The Pyrenees---Southern France

The Pyrenees---Southern France

Monday, July 24, 2017

Sunrise... Sunset

       Four days ago I was in Sedona. I'd been told the rocky hills were incredible to look at, and indeed they were. We stopped at place after place, on the shoulder of the road and at parks along the way into the city, and marveled at the naturally-made rock sculptures.  


      

      Three days ago I spent the whole day in the Grand Canyon. From sunrise to sunset, I was there with family to soak up the peace and the breathtaking beauty.

Here is one picture of the Grand Canyon I took. It was taken
as the sun was setting. Cameras cannot capture its true beauty.

     I apologize for not posting on Friday. I don't know what happened. We were staying at an Airbnb, and the connectivity was spotty. However, there was a night when the wifi was working fine, I created a post and scheduled it. Something screwy happened, because the post disappeared. (This Friday I'll use the same photo from the lost post.)

    During our three days in Williams, Arizona I:


  • went to Bearizona--a really well-done animal park (most of their animals are rescues)
  • took at 3-hour bike tour around part of the South Rim
  • finished reading the book The Handmaid's Tale. Okay, that has nothing to do with the soaking up nature, but it was a great read
  • discovered how the movie Thelma and Louise impacted the Grand Canyon park (there were several cars driven off the edge and into the canyon the year after the movie came out) 
  • learned a bunch about ravens (I'll post more about that on Friday) 

Going to the Grand Canyon was on my "bucket list." What is on yours?
    




      

Monday, July 17, 2017

Can You Do More?


        I just learned that the second dog I brought back from Turkey found a forever home. I brought back 4. One was a puppy and it went to an Illinois rescue group. I'm assuming she found a home.) Dickens' foster family fell in love with him, and Pippi has a home.

      That only leaves Gatsby, and out of the four dogs I brought along on my flight back home, he's the best one. (And no Michael, I don't think we should adopt him. Radar is enough for us.)



         Thinking about what the Turkish people do to help these dogs have a better life... Thinking about what some charitable Americans do as they do mission work in our country and abroad... Thinking about what some of my friends do--small things--to help homeless people...

       It makes me realize I can do more. I know I can get more involved (and get more accomplished) when it comes to causes I believe in.

      I also know I can write on a more consistent basis. Whining about how busy I am will not help. 

      How about you? What can you do more of?

Friday, July 14, 2017

A Super Pig... and Back-of-the-Book Blurb # 67


      Recently I saw the movie Okja. Was it one of my all-time favorites, ranking up there with Hidalgo and Widow of Saint Pierre and Chocolat and Love Actually and Doctor Zhivago?

     Well, no.

     But I did enjoy it.

     You might enjoy doing something silly. Or writing something a bit lighter. If a child's book titled Battle Bunny intrigues you, go here and check out my post at the Muffin.
    And if you'd like to read about how they made the movie Okja, go here.

    Without further ado, here is this week's book blurb's guidelines:

Look at the photo below. That is the cover of your bookYou choose the genre. Is it a nonfiction piece? Is it a romance between a chef and all things pork? You decide.

Write an enticing blurb--150 words or less. (The title doesn't count in the word count.) Blurbs are those enticing bits that prod you into buying the book. Sometimes they're on the back cover of the book. Sometimes they're on the inside front cover. What they always try to do is lure you into purchasing the book. 

Lisa Ricard Claro was the original creator of this writing challenge. She moved to Florida and with the piles of money she's made from her novels. Lisa's unpacking the last of her boxes and is doing her best to keep her address a top secret when it comes to Linda O'Connell. (Linda looooves the beach.)

Include your blurb in a blog post. Include a link to this post. Also, link your post to Mr. Linky. Mr. Linky is easy. If you've never done it, you'll be impressed with how simple he is. And then, check out the other blurb(s). It's interesting to see the different directions writers take, given the same photo.

Here's the book cover, along with my blurb:


   
The Unmaking of a Meat-Eater


She’d seen the movie Okja. With disgust, she’d watched the latest hot dog eating contest. Helen even reread the scary parts of Charlotte’s Web.
And she’d survived all that.
What finally drove her over the edge was a Hawaiian luau party. When Helen saw that roasted piglet getting plated, she lost it. All over her lei.
She also lost her love of any kind of meat. “I’ll never make another animal suffer because of me,” she swore. “The flesh of an animal will never again pass my lips, nor will leather shoes cover my toes.”
Helen’s husband Leroy tried to lure her back to the carnivorous side. Bacon-wrapped figs. Slow-cooked ribs, waved under her nose. He tried to tempt her with bagels topped with a schmear and some lox.
Will Helen remain a vegetarian? Or will she drag Leroy to the kale burger side of town? (146 words)



And for Val and Pat and anyone else who'd like to play along, here is the photo for next week:


What have you done playful or silly lately? Stressed-out minds want to know...


Monday, July 10, 2017

Staring... and Finishing (at least a 2nd draft)

This is what I stared at, off and on, for three hours yesterday.



      There was a write-in at the St. Louis Art Museum. From 1-4 I sat in an overstuffed chair (big enough for two, but I hogged up both spots with my stuff) and typed away on my laptop.

       Okay, saying I typed away for several hours might give you--my one reader--with the impression that I got pages and pages down.

       El wrongo.

       I just looked back on my WIP to see how much I actually got down. Less than a page, plus part of an author's note (it's historical). However, this was one of the hardest parts--the ending--and so I'm thrilled I got the last few paragraphs down.

       Now the hardest part. There is a question at the end that's a crucial one for the main character (a young teenager named Henry). I've known--since the very beginning--that my first page is not how I want the reader to enter the story. However, it was how I had to enter into the character... so I need to completely revamp the beginning.

      I want to have a hint of that question (that's at the end) in the beginning... and then perhaps insert a thread of the question here and there throughout the story. Then comes the next steps:

1) Finish the author's note. This is a historical event that very few people know about. There's some backstory and some details that were not covered in the story. To have a completely well-rounded view of what happened, an author's note is necessary.

2) Speak to an elderly person about some of the slang/expressions/products. I've included some of the expressions that my grandfather used. He was born in 1904. The story takes place in 1921. However, these are African American characters. What sayings were popular back then? I have a couple of lady senior citizens I'm going to sit down with and talk to. (I've highlighted all the word choices and phrases I'm curious/unsure about. Going over it page by page, I'll ask if they can remember their parents or grandparents saying anything similar.) Also, what kind of gum was popular back then? What kind of things did they hear from (unkind) white passersby?

Now it's all about looking at the small details. Notice the small
details in this painting. The way the towel is draped across one
shoulder. The guy on the right--see how his right foot is raised and angled?

3) Have a few of my students critically read it. They're close to my target audience (I envision it for 5th, 6th or 7th graders and my students are 8th graders). However, at least one student I'm thinking of is a reluctant reader. He was the one who kept prodding me--long after NaNoWriMo was finished--asking me, "So how's your story coming, Mrs. R?" If I can keep Danny interested, I have a chance with kids who enjoy reading...

4) Have my writing critique group read it. Hey, they willingly read my earlier manuscript, which was (and still is) a steaming, angry pile of poop. I actually think this is fairly decent. They might not have to drink large amounts of wine/eat large amounts of chocolate (Linda)/nibble on large amounts of bean sprouts (Lynn) to slog through this one...

How about you? What have you been proud of recently? Or, what have you finished/semi-finished recently? Nosey minds want to know...


Friday, July 7, 2017

Musical Memory Lane...and Back-of-the-Book Blurb # 66

At writing critique night this week, Lynn shared an early concert memory. (I think it was her first concert.) Her vignette was more about an awful prospective boyfriend than the Ozark Mountain Daredevils concert... but it brought back a flood of memories.

On the way back home, Kim and I talked about our first concert. Kim's first was Crosby, Stills and Nash. (That made me extremely jealous. CS & N was one of my favorite groups. They still are.) I'm not sure if my first one was a Richie Havens-John Sebastian combo (there was a third singer, but I don't remember who it was) in Wash U's quadrangle, or whether Cat Stevens was my first.

I do know who ruined me for concerts. Harry Chapin.

Harry Chapin's concerts were intimate, poignant and hilarious. A true storyteller, he could weave human suffering into a few verses and a chorus better than everybody else. He didn't have much of a voice, but what a songwriter he was. He'd alternate a song about a dry-cleaner who aspired to be an opera singer... only to have his dreams dashed to the ground by critics... with a song about a truckload of bananas that meets a horrible end. And he could do it with an incredible wryness.

In-between songs, he'd make jokes about the other musicians on stage. It was good-natured back-and-forth banter. They gave as well as they took.


                             This is a song that hardly ever made it on
                             the radio waves. Be patient--watch the
                             whole thing. Chapin shares four different
                             endings... and they're amusing...

What was your first concert? Leave a comment and share a memory. I'd love to hear about it.

And now onto the business of the book blurb.

Look at the photo below. That is the cover of your bookYou choose the genre. Is it a nonfiction piece? Is it a romance between a fellow primate and his selfie stick? You decide.

Write an enticing blurb--150 words or less. (The title doesn't count in the word count.) Blurbs are those enticing bits that prod you into buying the book. Sometimes they're on the back cover of the book. Sometimes they're on the inside front cover. What they always try to do is lure you into purchasing the book. 

Lisa Ricard Claro was the original creator of this writing challenge. We don't know what she's doing these days. She moved to Florida and with the piles of money she's made from her novels. She's probably hired a couple of cute cabana boys. Perhaps that is what's keeping her busy... (If one of them looks anything like Viggo Mortensen or Benecio del Toro, I hope Lisa at least lets me visit so I can gape and drool a bit.)


Include your blurb in a blog post. Include a link to this post. Also, link your post to Mr. Linky. Mr. Linky is easy. If you've never done it, you'll be impressed with how simple he is. And then, check out the other blurb(s). It's interesting to see the different directions writers take, given the same photo.

Here's the book cover, along with my blurb:
                                                         photo by Pixabay


Manny’s Revenge
Manny was tired of being stared at. Manny was especially weary of people who’d think they were clever by looking at him through the glass and making weird noises while they scratched their armpits and jumped around.
Enough. Manny the gorilla was mad as heck, and he wasn’t going to take it anymore. When the next group of idiots gathered to gape, Manny swung from his rope onto the top edge of the wall. Reaching out, he grabbed one of their cameras and gracefully swung back to the floor of his enclosure.
Looking into the glass, he saw himself—certainly a more handsome primate than that idiot in the spandex bike shorts and the fanny pack who’d just waddled past.
Is that what people were doing with these things—admiring themselves?

Manny decided to turn the tables on the foolish spectators… and he already knew what he was going to do first. (150 words)




For those writers who'd like to work ahead, here is the photo for next week's blurb:


photo by pixabay




Monday, July 3, 2017

A Movie in My Head

      I probably look a bit weird when I write. Most likely, many people would say I look odd all the time... If I'm writing and I have to include a gesture or some physical movement, usually I'll either squinch my eyes up as I imagine it or I'll actually act out the movement.

     For me, it helps.

     This evening Radar went out and played in the sprinkler. Oh, we weren't watering our lawn. This was just for the dog's entertainment. He went out once, came in a muddy, stinky mess but he enjoyed it so much, I let him out again, and this time I videotaped him.




video
                                         
                       Here is a video of Radar having fun in the water.

     
        Certainly, if I was writing about much Radar enjoys water, taking a video of him would help my description. I could watch the clip several times so as to not miss a single bit of his antics. 

         As we watched him play, my husband said, "We really can't stop him from going crazy about water, can we? I mean, isn't it in his genetics to love water?"

        That made me think. What comes naturally for the main character in my WIP? What kind of gestures do they do and how do they carry themselves without even thinking about it? Making movies in our head, and watching people helps us writers make each character distinctive.  

        What crazy stuff does your pet cat/dog/albino python do?