Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The Aftermath

I had planned to write about the latest developments in the garden, but that seemed so petty in comparison to the enormity of the damage from Sandy.

I grew up in NJ. I spent my summers on the shore - Wildwood, Long Beach Island, Sandy Hook. They are irrevocably changed.

It's not just the destruction of a seaside town. As the Weather Channel folks kept saying - "It's the new norm." The coastline has been changed.

The president of an island nation spoke before the UN awhile back. He said that if global warming wasn't reversed his country would cease to exist.

I think that has happened to parts of NJ. The coastline has changed. People from other parts of the country may not realize the impact of this right away. It means we have to change.

The new norm means 100 year storms every year. It means droughts and heatwaves and flooding and superstorms. The world has changed and we need to accept it, adapt to it, or lose it.

Monday, October 29, 2012

The Storm

Sandy is pounding the east coast as I write this. I have a lot of friends and family in its path. I'm worried about them. And fascinated by the power and size of this storm.

What does it mean that each year we have a bigger storm of "historic proportions"? And each storm is more destructive. The part of me that loves science fiction novels thinks about changes in architecture and infrastructure. What will our cities evolve into when they need to withstand such ferocious pressures?

I'm not a doomsayer. I'm sure we will adapt to new conditions. It might take a storm or two wiping out a city or two for politicians to finally accept the fact that change is needed. Getting a government to move is a slow process. Unfortunately, weather changes are moving faster than that.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Quail

I looks like we have a new addition to the local wildlife - quail. There are 3 of them and of course we've decided they are mommy, daddy and baby.

They are very well camouflaged. In fact, they may have been around for awhile disguised as mourning doves. They aren't much larger and sport similar colors. It was the call that tipped me off. When I first heard it I thought it sounded somewhere between a catbird and a squirrel. And it was so close. Then I peeked out the window and there was something new walking down the sidewalk.

I don't know if they migrate, so I'm not sure why they suddenly appeared. But I do enjoy the new attraction.

And of course, they're making the cats crazy.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Garden in October

Usually we have a quick cold snap, sometimes just a single day, that plunges into the 30's. Then after everything dies, Indian Summer settles in with lovely warm days and cool nights. This year the cold snap didn't hit freezing for me. I may actually get something from the last sowing.

Despite knowing better, I sowed some radishes and scallions in the new raised bed. I already had a few pots of lettuce in the sunroom, so I transplants some of those out to the new bed also. They are predicting a warmer than normal winter. Maybe I will actually get something this year.

The tomatillos are still producing like crazy. I have one tomato that is still hanging on, but it doesn't have any fruit on it. The mustard greens, carrots and beets that I put in the first raised bed are coming along nicely. We've already had some greens. I also found some kolrabi plants that I just couldn't pass up. They got attacked by cabbage worms when I wasn't looking. I think they will survive.

This time of year I am usually gardened out. Maybe it's because I have my fall allergies under control, but I have a little more energy this year.

I'm redesigning the lowered garden. I've decided to do all raised beds. Not sure if it will save me from the voles and moles and chipmunks. Or the invasion of runner grass that makes me crazy. But it is a new experiment.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Another round of rewrites

After looking over the notes from my readers, I need to work on a few things.


For now, I think I need to let Truth's Enigma percolate for a bit. I might even need to outline book 2 before I replot book 1. There are some characters and situations that are too complicated to drop into the back end of book 1. But since I was trying to gear that book toward one character's story, I lumped it all together. 

The problem is that I have lives in my head, not a story. I have people living and growing and cultures and planets and conflict and crime... And I need to weed through a universe of stories to narrow it down into consumable portions.

So I need to lean on some structure. I need to build a scaffold of storytelling and weave the lives in around it. Otherwise it's just an epic of meandering folks with a lot of problems.

While I was waiting for readers to finish, I started replotting Unintended Consequences. I'm at a point with it that the story is really shaping up. I might need to go full steam ahead on that first. You know, strike while the iron's hot? It had a couple of stumbling blocks - one being setting. I finally decided on an imaginary town. I've taken a bit from several towns where I've lived, so it will be anchored in reality. But creating the where helped other things fall into place.

This is another story that has been kicking around for a while. It started as a screenplay when I was dabbling in that. I think the story has merit. The execution had serious problems. But I'm working through that now.

I will probably juggle working on both. With the colder weather coming on I won't need any garden time.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

More from the waterfall tour

The trees were just starting to turn color and the sky was an incredible blue.


I love the way the sun slants down through the foliage catching one branch or one tree in a spotlight.


Or even one leaf.


It was a perfect day to be out and about.

Monday, October 15, 2012

DuPont State Forest

Last Saturday I went on a waterfall tour. This is a picture of High Falls.

This is Triple Falls, which is a little hard to see, but there are 3 levels.

And this is Bridal Veil Falls.

As you can see it was a fabulous day to be out in the forest. I took some great foliage photos that I will save for next time. Spending a day out in nature is very refreshing for all the senses. Sunshine, bluesky - very rejuevenating!


Friday, October 12, 2012

A new thing to love about One Note

I have been using One Note to organize my snippets and snaps of notes and such for the next mystery story. (Working title is Unintended Consequences) I threw in some character descriptions and some timelines. Then I started adding places and realized I needed a floor plan.

Voila! It has a drawing function!

Geez o Pete, I was like a kid in a candy store. Floor plans! Yummy.

This has helped me think through my setting immensely. Specifically because the town is fictional. It's sort of a combination of some good and bad from several different places.

One of the big problems with this story was its lack of setting. I knew that. Sort of. And I tried to put it in a couple of places - Boston, Asheville...then I decided on the Jersey Pines. Which has a lot of different faces, everything from the blueberry farmers, the salt marshes, trailer trash, old money and of course the Jersey Devil. (I'm just going to skip over Atlantic City and the organized crime stuff. It doesn't fit into this novel.)

This has given me a big step forward in the planning. That scary first chapter is starting to shape up!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

A story sent out

It's been a very long time since I submitted a story for publication. I started it for a contest. Somehow it morphed and didn't fit the contest parameters anymore. But it did fit a market I knew. So I polished it and sent it out.

When I hit the submit button I was pleased, but that OH MY GOD SOMEONE WILL SEE IT! sensation didn't hit. I think working with my critique group has finally worked that fear out of me. Now it's more of a will they/won't they anticipation. I no longer fear that I'll get an email telling me never to write again.

Self publishing has raised my confidence also. The people who have read White Lies have enjoyed it. The feedback from a wide selection of readers has been positive. That makes me feel like I know what I'm doing.

The turn around could be 3 months, so I might have a bit of a wait to find out if they want it. Of course, I always hope to hear sooner than the stated guidelines.

Part of me wanted to do something different. Part of me sees this as a bit of advertising. Either way, I really hope it gets accepted.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Lost Connection

Last week I had Internet problems. Turned out to be a hardware problem, which has been fixed. But I was without for 2 days.

It was a shock. I couldn't get online! I suppose I could have gone to the library, but that wasn't the point. My personal access was denied. I couldn't sit at my desk and roam the globe.

How quickly we adapt and then become reliant on new technology. I sat there stunned, unable to think of what to do. When I should have been working in the garden, mowing the lawn, writing...any number of things that don't involve being online.

A little part of it was panic that I couldn't do my paying-the-bills job which is mostly online. But I think some of it was outrage that my comfortable routine had been disrupted. I couldn't do what I wanted to do when I wanted to do it...like check TV Guide for my favorite shows.

I felt absurdly isolated. I could have turned on the TV or the radio for a connection to the outside...but that wasn't quite the same. I can pick and choose when I surf. This story here, this article there, pictures of the ocean, a galaxy, a celeb, a cute kitten video. Me, mine, my taste, my interest, my needs - NOW.

And I wonder why my attention span has shortened.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Where do I start?

I am rewriting a story...from scratch. I know the shape of it. I know where it needs to go. And eventually, I will probably steal a couple of scenes from previous incarnations. But I just can't get started.

They say start as close to the end as possible. OK. I have jettisoned a big chunk of writing that was mostly set up, character introduction, setting, blah, blah, blah. Done. We will start with the first murder. A good place to start for a mystery.

Partly to simplify this one, and partly as an exercise, I am going to keep this in only 1 POV. That's going to be very tough for me. I think I know the character well enough, so that won't be hard. It'll be figuring out how to tell the parts of the story that were in others POVs. But I think this story will work better this way.

So I have all of this swirling around in my head and still no way to start it.

I've let it percolate for a few days. Now I'm ready to get some ink on the page, but nothing is coming out. Ugh. I'll have to throw down some placeholders and scene descriptions and come back to it.

Monday, October 1, 2012

The little nasturtium that could

This is a picture of a nasturtium flower in the top of a butterfly bush. It climbed all the way through the bush, probably about 8'. The butterfly bush is on the backside of flower time. And besides, it's purple. So I was very surprised to see an orange flower in the bush. I thought maybe it was an especially orange maple leaf that had fallen. But, no...it's super nasturtium!

Here's a more normal one, lounging on the sidewalk. Although, I don't remember it being striped earlier in the season.
Things change in my yard. Sometimes I think the squirrel is digging up plants and rearranging them. And colors change, too. I have a pink shrub rose that suddenly has a branch of bright red blooms.

Good thing I like surprises.