Earth is an Orange

space I have been watching the news on PBS every week night for a couple years, and maybe that’s too much.

This morning I was lying in bed on the downside of a migraine headache when the following rumination entered my head: The earth is an orange. Humanity is an organism upon the orange. This organism is growing so fast it is eventually going to take over the whole orange, so much so that the orange is decaying; it can no longer support the organism. Conversely, while the organism is growing, parts of it are also destroying itself, which is a natural occurrence in nature when any organism becomes so overgrown that it begins to destroy that which enables it to thrive. In this particular case, there is almost a balance between birth and death, but not quite. The question is, how will the future of the organism and the orange turn out?

Perhaps hundreds, or thousands, of these oranges exist in the universe, all running this same scenario. On some of them, the organism burned itself out, left an orange that could no longer support it. On others, hopefully, the organism adjusted itself in order to exist with a healthy orange. Only those organisms with healthy oranges survive to leave their oranges and move on.

What organism would want one who could not even take care of its own orange to join it in the universe?

What is Historical Truth?

Charge of Terry's Rangers

Charge of Terry’s Rangers

I’ve been working on the timeline for my novel, Here We Stand, which concerns the Eighth Texas Cavalry, better known as Terry’s Texas Rangers, in the Civil War.

I began the timeline some years ago and obtained a good deal of information from the letters and diaries of these men on the Terry’s Texas Ranger Archives on the web, which has since been removed. After recently combining additional information from a purchased book, Terry Texas Ranger Trilogy, I noticed a difference in what these men at war wrote home and what they put in their reminiscences years later. Not surprisingly, they were much less forthcoming regarding the realities of war in letters to family and sweethearts.

In other words, first-person original accounts of history can only go so far.

Their letters, and often even diaries, were full of patriotism and enthusiasm for the war and bravery of comrades, as well as love for those left at home. Little emotion is shown concerning what is actually happening to the men who do the writing. For example, in one letter written by cavalryman M. A. Harvey: “Col Evans the best friend I had in the regiment was shot here I brought him off the field.” He immediately continues about the next move of the regiment. This is typical.

The letters and diaries are full of the wonderful local people they meet, how they are fed and taken care of by local citizenry when they are wounded or ill, even the beauty of some of the countryside (though not as wonderful as home in Texas).

It is only in the later reminiscences we hear of the frustration with poor leaders (nearly all the generals under which their regiment is brigaded), the lack of clothing, food, and almost constant combat and riding, often with little or no sleep. Yet even here, the horrors of war are written of as an everyday occurrence (which they were).

“‘Sam, you look for a place as smooth as you can find, as clear of the flint rock as possible, and let me know and we will fix for bed.’ In fifteen or twenty minutes he came to me [and] said, ‘I have found a fairly good place, but there are two dead men on it.’ I said, ‘They are as dead as they will ever be, are they not?’ He said, ‘Yes,’ and I said, ‘Then we will remove them a little space and occupy their place,’ He said, ‘All right,’ and we went to the spot selected and turned one an over one way and the other the other way “they were lying parallel with each other), made our bed between them and slept sweetly until day light next morning: and behold one of the dead was a Confederate and the other one a Federal soldier. Both had fallen on the same spot and died near each other.”

He wrote it; it obviously stayed in his mind quite clearly for all the years. Is PTSD only a modern ailment?

What do you think?

SOMEONE HAS

 

IMG_2894Ever wish someone would surf through all those writing, publishing and marketing blogs, pick out the best and most informative ones and drop them in your email?

Someone has.

His name is Gene Lempp, and once a week he compiles a list of all the best and lists them on his blog at http://genelempp.wordpress.com/

He even categorizes and writes a short synopses of each so you can choose which ones you want to read.

Gene is another special example of how writers go out of their way to help one another. Is there any other “business” like this?

Thank you, Gene!

Historical Research . . . For Real

Bayou Teche in New Iberia

Bayou Teche in New Iberia

I’ve been segueing between writing two novels, one, a young adult science fiction, the other, historical fiction.  The science fiction was first, and I started the novel that takes place before and during the American Civil War, or War of Secession as it was known in the South, after I finished the second draft of Learning to Fly and put it away to stew for a few months.  Turned out to be a couple years while I was involved in Here We Stand.

After another attempt at a draft of Learning to Fly and what is going to be a major rewrite, LTF is going to sit for a while, as I, once again, return to Here We Stand.  Impossible not to return, as I am finally visiting the locations that were only learned by research two years ago.

How exciting to actually see what you wrote about! I love historical research, but there is nothing like actually being in the place and getting the feel of it. A couple weeks ago we were in New Iberia, Louisiana, the place where one of my major characters grew up. I stood on the shore of Bayou Teche, where my main character rode a steamboat with his fellow members of the 8th Texas Cavalry on their way to New Orleans.

Creole Cottage

Creole Cottage

New Orleans. I am in love with that town, especially the Creole cottages—in one of which another character grew up. I had no idea they were so lovely and colorful. This character, whose grandmother was a free black woman from Santa Domingue, now known as Haiti, passes as white and flees New Orleans to establish himself as a tobacco planter on the Brazos in Texas, never telling his “white” family of his past.

We are in Texas now, and our next stop will be in Washington County, where Part I of the novel takes place. Where the main character grows up a plantation slave owner’s son, a son who has no idea his is black, himself. In those days only 1/32nd black made you a black man.

Face Your Fears

JUMP IN!

JUMP IN!

I haven’t mentioned how much writing can sometimes be a struggle. I’ve been in the midst of the struggle fog for months now, and I could give lots of reasons why: no secluded place to write, constantly moving, family upheavals. I used to write every day and wonder why people had so much trouble doing the same.

Nothing I write is good enough.

I have always faced anything I was afraid of: backpacking alone, traveling to Central America on my own, leaping that chasm, climbing that steep cliff.

What if I publish something and no one likes it? What if I look a fool?

Time to quit dabbling a toe in the cold water and jump in with both feet. Karen Lamb’s post this morning gave me an added boost. Thank you, Karen!

What’s Your Preferred Writing Aid?

Latte Machiatto

Latte Machiatto (Photo credit: 5.0OG)

My best writing time is first thing in the morning—before any pedestrian concerns of the coming day enter and destroy my dreamspace. A hot cup of tea or a foamy latte and mood music for the scene helps. I even have an iTunes playlist entitled, “Angst” for those special scenes—for example: my protag has lost her temper and accused the boy she loves of cowardice.

I used to get the greatest writing buzz while drinking green tea or a latte, but that’s gone since I’ve discovered the rebound from caffeine gives me headaches. No caffeine has made writing much more difficult. I’m writing this after finishing a cup of no-caffeine mint tea, and I feel like I’m pulling teeth from a submerged hippo.

Many writers, like Hemingway, used alcohol, but I have the same problem with tequila I have with lattes. I love it, but it hates me.

Do you write with a caffeine buzz? What about that steamed milk foam on your upper lip?

Life In These United States

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Van at Slab City, California desert

Van at Slab City, California desert

If you live in the United States, you are familiar with those horrid drug commercials on TV.  Yesterday, there were three in a row for three different drugs. It’s not bad enough the pharmaceutical companies screw us financially, now they make us listen to them yant while waiting for our programs.  I record most of my programs these days, so I can skip through the commercials, but my husband still has to watch his football games live.

I did get a laugh out of it all though, when we received a “thermarest-type” pad in the mail from Overstock.com.  You know how the drug companies are required to chant (as fast as possible) their warnings at the end of the commercial?  This came with the pad.  You have to get through to the end:

WARNING!

“This product is or contains urethane foam.  Urethane foam is flammable!  Urethane foam will burn if exposed to open flame or other sufficient heat source.  Do not expose urethane foam to open flame or other sufficient heat source.  Do not expose urethane foam to open flames or any other direct or indirect high temperature ignition sources, such as smoldering cigarettes, space heaters, naked lights, burning operations, welding or other heat sources.  These can cause urethane foam to ignite.
Once ignited, urethane foam will burn rapidly, release great heat and consume oxygen at a high rate.  The lack of oxygen may cause death or serious personal injury by suffocation.
Burning urethane foam will also emit hazardous gases.  These hazardous gases can cause death or serious personal injury.
Once ignited, urethane foam is difficult to extinguish.  Foam fires that appear to be extinguished may smolder and reignite.  Always have fire officials determine whether a fire has been extinguished.
We wish you many comfortable nights sleep.

Whoever wrote that one, could never write decent fiction.  Or could he?