Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Taking a break


After a week or two of stressful dreams, which didn't quite qualify as nightmares but left me waking upset, Monday morning, I lay in bed thinking of what might be behind them. None were the sort of events that could actually happen, but the stress I woke with was very real.

The last dream had me doing something unethical, potentially dangerous, and frankly stupid. It began in the most mundane, easy way where one step led to another without thinking. Just before I woke, I was realizing that because of the dumb choice, I could end up being arrested even with a felony on my record. I woke before it happened, but my awareness that it could have was with me when I opened my eyes and thought... what the ---?

None of these dreams have been of a premonition type (most didn't take it so far as actually being criminal). They were always full of elements that aren't in my life or taking actions I'd never take-- still what's going on with my subconscious! 

It was the middle of the night, and I lay there thinking-- trying to understand why such upsetting dreams? Stress is always hard to pin down. It does not have to come from important problems. Actually, I don't have a lot of problems as such, at least not those that aren't part of routine life-- like not exercising enough, gaining weight that's not healthy, the usual things that I could do something about but haven't for assorted reasons.

There might be more adjustments ahead, but what I decided in the morning was this blog is a place where I have temporarily run out of ideas. I haven't wanted to write a journal type blog where I get into what we are doing or not doing. It's been about ideas... and frankly, I don't currently have any. 

In blogging, a lot of friends have come, gone, and come from their blogs. I am going to do that. I won't be posting anything new here until August 1st, which is conveniently a Saturday. Whether I then take off August will depend on what comes up through the month of July. I have no plans for it. Ranch Boss and I might finally take some little vacations within the state of Oregon, do some hiking, and just slow our lives down after a rather hectic, high pressure winter and spring. Summer seems a good time to take a break when a lot of people are also off doing their own re-creating.

I have an Arizona historical due out August 5th, but it's written and only takes editing-- no creative thinking-- mostly craft. I will continue to post off and on at Rain Trueax Facebook where I sometimes share my writing but don't have a schedule (the link there is alongside if you want to bookmark it). I will keep posting weekly book snippets into Rain Trueax

Maybe what I need most now is a span of no thinking-- just being. I would like a nowhere month with no expectations for myself or anyone else. Maybe I'll even get a chance to read someone else's books. I tend to buy a lot of them through the year for my Kindle. Now is a good time to sit outside and read some.

Before I posted this, I received an email regarding the July 1st full moon. I love this kind of serendipity:
This full moon may bring about a feeling of being overwhelmed by all that is not “right” in your life and therefore a good time to take a break from it all to do something for yourself that is nurturing, loving and peaceful.
You should use this moon to honor yourself with gratitude for all that you have accomplished in your life and to be in acceptance of whatever is showing up for you at this time.
This moon launches the month and will initiate the “growing pains” so it is best to start the month off in a place of honoring self, acceptance of what is, and neutrality around what others are going through. Be inspired by something today and make sure to be physically active as well. This will put your heart mind, and body in the right place. 
by astrologer Patricia Liles 
Hope you all have a great summer-- however you spend it.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

one of those months-- and it's not over yet


This was one of those months and by month, I mean June, which is a month I generally look forward to its arrival. And, I am not even talking about what went wrong in the nation. Just my own little corner. 

We had summery days, the Solstice, nights that don't begin until 9:30, flowers-- what's not to like? Well in terms of its weather there was nothing not to like. It was lovely (although we could use more rain), but in terms of other things... Well, it wasn't bad exactly (I am saying that because it's not yet over and don't want it to prove to me it is bad). It was filled with inconveniences that were unplanned. Let me count the ways.

Minor glitch-- coffeemaker's automatic feature stopped working, which meant it might or might not make the coffee and it might or might not keep it warm beyond a few seconds. Replacing it solved that problem for awhile. We do seem to go through coffeemakers pretty fast. 


In our area, June is the month ranchers get in their winter's supply of hay. That meant almost every grower, who we know, had some glitch in their equipment, including us. Our loader tractor needed to be repaired after which Ranch Boss made the annual drives down to the fields with the hay trailer to load the 800 lb. bales, bring them back here where they are stacked and await time to move them into the barns. The tractor in the field did the job but had steering that left a lot to be desired. 

There is a rush attached to this kind of farm event, and this year, it came at a very inconvenient time-- two of our grandchildren arrived just as it did for a two week visit at our small ranch or with their cousins.

Acquiring the grandchildren required driving an 8+ hours round trip, which at our ages is not fun but having them here at least once every summer, that is important to us. We had a few plans for their visit, some of which fell through, but still it was good overall for us, and we hope for them. 

A few days after their arrival, I walked into the main bathroom, the one they use, to find water flowing from the toilet water closet and reaching the hall. Ranch Boss was not there as he was picking up another hay load-- water water everywhere. I won't go in to the details, but a disastrous crack in that water closet meant there was no fixing it. That meant, as soon as the hay was in, removing said toilet, going to town, picking out a new one (they are pretty neat these days), and Ranch Boss installing it.

Back to the grandkid visit-- one local cousin got sick and that reworked when they would spend two nights with them. About the time we were going to pick them up, I wasn't feeling well, so they stayed there an extra night. 

Ranch Boss is also Techie Boss, and he had to get all his lab equipment from town where it had been more or less being stored since he no longer had a project there. That put the hay trailer into use again and required several loads. That was bad timing with wanting quality time with grandkids, but no choice again as the area it had been stored was being re-rented.

Hay and techie movement was complicated by our farm gate's automatic opener turning un-automatic. The first one of these had lasted 10 years. This one not even two, and I think we've replaced it one more time than he does. At any rate, instead of a remote opening the gate, it's currently closed with a chain and someone has to get out of the truck to open the gate and close it after passing through. This gate is the one that keeps the sheep from the highway; so it's not an option to use anytime we drive out. 


I won't even get into the problems that arrived with the last book being published June 21st. Let's just say we learned some things about that, which will hopefully save the problems recurring.


The next in the Arizona historical series  (of which I have written two with one to go) has been getting some reworking in my head as I get to know the next hero and the characters from the third story. I do this all the hard way as I sit out under the trees, look up at the birds and work out plots and characters. 

One change from it was when I realized I had to change the family's surname. For the third one, easy-- for the two already out, the work was all done by Word with me checking to make sure it didn't mix something up. I do love Word with how easy such changes are-- except of course, when it's not. 

I will say that it's convenient to write three of these books, before any come out. I had a great deal of freedom for everything except the first hero-- he had appeared in another book as to what he looked like and his age; but he was using a false name in that one, which he revealed in the first of this series. He had a good reason for the alias. So needing to change the surname was possible. I also discovered this family relates to a family in one of my contemporaries. Ancestry.com has nothing on me ;)

Despite the complications that made our grandchildren's time here maybe less fun for them, we enjoyed their visit-- even made it one day to the Coast Aquarium in Newport.


If the drive again to take them home (another 8+ hours) wasn't so much fun (there are sooooo many big trucks on the freeway), it was rewarding to see the joy on their mother's face when they returned, and she got them safely back in the nest after a little vacation on both sides. 

The weather has turned quite hot here-- like nearing 100┬║F, which for our region is hotter than our usual, but the concern will be the potential of thunderstorms and fire danger. That though goes with the territory with country living. For the most part, we can decompress after Ranch Boss gets in that last trailer load of that equipment from town to here. Of course, there are still a few days left in June for something more to breakdown. *fingers crossed and knock on wood*

Friday, June 26, 2015

Bonus blog just because

Wow, yesterday I watched, for the first time in many weeks, MSNBC for news. The incitement to resent the South and for blacks to add up everything that ever was done wrong to them was the strongest message from the Chris Hayes' hour. I didn't watch Fox but am guessing the same thing in reverse is going on there. And, we wonder why we are polarized! How you see any of this likely will be much impacted by where you get your news.

Hayes had on a guest professor who had been infuriated when a woman caller to his radio show had said she believed the Confederate flag should come down, but that she was still proud of her ancestors. He tore into her and compared her to a German today saying they were proud of their Nazi ancestors-- as if every soldier who fought for the German military in WWII was a Nazi and a perpetrator of the Holocaust. All guilty by being German during those years.

I felt frustrated watching this man as he was presented as learned, and Hayes chose to have him on for that reason and because he'd attacked that woman for defending her own relatives. 

The thing is, from what I have read (and I am a Northerner and never would want to own slaves), there was more to the Civil War than slavery. Only about 10% of Southerners, at that time, owned slaves. Even big plantations didn't all use slave labor. But that doesn't suit the current agenda of those who want us once again into a race war or at least a time of intense resentment of one race, group or the other. When such things happen, I always wonder who benefits from such divisions.

Civil War historians agree (the ones I've read) that there is complexity to what got this nation into that war. The South seceded over the probability that the North would eventually declare their slavery laws were illegal. Yes, pressure was building, but it wasn't yet a fact when the South seceded. I am sure many soldiers in the North, those not conscripted, went to war over slavery as it's the emotional hook you also find at the onset to many wars-- Remember the Maine. Tales of horror had been told by escaping slaves. Newspapers were raging against the practice. Most famously, the tragic, but fictional, Uncle Tom's Cabin convinced many in the North that violence was the only alternative to end this 'evil' practice. 

Emotional though it might have been to many, slavery wasn't the only issue that led Lincoln to fight the war. He most strongly did not want the Union to be broken. With more future states still territories, it's not hard to see his concern went beyond the South of the time. He took the view that the southern states did not have the right to secede-- hence this was a rebellion. 
While many still debate the ultimate causes of the Civil War, Pulitzer Prize-winning author James McPherson writes that, "The Civil War started because of uncompromising differences between the free and slave states over the power of the national government to prohibit slavery in the territories that had not yet become states. When Abraham Lincoln won election in 1860 as the first Republican president on a platform pledging to keep slavery out of the territories, seven slave states in the deep South seceded and formed a new nation, the Confederate States of America. The incoming Lincoln administration and most of the Northern people refused to recognize the legitimacy of secession. They feared that it would discredit democracy and create a fatal precedent that would eventually fragment the no-longer United States into several small, squabbling countries." from Causes of Civil War
The oldest book I have in my library is History of the Administration of President Lincoln: including his speeches, letters, addresses, proclamations, and messages. It was compiled by Henry J. Raymond and published in 1864 while the war was still ongoing. In this book, the Emancipation Proclamation was issued September 22, 1862 to take effect January 1, 1863 which hence freed all slaves in the rebel states-- nearly two years after the war had officially begun in April 1961. 

For economic reasons, it is believed by many that the South would have also eventually given up slavery, with so few actual slave owners. Keep in mind that it was legal in the North until it proved unprofitable. Do we also get rid of all mention of Northerners who owned slaves like Washington or Jefferson? Jefferson even amazingly had a black woman as his mistress and mother of some of his children, who he also did not free in his will. Some hero.

The Civil War (or War of Northern Aggression as you see it called, if you are in Southern bookstores) was a brutal time in our country where over 600,000 men were killed (from injuries and illnesses) and many more maimed. The war was fought by just over 2 million on the Northern side and 1 million on the Southern. It and its aftermath bitterly divided our country for many years to come, and the resentments on both sides are still easily stirred up. Some believe if Lincoln had not been assassinated, the aftermath might've gone better as the weakness of his successor, Andrew Johnson, and Northern carpetbaggers and sharecropping systems did little to help the country truly heal-- not to mention unfair laws in Northern states, like Oregon's, which was adamantly pro-North and yet passed laws where no black was allowed to own property. That one lasted in my state until 1912. Hypocrisy, thy name is too often man.

Some are not satisfied with the Confederate flag being removed from public buildings (where it seems it should have never been), but they want the film 'Gone with the Wind' unavailable to see because it promotes the idea the war was not about slavery but about state's rights. It also gives stereotypes of black life under slavery. 

Because of such censorship, for years, you have not been able to see a Disney film, 'Song of the South,' and the Uncle Remus tales became equally hard to find based on censorship. That film inspired anger from the moment it came out in 1946. I had seen it as a small child. We took our children when they were small to what was likely its last such public viewing. It was an old black man telling these folk stories of the animals, and their tricks on each other. Viewing it didn't convince me or my children that life in the South was all beautiful then or now. It was a lovely film but a fantasy-- one of Disney's first to have real people mixed with cartoons to tell Uncle Remus' stories. You aren't going to buy a DVD of it on Amazon or in any store. It long ago was censored out of existence.

When something horrible happens, as it did in Charleston, we seem always as a people to react to it with extreme measures, often not hitting on the real issue, but almost always spewing hate. Hate is like a boomerang for how what you send out comes back. The Charleston murders came during a time where racial resentments were already being stirred up-- not saying without good reason. A lot has been going on of which many of us were not aware until the last year. It had been building though.


If these vicious murders had come in a vacuum, this renewed attack on the Secession or Rebellion (depending on who you are and how you see it) might not be the cultural issue it now is. We've had shootings in churches and killers like this one; but this time, it happened in the midst of a massive swelling of rage and upset. Did the latest killings have anything at all to do with the Civil War, Confederate flag, Gone with the Wind, or reenactments of Civil War battles? Who cares-- it's a cause!

Here comes true-confession time. On a personal level, I'm particularly concerned regarding this because of the censorship element. Shockingly to me, it has erupted prior to my bringing out in September my third Oregon historical, which takes some of this on-- without thinking it'd be something so controversial in our times. 


Three years or so ago, when I wrote the third one, I knew the history of the Civil War and what that meant in Oregon culturally. Going Home begins in 1865 just as the war had ended. It got into the political climate in Oregon and the extreme resentment toward anyone who had fought for the South, all while Oregon voted in place laws that were very unfair to minorities.

Add to it that Going Home has a mix of ethnic and cultural characters. There are those who will resent that I wrote black, Chinese, Jewish, and Native Americans as secondary characters as well as a hero who actually fought for the South. Horrors! The argument goes that writers have no right to cover other ethnicities when they aren't one of them (incidentally, I also had nobody who fought for the South in my ancestry). 

Well, all the time, I write about women I am not, don't want to be. With the men I write about-- I not only am not a man, have never been one, don't want to be married to those guys, but to add to it, I never wanted to be a man. I like being female way too much. Writing characters comes from looking around, gathering information, and using imagination!

Admittedly, I am seeing this all as a writer and one who likes to read books where history has not been sugarcoated to please one group or another. That's getting harder to do. Yes, I see the danger in using literature as a way to get political points across or to block them. But censorship has its own dangers.


Finally, be real careful where you get your news and be aware what it's doing when stirring up more angst and resentment. To be fair, I thought Maddow was more balanced,  but I only saw her first half... She had one very powerful segment though where she discussed how the Supreme Court decision regarding housing had surprised her and how important it was.
Here's the thing (and I agree with her and the Supremes regarding this)-- the more we segregate ourselves by one method or another, the more it is possible for groups to turn us against the 'other'. When we know the other, they prove not nearly so scary or evil. So that court decision might help-- but not right away. 

Even when it's your pet issue, do you really want censorship when you've raged against it in the past? It's censorship whether it's what you wanted not seen or what someone else wanted not seen. Same end result-- ideas are suppressed because they threaten or even worse, might make someone think beyond the approved message!

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

thoughts to consider

Let me count the ways bringing out a new book can go wrong. I'll start with using pre-release, something we'd never done before. It turned out that the version that got okayed had also saved the mistakes that had been edited out... So the first readers got the redline-- this isn't right-- along with what was right. Fortunately, a reader who liked the book let me know, and we corrected it-- that would be a day after it had been released... There were already about 130 sales or so, which means that many readers may be upset and some write a review saying how sloppy this was and so typical of indie writers. 

It is the kind of thing that no writer/editor/publisher wants to have happen, but alas life is what it is and things go wrong. One way to avoid ever having something go wrong is to do nothing.

In this case, I think it happened due to a combination of not having the full understanding of the last step in the pre-release but more because of it being an incredibly busy time here at the farm with getting in hay, having a toilet fail and needing to replace it, grandkids visiting, and moving the lab equipment from town to the farm. Put that together and it's not hard to see how a mistake could happen with the best of intentions.

When such things go wrong, it's a choice of whether to stew over it, blame someone, get all upset, or just laugh and think-- hey that's life; and it's not that huge in terms of life importance. 

It then seemed a good time to post a few of the positive thinking pages I've found and saved that friends had put out. These are simple thoughts but good reminders.



Saturday, June 20, 2015

regenerating


As I think I've probably mentioned before, my second Oregon historical, Where Dreams Go, will be available June 21 for both eBooks and paperbacks. This time I know the exact date for the eBook because for the first time we did a pre-release. The paperback might be dicier as if I want it to not be ahead of the eBook, it has to be estimated for how long it will take to go from approval of draft to published. For those who ordered the eBook, the iffyness of dates was made firm by pre-releasing. It will be delivered and available June 21, 2015.

This is a book that I wrote probably twenty years ago or more. It came about, as do many of my books, when I saw the potential in having a secondary character have their own story.

I've mentioned before that I like letting a book ruminate for some time before I type the first word. I do research during that time and play with ideas for what happens and which characters will be in the story. I don't ever say, as some authors do, that my characters take over from me. I will say what happens to them helps me see reactions and more actions as I get to knowing them better. I have a general plan but plenty of room for detours along the way. 


For Where Dreams Go, I did a cover back when it was going to have another title with no idea when it'd even be published. I do covers for all my books-- published or not. The first image, the one below, was when I was painting all my covers. It obviously never got used. While I like it, the hero actually looks wrong for the character, too old and he shouldn't have a mustache. Also these two look like they are experiencing more angst in their relationship than fits the book.

I got closer with another attempt. The Rose of Sharon is good imagery for a love story. All winter it looks like a shriveled stick with no hope of it ever blooming again, and then, there it is in all its glory--


But, there was a problem. While this book is about a woman who has given up on finding another love, it is also part of a series, and I couldn't come up with four flower titles that fit the four different romances. I did have one other good one for the couple in the third Oregon historical (cool digital painting for it also), but the first and fourth simply never found a symbolic flower that fit the story and sounded right for a title. Hence, I went looking for another message that would work for each. 

In Round the Bend, the theme is how we never know what is coming in life. We make assumptions, and plans, but they often are washed away by circumstances. The Trail itself was a sort of metaphor for that in our lives.

The second of the Oregon books is about our dreams, often the hidden goals we dare not voice. Through the characters' struggles, it illustrates good ways to fulfill a dream and ways that are self-defeating. 

When do we give up one dream for another? Is one dream for a lifetime realistic? Should dreams change as we do? Dreams help humans get through bad times, but they can be unrealistic or maybe we have given up too soon. Where Dreams Go was a perfect title for the book.


Wednesday, June 17, 2015

writing tips from Stephen King

For those interested in being a writer, of any genre, the link is to tips from author Stephen King. One cool thing about writers is many of them help other writers get better at their craft. 

Yes, craft can be taught but many things about writing are learning to listen within (whatever you call that) and from without. Every writer has to find their own voice. His suggestions could be helpful to those still looking to find theirs:



Saturday, June 13, 2015

some thoughts

I like creative quotes, inspiring words. I save those, which seem especially meaningful to my life. Here I am combining a few with photographs we have taken in places we love. Some we have been to many times-- others only once, but the memories are always there when it's a special place.


I do believe it is possible to create, even without ever writing a word or painting a picture, by simply molding one’s inner life. And that too is a deed.
-- Etty Hillesum, author




Every human is an artist. The dream of your life is to make beautiful art.

--don Miguel Rulz, author




To fulfill a dream, to be allowed to sweat over lonely labor, to be given the chance to create, is the meat and potatoes of life.

--Bette Davis




The beginning is always today.

--Mary Wollstonecraft




The longest journey is the journey inward.

--Dag Hammarskjold




The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.

--Marcel Proust