Sunday, November 4, 2012
I love being a writer and photographer. I blog for GRIT Magazine and this week I wrote about a rural farm that has its own dinosaur sculpture park. The enterprising artist built these beauties out of cast-off machine parts. I checked Google Maps to make sure I had the crossroads correct. The sculptures are so big that you can see the shadows they cast via fly-over imagery.
To see all the photos, check out my GRIT Magazine blog post.
Just how freaking cool is that?
View Larger Map
The Apatosaurus in the mid-upper right is so tall that his back is about the same height as the mobile home behind it. Here is what that bad boy looks like from 40 feet away.
Sunday, September 16, 2012
However, like a river, life rolls on and by knowing the keening grief of loss, you can appreciate life for the miracle it is. So, I did manage to squeeze some lemonade out of the otherwise lifeless brew.
So what have I been up to?
1. I started blogging and freelancing like a pro for About.com. I write about car culture and automotive collectibles at: About Car Memorabilia and have a companion blog at: The Curio Garage.
2. As I mentioned in my last post, I have a short story in Battlespace and another one in No Rest for the Wicked.
3. I went to the bestest superbest writers' conference at Killer Nashville and ended up closing down the bar with two great writer friends and some literary hack named Peter Straub. Yes, I said Peter-by-gawd-Straub. Following the wisdom of debut-author extraordinaire, Jamie Mason, "always check the bar before you go to bed."
4. I also went on a long-planned working vacation to Las Vegas to see my bestie Suzanne. Ken would have smote me from the other side had I cancelled and it provided much good time and healing. From toasting Ken at a genuine old Vegas Tiki bar to helping load up print studio gear at the Goldwell Outdoor Museum, the trip helped me come alive again and remember that my future is still in my hands.
5. I will be self-pubbing a collection of my 100-word flash fiction some time in the next 60 days or so. Most are reprints and contest entries along with some written especially for the anthology. I have a couple of other writing projects up my sleeve that I hope to talk more about soon.
6. I'm going to start blogging for GRIT Magazine about rural architecture in Kansas. Not a paid gig, but it is directly connected to my hobby of getting lost on old country roads and makes the new camera I plan for Christmas a tax deduction. And GRIT often chooses its in print feature writers from the legion of bloggers.
7. Seriously reassessing all aspects of my career. Life and work is more about just paying the bills. Yeah, I gotta do that, but I want more freedom than what I have right now.
|2012 Vegas Trek Con: (c) Terri L. Coop|
Sunday, July 22, 2012
However, it has a much bigger place in my heart. When Battlespace was announced, I knew I wanted to submit. First, my respect for editors Jason Tudor, Keith Houin, and Michael Wistock of The Science Fiction Show. With their combination of military service and love of the genre, I knew the book would be done right.
Next was the cause. Warrior Cry Music helps wounded soldiers reconnect with the world and their own souls with the universal language of music. The Iraq and Afghanistan wars are unique in human history. Technological advances have made all but the worst combat wounds survivable. However, those survivors are often left grievously scarred and maimed – physically and emotionally. We need to apply our same tenacity to treating post-war wounds as we do the battlefield injuries.
"Outside the Wire" was inspired by a sketch I saw in a milblog many years ago. I talked to Ken, my combo brother-best-friend-biggest-fan and he encouraged me to run with it. Ken served in the Navy from 1962 to 1966 on the aircraft carrier USS Valley Forge ferrying Marine amphib units from Subic Bay to Vietnam. He was in basic training during the Cuban Missile Crisis and told me about the dark-thirty announcement that if "Mr. Bear got frisky," they would be on their way to the blockade. I helped Ken see that he'd had a front seat to history during his service.
Ken was my go-to guy for questions on military terminology and mood. He put the skids on more than one plot line with a simple, "nope." I don't know how many times I read drafts to him over the phone until the cadence sounded right.
However, the story stalled at 1,700 words. To make the 3,000 mark, I would have to expand a simple tale of two guys deciding that today was not a good day to die into a more action-laden techno-driven narrative.
Nothing worked. Then it hit me, instead of going twice as long, how about going one-third as long. The other story slot was at 500 words. So, I edited 1,200 words out of the stalled story, reducing it to about 20 minutes in one corner of a bigger war. Then I did what I always did, called my big brother. I read it to him and his response was, "that's powerful stuff." We discussed a few minor word choices, but the story was written. I polished off the fingerprints, submitted, and was very proud when it was accepted.
My next goal was to surprise Ken with a print copy of the anthology. The day it arrived, I called and got his answering machine. I called again three hours later and felt a vague unease when he didn't pick up the phone. Two hours later I got the message that he was in the hospital. His health had been fragile for many years because of all those smoke breaks as a younger man. Still, he'd been sick before, so I set his book aside for when he got home.
Except this time he didn't come home. On July 20, 2012 my brother quietly left this world. My grief is without bounds. However, blessedly, we had the kind of relationship where nothing was left unsaid. So my only regret is this copy of Battlespace that he never got to see. If you have a veteran in your life who would appreciate it, contact The Science Fiction Show Battlespace Facebook page. It would be my honor to send it to them.
Friday, March 9, 2012
Beth Bartlett talks about teh funneh.
Monday, February 27, 2012
On Thursday, we found out that the prize was worthy . . . Insurgent is the sequel to the wildly successful Divergent. And this was an ARC. Whoever holds it also holds the right to say, "Could you believe the ending to chapter 7? Oh yeah, that's right, you haven't read it and won't be able to for SEVERAL MONTHS." And then nod sympathetically.
He was my age, another modern-day Crusader bound by ancient allegiances and trained to destroy.
My Kevlar and his Keffiyeh framed tired eyes and harsh lines that sleep would never erase.
“Stop fighting and I can go home,” I said.
“Go home and I can stop fighting,” he replied.
Silently we made our choice. The sequel might end differently, but no killing today.
Nodding, we backed through our respective doors. Back out into the rain.
Saturday, February 25, 2012
Friday, February 24, 2012
Wednesday, February 22, 2012
Monday, February 13, 2012
Sunday, February 12, 2012
Thursday, February 9, 2012
Tuesday, February 7, 2012
Now, these "products" weren't in a joke shop. These were counter displays in a nice pharmacy - gift shop in a conservative little town in the midwest. I am imagining the salesman trying to convince the manager it was a good idea. Or maybe he plunked them on the counter and ran.
I introduce to you "Heavy Doody," poo-pourri, a "before you go" spray to deal with those . . . um . . . big odors. Notcie the manly packaging and point-of-sale display. Heavy Doody is obviously for the man of the house ::caveman grunt::
Monday, February 6, 2012
Why I Fear Clowns . . .
Saturday, February 4, 2012
In today's episode of Wild Furniture Kingdom, blue recliner discovers it is not nice to mock the keeper of the keys . . .
See ya next week (on Friday or thereabouts)!
Sunday, January 29, 2012
Still, had to do my paperwork and other work. However, in the mid-afternoon, a crisis of epic proportions erupted. Writer was out of tea bags and coffee. A trip to Wal-Mart was immediate and necessary. Book and I stopped by the Wal-Mart book section and were thrilled and overjoyed to see "The Pregnancy Project," a memoir written with the assistance of our wonderful Facebook friend Jenna Glatzer. Yay! Wise Tree was right! This made the afternoon very happy indeed!
Monday, January 23, 2012
She holds these contests from time to time and I highly recommend them. She gives you a list of prompt words, often in honor of one of her clients, and a 100-word limit. The competition is fierce and if you don't bring your best game, well then you get to stay home and watch.
I've written flash fiction for years. I love the spare economy. No words can be lazy or padding or fluffy. Every word has a job to do and had better do it well. However, there is some misconception as to what flash is. It is often written as a vignette or freeform poetry.
Flash is like any other story and has to have the four components of character, setting, conflict and resolution. In 100 words or less . . . Not a problem!
The key is inference. One flash writer said that if readers need description, then all of her characters must be naked, because she never discusses clothing. If she places her characters in church, she trusts the reader to infer they are appropriately dressed.
Forcing extraneous description out of writing is an excellent exercise. I hate reading "It was July 21st at 5 o'clock p.m. and the temperature was 102 degrees." (yes, I have read that in novels) Instead, "It was a hot July evening," tells me all I need to know. In his literary wordfest "Q," Evan Mandery sticks the landing with "It was one of those top ten days of the year . . ." I love that phrase. It is elegant and evocative and allows me to infer my own definition of a perfect day. He goes on with more description, but could have stopped right there.
In this contest, the prompt words were: red, bent, fold, chaos, and chasm. Each word came from a book title on the Edgar list of best first novels.
I keyed on "chaos." I had an old flasher where that was a pivotal word. The story had never seen publication because at 121 words, it was too damn long. I liked the story, but the editing always stumped me.
Here it is in original form:
The last ambulance left the police station. No need for sirens; the victims were DOA. I settled in to start the reports. Twenty years on the job, and this was a first.
"Damn, I hate murder. Nothing but heartache and paperwork."
I inserted the form into my old typewriter and started on the first section.
The punks had been at the west desk. The old biddy at the east. Both were filing complaints.
She wailed about foiling a car theft.
The hoods bitched about someone pulling a gun and chasing them away from their car.
Hesitation. Double-take. Recognition. Silence. Chaos.
I hit the 'return' key. One section to go.
Conclusions: The old lady was a faster draw and a better shot.
Not bad, but not good enough. Too fat. After I folded in the prompt words, I went to work on the length.
I ferreted out redundant description, such as,"No need for sirens; the victims were DOA." The story is about a murder, the fact that there were dead bodies becomes clear in the next sentence. So, it can be foreshadowed with "No sirens."
You get the point. Once I had a goal, entering it in the contest, and a deadline, Sunday at 6:00 PM, the spare baggage glowed like neon.
The finished product:
The ambulance left the police station. No sirens. Twenty years on the job and murder is still nothing but heartache and paperwork.
Unfolding a blank report, I bent over my old typewriter.
The punks were at the west desk. The old biddy at the east. Both were filing complaints.
She crowed about foiling a car theft.
Across the chasm, the hoods had red-ass about someone pulling a gun and chasing them away from their car.
I hit the “return” key. One section to go.
Conclusions: The old lady was a faster draw and a better shot.
100 words exactly according to Word. Spare and clean. A much better story. I don't miss the twenty-one words. By choosing carefully, I took them out and left them in at the same time. The story certainly met and exceeded my expectations and was picked out of a field of 70+ entries. I read a lot of flash fiction and the flashers in Ms. Reid's contests are some of the best I've seen.
Next time she runs a contest, give it a try. Win or lose, you'll have fun, read a bunch of good stories, and you'll come away with a new outlook on the power and economy of words.
Sunday, January 22, 2012
Monday dawned warm and windy and I took Book out for a promised walk. This is at the north end of Main Street, looking south. Fort Scott was a frontier outpost in the 1840s and a major supply depot during the Civil War.
On the north side of the Fort historical monument is a walking trail through a national park Tallgrass Prairie restoration project. Just a couple of acres, but you get a glimpse of what the prairie looked like before the settlers came. There are several hundred types of plants just in the little patch. I can't wait to bring Book back in the spring when it is all in bloom. Book and I took a pleasant hike and then got back to work.
Tuesday was another gorgeous day, so Book and I headed down to the Fort Scott National Park at the north end of town. By the 1970's the old fort had degenerated into a warehouse and low rent housing area. The park service kicked the squalor to the curb and rebuilt and restored the fort to its historical glory. This is one of the officers' duplexes. If your husband was an officer in the cavalry, this was your backyard and kitchen garden. (Book and I will take you inside on a warmer day. It's gorgeous.)
The parade ground is enclosed by a wonderful walkway about a quarter-mile long. Book and I took advantage of the sunshine for a nice stroll.
Wednesday! And it's time to go to work down in Columbus, Kansas. It's one of those neat little town-that-time-forgot places and is full of great old signs and buildings. Book particularly liked this Reddy Kilowatt sign.
When memes collide. Columbus has a great feral furniture dump (well, the townsfolk may not think it's so great, but I love it.) Book posed with this poor unfortunate sofa carcass that was probably replaced with a cheap naughahyde wannabe.
Okay, this is actually a bit creepy, but Book insisted . . .
Thursday is court day! Book was so excited to go with me. The Cherokee County Courthouse was built in the 1950s and replaced a much larger Victorian structure. Even though the building is a bit . . . um . . . boxy, it has excellent Art Deco details.
This is one of my favorite historical plaques ever. This bell never made it out of the warehouse, but dang it, we're putting it in the courthouse square. Book, with his empathy towards remainders, approves.
Now, a word of warning. Book had the permission of the District Court Judge to take a few photos inside the courthouse. Never take a camera into a courthouse or public building without permission. Unless, of course, you like sitting in little rooms with no windows and answering questions.
The truly beautiful and unique feature of the courthouse is this three-story polished aluminum Art Deco stairway. When the sun is right through the atrium windows, Book and I will get better photos. It is stunning.
Friday rolled around and our car desperately needed an oil change. So, off to Wal-Mart! Last week someone suggested that Book needed a better wardrobe, so we used our free time shopping around. Book confesses to being a bit of a KU fan (shhh . . . our boss went to K-State!)
Something stylish for the rain and snow perhaps?
By January, there wasn't a lot of selection in the fuzzy slipper aisle. Book wanted leopard spots, but there weren't any in his size.
Book confided in me that he believes there is a family of four living in one of these boots. . . . (they were huge!)
Saturday was a quiet work day, but the mailman made it a happy day by delivering a fresh box of Johnny West coloring books! We sent half off to our illustrator Mykol Blackwell who is one of our bestest friends ever. Yay!
Book mentioned going out to lunch, but took one look at the weather . . .
And opted for his Snuggie and the remote.
Sunday came in cloudy and damp, so Book and I hung around the house. However, we wanted to introduce you to Widget! Come summertime, Widget will be our partner in "The Story of Book."
Have a great week everyone! See you next Sunday!