Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Dream Walking Wednesday: Man in the Mirror


            Many of my most intense nightmares are also my most brief. Often they occur in the normal and mundane places and situations of my daily life. Last night was a night for dreaming, and one of the dreams I remembered was one of these types: a short scene with a terrifying twist that left my heart hammering in my chest for minutes after I woke up.

            Sometimes, you see, you just barely come through on the other side of the glass.

            In my dream, I got out of my bed and shuffle-footed my way to the connecting bathroom. I yawned and stretched as I reached for the light switch.

            The light that came on was dull and gray – unlike the bright glow I am accustomed to from the six bulbs over the vanity. The meager light cast itself across a bathroom I knew was my own but barely recognized. Everything – the sink, the toilet, the bath tub – was covered in a fine layer of dust. It was as if the bathroom had stood vacant for many years. I ran a finger trail across the top of the sink in bewilderment.

            I looked up at the mirror then. The two-fold mirror had particle board nailed across its face in several layers – a mad carpenter’s jig-saw puzzle across the glass. There was only a small section of the mirror unmasked by the boards. I wiped the film of gray dust off the glass and stared at my reflection.

            I saw myself, as expected. Then my visage changed abruptly. In a hair’s breadth of time my confused reflection became a snarling face full of sharp vampire teeth. My reflection hissed at me through the glass, opening its maw and lurching towards me as I stumbled backward.

            This is when I woke up with a jerk as if I had been shocked with the ER doctor’s paddles after a cardiac arrest.

            Just a dream, we tell ourselves.

            Just escaped, my weary mind attests as it pulls me back to sleep, somehow knowing that window is shut again, for now.

            What is it about mirrors that both fascinates and frightens? Why do some people tremble at the doppelganger on the other side of the pane? And if you stare long enough at your own reflection too long, do you ever notice a slight change? Was that an upturn of the mouth as if to some dark secret knowledge? Was that a strange glint in the eyes – the recognition of being seen through a mirror darkly?

            Have you experienced a dream such as this? I would love to hear about it!

Until next time, Make Believers, keep on dreaming!


Monday, September 10, 2012


Of Masks and Costumes

            One of my favorite short stories is Stephen King’s “The Boogeyman”. For those of you who have never read it, you can find it in his collection “Night Shift.  In it the reader gets to sit in on a man’s visit to his psychiatrist. The patient is unloading years of grief and guilt over letting a nightmarish creature habitually terrorize and eventually strangle to death his young children in their cribs. But the grizzly scenes of the toddlers’ cruel deaths are not the defining moments of the story.

            Here is the kicker. After the patient leaves when his allotment of time has passed, he goes to make an appointment for the next visit and finds the lobby empty. On returning to the office he discovers to his horror that the psychiatrist he just poured out his soul to is in actuality the Boogeyman responsible for his anguish. The creature retreats into a dark closet holding a mask of the psychiatrist in its claws. As it shuts the door it whispers “Sweet…so sweet.” The monster was behind the mask. In costume it delved deeper into the malice it created to experience it more intimately.

            My children’s story “The Costume” approaches the monster in guise subject on a much lighter level. It follows a local bunch of kids on their magical night of trick-or-treating, and the strange child in the scariest costume they have ever seen that joins them in their fun. Adults are appalled and disgusted in his presence. The teachers at the Halloween Dance tremble in fear. Neighborhood dogs howl and run in the opposite direction when he passes by.  Not to give it all away, but when “The Costume” is taken off at the end of the night, the reader may discover that the monster on the outside may have hidden another within.

            I am looking into avenues to have “The Costume” published by this Halloween. I enjoyed writing the whimsical rhyming tale, and making the illustrations was an absolute delight! I really want to share it with all of you Make Believers out there!

            So, what are you going to dress up as this Halloween? And is your costume just a cover for something…wicked? ; )

            The porch light will be on at the tree house. I’ll have some goodies for any of you brave enough to show up.


Wednesday, August 8, 2012

The Field of Inifinite Possibilites

I see you now. I was star-gazing, and you caught me off guard. So many lights in their places, spinning and twirling endlessly and effortlessly in their silent dance. The darkness cannot contain the possibilities they shine upon. It has to fold back its ebony curtain. It has no choice.

You've been here before. To garden and till your parcel of the field. I see you now and then, as you've planted and watered and encouraged your flowers to grow. Sometimes you are here when they push through the rich soil. Sometimes you are away, at another part of your garden. I am always here. I watch the fields as I watch the stars. So many flowers in their places, stretching and reaching for the light of their maker. The day cannot blind out the colors in their folds. It has to illuminate each hue and variance. It has no choice.

Every gardener is different. Some plant with passion, feverish in their disrobing of the wanton earth in their lustful fingers. They caress and cup their lovers when they bare themselves, longing for the next moment when they can walk between the rows like satin sheets and behold the hot harvest underneath.

Others plant in silence, finding solace in the solitude as a fetus in the womb. Fog and mist sometimes surrounds what they grow, yet to walk beneath the haze is to find a deep beauty that yearns for beholding.

Blush Blossomed Branches.
Gentle touch of cloud and dawn.
Extend over all.

Some plant tiny flowers for little hands to touch and hold: Perri-winkles and poppies. Daffodils and daisies. Dandelions with whispered fluff to make young wishes on. Roses red and violets blue. Each boy and girl holds a different hue. They garden with smiles and water with giggles. Their flowers grow in rows of quick rhymes and riddles.

Then there are those who only garden at night, hushing their nightshade and wolf's bane by the light of the full moon. The wind howls as both man and beast as they toil by midnight. Reapers come to harvest their crop, with sickle moon in trembling hands. Blooms that turn only by moonlight open like dry parchment beneath calloused hands.

Still others prefer to plant the far reaches of the field, planting where others dare never go. Their plants grow far off and away from the rest, exotic in their fragrances and unique in their growing. Strange tangled roots inch deep into soil long abandoned. Queer limbs spiral like galaxies in their quest for new light to behold.

Many plant a variety, their gardens a patchwork flux of other gardens in the field. Ratatouille and mudge-pudge plantings to delight the senses. The spice of life growing with the whims and fancies of the gardener's skilled hands.

I see you now, as I hope you've seen me from time to time. My garden is young, but it is growing. I am one of the curious gardeners, experimenting with different species and varieties. I enjoy the adventure of seeing what pops up. You may catch me star gazing. You may find me transfixed at some petals glistening small in a deserted row. You may notice me struggling with some vines from time to time, but the effort is good. Sweat makes the harvest sweeter. I might be here long after I should have turned in for the night, tending the secrets out of dark blooms. With me you just never know. But I am always here. So many flowers. So many stars. 

Here in the field of infinite possibilities.

What does your garden hold? What are you planting? I would love to hear what possibilities you are growing! : )


Monday, July 30, 2012

Musing Monday: The Legend of Emmaline Tucker

In my last post I mentioned saving my sister from a swarm of yellow jackets when we were kids. This was one of those pinprick moments- an instance in your life that continues to poke at your mind and soul throughout your days walking in the sunlight. I saved my sister from a swarm of yellow jackets after she walked on their nest and then panicked, running in place as they stung her over and over. We were walking along a creek out by Emmaline Tucker's, a wooded area in our hometown. I was on the other side, and dove in the creek and swam to her, throwing her in the creek. When I grabbed her, the yellow jackets washed over me like a wet blanket of sharp needles. My sister was afraid of flies for weeks afterwards. This was a traumatic experience, more for my sister than my brother and I, but the memory of that day still lingers. That hot summer day in Emmaline Tucker's woods.  Let me see if I can capture it for you.

I had one friend most of my childhood, and his name was Roy. We were misfits you could say. I was the shortest. He was the fattest. And together we were best of friends. We did everything together in those magical years between childhood and adolescence, that short span of time between the ages of  seven and ten. We rode our bikes around town- to his house by the park, to my Grandma Hutson's for a snack, out to Sesser Lake to fish or more likely skip rocks across the water and hunt for frogs and turtles along the bank.  But most of the time we went out to the trails in the woods by the water treatment plant. To Emmaline Tucker's house.

The water treatment plant was our headquarters, our sanctuary away from bullies. It had huge gravel piles that the town workers would use for road projects and the like. We would climb them and let our imaginations run wild, pretending the summer days away. One time we found an old piece of plywood and dug out a fort in the rocks, using the board as a makeshift roof which we camouflaged with the gravel. It was our secret hideout. It didn't last very long. I guess some employee found it shortly after we built it and tore it down.But we had another secret hideout. The gravel pits, as we liked to call them, were just the stepping stone to the real adventures out in the woods.

We usually rode our bikes down past Risley's growling dogs to the gravel pits, and then up towards the railroad tracks. They are abandoned now, but back then they were still in use. The trails leading to Emmaline Tucker's house started there.

And what fun they were! Dips and turns and bumps to make any boy of nine years old giddy with excitement. There was one steep slope that ended at a stream bed, and you had to hit the bump at the bottom just right or you wouldn't clear the creek. At another spot one of the trails just ended at a drop off, but there was a tree limp poised perfectly at the point of no return, and we would go screaming up the trail and grab onto the branch, letting our bikes fly out from beneath us some fifteen feet to the ground below where we would have to climb carefully down to retrieve them before moving on. We knew no fear. Nine year old boys seldom do.

But the real draw was Emmaline Tucker's house. It was just an old abandoned house out in the woods. But to us it was an ancient relic. A mystic abode. A witch's house. It was disheveled and falling apart, and it was  amazing that we didn't get tetanus or worse on some rusted nail sticking out of loose and rotting floor boards. We would spend the lazy summer afternoons exploring the ruins of Emmaline Tucker's home, looking for what treasures may lay underneath its dying shell. We were tomb raiders, but we knew the rules of robbing graves, even the one this coffin shell of a house stood on with shaking knees. You never stayed after dark. The witch would come out when the sun went down, or that was the story. We would push the limit to see how long we would last before high-tailing it out of there on our bikes as the last rays of the setting sun shown down in lazy beams like golden fingers through the tree limbs overhead.

 One memory I have of this place, besides the terrible day of the yellow jackets, was during one of those last moments before dusk. We were getting ready to leave. I think it was just Roy and me that day, but my brother may have been there. I remember getting on my bike, and turning my head to take one last look at the place. My older mind wants to say it was just a reflex, something you do when leaving a place. The voice of childhood, which is the more honest voice, reminds me that it was to check and see if anything was sneaking out of the shadows of the house to sneak up behind us. When I turned to look, a loud rustling sound came from an old dead tree that stood next to the house. The largest owl I have ever seen in my life rose out of the top of the hollowed wood and soar off to do its hunting in the oncoming night. It scared the be-jesus out of us, and we didn't turn around until we were well down the road that led back to my house. I can still see it in my minds eye, rising out of that tree and spreading its wings in slow motion amidst the sparkling dust in the rose-colored sunbeams settling through to the ground.

I have dreamed about that memory many times. But the dream is different. Or is the dream the reality? And the memory the dream? That, my lovlies, I leave up to you to decide. But this question has haunted me, and has led to other questions. And they have led me to this story. The Legend of Emmaline Tucker.

What if four children went out on a dare to an abandonned house in the woods, a house supposedly once lived in by a witch?

And what if they stayed too long? What if they dozed in the summer heat and woke up with the last light of the setting sun?

What if it wasn't an owl but a winged demon that rose out of an old dead tree, a female figure with ancient leathery skin and huge bat wings?

What if those same children were attacked as they fled in terror by a swarm of yellow jackets, a cloud of venomous insects that sometimes appeared like the shape of an old woman in a cloak? What if the youngest of the group, the little girl, wasn't just traumatized by this event, but it drove her insane?

One final question, dear hearts. Hold on to my hand. The sun will rise soon, i promise. But what if? What if some twenty years later this little girl who has spent her life institutionalized suddenly wakes up from the haze she was under? What if another young girl is found in Emmaline Tucker's woods, stung to death by some insects. What if it wasn't over?

What if?

This is one of the stories floating around my tentacled mind. Do you like it? Would you like to see it become a book? What events in your childhood still haunt you? Have you used it in your writing? I would love to hear about it!

Come walk along the pier with me, and see the things we've come to see.

Until next time, Make Believers!


Monday, July 16, 2012

From Barely Viable to Versatile: My Unworthy Nomination for the Versatile Blogger Award

The Enchanting  Eveli Acosta has nominated me and fourteen others for the Versatile Blogger Award. Let me be the first to say this: I am so undeserving. My blogging has been virtually non-existent as a meander through the bloggiverse searching for my place, my niche. I am but a wanderer of worlds, searching for a wormhole in which to cast my ramblings behind me as breadcrumbs in hope that some may pick up the trail and follow after.

Still, Eveli is a tremendous author and blogger who cares about others of her kin and ilk, and I humbly accept the nomination if for nothing else than to say that. Also, it allows me to pass the award along to fellow travelers, chucking the karmic boomerang into the void to see where it might land. Not just a blind toss, for I have walked these crossroads before. But still, it is often twilight here, and the wind plays tricks now and then.

But enough of that.

In receiving this I am required to:

*Thank the blogger who nominated you for the award 

"THANK YOU EVELI!!!" the denizens of Make Believe shout, grunt, and keen in unison.

*Include a link to their blog in you post, as well as the award image

*Give 7 random facts about yourself 
~Discretionary note: all facts about me are random~

1. My first complete sentence was "Come on down!", shouted out at my Grandma Hutson's house. She was a faithful follower of Bob Barker and The Price is Right.

2. My first psychic experience happened when I was nine. One morning I wanted to take my teddy bear, Big John, to school. (Not a very nine year old thing to do.) My parents said no, saving me from another thing for bullies to focus on, and I cried vehemently. I took a Nerf football instead. That day our house burned down, just a few days after my ninth birthday. Big John was a Christmas present from my grandparents.

3. I saved my sister from a swarm of yellow jackets after she walked on their nest and then panicked, running in place as they stung her over and over. We were walking along a creek out by Emmaline Tucker's, a wooded area in our hometown. I was on the other side, and dove in the creek and swam to her, throwing her in the creek. When I grabbed her, the yellow jackets washed over me like a wet blanket of sharp needles. My sister was afraid of flies for weeks afterwards.

4. I caught a frog at recess one time and snuck it into class in my pocket. When the science teacher turned off the lights for the film reel, the amphibian thought it was night and began to croak from its bed in my jeans. So fearful I was of being found out that I asked to go to the bathroom, and, I am ashamed to say, flushed my new found friend down the toilet.

5. I had the starring role in the Pyramid Players' summer production of Oliver twist when I was 9 years old. (Busy year for me. 9 is still my favorite number somehow.)

6. I sung "I Believe" by Brooks and Dunn in front of nearly 5,000 fans at the Southern Illinois Miner's minor league baseball game as part of a karaoke contest.

7. I am licensed to legally marry couples through the American Marriage ministries. I have performed 3 marriages so far.

*Include links to the nominated bloggers' sites 

~See above~

*Let the other bloggers know that they have been nominated for the award.

"YOU'VE BEEN NOMINATED!!!" the multitudes of Make Believers cry out!

(I will let you all know via facebook, twitter, etc.)

Now, to live up to the billing. Thanks again, Eveli! 

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Pure Potentiality

How long does it take you from the moment you open your eyes until you start thinking about the lists? You know, the list of things you have to do. The list of things you need to do. The list of things you want to do. It usually goes in that order. Everything is on a list, and no matter how you try, it seems, you can never get to everything on the list you want to do supremely: The wants list. That is why people have bucket lists. They do not want to give up on the things they really want to do before the next big adventure begins on the other side. I wonder if there are lists there too?

I am trying not to be held captive to the lists. It isn't something that I succeed at all the time. Often I catch myself succumbing to the well-entrenched habit. Things are much easier learned, than un-learned. I keep trying to un-learn it, though, because I think it is key to living the dream. If I can learn to live off the list, to take things as they come, to not judge the circumstances that I find constricting,  but find the gift in them instead, then I will be happier, healthier, and free. And I feel it is in that state that I feel the greatest joys of creativity can be reached.

As an author, there are many things I place on lists. Writing should be on the top, but sometimes the list pushes it down below other things. Marketing. Editing. Social Networking. Blogging. All things I love to do. And if I focus on the list, I find myself criticizing myself for not succeeding in all of these each day. 'You've neglected your blog, Mr. Eric", my mind chirps in. "Other authors get all of that marketing in, why can't you, Mr. Eric?" "When's the last time you really focused on that WIP for more than thirty minutes at a time, Mr. Eric?" The list can drag you down.

It is when I take my eyes off of the lists, and take all of the joys I have in what I feel called to do as they come, that I feel creatively free. Each moment has pure potentiality. Every second can be a brand new creative birthing. Each interruption to my writing process can be an inspirational adventure, one that can lead to deeper musings and around corners I may have overlooked if I stuck strictly to the list. The list may always be there. But I don't have to follow its whip lashings at my back. Taking a step back to see the pure potentiality in each moment I am given allows me to appreciate all the more the joy it is to create.

I would love your thoughts on this, my quaylings! How do you get away from your lists? Do you find a quiet place to reflect? Do you find solace in nature? Do you try to be nonjudgmental when your writing process is interrupted by the joys of life? They are joys you know.  Each moment can be joyous and full of pure potentiality, if you so choose to see it that way.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Dreamwalking Wednesday- What's a Quay?

Quay. It has been my nickname since high school. It is short for Quazar and abbreviated QZ. I call my children and the fans of my writing "my quaylings." So, what is a Quay? What does it mean to be a quayling? And why is it so important for you to know? Let me tell you my story...

Believe it or don't, I used to be painfully shy. I missed being voted the quietest in my grade by only three votes. (Ronnie Frost, you win!) I was also one of the shortest kids in my grade. It was only when Wayne Jackson moved to town that I became just the quiet kid and not the short, quiet kid who liked to draw and daydream and was easy to pick on. That's where the story starts.

In grade school I was picked on because I was short. I got called "Shrimp" a lot by the grade school bullies. I was the shortest kid, and my best friend at the time was, well, fat. And he stuttered. We were prime targets for getting picked on. We were the Butch Cassidy and Sundance Kid's of bullydom. I never had a better friend than Roy though throughout grade school. His dad made us wooden swords and shields and we played together after school every day. Playing with swords. More fodder for the bully cannon.

When I was in junior high, the grade school bullies had turned older, but I was still a prime target. I would get teased and picked on in the hallways daily. One day I had had enough, and I just blurted out something to shock them and get them off my back. Little did I know that what I uttered then would change my life. I said "I am an alien from the planet Quazar and I like to sit upside down in my chair at home and think about my home planet out there in space." Something like that. well, it worked. Sort of. They now thought I was too weird to pick on. But they began calling me Quazar. Another name to insult me with. But at least the physical bullying stopped.

In high school the name still followed me, but I met some great friends. I wrote about them in my last post, "The Magic of Friendship." They shortened the name to QZ, and called me Quay. "Hey, Quay!" They would shout down the hallway at me. When I would leave I began saying 'Stay the Quay Way!" What had begun as an insult had become something I was proud of, something I embraced. I was Quay, and I had friends, and they helped me accept myself and let me be the fun loving, daydreaming, quirky person I always was but was afraid to show it. What started out as something meant to harm me had become something good.

A quay is a wharf. It is a place for the loading and unloading of ships.

A quasar is an interstellar object that emits immense amounts of energy and light.

I am Quay. I am a bundle of creative energy and imaginative light that loads up dream magic and unloads it on anyone and everyone who will listen.

The Quay Way is the way of staying forever young-mind, body, and spirit.

How do you stay forever young? And what moment in your life did you find the dream magic that changed you forever? Have you found it?

I hope you do.

Stay the Quay Way, my quaylings. Always.