Friday, July 31, 2015

Celebrations, July 31, 2015




Today's post is part of Lexa Cain's blog hop celebrating the small things.  Visit our fearless leader and her two wonderful co-hosts L.G. Keltner @ Writing Off The Edge and Katie @ TheCyborgMom.



Today I am celebrating nothing in particular (the best kind of celebration) that ended up as an exercise in creativity (the best kind of exercise, since you aren't likely to fall and break an ankle as you are if you are doing strenuous physical exercise).


I am doing a beta-read for a friend from a writing board.  She has a collection of short stories with a Sci-Fi bent that will be coming out in the next few months.  I'll ask her if I can feature it here.  I haven't done more than skim, since I just got it yesterday, but one of the stories, featuring a cat, got me thinking about designs, cats, night, the stars, and the moon.

I started thinking how I might express a 'Night Cat' (not her term), and spent a happy hour or two doing it.

First you need a cat.  There's this beautiful photo that I've loved for a long time:


This is a Maine Coon cat, arguably America's original longhair.  DNA tends to show that they came over with the Vikings.  They are formidable mousers, very laid back, smart and almost dog-like.  Mine, now dead at a grand age and sorely missed, certainly loved the dog, but tended to thwack him with a paw.


I needed a night sky, which was a fairly easy assignment.  There are plenty of images available.  In my case, I wanted darkness and stars as a nice background.  I went to an old favorite:

I generally like a sky with a very dark blue tint, but in this case, I thought, black would be fine.  So I used it.

The cat would be a shadow against the sky, invisible unless you knew where to look, the embodiment of midnight (very amusing, if you happen to be acquainted with Maine Coons, but still...

I fiddled with things, adjusted shadows and highlights, frowned, tweaked, and came up with an image that isn't a bad first effort.  I'll fiddle more later:


I'm off to visit family this weekend.  One of them has learned that she will need a hip replacement operation.  This is not a bad development: the rest of the family has known it for a long time.  Now I must get her to understand that it will ultimately help her.  The fact that she is in my life (she's my mother) is a very good reason to celebrate.





What are you celebrating?  

Saturday, July 11, 2015

A Silent Soliloquy Blog Tour -July 11

I am delighted to be hosting L. G, Keltner for the blog tour for her new release, A Silent Soliloquy. 


 I’d like to start by thanking Diana for allowing me to stop by her blog today.  I’m happy to be here!  While I’m here, I’d like to talk about how I see my main characters, and what I envisioned for the cover and how it came about. 
 
Words can paint a stunning picture, but it’s up to the reader to make that picture come to life through their reading.  The physical description of a character on a page, no matter how detailed, is simply an outline for the reader’s imagination to fill in.  How much they make use of your descriptions in their visualization is entirely up to them, and as a result, every reader is bound to have a different idea about what your characters look like.  That being said, as I was writing, I did have a specific idea of what my characters looked like.  I visualized TIPPIE as being built like River from Firefly, except with natural dirty blond hair.  Of course, she frequently changes her hair color for various missions, so that is not a terribly important aspect of her character.  David is in his mid-twenties and has black hair and green eyes.  I didn’t necessarily want to picture him as any one actor while I was writing him, because I wanted him to look like any guy you might normally see.  When he was in high school, he would have been one of the guys his classmates considered cute, even handsome, but still relatively normal.  Some muscle tone, but not overly done.  You know what I’m talking about.  During the time our story actually takes place, he’s scrawny.  Almost skeletal.  Just looking at him, you can tell he’s had it rough.

Writing descriptions may be something I can somewhat pull off, but I knew from the beginning I couldn’t do the cover art on my own.  I needed someone else to help me in that department.  When I first envisioned the cover, the bloody flower was there.  However, I envisioned it in many locations.  One idea involved it lying crushed on the pavement beside someone’s boot.  Another had it lying in the palm of someone’s hand.  I also envisioned it in the garden where it grows in the story.  The only truly important thing to me, however, was that the flower be there.  To me, it’s an important symbol in the story.  This fact was passed on to the artist, who sent an initial sketch of the flower.  I was in love.  The following week, I had the completed image, and I loved it.  The most important thing I wanted from the cover came through beautifully. 

Title: A Silent Soliloquy
Author: L.G. Keltner
Genre: Science Fiction/Dystopian
Length: 28,000 words
Cover Art: Devross
Release Date: July 6th, 2015
Blurb:
TIPPIE was created to be a weapon.  By all appearances, she's an ordinary girl of 18, and she uses that to her advantage in her work for The Facility.  What no one sees is that there's another girl buried deep inside.  She can't speak or control the movements of the body she inhabits.  As TIPPIE's silent passenger, she can only observe.  She uses the details she learns from TIPPIE's work to reconstruct the stories of other people's lives.  It helps her feel a little more connected to the world she can only watch. 
When TIPPIE's work leads her to David, a young man with a haunted past and information that The Facility wants, TIPPIE uses her skills to earn his trust.  The silent girl beneath the surface knows that TIPPIE is only going to hurt him, but she can't help but feel for him.  Those feelings only grow, but she knows all too well that TIPPIE's work will soon come to an end. 
Bio: 
L.G. Keltner spends most of her time trying to write while also cleaning up after her crazy but wonderful kids and hanging out with her husband.  Her favorite genre of all time is science fiction, and she’s been trying to write novels since the age of six.  Needless to say, those earliest attempts weren’t all that good.  
Her non-writing hobbies include astronomy and playing Trivial Pursuit. 
You can typically find L.G. lurking around her blog, on Twitter, or on her Facebook page.
Purchase Links: 
Kobo 
You can also add it on Goodreads.
 
 

Friday, July 10, 2015

Celebrating the Small Things - July 10, 2015

Welcome to 'Celebrating the Small Things', started by VikLit (bless her!) and now run by Lexa Cain, our fearless leader and her two wonderful co-hosts L.G. Keltner @ Writing Off The Edge and Tonya Drecker at Kidbits.  Go visit them!  

Today I am celebrating surviving a hectic week at work and the weekend that will include an overnight trip to Maine, the land of craggy coasts, charming towns, some nifty cities and some really good food!  My charming old Labrador Retriever, white face and all, is at what he seems to think of as 'summer camp' where he gets to snooze, romp, stuff his face, get fussed over, bark, slobber, and generally act like a happy old doofus of a dog.




Where I'll be
My car is packed and ready, I'll be topping the gas, and tomorrow morning, early, I'll be heading north (pronounced 'nowath' by the natives).  Why not leave tonight?  Errr...  Well, only a fool heads toward Main and the Mountains on a Friday night in July. 
Lovely place to lunch or dine...
I will be snatching lunch on Saturday at a little place called Azure Cafe in Freeport.  I stumbled upon this my last visit, when I was hungry and asked the local folks for a lunch recommendation.  This was one of them, and I liked the patio.  The food was simple but with a little spark that indicated to me that the chef had a real understanding of taste, flavor and presentation, and had imagination and a sense of humor.  Surprise!  I learned later that it had won quite a few awards.  The food was great and the people were just lovely.  So I will be lunching there tomorrow.

Incidentally, there's a website called 'Tripadvisor' (www.tripadvisor.com) that is by and for travelers who give feedback on their experiences.  I have a few reviews there, and I have not been steered wrong when I looked things up.

Lots to celebrate!  How about you?  

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Crossing The Doldrums (IWSG July 1, 2015)

The Insecure Writer's Support Group
This is my monthly post for IWSG = Insecure Writers' Support Group (click for the link).  Alex J Cavanaugh (may his tribe increase) started it and it has, for me, provided wisdom, understanding, laughter, and a lot of thought.  Sign up!  Read!



I've been giving a lot of thought to The Doldrums, recently.  It's a word most people have heard, but I doubt they know what it means.  The Doldrums is the (maritime) name for region in the Atlantic and Pacific oceans:
The Doldrums are regions of the Atlantic and Pacific oceans that have little if any wind.  This was a particular problem for sailors in the past when they depended on the winds to propel their ships, a problem that could be potentially deadly.  The Doldrums are caused by solar radiation from the sun, as sunlight beams down directly on area around the equator.  This heating causes the air to warm and rise straight up rather than blow horizontally.  The result is little or no wind, sometimes for weeks on end.
The Doldrums, in the Atlantic, are near the Sargasso Sea, reputed to be the graveyard of hundred of stymied, drifting, abandoned hulks:



The old maritime term for an unmoving sailing ship, stranded and helpless, is 'in irons'.  It's a good description.  Weighted down, immovable, bound, tied to one place, stagnating...
Like someone in the grip of writer's block, maybe...
Haven't we all been that way?  At a standstill, no inspiration blowing through our imaginations, helpless, watching our energy drain away, knowing in our heart of hearts that it will never ever come back, and there is nothing we can do about it.

I've been there.  Haven't you?  Thinking that any energy for writing is a self-existing gift, almost like a happy guest that comes in, sits down, regales me with stories that I scramble to jot down...and then departs to leave me helpless.

The Doldrums or, if you think about it, Writer's block.

I'm emerging from a slight case of The Doldrums.  I've been going hammer and tongs on a story that is slated to come out early 2016.  It's coming along nicely, but not nicely enough, and I have spent so much time staring at the pages on my screen, reading portions over and over again, I ended up blunting my own creativity.  Basically, I sprained my muse.  Or, to be a little more plebeian, I burned myself out.

I think once you've powered through one of these times (once you remember that they're just a bit of time and not the death knell of your talent, drive and writing) you can recognize them and deal with them.  At least I can...


(After a couple weeks bewailing my fate, longing for the surge of inspiration, staring at The Most Boring Thing Ever Written...) 



The only cure for that, which I offer to all, is the writing equivalent of getting a jump-start.  If you're like me, you have  plenty of projects sitting around.  Put  down the current one that has you tired and grumpy, rest and relax, and then pick up another story and get going.  Use pencil and pen and highlighter.  Go to town!

...it seems to be working.