Along_Tracks_AC4x6As I mentioned in last week’s newsletter, fall is here and I am excited. I love this time of year for many reasons, but one of the major ones today is that autumn usually brings rain to West Texas. After a sizzling summer, the cooler temperatures and more frequent showers create a wonderful recipe for last-minute eruptions of wildflowers to color the landscape before the bleak, brown vision of winter descends upon the desert.

Consequently I was shooting Black-Eyed Susans and doing happy dances most of last weekend. It was heavenly. I don’t know what it is about wildflowers that make me so deliriously joyful, but they do. Of course, the last few weeks haven’t all been sunshine and flowers. I’ve also been hard at work on other projects as well. Some of these projects have gone very well and some have caused me to bash my head against my keyboard more than once.

Since the last full update in August, I have:

Writing:

Wrote, edited, and published “The Cleaning” short story. This fiction piece is a much darker tale dealing with the problems of corruption and censorship.

Finished writing “The Twirling Ballerina” short story. This story is short and bittersweet at about 2800 words. It’s making the beta reading rounds right now it seems to be jerking tearful smiles from just about everyone who reads it. We’ll see what my editor says, but I’m really hoping to release this story around December 1 as an early Christmas present for everyone.

Wrote “A Hero’s Moment” short story. This is a 6500-word tale that won’t hit eBook screens until 2015, but I think the wait will be well worth it. This was a fun writing-romp and I think it will just enjoyable of a read…once I get it polished, of course.

Continued writing Thorn and Thistle. The story has been inexplicably frustrating for the past month with one bout of writer’s block after another. Since the first 25,000 words came so easily, I wondered when the other shoe would drop and it finally did at 28,000 words and 10 chapters into the tale. Since then, it seems that I have trekked uphill in the freezing snow to capture every single new word. I finally had to reread the story from the beginning so that I could double-check plot inconsistencies and momentum problems before moving forward. That has helped matters, but it is still a long slog. Time for more research!
 
Photography and Graphic Design:

Photographed pieces of real estate, industrial equipment, and a historical building for clients.

Photographed wildlife including birds and dragonflies near Weslaco, Texas. Several of my blog photos during September were taken during this shoot.

Photographed wildflowers near Monahans, Texas. Today’s photo is from that shoot.

Posted new art photography on my website: “Along the Tracks”, “Gossamer Beauty”, “Orb Cloud”, “Three Beauties and a Beast”, and “Water Bug Ripples”.
 
Reading:

Continued reading the Bible. I finished Acts, Philippians, Colossians. I began reading Romans and 1 Corinthians.

Finished reading The Naked Truth About Self-Publishing. This book is a great source of knowledge for indie authors. I took notes while I read it, which saved me the hassle of trying to remember all of the tips and tricks tucked into this little volume. Last month, I began implementing some of the authors’ advice with good results.

Read Blood Feud: The Clintons vs. The Obamas by Edward Klein. A fascinating and sometimes unsettling look at these key players in the Democratic Party. The book read like a fast-paced soap opera. If the real-life people are anything close to Klein’s portrayal of them, I pity them.

Read “The Wild Swans” by Hans Christian Anderson. While I enjoyed the premise of the story, I forgot how dry some of the author’s tales can be.

Read The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle. I finally read this classic story! It’s a truly beautiful and thought-provoking tale.

Read The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. This was an interesting, but sometimes frustrating story to read. I found it a bit of a mixed bag with characters that I alternately enjoyed and disliked. It was real and, at times, very gritty in its portrayal of life and death. All in all, it pulled no punches as a cancer book.

Read Broken Aro by Jen Wylie. This book had great potential, but ultimately flopped on delivery. I liked the characters, but the plot was horribly cliché. The writing needed serious editing, especially in regard to punctuation. All in all, this story lacked substance and refinement from beginning to end.

Read Divergent by Veronica Roth. Wow, this story was incredible. I loved the characters. The plot was fast-paced and engaging. The vivid writing grabbed and drug me kicking and screaming straight into Tris’s world. I loved the Dauntless culture and yet I plainly saw its flaws.

Read Insurgent by Veronica Roth. I was so sad to leave the Dauntless culture behind, but the larger cultural world of the factions and their political affiliations was very thought-provoking. As usual the tension of the plot me and the vibrant characters kept me reading well into the night.

Read Allegiant by Veronica Roth. This book was a much slower read for me than its predecessors. The plot was neither as strong or as well-paced as Divergent or Insurgent for me. The writing, while good, lacked the same strong flow due to the split narrative. All this being said, though, I loved the book’s conclusion. I know other people who were less than enthusiastic about it, but I found the ending quite powerful and moving.

Continued reading of Pirate Latitudes by Michael Crichton. I’m stalled on this book, not because it isn’t good, but because my pirate research for Thorn and Thistle has taken me elsewhere. I hope to finish Crichton’s book soon.

Began Real Pirates by Barry Clifford and Kenneth J. Kinkor. I had picked this book up a few years ago at The Denver Museum of Nature & Science and now I’m finally getting the chance to put its information to good writing use. Yeah!

Began reading On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King. While I am not a huge fan of King’s books, he is a master storyteller. His book, so far, is interesting from a biographical point-of-view. It’s laced with stories from the author’s life as well as his opinions on what makes quality writing. Like me, King adores Strunk and White’s book The Elements of Style and makes regular references to it in his own book. We’ll see how it turns out.

Read a few Wall Street Journal articles.

Read a few Writer’s Digest articles.
 
Gaming:

Played Jumbline.

Played Mahjong.

Played Minecraft.

Played Munin.

Played Peggle Deluxe and Peggle Nights.
 
Other:

Finished writing my 2015 business plan including a complete publishing schedule for 2015.

Created an “Authors Goals” poster detailing my business dreams and aspirations to hang on my office wall.

Attended the Laredo Comic Con. This was a tiny convention with a few panels and booths available. It was fun, but not a con that I’ll likely attend again anytime soon.

Began a workout regimen alternating between Karate and bike-riding. I studied Karate during and after college, so I’m excited to train in it again. Hopefully it and the biking will give me more energy and keep me healthier.

Taught Children’s Church while my husband was gone on business trips.

Purchased a new phone since mine was no longer holding a proper charge.

Purchased a new, more comfortable office chair.

Replaced the kitchen faucet.

Repaired both my husband’s and my cars.
 
My goals for the next six weeks are to:

Create e-book cover art for “The Twirling Ballerina” short story.

Publish “The Twirling Ballerina” short story.

Finish cleaning up “A Hero’s Moment” short story and send it to my beta readers.

Write “Space Junkers” short story rough draft.

Finish the rough draft of Thorn and Thistle.

Participate in National Novel Writing Month. I know that writing 50,000 words in a month on a story unrelated to any of the work mentioned above probably won’t happen, but I enjoy trying to kiss the wind.

Continue my workout program.

Prepare for Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Until next time, may we each rewrite our world for the better!

Alycia


The Seared Cookie Report: one Artist/Writer’s Labored Soliloquy (SCRAWLS) is brought to you from the writing desk of Alycia Christine at Purple Thorn Press and Photography with love, art, speculative fiction books, and virtual baked goods for all. Please let me know your thoughts about this particular post and, as always, if there is any subject you wish me to discuss, contact me. Thanks!