Posts Tagged ‘The Compass Master’


First off, I did absolutely nothing exciting or Layla-like this week. Unless you count one episode of white-knuckled-driving-several-miles-on-sheer-ice.  But the good news is the bitter cold and crud are supposed to start melting this week.  I sure hope so ‘cause I’m going stir crazy.

Second, thank you so much for your thoughts and prayers for my close friend. He was in worse shape than anyone thought, but as of today he’s out of the hospital and doing better.  He has nothing but praise for the paramedics, doctors, nurses, and other medical folk who literally saved his life.  And I’m grateful too.

Finally, I’ve got to say something about Leonard Nimoy passing away.

Mr. Spock

A part of me (usually hidden) has long been a Trekkie.  As a young kid I watched Star Trek when it was on TV way back in the 60’s.  Mr. Spock and Kirk and the other crew members really were a part of my childhood.  But then the show was cancelled (I was devastated!) only to return in reruns when I was in college, and then in movies, and then in other series, until it became part of our American culture.

If you think I’m exaggerating, check out Nimoy’s obituary in the New York Times (Leonard Nimoy, Spock of ‘Star Trek,’ Dies at 83). Speaking logically (Spock would like that), Leonard Nimoy was not a major movie star or celebrity whose passing deserved widespread reporting.  Yet his picture and obituary were front-page headlines on the electronic version of the newspaper and over a thousand readers posted comments.

My favorite is from a scientist who reported that when news of Nimoy’s passing spread through her university, her colleagues closed themselves in their offices to shed a private tear.  “The role of Mr. Spock meant so much to many of us.  Mr. Nimoy’s character made science cool, made being a scientist cool.  Countless colleagues are STEM professionals because of him.  If this alien character could do it and be respected for being a scientist, then maybe we could be doing science too – men, women, African-Americans – no matter what we looked like.”

Kirk and Spock use

What you have to realize too, for those of you too young to remember, is that Star Trek was so freaking POSITIVE.  In a decade of war, assassinations, mass starvation, drugs, struggles for civil rights, and threats of nuclear annihilation, here came this low-ratings TV show that presented an extraordinarily hopeful vision of humanity’s future.

Give us a couple centuries, Gene Roddenberry said in episode after episode, and we’ll stop being violent, ignorant, bigoted jackasses.  We’ll learn to get along.  We’ll have peace and prosperity.  Even today, when dystopian and apocalyptic tastes rule our sci-fi and paranormal creations, Star Trek remains an anomaly.  When I was a kid, I could go from being depressed and scared after watching the nightly news with my Dad, to feeling good after watching Star Trek.

So thank you, Leonard Nimoy, for embodying to perfection a fictional character who became necessary and real to many of us.

Beam him up, Scotty.

A Week Postponed

on February 22, 2015 in Misc 9 Comments »

Sorry, my lovely readers, but I’m really not up to writing a post tonight.

snow

See, a really close friend very suddenly isn’t doing well.  I was told the bad news on Saturday, it got worse on Sunday, and now major emergency stuff is scheduled for tomorrow (Monday).

Which means that my mind and heart feel like they’re imploding.   I can’t concentrate on anything.  Yeah, I’m a worrywart by nature.  But still.

Anyway, all of you have a wonderful week, and hopefully a warm one and not like the icy mess we’re having here in Colorado.  And if you can, send some good thoughts my friend’s way.  Take care.

Work and Play

on February 16, 2015 in Misc 10 Comments »

Sure, my plan for 2015 was to just have some fun instead of writing.  Cause I was burned out on writing.  I was (and am) seriously burned out on publishing.  I can’t even think of book marketing. I was really, truly SICK OF IT ALL!

So guess what happened.

type

I’m starting to enjoy writing again.  It’s actually FUN again!  You know why?  CAUSE THERE’S NO PRESSURE! But only because I’m writing purely for myself and maybe a few friends (bless ‘em!) who want to read my stuff.

This is why I made a lot of progress on my screenplay yesterday.  And a few days ago I would have spent hours (I only had one hour) writing my sci fi novel.  And tonight I wanted to pull out my old Moonlighting script and in one sitting turn it into a movie-length screwball comedy (that was just delusional).

BUT… I still desperately need some action and fun.  Happening soon, I hope, will be…

1) Laser Tag.  I thought it would be paintball but the few players I can go with want laser tag instead.  These players are half my age.  Which says something about my maturity level.

2) I’m lining up friends for the Escape Room game (nothing happens fast these days!).  At least one other player will be my age.

3) I may not be a Woman Who Runs with the Wolves, but I’ll be a Woman Who Tracks Coyotes.  There’s a growing number around the edges of Denver, and I figure it’ll be good training for finding escaping bad guys, finding missing people (I’m thinking up fiction stories here).

How about you?  Are you enjoying writing, or has it become a burden?

 

This whole last week was full of so much work — both at my job and at home — that I had no time for ACTION stuff.  All I could do was plan a couple upcoming mini-adventures.

A couple small plans:  Paintball with friends (I hope!) and escape rooms.

escape use

In case you’ve never heard of escape rooms (a couple in town are in old Victorian mansions), this a code-breaking game in which you have one hour to escape from a locked room by solving intricate puzzles.  Because I use codes and puzzles in The Compass Master, I like to think I’ll be a whiz at this game.  But if it turns out that I stink at escaping I’ll be pretty embarrassed.

Then there’s a plan I’ve mentioned before:  treasure hunting.  Yes I know, this has the same credibility as my (joking) plan to photograph a bigfoot.  But it’ll be a fun way to see if I can do what Layla does, antiquities hunter that she is.

One thing I really can do like crazy is perform research.  This week I ruled out looking for a lost treasure that some people still insist exists:  the Reynolds Gang hidden gold dust and cash.  It was supposed to be hidden in 1864 in a mine shaft near a certain Colorado mountain, but I had my suspicions, kept looking, and finally came across a 1906 newspaper story documenting how two prospectors searched for the lost loot and found “buried plunder aggregating in value $18,000.”

“The treasure was undoubtedly buried by the Reynolds gang of outlaws,” the newspaper claimed.

I also came across recent news reports of people traveling to New Mexico dozens of times in search of the modern day Forest Fenn treasure.  Seriously?  Come on, people, get a life!  I mean, treasure hunting should be nothing more than getting out in the wilderness, hiking around, then going home and writing a novel about your fictional adventure.

 How your own plans for the coming weeks?  Writing anything new?  Having some fun?

Time for me to have some sweet revenge.  Or as I like to call it, justice and truth.

Sure, Modesty Blaise doesn’t believe in revenge, but in her stories she inflicts a lot of “justice.”

cat accidents

My own Charity MacCay is hot tempered and pursues getting a secret justice against real life American Robber Barons in the 1860’s (the Koch brothers of the Gilded Age).  She even has the chance to drown a couple of them but doesn’t, and regrets this because the Robber Barons live and go on to damage America.

As for Layla Daltry — she is so the personal justice type.

Then there’s me.  For this week and in the months to come I’ll go after a few evil *#!!$ who deliberately hurt me professionally and financially.  Sure, I exercised forgiveness, but while that emotionally and spiritually helped me, I’ve learned that a couple of them have become even nastier and have hurt more workers in their firm.

There’s also the fact that one of them once laughed about how he killed any cat that came on his yard, and his wife (and fellow boss) laughed along with him.  To this day I’m ashamed that I never contacted the ASPCA or other authorities.  That may not have done any good — my word against theirs — but once I was out of that firm I should have done something.

Anyway, it became clear that these Evil Ones will not stop their abusive ways — or treat people more humanely — until someone takes a whack at them.  Figuratively speaking.

Why shouldn’t that someone be little ol’ me?

With this noble idea in mind, I collected old papers from my files (I’m a packrat for documents and personal notes) and Googled like crazy.  In the end I collected helpful information.  My next steps will be to…

This is where I can’t tell you about my plans.  Sorry, but some things have to be hush-hush until they’re completed.  And even then I’ll never talk about a few details because I’ve got to watch my back.  I just hope I can make a difference for a few innocent people.  And wandering cats.

How about you?  Have you ever tried to obtain retro justice in your stories or in your life?

And on a slightly different but very Layla note…

I’m trying a new Action Hero workout with the Essentrics “Flexibility Workout for Athletes” one hour routine.  I did it twice this weekend and all I can say is…  Ow….  Ow….  Ow….

50 Weeks of Living My Novels

As a pretend Fictional Woman of Action (is pretend plus fictional redundant?), the first must-do on my list is to clean out my energy.

Did you expect me to say, “Work out hard”?  Oh please, I’m already in pretty good shape, and no doubt I’ll spend a few of these 50 weeks hurling myself into harebrained jock stunts.  In the meantime, it’s my mind/ body connection that needs a lube job.

meditation

My character Layla doesn’t do any meditation stuff in her story, but in her backstory she’s dabbled in it.  My character Charity MacCay, in contrast, can be superstitious but doesn’t have a mystical bone in her body.  But then there’s Modesty Blaise, who I want to be in my next life and who spent time in India mastering advanced mind control.

Me? Hell, I’ll try anything.

Thus I found myself… um… kinda naked, lying flat on my back on a table in a dark room and receiving the sometimes painful energy massage of a Lomi Lomi ritual.  It’s from the Hawaiian spirituality of Huna, which has long fascinated me, and during it I felt  very exposed.  And weird.   Especially since I can get self-conscious over things like nakedness.

For me, relaxing and concentrating took a lot of effort on my part, but I though I succeeded.

Turns out only my mind went where I wanted it to.  The Lomi Lomi therapist told me that parts of my body never seemed to let go.   This explains why some muscles in my legs and hips that have tightened up from injuries still won’t stretch normally.   I’ve really got to work on physically relaxing.

See, one reason I used to meditate is ’cause I can go to bed and sleep while still so tense I’ll wake up sick.  Once I woke up with bad hives from nerves. Physical relaxation that others can take for granted I’ve gotta work at.  And Action Women have GOT to be in control of their bodies.

AND NOW FOR A NEW FEATURE:

Funny and way-too-smart Mike Offut (www.SLC Kismet.com) and I both have a thing for the show Sleepy Hollow, and he suggested that we pose a question to each other each week on our blogs.

Mike asked me, “How would you describe the moment you realized Sleepy Hollow was something you would watch faithfully every week?”

My answer:  When I saw Ichabod Crane, as played by Tom Mison, and fell madly in love with him.  And because I really liked Abbie’s character and how she and Crane used their brains and skills to escape the headless horseman.  Then there’s the atmosphere, which reminded me of Halloween, and the way Police Chief Irving appeared to be in on Sleepy Hollow’s ancient secrets, which go back to the American Revolution.  Oh, of course I’m a history buff.

I’m FINALLY changing this ol’ blog around.

Obviously Becoming Layla needs to be shaken up.  It’s tired.  I’m tired.  And I haven’t updated the ever-so-tame layout since I started this sucker.  It’ll probably take me another month to make the visual changes, but in the meantime we’re two weeks into 2015, which means there are 50 weeks left in the year.  That’s 50 once-a-week postings.

modesty in car

And what I’m gonna do each week for the rest of 2015 is this:

Anything I damn well please.

So long as I spend several hours every week living like a woman from an exciting novel.  Preferably one of my novels, but vintage Modesty Blaise stories (LOVE ‘EM) are also candidates.

I mean, here I am writing stories like The Compass Master and my two Charity MacCay historicals, and even a screenplay with a (very young) brave heroine, and what have I let my weekly life devolve to? Working in the office.  Coming home.  Either doing chores and errands or crashing on the sofa because I’m exhausted.  Putting off writing and editing and publishing because I’m so discouraged as a writer.  Not going out and having fun because of time and money limits or the weather stinks or there’s no one to play with.

So for my own sake and to give you something worth reading, I plan to do some fun, exciting, weird, glamorous, dark, or just plain silly stuff.  Then I’ll write a BRIEF and FUNNY report.  Definitely briefer and funnier than this sad post.

action novel

When I started this blog I wrote about becoming Layla, which entailed my learning to do what my Compass Master heroine could do, from skydiving to paragliding to parkour to lock picking and other challenges.  I’m still an epée fencer, of course, and once the weather warms up I’ll get in more physical action.  But instead of banging myself up this time around I’m going to focus on crazy or serious or just plain very different (for me) experiences.

PLEASE NOTE:

If you have a book being published or in any way need a shout out from me, I’d be delighted to add them to a post or have a middle-of the week post about you and your novels and stories.

Got any great non-writing plans of your own for the year?

So you know how last week I mentioned (humorously) flying saucers.  In the comments I also wrote that my mom and sister had witnessed a weird UFO thing in New Mexico, and Carol Kilgore commented that she too had seen something weird there.

Carol, my dear – I WANNA KNOW WHAT YOU SAW!  Please tell me.

close-encounters-truck

As for Mom and Sis – like I said, it was straight out Close Encounters.  You know the great scene with Richard Dreyfus in his truck being rocked by an unseen UFO?  After that we see a brilliant spotlight shooting down from somewhere above and onto the road ahead… and then nothing… and then farther down the road it shines again… and then nothing.

That’s what happened outside my sister’s home.  This was near Santa Fe where the adobe houses were widely scattered, with only acres of desert brush in between and no roads or streetlights or noise except for the occasional coyote yelp.  Mom and Sis were looking out the glass doors on the south side when a massive ray from above suddenly and in complete silence appeared… then blinked off.  Then a little farther along it appeared again… then blinked off.  Then nothing.

If there was a huge UFO up there sending down those lights, they never found out ’cause they stayed inside.

spotlight

Anyway, this wasn’t the incident that inspired my (still in progress) sci-fi novel.  Instead, a story took root in my mind when The Denver Post ran a front-page article about a rancher in southern Colorado who had two bizarre cases of mutilated calves.  One night, he said, he and his wife saw silent and “translucent blue” lights in the sky.  In the following days the two calves turned up dead and with certain body parts neatly removed, yet there were no signs of predator or even human involvement.

And that’s how a weird news story gave me an idea for a story.   Have you ever come across something so weird it inspired you to write a book?

One Last Year

on January 5, 2015 in Misc 18 Comments »

For 2015, I declare that these are my literary resolutions.  The details may sound a little crazy to some of you, but that’s because I’m finally diving off the literary deep end.  See, one year from now I plan and really want to quit writing (except privately and for fun only).  So if this is my last year of trying to get published, whether traditionally or indie, I might as well go crazy and wild.

With this in mind, I henceforth resolve to…
cow 2

  1. Finish my sci fi novel.  This will entail photographing a flying saucer as it teleports a cow for dissection, then drops it back to earth in yet another mysterious case of cattle mutilation.  Besides the cool publicity this will generate for my similarly-themed story, my photo of the saucer (not the dead cow) can serve as the book’s cover.

  2. Finish polishing my two Charity MacCay novels.  I will simultaneously make frequent hiking trips to the mountains, where I plan to find and film a Bigfoot.  Odds of this happening:  better than the odds of my getting a decent book contract for my Charity novels.  At least the hiking will get me away from my computer once in a while.

  3. Finish my screenplay.  This means ghost hunting in Ireland, which is the setting for my supernatural-themed screenplay.  Such hunting may not get my screenplay read, but I can write off my expenses tax-wise.

  4. Finish and self-publish an essay, the short form of which is Layla Daltry’s master’s thesis in The Compass Master.  I must therefore obtain copyright permission from the estate of a late British author’s book in order to complete my effort.  Again, photographing Bigfoot might be easier.

bigfoot field

That’s pretty much it, folks.  The year 2015 will be for me the year of serious writing and crazy living.

Do you have anything crazy planned for your own writing year?

By the way, the UFO calendar and Bigfoot Field Guide were gifts I received at Christmas.   So in their own twisted way my family is being supportive.

Seasonal Writing

on December 14, 2014 in Misc 8 Comments »

‘Tis the season when we writers get neurotic.

You know what I mean.  We pause under the mistletoe, or beside the warm embers in the hearth, or while imbibing wine and good cheer and ask ourselves, “What did I write this last year, and why isn’t it enough?”

naughty

Sure, there are you disciplined, successful writers who could pull out a list of what you’ve written and what you’ve seen published, to say nothing of the hot irons you’ve got in the literary fire for 2015.

But when I cast my gaze over the previous twelve months, all I can think is, why didn’t I finish polishing my two Charity MacCay novels?  Why didn’t I finish that offbeat scifi novel I started just for fun?  Why haven’t I finished the screenplay, never mind that I just started it in October?

Some of you may remember that a couple Christmas holidays ago I pretty much swore off writing. Well, that resolution fell off the wagon.  But in some ways I did stop writing, because ever since then I haven’t set a single writing deadline.  I have little faith in my writing and especially in my get-it-published ability.  And since I have scant free time I’ve even found myself resenting having to spend it on writing.

But you know how it goes, don’t you?  Just when you think you’ve given up the literary ghost, the urge to finish telling a certain story, to find out what happens to your characters, to get your novel into some kind of print so that a couple friends and maybe a stranger or two will read it—that urge comes over you like an addiction and you find yourself at the keyboard and typing away.

reindeer

This season, things are a little different for me.  I’m pretty much resolved to finish that screenplay soon.  I’m writing an essay-length non-fiction piece.  I’ve even figured out what to do in the sci-fi story. And Charity will be in print in 2015. And that’s that. If I never write another story, I can live with myself. But I do have to finish what I’ve started or I’ll go crazy.

This will be my last post until January.  I hope to see you back here, and I really hope you have a happy, healthy, and peaceful holiday season that’s full of love and other good stuff.

Take care. And please tell me about your own writing plans.