Saturday, May 18, 2019

New Wheels

My Townie

We had a realization. Once we have our new Tepui tent set up, we are unable to drive anywhere until we're ready to pull up stakes and move to the next campsite--the tent being actually attached to the top of the car. So we decided I needed a bike. My husband tried to convince me that a mountain bike was the way to go, but I assured him that my mountain biking days are over. Seriously. Forever. No thank you.

So I decided on this cushy Electra Townie. It's in my colors, moss green and saddle brown. My helmet arrives today. Oh, such a helmet it will be. Just wait and see.


Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Nature Fever

from my Facebook Author page

The camping and hiking season is fast approaching. Nature fever is upon me. The mountain trails are covered with late snows this year, and my husband's workload has been ridiculous, so our plans have been slightly delayed. June it is. June cannot come fast enough.

When it does, move over Muir. I need some room for "the winds to blow their freshness into me."




Tuesday, May 7, 2019

As Sharp As Swords

From my Facebook Author page

Despite my departure into historical fiction, I find myself drawn back again into the realm of fantasy. I am close to having enough content for a collection of stories that all take place in the world of Tanerra. That world where "Fire Eater" and "Mists of Blackfen Bog" (my first two stories accepted for publication) are set.

This particular world has been undergoing development off and on for, guessing, 18 years now. It's rich, complex, huge, involves really two worlds in one, and many planar realms besides. So the possibilities for stories are endless.

And this project is something I've envisioned for years. To think it might actually come to fruition is energizing.

To that end, I need the title story. The foundation story. The story that introduces the pantheon, the myths and legends upon which all the other stories hinge, even if indirectly.

So last week, I began work on "Winter Star." Another couple of weeks ought to see Draft 1 completed. Fingers crossed.

~ ~ ~

Side note: my website has received an overhaul and is now live! It is now worlds away from the antiquated ickiness that it was before. Loving it. See the changes HERE.



Friday, May 3, 2019

The Touch of a Book

from my Facebook Author page
I went to lunch with my mom this week, and after we ate, we 'just happened' to stroll through an aisle of books at a nearby department store. The books drew us like honey, like magnets, like gravity, like love. Mom picked up a book and said, "I miss the feel of a book." She's been reading quick and easy downloads on her reading device. She sighed and rifled the pages and commented on how lovely the jagged edges were. Watching her admire the bound treasure in her hands was a precious experience.

Of course, she bought the book.

Several, in fact.

We all did.


Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Tepui: The First Unfurling

The Tepui has arrived! We hijacked family members on Easter to help us bolt her in place atop the Subaru. The name posed the biggest problem. We said it's "TepOOee" like a sneeze. Gesundheit. Of course everyone was curious to know what the tent would look like unfurled, so we unzipped all the goodies and let her fly. Here's the adventure in pics:

Three strong men wrestle the 200 lb. Tepui into place. Thank you so much!

In a moment of panic, I suggested we see if the Subie will still fit into the garage. She does. An inch to spare.

While the men run to the store to replace a broken bolt, my niece decides to climb my house.

The Tepui unfolds just like the videos say! Amazing.

Tepui unfurled, annex zipped on.

My niece and I try out the tent. It's comfy up here.

So far, we are enormously happy with the purchase. Of course we left the Tepui in place, and now, when I drive around town, I see people in passing cars leaning toward their windshields trying to figure out what I'm hauling. Their expressions of confusion are priceless.

Now to try her out in the field. We hoped to take the tent to Angel Fire, NM, this weekend, but the campgrounds don't open until mid-May. Still so much snow to contend with! So it looks like our trip to Colorado in June will be our first chance to see how the Tepui works for us.


Friday, April 12, 2019

Throwing Dirt

From my Facebook Author page

I don't usually (okay, ever) post about my views concerning society, but my heart is aching this morning. For the past two years, I have been living under the certainty that an era has ended and a new era has begun. I have seen nothing yet that contradicts this certainty.

It is an era of ugliness. Ugliness to one another. A era of casting judgement. Judgment in the shape of verbal stones. An era where tolerance and forgiveness are growing cold. Anger and violence on the upswing. An era in which the sacredness of life is under assault. A era in which the chip on the shoulder is a matter of pride to be proclaimed. An era in which forgiveness is weakness, and taking offense is strength. An era in which kindness is a favorite word, but a scant reality.

The headlines I read every morning confirm this. The media sells it like a fad that will increase ratings, promoting it. If it is a fad, it is a deadly one. My friends echo it, and I feel a divide beginning to break open between us, because I cannot follow them into this attitude. Ironically, it is the attempt to right wrongs, to cease judgment, that seems to have birthed this anger, this finger-pointing, this violence of word and deed.

Where is kindness? Where is mercy? Where is the attempt to listen and reach understanding? Where is the outstretched hand offering aid, offering encouragement, instead of a stone?

When we throw dirt, we lose ground.


A New Adventure Begins...

The adventure I looked for and worked for didn't happen (yet), but that's hardly the end of all things. Now we get up, shift direction, and try again. To expand our adventure-output in the meantime, my husband and I have purchased a Tepui.

What is a Tepui?

This is a Tepui!

A tent that rides and unfurls on top of one's car/truck/etc and turns the mundane driving machine into a gypsy-mobile. Our beloved Subaru Crosstrek (called Sandy) is about to get some new digs. She is going to look snazzy with this tenty abode unfurled upon her back.

Our Tepui is scheduled to be delivered on Monday. It is my aim to blog about the adventures involving this tent, including the ugly ones, like setting it up for the first time. And, of course, the beautiful ones, such waking up to views like this:


So, Horizon, get ready. We're coming.


Monday, April 8, 2019

Getting On With It

from my Facebook Author page

I've identified a stronghold of envy or jealousy in my life. It's hard to admit, but it was even harder to identify and nail down as existing at all. The attitude of "It's not fair" often comes from this flaw of envy. "They have it, I want it, I've even worked my ass off for it, it's not fair."

They have it, I don't. Very well. Get on with it. Or disintegrate into a weepy pile of self-pitying goo.

GET ON WITH IT!!!

And so I have. I am pleased to announce that I have broken ground on the overhaul of Blackbird. This overhaul is so massive, so hefty, so down-into-the-grain of the story that the title doesn't even work anymore. I have a backup in mind, but will not yet mention it in a public place. So for now, the working title "Blackbird" will suffice.

After three days of writing, I'm about 6000 words in. The stage is now set for a massive setting move and vast character changes. Gabriella, my protagonist, has been the steady rock through all these upheavals, remaining inwardly largely the same. For purposes of cohesion, I did have to give her a fascination with items from antiquity, like these beauties:

Sakhmet Statues, British Museum

Now Gabriella is almost set to go on her life's journey.

And I have gotten on with it.

And, yes, I am much happier having done so.


Friday, April 5, 2019

Bounce

From my Facebook Author page

I've spent the first half of my life trying to run fast and climb high. The current season in which I find myself is trying to teach me how to bounce. One day I hope to look back and find that I have bounced with grace, humor, hope, and faith.

And not to worry about the bruises I pick up along the way. One can little hope to bounce skyward without first hitting the ground.


Thursday, March 21, 2019

Old Books

Image from my Author Facebook page

From High School on, I've enjoyed exploring literature, not necessarily because I cared for the antiquated storytelling that made such reads a slog, but for the expertise and care with which words were used, the history of the times the books were authored, the lives of the authors themselves.

Finally, while conducting research for Blackbird, a story that takes place in the late 1800s, whose main character is a lover of fiction, I was forced to read a few of the books I had neglected on my shelf.

Jane Eyre: surely one of my "new" favorites. I've seen every movie version I could get my hands on, so I was surprised the book continued to hold my interest and win my heart.

Wuthering Heights: I tried. I really tried. So many people speak well of this novel and its characters, but I despised each person I read about. They are all deplorable humans. If there is a likable quality about any one of them, I did not find it. So, forgive me, I was unable to finish. Why do people speak of being in love with Heathcliff? He's an abusive bastard who deserves to be thrown in prison for beating dogs and women. (I will not debate this matter.)

Great Expectations: Who isn't fascinated with Miss Havisham? Again, I had seen as many movie versions as I could find (Helena Bonham-Carter was born to play Miss Havisham, just saying), and given my past experience with Dickens' novels (David Copperfield, ugh), I fully expected to make it halfway through and finally throw in the towel. Not so. I made it to the finish line and enjoyed each leg of the journey.

Doctor Thorne by Anthony Trollope: made it through two pages, decided the opening was a character-build that the author should've kept in his private notes and ditched the thing. Blech.

So, as I dive back into revisions of Blackbird, I must yet again inundate my brain with Victorian verbage. Books on my to-read list:

* Elizabeth Gaskill's work
* George Eliot's novels
* Hard Times by Dickens (read in college, need to read again)

And I guess there's no harm in going back a bit further and (re)reading some Jane Austen. She is my favorite, after all.



Monday, March 18, 2019

Reclaiming Courage

Image from my Author Facebook page

Getting back on my feet. Had a hard blow last summer. It stopped cold my capacity to work on Blackbird, a novel that deals with heavy themes. Recharging at last and trying to decide if now is the time to resume.

With resuming comes big questions:

* Do I move the setting to 1800s Egypt? Some other locale?
* Do I continue with the antique voice or revise to something more myself?
* How much of the original vision to I keep? How much must go?
* Have I learned to balance family and God time with writing? Or will I revert to obsessive behavior, excluding everything and everyone else?

I'm clearly gun-shy, on many levels, for many reasons. But I can't sit on my hands forever. I gotta jump back into the arena.


Thursday, March 7, 2019

Pollinating the Mind

Image from my Facebook Author page
Currently reading The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd. Loving it so far. Reading a well-crafted piece of literature feels like breathing in sunshine after a stifling rainy season. It stimulates the cells and opens the senses.




Monday, March 4, 2019

The Fundamental Nature of Story

Image from my Facebook Author Page
One of my favorite concepts to explore is that of the universe and everything in it being created with a spoken word. What a glorious, gruesome, fantastic, and frightening story we are part of. To make sense of it all, we turn to our storytellers. We are made of story. We need it like air. Or we suffocate in the heartbreak and the chaos.


Thursday, February 28, 2019

The Wonder in Believing

Image from my Facebook Author page
May we never become that poor soul who says, "Fairies don't exist." May some part of ourselves, however deeply buried, never grow up. Urge the child out on occasion and gasp at the wonder to be found in the moonrise and the sunset and the curls of the ocean wave.


Monday, February 25, 2019

The Far Field

Image from my Facebook Author page

Roethke's poem "The Far Field" remains one of my all-time favorite poems. Entire work HERE. You know, there are those few books or poems, out of the millions, that grab onto us so tightly that we just keep returning to them.

And the best of those contribute something and fresh new every time.


Thursday, February 21, 2019

Lost, With Purpose

Image from my Facebook Author page
I have found myself in a wilderness. Story won't come. Neither purpose nor direction. My compass has stalled. A season of mental desert. Rather than wandering aimlessly, giving in to confusion, disorientation, fear and despair, I have chosen to be still and embrace this portion of the journey.

Instead of roaming the sands, scorched by a blazing sun and pricked by brittle brush underfoot, I sit in the shade of a great Tree and wait. Contemplating. Analyzing. Taking my own measure. Digging deep and finding how far I must go to find life-giving water. It is closer to the surface than I realized.

An asp lurks under the sand. It approaches unseen, but I hear its whispers. I must not listen. It speaks only lies. I slam my heel into the sand with a shout like a blade, and it flees. The breath, rustling in the leaves overhead, carries the truth. It is this, and only this, I must heed. I am no longer afraid.

This prolonged stillness may look like idleness, but it is hard work. My legs itch to run. My hands long to embrace a richer soil, my arms to swim in abundant water. But that is for later. This is my now.

I will be stronger when I walk out of here. Leaner. Purer. Perhaps even wiser.

In the meantime:  Do not panic. Pitch the tent. Gaze in awe upon unfettered stars and watch the sunrise ignite the dunes with roseate fire.


Monday, February 18, 2019

The Happiest Retreat

Image from my Facebook Author page

People who knew me when I was a child say I was given to writing anyway, but all I can remember is retreating into my imagination to hide. Usually from social situations I didn't know how to handle. Tension at home. Boredom in school. A mind palace. Isn't that what Sherlock calls it?

I guess it made me one of those strange children. A classmate told me, just before we graduated, that she avoided me because she thought I was weird. "You used to talk to yourself."

Mortification! Did I? Then I remembered. Yes. I was so bored in class that I had entertained myself by watching my favorite movies in my head and quoting my favorite lines. In a whisper. But still my mouth had to have been moving, and this apparently had not gone unnoticed. Luckily by senior year I had grown out of it, to the point that I couldn't remember ever having done it.

Embarrassing moments aside, the mental palace remains a place of refuge, not to ignore the world, but to process it in healthy ways that my emotions can handle.

And out of it is birthed Story.


Thursday, February 14, 2019

Monday, February 11, 2019

Lesson Learned

(image from my Facebook Author page)

To read and gain no depth, no new insight, no new wisdom makes for either a very poor book or a rather poor reader.

A few novels that have broadened my horizons:

To Kill a Mockingbird
The Help
The Joy Luck Club
The Book Thief
Angela's Ashes
The Woman Warrior
The Diary of Anne Frank
Tess of the D'Urbervilles



Thursday, February 7, 2019

Why We Love Story

(image from my Facebook Author page)

Thoughts?

The series that comes immediately to mind is N.K. Jemisin's Broken Earth Trilogy. Stellar reads, all three. Explorations of heavy themes like racism, freedom, sacrifice, and consequences of messing with the planet, all in apolitical ways. Bald truth without preaching. Meaningful storytelling done right. The complex, convoluted, charged fuck-ups of history removed from real-world context and placed neatly into our laps in the form of a heartrending tale. Peel away the story's exquisite wrapping, and the author has challenged each reader to look directly at these approach-at-your-own-risk topics.

That's what the quote above means to me.


Monday, February 4, 2019

Ignore Everything and Read


(image from my Facebook Author page)

Ignore the failures, the regrets, the undone tasks, the ineptitudes, the stressful relationships, and sink into another world. For a little while. Until the courage to face it all arises. And definitely voice gratitude for the opportunity to be quiet and still delve into words and, thereby, find a bit of healing.

Currently (re)reading: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
Currently reading: A Thousand Miles Up The Nile

The latter is a bit of research. I'm seriously toying with the idea of moving the setting of Blackbird from England to Egypt, and Amelia Edwards' account is the perfect resource to study and glean tidbits from.