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Monday, August 21, 2017

Magnolia

21 AUG 17
Not a long post today. Just a few pictures of a Magnolia blossom. One might end up as a book cover someday.






Saturday, August 5, 2017

Photos - Black and White

05 AUG 17 Happy Saturday to all! Here are a few pictures I took recently that came out all right, at least in my opinion. :) This set was taken this summer, in a backyard up in the Northern Midwest. Just a bunch of old cars, usually covered in snow during the winter. More can be found over at DeviantArt, just search for Montellano or click on the link below: 

Montellano's artwork on DeviantArt

Here is a tail light from an old old car. So simple when compared to today's vehicles!


Some stuff just looks better in black and white.




I have no idea why there are two gas pumps in the backyard, but it reminded me
of old times with my dad at a gas station when I was a kid.

 The focus on this picture is over to the right, on the steering wheel. If I get some more time to play with the original, I may leave color through the windshield to highlight the tree growing there.



This poor car has most of the front end off at an angle!

To finish off this set, a picture of color. One of the flowers growing around the old cars. A bright pop of light purple.

Hope you enjoyed the pictures, wherever in the world you are. 

Writing: I hope to do some more writing today as well. The story about the Ice Pirates has been read by two wonderful people, and I have incorporated feedback from one of them, going to look at the other's comments and hopefully throw a final edit on it tomorrow and call it done. It will probably top out just at 10K. There was a recent call for stories with pirates and or thieves in them that I could have submit the story to (Thanks Dave for finding that!), but it turned out I had to be an Aussie to submit (I've been there, does that count?) and the story length was capped at 5K. So no luck! Will keep looking though.


Saturday, July 29, 2017

Beale Street

28 July 17

My first visit to Memphis, specifically Beale Street, was short and sweet, only two hours. In that time I took a few pictures and ate some good gumbo. Hope you enjoy a little picture stroll down the very photogenic Beale Street.
Overview of Beale Street
This first shot is an overview of Beale street, with a neon sign proudly proclaiming the name of the street. I like to take a lot of detail shots, so I took this one to make sure I grabbed an overall sense of the atmosphere. It was raining on and off, not really a lot of tourists that day, though we saw a few groups here and there. There is a bar with goats over on the left. The front of the building is being held up by those steel beams. I really want to know what happened there! 





 

 


 

I took a few shots of the historical markers around the street. There were more, but these are the ones that caught my eye in the short time we were there. I did not know that Grant had a Civil War headquarters right here. I look forward to finding other markers and learning more of the past here.



Black and white of the street light outside of BB King's.
This shot will be a book cover someday. I like the color on the right and the feel of the wood grain floor.


 

These next pictures are in and around BB King's Blues Club Memphis. The traffic light right outside was plastered with stickers, looked pretty cool. The tables inside were painted with music legends such as Booker T. and Elvis. A musician was warming up onstage while we ate. The gumbo ya ya was great!


 These last pictures are in and around Beale Street. Nothing in particular, just stuff that caught my interest.
Memphis Music Hall of Fame. Didn't have a
chance to go in on this trip.
 

 

Love Me Tender! lol
The famous Orpheum


Saturday, July 22, 2017

Ice Pirates III

22 July 17 Draft Finished!

I'm putting the Ice Pirates story off to the side for a week or two, letting it marinate and see how it ages. It's a good first draft, just over 8,000 words. Finished in a marathon late-night session a few days ago. I had a sudden burst of 'Let's get this done!' 

I've sent the draft out to a few Beta readers to get some feedback, including my wife, though the genre is not her style. I really appreciate her input. Also had a good review session on Skype with one of the readers from the Creative Writers Facebook group. 

When I pick the story up again and apply any edits the final draft will probably be somewhere between 9-10K. Too big for the original outlet I was going to send it to, so I'll see about farming it out to other publishers. Might even make this my first Kindle Direct novel. 

Although I don't write with a certain mood or influence in mind, upon reflection, I hope the piece has a Fifth Element feel to it: some adventure, some comedy (in this case through the character Cheeks), some wow factor in there too. I look forward to writing some more stories involving Sea Dog, Cheeks, Winder, and Captain Connor as well. Got a good little crew there. I thought I would have more fun writing the pirates but it turned out I enjoyed the regular sailors more. Well, regular is a relative term in this case. :)

For those aspiring writers out there, steps to remember when writing: 
1. Write a complete first draft. This step is the hardest sometimes!
2. Give your story to a few readers to look over. Whether you have an editor or just some good friends, every writer misses something.
3. Put your writing aside for a few days. This can be done over the same time input from your readers is coming in. This gives your brain some time to subconsciously work on your story.
4. Review any inputs from your readers and then read your story again. Read with a fresh set of eyes and those inputs from your readers.
5. Incorporate any changes or inputs that you agree with from your readers and any new ideas you have. Notice I didn't say just add in any inputs from your readers. It's your story! You're the final say on what goes in there.


Time to take a little break from writing and get back to my day job. Going to see what inspiration hits me after that. Good luck to all the writers out there! Maybe I'll do a little drawing next. My daughters like to draw, they inspire me to do some doodling again. They are both better than I am, by the way. 

Good luck to all, happy creating!

Picture for today: Santa Pirate!




Sunday, July 16, 2017

Ice Pirates Part II

16 July 17: So I've continued to work on my Ice Pirates story over the last week or two. It's coming along well, almost 6,000 words with about 1,000-2,000 remaining to write. I still have some work to do improving conversations, crystallizing visuals, and tightening the plot twists, but I am happy with the direction it is going in. I've never written a pirate story before! Barring any unforeseen issues, this story will be part of the Seasons Anthology collection from Wolfsinger Press sometime in the future. 

Below is the first three hundred words or so, to give you a taste. Tell me what you think in the comments! 

**********
Demons on the High Seas [working title]

“Contact,” the spotter up in the Crow’s Nest shouted to the sailors down below. “Horizon off to port, amidships!”

The first mate, a tall, tattooed, hardened hand by the name of Sea Dog Sam, yelled back a sharp “Heard!” to the sailor up in the basket on the main mast and headed toward the front end of the ship. He climbed the few steps to the fo’c’sle, the small raised deck at the bow of the ship where the captain of the ship was watching the waves.

It was cold this slow morning on the high seas, a Nor’Wester bringing a wintry wind with a chance of rain as the ship made the months-long ocean voyage to the New Lands. “Cap’n Connor.” Sam raised his voice to be heard over the biting air and salt water spray. “Cap’n.” He handed the master of the ship a hot bowl of porridge. “Compliments of the chef. There’s the usual complaints from the passengers and crew, nothing new from below decks. Spotter reports a ship on the horizon, amidships off to port.”

The captain nodded his thanks. This was their first run together, but they were meshing well since pulling out of port, with Sea Dog a fitting replacement into the crucial role of first mate.

Placing his breakfast on the railing, the captain uncovered his scrying stone. “Best take a look before I dine. Not expecting any company on our crossing.” Raising the clear crystal up, the captain scanned the northern horizon. “Ice Pirates!” he yelled, even before putting the precious gemstone away. “Damn and double damn, Sea Dog!” Captain Connor turned around and roared, “Helmsman! Hard to starboard! Bos’n! Run full sail south! Winder, get to blowing! All hands heave to! Look lively boys!” His steaming porridge went over the side as the ship turned, the small splash lost in the instant commotion from the crew of the ship named Breaker.


*************

For this blog entry, the picture below is what comes to my mind when someone says they have angry thoughts. Their head is ablaze with anger. They see red. I'm not sure if that is what the artist was thinking of when he or she created this piece, it is darker than a piece centered around anger should look like in my opinion. But it is rather evocative.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Ice Pirates

03 July 17: I'm working on a pirate story this week. It's set to either go into an anthology later this year or be my first solo publishing attempt. 

Part of the behind the scenes writing stuff I want to share today is character creation. But first a little bit about how I write. My stories are organic. What I mean by that is I don't start out with what story I want to write, but instead I let it develop from an idea and I go from there. 

For this story I started with a prompt from the Fantasy Writers group on Facebook, who has released anthologies in the past and has produced some good writers already. The prompt was demons and winter. Well, I have already written a winter tale for a seasonal anthology, no demons in it though. So I had an idea for a story about the Ice Pirates, a group in my world I am building who live in the North and come down to hunt sometimes. No, not Vikings, but yeah, something like that. In winter. 

So the kernel of my idea was based on some writing I did a few days ago, about how assassins traveled to the New Lands, smuggled as fabric and furniture aboard ships. I started writing about a ship, making the long voyage across the ocean and they get attacked by pirates!



But wait, that doesn't happen yet. It's still a nice sea voyage.



Then the Ice Pirates attack! And there's an obnoxious passenger, who was promised the ship would not encounter any pirates. 
I can't forget the demons though, from the prompt. 
There may be a little Princess Bride influence there as well.






Okay, back to character creation. I needed a strong captain and an even stronger first mate. The captain was easy, had loads of captains in my military career. He's good. But the first mate was a little harder. I tried to give him a good name. Sea Dog Sam. Don't ask who I based him on, he's a mix of this fellow and that. From there he blossomed into a guy who might have been an Ice Pirate on previous voyages. From there he became an integral part of the plot once I brought along the demons. And then there's Cheeks, the ship's load master, and a few other sailors. Right now I am still working on the demons themselves. Nasty bunch they are, real evil. I think the Ice Pirates might be the good guys in the story after all.  


EDIT: Favorite line written recently for this story: 

Over the next few hours the crew of the Breaker ran her as fast as she could go, leaving mists behind them like ink squirting from a squid. 

Any favorite lines from anyone else writing?
Happy Writing to my writers out there and Happy Reading to everyone! 


Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Happy 4th of July!

04 July 17: Nothing really new to post today. I have one post in draft mode, but it will wait for a few more days. It's about Pirates!

But today is all about spending time with the family and enjoying our nation's birthday. My family has spent many years defending freedom around the globe, from my grandfather Salas' service in the Army, to my Cousin Ian (Army) and my uncles on my stepfather's side (Marines), as well as my own time in the Navy and my wife's even longer service in the Air Force. Soon, if the waves and winds are right, my son will be joining the World's Finest Navy here in a few months. 

So, from my family to yours, Happy Independence Day!