Friday, December 31, 2021

New Year's Eve 2021: Retrospective and the Kendricks 1100

 

December 31, 2021

No day of the year is more bittersweet than New Year's Eve. It's a time of closing doors on those things we need to leave behind in anticipation of the promise of new opportunities in a new year. 

This year now closing has been a year of hard decisions for me and my partner. We struggled with a lot of issues - his health, how best to navigate the continuing Covid-19 crisis, my retirement, the Covid-19 vaccine, getting back to a more normal routine, his need for different transportation, and not least of all our shared concerns on how we will survive as the supply chain weakens. 

There was a time we looked forward to New Year's Eve and a party night with our friends. Well, if you have a disability, "friends" tend to "dis-include" you. We've learned our lessons well. 

Not counting the pages, my secret little realms as it were, this is entry number 1100 here at the blog. I began Between the Keys on January 1, 2008, with the announcement I was now writing as KC Kendricks and had submitted KC's first story to Amber Quill Press. It seems like a very long time ago. Before that, I wrote under the name Rayne Forrest, whose beginning goes back beyond January of 2003, when "Rayne" got her first contract. I do wish I'd not closed Rayne's first blog. I'd dearly love to have access to those memories. 

My life has taken turns I never expected, never worked for, never wanted. That's life. 

Covid-19 continues to impact our lives. In July of 2021, I'd had enough. I turned in my letter of resignation. It did not go well. My employer offered me the moon to stay. I laid out my terms and so I'm still employed with full benefits and a workweek that suits my schedule, not theirs. No matter. When my next birthday arrives, I will be retired. 

Now it seems there is another bend in the road. I've never worked as hard on anything in my life as I worked on my writing. It stretched me, shaped me, sustained me, but my vision of myself as a writer has shifted in kaleidoscope fashion, fracturing into shapes and colors that while are mesmerizing, never appear whole and static even with distance. 

I need some distance now if I am to reinvent and rejuvenate myself. The publishing world has changed greatly. Many of us never foresaw the decline of the online publisher. I worked with ten different epubs in my career and they are all gone but one. Independent vendors such as All Romance eBooks proved to have allegedly dishonest business practices.  Piracy of intellectual property continues unchecked. 

Yes, the closing of this year is bittersweet. Continuing to do things that don't encourage you to thrive isn't healthy. I'm stepping back. Will I continue to write? I honestly do not know. It's very difficult to imagine walking away from almost half my life. Perhaps it's how right it feels that scares me. I'll continue to blog at Holly Tree Manor (The Hideaway) regularly. That blog is not about writing and is more of a journal. And Deuce will continue to blog at Deuce's Day for as long as he lives. He's the joy in my life.

I hope that I'll sit down at my computer one day and have the burning desire to write. I know I will and look forward to that day. But right now, I'm too emotionally exhausted by outside influences to write and a good rest - a legitimate rest - is all I need. I suspect when I can finally walk away from the day job FOR THE LAST TIME, a great weight will lift from me and I'll be ready.

I thank all of you for traveling this road with me. It has meant so much! Yes, that's easy to say but the words are heartfelt. Thank you!

We shall see where the new year takes me, what it brings to my life. I'm a bit curious to discover what doors open for me. What's out there is always interesting. 

KC/Rayne



Thursday, December 30, 2021

The ones I'll never publish

 


December 30, 2021

When I began my writing journey, I wrote what was once called science fiction. Somewhere along the line people started calling it "space operas" or speculative fiction. 

Speculative? Uh-huh. Thank you, Gene Roddenberry, because now we ALL have individual palm-sized communicators. 

The first science fiction book I read was Moon of Three Rings by the late, great Andre Norton. I was maybe nine or ten. Suffice it to say very young. That book, about a spacefarer who comes to inhabit the body of the barsk has remained clear in my mind throughout the decades. Even over half a century after it was written, Moon of Three Rings is an incredibly rich and nuanced story. I scrounged the used book store to find the earliest paperback edition I could locate and it has a place of honor on my bookshelf. 

Back in the late nineties, I had an idea for a trilogy. I built the universe and set the main characters - an heir, his half-brother, and his brother-in-law. They formed a Triad which gave them social and political influence and protection. I lived and breathed that universe for over a year until one day I began to write it out. Somewhere along the line, I realized it was a story I didn't want to share. Probably after I submitted it in an RWA contest and got an Honorable Mention. It's the only time I ever subbed in an RWA contest so I think I did pretty good. 

Bits and pieces of it have worked their way into various stories, albeit altered to fit different characters, but the whole is mine. 

In today's publishing world, if I cleaned up the manuscripts and published them, I'd be giving them away for free. The pirates would see to that and I won't allow them to have at it. 

The world turns. People change. I've changed. I used to think I would write books for the rest of my life, or at least as long as my fingers worked and the electricity stayed on. Now I don't know. 

The prevailing wisdom remains that readers like a good series. I've done them: The Rea Cheveyo Chronicles, the Sundown saga, Amethyst Cove, Centerville Muscle, Southern Cross, The Men of Marionville. Some of those series could continue for a long time, but unless I change my mind, they won't. It's selfish, but what happens on Ian & Rick's honeymoon is something I'll keep to myself. Does Sundown save his species? Of course, but what he and Fallon discover along the way, in spite of the clues I left, will never be told. Yes, there are many more stories to be told. 

Will I truly never publish them? I don't know. I'll have to change again, and change my mind, to write them. I've reinvented myself before and so I may again.

It is my hope that one day soon I'll be rested enough to pick up the craft again. I've been tested too often these past few years and yes, something within me has threatened to break. I've got to hide it away to protect it until it can spark back to life. 

Sound dramatic? Certainly, but it's what we writers do. We paint a dramatic picture with our words, and when people do nothing but steal our words, we, or at least me, stop writing them down. 

It may not be the best, first choice, but there it is. At least for a time.

KC/Rayne

Monday, December 27, 2021

The Elder and The Crone

December 27, 2021

I posted this over at Holly Tree Manor (The Hideaway) last year. I don't write a lot of poetry, but every once in a while, the words come. Perhaps one day I'll have enough for a small volume. I hope so, anyway. -KC/Rayne


The Elder and The Crone


Of Christmas snow, I would wish
for it to kiss the ground
Pristine and white falling down, 
to the earth forever bound

Silent night gives way to day, 
quiet stirrings under brightest rays
The fire warms, the cat sleeps on, 
wrapped in quiet, steeped in peace

The elder and the crone, 
as we have now become
Sip coffee and smile, hidden behind our walls
Tasks fulfilled, our legacy fading (as it should)
Indulgent to our past, 
memories notwithstanding

KC Kendricks

Saturday, December 25, 2021

Christmas Day 2021


December 25, 2021

Peace be with you this day.


Christmas Bells
By Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old, familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet
The words repeat
Of peace on earth, goodwill to men!

And thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along
The unbroken song
Of peace on earth, goodwill to men!

Till ringing, singing on its way,
The world revolved from night to day,
A voice, a chime,
A chant sublime
Of peace on earth, goodwill to men!

Then from each black, accursed mouth
The cannon thundered in the South,
And with the sound
The carols drowned
Of peace on earth, goodwill to men!

It was as if an earthquake rent
The hearth-stones of a continent,
And made forlorn
The households born
Of peace on earth, goodwill to men!

And in despair I bowed my head;
"There is no peace on earth," I said;
For hate is strong,
And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!"

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
"God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
The Wrong shall fail,
The Right prevail,
With peace on earth, goodwill to men."



Friday, December 24, 2021

Christmas Eve 2021


December 24, 2021

Christmas Eve was magical when I was a girl. Aunts, uncles, cousins - we all gathered at Aunt Jane's house for dinner, which was her gift to us. In time that ended, and so it seemed so did my love of Christmas. It's never been the same for me without that gathering. 

The bells pictured are a handmade gift from my Aunt Jane, given to me for my first Christmas in the house I built in 1983. I still live in that house and Aunt Jane's bells are a truly treasured keepsake. 

One of my favorite passages about Christmas Eve comes from Alfred, Lord Tennyson. It seems fitting to share it this year as, yes, the time draws near. 

KC/Rayne

Christmas Bells

The time draws near the birth of Christ:
The moon is hid; the night is still;
The Christmas bells from hill to hill
Answer each other in the mist.

Four voices of four hamlets round,
From far and near, on mead and moor,
Swell out and fail, as if a door
Were shut between me and the sound:

Each voice four changes on the wind,
That now dilate, and now decrease,
Peace and goodwill, goodwill and peace,
Peace and goodwill, to all mankind.

This year I slept and woke with pain,
I almost wish’d no more to wake,
And that my hold on life would break
Before I heard those bells again:

But they my troubled spirit rule,
For they controll’d me when a boy;
They bring me sorrow touch’d with joy,
The merry merry bells of Yule.

Alfred, Lord Tennyson (1809-1892)

Thursday, December 23, 2021

The website situation is not improving


 December 23, 2021

My website woes continue. I knew when Yahoo dumped the old, reliable SiteBuilder software that having a .com would become problematic, and it has. Yes, there still is a kckendricks.com, but at the moment it's simply a placeholder to get people to Between the Keys, Deuce's Day, and Holly Tree Manor (The Hideaway). I really want to have a working .com but I'm not sure I'm up for the challenge. 

I freely admit I do not understand the online tools. It's all about loading pictures and not written content. 

I'm a writer. Words ARE my pictures. Am I frustrated? You bet. I've been to WordPress and that was a bit of a disaster, but out of necessity, I may go back. 

With my retirement clock irreversibly ticking down to the day, I'm officially on a writing hiatus. I need to wind up things at the day job and I know it's going to be stressful. Having the mental energy to write isn't going to happen. I'm not sure I'll have the energy to tackle getting a .com up and running again, either, but I'm going to give it a go. 

Today is Christmas Eve Eve, and there are things I need to do. I've valued my "vacation" days across the years, but I'm tired of having to cram laundry, cooking, cleaning, shopping, yard work, website building... and everything else that needs to be done to keep a home running into a few precious days away from the day job. I don't want to be busy - I want to relax and enjoy this brisk winter morning. I've missed too many of them as I've rushed off to the day job. Soon Ceasar will no longer rule my days. 

Where this day will take me is unknown, but for now, I work quietly while daylight creeps back into my world. It's the third day of winter, but there are signs of life in my woods. The old sycamore tree stands white and ghostly beside the creek, and the deer are looking for green shoots beneath it. 

Perhaps it's enough of a vision to see me through the day. We must persevere. 

  _*_*_*_*_*_*_

 KC Kendricks


Social media links:
Life through the eyes of my black Lab, Greenbrier Smokey Deuce: deucesday.blogspot.com
My country life at Holly Tree Manor: hollytreemanor.blogspot.com
Snips and clips on my YouTube channel: KC Kendricks Between the Keys


Saturday, December 18, 2021

Just another number

 December 17, 2021

It's just another number, right? Aside from the fact it's a number that says it's time for an oil change, that is. (The oil change is scheduled, by the way.) Forget the milage for a moment and groove on the 21.3 miles per gallon my fast little Charger gives me. That's not bad for a ride with some horsepower. And that's around town, not highway.

People get all freaky over the number six, but I refuse to buy into it. Everyone who has a motor vehicle will hit that number sooner or later. Does that mean your car is possessed for exactly one mile? Of course not. 

Our lives are controlled by numbers. From the moment of birth, we are assigned numbers - the day we were born, the time we were born, how much we weighed at birth, how long our new body is, the circumference of our skull. We've barely taken our first breaths and we have been numbered. 

My last two posts were all about numbers. How many days until I finally, finally, finally retire, and then about my November word counts

In seven days, we'll reach Christmas 2021. I think for many people, it will be a lot more normal than Christmas 2020. COVID-19 still wreaks havoc around the world, but like it or not, those suspicious vaccinations seem to be doing some good. Yes, we got jabbed but we've not yet reached a consensus on getting the booster - other than we're not ready at this point and it's not been ruled out. 

This will be my sixty-fifth Christmas. It will be number seventy-four for the spousal unit. We both have summer birthdays and so were not a year old at our very first Christmas. 

Numbers. We can't escape them. They are tools we use to measure aspects of our lives, nothing more. My car has a certain number of miles and there's nothing demonic about it. It's simply how many miles the Charger has been driven. The balance of my checking account is a set of numbers that represent how much money I have to use to live my life. Last night, I bowled a 604 series, or the total number of pins I knocked down within a certain number of measured frames. 

It's time to set some superstitions aside. It's not the numbers that hurt you. It's the people who manipulate the numbers. 

  _*_*_*_*_*_*_

 KC Kendricks


Social media links:
Life through the eyes of my black Lab, Greenbrier Smokey Deuce: deucesday.blogspot.com
My country life at Holly Tree Manor: hollytreemanor.blogspot.com
Snips and clips on my YouTube channel: KC Kendricks Between the Keys

Wednesday, December 1, 2021

So....how did you do?

December 1, 2021

November was National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo as it's commonly known. I've never officially signed up but this year I thought I'd keep track of my word counts and see how I did. Not too bad, if I do say so myself. 

  • The most current WIP - 9835
  • Blogging at Between the Keys, The Hideaway, and Deuce's Day - 4896
  • And the difficult part tracking work correspondence - 30,194
  • Grand total = 44,925. That's a whole lot better than I anticipated. 

It was a worthy exercise and validated a few things I had a sense of but no solid proof. I do a lot of writing at my job because the upper echelons have discovered I've got a "knack for it." Ah, it amuses me to think of what they do not know, namely that I'm a published writer. That knowledge is going to be one of my parting gifts to them. Moral to that story - don't underestimate people. 

Keeping track of the word count at work also proved my theory of how much energy the job sucks out of me, energy I'd rather spend on writing a book. Thankfully, that will change in 2022, when I reach the line in the sand and hand over my keys to the office building. 

Blogging clocked in at a whopping 4896 words. Blogging can be a distraction, that's true, but putting my thoughts and experiences in print helps me to process some days. Some evenings, it calms me down and brings clarity, which in turn invites me to relax so I can sleep. 

I didn't do as well as I would have liked on the WIP, but I did work on it. I've never been one who can just spew out a story and then go back and fix the fuck-ups. I need to do that as I go along. And if I add an element seemingly out of the blue, I go back right then and there and make sure it fits as part of the earlier prose. It's just the way I do things. 

That's my report on my private corner of NaNoWriMo. It was a bit of this, a bit of that, not completely successful, nor was it a complete failure. And isn't that just the way life really is? 

  _*_*_*_*_*_*_

 KC Kendricks

My home on the web- Between the Keys: 
Visit my bookshelf at: 

Social media links:
Life through the eyes of my black Lab, Greenbrier Smokey Deuce: deucesday.blogspot.com
My country life at Holly Tree Manor: hollytreemanor.blogspot.com
Snips and clips on my YouTube channel: KC Kendricks Between the Keys