Some days are like that: Daily writing Exercise

Another daily writing exercise—some day I’m sure I’ll regret putting up such random stuff on this blog.


Some days are like that.

They creep up on you so quiet that before you hear the whisper of their footsteps, they already have their arms around you, looking over your shoulders, nudging your cheek with their noses like the familiar, errant lovers you let back into your life more than once, only to regret it.

They ask to share your coffee and hang around as you check your mail, or get ready to go out to the office, or the shop or wherever it is you go out, and by lunchtime, you have given in to their charms. You have wandered with them hand in hand, around your home, dreaming, or across the yard, chatting with the neighbor, or playing mindless games on a computer screen, forgetting errands  and grocery.

And those days, the rascals that they are, wind themselves down, and when you turn around and look, they’re gone, having taken their seductive assess off to beguile another unwary sod. It is night, and time for bed.

As you turn in, you wonder where you went wrong, at what precise moment you lost control, and that perfect day, as full of possibilities as the past, came up to naught. You close your eyes. You’re full of naive intentions, having learned nothing, determined to succeed, impatient for the next morning.

But you never know when another of those days turns up and you lose yourself all over again, left with another day come and gone, and nothing to show for it.

Some days are like that, and that is all that there is to it.


Dark Half of the Hourglass: Daily Writing Exercise

Hourglass and pencil

Hourglass and pencil

I started this blog as a place to put in a bit of writing practice on a daily basis. It has been a while since I wrote here for practice, so here goes:



Curved glass walls bear me down. I slip and slide, slow but relentless as I scribble on the glass, pencil in hand, and think of Alice, wonder whether she would have written all that clever stuff down instead of blabbering it,  if only she had such a pencil as she followed the rabbit. My writing makes about as much sense as Alice picturing herself crossing the earth and coming out at the other end to find people hanging upside down, but that does not stop me using my pencil.

I’ve found out I’m slipping down an immense hourglass— I can’t go back up nor stop. I’m only given this pencil, and a few silent conversations with fellow sliders. We could compare notes about what we scribbled, but the trouble is, none of us can speak, and I’m not sure anyone can listen. We may not touch because we fall in parallel lines.

We’re all headed towards the dark side of the hourglass. I don’t remember when I figured this out, and how. But I know that in the dark side we would continue to fall, unseeing–only this time the fall would be much faster because we would not slip along the glass edges, but hurtle down straight, into the unknown. No one knows what happens then. Not that I’ve asked, but since we can’t talk and no one flits by telling us anything, I think no one knows.

Given that I have a pencil, and nothing much else to do, (I remember hunger, pain, warm and cold, cruel and kind as words I once scribbled, I no longer know what they feel like), I will live in my pencil.  I will now strive to forget the bit about up or down. In the length of pencil left me, I’ll stop trying to make sense of it all: I no longer  want to leave notes for someone who, who knows when, will slide down the same track. All I’ll do is live in the now, feel my hand, my pencil, my writing, the glass, and let thoughts and sense take care of themselves.

I think I’m ready for the dark half of the hourglass.

What is Normal?

Normal is an hourglass

What is normal?

Normalcy has many definitions— probably as many as there are people in this world.

Recently, I heard a statement: Anything or anyone can be normal no matter how bizarre or extreme, you just have to get used to it.

In some societies female infanticide is normal, in others cannibalism used to be normal, in some societies equality between men and women is normal, in others, patriarchy or matriarchy. For a thief, stealing is normal, for a priest, praying is normal.

Should we define normalcy? What are the advantages of defining it? Disadvantages? Is there something that is normal for you, and is completely abnormal for someone else?

Is ‘normalcy’ the name for ‘what we’re used to’— if not, then what is ‘Normal’?

In Which the Ninja Cap’n tells you Why Critique Partners Rock!!

Alex J. Cavanaugh has been amazing blog-friend since April last year, when I met him as one of the hosts of the A To Z Challenge. We’re co-hosts this year  and his warm, friendly presence has been a big source of support for me and the entire team.

He’s now coming out with a new book—CassaFire, the sequel to his first book, CassaStar. Today’s he is a guest on this blog, telling us all about critique partners and his experience with them…visit him and leave a comment during his book tour for a chance to win CassaFire, CassaStar, and a CassaFire tote bag and mug.


Critique partners are important. Maybe not as vital as air, but to a writer, they are definitely in the top ten.

For CassaStar, I had two test readers. They weren’t writers, just readers who enjoyed science fiction. They provided some great feedback, but neither could offer detailed writing tips. (Although one is still my go-to guy for dialogue.)

After completing revisions on my second book, I knew I needed more. (I was really feeling the pressure to make CassaFire better.) I put out a call for help on my blog and eventually selected Rusty, Jeffrey, and Anne. Trust me, it was the best writing decision I ever made. Now I have three critique partners who rock!

What are the advantages? Your critique partners see mistakes you don’t. They notice repetitions of words and phrases. They catch when something seems out of place or awkward. They come to the manuscript fresh, so they don’t read what you meant, only what you wrote. And they’ll be able to suggest how to fix the problems since they are writers as well.

If you’ve never sent work to a critique partner, there is always a sense of fear. What if he hates it? What if I suck? What if he rips it to shreds? Rest assured, if you selected a good critique partner, you’ll be all right. Yes, you could end up with a bad partner. (That’s when you say thanks and find someone else!) But critiques are rarely harsh or demeaning. The comment are meant to make your manuscript better. And you’ll often discover strengths you never knew you possessed.

My three critique partners were awesome and added so much to the quality of my writing. I considered every suggestion and never felt threatened or angry with the comments. Besides, how could one be angry when you see a comment like this:

  “We’ll have to play when you’re not rusty then.” – “Hey! That’s my name! Woo hoo! I’m in your book.”

Now, go find yourself a critique partner or two!

And if you already have critique partners, let me know why they rock. The Ninja Captain wants to know…



by Alex J. Cavanaugh

CassaStar was just the beginning…

The Vindicarn War is a distant memory and Byron’s days of piloting Cosbolt fighters are over. He has kept the promise he made to his fallen mentor and friend – to probe space on an exploration vessel. Shuttle work is dull, but it’s a free and solitary existence. The senior officer is content with his life aboard the Rennather.

The detection of alien ruins sends the exploration ship to the distant planet of Tgren. If their scientists can decipher the language, they can unlock the secrets of this device. Is it a key to the Tgren’s civilization or a weapon of unimaginable power? Tensions mount as their new allies are suspicious of the Cassan’s technology and strange mental abilities.

To complicate matters, the Tgrens are showing signs of mental powers themselves; the strongest of which belongs to a pilot named Athee, a woman whose skills rival Byron’s unique abilities. Forced to train her mind and further develop her flying aptitude, he finds his patience strained. Add a reluctant friendship with a young scientist, and he feels invaded on every level. All Byron wanted was his privacy…

Available now!

Science fiction – space opera/adventure

Print ISBN 978-0-9827139-4-5, $15.95, 6×9 Trade paperback, 240 pages

EBook ISBN 978-0-9827139-6-9, $4.99, available in all formats

CassaFire is the sequel to Cavanaugh’s first book, CassaStar, an Amazon Top Ten Best Seller:

“…calls to mind the youthful focus of Robert Heinlein’s early military sf, as well as the excitement of space opera epitomized by the many Star Wars novels. Fast-paced military action and a youthful protagonist make this a good choice for both young adult and adult fans of space wars.” – Library Journal

Visit the author’s site at

Barnes and Noble –

Amazon –

Amazon Kindle –


Dear Writers, Share Some Advice…?

Stein on Writing

Stein on Writing

Found a great example of Show not Tell today– ‘an evolution from telling to showing’ as Sol Stein puts it:

He took a walk.

He walked four blocks.

He walked four blocks slowly.

He walked the four blocks as if it were the last mile.

He walked as if against an unseen wind, hoping someone would stop him.

I think I’m going to tape this example to my study wall.

Have you recently found some writing advice, a concrete example, or a writing book that was helpful?


Blood Orchids and Growing Old

I met Toby Neal during the A to Z Challenge last year. She has become a great blog-friend ever since, and today she is here on Daily (w)rite as a guest, to talk about life, aging, and her new book, Blood Orchids.

Blood Orchids is available as a FREE download on Saturday, Mar 3, Sun 4, and Mon. 5. Go find it now!

Take it away, Toby!!


Getting older. It’s a popular subject these days, and recently my husband and I had a tough year with health issues. Still, even aging brings gifts and I thought I’d share a few I’ve found.

  • The kids are grown. Unlike most of my generation who waited to have kids, I was a mom at 22 and an empty nester by 42. We miss them, the number of rubber slippers by the front door down to only two pairs, but we celebrate the awesome people they are and think happy thoughts of grandparenting someday and being done with college costs.
  • You can afford the hot-babe car. I have one, and maybe I don’t look like a hot babe in it, but when I put down the sunroof and lay down some rubber it hardly f**king matters, I feel so great.
  • You know who you are. For better for worse, half a century of experience has taught us who we are and what we’re about, and I for one have stopped apologizing or trying to be different.
  • You have time-tested, loyal friends. Like good wine, friendships ripen and richen and develop depth, complexity and nuance that has to do with shared history and story.
  • You learn what really matters. I can’t say what it is for you, but for me its doing meaningful work that helps others, following my dream of writing (wherever it leads) and being a person of integrity.
  • You find the courage of your convictions. With the hourglass sifting your days more rapidly than ever, you may find yourself saying and doing things you didn’t expect—circulating a petition, marching in a parade, writing a book, and starting a nonprofit. (Yep, I surprised myself with all the aforementioned)
  • You savor things. You learn wonderful experiences and even miserable ones shouldn’t be missed or dulled by too much alcohol, watered down by excess or cheapened by drugs. Even pain can remind you how alive you are and that each day is precious.
  • You have stories. Oh my, you have stories. The trick is finding people it’s appropriate to tell them to.
  • You get to experience new levels of personal growth. This is my re-frame (something we therapists like) to the PHYSICAL challenges of ageing. I’ll have to do a separate blog on the mental/emotional ones. If I can remember to…*attention wanders*
  • You look death in the eye and begin a friendship. Either that or you run away as fast as you can, probably in your hot-babe car, but either way, Death becomes a regular guest—because now you know a lot of people who’ve died. I count this as Upside because it’s real, and to me, real is good.
  • Sometimes you get things back. My husband’s joint replacement surgery went well, and two months afterward we hike along the Pali (cliffs) with the wind in our hair and our eyes on the cobalt sea, watching whales.  We both feel hopeful that life can get even better and there’s lots more ahead for us.


Toby’s book, Blood Orchids, is a fast-paced crime novel with a twist of romance that readers call “unputdownable!”

Hawaii is palm trees, black sand and blue water—but for policewoman Lei Texeira, there’s a dark side to paradise.

Lei has overcome a scarred past to make a life for herself as a cop in the sleepy Big Island town of Hilo. On a routine patrol she finds two murdered teenagers—one of whom she’d recently busted. With its echoes of her own past, the murdered girl’s harsh life and tragic death affect Lei deeply. She becomes obsessed—even as the killer is drawn to Lei’s intensity, feeding off her vulnerabilities and toying with her sanity.

Despite her obsession with the case and fear that she’s being stalked, Lei finds herself falling in love for the first time. Steaming volcanoes, black sand beaches and shrouded fern forests are the backdrop to Lei’s quest for answers—and the stalker is closer than she can imagine, as threads of the past tangle in her future. Lei is determined to find the killer—but he knows where to find her first.

About author Toby Neal:

Toby Neal was raised on Kauai in Hawaii. She wrote and illustrated her first story at age 5 and has been published in magazines and won several writing contests. After initially majoring in Journalism, she eventually settled on mental health as a career and loves her work, saying, “I’m endlessly fascinated with people’s stories.”

She enjoys many outdoor sports including bodyboarding, scuba diving, beach walking, gardening and hiking. She lives in Hawaii with her family and dogs.

Toby credits her counseling background in adding depth to her characters–from the villains to Lei Texeira, the courageous and vulnerable heroine in the Lei Crime Series.

Wishing Toby all the best with the book—Blood Orchids is available as a FREE download on Saturday, Mar 3, Sun 4, and Mon. 5. It is a great opportunity to go get the book, so grab your copy now!