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Imaginary Friends

Apprentice meets his mentor

Writer meets his not so imaginary friend!

I saw a quote the other day that I thought was worth passing along.

“Writer’s block is a condition that happens when your imaginary friends stop talking to you.”

Talk about a sad, lonely experience! What would you have to do to your imaginary friends for them to abandon you?

Seriously though, the Muse can be a “fickle bitch”. One minute he can be hammering at your brain keeping you awake until you get up and scribble a few lines to pacify him. The next minute she gives you the cold shoulder, slams the door, and leaves you with a sink full of dirty dishes, a lawn that needs mowing, a stack of bills to pay, and no story ideas.

At times when my current imaginary friends abandon me, I have a trick to get them back.

Wait for it.

Here is comes.

I create new imaginary friends. :-) That’s the great thing about imaginary friends, you can create as many as you want.  Sometimes they get me thinking about another project. I have to be careful with this as it can lead me away from my current project so far that I never do finish it.

Other times I consider adding an additional character. The character usually gets scrapped later but it keeps the creative juices flowing. Once in a while the new character gets to stay as it fills a before overlooked need in my story. Whichever method I use, before too long, my imaginary friends get jealous and come back to me. We start working together and the story takes off.

Before you call the men in white coats to come and take me away, listen to the voices in your own head. They are probably telling you to sit down and write something. Listen to them. You’ll be better off if you do.

 
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Posted by on July 17, 2014 in Thoughts on Writing

 

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MAVEN – update

Artists concept of the MAVEN Spacecraft - Courtesy of Wikipedia

Artists concept of the MAVEN Spacecraft – Courtesy of Wikipedia

Seventy-one days until the MAVEN spacecraft is placed into orbit around Mars. All systems are functioning as planned for the September 21st orbit insertion. Three days later, the MOM orbiter from India is scheduled to be placed into Mars orbit. That will bring the number of spacecraft from Earth occupying Mars to seven. It will be a busy September for Earth’s scientists.

To view previous posts on the MAVEN project, click here.

 
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Posted by on July 10, 2014 in MAVEN

 

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The Gift

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I recently finished the second part of my summer vacation. A recount of the first 9 days can be viewed here. The second half consisted of various family members visiting the cabin at varying times. The first to visit was my father. The domestic CEO had taken the day off and prepped the cabin for our arrival. Furniture was moved to make it easier for dad to maneuver his walker. little did I know the gift that he would give me over the three days of his visit. Those of you with aging parents and grandparents, pay attention.

At the tender age of 91, dad took the long car ride quite well. I know this because he started talking before we got in the car Friday morning and hardly took a breath until we arrived at the cabin four hours later. This is the same man who said a total of six words to me during a thirteen hour trip we took to Arkansas when I was about twenty. Sure I heard some stories and a few jokes that I’d heard before, but I also heard stories that I have wanted to hear for most of my life.

Over the next two and a half days, dad talked more than I can ever remember him talking. At one point the Domestic CEO was watching a favorite television show. Dad and I were discussing the finer points of testing outboard marine engines. Dad went so far as to try to bring the CEO into the conversation. The CEO finally turned and gave me a look. Bless her heart she didn’t say anything, but the look said it all. “Would you two just shut up until my show is over?” I smiled warmly at her and went back to the conversation. The weather outside was cold and rainy, and the cabin is just not very big. The CEO survived and made us a great supper.

I mentioned a few special stories that I always wanted to hear about. Two dealt with dad’s experiences during World War II. The events that led to his being recommended for two Bronze Star Medals. I had done some research and read the commanding officer’s recommendations so I had some idea of what to expect. But…there is something about hearing the first-hand account that makes the hair on the back of your neck stand straight up. I also, got him to talk about his father whom I knew as a child but really didn’t know his background.

I’ve had several opportunities over the past seven years to sit down and have these type conversations with dad. They are all some of my most cherished moments. I have seen first hand how our society files the elderly away into institutions and choose to ignore them. The knowledge base and wisdom from experience that is left to fade away would fill up a super computer. It’s a shame really.

I know that I am lucky that dad is still very sharp mentally and I intend to spend as much time as I can listening to his stories. How can you not love hearing about history from someone who was there?

 

 
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Posted by on July 9, 2014 in Thoughts on Writing

 

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Vacation

I’ve been busy recently with vacation. It all started Friday before Father’s Day. The archery club I belong to, holds a traditional archery shoot every year on Father’s Day weekend. Shooters come from across the U.S.to participate in what many have called the finest traditional-only, 3D archery shoot in the U.S. Yes, I’m biased. However, when participants of the IBO World Championships tells you this, you tend to pay attention.

Only traditional equipment is allowed. Longbows, recurves, and primitive bows are the mainstay. no sights are allowed so instinctive shooting is required. Targets are commercially made three-dimensional life-like replications of real animals. They are accurate in size and shape. The main differences is the real animal does not have scoring rings etched into its side and it doesn’t hold still for very long. :-)

Looking through the blind at the 3 dimensional  foam target.

Looking through the blind at the 3 dimensional target.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The three dimensional targets look very real, but they are made from foam rubber.

The three-dimensional targets look very real, but they are made from foam rubber.

The Shoot consists of three loops of twenty targets each. It’s a lot of work to put these kind of event on but the Club enjoys putting it together almost as much as the participants enjoy shooting it. I did say almost, right! Unfortunately mother nature had other plans for us. Friday was set up day and was beautiful. Saturday and Sunday were a wash out when we got five inches of rain. It cleared up a couple of hours before it was time to tear everything down, but attendance was terrible. Oh well, better luck next year. It will be our twenty-fifth year.

After the Shoot, I visited with my father and took a few days to go to the cabin. Most of my time there was spent getting it in shape for the upcoming July 4th celebration. Then a day of yard work at the house was quickly followed by a three-day writer’s conference called 4th Street Fantasy.

4th Street is a small convention by most standards, but what it lacks in size, it makes up for in content. Seeing friends from across the country, participating in panel discussions with world-class authors, sharing music circles and single malt in the evenings, all the while learning about the craft of writing; what better way to spend the last few days of vacation.  For those of you who love to write or read fantasy/science-fiction, this is a must to add to your bucket list.

 

 

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Shot Sequence

Look at the eyes, even after the shot. Concentration!

Look at the eyes, even after the shot. Concentration!

The archer steps into position, comfortable and grounded. She readies an arrow on the string and takes a deep breath letting it out slowly. Her eyes look up from the ground and she sees the target for the first time.

Twenty yards away, tacked to the white backstop is an “X”. It is surrounded by concentric circles moving away from the X in evenly spaced waves. But, they of no consequence. There is only the X. For the next few seconds, or perhaps a lifetime, there is only the X. While her conscious mind focuses only on the X, the archer’s subconscious performs the routine that has been perfected over years of repetition.

Three fingers of the archer’s right hand curl around the bow-string, while the right hand finds its familiar spot on the bow’s hardwood handle.

 

Down range, the archer’s vision focuses on the point where the lines intersect. Only the spot where they intersect. Everything else disappears from view.

The bow arm comes up until the arrow is aligned with the point where the lines intersect. In one smooth motion, the bowstring and arrow are drawn back until the fingers touch the bony ridge along the archer’s jaw line.

From this point the tension in the Rhomboid muscles of the back begin to contract. The arms and hands are relaxed with the exception on the finger curl of the string hand. The subconscious runs through an invisible checklist and decides whether or not the shot feels right.

The spot where the lines making the X connect breaks apart until there is only one dot of ink left on the target. No larger that a pin point. It is the only thing the eyes see.

The shot feels right and the back muscles continue to contract until the string fingers simply allow the string to move forward. it is not a conscious thought or action, just the result of the back tension no longer allowing the fingers to hold the string.

As if by magic, the arrow appears on the small dot of ink that the eyes are focused on. Only then does the back release. Only then does the archer realize that the shot has been made.

One perfect shot!

 

 
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Posted by on June 23, 2014 in Traditional Archery

 

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Sad Ending

On Monday, I received an email from Ned Miller, the editor and founder of Stick and String Traditional Archery Magazine. It stated that as of September 1, 2014, the magazine would publish its last issue. The reason given was not being able to generate sufficient capital to maintain operations. For two and a half years, Stick and string has provided traditional archers with an alternative magazine that provided quality reading and informational articles.

In the Summer of 2012, Ned read my post Room to Write where I commented on my collection of traditional archery equipment. Ned emailed me, stated that he had a new magazine, and asked if I would be willing to write an article for the Fall edition. After a few emails we settled on a topic and my article, “The Bridge Method”, appeared in the September 2012 publication. Then in the Summer of 2013, Ned published my second article, “Extending the Length of Your Arrows”.

I feel privileged to have been involved in Ned’s magazine. Ned was always easy to work with and as a fellow archer, was open to articles discussing anything related to Traditional Archery. Though it didn’t have a huge circulation, I know the people who contributed to and read Stick and String will miss it. I know I will.

 
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Posted by on June 2, 2014 in Traditional Archery

 

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Summer’s Coming

Two weekends ago, my ‘crew’ went to the cabin to put the dock and boat lift in the lake. This annual ritual took place several weeks later than in previous years due to the hard winter and late ice out. It usually takes a few hours to get everything in the water and leveled up. This is followed by general back-slapping and high-fives indicating that no one drowned in the process. Cold drinks and hearty meal celebrate the coming of summer as the boats are now in the water and fishing can begin in earnest.

 

Putting new section on the dock.

Putting new section on the dock.

There were several twists to this year’s event. We added a new section to the dock. The expansion was necessary because the CEO bought me a new toy (i.e. boat – not pictured).

Dock and lift in their new locations. Time to go fishing!!

Dock and lift in their new locations. Time to go fishing!!

And, we put it in a new location to provide the clearest view of the lake. In addition to the view, the change of location made for easier set up. The water is more shallow in the new location, which means I don’t have water splashing over the tops of my chest waders. Water temperature of 48 degrees F can make for a chilly experience if it gets inside.

Now that the work is done, fishing, writing, and general R&R become the priorities! Yes, in that order!

 

 
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Posted by on May 28, 2014 in Other Strangeness

 

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