Survival Monday: How to Prepare for and Deal with Flooding– and some empathy needed

A particularly apt post given what’s happening in Southeast Texas. Even if you don’t live there, are you prepared? If you watch what’s unfolding, you will see that the vast majority of people weren’t ready. The preparations for a flood are very similar to the preparations for any natural disaster. As is being reported, what is happening in Texas is unprecedented. We must all be ready for more of the same in various ways. I cannot stress enough the need to make basic preparations!

Our house flooded in Boulder, Colorado, where we lived on top of a ridgeline, miles from the nearest creek. It started raining so fast and hard, the water table simply rose up into the house. Floods can happen anywhere!

All that having been said, let’s also have some empathy for those whose lives have been uprooted by this disaster. I know there are people who simply can’t afford to “be prepared”. One reason I give away the condensed version of my two survival books for free. There are people who can’t afford nor have the means to evacuate. They don’t own a car. They don’t have credit cards. They can’t afford a motel room. All they have has now been lost. We’re all not the same, but one thing we all are is Americans. We need to stand together.

To donate to the Red Cross to help victims, go HERE. Otherwise, search on line and find your own way to help, if you want to be more specific. But now is a time for us to unite as one.

Cool Gus says: No Great Wall can stop a Great Dog.

A long time ago, far away, some people built a Great Wall. Dogs solved the problem by getting invited through by those same people

It’s the way dogs solve most problems. By getting along.

After all, dogs used to be wolves. Until one very, very smart wolf, decided to be the first dog.

Things have been better ever since. But there’s still that Big Wall.

Writing Wednesday: Point of View

I believe that for most writers, the way not to get read/sell your book is:

1. Don’t have a good idea.

2. Don’t translate good idea into a good story with interesting characters.

3. Point of view.

Point of view is your voice as a writer. There are writers who have such a good point of view, they can write about pretty much anything and people would want to read it.

It also one of the most difficult topics to teach. I hope this slideshare helps a little bit.

We have one slot left for our Writing At Scenic Workshop on 23-24 September. We’ll do a 20% discount if you mention this blog post!

Talk Tuesday: What Is Your Dream Place To Live? House Hunters?

My wife looked at me the other day and said “A boy from the Bronx shouldn’t end up in this house.” The one to the right we’re currently renting.

To the left is the view of the Intracoastal from a house we rented years ago. I started counting how many places I’ve lived one day and it go confusing. Not just in locales, but also in various apartments, houses in the same locale. The Army can do that to you. But even after the Army, my wife and I have this bug where after 3 years we’re ready to move. She was an Army brat, born in Ft Leonard Wood, spent time in Berlin (was there for Kennedy’s speech), school in Monterey at Ft Ord, etc etc. After West Point, I lived a number of places. Also, in Special Forces, we traveled a lot– my first year in Group I was gone around 340 days. When you’re deployed for six months or so, that’s kind of living somewhere. But none of those places are ones I’d want to go back to.

We like watching those house hunters shows. Not only because they show you interesting places– we were watching Bordeaux, France yesterday– but you can tell a lot by the couple right away. No need for long therapy sessions.  You can see the relationship right there. You can tell who makes the decision. Who is willing to compromise what they want, etc. etc.

I know there are people who are living in the same place they were born. I was talking to an older lady down the street the other day and she told me her grand-daughter was going to the same elementary school she did. I was born in the Bronx and was out of there when I was 17 and don’t have much desire to go back. Living in Manhattan would be different, but way too busy for me now.

As a writer, I’ve been extremely fortunate in being able to live wherever. I could complain and say when you can choose anywhere, it’s hard, but that, as Cool Gus would say, is whiny. I can’t say I’ve lived any place I didn’t like, although Ft Bragg isn’t a tourist destination.

So where would you like to live? No practical concerns like job or cost, just being able to live there?

Writing Wednesday: Plot III. Narrative Structure

There is a template for story. Actually, there are many. I give one example here. Do you have to follow it? No. Should you understand it as a craftsperson writer? Yes.

Remember, we can only break rules if we know them first. The trend that I’m seeing, is less and less emphasis on a narrative, linear flow to story. But we have to remember the reader who has been programmed for story a certain way.

Cool Gus Says: 12 Years In History

These are times, places, people, etc that Cool Gus finds interesting. He hopes you do too!

We’ll have one every Saturday. Also, in the future, Cool Gus will start telling his own stories, but more on that later.

Cool Gus says history is pretty cool. Not as cool as bacon. Or chasing a ball. Or a nap. Or bacon. But still . . .

Talk Tuesday: What Book Cover Really Stands Out In Your Memory?

I saw this cover in the New York Public Library one day while meandering. I spent a lot of my childhood in the library. For some reason it called out to me. I pulled it off the shelf and was immediately sucked in:  In a hole in the ground lived a Hobbit. It’s pretty amazing that this Tolkein guy managed to compress three movies into one book!

I was thrilled when I saw there were three more books!

Another book cover that comes to mind is Hyperion. I was in Davis-Kidd in Nashville, meandering, and saw this mass market paperback. Something about it– the creature I learned was the Shrike– the imagery. I made an impulse buy and have since read all the books in the Dan Simmons’ series. So many great ideas in the Hyperion universe. I also like the story of how Dan Simmons was “discovered” by Harlan Ellison at a workshop.

I saw an announcement last year where Syfy is making Hyperion into a mini-series but have heard nothing more. I’d say with the success of The Expanse and the ability of CGI now, it should be a lock.

What book cover stands out for you?

Cool Gus says: Why did people move those big stones and put them in a circle at Stonehenge?

People do the strangest things. Dogs tend to just watch and sigh, and then take a nap.

Gus often naps near my desk while I work.

Cool Gus could understand moving those stones if bacon was the reward. Piece of cake. Well, wait. Cake?

But otherwise? Why did they do that?

Since Cool Gus is an English Labrador (with the big head full of big thoughts) he’s heard some Dog Tails about why humans moved those stones.

Here are some: