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Tuesday, July 2, 2019

The Walking Dead...Fish

A fish skeleton greeted me on my walk around Sloan's 
Lake.

I may not be a member of The Walking Dead cast, but I enjoy watching the program. Amazingly enough, it's one of my favorites. I like the survival aspect, but the nasty zombies--not so much.

This late in the game, I fear the AMC show may not be around much longer. Most of the original actors have died (left.) Meanwhile, I'm preparing myself for its eventual demise.

Today, while walking around Sloan's Lake in Cheyenne, a Walking Dead fish that had washed ashore greeted me.

Eew!

It's a new goal of mine to walk at least a mile each day and increase the distance as time allows. That may not seem like a lot of movement to those of  you who run marathons. But for me, it's real progress and it feels great.

After sitting at a desk all day, whether it's writing my books or working at the office, fresh air and sunshine is a welcome break.

I prefer walking in places where I can enjoy nature to its fullest. Those of you who live in the Cheyenne/Laramie area, and are in better condition than I am, may want to visit my niece Rebecca Walsh's website, "Hike Like a Woman," where she offers backpacking experiences, hiking adventures and mountain retreats for outdoors enthusiasts. She owns and operates Laramie Basecamp, a sports store in Laramie, WY. Becky and her husband are also army veterans and have two adorable sons.

Come with me and I'll take you on a brief  "photo" tour of Sloan's Lake.

Do you have a favorite place to walk?

Starting my 21.26 minute walk...

The beach where I spent many summers as a kid 
lounging on shore. My mom often drove me, my
 sister and my friend Valerie to Sloan's Lake to swim. 

A handy bridge to cross over the water led the way.

Light purple flowers dotted the landscape.


Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Would you take a bath in this?

Pictured is an antique cast iron and wood bathtub pioneers
bathed in. Water was heated in pans on coal-burning stoves
and poured into the tub. It must have taken a lot of pans full
of water to fill that tub!
Can you imagine taking a bath in a tub like the one pictured on the left?

How about traveling in a covered wagon, cooking on a cast iron stove, sleeping on a feather tick mattress or one stuffed with hay?

Back in the 1800s when easterners decided to pack up and move, hoping to improve their fortunes in the west, they gave up most comforts offered in civilization.

They left behind families and friends, most times never seeing them again. Would you be brave enough to do that? I don't think I would.

I recently paid a visit to Encampment, Wyoming, where some of the richest copper mines could be found at the turn of the century. It was a booming time and people settled in the region, working hard to make a living.

My husband's family went there back in the day, and he has a rich history of how they settled the land and proudly raised their families.

If you ever have a chance to visit the Grand Encampment Museum, located in Wyoming's Carbon County, you will see amazing displays featuring the pioneers' plows, buggies, clothing, eating utensils and plates, cabins and other items.

You will get plenty of exercise exploring this place while visiting the museum and touring the grounds, which feature restored buildings. Here is the museum's website if you want more information: http://gemuseum.com/

What are some of the historical sites you have enjoyed visiting?

                          At the Grand Encampment Museum, barns and cabins have been relocated
                          from communities throughout the region to represent a thriving frontier town.
A replica of a two-story outhouse, which was needed when
deep snow coated the mountains, burying the lower level.


Most homes were of the one-room, log cabin variety.
A few comforts from home could be found.
Settlers managed to bring finer items to the frontier.
Cast iron coal-fired stoves gave food a smoky flavor.
Before trains, wagons carried families west to seek new fortunes.
A tiny, one-room school house built for a rancher's children
to be taught in

The arial tramway's 800 buckets could each carry up to 700 pounds
of copper ore from the Ferris Haggerty mine. 







Friday, June 7, 2019

Crèche Terrenium, a science fiction book to experience


Welcome to Solstice Publishing author K.C. Sprayberry, who will tell us about her latest release. A passionate writer who is true to her craft, she has worked hard to see her work in print and to build her brand. I hope everyone enjoys reading about K.C.'s new story!


Good day and welcome to the release of Crèche Terrenium. This book was written many years ago, when I was first starting out in my writing career. I submitted it to Millennial Science Fiction and Fantasy Magazine as a 5,000 word short story. This was during the days of snail mail submissions and waiting months on end to hear back from the editor in chief. To my surprise, I heard back rather quickly, about six weeks. Figuring they’d laughed and sent me a letter telling me that I should quit writing, I waited a couple of days before reading the bad news. Well, it wasn’t a contract to have the short story published in their magazine. What I did get was a letter telling me that the then editor in chief loved the concept of my short story and wanted me to develop it into a full book before resubmitting.

The full book was written, critiqued, edited, rewritten, etc. over a period of six months of sleepless nights and fingernail chewing days. I finally resubmitted the new story to the editor in chief per her request, only to hear back nearly immediately. The thin envelope pretty much told the story before I opened it.
Turns out while I was breathing life into this novel, the editor in chief had been replaced with someone else. That individual bluntly informed me that they were no longer interested in teen sci-fi books, as “teens didn’t read.” Who was I to argue? I knew the book was good. All I had to do was wait for the right time and place to present it to the world.

The time is now. The place is here. Enjoy!
  

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07SJTGPX1/
A galaxy under attack…youth out of control…extreme measures are called for…until the citizens are faced with impossible choices.
The Edict…
A law enacted to deal with recalcitrant children lays the blame on their parents. Only a computer can properly change The Melane Galaxy’s youth and turn them into good citizens. Chairman Sterling must force people to realize that parents aren’t right for raising children.
The Reporter…
Susannah Tilotsen discovers she’s being used by a government attempting to parent children. She soon realizes no one is safe from this new law. The loss of her beloved husband and her daughter being forcibly taken to Crèche Terrenium drives her to organize a group determined to stop this madness
The Boy…
Ripped from his loving home, Joey Dinaldo is taken to Crèche Terrenium after government troops find him living with his parents. He works hard to be a good citizen and obey the rules but soon discovers he can’t support a system designed to turn children into uncaring robots.
The Computer…
Master, the computer system that will raise these children, controls every second of their lives. Yet, there is no one to maintain the machine. The computer never thinks it needs to be repaired, even as the control it exerts slowly erodes. It is perfect, and fights to keep from being destroyed.
Background...
Rebels refuse to stop fighting until they have closed down the Crèche system and returned the children to their parents. Or find them a guardian. All of them are willing to do whatever it takes to end this madness…but at what cost?
The Melane Galaxy has a problem, one that threatens their very existence. Led by a reporter, Susannah Tilotsen, the citizens demand a solution to their children terrorizing people. Yet, when Chairman Marcus Sterling institutes the Crèche system, Susannah feels deep shock and dismay.

The children will be taken from their parents and raised by a computer designed to educate and monitor them. No adults will have interaction with the youth of the galaxy. The overall goal is to create good citizens of the youths rather than out of control hooligans.

Is this solution good intentions by the leadership? What if a parent protests the loss of their child? What choice do they have?
Excerpt:
Black words on the creamy parchment in her hand numbed Susannah Tilotsen. Shivers racked her spine; fear deadened her fingertips. Her grip loosened and the document fluttered to her feet. The forty-something man in front of her caressed his silver-shot sable hair before spreading his hands. She watched the public façade take over as the benevolent leader of a fractious, crumbling galaxy smiled. She knew better. His duplicitous expression sent chills up her spine.
She looked at the settlement she was reporting on to a galaxy awaiting a solution for a growing problem. The gray on gray buildings depressed her. The same hue was repeated in the walkways and latticed worked fences enclosing the twelve living areas. The children who would soon call this place home would have no relief from the depressing shades of gray.
To Purchase:
Amazon print book: https://amzn.to/2XowPcp
About K.C. Sprayberry
Living a dream she’s had since she first discovered the magic of books. K.C. Sprayberry traveled the U.S. and Europe before finally settling in the mountains of Northwest Georgia. She’s been married to her soulmate for nearly a quarter of a century and they enjoy spoiling their grandchildren along with many other activities.
A multi-genre author, K.C. Sprayberry is always on the hunt for new stories. Inspiration strikes at the weirdest times and drives her to grab notebook and pen to jot down ideas. Those close to her swear nothing or no one is safe if she’s smiling gently in a corner and watching those in the same room interact. Her observations have often given her ideas for her next story, set not only in the South but wherever the characters demand they settle.


Find out more about my books at these social media sites:




Thursday, May 30, 2019

History lives in old Cheyenne



A streamline moderne fountain in front of Cheyenne's
old regional airport was dedicated to early aviation.
"Wild Bill" Hickock married Agnes Thatcher Lake here in 1876, a couple of months before he rode up to Deadwood and got shot from behind while playing poker.

Wyoming’s first female Justice of the Peace and women’s suffrage leader, Esther Hobart Morris, used to live downtown on Warren Avenue. Restored and in good condition, the Morris House now holds a pizzeria.

Holliday Park hosted actors Steve McQueen and Ali McGraw’s wedding when McQueen was in town filming the movie “Tom Horn,” yet another character from the pages of Cheyenne's story.

If you visit or if you live here, there are many landmarks and historical sites to enjoy, including a lofty streamline moderne-style (inspired by aerodynamic design) fountain in front of the old regional airport.

Constructed in 1934, it honors early aviation history and pioneers of flight.
Charles Lindbergh, “Lucky Lindy,” was one of the honorees. He flew into Cheyenne during his Guggenheim tour in 1927, landing "Spirit of St. Louis" at the local airmail field.

Another honoree, Amelia Earhart, flew into Cheyenne on June 2, 1931 and departedJune 4, creating quite an attraction for the locals.

The fountain has fascinated me since I was a kid. I always wondered who built it and why it was eventually abandoned, leaving puddles of rainwater where once silver liquid splashed across blue tiles.



Raised carvings featuring passenger aircraft jetting through mounds of cumulus clouds are etched into the stone, reflecting true artisan skill. At the top and the bottom of the tall column spire, lights once twinkled in the evening's gathering darkness.

Brutal Wyoming weather has eaten away the fountain’s former glory. It’s sad, really. Somewhere back in time, the City of Cheyenne forgot to maintain the old girl, and she has lost her shine.

Now it will cost a small fortune to restore the fountain. Fortunately, Cheyenne’s Historic Preservation Board is spearheading the effort to gather the funds. I support their goal to preserve the city’s past and look forward to the fountain coming back to life.

What special sites or monuments fascinate you?

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Wanted: Functional brain

I have often longed for a brain that remembered everything. It would be nice not to have a constant need to write notes to myself.

Doctors, dentists and other businesses must realize they deal with memory-challenged patients and customers like me. I love when they e-mail messages and text reminders.

Whoever thought of doing that is a genius!

Unfortunately, my brain often doesn't comply. It likes going rogue.

It's not as simple as walking into a room and forgetting what I went in there for. Or staring blankly at my paper strewn desk and wondering what the heck I need to finish next.

For example. I recently had two appointments in one week. Dutiful office assistants had sent my e-mail reminders. The appointments were duly noted in my paper brain. Yes, I still live and breath by my Daytimer calendar. Don't judge me.

Everything was perfect. Right?

Wrong.

Things went haywire when I arrived at my dentist appointment and discovered, much to my embarrassment, that I wasn't scheduled for two more days.

Trying to fix my royal mess, I called my eye clinic to fess up. Of course, they wondered where I was. My brain had taken a train to I-don't-know-what-I'm-doing land.

Shazbot! (Anyone who knows what that word means is familiar with 1970s TV because it's a swear word Robin Williams' character used on the old sitcom, "Mork & Mindy."

Have you ever wanted a new brain?

Maybe I should look for one on the planet Ork. (Mork & Mindy again.)

Sunday, May 5, 2019

The art of doing nothing

Even something as simple as blowing bubbles can make us happy.
The Dutch call it "Niksen."

The word means, "doing nothing." It's the art of not meditating, not eating healthy or being actively mindful. It's just being idle.

I think we can all do that. But would it make us happy?

I've been sad and I've been happy. I much prefer happy. The best way I know to stay upbeat and positive is to constantly have something to do.

My mind races as I think of things in my life that need my busy hands and mind to stay engaged. From spending time with my grandchildren to cleaning my house to delving into new crafts, gardening, reading, writing or walking--I can think of a million things to stay occupied. I even get a handyman newsletter so I can handle simple homecare.

Remember the old saying, "Idleness is the Devil's workshop." The Devil can just stay away from me.

Then there are the things that I don't plan to do, that unexpected circumstances force me to do. Take, for example, what happened to me today. I knew I needed to write and I set aside time this afternoon to work in my office.

Hands held above my keyboard with every intention of hammering out a chapter, I heard a "thump, thump." Behold, a baby rabbit had fallen into the window well. Poor little thing. I couldn't leave it there. It would starve!

Little Bunny Foo Foo is hiding in the top right corner.


Wearing heavy work gloves and carrying a box, I went outside. I climbed down into the claustrophobic space, scooped out the happy hopper and set it loose. Off it ran, free to roam the yard as my hosta plants ripen.

Just in time to become salad for a bunny feast.

I don't care. Rescuing the bunny made me happy.

What makes you happy?


Wednesday, April 24, 2019

What do writers need in order to write?


From left, authors Mary Gillgannon, Amanda Cabot and I
 visit with readers during a Barnes & Noble book signing.
In 1943, while Adolf Hitler was waging his reign of terror, Abraham Maslow was developing his theories on mental health and human potential. If Maslow had done research on someone with a disturbed psychology, perhaps he might have chosen Hitler. Instead, Maslow chose to study healthy, well-adapted individuals.

Because of his research, we now have a diagram called “Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.” The bottom of the pyramid represents basic needs of survival, while the top levels represent what we need to personally flourish.

Maslow’s theory suggests that once people have met the basic needs of shelter, food, etc., they typically branch out to connect with others, then begin to achieve and accomplish in different areas. Now maybe this is a stretch, and I don’t have any fancy-schmancy college degrees that lend any credence to my meanderings, but I decided maybe I could translate those five levels of growth progression into what we need to grow as writers. 
A WRITER'S HEIRARCHY OF NEEDS

PHYSIOLOGICAL NEEDS


Maslow said that for people to survive, they must have basic needs met such as having access to food, water, sleep and air. 

For writers to survive, we first need something to write with; paper and pencil, typewriter, computer--that sort of thing. We need the basic tools to record our stories. Without these, we are dead in the water because our characters and plots will stay stuck in our heads forever, driving us crazy rather than (hopefully) entertaining the masses.  


Next Maslow said people need safety, security and shelter to survive. 

Let's see...for a writer, at least at the beginning of our careers, before we start earning the big bucks, that would mean we need a day job to enable us to buy food and clothes, to maintain our homes and cars and to afford health insurance. Or that would mean maybe we are retired and have a steady pension that takes care of necessities. Or we may possibly have a significant other who provides financial stability so we can concentrate on building a writing career. Here's another possibility, and this is the most exciting to think about, maybe we inherited wealth or won the lottery, making us independently wealthy and enabling us to pursue writing without financial concerns. You get the idea. I think I also want to add that a writer needs a dedicated area to write in, such as a desk in the corner of the family room, a place at the kitchen table or maybe even our own office where we can focus on creating.


Maslow said social needs aren't as necessary as the physiological and security needs. However, once the first two needs are fulfilled, people begin to reach out for friendship, companionship and acceptance. 

For writers, I would say that at this stage we begin to connect through social networking sites dedicated to writing or we begin to join writers groups and attend meetings, attend writers conferences and possibly join critique groups so we can receive feedback, recognition and acceptance as recorders of the written word. We crave being with other writers, to feel the special energy that wordsmiths create and to hold discussions using the unique language known only by other authors.


Once the first three needs are satisfied, Maslow found that people needed to validate themselves by building their self-esteem.

For writers, at this point, we may feel confident enough in our writing that we begin to submit our work to writers’ contests where we will hopefully receive enough positive feedback to improve our scores, enabling us to eventually place in a contest or possibly even win. At this point, writers are probably confident enough to submit their work, weathering the rejections (albeit difficult), until eventually pieces begin to sell. Then, hallelujah, we begin to receive recognition for our contributions to the literary world.


At the top tier of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, this level happens when people are self-aware, concerned with personal growth, less concerned with the opinions of others and interested in fulfilling their potential. 

For writers, this is where the rubber really hits the road and we begin to spread our wings. We write to please our own muses, not someone else's muse. We challenge the boundaries of our imaginations; we take on more difficult plots and our characters become deeper. We have found our voices, and we are comfortable with our writing skills and what we know about the craft. This is where our writing seems to take on a life of its own. By the time we've reached the fifth level, we are only limited by our own imaginations. We strap on wings and let our writing soar. If we keep our gazes glued to the finish line, we have nowhere to go but up.

What do you need in order to write and why?