Tuesday, October 21, 2014

an interview

For anyone interested in writing process, check out the link below. Fiona Mcvie interviews authors and has thought up a lot of questions, some I had never been asked before. It made the interview fun on process and inspiration. 

Check it out and bookmark her site if you are interested in writers and writing as interviews are what she does. If you are a writer, she is always looking for more to interview.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

western art and Judy Erickson

 a friend gave me this drawing as she said when she saw it, she thought of  me

Living on the land, in the sense husbandry-men/women have for centuries, I am into that lifestyle. I grew up with this kind of home, not a big yard or mini-estate but a farm/ranch. 

After marrying, I was living in a suburb of Portland but wanted to get back to the land as soon as I could. When I was 34, we moved to the 34 acres where we still live today. It isn't particularly an easy life. It's certainly not a profitable one, and if someone was into making money, they'd not choose it. But if they are into a life close to nature, it is perfect.

You might think with cattle, sheep, a creek and barns outside my door that I'd choose art inside that was somewhere else-- maybe seascapes. In my case, the life I love out there is the one I most want on my walls in here. 

The cowboy way is a factor in the writing I do also. I have actually only written two books where the hero or heroine are ranchers or cowboys, but I consider the cowboy ethics to be ones I have in every story whether the hero is a high school principal and the heroine a home decorator. The cowboy way shows up in the ethics they hold, what they will do when push comes to shove.

Courage is being scared to death and saddling up anyway. John Wayne

So I thought I'd share some of the western art on my walls. 

Where I have painted a few cowboy scenes, mostly I recognize this is not my gift. This poster (couldn't begin to afford originals by this artist) is how I see strong women, my heroines, myself, the life I want to think is inside me even now as I am old.

Three western paintings I like very much are by Judy Erickson, a Sprague River painter and real cowgirl. Years ago, I came across Judy's work because we had driven through Sprague River (small town in eastern Oregon) and stopped for lunch at a little cafe. 

On the wall was a huge painting of cowboys crossing the Chewaucan River. It was full of wonderful energy and absolutely magnificent about the country and the work drovers do as part of their lives. 

For sale was a giclee by the cowgirl who had painted what was virtually a mural. I bought it. It is of cowboys driving a herd of wild horses. 

After getting the information on how to contact Judy, I called her, liked what I came to know. Judy bases her paintings on the life she has led as a cowgirl going on drives (yes, they still happen in the West and her experiences as a horsewoman. 

Finally, we bit the bullet and bought one of her originals, Closing the Gate. She said it was based on having seen a cowboy doing this after one of their drives. I love the energy but also the life symbology of closing or opening a gate, which I have photographed often.

We then saw another print that spoke to us, which is also on our walls.

I would love to have a photo of the first one I saw of her work, cowboys in the storm and doing the work anyway despite the danger... Okay I'd love to have it. I could make a wall fit or build on a new room for it ;). 

Judy Erickson's work is available at Two Rivers Gallery in Chiloquin, Oregon. Yahoo cowgirl!

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Hunter's and blood moon

Yes, I am fascinated by the sky and especially of full moons. I cannot explain the why of my interest-- or really that of much of mankind. This one though, the Hunter's Moon, is always one I especially like to have in my photo gallery. 

It so happened that the 1867 manuscript I am writing came at the same time of the year. Using Google I did a search as to when the full moon fell that October. It was perfect to give my couple a Hunter's Moon-- which suited the challenges in their story. 

There is some mythology involved with the Hunter's Moon. I am not sure I take that kind of thing much to heart. Sometimes with any full moon I sleep less well but this one hasn't impacted me that way.

What I am thinking of doing is (assuming the sky is clear and I have time) taking photos of the moon through its stages. A crescent moon is pretty cool looking also.

Because we had an eclipse with this full moon, we took more than the usual number of photos but had less turn out thanks to the mistiness in our Oregon air.

Despite that challenge , Farm Boss got a good photo of Orion (above). One thing that he learned is that a time release in the early morning doesn't work as moon and stars are moving too much.  

Saturday, October 04, 2014

How do you handle fear?

Years ago in talking to a psychologist he said-- it's only paranoia if it it's not a real possibility. Much of what we as a culture are being taught to fear very much could happen. We are bombarded with it by politicians and the media which both try to profit whenever disasters strike. How do we handle the fear when some of it could happen?

The cartoon offers one possibility. Stop being informed. I don't recommend total isolation but rather just stay off the cable or TV news where hysteria seems more catching. If you read the newspapers, you get the gist of what's going on but without all the extras. Just the facts, ma'am, is a good approach right now.

With so many things to fear, those who love to live with drama, have their choice. Global warming, terrorism, Ebola, right wing, left wing, random violence, targeted violence, cancer, heart disease, and the list goes on. You can change the words, but we constantly see the same terrors suggested.

Where it comes to the newest, Ebola, how fearful should we be? It is not to say that humankind has not endured plagues that nearly wiped us out. The Black Death, a European pandemic at its worst in 1346-53, killed an estimated 75 to 200 million people. 

Cholera became a dread scourge at various times especially with the pioneers heading west in the United States. With no clue what caused these diseases, there were no cures or treatments and like smallpox, a lot died. 

When my mother was a girl, in 1918, a flu pandemic killed as many as 50 million worldwide. It was one that hit my family when my grandmother's beloved brother died from it (he was at the age that was most deadly). My mother and her two sisters got dreadfully ill also but all survived. Pandemics were to be feared, and then came polio which left many parents in terror each summer. My husband's aunt had that, recovered but had a limp for the rest of her life.

So now new dread diseases come along and we don't know what to think. Will a shot be developed to prevent it? Likely it will but when? Antibiotics don't do anything for Ebola, but there may be an answer from science. In the meantime, we can be cautious, not think about it, or let ourselves be terrorized.

The thing is fear isn't of something real at the time it's felt. It is a possibility. It is is False Expectations Appearing Real. Except they might become real and that's what worries us. Often, by the time someone is my age, it's not so much for us but for our offspring, their offspring and young ones anywhere. 

Some turn to religion as a way to find peace when the world has so many possible dangers. The problem with religion for me is using logic because it is faith based. Time and again we hear of a tornado where some claim they were saved by God and prayer-- but others died. The ones who claim religion as an answer will say-- that then was God's will-- which pretty well means they are getting no real benefit in terms of insurance policies.

Others count on guns right up until the problem is a neighbor who gets deathly ill, who you were with and find out their illness was easily caught. It's not like a gun can fight a disease or really even random violence. Let's face it, if a bad guy is out to get you, you only know it when he attacks first. If it's a bomb, you never know it.

I try to be especially effective in not letting fear run my life because when I write books, like the one I am writing now, I get inside my hero and heroine to feel what they feel and in a story like this fourth Oregon historical, they are both doing something very dangerous. She is a Pinkerton and he's a cavalry officer. Both are warriors (she is my first warrior heroine). So to write who my characters are, I take on their fear or imagine the risk they face. It is what writing any kind of fiction is all about. So I get stressed with something that is not mine. I have to be afraid when they are to get the words right, but I cannot forget from where that emotion came and take it with me when I leave the story. Then I'd have an unfounded fear to carry around and it'd be a burden I don't need.

It is one of those things you do if you write fiction-- take on real emotions but they are not yours. I then even dream about these situations, sometimes as though I am writing the story and then seeing it didn't work. Sometimes seeing it acted out. When I dream of it, which doesn't happen with editing but does with creative writing, I know I am taking it inside. 

To me the best protection from FEAR is being aware from where it's coming and then doing whatever can realistically be done about it before letting it go and forgetting it. Being afraid ramps up the adrenalin. Fear might do the same but the adrenalin serves no purpose except to burden your organs. I have a few ideas I use:

Be aware but not beyond where I can make a difference.
Do what I can do.
Practice being where I am without projecting.
Exercise when feeling stressed.
Get out in nature, hug a tree -- no kidding, hug or sit under it because trees have great vibrations (don't do this during a windstorm though).
Remember beautiful times in my life.
Remind myself of what is within my circle of control
Avoid spending too much time knowing about what I can't impact-- as a writer, I go a little farther out there than others might need to do.
Distract myself with reading, watching comedies, silly adventure shows-- no horror at all for me.
Stay away from hysteria mongers.
And finally relax about it. What will be will be. 

Any further tips that you can share? We are in a time where fear is being promoted from all directions. It's easy to see why some want to dig a hole and pull it in over themselves!

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Astrology and personality

For those of you interested in writing and how astrology might fit into creating characters, check out my Rain Trueax today--  

Yeah it can apply to you also with a couple of books I have on astrology-- a couple out of nearly twenty but that apply to the subject I was discussing there. ;)

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Oregon history and novels

This is the season of change for the farm, for nature, for life as it's part of a cycle that is both familiar and always new. In my part of Oregon, we eagerly awaited the first real rain in quite awhile. It was a dry summer.

The garden is winding down and has been a lush one with a lot of produce to process or let the sheep eat. Fall is here, and the land and air would tell us even if we didn't have a calendar to do so.

 photo from Ben Kern wagon train used with permission

This last month, for me, was about finishing the editing of my published and unpublished books. Three unpublished led to finally getting back into writing the one unfinished in the Oregon series. 

The historical Oregon series began in Independence, Missouri, at the start of the trail west and a big wagon train led by a wagon master, which was not how it would soon be for many heading out. It is the story of that trip and two young people, who have been friends since childhood. She is full of dreams. He has known mostly nightmares. One of them has wanted a relationship that went beyond friendship. Does that ruin the friendship? The book is my longest novel, with the trip west as what might be seen as a metaphor for our internal trip as we mature into responsible adults. 

Then came the next book in that series about getting to Oregon and the pitfalls awaiting. That one had a surprising heroine (to me anyway when I got the idea for writing it). Set mostly along the Clackamas River (an area I have spent a lot of time in my own life), it also takes the story to Oregon's own Trail of Tears. This plot takes our growth a further step forward as we get what we think we want and then find the pitfalls in it. As we overcome these difficulties, we grow.

Because these books are about the Stevens family of women, the third book was a logical one for another of the sisters. This one picked up the family after the Civil War. Again it is a love story but also about overcoming and how a cataclysmic event, such as the Civil war was for the United States, takes time to heal. It delves into what that time meant to the state I was born in as well as have lived most of my life. 

In researching, I learned some ugly truths about my beloved Oregon. Human nature isn't always pretty, but I guess I knew that. Always though hypocrisy amazes me for how we can fool ourselves with righteous words accompanied by disgusting actions or looking the other way to avoid facing what others are doing.

Finally the fourth where I will be writing for at least the next month to nail down its rough draft. It takes the Oregon story forward into one of Oregon's most violent and dangerous Indian wars-- little known, I might add. I found a lot of information for what happened in The Deadliest Indian War in the West by Gregory Michno. 

Like my other three books, lots of research was/is involved with this one. It requires digging and often coming up empty handed in terms of finding even good maps from that period. The nice thing about Michno's book is he records details from the newspapers and reports from the time describing the various battles. Quite handy since my fictional hero is an cavalry officer. I did also create a plot for the period but based on what happened many places-- just not historic in the region about which I am writing.

Basically the decision on publishing these books is still hanging out there. I do think they will be paperbacks-- once they are all four finished to the satisfaction of my editor and me. Even though I was and am unsure about the publishing end, I created four covers and backcovers. Creating covers is recreation for me. It blends together my interest in photography, painting and sculpture into a new medium-- book covers. 

So for now, my life is all about research and writing-- well and seeing the end to this growing season and getting our place ready for the coming winter.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

some thoughts

This has been one of those weeks that hasn't worked as I planned as much as I plan anything. I had an idea for writing the weekly blog but frankly lost track of what I'd say. 

My outside-activities involved the dentist for a cleaning and exam. No new cavities, but I have another tooth that eventually needs a crown because of a crack. It also though will need a root canal, which complicates it as it's a wisdom tooth. My regular dentist will do the crown but not the canal... Given the trouble I had with the last crown, I want to put this off until I have my schedule more planned-- which is not now. The dentist said it should be fine if I just don't chew with it on anything hard or sticky. I think I can resist-- especially on the sticky part. That, with taffy, used to lead to broken teeth before!

Involving my work, the main project was finishing the editing of Diablo Canyon. I am happy with it and its three novellas making one book; plus the idea Farm Boss (their publisher) had for putting the three novella covers in front of each chapter. 

Being someone into metaphysics, dreams, and mythologies, I am pleased with how this book came together. The ideas blended so well that you'd think they had been planned all along. Well, if anyone planned it, it was my muse-- not me. Anyway the editing is done, and I hope its last edit. I caught no more errors and neither did Amazon when it went up. Next step is getting the paperback version ready to go.

Fall is finally beginning to look as though it is here even though officially the equinox is Monday and it's still quite warm outside. This week we had a delightful, light rain but need more to get past the fire danger. We are though heading into the time of shorter and shorter days, fires in the fireplace, cleaning up the garden, selling the lambs and calves and looking forward to the Solstice when it will all start again. Frankly we had a great summer here in my part of Oregon if we can just avoid fires now.

Farm Boss and I celebrated a big anniversary or one that used to seem big-- a 50th. It doesn't seem so big to me anymore as I know so many who have been married 50 and more years. We didn't actually do anything special for it partly because I don't know if a long marriage is so much to someone's credit as it is luck. If you stay together all those years and are still best friends, that's very fortunate. Do you then throw a big party and take credit for it or is it pure fate? Yes, I am a bit of a fatalist. No, I'm not more of one after writing Diablo Canyon. That book just reflected a lot of what I think anyway. Happy endings are out there but life can take some very abrupt left turns.

Otherwise, I am into editing the third of the Oregon historicals and enjoying this one a lot as I have found a few nuances to the story that I missed with its first draft. I had forgotten some of the details and that has made editing a time of discovery. It won't be the last edit if I do opt to publish it-- still undecided on the Oregon historicals but they will come out as paperbacks when the fourth one is ready and after a LOT of edits.

What I had planned to write about for this blog was what it's like to have a creative friendship, where you share interest in each other's work. I haven't had a lot of those. Many of my friends have been into many interesting things but not the fine arts or serious writing. It's not essential for a friendship; but when I have one where we share the pitfalls and joys of creative work, it does make the work seem less lonely. It is someone to bounce ideas off and have them truly understand the complexity of what is being considered.

I am not sure why I've had so few deep friendships that involved creativity (maybe living a country life is part of that), but when I have one, I consider it something to protect. Of course, if you have a creative friendship, you know it can also be argumentative as you discuss the work and disagree sometimes. It's though argumentative in a good way, not the angry but rather the debating kind.

Anyway a few pictures from such a friendship and last week. When we were at the beach, while Farm Boss and Fisherman went off to the river, Diane and I had some great times to chat about a ton of subjects. She also said wanted to paint me. She has done this several times over the years. I figured all I had to do was sit, and we could talk as she worked. Of course, she had her own idea on the exact pose, but it only required a slight adjustment in terms of how I would naturally sit. Ours, with this couple, is a fifty year friendship that has woven past two weddings, kids, grandkids, and finally to today when we get together sometimes on mini-breaks.

 A lovely time at the beach...