100-word Flash Fiction

Ever heard of 100-word flash fiction? I’m not sure how many of you were following this blog way back when I used to call it “Madison Woods” and used to write a lot more fiction.

Well, writing anything remotely resembling a complete thought, let alone a story, is difficult with only 100 words. It’s great exercise, though.

Here’s one of my favorites. This little snapshot of a scene will be used in one of my upcoming Bounty Hunter novels. As were most of my flash pieces, it was inspired by a photo/image that I took.


Sapphire Rhapsody

She rolled the pink sapphire from hand to hand, gauging the weight.

Placing it to her lips, she inhaled slowly.A few stray ions lingered.

Good.

She placed the stone into her mouth on her tongue, avoiding her teeth. Touching them would have grounded the little energy she’d managed to siphon off.

Raising a small box to her mouth, she deposited the reenergized jewel inside.

Fractured light burst through the sheer mica top, particle and wave both playing a rhapsody against the miniscule tiles lining the sides of the container.

“Hear it?” She smiled. “That’s where I got my name.”


Getting Back to Fiction

And now I think I’ll dip my toes into doing it a bit more often. I won’t blog about it here after today, though, so if you want to hear about my fiction life, follow me at my Rural Fantasy blog.

I’ve also been writing #vss365 tweets. This is even shorter than 100-words. You can find me there as @erthwitch, if you’d like to connect with my alter ego at Twitter sometimes.

The 100-word Flash Fiction group called Friday Fictioneers

I started a round-robin sort of group on my blog at some point near 2011 or 2010. I found some willing writers through Twitter, mostly, and we started a weekly thing. We’d share short stories, very short stories, based on whatever photo I’d pick for that week. Then we’d read and comment on each other’s work.

Those were fun times, but it grew and soon became a lot of work to maintain. I wanted to veer off into another direction for a while.

Fairy Blog Mother

That’s when Rochelle Wisoff-Fields, one of the Fictioneers, stepped up. She adopted my baby and gave it a new home at her blog about four years ago now, maybe five. Since that time it’s grown exponentially. I noticed today that she’s known as the Fairy Blog Mother now 🙂 She’s an excellent hostess and guide. Herding cats is one of her specialties, I know.

Current Iteration of Friday Fictioneers

If you like to read flash fiction of the 100-word sort, you’ll find a lot of it at Rochelle’s blog. Feel free to join in if you like, but first go read the introduction to how it works.

Not Abandoning the Non-Fiction

I’m not done with the nonfiction, though. Up next on the agenda is an article on Lobelia inflata for the North American Native Plant Society, which will also include one of my drawings. That will be published in summer, and another article on Green Dragon and Jack-in-the-Pulpit are on the docket for 2018.

Also on the to-do list is to revamp the DIY Ginseng Habitat and Site Assessment Guide. That’s my best selling title, and it’s in need of some cleanup.

Feathered Rovers, a Poem

A little time alone watching a flock of birds in the woods today inspired a poem.

My poetry is infrequent and when the drive to write one hits, I just have to get it out of my head. And since I’m not a practiced poet, lol, it never has a formal structure. Just free verse. Some imagery I needed to record, and I hope you enjoy it too.

Feathered Rovers, a free verse poem by Madison Woods
click to enlarge

What is the “back burner”, really?

Back Burner

You’ve probably referred to projects you’ve put on hold as being “on the back burner”. I understood what the phrase meant, and had used it often myself, but when we got our new/old cook stove, I learned how the saying probably came about.

I'll be putting things on the back burner for real with our new/old wood or coal cook stove.
I’ll be putting things on the back burner for real with our new/old wood or coal cook stove.

While the previous owner explained to us how to operate the stove, the meaning of the “back burner” phrase became very obvious. On these old stoves, the heat is most intense on the front burners. The back burners never get very hot, but can simmer or slow cook the foods.

This link has a very good explanation of the phrase origins. The foods that don’t need a lot of attention can go on the back burner. If it needs to be frequently stirred, put it on the front burner and get it finished.

Nowadays we put things on the back burner if we’re not ready to work on them yet, but don’t want to completely forget about it.

Moving things back to the front

I’ve had some items on the back burner for a few months and today finally got one of them moved to the front, finished up, and taken off the stove altogether.

The first draft for an article on ginseng habitat through the seasons is in the hands of the Blazing Star editor now. There may be some edits required, and when those come back it’ll be on the front burner because the timeline will be too short to move it to the back again.

The Blazing Star is the newsletter for the North American Native Plant Society. It’s a pretty big deal to me to have a byline in that publication, so I’m excited. It should be live in spring.

Moving the pots around

Tomorrow I’ll take two more of the things I had on back burners and move them to the front. Another article for United Plant Savers about our public ginseng sanctuary in Bentonville, AR and a third one about ginseng for a guest post at LiveVote.com. I’m not too sure about the possible exposure for the guest post, but I’m curious enough to find out.

Still on the back burner

I know it seems like my Bounty Hunter novel is on the back burner, and in a way parts of it are… is? Neither tense of the verb looks or sounds right.

Anyway, I’m not working sequentially on it right now. I’ve been recording some notes and ideas for scenes that come later on in the series and I need to write those down as they bubble up or I forget them.

Chapter ten is ready for me to upload to beta readers and so that part is moving to a front burner soon. Then I have to decide whether I’ll wrap it up as a short novel or continue to full-length. The target was 80K or so words, but it seems that shorter works are fairly popular right now and if I break it up to smaller books then I can publish more of them more quickly.

We now have real back burners to go with my metaphorical ones

I can’t wait to get our new/old stove hooked up so I can try it out. Then I can test the origin of the phrase myself and really “put things on the back burner”. As if I need encouragement with that.

Two weeks to Relax, Have a Fun Spree, Regroup

For the next two weeks I’ll be on internet vacation trying to relax and have some fun.

I’ll be trying to relax. I know I’ll have fun. But for the blog and social networks, that means I’ll be spending little or no time on the internet. This is the first of the auto-posts I have scheduled. I’ll update you later on whether I was successful at “relaxing” during my break!

I’ve just recently finished a few projects:

When I’m done with my break, I have some projects to begin:

  • Article to write for United Plant Savers
  • Article to write for North American Native Plant Society’s Blazing Star magazine
  • Column idea to pitch to Arkansas Wild Magazine
  • Nature Sketching workshop to organize and schedule
  • Author Event at Kimberling City Library to prepare for
  • Novel to finish writing
  • SEO issues with website to address

So, I’m not taking a break for stress relief, but to spend some quality time away from the computer. Instead of writing and creating or marketing things I’ve written or created, I’ll be having a two-week spree of fun with my husband. And then I’ll be regrouping and getting back to work.

Relax?

Although this break isn’t particularly to relax, thinking about stress relief got me thinking about it. I don’t think I know how to relax. Unless I’m sleeping.

Actually, I find thinking is relaxing. It’s when I can’t wrangle the time to think that I get stressed. But as far as lying-in-hammock-relaxed goes, I don’t think I can do that. Maybe one day.

If I have to do “nothing”, I’d rather be lying on a beach soaking up some rays where the water is clear and the sand is warm. But not too, too, hot. Is that asking for too much? Ha, it seems that anywhere there is sand and sun, then there is also excessive heat.

I did manage to soak up some rays on a beach this past summer for a little while, on the shores of the Persian Gulf, actually. But it was extremely hot and not very relaxing because of that, in spite of the gorgeous setting. I did, however, have a lot of fun. The summer before, we were on the sands of Destin, Florida and at the time I thought it was hot there, too, but my new beach experience showed me that there is nothing like the heat of the Middle East.

Too hot to relax long on the beach at the St. Regis hotel in Abu dhabi
The beach

What do you do to relax when life is stressful or you just need a break?

For normal everyday stress I walk outside a bit or sit on my favorite rock in the creek and listen to the water trickle by. But for big releases, I like complete departures.

Funny Dream

This is an old post I’m recycling from 2009 about a funny dream.  I’m going through my old blog posts and will reuse the ones I like. The old blog isn’t online anywhere anymore, anyway.

At this time I was working on a novel I had tentatively named “Retribution”.

Later I changed the title to “Symbiosis”, and finally finished it last year. I spent more than a few years working on that book. Now it sits in a figurative drawer, a file, waiting on a day when I might take it out and try to edit it into something worthwhile.

Being the first work of that length that I ever wrote, it is quite a mess.

Sleep thinking – 2009-11-30

I fell asleep musing over progress on my work-in-progress, wondering what the next step will be for the main characters. Sometimes going to sleep with those thoughts in my mind inspires dreams that will lead to answers.

It led to dreams alright. But in no way were any of them related to my book’s plot.  In fact, I woke laughing out loud at one of the dreams,  and it wasn’t that the dream was funny. It was because my response to a situation in the dream was funny…so I was laughing as I observed the dream while I was dreaming.

The line that made me laugh: “No. HELL no.”

A funny dream about fish
A funny dream about fish

That was in response to a question as to whether I wanted some fish. The fish were in an ice chest and still needed to be cleaned. What’s so funny is that this was a line from the book that I’d just added yesterday. In the dream, I used that line to turn down an ice chest of fish. It was totally out of character for me, because I would likely have been glad to take the fish if they were of good eating quality.

I thought that kind of strange but I guess most dreams are. Usually, I’m the only person I know in my dreams and they’re all populated with people I’ve never seen in my life. Last night was unusual in that all of my dreams featured people I know.

Unfortunately, I didn’t get any of the answers to my book questions.

Nature Workshop with Madison Woods

nature workshop flierWhat happens at a nature workshop?

My nature workshop is designed to help you reconnect to nature and express your experience through art, writing, and photography. It can be tailored for whatever environment is available (even cities have nature), but generally we’ll take a nature walk, look at plants and wildlife, listen to the sounds of a forest (or whatever nature exists in the area), and sit in meditation outdoors when time and weather allows.

If the slant is on writing:

We learn about the history of nature writing, examine the various ways the genre is represented (poetry, prose, photo essay), take a nature walk, capture the essence of an experience with nature by writing a “flash” scene of 100-200 words (or sketch), share & discuss.

If the slant is on sketching:

We study the work of other nature writers, examine the different styles of capturing nature on paper and discuss the various ways it can be shared if that is desired (I publish mine online and as books). Then we take a nature walk and if weather permits, do some sketching in situ. If weather isn’t cooperative, we’ll either make the nature walk quickly and collect subjects with photography or bring small objects back to the conference room to draw while inside. I usually take photos no matter what so I can finish sketches later if I don’t have time in situ. And if we draw while inside, I’ll put the photo on the projector screen so we can all work on the same item, or if the participants have gathered their own items of interest, they’ll work on them individually. At the end, we share and discuss.

For a combination workshop we’ll sketch, photograph, and write and share.


 

The Park County Library System in Cody, Wyoming modeled their 2016 nature writing workshop on those presented by WildOzark


Book a Nature Journaling Workshop with madison woods

Future workshops:

June 4, at the Art Room Gallery & Workshop of the Place on the Square in Kingston, AR

Nature Journaling with Madison Woods

Past workshops:

Today (Nov. 22, 2015) at the Hobbs State Park in northwest Arkansas, the weather cooperated to give us still winds even if it was still fairly cold. But not so cold that we couldn’t take a nature walk and gather a bit of outdoor ambiance for the “captures”. Participants shared their flash captures (100-200 words or less) and gave us all insight on the various perspectives each individual wrought from the same experience.

Here’s a few of the photos from the walk and talk at Hobb’s State Park:

 

 

Hosting a Nature Writing Workshop

The workshop hosted at Hobbs state park was sponsored by The Village Writing School

If you’d like to book a similar workshop please email me at [email protected].

I can tailor it to be heavy on the writing focus or more to the sketching/journaling slant.

Bring pencils, camera, notebook if you can or want to do some hands-on writing, drawing and photography. I’ll have a few copies of the nature journals I’ve designed on hand for $10 ea, if anyone wants to buy extra ones of those. Workshop organizers may opt to supply materials. I will usually supply the art journals. My fee can be per event or charged per person and split with organizers (with a minimum guaranteed turnout). If the location is outside of northwest Arkansas there will be travel expenses.

A little about me and the reason I offer this workshop

It is said that a relationship with nature is necessary for health. On the average, people have become more disconnected over the past few decades and often don’t know where to start to reconnect to nature. I think of myself as a “liaison for nature”. A Nature Ambassador. Wild Ozark is my outlet for helping others reconnect. Words, sketches, and photography are the mediums I use and I enjoy teaching others how to enjoy my process, so they can evolve it to their own.


Book a Nature Journaling Workshop with madison woods This is a great event for companies to offer employees. Nature writing, sketching and journaling can spur creativity and help employees reconnect to nature!


 

Nature Writing at Hobbs State Park

join us for a nature writing workshop at Hobbs State Park with Madison Woods
.
This is a past event. If you’d like to book a workshop like this one, email [email protected]

Nature is a treat for the senses but sometimes it takes effort to get past the immediate sensory input and experience a deeper relationship. Madison Woods will lead the class on a voyage of listening, looking, and feeling for connections that transport. The class will include an optional easy nature walk, a communing exercise, a discussion and practice of nature translation through words, art, and photography.

Join us at the Hobbs State Park for a Nature Journal Writing Workshop!

Date: Nov 22

Time: 1 pm to 4 pm

Where: Hobbs State Park, 20201 East Hwy. 12 , Rogers, AR 72756

Cost: $15

Bring pencils, camera, notebook if you can or want to do some hands-on writing, drawing and photography. I’ll have a few copies of the nature journals I’ve designed on hand for $10 ea, if anyone wants to buy one of those.

Click here to register.

Sponsored by :

Village Writing School
Eureka Springs School of Literary Arts
479-292-3665
177 Huntsville Road
Eureka Springs, AR 72632

Autumn sunrise shining through Gloria's leaves.

Coffee Break Reading and some pretty cool Leggings

No Qualms by ertwitch serial cover imageGet “No Qualms” delivered to your inbox in daily short bites. Perfect for coffee break reading. And check out the cool leggings featuring one of my nature journal entries.

One of my passions that I haven’t indulged much in lately is story writing. Until recently I’ve been working exclusively on nonfiction. Added to that I’ve been working on the marketing end of business, which is a lot like nonfiction, even if it does allow for a certain level of creativity.

Since wrapping up the American Ginseng & Companions book, and then the My Nature Journal book, I’ve been working on my novel Bounty Hunter again.

A little something for both of us

To help myself get back into the groove and give a little something to fans of fiction out there in my Wild Ozark world, I’m taking an old story (No Qualms) out of the file and will begin parsing it out as 200 – 300 or so daily words of fiction. This will go out only to newsletter subscribers who have checked off the box to get the Free Reads.

The main character in No Qualms will eventually meet up with the Treya and DRSS from my novel, so this story is a little background on Ledeir for you if you will be reading Bounty Hunter when I’m done 🙂

This begins Sunday, Oct. 25. If you’d like to get your free coffee break reading serial, subscribe to the monthly newsletter and be sure to click the appropriate box on the signup form. If you’re already a subscriber and didn’t get the last story I did this with, then you’ll need to update your preferences. You can do both from here. If you’re already a subscriber, when you enter your email address it’ll direct you to the update form (I think and hope): http://eepurl.com/Q2dBP

Nom de Plume

Oh, and by the way, if you didn’t notice the name on the cover image, I’m using a different name for all of my fiction work.

Reading it Later

When the series is complete through the email sends, I’ll post the whole thing over at my new fiction blog: Rural Fantasy by Erthwitch. You can find links to free copies of this story and the previous coffee break read (Ozark Pixies) there now.

Nature Sketching, One of my Other Passions

A second passion I have been making a point of indulging is nature sketching. I’m very excited about this. It’s been more than twenty years since I’ve done much artwork and I can’t even begin to explain the magnitude of my gratitude that the ability is still with me after neglecting it for so long.

Old rock wall, by Madison Woods

If you love nature sketches, you’ll enjoy my new page devoted entirely to that subject: Wild Ozark Nature Journal.

Check out the leggings!

I’m doing all sorts of cool things with the sketches and offering them as products. None of them are listed in the online catalog yet, but if you’re local you’ll be able to find them on the square in Kingston at Place on the Square Ice Cream Parlor/Coffee-shop/Vintage Store. So far, they’re carrying my post/note cards and blank nature journals. Let me know what kind of interesting items you’d like to see made from my journal entries.

There are more products, including leggings(!) made with one of the journal entries at RedBubble.

Nature Journal Leggings at RedBubble.com
Nature Journal Leggings at RedBubble.com

 

 

Tangerine Sunrise, Goodreads Giveaway, Nature Sketching

When the sun rose high enough to top the trees it washed the hills in a tangerine glow. The trees are changing fast now and I really want to take pictures every day.

Photo quality isn't all that great but you can see how bright it makes the oranges when the sun hits the hills in the morning.
Photo quality isn’t all that great but you can see how bright it makes the oranges when the sun hits the hills in the morning.

I have been drawing more often than photographing these days. Here’s the journal entry for the most recent native plant subject. It’s so dry and being late in the season, only a few of the natives in my favorite deep woods habitat are still green (at least of the ones I visit most often), but even the aging ones with spots and yellowing borders are still beautiful in the way things of autumn often are.

If you click on the image it’ll bring you to my online journal website:

Wild Ozark Nature Sketch Day 23 - Wild Ginger (Asarum canadense)
Wild Ozark Nature Sketch Day 23 – Wild Ginger (Asarum canadense)

If you enjoy sketching or want to begin, I have blank nature journals just for you. Beginning on Oct. 15 and running through Oct. 31 you can enter my Goodreads Giveaway to win a copy with an original sketch and journal entry in it by me. There are also four black and white journal entries as part of the front pages (the inspiration) of the journal.

 

Goodreads Book Giveaway

My Nature Journal by Madison Woods

My Nature Journal

by Madison Woods

Giveaway ends October 31, 2015.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.


And if you would enjoy a little fiction with your morning coffee, be sure to sign up for my newsletter or set your preferences if you already have so you can get the “Free Reads”. I’m working on serializing “No Qualms” and hope to begin daily deliveries of it on November 1.

No Qualms Serial Cover Image
Click the image to go to the newsletter signup form. I believe when you put in your address it’ll let you change preferences if you’re already a member.

Here’s a nice fat rose hip down by the gate. I’m not sure what variety of rose it is, but the flower is a beautiful deep red and when the japanese beetles leave it alone it makes the most spectacular buds which open to a pretty, but fairly ordinary rose.

Rose hip
Rose Hip

 

Busy Days at Wild Ozark

I’ve been busy lately, but you wouldn’t know it from my lack of posts to the blog. New projects started (Wild Ozark Nature Journal) and a new website to go with it, new products, and new adventures. Last Friday I spoke at Compton Gardens in Bentonville about the habitat of American ginseng. Afterwards I talked with people, sold and autographed books. That was a new thing for me, and it was lots of fun! I think I’m almost over my fear of public speaking 🙂

Back to Market

I’m finally able to get back to the Huntsville Farmer’s Market on Tuesdays and Saturdays. The one today was disappointing. I thought with Bikes Blues & BBQ there would be more browsers at least. But there was hardly any traffic stopping at our little market. Lots of traffic passing us by, though.

I did get a very nice visit in with my friends Duke and Kim Pennell from Pen-L publishing, though. We had a great lunch at the Madison County Coffee Shop and lots of “shop” talk about publishing, authoring, and marketing.

Since the flood, my booth features a different selection of items than it did before. I lost most of the plants so now you’ll find herbal balms (featuring our local American ginseng), books, ginseng information, and nature journal crafts.

I’m usually there on Tuesdays and Fridays from 7-12, but this coming Saturday there won’t be a market because instead there’s a car show. To keep up with the most current info on where I’ll be and when, follow my FB page. If I haven’t posted about it, feel free to email or message me or post on my timeline to ask.

Nature Journal

  • Daily entries featuring a sketch and a bit of musing about my choice of subject or setting.

Here’s an excerpt from the post part of today’s entry:

I love rocks. I love collecting them, especially the ones with fossils embedded. I also like sitting on them. When I find a rock to sit on, I like to just listen. When you sit alone in nature you’ll hear a lot of sounds. At first you’ll hear the loudest, closest, or most prevalent sounds. But then you’ll start to notice the other more subtle ones that are usually overlooked by people in a hurry on on a mission to get from point a to point b. – excerpt from the new Wild Ozark Nature Journal (Day 6)

New Products

  • Balms with American Ginseng
  • Post and Note Cards and Prints using my Nature Journal Entries

 

A Picture of a Ginseng Root

Click HERE for pictures of 2015 roots from readers.

Odd Ginseng Roots

Soon the digging season for ginseng will begin here in Arkansas. For those doing a bit of searching online for a picture of a ginseng root, here’s a one of an interesting root design. This one has two necks and two root portions, but only one bud. The one pictured below is from last year.

This is a picture of a ginseng root. The bud for next year is on the lower left horizontal. The skinny part in the center is the other neck.
This is a picture of a ginseng root. The bud for next year is on the lower left horizontal. The skinny part in the center is the other neck.
Ohio ginseng roots 2015, looks like a man!
A man-shaped root from Ohio. Click here to read the story about it.

Sometimes the roots will get damaged and begin growing a different direction. Sometimes there’s a rock in the way. There’s no telling why a ginseng root will take the shape it does, but the wild ones are often quite tricky when digging because of the way they reach in unexpected directions.

A few things distinguish a ginseng root from other roots. One is the neck with bud scars. Each year the stem leaves a scar when it dies back in fall. The bud for next year is already in place and waiting for spring. On the root portion you can see concentric rings where dirt collects and stains.

Those rings are a defining thing to look for, as are the bud scars on the neck. Judging from the scars, the root pictured above is probably more than 15 years old. I don’t have the root here to examine now, and it’s sometimes harder to see when they’re dried, but it’s likely older than that. The stem swaps sides each year, so there’s a scar on either side of the neck.

Here in the Ozarks, at least in our area in northwest Arkansas, most of the berries have already fallen. The leaves are beginning to turn yellow and with all the rain we’ve had, some of the plants have actually died back already. They should come back next year. Some of mine were probably washed out in the flooding we had during June. Those might find new root in new locations if they washed high enough ashore in a good place.

My seeds should arrive in early October and then I’ll be in the woods daily planting new stock. In April next year I should have a lot of new seedlings to bring to the Huntsville Farmer’s Market. I have some new locations I want to test, too, so I’ll be planting some in places I haven’t tried before.

Mired in a To-Do List

I haven’t been making many posts lately to my blog.

Lately it seems I’ve been busier than normal and I haven’t even been out to take my usual slew of photos.

Writing Fiction

Almost all of the priority items on my to-do list have been indoor things, like catching up on business ledgers. And posting a daily dose of short story to my list members who like fiction.

I’ve also been working on a novel. I tend to go quiet on the blog sometimes when I’m working on fiction projects but I might start posting a few excerpts from the novel here and there.

Seasonal Allergies

Then, too, the ragweed is blooming now. It’s the one plant that really doesn’t get along well with me.

So I do tend to stay indoors until the worst of the pollen has drifted away.

But I’m getting antsy to be outdoors.

Being indoors so much is beginning to make me a bit stir crazy.

A New Thing – Wild Ozark Serial Fiction

Short Stories

Serial fiction delivered to your inbox in 100-300 word segments each day until the story is finished.

Wild Ozark Newsletter

This is just a short message to invite you to join me for short sections of a short story every morning. I’m breaking up some of my previously published short stories and sending them out in 100-300 word sections every morning at 4 a.m. (Central, if MailChimp is on my time).

These are designed to be just enough to get a quick fiction fix before heading out the door for work while you’re having your morning coffee.

If you’d like to get them, click the link at the bottom of this email and sign up for the newsletter. If you’re already a member, enter your email address and it ought to give you an email with a secure link to update your preferences. When you’re at the MailChimp preference screen, click on the box for “Short Story, 100-300 words per day”. You’ll only get it if you opt in by checking that box. This will not affect the normal monthly newsletter.

Once the first story is finished, I’ll get another one ready to send. There might be a few weeks between, depending on how quickly I can get my act together for the next story. Before each story begins, I’ll tell you a little about and if there is any explicit language or situations, I’ll tell you so you can opt out of it if you want.

The first story is Ozark Pixies. Here’s the blurb for it over at Amazon:

Norma is a newcomer to the Ozarks and she is convinced she’s seeing pixies, little creatures known only in the local legends. When she captures one it turns out to be a vengeful creature and she soon wishes she’d never have attempted to prove to her husband that she wasn’t imagining things. Set in the Ozarks. 2700 word short story. Content: safe for general audience. I think I might have used “ass” in it once.

To have the stories delivered to your inbox, sign up or update your preferences to check off the box for it if you’re already a Wild Ozarkian. Here’s the link: Wild Ozark Newsletter

Disappearing for a while

Just a notice to anyone who might wonder why there’s been no posts for a while…

I’d been really busy finishing up some projects (10 Common Plants and American Ginseng & Companions). Now that those are done I’m taking a too-short but much anticipated vacation and break from the internet.

When I’m back online I have some fiction projects to work on and I’m already looking forward to that.

In addition to the ginseng and nature-blogging, I’m a fiction writer. Most of it is either influenced by my life out here or is actually set in the Ozarks.

Beginning when I return I’ll begin a serialized short story. I’ll post 100-200 words per day of a short story until it’s all posted. I’ll also begin working on pod-casting the same things.

It’s just one more way to put a few more eggs in the self-reliance basket. I haven’t tried selling fiction yet, other than simply posting a short story or two to Amazon. I’m not sure it’ll add much to the bottom line. But it’s something I enjoy and it’s been too long since I’ve immersed in the magical side of the Ozarks.

The first story up for serializing is Ozark Pixies. It’s scheduled to begin on August 14.

When I have anything posted at the Fantasy site, I’ll drop a link to it here. I hope you’ll join me sometimes!

ozark pixies serial story advertisement graphic
Ignore the date. I was too ambitious when I made the graphic!

 

A Homesteading Hermit Self-Reliant Writer’s To-Do List

I’m a self-reliant writer for the most part. I’m also a homesteader and close to being a hermit (hermitress) these days. It would take a lot more money than I make at it to delegate any of the tasks, homesteaderly or otherwise, and more time than I want to spend waiting on traditional publishing so others can do some of the writerly-related tasks for me.

How a Writer’s To-Do list Ties in with Self-Reliance on the Homestead

Seeing as how this blog is focused on nature, homesteading and becoming self-reliant, it would at first seem that the following list has strayed way off topic.

But that’s not true.

Self-Reliance means more than homesteading the land. It also, in our case, means becoming self-reliant in our finances. Right now, Rob is working outside of the homestead, and while he’s doing that I’m working toward bringing our finances to a self-reliant state by building the foundation to our business.

What Do Writers Do?

Well, we write, of course. And while we’re doing that we can’t really do anything else. But as a mostly self-published writer, there’s also the fact that I have to be self-reliant for all of my own marketing and promotion, website design, cover design, formatting and the actual publishing, ordering of copies and selling of the books.

Keeping an entertaining, interesting, and informative website is my goal not only because I enjoy doing it simply for the sake of sharing, but also because it’s a lifeline for finding new readers.

To ensure a lot of readers continue to come here from search engines, I have to keep the site functioning properly. It needs work to stay in Google’s good graces especially, because that’s where the lion’s share of my visitors originate (even if those visitors rarely leave me nice comments, or any comments at all…*hint**hint*).

Virtual Clutter

Just as I tend to collect real things like rocks and plants and books and papers and notes and… (the list goes on and on), I also tend to do the same with my virtual space. The result is that the website becomes cluttered and convoluted and pretty soon even I have to search for things I need when I need them.

So part of my to-do list involved a bit of cleanup on the website. Part of it is ordinary homestead stuff.

Having just published two new books means there is behind-the-scenes work to do for that. And just having been scheduled for two speaking engagements means I have some follow-up to do for that, which I can’t do until some of the list items are marked “done”.

A typical homesteading writer’s list?

The list is typical a lot of *my* weeks. I’m not sure how much of this is stuff other writers do, or how many other homesteaders are also writers. So there’s no telling how typical the list is. I’d like your thoughts on that, actually. Being a hermit out here makes it hard to know what others are doing and my blog cruising time has dropped off to almost nil these days.

You’ll notice I didn’t list housework… well, a certain amount of it is just a given. I’ll do what has to be done, but it’s usually at the bottom of the list and incidental. Guests beware. The state of my house is reflected in the list below, ha.

FINALLY. The list.

I’ll just post it the way I have it scribbled on my notes:

  • make coupon for 100% off PDF
  • Update Kindle versions to mention paperback
  • Update paperback version to mention Kindle versions
  • Add SmartURL’s for book at Amazon
  • redirect duplicate book pages
  • find out how to get podcasts to show up on podcast reader apps
  • assign canonical URL’s for duplicate posts I want to keep
  • update the July household ledger
  • begin working on the 2015 business ledgers
  • brush the horses and pick hooves
  • make blog post
  • make media package for speaking engagements so i can find all the info easier next time
  • send the above to the two places i have scheduled speaking to do
  • update the book page
  • find out if I can recycle ISBN no longer in use
  • vacuum seal the rest of the sugar
  • repair fence at creek crossing
  • finish weeding garden
  • get back to work on Bounty Hunter (my fiction novel in progress)

And there you have it. A typical day in the life of a homesteading hermit writer.

Gorgeous purple clematis blooming at the Wild Ozark homestead.
Gorgeous purple clematis blooming at the Wild Ozark homestead.
bones from a cave in northwest arkansas

Rainy Days are Writing “Bounty Hunter” Days

It’s been raining off and on here since last night. It seems like it’s been raining every day since I can’t remember when. I’m tired of it and will be glad when the ground is dry and the creeks are passable again, but in the meantime I’ve been writing.

When I’m writing ficiton, it’s hard to write non-fiction, and the reverse is true too. So if there are less blog posts here than before, that’s why. I’ve been working on an urban fantasy novel.

Bounty Hunter is set in a dystopian Ozarks and there will be alternate realms, too, because one of the characters moves between them to get around. I’m 14,710 words into it now and by the time I write “The End” there should be close to 125,000.

Trey and DRSS are the main characters. They’re bounty hunters for a government agency called ARSA. A third main character (the main character from my short story No Qualms) will be introduced later on in the book, possibly not until the second book.

Here’s my 50-word synopsis:

Treya signs on to be an ARSA agent- a bounty hunter. Criminals are hunted to grub stage, which means they need to be killed three times to force the lowest incarnation. What Treya doesn’t know is that she’s on a hit list, too, and the hunter will become the hunted.

Some of the scenes from this book are inspired by photos I’ve taken over the years. Here’s one that inspired a scene in the alternate realm where Treya has pursued her pursuer.

These bone remnants from a real cave in northwest Arkansas gave me the idea for an  alternate reality setting for a scene in my novel.
These bone remnants from a real cave in northwest Arkansas gave me the idea for an alternate reality setting for a scene in my novel.

If you’d like to read the first two chapters of Bounty Hunter (and give me some feedback on how you like it), join my private FB group. The first two chapters are loaded into the files section and I’ll load the rest of them as I finish them. Or email me and I’ll send it to you that way.

 

image of coins and bill

The cost of doing (DVD) business with Amazon

Ever wondered how much an author makes per book or product through Amazon? Royalties aren’t bad for books and e-books. I get 70% on the ones that are listed exclusively through Amazon if the price is over $2.99, and 35% for those I want to be available anywhere else. So, for example, Sustainable Ginseng is listed at $2.99 (e-book). I get 35% royalties on that title, which leaves me $1.05 per e-book sold after fees are subtracted.

But publishing a DVD with them using my own ISBN (the identifier for a book that will designate Wild Ozark as the publisher instead of Amazon) is another story entirely unless I charge double what I’d intended for the DVD.

Here’s the story on that.

The Original Plan

So I thought I would offer those DVD’s I’ve been working on for $10. That’s a fair price with a fair profit margin after subtracting the cost of supplies, postage, and the time I put into it. Figured I’d do business with Amazon as I usually do with my e-books and print titles. I always want to broaden my reach. Boy I got a huge surprise when I visited Createspace to see into the details.

coins and a dollar

The Problem

If I publish them for $10, then I’ll see about $0.50 on each sale. There’s a $4.95 charge for each one and then they take an additional 45% cut of the sale price. YIKES! 

I understand the $4.95 surcharge. They have to cover their expenses, because they POD and package them to ship. But there’s no way I can make a living on those wages! I had to come up with a solution.

The Solution

So here’s the plan.

I’m going to sell them each for $20. Both the USB and the DVD. I’ll have to use this price at my website too, or it’ll seem to be a drastic undercut to Amazon’s prices. But subscribers to my newsletter will get a coupon that puts the cost of them right back down to the original $10 for a DVD and $12 for the USB if ordered from the Wild Ozark shop.

If you want to sign up for the newsletter now, there’s a link on the side-bar under the cover image for the DVD.

If you’re a current subscriber considering purchasing this product, be sure to let me know so I can get the coupon to you. New subscribers will get it on the confirmation email after signing up.

Here’s the video trailer I have over at YouTube to advertise the DVD/USB:

Ozark Inspired Podcasts

Prefer to listen to your stories more than read? Do you like Pinterest? I’ve created a Pinterest board just for Ozark related stories and essays. Do you write fiction or non-fiction that is inspired somehow by the Ozarks? Put them to audio recordings and join my board at Pinterest.

Ozark Inspired Podcasts

I’ve started putting my flash fiction stories and the photo prompts that inspired them to my Writing website as podcasts. If any of you who are writers want to use the photos I post and create your own stories, feel free & to link to your post in the comments to my stories. I’ll be posting the podcasts to Pinterest as I get around to it and having been inspired by another writer friend of mine, have created an open/shared board called “Ozark-Inspired Podcasts“. If any of you want to make audio recordings of your stories and join it, let me know. This board isn’t limited to fiction, but only needs to be Ozark inspired or written by Ozark authors. To join, comment on one of the pins and let me know. I’d love to get a variety of audio pins from Ozark influenced authors.

Madison Woods Stories

My stories are all somehow influenced by my life here in the Ozarks, but are usually not “about” the Ozarks. Eventually I’ll add some audio of my non-fiction articles to the Pinterest board, the Nature Journal essays and some of the ones that are about the plants and things more directly Ozark related.

 

 

 

snow covered oak limbs

Raising the Bar at Wild Ozark

Today we were gifted with more snow. Yesterday when I got out of bed, the sun shown brightly with promises of warmth at least from direct sunlight. So I let the horses out to scrounge around for what little grass might be popping up from beneath melted snow from last week. We decided to go to town to get more hay. By the time we’d paid for the hay and were walking out the door it had become overcast and snow fell from the skies. That was unexpected.

Snow continued to fall, tiny powder flakes, for the rest of the day. Thankfully, the horses came when I called and I didn’t have to get on the 4-wheeler to go retrieve them from a grassy honey-hole somewhere.

The snow drifted down slowly all night long, too. Still only about an inch or two collected on the ground. But snow is still falling now at 1018, and the flakes are bigger and falling with what seems intention to cover all with a blanket of white.

southeastward

This year is still new-ish, but already it’s gathering speed and momentum. Look- February is already gone! Before we know it, we’ll all crash through the finish line of yet another year. Here at Wild Ozark we’re experiencing the thrill and excitement of raising the bar. Since it’s so early in the year, the challenge will be to continue to meet these expectations…

Excitement at Wild Ozark

Egg-cellent Performance

strange colored eggI’ll start with the chickens. Their greatest accomplishment this year had to do with eggs. The hens raised the bar on their own performance this past week by laying eight eggs yesterday, more than we’ve had all season in one day so far. And one of the hens left a very unusually colored egg in the nest. One hen has decided that the hay storage area is a better place for a nest and has begun sneaking in there to lay eggs, then escaping from the window that has no glass left in it afterward. Altogether we have 15 hens and a rooster. Four of them are new and won’t begin laying until possibly spring.

The maran’s are trying to get the color saturation right, I guess. Their eggs become very dark brown later in the season. One of the green egg layers laid two eggs in one day, two days in a row! Talk about feats hard to beat.

On the Business Front

  • Lots of addresses on the nursery plant list. Twenty interested persons have asked to be added to the nursery mailing list. This is a great start for a small nursery. Each year we’ll have more to offer and better variety. This first year will test the waters on demand so I’ll know how much of everything to plant for next year’s market season.
  • The Huntsville Farmer’s Market begins some time in April or early May. Our first meeting to plan is on March 17, so I’ll have more details then. I’ll be there at least on the weekday market every week with Ginseng Habitat Related books, information, and  plants to sell. The slide-show on USB will be playing on the monitor so if you can’t or don’t want to buy it, come by and watch for free and enjoy the good market company. It’ll be fun just to visit. I’d love to hear your ginseng stories.
  • Wild Ozark sold more books in one month than ever before! 52 and the day isn’t even over yet.
  • Survey Results – thank you to all of you who voted in my survey about the best format for a photo book. The results say that in spite of the higher cost, most prefer a hard copy book. For second place results were tied between the USB and magazine format. There are five winners of the Wild Ozark Herbs DVD/slideshow to be notified. I’ll need to collect addresses for shipping. Those winners are listed below.
  • Landed a grant from United Plant Savers to install ginseng habitat – my first ever successful grant application (and the first grant ever applied for). This will pay for printing booklets for the next and greatest of the bar-raising highlights so far…
  • Wild Ozark will work in conjunction with Peel-Compton Gardens in Bentonville to install a ginseng habitat, complete (of course) with ginseng and companion plants. This will be a public place people can go to see and learn about ginseng. I’m so excited by this project. The goal is to provide a hands-on interaction with ginseng and the companions. It will help teach how to identify and protect the habitat. Our hope is that with education about the fragility of the ecosystem, we can help protect the plant and give knowledge to those new to the lure of digging. We hope to instill a sense of stewardship and long-term thinking and planning, thereby providing the means to ensure ginseng’s survival for generations to come. We hope others will become interested in restoring habitats on private property for a plant steeped in history and lore. Once we get started working on this project this spring, I’ll chronicle our progress on a page all of its own. If you’re on my monthly newsletter list, you’ll be sure to get the announcement when that page is ready, or you can watch for it here or on the social medias. Newsletter members may get special announcements or invitations regarding this project that I don’t post to my blog…

Winners of the Wild Ozark Herbs DVD/Slide-show

  • Piya
  • Terry
  • Jim
  • Carla
  • Bill

Thank you for voting! I’ll be emailing you for your mailing addresses.

 

Torture of Taxes, Podcasts and Frozen Water

Today I’ve been undergoing the torture of  taxes,  podcasts and frozen water . I’m doing taxes for the business, repairing broken podcast audio files, compiling good nature blog links, and making the chickens happy today. Compiling the good nature blog links has actually been a pleasant task, though. And at least the water job ended with me feeling victorious. Taxes are turning out to be another matter entirely.

Ugghh! Taxes

Why can’t the language and rules for the IRS be simple? And why can’t there be some special simple provisions for businesses that make less than $1000 in a year? Ha, maybe that kind of business is a very small niche, but it would be oh so helpful if such provisions existed for poor little bootstrap companies like ours.

It is tax time and I’ve been spending the day trying to figure out how to do them. I didn’t know filing would be so different when it comes to having an LLC business versus a single proprietor home-based business. Ugh. Too many things I didn’t know, but I’m glad I’m at least not past any deadlines I didn’t know I had until today. Of course, a person should SHOULD NOT begin businesses without some forethought into things like this, and there should be better record-keeping than I’m prone to do… I suppose a new item or two was just added to my New Year’s resolution list. I wish I knew more about bookkeeping now.

photo of laughing dog

Podcast Woes

I just found out today that none of my podcasts were working. They’re all at the Fantasy website. It worked for a while, but at some point, probably with the most recent website updates, the recordings disappeared. Well, now they’re back.

Nature Blogs

I’ve been collecting URLs of various nature blogs I find, as I find them. What I’d like to also start adding are links to authors or websites featuring fiction inspired by nature. If you’re such an author, or know of one, let me know and I’ll add your link to the index page too. The Nature Blogs index is going to be one of those constantly updating pages on this site, much like the Ginseng Articles and Headlines page is.

Making the Chickens Happy

Today I decided to uncover the water line that feeds the chickens and dogs and cats to see why it was still not working. As I suspected, it was still icy underneath the tarp and blankets I’d used to try and insulate it from the cold. Apparently, once it froze underneath the cover it did an admirable job of insulating the ice. It required a blowdryer and some time, but now the water is flowing again. The chickens all gathered to celebrate and have sips as the bucket filled.

 

Random Nature Connection – Do Animals Plan Ahead?

2nd Friday after Winter Solstice

This is the second of my weekly #RandomNatureConnection posts. Read more about this meme here and consider joining us if you love nature and blog about it.

Here’s a short Tweet you can use to invite others:

Join us for #RandomNatureConnection!

The other Random Nature Connection posts:

photo of sunset in winter in the ozarks

Humans tend to think a lot about the past and the future, and (at least some of us) not so much on the present. It takes a special conscious effort for me to stay focused on the present moment because I’m always thinking of what I want to do in the future. I know others who spend more time remembering the past than they spend in the present or future.

This is the second day of the new year according to the Gregorian calendar, but according to the seasonal wheel of the year, it’s the 11th day after the winter solstice, which makes a more sensible first day of the year. The day after winter solstice is the first day of the year when days begin becoming longer and nights become shorter. At least for those of us here in the northern hemisphere. The opposite cycle is occurring for those of the southern hemisphere.

At first I started to say that humans are the only creatures that think of the future and plan ahead, but maybe that isn’t so. Right now at the time I’m writing this, outside on the ground, squirrels and chipmunks here at Wild Ozark are scurrying through the dead leaves on the ground. They’re making quite a bit of noise as they search for nuts. The reason they’re searching so diligently is to store food for the days ahead when snow covers the ground, or ice. This requires forethought, although I suppose it’s possible that they don’t consciously know why they’re doing it. They’re driven by instinct. This keeps them in the present moment, the not knowing. So I guess I’m back to the original posit that humans are the only ones who think of the future or the past. Perhaps you know of instances where animals show signs of forethought? If so, leave a comment for me.

I believe we humans could rely more on instinct to do what needs to be done when it needs to be done if we weren’t so preoccupied with making sure we’re taking care of the future by planning it all out.

Ironically, I’m thinking of my intentions for the future today and one of the things on my list of things I’d like to do is to focus more on the present.

Here’s the few items on my list of New Year Resolutions:

  • Start a daily exercise/stretching/meditation (I want to incorporate meditation into this routine so it’ll be a physical and mental workout). This habit will be a daily present-time-focus experience.
  • Reach a 50K word goal on my new novel in progress.
  • Reduce the amount of time I spend fiddling with my website and social media.

That’s pretty much it on my list. It’s the shortest one I think I’ve ever done. What’s on your list?

I’ll be at the dentist until later today, so if you leave your link I’ll be back online to take a look at your blog this afternoon!

 

 

Fiction influenced by Nature

At first glance it might be hard to imagine how my fiction could be influenced by nature. There are three things that make it so. Maybe there’s more than three, but these are the ones that stand out for me.

Setting, Plants and Predators

 

Specifically, it’s the places where the stories take place, the relationships that humans have with plants (or plants with humans) and the relationships predators have with prey (and vice-versa). These themes factor heavily into the plots of what I write, even if the details have been drawn more from my dreams (and possibly nightmares) than from day-to-day reality.predator eating prey

In my short story, No Qualms, there is influence from location, plants and the predator/prey relationship. Ledeir collects bloodroot to serve as her protection in facing an otherworldly threat called a shadeling. This story is set at the Sinking Stream Trail at Hobb’s State Park near War Eagle in northwest Arkansas but it quickly goes from the real-world to an alternate one.

I’m 622 words into a new novel called Bounty Hunter.

For a spring board I’m using a short story I’d already written and several 100-word flash fiction stories that used the characters and settings from that short story’s larger story. If you’re curious, here’s one of the flash stories. Treya is the main character in the new novel. She’s a bounty hunter for an agency called ARSA (Arrests, Retribution and Silencing Agency). In this world setting criminals incarnate into lower life forms when they’re killed, so the bounty hunter has to track them down to whatever level the agency determines is adequate before the job is considered “done”. In the short story I linked to, Eli is the target Treya is hunting and Tva is a non-human entity. Eli is setting up an encounter between Tva and Treya as a trap to eliminate Treya from the chase.

Here’s my progress page for this novel if you want to keep track of how far along it is and read excerpts that I’ll post from time to time. The first paragraph of the opening scene is posted there now.

writer's mood graphic from writertopia.com
So far, so good

and by end of day…

image from writertopia.com
Bleary-eyed and done for the day!

update 12/29

As of 2/22/16 – on the second draft now, at least. Well, no one can accuse me of “churning” out the words, LOL!

Cover and Sample Page

Here’s the cover and sample page for “Forest Companions”, the last book in the “Into the Ginseng Wood” series. Should be at Amazon by the weekend! If you want to catch up on the others, heres a link to the first one: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00OFAMAS6. They open into full page photos, no double-tapping required!

Click on the image below to go to the latest release.

forest companions cover image

 

My Results from the Humanmetrics Jung Typology Test™

The Humanmetrics Jung Typology Test™ was a fun, free little online test, sort of like the Myers-Briggs test to determine personality types: https://www.humanmetrics.com/index.htm#intro.

After you’re done and when you click on the “Career Choices” info button, it gives some details about the kinds of careers that would be most satisfying for your type. I found mine to be fairly accurate, but I was quite pleased to see the company I share in type-casting, haha. Seems I’m in good company with my INTJ type. I think they overlooked “writer and creative” as a fitting career choice, though.

My Results

photo of the thinker statue
Except for being a man and all, and me not being so muscular, it looks a lot like me up there all deep in thought…Actually, it looks nothing like me, but I do think a lot.

INTJ

Introvert(78%) iNtuitive(75%) Thinking(25%) Judging(44%)

Famous Personalities Sharing INTJ Type

  • Isaac Newton, a physicist, mathematician, astronomer
  • Niels Bohr, a physicist, received the Nobel Prize in Physics
  • Carl Gustav Jung, a psychiatrist, the founder of analytical psychology
  • Michel de Montaigne, a thinker and an influential writer of the French Renaissance
  • Michel Nostradamus, a seer who published famous prophecies
  • Ada Lovelace, an analyst, metaphysician, and the founder of scientific computing

Your Turn

Have you ever taken the full test or one of these online free ones? Share your types and interesting finds if you do it.

Broomsedge, not Fescue

An Author’s Corrections: It’s Broomsedge, not Fescue

When I wrote No Qualms I described the shadeling as having hair that resembled fescue. That’s because I’d always thought the grass I had in mind was fescue. Recently I learned that it is in fact a grass commonly called broomsedge (possibly Andropogon virginicus). It might be a different species. There are several that look similar, but the point is that fescue looks nothing like this grass. And so the image I drew up in my mind and tried to relay to the reader’s mind would have been completely wrong, at least if the reader knew what fescue looked like.

Most likely the average reader won’t know what broomsedge looks like either, but I hope from the passage it’s easy enough to imagine that it’s a grass or weed or plant of some sort that the narrator is referring to. Fescue or broomsedge, it won’t matter to most readers. But to the few who might read it who know, it would. And it matters to me. At least if it’s a different variety of broomsedge, the reader can come close to imagining what I had in mind.

The pictures below are of broomsedge. This is the imagery I drew upon when writing the character Dannae. An excerpt from the story showing where I used the description is below the photos.

broomsedge gone to seedbroomsedge bluestem

An excerpt from No Qualms:

“It took you long enough to stop by,” a voice said.
I froze. Dammit. I hadn’t found even one root yet. I stood slowly and looked around. No one was there. He might not be visible yet, but I knew the vile creature had come already. “Who’s there?” I asked into thin air.

I didn’t have to pretend to be scared. My heartbeats were so loud in my ears right then I wouldn’t be able to hear approaching footsteps. Touching my pocket again to feel for the bloodroots I’d gathered earlier, I reassured myself. Knowing they were there helped me to calm down.

The calm didn’t last.

“Me,” the voice said, causing my heart to leap into my throat again. “I’ve thrown out an etheric hook every time you passed. But did it help? Nooooo. You just kept on driving like you didn’t even feel them.”

Oh, I felt them alright. Not that he needed to know, but I went home and cleansed myself of them every night. “Who are you and what do you want?” It took all of my willpower to make my voice sound calm and confident. My every instinct shouted to me to run, to get away from this place. But that wouldn’t solve anything. This had to be dealt with now.

“I want you to come closer so I can better see you.” A form finally materialized in front of one of the more spindly maidenwoods. He was a short rail of a man busily nodding at me in the dappled evening shade. His gaunt face creased with something sort of like a smile, if you could call it a smile. It might have been a toothy grimace. He stood with his skeletal hands clutched into fists in front of his chest, head still bobbing away. “Some people listen to their instincts. Not you. What took you so long to stop?”

“These hooks you threw – is that what you’re calling instinct?” I asked as I backed a few steps away from the shriveled man. I knew what he’d been doing. Those hooks grabbed my instinct and made it react, but that wasn’t instinct itself. I knew better than that. Only ordinary people made a mistake of thinking it any sort of natural inclination.

His too bulbous head was nearly bald except for a few bunches of stiff yellow hair standing here and there like broomsedge gone to seed. A smattering of brown liver spots danced across the top of his scalp when he raised and lowered his eyebrows.

“Smart one, aren’t you?” He shuffled a few steps in my direction but then stopped short. He cocked his head and looked back at the tunnel looming behind him and then down at the ground beneath his feet. A quick frown passed over his face before he dismissed it and reassumed the fake smile.


No Qualms is my short story available from Amazon, Smashwords, and iTunes.

How Far Removed – Predator and Prey

Out here we have a healthy balance between predator and prey. Squirrels crowd the treetops, mice are at home in sheds and even in our house if we aren’t diligent. Snakes lurk everywhere.

snake eating squirrel

Predator and Prey

Coyotes are plentiful. The dogs break into a discordant chorus when they hear their wild cousins yapping on the outskirts of the “safe” zone the dogs have established. Last year a wiley bobcat ate more than his fair share of our chickens in spite of Badger’s diligent guard. And we eat a fair share of the game that abounds in our hills.

For the time being, we have a balance, a harmony. While we do enforce a boundary around the small space we’ve carved out to call our own, we don’t seek out to kill animals like snakes, coyotes and bobcats, as many people I know do, because we acknowledge that these mountains are just as much theirs as this safe zone around the house is ours. When I ramble around on the mountain, usually camera in hand and down on all fours (or even belly) to get close to the plants, I’m in the wildlife’s home and I’m respectful of that. It doesn’t mean I’ll submit to becoming prey, but it does mean I won’t kill just because our paths cross. I’ve never encountered a situation that required more of me than patience.

The following is from my old blog. This post was originally posted on July, 2010:

Youngest is outside right now, whittling on the mechanism of his newly cut frog gig. It’s made from a 6′ sapling section, about 2″ diameter. He needed to cut it a few feet longer, but this is his first effort and I’m not about to discourage him now. When he gets to putting it through trials, he’ll find out if his barbs were sturdy enough or the shaft long enough and make adjustments accordingly on his next attempt.

At first thought, to many, what he is doing sounds barbaric and cruel.

How far removed we, as a society, have become from our origins as nomads and hunter/gatherers. Nowadays, most of us never think twice about the food we put into our mouths, not to consider whether it was once a living thing nor about the idea that it died so that we might eat.

We live each day in a world of predator and prey relationships, and yet rarely notice. The project my son has embarked upon is unabashedly ‘predator’ in nature. And I guess what gives me that sense of satisfaction I am feeling, is that he knows it.

The same kid holds a kitten with a tender smile on his face and cheers for chicks hatching from eggs in the incubator.

Predator versus prey - predator wins on this one. I didn't get there soon enough to save my chicken.
Predator versus prey – predator wins on this one. I didn’t get there soon enough to save my chicken. But then the bigger predator (me) won, and that snake won’t be eating any more of my chickens.

First Hunt by Ima ErthwitchPredator and Prey, or the hunter and the hunted is a common theme throughout my fiction writing. No Qualms, one of my short stories (free at most retailers) is about about a predator/prey relationship. Symbiosis, my first finished novel, deals with predator/prey relationships and the balance of energy among life on earth, sometimes symbolic and often outright. Many of my flash fiction stories (I have twitterfiction and 100-word flash stories) are also dealing with this same dynamic. This is a strong theme that runs through most of my fiction and is strongly influenced by life in the wild Ozarks where we live. My first published novel, First Hunt, also has a predator and prey theme to it. I guess it’s just part of my nature.


♥ If any of you read No Qualms or First Hunt, please leave a review. You’ll have my deep appreciation for it! ♥