cider spiced from fat full days,
edged with keen endings.
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Give welcome to the Harvest Moon.
Got me a jumbled brain from too many notions and a lack of laying’ things out on the page. Picked up a just-folks twang watching’ the first couple episodes of Country Music on PBS. Ken Burns has got himself a bunch of music my mama and daddy loved to listen to back in the day, and there’s some nice background as to how that music came to be. From Jimmie Rodgers to Patsy Cline, Roy Acuff and his Foggy Mountain Boys to Mother Maybelle Carter, sprinkled with Hank Williams, the Maddox Brothers and Rose, and lots in between, I’ve been remembering the music and early days of television when we’d watch Grand Ole Opry. Funny thing is, I didn’t like a lot of the music then, even as a kid being kind of embarrassed at the almost-sobs in some of the voices, and the gut-punch emotion of often spare lyrics. I was getting into rock and roll, and that was more my speed. Now I see I didn’t have enough wear and tear on my tires to appreciate the hard times behind those songs. My treads are plenty low in spots now, and in those songs I can hear pain being made into art…sometimes with a twang.
One of my favorite authors, Stephen King, has a real talent for evoking the flavor of my childhood. The granddaughter and I, having seen It a couple of years ago, went to see the sequel, It Chapter Two last week. Everybody and his balloon has reviewed the movie, so I won’t, but I will comment about the format we saw it in, 4DX, something previously unknown to me. To quote Wikipedia: 4DX is a motion picture technology owned and developed by South Korean company CJ 4DPLEX, a part of the CJ Group. 4DX allows a motion picture presentation to be augmented with environmental effects such as seat motion, wind, rain, lights, and scents along with the standard video and audio. That meant every time there was an action scene, our seats shook or air puffed against our hair or drops of liquid hit our faces (or glasses). Was it blood? Dunno. By the time we got to the big ending, we were shaking around in our seats and I was trying to forget that one of the aspects of my childhood had been motion sickness. No, not quite that bad, but it was distracting. I loved the book It because of the pathos underlying it, and the emotional horror that made the children who they were. The bells and whistles of 4DX made me think of all the summer movies touted to be a hell of a ride! It’ll take me a while to see this movie again and then it’ll definitely be in 2D.
Mornings are getting cooler and crisper, and leaves are beginning to turn. Autumn is here and I’m excited. We’ve already had two good signs: a full moon on Friday the 13th. The creative juices increase in direct proportion to amount of falling leaves. Can’t remember where I saw this scientific info, but I’ll footnote it next time. Here’s to new projects, new goals. May your efforts be rewarded.
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…breathing the rarefied atmosphere of what-ifs and it-could-happens surrounding us and our computers. We are airship pilots, steering boldly through a universe of plot points and dangling participles. Except for the editor on the shoulder, swinging her legs and insulting those she considers talentless wannabes, the writer is alone. (Okay, some writers work with partners, but this is a metaphor, for crisssake. Give me a break.)
As mentioned in the previous post, occasionally lonely writers band together with others of their ilk to exchange ideas and teach each other the finer points of writing. So it was that hundreds of scribblers met last weekend at the Colorado Gold Conference sponsored by Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers. They learned, they laughed; they pondered, they wept. They ate banquet food and drank okay wine. Old friends were greeted with love and new friendships were begun.
The most important process involved foundations for castles in the air constructed of honed words; wispy glimpses of possible characters; odd notions colliding, searching for order in fevered brains. Who ever knows the exact moment when an idea is born? I wager some were at Colorado Gold.
It was joyous to see everyone, to have those conversations about shared enthusiasm, to listen to the writers who spoke to us about their own challenges in the pursuit of this strange, mystical endeavor of putting words on pages.
Loneliness is currently at bay. Ideas are simmering in my slightly less fevered brain. I am grateful to be a part of our community. Hope to see you next year.
I’ll be hanging with wonderful people for the next few days, a tribe of amazing, insane, creative, ever-hopeful souls daring to find themselves in worlds previously unknown. Writers of all stripes will mingle together in the never-ending search for words and ways to use them.
Yes, Colorado Gold, the annual conference presented by Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers, will rearrange the interior landscape of scribblers from many places, and a community of dreamers will band together to discuss the joys of creation and complain about the frustrations of sharing their visions. Tales will be told, wine will flow, sleep will be eschewed. And who knows how many stories will be born? How many characters will step forward to join the fray?
We shall see what comes of such a celebration of words and the way authors use them.
I watch a spider hanging from a branch of my avocado tree, following the movement of her body as she spins to repair the web torn when I slid the pot away from the window. She swings toward a leaf and misses, eases up the filament, swings again. Misses again. “I’m sorry,” I whisper but she doesn’t respond. What would I have her do, shake one leg in outrage? I turn away from her efforts wondering how many times I’ve been the giant in the fairytale, wondering how many small worlds I’ve sent into oblivion, either by accident or design.
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Sparrows are stopping by for afternoon tea and I take out more water for them. They wait to eat more seed until I distance myself and don’t notice when I sit on the porch bench to watch. I take pleasure in the way they use their wings to push each other away from the seeds, feeling better about the human members of our household who wriggle on our couch vying both for position and popcorn during a movie.
I heard a cricket last night, here early for who knows why. I wondered where it was hiding. The evening air was hot and still. The fountain splashed music and a bird swooped over the yard toward sparrow apartment nests behind the ivy leaves. In spite of the car engines and a blast of The Stones from down the street, I could hear the cricket for just a bit, a little sigh at the passing of time.
Once upon a time there was a Writer who stopped writing. She’d finished the third book in her trilogy (Wisdom Court, that is), and almost as if a switch had been thrown, her Brain nestled into the overstuffed chintz chair now crowding the small sitting room in her head where, nearby, a nice cup of tea was steaming. Noting her lack of arms, the Brain signaled the Writer, who reached for the TV remote. “Merde,” muttered the Brain.
“I wonder what’s on the telly,” sighed the Brain. (There was no explanation for her cozy English accent.)
Lots of things were on the telly. MSNBC news programs; Call the Midwife; Bosch; John Wick movies; Law and Order reruns; TNT-chopped versions of The Hunger Games; the Kevin Bacon collection. Netflix and Amazon and Hulu were crawling with movies and edgy comedy and eye glazing sophistication. And horror. The Brain overdosed on 911.
Tons of books presented themselves: Louise Penny’s Inspector Armand Gamache books; Lawrence Block books (even a new Matt Scudder!); Bruce Most and Cassie Miles and Douglas D. Hawk books; Nora Roberts books; Charlaine Harris books. The Mueller Report. Becky Clark books.
The Brain grew fat and slow, pickled with distractions. “It’s all research,” she averred as the Writer’s fingers lost their agility and the Brain’s ability to spell suffered. “I’ll be so ready when I return to my oeuvre.” At the slow, sloppy thought, the Writer raised a brow, which she’d never been able to do before, but nothing came of it.
As summer finally took hold, the Writer began to pull a Camille, finding pots in the basement, buying plants to put in them. Tending her garden aroused a thin hope for A Better Way in the Brain, and the flood of books and films and television shows slowed to a trickle.
Came the day when the Writer looked inward, when she saw the fragile Brain struggling from the grip of the overstuffed chintz chair. “We’ll resuscitate the blog,” the Brain whispered, no trace of British accent to be heard.
Tears welled in the Writer’s eyes. “We’ll get back out there. We’ll think of something to write about.”
They decided to celebrate with a nice cup of tea.
Wish it were warmer but spring is shy, and the wind still skims across snow banked in shadows.
Hope you’re feeling a sense of renewal, of hope, of possibility. May we all find these things in the longer days.
Having survived the bomb cyclone, I’m peering out the windows of my house in search of spring. Or in search of something.
January went walkabout on the veldt, its hiding places unknown. We had to send adjustment officers to drag it back. Short February lasted at least three icy months, its breath evoking a heightened sense of something in the shadows, lending a gothic tinge to the seemingly endless span.
Now the sun shines, but not yet on everything. And we’ve been told to watch for an appearance by the Worm Super Moon on the twentieth. How appropriate. (No insult to worms intended. I am a founding member of the Worm Rescue Squad.)
Times lurches forward in fits and starts, with some certainties: newly minted tax forms, long may they fold. More investigation reports. More candidates. More waiting.
Leave it to a poet for a sum-up:
“But the sunshine aye shall light the sky,/As round and round we run;/And the truth shall ever come uppermost,/And justice shall be done.”
Eternal Justice, Stanza 4
Charles Mackay (1814–1889)
Hope he’s right.
The days between Christmas and the New Year hold ghosts of past events and restless shadows of what’s to come. Fun’s to be had and still-on-vacation kids are quick to grab at it. Nostalgia gathers in corners, hovering in case memories and distance-pangs evoke tears.
Duty waits in hallways, tinging the air with a faint scent of reckoning: tucking away the excesses of the holidays; finding dreaded proof for life narratives…taxes. Holiday lights sparkle enough to weaken such seriousness, but cannot banish it.
Winter settles in, at least here in Colorado. Wind attacks leaves left like confetti, gathers cold behind clouds and aims it toward naked trees and hatless heads. New light arriving with the solstice hasn’t yet the strength to pull at time.
Soon…soon the short, sharp months of the early year will streak into lives grown lazy with celebration. Measures to be taken, notions to harden into resolutions. Scales to be polished, treadmills eyed.
And a slow missive will be dropped into the year-mail to make its way through days and weeks. A warm breath will hint of promises to come, a smile will be glimpsed as light lengthens.
We’ll wait for Spring.
It’s beginning to look as though gifts should be chosen.
If you’re looking for ghostly fun, try my Wisdom Court books: Edge of the Shadow; A Signal Shown; All In Bad Time. They’re available as ebooks, as well as in trade paperbacks and hardbacks.
My two Finny Aletter mysteries, Scavenger Hunt and Obstacle Course are also available in ebook format.
My books can be purchased at amazon.com
And a very merry holiday season to you all.