Still Learning

As a writer/author/manipulator of verbiage, I consider myself an experienced newbie. Yes, I’ve published 3 books and 2 short stories. Yes, I’ve blogged for the past 4 years or so. That said, there’s a lot I don’t know. I’ve mentioned before (I am cursed) that I only look like I know what I am doing.

As with any other field, I have to keep learning. Writing is no different. This weekend was spent meeting other writers, discussing various and sundry issues related to writing, and researching. And, of course, I dragged the spouse and Myrtle the Younger along for the ride (because they need to know this stuff ’cause I said so).

Writer’s Organizations ‘Round Dallas (W.O.R.D.–clever) was created by all manner of writers to give each other a chance to cuss and discuss. We’re talking screenwriting, play writing, novels, non-fiction, poetry, short stories, and everything else are accounted for, which means they have absolutely brilliant ideas.

Take this weekend: WORDfest 2.0 was an event designed by writers, for writers. All of the member organizations got to strut their stuff and we writers had the opportunity to meet and learn together. They also host a weekend hand’s on retreat for writers in which you get to handle stuff like armor, weapons, guns, pick a lock, court dancing, and wine tasting (you can guess which ones I signed up for).

Up next for a weekend of writing research included a jaunt to the Lone Star Knife Expo, which just happened to be inside a gun show. Who knew?

Why a knife show? Because there are sharp, pointy things there and I must write about sharp pointy things. You know…RESEARCH.

So, Mi Espouso and I trek to Dallas Market Hall in search of books and peoples willing to discuss daggers, swords, battle axes, and the ilk, only to find pocket knives, straight blade razors, and fishing knives.

Now one might think that these might be the run-of-the-mill Swiss Army knives and the like. One would be incorrect. These were hand-crafted knives made by people who LOVE their craft. In other words, my kind of people.

There were some gorgeous knives for sale. Most had traditional blade forms and handles made of high-quality rock (crazy lace agate–nice) or wood (you name it), but others…whoa…alligator gar skin! Cactus! Pinecone! (I bought that one, it be pretty!)

While I didn’t find any reference materials about Viking era blades and practices, I came away with my very 1st handmade knife, one birthday gift, and…

TA DA! Meet Hugo: a Lego-compatible Viking figure, complete with a period battle axe and shield. (This is his happy face. I can turn his head around to have a grumpy Hugo.)

I guess you could say that I have found my writing inspiration and partner. Yea me!

A Curious Mind

Apparently, author-hood means being the proud owner of an insatiable curiosity for the oddities of life. I find I am no exception.

A fellow writer posted this on their page:

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While these are not MY searches, I’m now curious enough about Canadian police procedures regarding werewolves to do a little side research. Who knows where that yellow brick road will lead.

However, if one happened to be curious about what my searches consist of, one only has to look at my Pinterest page. In the lovely world of suggestions based on previous searches and pins, Pinterest thinks I’m in desperate need of Wiccan spells, materials, and clothing. Just because I research a lot of mythology,astrology, cemeteries, history, art, weaponry, and medicinal herbs and oils (to name a few) does in NO way mean I want to cast a few spells (although the one for invisibility is intriguing, I’ve always wanted that to be my superpower).

A certain big name (who shall remain unnamed) bookstore puts suggestions for future purchases on their receipts. Today I left said big name bookstore with reference books about angels, ancient healing practices, and an illustrated history of pistols. My receipt suggested I might have missed out on the excitement of  tarot cards, a book about angel therapy, and oracle cards (I have no idea what oracle cards are, but I will be looking them up as soon as I’m finished here).

Now, if you will excuse me, I must resume my study of demonology.

T.

Late Blooming

If I followed family tradition, I would be a pilot, gardener, musician and visual artist to name a few. Despite many opportunities and attempts over the years, my genetics are suspiciously absent when it comes to some important aspects to my family history. Or maybe I’m just a late bloomer.

I should be a 4th generation pilot. I think my grandfather ruined that for me when I was 3 weeks old and decided to get the noisiest plane he could find to transport my mother and me from Lubbock to Killeen for the holidays. I paid them dearly for that effort; I screamed the entire way. When my grandmother (an FAA inspector) was teaching my brother to fly, she took me up “just to see” if I had any interest. My response? You guessed it. Poor woman never let me live it down.

Gardening? How simple is that? Anyone can make a simple garden. Ha! I kill cactus, people.Literally but not intentionally. Despite coming from generations of gardening experts, including my father’s relatively recent Master Gardener designation, I can’t keep anything alive. I’ve tried (and I do mean try) herbs, terrariums, pots, succulents with nary an ounce of luck. If they do survive longer than a month or two, the poor plants are decidedly unhealthy and do all sorts of weird stuff like leak sap all over the place.

Music and Art? My lack of talent is not from lack of opportunity or encouragement. My mother and her brother are professional musicians. Both grandmothers, a great-grandmother, my uncle and brother are/were fantastic painters. I even married a creative and had 2 artistically/musically-inclined daughters. After studying piano and singing for most of my life, I can read the notes and have a good ear, but I can’t keep a rhythm to save my life. Tagging along to painting sessions and attending art lessons did not teach me how to draw a stick figure. Harrumph!

For some mysterious reason, I feel the tides changing. For better or worse remains to be seen. Last night, my cousin arranged a painting class for us to celebrate our grandmother’s 105th birthday. Luckily we had wine and the instructor was good enough to say, “Put a square here.” I could do that! Hallelujah!

So after two hours of step-by-step instruction, here is the my interpretation of Cezanne:

Yeah, me! I might actually try this again. Please don’t send me a plant as congratulations, though. I’ve committed enough herbal and floral homicide as it is.

T.

Bursting with Pride

SXSW, better know as South by Southwest Music and Film Festival is an international event held in Austin, Texas. This year I had the opportunity to go for the sole purpose of watching my daughter (and cover artist) and her high school animation team screen their animation short, Out of Reach. Their’s was one of 24 short films (of which 3 were animated) chosen out of who-knows-how-many to be screened and juried. A second team from her high school was also selected for their animated short, Goin’ Nuts. We will find out a winner on Tuesday evening.

High school students can come up with interesting (and dark) material to compete with anything a twisted adult can dream up. Maybe more so. Most of the shorts involved disturbing subject matter: cutting, shooting, throats cut, child abuse, kidnapping, torture, to mention a few off the top of my head. Weird, blood-letting videos aside, there were several redeeming and “pretty” films that I understood and enjoyed. There was one music rap video which I actually understood enough to enjoy. A few shorts were PSA or documentary material including one amazing video by an autistic boy on what it is like to be autistic (He said his mother made him do it. Go Mom!). I happened to sit directly in front of the 3 jurors and overhear some of their comments. The only comments I paid attention to were regarding our 2 teams.

Out of Reach earned several laughs and giggles from the audience and jurors, with a final collective comment of “Wow” from the judges. Goin’ Nuts got a resounding “That was nice” from one juror with agreement from the other 2. (YES!!)

Now, I do not care if either team wins the prize, in fact it is unlikely when compared to some of the live action shorts presented. I understand and do not envy the jurors decision-making to choose an overall winner. The fact that these 2 talented teams were selected for this prestigious event is a fine addition to a respectable portfolio or resume any day.

A mama was never more proud of her baby. I can’t wait to see what Myrtle Sue comes up with next.

T.

Hello, y’all!

This is a(nother) new venture for me. Over the past 3 years or so, I have started to write again, and am proud of the successful completion of my first novel, If You Touch My Mind. I self-published in August of 2015 and have been having a wonderful time sharing my efforts with others.

A little about me. I am a native Texan, married with two beautiful daughters (commonly referred to as The Myrtles: Ann and Sue). Myrtle Ann is the eldest, heading in the general career path of nursing and is engaged to a newly-bereted army ranger. Myrtle Sue is in an exciting chapter of life as a high school senior and budding animator. When I am not writing, I work as an occupational therapist, treating adults with a variety of conditions. I specialize in treating the lymphatic system, health and wellness challenges of all types.

It’s raining and bed is calling my name, so that’s all for now. Here’s to new ventures.

T