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Posts Tagged ‘Sandy the Black-Mouthed Cur’

Whimsical Words remains primarily a place for me to ponder the writer-illustrator journey, but I thought my readers might enjoy some words from visitors. Why the change?

First, I’ve had the opportunity to do some guest posts, and have found it fun and challenging. Plus, I hope I’m reaching a new audience each time I venture into the unknown territory of another blog.

Second, I like the idea of sharing different points of view. As the years drift by, I’m doing my best to become wiser, but I’m no Gandalf! (Sorry, I can’t resist a Tolkien reference). I think there’s a wealth of information and experience that others possess that will make Whimsical Words a better blog.

Third, writing and illustrating are lonely pursuits. I spend hours researching, writing, sketching, and painting with Sandy the Black-Mouthed Cur as my only company. That solitude is necessary in order to focus on the story or art I’m creating, but it’s nice to have the occasional conversation with someone who’s also interested in fairy tales, fantasy, science fiction, myth, legends, illustration, or writing.

Lastly, I think it’s important to support other writers. As much as I want people to find my books, buy and read them – I want even more to encourage kids, teens, and adults to read. By giving authors and their words a forum, I support reading, writing, and my brother & sister authors.

If you’ve been following Whimsical Words, I’ve shared links to a number of my recent guest blog posts. Here’s another link: http://nickwale.wordpress.com/2012/12/12/finding-inspiration-and-the-drive-to-succeed-by-vonnie-winslow-crist/ And thanks to Nick for hosting me.

So, look for my 1st guest author, Gail Z. Martin’s take on “The View from Outside the YA Fence” on Monday, January 21st.

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 Hooray! The 2011 issue of The Gunpowder Review arrived in 2 large boxes on my doorstep today. I opened the first box, heart thumping, and examined the newest edition of the women’s literary magazine that I’ve edited for the last 3 years.

I think the front and back covers look stunning. Front butterfly photo is from Katie Hartlove. Back cover photos are from Jean Voxakis, Danuta Kosk-Kosicka, Patti Kinlock, Kristin Stephens Crist, and Robin Bayne. And the poems, prose, photography, and artwork on the inside of the magazine are just as wonderful. I feel priviledged to publish the work of so many creative women, and look forward to hosting a publication reading on November 13th at 1 PM at the Bel Air, Maryland, Barnes & Noble. The public is not only invited, but encouraged to attend – so if you’re in the area, why not stop by?

 And the weather was so balmy today, that husband, Sandy the Black-Mouthed Cur, and I took a hike on the North Central Railroad Trail. We walked beneath deciduous trees that had few leaves remaining on their branches, over bridges spanning a creek that had enough momentum to turn many a mill wheel in the olden days, and beside farmland, woodland, and flood plain. Though there were exposed roots aplenty, fern gullies, and mossy rocks – I didn’t spy any Fairyfolk. Still, I believe that they were there peering at us from rabbit holes and birds’ nests.

There was a feeling of timelessness in the names of the tiny roads we crossed. I must research the history of the NCR Trail and the little towns we walked through. History holds so many secrets and endless inspiration for writers. I’ve used a bit of personal history to YA Urban Fantasy already, and I’ll surely use more.

So hurrah for hikes on sunny days, history, creative women, and the arrival of The Gunpowder Review 2011. Now, back to typing…

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 If you’d asked me a year ago what a podcast was, I wouldn’t have known. But I’ve since become acquainted with the technology that allows a writer to share audio recordings of their stories (or poems) with listeners.

Although it’s intimidating to sit in front of a microphone, book in hand, and read — at least I can click on a button, stop the recording, delete the dreadful version, and re-record. Only Sandy the Black-Mouthed Cur knows how many times it took to get a useable recording — and she’s sworn to secrecy.

Public readings aren’t so forgiving. If you stumble on a word or mix-up a phrase or mispronounce your main character’s name — there’s no erase button.

 I have Broad Universe http://broaduniverse.org  that wonderful organization for women who write (and illustrate) fantasy, science fiction, and horror, to thank for pushing me into the world of podcasting. They have a monthly podcast anthology program that presents the work of their members. I participated in the May 2011 “Celebrating Motherhood” and September 2011: “Fairy Tales for Grown Ups” programs.

You can go to the Broadpod site and listen to my first 2 attempts at reading & recording  excerpts from 2 stories included in The Greener Forest:

“Birdling” – http://broadpod.posterous.com/may-2011-celebrating-motherhood – “Birdling” begins 1 minute & 51 seconds into the podcast.

“Blood of the Swan” – http://broadpod.posterous.com/september-2011-fairy-tales-for-grown-ups  – “Blood of the Swan” begins 19 minutes & 47 seconds into the podcast.

Just forgive my mistakes. I hope to get better at podcasting. Who knows, I might even manage to put together some music and a complete short story in the future and post it on iTunes. So take a listen, and enjoy!

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 My collection of fantasy stories, illustrations, and a few poems, The Greener Forest, is complete. Editor Katie has suggested changes to the fiction (most of which I made) and scanned the manuscript for grammatical no-no’s. This week’s late-night rush to finish an adequate selection of illustrations for layout & design is done. Cold Moon Press must take over the book now. And exhausted, but happy, Sandy the Black-mouthed Cur and I both have bags under our eyes.

Today I woke to a stack of letters to answer piled on my desk and 2 illustrations to complete for a client. I needed to begin work on the cover art for a speculative fiction anthology. This afternoon’s slightly warmer temperatures have stirred up the non-indigenous stinkbug population. At least a dozen of the six-legged invaders have managed to gain access to the house, so I’ve been dutifully grabbing the bugs and flushing them away. Dust and cobwebs are gathering in the corners of several rooms, and there’s a pressing deadline to complete a piece of fiction which I haven’t even started. Yikes!

 But there’s also a recipe I’ve been meaning to try, a novel half-read, and a sewing project calling my name. There’s a movie I’ve been meaning to watch with my husband, and a dog who’d love a walk. I owe several friends phone calls, and my mom wants to read me a letter from long ago she found amongst some of my dad’s papers. The wild birds need to be fed, and Sandy wants to romp in the slowly disappearing snow.

 How should I choose to spend my Saturday? It’s a balancing act. This week, writing & artwork claimed most of my time — so this weekend, I’m going to focus on family, friends, wild birds, and my dog. Will my time-off from working on submissions and promoting The Greener Forest hurt my career? I’m not sure, but I know my soul needs to laugh at a dog eating snow and watch a cheesy romantic comedy with Ernie.

Though relaxing or not, I must still eliminate stinkbugs or they’re sure to take over the house!

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As another ice storm approaches Wood’s Edge, I haul seed out by the bucketful to the wild birds perched on the branches of the trees and shrubs at the forest’s edge. Even with coat, hat, boots, and gloves, I shiver. I glance up at the heavy gray sky before filling the feeders. The chickadees, juncoes, wrens, cardinals, blue jays, red-winged blackbirds, sparrows, nuthatches, and tufted titmice (titmouses?) bravely swoop down and clothespin themselves to the perches of nearby feeders as I fumble with the first suet basket. Crows caw from the fence rail, several woodpeckers hop down the tree trunks, and a solitary hawk watches the goings-on with much interest.

 Meanwhile, Sandy the Black-mouthed Cur is bounding through the drifts, grabbing mouthfuls of snow, and rolling with abandon in the loose, fluffy snow in the corner of the yard. Joyful is the only word to describe her behavior. She looks at me, eyes bright, muzzle whitened by snow, tail wagging so hard the rear half of her body has joined its back & forth motion, and woofs. A playful woof that seems to say: The world is wonderful and isn’t it great to be alive!

Last winter seemed to be a long string of snowstorms. This winter appears to be much the same. I get lots of writing and drawing done it’s true, but I miss morning walks. Ice is not something I choose to tread upon when trying to manage an enthusiastic 60-pound dog. And tonight we expect more ice. 

But even as I cringe at the thought of another month of bad weather (and I suspect we shall get another month’s worth of frozen precipitation whether or not that famous Pennsylvania groundhog sees his shadow) — I think of crocuses and the sound of spring peepers. And since Sandy has only been with me since last June, I secretly wonder what she’ll think of frogs!

 And so, I share a quote from Anne Bradstreet: “If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant.” Indeed!  And if we had no winter, Sandy the Black-mouthed Cur would surely miss the snow.

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I saw my first palmetto bug a couple of weeks ago while in Augusta, GA. The foul creature scurried from under the screen door, across the floor, and to a corner of the RV. After the initial screech, I  fumbled for something (anything) with which to kill this giant cousin of a cockroach. Without fly swatter, household insecticide, husband, or faithful black-mouthed cur nearby — I resorted to cornering the palmetto bug with a broom handle, and then, dousing it with multiple squirts from my Skinsensations Insect Repellent.

 By the time husband and Sandy the Black-Mouthed Cur finally returned from their walk, the palmetto bug appeared to be in the last stage of a 10 minute wriggly-leg death. With a swift stomp, husband put the insect out of its misery, and all returned to normal. Or so it seemed. But in my mind, there were more palmetto bugs lurking in the shadows, under the RV’s couch, behind the shampoo bottle in the RV’s shower, and in dozens of other nooks. And those skulking palmetto bugs had witnessed my assault on their brother, and were now plotting their revenge.

Now, home at Wood’s Edge in the outskirts of The Shire, I am still uneasy. Stinkbugs, large black ants, box elder bugs, water bugs, crickets, and other six-legged creepers seem to be everywhere. They climb on the window screens, rush in the garage, and try to sneak inside the house every time a door opens. I’m concerned that a stray palmetto bug (or 2) has hitchhiked a ride north on the RV and spread the word. Now, the local insects have been alerted to my murderous ways and watch me with growing intensity…

People always ask me where I get the ideas for my stories — I usually answer, “Life.” In this particular case, I could answer, “Palmetto Bugs!”

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It’s difficult to write a winter tale in the swelter of a Georgia summer, but that’s what I found myself doing last week.

I was working on a story set in a snow-covered forest with an approaching blizzard. The oscillating fan at the end of the RV’s sofa stood in nicely for the north wind. The rush of icy air that poured from the freezer when I opened it to grab a handful of cubes for my tea chilled my arm. The white curtains fluttering between the driver & passenger seats and the living area of the RV reminded me of a barn owl’s wing. (There’s an owl in the story). The sandy-colored dog sprawled at my feet took on deer-form. (And a deer in the tale, too). And the perspiration dripping from my brow became snowmelt.

The working title of the tale is “A Midwinter’s Eve,” and I’m hoping it will appear in a new anthology, Rush of Wings, from Soylent Publications (Jhada Rogue Addams, Publisher) that will feature skewed fairy tales, myths, and legends. But even if the story doesn’t make it into that collection, I want to write “A Midwinter’s Eve” well enough that some other editor will find it publishable.

Note in the first sentence I used the word difficult rather than impossible. Difficult tasks are challenging, but do-able. And with a little imagination and stick-to-it-ness, a story can be written, a picture drawn, or a problem overcome.

The weather at Wood’s Edge in rural Maryland is more fall-like, so my next draft of “A Midwinter’s Eve” will be perhaps an easier write. But easier or not, I will write! And I encourage each of you to face your challenges, whether large or small, because as Joshua J. Marine put it: “Challenges are what make life interesting. Overcoming them is what makes life meaningful.”

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