Archive for the ‘Musings’ Category

DSCN7487
My life has taken a bit of a wild ride since I posted last. There have been  lots of changes,  some good and some bad.   That’s a post for another day, though.

Today, today I’m cracking the lid on this blog to share with y’all some of the amazing things I’ve found, walking in a local park. I’ve been walking a lot more lately, and found that it’s no longer something that I have to do, but something I actually enjoy doing. In fact when I’m stressed now, it’s the first thing that pops into my head, the  desire not to run and hide, but to go out and walk.  This, the the local hang out, the place anyone who is anyone wants to be. Well, anyone with feathers that is. But as LeVar Burton used to say on Reading Rainbow, “You don’t have to take my word for it.”

don't wanna share

These fellows love their home, which is up in the eaves of the gazebo there on the pond. I saw them this morning with my Mom and my nieces, and despite the heat, went home, got my camera and walked back to take pictures because they are just about to fledge.

One more week  and they will be out of the tiny nest and on their own, I’m betting. The nest is all ready way too small for them; the more adventurous of them were clinging to the outside of it  when Mom and Dad were off getting breakfast. Despite looking like grumpy old men, they were rather adorable, and peeping like mad when I got under their nest, though I have to say, I look NOTHING like  Mom or Dad.  Seriously, what is going on with the down on the sides of their heads? It looks like wild old-man hair. Check it out:

angry neighorman

You and your taking pictures in the middle of the day. In my day cameras stole your soul. We had to chisel images into stone if we wanted to remembering the event.

They weren’t the only attractions on my walk; check out these busy bees.

DSCN7492Not exactly sure what this is, but the aroma around the plants was like raspberries.  And the bees were chowing down. If I had a tiny microphone to stick amid the blossoms I’m pretty certain that I would have heard  SLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUURRRRP  *burp*  and then “excuse me”  Bees are very courteous diners. You didn’t know that? *HA* Obviously YOU never watched this  episode of  Reading Rainbow.

The last arresting bits in the park ( It was  eighty five degrees outside and it felt like 104 according to the weather man, due to the humidity)  were these cool green pockets  amid all the hot splashes of Sun.

DSCN7511 moss sunlighton a rock

After I found these, it was time to head home, before I completely melted into my shoes.  The cool thing is, a year ago, I’d not have gone out in the heat again and walked the extra  mile to get the pictures, having all ready walked two miles with Mom and the niece-lings.  Two years ago, I would have been in too much pain to even think about walking with Mom and the niece-lings.  Like I said before, there have been a lot of changes in my life since I posted last.  Good and bad. Hopefully a return to posting, will be counted as one of the good.

Until next time Scribes,

Encourage one another!

autumn_dragon_by_sandara-d4vz4mp

 

My friend and I were texting, and she said something that made us both laugh and then, in that next breath,  made my heart ache with its savage truth.  Our conversation was running something like this:

HER: “I don’t see  [writing  group]  listed on their site, maybe it’s invitation only.”

ME: “You a grown up now,  you could call and  ask a librarian. They they aren’t dragons, they aren’t going to eat you.”

HER:  ” I’m pretty sure they are dragons.  You know when I was a kid, I wasn’t afraid of dragons. Now that I’m an adult I’ve learned to fear them.”

The truth of her observation cuts like razors.  Kids are fearless, trusting, wonder-holders, and bold enough to stare down Wyrms. But as we get older, life introduce rejection, falseness, betrayal, and heartache. We all learn to fear the dragons.  We lose the ability to stare into the eyes of a great beast, of someone different,  and see a potential friend.

 
It’s wounding that she’s right,  but I’m not going to stay  bleeding on the sidelines. I”m going to work on not assuming every last one I meet wants to eat me. I’m going to capture back the wonder I had as a kid, and with God’s help, I’m going to unlearn this fear  dragons.

Dragon image taken from Sandara’s gallery at deviant art. Click the dragon to go see her full range of work!

DSCN4661Dandelions. They’ve got deep roots and seem to be able to grow just about anywhere, even on the sides of walls in tiny little pieces of dirt. Give them half a chance and they will wriggle into what looks like absolutely hostile territory and by the end of the summer, not only have they conquered it, but they will  prepare for wide-spread invasion of what ground is not yet under their control . White puff balls  will spring up with their seeds tied to valiant wings,  ready to take to the wind and infiltrate the next lawn over, the garden  at the end of the block, and  the hill at the very end of the neighborhood.

Which is why I’m   rather aggressive in our war on these sunny sentinels.  Ruthlessly I tear them up,  leave them to wither on the sidewalk, and then  go after their tender green budded family members who are not yet open.   I dig with a spade until I find the tap-root and then I let it sizzle on the hard white concrete, bleeding out the last bits of its  life and moisture under the relentless beating of the summer sun.

Why am I so heartless with these yellow petaled intruders? Because if I give them even a tiny inch of space, they selfishly take over the entire garden. They just won’t play nice with others.

Having worked now for two years as a reviewer, I can say that the reviews on most books-for-sale-sites are the same way. Like dandelions, the fan written, fan squealing, five-star friend written reviews are choking out the thoughtful assessments of books. Memes like “Remember, reviews are tips for authors” are as dangerous as the September breeze over the bobbing white launch-pads in my garden.

No, reviews are not tips for authors.  Authors don’t get tips. They aren’t wait staff who are paid less than nothing and have to stand on their feet all day dealing with hungry people, food, and money. Tip your wait staff, not your author.

Reviews aren’t about the author at all actually, the good ones anyway, they are about the story that has been told. And the more that authors jockey to get fans to leave four and five-star reviews,  the less authority those reviews are going to have. Just like printing more paper money in a bad economy eventually is going to make the paper money worthless, so the more that authors push for four and five-star review, the more those four and five stars are going to drop value.

I think what makes me so angry about inflated reviews,  is that they really don’t do anyone any good. Readers stop trusting reviews all together, and authors start losing sales because people aren’t buying their book; the book that might be a really nice three star book.

My plea to authors and reviews is this: help me kill the internet  review dandelions by being honest.

Authors,   stop making “positive” reviews a way for fans to gain points towards rewards.  Stop pushing people you know socially to write reviews of your books. Submit your work to independent review sites. Stop using gushing fan reviews to sell your work on your social media pages.

Readers, don’t get sucked into the social vortex of “I like this author and they private messaged me or mentioned me in a post, therefore I owe him something because he acknowledged that I exist”, and embrace the freedom to write what you really believe about books. Write reviews of books you didn’t like. Write reviews of books you absolutely hated. Continue to express yourself, even if you are the only one saying that the book bombed.

Because in the end, truth is more important than success and being truthful is better than being liked.

Also, I think it would be a great idea if authors really wanted to set out a tip jar, to do what Ryan Bliss of Digital Blasphemy did; he set out a tip jar. On Digital Blasphemy you can literally give him a tip through Paypal, whether you’re a member, or not.

What do you think about the rise of four-and-five-star reviews on Goodread, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble Scribes? Do you believe it when someone writes a high review for books now? Or do you look at the one and three star reviews for the truth about a book?

Until next time Encourage one another!

DSCN5142

As promised, part two of the cupcake cooking adventure. So, I got to the break room early, and started setting up.  Gold cloth on the table for Belle’s dress in the ballroom scene, artificial dew-dropped rose for a center piece,  and yes, that is a fabulous  drooping petal leafed rose on the bag containing Caiti’s goodies made it a splendid sight.  Donna, our manager helped me with the streamers and balloons the night before. All that was left to bring and set out other than the roses were the cupcakes.

DSCN5140

These cupcakes. Aren’t they lovely? I would be delighted to tell you that I made those lovely sugar roses on the top, but that would be a lie. Those, I did buy. But I think they turned out incredibly well and it was a lovelier picture when I had them all in the box but I didn’t get a snap of that. So just pretend that it’s full and lovely.  I bought green plates for the party because we NEVER have plates at work and also it worked with the green/pink/gold that we had chosen for the colors.  I had just finished setting out the birthday girl’s cupcake when this happened.

DSCN5139

I thought I had left him safely at home. But no. Apparently chocolate is dragon nip, who knew? And he was bound and determined to have a cupcake. So bound and determined that he brought along backup.

DSCN5143

 

No cupcake is safe from this pair. And while the Dragon looks all cute and innocent, you have not seen what he did to my writing area when he was thwarted from eating ALL the cupcakes.

DSCN5145
Caiti very kindly shared her bounty of birthday cake with the Dragon (just one), though the Assassin had gone off on an adventure I think at this point or she would have given him his own.

Thank you so much Caiti, for sugaring up the night-fury before I had to take him home.

I’m not the only one with an evil laugh. 😉

Until next time Scribes, Encourage one another.

I had a friend, recently, who celebrated a kinda important birthday, and I decided I wanted to make her some lovely grown-up themed Beauty & the Beast cupcakes. I also happen to have a pair of friends who think that they are good enough to go on Master Chef. What you now witness is the craziness that happened during the cupcake making with these two “helping” along the way.

DSCN5118I had to get up super-early (for me) at  7 A.M. simply because my niecelings were arriving at 9 A.M. These two beat me down to the kitchen and rounded up the supplies as I checked the cake  recipe. I haven’t made one in so long, I’d actually forgotten how things were suppose to go together. However, after I refreshed the ole’ memory I got right to work.  And, so did my helpers.

DSCN5122Here, the Assassin is assuring the Dragon that these are not “Dragon Eggs” and you can see by the look that he’s getting, the Dragon is not convinced. Not one bit, not at all.  I combined the ingredients in the mixer while the two of them hashed out what exactly constituted a non-dragon egg, and then I needed to add the eggs before the batter congealed around the beaters thick as cement.

DSCN5123“Yeah buddy, I checked, I watched her crack each one. They’re all chicken eggs, I promise. I know what dragon eggs look like. And dragon yokes.  Wasn’t any of your kin, I promise.” Said the Assassin. Now, I wanted to know how he became so knowledgeable about dragon eggs. And of course, neither of them are talking to me. You’ll understand why when we get to the end of this adventure.  After the batter was all mixed up I added jimmies to it (this makes a ‘funfetti batter like the kind you get in a box but  I was making it from scratch) or rather, I tried to add jimmies to it.

DSCN5127Apparently, the jimmies might have been marauding Irishmen bent on the destruction of a viking island town, and needed to be thoroughly inspected before I was finally allowed to add them to the batter.

DSCN5129I used a small scoop to get the proportion of batter to cupcake liner correct, and the guys were fascinated by the fact that I sprayed the liners with a small hit of cooking spray. If you don’t do that, the cupcake and the batter become wed to the point that it will take death to separate them from one another.  So, make sure to just hit them lightly with some cooking spray if you ever make cupcakes from scratch.

The recipe made 24 cupcakes,  but I’ve used it before to make two 9 inch layers or one 9×16 sheet cake. And I love the funfetties, they make everyone smile, and they don’t add any bitterness to the batter.

DSCN5133 However, after all the sprinkle inspecting, and otherwise “helping” I told the pair they needed to clean up. The Dragon in particular was skeptical of this assessment, but as you can see right there on his tail, is proof of bath-needed.

DSCN5134This is the moment that I realised I would be sleeping with one eye open for quite some time. To quote Icanhascheezburger “You has betrayed my tiny trust” and this of course with cats means one thing, but it means something like fiery death when dealing with Dragons.

DSCN5136Both of them cleaned up, and then hatched plans for how they were going to have one of the cupcakes for themselves.  Stay tuned for the rest of the story tomorrow, in “Let them Eat Cake”

Until then, Scribes, encourage one another!

rea_tyrza2

Caiti gave this to me for my birthday this past May, and I just about died.  She commissioned one of her artist friends to draw her character Tyrza, and Rea, standing back to back in their “default” expressions. Hers, “I am not buying your bull” and his “Oh really?”

I love it so much, I just can’t get over seeing him like that.  Oh my goodness. So many ideas are being stashed to the side due to other writing constraints but hey, I’m making notes as fast as I can.  It’s amazing how a piece of character art can make you want to write, don’t you think?

Want to check out the amazing, fantastical, phenomenal artist that created this 1,000 word picture? Well, here’s her tumblr

Now, go check out her site, give her lots and lots of love, and remember Scribes when you post artwork 😉 gifts or things you’ve found, link to the artist.

Also let me know who has given YOU some fan art.  C’mon now, you are all talented enough to have fan art. 😀 Give the artists a shout out.

DSCN5097 DSCN5098 DSCN5099 DSCN5100 DSCN5101 DSCN5102

 

So for those of you who are my friends, on Face Book, you all ready know this if you’ve been paying attention, (and if you aren’t hey it’s Summer my attention is all over everywhere all ready too so no big deal) that Caiti and I are going to be taking on the challenge of retelling Beauty and the Beast for a short story competition. I started thinking of all the things that I need to get done before the 14th of July (that’s when my writing class starts) and I am actually really excited. I mean it’s going to be hectic, but I think that the writing class will dovetail nicely with this project. And if all things hold together, as they are so far, I’ll be seriously looking for beta readers in September. I know that’s when a lot of you go back to school and things get hectic for you too, which is why I’m reminding you of this now.   Here’s what I’m looking for in a Beta reader:

Someone who is familiar with the ORIGINAL Beauty & The Beast Story
Someone who has been a beta before  for another writer (it’s okay if you’ve only done it once, that’s fine) and can have that writer serve as a reference *
Someone who can commit to reading 2-4 pages at a time and not fan girl/guy over them, but looking at them with keen sense of story and get back to me within a reasonable  amount of time (ie a week or two) Someone who can give positive and negative feedback. Let’s be honest, this story is going to have flaws. I need someone to help me see them, and fix them
Someone who can give feedback without trying to direct the story. This is my retelling after all.

Right now, I’m just looking for 3 beautiful betas, and for your help and your time, you will have both my gratitude, and I will personally hand-cover and create a notebook for you like one of the two above (this applies to betas in the US only). There will be a small  non-snail mailed thanks sent to  International Betas, if I have one of those sign up for this adventure.

Interested?  e-mail me at everlastingscribe@gmail.com.  The slots are open until they are filled.
*when you e-mail me, please include the name of the author that you were a beta for, and their e-mail address.  I will send a quick querie to ask them how they would rank you as a beta  and then let you know if you are qualified for the spot.

One last thing before I close, I promised you the name of the short story and it is ::drumroll please::

There Is Beauty In The Beast.

As if you hadn’t guessed 😉

Until next time Scribes,

Encourage one another!