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Friday, February 28, 2014

Celebrations - My Best Little Girlfriend, February 28, 2014

It's Celebrations time!

VikLit had the idea for this blog that celebrates the small things that often go unnoticed.  It happens every Friday, and it will always  bring a smile as we see joy through others' eyes.

Why don't you join the hop?  Details are at the end of this post.

Today I am celebrating my best little girlfriend, who came to me unexpectedly through the kindness of a friend.  She has brightened my life for nine years, given me a hobby when I was at loose ends, made me laugh just about every day.
Herself, age 9 (photoshop backdrop)
Frida is a cat, as you can see.  She is what is called a 'Sable Burmese'.  Rich chocolate brown. They came to the United States and then to Europe in the 1930's from Thailand, when a sailor brought one back with him.  Go to Bangkok and you will see little brown cats in the streets.  They come in other colors, too.  Frida had had a bit of a bad time before she came to me.  She had developed an infection and had lost most of her coat.  Her owner, a good friend, had stabilized her, and she was on her way 'back', as you might say.  I didn't know that.  All I knew was that she was pretty cute, and we hit it off immediately.

Cats tend to be matriarchal.  Shrimp that she is, Frida bossed around the big boys at my place, cuddled with my dog (a Lab) and generally tried to rule things with an iron paw in a velvet glove.

Cold Morning
Most mornings she sits on my lap.  On cold mornings, she is especially affectionate, even going so far as to try to commandeer my bathrobe.  Sometimes I let her.  
Earlier in this blog I mentioned her disruptive way with manuscripts, and she has honed and perfected her techniques over the years.  Her presence when I am writing has led to phenomenally decreased output.  On the other hand, I laugh a lot.

She works very hard for different causes, from disrupting writers (a cause dear to her heart) to cat rescue.  She even serves as breed ambassadress whenever it is necessary. She does tend to squint at times when she is happy: that distant stare translates to 'Ooh!  I'm so happy to be here!  Help rescue a cat, why don't you?'

One time, I recall, someone thought she was a mink.  She's a minx, I guess (though a charming one), but she also runs a tight ship,going so far as to thwack the big boys who happen to annoy her.

It's been a nice nine years, well worth celebrating...

Party Girl

                                     She does somehow make every day seem like a party...

(Today is a Friday!  I hope you all have wonderful weekends.)

Friday, February 14, 2014

Celebrations - February 14, 2014

Happy Valentine's Day!

It is Friday again, and a time to stop and take stock of the small things we celebrate.  Thanks to VikLit, who had the idea for this wonderful bl0g hop, we enjoy the thoughts of all that is worth noticing and celebrating.

Why don't you join the hop?  Details are at the end of this post.

What am I celebrating today?  Hm.  digging out of a bad snowstorm for starters.  It led to some lovely views of snowing and blowing.

My neighbor came over with his snow-blower and cleared my driveway, which was wonderful of him (and will earn him a generous gas card).

I've been watching the fire burning in the wood stove, sitting with my cats, scrumbling my elderly dog, cooking, and working from home.  It was nice.

But what I am celebrating at the moment is a plot breakthrough.  I am working on a trilogy, the first of which, The Orphan's Tale, is already out.  (You can read sample chapters on my website: www.dianawilderauthor.com ) 

The story was originally envisioned as one volume, but it grew in the telling.  The first volume is polished, the third, which is very active, intriguing and has a heartwarming conclusion (at least for me) is nearly set, but the middle one was dragging.  Things weren't working.

And then I had a brainstorm.  It is working.
I've been writing a pivotal scene that is set in a fine restaurant in 1834 Paris, and it has had me chuckling aloud.  Count d'Anglars is the French Minister of Police.  Malet is the senior Chief Inspector in Paris.  They refer to 'Lamarque', who is the Prefect of Police for Paris.  They are dining in a very fine restaurant.

          d’Anglars brought his napkin to his lips as the waiter brought the platter to him.  "Thank you.  This is excellent.  My dear sir, allow me to serve you some of this braised carp in burgundy," he said, setting a portion on Malet’s plate.  "It is justly famous."
         Malet, eyeing the dish, mentally acknowledged some deep-seated reservations regarding purple fish.  He cut a piece and tasted it, located the saltcellar, and spooned salt over the portion.
         "But you have not touched your oysters, dear sir!  Fines de Claire, the best I have seen in a long time!  The blue color comes from algae upon which they feed.  Do try them – such a splendid taste."
         Malet eyed the oysters that lay in their juice in the shells.  He had long ago found oysters reminiscent of nothing so much as the eye of a person who is making a grimace by pulling his lower lid down and rolling his eye upward.  If algae made these items blue, he thought, he would never, ever eat a brown or green oyster.
         d’Anglars was still watching him with the enjoyment of one who shares what he considers a rare treat.
         Malet speared one of the specimens with a fork, lifted an eyebrow at the juice that came squirting out and then brought it to his lips.  The salt scent of the ocean smote him in the nose.  He held his breath, deposited the oyster in his mouth and swallowed, following that effort with a large mouthful of iced Chevalier Montrachet and a chunk of bread.
         d’Anglars watched him reach for another oyster. "Wait," he said.  "I perceive that the effort of swallowing that oyster was less than gratifying."
         The mouthful gone, Malet sipped his wine again and set it down.  "I was raised beside the ocean," he said.  "It was under my window.  All its smells and sounds.  I miss it sometimes…"
         "I imagine, then, that there are parts of it that you do not miss, sir."  d’Anglars motioned to the servant, who was standing nearby and grinning.  "Bring a dish of beef, if you please.  Your excellent roast in the claret sauce, if it is available.  And that excellent Chambertin that I enjoyed the last time I was here."
         He turned back to Malet, who was surreptitiously swishing the Montrachet in his mouth and then swallowing with an effort.  d'Anglars winced.  "And since they are a penance for you, I will gladly suffer through the rest of your oysters."
         Malet frowned a little, but the beef in claret sauce was beautifully prepared, and the rest of the meal that followed was equally delicious.  d'Anglars' second daughter, Clémentine, was planning for her coming-out party, and was hoping that 'M. l'Inspecteur' would perhaps ask her to waltz with him, since it had been he who had taught her at the first ball she had attended, however surreptitiously, at the age of seven.
         The memory made Malet smile.  Some questions had come up with matters that predated M. Lamarque's return from Plombières.  d'Anglars brushed them aside.  "M. le Préfet will be returning to complete his cure."
         "Then his gout has returned?"
         "No," said d'Anglars.  "He has a different sort of pain that came on suddenly."
         "Pain?  Surely not his heart!"  Malet remembered various occasions when the Prefect had dealt with an issue by clutching at his breast and announcing that he was not long for the world if the vexing matter was not resolved.
         "No, not his heart," d'Anglars said, nodding to the waiter, who brought a decanter of cognac.  He poured a glass for Malet and one for himself, and stretched his legs out before him.  "He will be returning for a resumption of the cure and you, sir, will take his place once more.  You handled matters with such distinction the last time, I have great hopes that you will again."
         Malet was frowning.  "This is very sudden.  He is not in any danger?"
         "Not at all."
         "But you mentioned pain.  If not his heart, then…"  The thought of the Prefect ill was not reassuring.
         "It is somewhat south of that organ," d'Anglars was gazing at Malet through the golden cognac with the hint of a smile.  "In fact, the pain manifests itself when he sits."
         "Lumbago?  If he is truly ill-"
         "It is nothing that some time away from here, with good news at the end of it, will not cure."
         When will he leave?"
         "Immediately.  We will speak with him tomorrow before his departure."  d'Anglars sipped the cognac and set the glass down.  "I fear, though, that the farewell may bring on a recrudescence of his symptoms."
         Malet's eyes narrowed.  "This is because of me, isn't it?"
         d'Anglars sat back and swirled the cognac in his glass.  "I am afraid that it is."
         "We envisioned it yesterday.  I am very sorry that we were correct."
         He eyed Malet's expression.  "I am assigning a bodyguard, my dear Malet, Effective immediately.  Your presence outside a certain doorway in a particularly filthy part of Paris has led to repercussions with which we must deal, M. Vidocq and I. You are a most troublesome fellow, sir. But indispensable, personally and professionally."
         Malet pushed his cognac away.  "I don't understand."
         "Nor do we. But we will."

         It is so nice when things fall together.  This weekend should be very productive.  (Scrapping an unsatisfactory plot line is always fun...)

(And I am remembering that today is a Friday!  I hope you all have wonderful weekends.)

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Insecure Writer's Support Group - February 5, 2013

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)

We share our insecurities and support each other with empathy, sympathy or practical suggestions. 
"Odd creatures, writers..."

Today I would like to address a concern that just about every writer I have ever known shares.  It is something that haunts our dreams, something that dictates our actions, something that makes our loved ones look at us with one eyebrow raised and extremely quizzical expressions, as though they  have just turned over a rock and seen something truly strange come scuttling out.
The way writers view their words

I am speaking of the terror we feel when we are nowhere near anything that can capture our precious, priceless words as they spring fully armed to our heads, rather like Athene in the old Greek legends.

We have various ways of combating that terror.  Some people carry around notebooks, some use a permutation of a Dictaphone, garnering stares from people who find the spectacle of someone yakking into a box rather diverting in an odd fashion.

Wine stain in left-most towel
There are jotters of all types.  Some jotters never carry around anything upon which they can jot, and are reduced to scribbling on the backs of grocery receipts (those that don't have advertisements and offers on the back), voided checks, toilet paper (they seldom do that twice unless they are in a public toilet in France where, I am convinced, the TP is made of recycled chain mail.  Or, perhaps, barbed wire.  But then the problem of with what to write arises).  Some of us use paper towels.  I confess to that silliness...  

So what do you do if you accidentally use your deathless words to mop up spilled red wine (see above)?

Wow!  Alas!  Phooey!
Most people use notebooks.  I certainly do.  At any moment I have about four going.  I start out with a dedicated notebook for each story.   Unfortunately, I may pack the notebook for my French story and instead get an idea for the Egyptian story I'm fiddling with at the moment.  What to do?  Snatch a piece of toilet paper (which means I get to travel to France!) and hope I don't blow my nose on it?  Nah.  I write in the incorrect notebook and make a mental note that the deathless scene is in it.

Of course, then I mis-file my mental note and bewail my fate and mourn the loss of my deathless words.

It's always a puzzlement...  (I have to bring Yul Brynner in this somehow.

Well, it's one of those conditions that few of us have conquered. for myself, if (I say IF) I become famous, my descendants will not have to starve in the streets or work in a sweat shop or kow-tow to people who have no more qualification for leading people than silverfish.  And who are, perhaps, less beautiful than silverfish.   (I was going to post a photo of a silverfish here, but after looking them over I decided that I'd rather chew my fingernails.)

What to do?  Well, like many of our insecurities, I just live with it.  I have actually found, when I have located my deathless words, once lost, that they weren't all that great after all, and what I actually wrote in desperation, just knowing that the story would be ruined - simply ruined! - actually were more fully formed, satisfying and colorful than what I thought I'd lost.

...but without insecurities, would we be real writers?


This is a blog hop with lots of good participation.  Go forth and read!

Snowstorm, February 5, 2014

Words not needed a-tall...