Wednesday Whimsy – Glamour & “Glamouflage”

So usually my Wednesday Whimsy is a series of quotes and illustrations on some topic that caught my fancy, and I will get to that but I was delighted today to fall over the term “glamouflage” in an article I was reading.  The word was defined by June Ambrose, celebrity stylist, as “…When you use a bold piece to shield a part of your appearance…” and I realized that MY “glamouflage” is my addiction to large earrings (which I’ve talked about on this blog before)….which I started doing a long time ago, wayyyy before this  delightful piece of urban slang arose, because I was always convinced my ears stuck out too much! Here is my most recent vintage acquisition:

This is also a good week for the topic of glamour, given all the recent awards shows and red carpet glitter….here come the quotes and photos:

“I don’t think I could live without hair, makeup and styling, let alone be the performer I am. I am a glamour girl through and through. I believe in the glamorous life and I live one. ” Lady GaGa

“Glamour is what I sell, it’s my stock in trade.” Marlene Dietrich

“I don’t mind the sparkle – I think it’s kind of a tradition in skating. I don’t think the men really need sparkles, but for the women it’s part of the glamour of our sport. ” Kristi Yamaguchi

“It’s the most unglamourous glamour business in the world.” Minnie Pearl

“The glamour of it all! New York! America!” Charlie Chaplin

“Romance is the glamour which turns the dust of everyday life into a golden haze. “
Carolyn Gold Heilbrun

And I always like to finish with something Egyptian-themed, in honor of my Tales of the Nile – so here are  two ladies who epitomize glamour in their own way…..

What’s your favorite piece of glamouflage?


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Once in 3000 Years: Flowers, Kings & Omens

 

One of my favorite moments in Lord of the Rings Return of the King movie  is when the blasted, dead tree of Gondor sprouts one small white flower, unseen by everyone (except we the Audience), in recognition of the return of Aragorn to the city.

There’s a real life parallel – maybe – in the  Udumbara flower of Southeast Asia, said to bloom only once every 3,000 years. This occasion is supposed to mark the arrival of a future king. A recent story about this tiny white flower caught my eye because my Tales of the Nile series of novels is set about 3000 years ago.

According to Buddhist scriptures, when the Udumbara flower – Sanskrit for “auspicious flower from heaven” – blossoms, it’s a sign of the arrival of  a King Who Turns the Wheel, rectifying the Dharma (behaviors necessary for the natural orders of things) in the world.   Apparently the true Udumbara blossom is a celestial flower, nonexistent in the mundane world. If a King of the Golden Wheel appears in the human world, this flower will also appear due to his great virtue and blessings. Hmm, wonder if Tolkien had heard this story?

In the past two decades, people around the world have encountered a flower that is believed to be the Udumbara. The blooms were first found in Korea in 1997. Later, some appeared in China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore, Australia, and America. It has been found to grow on other plants, metal, and Buddha statues. Of course, the modern world being what it is, full of skeptics and science, a number of the Udumbara sightings were eventually written off as actually being the larvae of lacewing bugs. Bummer. But enough of the incidents remained unexplained to leave wiggle room that maybe something mystical was occurring. Your choice which to believe!

A plant blooming every 3,000 years does seem like a stretch but then again, there are marvels aplenty in the plant world. Many plants bloom only once in their lifetime, like the Talipot palm for example, which does so once every 30 to 80 years. The Kurinji plant blooms once every 12 years, and the Titan arum lily flowers every few decades in the wild and even more rarely in cultivation. Which may be a blessing since its ten foot tall, single flower smells so bad, the common name for it is “carrion flower”.  Definitely not the plant you’d want heralding the arrival of any Golden Kings. Or the arrival of Aragorn to save the day!

My favorite flowers are still roses and iris, which don’t signify the arrival of anything except Spring, I guess. What’s your favorite bloom?

Six Sentence Sunday

Switching gears for a while, leaving Ancient Egypt for the far future – here’s an excerpt from my new book Wreck of the Nebula Dream, science fiction with romantic elements, coming out in early March. Nick Jameson, Sectors Special Forces, has unexpectedly wound up traveling to his next assignment via a new luxury liner. The ship has had problems already on the voyage but now has suffered a catastrophe of Titanic proportions:

For the second straight night, Nick was awakened by a ship malfunction, hurled abruptly out of bed, landing halfway across the cabin, instinctively curling to break his fall even as he transitioned from sleep to full wakefulness in midair. The deck pitched violently underneath him and Nick was thrown the other direction, fetching up against the bed platform shoulder first, with bruising force.

The flickering holo image of Captain Bonlors appeared, still projecting unshakable calm.

“Again, I must apologize to you, my passengers,” the image was saying. “We’ve experienced a small malfunction – ”

“Not from where I’m standing, pal,” Nick said grimly, “Small is not the word for it.”

Go to http://sixsunday.com/ to find all the other great excerpts!

Wednesday Whimsy – Quotes & Photos

VS sez: This week’s assortment are in honor of the fact that I have to travel on business this week:

“When preparing to travel, lay out all your clothes and all your money. Then take half the clothes and twice the money”. – Unknown

Did you ever notice that the first piece of luggage on the carousel never belongs to anyone?

Erma Bombeck

We bring together the best ideas – turning the meetings of our top managers into intellectual orgies.
Jack Welch

(VS sez: Probably  NOT going to happen at the meeting *I’m* going to!)

You never know who’s going to become your friend. Friends are always chance meetings.

Steve Guttenberg

And eventually I’ll get back to Home Sweet Home:

“There is science, logic, reason; there is thought verified by experience. And then there is California.” –Edward Abbey

Meet the Author – Susan Edwards – White Series

It’s my pleasure to have Susan Edwards visiting the blog today, to talk about her writing process and the four Releases she has this week from Carina Press! The four books were previously published but have been republished with beautiful new cover art…

Welcome, Susan!

Please tell us a little bit about yourself:

I live in California with my husband.  My mother also lives with us.  I’m an animal person so I have a household of cats including two 1 year old kittens who are my babies.  I also have   two Chi-weenie pups who are 8 months old.  These are my “babies” since my children haven’t blessed me with grandchildren yet.  Writing is often a bit of a struggle with the four of them hounding my feet (pups) or climbing on my desk knocking things off (kittens) my desk.  I’m sure they are deliberately giving the pups items they shouldn’t have!!!  As if I don’t have enough craziness in my life, I’m starting a 26’ Medicine Wheel Garden.

What has the experience been like for you, re-releasing beloved books in the new format?

Seeing my beloved White Series back in print has been wonderful.  I still get mail from fans asking where to find my books so it’s a good feeling to know that the books are once again available.  I’ve very grateful to Carina Press for this.  And there is the thrill of seeing a new cover and I absolutely love the new look to my books.

What advice do you give beginning writers?

Write.  Write what you know, learn the craft, check out writing groups, join a critique group.  Most of all, just write.  Everything else comes after.  Also believe in yourself, set goals and keep at it.  Don’t give up.  Keep learning.  Keep writing.

Are there things you find yourself doing differently today as a writer vs when you first wrote White Wolf, for example?

I wrote White Wolf when I could sneak time away from kids and family.  I’d lock myself in my office with all my notes scattered about.  Now, I tend to write on a laptop with pups or kittens on my lap.  Or I take off and go find somewhere outside the house to write.  Truthfully, I miss the chaos of kids.  The animals create their own chaos but you can’t yell at them to “stop’ whatever or send them to their rooms.

I also tend to do less seat of the pants writing and more structure.  White Wolf, due to the nature of keeping track of characters, as well as miles, miles per day, miles to specific landmarks, weather along the trail did take a lot of structure and planning.

What was your favorite moment to write and why (and can we have a little excerpt of that scene?)?

I love this following scene.  Reminds me of myself as a teen.  My husband grew these peppers and we gave some to a neighbor with warning to warn her husband of the heat.  She forgot and the husband bit into one like an apple.  He came over to give his compliments to the ‘gardener’.  He’d never had a pepper make him break out in a sweat or make his teeth hurt!  He loved it.

This scene is from White Wolf where the heroine Jessie Jones gets a bit of her own back at the wagon master, White Wolf.  Wolf still believes Jessie to be the young “brother” of the James brothers and he’s determined to keep ‘the boy’ from causing “more” trouble.

Excerpt from White Wolf:

At sound of a rider, she glanced up and saw him riding in with Shorty. Surreptitiously, she scooped up the hidden hot pepper. Ladle ready, she waited impatiently.

Rook, seated next to her on a wooden box, turned to her. “Go fetch the rest of the corn bread for me. I’m jest too tired to git up.”

Jessie’s eyes widened with horror, but she didn’t make a big fuss over his request. Carefully, she rested the full ladle on top of the mixture in the kettle, making sure the pepper was covered. Standing, she watched Rook move over and pick up the ladle full of beans and rice.

“Git yer arse over here, Wolf. Some of us would like ta eat afore the food’s cold.”

Jessie sighed with satisfaction and quickly fled the scene of her crime. Her plan of revenge was going better than she’d dared hope. With Rook serving, Wolf wouldn’t be able to point the finger of blame at her. For  good measure, she took a moment to stir another pot of beans that would be sent out to the hands still on duty.

Then she leaned down and picked up two pans of corn bread.

Carrying them back to the line of men, she sat down and handed Wolf a hunk of steaming bread, keeping her eyes downcast.

Wolf sniffed his plate. “Where’d the fresh meat come from, Rook? You go hunting today?”

Rook grinned and shook his head. “Young Jess here scared ’em up.”

Jessie mumbled something in response to Wolf’s grudging praise. She kept her head down until he left the line. Her lips curved with glee when he sat down with the others and lifted his fork to his lips.

Where do you write most often?

I love to write in my living room in the warm sunshine in the cooler weather.  In the spring, I have roses that block the front window so it’s like writing behind a wall of roses.  I look forward to this summer writing in the center of my medicine wheel garden (in the evening when it cools down).  I also like to go to a lake with the pups to write or to Starbucks.

One fun trivia question – what one thing would you take to a desert island?

Okay, I have to be a techie junkie and say my iphone and we have to also imagine that I’d actually have service!!!!   I’d have my books, my games, my email, and contact with friends.  And of course, photos, and so many other cool apps.   I can’t live without my phone.

Susan Edwards ~ Magic, Myth & WonderWhite Series/SpiritWalker Series
White Wolf~White Nights~White Flame~White Dreams
Feb. 2012 Carina Press ~
Re-Releases in Digital Format)
http://susanedwards.com
http://susanedwardsauthor.blogspot.com/
http://twitter.com/susan_edwards
http://www.facebook.com/pages/Susan-Edwards/40226247104

Coming April 2012

White Dove, White Deception, White Vengeance & Summer of the Eagle

Susan’s books are available at Carina Press Amazon  and Barnes & Noble

VS sez: Readers is there one special book you’d like to see re released?

Meet the Author Billy Allmon “When the Bullet Hits Your Funny Bone”

Today it’s my privilege and pleasure to welcome a special guest to the blog – Billy Allmon, author of When the Bullet Hits Your Funny Bone: the Essence of a Navy SEAL.  NOTE: The giveaway obviously ended in 2012 LOL.

Billy is a retired Navy SEAL, having honorably served our Country from 1969 to 1993. His book is a collection of true events about his time in the SEALs and how they use their humor to cope with all sorts of tragic events they experience in their professional careers.

To quote him:

If you are not a special operations person, or you have never been in combat, then you might find some of the humor in this book a bit odd, warped, uncouth, raw, or gross to say the least. So for all you lucky “average” people out there who are reading this book, it is my hope that after you have read “When the bullet hits your funny bone,” you will possibly develop an understanding and an appreciation for the man who wears the Navy SEAL trident (the gold emblem portrayed on the cover of (his) book, which is worn on the uniform of all U.S. Navy SEALs). Because, in the performance of a U.S. Navy SEAL’s professional duty, a U.S. Navy SEAL will face death so often that he will come to know Death by its first name, and if it were possible, a Navy SEAL would even invite Death for a beer.

Welcome to the blog, Billy!

Before we get to the subject of the book, tell us a little about yourself:

I am a semi-retired professional, trying to make up for all the years that I have put my country before my family….

Vs adds: He retired as a chief petty officer, and is a combat veteran of three wars. While in the Navy SEALs, he participated in numerous covert and overt missions around the world in support of US and foreign governments, militaries, and other official agencies.

 In the book you talk fairly often about the need for constant training to keep your skills honed. Which kind of training was your favorite and why? Which type of training needs to be repeated the most frequently? 

Well, shooting is a perishable skill, and it must always be practiced if one is to hit what one is aiming at, before what he is aiming at hits him. As far as training exercises go, the more realistic the better. If one is to increase their survivability in combat, then one must be exposed as closely as possible to what one will face in combat.

 Navy SEALs do a surprising amount of cross training and actual military operations with units from other countries. Is there a particular unit of our Allies youd want watching your six in combat (and why)?

There are a few out there that I have worked with through my years of service, and they all have similar professional qualities. However, it is the Australian SAS that I favor.

 So youre pretty open about parachuting not being your favorite SEAL activity. Do you remember what crossed your mind the first time you jumped from a plane?

I hope this &@$#%£¥ parachute opens!

 You spill the beans in the book on who perpetrated a number of pranks and practical jokes on other SEALs over the years (usually you,  it seems, LOL). Has there been any delayed payback  – that can be shared – since the book came out?

Luckily, my SEAL brothers are very forgiving. But that does not stop me from looking over my shoulder!

 What advice would you give someone who wants to be a SEAL? What preparation can they do to be prepared to succeed?

If you are not going to make it a career, don’t bother. Your skill set is only for war, and anything related to armed conflict. A WWll friend of mine once said, “After the war, no one needs door gunners.”  If you really want to go through  Basic Underwater / SEAL (BUD/S) training, get in shape and make up your mind that no matter what, you will not quit.

 You and I have talked often about the importance of the SEALs wife and family. Would you care to take this opportunity to elaborate on their contribution behind the scenes?

The sacrifices that SEAL wives make is immeasurable. They are left behind to tend to ALL family matters so that we can concentrate on our training and our missions. Without their tremendous support, we, as SEAL operators, would have great difficulty completing our tasks.

 What would you say to a civilian who wants to show their support for the troops (#SOT as its known on twitter)?

If you see ANY military vet, thank them for their service.

 What one thing surprised you about writing a book? Anything you wish youd known before you wrote the book? The emotional ups and downs as I recalled certain memories while writing, and how difficult it is to get published. If you are into rejection, write a book, your Email inbox will be flooded with rejection letters!

 Whats next for you? Are you writing another book? What’s next?

Well, I am thinking about another funny book about SEALs, and hopefully this time it won’t take three years to get published. (VS sez: the working title is “The Dangerous Humor of the U. S. Navy SEALs”)

 What two things would you take to a desert island?

My wife and water, maybe Baileys (her favorite)…

VS sez: I really enjoyed the book, learned some things, laughed out loud more than once (raised my eyebrows a few times – take Billy at his word on what he says in the post above re the humor, ok?) and there were also pretty serious moments as well. He let me pick my own excerpt to include here and – not sure why except I am TERRIFIED of snakes – I picked this one, from the section entitled “The Four S’s: SEALs, Submarines & Sea Snakes”:

…we began our descent from the surface to go back inside the submarine dive chamber. The huge steel door was open, and it was easy to swim inside. We each grabbed an air regulator, which was mounted on the inside of the dive chamber, and we all started breathing while the large steel chamber door of the submarine began slowly closing to seal all of us in from the ocean outside.

We all heard the divemaster as he said, “Standby to drain water.” As the seawater started to drain out of the large chamber to a level where our heads were now out of the water, we saw that we were not alone inside the chamber. Our eyes got big when we saw that two sea snakes had entered the chamber with us, and they did not seem happy about their new environment/location.

As the seawater got down to our chests, one of the Australians yelled out that these snakes are venomous. Just as we were thinking what else could go wrong, the master diver who was outside the chamber and operating the console said that the main drain valve pump had stopped working. By this time, we all had our knives out to defend ourselves from being bitten by the sea snakes who were  frantically swimming   around us.

The dive master finally fixed the problem with the valve of the drain pump and finished draining the seawater from the chamber so that we could re-enter the submarine. If you ever wanted to know if eight guys could fit through a small steel hatched door (about the size of a car tire) all at the same time, the answer is no!

The two pissed-off sea snakes that were slithering on the steel floor of the dive chamber next to our exit established the order of who the strongest ones were in our group, as that is how each of us pushed our way through the steel hatch, and no, I was NOT the strongest.

For all of you animal lovers out there, there were no animals harmed during this training operation, only our pride.

You can find Billy’s book  at Twilight Times Books  Amazon  Barnes & Noble

Six Sentence Sunday – Dancer of the Nile (WIP) Excerpt

From a WIP entitled Dancer of the Nile

NOTE: Next week I’ll be switching to excerpts from my soon-to-be-published SF Wreck of the Nebula Dream for a while


The drum beat faster and she twirled, cymbals chiming on her fingertips to punctuate each movement and then suddenly the climax was reached, the dance was done.

Head bowed, Nima  sank to the floor, one arm extended to him palm up.

All his senses on fire, Kamin surged from the pillows, bending to take her hand and pull her up into his arms. He kissed her, crushing her body to his, hands roaming over her back, the perfect curve of her butt.

“Gods, woman, you’ve driven me insane.”

“Did my dance please you then?”

Go to http://sixsunday.com/ to find all the other great excerpts!

Wednesday Whimsy – Quotes About Circles, Just Because I Was Thinking About Them!

A circle is the reflection of eternity. It has no beginning and it has no end – and if you put several circles over each other, then you get a spiral.

Maynard James Keenan

If you love someone, put their name in a circle; because hearts can be broken but circles never end.

May Sarton

(VS sez: After all yesterday was Valentine’s Day!)

Gardeners instinctively know that flowers and plants are a continuum and that the wheel of garden history will always be coming full circle.

Francis Cabot Lowell

Happy Valentine’s Day – Ancient Egyptian Style

No, the Ancient Egyptians did not actually celebrate a specific romantic holiday – sorry! But they were a very loving and sensual people. The goddess Hathor was the appointed deity to watch over love, beauty, music, motherhood and joy. She doesn’t appear in my novel Priestess of the Nile, although she does play a role in some of my Works in Progress. She was known as “The Great One of Many Names” and was associated with sweet smelling incense, mirrors and dancing. She was depicted as a beautiful woman, or as a cow or as a woman with a cow’s head, often wearing a crown with a sun disk. No doubt young lovers found time to enjoy romantic moments during her festivals!

Here’s a charming excerpt from a 3000 year old Egyptian love poem, from the time when my novel takes place:

            She is one girl, there is no one like her.
She is more beautiful than any other.
Look, she is like a star goddess arising
at the beginning of a happy new year;
brilliantly white, bright skinned;
with beautiful eyes for looking,
with sweet lips for speaking;
she has not one phrase too many.

 

What Do I Do With My NaNoWriMo Novel Now? Guest Post

Today I have a guest post by my friend Julia. We met on twitter last year and as she mentions below, I watched with fascination as she – along with many of you – went through NaNoWriMo (National Writing Month). I must confess that my muse doesn’t respond well to deadlines and pressure so it’s not an activity I’ve ever done. I did try to be supportive to her LOL!

So then we were chatting recently and I asked her what the next steps might be for a NaNoWriMo novel and voila – a guest post was born!

Here’s Julia:

My first draft is finished. Now what?

Veronica and I met in the whirlwind of NaNoWriMo (National Writing Month). Twitter, blogs, and writers around the world buzzed with support and advice on how to get the first 50,000 words of a first draft done. “Turn off your inner editor, and write, write, write!” was the advice of the month, and legions of writers joined the frenzy. But when November was over and the first draft was finished, the advice and support dwindled, and I discovered an editing buddy can be more useful than a writing buddy. Veronica and I have become cheerleaders for each other in the editing-focused post-NaNoWriMo, and our support for each other inspired this guest post.

If you’ve finished (or almost finished) your first draft, and you’re uncertain what step to take next, I offer you support and encouragement. Below is a guideline to take your manuscript from a rough first draft on your computer to a treasured story in the hearts of readers.

Remember a first draft is only the FIRST draft: First implies more to follow — a second, a third, maybe even a fourth or twentieth draft. You need to edit your work, even if you are going to send it to a professional editor.  I encourage you to find a friend like Veronica who isn’t afraid to ask, “How is the editing going?” (VS sez Julia keeps me going too, on weekends especially when I’m tempted to just play on twitter all day!)

Not sure how to begin editing your own work?
-Take a week to a few weeks away from your manuscript to help you gain objectivity.
-Before you begin reading, use the search/find function of your word processor to discover “lazy” words you overuse and weed them out. Lazy words are words we can remove from a sentence without changing the meaning; examples include (but are not limited to) that, very, nearly, just, hardly and only.
-When you read your manuscript, be aware of structural issues such as the flow and pacing of the story, character development, and consistency.
-If possible, find a beta-reader – a writer who is not related to you – to help you find the flaws in your story so you can fix them.

Every writer has weak areas. Editing is not about changing the heart of the story; it is about communicating the heart in a clear, engaging and entertaining way.

Decide how you want to publish: Self-publish? Small press that specializes in ebooks? Small press that prints books? Major publisher? The modern publishing industry offers many options. Experts in the fields disagree on which method is better. In my opinion, your choice should depend on what your book is about, who your audience is, and your own personality and preferences.

Consider hiring a professional editor: Whether you are self-publishing or aiming to get published with a major publishing house, the services of a professional editor can increase your chances of success. In the literary world, two types of editing are of most benefit to new authors: content editing (sometimes called developmental editing) and copy editing (sometimes called line editing, proofreading, etc). Generally speaking, copy editors correct grammar mistakes, and content editors catch boring first chapters, protagonists who come across as jerks, etc, and help you find solutions.

If you self-publish, people may buy your first book, but you are unlikely to gain a following unless your work is edited and professional. In other words, if you are self-publishing you need to hire an editor. At the very least, hire an editor to check grammar mistakes, but I recommend a freelance content editor. Publishing houses have an arsenal of on-staff or freelance content editors who they assign to work with their writers. Why should you give your work less consideration?

Publishers have no shortage of potential books to choose from. Agents want something they can sell, not something they have to edit, so if you’re an unknown novelist, struggling to get published or noticed by an agent, an editor may give you the edge you need.

Put yourself out there (Submit your work): Once you’ve completed this list, don’t let your work sit. Take action. If you are self-publishing, act as a reputable publisher would and invest in professional cover art, and publish. If you want to be noticed by a publishing house, find out if it accepts queries directly or requires you go through an agent, then submit your work accordingly, and …

Start your second book! No need to put all your eggs in one basket when you can make another one that might be better.

 

“Julia’s bio: Writer. Freelance Editor. Best ever single-mother — yes, my daughter said that! Beloved bride-to-be. Maker of dreams. Lover of little moments.”

 

VS sez Julia offered: If you’re at the stage where you might need some editing support you can get in touch with her before the end of February, mention this guest post, and she’ll give you 40% off her services on one manuscript up to 100,000 words. She can provide a sample edit on your first chapter (up to 5,000) words for free to help you decide if her services and editing style would be right to help your art shine.

Email her through the contact form on her website or chat with her on Twitter (her handle is JuliaLizzBeth). She loves answering questions!


So please share with us, what have you done with your NaNoWriMo book since November ended?