Wolf’s Museum Of Mystery – 28 Days Until Halloween

Do you remember the first time you stopped at aWolfs-shop windows
shop window, drawn to the oddities arranged there?  Some of them were vaguely ornate, gleaming and reminiscent of the other side of the world.  Dolls with piercing blue eyes may have looked out at you, their red mouths open to show small, white teeth.  The mechanical toys were metal and their sharp edges were rusty.  Maybe your companion said it was just a pile of junk.

Wolfs-headBut you saw them for the treasures they were.  You pushed open the shop door, squinting into the dimness within, and the bell tinkled to tell the owner that another one had been drawn in.

Wolf’s Museum of Mystery is stuffed with collections of spiritual artifacts and horror gimcracks.  Taxidermied creatures are tucked in every corner.  There are aliens and eerie chanting.  A mermaid is rumored to live in a pool in the back, where the bunnies are.  Watch out for the bunnies.

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There’s free popcorn in the horror movie watching room upstairs.  And if you walk deep enough inside, you’ll find out what that dripping sound is in the bathroom.

Wolfs-sign

The Power Of Writing Conferences – Recap Of #FHBF2015

I’m very glad I went to the Florida Heritage Book Festival and Writing Conference this year. I gained insight into my writing and new ideas for telling stories.

Thursday was a writing critique session. Participants submitted their first 10 pages of a work in early September, and we brought written comments for each other to the session. There were nine of us and the session leader, and most of them were memoir writers. Just three of us, myself included, had submitted fiction. Any reticence I had about not working with fiction writers dissipated when I read my group’s submissions. My fictional characters work through conflicts, interact with other characters with differing levels of success, and (hopefully) grow through their story. Memoirs are stories of the writer doing just that, sometimes in heart wrenchingly relatable ways.

I was lucky to work with such a diverse group. Our ages ranged from a high senior to a couple of self-labeled “old guys.” We came from different parts of the United States and overseas. We had many different careers and life experiences. The alchemy of the group worked. We had commonality in our backgrounds even if the particulars were different. We took different things from each others’ stories, interpreted characters’ motivations differently, and from that we discussed how these nuances made the stories more complex.

We need diverse stories because it opens us up to different experiences. But, diverse stories also show us as writers how we can touch readers in fundamental ways, even if their backgrounds are different from those described in the storyIMG_9407.

Friday was the writing conference, and something serendipitous happened during
my first session. Elizabeth Sims, a fiction and non-fiction writer, lead an exercise in a writing method she calls Stormwriting. I’ve used her method before, and darned if a horror story idea didn’t pop up. It was so distracting, I found a gorgeous corner bench to chase down the gruesome little idea through the following session. Now I just need to figure out if the main character is going to get past her little problem, or it will just get worse.

If you live near Florida, I recommend you attend the Florida Heritage Book Festival and Writing Conference next year.  And join a writing critique session if you are working on something – the feedback will show aspects of your story to you in new and different ways.

Horse – A Poem Poised To Run

Horse
by Victoria Nations

Smooth planes of muscle and bone
grown over with layers of
detritus, lichen and grime
caught
in the corners
spreading
until they touch one another
crusting the surface
beneath
which lies
smooth planes of muscle and bone
and skin
shiny with sweat
wetting the living things who
drink
and cover the
smooth planes of muscle and bone
rolling beneath
hard but for
a rolling eye
wild in its socket
caught
tangled in the
detritus, lichen and grime
smothering the
smooth planes of muscle and bone

My Hunger Will Consume All That Is Here And Will Free You – A Poem of Celebration

My Hunger Will Consume All That Is Here And Will Free You
by Victoria Nations

I will climb and tear
and rip it all apart with my teeth,
until the way is cleared before me.
I will lay waste to the kingdom I’ve invaded.
I will eat until I am gorged,
until I am satisfied.
The fabric that binds this world will hang in tatters.
And the sun will reach the ground once more
after I have passed through.

air potato vineAir potato (Dioscorea bulbifera L.) is an invasive vine that was introduced to Florida from Asia over 100 years ago.  It can grow to 20 meters or more, climbing over and smothering native plants.  After years of research, a leaf feeding beetle, Lilioceris cheni, was recently introduced into Florida from China for biological control of air potato.  This is the second year we’ve had this feisty red beetle in our yard and their ability to destroy the leaves and vines of air potato is truly impressive.  Way to go, little guys!

For more information, check out the UF/IFAS Extension fact sheet.

Camp NaNoWriMo – Lurking in the Woods

Welcome Campers and lurkers!  Day 8 of Camp NaNoWriMo and the day is full of activities.

As I’ve posted before, I’m editing and adding to my draft novel for Camp NaNoWriMo.  Most of the story is set in Florida woods next to a blackwater river.  It’s a setting I can see vividly in my mind – lush growth and dark water – and it’s a place I have great affection for.  And it feels delightfully full of living and dead things, as all the best wild areas do.

So as I work on it during Camp NaNoWriMo, I am doubly tickled that the novel has all sorts of camp-related activities: walking in the woods, swimming, eating outside, the vague dread that the river, or perhaps your relative, wants to do you harm.

And campers.  I am very lucky to be part of a cabin of smart, funny writers who post each day to share support and talk about writing.  I found my cabin by responding to a Twitter post by an author (and publisher) I follow.  Having folks to ask about formatting internal monologue and reminisce about 1980’s horror movies had made the experience even more fulfilling and productive and November’s NaNoWriMo was.

1980’s horror movies: also fond of happening in the woods.  Near the river.  *insert evil laugh here*

Anyway – A Love Poem

ANYWAY
by Victoria Nations

She has no red hair,
and no gray,
and only a few freckles
peppered across her putty nose,
and splattered down her back.

She’s the tall one,
the strong one
who owns a tool belt, but
leaves the dead opossums
to me, along with the lizards
and big bugs.

She’s a delicate flower,
nearly crushed by a giant,
snuggling man child, and
fighting for space
amongst twenty-five cats,
and unexpected skeletons,
and feet in the freezer.

She just stacks the
bags of heads higher,
keeping it all organized,
and squeezes her wife and boy
when they pile on her,
showing her weird objects,
and she loves them anyway.

Happy birthday – and anniversary – wishes to my lovely wife and Monster Woman.

Frankenerin

FRANKENERIN
by Victoria Nations

The girl smiled at me from the wall, and even before I saw that her mouth was stitched closed, she was in my arms. She was doll-like, with a sweet, open smile and black button eyes. A burgundy bouffant made her skin seem all the more pale. Her scars were barely noticeable.

Her mouth had been shut for her, and here the stitches were real, made from thick, black thread.

An artist named Chicho had written a love letter on the back of her canvas, naming her Frankenerin. He had drawn a heart and written, “Don’t remove the smile.”

The thrift store clerk rang me up, glancing between Erin and me. She slipped a bag over the painting and laid her face down.

“Better you than me, sugar.”

Erin moved to our new house, but she never selected a room and stayed in the garage instead. She oversaw house repairs and weekend chores, always smiling her encouragement.

I couldn’t remove her stitches. I mean, it looked like I could – it was just tape and thread. But I didn’t. Maybe Chicho had spoken metaphorically, and maybe he hadn’t.  Who am I to doubt what he knew?

ErinI didn’t want anything to happen to that smile.

After a year, it was time for Erin to live somewhere else, somewhere she would want to move inside and settle on a wall that suited her. I propped her up on a bright red chair at the yard sale.

Erin didn’t sell at the sale.

And I had to move her off the chair before someone would buy it. They said they would move her, but they just kept standing there looking nonplussed until I did it.

Erin left in the backseat of a friend’s car.  My friend promised she knew a good home for her, though it definitely won’t be with her. Erin sat staring out the side window as my friend drove away.  She seemed delighted to be traveling again.

Doodling

DOODLING
by Victoria Nations

Doodling things with tentacles
And teeth

That’s not right
It should be beaks and tentacles
And suction cups
And delightfully slimy skin

It should be aquatic
And shape-shifting
And fast

ButBuddhaboard1

There it sits
Furry and toothed
A cunning eye turned up
Staring
And tentacles

I can’t see where all the tentacles are attached
Only an odd number are showing
I’m worried
I think I may have missed one

WISHES

WISHES
by Victoria Nations

I saw the sun sink into the ocean
and the water steamed up where it touched,
and though the ocean was large,
the sun was so much bigger.

I watched the sea boil away as
the sun kept sinking down,
and finally it sat balanced on the ocean floor.
A sheath of glass spread around it
until the sand gave way, brittle glass
breaking as the ocean fell,
sinking into the Earth, making
a smooth glassy tube
lit from within

My heart broke to see the sea creatures
boiled until there was nothing left,
the drifts of shells charred by the heat and
clacking together as they popped like corn
and shattered.

There was nothing in the darkness that fell
traveling down from the sky with the sun,
slamming into the bottom of the ocean.
The sand cooled and crackled in the dark.
I could sense the ocean canyons spread out before me,
But all I could see were stars overhead,
so many falling that everyone’s wishes
would come true before they hit us.

Clatter

CLATTER
by Victoria Nations

The whine of wind pushing the
The clatter of palm fronds and
The clacking of bluejay beaks on
The scritch of roach legs against
The rustle of leaves caught in the
Damp
Dark
Boot jacks
Reach your hand in there
I dare you