Saturday, June 30, 2012


We are home!  We're still on pre-evacuation, just in case, but I imagine it will be like that for awhile.  We aren't fully unpacking our valuables just yet.  We have escaped both damage and the burglaries committed in our neighborhood, and are incredibly lucky and blessed.  Thank you for hanging around and bearing with me!  I will get back to normal posting come Monday.  In the meantime, my family's hearts go out to the 346 families who lost their homes, the family of those lost in the fire, and those with homes who cannot yet return to them, or who returned to severe damage.  And we are thankful to all the kind people who helped us and gave us comfort and support.  As well as to the firefighters, police officers and rescue personnel who are working so hard.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Safely Evacuated!

Tuesday, early evening, the Waldo Canyon Fire breached the final ridge between the fire and the neighborhood across from mine.  They claim the flames moved five miles in three minutes after jumping across two containment lines.  The culprit?  A thunderstorm behind the fire, which caused 65mph winds to carry the flames a massive distance.

My neighborhood was not even on pre-evacuation, which is basically a warning that the fire might be eying you for a future snack, so maybe pack a suitcase or something.  They had put the neighborhood across from ours, nestled directly against the west ridge of Queen's Canyon, on mandatory evacuation days before, and the one to their north on pre-evacuation alert, though most were at work.

At 3:43pm, I got the following photos from my street, having received a call from my oldest brother, recommending I get outside and look at the ridge:

Within 2 minutes, it looked like this:

I went home, still no evacuation orders, and started semi-calmly packing up some things, figuring we'd get a call to evacuate at any time, and that, either way, we were leaving as soon as my husband got home.  Sirens sounded from multiple directions as emergency responders converged on the Mountain Shadows neighborhood across from me.

At 4:00pm, our daily afternoon update was occurring (I was NOT watching the television).  At about 4:15, as my husband was leaving work due to this smoke coasting over his place of employment, the mayor was pulled aside, then promptly strode to the microphone and initiated a mandatory evacuation of the surrounding neighborhoods (skipping ours).

At about 4:20 or so, the wind suddenly hit our neighborhood.  The smoke was so thick you could only see about two houses down.  Ashes began to rain down like snow.  They got progressively larger and blacker, having started out a gentle dove gray in color.  The smoke became suffocating.  I began throwing items into the back of my car in armloads, giving up on packing.  I sent my children, 4 and 7 years old, on errands around the house as I packed, frantically trying to field calls and texts as both the house phone and my cell phone blew up, concerned family and friends asking me if I was evacuating, because they could see the flames from other areas.

A little after 4:30, my neighbors all packing up their belongings, just as I was, my husband texted me that he was trying to get home, but streets were blocked.  I received a call from a friend at about the same time, asking me if I was evacuating.  My panicked response, telling her ash and embers were falling and Jeff couldn't get home to me, was enough to cause her to leave a client in her chair (she's a hairdresser), jump in her truck and haul ass to my house to help me pack some things up.  She made it there before my husband and helped me get things into the car and her truck.  She also helped me calm the kids, who were now aware we were evacuating and were utterly terrified.

I'm not sure what time my husband got home, but he had to double back and circle around another way to get home.  I think it was probably only about 10 minutes after my friend got here.  We grabbed the cat, called goodbyes to our neighbors as they, too, got into their cars, some taking photos as they went (I didn't get a chance), and I took off to get the kids out of the smoke - it had begun filling our house, despite the hardworking air conditioner and filter.  My husband and friend stayed behind to salvage a few more things.

I waved goodbye to a few more neighbors, no idea whether I'd see them again.  Sound was eerily muffled, and the scene was like something out of Dante's Peak. 

By the time I got off my street, heading a back way to get to a street light because my husband said I'd never get out the other way, there was a line of cars evacuating, with other cars speeding past me in the opposite direction to get to their homes and grab their loved ones, pets and important items.  It took several lights to pull out into the traffic on the larger road, and I was forced to pull into the far lane, not the one I needed to be in, or be the jerk that would clog up the road and not allow people behind me through.  I was unable to get over to turn where I needed, so I had to go forward and double back through a shopping center, then bull my way across three lanes of traffic to get to my husband's boss's house, only to find it was awful up there, as well, and they were evacuating (by choice, like us).  They stayed with me until my husband could get there, our phone service cutting out because all circuits were busy.  I didn't know where my husband and friend were, if they were okay, if they were on their way, until one phone call finally burst through.  It took over an hour for my husband and friend to get the same distance I had gone, though in the opposite direction, because when they tried to go the route I had, they found traffic about five times more backed up than when I'd left.  They had to drive directly past open flames on the opposite side of the road, from what we now believe to have been a spot fire that was put out not long after they passed them. 

At 6:54pm, my cell phone rang at the same time as my husband's boss's.  It was the reverse 911 call, telling us to evacuate.  Too little, too late.

I had tried to call my parents, who live close to me, as I was sitting at that first light, but the phone was cutting in and out and finally dropped the call entirely.  I was able to get through again briefly when I got the reverse 911 call, to insure they'd gotten it and were leaving.  They had actually been rousted by an official knocking on their door, insisting they get out in 5 minutes.  They were on their way out, only enough time to grab their dogs and go.  I got a text from my sister that my mother was having a horrible asthma attack, and that her inhaler wasn't working.  By this time, I was clear across town, too far away to do anything.  My middle brother, whose house they had met at, was on the phone with 911.  An ambulance was able to get through, and my mom is okay now. 

We were lucky, because we had a friend we could stay with.  Others weren't so lucky.  Many evacuees are staying at emergency shelters.  We are okay, and have now moved to a hotel in a city 38 miles south of Colorado Springs to get away from the ever-present wall of smoke, and burning acrid stench of it, which chased us all the way to our friend's house.  My parents and oldest two brothers were evacuated from their homes, as well.  All are safe, at this time.  My parents are with friends, my oldest brother is, as well, and my middle brother is in a hotel.  My youngest brother and sister are out of harm's way for the time being.

The area of the fire tripled on the day we were evacuated.  Tripled.  Because of one thunderstorm.

Now we wait and see, and hope like mad for rain or a miracle.  We get updates twice per day, once in the morning, once around 4pm, telling us where the fire is, and hoping to hear that our home is okay.  We've signed up for a notification that is supposed to tell us if our house is one of the ones burned.  So far, hundreds of houses have burned, and the Flying W Ranch, an iconic part of our community, was completely burned down.  I'd had plans with friends to go there Thursday.

Despite the terrible cost to land and, now, homes, no lives have been lost.  Not in civilians or firemen.  I'm grateful for the hard work of every group involved in fighting the fire, getting people to safety, and feeding and caring for those who are now homeless, either temporarily or permanently.  I am also very appreciative of the news outlets, who have done an excellent job of keeping us informed when they can.

As far as we know, a certain road is acting as a firebreak, keeping the fire at bay away from our neighborhood.  However, they say embers are flying up to 1/2 mile, and that 65% of them are starting spot fires, so they are maintaining crews in the area to put out spot fires, as well as keeping a police presence to discourage looters.

I guess this is my really long-winded way of telling you that I know I didn't post a [Mostly] Wordless Wednesday post, and I'm not sure when I will again.  I'm hoping they can get the fire past 5% contained and that I can eventually go home.  In the meantime, we are deciding on a daily basis what to do and where to stay.  By the time you read this, we will likely be in day 3 of our evacuation, having fled our home on Tuesday.

I will try to get back to regularly scheduled posts when we have achieved some sense of permanence, whether that means we're back home or we're at least still in the same place (this hotel).  Now that we've got wi-fi again, maybe I can at least do a little catching up on visiting and commenting in the evenings.

Stay safe, and thank you to those of you who commented on Monday's post wishing us well.  Stay safe.

May you find your Muse.

P.S. You writers out there will be relieved to hear that we got the vast majority of my writing out, including the hard drive from my Mac, which holds my novel and WIPs.  I also got out the vast majority of my photos.  I hope to find that it never mattered whether I got that stuff out, because my house is okay.  My community, however, will never be the same.  The face of it has changed in its entirety.  I'm heartbroken at the loss.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Write Brain: Computer Security for Writers

Happy Monday!

Before I pass along some great information for you from the Write Brain presented by J.T. Evans concerning computer security for writers, I want to warn you that there is a chance I may miss some posts and/or get further behind on visits this week, as I am currently one street away from the evacuation area of the Waldo Canyon Fire in Colorado Springs.  Those wildfire pics I passed on to you recently?  Yeah, nothing compared to the view when a fire is threatening your home.  Luckily, we have a ridge between us and where the fire currently is.  It has crested a ridge behind that one, but they were heavily laying down slurry at the fire line there in an attempt to keep the fire from getting into the neighborhood across from ours (the one currently evacuated).

We're packed up in case we need to evacuate, and we've explained to the kids the best we can, but the chances of our neighborhood having to evacuate are minor.  In the meantime, we're locked up in the house with the air conditioning pumping, because it's the only way to filter the intense smoke.  Below, you'll find a photo from my front porch of the plume on the first day of the fire, one hour after it started (more to come Wednesday, if I'm able):


You all know my favorite place is Garden of the Gods, right?  Well, that is being threatened right now, as well.  I'm figuring the rock formations will be fine, but it won't be the same if everything around them is burned to a crisp.  The Cliff Dwellings I posted about before are also being threatened, as well as many historic buildings and one of our reservoirs.  Being an area constantly in drought, having one of our reservoirs contaminated will be a massive blow, especially considering how much water we're using to fight the fire (as well as a nearby one that sprung up during this one). 

In short, please keep those evacuated, those in the path, our firefighters and the wildlife in your thoughts and prayers.  It's intense out here right now, but they are diverting resources from some of our other fires (those threatening land more than people/population centers) and from around the country, and we've got military resources helping.

Now, for Practical Computer Security for Writers, a Write Brain Workshop presented by J.T. Evans, Fantasy author, president of Colorado Springs Fiction Writers Group, and computer geek extraordinaire.  He is a certified ethical hacker, passing along information to protect others from not-so-ethical hackers.  You can find him at, and you can find the notes from this workshop at this link, as I am only giving you a limited portion here.

Why is it important for writers to be aware of their computer security?  Take that 50,000 words you've just completed.  Now, what happens when some jerk creates a virus of some sort and someone passes that sucker off to you? 

All that work is gone.

Did everyone get a little sick to their stomachs at that?  You should have!  Anyone who's lost bits of their writing, for ANY reason, knows how badly that hurts.

Basic ways you can protect yourself include:

1. Keeping your software updated.  Check frequently for patches and upgrades.  These often address issues that have been discovered since the last patch or installation, and keeping these updated can protect you.  Microsoft has updates available the second Tuesday of each month (with some in between, when necessary).  You should update Apple OSX, Linux, and third party software (Adobe, Office, Java, etc.) on a weekly basis.  Pick a day each week to do this and just expect you will spend a certain amount of time on it.

2. Securing your computer.  Have an anti-virus*, personal firewall and spyware protection on your computer (and keep these updated--daily!)  For anti-virus, he recommended Symantec, McAfee or Kaspersky.

3. Backing your files up regularly.  He says to do a full backup monthly, and incremental backups weekly.  There are many options for how to backup your goodies, including cloud-based (DropBox, etc.), network-based, host-based, and software.  Host-based solutions are things like an external hard drive or a CD/DVD or USB.**  J.T. was uncomfortable with cloud-based solutions, asking "what are they doing with your files?"  Who has ownership?  As for software that can be used for backing up, Genie Timeline exists for Windows, while Time Machine is built-in on your Mac.  Time Machine will automatically do regular backups, as well as hourly snapshots, onto a USB plugged into the system.

4. Having hard-to-hack passwords. They should be a minimum of 8 characters long, but not too long to remember; use upper- and lower-case letters; use numbers***; using a phrase is a good idea, but take out the first word, then use the first letter of each word thereafter (ex: May the Force be with you...TFBWY32).

*Install only one anti-virus program at a time.  Multiple A-V programs will duke it out, as they don't play well together.

**An important pointer: As soon as you put information on a CD/DVD, it begins to degrade.  You should replace a disk every 6 months if you don't want to lose your data.  On the other hand, a USB is fairly indestructible, and will not degrade over time.  However, if you repeatedly use a USB, putting data on, taking it off, putting more on, it will become damaged.  Put the information on and stick it in a fire-proof safe, you'll be good to go.

***When using numbers, do NOT put a similar-looking number in for a letter.  That is one of the first things a hacker will try.  For instance, do not turn an E into a 3 or an O into a 0.

Additional notes:

1. Word Vault is a program you can use to store your usernames and passwords for different websites.

2. LinkedIn had an incident recently, where people's information (such as passwords) was leaked.  To see if you're on the list, go to

3. If you mail your work to yourself and do not have your own email server, encrypt it before sending.  You don't want the email companies having your work any more than you want the cloud companies having it.

4. Do not give information when prompted for it, such as bank account information.  If you get an email, supposedly from your bank, contact your bank directly instead of replying with private information.

5. If you're using the free wi-fi at a coffee shop, you're exposing your computer to anyone within a certain area.  If you do this, try to only do so in a place that presents you with a password and use SSL, which shows up in your url as https instead of just http.

6. Do not have the same password for everything you need a password for.  If one site gets hacked, they now have your username and password to try on other sites you may visit. 

I hope you've found this information useful, and I apologize if I'm scattered or mixed anything up, but it's been that kind of weekend!  There is much more information on the handouts at his website, as well as additional resources.  Much of the information on his handouts is useful if you happen to be writing a story involving hacking or computer security (or just computers, overall), including basic terminology and the difference between Internet, internet and intranet.  A great resource, guys!

****Padlock and Computer images by OCAL, of

Is your computer properly protected?  Ever lost a chunk of writing?  Haven't we all?  Learn anything new?

May you find your Muse.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

[Mostly] Wordless Wednesday - Fire & Fine Art + Links

Wednesday already?  Boy, the days go by quickly!

Today's [Mostly] Wordless Wednesday will be two-fold.  First, I just wanted to share a bit of what my city looks like right now.  There are a couple wild fires going, one having surpassed 59,000 acres and 181 homes destroyed.  While we've had smoke from that fire some days, depending on the direction of the wind, there is now a smaller fire burning about 40 miles from where I live.  That one is at about 1100 acres, but it's pumping smoke into the Pikes Peak region quite heavily, at least at times (again, depending on winds).  I snapped a couple sunset pics the other night as I was driving home.

A smoky view of Pikes Peak and Garden of the Gods.

A southwest view down the Rockies, barely visible, with a portion of Cheyenne Mountain at the far left.

The good thing is that there has only been one death from the fires, though that is one too many. I'm desperately hoping for some rain all around the state, but we are in a perpetual drought, so rain is fairly rare.

Despite the lingering smoke, the kids and I still went on our weekly adventure field trip.  This week's trip was to the Fine Arts Center and the American Numismatic Association Money Museum.  Unfortunately, only the Fine Arts Center allowed photography, but I thought I'd share a couple of those photos.

(Yeesh, I went through selecting photos and chose waaaay too many, so I will try to trim it and pass along far fewer.)

As you walk in the front door, you're greeted by a chandelier made by Chihuly. I really regret having missed his show there a couple years ago.

This is a close up of a bigger painting, which is vivid and amazing on its own, but I find something so compelling about his face. This is David from the painting Study for a David and Goliath, an acrylic painting done by Paul Cadmus in 1971.

Ow! My eyeballs! I tell you, I could not look at this painting without getting dizzy. This is Vibrations of Scarlet on Blue and Green, No. 5, by Vance Kirkland, 1967, oil on canvas.

This is a portion of the sculpture Sacred Rain Arrow by Allan Houser, 1988, in bronze.

Last one! I had to pass this along for my fellow writers out there. This is Monster Pencil Tip: An Endlessly Enlargeable Monument to Human Imagination, Interrupted - Pay no Attention to its Highly Suggestible Shape, by Sean O'Meallie in 2005, polychromed wood. The highly suggestible shape is that of a warhead. To quote the placard: "Implicit in this dual appearance is dual meaning: the productive nature of a pencil with the destructive reality of a warhead. [...] as the words scrawled by a pencil can be more dangerous and destructive than any bomb."

There were so many things to choose from! It was definitely worth the visit, and I'll happily go again and pay (it was a free day). My kids, ages 7 and 4, loved it, as well, which I was a little surprised by. I was afraid they'd be bored, but nope!

Now, if you made it through all of that, here are this week's links:

Does anyone remember when I was on that kick to find a program that would allow me to hear typewriter sounds while writing?  Well, here is another one!  And this is also one of those lovely programs that puts you in a distraction-free screen while writing.  I haven't tried it yet, but it was recommended: Write Monkey

Stone Thread Publishing is running a writing contest in honor of Ray Bradbury, no entry/reading fee, deadline July 31.

If you're writing memoirs or something set in the past, this dMarie Time Capsule is pretty awesome.  You can plug in a date and the time capsule will pull up pertinent information that helps you set the scene, such as music/movies of the day, headlines, prices, the president, etc.  Very interesting.  I just got sidetracked because I plugged in my birth date.

Shelf Stealers runs a monthly writing contest, but there is a $5 entry fee.  

WEbook is running the Nameless Icon Writing Contest, which challenges you to write a description of an iconic person that people will recognize without being told the name.  Sounds like a fun activity!

Wily Writers Audible Fiction has an interesting twist and is a paying market.  They publish your piece in both text and audio.

Once Upon an Apocalypse is looking for stories for two different anthologies, both dealing with mixed up fairy tales/nursery rhymes, with one wanting them zombified and the other Lovecrafted.  Paying market.  Deadline July 31, or first filled.

Penumbra Magazine is taking submissions for three different months, each with different themes.  Paying market.

Ticonderoga Publications is a paying market, taking submissions for an anthology with the working title Dreaming of Djinn.

Woo!  Did you make it through all that?  I hope there was something helpful for someone in all this!  On Monday I'll be passing along some fantastic information from the Write Brain I attended last night, dealing with computer security for writers.  I will also pass along the author/presenter's website, where I believe you will have access to his handouts.  It was a fantastic workshop!

Anything helpful in here?  Did you have a favorite of the pieces I posted?  How are the temps/weather in your area?

May you find your Muse.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Road Trip Check-in at the A-to-Z!

Hello there!  Today we have a Post A-to-Z Road Trip check-in over at the A-to-Z Challenge blog.  Stop by and chat with us!

Are you road tripping with us? Making any progress?

May you find your Muse.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Summer Lull...Sigh...& Blog Award & Write Brain

Well, hello there!  We have reached the part of summer wherein I get frustrated that I still have not reached a happy writing routine and start slipping into my head-desk stage.  At least I can say I looked at this year a little more realistically than last year, knowing full well that the kids being home from school would make it hard.  I just figured I'd manage to eke out SOME time for writing and that's really not happening.  Mondays I get a little writing done at the library (my kids LOVE the library).  Other than that, I'm having a hard time making it happen.

So how the heck do you other parents get the writing done in the summer? 

Don't get me wrong, I'm snatching a little time here, a little time there, but I'm frustrated with how little it's happening. 

Now for the award!

The always charming Lily Tequila gave me the Versatile Blogger Award.  If you haven't checked out her blog Wishbone Soup Cures Everything, you're missing out.  Who else goes to the store decked out in full pirate gear?  Or goes to work in a fairy tutu?

Thank you, Lily!  I appreciate you thinking of me!

Finally, I know it's not Wednesday, but I'm passing along a little info and link, anyway.  It will only do locals any good, though.  Tuesday, I'll be attending a Write Brain, sponsored by Pikes Peak Writers, entitled Practical Computer Security for Writers, led by J.T. Evans.  If there's info I can pass along, I'll do it Monday.  I'm looking forward to hanging out with writer types so and getting re-energized for some writing!

What's your secret to summer writing?  Are you happy with what you're accomplishing?

May you find your Muse.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

[Mostly] Wordless Wednesday - Cliff Dwellings & Links

I'm a few hours late getting this up, but sometimes you have to decide between visiting with a friend from out of state or getting a blog post up!

For my "field trip" with my kiddos this week, we visited the Manitou Cliff Dwellings.  These are ruins of Anasazi cliff dwellings that were moved up from Cortez, in the Four Corners region, near Mesa Verde.  So, while these cliff dwellings did not originally exist up here, they are true ruins, reassembled up here, a pet project of Edgar Lee Hewett and Virginia McClurg from 1904 to 1907.

They were pretty cool!  It's astounding how small a living area each family got.  A three-story structure (one room/floor per family) created a room that had me stooped over.  They appear to have lived communally, with a common refuse, animal and food prep area, as well as shared storage towers and bins.  Puts modern day living quarters and demands to shame.

Without further ado, here's the wordless part of [Mostly] Wordless Wednesday:

Three family dwelling structure.

This was some important man's building.  I have no idea whose, because I didn't get a chance to read that plaque!

Corn meal, anyone?

A ceremonial kiva.  I've always found these fascinating.

A long view from the top.

Petroglyphs.  It's conjectured that these talk about the drought that ultimately drove the Anasazi out of their dwelling to intermingle with the Pueblo.

Grain storage tower with the hole blocked up to keep critters out.

Cool fact: They had stones that were perfectly cut to plug up the window and door holes when it was cold.  

Now for some helpful links:

Pants on Fire Press is accepting unsolicited submissions on children's fiction and non-fiction.  See their website for requirements. 

You Know You're a Writer When... from Author Infusion.  Any of these ring true for you?

Daisy, of Fresh as a Daisy, is having a giveaway of Colors Like Memories that ends tomorrow.

Fellow blogger Sketcher Girl has opened her own online business.  She does artwork and book covers.  You can view some of her fabulous book covers on her website; I think you may recognize one, at least.  She will read your [undesigned] cover to [undesigned] cover before designing your book cover, in order to insure she has it right.  AND she doesn't use stock photos, which is HUGE!  Everything is original.

Any links to share?  Ever been to any cave dwellings?  How would you like to live in that setting?

May you find your Muse.

Monday, June 11, 2012

To Prologue or Not to Prologue, That is the Question

Post Prologue

Once, in a dungeon far, far away, there was a girl who pounded out a story born of dreams.  When she completed this story, she edited and edited, finally giving it to a beta reader, then editing again.  She gathered up all her courage, despite fear and insecurity, and submitted that story to a contest, then another.  Each set of feedback she received was seriously considered, some of it used to tweak the story a bit, but one question lingered...

Should I put a prologue or keep the discovery of the situation gradual?

The word out there is so anti-prologue that it's hard to decide if I'm avoiding a prologue because I think it's the wrong choice, or if I'm doing it because I'm afraid of the prologue due to constant "NO PROLOGUE" dialogue around the cyber writing world.  Are they really so bad?  

I've been paying close attention to the books I read, and whether they feature a prologue or not.  So far, I have not run across one (at least not while I've been paying attention) that I found to be annoying or unnecessary.  Well, maybe unnecessary, but I didn't think that it was a bad thing.  

A prologue can set the scene or give back story that might be too hard to place convincingly into the story.  However, some consider it a lazy writer's crutch.  While I don't agree with this concept, at least to an extent, do I want to face those who do and have them automatically turned off when it comes to my story?  Do I want others to consider me a lazy writer?  Am I?

Here's the thing: I've already written the story without a prologue.  In fact, I don't recall wanting to put a prologue in at the beginning.  Instead, I worked to weave bits of the back story into the tale, making sure the reader discovers answers alongside the characters.  BUT there is a catalyst that has put them in the position they're in, something the characters are fully aware of from the beginning. that might benefit from the prologue treatment.  In the meantime, that's one thing I've had to establish immediately in the story, and that involves a little more "telling" than I might have preferred, though I've broken it up.  If my concept is that the reader discovers the answers with the characters, shouldn't the reader know what they know from the beginning?

Before I sign out, I wanted to say that I am FINALLY catching up on my blog comments from April to now.  I know I dropped the ball in a few places, and I'm going through to respond, though likely few will see it after all this time, and visiting the blogs of those who commented during that time and did not get a previous visit from me.  As of today, I've made it back to the A-to-Z Reflections post, so it is just the A-to-Z posts I got behind on, which isn't all of them, thankfully!  Then I can start catching up on the lists of participants.  Shew.  Feels good to finally be catching up.

Also, here's a BuNoWriMo status update (based off of one half-hour of writing, plus three hours on another day):

Myth Stalker
is 5% complete

2553 / 50000 words written

What are your feelings on prologues?  Is there a place for them?  Do you have any examples of particularly good or bad prologues?  Do you think it's the sign of a lazy writer or a useful tool, when necessary?  Did you ever get around to all your A-to-Z commenters?  How are you BuNo'ers doing?

May you find your Muse.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

[Mostly] Wordless Wednesday - Dinosaurs! & Helpful Links

I took my kiddos to the Dinosaur Resource Center in Woodland Park, Colorado for this week's field trip, so I thought I'd pass along some fossil photos for [Mostly] Wordless Wednesday.

How could I not put T-Rex first?  Ol' T is never as big as I expect one to be, but I still wouldn't stand there and mock it if it was trying to chew on me.  RAWR!


This is their newest edition: Apataosaurus.  This thing was massive!  The only photos that do its length any justice, though, have my kids or niece or nephew in them, so I can't post them.

This here's Pachy.  Pachycephalosaurus, that is.   That thing towering behind him?  T-Rex.

And a bonus for you car fans out there - this beauty was parked near my car when I came out and I had to snap a photo.

Now for some helpful links:

Black Lawrence Press is in open reading period for submissions until June 30.  They are seeking literature and creative non-fiction.

Ploughshares is in open reading period for submissions of fiction, poetry and limited amounts of non-fiction.

Freefall Magazine is open for submissions until August 31.  This is for their winter issue.  They are seeking prose, poetry, art, photographs and will take proposals for interviews and reviews.

Writer's Toybox will be hosting a short story contest soon.  Details on the way.  Top entries will be included in an anthology, and the winner will be offered a novel publishing contract.

That's it for today, folks!  I hope you're having a wonderful summer (for those in the same hemisphere as me), and a great winter for those on the south side of the globe.

Any links to share?  Ever wanted to be a paleontologist?  Like dinosaurs?  What about cars? 

May you find your Muse.

Monday, June 4, 2012

What Makes a Writer? Also, Award & BuNoWriMo

I attended a Pikes Peak Writers Write Brain last month, entitled "A Right-Brain, Left-Brain Write Brain" (say that five times fast!)  I didn't take notes, and it wasn't something I'd be able to really pass along and make sense of on here, but I found it interesting how the two delightful ladies (Barbara Samuel and Laura DiSilverio) broke down the parts of writing.  They explained how they each approached the different aspects of writing, and it got me thinking about the integral parts of the writing process.

First, you have the creativity.  That's innate.  Each of us is creative in a different way, inspired in varying ways, but we all have a story to tell, something that floats around in our heads and begs to be released.

But then you get into the more linear business of writing.

For instance, you have pantsing vs. plotting, and everything in between.  Some people create an entire outline, with every single plot point, before they write a regular line of prose.  Others just write the first line and go from there.  Then there are all of those who fall in between.  Everyone approaches it differently, but each of us has our own preferred method (or we're working to find it).

Next, we have consistency.  There are those who manage to sit down at the same time every day, a routine firmly established, and write for a specific amount of time.  Others might sit down at the same time, but write a certain number of words, rather than pre-selecting a period of time, no matter how many words are written.  Still others write whenever the heck they can, many only sporadically. 

Stories can be written via PC, laptop, Mac, handheld portable device, typewriter, voice recorder or the classic pen to paper.  They can be short stories, flash fiction, poetry or novels.  They can be self-published or traditionally published.  It can take decades to write them, or days.  It all depends on the writer.

So what makes a writer?  The story, and the desire to put that story out there for someone else to enjoy.  It all comes back to that creativity, but the spark that compels that person to present it to others finishes it off.  Without that spark, you're just a dreamer, which is okay, too.  A writer has to want to share their work, for one reason or another.

Having said that, I'm participating in BuNoWriMo this month.  I was just going to use it as inspiration to get started without officially signing up, but I love this progress tracker and why the heck shouldn't I just go ahead and sign up??  So I have!  I started today, so a couple days late, and I only had half an hour to actually write after getting everything set up, but I feel good about it, anyway.

Myth Stalker
is 1% complete

674 / 50000 words written

The Burrow is the host site, and there is a Facebook page you can access from there to chat with other BuNo'ers.  While I don't intend to shoot for the full 50,000 words, I need to get my butt in gear and figure out my summer routine, and I'm hoping this will help me. 

Also, the always engaging Lover of Words, at Of Shoes and Ships and Cabbages and Kings has given me the One Lovely Blog Award.  The things I have learned from her about my own state via her comments on my blog are fantastic enough, but her blog is always compelling, as well.  I'm delighted to have had the opportunity to get to know her, and I'm delighted she thought of me.

The rules include listing seven random things about myself:
1. I am currently hooked on watching episodes of Quantum Leap from beginning to end.  Still a great show!
2. I am ridiculously excited about the plans I have with my kiddos this summer.
3. I started my new novel today!!!!  EEK!  So happy!
4. I have a bad habit of chewing on the insides of my cheeks, whether nervous, bored or concentrating.
5. I started going "gray" in high school.  I insisted I would never color my hair, but I hit a point where it started aging me beyond where I was willing to age...
6. When my hair has grown out between colorings, I refer to it as sparkling. 
7. I'm really terrible at thinking up random things about myself that aren't completely dull.  Sorry!

How are you at talking about yourself?  Participating in BuNoWriMo?  What makes you a writer? 

May you find your Muse.