat/wavering reflections. I’m not sweating blood like Jesus did in the garden of Gethsemane. None of this is stress, then. It’s only challenges, only annoyances, only an astronomically high rate of interest and event.

I grin and amble back to the rides. It strains the limits of my inner gyroscope but never to destruction.

And I haven’t barfed.