Posts Tagged ‘Flathead Lake’

Family Histories on the Side

May 21, 2012 Leave a comment
The raw satellite imagery shown in these image...

The raw satellite imagery shown in these images was obtain from NASA and/or the US Geological Survey. Post-processing and production by (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Taking a day away from usual activities helps to restore a semblance of order to one’s life. Perspective is gained. Appreciation is elevated. New knowledge filters through the mind to lodge in memories.

Yesterday was a day of exploration into places unknown and challenging facts known. For me, it was also a time to take away snippets of useful information; the kind used in a twisted kind of way for story elements and character development. Those are the kind of relaxed and fun days that begin with one purpose and turn out as gold mines. Also, the experience felt much like going home to my dad’s family for the day.

We met up with friends, Sister’s distant cousins, in a small-town restaurant about an hour south of our locale. We had a nice lunch before heading south again to their home in an even smaller town. Our entire purpose for going on this jaunt was so that Sister could shoot the eclipse in an area where she could get good water-reflection shots.

During our scouting adventure, I was taken to places I’d never seen before; places that had escaped my notice when I’d lived in the area twenty years ago. As well, the cousins constantly pointed out places that related to their family histories.

“So and so built that ranch. Who is the latest owner, honey?” Cousin #2 asked as she pointed to the left to a grouping of buildings amid lush pastures. “The original barn’s gone now, of course.”

Gravel roads, dust flying from under the wheels of passing ranch trucks and cars, we made our way from reservoir to reservoir; each with points of interest. On the first we found swans that had been introduced to the waterways. The second, though smaller, was far more serene, more relaxing. Native ducks, muskrats, gulls, all played in the placid water. Further into the hills, we found rock chucks guarding their homes and new calves cavorting among adults.

MacDonald Lake

At last we wound through forested hills up to MacDonald Lake, nestled in the Mission Range; a smaller lake than it used to be, only because it isn’t allowed to fill up the way it used to years ago. The deep teal, crystalline waters, surrounded by pine-covered slopes, beckoned to us. Trails radiated from its sides for the explorer who would challenge grizzlies in the area for prime fishing spots.

From the south-end approach I could only envision one scenario. I saw a scene straight out of Lord of the Rings; the one where the intrepid questers canoed toward their mountain peak destination, along the length of a deep lake with darkly-treed slopes on either side. Magic sparkled before my eyes. I was, in that short moment, transported into a movie about a magical place occupied by hobbits and elves and all things mythical.

When we finally came back to the valley floor, our hosts took us to see the old family homestead.

“Let’s see if they’ve moved the herd out into the front grazing, honey?” our tour guide says as we moved down a gravel road. “When I was by yesterday, the pasture was high and needed to be grazed already.”

And so our indoctrination into family history continued. Ours was a calm adventure made up of laughing memories, local scenery, and points of family interest. All of which came under clouded skies that would never allow for shots of the eclipse, regardless of the camera equipment brought to bear.

A late supper and long drive home left us drained. Bedtime hadn’t looked that far away since our last distant drive at night. Rain followed us as we snaked our way along Highway 93 north along the west shore of Flathead Lake.

I came away with so many impressions to sprinkle here and there amid stories. There were subjects to research later for short essays. And along the way, I captured bits and pieces of personal revelation that will color my days for months. Because their personal histories have been shared so freely, they’ve allowed me to be included in their future histories. That has potential as a special privilege.

I wish everyone could have such a day as mine yesterday. When you have one, take away all that you can from it. Enjoy the uniqueness of it and make it your own. Have a great week all.

A bientot,


Whether a Forum or a Listing

March 26, 2012 Leave a comment

Writers use forums and listings nearly every day for one purpose or another. There are community forums for those in the arts, those unique to writers and critiquing, editing and polishing, and discussions on every aspect of the writing business. Listings come in almost as many flavors and scopes as forums.

Freelancers make the rounds of both communication forms to stay tuned, toned, and in demand. Today I made forays into two separate freelance jobs listings; one within a LinkedIn group of which I’m a member, and another on Elance. I was successful in finding enticing possible job contracts.

If you’ve been around this blog often, you know that I have large projects lined up for the next several months. After the previous paragraph you’re going to ask me why I would be looking for another job of any kind. That’s fair.

I could have my eye on a lovely little boat to use during the summer on our gorgeous Flathead Lake. Or, I could want to travel in Europe next year and want to have plenty in savings to play. Then again, I could simply want a better financial cushion than I have now.

Working on only one large spec project can easily keep me occupied. Having half a dozen doesn’t give me much time to spare, though I still find time for a bit of social networking. Adding a job to the mix right now would be mental suicide, I agree.

Keeping abreast of the market, opportunities, and competition within the freelance writing world, however, is necessary. A plum could present itself at just the right moment to pave the way for bigger success and greater financial security and without stopping by such job sites on a regular basis, the writer can lose out.

Call this activity checking the pulse of the industry. Writers are entrepreneurs. They need to know what’s happening. The market can shift quietly and sneakily as smoke, leaving a writer out of the loop and as adrift as sulfur vapor puffs from a starter’s pistol.

Who could have anticipated the fiction industry shift when Stephanie Meyer’s first Twilight book, or Rowling’s Harry Potter? Those two series set the tone for a major change in the MG and YA children’s book market. Hindsight tells us that vampires come into the light every few decades, their popularity undiminished with time.

Magic and all that it entails has been around since ancient Greece. Fantasy series have been big genre business for decades. The primary component of fantasies is MAGIC. Rowling presented the concept in a slightly different manner and caught the brass ring.

Reading through job listings for writers indicates where the market is moving. Three quarters of what I found on Elance this morning were content writer contracts. The Internet is vacuuming up writers for information dispersal, trading in marketing and non-fiction, for small businesses as much as large corporations. It’s a copywriter’s delight out there at the moment.

Along the same road, non-fiction is making a grand play with the big houses of the publishing world. From self-help to inspiration; memoir to biography; corporate tell-all’s to political scandals; and cookbooks to health, non-fiction has become a hot ticket for writers.

Listening in on forums adds information to the writer’s hope chest. Take an opportunity to lurk on some of the writer’s forums. Listen in on the conversations and advice flung around like beads and candy at Mardi Gras.

In half an hour of perusal, you can discover, at minimum, one thing that you didn’t know and really needed to. Writer’s Digest has its Community Forums. Editors, agents, publishers, and writers discuss everything pertinent to the business. A small personal vacation on site can net you a load of great intel. Take advantage of a freebie when you can.

Savvy Authors has a newsletter and website that will help keep you in touch with goings-on in the business. Sharing with Writers Newsletter and site dispense fabulous info each week to its subscribers. I found out at Sharing with Writers that writers are being encouraged now to have their own—wait for it—APP. You’ll have to read the article to come to grips with the reasoning. Oddly, this info is elsewhere, too.

We’re told over and over to keep our eyes and ears open. Now you know why. How was I supposed to know that I needed an APP to get my brand—do I have one?—out to the world, so that I can be plugged in 24/7? Question: will popular internet writers have any privacy when they get to print? I wonder.