Tuesday, March 5, 2013

How moose are like mice

[Note: This happened a few weeks ago, but it's taken me this long to get the pictures out of my camera.]

One thing I've always liked about living in rural Idaho is the wildlife. There are all kinds of birds, squirrels, deer, elk... feral cats the neighbor feeds >_<

Then there are the moose.

At first they're cool.

"Ooo! Look! There's a moose in the yard. Isn't she sweet!"

Then you realize that you can't let the dog out to pee because there's a moose in your yard and your little dog, being the brave yet brainless creature she is, will probably try to take it on.

Yes, suffice to say, having a moose show up in your yard every morning gets old fast. Even her bringing her almost grown baby with her didn't make it any cuter. Especially when said baby thought it would be a good idea to poke around on my porch.

Then, one day, I'd simply had enough. I looked out the window and there was mama, eating on my favorite tree.

These things are like vermin, getting into everything! Big mice with stubby little tails. I was fed up. So I marched out to the porch and started yelling.

"Leave my damn tree alone!"

Mama glances over with a startled look, but then turns back to eating my tree like I wasn't even there. Disrespect. Pure and simple. I wasn't going to stand for that.

Fortunately for me I laid down some medium sized rocks on my path last summer so there was plenty of ammo close at hand (I wasn't about to go up and kick her. I'm crazy, not stupid). I hefted a fist sized rock and chucked it right at her butt.

Now you must remember, there is a very good reason I never played baseball when I was a kid. The rock missed... by a lot. But it landed in the bushes with a crash. That got her attention.

"Get!" I shout, chucking another poorly aimed rock at her. She took one more look at me, decided I was crazy and she better go before I got out the chainsaw.

Of course it wasn't until I came around the corner of my house that I saw baby had been in the yard too. (I probably wouldn't have tried to tangle with mama if I had known baby was out there). But I was past the point of no return and yelled at him too.

I did feel a little bad with him. As soon as I came around the corner he perked up his years and gave me a look that said "Hi there! Who are you? Do you want to play?" ... and then I chucked a rock at his head. He flinched as they rock hit the ground several feet short of him. His eyes got real big. "Ahhh! She's scary!" And he took off after his mom, who was headed towards the part of my fence that she had knocked down when she came in. After that it didn't take much to drive them the rest of the way out of my yard.

They haven't been back since.


Sunday, February 10, 2013

Not all is quiet in the library

I've come to accept the fact that I'm the only person to ever turns off her phone when she's in the library. Instead of grumbling about it, I use what I hear for story fodder. It's amazing what people will say, even in a public place. Last time I was in the library I got an ear full.

So it's a weekend and I've hauled my laptop and pile of notes to the library to get some editing done. In my library there's a room in the back corner that I particularly love to work in. Its got big picture windows facing the wooded hillside behind the library and a little sliver of the docks down by the lake. Lots of lovely light and some nice plush chairs in front of a fake fireplace.

Since this room is set off to the side, and it houses special research books that can't be checked out, few people come through here, so normally it's pretty quiet. The only down side to this room is it's the "I've really got to take this call" room. People are always ducking in with their cellphones and using their "I'm whispering" but everyone can still hear them voice.

That day it was a gal in her early 20s who came in and plopped her huge purse down on one of the chairs across the room from me.

"Why does it matter who called the cops?" she says. My typing slows. What?

"Is she in the room? Can you leave so we can actually talk?" Long pause. I bring up a new Word doc and start typing what I hear (at least the interesting parts, she mumbled and cursed a lot).

"So you were lying when you texted her?"

"I don't know, like, I guess, like, it's like fine, like you know?" (I wish that was an exaggeration)

"Like I don't care if you get back with her... ya, I love you too."

"You're totally like better then that [word that start with b and rhymes with witch]."

"She's like using you. That [lots of cursing]."

"Do you have $20 right now?"

"Dang, well maybe you should have read the fine pint."

"So they took your whole check and you only have $7?"

"[a lot of really graphic curse words]"

"Why was it when I was in jail it like, and when I get out, like you go over that night and..." She walked out of the room, so I didn't get to hear the end of the story :( To bad. It actually was starting to get interesting.

Maybe next time ^_^

Friday, February 8, 2013

Beneath a Broken Sky

It's finally here!

Quin is the newest generation in a long, proud line of Knights, but he less than lives up to his legacy. To earn his knighthood and escape the looming disapproval of his father, he accepts a mission far in the North. There he runs into Arria, an ancient dragon newly awakened, and Keeva, a half blood dragon whose word is as dubious as her birthright. The violent encounter with Arria and her servants leaves Quin's mentor dead, and him stranded far from the safety of the Knight's Guild. Keeva is his only ally, but she has a past she cannot escape. Quin finds a kindred soul in Keeva, but their growing friendship holds danger as well as hope.

Arria, her mate slain by Quin's ancestor, clings to the only thing she has left: grief-stricken revenge that threatens the survival of Knights and dragons alike. With Keeva's help, Quin must dig up a truth long buried and secrets that were never meant to be found. Both Knights and dragons need to fight together to defeat Arria, but in his attempt to unite these enemies, will Quin commit the ultimate sin for a Knight? To fall in love with a dragon.

Sound interesting? Click here to find out more.

Note: At the moment Beneath a Broken Sky is only available on Amazon.com. It will also be available from Barnes & Noble soon.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

When they say "You're stupid, give up."

So I have Blogger set up to notify me when someone posts a comment on here. This was the comment that came in this morning on my post about Note Cards:

“What concerns me is that your article here, is fraught with spelling and grammar problems. No offence but not sure I'll be taking writing advice from someone with less-than-average English skills. Perhaps you should stick to stuffing dead pets?”

My first reaction was the strong desire to give a snarky and cutting remark in return. I squelched that one quickly, it’s beneath me. My second reaction was to delete it or ignore it, but I’ve decided not to. Instead I’m going to give this a serious response it doesn’t deserve.

I'm not talking specifically to the writer of that comment, I'm talking to everyone else.

I grew up hearing comments like that all the time and, at the time, I believed them. You see I’m dyslexic. That’s not an excuse, just a fact. I don’t talk about it much because, like I said, I’m not using it as an excuse. It’s simply something I have to deal with and will have to deal with for the rest of my life. The only reason I’m talking about it here is because I have a point to make at the end.

Schoolwork growing up was a nightmare. All the words just kept flipping and jumbling in my head. I didn’t really start reading until I was ten. I remember clearly the scoffing looks from other children when I was still reading picture books when they were on to chapter books or adult level novels. I loved books and the stories in them, but reading was a challenge. I had to concentrate on each and every word to keep it from moving or flipping around.

Worse yet were the times when I had to work with other kids on some project. Invariably I would write a “d” instead of a “b” or a “3” instead of an “E” or some other jumbling of syllables. “What kind of idiot makes THAT mistake?” one of my fellow children would laugh and I would have no defense. No one figured out I had Dyslexia until my late teens. So I believed every cutting comment. Everyone else was getting this with no problem. So they must be right, I was stupid.

And that’s just what this blog commenter is saying: you’re stupid, give up.

It took me years to overcome (or at least mostly overcome) my fear and self-flagellation, to finally believe in myself enough to start writing my stories down. Even then I only showed them to close friends and family.

When I started sending stories out to critique partners I was terrified that they would see through my “disguise” and realize that I was just a stupid idiot that couldn’t spell. And when I say terrified, I mean TERRIFIED. But I had decided that storytelling was something I loved and because I loved it, it was worth fighting for.

You know what else? Those critique partners never did say I was a stupid idiot. They just corrected my spelling and asked for the next chapter, then asked if they could read my next story.

So the point of me telling you all that is this: You have to find the courage to believe in yourself, even when no one else does. And I don’t mean just your writing. I mean YOU. Believe that YOU are of value and have something of value to offer the world. Even if it’s hard and you have to fight through things that everyone else seems to get naturally. Even if no one else understands why you love this thing or that, the very fact that YOU love it makes it worth fighting for. Your happiness is worth fighting for.

If you struggle with something don’t give up. “Oh well, I guess I just can’t do it, so I won’t even try.” No! Find a way to compensate for it. There are always ways.

In the words of Terry Goodkind (another Dyslexic writer): “Think of the solution, not the problem.”

My solution is multiple critique partners that have eagle eyes for spelling and grammar. They see what I can’t. Do I bother them with every blog post? No. I value my critique partners and I’m not going to bog them down with simple blog posts.

So, yes, my posts will have errors. I spell check them as best I can, but I simply can’t see the errors most of the time. It’s not from laziness or lack of intellect. If one is bothering you, point it out in the comments and I will fix it. And if a handful of errors disqualifies for you the information and ideas I’m trying to present then… well, that’s too bad.

It’s not my job to be perfect. All I can do is be the best I can.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Don't fake it

I'm not a high energy zooming around town kind of person. I'm also not a social go out to coffee shops and swap ideas with my critique group kind of writer. In fact people don't normally know when I'm working on a new story. At the most, if someone asks, I'll give them a word count. I just don't like talking about my writing until I'm ready for people to see it.

Recently I've been thinking about trying to get out and do more. Send stuff to my critique partners before it's completely finished (they seem comfortable sending that kind of stuff to me). But every time I try to do that it makes my skin crawl and I'm afraid I'll break out in hives next.

Is some of that fear?


I get the same fears even after I've cleaned and polished my MS before sending it out. The difference is, after I send out the finished MS I feel better. It's done. It's out there. I have presented the best face I could.

When I send out unfinished work I feel exposed and vulnerable. That puts me on edge and makes me much less likely to take criticism well (constructive or other wise).

So what do I need to do about this? Keep pushing and exposing myself until I get used to it?  Pretend I like doing this? Fake it?


I need to respect my self and my proses.

Does that mean be lazy and never push myself? No. That's not it either. Each of us has a comfort zone. A way we like to do things. A way we are good at doing things. We need to test the limits of that zone. Push them, expand them. But that doesn't mean leap out of them and force ourselves to fit into someone else's mold.

Everyone has to work to find their own proses. That alone is hard. Then you face pressure from others to fit into their mold. Most times it isn't even hostile pressure, just well meaning friends who are just trying to help. It's hard to stick to your guns and respect yourself, but in the end it pays off. You end up knowing yourself. Your strengths and weaknesses. You will know what you can do and how to do it. That alone can be half the battle.

Monday, April 30, 2012

You Are Here

*WARNING* Lots of geeky Lord of the Ringsness coming.

Several years ago I took the Eowyn Challenge and walked the distance from Hobbiton to Rivendell. Then I decided to keep going. I made the long trek south, down through the mines of Moria and into Lothlorien. In the breaking of the Fellowship, I followed Frodo and Sam through the Dead Marshes and Shelob's lair. We came into Mordor and I made it with them all the way to Mt. Doom(!) (I even did the bonus miles of the flight back to the Morannon. Frodo and Sam were lazy and slept through it, but I walked the whole way).

Yesterday I added up all my miles and realized that it was done. The quest is over, the Ring is destroyed! Yay! It only took 1980 miles of walking, sweating and grumbling.

(This is the map I've been keeping track of my progress on)

But just because the quest is done doesn't mean I'm done ^_^

My plan: follow Frodo and Sam all the way back to the Shire, then to the Grey Havens. Then maybe I can hitch a ride on one of those cool elven ships 8-)

I'll update you on my progress as I go. Right now though I better get moving if I'm going to get to Aragorn's crowning in Minas Tirith on time...

Monday, April 16, 2012

How to decapitate someone... and other topics not to be discussed in public

So a writer friend of mine was asking me about decapitation the other day. As a taxidermist that's not really that unusual of a subject for me. She had a character that needed to decapitate someone. I've removed the heads from quite a few critters* in my day, so I was happy to explain it to her.

Then I realized we were standing in a room of people, the majority of whom didn't know me or that I was a taxidermist and not some ax killer (side note: while you can remove a head with an ax, I prefer surgical scalpels). Not wanting to be a total coward I just lowered my voice a little bit and kept going, but I can only imagine what we would have sounded like to some random stranger.

I get the same feeling when I'm checking out books at the library when I'm researching mental illness and insane asylums.

I just hope our muses appreciate the socially embarrassing sacrifices we make for them.

* Just for the record, no, I have never cut off a human head. Wanted to a couple times, but...

Image from SXC