Life progress.

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I have to brag because this weekend I worked in the yard for the first time in three years!

iris2015 Seriously, it’s been that long since I’ve been strong enough to climb our mostly weed covered slopes. Maintaining a traditional yard in Colorado is a serious labor of love. Our high desert climate makes green carpets almost more work than they are worth. Yesterday, I applied fertilizer and weed killer to our long-suffering grass, trimmed unruly trees, and photographed first flowers of the season. After three years of mowing-only by my overworked husband, the yard, like myself, is a bit worse for wear. But, good news…landscapers will be here in early May to give the yard a modest zeriscape do-over.

Too bad people can’t get a do-over, a la Avatar. I’d love to have my decorative rock replaced, my mulch refreshed, and my stumps removed!

Also, this weekend I’ve had a lot of time to think about my writing. If I wrote as much as I thought and worried about writing, I’d have three or four novels completed. Since many of the physical problems I’ve endured are receding *cheers loudly at top of lungs*, it’s time to start pounding the keyboard again. I’m starting with blogging. I STILL love it. lilac-pen-orange-writing-thThe precise word count and the perfect positioning of art makes me feel as if I’m having high tea with a thesaurus. Four hundred words or less is always a pleasure.

Even though my blog’s been silent I’ve noticed every few weeks someone new follows me. The latest is ireadencyclopedias.wordpress.com. Jay is my first follower from Japan, and his lovely blog inspired me. Thanks, Jay.

So, I’m still here…having survived health problems to numerous to mention along with many other challenges. To quote Robert Brault : “Optimist: Someone who figures that taking a step backward after taking a step forward is not a disaster, it’s a cha-cha.”

Maybe corny, but it’s true.

Tell me what you’re doing, fellow dancers!

The Meet My Character Blog Hop-Juan Reyes

The recent murder of a captive photojournalist in the middle east  made me hesitate to use my fictional videographer as the subject of this post.

But, in spite of his imaginary existence, this character serves as a reminder that members of the press have been on the front lines of  war and human suffering for almost two hundred years – they are truly fearless men and women who document the information that matters to the world.

*

Hesitantly, I click the M key. Calling my muse, my deceased galactic videographer, is always a crapshoot. If he is within range and in a good mood, he contacts me. If not, my attempt to summon him falls on the vast deaf ears of the universe.

Mathew Brady 1861 American Civil War
Mathew Brady 1861
American Civil War Considered by historians as the father of photojournalism.

 **EAR PIERCING STATIC**

“Juan Reyes, here. Writer Girl, is that you?”

“Where in hell are you, Juan?” I shout. “I can barely hear you! ”

Deep laugh. “You’re lucky you can hear me at all. I’m orbiting Ranger Five, twenty-seven light years from Earth.”

“My readers want to know if you are fictional or historic.”

“Well, I was fictional, but since you redshirted me I guess I’m history.”

“So, will you tell them when and where the story takes place?” I ask.

I can almost see him scowl, and I hold my breath. He can be touchy and .

“I’m alright with the time, late twenty-first century,” he says, “but I really despised your choice of Washington, DC. Far too many arrogant politicians of all flavors. The coastal North Carolina location was beautiful. However, my favorite was Canyon, a planet two galaxies north of our Orion arm of the Milky Way.”

 

a-wwii-combat-photographer
A WWII combat photographer

**REVERBERATING SCREECH**

“My readers want to know about you.” I yell, covering my ears. “Can’t you squelch that racket?”

“Sorry about the noise. Let them know I’m a galactic heartbreak with copper skin, black dreads and a killer smile.” A pause. “I still dance on the edge of the combat zone, and I’m still searching for the perfect image.”

“Have you found it yet?” I ask, already knowing the answer.

His voice is tinged with sadness. “I found it twice, but as you wrote it, the second image cost me everything.”

“What is the main conflict? What messes up your life?” I shout.

“The main conflict is trying to get to the crossroads of history for the second time in my career. Filming first contact was the assignment of a life-time and it would have been enough for most videographers, but not me. Had to try for it again.  What messes up my life? My brief affair with a gorgeous alien and my ensuing obsession for her.” Silence, then: “How about bringing that lovely creature and me back together in a sequel?”

I sigh. “You know I can’t do that, Juan.”

“You writers can do anything you want.” Deep masculine chuckle. “Don’t forget that.”

**RIPPLING WAVES OF STATIC**

“What is your personal goal?”

“You’re… breaking… up…”  His voice fades and flares.

“Personal goal, Juan. Personal goal!”

“Always telling the story – no matter the danger.”  His voice is a whisper, but his smile is bright in my imagination.

Is there a working title for this novel and where can we read more about it?

Learning Levitation. You can read more about Juan and his role as my muse in Sharpies and Quill Pens and Muse Humor in this blog.

When can we expect the book to be published?

Learning Levitation was a labor of love (alliterations – I love ‘em). It was born in the fires of Holly Liesl’s How to Revise Your Novel. Perhaps after my second novel is published I’ll revisit LL.

After all, I have to see Juan again.

How about you writers out there? What does your character have to say for him or herself?

 

Thanks Kirsten of  http//ascenicroute.wordpress.com/ for  inviting me to join this blog hop. I enjoyed it:)

Mathew Brady photo/foter/public domain

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Quiet Please

Q – Only nine blogs left. Here’s a quick comment, taking us one step closer.trickling_water-web

Something important is missing from our lives – something soothing, thought enabling and natural.

QUIET.

The following excerpt from a wikiHow article confirms my suspicions about our noisy daily lives:

Scientists estimate that we are subject to receiving one billion stimuli every second in our brains.
 Of this amount, our brain manages to filter out most but there are still around 100 sensations kept for continued processing every second. And much of the stimuli received is in the form of noise. With all this bombardment, you can be forgiven for feeling easily distracted, ready to down tools and go for a little mind wander (or even a wander somewhere else totally).

Before I started writing, the constant confusion of tv, radio, talking, and music was annoying, but I learned to live with it. After I began my novel, noise became an issue.  Keeping my train of thought hurtling down the narrow tracks ahead was difficult on a good day and with excess noise it was nearly impossible. Now, I use ambient music apps, ear-buds, or earplugs with moderate success.

I do understand we live in the Age of Racket. On a warm summer day, I roll the windows down and pour bone-rattling latin jazz over my fellow commuters at a stop light. So, OK, I am an occassional noise marauder.

But, the next time cacophony invades the space between your ears visualize the following image:

It was so quiet you could hear a pin drop.

Wow.stars-th

Plenum Pursuit

P – Tonight Rick came up with a p-word for the blog. (Back and forth word suggestions have become quite a game for us now. In spite of his claims to the contrary, he has a great vocabulary.) His first word was plenum. A plenum is a heating and air-conditioning term for a chamber intended to contain, in this case, air.

Funny thing about this word game. First words out of our mouths tend to be things that are really important in our lives. (So be forewarned if you play it with your family!) A plenum is part of Rick’s work, just as a keyboard or a pen is part of ours. Creativity isn’t restricted to the written word or the brush stroke. 11970909911651569759jcartier_Pencil_svg_thumbI think many people are intimidated by traditionally creative folks. But, imagination and skill isn’t unique to artists or writers. Maybe this is stating the obvious, but it’s important acknowledge the facets of talent existing all around us, talents often hidden and usually ignored. Watching my husband create a web of sheet metal ductwork for an entire house is amazing. With his fine-honed craft and training he’s warmed hundreds and hundreds of homes over the last forty-one years. No small talent.

The next time you’re watching carpenters or nurses or anyone who makes our modern lives possible, think about creativity. The world vibrates with it, and we can see it everywhere – if we choose to look.

stars-thWhat talented person in your life needs a compliment?

Oasis

After the tragic events of the last few days, I’ve decided to concentrate on beauty. Writing is an oasis for the mind, but  tonight photos seem more appropriate – an oasis for the eyes.

1048553049Maroon Bells, Aspen, Colorado

One of the most beautiful places on this planet or any other.

sunsetNorthern Colorado

Sunset view from our back deck.

DSCN1401

Winter is going.

As soon as the snow clears, these beauties appear.

What is your oasis?

Night Talk

N – It’s blog time. This nightly blog is becoming a habit, a good one. In fact, with this blog I’ve completed one hundred posts!stars-th

So, how did I end up blogging in the first place?

Several years ago I attended a course for writers given by a literary agency. I had promised myself I would NOT start attending conferences, spending tons of money I don’t have to listen to agents and authors talk about themselves. But, a friend persuaded me to go, and fifty bucks later there I was, crammed in a tiny room in a local synagogue basement.

It was an amazing two hours. The advice was invaluable. I asked about internet presence, and the agent said I absolutely needed at least a blog and preferably a website. That information alone was worth my hard-earned money.

Blogging has been a tremendous source of joy for me. Many writers and artists are solitary creatures, and a blog forces me to communicate. It opens an incredible world of creativity, opinion, and some really gorgeous travel photos. Blogging offers such a wealth of beauty and information, I’m proud to be part of it – albeit in a small way. I’ve made new friends all over the world, I’ve been amazed and charmed,  annoyed and offended. But never bored.

And the nameless agent who inspired my blog? She has the honor of being the first agent to reject my novel query! I don’t hold it against her, though. She opened a fabulous world of information for me, and I’ll always appreciate it.

And, she was the first dent in my new car. What a relief that’s over. 1206561194340298058Chrisdesign_Future_car_svg_thumbWho or what inspired your first blog?

Mighty Mighty MOJO

M– Wow. Half way through A to Z Blog Challenge! Keep going!

Words, with their mysterious origins and myriad of meanings, have always fascinated me. My bookcase is crammed with dictionaries, thesauruses, combinations of the two, a battered copy of The Dictionary of American Slang and, on my iPod, Slango Lite lurks misfiled under weather apps.electric-book

So what does MOJO mean?  Lately, I’ve lost my writing mojo. I figure if I put its definition down in words, mojo will return to me. (Your basic magical thinking!)

Dictionary of American Slang – 1975 – mojo  n. Any narcotic. Addict use. (Yikes!)

Oxford America Writer’s Thesaurus – 2004 – noun – informal – magic, voodoo, hoodoo, wizardry; charm. (Pretty straightforward.)

Slango Lite – 4/14/13 – The word was not found in the database. (So much for apps.)

m-w.com – 4/14/2013 – a magic spell, hex or charm resulting in a magical power.  (I’ll settle for a magical power.)

But,  writing has nothing to do with magic spells.  The real magic is in the writing.  Loss of mojo only means you work harder. You stare at the screen, pound the keys and invoke the power of words. Eventually, you find the right combination of letters that will unleash the reader’s imagination. True that. Even so,  I would like to wave the wand over my words once in a while and watch them fall into place like flecks of gold leaf on the page.

What magic do you use to write your best work ever?