Thursday, June 30, 2011

"Mists" Reviewed at the Examiner!

I was flattered, but a bit nervous, when I received a note from Larks Fiction editor Daniel Pool, that he had read and reviewed "Mists of Blackfen Bog." I was tickled pink by his reaction and his opinion of my novella. I'm not sure I believe the list of intimidating writers he compared my writing to, but I will take it and run with it. Check out the review here:
Mists of Blackfen Won't Bog You Down.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Beauty and Relaxation - Road Trip Travelogue II

The rest of the road trip was phenomenal. The best my husband and I have ever taken. Once work was wrapped up in Boulder, we took the scenic route west to Breckenridge and stayed in a gorgeous, renovated old lodge at the base of Mount Quandary. We managed to hit the place just before high season, so our room rates were unbeatable.

Our first stop was Mount Evans. My husband has this crazy goal of mountaineering up several (if not all) of the fourteeners in Colorado, and Mount Evans is the only one that is conquered by driving up to the top. So I can say that I, too, in all my physical weenie-ness, have conquered a fourteener. I'm actually prouder that I did not faint on the narrow broken road that winds along the cliffsides to get there. What is it with people who don't put guard rails on the sides of roads? In any case, it's amazing how short the breath is at that altitude, but the view is truly spectacular:
(my husband standing on top of the world)

The best part for me, though, was that we got to see mountain goats. Up close. Like six feet away. Growing up, my father (who should've been a mountain man in the early 19th Century) had taught me to look for animals, and it became a fun game on trips to be the first one to spot the pronghorn, the deer, etc. It was a rare treat when we got to see elk or goats through binoculars. I kept bemoaning the fact that I had forgotten our binoculars and wondered if I would get to see a goat at all. Well, atop Mt. Evans there is a privy, for all the people who survive the drive without pissing their pants. Before we begin the terrifying drive back down, we decide to make a pit-stop, and what do I see resting in the shade of the privy building? A herd of young goats! I gasp, unable to believe my eyes. No binoculars needed. These adorable little guys are not six feet away. I grab my camera (that, of course, keeps shutting down due to low batteries!) and snap as many pics as I can:

Mountain Goat: Mt. Evans

I was surprised by how small these critters are. They're smaller than my dog. Of course, she is a Great Pyrenees, so I shouldn't be surprised.

Anyway, the trip already felt like a success, so on we drove, reaching the lodge that evening. The next day, we decided on the hike we wanted to take. It's called the Blue Lakes trail, which is extremely easy, the "trail" actually being a grated road that winds along the side of Mount Quandary to the glacial lake. And what do you suppose we got to see? Yep, more goats! A herd of them was lounging around on the trail and snuffling up some kind of mineral that must be in the sand or gravel there. These were full grown and wilder than the Evans goats. Our approach made them a bit nervous, but I grabbed my camera and started filming. (Yes, I acted like the star-struck idiots that I always cuss. Seriously, people come to Oklahoma and sneak up on buffaloes with their cameras snapping. So stupid.) I was prepared to dive up on some dude's truck if the goats decided to charge me, b/c their horns are dagger sharp and I had just heard a story about a hiker who was gored in the leg by an aggressive male. He died of blood loss before he could be rescued. So, while I was cautious, I should never have gotten so close. The goats eventually got tired of me gawking and moved on up the slope so James and I could pass. We watched the marmots and pikas hop around on the rocks for a while, then drove into Breckenridge for a beer and gift shopping. Lovely.

(View from Lodge. Fog the morning we left for home)

We spent the rest of the time exploring mountain roads and looking at all the ridiculously expensive houses and wishing we could afford one. Then we packed up and started home. The only disappointment we suffered on that drive was a failed side jaunt. When I was 12 or so, my family had taken a similar trip, and my dad was thrilled to show us the Royal Gorge, that scarily deep river gorge with a scarily high bridge across it. I longed for my husband to see it, so we planned our route just so we could stop by. Well, twenty years later, there is no "stopping by." Money-grubbers have turned the view into a theme park. It costs $25 friggin' bucks to see the view. They expect folks to stay all day and ride the roller coasters and eat the fried food while they're at it. I was extremely disappointed, so we continued on, cursing this greedy person and that greedy person who would capitalize on a view. But what's new?

Anyway, we made it home in one grueling shot. I think I lost my marbles somewhere between Pueblo and Amarillo, but I found them again eventually.

In conclusion, this trip was more joyful and relaxing than I could've hoped for. Once I forget the stiffness that comes with sitting so long in a vehicle, I'm sure I'll be ready for the next one.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Adventure and Havoc - Road Trip Travelogue

Because I do have good internet connection at our hotel, I decided I might as well update my journals on the progress of our road trip instead of puking out all the details in one long post when I get home.

I love the line from
Pitch Black: "a long time for something to go wrong." That's been the pattern of our trips through Colorado lately. Last time we were delayed in passes and on interstates because of ice and traffic jams. This time because of wild fire. So here goes:

My husband and I left our house at 5:30 am yesterday (was that just yesterday?) and decided that we would stop at the Capulin Volcano attraction in NE New Mexico, something we had always wanted to do. We're both secretly geology nerds. Driving up that narrow road that some fool decided not to put rails on to keep drivers from driving over the edge freaked me out, but we made it safely to the parking area near the top. The place, surprisingly, was packed. Lots of geology nerds out there, I guess. We hiked down into the crater and all around the rim, which was amazing. The view all around is spectacular. One can see all the other volcanoes in the area and the lava flows barely covered in short yellow grass. We could even see all the way back to Oklahoma, on the very far eastern horizon.

After that wonderful experience,
we decided to take a road we had never driven before and were greatly rewarded with scenic views. We even got to see the valley where Folsom man was discovered. Or is it where the Folsom points were discovered? Whatever. I'm an archeology nerd. That's no secret. We wound down off the most gorgeous plateau I've ever seen and finally arrived at Raton, where we would cross into Colorado. Be while we were driving through that plateau, we noticed an odd bit of traffic coming out of Raton. It just struck us as wrong somehow, and sure enough, we learned that the interstate over Raton Pass had just closed because of a wild fire that had flared up near the roadway. We drove far enough to see it, and I tell you, the sight of trees suddenly exploding into flame is startling and terrifying.

Just as startling was the realization that, yes, we had to turn back. Back up the plateau we drove, back past the Folsom man valley, following the slow caravan of all the other travelers who had the same route in mind. Ahem, but my husband and I are adventurers when it comes to road trips and we had just purchased a very detailed map. Thank God for small blessings. Between Folsom-man valley and the town of Folsom (which is almost all the way back to the volcano and where the caravan would at last book it north), there was a dotted line of a road that crossed into Colorado. We had rented a Jeep Grand Cherokee for this trip (another blessing), so we decided to go for it. This rough, rock-strewn road cut across one ranch or another, through country that most folks don't get to see, and it took us to the highway ahead of the crowd. Yee-haw!

While the adventure was fun, we arrived at our hotel 15 hours after leaving home. We were exhausted and went to Chile's for cocktails. Well deserved. Here's to hoping the rest of the trip goes more smoothly.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Road Trip, Baby!

My husband and I are going on a road trip all next week. We're headed to Denver. It starts out as work-related, but after all the work stuff is wrapped up, we plan to go exploring through some mountains. It's nearly 100 degrees in OK, but CO is apparently still getting snow up high. I had a hell of a time trying to decide what to pack. Flipflops? Fuzzy boots? I packed both. Yes, there is a bag just for my shoes. But what's a girl to do? I'm a lowlander, and I have no idea what supplies I will need. Better to go over-prepared than under-prepared.

This is the first trip I will have taken since getting the Kindle, which is exciting, b/c it's already saved me tons of room. I hope to read Preeminent Hollows by Brian Fatah Steele. Hopefully it won't give me nightmares, as I'm likely to have nightmares sleeping in a strange place anyway. While my husband is at his work sessions, I'll be in the hotel room either working on the novel project or editing/critiquing the story of a LegendFire member. I love trying to work on my writing in strange hotel rooms. Getting away from all the responsibilities I have at home usually makes for interesting and productive writing.

Then, once we get to the exploring part, we're driving to Mt. Quandary. My husband attempted to hike up it a couple of years ago, but it was blowing snow and he was sick with bronchitis or something. Not good for a lowlander to have sick lungs at that altitude. So we mean to hike around a bit, though I have no illusions about making it to the top. It will be nice just to stretch the legs and take in the scenery.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Random Happiness

I just feel happy today, so I think I'll post random good stuff.

It's very encouraging when one's
small success inspires others to take a step in the same direction. Once I posted on LegendFire that "A Mournful Rustling" had been accepted by Dead Robots' Society, another of our members hopped on board and readied a story to submit to them. Another mentioned doing the same. I hope she does. I hope submissions stay open so they both have time to revise and send their work in. It's my greatest joy to know that all the time and learning and painful decisions (and often biting my tongue) that go into administrating and moderating a writing community may help some folks achieve their dreams.

Renovations: inching forward. Experimentation with chemicals plus sandblasting, we hope, will finally remove white paint from natural stone. At least, we think it's paint. It may actually be some alien substance engineered to drive earthlings mad. It's war now. There's no turning back. We shall conquer!

Reading: On Guard by William Craig. Apologetics. Defending one's faith with reason. Yikes. Apparently it can be done. Chapter three was a wicked piece of brain work. Cosmological defense of the existence of God. Or an introduction to it. Some of the points I can grasp; others, not even close. The last pages require knowledge of subatomic particles, believe it or not. Well, I thought, if that is what's required for me to defend my faith, I'm doomed. On the other hand, the average Joe on the street who asks me, "How can you believe in an all-knowing, all-powerful invisible God who lets all these terrible things happen to us?" probably won't know the ins and outs of subatomic particles either to be able to argue that aspect with me. So I gave up trying to understand what the heck chapter three was about. I hope chapter four is more on my level. I doubt it, but we'll see.

Also reading some free material from Smashwords that I've downloaded onto the Kindle. Some of it is really worth reading. Some of it ... well, I really wish the authors had submitted the material to LegendFire for crits. They went to all the trouble of formatting manuscripts for publication, even perfected SPaG, but, well, the story I'm reading right now started out too late, with a hook like five pages in, instead of five sentences in, and I'm not sure I'll finish it or not. Shame that.

Novel project: Typing in the revisions made to another fat section of paper. I'm making the story stronger, I'm sure of it now. But all the small changes are adding up to make big ones farther down the road. Snowballs and avalanches!

Hmmm ... better stop now and go work on my floor ... or walls ... or ceiling ... or something.