Chicago Summer Back Again

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IMG_7980So here we are, nearly at the end of June, and time has gotten slippery. The days themselves don’t seem to speed by, but they pile up on (upon?!) one another, careless paper, fluttering away.

Without much of a thought, I’ve gone from heavy coats and hats and boots to reminding myself I don’t need to grab a jacket as I head out the door.

It’s summer.

Real ice-cream-eating, long, languid days of daylight-giving, sweat-inducing summer. Welcome back.

I’ve never really thought about how the change of seasons might influence my writing. Perhaps how I write; dark winter days with a mug of something hot sounds like romantic writing at its finest. And maybe bright summer days should be spent out in the world, away from a keyboard, doing, experiencing.

Maybe.

In Chicago, we earn our summers through slushy wet sidewalks and sharp, needling snowflakes. Through slidey roads and a wind that drives half of your molecules from your body and into the cold beyond.

But our summers melt all of that away, under broad blue skies and a lake made of shifting blue. The humidity can settle down, heavily, and yet people smile.

After all, it’s summer.

Check out  my full-length novels,  Her Cousin Much Removed,  The Great Paradox and the Innies and Outies of Time Management and Aunty Ida’s Full-Service Mental Institution (by Invitation Only), and the sequel, Aunty Ida’s Holey Amazing Sleeping Preparation (Not Doctor Recommended) which is now available!

And download Better Living Through GRAVY and Other Oddities, it’s free!

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More Fun with the Point-and-Shoot

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So I spent some more time playing with the point-and-shoot camera. It absolutely won’t replace my DSLR anytime soon…that butterfly pic could have been amazing if I had what I call my “real camera,” versus OK with the little one. The landscape there with the lakefront isn’t as sharp as I would like. Overall there is a softness to the focus I don’t love, but it was a really reasonably-priced point-and-shoot, with the added bonus of being waterproof.

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But the filters absolutely make up for any shortcomings the little camera may have. You know how you all told me you thought the miniaturizing filter worked? Well, you were right! Especially, I learned, when I managed to get some height. I thought these were so fun.

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The effect is really pretty amazing.

I’m kind of thinking of the point-and-shoot as another lens that doesn’t need changing. It may not be my go-to lens, and it may not give me the best results under all conditions, but it’s still an awfully fun thing to have in my camera bag.

So that’s Monday! What’s that, hypothetical reader? You noticed I got through this entire post and didn’t mention writing once?

Really? You noticed that?

Hmm.

Check out  my full-length novels,  Her Cousin Much Removed,  The Great Paradox and the Innies and Outies of Time Management and Aunty Ida’s Full-Service Mental Institution (by Invitation Only), and the sequel, Aunty Ida’s Holey Amazing Sleeping Preparation (Not Doctor Recommended) which is now available!

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The Continuing Adventures of Jane Storegoer and the Cone of Evil: Part 10

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freezer(Jane’s story up until now)

“Hello, Linda,” said Barry, mustering all of the cold dignity he could with a lopsided head. “I didn’t expect to see you here.”

“Didn’t you?” Linda tilted on its wooden stick, a sneer of berry parts in its facial area. “Barry didn’t think it would see us here,” Linda called over its rounded shoulder to the small orange pair behind it, the two of them joined down the middle and hopping from stick to stick, giggling manically.

“HA HA HA,” said the one on the right.

“HEE HEE HEE,” said the one on the left.

“What the hell?” said Iris, her pimento eyes glowing under furrowed brows.

“My thoughts exactly,” Jane said. “Going to introduce us to your friends, Barry?”

“They’re not my friends.” Shooting a look as sharp as icicles, Barry hopped its way down the snow-covered path. The popsicles followed, Linda skating on the edge of its stick, right, then left, then right again; the connected pair wobbling from stick to stick.

“We’re not his friends,” the twins mocked in unison.

“What is your deal?” said Iris.

“I don’t care. I just want to get out of this place and back home.” Jane headed down the path behind them, the snow, in drifts, coming up nearly to her knees. It was soft, though, and light, lighter than any snow she’d seen before.

“Our deal?” Linda said. “Want to tell them our deal?”

“Not really,” Barry said, its attempt at ignoring them not working very well.

“Are you embarrassed of your little creamsicles?”

Everyone stopped exactly where they were, except for Barry, who, hop as he might, couldn’t get much distance.

“Your what?” said Jane.

***

 

Check out  my full-length novels,  Her Cousin Much Removed,  The Great Paradox and the Innies and Outies of Time Management and Aunty Ida’s Full-Service Mental Institution (by Invitation Only), and the sequel, Aunty Ida’s Holey Amazing Sleeping Preparation (Not Doctor Recommended) which is now available!

And download Better Living Through GRAVY and Other Oddities, it’s free!

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Cracking Characters to Push Plot

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By Brocken Inaglory (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

It’s so humid here today, it’s like sitting in a sponge. I have to run the air even though it’s not that warm.

Sorry, planet Earth.

As you know, I’ve been having my writing struggles this week. I’ve gotten some fantastic tricks and hints from everyone, though (thank you!) and amazing support from others who know what it’s like to try to chip your way through a writing wall.

And I think I know where the problem is. It’s my characters.

I’ve written before about how plotting nearly always comes back to character. What do your characters want? What will they do to get it? Who are they? How do they see the world? What are their secrets?

My WIP is wall-to-wall with characters, but I haven’t taken the time to get to know them. Bad writer.

In a cozy mystery, someone has to want something or not want something or want to hide something enough to kill over it. How can I get to the heart of it if I don’t know my characters well enough to see what motivates them?

I repeat my self-scolding: Bad writer.

So I’m going back through my cast of characters to get to know them a little better. And for anyone who finds themselves in a similar situation, with a plot that won’t resolve, it’s never a bad idea to go back to the source of all plot points.

Your characters.

Check out  my full-length novels,  Her Cousin Much Removed,  The Great Paradox and the Innies and Outies of Time Management and Aunty Ida’s Full-Service Mental Institution (by Invitation Only), and the sequel, Aunty Ida’s Holey Amazing Sleeping Preparation (Not Doctor Recommended) which is now available!

And download Better Living Through GRAVY and Other Oddities, it’s free!

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Endings Shmedings

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Monkey-typingSo I’ve decided that you can absolutely, totally, 100% write a cozy mystery without actually solving the mystery. I mean, who’s going to notice, right? You just stick a good wrap-up at the end about the fragility of life, let the characters contemplate the meaning of death, and BOOM!

Finished book.

What’s that, hypothetical reader? No, you can’t? Well, you don’t have to be so emphatic about it.

I am, what we call in the writing game, “stuck.” I was stuck with this manuscript before, which is why I put it aside in the first place. Here I am, almost to the end of my words, and I can see how I found myself in this spot.

But I’m still not sure how to fix it.

I’m missing something. There are usually clues my subconscious leaves for me in the first-draft process. And I’m short a breadcrumb. Or twelve.

I’m not delusional (mostly). I don’t expect a lot out of a first draft. But it’s got to have a mostly-finished plot.

Unless I want to create some kind of deconstructed literature, though that might be a tough sell as a sequel to a cozy. Any takers?

What’s that hypothetical reader? Sheesh, you’re really in a mood today.

Maybe what I need is one of those transparent boards they work on during montages in television shows, so I can draw a lot of lines and squiggles and arrows, until, eureka! I have it.

Maybe if I shake the manuscript, the end will fall out.

Check out  my full-length novels,  Her Cousin Much Removed,  The Great Paradox and the Innies and Outies of Time Management and Aunty Ida’s Full-Service Mental Institution (by Invitation Only), and the sequel, Aunty Ida’s Holey Amazing Sleeping Preparation (Not Doctor Recommended) which is now available!

And download Better Living Through GRAVY and Other Oddities, it’s free!

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Celebrity Cars, Filters and Photography

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Ting! Used a sparkle filter for this picture of Greased Lightning from…well…Grease.

Pictures today! For Father’s Day (a belated happy one to all the dads out there!) I went with my parents to the Volo Auto Museum. About an hour outside of Chicago, it’s packed with all kinds of cars, from early ones to classics to props from movies. There’s also an antiques mall, with one building that is said to be haunted.

If you’re in the market for a classic car, there are rooms of them, gorgeously restored, for sale.

I went with my trusty SLR, and armed with a new small point-and-shoot I got because it can take underwater pictures.

I’ll need that for a trip I’ll be taking, but we’ll chat about that another day.

A blast was had with the point-and-shoot, as it offers a range of filters. It’s like on-board Photoshop. It has its limitations — as far as that type of camera goes, it wasn’t a really expensive one, and I’m not completely thrilled with the sharpness in the lighting conditions, but cars were the perfect subject matter to test some of the more playful features.

So here are the pictures from what I will call my little camera. (it is VERY little). And off we go!

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Here’s that star effect again…TING!

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This filter makes everything black & white but one color.

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The filter here intensifies the colors…I love the lurid car poster feel.

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This one is supposed to make it look as though it’s a miniature. What do you think?

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Same filter as the red, but with yellow.

 

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I ain’t ‘fraid of no ghosts!

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As you can see, the Flux Capacitor is in full-working condition.

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And from my “real” camera:

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I found this locomotive…ON WHEELS…just as the museum was closing.

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Check out  my full-length novels,  Her Cousin Much Removed,  The Great Paradox and the Innies and Outies of Time Management and Aunty Ida’s Full-Service Mental Institution (by Invitation Only), and the sequel, Aunty Ida’s Holey Amazing Sleeping Preparation (Not Doctor Recommended) which is now available!

And download Better Living Through GRAVY and Other Oddities, it’s free!

 Sign up for my spamless newsletter!

 

 

The Continuing Adventures of Jane Storegoer and the Cone of Evil: Part 9

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freezer(Jane’s story so far.)

With the soggy sounds of fighting behind her, Jane tried to process what her eyes were seeing.

It was beautiful.

There before her icy crystals heaped in their glistening glory, large enough to show off every intricate line. Forming mounds and then hills, and then finally peaks in the distance, they gave off a scent of fresh chill, like a cold morning before winter truly settles in.

Far beyond, in a white backdrop, a sheer wall of sparkling white stretched far up beyond where Jane could see.

“Sheesh,” said Barry. “You’d think you’d never seen the inside of a freezer before.” Its head was somewhat squashed and lopsided from its recent up-ending.

“What?” Jane tried to snap back from her wonder.

“It’s just the inside of a freezer,” it said, “and this isn’t my neighborhood, so I suggest we get–”

“Anyone miss me?” said Iris, her tofu gouged and nicked in a few spots, but no worse for the wear. She was holding the flap closed, the sound of wet splotches hitting the other side.

“Iris!” said Jane. “You fought them all off?”

“Extra firm my off-white behind,” she said. “Huh. This is pretty.” She nodded in the direction of the landscape.

“See?” said Jane.

“ONE MORE SPLAT AND I WILL MEAT UP THE JOINT,” Iris yelled through the cardboard.

The noise on the other side stopped.

She stood up, and brushed her wobbly hands against one another. “That’s what I thought. So, what’s the plan?”

“I’d like to get out of here and back to normal size,” Jane said. “Or nearly normal size, I wouldn’t mind dropping a pound or two.”

“And yet you tried to buy me to eat me,” said Barry.

“Hey!” Jane and Iris glared at Barry in unison.

“Seriously, let’s go, I don’t like it around here.” Barry hopped onward, determinedly, the tip of its cone sinking into the snow. But not fast enough.

“Well, well well. If it isn’t Barry, same old floppy-coned Barry,” came from a short distance away.

***

Check out  my full-length novels,  Her Cousin Much Removed,  The Great Paradox and the Innies and Outies of Time Management and Aunty Ida’s Full-Service Mental Institution (by Invitation Only), and the sequel, Aunty Ida’s Holey Amazing Sleeping Preparation (Not Doctor Recommended) which is now available!

And download Better Living Through GRAVY and Other Oddities, it’s free!

 Sign up for my spamless newsletter!