Heroes Show Up

Firefighters of Colorado © Tomasz Zajda – Stock.Adobe.Com

It’s a hot and miserable August. Colorado is on fire. We’ve broken heat records for the last three days. The air is filled with smoke. Many of us are struggling with respiratory issues. We hide in our air-conditioned houses to stay comfortable. There are those who don’t hide from nature’s fury. They stand against the heat and fire, putting themselves at risk to save lives and homes. If you’re looking for the perfect example of heroism, think of our Colorado firefighters and other first responders.

Heroes show up while the rest of us stay safe.

Thank You! © laurarts – Stock.Adobe.com

Stay on the Trail

Living near the mountains of Colorado, my dog and I spend a large portion of our time walking the many nature trails in the area. We start at the trail head and make our way to the desired destination. Marley Barley doesn’t really care where we’re going, just as long as he gets to run and hopefully wade in a river. I, on the other hand, have planned our route, how long it will take and how far we’re going before the heat of the day. Marley’s end goal: Fun! Fun! Fun! My end goal: Exercise. A tired retriever puppy. Coffee on the back patio in peace.

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We see signs along the way, warning us to “stay on the trail.” Why? Sometimes the park is trying to revive the delicate native vegetation. Other times (like this year), we have an abundance of snakes and coyotes. Staying on the trail keeps us moving in the right direction toward our end goal. It also keeps us safe. Another huge benefit some folks seem to forget at least once a week (you see them on the news), staying on the trail also prevents you from getting lost. I feel for these folks. Been there. Not hiking, but on a different kind of trail.

Writers, Artists, Musicians and others who create wonderful things usually have one project which nags at them until it comes into being. I’m not sure if it nags you after it’s out there waving its arms. Haven’t gotten there yet. Mine is an epic fantasy book series I started back in 2004. Writing like a crazy woman, I finished the entire series from beginning to the big “The End” of the last book. What happened? Why isn’t the series listed with my other books? I wandered off the trail.

Creative folks are bombarded with a multitude of voices pushing us with criticism or pulling us with advice given with good intentions. These voices make it difficult to stay on the trail leading to our end goal. Doubt or desperation causes us to wander off the trail into the weeds. There are lessons out there in the wilderness. Some hone your survival skills. Other lessons take you to different trails to achieve unexpected goals. And when you do finally come out of the wilderness, you aren’t the same. This is the point to re-evaluate your original trail. Do you get back on or walk away?

I chose to roll up my sleeves, tighten my hiking boots and start down the trail again. The end goal is in sight! Coming in January 2016.

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Look To Your Own Backyard

Stuck for inspiration? Have a story idea, but not sure where it takes place just yet? Look to your own backyard. Your hometown/ home state has a history. I know what you’re thinking. Yawn. Nothing interesting happens here. Are you sure about that? Delve a little. You may find some juicy history interesting to a reader who’s never been to your part of the country. Don’t forget about the folks like me who love old unsolved crimes or haunted places.

I’m one of the blessed souls who gets to live in the state of Colorado. Stunningly beautiful, impossibly mellow with the addition of our newest agricultural commodity (Puff. Puff.) and dripping with interesting history. Buffalo Bill, Annie Oakley, Sitting Bull, The Unsinkable Molly Brown…the list goes on. Denver is full of history (and ghosts), as is the rest of Colorado. It makes a great location for several genres.

Doing research on the early days of the Colorado and New Mexico Territories for my new Horror novella, The Hounds of Perdition, has been an amazing journey into the past. I walked into the story with preconceptions for certain simple details about life in 1865. Yep. You guessed it. They were all wrong. The Civil War had just ended in 1865, affording me the opportunity to throw two characters on opposite sides into the same bad situation. Indian attacks had risen to a high intensity, necessitating several forts to be built in the territories to protect settlers. Famine. Disease. Life wasn’t easy and civilized townships were far apart. In fact, Denver wasn’t established as the capital or recognized central government until a few years later.

Now it’s your turn. Check out your state’s history. Do any ideas come to mind? Good luck and have fun!