Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Numbers... IWSG September 2, 2015

Today is the first Wednesday of the month, which means it is IWSG day. The once-a-month blog hop started by Alec Cavanaugh . IWSG = Insecure Writers' Support Group (click the words to visit)

Today's cohosts are:  Heather M. Gardner, Christine Rains, Dolorah at Book Lover, Julie Flanders, and

Once upon a time I wrote a story.  It was a very good story, at least to my mind.  I got the idea for the story when a major character in a series of mine, seized by enemies who for all he knows want nothing more than to kill or capture him, gives his name to his captors.  It is an important name and, historically, might have given pause to anyone thinking of tangling with him.

I wrote, "Their expressions made him think of the fable of the man who encountered a thirty cubit crocodile."
HOW big is it???

The ways of inspiration are strange to outsiders.  I started mulling over the notion of a thirty cubit crocodile (a cubit being 21 inches in dynastic Egypt) and I had an idea for a story involving just such a beast who intrudes into the life of a needy man.  In the course of helping the man, it manages to turn the man's world upside-down.

At thirty thousand words at this moment, it is a nice novelette and an enjoyable addition to the series. 
And then I thought of a certain publishing contest.

You submit your work, and if it is approved they obtain a photo of you (something I would worry about later), a blurb and a pitch, and they put it up online for those who might like to look at it, vote on it,and puff out their chests for volunteering to. 
This is doable.  Elegant, in fact.  And heaven knows it's good story.  Thus far.

The problem is, the submission must be 50,000 words.

It isn't such a problem, if you think of it.  Beautiful manuscript not lost, story moving along nicely...  We should all have such problems, shouldn't we?


The thing is, I have to take that story and add two-thirds of its length.  Twenty thousand words needed to qualify  for the contest which, God same the mark, I very well might not win.


Words can't begin to describe the annoyance.  


Yeah, well, we all have things to do, don't we?  20,000 words equals twenty sessions of a thousand words each.  Or ten sessions of two thousand words each.  Heck, just in this particular animadverting session I have managed to generate just about five hundred words.

And that brings me to the phrase that helps me when I am trying to come up with numbers:


Just Spit It Out

I know very well that I'll be adding and subtracting, polishing, deepening...all the things that, for me, make writing so rewarding and fun.

My problem is that I get hung up on the notion of numbers and end up not producing any.

The answer?  See the red letters above.  Write the words.  Break the ice.  Get cracking.

Will I enter the contest with my crocodile story?  I might.  Then again, I might not.  It does need some additions, and I can see at least five more chapters at about 1500 words apiece. If you do the math, it's do-able.

If, that is, I can get myself to put away the calculator, open up the laptop, review the piece, and just go to town.  I think I can.

**************
Visit the other blogs on this wonderful hop.  I guarantee, the other bloggers have a lot more to say, and a lot more on point.  (Cough!)

Friday, August 21, 2015

August 21, 2015 - Small celebrations: Stars, Poetry and Roses

This is the Celebrating the Small Things blog hop, run by Lexa Cain and her two wonderful co-hosts L.G. Keltner @ Writing Off The Edge and Tonja Drecker @ Kidbits.


So, what am I celebrating? 

Just pretty things.  I tend to be very visual, and things that make me look and smile

I thought I’d celebrate some beautiful things that, to me, come together.  The first is the last half of the last stanza of Ralph Hodgson’s The Song of Honour, which is nearly my favorite poem of all time.  The other is an image that somehow fits with it.



I stood and stared; the sky was lit,
The sky was stars all over it,
I stood, I knew not why,
Without a wish, without a will,
I stood upon that silent hill
And stared into the sky until
My eyes were blind with stars and still
I stared into the sky.


Design by Toni Ig

And, of course, Roses, like Paris, are always a good idea.

A bouquet of roses brightens a rainy day at Jardins, Jardin Aux Tuileries, annual Paris garden show. © Sheron Long
Paris Flower show at the Jardins des Tuileries. Photo © Sheron Long

What are you celebrating?  

Monday, August 17, 2015

Crocodile Rockin' - Two book covers

I have said before that I sometimes do graphic work, usually for myself.  I find it enjoyable, and it allows me to pretend that I am an artist like the rest of my family.  If you check my books, you will see my work, since I design my book covers, myself.  ...Although the Crocodile story needs a cover that I can't design.  I think.  I'll try it shortly... or maybe I'll listen to my family: 
The Sea Witch by Frank Frazetta


Keep working on that and you'll mess it up and you'll never be be able to fix it!

Ordinarily I'd snort derisively, but Frank Frazetta tells a story about 'losing' the mean expression on the face of the central figure in his painting 'Sea Witch':

Of course, I could say that since my idea of a good time is not to stand in a gale with my clothes being pulled to pieces by the wind, with a giant iguana sneaking up behind me and a Kraken staring me in the eye between foaming waves, it isn't a big deal for me.Picture

At any rate, I've been working on covers, most recently for a friend whose book, A Kiss For Moet, magical realism and beautifully written, needed a cover  overhaul. 

She approached me, asked in the most flattering way, and of course I agreed.  It was a nice challenge, and I was pleased with the result.

She provided the images, specifically the island in the center.  She had picked the font for the story, and it was all right.    But then, out of the blue, she contacted me. with an offer: a beta-read of anything if I'd fiddle with her cover.


I have a terrible shyness when it comes to beta-reads.  I have a fear that someone will read something of mine and give the beta-reader's equivalent of 'PEE-You!' 

So I took a look at her cover, concluded that it didn't need much work, and went to town.  It had a semi-magical alligator in it (it's a nifty story) and I thought he needed a place on the cover.  She had a photograph of the island that is featured in it, and it's a very pretty shot.  The rest involved adjusting things, tightening the composition, deepening colors, arranging texts, and I was finally finished:

She was flatteringly complimentary, reiterated her offer of a beta-read, and went off to post the cover.

She does write well, and works with Magical Realism, among other genres.  I'd recommend reading it.  The cover isn't up yet (I just sent it to her this evening), but the book is very good.  You can get a copy on any Amazon store through this link.  She's also available through various stores including Barnes & Noble, and anywhere else that Smashwords services.

Picture
    I keep a record of my projects, and I uploaded the cover to my website, on the same page as another story (mine) involving a large crocodilian and what happens when he comes to the earth and seeks to return to the sky (if you read it, it'll make sense).  This one (the crocodilian, I mean) is more gentlemanly than her 'gator (but that will make sense if you read the story).  Still, there are similarities.

Maybe I'll send her the Crocodile for a beta-read?

...or maybe not.

It isn't finished yet, in any event.

*Sigh.  And I must start uploading my other books, all six of them, to the various other bookselling sites.

It should be a busy end of summer...






                                                                   'Night, all!




Friday, August 14, 2015

Celebrations, August 14, 2015

Time to celebrate the small things with Lexa Cain's blog hop.  Do visit our fearless leader and her two wonderful co-hosts L.G. Keltner @ Writing Off The Edge and Tonja Drecker @ Kidbits.

So, what am I celebrating? 

Let me see...
It has been a difficult week for various reasons.  It is, thank goodness, drawing to a close, which I can celebrate.  It has made me realize that sometimes the things that you celebrate are things that did not happen. 
I am not stuck in California where the drought is becoming dangerous. 

I am not dealing with a terminally ill loved one.
Not sure why Solzhenitsyn has a litter box in front of him...

I am not forced to consider having my 19 year old cat, BJ, euthanized.  (Although, he is so hale, hearty and healthy, he may be celebrating having me euthanized one of these days since I am willing to swear that he may outlive me.  ...though he did give me a scare a few months back.) 
I did not give in to my baser instincts and order a pie-o-gram to be sent to various people who have, this week, made life difficult or annoying for me.  No, BJ and Solzhenitsyn were not contemplated as recipients. 


Houses in Picardy...

I am looking forward to the weekend and the (remote) possibility of winning the lottery, if I can remember to purchase a ticket.  This will enable me to sell my house, purchase one in Picardy, and move to France, where I will be able to visit Paris  (which is always a good idea) when it suits me..  One of the units on the left would be satisfactory to me.  ...though there are some palaces there that might be nice but for the issue of heating. 
Always a good idea...





I am looking forward to incorporating the corrections outlined by my scribbles (see last week's post), and I had a bit of a breakthrough regarding a character arc I had been fiddling with.  This involves actual honest-to-goodness writing and is always worth celebrating.

...and now, having indulged some daydreams, I'm off to read the others.




What are you celebrating?  

Friday, August 7, 2015

Friday Celebrations August 7, 2015



It's Celebration time with Lexa Cain's blog hop celebrating the small things.  The blog itself, started by VikLit, is something to celebrate.  Visit our fearless leader and her two wonderful co-hosts L.G. Keltner @ Writing Off The Edge and Katie @ TheCyborgMom.



 I am celebrating the end of the week, which should have started Tuesday afternoon, when I acquired the niggling notion that the next day was Friday, and each succeeding day I woke up to learn that it was nothing of the sort, and I had more days to go.  At least I did not run mad waiting and the weekend is (almost) finally here.


That is not to say that my place of employment is a nasty place to be.  Far from it.  But there's something about  Saturday...


I will, once again, pack up and head out, this time to the lovely state of Vermont, traversed by the Green Mountains, a branch of the Appalachians, if I recall correctly.


The Green Mountains of Vermont


I grew up all over the United States, including Hawaii, but Vermont, my maternal grandparents' home, was a sort of 'home base' for me and my siblings.  Grandparents, great-aunts and -uncles are gone now, but the mountains are still there, and I'll be packing my camera.

I'll be bringing a manuscript with me, involving  huge crocodile (see upper right of my blog page), that is in First Final Edit mode.  It's a fable, and enjoyable.  Long enough at ~50,000 words to have complexity, but short enough to be relaxing.  And at the moment I'm doing what I love: taking a red pencil and making corrections and such.  Somehow, digital manuscripts are nice enough, but there's nothing like  marking up paper.  And I have two colors of markers along with a ball point pen.  What more can you ask for?



Free champagne!  Well, that ain't gonna happen, but one can dream!













What are you celebrating?  

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

August 5, 2015 - The Bonehead Blog Hop!

THE BONEHEAD BLOG HOP!




Welcome to the Bonehead Blog Hop!

This is the idea of Cherdo, who tells stories that make you laugh like a fool, the point of which are that she meanders through life being a bonehead, and it never crosses your mind (while you are laughing) that she’s about as boneheaded as a fox.



Your hosts are Cherdo, of Cherdo on the Flipside.
And me (Diana Wilder)

Our motto:
"Confession is good for the soul...it may not
be your soul, but trust me - it's good for someone's soul."

I have spent the past week plus battling a dying computer that has stumped the good folks at my local computer store, crossed swords with Windows 8, which I am convinced is a plot by Microsoft to destroy civilization and drive it mad in the process. I wish I could think of something I did during all this time to show what a dope I have been, with this whole episode, but I honestly can’t. Unless it is that I have been stupid enough to underestimate the tendency of computer-type folks to keep fiddling even after they have come out with a product that is splendid in its simplicity, easy to use, and magnificent in its capability.

…This from the person who has tweaked a book cover for the umpteenth time until my nearest and dearest have inquired, sweetly, whether I am thinking of putting my hero in a dress for the cover and spring a surprise ending on everyone a la Bruce/Caitlin Jenner.

But, truly, I have had my share of truly dopey moments.  Let me tell you of one.



Picture a lovely lake by moonlight (on the border between South Carolina and North Carolina. Lake Gaston:




…Imagine me, tanned and fit, wearing my Camp Counselor getup. Imagine the boy who filled my dreams, cute grin…

We were walking together in the moonlight, talking of things. Of what? Well… things. I don’t remember. He was so cute, and the moonlight was so lovely and I was walking with him. I mean, really, how rare is it that the object of your crush gives you even the time of day?

So, we walked along, the breeze rose and teased my hair (I had long hair back then), I could smell the pines somewhere around there, and Debussy’s Moonlight Sonata was playing in my mind along with ‘Kiss de Girl’ from The Little Mermaid.


Yeah, definitely kissable...

I knew – just knew! – that he would kiss me as we went into the shoreside curve, heading back toward the cabins. A little footbridge was before me, we moved onto it, walking slowly, I looked up at him –


The world went forty directions, the earth came up and smacked me in the stomach, something seized my leg, and my face hit the dirt. I couldn’t move my one leg, and the other, making the motions of running, seemed to be doing it in a vacuum.



I levered myself to a half-raised position, wondering why my right leg was being caught and held while my left leg scrabbled in the dust and scree that covered the bridge. A pair of sneakers in front of me indicated that my escort was still there, though I found myself wondering if he, like Lot’s wife, had been turned into a pillar of salt.

Behold, the Snapping Turtle
In those moments of wondering what had happened and why Doofus wasn’t trying to help me when he weighed, probably, fifty pounds more than me, most of it muscle (between his ears, I was beginning to think) I realized that I had somehow managed to put my leg straight into a hole in the paving and was flat on my stomach, essentially trying to push-up myself to a sitting position with my leg waving in the air over the water (which, I did know, contained the occasional snapping turtle).


The Hunk as he truly was
I managed to extricate myself and get to my feet. Handsome, before me, said, “Why did you do that?”

Have you seen Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, the scene where Belle watches the Beast morph into a handsome prince? Well that happened to me, but in my case the Handsome Hunk morphed into Mortimer Snerd.

I gave him The Look and walked back to my cabin alone.


The Look
I told this story to my sister and she said, “You weren’t a bonehead. He was.”
 “Yeah,” said I, “But I was a dope to have a crush on him.”



Go visit Cherdo’s site and grab the links (I am still trying to figure out my new computer, including how to make the images smaller now) and then look around. You’ll laugh, think, and generally have a great time!

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Losing it - Really! (IWSG Post for August 5, 2015)

This is my monthly post for
IWSG started and continued beautifully by Alex and his friends and cohorts. It is a wonderful group, and the insights, reassurance and laughter have been priceless. Why don't you try reading it?




Destruction...


Little stinker
This post illustrates a very important insecurity that I have about my writing. What if it is (shuddering at the thought) lost, destroyed, sent off into the ether, blown to bits, burned up or just plain fouled up? What then? I've been writing for years. I have manuscripts that are older than my family, started when I was still a little stinker of a child. I've saved them. Every word.

So... So what if it is all Lost?

The easy thing is to remind myself of why I write in the first place (see this blog post ) That's why I'm doing it. And, if all I wrote was destroyed, I'd have to soldier on. Moby Dick was lost (pity Melville found it)and he wasn't destroyed. I know of a lot of manuscripts that were lost, starting with Gibbons' The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, accidentally burned by a friend's illiterate servant who mistook the written word on paper for paper to be used to light a fire. Gibbons was charming about it, no one was hurt, and the book was rewritten.

Kerflooey!
Well, something like that sort of happened to me. Did you notice how the post looks a tad clumsy? Text and color not as usual? Photos wonky? Not up to my usual mediocre style? Well, there's a reason for that, and a lesson.

My computer went kerflooey (conked out, blew up, took a long walk off a short pier, committed seppuku) - pick one; the effect is the same.


 




The Geek Squad!
I tried to get it fixed but with no luck. It is gone, unless The Geek Squad (copyrighted name for BestBuy Tech division) is able to repair it.

The computer had everything on its capacious hard drive, and losing it is (or should have been) a real blow. Except that a few safety features were in place: 
  1. I had backed everything up on flash drives. Several of them. Duplicates.
  2. Microsoft gives everyone one Terabyte (how much? never mind. It's BIG!) of free memory up in the ether. All my work is saved there. And a few other places. 
Someone said you have to 'keep on keeping on' (sounds like Yogi Berra), and that's what I'm doing I've seen the worst that can happen (sort of) and I survived it. When my Cloud finishes uploading my storage, I'll be fine. I survived.  It happened. and I am okay, though frowning at the learning curve.


I guess I'll need to find something else about which to be insecure. After I accustom myself to the changes on this new system of mine. It should be fun.
 
Dang! Now to find something else to worry about.