Nerdy Thursday: Dorothy O’Connor

I am a recent fanatic of O’Connor’s work. Her tableau vivants take my breath away. There are a million and one things to see in each hand-crafted scene: each detail precise, purposeful, painstaking. What a feast for the soul!

Ceiling-of-Black-BirdsIn addition to the other-worldly beauty of her work, I am utterly inspired by the fact that she has shared many of these “living scenes” with her neighborhood, allowing people to observe, photograph, sketch her work.

In our current climate–full of greed and cutthroat competition–it is easy for artists to hold tightly to anything we create. Fear is a powerful motivator. But O’Connor’s artistic generosity marks a spirit that has chosen trust over fear, opening itself to the magic that can happen through the shared experience.

O’Connor inspires me to create lavishly, selflessly, vulnerably.

Sneakpeek (2): from THE HEAP (YA sci fi)

This is my Save the Cat (term defined under “origin of title“) for one of the MCs in my work-in-progress The Heap. I love these characters so much, and I’m proud of how distinct they are.

Leonard Scruggs, Ph.D, had not showered in seven days–at least. Scalp grease had unacceptably begun to leave streaky prints all over his equipment. At least great strides had been made in kicking the habit of combing his fingers through the self-cut mop on his head.

There was no time for personal hygiene. He was so close he could taste the shifting ions. He had to optimize every last second of his time. Time, time, time. He had to spend it to make it.

Besides, the water and power had been shut off at the apartment. If he returned, he’d only face a lurking landlord ready to evict him. He slept these days in a sleeping bag cartoonishly printed with the solar system. It had not been appropriately sized for him for about 15 years.

“Nope, nope, no! You tried that, Scruggs,” he cried, tossing away the wrench in his hand. It clanged dully against the rock floor. “If it didn’t work the 49th, it’s not going to work the 50th time. Try something else. Rearrange. Innovate. Evolve.” He sat back on his heels and bit his lip. He rubbed the one spot on his jaw where hair refused to grow. He cocked his head to the side and stared at the monster before him: Mismatched sheets of metal were welded together, overlapping to form a shape previously unknown to man. He leaned forward on hands and knees between the massive sawhorses that held it aloft. He studied its underbelly.

“Lunch break,” he proclaimed.

Hardboiled eggs, as per usual. Keeping Henrietta well-fed was priority one, and she rewarded him for it. Of course he had taken her with him when he left the apartment. No place for the two of them anyway: The landlord had complained about the smell and kept threatening to report him. Leo didn’t know what the fuss was all about. Cats and dogs didn’t smell much worst–plus, they messed in apartments all the time, and weren’t half as well behaved or as clean as his chicken was.

Scruggs dug out a few Messy Burger salt packets from the pocket of his discarded khakis, lying on the cave floor at the foot of his “bed.” He tapped the first egg along his knee and started to peel it. “Thanks, Henry,” he said as she waddled past, scratching a moment in the dirt before moving on. She pretended not to pay Scruggs any mind. “See?” He said aloud. “Just like a cat.”

The cave suddenly quivered. Machines began to rumble through the quarry a few layers of rock above his head. Scruggs shivered. It was only a matter of time. Every moment mattered.

Loose stones crumbled and fell across the machine with a series of small pings. Mouth full, he ran to his workbench and tossed a clean canvas across everything. Then, he hurried to the machine and did the same. “This is not a drill!” He shouted, pulling aside the canvas and ducking between the sawhorses. Henry skittered after him. From where he crouched, he could watch as his clothes, toiletries, and sleeping bag were showered with debris. He popped the rest of the cold, salted egg into his mouth and chewed.

Sneakpeek: from THE HEAP (YA sci fi)

Here’s a newly-edited chapter from my in-progress novel The Heap (working title). I see the setting so clearly in my mind’s eye, and love the tone so much that I wanted to share this piece of it with you!

T surveys the landscape before her. It was little more than a gigantic trench, its depth marked by high, red-dirt walls on either side that seemed to grow out of the cavern at its furthest edges. They stretched perfectly parallel so far into the distance that the lines converged–like the electric rail lines back home, but 100% more red-dirt and 100% less useful. If the cave were a mouth, the trench was its tongue, lolling lazily northward and out of sight. It didn’t look to be retracting any time soon.

Garbage spilled forth from the cave, covering the ground of the trench so that no natural floor could be seen. It gathered in piles here and there, but compared to the mountains of trash in the cave, they were unimpressive at best. T began to see that the larger piles of junk dotted about the landscape were in fact small huts. She realized this only because people had started to duck out of them and gathered, disappearing one at a time, into the largest of the “dwellings,” just down the hill from where T stood.

She felt embarrassed and out of place–an intrusive observer–but though she was quite visibly perched on the lip of the cave, people didn’t pay her any mind. It was at this moment that T felt the aching, hollow emptiness of her loneliness, and with alarming clarity, realized that she had planned very little for what would happen after her jump.

She sat down just inside the cave on an old transporter seat, foam escaping from a gigantic rip in the side. The heat from the sun was intense, clearly unfiltered by any kind of atmo-shield, and she was starting to feel faint. If T ever cried, this would be the moment for it, but she was not prone to emotional break-downs and besides, she wasn’t sure she had the water to spare. Instead, she stared blankly at the odds and ends scattered about: A huge bunch of wires protruding from the ground like squid tentacles, each end frayed and wild; the metal coils of a refrigeration unit; a three legged chair; thin, bent frames of lenseless eye-wear; the arm of a doll–its hand curling slightly inward, the fingers stuck together except for a thumb that pointed upward and seemed to be signaling “I’m okay”; hundreds and hundreds of ancient phones with lightless dial pads and empty, cracked screens. T saw plastic and even more paper–ancient things that the New World had begun to forget. She shuffled odds and ends about with the toe of her Sked.

She had leaped into thin air and landed in the world of the forgotten. Appropriate, she thought.

Nerdy Thursday: A Relative Endeavor

1414085719I LOVE THIS SITE. I found out about the concept late in 2014 and had to wait until the beginning of 2015 to see the actual product–I am loving every minute of it now that it’s officially in my life.

The tagline (or purpose statement, if you will) of this website is “Three relatives challenging each other and you to be boldly creative!
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These lovely women take turns giving each other creative challenges to complete, and then report on the process and result of each project. In so doing, they push each other to grow in their perspective of the world, beauty, creativity, themselves. And we as the audience are invited to participate in the play and discovery!

Along with a detailed description of each “challenge,” Elizabeth, Joanna, and Julia take turns writing the “Life Lately” blog on the site, each entry a snapshot of just what the title suggests.

All in all, this web-venture is a homey place to come to for relaxation and inspiration. I could not recommend it more.5956274_orig

Review: UNBROKEN by Laura Hillenbrand

This book is enthralling from page one. The telling of 95095130Olympic athlete-then WWII bomber-then castaway-then Pacific POW survivor Louis Zamperini is fascinating, heartbreaking, and inspiring.
Hillenbrand deftly unfolds Zamperini’s journey even as she paints a picture of WII in the Pacific and POW camps in Japan through the stories of the men who experienced them. Zamperini’s story is the center around which this book revolves, and it accomplishes its tribute to him while also honoring the lives of lesser known men who shared similar experiences to Zamperini.
I especially appreciated how Hillenbrand made WII history feel so accessible. I found myself riveted by long passages detailing B-24 aircraft used in WWII, and the missions men ran in them.
In addition to Zamperini’s incredible story, I suspect that Hillenbrand’s own fascination and passion for this project are to credit for the engaging nature of this read.

Highly recommended, and much more so than the 2014 film adaptation. Though a solid film, Angelina Jolie’s Unbroken is, to me, an incomplete picture of Zamperini’s journey.

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