Sunday, February 10, 2008

Pot Pourri for a Sunday: Writing, Hand Cuffs, Paintings, and Petroglyphs

Today the sun was out, nary a cloud in the sky and wild mustard is in bloom among the vineyards. Ahhh, Spring Fever - catch it!

I grew up with blizzards and ice storms in the midwest, so I appreciate living in a Mediterranean climate no longer shoveling snow or suffering from frigid temperatures.

I shall stop rubbing it in for those still enduring the evil grip of Winter.

Here are blog posts from a few of my friends that I think might be of interest to others.

Erika Mailman will be teaching a twelve week course on novel writing through Media Bistro. These classes are open to anyone who has access to the internet. She once had a student from Sweden, so all you have to do is be flexible with your own schedule to work out the once weekly "chat" with other students. She discusses exactly what time of day or night that would be depending on your time zone here.

Erika's bio on the Media Bistro site is not current as of today. Instead she has two published novels rather than two forthcoming novels. They are A Witch's Trinity and A Woman of Ill Fame. The bio mentions a book named Hexe, but the title was changed before publication to A Witch's Trinity.

Here is one testimonial:
As a writer who had struggled for years with an ungainly novel, I approached 'The 12-Week Novelist' with equal parts skepticism and hope. Erika's example, encouragement, acuity and good humor inspired every writer in our class and helped to keep us focused on our goal. At the end of 12 weeks I had a finished draft and a road map for revision. Time and money well spent. -- Bradley Owens

That sounds like the Erika I know. If you have been struggling with a concept for a novel, but are unsure how to make all the disparate pieces work together - this might be what you have been looking for.

On another writing note, Lee Lofland started a blog.

I had been nudging him to do that for the better part of a year now. He has had a website, written columns for the Mystery Writers of America and Sisters in Crime, and periodically made guest posts on others' blogs, but now he has finally entered the blogosphere in his own right.


Lee is a retired police officer with a wide-range of experience in law enforcement. I do not write genre mysteries, but I enjoy his posts because Lee takes our media-induced familiarity with police procedures and shows how they are based on wrong assumptions. He does this with style and humor.

From handcuffs to gunshot wounds to a discussion of how Miranda rights are really given to suspects, Lee's insights are given in an engaging style.

On Friday his post was about what life is like in a holding cell:

Close your eyes and imagine you’re in the filthiest public restroom you’ve ever visited. Take a deep breath while conjuring up a stench that lingers in places only roaches and vermin dare to trod. Combine those odors with the scent of dirty sweat socks, tee-shirts and underwear, cooked popcorn, urine, and steaming chicken-flavored Top Ramen noodles.

Picture living or working where every breath is similar to what I’ve described above. Never a single mouthful of fresh air. Could you drink water from a sink that was used to wash the feet of a man who just finished working on a roadside work gang for eight hours in ninety-degree heat - a sink positioned two feet above a toilet that’s used several times a day by three people, but is only capable of being flushed twice in eight hours?

Mmmmm. Nice huh?

His comment trail is worth watching as well. After I posted my response to that imagery, Lee went on to explain why the toilets are flushed so infrequently. It is because toilets can be used as "telephones" and as delivery devices between cells.

I had no knowledge of such things, but now would like to see it incorporated in some drama somewhere.

Lee was interviewed recently about his years as in law enforcement, his writing, and his ancestor Dr. John Lofland who was a personal friend of Edgar Allen Poe.

From Poe to painting: Ari Siletz highlighted the works by Iranian artist Iman Maleki.

Siletz shows examples of Maleki's paintings that are so rich in detail they appear to be photographs.

Near the bottom of his post is Maleki’s “Achaemenid Soldier” which Siletz describes in this manner:

The diligent research into Achaemenid weaponry and military uniform is admirable. Architectural grandeur is appropriately understated, yet breathtaking. Hollywood should occasionally hire this artist as a set consultant.
Siletz then compares this painting to Jacques-Louis David’s “Oath of the Horati." Stylistically, it is a good comparison.

Now to go from paintings to petroglyphs - Cindy Pavlinac is doing her own travelogue of a cross country road trip she made from Marin County, California to Michigan. Her latest installment depicts petroglyphs in Utah.

Cindy is the photographer who took my author photos that grace this blog as you can see by the credit line. If you have some time, please check out her blog and her website to see incredible photography of petroglyphs, cathedrals, sacred sites, and labyrinths.

I hope to post some more about my travels soon.

Be well everyone. I will be volunteering once again at the San Francisco Writers Conference held this coming weekend. Should you be there, look for me and say "hello."


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