What's cooking at the Blue Fox Cafe
All about the ins and outs of writing

Feb
22
Sleeping Bears, photo by author

Sleeping Bears, photo by author

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Good Match

These two sleeping bears seemed perfectly suited for each. Spotted somewhere near Thunder Bay in western Ontario, Canada, the two animals seem to be quite comfortable in there snoozing position. Best not disturbed!!

A Good Match

Feb
22
Despite the painted toenails, this big stomper can be a huge hassle

Despite the painted toenails, this big stomper can be a huge hassle, drawing by author

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Big Stomper

Currently, the illegal ivory trade is putting these animals at risk. If this species is to survive in the wild, the black market for ivory items must be eliminated.

 

Feb
15
These two guys are definitely working against the odds, but nonetheless they appear to be holding up just fine. photo by author

These two guys are definitely working against the odds, but nonetheless, they appear to be holding up just fine. photo by author

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Against The Odds

Here, in Ljubljana, Slovenia these two muscle men are doing the impossible…..And unbelievably, they have been doing it for many years, photo by author
Against the Odds

Feb
15
How a cup of Viking tra inadvertently lrad to the discovery of North America, drawing by author

How a cup of Viking tea inadvertently lead to the discovery of North America, drawing by author

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tea (Tea for the Tillerman – Part II)

The true story behind the Viking discovery of North America

Feb
15
Shadow on the Stairs, photo by author

Shadow on the Stairs, photo by author

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Shadow

This shadow takes on a strange shape, when it falls on a set of concrete stairs.

Shadow

Feb
08

Looking up at the trees, drawing by author

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

UP

This is a drawing inspired by photographers. Manual artists seldom looked directly overhead before making a drawing until the camera came along.

Feb
06
The Charles River in winter, photo by author

The Charles River in winter, photo by author

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Solitude

This picture of the winter sun setting over Cambridge and the Charles River fulfills quite well my definition of solitude. In this case the title could just as well be urban solitude, for it appears that the two figures have found some sort of solitude by contemplating the winter sunset, as viewed from the Boston side of the Charles River.

On further thought, it appears to me that solitude (and isolation) are both an integral part of photography, for just the use of a camera, creates a certain distance between you and your subject. Some photographers relish in this separation, while others, especially people photographers try and minimize the space between the subject and the person behind the camera.

Solitude

Feb
01

How has being a writer changed your experience as a reader?

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This is the actual question as it was posted at the IWSG site.

Being a writer did not change my reader habits very much, until recently, when I set out on writing a middle grade novel. Actually, my intention was only to write a Young Adult novel, based on some autobiographical events that happened during my teen and pre-teen years. However, for better or worse, the word count on my YA novel kept growing…..and growing…..and growing, until I was staring at the 100,000 word mark.

This was way too long for a YA novel (unless your last name is Rowling), so I did what any prudent writer would do; I split the manuscript in two. Not evenly of course, but the first third went into my MG novel and the second two thirds became the basis for my YA story. This was a very convenient split, especially since the first part of my story covered the grade school years, while the remainder centered on 7th through 12 grade.

As I shopped the MG tale around, my response was almost non-existent. That’s when I discovered the main missing ingredient, middle grade voice, and that also explains while I am currently reading short, simply written books designed for fourth, fifth and six graders. To my surprise the reading has been very rewarding, though I am still struggling to find my new middle grade voice.

 

Feb
01
A trickster plays a mischievous prank, drawing by author

A trickster plays a mischievous prank, drawing by author

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mischief

While Mrs. Fitzball was addressing the school body, a little person or “trickster” mysteriously appeared and placed two eggs on her chair. When she sat down, Mrs. Fitzball was not amused.

Jan
23
This graceful astronaut can be seen floating around downtown Salt Lake City

This graceful astronaut can be seen floating around downtown Salt Lake City.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Graceful

I guess you can say gracefulness is in the eye of the beholder. In this picture, weightlessness, a 20th century discovery,  makes for a slightly different definition of graceful.
Graceful

Jan
18
Las Vegas is an urban photographer's delight

Las Vegas is an urban photographer’s delight

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ambience

For me, photographing 21st century urban America is an enthralling, artistic passion. Featured here, is me (represented by my shadow) confronting a large urban graphic design that is situated near the downtown area in Las Vegas, Nevada. Las Vegas is an ideal place for photographing graphic design and outdoor advertising, because examples like this can be found all across the sprawling city. Even the Strip with its hodgepodge of icons from around the globe hold endless possibilities for the inspired photographer. Where else could you find the Stature of Liberty, the Eiffel Tower and the Sphinx standing in relatively close proximity. I guess you could say that Las Vegas has a welcoming ambience for the contemporary street photographer.
Ambience

Jan
18
The butterfly enters the net

The butterfly enters the net

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Enternet

Before the Internet, there was the Enternet. Here, a perfectly healthy butterfly is about to enter the net, where he ( or she ) will be killed, pinned and preserved. Eventually the insect will be put on display behind glass with all the other bugs.

Jan
10
Durango is actually derived from the Basque language

Durango is actually derived from the Basque language

 

 

 

 

 

 

Names

Here is a picture of the word Durango, which is a state in north central Mexico, where the the capitol city also has the same name. That’s simple enough, but where in the heck did the word come from. Is it Native, for it sure doesn’t sound Spanish. Actually, the word is reported to be of Basque origin. According to ancestry.com the word means a place, possibly a fertile land located between great heights or perhaps on a great plain.

Names

Jan
09

What writing rule do you wish you’d never heard?

Sorry, I’m a few days late with my response, but here’s my take on the subject anyhow.

Breaking the rules can be an exhilirating experience

Breaking the rules can be an exhilarating experience, but it can also get you into deep trouble.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Experience

There are many rules to writing. If you don’t believe me just pick a copy of Strunk and White’s Elements of Style or William Zinser’s On Writing Well. For here, among many pages of good advice, you will find more rules than you could possibly ever break.

Then there are the more nebulous rules of creative writing that deal with such things as plot structure, storyline, character development, antagonists, protagonists and so on. Good advice on these matters can be found all across the blogosphere, as well in many books and periodical publications. The information overload here is astounding, but for some good all around advice, you might want to go here or here or here. The list is endless, really.

However, for better or worse, I’m going to talk about a slightly different subject matter, and that is writing for the content mills. This activity goes against every grain of creative writing advice in so many ways that it’s not funny, but I have to say that my foray into this gray area, helped solidify my writing, plus it earned me tens of thousands dollars over a five year period.

I didn’t get rich doing this, for if you added up the time spent, I barely made minimum wage, but yet during this sometimes grueling activity, I learned how to put a short article together, plus I got in the habit of meeting a deadline. And possibly the best benefit of all, was that I acquired self confidence. Seeing my work published at places like USA Today Online more than made up for the necessary rejections and disappointments that accompanied this learning process.

Now that most of my effort goes into writing short and long fiction, I can look back on this school-of-hard-knocks for the limited success that I have had in this more difficult endeavor.

 

And Finally

Here is one rule that you definitely don’t want to break.

A real life sign from New Zealand, from Wikipedia

A sign from New Zealand, from Wikipedia

Jan
03
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The Cat in the Hat can be seen in many places including Las Vegas, NV   photo by author

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Resilient (Are you a fan of the Cat in the Hat?)

Perhaps, one of the most resilient fictional characters of all times is Dr. Seuss’s, Cat in the Hat. Here he is pictured in an obscure location in Las Vegas, NV, but the elusive feline has been known to appear almost anywhere without more than a moment’s notice. And don’t try to get rid of this creature, for he is sure to return and cause more trouble if you do.
Resilient

Dec
27
This bike path near St. George, Utah has a strong resemblance to the proverbial

This bike path near St. George, Utah has a strong visual resemblance to the proverbial “Red Road”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Path

Path

My time in St. George, Utah consisted of camping out in the red rock desert just north of the city limits. My trip into town included traveling down this scenic bike path. Once in town, my first stop was usually the public library.

On one of my walks around town a woman gave me a ride across town and during our conversation she suggested I check out the visitor center of the local Mormon temple. Not wanting to seem like a prude, I eventually did make a trip to the visitor center, where I saw a bunch of fascinating paintings and I also learned how the town got its name.

For those of you who might think this desert oasis is named after the English saint, who slayed the dragon, you’re wrong. (I must admit that I am one of those.) Instead, the town title comes from George Smith, brother of Joseph Smith, who cured the residents from sickness by encouraging them to eat the skin off the potatoes. Before that, the early settlers were skinning the potatoes before consumption, thus eliminating a bunch of natural vitamins.

 

Dec
16
This Quebec road sign warns motorists of an impending problem. photo by author

This Quebec road sign warns motorists of an impending problem. photo by author

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Anticipation

Some events in life can be anticipated, while others may come as a complete surprise.

Anticipation

Dec
15
Two spirals make up a pair of owl's eyes, photo and drawing by author

Two spirals make up a pair of owl’s eyes, photo and drawing by author

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Eyes Have It

These two spirals could be the eyes of an owl. With each spiral spinning in an opposite direction, one might think that the owl was cross-eyed or maybe just dizzy.

 

 

A Spiral from Space

A natural spiral found in outer space, photo by NASA

A natural spiral found in outer space, photo by NASA

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Space Spiral

Here’s a little Christmas bonus for everybody, a natural spiral found in space, more specifically it is located within the star system, known as LL Pegasi.

Dec
09
Downtown Montreal offers the pedestrian a striking new view, photo by author

Downtown Montreal offers the pedestrian a striking new view, photo by author

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

New Horizon

Looking upwards at modern architecture can provide the viewer with a new horizon.

New Horizon

Dec
08
Fiddlehead ferns make a great soup, provided you pick the right one.

Fiddlehead ferns make a great soup, provided you pick the right one.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dec
07
The Italian Mansion of the late Gore Vidal overlooked the Mediterranean

The Italian Mansion of the late Gore Vidal overlooked the Mediterranean

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Five years from now, I would like to occupy Gore Vidal’s house on the Italian Riviera, because the view of the Mediterranean is tremendous. I hear that the place has been vacant since the old man passed away and if at all possible I would like to make an offer before somebody snatches the place up.

I can’t do that right now, but things should change quickly as soon as I find the right agent and he or she finds the right publisher for my recently-completed two novel series on the adventures of a pair of female vegetarian ghosthunters. I seriously doubt that this process would take very long, as the stories have been carefully written and even edited. If by some chance this place is not available, I’m sure there is a nice hotel or villa nearby, where I could stay.

 

 

Dec
02
Roadside motel in Maine

Roadside motel in Maine

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Relax

This would be a nice place to relax. Wish I was there now.

 

Relax

Nov
26
An Inflatable Santa is a sign of the strange times that we are now facing

An Inflatable Santa is a sign of the strange times that we are now facing

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Santa Claus Today

Without any snow due to global warming and without any presents to deliver because of proposed tax increases, this Santa is nothing but a bunch of hot air.
It’s Not This Time of Year Without…

Nov
23
The Spider that ate Honolulu, drawing and photo by author

The Spider that ate Honolulu, drawing and photo by author

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Spider

I’m sure that everyone has heard of the “Cockroach that ate Cincinnati”. If you haven’t here’s the link. Indeed the Cockroach that ate Cincinnati is a fearsome threat indeed. But here is another threat, “The Spider That Ate Honolulu.”

Nov
23
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Steve Martin and John Candy star in the classic Thanksgiving story, Planes, Trains and Automobiles

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s Thanksgiving Time Again

I don’t think any other country has a holiday quite like Thanksgiving. Canada almost does, but there “Celebration” falls right on top of Columbus Day and is the last major holiday before Christmas. For Americans, Thanksgiving is kind of a prelude to Christmas in that it initiates the X-mas shopping season, while still giving the general public a four day window to feast, celebrate and relax, if they play their cards right. And if you do find the time to relax, you might enjoy one of the following three movies, all made over twenty years ago. Does this mean modern day film makers are losing their storytelling ability?

Arlo Guthrie, not only wrote the song, but also starred in the movie, called Alice's Restaurant

Arlo Guthrie, not only wrote the song, but also starred in the movie, called Alice’s Restaurant. However, the script for the movie was not created by Arlo.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Alice’s Restaurant

If you are going to watch the movie, you definitely need to check out the song first. It is actually called Alice’s Restaurant Massacree, is only eighteen and a half minutes long (the exact amount of time that Richard Nixon erased from his Watergate tapes) and features Arlo Guthrie’s whacky Okie storytelling skill at its finest. Recorded in 1967, the song helped earn Arlo a spot at Woodstock.

The movie came out in 1969 and not only featured Arlo, along with a few minor actors, but also included the real-life Officer Obie, Police Chief William Obanhein. Definitely, check this movie out for a satirical look at life in the late 60s, when the Vietnam War was still going full bore.

A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving was first aired on American TV in 1973

A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving was first aired on American TV in 1973

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving

First broadcast on network TV in 1973, A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving is still shown on American TV, usually on Thanksgiving night. Viewers of all ages will enjoy this sad-eyed romp into Charlie’s adultless world, as Charlie and his gang try to figure how to enjoy Thanksgiving feast with limited cooking skills.

Planes, Trains and Automobiles

Planes, Trains and Automobiles is a funny Hollywood “buddy” film made in 1987. It featured two big name actors, Steve Martin and John Candy, as each one delivered one of their better film performances in this wintry travel saga. The storyline consists of two men, one successful and one not, each trying to find their way back home on a busy Thanksgiving holiday. Fate brings them together, as they encounter one obstacle after another in their trip across the heartland of America.

The Twenty-first Century

Even though we are well into a new century, Thanksgiving hasn’t changed all that much. Perhaps, we have more football games on TV, and more businesses willing to open their doors at all kinds of weird hours on Black Friday. But all in all, Thanksgiving is all about roast turkey, pumpkin pie and some sort of realization that the pilgrims and New England natives did enjoy 50 years of peace before going at each other throats. I guess its time for another classic Thanksgiving movie, good for the ages to come.

 

 

 

Nov
18
What happens to people after they get sawed in half?

What happens to people after they get sawed in half?

Magic

We have all seen the magician saw the beautiful ladies in half. Yet, somehow they always go back together after being cut in two. But have you ever stopped to wonder if the magician always got it right the first time. I’m sure he didn’t and it seems plausible that the man on stage had to practice the trick quite a few times until he did. And chances are he didn’t use the beautiful models as his guinea pigs. Instead, he must of used any old joe, he found walking down the street.
Magic

Nov
17
The aquatic car was a short-lived invention of the sixties, photo and drawing by author

The aquatic car was a short-lived invention of the sixties, photo and drawing by author

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Aquatic

The aquatic car, also known as the “submarine car”, was a nifty little design that allowed the passengers to travel underwater, as well as on land. Unfortunately, only a few were ever made, so if you happen to own one, hang onto it, for it may be worth a fortune.

 

Nov
12
This picture of M&Ms has no scale, for these are not the regular M&Ms. They are the small mini-sized ones.

This picture of M&Ms has no scale, for these are not the regular M&Ms. They are the small mini-sized ones.

Tiny

Tiny is smaller than small. M&Ms are a small bite-sized candy popular around the world. However, these are the mini version of the chocolate candy. It’s almost impossible to tell the difference since there is no scale or reference to size in this photo. So as Donald Trump would say “You’ll just have to believe me.” You are really looking at the tiny variety.

Tiny

Nov
06

NASA experiment, Image taken during a session of the Burning and Suppression of Solids (BASS) experiment

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Burnout

Numero uno is burnout. Since July, I have been busy working on a YA novel. Unfortunately (or fortunately) the project has split two-for-one into a MG novel and a YA novel. All total the word count is about twice what I originally planned. It’s now at 100,000, 35,000 for the MG story and 65,000 for the YA sequel. If I can sell both, then that’ll be great, but right now I’m not even close to making a sale. I’m still going through what seems like an endless string of revisions. To tackle another heavy writing project at this time would be ludicrous.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Agents

Literary agents have responded to NaNoWriMo in a funny way. They aren’t really interested. In fact, many close down shop for December and January to avoid the deluge of queries and of course enjoy the holidays. I think if I was a literary agent, I would much prefer drinking eggnog to combing through a swarm of half-baked manuscripts. And if I did look at any manuscripts, I probably would have to imbibe a large number of glasses of eggnog before I did.

So for right now, I am trying to get all my queries out before Thanksgiving, so I don’t get buried in large mass of e-mails that gets sent out in December and January. You might say that I could mention the fact that my literary effort is not part of any NaNoWriMo writing group, but somehow I feel any new communication sent out during this time period, will be swallowed up and not get the attention that I think it deserves.

Eggnog is better than NaNoWriMo

Eggnog is better than NaNoWriMo

What I Like About NaNoWriMo

My first full length literary effort was inspired by NaNoWriMo. I barely made the 50,000 word deadline, but I kept writing, so by the middle of spring, I had a revised manuscript that I felt pretty good about. Beta readers agreed, but literary agents did not. So in retrospective, NaNoWriMo can get Newbie writers the confidence to undertake and complete a fledgling first draft of a very short novel. Keep in mind that today, most novels fall in the 75,000-90,000 word range. Still, completing 50,000 coherent words is something to jump up and down and holler about, but chances are it is not ready to be sent to an agent.

Nov
04
A white arrow amidst a swarm of black lines, photo by author

A white arrow amidst a swarm of black lines, photo by author

 

Chaos

As illustrating by this simple shot from a Utah parking lot, life without order tends to descend into chaos.

Chaos

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