Sunday, November 20, 2011

The beauty of loneliness.

For a reason I'm unable to explain, I'm drawn toward media (books, video games, films) that deal with the concept of loneliness. Some great examples are the games Fragile Dreams and Shadow of the Colossus, and the film Wrecked. There is something inherently beautiful in the characters' singular completion of tasks.

I think I love video games the most, because they have so much mystery to them. Certainly, you play the game to figure out what's happening, and you unravel the past. A lot of the time, however, you never really get to get inside the main character's head. If you do, the character frequently voices their loneliness, drawing the player in with them. This is seen best in Shadow of the Colossus, which is an experience in itself. I didn't even play the game: I watched my husband play it well over a year ago. Regardless, the game stuck with me.

Wander, the main character, is exploring an expansive landscape with no companion but his horse, Agro. Because no other people are around him, he doesn't speak, except to say his horse's name. What is he thinking, as he completes this journey alone? That always seemed interesting to me. The character that isn't given a voice has to be thinking of something at this point in the story.

I tried to emulate that feeling of emptiness and loneliness last year with my, as yet untitled, NaNoWriMo project. That is the one I am currently editing. I posted an excerpt last year, along with a Shadow of the Colossus remix which was some of my background music as I wrote. If you'll notice, I wrote a similar summary of Shadow of the Colossus in that entry.

Today, I'm going to leave you with a CreepyPasta I wrote a little while back. Urban Dictionary defines CreepyPasta as "creepy stories that float around on the Interwebs". They are usually short stories but can be longer as well. Two of my personal favourites are Killswitch and the first arc of the BEN Drowned/Haunted Majora's Mask Cartidge ARG.

In the following CreepyPasta, which I have titled Your Neighbors, I tried to capture that same feeling of emptiness while adding an unnerving ending. I hope you enjoy.


Your neighbors are loud.

You've been living in this apartment complex for three years by yourself and they've always been loud.

You have to work in the morning? They have friends over, and they're having a party. You wanted to sleep in? They're playing their guitars as loudly as they can. Even if you're enjoying the weather outside, they're tearing through the parking lot, kicking up dirt. It pisses you off, but you don't have the nerve to go to the landlord and complain, so you bottle it up and deal with it most of the time.

One night, you're going to bed early because you have to work the next morning. You set your alarm for six and settle into your cozy, warm bed. Just as sleep is about to take you, you hear some loud music and hollering from above. It seems your upstairs neighbors have decided to throw a party.

You surprise yourself with the rage you feel. Too many times have you gone to work in a stupor, having lost sleep the night before because of these imbeciles. Too many times have you held your tongue and suffered. Your rage builds up and you feel you've built up the nerve to get up and say something...

When suddenly you wake up, feeling more rested than you ever have. You stretch and rub your eyes and get ready for your day. You forget about the night before; it was probably better that you fell asleep before saying something, anyway. You go to work as normal and come home in the evening.

That night, things were quieter, and you slept very well. It is a good thing I didn't say anything, you think. There was clearly no need.

Over the following days, you notice things becoming progressively quieter. Indeed, the entire complex is far quieter than it has ever been.

And then you notice the stench.

At first, it's a mild smell--foul, but you only notice it sometimes. So you take out the trash, and go about your day. But it lingers, and worsens as time goes by.

And then you notice that all activity has ceased. What was once a bustling apartment complex no longer yields the activity and noise of before. Things are peaceful. You spend a few days reveling in it. You even call in sick a day to appreciate it. Just when you're starting to get used to the blissful quiet, you hear a knock on your door. You answer it, and it's a girl who lives in the complex. You always liked her; she was quiet and wouldn't invite friends over or play music at all hours. She looks exhausted, like she hasn't slept in days.

"Um... excuse me," she says meekly, brushing a lock of wavy red hair behind an ear. "I couldn't help but notice that we're the only ones left in the complex, and there seems to be something awful going on... can I come in? Please?" She gives you a nervous smile, and she looks to be on the verge of tears. So, you take pity on her. You let her in.

This works out very well for the first little while, but you begin to notice that she's crying. At first it's a soft cry, but then she becomes increasingly miserable, crying louder and longer. It starts to unnerve you after awhile. At first you felt bad for her, but now she won't shut up. She's being too loud.

Too loud.


You don't remember what happened after that, but now there's blood on your hands and a trickle of blood coming from the closed bedroom door.

But it's blissfully quiet.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Don't overdo it.

Today, I saw an older gentleman exiting a food bank with several bags of food. I noticed he was struggling to walk, so I offered to help him carry some groceries. He declined, however said that he would be grateful if he could lean on me as he walked. So, I let him, and he imparted to me a little bit of wisdom.

He told me he had a pinched nerve in his back, and that was why he had difficulty walking. He told me that these aches and pains can come on no matter how old you are, and can really slow things down for you. He stopped walking for a moment, then, and turned to look me in the eye.

"You're young," he told me, "and you have more opportunities to be happy." He looked pointedly at me, then. "Don't overdo it."

That was one of those "eureka" moments, for me. It felt almost as though he knew what has been going on in my life of late, and how I have, in fact, been "overdoing" it. I've been working harder than necessary on a number of things, and I haven't taken time for myself to be happy. It's just been a constant "go, go, go".

I helped him to his car and we then parted ways. As I left, it got me thinking about what he said. "Don't overdo it."

Why do so many of us (and I'm including myself, here) feel the need to escape from our lives? What are we running from, and why?

Coping with stress and unhappiness comes in a number of forms. My mother once said to me "Don't wish your life away, because this is it". A lot of stress comes from being unhappy with what you have. That doesn't mean that we should settle, but rather, if we're unhappy with something and have the power to change it, why not do that? If you hate your job, find a new one. Don't make excuses, be in control of your life. If you don't want to find a new one because the money is good with your current one, then find something about the current one that you like.

Happiness isn't a given thing. It comes with practice. Sometimes you need to make yourself be happy the sake of your sanity. Take time to do something you love each day, or just to relax and close your eyes. Make plans, or do something spontaneous.

Don't escape your life, embrace it. Because, as my mother said, this is it. While it's always important to cut loose and enjoy yourself, don't spend your days waiting for that time to come. I fall into this trap all the time. I think we all do; it's a very human thing to do. If you catch yourself doing it and try to correct it, though, you may find that happiness isn't so far away.

That's my rare, stress-free lucid moment for today.

Here's an update on my NaNo goals, while I'm here. It's only November 4th and one of my goals is complete, so I can get started early on the next one! Actually... I already have started the other goal. It's been in the works for a few months. But this morning I worked on it for a little while.

1. Finish last year's novel. Complete! Wrote the ending last night.
2. Finish the planning for Population: 1. - In progress.
3. Plan and script another cooking video.
4. Do a soft edit of the draft of last year's novel.
5. Finish writing the song I started earlier this year.

In further news, I've been invited to open for New Brunswick novelist Beth Powning at her reading on November 17th! I'm very honored to have been asked. It will be at 8 PM at La Teraz (154 Church Street, Moncton NB). Admission is by donation. I will be giving a short reading from Hub City Survival and will also be bringing a few copies to sell. If you have a copy you would like me to sign, you can bring it along that night. I'd love to see you there.

'Til next time!


Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween!

Good morning! I was up bright and early today because I was on the radio this morning. I had a great talk about all things Halloween with Tara Clow on News 91.9--in fact, that could be why you're here now! Could also be because Scotty and Tony of XL 96.9 invited me to have an interview, and that was aired this morning. Thanks to Scotty and Tony, as well as Tara and Shaun, for having me on this morning! It was great talking with all of you!

To celebrate Halloween, I'm bringing a short story back from the dead. I wrote this three years ago and spent part of yesterday revising it. This is a Halloween short story, but those of you who are fans of my horror work may be a little disappointed! This is more of a whimsical Halloween tale, spun for a children's audience. It might be a good one to read to the little ones. Hope you enjoy it, despite its decided lack of spookiness...


Mrs. Winter's Witch Cats, by K. M. Cooper

For as long as I can remember, we lived next door to a kindly old lady. She lived alone, except for her three cats: Samuel was an enormous grey tabby, Edward was a sleek and slender black cat, and Winter was a beautiful white longhaired cat. This lady went by the name of Mrs. Winter. I thought it strange she had a cat with her same last name, but Winter the cat did look an awful lot like her. Mrs. Winter had these two piercing amber-green eyes, just like a cat's, and her hair was long and white, though she usually wore it back in a single, long braid.

Mrs. Winter's house looked like it came straight from a fairy tale. Outside she had the most beautiful and well-cared-for rosebushes and lilac trees. She had a long wooden deck that had an awning over it and looped all around the house, and underneath sat a little rocking chair. All around the deck there were boxes and boxes of flowers, as well as a number of hanging plants. I suppose you can imagine how lovely the place looked in the summertime, when all sorts of butterflies and little ruby-throated hummingbirds flocked to her front yard to feed on the nectar. The backyard was just as lovely, with a couple of fruit trees that we could see if we went on our toes on the fence and peeked over, and a vegetable and herb garden that took up most of the soil back there. An arbor (that's what Mother said it was called) decorated with vines of roses and orange flowers I didn't know the name of welcomed whoever entered, and a little pond sat under one of her fruit trees. Mrs. Winter had a very big backyard, and how my sister and I longed to play in it!

One day in the summer, Mrs. Winter showed up on our doorstep and knocked three times precisely. My mother answered the door, for I had been told never to answer it myself at my age.

"Well hello, Mrs. Winter. This is a nice surprise," said Mother.

"Hello, Mrs. Daly," Mrs. Winter replied. "I wonder if I might borrow your girls for awhile?" I couldn't see them, but my little sister, Beth, and I could hear them from the living room, where we had been playing with our dolls.

"Oh? Whatever for?" my mother asked.

"Well, you see," Mrs. Winter began, "the beetles have been destroying most of my potato crop this year. I thought to give your girls a small opportunity to make some pocket change."

"I'll see how they feel about that! Girls, could you come here, please?" she called. Beth and I neatly placed our dolls on the floor--we didn't want to hurt them after all--and we gathered ourselves and rushed to the door, where Mrs. Winter was standing, smiling pleasantly.

"Good afternoon Trill and Beth," she said to us. "My, how you've grown! How old are you both?" I glanced at Beth, and the way she bit her lip indicated that I should be the one to speak.

"I'm eight," I told her, "and Beth is five." Beth nibbled her lip again.

"Hi," she said meekly.

"Now, children," said Mrs. Winter, "would you like to come help me in the garden, please?"

About ten minutes later, Beth and I stood in Mrs. Winter's garden, a bucket in each of our hands.

"Now, what I'd like for you to do is carefully pluck any beetles that are yellow with stripes off any plants you see and place them in the bucket," said Mrs. Winter. "Take care not to kill them," she added.

"Why don't you want us to kill them?" I asked. "Aren't they pests?" Mrs. Winter smiled.

"Even pests are a very important part of the world around us, Trill," she told me. "It's very important that we not kill these beetles. If we do, they may not be food for other creatures, like birds and spiders. We will take them someplace else to thrive so that they may not harm us any longer." I paused to let this sink in, then nodded. Mrs. Winter's smile grew a bit.

"We will take them out together, and I will count all of the beetles in your buckets and give you a dime for every one," she said. As soon as she said this, Beth and I set to work, scouring potato plants all over and picking off the little striped beetles we found. Every now and again I would drop one of my beetles in Beth's bucket. Since she was a fair bit younger than I, she wasn't quite as fast to see or take the beetles from the leaves as I was. Every time she noticed me dropping a beetle in, though, she'd swat my hand.

"Stop it, Trill. I can do it on my own," she scolded me.

An hour later, we had picked every potato beetle in the vicinity of the garden and no more could be found. Mrs. Winter had gone into the house about ten minutes before, and she was just returning as I had secretly placed the final beetle in Beth's bucket.

"Well done, girls!" she praised us. As we looked over to her, we saw that she was carrying a round tray with two glasses of lemonade and a small blue plate with what looked like cookies on it. "You've worked very hard, so it's time for a break. We'll put a lid on your buckets so the beetles won't escape - " as she said this, she placed the tray on the back steps of the deck " - and then we'll have a little treat. How's that?" She gave us each a bucket lid that she had left on the deck, both of which were peppered with tiny holes, and we snapped them on the buckets before any beetles could escape. By then, Beth had already made a run to sit on the steps of the deck. That much work for such a small child was tiring, especially on such a hot day.

"Look, Trill," said Beth, pointing to the cookies on the plate. "They look like cats." Indeed, each cookie was cut out to look like a cat, and all of them had icing to look like one of Mrs. Winter's cats. One had black and grey icing like Samuel's tabby stripes, one was all in black icing like Edward's sleek coat, and one was done in pure white like to look like Winter.

"Those cookies look like my cats, if you've noticed," said Mrs. Winter. "That's because I think about my cats all the time--even when I'm baking. They're my best friends." As she said that, Edward walked by and brushed against my arm, purring loudly. "Edward is the friendliest one," continued Mrs. Winter, "Samuel is a big grouch, and Winter's a little bit aloof, but they're all wonderful cats." Beth giggled as Edward started to lick her hand.

My sister and I ate our cookies and drank our lemonade, then Mrs. Winter asked us to take a walk with her, and to bring the beetles in the buckets along and we would count them together.

We started walking down the street. Not too far from where we lived, there was a little park with a pond that was home to some ducks and geese. Mrs. Winter led us down the little path that wound down through maple trees and circled around the pond. This path led us to a little meadow where we could hear all sorts of small creatures chirping and singing.

"Girls, this is where we're going to let the beetles fly free," she said as she handed each of us our respective buckets, and we prepared to remove the lid.

"Wait," I blurted, "how are we going to count them if we're going to let them fly free?" Mrs. Winter smiled very slightly, and somewhat suspiciously. That smile surprised me; I suddenly knew she had a plan.

"Just wait and see," she said in a quiet voice. "Now, on the count of three, remove the lid and cast the bucket out, and see what happens!" Beth and I looked at each other, grinning, and then we started to count together. On three, we swiftly removed the lids and we pitched our buckets forward. What happened amazed us both.
The group of potato beetles all leapt out of buckets and took to the air in flight. They all flew together, like a gaggle of geese would, and created a swarm. Then, they started to take on a collective form, and spelt out the number "56" in midair!

"Wow!" Beth and I gasped together. I glanced toward Mrs. Winter, who wasn't paying me any mind; she was gazing at the beetles herself. She gave a little wink toward the beetles, and suddenly they dispersed and flew off. I saw her look toward us then.

"Well," she said with the same mysterious smile, "it looks like I owe you girls five dollars and sixty cents!"

Over the next several months, Mrs. Winter had been getting us to help her out a little around her house. Usually this was with growing things of all kinds. She would always give us the cat-shaped cookies when our work was done, as well as a drink to refresh us. Each time we helped, one of the three cats would be watching us intently. Each one had a different way of telling us we did something wrong. Samuel would yowl loudly at us or swat at us, Edward would brush up against us and direct us to show us how to do it right, and Winter would merely lie there and block us from doing it wrong again.

"They're funny cats," I said to Mother one night over supper, "they always know when we don't do something right and tell us in their own ways."

"Cats don't do that, sweetie," Mother replied.

October arrived, and the leaves were changing colours and falling to the ground. The day before Thanksgiving, Mrs. Winter had us over to help her with her pumpkins. When we walked into her backyard, we immediately noticed all kinds of lights winking in and out, sparkling in thin air and spiralling down before disappearing. Beth and I gasped in wonder and tried to catch one of the lights.

"What are these?" I asked, watching as Beth clapped her hands over a light. "Are they fireflies?" Beth withdrew her hands to find them empty, and she pouted.

"It's a bit cold this time of year for fireflies, don't you think, Trill?" Mrs. Winter asked me.

"I suppose," I replied with some hesitation. "But then, what are they?" Mrs. Winter smiled and shrugged.

"I'm not really sure," she said in reply. "They're pretty, though, aren't they? They always appear around autumn then get stronger until Halloween. I wish the would stay with me through winter, to keep me and the cats company."

"Through winter?" I asked. Mrs. Winter nodded.

"Yes, my least favorite season," she said gravely. "I can't stand winter." As if on cue, Winter the cat walked delicately past with her dainty little nose in the air. Mrs. Winter stooped to give her a gentle pat. "Of course I don't mean you, my dear," she chuckled.

We helped to pick some of the pumpkins, then, and put them out on Mrs. Winter's front porch. As a special treat, she let us each take home whichever pumpkin we liked from her garden, and she helped us to carve those pumpkins after Thanksgiving had passed.

A couple of weeks later, the day before Halloween, Beth and I were busy making last minute preparations with Mother.

"I want to be a friendly witch!" I cried happily as Mother worked away at her sewing machine to make the perfect little witch's dress for me.

"I want to be the black cat!" Beth cried in reply, bringing her hands, balled up like paws, under her chin and making a little meowing sound. I giggled and scratched her on the head.

"Good kitty!" I said.

"Meow!" Beth replied. Just then, we were all surprised to hear a knock at the door.

"Girls," said Mother, pausing a moment in her sewing, "could you go look through the peephole and see who it is? If it's someone we know, send them in. If not, come and get me." Beth and I raced to the door, and being the taller one, I was able to look through the peephole. Looking back was Mrs. Winter, though I don't think she could see me. I jumped excitedly and pulled the door open, to which I was greeted by her familiar smile.

"Mrs. Winter!" my sister and I said with uncontained excitement.

"Hello, girls!" Mrs. Winter replied. "I'm looking for some very special help today." Beth and I looked at eachother with wide eyes. Mrs. Winter had never said special help before... we knew this must be very important. "Will you girls help me decorate my house for Halloween? I have the outside taken care of, but not the inside." My eyes widened, and if I had been looking at Beth at the time, I'm sure I would have seen her eyes growing just as wide. You see, at this point, neither Beth nor I had ever set foot in Mrs. Winter's house, and the two of us had always spoken of the interior in hushed voices and utmost secrecy, spinning wild tales with our childish imaginations. This meant it was time to discover if any of those tales were true. Beth and I nodded our reply, and we called to Mother to inform her of where we were going, then darted out the door to accompany Mrs. Winter. When we arrived at the doorway to the house, we stood outside for a moment to collect our thoughts as Mrs. Winter headed in before us.

"Well, girls, are you coming in, or are you going to stand there all day?" she asked as she peered at us from inside the house. Beth and I glanced briefly at eachother, and as the older sister, I took it upon myself to take a step over the threshold first.

When you are eight years old, you begin to lose faith in your imagination. Things that used to seem plausible in your mind seem to lose credibility when you turn eight. Imagine my surprise when I was told expressly by merely looking at the interior of Mrs. Winter's house that my imagination still had some significance, and that not everything I made up in my mind was wrong or silly.

Mrs. Winter's house was simply magical. No wallpaper or plain colours graced her wall; she had murals of trees everywhere you looked, and on the ceiling depicted a different sky in every room. The main room had what looked like an early morning sky, with some lingering stars and dark blue on one side, but a pink-streaked lavender on another side. The lavender merged to a bright coral, then pale orange, then the beginnings of a light blue. As I glanced in the living room, I saw a cerulean blue afternoon sky, dappled with puffy and friendly white clouds. I couldn't see any other rooms immediately, but I could assume that the kitchen had a glorious sunset, and the bedroom had a peaceful night sky with a sprinkling of stars and--probably accurate--constellations. The trees on the walls had little lights that peeked out in mushroom-shaped sconces, and even when I looked closely, I couldn't tell if the lights were actual lightbulbs or fairy lights. All of the furniture in the house, that I could see, looked to be very elegant, with delicate swirls carved into the wood and velvet green cushions. I took a glance back at Beth, who was trembling in excitement.

"Do you like my house?" Mrs. Winter asked cheerfully. Beth and I nodded vigorously and stepped forward to follow her. Just then, the three cats, Samuel, Edward, and Winter ran by. As they ran, a little trail of bright, shining dust trailed behind each of their tails and hung in the air behind them. Each cat had their own distinct trail; Samuel's was silver, Edward's was bright orange, and Winter's was pink. Beth and I stared after the cats, then I gave one of the pieces of dust a little poke. It merely drifted lazily in the air a moment before settling back to where it was. I was sure I heard it giggle, so I jumped back in surprise and looked toward Mrs. Winter, who was standing there with the cats sitting around her. Interestingly, a wreath of the sparkling dust had floated up to form a slight aura about her, and the cats were flicking their tails gently, sending off more of the dust. The most curious part was the fact that there was nothing on the cat's tails, leading me to believe that the dust was coming out of their tails, not off them.

"Come here a moment, girls," Mrs. Winter said. "I have a favor to ask of you." We stepped forward and walked over to where Mrs. Winter was standing. She gestured to the cats. "My cats have a very special ability. They can make pretty baubles and lights, but they won't last longer than midnight on November 1st. I thought both of you would like to see these lights, as well as the other children in the neighbourhood." At last, I found my tongue.

"How do they do it? The cats?" I asked. Mrs. Winter smiled mysteriously.

"Who knows?" she said.

"How do you want us to help?"

"Watch this." Mrs. Winter reached out her hand and plucked one of the motes that was drifting around her, then, holding it in her hand, she moved it over to the wall and placed it there, where it hung as though suspended by something. "If you could do this all through the entryway and living room, I would be very grateful." A sudden excitement welled up inside of me. I stepped forward and plucked several of the motes out of the air, one of each colour, and off I went, placing them in the air through the room. Beth made a very pretty collective of them by a tall and elegant lamp, which stood in the corner of the living room. To me, the lamp looked as though it was being lit by dozens of shining silver, orange and pink fairies. I left the living room to Beth and stayed in the entry, myself, placing some of the sparkling motes against the wall by the painted on trees. This made the trees look as though they might be growing some brightly-coloured fruit. I stopped for a moment when I saw a picture hanging from the wall. It was hung where a tree branch had been painted, and it was made to look as though it was in fact hanging from the tree. I placed the motes in the air in front of me to hang as I examined the picture.

This picture was a photograph of a smiling man, probably just a bit younger than my grandfather at the time. Underneath the picture was a small plaque which read "Samuel Edward Winter, Oct. 31, 1934 - Nov. 1, 2001". I blinked a few times, then heard Mrs. Winter's voice behind me.

"Ah," she said quietly, "perhaps you've just discovered the secret of my three cats." I blinked and turned around quickly.

"I'm sorry, Mrs. Winter," I uttered hastily, "I didn't mean to-"

"It's fine!" Mrs. Winter replied, lifting a hand. "That, Trill, is a picture of my husband a year before he died. I named each of my cats after one part of his name. After he died, you see, I needed some company, so I got these three." As she spoke those words, Samuel, Edward, and Winter all came over and sat down beside her.

"Why?" I heard Beth say. I turned and saw her walking from the living room into the entryway. "Why did you name them after your husband?" Mrs. Winter chuckled.

"That's a little funny, actually. You see, when my husband died I was so upset that I wanted to forget about him, but when I got the three cats I couldn't think of anything to name them. Sam had three sides to him, you see. A grumpy side," - here she gestured to Samuel - "a warm and friendly side," - she gestured to Edward - "and a vain side," - she gestured, finally, to Winter. I pointed to the dates on the plaques.

"So is that why the magic runs out on November first?" I asked.

"My, you are clever girls! Yes, though I have no way to prove it, I believe that is why," Mrs. Winter said with a nod.

"But how come the cats can do magic?" Beth asked, tilting her head to the side.

"I'm really not sure, to be honest with you," Mrs. Winter said with an apologetic tone. "I think that when Sam died, some of the magic he brought to this house stayed behind and attached itself to the cats." She smiled a little, her eyes shining with something between happiness and sadness. "That's what I think."

Beth and I finished with our decorating. When we were done, all of the entry hall and living room looked like a woodland fairy palace. The three cats sat to Mrs. Winter's side as she handed my sister and me treat bags.

"Stop by tomorrow night when you're trick-or-treating. The magic is its strongest on Halloween and you'll really see those lights shine!"

After school the next day, Beth and I were dressed in our Halloween finery.

"Meow meow," said Beth.

"Come on, Edward!" I said to her. Mother looked at the two of us in absolute bewilderment.

"Edward's a boy's name, dear," she said to me.

"But he's the nicest one," I told her, without further explanation. Mother didn't question this further.

"Remember to stay just to our street," she told us, "and don't go into any strangers' houses."

"We won't," I reassured her.

"Meow meow," Beth echoed in a similar tone. Mother handed us each an empty pillowcase, and we were on our way. We said that we would wait until the very last house to see Mrs. Winter so we could spend some extra time with her, and see the house in full decor after dark. We walked down our street, the sun setting behind us, and set out on our quest for candy. One hour later, we were walking back towards home, our pillowcases very nearly filled with candy, cans of pop, chocolate and chips. Our arms were getting heavy and sore, but we stopped by Mrs. Winter's house all the same, of course, and knocked three times. Moments later, Mrs. Winter opened the door.

We were very surprised to see how youthful Mrs. Winter looked. It was as though she had reversed time and aged fifteen years younger. Her hair was lovely and black with only slight greying, and some of her wrinkles had reversed themselves. What surprised us still was the music and sounds that we heard inside.

"Come in, girls!" said Mrs. Winter. She opened the door a little wider, and in we went.

The house looked incredible. The light motes had transformed themselves into little fairy spiders made of pure light, and they were connected by wispy light webs. Accompanying their transformation, they were giggling, singing, and whirling about the room in random patterns; some of them were moving slowly, and others quickly. Suddenly, Samuel ran past our feet in hot pursuit of one of those spiders. I could only guess that the other cats were doing the same in other parts of the house.

"Well, these lights have never behaved this way before!" Mrs. Winter said. "Girls, you did a really wonderful job decorating! I can't help but wonder if you might have some magic of your own!" Beth and I looked at each other with wide eyes. We couldn't help but wonder, either!

As fairy spiders wizzed past us on their ghostlike webs, Mrs. Winter plucked two of them out of the air. One was an orange one, which was my favorite colour, and a pink one, which was Beth's favorite colour.

"If you have your own magic," Mrs. Winter said in a low voice, "and you wish hard enough, maybe these will last beyond midnight." She handed these spiders to me and Beth, where they crawled up our arms, shoulders, then to the top of our heads, where they stayed in our hair like barettes.

"Happy Halloween, girls," said Mrs. Winter, leaning down and collecting us in a hug.

"Happy Halloween, Mrs. Winter!"

As we left Mrs. Winter's house, I could have sworn I saw the picture of her husband Sam winking at us. It was probably only my imagination, though.

The next day, we walked by Mrs. Winter's house and got a quick glimpse of the inside just as she was walking out the door. Not only was every fairy spider and light web gone from the house, but Mrs. Winter looked every bit as elderly as she had in days before, and not at all like she had on Halloween night. She waved to us, and as we waved back, our fairy spiders moved just slightly on our heads. They were still there, reminding us that perhaps Mrs. Winter had been right when she said we had magic of our own. That year, we had certainly had an exciting Halloween adventure with our next door neighbor, who was undoubtedly a witch of some kind, and her friends, the witch cats.


If you have any Halloween stories of your own you'd like to share, please add them to the comments section, or post a link there! I'd love to read them.

Have a safe and happy Halloween! And to those of you who'll be up until midnight preparing for NaNoWriMo, happy writing!


Friday, October 28, 2011

Go for the goal!

It's nearing the end of October, which can only mean one thing.

Well, all right, two things. Wise guy.

NaNoWriMo is approaching! And this year I've decided... well, I'm actually not going to do it at all. I have too much going on this year! And besides that, with all the writing projects I have on the go... I really, really shouldn't be starting another one.

What I've decided is that this year, I'm going to substitute NaNo for finishing (or, in some cases, starting) a couple of my writing projects, not all of which are necessarily literature. True to NaNoWriMo mentality, though, I will be working on this every day, and I will set a goal for myself. I won't sign up for the website and give myself a word goal, because then I know I'll be tempted to participate in NaNo itself! Instead, I'm going to use my blog to update on my progress.

Without further ado, my goals:

1. Finish last year's novel. I wrote the 50,000 words, that is true, but I couldn't find the ending. This month, it will be finished.
2. Finish the planning for Population: 1.
3. Plan and script another cooking video. You know, just because the last one was so much fun.
4. Do a soft edit of the draft of last year's novel.
5. Finish writing the song I started earlier this year.

I will try to do one a week. Since there are just about 5 weeks in November and some of the goals are a little shorter (the first and last week are not complete weeks), I should have enough time. Should.

Wish me luck, and see you soon!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Goodbye to an old friend.

Losing family isn't easy. It doesn't matter what relation they are to you: if they are gone, they leave behind a hole in your heart that can never really be filled up again.

Not all family members are blood family. In fact, not all of them are even human.

Yesterday, we lost a very dear family member: our cat, Jake (short for Jaqueline), who had been with us for fifteen years. She was old, and her heart couldn't take the strain anymore. There was nothing we could do and she wasn't in pain, she was just weak. So, Mom and Dad brought her home for the last time.

She died very quietly and peacefully yesterday morning, to the sound of water from the open window. We buried her later that day in Alma, near a spot by our house where she used to go mousing. She was an indoor-outdoor cat, and she loved to hunt.

She also loved us.

Jake was very much a people cat. Her best friend was my father, whose nose she would bat with her paw in the morning to wake him up. She would follow him everywhere like a loyal dog and would scold him if he left for too long.

She had a very big personality and was vocal; Jake's thoughts were never a question, and she certainly didn't need any words to let her opinions be heard.

I'll never forget the last night I saw her. It was just the other night, in fact, after they had brought her home from the vet. She was so weak, and she couldn't move more than a few steps without getting tired. I approached her and saw her lying in her basket, staring off in the distance. When she heard my footfalls, her head popped out of the basket to meet my eyes. She greeted me with one of her classic meows, as if to say "You're here! You came! I'm so glad to see you!", and she didn't sound hoarse at all, even though she was so weak. She didn't give any hint to how tired she was with those meows. They sounded reminiscent to the older days, when I would come home from school or work or university, and she would greet me the same way.

I patted her and she gave the same happy purrs she would when she was healthy. I'll miss the sound of her purring. It was how I could tell which cat had just jumped on the foot of my bed when it was dark. Her brother, Mira, didn't have quite as distinct a purr as Jake's.

Mira left us many years ago, a very sick cat. Jake was healthy up until about a month ago, when her heart started to fail her. She was responsive until the end, though, and her eyes would dart about wide and alert the whole time, as if she didn't want to miss a moment of it.

Jake wasn't just family, she was a friend. She always knew me, even when I left for many months for university, and always greeted me the same way when she saw me: the same as when she saw me the other night. Some people would think it strange to mourn the loss of a pet so strongly, but I don't believe that. You don't need words to build a lasting bond. You don't need to speak the same language to miss the sound of someone's voice, or to be understood. In fact, sometimes the lack of language makes the communication that much stronger. It eliminates the need for words altogether. Sometimes it can make the bond that much deeper.

So, thank you, Jake. Thank you for being a friend. Thank you for always being so vocal. And thank you, especially, for holding on until we could see you at the very end, and purring the whole time. Thank you for that one last fond memory I have and will never forget.

To finish, I'm going to add in a poem that my father, Allan Cooper, wrote about Jake the other day, and finished yesterday after she was buried.

Saying Goodbye to Summer by Allan Cooper

Sometimes it seems my life
is a series of goodbyes: goodbye
to the cat, goodbye to a friend,

goodbye to the last summer light.
Oh how we basked in it,
how she flopped back and forth

on the deck in the thick heat,
how she woke me with her paw
on my nose at the first sliver

of dawn light. What will we remember
as we go? A face, a gesture, a voice
opening in sweetness?

Hearts break, but they
never completely heal. Cats
adopt us, and there’s no way

out of that bond. “Remember me”
says one hair on the floor.
“Remember the light.”

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

(Almost) a year later

I feel it's important to note that it's now been almost a full year since Hub City Survival was first put into print. Since then, over 100 copies have been printed and six stores carry my book.

To many authors, that would be a failure. To someone who self-publishes and doesn't have as much time to promote, nor the means to hire someone for promotion, this is a success!

The book is still selling well and I am contacted with relative frequency about restocking. If you'd like a copy, I'll be selling them online through Paypal for $25 each. Shipping, signing, and a little surprise gift is included! I'll include a link on the side for future use.

Now, my next project, as I stated before, is to write Dahlia's story. I am in the process of mapping out the entire story, which is quite extensive. As I previously mentioned, however, this will be a story that you can actually interact with. As such, I have created two new blogs: one to tell the story in a completely in character fashion, and an out of character blog to discuss and participate in. Please feel free to follow both blogs if you're interested! Here is a link to the Population: 1 main blog, and here is the Population: 1 OOC (out of character) blog. I'm really excited about the project and it's coming together, even if it is taking awhile. I hope it'll be well worth it!

NaNoWriMo is just around the corner, as well. I have an idea for it, but I haven't decided whether or not I'll participate this year. Time will tell if my life will be too hectic this year, but I hope it will work out!

This weekend I'm getting married and going on a brief honeymoon to Saint Andrews, so I'm hoping the time away from... stuff will replenish some of my decidedly diminished creative pool. Have a wonderful October, if you don't hear from me by the end of it!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Rejection letters

Rejection is such a harsh word, isn't it? At its bare bones, the word itself merely means to refuse, or to not accept. It has a lot of connotation, though, and I imagine that's what the harshness stems from. The word's implied meaning is that of repulsion: rejection is suggested to be a bad thing, rather than the simple failure to accept.

I recently received a rejection letter, which, as I'm sure you can imagine, is the reason for this post. I submitted a poem in response to a call put out by a Canadian literary magazine about three months ago, and their response arrived in my inbox a week ago. The e-mail told that the magazine receives a great number of submissions a year and is only in a position to publish a few. I am subscribed to the magazine and can see this is true, given how relatively short each issue is.

Why is it, then, that I and so many others perceive the humble rejection letter to be a failure?

A rejection letter is a good thing. This may be a difficult concept for many to believe, but a rejection letter may also be a compliment. The publishing company is saying that while they may believe your submission to be a worthwhile one, it doesn't necessarily fit with what they were looking for. Why is this a compliment? You were worth responding to. Maybe this seems like a common courtesy, but it does mean that your work wasn't just tossed to the wayside. They read your submission over, analysed it, and after careful thought gave you a no as a response.

The rejection letter is a humbling reminder that we are not perfect, no matter whether this is our first rejection letter or our fifty-first. It is a reminder that we can always improve in some way, and when we look extensively at our own work, perhaps to the point of getting others to look at it for us, we'll be able to find those things that make our work imperfect and polish them. Perhaps your work wasn't rejected due to its imperfections, but searching for those imperfections is a good exercise anyway.

Content people are creative people, that is very true. But you can be content and still strive to improve your work. It's good to be pleased with work you have done, but it's more constructive to try and improve upon it.

That said, I will include the poem that I wrote and had rejected. Perhaps this reflection will help me fix my errors, as well!

This poem is called "Siblings". I wrote it for a magazine that was doing a call for sibling-related poetry. My problem is that I do not have any siblings of my own: I am an only child. That is a possible reason for the rejection, of course, but the reflection of having received a rejection letter was, I feel, still very relevant. Perhaps if the poem was--to use a vague term--better, it still would have been published.

Siblings by K. M. Cooper

As the pheasant who crows in the spring,
Searching through the brush for its partner.
My search is not so simple.

All my life I have craved a sibling--
A younger child to hold, to teach, to grow with.
When I was young,
Christmas commercials of sisters baking cookies together would bring me to tears.
"You're lucky," friends assured me.
"Having a sister is awful."
I wasn't so sure.

Time passes by and I grow older.
No longer a child, I understand now
My time to have a brother or sister has passed.
I still feel a pang of regret when I hear the conversations--
Nieces and nephews, never to have.
Never the blood-aunt, for my husband, too, is without siblings.
I've resigned myself to a life of fraternal solitude.

Family is, however, what you make.
You cannot choose your blood relatives,
But "family" and "blood relation" are not the same.
No, family is a whole different animal.
The world is filled with my little brothers and sisters,
Some of them older,
Adopted from various walks of life.
Five little sisters I once made coffee with,
Each one eager with news, or asking advice.
Like an older sister, I listen, but in my own way.
Unlike a true older sister, they can share and be assured
I will not tell their parents.
A seemingly twin brother, as well:
We dressed in matching Halloween costumes--
Moustache and all--
As our fiances looked on, bemused.
One little sister, crying on the phone,
Threatening self-violence.
Like a textbook older sister, what I do is sometimes harsh,
In this instance to the point of calling an ambulance.
My aim is not to be liked,
But to guide and protect, even when such guidance may be questioned.
Even disdained.
Inside jokes shared with a blood-relative whose mother is my mother's sister--
Cousins, siblings.
What's the difference?
Any blood relation is, after all, just a bonus.

The pheasant crows, again, and emerges triumphant with his hen.
I may walk alone a spectator,
But my brothers and sisters walk beside me in spirit.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Next project

I'm starting work now on my next project, which will be the spiritual successor to Hub City Survival. There will be no zombies in this one, however there will be a great mystery to unravel, and it will take place again in Canada, this time in the fictional town of Cullingville. I, again, plan on releasing this chapter-by-chapter online, probably through my deviantArt account.

This one, however, I plan to be a little different.

If you recall, a few posts back I embedded a brief short film/trailer I shot back in April. If you don't recall, here it is:

I've decided to use this as a trailer for the project, and my plan for it is to become an online, episodic writing project, akin to what Hub City Survival was, only with a twist: I want people to be involved! Ideally, this story will be semi-interactive, giving the readers a chance to involve themselves in it. My ideal would be to have people give clues by comments in deviantArt to serve as letters or hints, and also to help decide what the main character, Dahlia, is to do through polls.

I hope to get started on the project soon, but I'd like some opinions first! Feel free to go and join the discussion on my deviantArt page or to start a separate discussion here!

Thursday, May 19, 2011


Atlantic Canada doesn't really get a spring. Usually we have a very late winter, lasting well through April and sometimes into May. This May, we literally have had rain every day until today.

Today was, summarily, a summer's day. The sun was bright and warm, birds were singing, people walked down the street in shorts and musicians played in the parks. It was a summer's day in which anything seemed possible.

One of my lines in the poem, "creation/appearing/from midair/something/from nothing" exactly describes my thought process as the poem formed in my mind. Thoughts crossed my mind rapidly, so I wrote the poem in a deliberately rapid-fire manner. I also deliberately put only two words per line. I wanted to capture the essence of what I felt, which was the swirling chaos of summer life becoming a magical whirlwind of brightness, colour, and vibrant, happy people.

I like to experiment with form from time to time, so in this particular poem I set up 5 columns. It is read from top to bottom, left to right. By this I mean you read the first column from top to bottom, then move onto the next column on the right and continue.

This is far from a polished masterpiece, but it certainly describes how I felt at the time of writing it. I hope you enjoy it nonetheless.

musicians somewhere

grass between

my toes

punctuated by


and me



breathing in



my lips
sun-baked breeze

cars revving

shorts skirts

and fountains

feet dancing

along traintracks

moving aside

let the



all peaceful
smoke curling


a balcony

a sidewalk

a terrace


people talking

smiles and




into existence
summer is




from midair


from nothing

shared moments




flower scent
on air

not imagined


becomes night

patio lanterns



make trails

of sparks

and finally




is possible

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Writing Clusterbomb

Inspiration comes in many different forms, and the end result can be anything from a haiku to a novel. Sometimes, however, my inspiration will sort of dance sideways and produce something completely different.

This has happened not once, but thrice lately. I've started writing a song. I'm working on a quirky blog about video games, called Spoiler Alert!, which is exactly as the title says: full of spoilers. It also rife with cursing and snark, which I'm new to writing. If you're interested, here is the link to Spoiler Alert!

The third and possibly strangest of my non-conventional writing endeavors is most likely a short film a made one afternoon. I wrote, shot, and edited the whole thing over the course of a day on Easter weekend. Rather, today. It is heavily inspired by the game Fragile Dreams, which I consequently just wrote about in Spoiler Alert!.

The question now is what to do with this! Should I turn it into a miniature web series? Should I make a movie? Should it be my next web-writing series, a la Hub City Survival? I know I want to do something with it, but I don't know what!

Ever had something take you in a completely different direction than you expected? Tell me about it in the comments!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Walking to work

For some reason, I'm always able to pull inspiration from my surroundings at the most inopportune of times. One of those more frequent times tends to be when I'm on my way to work. One of the nice things about this is that I can jot down some of my ideas as I walk with my iPod touch.

Here are a few haiku that I have written on the way to work:

A moment of calm
Before these hours of chaos
Overwhelming me.

Grey cat disappears
Phantom smoke in the bushes
But there is no fire.

Earthworms on pavement
Writhing around wet cement
City of the dead.

A companion to the first haiku is the following poem, which I wrote the other day.

Further moments of calm before chaos
Birdsong my soundtrack
Scent of fresh-fallen rain
The unknown summoning me on an adventure
Though I protest--
Although an adventure is precisely what I crave,
I have previous engagements.

Despite a warning from an oncomer, I write.
Sometimes, inspiration doesn't care if I get a little wet
And neither do I.

What I'm saying is that I want to run off for the day and find something else to do. Like a child I want to chase the wayward wind, leap into a forest or comb the beach for treasure. But, alas.

I know it's not the most intricate of poems but it's merely a work in progress that I may turn into something more at a later time. Poems will do that. They start with a spark, they catch something and flicker, and the next thing you know they have engulfed your page. Some of them just tend to take a little longer than others!

If you'd like, share some of your unfinished works, or works in progress. I'd love to read them!

Friday, February 4, 2011

In the news!

Things have been rather hectic on my end of late, so I haven't had as much time to update the blog.

That doesn't mean that I've been without news, however. Quite the opposite, in fact: I've been IN the news!

This past week, I was featured in the local newspaper's Fifteen Minutes of Fame column for a few different things, including but not limited to Hub City Survival. Check it out!

In addition to that, I've been rehearsing since November for A Streetcar Named Desire in which I play the role of Eunice Hubbell. That has been going on this week until Sunday. If you're in the Moncton area, the shows are tomorrow night at 7 PM, Sunday afternoon at 2 PM and Sunday evening at 7 PM. Check out the newspaper article, and then check out Hub City Theatre's website!

I'm of course still working on some writing... more on that once the play's through!