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Archive for February, 2011

Dear Hamish,

Thank you for the Christmas present.  I was very happy to receive a parcel from you.  I am sorry to hear about the hole in your ear.  You will be glad to know that Grandmother McSheep has confiscated the shark tooth necklaces from the twins.  If I had known they would use them to play pretend shark I wouldna have sent them. 

They do like their new beach wear.  I heard they wore them to school and I am in trouble for that.  I will accept full responsibility for your ear, but not the beach wear.  By the way, you can always say, quite truthfully, that shark teeth made the hole.  You don’t have to say that naughty lambs were holding them at the time.

I love my prezzie.  Tis a fine scarf and I shall wear it and let all know I’m a proud supporter of the Highland Rams.  I ignore Pawnee Kitty who thinks it is another side of me football hooliganisms.  The scarf has come in very handy because it has become brisk here.  The person says it is downright cold.  She should stay a winter in Scotland, aye?

Pawnee Kitty made me wonderful presents.  She never has money; it all goes to charity except a wee bit for her travels.  She sewed me a pair of tartan beach shorts.  I dinna know she can sew.  I should have because she sews her buckskins herself.  It is not the McSheep tartan, but it is close enough.  With it came a certificate verifying no one was murdered or injured in the making of the beach wear (except for Pawnee Kitty who prefers bone needles to metal ones.  She poked herself in the digits a few times.)

She also made a bag for me tools.  As you know, I build crofts to sell, and earn me a good wage.  Me tools kept dropping out of me bag and getting all tossed about.  Pawnee Kitty said she got the idea from a crime show where the thieves carried their thieving tools in a roll to keep them nice.  I was rather aghast at that, but tis a fine carrier bag – deep and wide.  The tools each have their own pocket in this long roll.   Again, no one was harmed or injured (except Pawnee Kitty) in the making of the bag.

Thank you again,

Am wearing the scarf right now,

Your friend in the colonies,

 Angus.  McSheep.

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I bought this for the high school library primarily because it’s set in WWII and I need to beef up the historical fiction collection.

Shelter Me is a wild ride.  It starts heavier then the usual YA/children’s London Blitz stories with explosions and bombings and the subway caving in.   Then, from the ‘child sent to the country during the war’ story it turns into a Hammer  horror film with crashing waves, dark cliffs, half ruined churches/castles.  All it needed were the howls of wolves in the distance.

By this time I started to wonder what I’ve gotten myself into.  I was hooked though.  Is this horror, I thought.  After I met the mad nun, I was sure it was. 

Shelter Me is a suspenseful story full of twists and turns that delve in the evils of man.  You might think you have it figured out, but it’ll zig in the plot and you’re off again into the unknown.  As for it being a historical novel, except for it taking place during World War II, there’s little in the way of it being based on actual historical events.

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Outline or Not

When I first started writing, I began with a vague idea of a story, put the pen to the paper and started writing.  Whatever I started might or might not grow and evolve and flourish.   Partial stories are floating around in drawers, in notebooks, and who knows where.  In fact, I have a drawer full of notebooks of stories I started.  Most I mean to finish.  Someday. 

As I progressed in my writing skills, I started to create rough outlines, but only in my head and they weren’t always finished.  I knew that somewhere along the line the plot will change.  Usually what I envisioned as the ending remained, but getting from point C to F would.   Just in case I forgot, I’d jot that down along with a few notes.  Usually I don’t, but I can remember how I planned to finish stories I started writing over ten years ago, but never finished.

The trouble with not having an outline is that I get lost in the story.  It twists and turns with my meandering mind.  Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.  My monster is an example of getting lost.  It’s not a monster story because I have some horrible creature in it, it’s a monster because it got out of control.  One of my stories now is drooping because I don’t know where it’s going.  Make an outline?  It probably would be best.  Will I do it?  You know, I think I’ll try it.  For that one.  Another story I won’t outline.  I can see it in my mind and I’m sure it’ll be fine.

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Graphic Novels

I’ve always wanted to create a graphic novel.  I’ve been a fan of comics since I was small.  Fortunately my parents never minded unlike the parents of my best friend.  Every time she came over, she’d sit by my stack of comics and start reading.  Goes to show that kids will access what they want where they can.  Good thing I had G rated comics although I had some scary comics (Creepy Tales or something like that) hidden away.  I had to quit them because they scared me to much.

One year I decided to turn my Christmas story into a graphic novel.  My research showed this to be quite a complex process.  First I had to turn my story into a script.  Fortunately, this particular story (the characters buy a Christmas tree, then think they’ve brought a ghost into the house) lended itself neatly to the medium.

In my script outline I had areas for narration, dialog, and picture.  Transcribing everything took a while.  Next I created a mock up.  I’m not the best artist in the world, but I think I did a passable job.  From the books I purchased (Scott McCloud and Christopher Hart, thanks so much.  The Will Eisner books weren’t out at the time so I didn’t use them), I knew it wasn’t quality stiff and I could use a lot, repeat, a lot of work on designing the pages.  I’ll admit, I have trouble with patience.

After creating my mockup, I started on the real thing – sketching, inking, lettering.  The only page of color was the first page, the splash page.

Doing this project made me appreciate the medium so much more.  I found creating a dynamic page layout extremely difficult.  The end result came out to ho-hum more then pizzaz.   Still, I came away pleased with what I had accomplished even if certain people who got the story as a present didn’t appreciate it.  I also learned that next time I shall stick with the script unless my next time is when I have retired and have plenty of time.

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I was scrolling through the Internet, looking for pictures of buffalo, kitties, and turkies, when I saw this blog – How many states have you visited?  Quite a lot, I’d say.  The writer said they’ve gone to 28.  Hmmm.  I dunno.  I might not be so well traveled, although I have been to foreign countries.  I have been to Germany, Czech Republic, Holland, Belgium, England, Scotland, Morocco, and Peru.  I think I am a well traveled kitty, but I must see more places.

There’s a link to a page where you can make your own US travel map.  This sounds exciting.  You click in the state boxes and then you have a colorful map.  Where it’s white, that’s where you haven’t been.  I do the click, click thing and make my map.  Twenty-two states.  I’ve visited nearly the whole east coast (Delaware, Rhode Island, Maine, and Vermont are the exceptions).  I’ve visited nearly all the Gulf coast states (Louisiana is the one hold out, but I have traveled through it.  I think.).  I have visited four states in the west.

Angus had me do his map.  Like that’s going to be very colorful, but, to be fair, he hasn’t had a chance yet and the person isn’t in travel mode right now.  Let’s see, he’s been to 4 states and traveled through 2.  Traveled through states don’t count.  You have to sightsee in them.  That just nudges Alabama in his total.

Now I do the person’s map.  It’s nearly all in colors.  She’s only missing ten states.  Alaska is too far away right now, the Great Lake states ditto as is Maine.  She’s thinking of going there soon though or maybe to Arkansas.  There’s sighting seeing stuff of the nature variety there and that is what we like.  Cities are too crowded and too busy.  I can get easily stepped on or Pawnee Kitty napped by ‘I-need-to-have-this’ children.  I’ve already been accidentally sold in several stores.   You’d think people would have some clue when the item someone’s buying is screaming their head off and shouting ‘I’m gonna sue!’ or ‘Stop squeezing the Charmin!’  Kids can squeeze hard, you know.

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My too long story

It’s done.  It’s finished.  I ended it.  I wrestled it down, told the characters they’re on their own for now; I need to move on.  It was not a good ending.  It still wanted to go on.  But I’ve had it. 

Last night, I scribbled another paragraph or two and then quit.  It needs more work, I know that, but I have to go through all the pages and find out the boo boos and the loose ends.  I think it’ll probably take me the rest of my life.  In some places I want to extend it, add some more stuff.  In other places I have to cut, cut, cut.  Let’s see how long that takes me.  Now on to something new.

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Characters

I started a new story recently.  It doesn’t matter that I have another story I’m still working on, this one is in my head and wants to come out, so I’ll write here and there until I’m finished with the other story and then concentrate on this one.

After writing about seven pages I reflected on what I wrote and decided I didn’t care for my main character.  If I don’t care, how is everyone else supposed to?  Having come to that conclusion, I re-read the pages to see where I went wrong.  Then, later as I was driving home, I began to analyze why some characters are better then others.  What did I do to make them interesting?  Had I fleshed them out more?  Gave them some little quirk that stood out?  How did I make them alive?  Where did I go wrong with this one?

He was too one dimensional, I reasoned.  He needed to become more human.  As I drove, I envisioned the main character with some OCD quirks and expanded on them.  He doesn’t like to get dirty.  He likes order.  He doesn’t like his routine disturbed.  I do not want him to be a Mr. Monk though.  He’s not going to walk around the house and straighten pictures. 

It will be devastating to him when his house burns down and he’s faced with a life of upheaval, more so than to the average person.  He has to learn to adapt and move on as he tries to reunite with his wife; he has to move out of his comfort zone and grow.

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