Mistakes our brains make...

So when I was about halfway though the session on writing horses at the February DFWWW Conference -- someone pointed out that on my handout, where I commented on the fabulous characterization by Eddie Murphy as Donkey as the White Stallion, it said Shrek III, and those scenes had been in Shrek II.

I was sure I had copied most of that paragraph about stallions from the draft of 33 Mistakes, Mistake One - Stallions. And so I was sure that the mistake must be in the final version of the e-book as well. You can imagine my mind was going a thousand directions and none of them good.

It truly was one of those cold-sweat kind of moments and in hindsight I was really glad I didn't have my laptop with me because I know how hard it would have been not to stop everything, turn around and check the file. As if it would have done any good to know, in that instant, if I had really screwed up that badly.

At any rate, once I did get to where I could check the file, the original correctly said Shrek II. *whew*

And, thankfully, if I blubbered too badly over those next few minutes, it's blocked from my memory. Have you ever notice how the human brain is wondrous like that, sometimes, to just pretend that it didn't happen. Is that kind of memory loss a type of survival mechanism to protect us from embarrassment and pain?

What about how denial kicks in at the time something is happening.

- "That isn't really a rattlesnake. It's a harmless snake that just happens to have rattles and a head shaped like a pit viper."

- "Just keep driving. That funny noise the truck is making will quiet down if you can just keep it going for another few miles."
- - on a side note, it's true that if there is smoke or steam coming out from under your hood and you speed up, it will seem to have disappeared. *blink, blink* ...although if it's a smoldering fire, it will burst into flames when you slow down ... don't ask me how I know that, it's a long, sad story with a bad ending.

Or what about those people you know who are (naively?) eternal optimists?

- I know my boss said they'd have to let me go if I was late one more time, but I now they didn't mean it.
- I know I shouldn't have that candy bar, but I'll get back on my diet tomorrow.
- I know my husband said not to bring another stray dog home, but that one's just too pathetic to leave here. He'll understand.

Do you ever put those people in your novels? Not the people of course, but those characteristics? Have you considered what wonderful character flaws these things can be? The bits of blank memory, the outright denial, the justification and the 'just one more time' refusal to step up to the bar. Are these things that keep your character down? Are they issues your character can grow and overcome? I know these are issues that I deal with everyday, both in myself and in those around me, and I suspect I would easily identify with a protag dealing these traits.

those old classics

I refuse to start every post with an apology for not being more consistent with my posts, so I won't...

...but I will say that something ate my chickens. These prints are my only clue.

But that's just par for the course, recently. My life has been like one of those old black and white movies. Not anything like the good old classics It's a Wonderful Life, or The Man who Shot Liberty Valance. But more like some of the first talkies -- you know the grainy ones that jump and flicker and don't entirely make sense?

But in spite of the troubles and inanities, life goes on. Writing goes on -- slow and painful -- but it continues.

I've been bogging down with my edits and I finally decided my big, loveable hero wasn't strong enough to carry the ending of my current work so I've tossed him out with the bathwater, dragged him backwards through the rosebriars, rolled him in tar and horseshit, slapped him around a little bit and have sent him to the corner with a stack of old Conan pulps, some Heinlein and the Silmarillion.

Yeah, it hurts to do that to him. And while what he was has been fun to play with, he needs to grow up. That's painful sometimes, but we both know it's needed.

The house is coming along. The outside is nearly done. At least, the major decisions have been finalized. We had some trouble with the windows and had to change some stuff, but I think it's looking really good.

I like the rock, a lot, and am glad we did it even if we had to grit our teeth through the expense. The rock masons are craftsman and artists. If you've never seen them work, it's a real delight.

One neat thing we got to do is that we've harvested some cedar out of our pastures and are peeling it to frame the front door (I can't wait to show off our custom door!!) the four front windows (two upper and two lower), and for support beams ...umm.. not beams, posts (are the called columns if they're wood?) on the inside. I can't remember that I've posted a photo of the inside, but the second story is normal on the ends but the main section is only floored about 2/3rds across... I don't think that makes sense. I'll have to take more photos.

Otherwise, riding -- not enough, but some. GLAMDRING has been getting the work. Somebody needs to buy this lovable galoot. He's a sweet boy (is there anyone, really, who doesn't love a guy who brings home a mouthful of flowers?!?) and a hard worker. It's a combination that's hard to beat. We're trying to get him to a couple more rides this year and get a few more 50s on his record. I'm still thinking I'm going to try shooting off him next year. He doesn't like the noise, but he's fast and handy. He's doing real well setting balloons and just being around the gunfire doesn't seem to bother him any more so that makes me think that firing off his back is just a matter of time.

Where's the ka-boom?

There is usually at least a small ka-boom when someone asks a question that should have a simple answer that actually requires discussion.

Like a couple of days ago, Js was out helping feed. He brought back a stack of empty buckets and waited in the doorway.

"Do the girls in the shark pen get a bump?" Now, I knew that 'the girls' meant 'the mares' in the 'shark pen' - is what we call the mare pasture because of the daily feeding frenzy.

'a bump' is a "bump bucket" ... that is, when I pasture feed (set feeders out in the pasture with loose horses) I fill five buckets for four horses. That way, when the dominate horse 'bumps' the others down the line, the last horse still gets to eat.

The only problem is that kind of question makes my brain implode.

Because it's not a simple "yes" or "no" kind of situation. Because: two of the mares share a bucket, so "yes" there *is* a bump, but .... he didn't ask the right question. What he meant to ask was: "How many buckets did he need to carry out there?"

If I had answered his original question: "do they get a bump?" "YES" (because there is a bump available) he would have filled and carried five buckets for four mares, which normally would be right - but in that particular case, with the two mares sharing, it would have set out two bumps instead of just one - which is not a disaster, but it is wasteful.

If I had twisted my mind around what I thought he needed to know and said "NO" - what if I had misunderstood what it was he meant to ask and there was another meaning .... and so I took a deep breath ... "What you mean is, 'how many buckets do you need to carry out there?'."

He stared at me for a moment and then nodded. problem solved.

Our little exchange stayed on my mind because it struck me I've seen that conversation gone over in writers groups - how important it is to say what you mean and how hard it can be to get exactly the right thing down on paper. Or how much fun it can be to ask one question and answer another... yes, I'm evil that way. ;)

- and so today, my son was with me, waiting in the truck while I fueled up and we had parked beside a piece of (very odd looking) heavy machine.

"What is that?" he asked.

I stared at it blankly ... and finally realized it was a "Traffix Device". It said so right on the big ugly butt of the thing. Traffix device and Traffixdevice.com

And I told him so, in a confident tone that implied I knew what I was talking about. ... "It's a Traffic Device."

But having had to put up with me for his entire life thus far, he wasn't fooled, but he smoothed it over. "What's it for?" he asked in an even tone.
I shrugged. "No idea."

He blinked at me and stared in the way that kids do when they know they can't say to their parents "that was stupid".

I just shrugged again. "I guess you asked the wrong question, then."

...but the funnest part of it all was just a couple of hours later, he turned it back on me when I was the one to ask the wrong, inane question. We had a laugh over it, but (and this is probably a whole 'nuther post) the best part for me was knowing feeling that - boy-childs do (sometimes) listen to their mom's, but more than that, that something had connected inside him and grown him a little bit and given him a little sharper focus on this tough world we live in.

The Eyes of War

I finally stole the time to sit down and read Hawkspar last weekend. (I have to schedule time to read Holly's books - when everyone is gone because I get **very** grumpy at being interrupted)

.... and I don't know where to start. When Talyn came out a couple of years ago, I thought it was maybe the best read I'd had in a long time.

This one seemed even better ... maybe because I slipped so easily (eagerly) back into the world?

One of the things that draw me so strongly to Holly's books, are the layers. She writes with a depth of reality that makes you really believe in what's happening. All her details match, no matter how deeply you go in the world or how closely you look at it, or how far you pull back to look at the bigger picture. No matter how you pick it apart, when it goes back together, the pieces match - and that's important to me as a reader.

And I love all the Tonk Goodies

My other favorite thing about her books are the Truths that are woven in. Hawkspar can see possible futures, but like all of us, she has to learn that it's possible to make your own future if you don't like what you see. But it's hard and sometimes no matter how much we give, it doesn't seem like enough... and, usually, when you think it's over - it's not.

Holly writes with a gut-wrenching depth and strength that stays with you - I was going to say 'for long after you put the book down', then I realized that didn't convey 'long enough'. I have to say that she touches truths that filter through and stay with you through your daily life.

.... And that's just not the sort of thing you get when you just pull any pretty cover off the shelf.

Busy or boring or both?

It seems that life has been contradictory full of inanities and tragedies lately.

The tragic loss of a colt, Yoda, at 16 months old to a 'twist'. Treatment was timely and extensive, but he simply couldn't be saved.

Yoda's loss pales in comparison to that of a young father of four, a close family friend, who was laid to rest today.

I didn't mean to talk about those things... but they're still strong on my mind, and I think they go along well enough with the flower I photo'd. That life is both beautiful and painful.

I had never seen these thistles before we moved out here, but I love them. I love the contrast of the delicate beauty of the flower on that strong, thick, prickly stalk - and it strikes me that thistle epitomizes how I aim to write my heroines. I do want her to have some beauty, but I want her to be so much more than that. I want her to be strong enough to survive harsh conditions, the sun and rock, and to take care of herself as well as sheltering others.