Thursday, July 21, 2016

Lorelei's Enchanted Forest

Today, I wanted to show you my garden/forest/trail, and tell you a little bit about it, and how much work I've done on it for the past 2 years. This year especially I've spent a lot of hours on this woods and expansion of the trail.
This shows the entrance from our yard. It's deeply wooded with mostly black walnut trees, but many other shrubs and trees intermingle.

Two years ago, my husband simply mowed around the tree, which you see behind that brown door, it's nice, up until the mosquitoes emerge later in spring. I like to watch birds from the bench you see in front. Gradually, that first year, I began working on a winding pathway through brush and black raspberry bushes, in order to come out the other side where the forest preserve drive is, and where the property ends.


This is the beginning of a meandering, winding trail that I can only guess as being about 100 or so feet in length. The path is done in wood chips. I, myself, hauled dozens of wheelbarrows of wood chips from at least 100 yards away, doing maybe 4 to 6 loads in a day. In some cases I had a larger wheelbarrow, but I found that even though I could get more mulch into this, it was heavier. It wasn't so much about hauling it, as it was doing it all myself, building up muscles after a long winter, and exercise--which I never like to do, except when I see something as ends to a means. In other words, I don't want to get on a treadmill and go nowhere and have nothing to show for my time invested. I'd rather take a walk in the park and see nature.

I'm not only a writer, but I was always an artist. When growing up my mother must have had a conniption with me, as I drew on walls. I have to laugh. If only she'd have gotten me some paper, I would have been happy with drawing on it.

Anyway, to give you a little taste of my inventiveness, I'll show you some of my art work below.

"MORNING AFTER THE NIGHT BEFORE"
I love glass especially old glass, which I'll show you in just a moment. The twisted tree which I used to place the bottles on, is actually the root end of a tree. I saw it in a pile of debris, and told my husband I needed it for my garden. I sawed off, by hand, the other end of it, placed it where I wanted, and began adding old, or new bottles. The wine bottle you'll note has an interesting picture on it. "Morning After The Night Before" is the title. If you think about it, you'll get the joke, because mostly these are beer bottles.

I have done crafts in one form or another over the years, and if I ever find another craft store nearby, I'll be working on getting my things into one soon. Below is an old shovel that I salvaged. Anyone else would toss such things. Me, I see potential.


I chose to paint a little sign for the garden section, and tried to think of something that would be an interesting twist of the line "Herein lies the rub", and so "Here In Lies The Grub" worked.


As you can see my old glass canning jar is suspended from a band that went around a whiskey barrel once upon a time. On either side of this are antique blue insulators--you remember when these were on electric and telephone poles? I'm also a rock hound. In front, below the glass jar is a rock that is almost perfectly round. I find such treasures and put them in my garden where I like to display them as a focal point.
If you look behind these things, you'll see an old garden tiller. Believe it or not, I used to use this way back when I was younger, and it still worked, but at that time was probably an antique. Now it is so rusted the wheel won't turn. I'm a collector of the unusual, my tastes run eclectic.


This is a view to the left side of the entrance. Where the photographer stands (and I'll give my sister-in-law, Kathy Bell, the credit for these photos, since I had no way of taking and sharing them myself), behind her is a stand of 4 or 5 mature white pines, which Dennis put into the ground about 20 years ago. Their needles fall every fall, and layer the area. Some needles coat the beginning of this entrance. To the left, further in, grows moss, and I've spent hours pulling the weeds out of the moss in order to encourage its growth as a lovely, spongy walk way.

That's me behind the door, which I also salvaged from a burn pile. The two signs here I also made. The wooden one I used a wood burner and my carving set to make and it reads: "Lorelei's Enchanted Forest". Makes for an interesting focal point, don't you think?

Another shovel below reads "When Life gives you Weeds Pull 'Em!"  A lot of the rocks you see around my garden either I collected myself from either the field across the road, or they were ones I already had. The larger ones, my husband hauled up with a small tractor. I also dug up old bricks in a different area the year before and have used them in various places for my gardens.

This sign is from the park's very beginnings, and they used to have bison - not buffalo - in the park. The story goes that one winter we had something like 70" to 80" of snow (I want to say this was the 79/80 blizzard, and I remember it), and the bison were able to escape their fence. So, they were never put back. I have no idea what was done with the animals.

Anyway, Dennis, as a joke, put this sign up in the back part of the entrance.

Well, I hope you've all enjoyed this tour of my forest/garden, and artwork. I've wanted to share with you what I've been working on during the spring. At this time of summer, when it's too hot and muggy out, I don't do much outdoor work. That's when I like to write. And, looks like I've spent enough time on this, so, I'll leave you all for time being. Have a good rest of the week!

Thursday, July 14, 2016

When In Doubt...

Hoookay. I've been working on my murder mystery for over a year, now. I'll admit it's really hard to write a genre you've only just admired and enjoyed reading, but haven' a clue (pun intended), as to how to go about it. I think I've been floundering every few steps, and have had to go back and rewrite about every other day. It is that old adage, writing is like driving in the dark with one headlight. Maybe a fog has descended here and there, and you can't even see the road--in my case.


But, I'm making progress. And just to share this with you, when you're reading through a manuscript and come upon something you've written--like dialogue, or a scene you just aren't exactly sure about, you question: "Would he say/do this?", then maybe you should reconsider that scene and pause and look around at other books with such a scene--or go to many places you might have on "How To Write" (I've kept old articles/magazines from Writer's Digest, etc to help me in times like these). I do this, but when I got to a specific thing in my murder mystery, I was stalled because no How-to-write article/blog is going to hit anything specific. Usually they tell you how TO write it. Not what you're doing WRONG. If you don't see that deer in your headlights, how do you know you've gotta stop???

Then, yesterday, I was poking around at a site called Poison Pencil--publisher based out of Scottsdale, AZ. I was actually trying to find out if they were accepting submissions. They weren't, but I happened along a blog by Ellen Larson, editor of Poison Pencil (which has mysteries, and specifically YA mysteries, which is what mine is) and I read portions of this blog. I found out what she finds in manuscripts that cause her to return them to the author, rejected.

Yeah. My history of rejection is, shall we say, not quite as huge as many authors, including JK Rowling, S. King, etc., but it was enough to make me quit submitting to any agent, or publisher long ago. (I have had 2 publishers, and the present has been working out just fine.) Here she tells the reader exactly what she doesn't want to see. And a few things she brought up had me going "Oh, shit. I did that." So, I'm working on rewrites. AGAIN!!!

But there was something else I found at this sight that had me thinking, "This isn't very impressive at all for a publisher's site." You will see if you go to their Young Adult Mystery Books, and click on any book. When you do [I'll wait], you'll find that you can't BUY any of these books from this site. And I thought hummmm... That's really sort of discouraging for anyone who might be interested in one of their books.

Compare Poison Pencil's site, to my publisher Creativia . Their site is so much better, with more places to discover/meet all authors and if you go to the "Meet" section, you can hit on any author, see their books and (as an example, mine), find their books and BUY them! How convenient is that?

So, if there is a lesson to learn here, it might be "the grass isn't any greener elsewhere".

So... I'm working on the rewrites, and especially the Prologue I'd written. Seems I need to push the timing of the Prologue back a bit in where to start it. But this is good. I'm catching stuff that needs to be fixed. There might be another saying applied here: "When in doubt, take it out".



Monday, July 4, 2016

BORN IN THE USA!!!

Happy 4th of July!!


And here, for your listening pleasure...

Of Bricks, Dirt and... Axes?

Hello, my pretties!
I must have closed my eyes and here it is July! What happened to June?

Well, enjoying my time off, away from the crap I know to be bus driving. And doing outdoor work. Which is harder physically, but I sooooo enjoy it. It also gets me in shape. After all the muscles go from being sore to being used to the abuse.


I spent the whole day yesterday (3rd) outside. Aside from eating or preparing potato salad, and such. I have been working on my various gardens. On the one in front, my husband went and got the tractor and hauled huge rocks to put around it. That sure beats rolling them. But these were pretty big and rolling them from distant places would not have worked.



After transplanting a few things, I went on to work on a center area where we'd cleared out most, but not all trees, as it looked really terrible. Trimming the lower hanging ones, made it nice, and still shady. But the center of it was still an eyesore, and I was determined to go at it with pick and ax if necessary. The pick, not so much, but there was a particularly hard-to-move stump, several inches wide, but it had a divot in it, sort of looked like it had been scooped out ready to be made into an interesting wood bowl. Anyway, I knew I needed the ax. Not a hatchet, but an ax. My husband rests from physical work on the weekend. Me. I live for the outdoors, and amazingly, I've been able to go from only working 3 or 4 hours a day outside, to something like 6 or 7. And swinging the ax? Well, I put it down to this: I could join a gym, pay money, and look and feel good. But for free, I get the muscles working shoveling, pushing a wheelbarrow, planting and hauling water around, and it does the same thing.



It took me 20 minutes to chop through that trunk--with a few breaks in between. Huh! When I got that sucker out, I held it up like a prized fighter with his championship belt. Me Woman!

My husband said, "Yay! Now we can go and eat the watermelon!"

After this I put away all my tools, took a hot bath, and then sat outside rest of the afternoon reading. I felt I deserved the rest of the day off!