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Thursday, June 20, 2013

Smoking Dells, Crazy Dill and Austrian Delight

2012 On the plains in Northern Arizona, two families joined forces and began the trials and tribulations of building a small family farm with nothing in the bank but love.

This has been quite a week.

The first signs of the fire
Near Prescott, which is about thirty miles south of us, a forest fire broke out. From here it looked like it was in the dells, but no. This area is so dry. We had a little snow in January and that's been the extent of our precipitation. A couple of mornings ago, we saw a strange cloud rise up over the property across the street. We realized it was smoke. The smoke turned the  whole sky gray until the wind changed. On Wednesday, we went to a baseball game in
Wednesday going toward Chino Valley
Phoenix and although the sky looked smoke free toward Prescott, one mountain closer to us (but still a long ways off) had flames near the bottom. It looked pretty small. As we came back into the area that evening, we could see the fire had gained speed again.



Rote Riesen carrots
We finished the first major pull-the-weeds-fest. The veggies seemed to love it. You could practically watch them grow - especially the
Austrian carrots and Austrian garden peas. Our good friends, the Rainers, sent Lance and Christie a box of various seeds as a wedding gift. The peas and carrots
Wonderfully sweet garden peas
are out-growing the American varieties.

The greenhouse is practically overrun with greens. We're doing salads every night. The dill is really going crazy but  we like that. We need a lot of seed for canning. Most of the dill will be left to go to seed but we'll pinch some for cooking now and then. Like tonight we had lemon and dill covered catfish. I'll also dry some to get us through the winter.

"My" garlic
We harvested our first ever crop of garlic. We didn't grow any last year. This was my one crop that I planted last October. They like to go in the ground and chill over the winter. Now that I know how easy it is, I plan to grow more next time.




A better netting system this year for the blackberries
Greenhouse from the dill end




Greenhouse from the broccoli end


























We leave on our first RV trip on Monday. I'll probably not have any firsthand news from Tortuga Flats Farm to report so I'm taking a couple of weeks off.
 
If you follow me on Facebook, I'm sure I'll have reports and pictures from the road. www.facebook.com/BrendaWhitesideAuthor

Everyone have a safe and fun 4th!


Monday, June 17, 2013

The List of Words To Jump Start My Editing or I Have To Read It Again?

MUSE MONDAY
By the end of this month I should be receiving the final galley from my publisher for my next publication. If you don't write, you probably have no idea how many times an author reads her own work. Not only do we read it several times to make edits before sending it off to a publisher, but if it's contracted we have to read it several more times. First my editor reads it and marks it up for everything from typos to plot glitches. Then I read it a few more times. And believe it or not, I always find something.


Once I have a completed manuscript and I'm happy with the story, I then begin the arduous task of technical editing. I say arduous because editing is not my favorite thing. So I have a cheat sheet to get me going. This is part of the list I use to check my work against.

Over used or weak words:
It
Felt                 
Was
for me, at her, to him, etc.                  
Were
And                 
Just
Simply
Even
That
Clearly
Besides
Well
Up, down
Started
Began
Tried
Trying
Saw
Noticed
Know or thought (he knew, she thought, etc) 

I don't mean to say the above words can never be used, but often a better word is, well...better. Or you can delete them all together.

My list goes on and on but this gives you an idea of the editing process.

By the way, I'll be traveling for a couple of weeks and will more than likely miss posting Muse Mondays. Hope you all have a good rest of June!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Eye Wear Eating Roses and Strawberries for Looks

2012 On the plains in Northern Arizona, two families joined forces and began the trials and tribulations of building a small family farm with nothing in the bank but love.
Tortuga Thursday 
 
A shape of his own
A quick trip across Tortuga Flats Farm...part of it anyway. In the front yard, I tend to the decorative vegetation. Not only are the hollyhocks blooming, but roses do amazingly well here. At least the climbing kind and the miniature varieties. This one in the picture wasn't put to a trellis until this year so  he's growing rather oddly. I planted strawberry plants in the front garden last year
Strawberry plants
because I like the way they look and send out runners. Once in awhile I get a strawberry off of them before the bugs chow down.
 
Out in the main vegetable area we've had some halts in weeding. By this time next week, all vegetable rows will be clear and then maintenance should be easier. I'll get a picture of the whole area then. You can see from the first picture of the cucumbers all the weeds pulled and waiting between the rows for the rake. The other picture is of another variety of cucumbers and the style of trellis Lance put up. The red caps are protection on the ends of the wire.
 
Dead weeds wait to be raked
Cucumbers and trellis
Two unrelated events this week that have nothing to do with farming. I lost my favorite/best pair of glasses. Fortunately, I have two back up pairs. Where could they be? I'm guessing somewhere outside - orchard? vegetable main area? blackberries? lost in the weird rose bush? If I didn't know better Xena might have eaten them. I searched but they didn't turn up. The back up pairs will have to do. We don't have health insurance, much less eye care insurance.
 
Secondly, Rusty had to have his teeth cleaned. This was some major procedure to the tune of $300 +. It required him being put under and spending most of the day at the vet. On the positive side, he didn't have to have any extractions and he did fine with the drugs. We'll be doing without a couple of non-essentials for the next month or so to pay for it. He's worth it. After all, he is the smartest dog in the world!
 

Monday, June 10, 2013

Writing in Layers

MUSE MONDAY

At a book club the other night, one of the readers asked me "what is your process when you write?" That's a huge question, so after we talked a moment I understood what she wanted to know had more to do with how I build a scene than with my whole process. Which is an easy question for me to answer.

I layer. Every scene has layers - dialogue, setting descriptions, sound, smell, conflict, action and so on. Not every scene has it all, but has to have enough layers to carry the story forward. Where I begin depends on what comes to me first. I have to say dialogue comes the easiest to me and many scenes start there. I'll give an example of layering in a scene from The Morning After. First, I might write:

“You taste as good as honey to a bee. Just like last night. But you should eat before we go any further.”
Speechless, she stared at his back. This man had her ready to kick him out one moment, and limp with desire the next.
“I hope you use my name, but if you insist, you can keep your own name. Course, since you’ve never been married and told me you’re aware of the old ticking clock, I would think you might want to shout the news out over the rooftops.”
“What’s that suppose to mean?”
“Hey, calm down. You’d think you’re the redhead. You’re the love of my life.”
“And you’re the ambiguity of mine.”
“I hope that means you love me. You do, don’t you?”
“What makes you think we have a future? We don’t even have a present. I was impulsive, rash and careless last night. I’m quite sure whatever we did can be undone.”
“What you were was splendid and spirited. Look at us here; we have a present. And a beautiful future.” He thumped a fist over his heart. “It was definitely love at first sight this time.”
“What do you mean this time?”

Then I might add a little more action (in red):


“You taste as good as honey to a bee. Just like last night. But you should eat before we go any further.” He walked to the coffee pot to refill their cups.
Speechless, she stared at his back. This man had her ready to kick him out one moment, and limp with desire the next.
“I hope you use my name, but if you insist, you can keep your own name. Course, since you’ve never been married and told me you’re aware of the old ticking clock, I would think you might want to shout the news out over the rooftops.”
“What’s that suppose to mean?”
“Hey, calm down. You’d think you’re the redhead. You’re the love of my life.”
“And you’re the ambiguity of mine.”
He put plates of crepes, three to a plate, and mugs of coffee on each side of the table before sitting in the chair opposite her. “I hope that means you love me. You do, don’t you?”
“What makes you think we have a future? We don’t even have a present. I was impulsive, rash and careless last night. I’m quite sure whatever we did can be undone.”
“What you were was splendid and spirited. Look at us here; we have a present. And a beautiful future.” He thumped a fist over his heart. “It was definitely love at first sight this time.”
She lifted her coffee cup but froze before it reached her mouth. “What do you mean this time?” Over the rim of her cup, she studied him through narrowed eyes.

 And finally, I would add another layer with some more emotion and sensory elements:

“You taste as good as honey to a bee. Just like last night. But you should eat before we go any further.” He walked to the coffee pot to refill their cups.
Speechless, she stared at his back. This man had her ready to kick him out one moment, and limp with desire the next.
“I hope you use my name, but if you insist, you can keep your own name. Course, since you’ve never been married and told me you’re aware of the old ticking clock, I would think you might want to shout the news out over the rooftops.”
His kiss still burned, but his words instantly doused the flame. “What’s that suppose to mean?”
“Hey, calm down. You’d think you’re the redhead. You’re the love of my life.”
“And you’re the ambiguity of mine.”
He put plates of crepes, three to a plate, and mugs of coffee on each side of the table before sitting in the chair opposite her. “I hope that means you love me. You do, don’t you?”
“What makes you think we have a future? We don’t even have a present.” The warm cinnamon smell drifted up, and she had to look away from her plate to concentrate on the handsome madman making wild suppositions. “I was impulsive, rash and careless last night. I’m quite sure whatever we did can be undone.”
“What you were was splendid and spirited. Look at us here; we have a present. And a beautiful future.” He thumped a fist over his heart. “It was definitely love at first sight this time.”
She lifted her coffee cup but froze before it reached her mouth. “What do you mean this time?” Over the rim of her cup, she studied him through narrowed eyes.

Some scenes are really skeletal and need many more passes. Others seem to write themselves. But I always look at a scene a couple of times, put myself in the characters point of view and layer in what she sees, feels and maybe tastes and touches.

Scene layering is part of my "process".