Galloping Gooses, and I Don’t Mean the Bikers

My daughter and son-in-law are doing a sales circuit in the Northern states, and seeing some beautiful country in the process. Rachel called from Idaho so excited over seeing her first bald eagle in the wild. Deer so different from those in Mississippi while she was in New York. Other fauna and flora exclusive to whichever state they’re in. She even experienced snow in half-dollar sized, feathery flakes. Her latest communication came this morning from Indianapolis, a little bit gripe-y.

When they left here it was supposed to be summer. Being from Michigan myself, I did warn her the term ‘summer’ is relative to each area. She considers 40’s a hard freeze requiring long johns and multiple layers, but after months of 12 to 20 degrees, to some folks 40’s can seem downright balmy. Unless you’re from the South.

The short of this explanation? She’d packed no outer wear for this trip. Needless to say, she had to go jacket shopping. The department store hadn’t opened yet when she drove into town, so she decided to eat breakfast somewhere while she waited.

She settled on a local establishment called The Original Pancake House that advertised crepes. She entertained the wait staff with her enthusiasm for her breakfast, and sent me a shot of her plate, saying she hadn’t had crepes that good since she was a kid and I made them for her from scratch. But the picture of her crepes served a dual purpose.

To prove to me it was worth what she braved to gain the interior of the restaurant.

When she pulled in there were a few Canadian Geese wandering the lot. Never having seen them in the wild, she was as thrilled over them as the bald eagles. She’d never realized just how large they are and clicked a pic or two through the windshield with her phone. When she got out of her car, a few started walking back and forth along the store front as if they owned it. She thought they were adorable, “marching like little soldiers on patrol”. She admitted this new activity made her a little nervous, but since there were people clearly visible through the windows, and they’d braved these same geese to get in there, how bad could it be?

She stepped out of her vehicle, and though they showed a marked–and collective– interest in her activities, they couldn’t be called aggressive. Feeling reasonably confident, she moved to the sidewalk in front of the car. Things went well up right up to the point she hit the button on her keys to set her car alarm.

Her exact words?

“Mama, all I can figure is that high-pitched, double mweep-mweep is ‘f**k you’ in goose! All I know is one second things were fine, and then the next they charged me! All honking and hissing and moving their necks like snakes, chests poked out with their wings flapping and big orange feet slapping the pavement. Mama, those things were chest high on me! Geese ran at me from all directions, and I had no idea where they even came from! It was like they materialized from thin air. I wanted to get back in my car and leave but there were too many of them between me and my door. Then I realized the restaurant door was closer.  Mama, I didn’t care what anybody thought. I ran, screeching for them to get away the whole way!”

Her descriptions had me laughing so hard I was crying. “But those crepes were so worth it, Mama! I’m going to bring Will back there with me for more.” She hesitated the tiniest fraction of time before adding, “But I’m going to make him get out first! If those geese are busy chasing him down, I can get inside un-accosted.”

She made it back to her car after her meal.

She was wise enough to use the key itself to quietly unlock the door. But she is her mother’s daughter, and the alarm was too much to resist completely. Call it an experiment in objectivity.

I can picture that little black sports Mercedes shooting out of the parking lot to disappear down the highway, chased by an angry flock of Canadian Geese flying tight on its tail.

Seems ‘mweep-mweep‘ does mean ‘eff you’ in goose!

Until next time,

~Runere~

PS: Don’t forget tomorrow is our GCCRWA meeting. We welcome visitors, and Patrick is presenting a techie program for us! I’m planning to learn everything I can from him. Hope to see some new faces there. ~R~

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Performing His and Hers Toilettes

Wow. Another week gone already? Silken Sands Writers Conference is coming up fast! March 16-18 will be here before you know it. So just in case you haven’t registered, here’s the link again: http://www.gccrwa.com/silkensands .

It’s been an adventurous week here in Runere Land. (That moniker was granted by Jeff Salter, a blog buddy, who has his first book—“The Overnighter’s Secrets”— coming out in April from Astraea Press. Go, Jeff!) Hubby and I have been getting things together for my conference workshop, while having a herd of the grandchildren over. And I use the term ‘herd’ politely. It’s fun, but when they head home I’m left feeling trampled! lol

For starters, instead of echo location, the four year old has candy location radar. Seems I’d dropped a few little wisps of foil while peeling Hershey’s Kisses in my office. And I do mean wisps, because when she said “There’s all kind of candy wrappers over there” (which with her New Orleans accent sounded like “Theah’s awl kinda cyandy wrappahs ovah deah”, and yes, it was so cute I made her repeat it), I looked. Carefully. Nothing. She promptly laid three minute foil flakes in the palm of her hand and shoved them under my nose. Well, huh. They did come from candy wrappers. And I hid the rest of the bag.

Meal time rolled around and I fixed them all plates so they could eat in the living room. Radar Girl looked it over, fixed me with a cool stare, and asked, “What’s for dessert?” I told her, and she immediately pointed to everything on her plate in quick succession, saying, “That’s nasty. That’s nasty. That’s nasty. And that’s nasty. I can’t eat it. Can I have my dessert now?” We butted heads for a few seconds there, me lecturing that dessert does not qualify as a nutritious meal, and she had to empty her plate before she could have any. Tried the ‘you hurt Mawmaw’s feelings’ routine, but got nowhere with it. Finally told her point blank that Mawmaw does not cook nasty food. Had her look around at the others plowing their way through their heaped plates. The only thing that ended our prolonged standoff was her brother trying to stab and steal the pork roast on her plate. I learned defensiveness must improve the flavor of food, because she cleaned her plate!

We shared stories too. Mine was about a friend who’s a rocket scientist. Literally. He and his wife had come for a visit one afternoon, and he went to the bathroom. It wasn’t the length of time he spent in there that was odd; it was the muffled bursts of laughter at twenty second intervals that got to me. He finally poked his head out the door, grinning.

“Hey, it started out I was just trying to be polite,” he began, “but when I nudged the seat down, it drifted down in slow motion. I’ve never seen a toilet seat with a braking system before!” He raised it, and started it on its downward trip, avidly following its turtle mode progress to ‘female usage position’, another burst of hysterical laughter rolling out of him. I was forced to explain we have grandsons in the majority, and when a little guy stumbles in half asleep and forgets to keep a grip on the seat to hold it up, I end up shuddering through a blood-curdling screech an instant after being woken by a loud bang. I’ll admit I’ve gotten pretty good at handing off ice packs one handed, the other covering my eyes so the poor little guy can maintain the illusion of privacy as he ices his whacked weenie. Dignity went out the window with his hopping around howling with ‘things’ in a two-handed hold. (I keep telling those boys to retain full possession of the thing and don’t drape it over the porcelain edge, but do they listen? Nooo.)

Anyway, after one too many icepacks, I went in search of something safer for them and found it in Tylertown at a bath specialty shop. It’s better for me too. All my consideration when I don’t turn on a light so I won’t disturb anyone is for naught; particularly if I’m half asleep. There’s that millisecond of time that extends forever in the sleep-fuzzed brain. You know the one. It’s that twinkling instant between knowing you should have landed, realizing you haven’t, and falling in. But physics rule, gravity is all-powerful, and there’s nothing you can do to stop the splash landing.

I end up yelling loud enough from the pure shock of ending folded in half in cold porcelain and icy water to drown out almost everything else, but I’m pretty sure it’s the older boys who booby trapped the thing. There’s way too much muffled hooting and snorting into pillows, and laughing shouts of “Hey, Poppa, does Maw know how to swim?” Or “Quick! Somebody find the shoehorn!” Or “Should we fish her out now? She sounds pretty mad; maybe we should just leave her there to cool off  ‘til we need her to cook breakfast.”

Yes, I had a lengthy, invigorating 3AM bath to remedy the aftermath. Didn’t even try to be quiet about it. But it wasn’t all bad. Since I was already awake, I did get some writing in!

Good writing! I’ll be looking for you at the beach! Pensacola style!
~Runere~

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Silken Sands Self-Published Star Contest Finalists!

I’m currently sitting here pondering which manuscript to pitch at Silken Sands Writers Conference. It’s coming up very soon and I (*dither, dither, dither*) need to make up my mind.
And I’m throwing it out there that there are still some respectable places on the pitch roster available. Not many, but a few. So if you feel your project is ready (or can be readied!) to present to an acquiring editor or agent by March 16-18th, I urge you to hurry and register to save your spot! http://gccrwa.com/silkensands

I still need a little help deciding. I love the Paranormal venue. It’s my deepest love. I have more MSS with Paranormal aspects. But I also write contemporary. Those come so easily they scare me. Anything that quick and easy has to be wrong, right? But then maybe they flow due to the articles I’ve written as a magazine staff writer. I loved taking a current event and throwing a fun or funny spin on it. Contemporary seems to be an extension of that, so maybe I’m just more at home with it. Frustrated sigh. *kicks rocks*

So what am I going to do? I’m going to . . .
. . . take this opportunity to tell you about a few authors who don’t presently have that dilemma!

Glad to say the finalists in the Silken Sands Self-Published Star Contest have been announced. Congratulations to eighteen great ladies in six categories of Romance! I mention them here because I’m so proud of every one of them.  Read more about the contest and the entry and judging procedure here:  http://gccrwa.com/starcontest

 

 

2012 Silken Sands Self-Published Star Contest Finalists

Short Story:
Gaea’s Chosen: The Mayday Directive by Cara Michaels
New Money & Old Trouble by Jane Carver
Dragon In The Mist by Nancy Lee Badger

Novella:
All’s Fair In Love & Seduction by Beverley Kendall
Loving or Nothing by Cara Marsi
Deceive Her With Desire by Nina Pierce

Single Title Contemporary:
Wife by Wednesday by Catherine Bybee
For the Love of a Woman by Christina James
Hardball by V.K. Sykes

Single Title Paranormal:
Bayou Legend by Janet Breakfield
Somebody Tell Aunt Tillie She’s Dead by Christiana Miller
Love by Accident by Michelle Beattie

Single Title Historical:
This Heart For Hire by Elysa Hendricks
Another Chance by Michelle Beattie
Her Secondhand Groom by Rose Gordon

Young Adult:
Pride’s Run by Catherine Verge
Freaks of Greenfield High by Maree Anderson
The Boyfriend Thief by Shanna Norris

Winners will be announced at the Silken Sands Writers’ Conference in Pensacola, Florida, on March 17, 2012.

My Sizzler Sisters and I will be presenting these authors a bit more in depth, and providing web site and buy links for their entries. So be sure to check in often, and look for more fun ahead!

My final suggestion for today is one made by another member of our writing chapter, Jamie, and it’s a good one indeed.

If you’ve never read a Romance eBook, this list of authors is a great place to start!

Good writing, everyone! See you at the beach at Silken Sands!
~Runere~

Visit Runere at http://www.RunereMcLain.com    Friend her on FB @ Runere McLain    Follow her on Twitter@RunereMcLain

And We’re Still Outnumbered . . .

Sorry this didn’t go up first thing this morning. Things have been so hectic and run together around here that I had a brain spasm and forgot what day it was.

Part of the tension — enjoyable for a change, but tension never the less– was waiting to hear the results of the ultrasound to learn the gender of my first great-grandchild. Oh, don’t worry. The grandchildren haven’t stopped coming either. Was informed last week that grandchild number fifteen is on the way. The children at our family reunions will be as confused as my generation was. My mother and I ended up pregnant at the same time. After I’d had my first child. So my baby sister has a niece older than she is. My baby sister and children grew up close, and they played that breezy “Oh. My aunt is here to check me out of class” scheme to the hilt in high school.

Anyway, we were hoping to even the imbalance of girl/boy ratio but got no cooperation. The first great-grandchild is another boy. With only four girls out of fifteen grandchildren, people often remark the girls probably have to band together against the boys. It’s a little embarrassing to hide behind your hand and mumble, “No, it’s usually the boys forced to fight back to back, defending against one of the girls.”  In fact the last birthday party we attended one of the neighbor kids pushed a smaller child down. Waded in to stop a granddaughter from ‘taking up’ for the little one. She had two older, larger boys on the ground and was working on the third by the time I got over there to break it up.  But, damn, she had good form! Kept her fists up to protect herself and good footwork for smooth stick-and-retreat action. Jab,jab, cross. Dance out. Dance in and jab, jab, uppercut. Side step and apply an elbow to the side of the head. Feint, recover and jamb a knee to the . . .  Okay, okay! I may have taken my time getting over there, but there was cake on the picnic table. And since the hulking teen bullies picked on an eight-year-old they deserved to get whipped by a girl!

Think the painted nails, and meticulous make-up on an already gorgeous face had the aggressors dismissing her as ‘just a girl’ when she tried initially to adress them verbally. They should have known they were in deep poop when she had the foresight to save her new heels by kicking them off prior to addressing the situation by hand.

People often ask how I can write such believable fight scenes. Sigh. Please re-read preceding paragraph. Probably because I’ve refereed so many testosterone spikes? Or stopping lone females from dampening testosterone spikes with the efficiency of a ten-pound hammer to a thumb tack? Or because Hubby contributed his genetic disposition since he (before his back injury) was the type to water ski up and down the New Orleans canals in January– because the fish weren’t biting and they had to do something since they dragged the boat out there. Or took trophies during Poker Runs for being youngest rider in  the motorcycle club?  Or his father before him was into racing automobiles, boats and motorcycles? Or because one of my boys was bouncing for a club on Bourbon Street when he was only 17? During Mardi Gras?

My own insatiable love of weapons and the outdoors probably didn’t contribute much calm either, I’m sure.

I’m convinced that Dare-the-Devil gene is well ensconced in the pool, splashing around just waiting for a chance to co-join to create another human who will grin while shoving a handful of genetic water at you.

So I guess we have to run high on males. The females just end up being too damn mean!

Keep writing folks! We have a conference coming up and you want to have your best ready to pitch to the agents and editors!

~Runere~

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Silken Sands Writers Conference! See You at the Beach!

Writers conferences. A matter of hot debate, the question asked most frequently “Is a conference worth the time and money you spend to attend one?”

IF you’ve done your research, IMHO, yes, they are worth it! You can find sources in writer’s publications, local writers groups, and on line. One quick warning; there are as many types of conferences as there are genres, so research until you find one benefitting your genre, level of experience, and budget. You can find single subject conferences (characters, dialogue, marketing, etc.) that last a few hours or a single day. Weekend conferences with pitch sessions, meet and greet, and craft workshops. There are week-long retreats as well. Conferences have sprung up not for writers, but for readers. Many of your favorite authors have conferences to meet their fans, held in cities or on sea cruises. But for this blog, we’re dealing with writers!

First, choose a conference in your genre. If you write Mystery, don’t attend a Paranormal conference. Seems ridiculous to mention that, but one Romance conference I attended had a lone male there. Talked to him a bit and it turned out he was looking for help with Westerns. He was one lost puppy. But we put our heads together over the workshops, and craft is craft, so it wasn’t a total bust for him. Pointed out if he’d substitute ‘six gun’ for ‘stilettos’ in certain aspects, he’d do fine. Plus he loved the attention he got from all those ladies when word of his dilemma got around. Made me feel good he went away smiling.

I write paranormal romance. I’m attending Silken Sands Writers Conference in Pensacola, Florida this March 16-18 because of the sheer diversity of romance genres represented there. (If you need info, click here: www.gccrwa.com/silkensands .) Barbara Vey from Publishers Weekly is the Kickoff Speaker, a mighty presence with her personal blog there. Yet I’ve never met a more unpretentious woman. She has one of those smiles that has you opening up to her without being aware you’ve done so. Knowing she’s with us . . . Please excuse the strange woman doing the disjointed wiggle dance in the corner; I’m trying to stay to the shadows, but I’m super excited! And multi-published Historical Romance author Beverly Kendall is our Keynote Speaker. Can’t wait to hear what she has to say!

Speakers provide more than group entertainment. They’re head cheerleaders for every one there. The Keynote speaker is the individual held up as a success story, proof the dream can be accomplished. I’ve heard Keynote Speakers who tore at your heart with what they endured to achieve that dream. Sherrilyn Kenyon is one. She’d just started using her MacGregor moniker for a series, and we chatted about ancestors. She didn’t know me from Adam, yet was interested enough in the subject to ask how far back I’d tracked mine. I responded with a rousing “Clan MacClaine o’ Loch Buie, Scotland”, complete with hacked consonants and swallowed vowels. She started laughing. “How do you do that?” she wanted to know. “I still can’t get it right!” (Helps if you have family who never lost their accent. Imitation comes naturally to a child, and I guess I’ve never grown up.)

At another conference Romantic Suspense author Karen Rose talked about her writing journey, then brought home how ordinary individuals comprise writers’ ranks. Turns out she’s terrified of snakes. I’ll never forget her pot and spoon story, holding up the very items she bangs away on to scare off serpents every time she walks her dog. Even after a family member told her snakes have no ears, she refuses to budge off her stance her system works. After all, she’s never encountered a snake!

How many? And why? I try to attend three conferences a year. Why? Because there’s no better place to stay abreast of changes in the field. And with the financial crash of major publishing houses that left their long-term authors unpaid, the mass charge to ePub and Indie Pub, the change in royalty percentages and house expenses charged to the author, they’re changing often and quickly. Attending every four months or so to put your finger on the pulse is not unreasonable; in fact it’s good business. But even one a year will recharge you. Every conference has panels of experts, those knowledgeable of current facts, not just rumor and hearsay circulating the Twitterverse, loops, and email. They also have the most current list of author loops and organizations to choose from. Unfortunately there are scam artists out there. It’s comforting you can rest assured everyone at an RWA conference has been vetted by the chapter putting it on.

Throw in the opportunity to pitch a project one-on-one, directly to an acquiring editor or agent, and they become an unbeatable prospect. Being able to write “Requested Material” on an envelope or in a subject line lifts you out of the slush pile of thousands.

What Can You Expect At Conference?
Initially, a bad case of nerves. But then you look around and see quite a few others in the same condition. Nerves turn to excitement. Only another writer can truly understand a writer, and it’s a giddy moment when you realize you’re in an entire herd of them. Speaking with others at every level of the field gives you a good sense of what you’ll need to do to accomplish your goals.

Workshops at conference are varied, and set up to appeal to writers at almost every level. What do you need help most with? POV problems? Dialogue? World building questions? Where to start your book? Perfecting your pitch to that editor or agent? Organizing your space or writing to be your most productive? Finding that cotton pickin’ Muse who heartlessly abandons you when you finally have an hour to write? By going over the workshop descriptions, you can pick the best ones that specifically help you improve your craft.

But it’s the friendships you form, the networks you enlarge that stand out the most. The encouragement you get from someone who has been where you are. The inner glow you feel when you help someone who’s where you’ve been.

So come join me at Silken Sands. I need a few more friends who write. We’ll learn. We’ll teach. We’ll commiserate. We’ll cheer. We’ll laugh. We’ll stay up too late. We’ll share.

And at least once, we’ll take time to walk to the water’s edge and play in the waves and push our toes into the sand.

I promise!

See you on the beach!
~Runere~
Visit her at http://www.RunereMcLain.com      Friend her on Facebook @ Runere McLain     Follow her on Twitter@RunereMcLain

Air Horns, the New Spring Accessory! No, Really.

It looks like Spring around here with rich purples and luscious pinks of Japanese Magnolias blossoming. Brilliant yellow daffodils bobbing atop stiff green stems. Birds dip and flutter as they busily gather materials for nest building. All is color, and fragrance, and light, each the budding promise of new life.

But there’s another side of Spring. A pervasive dark side that gets down and dirty. Think about it. All that new life has to come from somewhere. Or should I say ‘some how’? And sometimes it reaches out and taps you right on the shoulder. Or pecks the crap out of you.

Nature procreates on a schedule, no doubt. But subtle nuances can skew that schedule. Food supply, for one. And a gated community surrounding a private lake can be a bonanza in the world of water fowl. All those oblivious individuals luring majestic Canadian Geese by feeding them from their docks. Children tossing bread crumbs to families of Mallard ducks along reed-laced banks. And for most of the year it’s a lovely shared experience.

But when the horny bug bites . . . .

One g-son is a fishing fool. He’d rather buy lures or tackle than eat. (But he hits my door and heads straight for the kitchen, so he’s in no danger of starving.) He gets up before dawn to fish from his favorite pier on the lake. An older retired gentleman usually launches his small flatboat around the same time, and they’ve struck up a fishing friendship.

Excuse this bit of back story for edification. Canadian geese stand three feet tall, and are typically 12 to 14 pound birds. Please keep in mind these birds have been fed a steady diet of the finest commercial feed available, guaranteed to encourage maximum growth. Result? These beasts in this tale are probably around 20 pounds apiece. They’re very territorial, too.

Mr. R, out in his boat, let it drift where the wind would push it, enjoying the way the sun glittered off the spoon on his lure when he cast it. He drifted close to a reed bed. A few Canadian geese swan toward his boat. Not wanting to disturb them, he started his almost soundless electric trolling motor and moved to the middle of the lake. The geese floated back to their reedy hideout. The same thing happened the next day, only the geese were a little more aggressive. Once near the boat they beat their wings, rising partly from the water, and hissing. Mr. R hummed back to the center of the lake.

But last week everything changed. Tyler, standing on the end of the pier, saw it all. Said he couldn’t decide if it was more like a horror movie or a comedy. Those geese didn’t even wait for Mr. R to get close. As soon as he drifted toward the reed bed, they converged on his low sided boat en mass.

“Dang, Maw!” g-son exclaimed. “I didn’t know geese could climb! Two of them were in the boat before Mr. R knew what was happening! He had his hat off flailing away, but those geese were all over him. They’d get hold of a piece of skin in their beaks, and I could see it stretching from the bank!” He tried really hard not to laugh in the re-telling. “He’d grab a goose and throw it out of the boat, and two more would take its place. He got the motor started and was trying to get away, but Maw, you know trolling motors aren’t fast. The whole time he was headed to shore he was under attack. One minute he was hunched down, hand on the throttle and headed in, the next he was chucking geese into the lake. He was slam-dunking them, too, Maw! Ever see a goose cannon ball?” Tyler started laughing in earnest then. “Once the boat was going in circles because Mr. R had a goose around the neck with both hands, shaking hell out of him, and it was still biting him! Some of the others took to the air, circling the boat and kamikaze-ing him every chance they got. I felt bad for the man, but there was nothing I could do.”

Mr. R finally made it to the pier, harried and hatless, where Tyler caught the rope he tossed him. “Maw.” Tyler cocked his chin to his chest, fingers dancing over his face. “He had huge purple welts all over him. His cheeks, his nose, his chin, his neck. One eyebrow was even lumped up. Everywhere a goose grabbed hold and twisted that snake-like neck it’d raised a blood blister on him.”

Seems Mr. R went out the next morning with a tennis racket. I got the low down he still had to tuck tail and run, humming in under full attack at the whopping speed of half-a-mile-an-hour.

Tyler believed himself safe since he was on the dock. Surprise. The Mallards decided to nest under the pier. He’d walked to the end of it before daylight, so they weren’t up yet. As soon as they started swimming around, Tyler was on the receiving end of their aerial attack. “They hit you and peck you, and try to land on your head,” he complained indignantly. “Thought the one that hooked his toenails in the back of my shirt and kept beating me in the head with his wings was going to knock me into the water!” That’s when he remembered something in his fishing kit.

He spends time year round in their hunting club. When nothing’s in season, they fish there or use it for four-wheeling. There are some impressive bogs, and occasionally someone gets stuck while playing. It’s such a large property they needed a way to signal for help. Problem is, being a hunting club, the usual signal of firing a gun doesn’t garner much attention. Their solution?

Air horns. The even developed a code to signal a situation’s degree of severity. Out of gas. Stuck and need a tow. Stuck and need another four-wheeler with a wench. Or damn-I-sunk-it- somebody-head-out-here-with-a-pick-up-to-snatch-me-out! They even have an emergency signal in case someone gets hurt or lost.

Anyway, Tyler said he wound up belly-crawling across the dock, watching Mr. R run toward him, tennis racket in hand, as ducks repeatedly dive-bombed him. Finally managed to grope in his pack. Rolled over and blasted the air horn in the face of the duck zooming in on him. Scared the hell out of the duck. Said the back-wash from his wings as he back pedaled to get away threw feathers everywhere and blew Tyler’s hat off. Turned out sounding the air horn every time they dove repelled them. Mr. R gave him a grin and a thumbs up.

Fishing has returned to the solitary enjoyment it once was.

Not so sure how the neighbors feel about daylight breaking now. Must be a tad difficult to sleep through the blare of air horns sounding off, on and around the lake. But I bet they’re sure glad mating season doesn’t last forever! Honk! Honk!

Good writing, folks!
~Runere~

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Phantasy Friday: Camouflage, Dancers and Cornish Hens . . . and Conference!

A quick reminder: It’s not too late to register for Silken Sands Writers Conference in Pensacola Beach, Florida, March 16-18. We have beaches, authors, workshops for every level of writer, editor and agent pitch appointments. (They’re here to listen to you tell them why your book is the one they want; you don’t even have to travel to New York! Take advantage of this local opportunity!) Even a costume dessert on Friday night! I can’t wait for that. It’s bound to be fun with Vampires, Historical ladies, Steampunk, Contemporary and too many others to list. Come in costume of your favorite genre or character and make it even more special. Don’t miss the book signing either. It will be open to the public.

And keep an eye out here at Southern Sizzle! Finalists for the Silken Sands Self-Published Star Contest will be highlighted here! Winners will have info and buy links on their personalized days, courtesy of the Sizzlers! Finalists announced February 15th, and winners announced at the conference! Everything you need to register can be found here: http://www.gccrwa.com/silkensands

Now on with the regular post!

I get an email every now and then from someone saying they love to read about my family. Of course they do! They don’t have to live with them! Little do they know writing about them is my personal form of therapy. *snort*

So we’ll start with the Saints loss last Saturday. The fourteen year old g-son wanted to bake Cornish hens for the game. Cornish hens? What ever happened to chips and dip? But he does an excellent job of them, so he got his way. Too bad the Saints lost. When the 49’er’s man ran the ball in for that last touchdown my living room erupted into chaos. Don’t know how I didn’t lose a ceiling fan blade; they jumped up off the couches as if hit with cattle prods. High enough to get tangled as they screamed at the runner through the television screen, shouting tackling instructions to Saints members the whole way.

When it didn’t work ball caps were thrown on the floor and stomped. I mean jumped up and down on. Repeatedly. Squinted my eyes to watch and they reminded me of little monkeys trying to put out a fire. The air turned blue from the language. Even the g-son got in on the act, and I didn’t have the heart to tell him to watch his mouth. He’d been through a traumatizing disappointment, so I put my ear filters in for about ninety seconds. Add the poor dogs going crazy from all the yelling and stomping and arm flaiing going on . . . I’m sure you get the picture. Absolute bedlam. I finally slunk off and hid in my office. Got an apology from the g-son for the cursing later, so he’s a good kid.

He’s a good kid, but is heavily into the Country Boy image at the moment. He hunts and fishes. Haunts four-wheeler trails to sling mud. Has ‘Porkchop’ embroidered on the back of his ball cap. He has camouflage for everything. I have two sets: Mossy Oak break-up for heavy woods, and Real Tree with green for hunting in pines or areas of high concentrations of evergreens. He has deer hunting camouflage — high and low country, turkey hunting camouflage and vest, bird hunting camouflage, and hog hunting camouflage. I have a headache. He called before we picked him up to ask if we were going anywhere nice where he might need a dress shirt. A nice change, I pounced on it. Told him to pack one.

My office did double duty, again. Had to hide there to stifle hysterical laughter. Tender feelings would have been bruised had I not. He’d packed –wait for it — a buttondown camouflage.

He has also discovered girls. He and his Popa love motorcycles, and are hooked on a special called “Full Throttle Saloon” about a bar that opens for the ten days of the Sturgis run. I admit to liking it too. But to get to the girl-liking part. The saloon owner’s girlfriend was a professional cheerleader. When she left the NFL, she and a group of other cheerleaders formed a dance squad called “Flaunt”. I’ve always said if you’ve got it, flaunt it. They do. He’s particularly enamoured of said saloon owner’s girlfriend, Angie. I’m sure I wasn’t supposed to overhear this, but I did.

“Pop,” he declared, all testosterone filled sincerity as he watched Angie dance on stage, “if I was 32, I’d go get that.” I nearly choked. Hubby, who doesn’t miss a beat when it comes to teasing the kids, asked him, “Why 32? What’s wrong with going to get that now?” The kid stuttered, spluttered and turned beet red. It’ll probably be a while before the g-son makes man-talk with his Popa again. Yep. Good ol’ Popa. He believes in men being men. (Probably why my baby boy — son in this instance — called three days before his seventeenth birthday to tell me he was moving in with a 30 yr old stripper. In New Orleans. It was summer vacation. Tried to be philosophical about it, but I don’t know if it helped.)

G-son won’t be here this weekend, but will the following one. I can’t wait to see what he does next. Or what his Popa eggs him on with.

I’ll see y’all next Friday. Need to make sure I have a clear path to the office. In case I have to hide in there to laugh.

Good writing!

~Runere~

Visit at www.RunereMcLain.com  Friend her on Facebook: Runere McLain  Follow her on Twitter@RunereMcLain

Peacocks and Happy Ever Afters

Just looked out the back door in the dark to check on the peacocks, and in the distance their pen has the glow of a thousand candles. Funny how light in the night has such a different feel to it.

That glow is a little muted by the construction sheeting stapled around the pen, but the heat lamps Hubby put in to keep our birds frost-free are throwing off an impressive warmth. Those birds will appreciate it tonight for sure. Hubby even made sure their perches were still wide and flat. Turns out peacocks are prone to frost bite, and it’s better to use a flat 2X4 plank for a perch so their feet stay flat and their bodies fully cover them as they settle on the roost. Better insulation that way. If they curl their very long toes around round perches, the exposed ends freeze and, well . . . gangrenous toes don’t do well.

Got to thinking (I know, scary) and found an odd correlation. Writing is a bit like that cold-wrapped peacock pen. Like construction mishmash, you set unrelated things in place one at a time to create a particular result. You sheath the pen in careful layers to block out the winds the way you layer elements in a story to shield and strengthen the story line. You set staples at critical points to secure it tightly against the frame, much the way you use key incidents and dialogue to ensure your reader stays with you. You add heat lamps to create comfort in a hostile atmosphere, the same way you add pieces of written illumination to your characters’ surroundings.

But you can’t just toss those lamps in or haphazardly prop them up on something. Too far away from the roost and they aren’t effective, much like a vague plot provides no interest. Too close, and they become a danger. A haphazardly built story runs the risk of it collapsing under the weight of too much confusion. So like the positioning of those little heat lamps is critical, you think and plan where to use your high points and black moments for best effect. Test your reasoning and make adjustments. You have to secure those lamps to something solid so they won’t fall if bumped or jostled. The same goes for your story; your research has to stand up to scrutiny, your time and plot lines solid. Each scene has to serve a purpose, with every scene ending securely locked with the next opening one, or things collapse around your characters and they become lost in a sea of broken pieces.

But without a power supply those lamps won’t shine. All your efforts for naught.

The power supply is imagination. Your muse. That driving demand that a story be told. And like that supply source, it runs in a straight line to its conclusion, insulated against outside elements.

I sat here shaking my head just now, wondering how on earth I got off on a tangent comparing peacock survival to writing. Then it hit me.

Those peacocks are the characters of any story told. If you write strong characters – and by strong I don’t mean just alpha males or kick-ass females – I mean characters that connect deeply with readers on an elemental level. Characters that face the same emotional dilemmas as the rest of the world and find ways to overcome them, characters that hurt yet continue on despite that pain, characters that face crises or impossible odds yet keep going one step at a time. As long as you create believable characters you can modify their setting and maintain a habitable atmosphere, like we did with that peacock pen, and those characters will carry on.

It seems like a lot of work just to take care of a few birds.

But then they fan, catching you off guard with the unexpected display. You can’t help but stare, awed, your senses so involved in the moment everything else drops away. You’re lost in time, entranced by all that shimmering iridescence and the sheer volume of rare beauty. It’s the same feeling you get when all those different writing elements, diligent application of technique, and determined sticking to the building blocks of good writing culminate in that perfect sentence, phrase, scene or chapter. That HEA or HFN ending is when your story fans its tail. Those few moments when everything is right and equitable in the written world and that feeling transfers to the reader.

That’s when you’re glad you went to all the effort.

That light in the darkness is the one you feel in your soul, because it does glow like a thousand candles.

Keep writing, and don’t forget Silken Sands Writers Conference is only a little over two months away! If you haven’t registered yet, you need to do so. Check out the workshops lined up, and see which agents and editors will be in attendance Sign up for pitch sessions to present your work one-on-one to them. I’ve included the link to make it easier.

~Runere~

Silken Sands Writers Conference
March 16-18, 2012
Pensacola Beach, Florida

http://www.gccrwa.com/silkensands

 

 

Visit Runere at www.RunereMcLain.com  Friend her on Facebook at Runere McLain  Follow her on Twitter@RunereMcLain

The New Year Off To a Good Start Despite the *#/%%!! Hackers!

Of Special Note: A quick reminder the Silken Sands Self-Published Star Contest deadline has been extended. Due to scum sucking hackers, our website was down for two days. Sooo . . . now that we have a new host, we want to make sure things are fair for everyone. Entries will be accepted until January 7, 2012. You still have time to get your entry in! Here’s the link: http://www.gccrwa.com/starcontest/

It’s the New Year, and I’m happy to say mine started off on an unexpected yet promising note. Who would have thought the very first Monday of the year (and you know how we all feel about Mondays!) I would have signed a contract for another anthology?  Puts me in the frame of mind that 2012 may be the breakout year in my writing career!

Shush. I can dream! lol A strong imagination is a writer’s greatest tool!

But that happy surprise in my inbox seriously bumped up my enthusiasm. I’d allotted more time to writing every day, and now I feel justified in doing so. Also, I’m getting things organized for a workshop at our Silken Sands Writers Conference in March, assisted by the lovely Gothicdweller! It’s titled: “Of a Paranormal Persuasion: Using Fact to Create a Believable Paranormal World”. Hope you can come spend that hour with us, and the rest of the weekend taking advantage of the many other helpful workshops being offered, the agent and editor pitches, and great new friends you make at these affairs. Goth and I are both excited about the many new people, the pitches and fun!  Check it out at www.gccrwa.com or www.gccrwa.com/SilkenSands.

I love the paranormal. I can’t help it. I also love my Celtic heritage. A chance combining of the two has opened a whole new writing endeavor for me. One involving Cailleach Bheur of the Highlands. The supernatural remnant of the Celtic Goddess of Winter, Cailleach Bheur is a lean, blue-faced hag reborn every Halloween, and doesn’t return to stone until Beltane’s Eve, April 30th. In the story I’m currently writing, for some reason she’s been picking on a particular clan for centuries. A clan who has trouble finding lasting love because of her shenanigans. Hope I manage to effectively blend some interesting Celtic legends, history, people, and a twist on the paranormal in a way that draws a reader in to Winter’s Witch. We’ll see. But I can tell you the spark of that idea caught flame while I going over some photographs of old statuary I’d taken. Funny how items from completely separate areas can meld together. Rather like love and the way it combines unlikely individuals, don’t you think? In fact, I’ll share my inspiration with you today. One of the pics is a slash job. Sorry. But if you half close your eyes and allow it to blur a little you can see where he’d cause some concern if glimpsed climbing up the side of a castle or among the rocks!

The intricacies carved in the Celtic cross depict many things; family lineage, Holy oaths . . . and protection from things that can't be explained.

The blue-skinned Caillech Bheur of the Highlands is released from her stone state between Samhain and Beltane's Eve, plenty of time to wreak havoc.

Spirits pay visit deep in the night . . .

But do they come to harm or protect?

Happy writing, everyone! Keep those fingers flying over the keyboard!

~Runere~

Visit Runere at www.RunereMcLain.com  Friend her on Facebook@RunereMcLain  Follow her on  Twitter@RunereMcLain

Just Relax and Absorb the Holiday Joy!

I thought I’d share a few family holiday moments as we ease our way between Christmas and New Year; my grandson flying his girlfriend all the way from Washington State to meet me the current highlight. She’s a beautiful girl, intelligent, independent and with a sense of purpose, her educational curriculum set to become a marine biologist. But her highest recommendation in my eyes? She takes no crap from my grandson! His shooting me a what-the-hey look when I landed firmly in her camp on an issue needed explanation. This family’s shortfall when it comes to producing females (he has four brothers, no sisters), means I’m so happy to have a worthy example of womanhood brought into the family that of course I’m taking her side. Probably on everything!

She looks like a cover model–without the rotten diva personality–and shares a personal connection with me. Wonder of wonders, she hunts! I’m talking deer, elk, moose and mountain sheep, the whole nine yards! My oldest daughter (whom I love) has unfortunate Barbie tendencies, and while the youngest daughter loves venison and other wild meats and shoots like Annie Oakley, she refuses hunt. People, do you know how long I’ve waited for a female kindred spirit to hike and hunt with? Brianna was so worth the wait! She rides competitive rodeo (Sadie will approve of that!), she’s involved in her community (Arabella and Jillian, take note), explores Indian grounds with respect for the culture’s history and the environment (Rita Bay!), travels to interesting places (Lizbeth!) and loves Paranormal books (Gothicdweller!). She’s into photography, shoots and fishes. Did I mention I’m taking her side?

Hunter and Brianna at the Gulf.

We visited the Gulf where I insisted they stick their fingers in the water. I want my great-grandbaby to retain a connection here, even if it’s subliminal.

Football?? More like full contact rugby! lol

The guys? Other than their size, they don’t change. My boys are into sports and very competitive. So competitive we even had a fist fight break out. What a wake-up call for me! I used to simply plant a hand on each forehead, holding them separated until tempers cooled or they wore themselves out swinging. This time I found myself in the disconcerting position of my arms wrapped around a middle, and using my feet and legs to hold off the other one. I’m not small, yet still wound up squashed into a mid-air pretzel between them. (I won’t be trying that again. Too damn old. It’s easier to just mop up the blood when they’re finished.)

Tyler and Uncle B.J.

Pop closed in to break it up on the run, a hollered warning as he sped our way. “If you boys hurt Mawmaw there won’t be anyone to cook!”

They jumped apart. So fast I fell to the ground with a thud. I lay there in the sudden silence blinking up at them. You know what? It doesn’t matter they’ve grown to over six feet and weigh two hundred plus pounds; their eyes forever retain that rounded Oh-crap-we’re-in-trouble-now look. I rolled to an elbow and gained my feet without a word, gathered my shredded dignity, and stomped to the house. But, Hubby informed me later, snorting with laughter so that I barely understood him as he recounted his recollection of the incident, I lost visual points. It seems shedding a flurry of dried up pecan leaves with each furious step lends one a comic appearance, no matter how regal your exit.

Hunter and 'return team'; Smokey on left, and Cochise, my pitbull rescue puppy, on right

My youngest daughter summed another situation the best. “Give up, Mom. As long as you have kids and grandkids, you’ll never have nice sh*t.” That was in reference to my dining table. I’d had it less than a week when the oldest g-daughter visited at the age of four. She hurled a heavy Marine Corps issue ship’s coin with enough force to put a major dent in the wood. A year later, one of the boys balanced a lit punk on the edge while they dug through the bag of fireworks. And promptly forgot it. It burned a trench in the table top. This year we made pine cone turkeys. One of the g-kids lavished theirs with glue and glitter, some of which ended up on the table.

An older g-son waved frantically from the hall, motioning for me. Busy, I demanded, “What?” He just waved harder. We kept it up our “What?” and wave exchange a full five minutes before I gave up and went to him. “Think you need to go in there and check on Kirsten,” he muttered, jerking his head toward the dining table. “Why?” I demanded.  He pulled a face, his answer meaningful in its inflection. “Leah says she’s getting the glitter off the table.” Just as I’m wondering why that requires my attention, a dull scrape-scrape-scrape sound registers. I scramble for the other room.

Kirsten is getting the dried glitter and glue off the table all right. With the edge of a pair of scissors. Along with the finish, the stain and a shallow layer of the wood. Too late I show Kirsten how a sponge and water remove leftover craft deposits. I can’t stay mad. Not when tragically wailed, “I was jus’ tryin’ to get it off for you, Mawmaw!” is accompanied by that five-year-old’s tear-filled brown eyes. Sigh. I now have a cluster of light-colored trenches added to the other damage. I fear Rachel is right. I’m never going to have nice things.

But I do have noise and laughter and squeals of delight. I break up fights and praise accomplishments. I watch tears from scraped knees turn to smiles when kisses and Neosporin are applied. I watch mountains of food disappear, eaten with relish. (And yes, when feeding that ravenous bunch I’ve counted my fingers a time or two to make sure they were all still there!) I have smoky clothes to wash after midnight bonfires, and I use warm wash cloths to clean sticky fingers of marshmallow while sleepy heads rest on their daddies’ shoulders.

Who needs nice sh*t? I have a table that carries the proof they like it here enough to come back over and over again. I couldn’t ask for anything better!

Keep writing, everyone! I’ll see you next year!

~Runere~

Visit Runere at www.RunereMcLain.com  Friend her on Facebook @Runere McLain  Follow her on Twitter@RunereMcLain

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