Two Minutes of Darkness

 

Must see what others posted on Social Media

Did I drop gray-lenses glasses over my eyes? That’s what it looked like at ten this morning when the moon cast the sun in its shadow.

Yes, my home was near the path of “totality” in Oregon. Since today is my son’s birthday, we headed south to his house into the path of totality.

Two minutes of darkness on a bright sunny day must have sent people in the Middle Ages into a frenzy. (Maybe that’s why they called it the Dark Ages? Okay, I’m being sarcastic. I understand what made those “dark” times.)

The Setup

After I made a delicious birthday breakfast of French toast and bacon, we headed out into the sunlight. A golden ball shone from the crystalline aquamarine sky.

My husband had two camera rigged up. The rest of us were making bad puns, occasionally glimpsing through our “approved for eclipse” glasses.

The warning on the flimsy frames said I shouldn’t look at the sun for more than three minutes at a time.

Someone suggested an eclipse playlist. Of course, Bonnie Tyler’s “Total Eclipse of the Heart” made the top of the chart. I quoted “You’re so Vain” because a local station played it yesterday, so it was fresh in my mind.

We made plenty of suppositions about how many human sacrifices the Aztecs fed to their volcanoes during the two-minutes of darkness during their hey day.

The shadows reflect the crescent shape of the sun behind the moon

And of course, I wondered what might happen if your shift to “werewolf” was tied to the solar eclipse rather than a full moon. In fact, we decided an Ocelot-shifter might be a better choice. Something that loved the sun but went into hunter mode when the sun set.

Look for that story in the near future.

The Reaction

After the Chiquita banana stage, I glimpsed through my special spectacles more frequently. Soon a bare cuticle of a thumbnail of sun could be seen.

The glasses came off and the midnight sky turned granite as the sun-powered corona transformed the mid-day-night-like sky.

Whoops rose in the air. Neighbors ignited fireworks (apparently, in Woodburn, OR, any time is a great time for fireworks). Crickets sang their songs.

It was a glorious view. Amazing. Awe-inspiring.

And story-inspiring for my author brain.

Faces were ringed with joyous smiles. Eyes sparked, lit with an inner fiery star.

Afterward

 

My daughter hightailed it to her job. Sadly, everyone had the same idea.

Traffic slowed. Suddenly, freeway travel between the Oregon state capital to the largest city in the state looks strangely like a day in Los Angeles.

Ugh.

Thankfully, my husband was telecommuting. And there’s internet at my son’s house (or the home of his second parents where we enjoyed the total eclipse of the sun outside by their gazebo) for me to do a little writing.

These pictures don’t do it justice. Once I can get to my computer and my husband can download his GoPro footage and his speedy-lens still photos, I’ll share the cream of the crop with you.

If you were in the path of totality, what was your experience? When have you been awed by two minutes (or less)? Continue reading “Two Minutes of Darkness”

This Writer’s Second Conference

I attended my second in-person writer’s conference August 7th and 8th. It was at the same location as the first conference. You can read about my first experience by clicking here.

For some reason, I wasn’t nervous about attending this year. In fact, I gave only a small amount of effort to preparing the pitch for the two meetings I scheduled with an editor and an agent.

Part of this could have been because I had company the week before the conference. Or it may have been the fact that I thought I would have to be attending all alone.

As it turns out, another writer from my local writing group was going all three days. She offered me a ride on the days I attended. (If you read this, thank you, Linda!)

It was wonderful getting to know her better, listening to her pitch and having someone to eat lunch with on Friday. The fact that I didn’t have to drive? Extra bonus.

Friday

I loved the keynote speaker at the opening session. It was William Kenower, and he made me laugh so hard I forgot to be nervous.

I barely got a taste of the 9AM session since my first pitch was at 9:40 a.m. What I did learn is that agents respect writers who attend conferences. Whew! It isn’t the Big Bad Wolf I’ll be facing in a few minutes *wipes brow*

I met with an editor from a small press that was established in 2012. She ADORES dragon stories and has been searching for one starring REAL dragons since she began working with this house.

That means she liked my pitch and asked me to send her pages. And a synopsis *gags*

I used the extra time between my pitch and the next class to get a critique on my manuscript. They have authors who run a “Manuscript ER” servce for free – first come, first served.

“What do you want me to critique?” I wanted to know whether my beginning would hook that dragon-loving editor who requested twenty pages.

“I’m hooked.” And she offered sugestions about the two places where she had to re-read because what WASN’T on the page confused her. Easily done.

Yes, I was probably glowing for the rest of the morning. So who cared that the next session wasn’t compelling? Not me?

After lunch, it was back to the workshops. In this case, a delightful workshop presented by fantasy author Karen Azinger. She has an epic fantasy series out and idolizes Brandon Sanderson as much as I do. I immediately searched for her books on Amazon (and was disappointed not to find them at the conference’s bookstore).

The workshop was all about world-building. She gave me tons to think about to sprinkle the “flavor” of government and culture into my novel. I loved her energy and passion. Maybe I will grow up to be her one day.

The final thing in the afternoon was an opportunity to plot out our novel using the system of a children’s author. I love my Scrivener, so I didn’t really get much new information from this session.

Saturday

The two best things about this day:

  • Another yes from an agent at my 9:20 pitch meeting
  • Listening to bestselling authors who live in Oregon answer MY questions during lunch

I was disappointed to leave the Larry Brooks Storyfix session early for my pitch, but he gave us a link to the power point slides. I’m hoping to get the checklist for revision from that (at some point after I get the queries out).

The revision workshop at the end of the day was helpful, but there was too much for the presenter to cover in 90 minutes. I got a few good ideas about fleshing out my setting, though. It was fun to interact with the other writers in the room and hear a published author talk about her revision process.

Afterward

This post is making its way up on my blog quite late for a Monday showing. I would apologize, but I’ve been busy reading through my manuscript – sanding away the rough edges.

I sent the query letter and the first thirty pages off this afternoon to the agent I met with on Saturday. I hope she gets hooked like the woman who gave me a read in the “Manuscript ER” room at the conference.

Of course, she can’t respond too soon, because I still haven’t finished combing through the OTHER 300 pages of the manuscript. It needs primping and perfecting, I assure you.

Also, I’ve been reading Linda’s first fifty pages. I want to give her feedback she can use to beautify her manuscript before she sends it off to the three agents who gave her the nod at the conference.

If you’re trying to get a traditional publishing contract, attend a writer’s conference. Cough up the extra cash and pitch some agents who represent your genre.

Have you attended a writer’s conference? Pitched to agents or editors in person?

Is it Summer Yet?

Only two more Wednesday blogs until my job gets its summer furlough. In four more Wednesdays, I’ll be officially finished with my Bachelor of Arts degree.

Thankfully, the sun has been shining. In Oregon, May and June are often wet and windy. God demonstrates his sense of humor by making a mockery of most weather reports for the Pacific Northwest.

This year, I’ve been able to stop taking that little white supplement of Vitamin D on most days. My preferred method of garnering my daily allotment is soaking it in through my dermis. Sunshine replenishes that essential vitamin and sparks my creativity.

This time of year brings on a different mentality in my students. They are ready to break the chains of school schedules. Who can blame them? Of course, that adds stress to my job.

After a wild day at the middle school, the only way I can focus on accomplishing my papers and projects for the last undergraduate courses I will ever take (*pumps fist wildly, while dancing around her chair*) is by reminding myself of the completion date.

The end is in sight. I’m no racehorse; you won’t see me sprinting wildly and with abandon toward the finish line. Who has the energy for that?

That goal line is like a carrot dangled on the far side of a gaping chasm. (Okay, maybe a glittering diamond ring or two-weeks in Cozumel.) A single rope gyrates in the wind, but if I don’t look down, I can make it across. One foot in front of the other, one day at a time…until finally – I’m across!

The countdown may be continuing, but I refuse to focus on what comes next. It’s not the destination – it’s the journey.

Do you agree?

Check out: THREE MONTHS OFF? What I wouldn’t give for a summer vacation by Kristen Lamb.