Blogging from A-Z: O is for Ophelia (Kifo Island Chronicles)


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“I don’t want to rush your visit, but I would like to discuss Mauve’s prognosis, and some possibilities on the horizon.” His voice was gentle, but Ophelia could hear a note of something unpleasant in the tone; something Marilyn wasn’t going to want to hear, but which had to be said.

Marilyn looked up at the man with her empty eyes, and nodded without saying anything. She’d said less than a hundred words in the three days they had been on Kifo Island.

“We’ll come back, afterwards. “Marilyn looked at her; Ophelia wondered if she was in shock. She didn’t seem to be having any reaction at all. Ophelia took her sister’s arm, and led her after the doctor, who gestured to the small meeting room just outside the main NICU room.

Ophelia helped her into one of the chairs. Marilyn didn’t look up, she just sat there, playing with the vinyl seam.

Doctor Harris sighed softly, and shifted his gaze to Ophelia. “I know you aren’t Mauve’s mother, but you seem better at reaching her than I am. Will you relay this information, when she can hear it?”

Turbulence by Shan Jeniah Burton.

Ophelia nodded. “I’ll do my best.” But could her best come anywhere close to what Mauve and Marilyn needed?

“I’ll give you my private number; either of you may call me if you need to clarify anything.” He paused, and looked at Marilyn again. “Sometimes, mothers can’t absorb the fact that their child is dying. Hopefully she’ll come around – but it might be best if she signed a document allowing you to make decisions, if she can’t. And for you – is there someone you can call to come support you here? A parent, or – ” He spoke carefully, his eyes on Marilyn.

“I can call my mother. She’ll come. Is that all? I’d like to get back to the baby.” While she still could; while Mauve was alive.

“There’s one more thing. Your niece is dying, and that’s a tragedy. But there could be something positive in it.” He took a deep breath, and met Ophelia’s eyes, his were soft and determined. “Mauve could give the gift of life to other families. Has your sister ever discussed her views on organ donation?”

Marilyn bolted up so fast she almost fell. “I need to use the bathroom,” she said, breathlessly, and whirled, almost running from the office, the door slamming behind her.

Ophelia looked after her sister, the weight of the doctor’s question making it hard to push air through her lungs. She wished she thought that Marilyn was going to come  back.

Want to learn more about the Kifo Island Chronicles?

On the hunt for more“O” posts?  Opportunity’s knocking here!




Blogging from A-Z: N is for Norman (Kifo Island Chronicles)

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Norman glared at  the young woman’s backside, scandalously dressed in a business suit, as she strode down the walk and out into the island sunlight.He wanted to tear the documents up, the same way he had the ones she’d sent him, back home. Sent him? No, she’d had them served, all official and proper-like.

Both times.

Norman wished he knew what to make of it. In all the years they’d been married, Alma had never defied him in even the smallest of ways. She had promised to honor and obey, and she was a woman of impeccable integrity.

At least she had been -

Until the Devil, disguised as a beast called cancer, had invaded her body and taken her soul.

Norman supposed some people would think he was crazy. Most people today, though, were held even tighter in Satan’s grip than Alma was – many so long, they couldn’t even see the Deceiver working in their lives, giving with the one hand, and taking with the other. But Alma could see, before the wasting sickness.

“It’s Lucifer’s doing,” he growled, clenching his hand into a fist  . The thick pages crumpled, but resisted him, as though Satan was in the paper, maybe put there by Alma, when she put her name to them, and signed her soul away.

Did Alma know that she’d been duped? Would it even matter to her, or was she too far gone to damnation?

He looked at the stiff legal documents; they poked out of his fist as though still fighting him. He could tear them, like he’s done with the first ones. He could burn them, but fire was Satan’s favorite tool.

They were hot in his hand, damning him to a life alone.

He opened his fist, and the crumpled ball dropped to the floor. He kicked it into the corner behind the door, wanting to curse – but he wouldn’t let the devil have his tongue.

“Satan, you are fallen!. You were cast out! Tempt me as you will!  I will be stronger than Job, and, even though you have taken my wife, you will never have my soul!”

It felt good to shout, to shake his fist at that ruined proof of his wife’s disobedience.

Want to learn more about the Kifo Island Chronicles?

Not getting enough “N” posts?   Need more? Find them here!



WIPpet Wednesday: Francois’s Story

Hi there! Welcome to WIPpet Wednesday -K.L. Schwengel’s weekly blog hop which encourages writers to move their WIPs (works-in-progress) to publication by posting excerpts related to the date.

This month,I’m offering up a taste of my Blogging from A to Z April Challenge. So, today, please allow me to introduce another of my Kifo Island Chronicles characters….

Let’s all give a gentle WIPeteer welcome to Francois Thierry!

Francois is a 45 year old scientist who has lived several years on Kifo Island. He is researching clinical aspects of dying, death, and grieving. He has always been reserved and detached, and he’s nearing the end of a quarter-century long study, and is, at the beginning of this excerpt, looking forward to wrapping things up, and moving into the next phase of his work.

However, life and death have come to have new depth and meaning…

And now, on to the WIPpeting!

WIPpet Math:

Today is April 16, 2014.

  • Today’s math…
  • 16(for the date) + 4(for the month)=20;
  • 20 +1 ( in honor of the one Palindrome Week of the year!; and because it finishes the thought…) =21.
  • Voila! 21 sentences!

“I didn’t ask for this!”

Francois stared at the tidy stack of research notes, and the blank space on the form; the place where he was intended to record, in specific detail, the circumstances of the death he had witnessed an hour ago.

He hadn’t asked that he be any part in this death, or any other, beyond his role as a clinical observer.

4,987 deaths, before this one. He’d recorded the manner and time of each, faithfully, objectively.

Only 13 deaths left to take account of, including the one fresh in his mind. He’d intended, when he sat down, to update the file, and tick it off his tally. But he couldn’t do it.

Francois squeezed his eyes closed against the tears that were blurring the print on the stack of files – pages that held nothing at all of the people they were meant to define.

He’d gutted real lives here, leaving nothing but statistics and the particulars that differentiated one from another. He kept only those that applied to his own research, as though they were nothing more than this.

He turned away from those pages, and thought of the old woman in the hospital bed, her breath growing shallow, the sorrow he hadn’t expected to share in. He hunched his shoulders against the pain, the memory – for the first time in his life, Francois truly felt the grief and permanence of death.

He couldn’t pretend she was nothing other than part of the running tab at the head of those notes, in his computer, on his phone… in his mind.

Francois wouldn’t sterilize her that way – he could still feel her struggle to breathe, to say everything she felt needed saying, the worries she carried with her through whatever passage she made, when her breathing stopped -

Worries that he couldn’t ignore, now. Somehow, through no logic this damned useless research could define or quantify, her worries had become his own.

What will happen next? Will Francois be able to finish his research progress, now that he’s emotionally involved? Will he regain his detachment? What affect will his emotional involvement have on him, as a scientist, and as a human?

Want more Kifo Island Chronicles posts?

These posts are the seeds of a project that will germinate over the next months, so input is especially valuable. No need to feel shy; I’m a friendly sort, and will keep my talons sheathed…for the most part.

Want more WIPpets?


And now I leave you with a song that echoes the sudden personal cataclysm Francois is currently experiencing…



Wild and Whirling Creation: ROW80 Update, 4/16/14 (Palindrome Week)

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Well, hello there!

So, it’s been a bit of a crazy session for me. My daughter, age 9, found poison ivy or sumac – with her scalp and her eyelid. It was a big, oozy, itchy, painful mess, and made for a challenging few days of oatmeal compresses and thinking, days in, of Benadryl, which is now taming the beast. Phew! She actually found her smile and laughter again – we all missed those!

And, while checking on my comments, I found this:

Whew! I’ve just got caught up here, and wow! these Chronicles are really good!

I particularly liked the way the Barry “chapter” was written – I was mesmerized by the description of Corinne and Barry moving across the floor toward one another – and also the Corrine chapter, which continued the mood and provided some juicy details and a great conflict.

Donovan seems a nice chap and precocious Iris intrigued me when she was introduced.

I enjoyed the Exuberance chapter, and now that I’ve read through to this Karina chapter, I think Exuberance’s name fits well with the spirit-squashing (at the very least) that Howard/Howie, who’s charming at the moment, will probably do to her along the lines of what he does to Iris, or worse…

And poor, tortured Francois, he’s a good, very necessary character for the view he’ll provide regarding the business of dying.

The Howard chapter is a great suspenseful build-up to God knows what horror is to follow!
And thankfully, it seems Iris will begin to use the pluck she showed Donovan to combat the Howard-monster!

I had a little trouble with the starts of the chapters Ava and especially Gladys, but that’s small beans compared to the overall awesomeness of this story idea and your excellent writing!


(Thanks to Miss Alister for this lovely confidence-builder!)

Yeah – a wild and whirling session of highs and lows for Palindrome Week! And there may have been some Vulcan zombies, too…


I review my goals at the end of each month, adding or adapting as indicated throughout the round, and at the beginning of each month. I update only those goals I engaged with during that session.

My main focuses this month:

Other goals will be addressed on a secondary basis.

Boisterous skies…one day it’s near 80; the next, brushing freezing.

2014 Blogging:

Build positive blogging habits – post regularly, build queues, answer comments, and share diversely.

For April:

Continue posting on my regular schedule.On target.

Complete April A to Z challenge. On target.

  • Currently developing stories through Week 3.

  • 13/26 stories posted.

Prepare for Story-A-Day May posts. On target.

Respond to comments, and return visits. On target.

  • A little sidetracked by life and a daughter who needed me. Got to a few, though.

Visit three additional A to Z blogs each day, on average. A bit behind, this week, but ahead last.

  • Sunday: 0/3

  • Monday: 1/3

  • Tuesday: 3/3

Spring, reframed….

2014 Writing:

Complete rough drafts of To Be or Not to Be, The Stars Are Fire, and Perchance to Dream.

For April:

Move The Stars are Fire closer to completion, as the conclusion of my CampNaNo effort.On target.

  • 3,767new words.

  • 7,368 April WIP words.

  • Currently writing scene 31/60.Past the halfway point!

  • WIP total: 74,347/~100,000 words.

  • Current NaNo count: 18,440/33,333 words.

Explore my gestating Star Trek: Enterprise fan fiction novel concept, as well as the Last House story collection concept, in the form of short pieces or flash fiction, during April and May.

Explore Kifo Island Chronicles as my 2014 A to Z April Challenge project.

Plot, create, and edit 26 flash fiction pieces for the challenge.On target.

  • 13/26 complete – at the halfway point.

  • Development continues in an as-needed or as-fits-life basis.

I’ve felt like this a lot this week…photo by James B. “Chef Bluebeard” Burton

2014 Hometending:

Continue physical and virtual hometending plans – resetting rooms, cleaning files, and inhabiting my study.

Continue the family room reset.

For April:

Get the computer desk and moved out of the room. Ummmm…two steps forward, and one back…

  • Change of plans – Jeremiah doesn’t want this in his room, after all, and neither does Annalise. I’ve come up with another plan; but it will require other cleaning….so…

Continue claiming my study.

For April:

Move bookcases; buy and place new chair. On target.

  • Continued clearing/organizing the first of the two bookcases.

Set up coffee/refreshment station.Target attained!

  • Hooray! I have snacks and hot beverages available!

2014 Lifetending:

Tweet during one show per week, using appropriate hashtag.Target attained!

  • Indirectly. I made one Tweet, via Facebook, with hashtags, during Jeopardy!.

Eat salad and/or drink fruit or vegetable smoothies at least 3 times a week.On target.

  • Two salads. Meals, more like – and there was avocado! =)

  • 2/3 attained.

Waiting for THIS sky!

Seek out playful new ways to move and challenge my body.

For April:.

Choose two playful actions for each day; do several times each.Not so much.

  • I did these on Sunday and Monday, not Tuesday.

Sponsor Visits (and some extras!):

You can cheer on other ROWers ,too!

And, just when you thought it was safe to go out in the galaxy….yup. You guessed it! VULCAN ZOMBIES!!!!

Blogging from A-Z: M is for Mauve (Kifo Island Chronicles)

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Doctor Harris held the baby gently, at an arm’s length, her feet against his chest, then firmly manipulated her tiny body. Even though Lara knew that it was impossible, she still rooted for baby Mauve to push into the man’s burly chest, or cry -

Or anything.

Anything at all.

But, of course, she didn’t. Couldn’t.

Her mother sat in the upholstered rocker, her gaze fixed on the man who held her infant daughter, her face faraway and expressionless. She hunched over her own middle, thin arms wrapped around herself as though to shield her. She couldn’t be more than twenty, but the marks on her arms said that she was very determined at escaping- or had been, until reality presented itself in the form of a beautiful baby girl.

The doctor went through all the reflex tests – not a glimmer of response from the baby; not a glimmer of hope for the mother. Around them, the NICU was alive; nurses bustling about, parents rocking babies, holding babies, chatting with one another about their progress or setbacks, or, like this mother, sitting in stunned silence, unable to comprehend the mixture of love and hopelessness that they felt for this tiny person who had just entered their lives, and was already in danger of leaving it.

The doctor passed the baby to Lara as he turned to the computer. He had an expert, reassuring manner of handling the infants, even with the most complex life support and monitoring equipment. Lara settled Mauve in the nestlike incubator, fitting a clean and rolled gauze square into each clenched fist. There was little reason – this baby would never open her hands, never use these muscles, except during a seizure. Already, she was on enough anti-seizure medication to have toxic side-effects – and she still seized several times a day.

This post is in memory of Elijah James Burton, July 13-25, 2003.

“I’m sorry.” Doctor Harris used that tone they all affected with bereaved parents. Kind, but distant – a Joe Friday delivery of simple facts that allowed them to keep doing this job that held both tragedy and joy.

“Sorry…” The mother echoed, tonelessly, as though she was tasting the word, but not taking any meaning from it.

“No!” said the other girl, at the same time. She hovered over the young mother’s shoulder, as though she could protect her if she only stayed near enough.

“I am sorry,” Doctor Harris said again, meeting the stunned and accusing syllable with compassion. He frowned a bit as the child’s mother just sat there, hugging herself and rocking slightly.

“Then there’s no hope?” the dark-eyed girl asked.

“It’s as near total ancephaly as I’ve seen. If she had any less of her amygdala or brain stem, she would not have survived to this point, and quite possibly would have died before birth.”

A baby girl without a brain.

Sometimes, Lara saw things here that were unspeakably cruel, and she wondered why she stayed.

The girl – she couldn’t be more than sixteen – came nearer, stared at the screen. The glow bathed her face, as her composure crumpled, and she began to sob. “This just isn’t fair!”

Lara sighed to herself. No. It wasn’t fair. It never was.

As if the exclamation had awoken her from whatever trance she’d escaped to, the mother leapt from the chair, and pressed her hand against the plastic that separated her from Mauve. Then she stared at Lara, and stabbed out at her with a trembling finger. “You have to save my baby!”

Want to learn more about the Kifo Island Chronicles?

Might you enjoy more magnificent “M” posts? Massive numbers here….mmmmm!



Blogging from A-Z: L is for Linwood (Kifo Island Chronicles)

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“Linwood? That you, Linwood?”

Linwood turned slowly. No, it wasn’t Father, and the accent – not an accent that belonged to the Canyon, but one he’d heard, and knew. He tried to dredge up a memory, but his mind stubbornly twisted everything, back to the Canyon, and his young wife, waiting at home – waiting for him …

“Linwood? Are you all right? Come and see the new foal Pequita dropped, just yesterday.”

The words were as half-familiar to him as the air, or the sound of the water. As Water Whispers sleeping – but how could she be sleeping, when her chest neither rose nor fell?

Linwood shook his head, to clear it, or to deny the shadowy memory, or maybe both.

He looked at the small, dark, wiry man, wizened with great age. He seemed somehow familiar, and yet not. Everything was half-known; nothing was as it should be.

Havasu Falls, Havasupai Reservation, Arizona. Photo by James B. “Chef Bluebeard” Burton

He walked on – or shuffled. He could not make his legs and feet move – but was he not the finest dancer in all the Southwest, leaping higher and spinning faster than any other? Was that not how he had first wooed Water Whispers, and then, while the afternoon ripened, hadn’t he taken her to a hidden side canyon, behind a sheltering wall of tumbled boulders? Had they not lain together upon a huge, sun-warmed rock until the stars looked down on them from above?

He was looking for flowers – or the water. He wasn’t sure which.

Why wasn’t her chest moving, when he’d left her? Why was her hair silver, and not the deep blue black, smelling of sunshine and desert air, that he loved to bury his face in each night?

Linwood decided not to think about it. No. He would gather flowers for Water Whispers, and visit the pools. And, when he went home, he would give her them to her, and she would put them in a clay jar on the sandstone table. They would walk together to bathe and splash in the turquoise pools, and her hair would be gleaming in the sun, and he would leap and spin and dance for her, before they walked to the side canyon, and the sun-warmed rock.

Linwood walked on, losing himself in the dream, but, beneath it, was the vision of his wife lying in their bed, still as the rock cliffs, chill as the night air.

Want to learn more about the Kifo Island Chronicles?

Like what you see? More lovely “L” links here!




Coffee and Conversation: Writing Process Blog Tour


Grab a cuppa and a comfy seat, and let’s chat a while.

It’s Monday again - time for Coffee and Conversation.

When I was six, my familywas driving on a highway late at night. Streaks of headlights and taillights painted the dark. For the first time, I realized that each car held people living lives as important to them as mine was to me.

I wanted to know what those lives were, and to share my own…

This week, I’ve got something different, because my WANA friend Gretchen Wing tapped me for the Writing Process Blog Tour. I highly recommend Gretchen’s blog, Wing’s World – it’s full of travel and life observations offered in a slightly quirky, upbeat way.

Thanks, Gretchen! This was fun, and I learned some things about me!

1. What am I currently engaged with?

  • I’ve been writing Star Trek fan fiction since my early teens. It’s evolved with me; now there’s a strong original fantasy element. I ‘m writing a fanfition/fantasy double series, Trueborn. Each stands alone, but there’s a richer story when read together.
  • I also blog regularly, and have poetry and short stories in various stages of development.


No, this is not how I write …but she’s definitely inspirational!

2. How does my work differ from others in its genre?

  • For me, writing is delicious play. I think that makes my writing different – the more I embrace the notion of writing as play, the more individual my writing becomes.

  • I tend to see things differently than many people do, and that perspective appears in my writing. Children in my stories are independent and capable; many, like my own children, do not go to school. They don’t have much need or patience for adults who interfere in their lives. The life I live with my family isn’t a parents-as-bosses-of-children model, and neither are many of the families I write about. Even when the parents think they are in control, the children have their own definite goals, and ideas on how to go about achieving them.
  • Oh, and there are Vulcans(even though sometimes well-hidden). I do love my Vulcans!

3. Why do I write what I do?

  • I write what I write for simple reasons -it’s what I love, what compels me, drives me nuts, makes me laugh, cry, ponder, or seethe.

  • It’s what fires my imagination…

  • I write to touch you, know you, share myself with you, and invite you to share, too!

  • To make statements about things that fall under a code of silence that break and shatter lives.

  • I find strength and healing in honesty.

  • I write the people who populate my mind, the places I imagine between the scenes in shows and movies, the threads my fancy weaves between disparate things, the things I’ve noticed and discovered in myself and others.

  • I write the journey of my life, and how it connects to the wider world. It’s my breadth and my depths, and how I live…
  • I write what I write because it’s who I am – as a writer, and a human.


Creative process…writing and editing.

4. How does my writing process work?

  • I like to noodle around for a while before writing. Many ideas come while I’m doing unrelated things, especially taking a hot shower, driving, hometending, being with my family, playing games…you know, living.
  • I often jot notes and random snips of what I’m thinking of before I begin planning.
  • I use Rock Your Plot, to develop ideas. It’s open-ended, so the story can go where it will, and structured enough that I don’t wander around aimlessly, waiting for something -anything! – interesting to happen
  • I like 750 Words for my initial writing – it’s an expanse of plain white screen, with no containment field. It’s a playground for my raw ideas.
  • I move the rough draft to my word processing program, and mark it up with color-coded highlighters – bright, playful and useful. After a rest, I start revising, and continue until I’m pleased with the result.
  • Larger projects – anything that might become book-length – move to Scrivener, where I can develop them in subsequent drafts.
  • I enjoy participating in writing challenges. I like the stretching, and use these to advance projects and ideas I’m toying with. This month, I’m advancing WIPs that have been waiting for CampNaNoWriMo, and giving shape and substance to Kifo Island, a locale that’s been tickling my imagination for a year.
  • Overarching all other challenges is ROW80. I arrange my writing projects around the four 80 day rounds. Twice-weekly updates keep my focused on my goals, so that I have something to report. It is also a wonderful community of writers, at all levels of ability.

LIfeWriting. =D

For next week, I’ve tapped my just-about lifelong best friend, and partner-in-crime for those first fanfics, Eden Mabee. Here’s a bit about her, but, trust me, she’s way more than this!

Eden Mabee is slowly making a life out of finding the creative and the enjoyable in everything. She collects feral cats, odd do-dads, historical trivia and lots of books–all of which she uses to build fictional worlds. Her blog Many Worlds From Many Minds follows her creative journey in prose and photography. You can find her pictures on Imgur and Flickr under her Twitter name @Kymele. She lives somewhere in New York State where her husband and son to inspire her almost daily.

How about you? Whether it’s writing or any other goal, how do you approach it? What makes it special to you? Why do you do what you do? Let me pour you a cuppa, and let’s chat!


Word, words, words!