Words

Writers have a love-hate relationship with words and I am no exception. I am convinced that words have their own agenda. 

 

Words

By Candace Colt

© 2006

Glazed periwinkle blue, a clay jar sits alone on the window sill. Loosened, the cork stopper no longer shields my stash from daylight’s glare.

Single file my words escape to the floor, sidle past the sleeping cat, and bow to those who lie in repose on bits of crumpled paper.

The motley parade scrambles onto the blank page and jostles for a position like misbehaving schoolchildren; jabbing ribs, batting heads, and pulling shirts.

With self-satisfied smiles, they whisper. Take the pen, give us life, or else we die.

I take pity and write till my hand goes numb and my knuckles crack.

When the ink runs dry, they still come.

The little bastards never utter a single thank you.

Played like a fool by my own words,  I reseal the jar to quiet the others.

Almost too late, I realize their plan to exchange my life for theirs.

 

Photo from https://www.pexels.com/@lanophotography

 

My Favorite Girl Scout Badge?

The Dabbler

 

 

They retired it years ago. Did you even know they retired badges? I didn’t. Today, there are badges for things I would never have dreamed.

 

 

 

 

GEOCACHING?

 

Daisy Coding Basics Badge

 

 

COMPUTER CODING?

 

Cadette Cybersecurity Basics Badge

CYBERSECURITY?

 

AND I’M IN LOVE WITH THIS ONE!

SENIOR NOVELIST!

 

 

It makes me extremely proud of how well the Girl Scouts of the United States of America continue to empower girls to dream big.  I loved being a Brownie and a Girl Scout. Fun times and great memories.  

For the record, and full disclosure, I’m still a dabbler. Whew. It felt good to admit that. Along with my writing, I dabble in cooking (not really my strong suit unless it’s something I can throw in a crockpot!).

And rock painting. And yoga. And Tai Chi. And line dancing. And journal making. And leathercraft. And jimbe drumming.

Here are a few of my dabble-examples. 

I’d love to hear about your dabbling. Leave a comment and let’s start the discussion!

 

 

**Images of current GSA badges from https://www.girlscoutshop.com/BADGES-PROGRAM

Characters Just Pop Into My Head

Survey says…

A.      That’s true.

B.      That’s not true.

And they are both right answers!

Every author has a different process so let me tell you how I developed one character for my Nocturne Falls Universe falcon-shifter series. Remember, Nocturne Falls is a magical place so suspend your disbelief as you follow along here.

I have a vague and semi-structured idea of the story and where it will go. But my writing process really starts when I “see” the opening scene much like a director visualizes the first camera shot for a movie.

In the first book in the series, THE FALCON FINDS HIS MATE, scene one takes place on the wrap-around porch of a two-story Pepto-Bismol pink Victorian house. Way before I wrote the first sentences, I had a firm idea of what the place looked like based on a collection of pictures I added to a Pinterest album. For me, it’s critical to over collect photos of places, people, and things even if only a few details make it into the book. By the way, the house is an important character, too.

If you’ve read my Nocturne Falls falcon stories, does this look familiar?

It’s the Carpe Diem

Once I had the house, I started asking questions. Who lives here? Why do they live here? What’s different about this place that sets it apart?

The house belongs to Echo Stargazer—a name I totally made up. I couldn’t have her be ordinary in an extraordinary town, so once again I scoured the Internet in a casting call for characters.

Who else could play Echo but Iris Apfel?

How did little gravely-voice Echo come to live in a house like this? Remember, magical people are drawn to Nocturne Falls. Bear with me. Now the fun begins.

Making up stuff!

Echo’s ancestry dates back over two hundred years to Colonial America. Her great-great-greats were persecuted for their psychic gifts, escaped and migrated to the Carolinas. Their gifts passed down through the generations. Echo’s clairsentient which she blocks with a special bracelet.

With it on, no psychic ability. With it off, she reads minds.

Widowed years ago, Echo came to Nocturne Falls to raise her son and daughter. To earn a living, she converted the first floor to a gift and tchotchke shop that she called the Carpe Diem. Nocturne Falls tourists love the stuff she sells in the front of the store. In the back and with complete privacy, locals can purchase supplies for spells, cleansings, charms, rituals, and the like.

Upstairs is the living quarters where Echo supplements her income by giving readings with her special cards. The cards aren’t Tarot or Oracle. They are black as onyx, and only the client can see the images on them.

This photo of Iris Apfel’s apartment in NYC was the inspiration for Echo’s dining room/card reading table. Remember how crowded Echo’s place was, right? 

And doesn’t this look like Echo’s kitchen?

Finally, there’s Crealde, Echo’s nineteen-pound bundle of contentment. Never! Either he’s hungry—make that hangry—or he’s not around. Curious, nosy, demanding, vociferous with a howl that can wake the dead. But loveable and cuddly, on his terms.

Once I have a location and characters, I create a story bible with every little fact, fable, and detail. Again, I make stuff up!

Timelines. People. Places. Events. The bible is ongoing, and especially in a series, vital. For example, Echo has a role in every book and short story in this series. It’s easy to forget details, and trust me, if I get one wrong my dear readers will let me know!

When all that is in place, on to the plot, character arcs, and all the juicy stuff! That’s another discussion in and of itself. I hope this gave you a small insight into my process. In future blog posts, I’ll explain how other characters came into being.

Please visit my Pinterest site

https://www.pinterest.com/fortheluv2write/nocturne-falls-universe-falcon-shifter-series/

Image attributions:

Director’s Chair  http://worldartsme.com/director-clipart.html#gal_post_23000_director-clipart-1.jpg

Victorian Home http://favim.com/image/95589/

Iris Apfel https://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/12/magazine/iris-apfel-doesnt-do-normcore.html?partner=rss&emc=rss&_r

Dining Room Table https://www.architecturaldigest.com/gallery/iris-apfel-manhattan-apartment-slideshow#4

Pink Kitchen http://inspirationsdeco.blogspot.com/2011/07/inspirations-deco-cuisines-retro-n8.html

Crealde https://www.deviantart.com/mndcntrl/art/Did-you-see-that-196886659

Kindness Rocks the World!

Goodness knows the world can use more kindness. It doesn’t take a boatload of money to offer someone a smile. Or let the person with a fussy child go ahead of you in the checkout line. Or give up your seat on a bus or subway car to someone who looks more tired than you.

Or let that person who is stuck in the parking lot, exit into your traffic lane, even if it means waiting a second time for the signal to change.

Whatever we do, we should do it with no expectation of getting something in return. I believe in the ripple effect, and the good you do for someone will be passed on. Sadly, the opposite is true, too. And we see this much too often today.

There are some fun ways to accomplish Random Acts of Kindness otherwise known as RAK. Something I’ve gotten hooked on is painting rocks to hide around the community. You might already be a part of one of the hundreds of rock painting Facebook groups.

I started a Pinterest board to collect ideas for my projects. Don’t be intimidated by some of the rocks you’ll see. You don’t need extraordinary artistic ability to paint and hide a rock. Trust me as I’m no artist! But there are some incredibly talented people who create mini-masterpieces.

How do you start?

  • If you’re on Facebook, check out some of the group sites. I’ve only listed four of the dozens in the Tampa Bay area. I’ll wager there are groups in your area.

Dunedin Rocks FL    Palm Harbor Rocks     Oldsmar Rocks      Artful Souls Rock-Florida

  • YouTube has many free rock painting tutorials that guide you step-by-step.
  • Get some rocks, paint and brushes. And paint! You don’t have to spend a lot of money. Get kids involved, too. They love it.
  • Once your rocks are prepped and ready, find some fun places to hide them. Parks, libraries, stores, hospitals…you name it.

So, what happens if you find a painted rock?

You can keep it or rehide it. I’ve done both. If there’s a group name on the back, take a photo of the front and back then find the group online. Usually you need request to join the group before posting your photos. The creator is always “tickled” to see their rock appear as that doesn’t happen very often. Joining a group doesn’t mean you have to paint rocks, so no worries!

I was excited a couple of weeks ago when a simple little rock I painted ended up in Sweden. Now that’s pretty cool!  Here’s a photo of it. Remember, I said “simple“.

You never can tell how far a smile will travel!

Why Do We Love Sunsets?

A sunset is, after all, a natural astronomical phenomenon.  Scattered gas molecules and changing light waves.

Not a big deal, right?

Something that happens every day when our little rock (sorry, I’m not a flat-earther) sails around the monster gas ball we call the Sun in a solar system that is an infinitesimal blip in one of a billion galaxies.

Sometimes we witness the sunset, sometimes it’s cloudy or rainy and we can’t. The precise time is a mathematical calculation. Even my smartphone can tell me what time it will happen.

Ancient cultures to modern times have revered the sun and its daily trek across the sky, even to the point of worshiping the sun as a god.

And we still love sunsets. Some studies suggest why.

Relieves stress

Boosts well-being

Increases life satisfaction

Elevates mood

Helps us live in the moment

Turns everything into beauty

Considering the fifty dozen sunset photos I’ve saved in the cloud, I love them. What is the attraction for me? It might sound a little out there, but for me, the setting sun is a reminder of nature’s unconditional love and assurance that we did everything we could to make the most of today.  And a reminder that if we are lucky, we’ll get another shot at making tomorrow even better.

What say you?

(All photos property of Candace Colt © 2018)

Though they be little, they be fierce!

(title apologies to Wm. Shakespeare)

Ryan Ford is the hero in my Nocturne Falls Universe paranormal novella, “The Falcon Finds His Mate. Oh. I should mention Ryan is a shape-shifting Peregrine falcon–one of the fastest birds on Earth.

Though the shape-shifters in my story are imaginary, falcons are real!

I’ve fallen in love with these creatures. Until I researched falcons for this story, I had no idea there were different members of this family.

In one scene, Ryan–in human form, is a contestant in a charity benefit for the local animal sanctuary and models with a North American Kestrel Falcon on his gloved hand.

Ryan chose the small and mighty Kestrel, because anything larger might frighten the unsuspecting humans in the audience. (Hey, it’s fiction–remember?)

Sometimes called a sparrow hawk, the adult Kestrel weighs between 5-6 ounces; the approximate size of a mourning dove or a robin. The female is slightly larger than the male.

Though their larger cousins like Ryan (the Peregrine Falcon shifter) are faster, these little ‘race cars of the sky’ hold their own. Long wings and tail allow them to maneuver and kite in the air, and fly at speeds of up to thirty-nine miles per hour.

This photo is an adult female. Note her rust-colored wings and back. Her tale bands are narrower than the male. Those distinctive ‘sideburns’ and ‘mustache’ are found in both the female and male. If you look closely at the nape of her neck, you’ll see two dark patches that resemble eyes. These are thought to be deterrents to a predator approaching from behind. These faux eyes appear on both the male and female. (Photo courtesy Chris Mayne)

Speaking of sight, the Kestrel has incredible vision. They see in the UV light range so they can track prey at night, though they do most of their hunting during the day.Their coloration is camouflage for their own survival and for confusing their prey. (Photo courtesy D. Allen Martin)

 

 

The adult male has slate-blue on the head and wings, but when perched, a black-spotted rusty mantle and scapulars predominate.

 

Depending on the gender, the adult wingspan can be up to 24 inches.  The photo to the right is a male. Note the large dark band at the tip of his tale feathers.

 

 

 

Though they can spot prey from a perch, Kestrels prefer to hunt by hovering over the ground then swooping down when they see a tasty target, moving so fast their prey doesn’t see them coming.

Ready for your quiz?

Male or Female?

#1

#2

#3

#1 = Female             #2  =  Female            #3  = Male

(The above six photos courtesy Gerald Friesen)

The Kestrel’s yummy gourmet menu includes lizards, insects, snakes, rodents and small birds.

And eat like a bird? I wish! Kestrels eat up to 21% of their body weight each day. If I did that I’d have to consume…well, you don’t need to know everything!

They store food they don’t need in crevices in trees, utility pole boxes, rocks; wherever they can.  Never know when you’ll need a quick bite when you’re out and about.

The bad news? The predator is also prey for larger hawks, crows, dogs and cats. The good news? This keeps the Kestrel on guard and alert. (Photo courtesy Linda Simmons)

Even though it’s small, the Kestrel is used in sport falconry, sometimes as the beginner bird. If captive for sport, the falconer must be mindful of the Kestrel’s weight as even a small weight loss (we’re talking ounces!) could be fatal.

 

During courting, the pair often gifts each other with food. The Kestrel mates for life and often returns to the same nesting site year after year.

 

 

By the way, the male chooses the nesting site, but the female has the final word before they move in. Umm…that sounds familiar, yes? (These two photos courtesy Chris Mayne)

Finally, all of us have a bad feather day now and again. But not everyone looks as darn cute as a Kestrel!!   (Photo courtesy Gerald Friesen)

Hope you enjoyed this mini-lesson and that I’ve piqued your interest in reading “The Falcon Finds His Mate.”

One more “shout out” to these awesome photographers for permission to use their photos:

Gerald Friesen

Linda Simmons (Thanks to Chris, too!)

Chris Mayne

D. Allen Martin

My references if you’d like to know more:

https://www.beautyofbirds.com/americankestrels.html

https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/American_Kestrel/id

http://kestrelfalconry.com/aboutkestrels.html

http://www.sky-hunters.org/American%20Kestrel1-06.pdf

Are ye bewitched?

How did a self-proclaimed God-fearing community condone hanging their citizens, based on the hysterical rantings and accusations of a gang of pre-teen and teenage girls?

No single reason.  No precipitating event.  No one tipping point.  Comprised of a hundred pieces, it’s a puzzle with common elements.

Fear. Superstition. Power struggles. Greed. Jealousy. Disenchantment.

The Puritan settlers’ strong belief system evolved from a complex evolution of theology and religious practice that ultimately caused their separation from the Anglican Church. Yet debate continues over whether religious persecution caused them to leave England. Could it have been the allure of a new land?  The promise of religious freedom?  Or something else?

Regardless, the Puritans were among the first settlers in the colonies but were unprepared for the harsh realities they faced in the new land: a bitter climate, smallpox, the Anglo-French War, the constant threat of attack by Native Americans.

Over time, the town elders began to lose their tight rein over the community. As some families prospered, others’ resentment grew. Neighbors feuded. Distrust and malcontent escalated as did the fear of outsiders.

Fuel for collective paranoia.

Then the new minister arrived—a man who had failed in business but felt the ‘calling’ to preach.

Ironically, as heated discussion ensued over Reverend Samuel Parris’ demands for a higher salary, so did his daughter and niece’s fits.

parris-1-204x300

Image of Rev. Samuel Parris from Danvers Archival Center–Peabody Institute Library

Mystified by the girls’ bizarre condition, the town physician attributed this to the only thing it could be—the work of the devil’s handmaidens. Witchcraft. With the stage set for disaster, an ugly chapter in American history unfolded.

What parallels do you see in modern history?

I am as clear as the child unborn

 

Rebecca Towne Nurse hanged as a witch on July 19, 1692

324 years ago a 71-year-old frail, nearly deaf, ‘God fearing’ Christian woman was hanged as a witch on Gallows Hill. Taken from her home, reportedly from her sickbed, she was imprisoned and repeatedly questioned by the local authorities from March through July. She was found guilty based on the testimony of a few deluded children and adults, despite a long list of character witnesses who spoke in her defense. Below is the transcript of her first “examination”.

Retrieved from  http://salem.lib.virginia.edu/texts/tei/swp?div_id=n94

***

The examination of Rebekah Nurse at Salem Village  24. mar. 1691/2

Mr. Harthorn. What do you say (speaking to one afflicted) have you seen this Woman hurt you?

Yes, she beat me this morning

Abigial . Have you been hurt by this Woman?

Yes

Ann Putman in a grievous fit cryed out that she hurt her.

Goody Nurse , here are two An: Putman the child & Abigail Williams complains of your hurting them What do you say to it

N [Rebecca Nurse]. I can say before my Eternal father I am innocent, & God will clear my innocency

Here is never a one in the Assembly but desires it, but if you be guilty Pray God discover you.

Then Hen: Kenny rose up to speak

Goodm: Kenny what do you say

Then he entered his complaint & farther said that since this Nurse came into the house he was seizd twise with an amaz’d condition

Here are not only these but, here is the wife of Mr Tho: Putman who accuseth you by credible information & that both of tempting her to iniquity, & of greatly hurting her.

  1. I am innocent & clear & have not been able to get out of doors these 8. or 9. dayes.

Mr Putman: give in what you have to say

Then Mr Edward Putman gave in his relate

Is this true Goody Nurse

I never afflicted no child never in my life

You see these accuse you, is it true

No.

Are you an innocent person relating to this Witchcraft.

Continue reading

Gallows Hill Nineteen

 

Gallows Hill Nineteen

1692

“Why Salem is important today is because of acts of individual conscience and resistance to a government that was overreacting out of fear of a global enemy. It’s important to know today what happened there for the sake of us and American history.”  Benjamin Ray, Professor of Religious Studies, University of Virginia

No one really knows for sure what spurred the Salem witch hunt. Most theorize that the Puritans lived in fear of death by ‘savages’; death by starvation; death by exposure. The only common thread is fear.

The truth is this: 19 women of good intentions were accused, tried and hanged.

YouTube produced by University of Virginia, Retrieved June 4, 2016  https://youtu.be/v-KrexSNHVY

Over three hundred years later, using a variety of resources, experts agreed on the actual location where the hangings were conducted.

Top: Site of the actual witch hangings.  Middle: Gallows Hill   Bottom:  Map of the location

Figure 1

Figure 2

 

Figure 3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Top:  http://boston.cbslocal.com/2016/01/13/actual-site-of-salem-witch-hangings-discovered/

Middle:  http://w3.salemstate.edu/~ebaker/Gallows_Hill

Bottom:  https://news.virginia.edu/content/uvas-help-salem-finally-discovers-where-its-witches-were-executed