Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Joys of a Writing Group

At the end of the year I finally decided to 'come out of my isolation' and create a writing group.  While it is not standing room only for the privilege of writing with me, there is a pretty solid core group of participants.  And they lend a wide variety of styles and information. "Writing Buddies!" People who understand the pitfalls and perils of the written word.

Another good thing about the writing group is we are all pretty much on the scifi/fantasy roller coaster.  Which leads to some good discussions.  Like comparing the TV show "Babylon 5" to Tolkien. Which means I am awaiting the loan of the complete series to watch.  

image courtesy of i09.com
I have gone through 'Star Trek', for the most part.  Texter just finished up 'Supernatural' and is currently on 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer' (Spike is mine!).  

I have more than just a passing interest in sitting down and watching the series.  It means I can knit!  And boy, do I have knitting to do. I need to finish up my Dr. Who scarf.  I have the yarn for a pair of socks (yep, again socks - let's see if I finish it up).  I need to crank out a piece for a friend. 

I figure knitting is fairly safe from Lady K's assistance.  Much more than if I set up a table for sewing.  That will be my next adventure.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Mandala Monday

No mandala today.  Have 'car' issues and am bumming about it.  I hate it when the car doesn't work. Anyway, I worked my way through some techniques from the book Photoshop Down and Dirty Tricks for Designers by Corey Baker. I had volume two we used in a class last semester and enjoyed it and borrowed this one on interlibrary loan.  


Juba Seedcrone is the character in a book I am currently working on.  So instead of my name, I used her's. This lesson was all about 'cracks' and creating a brush to allow you to make cracks.


Savvy in her raiders outfit for MisCon. She wanted gritty and edgy, so I tried to give her gritty and edgy.


I like this one.  Several different techniques and created a 'tree' via Photoshop.


And finally, my reminder to 'write'. A few techniques learned here.

I enjoy working through tutorials, mainly because it makes me use tools in Photoshop I didn't know existed or didn't know it did 'this' or 'that'.  A fun way to spent a few hours.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Week in Review

It has been a strange week.  Like this morning, walked outside with the dogs and there is a light dusting of snow.  This is despite the temperatures have been such a light jacket during the day is all that is necessary.  And I sleep with my window cracked at a night (really, all day long).

Last Sunday was spent writing up postings for last week and recuperating from the hike on Saturday.

  • 5 posts written last week
  • started rewrites on first part of novel for submission to Miscon
Tuesday, Savvy was off work and came downtown with me to wander around while I was working.  She spent the day in shops, pulling together bits and pieces of her cosplay outfit for Miscon.  
Her character is a raider in a post apocalyptic world.  To back up a bit, we like furs.  PETA wouldn't do well in our house.  And she found a fur.



This is Bugeye.  We are not sure exactly what kind or kinds of animal he use to be.  Currently, he only has 3 legs and is over 3 feet long.  He was suppose to be a stole of some kind as his mouth is one of those 'clippy' mouths found on furs.  Other than that, not sure.  I consider him a 'foxsel' - a cross between a fox and a weasel.  Savvy loves Bugeye.


  • had my writing group meeting
  • walked 34,057 steps or 15.58 miles
  • finished up 3 books


Thursday was spent at the fair grounds, assisting Savvy with a job fair.  Her first one.  Qdoba was the only food service business represented and I think she did pretty well, getting about a dozen applicants.  I, on the other hand, came home with several pens and other goodies.

Saturday, Texter and I cleaned most of the apartment.  I mean CLEANED.  We hung up a closet organizer from the ceiling for Lady K's clothes and pulled out several bags of junk from her room to get trashed.  Clothes and toys are being sorted through for an upcoming yard sale for her Nagacon group.

So today, I am feeling lazy.  And will probably (hopefully) spend the day in my room writing. And reading. Finishing up the movie "The Theory of Everything" about Stephen Hawking.  Very good movie.   

Thursday, April 09, 2015

My Bedside Table is an Addict

I'm blaming my bedside table.  It's all her fault.  I have nothing to do with her addiction.  They just appear.

In stacks....

Way to many for the time I have....

But she is addicted and won't stop.



This is what my bedside table should look like.  Clean (ignore the circle where the finish got removed, I don't know what happened.)  Maybe a glass of tea or water at bedtime on it.  But uncluttered, tranquil, calm.


And then reality steps in.  Yep, that's right.  Three huge piles of books to read.  I promise I had nothing to do with it.  They just appeared!  They followed me home from work and have taken up residence on my clean, uncluttered bedside table and she keeps adding more and more.  And yes, that is my iPad which has one book on it I checked out, plus about 500 more freebies.  I have a problem.  I will admit it.

So on the table at the present time...

Bon Appetempt-A Coming of Age Story - Amelia Morris - currently reading
The Nerdist Way - Chris Hardwick
Practical HDR - David Nightingale
Creative Confidence - Tom and David Kelley
On Becoming An Alchemist - Catherine Macon
HDR Photography Workshop - Pete Carr & Robert Correll
Creative Landscapes - Harold Davis
A World In HDR - Trey Ratcliff
Afterworlds - Scott Westerfeld - currently reading
Galapagos Regained - James Morrow
To Eat-A Country Life - Joe Eck and Wayne Winterrowd
Rebellion - Peter Ackroyd
Abaddon's Gate - James S. A. Corey 
The Tutor - Andrea Chapin
The Marriage Game - Alison Weir
Leave Me Alone I'm Reading - Maureen Corrigan - currently reading for book group
Montana-A History of Two Centuries - Malone, Roeder, Lang
Montana-An Uncommon Land - K. Ross Toole
Creating Your Best Life - Miller and Frisch
The Zhivago Affair - Finn and Couvee
Ready Player One - Ernest Cline
The Dark Legacy of Shannara-Witch Wraith/Bloodfire Quest/Wards of Faerie - Terry Brooks
A Wilder Rose - Susan Wittig Albert
Creative Journal Writing - Stephanie Dowrick - currently reading

As you can see, I read ANYTHING!  And it's all my bedside table's fault.  And those bags on the floor which go to the library with me.  And my purse....and....







Wednesday, April 08, 2015

Real Life Inspiration

What started out as a back story for a character for MisCon has turned into a series.  This is what happens when you start writing, your daughter likes and adds to it, and then like a snowball downhill it grows.

My main character, Juba Seedcrone, lives in a world which is fairly primitive (by our current standards) and she travels by horseback in a circuit around the country, assisting with planting and associated rituals to the goddess.  This is all well and go, but how do I make her journey through the country come alive?


You take a look at the pictures you take while hiking in the wilderness.  Those twisty, narrow paths emerging from the woods into an open field.


Narrow tracks on the side of a slope. 


Open fields looking out onto rugged hill sides, knowing you have to ride around, not over.


Rocky outcroppings which are harsh and unforgiving.



Wide vista were you can see for miles.



Trails through woods, rocky and with tree roots to trip up the unwary, going through lush green trees, dotted with wildflowers on either side.

So the countryside of Panterra is modeled on the terrain of Montana.  I spent several years BC (before children) trail riding and working with horses, so I think I can write convincingly about horses.  I have more than a passing knowledge of plants and gardening, growing seasons, saving seeds and the like.
But my hikes over the past couple of years will come in real handy for descriptions of the countryside Juba is riding through.  And since I have hike in all seasons, I think I can describe the changes to the landscape on her long circuit around Panterra.

This should be interesting and fun.

Tuesday, April 07, 2015

Bear Trap Canyon Hike and Norris Hot Springs

Last Saturday was my first hike of the year with the Helena Hikers.  Texter and Lady K came with me on this one.  We ventured toward Bozeman for this hike at Bear Trap Canyon.  On the way there we were pointing out 'cows - moo' with Lady K and came across these on the hillside.  I'm driving, yelling at Texter to 'quick, take pictures'.  We found some horses, but not ordinary horses.  These are the Bleu Horses by artist Jim Dolan




If you didn't look twice, you would think it was just a herd of horses on the hillside, they look so natural.  But then, you look again because something is just a bit 'off' about the horses and you discover this fantastic art installation in the middle of nowhere.


The day was overcast.  In fact, back in Helena, according the Savvy, there was some heavy rain which came through.  We were anticipating some rain, or possibly snow, but neither dampened our hike.  


The trail starts out in the parking area after a long drive off the main road to it.  We passed several families camping on our way in.  There was still a touch of snow on the top of the hills.  And the wind was whistling through the canyon, making it nippy if you weren't moving or in a sheltered area.


I did manage to spot a new bird for me, the Common Merganser.  At first, I thought it was a Northern Shoveler, but no brown on the side of the white males and the female didn't look right.  Once home, I looked them up and added another bird to my life list.

The hike itself is easy and follows along the Madison River.  Easy enough, despite the distance, Texter packed in Lady K.  Unfortunately, even though she wanted to 'walk', her little two year old legs can't keep up.  Soon, though.  Given the number of fly fisherman (and women) along the banks, once I learn how and get my license, I might be coming back.


One benefit of being the last in line, is you don't have conversation going on around you and you can really hear the river as it goes by.  Between the wind and the river, I just wanted to find a place out of the wind and settle down for a nap.  You could spend hours just watching the river race by, hitting the rocks, and careening on.





The walls of the canyon were steep and according to one review of the trail I read, prone to rattlesnakes during the warmer months.  Fortunately, due to the steepness of the slopes, I have no desire to climb and find out if there are in fact snakes or not.





One thing which really made this hike, and I can't wait for future hikes, is we have a geologist as a member now.  And Texter and I love rocks!  "Rockman" was more than willing to point out interesting features to us.  And he discovered a rock which he (and others help) lug back, that had green mica in it.  He didn't fall for the 'just put it in my car' ploy.



Hopefully, a piece or two of the lovely green rock will 'fall off' and need adopting.












The scenery was spectacular, which I am being to find rather commonplace here in Montana.  Each place we hike is wonderful.  Three hundred pictures later, I could have probably taken 300 more if I wasn't trying to at least attempt to keep up with the group.

One reason for so many pictures are for reference.  I am writing a book in which the character travels through country much like this.  And she does it by horseback.  It is great to have some pictures I can refer to while writing.  Hopefully, I can get the feeling of immenseness and loneliness and harshness of the landscape.

After this 7 plus miles hike, we stopped just up the road at Norris Hot Springs.  Whatever I was expecting, this was definitely not it.  It's not as big as I thought it would be and rustic is definitely a word I would use in conjunction with it.  But laying back in the pool of warm water after the hike was worth the communal dressing room and the nippy dash from the dressing room to the pool.  Even Lady K enjoyed it.

This is definitely one hike I will be doing again.

Monday, April 06, 2015

Mandala Monday - Nature's Mandalas and Wildflowers



Nature makes such wonderful mandalas all on her own.  The more I hike and observe, the more I feel the meditative healing of it.  Even if the hike is long and my physical limits are tested, there is still the feeling of restoration.

I am usually the last one in line when it comes to group hikes.  One reason is because I am taking pictures.  I normally come back with 300 plus pictures.  The second is I not there for the 'speed' of completion, but rather to 'see', to look for the little things as well as the big things.  And third, I'm not in the best of shape - but that's beside the point.

Saturday the Helena Hikers went to Bear Trap Canyon near Bozeman.  This is an area I have not been in before hiking.  Despite being early April, with the warmer than usual temperatures we have been having, there was ample evidence spring has sprung in Montana.


Most of the bushes and shrubs are budding up.  Hopefully, there won't be too severe a cold snap in the next few weeks and they be zapped.

(On the following, I apologize in advance if I mislabel any of the plants.  I am still really new with Montana plants, but am learning.  If a mistake is discovered, please let me know.)


Anemone, Drummond's I think.  Could be a Northern.  But feel it's an anemone.  They were really starting to bloom along the slopes in spots.


I found ferns nestled in some nooks in the rocks.


Glacier Lilies were sprouting up quite nicely.


As were pockets of Shooting Stars. 


A few 'mats' of what I think is Rocky Mountain Douglasia.  


Snowberry was abundant (at least I think it's snowberry.)


And lots of Oregon Grape.

All this wildflower activity this early in the year makes me hopeful for a wildflower 'saunter' I am leading in a month.  I was worried nothing would be up, but it looks like I might have a decent showing.

But flowers and trees weren't the only things emerging.  All along the pathway there were tons of these black beetles starting to come out of wherever they had been for the winter.


Not sure what kind of beetle he is.  Not sure I really want to know or care.  There were just tons of them on the pathway.  

So spring has hit Montana!  Can't wait for the lilacs to start blooming in the neighborhoods.