Wilderness — A Meditation

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Short Story Month - Sample #3

 Just the first page of a commentary on big men with huge shoulders and wild accents.

The Tongan

You thought I had disappeared?

Well, it rained and you know about the big wet and witches! I melted!!

Now, the sun has come back out and dried up all the drains and witchetty grub me has re-formed again! How's that for an international story?

Anyhow, today while I was busy playing solitaire on my computer waiting until it was time to head off to lunch, I heard a male voice calling, 'Hellooo,' from the front of the house. I live in this rather large Queensland Colonial and my office is in the very back.

I knew that my housemate, Erica, was sleeping cause she worked the graveyard shift, so I scurried down the long front hallway to see what the racquet was all about.

Leaning on my front gate with his arms spread from one gatepost to the other was a square man with a Tongan accent. 'We're working in the area today. Would you like your palm trees trimmed?'

 He waved both of those long arms to encompass the four very tall palm trees growing in the front garden. All four had window dressings of palm nut bundles all tied up in  
date-like arrangement ready to fall to the ground where I would later be picking them up.

Below the palm nut bundles hung dead yellow seven foot palm fronds, an underdressing that would also fall in the next big wind and bounce off the fence or topple one of the lovely shrubs growing beneath them in the garden.

From the top of the front veranda stairs, I asked, 'How much would you charge me for all four?'

'Humm, that one is extra high, more than a 30 feet, cost more to climb that one. $180 for all four and we'll take it to the dump.'

I really wanted those palms trimmed, but that was just too much money.

Wednesday, May 08, 2013

Short Story Month — — — —Sample #2

The Bureau

Trying to make a rhythm, Dorothy Ann held tight to the railing, the taps on her patent leather shoes, which she loved almost as much as she loved visiting her mother's house, chimed on each step. At the top of the steep stairs, she stopped to catch her breath.

She would like to live here on the tree lined street bordered with rose bushes and peonies, but she knew she’d miss her old room with the gabled windows where she looked down the street to the school.'

Mother said she would have a new school.

She wasn’t sure if she wanted a new school. She liked walking to the end of her street, through the playground, and into the shiny wood floored kindergarten where her teacher always smiled and said, ‘Good morning, Dorothy Ann. How are you?’

Would her new school have a teacher who knew her name?

'Still,' she thought, 'it would be fun to live with my mother. Better than visiting.'

Turning the corner on the landing, she stepped into the upstairs bedroom, untied her hat and placed it on the small dark chest of drawers. In the smooth mahogany, her reflection frowned back at her.

Mother, with clean towels in her arms, walked out of the upstairs bathroom as Dorothy Ann gingerly ran her hand over the tiny solid bureau; she must not mar the top with fingerprints. She could be sent away again.

Monday, May 06, 2013

Wataarka Sunrise — Wilderness Chapter 1

Below is the note from a Trail Descriptions - The Pacific Crest that intrigued me enough to write the first chapter of Wataarka Sunrise.  It's a short description rife with possibilities:

"John Muir Trail Section 2: Tuolumne Meadows to Devils Postpile"

Cross two passes, ramble along tear-drop alpine tarns, and camp in spots framed by classic High Sierra vistas on this 28-mile section of the JMT. Start out at the flattest section of the trail, but soon charge toward the higher elevations of the Ansel Adams Wilderness. Finish at Devils Postpile National Monument, where frozen columns of lava pierce the sky around the volcanic shoulders of Mammoth Mountain.

Sunday, May 05, 2013

Capricornia - Latitude 23.5 degrees South of the Equator

You may recall that May is Short Story month.  Here are the first few lines of short story #1

– Capricornia –

Eleven weeks after returning to Australia my visa was about to expire.  Gerald, the rational member of our relationship, suggested I apply for an extension.

Explaining to Immigration that I had only scratched the surface of this massive continent encouraged them to grant me three more months to explore. That same night, I awoke in the midst of shivers from a nightmare about the previous blustery Brisbane winter. It was May; autumn was turning cool.

Over breakfast, I urged Gerald to install veranda doors to stop the cold westerlies blowing into the house from the centre of the continent. Quickly, I learned to be a consummate fire-starter.  The lounge  and it's huge glass fronted fire place re-incarnated from wind tunnel into a snug space in which to read or chat.

By the time the Australian finished working as gaffer on George of the Jungle II at the Gold Coast studios, my travel bug snuck out of hibernation. 'Gerald, you mentioned Heron Island. Can we go?'

Saturday, May 04, 2013

Short Story Month

 Ok,  sharesie time again!

May is Short Story Month and I know each and every one of you have a story to share.  So, this is the time to seriously or dramatically or mysteriously jot down the details and share with the reading population of the world your latest saga.  Go for it.

And here on this blog, I'll be sharing a part of one of my own short stories.  As you might guess, I have dozens.  To share an entire short story is to make that story unavailable to be published in an on line magazine. So, I'll just paste a teaser - perhaps one each day from this day forward.

In the meantime, check out Fiction Writers Review blog and Jeremiah Chamberlin's essay on short stories.  Link is below..

          Happy Short Story Month!


Thursday, May 02, 2013

Singing Over the Bones

 Aye, and a wonder it is that this day there have been three topics catching my attention and demanding to be posted in American in Oz.  Please note that below are the last two paragraphs of a blog entry by Sharon Blackie in her blog entry entitled Singing Over the Bones.

I so want to join her next year as she and a few select others spend time ruminating over the issues of being women in the wild.  Please take note that the blog address is at the end of this post.

". . . All of this is why, from spring 2014, I’ll be offering ‘Singing Over the Bones’ and other residential retreats here in the Outer Hebrides, in Uig. We have nothing quite like the wonderful Moniack Mhor, but we have some very fine holiday houses, and they’ll provide an excellent and comfortable base from which to explore both our inner and outer landscapes. Here, among some of the most remote, wild and beautiful scenery in the UK, we’ll explore mountain, sea and bog and all of its associated wildlife. For me, it will be very much easier to talk about the ways in which we connect to place and develop a sense of belonging in a landscape where I know both the natural and cultural history, whose stories I can tell, and whose birds and beasts I am familiar with. There will also be side trips to the croft for those willing to get a little sheep shit on their boots, and of course we’re not too far from the spectacular Callanish stones … Getting here is easier than it might look from the map; we hope that retreat participants will see the journey across the sea to the Western Isles as the beginning of a kind of pilgrimage, and we’ll do everything we can to ensure that people have smooth journeys and all the help and advice they need to make it a memorable experience.
If you’re interested in the retreats (we’ll also be running mixed-sex retreats from 2014, as well as offering tailor-made courses for organisations and groups) please check out this page and register your interest, as there will only be a few places available. (For those of you interested specifically in ‘Singing Over the Bones’, please check out the new website for course reviews, reflective and new writing from participants:";postID=4600261509849339347

Barbara Kingsolver - Wisdom Comes with a Little Humor

 Barbara Kingsolver delivers this year's Duke University Commencement address: Take a look.  I think you will find it, at the very least, thoughtful. Here are the first two paragraphs.  Below is the link.

Let me begin that way: with an invocation of your own best hopes, thrown like a handful of rice over this celebration. Congratulations, graduates. Congratulations, parents, on the best Mother's Day gift ever. Better than all those burnt-toast breakfasts: these, your children grown tall and competent, educated to within an inch of their lives.

What can I say to people who know almost everything? There was a time when I surely knew, because I'd just graduated from college myself, after writing down the sum of all human knowledge on exams and research papers. But that great pedagogical swilling-out must have depleted my reserves, because decades have passed and now I can't believe how much I don't know. Looking back, I can discern a kind of gaseous exchange in which I exuded cleverness and gradually absorbed better judgment. Wisdom is like frequent-flyer miles and scar tissue; if it does accumulate, that happens by accident while you're trying to do something else. And wisdom is what people will start wanting from you, after your last exam. I know it's true for writers - -- when people love a book, whatever they say about it, what they really mean is: it was wise. It helped explain their pickle. My favorites are the canny old codgers: Neruda, Garcia Marquez, Doris Lessing. Honestly, it is harrowing for me to try to teach 20-year-old students, who earnestly want to improve their writing. The best I can think to tell them is: Quit smoking, and observe posted speed limits. This will improve your odds of getting old enough to be wise.

Curve Ball —The Pitch That Won the Game

 Are you struggling to sell your manuscript. Well, I am.  I think I have an exceptional story, but I've been unwilling to attend Book Conventions.  I hate crowds.  However, I may have to give in, give up, and get going!  I want to be prepared when the time comes to convince an agent or publisher that what I have written is not only first class, but a million dollar sales item.

If you are in a similar situation, you may wish to check out this blog.  Below is a small portion of the advice I found there. 
Tips for a Winning Elevator Pitch

What is an Elevator Pitch? This is the 30-60 second description of your book and why someone should buy your book or work with you. It’s called an “Elevator Pitch” because it describes the challenge: “How would you explain your book or your business, if fate placed you in an elevator with your dream prospect and you only had the time it takes to get from the bottom of the building to the top?”

 The purpose of an elevator pitch is not to close a deal. It’s to interest the other person in continuing to talk, or to get someone to want to hear more. That’s IT. There is no other purpose. It is one of the most important parts of the marketing strategy for your book (business).

• Your pitch should be 30 to 60 seconds, and it needs to end with a question, “call to action” or other appropriate closer. Consider a generic closer such as, “Does that sound like something you would look at or that interests you?” That lets the listener respond and if they are interested, they will ask questions. • Content is as important as your delivery. If the content of a pitch is uninspiring or uninteresting it won’t matter if it’s well-delivered and the perfect length.

• There are differences between verbal and written pitches, between the way people speak and the way they write. Many people have trouble with this. But as a writer you are able to write a dialogue then you are also able to tell your elevator pitch to someone in a natural and conversational way.
• Show your passion. Act like a parent showing off pictures of their newborn or their star little children’s fashion model. If you’re not excited about your project, nobody else will be.

• Use your time wisely. Most people are way too busy and constantly overloaded with information. They have to make quick decisions about what deserves their attention and what doesn’t. Grab their attention immediately, work hard at making your pitch as compelling or intriguing as possible.