Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Character Answers

Hi everyone!
As promised, today I’m here with answers to the Jason questions. I used the ones you sent me, along with a handful pulled from various online questionnaires.
As of this morning, I’m about halfway through Chapter 9 of Blood and Dust. Jason has made an appearance and gotten himself into a bunch of trouble.
Now, on to his answers. (By the way, I haven’t found a proper look-alike for him. I promise I did not write another character that looks just like Damon Salvatore. So any gifs used are more for the expression than his actual looks. All gifs are from Google.)
Q. Would you leave the Guns if you could?
…Well…Yeah, I mean. If I could. But there’s not really any way to. Not with my dad working alongside Dermott. The Tetons are decent, but they don’t have much. It’d just be trading one disaster for another.
Q. What’s a memory from your teenage years?
Heh, well the first one that comes to mind would be a few months ago when I found out my old man has another family outside of Cody and the boy was coming to help him with something. That was real nice. Apparently his other son is a better help to him than I am.

Q. More daredevil, or cautious?
Cautious gets you killed in Cody. If you hesitate, you die. It’s best to just dive in before anything else can happen.

Q. What is something you would fight for?
We fight for everything, I mean…What I would fight for? I guess, Mercedes. And Adam. Whatever was in my best interests.

Q. opinion on sex/relationships?
*ahem* relationships are kind of a tricky thing. I feel like you mean in the official sense, which…just doesn’t happen. But they’re nice while they last, I suppose. If you get lucky enough to have somebody of your own then you better enjoy it and try to take care of her, or else someone else will.
Q. Selfish or selfless?
(No, he’s selfless)
Yeah, no.
Q. What do you think of Cole?
I try not to. He’s annoying and in the way. Exactly what I would expect from someone who got to live somewhere else—away from the old man. He’s the lucky one. I don’t know why he’s all bent out of shape about be ‘left behind’. He didn’t miss anything.
Q. What seemingly insignificant memory has stuck with you?
Well…I don’t even know if it’s a memory. But, when I was a kid my mom was sick. It was the night she died, but I remember hearing her and my dad talking. I was half asleep, so I didn’t really hear the words, but I know they said my name. I could have swore they left the house together, but everyone said she died in the night. It makes a guy wonder though. I mean, girls disappear for months all the time for no reason…Except, she never came back.

Q. How is your relationship with your dad?
He comes in handy sometimes. I mean, he runs things. He can pull strings. The rest of the time we just kind of co-exist. He’s got this thing where he thinks I’m still nine and he can tell me what to do. Jokes on him—I never listened when I was nine either.
Q, Who is your best friend?
A guy named Adam. He was a Gun, but he defected over to the Tetons. Dermott wants his hide for that. But he’s a good guy, Adam. I don’t blame him for leaving.  He was just never mean enough for the Guns.
Q. What is your role in the Guns?
I get bounced around from place to place. The old man likes to keep me close by…for some reason. Dermott can’t seem to be rid of me fast enough. I don’t know what I did to either of them. Doesn’t take too long at a job before guys start complaining I’m somehow getting it easier than them because Dale Comstock is my dad. Most recently though I’ve been doing the water runs. It’s not a bad job, and for the most part I can do it alone.
Q. What do you love about this girl?
Mercedes? Well…I don’t know. I mean…she’s just nice, I guess. Those other girls are sassy. They’re fun and flirty, and Mercedes can do that too, but really she’s just sweet. I guess it’s partly because she actually likes me. She’s pretty too. Which, doesn’t hurt, obviously. She doesn’t try to mom or boss me. She lets me blaze if I want, or be down in the dumps, or just plain silly. She doesn’t care. She rolls with it all.
There ya have it! Thanks for the questions. I hope you enjoyed getting to know a little more about Jason and his story.

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

The Girl With No Name- Book Review

Hi everyone! 

Technically I should be doing an end of the month wrap up post, (can you believe July is OVER??) but to be honest, I don’t have much to talk about. July was a good month, but fairly basic. The highlight was probably county fair, which involved bull riding, ranch rodeos, and my sister’s horse show.

So, for today I have a book review and then hopefully next week I’ll have answers to Jason’s questions from Blood and Dust. Sound good?

The book I want to talk about is 
The Girl With No Name: The Incredible Story of a Child Raised by Monkeys, by Marina Chapman. 

Yes, you read that right. A child raised by monkeys. And it’s a true story. 

Here’s the official blurb. 

The amazing story of the girl who overcame unique hardship and deprivation—growing up with a troop of capuchin monkeys—to find ultimate redemption. 

In 1954, in a remote mountain village in South America, a little girl was abducted. She was four years old. Marina Chapman was stolen from her home and then abandoned deep in the Colombian jungle. It is a miracle she survived. Two days later, half-drugged, terrified, and starving, she came upon a troop of capuchin monkeys. Acting entirely on instinct, she tried to do what they did: she ate what they ate and copied their actions, and little by little, learned to fend for herself. 

So begins the story of her five years among the monkeys, during which time she gradually became feral; she loses the ability to speak, loses all inhibition, loses any real sense of being human, replacing the structure of human society with the social mores of her new simian family. But her harrowing adventure is only beginning...
In the vein of Slumdog Millionaire and City of God, this rousing story of a lost child who overcomes the dangers of the wild and the brutality of the streets to finally reclaim her life will astonish readers everywhere. 

Now tell me that doesn’t sound exciting. This book was so disturbing and heartwarming at the same time. My dad originally heard about it on the radio (I think) and ordered it. Him being the awesome dad he is, sent it my way once he finished it. And oh my gosh. 
I gobbled it up. 

Like the blurb mentions, it starts with four year old Marina being kidnapped. Since she was four, her memories are very foggy and choppy, but that made it all the more real. I felt like I was getting the real story from a child’s eyes. 
Henry is only two, but I was still sitting there traumatized by the idea of a little toddler like him being dumped off in the jungle. You know how many survival books I’ve read? Like, all of them. And I’m 99% sure I would have died off in less than a week. And here this 4 year old survives. 
It was really cool because the monkeys did eventually accept her. It’s not like the cartoons where they immediately are friends and can talk, but eventually certain monkeys did come to like her, and she did learn to interpret and imitate the basic sounds they make. 

Throughout the whole story I was just struck by God’s amazing design for humanity. Even through all of this trauma, Marina was still very much human. And even though she came to not even realize that, to anyone watching her behavior, it was obvious. She decorated her tree home with flowers. She created things, and reasoned her way through problems, even though it was at a very basic, childish level. When she first encounters humans you really see it start to kick in where she is drawn to them—a lot like Adam in the garden of Eden looking for someone like him before God creates Eve. It was fascinating, so say the least. 

After being “rescued” in the loosest terms possible, Marina is bounced from place to place—brothels, the streets, the mafia. It’s truly crazy that one girl could have gone through so much before her sixteenth birthday. During this part I was struck again by her humanity. The girl had a sin nature. And I don’t say that to pick on her. But here she had been raised by animals with no concept or right and wrong, and yet during her time on the street she was proud of her ability to do wrong—to steal, to pull tricks, etc. Our sin nature, along with our being in the likeness of God, is engrained in us no matter what. 

The story came to a satisfying end that was so intense I won’t spoil it for you, and  a sequel was planned, but I don’t know if it’s been written yet. There are pictures of her teenage homes, and Marina and her family now, and it just makes a person smile to see the mischievous glint in her eyes even as a mom and grandma. You can totally picture her scampering up a tree after a monkey at any minute. 

This book gave me all the feels. It was such a joy to read as she finally found humans who loved her, and became human herself again, and I nearly cried thinking that all these years there has been a different family somewhere who thinks their little four year old is dead, and here she is, an absolute survivor, but with no way to find them again. 

It’s definitely an amazing story that I would highly recommend. 

As far as content goes, I’d really say there is none. It’s just real life. There are a few cuss words, but they come from the evil people Marina is trapped with, and the whole story is gritty. You’ve got a little jungle girl running around with no clothes, being taken in by a brothel, and then braving the dangers of Columbia’s streets. There’s nothing nice about it, but it’s not overly graphic or anything like that. 

Five stars from me! Go read it! 

What have you been reading this summer? 

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Three Tips to Keep You Writing This Summer

 Hi guys! 

I hope you have all been having a great summer (especially since it’s nearly over. What????). 
Ours has been full and busy, but definitely a fun one. 

Amidst doctor visits, fairs, family gatherings, and farm work, it’s been a little hard to get any writing done. 
But somehow I’ve managed to putt along and make it to chapter four in my rewrite of Blood and Dust. It’s a little traumatizing, because the story was monstrously large to begin with, and the word count keeps growing. I’m really hoping when I get to the meat of the story that I can start slashing it down to a proper size, as that was one of the issues that kept coming up with the agents who requested a full. 

Today I thought I’d talk a little bit about my writing process, and how to carve time out to write while it’s summer. With a little dedication and perseverance, summer can be a productive season for writers, no matter how busy our schedules get. 

Tip #1. Set an alarm. 
You have to just decide you’re going to get up early and write, because summer days are full of distractions and obligations. I like to set my alarm for 6:30 and then hit snooze every ten minutes until about 7:20. This must be a good technique, because my husband uses it for his farm work too.

Tip #2. Create a routine.
Writers are creatures of habit and OCD tendencies. So it’s important to create a routine for yourself that gets you mentally prepared to write. After I crawl out of bed and get dressed, I like to find breakfast and something to drink. Preferably something hot and caffeinated, but anything wet will do. The corn is tasseling here, so it’s also helpful if I blow my nose about eight million times before sitting down. Can’t really write if you can’t breathe. Then it’s time to fire up the computer. I’m ready...just as soon as it goes through all of its updates and powers on. If you’re you, that’s when you can start writing. If you’re me, that’s when Henry is going to wake up. 

Tip #3. Be flexible. 
You might have to use different methods to write. The notes app on your phone is great. It’s mobile, small, and gives you access to research and Pinterest inspiration...that recipe looks really good. I should make that for dinner. Do I have the ingredients? No. Shoot. I’ll have to go to the store right now. I can write later. 

I actually do have to go to the store now guys. I’m out of bananas and have had no breakfast, and I don’t have the main ingredient for dinner. So this trip is actually going to help me get some writing done today, as it will remove distractions. Wish me luck. 

How do you find time to write in the summer? 

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Help a Gal Out?

Hello everyone! 

Today, I’d like to ask your help.

I’m slowly making my way through some rewrites of Blood and Dust. (Excruciatingly slow, okay? Like, a paragraph per day) 

This is the blurb for it, if you’re not familiar. 

Cole Burns has a gun and a grudge, and that's all you need in post apocalyptic Cody, Wyoming to get yourself killed. Feisty saloon gal, Calgary Williams, told him so too, but Cole is too thick headed to listen. Trying to weave through a web of gang wars, gun men, and old lies can get real slippery when you're trying not to fall in love.

With the rewrites I have planned, that blurb will be changed a bit, but the essentials are still there. Cole travels to Wyoming where things have mysteriously never recovered from World War 3, and has reverted to a deadly version of the Old West.
He starts out just trying to reunite with his dad, but realizes pretty quickly that something is horribly wrong and starts trying to help Calgary and others escape. 

What I need you for is to help me flesh out a new character I’m adding. 

(Both pictures are from Pinterest. They’re not mine. And the outfits and such aren’t in context, the face just looks like him) 

Jason Comstock is sixteen/seventeen years old—roughly a year younger than Cole. 
The two are actually half brothers, but only Jason knows that at the beginning. 
He grew up in Wyoming and has thoroughly adopted the wild, lawless behavior that’s glorified there. 
He’s got a chip on his shoulder against their dad, but unlike Cole, it’s because he had to be raised by him, rather than feeling abandoned by him. 
He is a member of the Gun gang, but has a friend in a rival gang, so his commitment gets questioned a lot, and he can get himself into trouble over it pretty quickly. 
Where Cole is a bit more careful at thinking things through, Jason is hotheaded and loud. 
He’s got a girl (as yet unnamed) that he really does like, but he’s also very awful at expressing himself—especially in a nice way, so you’re not always sure he truly cares about her. 

And that’s all I’ve got. 
I could technically start filling out character questionnaires for him, and I probably will at some point, but some of the questions are kind of pointless, so I thought maybe you guys might have some questions about him that popped to mind as you read his description. 

It’s been just short of a century since I’ve done a character interview like this, but sometimes they work out really well, so I’m gonna give it a try. 

If you have any questions or suggestions for Jason, drop them in the comments, and I’ll answer them in one of the upcoming posts. 

Thanks guys! 

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

It's Already July

Hey guys!
I am alive ... somewhat.
The reason this post hasn't gone up earlier today? Because I forgot I was supposed to start blogging again. Yep. I am focused.
I decided to break the hiatus with an update of the past month and the month we are now entering.
So here we go.
June was busy.
Very busy.
Probably the most prominent event of the month was we announced we are having baby number 2.
Behold the cuteness.

There was also a boatload of traveling around. One of Jarod's college classmates got married so we drove three hours for that. It was ... eventful. The wedding itself was gorgeous, but it was over 100 degrees that day and Henry ended up getting sick, and there was puke, and tears, and we went home early, the end.
Our church also had a picnic which was super fun, and we went to one last graduation.
It's been stupid hot,
 after the stupid cold finally left, so we have been to the swimming pool several times, and I wont lie, if you drive by my house during the afternoon you might see me lounging in the kiddy pool on the deck. Water is water people.
My garden is looking lovely, and the only thing that sucks about it is trying to maintain the weeds without dying of heat stroke. I've been foundering on lettuce, kale, spinach, beet and carrot greens. My kohlrabi, cabbages, and brussel sprouts are getting little heads on them, and my peppers and tomatoes are blossoming.
I've also discovered some things health wise that might be the culprit for all the skin problems I've been suffering from for the last eternity and a half. It's absolutely killer because fixing it requires cutting out almost every single form of carbs and sugar--even the healthy kind. But my skin feels fantastic, so its kind of sort of worth it.
The biggest disappointment of the month--maybe even the year--was I went to Goodwill and found The Lion King 1 1/2 for three dollars. Since it is a used item store, I checked to make sure the DVD was actually in the case, and it was. But when I got it home and put it in to watch with Henry, it was only the special features. Because it was the two disc version, and only disc two was in the case.
I did very minimal writing. Like, next to none. A page or two maybe. I did manage some plotting and outlining, but actual writing just didn't happen. I've had a lot of morning sickness (which is the biggest lie on earth guys-- it is twenty four hour sickness) and something about being nauseous and dizzy just doesn't produce good writing sessions. It's getting a little better now, so I'm hoping I can be more productive in July.
I did get some really great feedback on writing in June. A gal who had volunteered to read Bad Boy sent me her final thoughts, and they were absolutely incredible. Her praise was great, and she caught so many little flaws and inconsistencies that had gone right over my head. So I was very thankful for that, and super excited to start work on revising that story. Hopefully soon.
I also entered the Daphne Du Myer contest. Four judges looked over the first fifteen pages of Blood and Dust, and I was so thrilled with the feedback. They gave very detailed critiques, so it was easy to see exactly what issues they were talking about, and it all made so much sense. But they also commented on lots of good things that they loved, which is always very fun to hear. I was thrilled that a lot of their negative comments lined up with what I and Kara Swanson had discussed, and I think a lot of the changes we had decided to make would solve those issues very nicely and tie it all together. That's the story I've been poking at this last month, so I'm hoping maybe I'll start to feel good enough to really sit down and try to work through some of the things we've all been discussing for the story.
Obviously this month we have Independence Day/ 4th of July. It's probably in my top three favorite holidays ever. I almost named this post Party like its 1776, but that was a bit of a mouthful.
Either way, it's so much fun to go haggle out a good bargain on fireworks. This year some family from Jarod's side will be in town, so my parents are coming over and we're gonna grill and set off fireworks. And eat lots of food, that will probably not help my skin, but will taste delicious anyway.
City wide garage sales are also this weekend, which is another major highlight of the year. Who doesn't like to go garage sale hunting, really?
On Saturday more of Jarod's family gets in and we are having a family reunion. There should be lots of swimming, fishing, and paddle boating involved, weather permitting. There is rain in the forecast again, so we'll see.
Everybody is bringing food, and let me just tell you that it is so stinking hard for a pregnant lady who is craving absolutely everything to narrow her choices down to a halfway reasonable number. Nigh impossible in fact.
Our three year anniversary is the ninth. It really doesn't feel like three years in some ways, but in other ways it feels more like ten. It's pretty great.
The county fair is at the end of the month. I only have one sister young enough to compete this year, but I'm sure we'll go watch the horseshow and browse the exhibits, which should be fun.
So, that about sums it up.
What about you? Did you miss me? What fantastic things happened while I was gone?
All Gifs from Google. I do not own any of them.

Friday, June 7, 2019

So Long, Farewell

Hi guys!

Sorry about not posting Wednesday. The reason I didn’t is because I asked myself if I would rather write a blog post or pass out, and the answer was a resounding Pass Out. 

I didn’t get to do either actually, because I was sent on a parts run, but oh well. 

Today’s post is to announce I’m going on hiatus. A summer break, if you will. 

I plan to be back the first week in July. 

See you then!