Day 20

What’s the excuse this time A.J.?:

Well. It goes like this…

Has your brain ever been attacked? Mine was. It all happened about a week ago; I was taking a nap between work shifts on Friday when a hideous creature snuck into my room and wormed its way into my brain via my ear (ok, I don’t know if that’s how it really got in, but I needed a dramatic entrance.). My alarm went off, I twitched aside the curtains to let some light in and groaned. Pain exploded in my head, my stomach churned with nausea, my eyes pulsed with a white-hot pain. When I stood up the world tilted, there was a strange misty haze in my room that hadn’t been there before. My head throbbed with anger and that was when I realised I had been attacked, by a migraine. 

Have you ever had a migraine? Or even a really bad headache? Yes? I’m really sorry, I feel your pain. Have you every had one coming and going for a week? Yeah. ‘Pain in the ass’ and ‘ouch’ don’t begin to cover it.

I’ve spent the last few days writhing in bed; unable to sleep, unable to stand, unable to do much of anything but  sit in a pitch black room, ice pack firmly pressed to the back of my head and whine about how much my head hurt whilst cursing the God’s in an angry whisper. My brain was trying to escape from my head, I just know it. It tried using a blow torch to get out via my eye sockets, it took a chainsaw to the back of my head, the machete to the right temple was a nice touch but the cherry on the cake was using the muscles in my neck/back of the head as reins on a bank wagon that was being chased by robbers around the edge of a cliff.

But, thanks to a joke, I have been migraine free today. Wait. What? A joke?  Yes. A joke. I’m not kidding. A friend called and told me a joke last night, I went to sleep and BAM. No more migraine. How sweet is that?! So, if you ever have a migraine, ask a friend to tell you a joke.



Sunday Funday


Last Sunday’s Writing Sabbath was a complete fail. I didn’t write a single word, didn’t spend one nano second on anything resembling writing, sorta forgot that Sunday is ‘dedicated’ to writing. Whoops.


I got about 2 hours in this morning working on various projects; tried to cut a 1,830 word story down to 1,000 (HA! Yeah right.), attempted to add a page here specifically for the 365 project (failed at that too.. It seems to be the theme of the day.), did a 365 post that is two days late, started searching for a new, more menacing name for a character in one of  my books, wrote a letter, and putzed around with a new short story that I started last week that I really need to finished. Like ‘light a fire under my ass’ need to finish. Unfortunately there seems to be little spare time these days.



Why is it that when I have hours of open space I don’t filled them with making words? I always scold myself the next day when I’m booked from the am to pm for not taking advantage of the time I had. I’ve GOT  to be more disciplined.




Day 19


A storm destroys your uncle’s shed and kills his six-year-old son. Describe the color of the sky right before the storm hit:



Time: 5 minutes






Storm clouds clustered above central Illinois fields, swirling and building menacingly. The clouds, sinisterly black, growled and rumbled with the thunder developing up inside of them. sinuous cables of electricity crackled with life inside the billowing mass of seemingly live atoms. High winds forced the mass towards the little town of Humblot at breathtaking speed.





Gah. What an abysmal post. And to top it off its been days since I’ve had time to do this. Ugh, I almost don’t even want to publish this. Prehaps I’ll take it down later….









Day 18

Name the trees that stood in the neighborhood where you grew up:


The trees of my childhood don’t have actual names so I’ve made some up, but these are three trees that are the definition of my childhood and I wanted to share the most loved memory of each.


Wilber and Jake were the Siamese twin trees that stood in the front yard of my parents house. We lived on a cul-de-sac, in the middle of the line of houses, Wilber grew out towards the street and Jake grew back towards the house. They were joined at the base for about three feet before they branched off in different direction. Wilber had a long straight limb that was perfect for swinging on, every year when the weather turned cold and the leaved started to brown and fall my family would rake up big piles of leaves. We’d always pile the leaves under Wilber’s swinging branch and my sister and I would swing down into the pile of leaves. Jake was built more for climbing, he had goof hand niches and a little seat eight/nine feet off the ground. I was friends with a brother and sister who lived across the street and one summer we climbed up into Jake and carved our initials into his trunk. We moved out of that house and out of the state when I was 9 years old, we returned 4 years later. One day, my father and I were driving through our old neighborhood, as we liked to do sometimes, and as we passed by our old house we find that Wilber had been completely cut down and Jake had most of his higher branches taken off. The new owners were out in the front yard so we stopped to talk, my dad told them we used to live there and he said his kids loved to play in the tree and gestured to me. I was blinking back tears. The guy looked at me, smiled and asked “Are you M. H, S. H, or A.J.?” My mouth probably dropped a foot and the man laughed and said he had found the initials while he had been working on that tree.


Willow was the tree that sat in the front yard of my second family’s house. All us kids (there are 5 of us) were homeschooled together at that house for most of our childhood. Willow was a cottonwood tree that was a symbolic part of the house I pretty much grew up in; it was the first thing you saw when driving up, the itchbombs provided hours of fun as instruments of torture, the leaves made great additions to art projects. When my family moved away when I was 9, we piled all of the kids up in Willow and took a picture, I have it framed sitting on the nightstand. A few years ago Willow got sick, and we had to cut her down. It was a very sad day for all of us, but there are so many good memories with that tree.


Jace is the biggest tree from my childhood, and the only one still standing. He dominates the backyard of my second family’s backyard. Like Willow, Jace is a cottonwood. Also like Willow, Jace got sick. His bark caught a disease and we thought it was going to kill him, meaning we were going to have to cut him down. Thankfully we called a tree doctor (did you even know those existed?) and they came over and were able to save Jace. The best memory I have of Jace, and there are so many to pick from, is one day after we had finished our school work, my second dad had been doing to work on the house and the ladder was left out. My brother and I decided to camp out in Jace for the day. We packed up our backpacks with Redwall books, Cliff Bars, water bottles, our spy gear (Harriet the Spy had just come out and we were obsessed) and blankets, propped the ladder up against Jace and climbed up into the branches. The lowest branch is about nine feet from the ground, so we were up pretty high and we just spent the day up there. Chilling. It was a great day.

Day 17


Describe an electronic device in the future that you won’t know how to operate:




In the future there is going to be a navigation device, much like a GPS, that is used for all kinds of travel needs; flying from planet to planet, teleporting from one galaxy to another, using the subway, skimming around down town on a hoverboard. Everyone will have one. The old, crumbling cities of the 21st century are hard enough to navigate on foot (it’s nearly impossible to drive cars in the Old Cities. The buildings are too narrow and close together, and the cars can’t drive on the street), let alone the new cities of the 30th century. Walking from one street to the next is like being in a maze, the buildings not only go up, but out and around with open walls, waterfall doors, and creatures lurking in the sewers. To be without the small watch like object on your wrist communicating with your vehicle is to be lost.


Now, companies will claim that the navigation devices are easy to use. Kids as young as 8 will be able to work them. They are fashionable, as everything in the future must be. But I will not be able to work it. I will be that crotchety person calling their grandchildren because they can’t turn the stupid thing on.


“Mia, I can’t get my ND to turn on. I don’t know what’s wrong with it, it worked fine yesterday when I went to the store.”


Mia pinched the bridge of her nose and twisted away from the computer sitting on the desk in front of her. “Did you charge it last night, grandma?”


“Of course I did. I plugged it into the power box like you showed me.”


Mia seriously doubled the thing had any battery life in it. “Did the blue light come on?”


There was silence on the other end of the phone. “Yes.” The voice was a bit hesitant.


“Are you sure-” Mia was cut off by her grandmother.


“Just come over and turn it on for me. I need to go to the doctor, unless you just want to take me.”


“I’ll be right over,” Mia said quickly.


Regret and anger seethed through her as she shrugged into her jacket. ‘It’ll will be so nice for you to go to school in Albuquerque, you know how much your grandmother adores you,’ her mother had coaxed during her last year of Required School. If Mia had only known then that she would be her grandmothers technical guru, called three or four times a day with questions, asked to come over to ‘fix’ something that was not plugged in properly, she would never had agreed to go to Upper School in her hometown.


Mia’s grandmother had tea waiting on the table when Mia used her key and opened the apartment door. The ND was sitting on the counter, various chargers, pamphlets of directions for older models strewn across the counter top. Mia picked up the ND and looked for the activation wand, it was nowhere to be found.


“Grandma, where is the activation wand?” Mia hollered, finding the right charger she plugged the ND into the power box on the wall in the kitchen. A blue light appeared on the screen and then immediately switched to red. Mia unplugged it, eyebrows knitted together, the ND was charged.


“Do you see it-” Mia’s grandmother came into the kitchen, the question cut off when she saw Mia holding the ND.


“It’s charged.” Mia said, taking the plug out of the power box.


Her grandmother rolled her eyes and took the Nd out of Mia’s hands. “I know it is, I charged it last night. I can’t get it to turn on.” Mia’s grandmother began tapping the power symbol on the screen. Nothing happened.


Mia sighed and pulled open the drawer full of junk her grandmother had always kept to the left of the phone. She riffiled through it while her grandmother complained loudly about ‘new-fangled gadgets’. In the very back of the drawer she saw the slim sliver activation wand and picked it up.


“I told you, to turn it on you have to use the wand and the power button.” Mia said, taking the ND from her grandmother and turning it on. With a whirl the screen lit up and lines of code ran across the screen as it communicated with her grandmothers car.


“Thank you darling, what ever would I do without you?” her grandmother asked as she hugged Mia tightly.

Mia wrapped her arms around her grandmother, a smile tugging at her lips despite the annoyance she had felt on the way over.






















Day 16

What is something that you wanted, but once got, never used?:

Well, the answer to this is a little abstract…. ok a lot abstract. So bare with me. I’ll try and make this as clear as it sounds in my head.

My grandparents. They aren’t really something I wanted (can you want something you’ve had since the instant you came to be in this world, before you were even capable of understanding what that something is?) per-say. And I wouldn’t say I never used them. Ok, the use of the word ‘use’ makes me feel like I was trying to take advantage of them… Let’s use the word appreciate instead. I wouldn’t say I didn’t appreciate them. As a kid I loved spending time with them, they would take my little sister and me to the museum in our hometown. They were volunteers there, they had been since the year before I was born. They worked there every Monday, afternoon shift, after lunch with the gang. Going to the museum never lost it magic, even though I could go through the entire two story building in about five minutes and pretty much recite every text in the building. The volcano always had the maze of hot lava, and you had to walk on the side to avoid burning to death, the Evelater was always the best ride and everything Charlie told us about dinosaurs was new every time (though its not as much fun now that the floor doesn’t move), the noise the long headed dinosaur makes always touched my soul, making an earth quake by jumping up and down as hard as you possibly could on the pad was a must, the nature center was fun so long as the snakes weren’t out, and they always had a penny for us to throw in the fountain of the bat cave. The hours spent in the museum are some of the fondest memories I have of them.

Now, as you can probably guess from the past tense used above, my grandparents have passed away. My grandmother has been gone for 10 years, my grandfather for a little over 1 year. This is where the ‘once but never used/appreciate’ bit comes in. I didn’t appreciate my grandparents to the fullest, and I know that sounds bizarre but it’s true. There are so many things that I did not learn (and will never learn) from my grandmother. She won’t be able to teach me how to make her famous crab fettuccine now that I’m old enough to see over the tops of the counter, she wont be there to give me dating advice (admit it, you’ve gone to your grandparents for help with a guy/girl. It’s ok, this is a safe place. Everyone does it. No shame.), she isn’t able to tell me about the history of her name, Ojuana, and the small portion of Native American blood I have in my veins. My grandfather, Phil, isn’t here to scowl at my second tattoo, shove his forearm at me and say ‘it NEVER comes off’, he can’t tell me stories about being in the Navy that sound super badass but also teach you a valuable lesson. The fact is, both of my grandparent’s died before I really had the chance to appreciate them; their life, their struggles, their triumphs, their life lessons, their mistakes, their advice. I have so many questions for them that will never be answered. I’m sure I could dig around on the internet and find stuff about Phil in the Navy, and I’m sure I could track down Ojuana’s side of the family and ask them questions but the answers wont come from my grandparents, it just won’t be the same.

So. The lesson for today is; don’t wait until someone is gone to appreciate them. Take advantage of all the wonderful stories your grandmother has, take the time to seek out the advice of someone who has lived exponentially longer then yourself, and treasure every second you spend with them. You never know when those seconds will be gone.

Day 15




Running a little behind on these and keeping them daily, sorry.



Describe a character from the third person point of view as if they were in a novel:

Lucy is a 23-year-old living in Austin TX. One look at her sun bleached blonde hair and tanned arms and you know she spends most of her time outside in the sun. Lucy is in fact a swim instructor at an outdoor pool, her sparkling blue eyes match the color of the water she spends most of her days in. If you were to see Lucy at work you would know tight off the bat that she loves her job. A smile always hangs on her lips as she teaches kids how to swim and be safe in the water, she is never cross (even when she gets kicked in the face by a rambunctious 5-year-old), and is alway encouraging. She gives out prizes when the kids graduate to the next swimming level and knows just about every childs name at the pool at any given time. You can also tell Lucy loves her job because she is at the pool  nearly every day, working hard and having fun. People wonder how she does it, how she is out in the sun during the 110 degree summer days, getting sunburned sometimes, for 8 plus hours a day. If you ask her why, why she doesn’t go out at night or on the weekends like most 23 year olds in Austin she’ll tell you “I can’t, I have work in the morning.”. And if you ask her why she works so much she’ll smile widely and say “because I love my job, every minute of it. Nothing makes me happier.”.





Day 14

Something a little differnt, one of my short stories:

The Tale of the Sun and the Moon By A.J. Hart

Once, when the earth was young and man had just begun to walk along her crust, was a woman. Her days were filled with darkness, as was everyones. This was before the sun rose in the east, over the mountains and kissed the world with light and warmth. The earth was cold and dark, the people lived contently in the darkness for it was all they knew. The winds and rains came and went, animals prowled the depths of the darkness, the people were one with the darkness.

One day a woman laid on the dirt floor of her house, screaming in agony. Her husband crouched by her head, pushing the sweaty hair out of her eyes and murmuring loving words and encouragement.

The midwife stationed herself between the woman’s legs, one hand grouping in the darkness, the other pressing firmly on the woman’s engorged  stomach. “Push.” The midwife leaned heavily on her hand.

The woman screeched and withered in pain, urging her body to rid itself of the babe. With a flash of bright light the baby slid into the world with a pop. The man stood, horrified and gathered his wife in his arms.

A frail wail rise from the child’s lips and was carried off into the world by the wind. Tenderly the midwife picked up the glowing child and turned to the frightened parents. The sharp edges of her face were outlined from the light radiating from the child. “Fear not.”

Ignoring the fathers protesting the woman reached forward and placed the child at her breast. “Why does he,” she stopped, there were no words to describe what the child was doing.

The midwife’s eyes shone green in the light coming from the child. “She. She is the one the old ones told of. The child who will light up the darkness and bring color into the world. She will bring warmth and joy to all.”

The woman stroked her baby’s head, watching as her hand drifted in and out of the light. After a moment she searched for the father, he crouched outside the ring of light beaming from his daughter.

“Apos, come. Put aside your fear and see your child.”

Apos moved forward, hesitantly emerging from the shadows. The light illuminated his wife’s face and he felt the breath leave his body. “Llyla. Her name fell from his trembling lips. He had never seen her face before, but in that instant he knew there could be no sight as beautiful as his wife.

Together they looked down at the bundle of light between them. “She will change the world Apos. Our daughter will be written in the books of time.” Llyla whispered.

Apos took his daughter in his arms and kissed her forehead. “What will we call her?”

The midwife brought forth a clean cloth to wrap the child in. “You both joined together to make her, why not join your names?”

Llyla leaned back with her eyes closed. A soft wind blew across them, drying the sweat on her face and cooling her skin. The sweet embrace of sleep was upon her, slowly her body began to succumb. Before she lost herself in the darkness a name fell from her lips. “Apala.”

Apala grew with each passing year and with each year her light grew stronger. When she would teeter out of the house after the cat, her father would laugh and scoop her up. “There is no fear of losing you my sunshine. You could not hide if you tried.

Form a young age Apala knew she was different, people would gather around her on cold winter days, her friends loved to play in the light that glowed from her body. They made up all kinds of games you could only play in the light.

But the biggest thing that made Apala different was her joy. From the day she came into the world she was always smiling and laughing. Her laughter was infectious, once she started laughing it was only a matter of time before everyone around her was laughing.

By her fifteenth birthday Apala had grown into the most beautiful woman. Her long hair fell to her waist and glowed golden, her eye were bright and blue like the ice that covered the ground in the north. She was unique, there was no other human who looked as she did.

Naturally scores of men traveled far and wide to bring Apala gifts, dressed from head to foot on their finery parading in front of Apala and Llyla. Each man boasted of his own greatness and asked for Apala’s hand in marriage. Everyday they came, and everyday Apos sent them away saying, “It is Apala’s choice, she will decide.”

After one particular long day of turning suitors away Apala took her horse out of the barn and roe until she came to an empty lot of land. This was her favorite place in the entire world. Dismounting she sat on the ground and stared up at the dark sky.

“Why must I marry at all?” she sighed.

With a twist she flipped onto her stomach and dug a finger idly into the dirt. Hours passed as she laid there, enjoying the quiet. As she rose to leave she saw a green stem rise out of the dirt, she eyes glowed with fascination.

As the minutes ticked by the little green stem grew, happily she ran to her saddle and grabbed her water skin. Sitting in front of the green stem she took off the top of the water skin and an instinct told her pour water on the stem. Before the water had time to soak into the earth the stem shot open and the first flower bloomed.

“Only you could draw up such beauty from the earth.” a voice said behind her.

Apala’s heart started beating fiercely and she was on her feet in an instant. A boy stood in front of her, his skin was pale and sliver hair hung in his grey eyes. He watched Apala back away from the flower, as the light and heat faded the flower began to shrivel up. Apala took no notice of the flower, she could not keep her eyes from the handsome stranger in front of her.

The fright from his sudden appearance had faded but her heart continued to beat rapidly in her chest. “Who are you?” she asked, brushing the dirt from her hands.

They grey eyes never left the blue ones as the two walked forward.

“My name is Luna. There is no need to ask yours. I have walked for days to come meet you.”

Apala smiled as his voice seemed to flow through her. “Luna, what a lovely name.”

The sound of Apala’s voice held Luna captivated, the sound made his stomach twist into knots and made him feel as light as air.

Apala and Luna’s happiness was short lived, kings began requesting Apala travel to their lands and light their days. Apala did what she could, but there were too many towns, too many countries and soon she grew very sick. Luna never left her side, chasing people away, telling the kings Apala would travel no more.

This angered the kings and while Luna nursed Apala back to health the kings met in secret. “It is unfair for that boy to keep all that beauty to himself.” one said. “That boy cannot keep a treasure like that to himself.” said another. “I have a plan.” said a third.

Apala and Luna were traveling back to Apos and Llyla’s home when thieves fell upon them. Luna struggled to protect Apala but was overcome. He watched helplessly as his beloved was bound with ropes.

The kings came forward with wicked smiles on their faces. “Why should you hoard away such beauty?” one of them asked. “We shall see to it that everyone is able to partake in Apala’s warmth and light.” another shouted.

Rage filled Luna as he watched them wrap Apala in a net and attached it to an enormous machine. He struggled against his bonds and was struck across the face.

Tears streamed down Apala’s face. “Do not fear my darling. No matter how far away I am, I will always love you.”

Men pulled at levers and pushed bars until the machine groaned with life. The long arm of the machine started spinning around and around until Apala was a blur in the net, the only part of part of her that could be seen was her glow.

“Apala!” Luna shouted.

She could not answer, fear filled her mouth so instead she glowed. She glowed brighter than she had ever glowed before, she glowed because of her love for Luna.

When the machine has enough momentum a catch slipped and the net was flung unto space. Luna watched as Apala flew through the air, far away from him. The great kings watched with satisfaction as Apala settled high above them, her light gleaming off other planet and stars.

One by one the kings returned to their lands, only Luna stayed behind staring up at his beloved. The grief inside him turned to rage, throwing back his head he howled his sadness to the world. The world did not hear, all around the earth the people rejoiced for now there was light for everyone.

Luna began running, he ran from one end of the earth to the other, searching for the tallest mountain. Apala watched from the sky as Luna climbed, but when he reached the top his beloved was still out of reach. Frustration filled him and in anger he hurled rocks from the top of the mountain.

He threw rock after rock until the idea struck him, instead of throwing the rocks he began piling them on top of one another, if the highest mountain could not reach Apala he would build one that would.

Time passed but Luna never stopped building his bridge. Rock after rock he piled until one day his arms hung still at his side. His pale eyes looked up at the sky, his stone staircase rose and winded into the heavens.

With determination burning in his eyes he put his foot on the first step and started climbing. For years he climbed as Apala watched him. But alas for our brave lover, when he reached the end of the staircase he found it did not reach all the way to Apala. deciding it was better to be this close than back down on earth, Luna sat down on the top of the staircase and stared at his beloved. And his beloved burned brightly with her love for him.

Soon the stone staircase fell apart, leaving Luna stranded in space, unable to return and unable to be with Apala. They can still be seen today, though hardly ever at the same time. Apala’s bright yellow light accompanies us through the day and Luna’s soft sliver glow through the night.

The Writing Sabbath

This year I didn’t really make any New Year’s Resolutions, I know that I want to do all the usual; eat better, work out more, do more writing, be a better person yadi-yada.

This morning I woke up at 6, a bad habit that’s been forming over the last month, and thought to myself  ‘what am I going to do today?’.  First thought was gym. Second thought was ‘there are going to be SO many people there the first Sunday of a new year, screw that’. So I went back to sleep. For approximately thirty minutes before one of the cats started yowling, so I crawled out of bed and let Benji in. As he kneaded my face and purred loudly so I would know it was a sign of affection I decided I would be lazy today and watch movies all day. Pft. No. I don’t want to be lazy. I was lazy yesterday  (not really but it felt like it). I can’t run any errands because it’s Sunday and most of the errand places I need to go are closed. Then I started thinking about The Book*. Guilt slithered into the pit of my stomach like a snake and that’s when I made my first New Year’s Resolution. Sundays are going to be the writing Sabbath, where all day is dedicated to writing. Wither its working on The Book, editing the mass of short stories cluttering my desktop, work on this site, or start something new, it doesn’t matter so long as most of the day is dedicated to writing.

For the first writing Sabbath I’ve decided to work on The Book. The guilt is still twisting itself around my stomach and I realized I’m afraid. Which is sort of silly, I mean I wrote The Book didn’t I? I know exactly what’s in it. True statement. But what if the writing is not as good as I remember it to be? What if I start working on it and realize its complete rubish?

So. Armed with tea and my self-declared lucky writing lizard, Markus, I am starting the first writing Sabbath by opening The Book’s file on the desktop. Deep breath. Chin up. Best foot forward. And all that jazz.

*The Book is the love of my life. It’s a children’s book that I started writing just about two years ago. It’s not finished, though I’d say its 90% there. The ending is proving to be a bastard to write and the beginning is as weak as a teabag that has been re-used ten times.

Day 13


Pick a small object to be given one day to your great-grandchild. Write a letter to that child explaining why you have chosen this object:


(Again, I cheat. My library is not a ‘small object’ but it’s someting I really, really, really want to pass on)




Dear Tabitha,


I wish that I could be around to watch you explore through this bookshelf, but since I won’t be I’ve written this letter to help guid you through it.


On these shelves you will travel to far off places, meet dashing knights, mad hatters, ugly witches and cleaver women. You will seek out buried treasure, solve mysteries, and travel through space. Reading always brought me joy and I hope you find comfort in these pages. Remember that every book has a lesson to be learned or a problem to be solved, and when you put the pages together, infinite knowledge.



Some of my very best friends reside in these books; Harry Potter, Elizabeth Bennett, d’Artagnan, Martin the Warrior, Huckleberry Finn, Robinson Caruso, Alex Cross, Jim Hawkins, and Dirk Pitt. I’ve laughed, loved and cried with them and I hope they will be as good of friends to you as they were to me.

Dive in a world far different from our own, let your cares and worries cease to exist as soon as the book is opened, get lost in a romance that can only come from 1800 England, but always remember your way home. The love a good book can give you will only go so far.




Most importantly, don’t forget to have your own adventures.


Much love darling child,

A.J. Hart