Blogging From A-Z: U is for Ubunta (Kifo Island Chronicles)

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Ubunta ran, her eyes unseeing, in her mind the memory of the long grassy plains of the veldt, where it seemed she could run forever, and never find an end to the land.

She stumbled, tripped, fell hard, sand in her eyes and her mouth.Panting, she rose to hands and knees, then knelt, sandy hands cradling her middle, staring around her, her mind groping for reason.  She looked upon an endless stretch, not of grasses, but of water. The sun shone down upon it, as it rose and fell, as though breathing with its own life, and it glittered like false promises in Ubunta’s eyes, searing her mind, making it impossible to think.

Ubunta knelt there, not understanding, and held to the hardened swelling of her belly. She wanted this child -she wanted it not to be taken from her, as the others had been. She hadn’t run for herself as much as for this baby, who deserved a chance to live.

“But what kind of life can I give a child, on this Island of Death?” she asked the water, in Swahili. And was it enough, to carry and bear a child, only because the others had been taken, and there had been nothing she could do to stop it?

Ubunta sat cross-legged, staring at the water, and the question was in her breath, in the sound of the waves as they slapped upon the rocks and slurred up over the sand.

Image by Nature Wallpapers 4U;via Wikimedia Commons. Click for page link.

She had nothing to offer, nothing but love – but how could it be love, to bring a child into such a life as this? She couldn’t go home; she had shamed them all when she ran away, and more with the things she had done to survive. It didn’t matter that she had seen no choice, in any of it. The shame was hers, and she owned it.

But it was not this child’s shame.

She would not go back to Aneesa’s. No, nothing, never, would make her do that!

So what was left?

The sun was too bright, as it settled slowly above the rising waters, painting them with colors so beautiful and bright they pained Ubunta’s head, and crashed into her soul. It was a beautiful place, this Island of Death. No place to live, perhaps, for a mother and child unhomed and unhoped.

“But maybe, a place to die…a place of beauty. Would that not make a pleasing death?”

The words had whispered through her lips before Ubunta knew she was thinking them; but, once out, they swallowed her, as the sky was swallowing up the sun…


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WIPpet Wednesday: Mauve’s Story

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.

WIPpet Math:

Today is April 23, 2014.

  • Today’s math…
  • 2+3= 5(adding the digits of the date) 5+ 4=9(adding the digit of the month)=9 sentences, today.

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

Warning: Raw Honesty and Potential Grief Triggers past this point. Please proceed with caution.

Let’s all give a loving WIPeteer welcome to Mauve Carson

Mauve is two months old, and she’s dying. She’s lived her entire life in a coma. Her story is told from the point of view of the NICU nurse assigned to her care.

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.

This post is a loving tribute to Elijah James Burton, July13-25, 2003. <3

Mauve is very close to my soul. Her story is the most autobiographical I’ve written for this challenge.

On July 13,2003, after a textbook pregnancy, our second child, Elijah James, was born. It was a hard labor, and, eventually, forceps were used, because he was in distress. He wasn’t breathing, and, once, he was resuscitated, he was whisked off to the NICU before I even saw his face.

I was luckier than Mauve’s mother. When Elijah was four hours old, I met him. Our gazes met. I knew that he recognized my voice, and his were the wisest, most accepting, most peaceful eyes I have ever seen.

The next day, Elijah was put into a medically induced coma, in the hopes that his seizures could be abated.

Four days after that, still in a coma, he had a massive, two-minute grand mal seizure. I feel that whatever made him unique and human vanished in that violent electrical storm of the brain.

Five days after that, we were told by the neuroneonatologist – a specialist who made grand rounds in the NICU monthly, that Elijah had “a nearly flat brain wave architecture” – not brain dead, but very near.

The next afternoon, Elijah died peacefully in my husband’s arms. He never woke up, never cried. He simply slipped away.

There’s not much more to say, except that he is with me always, every moment. He makes me a better mother, and a better person, because I know how very precious life is, and how fragile.

Will you do something for me, for us? Will you do something sweet, right now, for someone you love?

Will Mauve’s family find peace and healing? Will they be shattered by her life, and her death? Can there be meaning, when a newborn dies?

Last question: Have you done that something sweet and loving yet? If not, please do. I’ll wait.

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?

I’ll leave you with the one song I have sung to all three of my babies…


Blogging from A-Z: T is for Timothy (Kifo Island Chronicles)

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Drea threw one of the couch pillows at the door. It made a muffled but potent thud. The cats, who had crouched low at the sudden explosion of sound, slunk beneath the couch as Drea whirled back to face him. “I came here – I came, even with the ghastly purpose of this place -”

Tim could hear her quick sharp breaths, far more potent than the sound the pillow had made. Her blue-gray eyes seemed almost to snap as she glared at him.

He gathered his own impotent breath, and said, into her pause, “There’s nothing ghastly about it. “

He needed to rest, to prepare for his next breath, and he could feel a coughing spell rising. Maybe it would hold off long enough that he could say what needed to be said, to help her to understand…

When she opened her mouth to speak again, he raised one hand in a waiting gesture, and reached for hers with the other, bringing her gently to the couch where they had spent so many hours – on his therapies, watching television, petting the cats and each other…and talking. Always, they talked.

“It’s not ghastly to me, Drea. I want to be here. This is where-”

“Where you want to die!”

She flung the words at him harder than she’d thrown the pillow; an accusation meant to hurt, the way she was hurting. But Tim didn’t accept her assignment of guilt. He’d never lied to her, and she’d gone to every appointment with him, over the last ten months. She knew; he’d made sure she had books and people to talk to, so that she would know. He couldn’t be responsible, if she refused to believe what everyone and everything had told her.

Oxygen:the stuff of life…By Dr. Warwick Hillier (Australian National University) via Wikimedia Commons.

“Yes, ” he said, simply, a syllable forced out just ahead of the coughing coughing almost choked out by the blood rising from his ruined lungs.

Drea got up, striding away, returning with the box of tissues and the wastebasket, which she placed forcefully, as though that could erase the stark reality of cystic fibrosis. The fury in her eyes was gone, now, replaced by the telltale sheen of tears, and she pressed her teeth so tightly together that her jawline was trembling. She curled herself into the other end of the couch, facing away from him.

He couldn’t stop coughing, and, when there was a small space between spasms, he used it to draw gasping breaths, his entire body straining and starving for air despite the canula in his nose that delivered a steady diet of concentrated oxygen. His lungs were disintegrating into dried and useless chunks – they couldn’t digest enough to sustain him.

Maybe it was as well that Drea sobbed. Tim wanted to, but the coughing robbed him of his own tears.

He didn’t want to leave her. He didn’t want to die -here, or anyplace else.

Want to learn more about the Kifo Island Chronicles?

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Creative Potential: ROW80 Update 4/20/14

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Well, hello there!

Ever think you’ve got things all figured out, only to have new possibilities arise and swirl things into a state of lovely chaos?

Yup, that’s where I am!

  • Earlier this week, I read this post by Eden Mabee. Now, as some of you may know, we’ve been friends pretty near our whole lives; and, for that long, she’s been tugging me out of my comfort zone. So – I will be doing JuNoWriMo this year! My plan is to finish the rough draft of The Stars are Fire, then move on to Perchance to Dream, which will carry me closer to my 2014 goal of completing my three “hanging” WIPs. And, at this point, 50K in a month will hardly cause me to break a sweat!

  • A comment on a post I wrote in January may have led me to the perfect home for my fan fiction. I’ll be checking into that, and I’ll say more when I know more. Early indications are good! =)

And now, for what I’ve been up to:


  • Goals reviewed monthly.

  • Additions/ adaptations made throughout round.

  • Update lists only goals engaged with during current session.

My main focus this monthis these two challenges:

Other goals will be addressed on a secondary basis.

Volumes could (and may be, someday!) about the things this woman has gotten me into!

2014 Blogging:

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

For April:

Continue posting on my regular schedule.Target attained!

Complete April A to Z challenge. On target.

  • 19/26 stories posted. Only seven to go!

Prepare for Story-A-Day May posts. Target attained!

  • See Writing, below, for details.

Respond to comments, and return visits. Target attained!

  • Continuing to respond to some each day; retuning visits at that time. =)

Visit three additional A to Z blogs each day, on average. A bit behind.

  • Sunday: 3/3

  • Monday: 0/3 (I totally forgot!)

  • Tuesday: 4/3

My plates are filled with delicious projects!

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.

  •   3,408 new words.

  • 15,383April WIP words.

  • Scene 35/60.

  • WIP total:     82,384/~100,000 words.

  • NaNo count: 26,643/33,333    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 my2014 A to Z April Challenge project.

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

  • 19/26 complete.

  • Development continues on as-needed/ as-fits-life basis.

Create basic timeline for Enterprise fan fiction (2014 Story-a-Day May).

For April:

Complete plotting for 31 stories by April 30.On target – in a big way!

  • Completed GMCDs through Plot Point 1.

  • Watched several episodes.

  • Ideas for individual stories coalescing.

Building something wonderful…one step at a time!

2014 Hometending:

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

For April:

Continue the family room reset. On target, more or less.

  • Moved out to the front porch; cleaning this will help with the shifting of the family room/kitchen.

Continue claiming my study.

For April:

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

  • A tiny bit of sorting.

2014 Lifetending:

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

  • 1 salad.

  • 3 smoothies.

  • 4/3 attained.

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

For April:.

Choose two playful actions for each day; do several times each.Almost

  • Sunday: yes

  • Monday: 2/3

  • Tuesday: yes

Walk at least 1.5 miles each week; at the track, on treadmill, or measured by pedometer outside. On target.

  • .4 mile outside, with kids and dog.

  • .4 miles on treadmill.

  • .8 /1.5 so far this week.

Play with the kids outside or at the Y pool at least once each week. Target attained!

  • Outside bubble play with Annalise.

Ride my bicycle at least once a week. Getting closer…

  • Checked my bike out; need to lubricate brakes, seat adjustment, gear shifts.

Get a workout at the Y or with a video at least once a week. Target attained!

  • Cardio only workout with Jeremiah (he’s not old enough to use the Y’s weight room): Treadmill, recumbent bike, elliptical.

Weaving stories, words, and my life…

Sponsor Visits (and some extras!):

Well, that’s it for me. I’ve got three more blogposts and 1,112 NaNo words to write before I sleep, and this home could use some pretty serious tending…so, until next time, I’ll leave you with something else Eden’s gotten me into…this guy named Art, and this other guy named Paul !

Why not pop in on the other ROWers?

Blogging From A-Z: S is for Serrah (Kifo Island Chronicles)

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Serrah was crying. And she was all alone.

No, not all alone. There were doctors and nurses here. But not the ones she knew from home.

Mommy and Daddy weren’t here. Wascally, her puppy, wasn’t here. She was too sick for them to be here all the time, the doctors said.

Weren’t they supposed to be, when their little girl was sick?

She didn’t want to cry. It made it hard to breathe, and it made her heart hurt. And that made her cry more, and that hurt her…

She tried to look at the picture of Mommy and Daddy, and the one of her and Wascally. But she couldn’t see them with all these tears in her eyes.

That made her cry harder, too.

Serrah wanted to curl into a ball, like she used to when she was little and sad. But now she was almost four, and she had too many tubes and wires in her to curl up without making something beep. The beeping always hurt her ears. She never told that to anyone but Wascally – when she was in the hospital, Mommy and Daddy always looked worried. She didn’t want to make them feel that way any more.

She didn’t want to feel this way, either.

Albert Roosenboom [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

But she didn’t know how not to. All she could do was to hold to the quilt she and Mommy had made together. She didn’t know if it made her feel better or worse, to smell home and Wascally in it, but it was something that she knew, and so she breathed in as deeply as she could, and, after a while, her tears stopped, and she started to fall asleep.


It was Dara, her very most favorite nurse. She had short curly dark hair – like the black sheep in the song – and blue eyes that always seemed happy.

She hummed when she came in, but always stopped if Serrah asked her to.

And she always let Serrah know she was here. Some of the nurses didn’t.

‘I’m awake,” she said, but she didn’t ask to sit up. She was tired, and sad, and lonely.

“There’s someone here who wants to say hi to you, if you want company.”

“Mommy and Daddy?” Serrah said, and now she did try to sit up, and, just like that, Dara was there to help her.

But Mommy and Daddy always just came in. Dara shook her head, and her smile was big. “They’ll be here in a little while. This is someone I told about you, someone who wants to be your friend.” Serrah liked that Dara never talked to her in a high voice like most of the nurses and all the doctors did.

“Who is it? ” Serrah asked.

“It’s my friend Iris, and her friend Pequita. Do you want to meet them?”

Serrah nodded. Dara looked like Mommy looked, on Christmas morning. Like she had a wonderful secret.

And she did.

A big girl came in – a girl darker than anybody Serrah knew. Her bright white teeth flashed; her smile was bigger than Dara’s.

And, next to her, on a leash just like Wascally’s, there was a teeny tiny little pony!


Want to learn more about the Kifo Island Chronicles?

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Coffee and Conversation: In Defense of Screen Media


Ah, it’s getting on toward that time again….time for me to take a stand in favor of skipping Screen-Free Week.

In the last year, we’ve watched, and enjoyed, and learned:

  •  Dragnet and Adam-12, and discussions of legal and ethical matters.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, and a foray into reading  and writing fan fiction -and learning a great deal about the process of writing, too.
  • Lots of documentaries, news,  and talk shows.
  • Comedy, and Anime, and a world of conversation, explorationand laughter.
  • Star Trek: Enterprise, and the benefits and risks of relating to other species and other worlds…and more ethics, physics, and humor. Plus great storytelling!

Oh, and there have been many times when we’ve been otherwise occupied – camping, cooking, walking, swimming, going to events or museums, playing in the yard, reading, drawing, hometending….

Screens are part of life. Not the enemy, not an addiction…

A part of a rich and varied life – just the way we like it!

How about you and your family? Are you planning to limit or eliminate screens from May 5-11? Why or why not?

Originally posted on shanjeniah:

Sit down with a cuppa, and let’s chat a while…

Last week, Campaign for a Commercial -Free Childhood promoted its annual Screen-Free Week. Many parents turned off the screens in their homes. Libraries and bookstores offered up alternatives; board games sellers and family attractions hopes for a few of your dollars, in lieu of viewing.

We did not participate. Everyone here had freedom, all week, to use television, computers, videogames, and Kindles exactly as they pleased, without limits or even gentle hints that they might want to turn off or disconnect – just the same as every other week.

Here’s why:

We don’t have a problem with how televisions and other screen delivery systems are used in our home – not by us, and not by our children, either.

On a recent evening, we were gathered in my room, me writing on my laptop, and Annalise and Jeremiah playing

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Blogging from A-Z: R is for Robert (Kifo Island Chronicles)

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Robert sat on the back porch, kicking at the step.

Thump. Thump. Thumpthump.

“Robert, stop that. Your brother is napping!”

Mom’s voice through the open window was too loud, too high, and too sharp. Robert held his head; Mom got mad when he tried to plug his ears, ’cause that was ‘diss-specful.’ She didn’t want him to be loud. But she was even louder!

“It’s not fair!” he whisper-hissed, pretending he was a Cobra Bad Guy. He liked to be a bad guy. Mom and Dad were always telling him to be a good boy, but being a good boy meant doing what they said, when they said, the way they said.

But Robert usually couldn’t do everything that would make him a Good Boy. He couldn’t always remember that he had a brother, when Joey was sleeping. He didn’t know when he was too loud, or why Mom and Dad could talk about anything they wanted, but, when he did, he was “a pest”, and “went on and on, even when no one wants to listen.”

Photo by Shan Jeniah Burton, used with permission of Jeremiah F. Burton

He didn’t always want to listen to them , either!

What made things OK for them, and not for him?

Because he was a kid!

“And it’s not fair!” The Cobra Bad Guy was mad now, and mad was bad, at least if he let the mad come out in a yell, or throwing, or hitting….

But the mad had to come out. Robert couldn’t hold it. It was bigger and stronger than he was.

He could run though. That’s what Dad had said. He could run around the yard, and up and down the quiet sandy road, until he was tired.

So he ran for a while – but running where he was told to did not make the Cobra Bad Guy happy. The Cobra Bad Guy was a bad guy, after all, and what made a bad guy a bad guy?

Doing what he wasn’t supposed to, that’s what.

But what bad thing would the Cobra Bad Guy do?

He could spy. Yes. Mom and Dad hated when he listened to their “grown-up”talks. Usually, what they said was boring and didn’t make any sense, but sometimes he listened, just because he wanted to get even and they didn’t like it any better than he liked being bossed around.

This time, though, they were talking about Uncadan, and now Robert had to listen, had to know, because Uncadan was his very best friend in all the world. And Uncadan was sick, and Mom and Dad never answered when he asked about him.

“I don’t know how we’re going to tell Robbie,” Mom said. She was crying, and Robert almost forgot that he was a Cobra Bad Guy, almost forgot how much he hated being called Robbie when his name was Robert. Robert Daniel Saylor- Daniel, like Uncadan was. He almost forgot, and went to hug Mom – but then she’d know he had been listening.

But then he remembered that Cobra Bad Guys didn’t hug crying people. They made people cry, because they were bad guys.

He stayed where he was.

Dad was hugging Mom when Robert peeked in at the window, keeping to the side and hoping they wouldn’t look. “I think we need to just tell him. He’s six, now – old enough to learn about these things. He’s going to grow up, and we can’t protect him from the hard things forever.”

Hard things? Robert’s finger found the loose paint at the edge of the window, and slipped underneath to peel it back. It jammed under his nail, and he almost yelled, but bit his finger instead.

When he looked again, Mom was staring at Dad, and her face was all red and messy from her crying. “But how are we supposed to do that? How are we supposed to tell a little boy that his favorite uncle – his only friend in the whole world – is dead?”

Dead? Uncadan? No!

Robert Daniel Saylor, who had been a Cobra Bad Guy, ran from the porch, ran to the ocean, ran to get away -

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