Monday, June 27, 2011

Antikythera Mechanism - Nonfiction

As I was opening and closing closet doors in my brain this morning, looking for story ideas, I came across one of those fascinatingly nerdy topics; machines from the Hellenistic period. I read a book several years ago (and, of course, can't recall the title) on ancient Alexandria, and there were several chapters devoted to navigation equipment, celestial globes, clockwork devices, automata, even some sort of vending machine which dispensed candles for temple worshippers. I first learned of the Antikythera device when the Discovery channel ran a special on it some years ago, and was lucky enough to see a replica at the National Watch and Clock Museum here in the states.

Briefly, it was discovered by divers on a wreck near the island of Antikythera in 1900-1901. The gears appeared to be so complex that it was thought to be an artifact from a much later time period than the rest of the salvaged items. It has since been tentatively dated to 150 to 100 BC, although its mechanics and sophistication are said to be as good as Swiss clocks of the 1800s.

It appears to have been a fairly complex type of analog computer for calculating dates, planetary movements, eclipses, etc. The extra quarter day of the solar year was compensated for by turning a dial back by one day every four years (our 'leap' day).

Research and analysis are still ongoing; you can see images and more complete info at the site
Antikythera Research Project .

I'd love to conjure up a short story or two set in ancient Alexandria. We have steampunk; is there a term for futuristic ancient history mashups? Maybe some day, when I have the time to put in the necessary research and prep. For now, that idea goes back into the closet........

Happy Monday everyone. Now, go back to work! 

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Reciprocating - Flash Fiction

This Week's Prompt
Join Or Read Romantic Friday Writers Here

     "If you want to measure your love, ask yourself how much you are willing to sacrifice for it."


     It wasn't too late. His flight suit and helmet were still in the car; Arnie would just be starting the checklist, and a frantic wave of the arms would signal that he had changed his mind after all. He might never get another opportunity to fly this aircraft again.
     Flying was in his blood; had been, since the first Spitfire he'd seen as a boy came in low over the fields, 1500 thundering silver horses and one man holding the reins. The war ended just as he'd completed flight training, and the taste of that disappointment still lingered. Now here he was, pilot's license in his pocket, plenty of friends, a local flying club chock full of military surplus aircraft bought on the cheap...and a girlfriend.
     Margaret had been the one girl who hadn't fallen for his flyboy routine. That, consequently, had made her all the more desirable. She was everything he'd wanted; everything, that is, except responsibility. Having no family, she grew to depend on him, and so when she was taken ill it had fallen upon him to take care of her.
     She would never have asked him to give up flying. Still, anxiety bloomed in her eyes when he headed to the field and the unspoken question: What will I do if something happens to you? was like a distorted lens through which he now viewed the world. Hard not to be bitter either way, since he'd be giving up a part of himself no matter what he chose. Which dream? Which future?

      The plane engines roared to life, and he waved his arms.
      Slowly, gently. Goodbye, safe flight.

Copyright 2011 Lisa Vooght
personal archive photo

This is an auto-post. I'll be without internet for a bit, so I won't be reading or commenting, but I really do intend to try and catch up later.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

I Won! Hint Fiction At Rammenas

 January 1, 2012 Update:  This is an older entry. Unfortunately, the Rammenas site has been offline for some time and so these links may or may not work.  Therefore (and since the entire entry is so short, you can find it by googling my name anyway), here is the winning entry.

Found, by Lisa Vooght
Found your USB drive in the desk. Beautiful photos, touching music selections. Curious as to the 2 obituaries. Mine and yours? What gives?

     Good morning all. I was excited and honoured to learn that I was one of two winners of the hint fiction contest at Rammenas. Rammenas is a flash fiction site and recently hosted a contest for hint fiction; a complete story written in 25 words or less that hints at a larger story.
     Winning was exhilarating, of course. Just as valuable was the jury report, which gave me an insight into what exactly judges were looking for and how they went about the process of reducing a stack of entries to just a few. You can read my entry and the jury report here if you have a mind to.
     Thanks again to Anneke Klein and judges Gary Corby (author of "The Pericles Commission"; you can find his blog here ), Martin Hingley, and Marcel Warmerdam for devoting what I imagine to be a rather large chunk of time to hosting, reading and judging for the contest. You can also follow @Rammenas on Twitter.

     The prize was Hint Fiction - An Anthology edited by Robert Swartwood - who happens to be from my home town of Lititz! How cool is that?

     On another subject, I've been dashing about getting ready for a vacation trip (Internet free) which is why I haven't been around much and won't be for some time. I did manage an entry for Friday; with any luck it will auto-post as scheduled. I'll catch up with you all as I can.

     As always, thank you for reading and following along. I appreciate your time, your comments, and your encouragement.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Second Chance - Flash Fiction

Romantic Friday Writers
Click to sign up or read more.

    He left the Austin along the road and walked, having left his unhappy wife Katherine. A dappled Shire eyed him disinterestedly and went back to cropping. David made his way over, expecting a hasty retreat, but she allowed his approach.
     “Hello,” he whispered, scratching the roots of her mane. Leaning in, he laid his cheek against her neck, smelling the comforting scent. It'd been years; he'd tried to forget about the war, been successful too, or so he thought.
     He was 13 again, standing on the crowded platform, father stern, mother red-eyed, clutching his baby brother to her chest. Expendable, that's what he was; shipped off to Cornwall to shovel shit, no doubt, while everyone else braved bombs that fell night and day. Sirens, ack ack, the thrum of aircraft, the lurch of the ground coming up through his feet and making his heart thud; they'd made life unbearably exciting. He felt old enough to be man of the family while Dad was doing police duty. But off he went to the farm. The first day, being a city boy, when set to weeding he'd managed to pull up the crop instead, and had suffered a beating for it. Ivy, the farmer's daughter, had laughed, but later brought him tea and consoled him.
     Ivy, brown-eyed, beautiful. She'd taken him swimming in the pond, taught him to take care of Prince, the plough horse, run with him barefoot in the fields, and introduced him to the pleasures of love. Their heated fumblings hadn't amounted to much, not really; it was the solace of another body, entwined with his, soothing words and complete trust which had seared themselves into memory. And then, the tearful parting and the vows exchanged as he'd left to go back to London.
     Oh Ivy. How could I have forgotten. I wonder where you are.
     The war ended, as they do; memories faded, as they do. He'd fallen in love with Katherine, they'd made a good start together. But somehow, ennui, bickering, the daily minutae of everyday life had chipped away at them until they were nothing more than lodgers forced to share a flat.
     David wiped his hands on his trousers and nodded, having made his decision.

     Katherine walked in as he was packing his bag. Seeing her shocked look, he took her in his arms.
     “We're going for a holiday in the country. Together.”

400 words exactly. This isn't as complete as I would like it, due to the word count guideline.

Almost forgot: today's recommended blogger is Emm in London. She's currently featuring Secret London, a mix of photos and info on some of London's hidden delights. It's almost as good as being there...give her a visit and take your own virtual tour.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Storm Chaser-Short Story Slam

You're all the same, you men. You say that you want long walks on the beach at sunset, a stroll in the park in the springtime, a good woman to love. But you smell the heavy rains, you feel the electricity on the back of your necks, and you're off chasing that powerfully seductive tempest on the horizon. Well, don't come slinking back with your soaked clothes and plastered hair, ruefully grinning and hoping to sit by the hearth. Because while you were away, a different sort of storm appeared, and the house and I are gone.

100 words

Today's recommended fellow blogger is Stuart Nager . He has 3 blogs; I've chosen to link to my fave, Talespinning, and one of (I think) his best stories. Stu writes in just about every genre, but I'm inclined toward his myths/legends/folk tales. Writer, storyteller, drama teacher, artist, performer, and friend...that's a lot of hats to wear, and he does it well.

Wear Clean Underwear. Public Service Announcement #1

Warning! Shallow Water. No Diving Allowed

Summer is upon us, and I thought I'd share some of my family wisdom with you. This is a Public Service Provided To You By Flash Fiction.

1. Wear clean underwear on road trips. If there's an accident, you wouldn't want the emergency crew to have to cope with besmirched skivvies.

2. Don't forget sunscreen on the tops of feet and the part on your head. (Or the entire head, if bald.)

3. Don't wear baseball caps all of the time, they eventually make you bald because they wear your hair out.

4. Don't sit on strange toilet seats; you might catch something. Put those squat exercises from the gym to use.

5. Don't pee by the side of the road. Police have radar urine detectors and they are bound to show up and catch you in the act.

6. If you're caught in an undertow, swim parallel to shore. If you make no headway, let it take you out a bit and try again. Contrary to popular belief, undertows do not extend for thousands of miles; you will not wash up on shore in a strange country. (If it were so, I'd put on a life vest, pack a styrofoam cooler, and throw myself in the Atlantic.)

7. Don't walk barefoot on hotel floors. People do terrible things on hotel floors.

8. Pack some clothes you don't particularly like. That way, after you've worn them you can throw them away before returning home. More room for souvenirs, less laundry to do.

9. Always pack anti-diarrheal meds. Someone WILL need them at some point, and it will be when the stores are closed.

10. When you get home, tell everyone what a great time you had. They don't need to know that you fought the whole time, the kids drove you crazy, or you gained 15 pounds.

All of that will be perfectly obvious.

Thank you for your patronage, and have a great summer.

*There is no featured blogger today, as someone might be offended by being forever associated with the words "underwear" or "skivvies".

To see more funny stuff or contibute, click here

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Awards Quandary

Rasz has awarded me this lovely Blogger Buddy Award, and I am grateful that she considers me a buddy as well as a follower. Rasz is an artist, but she also uses her creative talent to recycle and re-purpose things, giving them new life. She also encourages me and is a gentle and kind soul, which can be a rarity in this life.
Thank you, Rasz, for being a buddy.

There are no strings attached, except that I am to pass it on to worthy bloggers. And that always sets me to hand wringing, because there are so many inspiring, talented and creative individuals out there. Every time I pass on an award, I feel like there are a dozen people I've left out, and that's not a good feeling. And, to be selfish, I really do want to keep the majority of my posts as stories and poetry instead of personal stuff. So, I'm going to kindly and diplomatically turn down any more awards. Instead, from now on, every post/story will feature a different blogger at the end. That way, I can really do justice to each. And I'll begin with one of my first followers.

Just Like You at the deceptively titled Simple Thoughts. Or, you may already know him as Bothered at Things That Bother Me. Bothered was one of my very first followers on 2, yes 2, failed blogs. The man has the patience of a saint since he followed me to yet a third. And, to be honest, I didn't even realize that he wrote both blogs. The blog Simple Thoughts has some beautifully written posts on the joys, the struggles, and the heartaches of everyday life. I find his insights to be thoughtful, honest, and inspiring. His other blog, Things That Bother Me, is also insightful - in a hilarious, and sometimes slightly twisted way. All too often, I find myself nodding my head and agreeing. Yep, that drives me nuts too!

Bothered is truly a buddy - he's stuck by me, encouraged me, made me think, and made me laugh.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Salvage - Flash Fiction

Next Challenge June 3rd - theme ..... * I Remember *
Join Here
Romantic Friday Writers

     The Mustang rested in a corner, away from the rows of show cars, hanging its head with a For Sale sign plastered on its back. Jillian leaned in. It looked like the same car...
     “Hello.” The voice in her ear startled her. “Care to buy some memories?”
     Rick. In his own state of aged disrepair, but then who wasn't? Every morning, her own reflection had less to do with who she was inside. Squinting, if the light was low, she could almost make out the girl who lived inside.
     Rick. She had loved him wildly, passionately, joyously. He had left the country, breaking her heart. Yet she smiled now.
     “I remember some great times in this car. A shame you've left her go.”
     “Same wear and tear we all have. No shame in that. Wanna go for a spin?”

     The old haunts had all changed, or were gone entirely. Her heart stumbled as they turned onto the road which led to her childhood home.
     “Remember when I'd bring you home? We'd sit in the driveway and neck, and your Mom would give us 15 minutes and then flip the outside lights on and off? I never stuck around to see what would happen if I didn't take off right then.”
     Jillian smiled. “She approved of you. Other boys got no warning; either I was out of the car in a minute, or she'd sic the dogs on them.” Her face clouded. “I miss my Mom.” Tears unexpectedly filled her eyes.
     The old house was still standing but dilapidated, one shutter missing, paint peeling. The outside light was on, yet the interior was dark. No one home. Rick shut the engine off and coasted into the driveway. He shifted in his seat and looked at her quietly.
     “It tore my heart out, you know. I was convinced you could do better; I couldn't stand the guilt of knowing I'd ruined your chances for a better life.”
     A misplaced sense of honour. If only he had let her make that choice for herself. She bit back a sharp retort as he leaned toward her and kissed her, lightly and easily as he used to do. She drew back; in the deepening twilight the crumbling facades fell away and their underlying youth stepped forward.
     The lights on the house blinked once, twice, and went out.
 Coming in at exactly 400 words. Somehow, I missed that it was supposed to be 1st person POV. Since it took me hours just to cut this down to the word limit, I simply threw up my hands at the idea of rewriting it again. I think it's slowly dawning on me that romance just ain't my thang.