Category Archives: Writing Muse

Do You Know Where Your Favorite Author Likes To Travel?

by Kimberly A. Cook                       (Twitter@ WarriorTales)

Writers get around. The world. Literally. Seems us scribes are vagabond souls who have to see, hear and experience many different scenes and lands to keep our muses happy. One of the items I spied on the archive list before I went to Maui this month was a letter from Samuel Clemens. Whoa. Mark Twain!

Picture of copy of Mark Twain letter in the archive file of the Maui Historical Society.

Picture of copy of Mark Twain letter in the archive file of the Maui Historical Society.

It was the first file I looked at in the basement of the Bailey House Museum of the Maui Historical Society. Now, even decked out in my white cotton archive gloves, I got to handle copies of the letter, not the original.

This is because the original letter was found in the papers of Rodney C. Heaton’s grandfather’s effects. Being the chairman of the Harvard Historical Commission, he felt the Society would like a copy to learn more about Mark Twain’s visit to Maui.

Imagine! I have yet to closely read the copy I had made, but it is so fun to look at. Dated April 26, 1866, Twain writes about making sure they don’t hike Haleakala without him.

Twain spent four months in Maui in 1866 as a correspondent for the Sacramento “Union” newspaper at the ripe age of 31. He had just started using his pen name of Mark Twain.

A great little book I picked up at the Museum Gift Shop, “Mark Twain in Hawaii – Roughing It In The Sandwich Islands,” is my current reading material. Seems Twain never returned to the islands after his trip, but he always loved and remembered them.

When I consider the ship travel and the time period, it all amazes me. Gives one cause to pause since both Mark Twain and I were in the same town on Maui, many years apart. How cool is that?

Any idea where your favorite authors might have travelled? Have you visited their creative spaces? Road trip!

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Have Any Keeper Cards?

by Kimberly A. Cook           (Twitter@ WarriorTales)

In last week’s post about requesting military records I showed a picture of letters we discovered which my Dad wrote home during World War II. My author/editor buddy Cindy Hiday made a very astute comment, she always does, but this one got me to thinking. She wondered how we would be remembered when we are using email or blogs instead of hard copy physical paper.

This is how the "keeper cards" addiction started......

This is how the “keeper cards” addiction started……

So this is where I confess to my stash of keeper cards. Think I can blame this on my Mom who gave me a School Days memory book to store my school pictures and odds and ends like report cards and the occasional greeting card. Over the years I have kept special cards which catch my fancy or mean something to me. (I’ve had to move up to plastic shoe boxes)

In today’s digital publishing world with fiction books heading steadily in the exclusive ebook direction and textbooks ending up as ebooks, is there still a place for paper?

Yes. I think greeting cards are coming back. I know crafters and teenagers alike are buying typewriters, yes you read correctly, to make words standout on jewelry pieces and to have typing contests. Seems the fact you can’t get an instant message or text on a typewriter is a plus for concentration these kids say.

Some of the fun things I have in my home office are quotes on plaques; words displayed with art. Wonderful combination. Like greeting cards.

I’ve only had time to look at a few envelopes in the stack of war letters my Dad wrote, but I did find one very interesting card. It was a Christmas card mailed from relatives in Gold Hill, Oregon in 1930. It was addressed to the Cook family in Troutdale, Oregon. Period. That was the entire address. My Dad would have been seven-years-old. It was special to him and he kept it. Words on real paper still rock!

Do you have any keeper cards?

 

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Is A Lazy Weekend Good For Your Creative Muse?

by Kimberly A. Cook           (Twitter@ WarriorTales)

Interesting weather weekend. Heat, humidity, thunderstorms, rain, lightning, wind, clouds. Sometimes all at the same time. Sunday morning I realized I had the heating pad on for a sore muscle, the air conditioning going and it was raining outside. Welcome to wacky weather.

Before planting, all but four of these guys got in the ground. Yes, I'm a yard art slut and that is Gnomeo and Juliet.

Before planting, all but four of these guys got in the ground. Yes, I’m a yard art slut and that is Gnomeo and Juliet.

Part of what did not happen this past weekend was me cleaning up more of my office. Seems I wanted to play and working on de-cluttering didn’t feel like fun.

The tune “Lazy, Hazy, Crazy Days Of Summer,” kept running through my mind.

By Sunday I had the lazy part down pat while I watched men run around at the World Cup with a lot more energy than I had.

Sometimes we need to park ourselves and sit. Just sit. Take time to think and dream and imagine. Daydreaming is an official requirement for writers, especially fiction writers. It also gives me time to scan the stack of magazines I buy and then barely have time to read.

Perfect Sunday. Weird weather means staying home is not only allowed, but recommended. Spec Ops Cat also requires a certain amount of lap time and he felt his quota was abysmal this past week. He got caught up.

There were two petunia and two fuchsia plants leftover from my garden planting weekend to go into the ground. I knew I should get them in the dirt but the rain and lightning convinced me they were on their own for another couple of days.

Sometimes the best thing to do on a summer Sunday is to putter, rest and snuggle with magazines and a cat. The office is not going to clean itself,  the clean up elves have a better union and don’t work on Sundays. It will all wait. September sounds good.

Taking time to refresh ourselves is important. Because even our creative muse mind needs a lazy summer day. Plus you don’t want to deal with a cranky pet, spouse, kids or friends. Enjoy some lazy summer days!

 

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What Is The Real State Of Our Union?

by Kimberly A. Cook             (Twitter@ WarriorTales)

Last Thursday I ran errands to several places I was not excited to visit; usually I’m a little more logistically together to avoid the pharmacy, grocery store, post office and gas station the day before a major holiday weekend. But life happens and I ended up at those busy spots.

Walking into the pharmacy waiting room it was packed with folks. They were serving number 298 and I was number 316. The digital message on the wall let me know I should expect to be served in 22 minutes.

Captured this while waiting for a left hand turn signal light in May. Fabulous.

Captured this while waiting for a left hand turn signal light in May. Fabulous.

Sitting down on a cushy bench, I decided to do what writers do best: observe. People watching is fascinating. Learned several things. Everybody was pretty orderly. The pharmacy folks slammed at the windows were being pleasant and taking time to chat with people, but getting the job done. The noise level was quiet.

Friends, relatives and hired drivers were helping each other out. It was pretty low-key. It struck me how with all the craziness in the news on our nation’s birthday eve, we may not be the most fashion forward folks all the time but, the majority of Americans are kind.

The experience made me keep my eyes open on the rest of my stops. A man held the door open for a lady with a large package. USPS counter workers told people to have a Happy Fourth.

The woman who pumped my gas, yes we do not pump our own gas in Oregon, was perky and friendly and had on a bright red shirt for the occasion. At the grocery store walking out I saw another shopper helping an elderly gentleman locate the employee who had checked him out earlier. Stranger helping stranger.

Heard on the news the Boston Pops even moved up their concert one day to be able to party and keep everyone safe too. Is this a great country or what? Got bad weather coming? Party first!

Perhaps those of us who have served in the military realize the special meaning of our national birthday since many times we have not been on U.S. soil to celebrate, and we know others serve as the nation plays.

It’s always a good idea to open our eyes, look around, see the bigger picture in the small everyday details and tell the stories. That’s what writers do.

“You have to love a nation that celebrates its independence every July 4, not with a parade of guns, tanks and soldiers who file by the White House in a show of strength and muscle, but with family picnics where kids throw Frisbees, the potato salad gets iffy, and the flies die from happiness. You may think you have overeaten, but it is patriotism.”

Erma Bombeck

 

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What Would A Writer’s Perfect Summer Be?

by Kimberly A. Cook         (Twitter@ WarriorTales)

When the lazy days of summer roll around, bellying up to the keyboard in my home office seems like a drag. I want to sleep on the lawn swing and doze in the sun spots like Spec Ops Cat.

Sitting and smelling the roses and watching wildlife can refill our energy and provide us with some creative calm in this crazy world. It also opens us up to watching for surprises, unexpected gifts.

On my way into the building at my day job yesterday, I wondered if the resident ducks would be camped out in the storm water swale, not ten feet from the front of the building. Hadn’t seen Mom and Dad Duck for a bit, so hoped to get a peek of them paddling around in the water.

Mom Duck with babies hiding in plain sight. Have you passed by baby ducks?

Mom Duck with babies hiding in plain sight. Have you passed by baby ducks?

Spied Mom Duck and then baby ducks! What an unexpected joy to see the little feather balls gliding around keeping close to Mom. Dropped my bags and grabbed the camera to get a few pictures. Also means we have to watch out in the parking lot since they take off across it at any given time of the day.

While you are day dreaming of summer days and upcoming holidays with extra writing time, slow down and enjoy the everyday part of your writer life. Ponder what the perfect writer’s summer would be for you and then make one of those things happen.

Dream big and stay open to creative ideas and everyday happenings. You might find ducklings!

Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize

they were the big things.” – Robert Brault

 

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U.S. Navy Back At Fleet Week In Portland

by Kimberly A. Cook                        (Twitter@ WarriorTales)

Last year for the first time in memory, U.S. Navy ships did not attend Fleet Week during the Portland Rose Festival due to federal budget issues. But they are back Thursday to help us thank the active duty sailors, let locals tour the ships and honor veterans.

There are always some challenges getting these big ships more than 120 miles upstream to moor in the exact center of downtown Portland. I’ve seen masts snapped, near misses from turning ships around in the channel and all kinds of fun things. It’s a delicate ballet of tugs and river pilots and Navy bridge personnel making it all work. The Coast Guard protects the big ships while they are in port and the Portland Fire Department boats welcome them with spray and colored water. It’s a blast!

We also have Canadian Navy military ships, U.S. Coast Guard ships to tour, the restored PT boat and a pirate ship or two. It’s a great event and so many fun things to see, including the oldest Rose Show in the nation. It’s just not June without Rose Festival in full swing.

What I love best is people watching. If you park yourself on a bench down near the waterfront, you can see the whole world go by and hear many different languages. A writer loves nothing more than eavesdropping on regular folks to get great quotes.

So while you may have festivals and fairs in your area, go check them out. Not only can you research and have fun, there are always tons of snacks available. Around here we also get to watch the Dragon Boat races held in the Willamette River, right by all the ships. Rose Festival Ho!

http://www.rosefestival.org

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What Type Are You?

by Kimberly A. Cook                          (Twitter@ WarriorTales)

Back in the ancient days, I was a business trainer for the federal government. Some of the fun things we did were take tests to know ourselves better and help teach others. Enjoyable tests, not the SATS or anything. One I really enjoyed was the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator test.

We answered questions on a large form and then our results came back to tell us which of the 16 “types” we were. The great thing is there are no wrong answers and it explains a lot about group and family dynamics. Mine came back as an INFJ, which translates into a writer and emotional sponge. Always good to know.

Moon pic from last night since today is the Corn Planting Moon. What type of plant are you?

Moon pic from last night since today is the Corn Planting Moon. What type of plant are you?

One of the best books we used is “Do What You Are: Discover the Perfect Career for You Through the Secrets of Personality Type” by Paul D. Tieger and Barbara Barron-Tieger. Not only does this book help you for your own career choices, but it is a goldmine for information to use when creating characters.

The four letters specify if you are an Extrovert or Introvert, Sensing or Intuitive, Thinking or Feeling and Judging or Perceiving. When you get all the combinations possible, it ends up being sixteen.

Each personality type and their motivations are explained in a chapter in the book. Perfect for building fiction characters, figuring out yourself and your family. My sister had taken the test  at one time and we found out we were exact opposites except we both wanted to be in charge. That explained a lot about our childhood! There is usually always one type opposite from the other types in any given biological family. The cliché of a black sheep in the family might really mean a different type!

Learning about ourselves as writers and how we fit into the world is fascinating from a creative and personal standpoint. What type are you?

(P.S. I know I’m a day late posting, but the Trailblazers won Game 4 with their backs against the wall! Rip City!)

 

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