…about Adventures with Aesop: A Cat Fable.

Cute kittie

I have lots of writerly friends on Facebook. And Twitter. And most of them have pets.

At my age, it’s all I can do to take care of hubby and me, so we haven’t had a pet for a number of years. But when the sons were growing up, we had more than our share of cats, dogs, guinea pigs, hamsters, gerbils, frogs, turtles, squirrels, and snakes.

Nowadays, I can admire cute puppies and kitties…from a distance…without suffering an inordinate desire to have one in my home. Others keep telling me how wonderful it would be if I’d just go ahead and get a pet. But…um…no. Been there, done that. I have other fish to fry these days.

But…one day, I don’t know what got into me, but I dreamed up a scenario of getting a cat, and I posted the scenario on Facebook, complete with photos. My friends and I got some chuckles from it, and some other friends suggested that I should make a video trailer of it.

So, without further ado, here’s “Adventures with Aesop: A Cat Fable”:

 

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…about flash fiction.

After I wrote the rough draft of my first novel, I joined several online forums for writers. I’d read that writers needed feedback to help polish their work, and the forums’ critique groups would perform that function.

One forum, now defunct, had a weekly word prompt writing challenge. The requirement? The story had to be flash fiction, i.e., 500 words or fewer. And sometimes, certain odd words had to be included. I paid little attention to it at first, but decided one day to participate. It would be easy to write a tiny story of no more than 500 words since I’d just completed a novel of 67,000 words, right?

Wrong.

I discovered that writing a novel, with word count boundaries stretching to the horizon, was quite different than telling a story within the confined limits of flash fiction.

I struggled. I cut. I rearranged. Then I added, because the story had lost its arc and its cohesiveness. Then I had to cut again. And finally, I had me a piece of flash fiction to submit. Whew!

I continued participating each week, and as I did, I noticed something peculiar. The sprawling, wordy sentences in my novel didn’t look so lovely anymore. Matter of fact, they seemed positively bloated. And so I went to work on them, cutting out the deadwood and polishing what was left. And in the process, the story deepened, the imagery became more concise, more expressive of what I’d seen in my head as I’d written it.

I became a flash fiction aficionado.

Writing flash fiction trains you to “write tight.” You learn to leave out extraneous words. You learn to judge the efficacy of what you’ve written. Does it say what you meant?

And you learn to make sure you have a story arc. It’s easy to see whether you have an arc in a story of 500 words. But in a novel? Sometimes, not so much. I’ve read long pieces, novels, in fact, that were not stories but merely a long string of episodes from a character’s life. Writing flash fiction makes you more aware of story structure.

As I observed improvement in my own writing, I also saw it in that of others participating in word prompt challenges. So nowadays, I encourage writers to take time out from their schedules to craft a flash piece from time to time.

Oh, and as I learned to tighten and tweak that first novel, eliminating all the extra verbiage, you’d think it would have shrunk considerably, right? Wrong. It started out at 67,000 words, but by the time I finished cutting, honing and polishing, it was over 90,000. But they were words that had a purpose and carried my meaning.

What about you? Have you written flash pieces? I’d like to hear about your experiences.

…about cameras.

Image © Danilevici Filip-E via Stock.xchng

I used to love photography.

My daddy and his brothers owned a studio when I was small, and one of my fondest memories was going into the darkroom and watching images appear magically when paper exposed under the enlarger was thrust into a tray of developer. And the acidic smell of developer, one I normally wouldn’t care for, still has a positive connotation from those childhood days.

I even had my own hobby darkroom for years, and loved shooting black and white photos (for some reason, I tend to “see” and frame compositions as they’ll appear in black and white when I’m shooting–I’m not so good with color compositions).

But a few years ago, I gave up photography and retired my Pentax SLR. And not long ago, I gave away all my darkroom equipment.

Why?

Because now that I’m older, my hands are not as steady as they once were, and almost every shot I made was blurry. I decided to give up and let others take care of image capturing.

And then I signed up for a blogging class.

One of the assignments was to set up a flickr account and upload our photos. Say what? I don’t have any photos. Except for those old black and whites, and they’re not digital. Plus, even if I scanned them in and they looked all right, no one would have any interest in using them. And I knew I definitely couldn’t shoot any new ones that would be worth my time or anyone else’s.

But then, one of my classmates (thanks, Pauline!) suggested that I would probably have luck with a phone camera that had steady cam. Hmm. Interesting thought.

I started researching cameras, and I found one well within my budget (Budget? Ha!). I plunked down my plastic, brought it home, and yesterday, I meandered around the Riverwalk on the Blackwater River, about a mile from my home, to try it out, and, surprise, surprise, got some decent images. (See one of them below.)

Yay, for the Sony Cyber-shot with Steady Shot capability!

Gazebo on Milton's Riverwalk, Tommie Lyn

Gazebo on Milton’s Riverwalk

So, what about you? How do you capture images? Or do you, like I’ve been doing, let others do that for you?

…about squirrels.

Image © Jeff Jones via stock.xchng

I’m a noted squirrel chaser. When there’s a task to be done, I’m easily distracted and off chasing squirrels at a moment’s notice. And today, it happened again.

My current task required some research about horses, and I wound up on YouTube watching videos of Friesian horses. I’d never seen or heard tell of these gorgeous animals, and was totally wowed by them. Ended up spending over an hour watching videos of Friesians…and not just Friesians, either. One squirrel led to another, and I was clicking on videos of Arabian horses and Gypsy stallions, you name it, I was enthralled with the beautiful animals.

You see, when I was a child, I went through a “horse crazy” stage. I read every book written by Walter Farley (the “Black Stallion” series) and Mary O’Hara (the series that started with “My Friend Flicka”), and any other book I could find about horses. And it looks like I never got over that.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PBGWooBiip0&

I’m just thankful that we didn’t have YouTube back then, I would have stayed absorbed watching videos about my favorite animals.

What about you? Do “squirrels” get in your way sometimes?