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Chapters

When I first write a draft, unless I have an outline, which is seldom, I don’t have chapters. And, even if I do have established chapters, I may add or subtract one down the line.

I don’t know why I started this. Maybe because I just wrote and went wherever the story did. I figured it’ll go around in the end and it usually does. It comes out quite nicely in fact. I amaze myself when I find the chapters are around the same length.

In the story I wrote about Charleston, that has no real chapters unless one counts each day as a chapter. I’ve it organized by date and sometimes by time of day. In another story I’m working on, I have definite chapters, but I’m thinking of cutting those short because they seem too long. A pity almost because I’ve when I wrote the outline I made up humorous chapter titles. I’ll either have to make up additional ones or not use them at all. We’ll see how that goes.

I don’t think I’ll change how I write and I’ll continue dividing the stories after I’ve written them. When I chop them up to put up for critiquing I usually count so many pages, then find a good place to end the chapter. This works pretty well for me even if it means adding a few lines to create a hook to lead readers onto the next chapter. It makes the chapters pretty much an even length, not that it really matters to me. What I don’t like thought is very short chapters, like one or two pages long. So far, I haven’t had that.

Will I change my habit? Probably not. It works and that’s all that matters.

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Pawnee Kitty Sits
Pen in paw, inspiration
Another Haiku

Aud had a book and the main character wrote haiku. That’s all I remember about the book because it wasn’t at all interesting. Then, as I was sitting there, about to nod off, a haiku came to me. Just like that!

Little kitty walks
Glides by on soft paws, pauses
blinks an I love you.

I think I might be a haiku master. Really. Because then another haiku came to me.

Sad little kitty
sitting alone in the house.
Doorbell rings. A friend.

I went to show Angus. I’d only gone two steps when, BAM:

Angus, wooly ram
Wants his horns to grow in, now
Impatient Angus.

I am seriously good at this thing. Talbot, one of my bestest friends in the whole wide world ever, was a poet. Here’s one of her poems.

Forbidden Flowers

Red flowers, dried flowers
You’re such a delight.
So tasty, so crunchy
I could eat you all night.
Alas, though your mercy
is not directed at me.
I eat you, I throw up.
I am in misery.
But, lo before one
thinks me insane.
Red flower, dried flower,
You’re worth all this pain.

That poem really speaks to me. It’s epic. All my kitty friends relate to it.

Me: Hey, Angus. Look. I can haiku.

Angus: That’s brilliant. Now, be off with ye. You’re interrupting me work.

Me: You’re just obsessing about your latest potential sweetie.
And then I get the most brilliant idea ever.
Me: You can do a haiku for her. A poem. A love poem. Here, I’ll write one for you because I am really good at this.

Potential Sweetie
Hay breath, top quality wool
My eyes turn to hearts.

Angus: What are you blithering on about? That’s horrible. And I don’t have a potential sweetie. The last one, she likes pineapple tops.
He shudders.

Me: So, then what are you, oh.
It’s the twins.

Angus: If I make a haiku will ye go away and leave me to me misery?

Me: I suppose.

Angus: That’s probably a no. But in case it is a yes, here.

Heather and Peatmoss
Most horrid twins in the world
I suffer greatly.

‘Tis nea Robbie Burns, but it’ll do. Now go. Be off.

I leave, but I stay close. I might come up the perfect haiku to cure Angus’ woes.

Twelve-year-old Mia does not want to be here. She’d much rather be home with her friends than in North Korea with her father and brother. She can’t even use her cell phone. It’s more of a punishment than a vacation. Seriously, who goes on a tour of this country? Why couldn’t they have gone to South Korea where she’d been born?

The trip goes from bad to worse when her adoptive father, an aid-worker, is arrested and she and her brother are on the run, trying to get out of North Korea with a phone containing pictures of abuse in local camps.

 

This is a timely novel of North Korea by someone who has lived years in South Korea and has done their homework. After reading this, I checked my local library to see if they had some of the resources she recommended.

Besides the resources, there are pages of information on the county in the guise of pages from a tour booklet. I thought that an inventive way to introduce the reader to the country especially those who may know little about it.

Ms. O’Brien even mentions Otto Warmbier who, at the time of the story was still in North Korea. It all struck home the harsh reality of this country.

 

I admit at first I was hesitant to read this story as I thought it a bit implausible, but once I started, I couldn’t put the book down. Ms. O’Brien makes the story quite believable and exciting. I liked the short chapters from the viewpoints of North Koreans such as the young student who is so fearful she’ll make a mistake at a performance with flip cards.

This book would be a great companion when studying the country as it interweaves truth with a great adventure story

By sheer luck, I spotted an old favorite movie was going to be playing on TCM. It was one of those movies that used to air once a year as a big event. Like The Wizard of Oz used to be. I remember how my dad brought up the TV upstairs so we could see it in bed. Back then my sister and I shared a bedroom.

Then we moved to Germany and no more Wizard of Oz, but they aired annual movies too like Karl May’s Old Shatterhand and Winitou. You may not have heard of these movies, but they were/are very popular in Germany. We were glued to the TV when that series came on.

The movie TCM showed was Sissi a movie about the Empress of Austria who died young. There are three movies in the series and they showed all, but I only saw the first one because watching three in a row is a little much for me.

To tell the truth, I didn’t mean to watch the whole movie. I thought that over the years my perception of it would have changed and it’d be kind of boring. It’s happened before to other former favorite movies. But to my surprise it was just as good as before. And in color! (We had black and white TVs until well into the 1980’s). I can see why I liked it. It was funny. There was romance.

I was a bit sad I wouldn’t be watching the other movies, but I know my the third film I’d be boo-hooing because of the sad ending.

I’d recommend this movie to anyone who loves princesses. It was made in the 1950’s. And it’s in German with English subtitles so if you don’t like those, you might want to skip it. Otherwise, this is one of those movies that’s pretty much timeless.

An internal rant began after watching the new Star Trek: Discovery. I was trying to figure out why the main character didn’t appeal to me. (There are more reasons why I don’t like the show, but I could devote an entire encyclopedia on the subject, so I won’t go there.) Why did I not like this Michael person? Why was I so ‘meh’ on the captain who was also female? Was it because I thought it a cheap jab that Michael was Spock’s adopted sister? Because I found no chemistry between her or any other character?

Or was it because the film and television industry have embraced that a strong female character in an action flick has to be able to kill five people in five seconds, march along with their foreheads furrowed, bent on destruction, and/or have total alpha personalities?

This musing brought on a internal discussion of which action female I did like. As I don’t watch a lot of TV or see a lot of movies, this took a bit. I liked Captain Janeway. She wasn’t my favorite Star Trek captain, but I did like her. Emma Peel (The Avengers, 60’s TV series) I liked as well. All the female leads in NCIS are good except maybe the new one who psychoanalyzes everyone. And that was after telling myself I won’t like that person because they replaced so-and-so. Agent Carter in Agent Carter. Buffy from Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Okay, she could kill five people in five seconds, but she wasn’t the aggressive, stomping around type.

I suppose where I’m heading at is that I like people who are more like those I meet in real life. Those I have admired over the years. And those are strong females. Confident at what they do. Able to see what has to be done, and does it, and if they can’t, they’ll ask for help. They’re regal even. Someone you can trust and go to if you have a problem. They can be someone older. They can be someone young, with like a ton of common sense. They are those who see a problem and work on it. They have goals and they achieve them. That is a strong woman. And that’s the kind I’d rather have in my stories.

Fifteen-year-old Rachel is free to ride her beloved Peaches, but the move to Boston forces the spirited girl to face the 1872 reality of her life. Men rule. What Father says goes. Her future is lace, clothes, and the home.

But that’s not what Rachel wants and a fire horse, The Governor’s Girl, helps her. Even though the horse is badly burned, Rachel takes care her not expecting a fire to burn around them.

This is a very nice and infuriating insight to the year 1872 where Rachel’s dreams are threatened to be quashed by society’s norms. Girls today will find it a shock that back then girls couldn’t go to veterinary school. Others will be shocked at the state of animals medicine at the time. I was and I already knew about that era. I found the father was quite maddening with his ‘A woman’s place is in the home’ belief.

I learned quite a bit about fire fighting and about the horses that pulled the engines. Plus I learned quite a bit about Boston. Only certain families could go to certain churches? Wow.

Good story. It was a bit of a romance as well as a horse story. As I read it I wondered if there were still horse mad girls as when I was growing up. I had a friend who loved anything horses, but I can’t bring up a single name of the kids I know today who are.

Drawing & Writing

Since I’ve been doing illustrations for my Christmas stories, I’ve been working on my drawing skills, which are lacking. If I ever, make that, when I sell a picture book to a publisher, I’ll be handing over the illustrations part to them. Which is something they want anyway.

I’ve always been rather perturbed that publishers assign an illustrator to a book and sometimes the illustrator will not talk to the author. I’m sure the person who thought up the story has some definite ideas on how some of the illustrations should look. I know I fear that they won’t draw my cats correctly. What if they make Talbot more Persian like? Or they don’t put a freckle on Mietze’s nose? Or draw her white patches incorrectly. That would very much bother me. And that’s why I draw the kitties myself.

With that in mind, and with me not really liking all the drawings I did for the last book (that I never published on blurb), I thought I’d start honing my drawing skills. I decided to start with hands. Of course, cats don’t have hands, they have paws. I have a book on animation and began drawing the hands in it. Over and over again. If they didn’t look right, I traced the hand, trying to figure out where I was going wrong.

I found another place of drawings of hands, most the four fingered cartoon kind, and began drawing them. Over and over again, and yes, it got a bit boring, but after a while I could draw my own hand positions without having a model for it.

On to the next step. I now am attaching those hands to arms. What good for me to be able to draw a hand if it won’t fit to an arm? I can’t go around drawing the hands first and then drawing the rest of the body. I mean, I could, but it doesn’t make sense to me to do it like that.

I’m going to be doing this for months, just keep on practicing. I’m going to improve my drawings.