Category Archives: animals

Adding light, revising novel

I’m adding light and shadow to appliqued hawk. Made her head lighter and used white poly for beak to make it pop. A scrap of fabric practically fell out of the basket and felt like a minor show of Providence.

Jude had the idea over on Instagram to darken some of the ripples around the hawk’s head. Since I like the way it adds a sense of motion, I may continue around the body as long as I have that color thread. It’ll look good flowing off the wings.

Had some gross polyester swirled with black in that basket, too. Added to tail and wings for more contrast. Light. Maybe you can see a difference with earlier incarnation, maybe not (below).

It’s nice to have company.

In the meantime, I finally talked to my paid manuscript consultant yesterday. Round three coming up. I know I’ve said this before but it bears repeating, perhaps even shouting off the rooftops: SHE LOVES MY BOOK.

I think people forget how solitary a process writing is.

House names should not be italicized. If I’m gonna talk about the elder Middletons toward the end, they need to be introduced earlier. Still sags here and there — needs tightening. Not so many descriptions of clouds, perhaps. Maybe not so much about Melody’s first owner. Explain what head rights are and how to memorialize land in Author’s Note, which starts like this:

When I began this novel, Trayvon Martin was alive and as I finished the second edit, George Floyd was dead.

The suggestion that I add an epilogue (say in 1758 after Eliza and Charles Pinckney return from a five year stay in England), will take a little more thought. That’s fourteen years after my original end. Lots of years I haven’t thought about all that much.

A six year time frame (1738 to 1744) allowed a laser-like focus. Etiquette in 1720? I don’t care! Rice markets in 1750? Also don’t care. Now I need to care. I’ll start with Eliza’s letters.

A walk with temps in the 40’s was cause for celebration this week. Daffodils shoving aside leaf debris. Snow shrugging off the curbs. It won’t be long now ’til the miracle of hyacinths.

In the meantime I am trying to answer the question (Acey’s): how do you hold your heart? Or maybe just asking it. Softly.

The collage challenge with Paris Collage Collective continues. This week: Shirley Chisholm.

More to come. I want to cut up seed catalogues and wreathe her head with flowers. In the collage above, the headstone of Harriett Jacobs served as reference to the long history of oppression, Jacobs being another Black woman who overcame so much.

The Black Stallion — fan fic

It sinks, the ship. Engines failed. First, the ominous thudding. Casual concern. Benign stories shared. Oh, it’s just this. It’s probably that.

But then the cataclysmic cracking tore through the boiler room. Panic. Fire. The Arabian stallion breaks loose. The father loses sight of the son. He, the son, has gone overboard. He paddles on, the boy, in darkness and fear, eventually washes ashore in a fugue and near death. Asleep in the foam.

Stallion keeps head above water, too, emerges onto the same beach, regal but weary and spooked. He is tangled in ropes.

A new day. Shock filled with sun and water. A briny renewal. Boy releases horse from the tangle. It is the first of many salvations.

They play tag, the horse and the boy. Hide n’ seek. But two lone souls marooned together eventually find each other. Need each other. Or at least, they did. Found and needed each other.

They don’t know where they are, but then do any of us, really? In fact, they are blessed. For without society’s distractions, empty duties, hollow misses of relationships and the debris they leave behind, these two can dwell in essence. It is a boy and a stallion on a beach. The boy knows his father is gone. The stallion knows he is, for a time, free. After one sideways approach after another, sniffing and stalling, and with strategic use of the sea itself, for no way the boy stands tall enough to mount the horse otherwise — the boy finally finds horse’s back. The stallion allows.

Hang on!

It is a paradise of sorts. Sunshine raining down on hungry freedom. Shushurring ocean lullaby. A spangle of stars in lieu of thought. Curling, approaching, retreating foam takes the place of memory. What life? What family?

What else does a boy or a horse need?

But they are found and being found, forced into vests and pants with zippers or into gated stalls and bridles. Value recognized instantly when it came to the four legged – there is no hiding his majesty, a form bred for speed, manifest in beauty – but the brilliance now residing in the boy goes at first unnoticed.

He, the boy, sleeps in the backyard. The walls and ceiling are too close. His mother worries and tries not to take it personally, and fails. She sniffs his sheets — is it something she’s done? Omitted? She makes macaroni and cheese more often.

Fortunately for horse and boy, and mother, too, a mensch at the stables puts two and two together. Putting two and two together in this instance means putting horse and boy together. Together, again. He, the trainer, knows horses and in knowing horses, has insight into people as well – especially people who bond with horses (or is people with whom horses bond?) Never mind, he sees the boy’s brilliance immediately and knows the boy needs the horse. Shows him the mechanics of saddle and reins. The uses of speed.

The story unfolds in neighborhoods where houses with sweet porches line the street and on the race track. A rowdy, dusty, clamor of speed and anticipation. Triumph but also accommodation. Races are won, relationships built to last.

A disaster. A companion. A mensch. What looked horrible turned inside out by providence or destiny or something unnameable but big. Maybe it was just the taste of elemental freedom that changed the course of a life. After all, how many of us experience liquid grace and cross-species communion as salvation? And how many of us will be saved a second time by someone who sees us for who we’ve become?

* * *

If you google The Black Stallion, you’ll find any number of trailers.

Sunday in pix

Someone likes my heating pad. And no wonder, temps have dropped here. I get to wear my Deb Lacativa scarf for our walk around the lake this morning.

Yesterday: gourd-shopping and mouse revival. Watched Borat II.

I’ve shortened her arms (pipe cleaners cut with wire cutters) and given her an orange scarf (pix coming).

My brother will be transported back to Los Angeles either on Friday or Monday. With California covid19 cases spiking into the 6,000’s, it’ll be a while before we venture West, but it will be so much better for him to be closer to home. The light. And once he gets home: his dogs.

Single digits, folks! Nine days until the election.

A lot of wind

Muggy air continues. Gusty wind all day and in the last hour, rain.

Finished this. A little press will tidy the edges a bit. The fabric for the moons was dyed with indigo in South Carolina. The woven sections came after a class with Jude. I just couldn’t stop making woven rectangles for a while. The crab was stitched down a lot of years ago. It’s good to finish things, isn’t it?

But mostly, I’ve been editing. Received written comments from my editor on the last section of novel yesterday and spoke with her today.

I’ve known all along that the last bit drags. How to fix? Invent a crisis? Shorten the timeline?

I’m going with the recommendation (long-considered) of skipping a batch of years. It’s gonna help so much!

In the meantime, I need to start submitting chapters here and there with the hopes of getting part of the novel in print. It helps you get published.

The following two photos come from a tiny book called, The Art of Seeing. They were the prompts in the writing session this morning.

I’m upstairs. The book is downstairs. I’ll provide photographer’s names after dinner.

They were effective prompts.

Dark and rainy Sunday

I fled to the basement. Power sanders, power saws, and illegal gas-powered leaf blowers were insufficiently blocked by my special head phones.

But then I had fun. I actually forgot what it’s like to get lost down there. Put together one collage — it speaks to memory and Saharan dust (even if those are Asian elephants. Are they Asian elephants?) — and added to an old crab quilt. The addition of indigo dyed moons will, I think, make it gift worthy.

Thank you for all your kind sentiments yesterday. K is writing an obituary and cleaning out the gutters and switching out the water in the fish tank and marking out the circle for our new patio. Acting like his Dad, in other words. His father cleaned the gutters well into his 80’s.