Category Archives: the beach

Seaweed Season

So, while we really haven’t had any oil on the beach so far–none at all, from what I can tell–it is seaweed season. Every year, huge blankets of sargasso seaweed drift into shore. The picture is of Padre Island National Seashore, but our little sandbar island looks much the same during seaweed season. Except a lot of mornings, the blanket of seaweed is thicker, and wider.

It’s perfectly natural. The seaweed is actually GOOD for the beach and part of the Gulf coast ecology, and it’s interesting to walk on (though you don’t want to much, because you can’t see what’s under it). It can be kind of stinky. Here, they tend to rake it up and pile it against the seawall to help anchor new sand dunes. Other places, I’m not sure they do that much.

Thing is, it’s kind of a red-brown color, once it washes ashore and dries out. Very similar in color to the red-brown oil they’re showing in the pictures on TV. Consequently, a number of folks in hotels along the beach would see the sargasso clumping up on the beach, and call downstairs in a panic to ask “What’s that stuff on the beach?!?!!” It’s seaweed. It belongs there. Just step over it, if you don’t like the crunchy, textury way it feels. It’ll be gone soon, and then it will be jellyfish season, and you’ll be missing the seaweed. (Yeah, the jellyfish come ashore after the seaweed mostly stops. It doesn’t really ever completely stop.) Still, when there’s a choice of oil on the beach, and seaweed–give me the seaweed!

I did get some pages written today. Not many. I’m going to join a 100-words-a-day group and try to get this dang book finishes.

Write fast? Write slow?

Seawall mural is looking sadly bedraggled since Ike. Wonder if they’d like volunteers to try to spruce it up…

Anyway. I have taken to checking in at Twitter, and clicking on all the referrals to articles & such until I have a whole row of tabs across the top of my Firefox. And when I have a minute more, I read them all. And now I can’t remember which one I read that made me think.

It was an interview with Ron Charles, who is an editor and book critic with the Washington Post and just won an award. He sounded like a fascinating man (especially since they have been trying to find a Romance novel reviewer who doesn’t write things like “If you like this kind of crap…”), and I found the interview interesting. But there was one thing that tweaked a few thoughts. I’ve thought this before, but I don’t know that I’ve blogged about it before. If I have, and you read it, forgive me, and skip down to the beach report.

He mentioned how he tried to be respectful of the fact that the novelist might have poured the past 8 years of his or her life onto the book when he reviewed it. And I got to thinking about a writer’s pace of writing.

There are a lot of folks out there who think that a book more slowly written must inevitably be a better book than one written quickly, all subjectivity set aside. I do not agree. Furthermore, I have a sneaking suspicion that if a person takes 8 years to finish a book? They were doing a whole lot of other stuff (most likely a day job) while they were writing that book.

I have a book I’m working on that I have been working on since, oh–1981, or earlier. I’m still not finished with it. But I have not been writing on the book every day of that time. I decided, back in ’81 or so, that I did not have the craft and skills to write the book at that time, since it had a complicated plot, would have to be told in flashback, and had a difficult character to write. So I set it aside for about 20 years.

In the intervening time, I have written 5 or 6 books which will never see the light of day. I have written 8 more, which have or will be published by various publishers. It’s not like I haven’t been writing. I just haven’t been actively writing on THAT book.

If I count only the time in which I have been actually writing and researching Thunder in a Cloudless Sky (working title), I’ve probably been working on it 6 or 7 months.

I don’t consider myself a fast writer. I can’t whip out a draft in a week. Or even 2 weeks. Or a month. But. I do write an average of 6 pages a day, which is faster than the 1 page a day book in a year that some writers manage. And I don’t write multiple drafts. My first draft is pretty darn close to the final version. I might add a scene. More likely I’ve cut several scenes (I tend to write long.) and reworked it to smooth things out. I’ve probably cut and smoothed some dialogue. Corrected grammar and typos. Fixed inconsistencies here and there–like changing eye-color, or minor character names. And that’s about it. I prefer the “all at once” method.

Still, despite all that, it does not take me 8 years to write a book. Even Thunder, which is a huge book, will not actually take me that much time to write. I posted here last week: it took me 10 weeks, 2-1/2 months, to write 450 pages. And I don’t even spend all day writing. I do my composing/drafting in the mornings, then I do other stuff–PR, e-mails, blogging, etc.–in the afternoon. I do it this way because I have found that I tend to fall asleep over the desk if I try to draft in the afternoon. I just have a sinking spell, as my Great Aunt Jessie put it, about that time. So I get those 6 pages written in half a day.

Other award winning authors write faster than I do. Some write slower. The thing is–how you write is how you write. Faster does not necessarily equal better. Nor does slower. Working eight years on a book (or six, as in Dan Brown & The Lost Symbol) does not mean it’s going to be a masterpiece. It might be a darn good read. But it might not.

Personally, I think I write better when I write faster, because I keep my head in the story. I’m more immersed in the story world. I do not think about it all the time. I think it’s better to shove everything back into the swamp where my stories live, and ignore them, until it’s time to pull things out again to go to work. The swamp does a better job, most times, of letting the right stuff bubble up when I need it than if I actively think about it. I might think a little bit if I’m working morning pages a la The Artist’s Way, but mostly, I don’t. The subconscious is smarter than I am about a lot of things.

In the end, I am still skeptical of those people who claim to write full time for years to produce a single book. I just find it hard to believe they’re writing all that time. If I took six years–or five, or two–or even one–to write a book, you can bet that a whole lot of that time would be spent doing other stuff.

I’m not saying it’s wrong to write slowly. Your process is your process, just like mine is the weird thing it is. I just have trouble comprehending what they’re doing with all that time…

Because, you know, if you write just one page a day, at the end of a year, you have enough pages for a book. I wrote a whole hour & a half today, and got TWO pages. And they were synopsis pages, which, as we all know, counts the same as Four pages of story, because it’s twice as hard to write a synopsis…

Beach report: Yep, went out to the beach to walk. Went late, at 9 a.m. instead of 8. Sun was bright and hot, humidity is heavy enough to make the windows of my house sweat all day. Temp about 82 F/28 C, but it felt hotter because of the sun & humidity. The water was pretty surfy today. More waves than we’ve had lately, white water all the way out past the jetties. The seafoam was white. When I went out Saturday, it was kind of greenish. Weird.

It was still a nice walk. I found a big, pretty shell. Will try to remember to take a pic of it soon. Met a cute little dog. (Did Not take Dolly.) Not many birds out that late, but lots of little crabs were digging the sand out of their holes. Didn’t see any cool crab footprints though…

Better go put food on to cook.

Lifelines – or How To Keep Going

The princess wussy dog and I went for a walk this a.m. She makes me walk faster, so I get more out of it. I intended just to walk on the seawall (I have to wear actual shoes when I’m walking with her from the house–too far in flipflops) but she was a good dog–didn’t bother any of the people while we were out walking, and she kept looking over the edge of the seawall. She hasn’t jumped off since that first time. I imagine the 10-12 foot drop gave her pause. So we went down the stairs and walked back along the water. She was very good then too–did not slip her collar to chase birds and did not upset the small children by going too close. It was a beautiful morning for a walk, cool & breezy. (Cool for Galveston = hot for many other places. It’s probably 80F/27C) I threw in this picture of the “Do Not Swim Too Close To the Jetties” signs because I thought they looked festive with their red and yellow floats on the ropes–but you can’t really see them in the picture. Oh well.

Walking on the beach is one of the things I really enjoy about living here. We can walk from the house (which we never do with the grandkids, because we don’t want them to know just how close it is), or drive up and save the walking up time for beach time. I was going to use that as a segue from talking about my beach walk to talking about lifelines in writing–but I can’t figure out quite how to do it. Except that writers have to do non writing things to “fill the well” that the writing comes out of, and walking on the beach is one of the things I do.

Now, I am going to talk about those Lifelines mentioned by Ali Hale. She talked about how lifelines are other people who keep the writer honest. They keep us writing and working toward the goal of finishing a longer work, so that we keep writing those 10 pages a day, or 6 pages, or 2 pages. (There have been times that I struggled just to get a half page written.)

She mentioned writing critique groups, online or in person. And critique groups are great. I belonged to a fabulous group in Waco about 15 years ago, before I moved away from the area. Of the first 5 members, four of us have been published. I do believe in critique groups. The problem is, not everybody can find one where they live. I moved from my small town near Waco (I lived about 30-45 miles (48-73 km) out of town) to an even smaller town in the Texas panhandle, about 60 m (97 km) from Amarillo, the nearest city. No critique groups available. There are online crit groups that work very well for some people. I’ve never been able to make them work for me, because so far, nobody in any group I’ve tried to participate with has been consistent in either critiquing or writing. Which kind of defeats the purpose of a lifeline.

See, a lifeline is a form of accountability for those deadlines. When you set your own deadlines, there’s no penalty if you don’t make them, except maybe guilt, and getting down on yourself. However, if you’re producing 10 pages a week for your crit group, and they expect those 10 pages, (we met every other week, and shared 20 pages each time) you work harder to get them done.

That said, a critique group, for all that I love them and would love to have one again, is not the only kind of lifeline there is. The past 3 years, I have had a Goals Coach.

Back in 2006 I took an online class by Gwen Shuster-Haynes on creating a writing career plan for introverts and extroverts through the Kiss of Death mystery/suspense chapter of Romance Writers of America. I got a lot out of this class–I took it, I think, just before my publication contract with the LUNA imprint of Harlequin got canceled, and it really helped me organize myself and keep moving forward. Anyway, one of the things I got was the idea of a goals or career coach.

How this works, or how it’s worked for me, is that I teamed up with another person, we wrote down our goals for the week every Monday (or as close to Monday as I could manage), e-mailed them to each other, and then the next Monday, when we e-mailed our next set of goals, checked off what we managed to get done in the last week’s goals. My first Coach was Shari Bouillion, (I may have added or left out an I in there) who insisted we work out yearly and quarterly goals with dates. (I tend to be real wishy-washy about dates.) And that we include family, work, writing, and spiritual/personal goals. It’s obvious she was MUCH better at this goals coaching thing than I am. We coached each other for over a year, and her life got so complicated, she had to drop out.

I was bereft! I still wrote up my goals every week, and printed them out and stood them up on my lamp where I can see them if I ever get stuck with what else I need to do, but it’s not the same if you don’t have somebody to be a bit of a nudge. I limped along on my own for a while, when on an e-mail loop I’m on, someone asked about how to keep going through the end. So I did my goals coach pitch on the loop, and asked if anyone was interested, and now we have a 3-way goals coaching group going between myself, Natasha Moore who writes for Red Sage Publishing, and Carol Stephenson, who is one of those right on the verge of publication, that last frustrating phase before you finally make it over that final hump.

Natasha has very short goals lists. She confines hers to just writing. Carol prioritizes hers. She has a Must Finish section–which are not all writing goals–and a Priority 2 section which is “If I have Time & Energy.” I put all my goals in one long list, but the ones at the top of the list are top priority, and the ones at the bottom are lower. (I need to move “Exercise” higher on the list!) And it’s time to nag them (though usually it’s Carol that does it) to post some goals for the last quarter of the year.

We don’t critique. We all write Very different things. We write at different paces. Sometimes, we don’t post any goals for a week or two. I tend to disappear when we have company (friends & family love to come visit us at the beach). Carol moved house a while back and is still dealing with that. Natasha goes on RV trips. (Jealous!) But we come back when we need to, because it’s a way of keeping ourselves on track.

It seems to work best in a smaller group. We could probably add one or two more, but I don’t know that I’d go higher than four.

So. There you have it–another kind of lifeline for writers to stay on track. If you have a critique group that’s working for you, great! But if you don’t, you might try finding one or two other people who can help keep you on track by exchanging weekly goals.

Beach observations and other news

I meant to post this yesterday, but got too busy. Today’s no less busy, but I am determined.

First, want to say thanks for the “Awws” from Catie and Barb. I have decided that I need to walk more often, but not quite so far, because I get tired and don’t pick up my feet and trip over stuff. My bruises are better, and my hand is doing that “getting well” itching. :)

I drove down to the beach to walk yesterday, because it’s more fun, and because I wanted to spend my walking time actually on the beach, not getting to it. And I didn’t take Dolly. I tend to observe stuff more when I don’t have to deal with the dog.

First observation: The seaweed has come in. Blankets of it. I was thinking maybe it’s a little early for the big piles of seaweed, but maybe not. We’re almost halfway through May… I saw some logs that had floated in that looked like they had fur. Greenish fur, but furry, nonetheless. (Yes, I know it’s algae. But it looks like fur.) And a tennis shoe that had been in the water long enough that it had those lipstick clams attached to it. Quite a few decent sized ones… I only saw the bottom of the sole, not the top, so I don’t know how much of the upper shoe survived, but that sole had been floating around a long time.

I only saw one seagull. I was out there by 8 a.m., but I think because the sun’s coming up earlier, the seagulls are giving up their “standing by the edge of the water waking up” earlier. I saw lots of sanderlings and ruddy turnstones, all of which had two legs. They have a little butt wiggle when they’re running away from you…

I also saw a shark that had washed up on shore. It was about a meter/yard long (give or take that difference between a meter and a yard), and it didn’t have a tail. I don’t know if it died and got washed up because it had lost its tail, or if it lost its tail after it got washed up. It didn’t look like any scavengers had been at it… I have no idea what kind of shark it was, though. I’ve been looking–not a nurse shark. Dorsal fins aren’t right. Its nose was really square across, so it’s not a pointy-nose shark or a round-nose shark. Hmm. It was gray, with that straight-across nose, one rather pointy dorsal fin, no barbels (catfish-like whiskers), gill-slits in front of its side-fins, and small high-set eyes. Haven’t found the right picture for it yet. And having its tail missing takes away another thing to help ID it. Oh well.

In other, more interesting news, New Blood is a recommended read by the Virginia Beach Public Library! It’s a lovely review–and they’re recommending it!! I’m excited.

I got my copy edits for Heart’s Blood (Grey’s story), and have finished them up, except for the chunk of 25 pages that got left out of the ms they sent me.

What do you think of Blood from Stone as a title for Harry & Elinor’s story? Stoneheart? Heart of Oak? Working on villains for the story… Villains are such a pain.

On Writing, Blogging, and Editorializing

Now that I’ve written the title to this blog post, I’m not sure what I wanted to say about those topics. Let’s begin with this one: editorializing.

See, my dayjob is at a newspaper. I’ve always been a newspaper reader, even before I got to college and majored in journalism. I tend to read stuff in them, and then–many times–want to argue with the things I read. Which is kind of a lot what bloggers do. But see, being on staff at the paper, I can’t write letters to the editor. However, I CAN write columns. (They’re not actually editorials, since I’m not an editor, but merely a lowly editorial assistant.) So, I wrote one this week. About reading books–recommending that if people want to escape from reality a little while, movies are fine, but books last longer and have a lower cost-per-escape-time ratio. They’re trying to muscle me into writing a column more often–but I don’t know if I can stand once a week. I’ve done that, and sometimes I wrote some really drivel-y drivel. It may be “occasional.” Like whenever I think of something I want to write about.

Blogs are sort of like editorials for everyman. Letters to the universe, instead of the editor. Sometimes they’re read by millions–or thousands. Sometimes, they’re read by friends and family only. Hopefully the readership of this blog runs into the dozens. :)

Blogs are like editorials that people can write instant rebuttals to in the comments. The technology makes it easy for flame wars to get going, because people can just pop off. And there are no editors to clean up their grammar and turn their gibberish into logical sentences. (I’ve cleaned up a LOT of letters. What people mail/e-mail in looks a lot like some of the blog comments. Only less coherent, some of them.)

Let’s see–so I’ve blogged about editorializing. And blogging. So. Writing. Peh. (It’s like Meh, except more puffy, with a P.)

I’ve been making fair progress on the writing, since my realization of what the opening scene should be. Even though I have been smacked in the head with another story that has insisted on being written. I write the contracted book during regular writing-work hours, and have been writing the other one during the hours I would ordinarily be reading or watching television. (My current Netflix movies have been waiting for 2 weeks for me to watch them.) So I’m not taking away from the Official Book. It’s actually been working pretty well. This other one–I’m not even sure it IS a book. It might be. So I’ll see where it goes for a while. Even though I feel guilty, I’m doing okay on The Book.

Well, except for today. Today was a bust. First, I took the granddog to the beach for a walk, and even let her off the leash. She ran and chased the birds into the surf, and ran and ran, and did Not run off across the jetty, or bother the 2 people on the beach, and when she got tired, she came back and let me put the leash back on her. And because she chased the birds (seagulls and willets) into the surf, she got all salty and sandy. So I gave her a bath when we got home. (Mostly because she was stinky to start with.)

Except Dolly didn’t want a bath. She so didn’t want a bath, that she pulled out of her collar (which she didn’t do on the walk). I had to pick up wet, salty, sandy, stinky dog and Carry her to the hose/shampoo. She is not a particularly large dog. But she ain’t no toy poodle either…

She got her bath, though. Then I went inside and took one. Between the walk, the dog bath, my bath, the laundry, and all the other sundry things I had to do, it was getting late, I was feeling cranky, so I didn’t write today. There. I confessed. Sometimes I skip a day writing, even when I’m on deadline. I am hoping this will help … clear my palate. Or something. I think I’m about to run down with this side-writing thing. Right now, it’s feeling very Mary Sue-ish, so if I can’t fix that, it may not turn into a book. And I have A Book to write.

One I am liking, actually. I like how it’s going. I need to go back and tweak some of the early stuff so it doesn’t erase the conflict, but I think I know now how to do that now. Harry needs to shut up. He’s a talky kind of guy, (Some guys are–my oldest grandson is getting in trouble at school for the exact reason his dad used to–talking too much… ) and he believes in laying his cards on the table–but he doesn’t need to lay out quite so many of them. And he needs to be just a tad more aggressive.

Speaking of grandsons–they didn’t get to come last weekend. Just their dad. So all my boys–the fella and the two sons–had a boys’ day out and went Gulf fishing for the day on Friday. They caught two meals worth of vermilion snapper, which is not the same as red snapper, which is not in season. I’ll post a picture of the fella’s ginormous red snapper he caught. The youngest caught a 28-inch amberjack he had to throw back, because amberjacks have to be 32 inches to keep them. But the snapper was excellent. They invited me, but…

So. There you have it. Opinion, and news. What more do you need?

Mini adventures & random thoughts

Went back out walking this a.m. on the beach. Did not take the dog. The weather was cloudy and windy, and a bit rain-spitty. But I wanted to walk on the beach, so I drove down, rather than spending so much time just walking up there and back. I climbed down the stairs at a place where one of the stair rails was broken off the concrete stairs and three-quarters buried in the sand. The part that wasn’t buried stuck out of the sand at an angle, like some drowned spar.

Anyway, where I climbed down, they hadn’t put any additional sand down. They’re replacing sand washed away by Hurricane Ike, but hadn’t done it yet in that area. However, they’d piled sand up on the other side of the next jetty, clear to the top of the jetty. I climbed up on the rocks, from “my” side, but I wanted to walk down by the water, where the sand would be harder packed, and–well, the sand is piled up so high, it makes a little cliff. Higher than I wanted to jump down with my wonky knees. So I walked down the jetty to where the tide had washed the sand down.

Except it had washed the sand underneath, between the rocks, and not on top of the rocks, and when I was standing on what I thought was sand over rock, turned out I wasn’t. I was standing on sand with a hole under it. And my entire left leg crashed through the sand into the hole between the two big jetty boulder/rocks. Next thing I knew, I was sitting sprawled on the sand-covered jetty, with my leg down a hole. Didn’t hurt me. Had on long pants and walking shoes and socks. The sand made a kind of cushion, so no bruises. Just a big surprise. And a lot of sand down my leg, in my sock & shoe.

But getting up and down those jetty rocks was a lot of work. So I hiked down to the next set of stairs –past the next jetty– and climbed up and walked back to the car on the seawall. And got rained on, a bit. It’s cloudy and windy, but not cold, today. Until the Gulf washes more of the sand down, and makes that edge not so cliff-y, I’ll probably stick to seawall walking for a while…I do need to go take a picture of it, though, so you can see what I’m talking about…

Now, we come to the random thoughts section:
I did see 15 pelicans flying out to fish. And did I mention that the seagulls have their black heads back? It will soon be the season for seagull love…

The boy and I watched “300” again last night. And there was a scene with a bird sitting on an abandoned spear (from one of the dead, I think). And when the bird flew away, it made a seagull cry. Except–seagulls can’t sit on spears. Their feet aren’t right. They’re webbed. So they can’t perch. They can sit on pilings and broad flat posts and roofs and stuff, but they can’t perch. It would be like a duck perching on a narrow branch. Ain’t gonna happen. So now, I’m criticizing the birds in movies. (sigh)

Took Dolly to the vet this a.m. after my walk. Turns out, she not only has allergies like the rest of the family (her “white” eye is really sensitive), but she has a wonky knee like her Gigi. That’s why she limps sometimes, because her kneecap keeps sliding out of position. Knees, not hips. We got ointment for the eye–it got infected from the allergy irritation–and shots, and she’s in great shape otherwise. She was SO excited at the vets. Wanted to sniff at all the smells and play and sniff and play and… I think she scared an elderly dachshund’s elderly owner, running up to sniff and play. The dog was a little affronted, but the owner looked alarmed. So we took her out the other way. Dolly, not the dachshund.

Went to see TWO (2!) movies this weekend. Taken and Push. Liked both. Becoming Jane and Hancock came in from Ntflx. Jane came in twice. I reported that it hadn’t come (they mailed it from Houston, and it didn’t get here in a WEEK. I can drive to the far side of Houston in 2 hours…)(Plus, we got the other movie, watched it and mailed it back before the 2nd Jane came.) so they sent another one. And now I have 2. I will mail it back. I have enough clothes to fold for a movie watching marathon tonight.

I have written 7 pages so far of HARRY & ELINOR FIGHT MONSTERS. I am going to attempt to write this on the computer. We will see how it goes. If I don’t get my page count up, I may go back to the longhand…except that I probably wrote a LOT more pages than I have left, since I started, and started over, and over again multiple times. When I write that in longhand, I still have the scratch-outs to show that I actually wrote more. I am saving some of the deleted bits–and have already used some over again–but it’s still not as much as the saved. Anyway, I’m getting to the more exciting stuff, so maybe it’s going okay…

Dancing in the streets!

Okay, actually, there’s no dancing. Just lying around and reading books and playing videogames. I took a whole day to do absolutely nothing but what I wanted to do. Why, you ask?

Because I FINISHED THE BOOK! (Snoopy dance) Finished it. Cut out all the boring stuff (I hope) and cleaned it up, and sent it off to the agent and editor. It came in at 576 manuscript pages. One page more than New Blood. Just over 135,000 words. New Blood has just under 134,000 words.

Today I played. Even went out and walked along the seawall–but didn’t go down on the beach, because they’ve piled the sand up 4 feet high (or so) and it requires climbing down a cliff to get to the hard-packed sand, and I didn’t want to do that. Maybe if it’s warm enough for my flip-flops tomorrow… The seagulls have their black heads back, so it’s already courting season for them, or will be soon.

And tomorrow, I have to start the next book. Oak and Iron? Maybe I can do a hyphenated adjective to go with the noun of the title… Need something to go with both elements and with plants. Hmm. I also have to figure out the magic processes a little better. Wish me luck.

Dolly’s Adventures at the Beach

This is how uneventful my life is–when Dolly the granddog has better adventures than I do. Of course, I wouldn’t want the adventures she had.

Last Friday, when the weather was shirtsleeve warm (today it is butt-freezing, let-Dolly-hang-out-in-the-laundry-room cold), we ventured forth for a walk on the beach in the fog. She was a very good doggy walking down the street to the light and waiting for it to change. We crossed Seawall and proceeded east to the stairs where we usually descend and walked back the other way to the jetty, which had been transformed by a huge pile of wet sand into a ramp from the street to the beach on either side of the jetty.

Huge dump trucks were driving up and down it, and down the beach to the west of the jetty–which is much narrower than the east side section because more of the beach got washed away over there. They were replenishing the beach, starting down at 61st St. Given the trucks and the narrow beach, I turned Dolly around and went back to the wider part of the beach. And, foolishly, I let her off the leash so she could run. She ran up and down the beach a while, mostly in the (cold) water, chasing birds, until she decided (apparently) that she could catch the birds that flew out to sea by running out to the end of the jetty. She ran about 3/4 of the way out, and then Jumped Off The Jetty Into The Water!

Deep water. Over her little doggy head. Where people get swept under and drowned every summer. She did not fall. She jumped. So I’m trucking fast as I can (running! Me!) to reach the jetty, even though I can’t go in after her, but maybe I can reach out and grab her from the rocks or something. Meanwhile, I’m watching the little white doggy head at the top of the water. She couldn’t climb back onto the rocks of the jetty–they were too steep, so she swam along the side of the rocks toward the beach, swimming, swimming–I could still see her head. And then legs! White doggy legs. She was standing up and out of the water.

So then, what did she do? Crossed the jetty where all the trucks were driving back and forth. By this time, I’m almost at the jetty, so I climb up to see over it, and I see a pair of headlights in the fog driving toward me…with a little brindle-and-white dog running as fast as she can in front of it. She hauled doggy butt back to me, and wouldn’t go anywhere until I put that leash back on her. We are both agreed, no more adventures for Dolly. If she wants to run, she can go run with her boy.

We were both pretty worn out by this time, so we climbed the stairs and crossed the street and went home. Whereupon Dolly went and hid from me in the garage because the last two times we went walking at the beach and she got in the water, I was mean and awful and gave her a bath!

I gave her a bath this time too. It’s not good to leave that salt in her fur. But I thought it was pretty funny, how she tried to hide from me. I think I hurt her feelings, because she wouldn’t come out and play with me the rest of the day. She has now forgiven me, though, because I let her in the laundry room when it’s too cold outside.

I am getting my new computer today! Yay!! And I am going grocery shopping for Christmas.

The writing is still going. I may be almost through the romantic black moment to be ready to begin to resolve it and get into the fantasy black moment and big battle and stuff. This book is the hero’s story, I think, more than the heroine’s….

Time–never enough of it…

Life begins again

Boy, it is REALLY easy to tell when school starts when you live in a tourist mecca. I could have lunch at Whataburger today. During tourist season, no way can I get through the door, much less find a parking place. There usually aren’t many people out on the beach at 8 a.m., but today–I saw even fewer–though the beach still was groomed. (They take a big bulldozer out with a rake and rake up the sand every morning.)

The seagulls have all lost their pretty black heads. And there are brown gulls amongst them. I saw a brown seagull the other day and was very confused. Laughing gulls are not brown. They are shiny white and gray and have black heads–or dirty-looking white ones. (They never do loose all their black feathers.) And then I remembered that the babies are brown. They are the same color as the beach sand. I didn’t see one of them sitting in the groomed sand, until I looked really close.

I saw crab tracks this morning. I couldn’t figure out what they were at first. They look sort of like a 4-inch wide net was pressed into the sand, a delicate-looking pattern. Then I saw the hole in the sand at the center of all the tracks. I suppose I could take my camera next time and hope I see the tracks again. They were really cool looking. I’m pretty sure it was blue crab, or something besides hermit crab (though they are local too), because there was no tracks of a shell dragging behind the skittery leg tracks.

Also saw a couple of seagulls carrying shrimp around. I decided they must have stolen them from the fishermen out on the jetties, because shrimp are bottom feeders, and seagulls don’t dive. It was pretty funny looking though–white shrimp dangling from the gull beaks.

Spent much of the weekend shopping. Didn’t intend to go out and shop, except for books. (The boy wanted the last Terry Goodkind Sword of Truth book. I haven’t read any but the first one, and don’t intend to, but he’s been caught up in the series. I bought 4 paperbacks.) But they were having a big sale at Dillards. HUGE sale. The fella and the boy bought suits and shoes and sport coats. I bought pants. That are Long Enough!! (This is an issue for me, especially since most of the pants I already owned are too short, and the mirror in the bathroom at the newspaper tells me every time I go in there.) I had to hunt amongst the britches on sale for the ones that did not say “Short”–but I found them. (I’m really only average…) And I bought tops and shirts. I wasn’t sure about one pair of pants and one top, and wanted the guys to come upstairs and give their opinion–and while I was waiting for them to finish buying sport coats (they’d already bought suits), and show up, I found two more tops to buy. So it was their fault I bought more. But I look fabulous. (My pants are long enough now. 😉 )

I am reading lots. Need to be writing lots–but I did finally get all that I had written typed in. Tomorrow, it’s time to start with new stuff. And I have 240 pages typed. I don’t think I’ve reached midpoint in the story. Maybe the 1/3 point. (sigh) Which means there will be large amounts of whacking and thinning and trimming going on later. (sigh again) However, I’d rather whack than add, so…

Rain! and Hecticness

It’s been a very dry spring on my island. We just barely missed making the Top 5 Dryest Springs Ever because we had a little stormlet two days before the official first day of summer. Then on the first day of summer, while I was driving back to town from Fort Worth, The Sky Didst Open and The Deluge Didst Pour Forth.

While I was on the highway. And I had to visit the little girls’ room (so to speak). I’d’ve made it all the way home, except everybody slowed way down–because when the Sky Opens here, the Deluge Really Does Pour Forth, and the freeways tend to flood three or four inches deep. And when they flood, people hydroplane and crash into the other cars if they drive too fast. So it’s a good thing that people slow down. But I had to get off the freeway and find a pit stop. Then I had to squeeze my way back amongst the cars driving slowly in the pouring rain, because it didn’t show any signs of slowing. And it didn’t. Rained all the way home. Rained me into the house. Stopped long enough for the fella to bring my stuff in the house without raining on everything. Then it started raining again.

Rained again today. Hard, but not terribly long–though it’s still sorta sprinklish. We have friends in town, from our little Panhandle town, come to the beach. It will be fun to get to see them again, but there’s a lot of cleaning up that has to be done. And grocery shopping. I did already get by the fish market… You know we have to serve boiled fresh shrimp to all our visitors.

This is going to be a VERY hectic week. Besides our visitors, our “bureau” at the paper is short one person, because she got slapped in the hospital before she keeled over, and they need me to put in extra hours, if I can, but there’s a funeral I ought to go to (relative of a relative), and I’m taking Friday to head over to ApolloCon. There’s a couple of other things too, that I may skip out on–or maybe not. Depends on how everything else goes. But I’m tired.

And I’m trying to pull together a partial of Old Spirits to send the editor. I think my chapters look pretty good. But I need to write a synopsis that makes sense. That’s not going to happen this week. Not as crazy as life has gotten just now, but I’m thinking about it. Trying to figure out how to summarize stuff I’ve written, and sort of exactly what will happen in the parts I haven’t written. I think I need to pull a big chunk of courtroom stuff out… of all the courtroom stuff, maybe. It’s very loosey-goosey just now, and I know I’ll need to tighten the heck out of it before it’s done. But for now, I guess I’ll go with it.

Going to read from New Blood at ApolloCon at my reading Friday night. Hope a few people will be there early enough to want to hear it. Have to print it out to be ready to read.

Here I have written this huge long blog post, and I haven’t even mentioned the cool beach stuff. Like, beginning last Friday, when I went out to walk on the beach (sans Dolly), and the fish were WAY in shore. And of course, the pelicans and dolphins (and I even saw a skimmer, which was way cool) were inshore chowing down on them. I love to watch the brown pelicans fishing, because they’re so cool about it. When the fish are thick, the pelicans will fly just ten or 12 feet above the water, and when they see a fish, the feet will drop like webbed landing gear, and BAM! They’ll hit the water. They dive so fast, and there’s always a splash–a big one, given the size of the birds. But it doesn’t faze them–up they pop, maybe float a minute, and off they go, into another take-off to get ready for another dive. They can dive from as high as 50 feet without getting hurt, but given how murky the water often is, I wonder how they can see fish in it. Maybe that’s why they fly lower. But then, I have seen them dive from way high up, so they must be able to spot them. It’s so much fun to watch that drop–Bam! (er, splash?)

Today, I took Dolly back out again. She’s really pretty good, but I think I’m letting her get into some bad habits. I think she figured out how to jump around in the surf while on the leash–she can run in circles and still run and jump. I think she watches for the bigger waves (still not very big, but she’s short) so she can jump them and let them float her a second or two. There were all kinds of dead fish on the shore–some of them really big. I saw one that was a good 2 feet by 1 foot from dorsal to ventral. Big fish. I don’t know if they just got stuck in the shallow water, or what, but… Lots of great big feathers from the pelicans too. Dolly couldn’t figure out how to pick one of those up to carry it with her. There were big washes of broken shells that were still big enough to hurt my tootsies. And more sargasso, but not enough to make blankets. After the sargasso cometh the jellyfishes… Come on, seaweed! Keep coming. Don’t want jellyfishes.

Since Catie has encouraged me to walk to Rivendell, I’m going to do it. I don’t remember how far it is, but I’ve walked 6 miles on the way. According to the Eowyn Challenge, I have made it into Tookland. It’s going to take me a Really Long Time to do this. At least the only thing I have to climb are the rock jetties, every half mile or so…

Words written–who knows? (I’ve typed in 92 pages–but I’ve written lots more than that)–I did write 20 pages last week.

Miles walked to Rivendell: 6