Monthly Archives: September 2005

Of Chuckwagons and Surprises

Well, I’d link to the Chuckwagon Cookoff information on the web, but Roger doesn’t have it up yet. It’s only Tuesday. Things like the Saint’s Roost Museum Chuckwagon Cookoff are one of the joys of small town living. This past Saturday, the local museum brought in 14 authentic ranch chuckwagons to compete in preparing a semi-typical meal. (I say “semi” because there wasn’t always beef on the trail…)

They were authentic in everything but the actual mules for pulling the wagons–but they did have to have harness. The competitors have to cook over mesquite wood fires (at least all the wood laying out at the museum looked like mesquite–some of it might have been cedar–that’s what the ranchers around here want to get rid of) using authentic methods–cast iron skillets and dutch ovens, no aluminium, no spray-on anything–just cowboy cooking.

And then the folks who’ve bought tickets get to come out and have dinner. Fried steak, potatoes, pinto beans, bread and cobbler. (Yes, the chuckwagons had canned peaches, so they could do dessert for the cowboys.) The tickets have the name of a chuckwagon competitor written on the back and you have to go to that chuckwagon to get your food. We ate at the CW wagon–they won a well deserved prize for their meat, but didn’t place in anything else–and I had an awfully good meal, so those other folks must have been Really Good. Yeah, it was carb universe, but I was playing cowboy (snort!) for the weekend.

I also bought me a new pocket knife at the little craft/stuff fair they had before they rang the triangle thingie, so now I can sharpen my weirdly shaped drawing pencils. Don’t quite know how to use them yet, but I can at least get to the insides.

Surprises. I had one today while I was writing. I thought I was writing a love scene, and all of a sudden, the characters took me someplace completely different–someplace I didn’t even think they could get to. Blew my mind. It’s a three-Puffs-tissue (What can I say? I like them better than Kleenex) week so far. Nobody died. Today. But it got really emotional.

Procrastination and The Historian

Procrastination, thy name is mine. I’ve been intending to post a blog every blessed day since I got back to town on last Sunday night, and you see just how many posts I’ve done. I’m a genius at procrastination. But there are so many of us in the club.

But I am here now! And I have about five minutes to bore you all with something before I have to run put on my shoes (I write so I don’t have to wear them) and pick up some friends to go to the Mexican Pile-on down at the school cafeteria (there’s only one school in town) before the Homecoming Game. Seems like Homecoming comes earlier and earlier every year. But I suppose they think the local boys can beat up on whoever we’re playing this year, so… When the school is so small you only have 35 kids in each grade (I almost said class, but we’re talking the entire grade), it’s hard to have a powerhouse football team.

Anyway, I’ve put off blogging because I’ve been busy writing. It’s time. I basically have four months to finish, polish and send in this third book in the Rose trilogy. And the writing has been going well. I’ve been pleased with my progress.

I also have put it off because I’ve been trying to get the old website updated. I got the cover for The Barbed Rose this week. And it’s beautiful. But you’re going to have to follow this link to my website to see it. Because, apparently, the blogsite isn’t going to let me put the image here. There’s also an excerpt that you can reach from that page. It’s good. :)

It’s difficult to know what to blog about when one’s life is so very dull. What else have I done? Besides writing a very traumatic scene for The Eternal Rose, I’ve been reading The Historian, the hot new-ish novel by Elizabeth Kostova.

I picked it up because I want to write a “straight” historical novel, one that doesn’t fit the expectations of the romance novel, so I thought it would probably behoove ($45 word there, at least) me to read a bit of what is out there. Besides, this concept intrigued me. I bought the book on Monday, and I finished it today. This is a long time for me to take in reading a book. Usually, I finish a book in a day–except sometimes when I’m writing really hard. But I like to finish books all in one gulp, preferably. I liked The Historian, but I didn’t love it.

First off, it is a mainstream book, but its ancestry is rooted in horror novels. Most mainstream novels grow out of one genre or another, according to my friend, mainstream author Britta Coleman, (Potter Springs). Some are Westerns at heart, some are romances, some are mysteries. Many of them are a bit of a mish-mash. So, The Historian is part mystery, part travelogue, mostly horror. And horror is emphatically not a preferred genre of mine. I do like mystery. I like travelogues. So that part I enjoyed. The descriptions of the various landscapes and the people were lovely, but…

I sort of felt that she deliberately set the reader at a distance from her characters. She glossed over the ickier elements of the story–the horror was “told” rather than “shown.” And the pace of the story was more leisurely than I prefer. It seemed almost like an intellectual exercise, which was interesting, but it wasn’t riveting. I want to be riveted. (Gee, that sounds painful.)

Which makes me more determined to rivet my readers through the heart when they read my things. I hope I succeed.

Sunburn and … stuff

Okay, I really suck at coming up with titles for my blog stuff. This is not surprising, because I am not the best in the world at coming up with titles for my books. I am rather in a state of shock, actually, because Luna kept the titles I came up with for my first two books in The One Rose trilogy. The third one was going to be The One Rose but they wanted it for the trilogy title, so I have had to come up with a new title for the third book. At the moment, I’m calling it The Eternal Rose, but we shall see if that sticks.

And I’ve gotten totally off the topic that I thought I was going to write about. (I’m very good at that, actually.) Sunburn.

I acquired my first “real” sunburn of the season this past weekend. A real sunburn is when you burn somewhere besides your face, arms or feet and it’s bad enough you’re still painfully pink the next day, enough that a purse strap over the burn hurts. I’d been so good all summer, but mostly because I rarely ventured outside in the heat of the day, and never in a swimsuit. Then the brothers-in-law invited the son and spouse waterskiing on the lake near where we used to live. And when I jumped blithely into the lake to cool off and float around in the wonderfully warm water (I do not swim in lakes collected from snow melt. I am a Texan. I want WARM lake water.) I forgot that my shoulders were still their natural pasty white and forgot to slather on the sunscreen.

Yes, I know I should have known better. Fortunately, I only stayed in the water about thirty minutes, and so only my shoulders roasted, and then not overly much. They shouldn’t peel, but they might get a little flaky. Then again, there are those who say I’m flaky all the time, so…

Let’s see. I have entered serious writing mode. The editor sent me revision notes. We have come to agreement on how to handle them. So now it’s time to hunker down and get the rest of this book written. Although I’m trying to cram five days worth of writing into three this week, I feel good about what I’ve managed to accomplish.

Now it’s time to go finish the quilt I promised my son for his college bedspread this weekend…

Y’all have a good week! And maybe I’ll manage to post more often in the next one.