WAG #24 - The Unexpected

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The Goddess of Strife and the Big Blow

Hello, friends.

I took Sunday off because it was simply too nice to be inside.

I'm posting late today because the weather here in CO was a big blow. There's a personal weather station up the street (that posts its info on the InterNets)which was showing gusts of 30 mph and sustained winds of 20. We've had brown-outs around here often enough that I dared not have the computer on, in case we lost power. I had a UPS but that failed just last week.

I think the other reason I've been lackadaisical about posting is the WAG #23 I put up the other day. Part of it was the fact it hit close to home, being that the dear husband and I are motorcyclists. The other part was the inspiration of the story, which was someone on Facebook who I feel takes too many chances.

The world is a dangerous place, and I am sometimes bothered by my relative safety. I have at least three friends (possibly more) who have had issues with stalkers. Granted, they're all better looking than I am, but this has never been something I've worried about. Do I put a big social shield out? Perhaps I exude a sense of "Don't Fuck With Me?" that keeps all but the nastiest people away?

The Dear Husband and I were discussing a news story he saw about the Colorado Preppers. One of the members was boasting how he and his family had enough food to tide them over for a year, in preparation for a disaster. It seemed a bit excessive, while at the same time, we have enough food to hold us over for at least two weeks, should we get snowed in. We have our own well and a generator and headlamps and sleeping bags and a tank full of LP... I guess we're preppers too.

Rebel preppers, cuz we don't hang out with other preppers.

Is it the motorcycling that has made us into such cautious people? On a bike, you can't trust other people to behave properly behind the wheel, and when they don't, YOUR safety is in your hands and your anticipatory paranoia.

The years of being cavers certainly have driven us towards self-sufficiency. When bad things happen in a wild cave situation, it's easy for the situation to go pear-shaped really fast. That's the time when 'self-rescue' is the hope and 'full-rescue' is the nightmare. The Texas Region caving community (for a while) was listing the phone number of a funeral home in case of emergency.

Okay, that was just an asshole thing to do... but it did kinda sum things up.

Anyway, we're of a self-sufficiency bent, and part of the process is to anticipate what can get you into trouble. No, we don't lock ourselves in the house and never leave - we do like to enjoy life, after all - but we have gotten into the habit of not provoking trouble. The Goddess of Strife is a mean old bitch, and she'll get you whenever it pleases her.

Well...I've rambled enough. Tomorrow is Suesday, writer's group, lunch with a fellow writer, trip to the grocery store, human interaction. Hope you enjoy it, too.


This Is Bad...

I still can't find the rest of my wedding photos. I'm starting to panic...

Just a Dreamer...

Much to my husband's presumed disappointment, I am not helping him with home maintenance chores today.

Instead, I am dreaming.

Last night I printed out the first twenty pages of what (I hope) is the final draft of The High Bridge. Diligently, I put it in a binder. Then I printed out my proposed bookcover idea and slipped it into the clear-view sleeve on the front of the 3-ring binder. Then I sighed and thought "Some day soon. I just know it."

Yes, I'm just a dreamer.


WAG #23 Consequences

Cally had forgotten soda has caffeine. He’d forgotten how sensitive he could be to caffeine, but when there was nothing else to wash down dinner, he drank it.

He was puzzled why he was managing to catch the eleven o’clock news. The program was already showing the weather forecast when he realized he really needed to go to bed.

The pillow… hurt. It didn’t seem as comfortable tonight. Of course, his head was filled with those horrible news events. What a terrible world.

Might as well stay up and read. Hmmm… fantasy book, Terry Pratchett, Discworld.

He woke when the book fell off the bed. He couldn’t figure out why the light was on. Oh, yeah, the bad news on TV kept him up.

Now he couldn’t get back to sleep.

Might as well stay up and watch TV.

There was nothing on but info-mercials. Who buys this crap?

Wow, that VacSharkSucker does a really good job. Where did he put his wallet? He’d figure out a way to replace the rent money later.

He woke to the morning news on TV. Why was the TV on? Why wasn’t he in bed?

Oh yeah, got worried about the security of his debit card number after giving it to the people on TV. He’d watched a little longer; they seemed trustworthy.

He hadn’t been awoken by his alarm however; he had to be at work in an hour.

Raced through heating water in the microwave while getting dressed. Poured the instant powder into the cup.

He ran straight into the hall closet door that he left open. Banged his nose. Coffee on his shirt. Coffee on the carpet. And dammit, he now had no coffee.

Time to pull a college trick; instant coffee mixed into a can of soda.

He’d have to down the soda, because he rode a motorcycle for his commute. The jolt would be a bit of a shock, but he was certain that the shakiness would stop by noon.

Too bad about the car getting repossessed. He would have sold it but he owed more than it was worth.

He zipped in and out of traffic on his Honda, trying to make up for lost time spent changing into clean clothes.

The VacSharkSucker was half his rent money. How was he going to pay it back?

He shouldn’t have bought it. He couldn’t afford it.

Hey, Mother’s Day was coming up. Had his sister gotten anything for Mom? Would she go half-zees on the thing? It was so cool. Maybe he could get his sister to help pay for it.

Thinking of how to scheme against his sister, he didn’t notice that the traffic light before him had turned red. There was a bus about to intersect his path.

The bus driver had forgotten how greasy pizza was. He’d forgotten how sensitive his stomach could be to grease, but when there was nothing else for dinner, he ate it.

He was surprised at how much pain he felt; enough to keep him from getting to sleep, so he stayed up way past his bedtime to watch the news and wait for the antacids to kick in.

When they did, he went to bed.

The pillow…hurt.

WAG Topic #23: “Ripple”. When our characters walk their worlds, the world reacts. So for this week, look only at reactions. Observe a person and describe the reaction of the world to them. What can you tell about them based solely on the reaction of others? What kind of impression are they making on the world, the environment, the people around them, even on you? What is changing (even subtley) because of their existence? Are they aware of it? No Rules! Now Write! (Now, instead of a deadline we have an ending date. You may add links to this list between now and 25 MAY 2010.)



The Quality of My Cooking Is Alarming!

It's almost summer, right? Summer means grilling, and being from the midwest, it particularly means (to me) BRATWURST! And being daughter of a Wisconsin woman, it means BEER!

So, as per usual, I was getting our brats ready by melting some margarine in beer until it came to a simmer, then I threw in the brats and some sliced onion. Usually I have great success with this, although it's not the fastest way to cook brats.

The funny thing is the smell of simmering beer absolutely FILLED the house today, sorta like a tavern on St. Patrick's weekend. I didn't think too much about it until...

THE CARBON MONOXIDE & EXPLOSIVE GAS DETECTOR BEGAN TO SCREAM AT 200 decibels! The display was flashing 'GAS - 215'. I yanked the unit from the wall outlet and smothering it against my side, ran for the back door. I leaped outside and began waving the bastard unit in the air, trying to get the sensor to clear. I finally got it to shut off. I stared at it a moment, wondering what it meant.

Our appliances are electric, except for the water heater and the furnace. It was a nice day, so the furnace hadn't fired up at all. I hadn't washed any dishes for a while so the water heater hadn't run.

Could beer and onion be considered noxious fumes?

I stepped back into the kitchen and stared at the CO detector. At first nothing, but 30 seconds later 200 dBs and a flashing display again "GAS!!! 215!!!" Once again I dashed out of the house, intermittently pressing the reset button while waving the unit in the air again! It finally went silent and I set it on the patio table.

That's where it remained until dinner was done and we'd finished eating.

I must say, those were the best tasting brats I've ever made. I think I'll send Kidde the Smoke Alarm people my special recipe!



I love Tuesday.

Tuesday is Writing Group Day.

Tuesday is confirmation that Monday is over.

Tuesday is without a title like "Hump Day" or "Friday Eve" or "Weekend Launch Day".

Tuesday is unimposing, except for the occasional Two For Tuesday Sale, which is usually a good thing.

Tuesday is Sue's Day.

I love Tuesday.


Okay, Where Has This Blogger Been All My Life?

This blog was tweeted by India Drummond, WAG Master Extraordinaire. The link India tweeted went to a wonderful post that explained a hero's arc, clearly and distinctly.


I liked the perspective of post and read more of this writer's posting. Really quite enjoyable. Check it out.

WAG #22 Hero

He was bald.

It was a funny-odd thing to look in the mirror while getting ready to go out in the morning. He still wasn’t accustomed to the round dome, looking like a moon rising from the horizon. The skin was pale and evenly colored except for the white scar just over his ear.

His brother’s fault; a careless fling of the swing on the playset. He remembered falling into the grass and crying as the red blood contrasted on the green blades. And when his mother came running with the towel, he cried even harder. Mom never panicked about anything; this was something different. Maybe he’d get some ice cream from the deal.

It seemed so long ago now. Things had not been normal for a long time.

The collar of his tee shirt was sitting funny. He tugged at the bottom front, stretching the bright white cotton until he felt the band digging into the puffy skin on the nape of his neck. That wouldn’t work. He reached behind and tugged the tail until the front felt choking again. He stuck out his tongue in an exaggerated choking manner and pulled the front again.

No choking. He had enough of that every time he took his pills, the pills he hated because it made his skin puffy and his shirt fit funny and his hair fall out.

It wouldn’t be long now. Everyone said so. Just believe it would be alright and it would be.

Except when he woke up with a headache or had to sit down to rest after only ten minutes or when his favorite foods looked like piles of last week’s leftovers. It was hard to keep the faith when he couldn’t even enjoy macaroni and cheese.

He stuck out his tongue again and stared at it a moment. It felt like it should be covered with fur, but nope, just the blotchy discoloration of a sickly human. He pulled it back into his mouth and grabbed his school bag.

His mother stepped to the door. She was dressed in her Winnie the Pooh tee shirt, a sight he’d grown to hate. It meant needles and tests and antiseptic smells.

“Sorry, sweetie. No school today.”

“Aw, Mom…”

WAG #22: “A Real Hero”. In fiction, often every hero looks like the other, with broad shoulders and a chiselled features, and the heroine always has an oval face and rosebud lips. (Okay, so these are the worst examples!) So for WAG #22, observe a stranger you think would make a good main character, and describe their physical features as accurately as you can (and without cliche) so we can see them as real individuals and not cardboard cut-outs. Feel free to transport those people into your fictional world, or just describe them as you see them in their real environment. No Rules! Now Write!


Oops! Missed yesterday!

My apologies to you that I didn't post yesterday; it was Replace-The-Water-Heater Day. Lots of excitement. David did a great job. No leaks. No damage to the walls.

Today, we gardened a little before going to Costco. I moved bricks around the yard and mowed the area that can't be reached by the riding mower. I'm sore. I'm tired.

I don't have anything to say today, except a wish for you to have a great day.

Here's an interesting post about famous authors who have been rejected for now-famous/successful works. Enjoy.


Third Post of the Day!

I'm thinking of changing the header art work, primarily because I have these cool new fonts, not because there's something wrong with the current one.

Anyone have an opinion one way or the other?

Edit, Edit, Edit!

I'm currently working on editing my MS The High Bridge, but I'm having 'trouble'.

It's not because I don't know what or how to edit. The problem seems to be the media used while editing.

If I sit at the computer and go over the document, I don't find nearly as much as when I have the stack of printed material in front of me. The words leap into order when down in black and white, and I find lots of markup situations. The problem with editing hard copy is somehow I never find time to sit down and transfer the changes into the electronic document.

Does anyone else have this tendency of not doing well in a particular media? Do you find yourself editing better in one form over another?

Graphic distractions

Sorry to have not kept my promise of posting every day, and I might as well admit now that my idea of Motorcycling Monday will not be developed as stated (simply because it's a case of "Well, you just had to be there" regarding the adventure stories).

The reason I'm been so lax in posting is that I've been collecting fonts and graphics to enhance my ability as a graphic composer. Apart from the Graphic Worm I'm participating in, and the flyers I do for the state park, I'm also trying to work up something interesting for my website www.SusanOShields.com, whether it be background or 'signs' or whatever.

Any way you slice it, I'm learning lots and making great strides to releasing my creative tendencies.

But you'd like to see more writings, no doubt. Excuses be damned! My distractions will be overcome.


Snow! Do you believe it?

I couldn't believe it when I awoke in the middle of the night and found snow falling. I went back to sleep, and when I got up again in the morning, I was surprised all over again.

SNOW! It's May 12th! We're not in the mountains! It's just over a month until Summer begins!

What is this white stuff?!?!?!

Sigh...welcome to Colorado. By noon, it was entirely melted and gone.



Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Posting

I've been wearing myself out as a couch potato the last couple of days. My husband put on the DVD for Long Way Round with Ewan McGregor & Charley Boorman. When it was done (nine broken hours later), I had an urge to watch Long Way Down.
It reminded me so much of the different adventures David and I have had on our bikes and makes me want to get on them and take off. Life is too short to always play it safe.
If possible, I'd like to post a motorcycle themed entry on Mondays, just to get the week started out with fun and excitement. We'll see how that goes.


Happy Mom's Day!

Happy Mother's Day to all you mothers out there, and even to those who are matronly or maternally inclined! I hope you get a bouquet of your most favorite flowers!


6th Annual Online Auction for Diabetes Research

I am committed to blogging every day, even busy ones like today. I shall not fail! I will succeed!

Well, I will fail in one regard, and it's only a minor setback. I had intended to tell you on May 1st about the Brenda Novak's 6th Annual Online Auction for Diabetes Research. http://brendanovak.auctionanything.com/Home.taf

However, it's never too late until it's over, so please follow the link and take a peek. Ms. Novak's auctions have raised hundreds of thousands of dollars in much need funding. There's a variety of options; perhaps there's something for you too!


National Letter Carriers Food Drive

Please go through your pantries today and find a can or package of nonperishable food. Tomorrow is the Stamp Out Hunger collection day. If you and four of your neighbors were to put out one can each, that could provide enough food to make one evening meal for a destitute family.

The National Letter Carriers, the US Postal Service, Campbell Soup and many worthy organizations are sparing time and effort for this. Please spare the cause a can or two of soup or rice.

Thank you.


Clichés are cliché


I was looking for the word 'cliché' with the accent on the 'e' to copy onto my last blog post and came upon a cartoon from 1885 about hackneyed phrases used in novels. I thought it was funny that many of the clichés are still used. I absolutely LOVE the literal translations.

WAG #21 - Message in a Bottle

“WAG #21: Message in a Bottle” It’s part of human nature that we sometimes wish we could communicate with our younger selves, our unreasonable selves, our subconscious selves, our self-destructive selves, our more innocent selves, or any number of other us-es that we all seem to have within. In this week’s WAG, consider the way we talk to ourselves, the tapes we play inside our heads, and write a piece: fiction or non-fiction, about yourself, a character, or someone else. As usual no limits and no rules. One-two-three Write! (This week’s theme suggested by Kate McIntire. If you have a theme suggestion, please write to me.)

When I read what the suggested topic was for Writing Adventure Group, I misunderstood that we were supposed to write about sending ourselves messages back through time to our younger selves. My first thought was "I'd tell myself to finish college." The second thought involved some rather personal stuff about my family relations and my childhood. The third was...

Well, you get the picture. It seems everyone wishes they had the same warnings 'way back when'. "If only I knew this, that and the other thing, my life would have been so much better," we tell ourselves, and it may or may not be true. It's nice to have insider information, but if you're not wise enough at that time to have the foresight on your own, what good will being given the advice do?

I am (if I understand the term correctly) an existentialist. I tried wishing that some of the things in my life haven't happened. Complaining about them certainly hasn't done much good - the opposite, perhaps. Things are what they are as they exist right now. I've gotten into the habit of dismissively shaking my head at some of my memories and mentally patting myself on the back for not allowing these things to completely ruin my future.

It is trite. It is cliché. It is ubiquitous.

It is what it is.

Seven Month Itch

November is National Novel Writing Month (a.k.a. NaNoWriMo). For those who participate, I think it's a kick in the butt for people to get The Great American Novel out of their brains and onto paper or into the computer.

I was successful in 2009. By November 22, I had a 69,000 word first draft done and immediately began editing. I was so glad to have completed something, especially since I suffered such despair over my previous manuscript Destiny of Honor that was five years old and 247K long. Having The High Bridge done in record time and of a reasonable length sent me into the throes of ecstasy!

Then I sent it out for friends and/or crit partners (beta readers?) and got my butt kicked. It was in a good way and well-intentioned, but a beating is a beating. Sometimes you're too involved in a relationship to see what's wrong with the object of your affection and a friend has to come along and tell you "He's flawed. You can do better!" I found out that my love was a pretty good story but covered with warts.

I've spent the last five months working with this love of my life but have decided to send 'him' off to the big bad world to test if anyone else can grow to love 'him' as I have. Dressed 'him' up and sent 'him' out.

Unfortunately, I've grown lonely. I'm grabbing my notecard pile (my fertility potion) and plan to make an exciting new love, without the kick in the pants provided by NaNoWriMo.

Wish me luck.


Happy Battle of Puebla Day!

Learned something today when I wiki'd Cinco de Mayo.

I knew May 5th wasn't Mexican Independence Day but was, in fact, the celebration of winning a battle with the French. I didn't know the significance.

Okay, okay, it was one battle. The French ultimately won the war in 1862 and occupied Mexico with a puppet "emperor" by the name of Maximilian I. The US put pressure on France to leave, which they did. This opened the door for Benito Juarez to depose Max I five years after the Battle of Puebla.

Here's the thing that's so noteworthy; the well-equipped, well-trained French Army outnumbered the Mexicans 2-to-1! It was 8000 soldiers up against 4000 unprepared and technologically deficient Mexicans. Absolutely amazing!

So, while you're sipping (or gulping or quaffing) your strawberry margarita, try to be as happy as those fighters back in 1862.

Oh, and make certain you pay your tab, since that whole thing started because Juarez declared he wasn't paying back the French a debt run up by a previous Mexican government.


It's up!

My new website is up. Okay, so it's bare and rather amateurish, but it's a work in progress.

Please take a moment to visit www.SusanOShields.com

Yay! It's Tuesday!

Today is Tuesday when my writers group gets together at the local library. Although I normally bring a chapter of my manuscript for the group to critique and line-edit, lately I've been fine with just listening to the contributions of the other members.

I think part of it has to do with my shift in concentration from getting the MS perfect to getting my query refined so I can get on with selling it to an agency or a pub house.

At first I dreaded the whole 'pitch' aspect of writing, but I'm starting to like it more and more.

Such is Life.



It's that time of year again! Not just Mother's Day but also the annual food drive sponsored by the US Postal Service, the National Association of Letter Carriers, and Campbell Soup. If you remember, please search your pantry for a few canned items that you can contribute to this very worthy cause. They're hoping to "Bust a Billion" this year. http://www.helpstampouthunger.com/


The Query Shark

For those who don't know what a query letter is, think of it as a job application for writers. It's a letter of introduction about a specific project in which you ask an agent or an editor to consider working with you for the purpose of publishing your writing. As I said in another post, with a job app, you can kinda shrug it off if you don't get the job. With a query rejection, it's like an announcement that your child is so ugly, it's going to be killed.

The query process has begun for The High Bridge.

Okay, okay, I've only sent out three so far. One rejection has already come back, which didn't create the immediate and visible reaction I expected, although the results have caused cracks through which a little lava has seeped (high blood pressure, argument with The Husband, over-intensity in other activities not writing related...)

It was only one rejection, I know. Even though I can claim a 33% rate of non-return, I shouldn't react too harshly for all that. The law of averages are inherently against me at that low volume, but still, I keep thinking I have to 'fix' it somehow.

Yes, I've gotten advice from many sources about writing a good query letter, but I'm one of those people who needs examples to support an explanation. If there are rules to be followed, I'm very much inclined to interpret them how it pleases me. Either through stupidity or stubbornness, my imagination will draw all the wrong conclusions.

So, I've been spending lots of time reading (and re-reading) a website called The Query Shark, by Janet Reid. Janet is a semi-mysterious figure, although her public persona is well known. Starting with Miss Snark, she's been giving advice (and high blood pressure -haha!) to querying writers in a sardonic yet amazingly helpful ways for at LEAST ten years (yes, since she was 19 - haha!) She's also a literary agent who knows her stuff, so if I glean anything for the total 'rip' of the submitted query letters, I should be ahead of the game.

Funny how writers say "write for yourself" but feel (for the most part) that someone has to read your creation in order to be fulfilled. It's a strange paradox.


Who'll gimme five bucks?

Went to an estate auction today. Got a little caught up with the excitment and ended up buying a cooler I don't need and a crap load of assorted greeting cards that I didn't know were inside.

Got a nice matching garment bag and suitcase with a Jordache label on it. I'm not quite sure if I should use this travel set or sell it as antiques. I mean, seriously! Jordache? What's up with that?

Still, everything cost me a TOTAL of ten dollar, so I guess I'll just write it all off emotionally as the cost of entertainment. I had a pretty good time, all in all.