Zenith

Reaching the zenith of this challenge has been a great experience! Thanks to all who read my posts!

zenith-2_lI’ve learned so much about the wide, wide blog universe. It amazed me with its vast content, its unique variety, and its articulate members. It is the combined intelligence of our species, no doubt about it.

So, now what? I started this challenge wondering if I was going to continue writing. I had finished my novel, and I was sending out query letters but, during all the uproar, my faithless muse wandered away. Good news, though.  I’m still writing. And, while that bad muse of mine remains illusive, I have seen him peeking out at me during the last twenty-six posts.

Thanks for the inspiration, everyone! Will I see you next April 1st? stars-th

Photo credit: aldoaldoz / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-SA

Y’all come back now.

Y – You can tell it’s spring in Colorado. One day it’s 78 degrees, the next day it’s snowing. So, automatically, my thoughts drift to the beach. I love the mountains – I do. But, there is nothing warmer or more comforting than the ocean. Particularly the beautiful shores of North Carolina. Several years ago my husband and I travelled to Atlantic Beach  to spend a week with my mother, brother and sister-in-law. 267317_258012604226721_2408210_n[2]We rented the first floor of a gracious house on the beach, walked for miles on the hard sand, played in the water, ate chicken sandwiches and drank warm beer. Above us undulating ribbons of pelicans patrolled the waves.

Only problem was, it was August. If you know the South, you understand only crazy tourists go to the beach in August. It was hotter than a piece of chicken frying in the pan. Fortunately, we had an offshore breeze most days but, still, OMG. That didn’t stop us. We went on an early morning see-the-dolphins charter from which the slippery mammals were conspicuously absent. The guide later informed us dolphins head for colder water in August. Somewhere the dolphins were laughing at us.

We toured historic Beaufort, NC, home of the notorious pirate, Black Beard. Beaufort has a wonderful museum full of recovered pirate artifacts, maps, weapons, and other Jack Sparrowish items. We slurped melted ice cream and plodded the tourist route through town.  My husband gallantly squired Mom around, steadying her during moments of fatigue or dizziness – his own. Mom soldiered through the day until about 2:00pm. She was like a dolphin, seeking the safety of cool surroundings. She stayed inside basking in the AC while we lubed up with spf  50+ and headed out,  determined to enjoy the ocean. Heat notwithstanding.

That night we watched UFOs rise in the sky and, for a few moments, we believed – until we realized the bright darting lights were probably maneuvers from Seymour Johnson AFB or Cherrypoint.

So, in spite of disappearing dolphins and false UFO sightings, we had a wonderful time. And, when our hosts said, “Y’all come back now,” I thought to myself, I’ll be back as soon as I can.

stars-thWhere do you go when you’ve had enough of winter?

xenophobia

x – Are you fearless? human-rights-day_l

Some events we never forget, and these experiences work their way into our stories. For me,  xenophobia, fear or contempt for foreigners or foreign cultures, is such a memory. Xenophobia is the vicious mirror-mage of racism. After years gave me distance,  I used my brush with evil as a template for characters and situations in my science fiction novel.

Science fiction is a perfect forum, with its diverse universe and varied species and cultures. Some of my people display xenophobia like badge of honor, others wear it with shame, and still others fight against it. Two of my main characters fall in love in spite of it. Sometimes, the lies of xenophobia  can be exposed with humor, helping everyone learn some compassion. But, usually, the truth remains as dark and brutal as watching the KKK  march  in  full regalia down the main street of the town I grew up in. Of course, that was then and now our town is  a bright, sophisticated destination for arts and entertainment.However, like everywhere in our 21st century world, xenophobia still lurks like a hibernating virus. When writers bring these dark impulses to the surface, it reminds us all no one is immune to these potentially destructive thoughts and actions.

Will you speak against the dark side through your characters?  What memories from your past, good or bad, influence your writing?

Are you fearless?stars-th

 

Photo credit: Catching.Light / Foter.com / CC BY

Word Wizards

vision-quest_l

W – People who write are always looking for a way to be heard. When did you begin longing for an audience? It took me about a year of pounding the keys before I realized I was on my own. For a while, I felt terrible. How would I know if my writing was any good? Why write if no one read my stuff? The old if a tree falls in the forest thing. I hadn’t started reading chapters to my husband at that point, so I was completely isolated.

Unlike painting, music, or dance, writing isn’t a social expression of art. For the most part, writers work alone. But, at some point, they need feedback. I always swore I would never join a writer’s group  but, out of the blue, through a series of coincidences, I found out about a newly forming group at a local independent bookstore. yes-would-you-like-to-buy-a-book_lAfter one meeting, I decided it wasn’t for me but, again, another coincidence brought me back to the fold. It was the best thing that could have happened for my writing.

One of the great things about a good writer’s group is everyone gets it. Each member has doubts, setbacks, and triumphs. And, as I got to know my fellow writers, I learned so much from reading and critiquing their work. I read genres I would never have touched a year before, I poured over non-fiction, and I even read poetry. Forming a kinship of compassion and honesty with other writers is priceless.

So, thankyou, my Word Wizards. Our group has accomplished so much. In the last year, four of us finished our books. One of us is selling her non-fiction book and increasing  sales every month. WIPs are still evolving. Memoirs are being refined.

Next time someone tells you about a writer’s group, consider joining up. It might be just the thing you and your writing need!

 

Photo credit: ALL CHROME / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-SA

Photo credit: 0olong / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-SA

Volatile Vortex

1194986475730032167air_stefan_bazelkov_01.svg.thumbV- After tonight, only four days to go! A to Z is a much needed exercise in discipline for me. I’m ready to start working on my new novel, thanks to this writing extravaganza.

I am an IT foot soldier on the front lines at a local community college. My coworkers, IT folks and professors, make sure computers remain our servants and not the other way around. We have two weeks left until semester end, and everyone is looking forward to the summer off. There is, however, an undercurrent of unease. For about two years now, software has evolved with pandemic speed and the hurtling vortex  of change finally caught up with us. Can we keep up? Will we wash up on the shore of progress, like some digital flotsam and jetsam? I’m not talking about changes to  the software, I’m talking about more and more new software, changes in the popularity of software and the looming power of the Cloud. These changes have profound effects on higher education.

And, to make it worse, the major software (Adobe CS6) we use in our classes has increased in price from $5,000 to $20,000 a year.12284211311154772712sheikh_tuhin_Label_Icon_svg_thumb Yes, you read that right. All the other softwares cost more now, a lot more. There may be a grassroots revolution brewing in freeware, but that’s a conversation for another blog.

These events make me wonder – how much new information can the human mind absorb before it balks? How many changes, adjustments, and slicker and better software can we afford? And, is this multitude of bells and whistles necessary to teach students the basics?

We’ll keep it current and cool with iMacs and Cintiqs but, really, how much fantastic new software is too much?

Universe Unfurled

METEORMILKYWAY_ROWELL_C600_cropNote: Sorry this is late!

U – The universe is out there. All you have to do is look up.

When I was in CanyonLands on Outward Bound, I saw the Milky Way for the first time. We pounded ten miles a day in full pack (sans weapons), and we were exhausted, hungry and exhilarated. For a pack of wimpy city girls, this was a brutal slog. Somehow, we fumbled through dinner. Food on the course was horrible, but that stripped everything down to basics. No fussing. Just eat, sleep, climb, and laugh, and then do it again for five days.

Luck was on our side, and the weather was good. Mild and dry. Perfect for the show. I crawled into my bag and closed my eyes. Unable to sleep, I lay in the crystalline desert stillness. Finally,  I looked up and the Milky Way’s twin ribbons unfurled from horizon to horizon.

I didn’t sleep after that. If I had been a God-fearing woman, I would have celebrated such amazing beauty with a prayer. Instead, I just gaped until dawn nibbled away the glitter. Nothing, before or since, affected me the same way as that web of stars. It was miraculous, and it was real.

Two-thirds of the population of the western world has never seen the Milky Way. Light pollution is so rampant over the Earth, it creeps into the night like a brilliant rash, covering the East and West Coast of America, Europe and parts of South America. I feel privileged to have glimpsed our stars.

If you have a light free opportunity promise me you’ll look up!stars-th

Tangent Tales

T – Tanget – a sudden digression or change of course.1197121887834365039Chrisdesign_Flying_Stars_svg_med

Ok. Admit it. It’s happened to you. You’re chatting with friends, laughing and blabbering away when suddenly another idea seizes control of your tongue and, several moments later, you’ve backed yourself in a verbal corner. How did I get here? you wonder. What the heck just happened? Instead of following a neat thought-thread from point a to z, you find yourself rattling around in point r. Granted point r is something you feel passionate about, but it led you astray. Maybe point r is a favorite cause, a fond like or a profound dislike. But, there you are. Off the track.

This happens to writers. When I write without an outline, I often end up in cave of cobwebby words and concepts, fighting toward the light, side tracked and frustrated. Usually, something interesting appears, something I can’t possibly use in the current story. It falls under the category of it’s fantastic but it doesn’t work here. Some of my best scenes turned out to be tangents and, I’m embarrassed to say, I didn’t realize it until I did a huge revision on the novel.

I’m fairly tangent free now, but I always wanted to harness them. They are so full of potential and spontaneity.

stars-thSo tell me how you hog tie your tangents, or do you capture them and make them work for you?

(BTW, don’t delete those wandering thoughts. They could be the next big thing in your writing.)