musings, thoughts, and writings of Barbara W. Klaser

November 2, 2005

Rosa Parks legacy

Rosa Parks represents what an awesome force for change even one person can be, if they have the courage. If one woman can inspire so much, imagine what we can do together. Her life might have been easier if she’d given up her seat, given in to the status quo, but she wouldn’t have been truly free. The easy way, the habitual way, “the way it’s always been done” sometimes must be broken through.

While thousands honor Rosa Parks today, BBC has posted reader tributes.

— Barbara @ rudimentary 12:17 pm PST, 11/02/05

October 25, 2005

Why continue writing fiction?

Mark Terry wrote An Open Letter to Aspiring Writers on his blog, This Writing Life. I can’t say I agree with every point he made, and there are some I don’t qualify to offer any opinion on. His post got me thinking about why we write, which I’ve explored here before, and more specifically why I continue. Especially his first point. (Read Mark’s post for his words.)

It’s probably healthiest for the aspiring writer to look at fiction writing one of two ways. 1) As an after-work side job or business that one is willing to give up on if it doesn’t pay off, or 2) as a beloved hobby to pursue in one’s spare time—after time with family, after taking care of responsibilities, and perhaps even after just goofing off. (more…)

— Barbara @ rudimentary 9:03 pm PST, 10/25/05

October 9, 2005

Breaking the rules

Writers discuss breaking the rules of writing all the time, whether it’s the rules of grammar, of writing in general, or the rules of a particular genre. One rule of thumb is to learn the rules and understand the reasons for them, to understand whether they’re widely accepted and respected rules, or merely arbitrary. Once you know them, when you choose to break a rule you at least understand the possible consequences. Some say breaking the rules of genre is necessary to reach the bestseller list. Others warn it can prevent a writer from being published at all. I suppose that depends on which rules, and how one goes about breaking them.

But rules of writing aren’t the rules I’m concerned with breaking, at the moment.

What I’m puzzling over is how many rules a sleuth can get away with breaking within the confines of a mystery. (more…)

— Barbara @ rudimentary 4:27 pm PST, 10/09/05

September 20, 2005

Thunder, lightning and blazing palm trees

Late yesterday afternoon, I read a severe weather alert about possible thunderstorms. I looked out the window, and wondered what the weather people were seeing that I wasn’t. The sky was nearly clear. Maybe half an hour to an hour later, a bright flash outside the window over my writing desk signaled the beginning of the day’s first thunderstorm. I reached up to open the blinds, and the crash came—close and deafening. That storm lasted several minutes. Then it was over. That was exciting, I thought. I relaxed back into writing.

Later in the evening the lightning and thunder started up again, rumbling in the distance for a few hours, and every now and then moving closer. First it was west of us, then east of us. Now it was on the other side again. There was very little rain, and I knew that wasn’t good. It was the same weather pattern that had ignited palm trees down the hill from us about five years ago.

After midnight, we were still awake, not because of the storm but because those are the hours we keep. We’d just turned off the television and were starting to wind down when the lightning moved in close again. Then came a blinding, deafening flash and crash, so close I let out an involuntary yelp and the dog jumped to his feet.

— Barbara @ rudimentary 3:18 pm PST, 09/20/05

September 13, 2005

A second viewpoint character

My current novel started out as a story told from a single point of view, that of a young woman named Iris Somerset, who’s a tarot reader. She gets caught up in a murder investigation, mainly because the police don’t believe she had a psychic vision of the murder. She doesn’t really blame them. She can hardly believe it herself.

The first draft seemed to go great, and I finished it quickly.

It felt a little flat to me. There was a lot more story seeping into my mind, as the original idea developed and morphed over time, than was apparent in that draft. The main problem was the limited viewpoint. After debating with myself for a while, I decided the story needed a second viewpoint character. Actually I have to admit the character himself told me this. Yeah, sounds a little crazy, huh. But this is fiction. He was coming to life, and he wanted a voice.

The character was already there. I just had to make him a viewpoint character, change some scenes that involved him so he could tell a portion of the story from his perspective, reveal some of what he knew.

It sounds so simple. (more…)

— Barbara @ rudimentary 12:39 pm PST, 09/13/05

September 4, 2005

Helping out in Katrina’s wake

I doubt I’m alone in having run the gamut of emotions this past week while the world watched as tragedy unfolded along the Gulf Coast. Sadness, horror, anger, rage, helplessness. I doubt anyone in the world who bothered to pay attention escaped most of these feelings. What I used to see as melodrama in disaster films became stark reality.

A couple of times I started posts here, and I found that just writing about it didn’t feel right. It was too much like what I saw leaders doing, or appearing to do, merely talking about the problem when action needed to be taken. And how can I really complain about them? What am I doing? I saw what was happening as horribly familiar—it reminded me of the lifeboats on the Titanic, only on a much larger scale. Suddenly class, racial, and economic distinctions stood out in relief. I found myself wondering what it meant about America when the Gulf Coast called 9-1-1 and got put on hold. (more…)

— Barbara @ rudimentary 10:42 am PST, 09/04/05

August 30, 2005

Damage from Hurricane Katrina

Comprehensive information about the hurricane and resulting devastation are available at the Wikipedia Hurricane Katrina page. I don’t know who put this page together, but it’s an impressive source of up-to-date information.

— Barbara @ rudimentary 11:06 am PST, 08/30/05

August 23, 2005

How did your dog learn all that?

Violetismycolor asked in her comment to my previous post: “How did your dog learn all that?” I think she was referring specifically to the number of words he understands, and maybe to his insistent communication with me about my cat’s behavior on one occasion. But there’s a lot involved in both, and it has to do with our overall approach in how we live with and train our pets. My answer went long, so I decided to make it a new post. (more…)

— Barbara @ rudimentary 2:17 pm PST, 08/23/05

August 17, 2005

My dog talks and he likes soup

Pics added 08-18-2005

He doesn’t speak English, but he understands quite a bit of it, mostly words related to food. He knows how we spell b-o-n-e, and one of his favorite words is soup.

His version of soup isn’t the canned or homemade variety we eat, but the stuff that results when we deglaze the pan with water after cooking plain meat, then let it cool. We eat lean cuts of meat, so it’s not full of fat, just meat flavor and water. Sometimes we add a bite or two of leftover meat. He adores it, and it’s one of the few human foods he’s allowed, because he has a touchy stomach. Actually it’s not a human food—we never eat plain weak broth, ourselves. But because we call his version “soup” every time he hears the word “soup” he hopes for some. (more…)

— Barbara @ rudimentary 5:56 pm PST, 08/17/05

August 13, 2005

Los Romeros

Several years ago, while listening to a classical music radio station at my workplace, I heard a recording I knew I had to own. I scrambled to jot down the name of the piece when it ended. As soon as the opportunity arose I bought the album. This was the era just prior to CDs. When I got the record home and listened, I read the cover carefully. I noticed a name I didn’t take as anything extraordinary at the time.

The recording was Joaquin Rodrigo’s Concierto de Aranjuez, performed by The Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields, with Neville Marriner conducting, and guitar solos by Pepe Romero.

— Barbara @ rudimentary 3:14 pm PST, 08/13/05

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