Living in the high desert

Willow Creek Cyn 1975

Shot by Stan Anderson in 1975. I’m on the mustang and I was 14 that year.

This weekend my nephew and my brother were cooking buffalo meat and I was invited for Sunday dinner. My nephew is half-Ute so he has connections with the Ute Tribe in northeastern Utah. It was a surprise when he told me that the area I lived in in the mid 70s was where they had seeded a herd of mountain buffalo.

Even more interesting, that dirt road you see in the picture is now paved. When I lived there we were sixty miles from the nearest town. We grew all of our vegetables and fought the raccoons and coyotes from our plants and animals.

We brought our drinking water in because the wells in the area bubbled up sulfur and smelled like rotten eggs. The place had been hunted so much that the only predators were black bears. We even had hunters come in several times a year to clear the place from bears too. There hadn’t been a wolf seen in decades by that time.

Now they have buffalo, mountain goats, and wolves. They even have wild turkeys. We brought in the turkeys when we moved there. When we left, we left them there.

The reason we were there is that my father had gotten a job as a foreman to run the ranch for the Ute Tribe. We left when they decided to hire one of their own. So yes, I have lived on the reservation even though I am a white woman.

At the time I was there, we washed our clothes in ditches. We boiled our water to take bathes in tubs. We didn’t have electricity although we did haul in propane for our stoves. When the summer days got to hot we would go into the basement to cool off. We slept down there. We didn’t have AC or a lot of the modern conveniences of our neighbors.

I do remember those days with some fondness. Still I won’t do that again. It was too much work and too hard. I had a lot of responsibility for the care and tending of my brothers and sisters. I wanted to be free and run wild.

Still I am quite amused that someone decided to turn that place into a buffalo refuge. Then they paved the road. I can’t get my mind around how someplace so isolated has a paved road. Every spring the road still washes out even with the pavement. I remember times in the spring where I could collect 4-6 inches of mud on my boots when I went out to do the chores.

So I know the reason why farm families have so many kids. I also know why many farm kids want to escape this life. It is tough–tougher than you can imagine.

When I write about the “high desert” I am writing of what I know. The people who come from that environment are hardy and able because they can’t depend on anyone else to save them. It is an unforgiving environment. It is a deadly beauty.

And, it’s Labor Day

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From Pixabay

Happy Labor Day!

Instead of dangling my toes in the water, I am here in my little room writing on my computer.

I could try to say something meaningful– blah, blah, blah–but I am more excited about getting back to EJ Hunter and her pack of werewolves.

Don’t worry about me. I finally got a bracelet activity tracker that beeps at me if I am staying in one place longer than 45 minutes. So yes, it forces me to get off the chair and take a break. Technology sure rules my life anymore. I am now an input device into the ones and zeros storage unit.

As for listening to the news about North Korea and the marching gangs on both sides, I have turned off all news outlets. I am blissfully ignorant that NK has tested a nuclear bomb. All I will say about that piece of news is that I am so glad I am not President of the US. Plus some former presidents should be getting savaged by the press for believing the NK tyrants had dismantled their nuclear program. But then the news would have to change their Alzheimer’s way of news reporting and actually remember what happened in the past. It won’t happen.

Now about the changing season. I am so happy we are going into autumn. It has been too terribly hot in Nevada. 100 degree temperatures were the norm. We even saw 120 degree temps. I want cooler temps and more clouds. I want to walk the dog in the middle of the day.

So overall my health is okay. I still have issues, but who doesn’t?

I am here and I am writing. This was what I asked for so many years ago when I wanted to be a writer.

 

Story vs. Academic

Sonnet Playground coverMy first experiment into writing besides the elementary school papers on “saving the environment” was poetry. I edited my first poem when I was ten years old. My grandfather had written a beautiful poem, but after I read it, I asked him where the rest of the poem was. He agreed that it was unfinished. Several months later he sent me the poem with an additional verse for my review.

I cut my teeth on limericks in fifth grade and I have been writing form and free verse poetry ever since.

Incidentally, the only reason I wrote the “saving the environment” paper was because of the prize and the praise. Yes, I won that prize because I used the passenger pigeons as a metaphor for what can happen when we don’t moderate our actions. If you don’t know, passenger pigeons are now extinct.

When I began writing stories instead of telling them, I found that this style writing was totally different. I could break grammar rules judiciously. There was a story arc. Plus characters were not caricatures of people. The best writing was when a character had a problem and did its best to solve that problem.

As I jumped into the world of story writing, I couldn’t use shortcuts like I did with poetry or even academic writing. I couldn’t just state the problem and tell the audience how the problem was solved. I had to get into the character’s head and then solve the problem as the character. I couldn’t hand-puppet the solution.

Here is where it gets mystical and dimensional. You may have listened to writers talk about their characters. As a non-writer, you probably think the writer is two minutes away from an insane asylum. Yes, we can sound a little out there sometimes.

There are a couple types of writers– those who can outline their story and characters and those who cannot. Those who cannot are either really good or really bad– and if they keep writing and progressing become gateway writers. So what is a gateway writer? Well, they are walking the edge of the real and the void every day.

They are the writers that say that the characters were mulish and refused to solve a situation the way the writer thought they should. This type of writer starts talking about how a character takes on a life of its own. Sometimes there is a rawness to their writing that hits the reader viscerally.

Writers that outline sometimes do better and learn faster than the gateway writers. There is no right way — just the way that works for the writer.

But even the outline writers who have gotten really good in the craft of writing will talk about being haunted by their characters.

So as a beginning writer, (I wish someone had told me this when I wrote my first story), use the five senses for describing the character and the situation, study the story arc, and watch people.

There are more moving parts to storytelling than to an academic paper– which makes writing story a whole new adventure.

Something about Quantum Mechanics

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CC0 Public Domain. DasWortgewand

Lately I have been reading about weird government programs such as “remote viewing,” a program that is immortalized in “Men Who Stare At Goats.” The movie has George Clooney as the main character. I saw the movie when it first aired on Netflix a few years ago. Then I dismissed it as fiction.

What got me interested in this subject was a you-tube video in the Dark Matter channel, where Art Bell interviews one of the remote viewers. My first reaction is “this can’t be right.” Why would they use military personnel for basically a psychic untested theory? So I went further and researched the heck out of it.

After reading four accounts of folks who worked in the program and a little online search, and found to my shock that it was true. There are only a few reasons that government agencies would use this type of program. One, the Russians were using psychic spying. Yes, they were. Two, the program had a high success rate. Considering the program ran approximately twenty years, it had a good success rate until it lost funding and was turned over to the CIA. Of course, the CIA gave it the coup de grace in 1995.

So where does this put me??? A naysayer? A person who truly believed that psychic phenomenon couldn’t be measured? If you read the accounts, the remote viewers describe it as a virtual video game instead of a psychic experience because they use the entire body. Some call it a “martial art of the mind.”

It’s been a wild journey through my brain as I read these accounts. We are more connected and less isolated than we believe. We live in a Quantum world instead of the Newtonian world, we had always known.

Some of this I could see as a fiction story– and might have been written in the 1950s by one of the classic sci-fi authors. It blows my mind that this program is in the past and not the future.

Some of these remote viewers started teaching their techniques to ordinary people and to natural psychics. Some of these remote viewers help find kidnapped children.

Let’s explore interconnectedness. It means that the good wishes and prayers have an effect on all of us.  A few decades ago, I was blown away when we found that the brain had weak electrical fields. Now researchers have an “Electromagnetic Brain Theory.” Go and read that one and you’ll think you were living in the future.

I don’t know why this is so fascinating to me. I know that after all this reading, some of it will find its way into my stories.

Writing and Ritual

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From Pixabay

I started out life as a poet. I wrote my first poem at 9 years old. It was later as I got older and realized that I tapped into someplace other than my conscious mind that I began these little rituals to focus my mind on writing.

People outside the field of writing like to call these rituals –superstitions. However, writers are not the only ones who have rituals. You see it in sports and other endeavors that take the person past the normal world.

So I used to turn on some music, light a candle, place my favorite pen next to the computer, and then write. These little actions would tell my mind that it was time to dip into the subconscious and write poetry or tell stories.

Each time I did this, the ritual would help my mind to open wider. Since I have written regularly, I quit this ritual or maybe it slipped back into my subconscious. There are so many things in the “real” world that distract–illness, daily chores, and even electronic devices. I have to admit that the internet and TV are two of my main time wasters when it comes to writing. So lately, as I hit a very dry spell in my writing, I knew that I needed to resurrect my ritual.

In the background I hear “Carry on my Wayward Son” by Kansas. I carved a few symbols on my white candle and lit it. My favorite pen is near my elbow. I am now ready to write.

Just gazing into the candle, I go to another place.

Between the health issues

So if you have been on Facebook with me, you know that I have had a very sick little dog. This is the second time (a year apart) that she has had pancreatitis. This time I was very careful with her food choices. Next week I will be taking her to the vet so that we can talk about some treatment plans and labs for her. I would rather know that she is heading for an attack and do some preventive medication than to get surprised again.

It seems that we won’t be using peanut butter anymore to get those crushed pills down her throat. But that will be part of the treatment plan.

For me I am still working with asthma. I have found that if I forget my allergy pills and inhaler in the evening, I will wake up startled with my sinuses closed. I have a sleep study for next week as well. So again I have been shuttling between the dog’s doctor and my doctors. It is interesting that my doctors are worried about my hearing and balance. It turns out that my inner ear and assorted bits and pieces in my head are working fine. There is possibly a disconnect between my brain and my body– I could have told them that.

So near the end of the month, they will put me on a harness and have wild ride, while I try to walk on changing terrain– apparently it’s supposed to be fun. This could lead to more physical therapy– which doesn’t bother me much. I like physical therapy. Call me strange.

Most of this stuff is interfering with my writing– of course. To compensate in a creative way, I have been playing with my food– i.e. making new meals. It seems that I feel better when I change my diet to low carb, low protein, and higher fat. I used to feel nausea in the morning– now I don’t. Food is powerful medicine.

Also been experimenting with baking soda and Epsom salts for cleaning, since the asthma reared its ugly head. Also vinegar-water mix for windows. A quick hint. If the baking soda won’t pick up from the tile or linoleum, then pour vinegar on it. This causes a chemical reaction that makes the baking soda foam, which makes it easier to clean up.

I have done some editing again. I went back to re-edit, what I had edited. Sadly, it needed it. Also I am into the third story in the series– Hilda has to answer to the king’s mage service for being an “unlicensed sorceress.” Davi is keeping his heritage under wraps. Rooso– well he is a rogue.

Don’t be surprised if I break out in cross-stitch or even sewing. I have had a craving to sew lately. Just need a machine.

Summer days– ays–

Steady as She Goes

If you have been watching my word meter, I am now about 84 percent through 50,000 words on my current WIP, Dragon Boy. As I was writing yesterday, I realized that I am in the discovery phase of the writing. Once I have finished the first draft, then I will check to make sure that the names are right (I changed Elita to Evita plus I gave the healer and the dragon the same name– one of the dangers of being a panster).

The second draft is basically is a revision (not a rewrite or edit). The first draft I wrote the structure of the story. In the second draft I work with the characters, put in the five senses, check my descriptions, and plug holes.  It’s where the story comes alive.

When I first started writing, I had this weird idea that I could stop at the first draft. Even when I write short stories, (Yes, I have written quite a few), I look them over a couple of times before publishing. So that I had the idea that a novel could be put out with only a cursory edit after the first draft– shows my naivete.

I can laugh at myself. What helped me to see things slightly differently was when I did some writing classes with Dean W. Smith. You can find him online. He has written several of the Star Wars franchise books and a lot of other sci-fi and fantasy. He and his wife Kristine Katherine Rusch are premier writers.

I learned some basic things from him that have made my writings more interesting.

  • Write in scenes– One of my problems was I was trying to remember the entire novel in my head as I wrote. You can’t do it. The brain can’t contain it all. I have a great memory even after being on low dosages of chemo since 2003. So break up the story in scenes.
  • Use five senses– It is when we ground the reader into the world that they become engrossed in our characters.
  • Everything is seen through the eyes of the character– once again when you describe a town, street, home or room you are seeing it through the eyes of one person. He will see different aspects of the room than say,– his friend.
  • Don’t be ambiguous– I really like to use pronouns… but sometimes a reader can get lost in the hes and shes. Sometimes it is better to say the character’s name than to use a pronoun.
  • Put in Twists– It is the downs as well as the ups that makes a story interesting. 3-5 twists per short story and for novels, when your character is standing around and saying “so what do we do next?” then you are long overdue for a twist.

So editing is for finding these problems and solving them before a reader reads. There is a lot to writing that if I had a clue, I might have found another avocation. However, I am now caught in its web. Plus I am as curious as the next reader about what happens to Hilda, Davi, and Michael.