Monday, August 2, 2010

I've Moved!

Yep, I've packed up and moved to Wordpress Land, and all these posts have come with me.

And be sure to update your links.

Sandra Heska King

Copyright © 2010 by Sandra Heska King

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Squirrel Thoughts - Sweating


On my pillow this morning. First thing. And it's all because of these.

Who puts shoe forms in flip-flops anyway?

These are Reeboks. What my husband wears around the house.

Flip flop. Flip flop. Flip flop.

So irritating! And I think he could mass produce them and sell them in the clock department. As alarms. They wake me up every morning as he moves around the bedroom. And the forms?

His words. "I've got to put them somewhere."

Speaking of produce. What am I going to do with all these cucumbers?

I battled my way through a jungle yesterday to find these. I think there are more hiding in there. But after finding, picking, and carrying, I was exhausted. And sweating!

Which reminds me. Duane hurt my feelings because he didn't like my idea of Sweating With Duane as a title for a fitness blog.

He said, "Sandra . . . it sounds so . . . dirty. *shudder.*"

Sniff. I thought it had a certain ring to it. 

And it reminded me of sweating with someone else in Boston. No Reno. I think. Whatever. Wherever. I've always loved Richard. Really. He's very funny. And kind. And I told him about a current stressor at the time, and he encouraged me not to eat my way through it.

Goodness. That's a Heart Truth T-shirt. It makes me look fat. Which reminds me. My chest hurt yesterday while mowing the lawn. I need to sweat more. Join me.

This is part of Duane Scott's Pleasantly Disturbed Blog Carnival. Check other links over at his place.

Copyright © 2010 by Sandra Heska King

Monday, July 26, 2010

Comfort in Discomfort

I am a nurse.

Trained to dispense comfort. Sooth fears. Lessen pain. Ease anxiety. Provide hope. Give strength.

But that's not always comfortable. For patient or nurse.

For the nurse it might mean to insist on discomfort.

For the patient it might mean:
  • to breathe deep and cough when it feels like an incision will explode.
  • to walk when it feels like one more step is impossible.
  • to take medicine that causes the yucks.
  • to accept a dreaded needle.
  • to avoid comfort food and learn to eat healthy.
  • to give up control and allow exposure.
However, an order might read, "comfort measures only."

This usually means the patient is past the point of restored health and that death will occur before long.

Eat what you want. Do what you want. Refuse what you don't want. Rest in comfort and peace. And then die.

I don't want to die as a writer. I mean I don't want to live as a dead writer.

I don't want to live with comfort measures only.

So I may need to:
  • self-inflict discomfort and allow others to do so, too. 
  • expose myself. Write naked. And let others read it.  
  • let go of some things I love--good things--to make room for the best. 
  • perhaps cause discomfort for others when I withdraw from some activities or say no to others. 
  • come to terms with the fact that that's okay in order to respond to this God-given passion.
  • walk when I'm discouraged.
  • swallow the medicine of critique, even though it stings or tastes yucky.
  • try new exercises that stretch me even if they're painful.
  • sometimes go back to the beginning and learn to walk again.
  • be teachable.
It means I'm not dead or dying.

There's comfort in that discomfort.

Where do you find comfort in discomfort?

Note: Today I write as part of a blog chain of writers from Topic: The Discomfort Zone. Check out some of these other posts.

July 1:  Power of the Pen by Ruth Rockafield
July 4:  Front Notes by Nina Rose
July 6:  Sowing the Seeds by Edward Lewis
July 7:  Expression Express by Tracy Krauss
July 8:  Kat's Musings by Kat Connolly
July 9:  777 Peppermint Place by Linda Yezak
July 10: Heading Home by Lynn Mosher
July 11: Word Obsession by Nona King
July 14: The Book Lightwalker Files by Victor Travison
July 15: Wayslinger by Janalyn Voight
July 16: Clearing Skies by Sheila Hollinghead
July 17: The Collings Zone by Adam Collings
July 19: Word Wanderings by Liberty Speidel
July 20: Tracings by Traci Bonney 
July 25: The Beulah Land Blog by Chris DePew
July 26: The Write Pursuit by Sandra Heska King
July 27: Creative Adventuring by Chris Solaas
July 28: Suzanne Hartmann

Copyright © 2010 by Sandra Heska King

Friday, July 23, 2010

Summer Seating

I have a writing room of my own. I offered a tour here.

But I've gravitated to the living room. To the soft leather chair with the soft leather footstool. With the laptop on my lap. Or half on the footstool and half on my knees. Front row center for Tiger baseball games. And because Gracee, when she's here, prefers me to be on her level rather than sequestered in the penthouse.

My studio (I like to call it a studio--it sounds so artsy, so writerly) is neat.

My summer seating is not.

a cat licks lemonade swirl ice cream
from the chocolate-coated spoon and bowl
(katdish's fault--she made me do it)
that sit atop a notebook on the floor to my left
next to a dirty white slipper
(where IS the other one?)
a fan of bills that aren't due until next payday
and 101 Sneaky Weight Loss Secrets 
with Stone Crossings open to forest star
and plastic wicker book bag leans
against black computer bag that leans
against the chair
and to the right a Woman's World
Walk off 120 lbs the easy way
a Barnes and Noble receipt
Wordpress for Dummies
several explanation of benefit payments
(this is not a bill)
a credit union statement
and on the footstool my camera
a couple pencils and a red pen
still more bills and a
40th anniversary discounted subscription form
for Poets & Writers
on the antique table topped with a chicken lamp
Cinderella III (Gracee's) and the DVD remote
four backup CDs, a book of check carbons,
a pile of paid receipts and a cell phone
two bookcases that beckon
harp and hammered dulcimer mock untouched
and a rerun of this afternoon's Tigers' game plays
as I sit on the very edge of the cushion
while the cat purrs behind me
I write in place
and stay because I will trip on the cords
if I move from my summer seating.

Written for L.L. Barkat's prompt to write in place On, In and Around Mondays at Seedlings in Stone. Yes, I know it's Friday. Consider it around Monday--the next Monday. And go check out the other links.

Copyright © 2010 by Sandra Heska King

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Squirrel Thoughts - Crybaby

Monday: Melancholy day. Like every day after coming home from a visit with my sissy.

Tuesday. Bad day. Crybaby day. Foot-in-mouth disease day. We all have them. This video helped me. I posted it on Facebook. But for those of you who didn't see it, here it is again.

It made me laugh.

So I'm over it.

I'm also over piddle on public toilet seats.

And prebagged grapes. I always feel guilty taking half out. That whole bag would rot before we could eat it.

Same with bananas.

A produce man once yelled at me for breaking off three bananas from a bunch of ten, or maybe twenty.

I cried.

I thought I heard Gracee crying while I was in the shower yesterday. Sounded like the produce man had beaten her with a bunch of bananas. Turns out she is now a deluxe Webkinz member. She was screaming with excitement.

"How do you become a deluxe member?" I asked.

"You have to take good care of your animals."

I dunno. I looked it up. Looks like it costs money to me.  I hope she didn't do a little online shopping. Like she did when she downloaded a couple game subscriptions to my phone.

Oh, and I'm over stray shopping carts. Can't people corral their own? I feel obligated to run around the parking lot to park them. So they don't do damage to my car. Or someone else's. Or one of the Amish buggies that might be parked there.

Speaking of which, did you hear about Levi Detweiler who led police on a chase and ultimately crashed his buggy?

I'll bet he got an earful from his parents.

Which reminds me. I also hate earwigs. AKA pincher bugs. Nasty little creatures. They make me cry.

I'll bet you didn't know there were male and female differences.


Is this a male or a female?

Wednesday: Kind of a squirrely day.

Thursday: Definitely disturbed. As are others today.

Check them out over at Duane's Pleasantly Disturbed Thursday Blog Carnival.

Copyright © 2010 by Sandra Heska King

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Squirrel Thoughts - Old

Dennis and I are silent as we drive along until . . . SQUIRREL!

Me: "Stop the car! Now!"
Him: "What? What's wrong?"
Me: "Cloud mountains. Must. Take. Picture."

Later at Hartwick Pines, I snap pictures of every sign and every display. A little research for my WIP. I linger in the bunkhouse and imagine my great-great-grandfather's decor over and on his bunk that undoubtedly included his hammered dulcimer wrapped in burlap at the foot. I stop to write down things like Sweet Dark Burly Tobacco, Woman's Heart Tobacco, Dr. Sages Catarrah Remedy, and Bradley-Metcalf (Makers of Good Shoes Since 1843.) I snap more pictures.

Me: "Does my taking so many pictures bug you?"
Him: "No. Not really. Well, sometimes, it gets old."

Old? Did he just call me OLD?

We walk the Old-Growth Trail, taking us back to a time when "White Pine Was King" and note the "last remnants of Michigan's virgin white pine forest" and gaze upon the "Monarch's" remains. The Monarch is the "most famous tree" in the park.

"Unfortunately, the Monarch lost its live crown in a wind storm in 1992 and died four years later. Before the storm, the Monarch stood 155 feet tall with a circumference of 12 feet. It was about 325 years old when it died. We don't know when the rest of the Monarch will come tumbling down. It could be today, next week or years from now."

We contemplate the fallen crown on the ground and raise our eyes to the remaining trunk.

The Monarch is/was old. And none of us know when we will come tumbling down, either. Even if we're not "old."

Later we stop in front of the house I grew up in. The one my dad built on to the front of our six-room motel. The "little house" is still there, too--four rooms and a screened porch--that housed five of us until my parents decided that I, as the oldest, needed my own personal space and moved me into one of the motel rooms.

We don't ask to walk down to "our" lakefront, but we drive around to the other side of the horseshoe (Horseshoe Lake), and I remember memories from long ago. And there, still, are the lily pads I loved, topped with the yellow blooms that always held bugs. I used to pick bouquets from the boat.

I hung out on the lake and in the woods alone when I was a kid. I made "fern forts," by stomping some ferns down flat leaving leafy walls, had little picnics. I take pictures of some of "my" ferns. They seemed a lot taller back then.

When I was young.


We're "up north" this week to visit family and hang out at Alpenfest--the 46th year. I was the third queen in 1967.  And yes, the family teases me about being an "old queen." I prefer the term, "past queen." My mom likes to say I'm the "queen who became a King." When I meet people in town, I love being told I don't look "that old."

Speaking of old, those high-speed hand dryers scare me. I envision them stealing my skin's elasticity leaving my hands looking like overstretched crepe paper that never returns to its original shape.


I leave you with a video of Dennis and me on longer trips. We may be old. But we can still have fun.

And be sure to check out all today's other pleasantly disturbed posts over at
Duane Scott's Pleasantly Disturbed Blog Carnival

Copyright © 2010 by Sandra Heska King

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Do They Sweat in Duke City? / Fiction as Research by Stephen Bly

Today I welcome a guest poster, Stephen Bly.

Steve has authored over 100 books and hundreds of articles. His book, The Long Trail Home, won the 2002 Christy Award for excellence in Christian fiction in the category western novel. Three other books, Picture Rock, The Outlaw's Twin Sister, and Last of the Texas Camp were Christy Award finalists. Steve is a speaker, pastor, past mayor, dad, and wife to Janet--who is also a writer. He's a third-generation westerner who spent his early years working family ranches and farms in central California. He now lives in the mountains of north-central Idaho and in his spare time collects antique Winchesters.. He also works on the construction of Broken Arrow Crossing, a false front western village near his home. And he's seldom seen without cowboy boots, hat, and jeans.

Read more about him at his website here.

And stay tuned for a One-Word/One-Line interview with a giveaway of an autographed copy of Cowboy for a Rainy Afternoon.

Thanks, Steve, for visiting The Write Pursuit today and sharing a little about western novel research, especially as relates to your newest book.

Do They Sweat in Duke City? / Fiction as Research by Stephen Bly

New Mexico heat blanketed Albuquerque that July like too many covers in a stuffy cabin  . . . the kind of day that you sweat from the inside out and feel sticky dirt in places that you don't ponder too much except in the shower.
From Cowboy for a Rainy Afternoon
Released June 2010

Every novel's got a place and time. That often means plenty of research. My next release, Cowboy for a Rainy Afternoon, is set in Albuquerque, New Mexico, 1954. So I needed to know some things about a specific city, a state, and what the world was like that year.

Research Thru Travel

It's tough, dirty work . . . but I love any time I can go to New Mexico. The only other site I've been that boasts similar layers of culture stacked one upon another: Rome. Yet, New Mexico's still a cowboy state. From the Pecos River in the east to the Plains of San Agustin in the west, from the Sangre de Christo range in the north, to the "bootheel" in the south, it's full of great ranching country. A perfect setting for a cowboy story.

My wife, Janet, and I drove up and down Historic Route 66 that runs through Albuquerque. It was known as the "Main Street of America" or the "Mother Road." It was the primary route for those leaving the dust bowl of Oklahoma and moving to California during the Great Depression. Albuquerque was selected as a stop on the first transcontinental air route in the 1920s, and Route 66 brought the first transcontinental motorists through the city.

Research Thru Study

Duke City is a nickname for Albuquerque because it was named after the Viceroy Francisco Fernandez de la Cueva, the Duke of Alburquerque. Later the spelling was changed because some influential person couldn't pronounce the "R" in Alburquerque.

The cowboys in my story retire in Albuquerque, not Santa Fe, because even in 1954 the latter was becoming the artsy, celebrity spot it is today. These guys needed a cheap hotel and city amenities. So Albuquerque suited them fine. Before there were retirement communities and senior citizen housing, some elderly lived in old downtown hotels. Well past their prime in attracting overnight guests, they catered to senior citizens who scraped by on something fairly new in the fifties: Social Security.

One of my favorite governors hails from New Mexico. Governor Lew Wallace authored the novel Ben-Hur (a movie made in 1959, starring Charleton Heston), and he also tried to negotiate with the notorious Billy the Kid. What an eclectic group of folks tramped the Old West.

A piece of historical tidbit . . . a hard thing for some readers to realize: in 1954 no one considered cigars or cigarettes or their second-hand smoke in any way harmful. That's why you see so many actors and actresses lighting up in the movies of that period. Cowboys often carried peppermints, which were tasty, portable, and covered up the smell of such vices, at least so they thought.

Research Thru Learning the Language

The main challenge of fiction: the rhythm of dialogue. I had to sit very still and listen to each character speak in order to get the timing right, along with the vocabulary.

Every era boasts its own unique language. Every region develops a dialect. For the writer, both can be learned through research and careful study. But tone, timing, and cadence can't easily be taught. It's better to be in your bones. A writer's challenge is to develop instinct for tune as well as lyrics of speech. There has to be a natural flow.

To know the right lingo steps up a novel's authenticity. In Cowboy for a Rainy Afternoon I got to use a lot of the classic cowboy terms that got lost over the years. I tried to stick an interior explanation to explain a few that might confuse.

For instance, a McGee is cowboy slang for a 4-strand rope made of a maguey (century) plant.

A phrase often used on a cattle drive or roundup was "man at the pot." That meant someone was at the coffee pot for a refill and that shout-out indicated the guy was to fill everyone's cup.

To old cowboys, "nobby" signified fine, expensive boots.

Pop/Grandpa would "do to ride the river with." That's the ultimate compliment for a cowboy. Crossing wild rivers with great herds of cattle exposed dangers for man and beast. Not a time to trust your safety to some rookie just learning the ropes.

"You never know the luck of a lousy calf" . . . one of my favorite cowboy sayings. Big, healthy, sturdy calves seem to fall off cliffs or get attacked by wolves. It's the scrawny, worthless ones that live forever.

I've often wondered why we stopped using colorful words like "footpad." So called because of guys who pulled off their boots and snuck around in stocking feet so no one would hear them.

Research Thru Memories

In 1954 an old man's vision of feminine loveliness would be Bow, Grable, Monroe, or Kelly. Grace Kelly in High Noon stole my own ten-year-old heart. However, I figured she wasn't too smart because she couldn't understand why Will Cane had to turn back. But I did. Shoot, that's in a cowboy's bones. But, my oh my, she surely was purdy.

My bedroom was stacked with White Owl cigar boxes, my granddad's favorite cigar. He didn't smoke them much; mainly he chewed them. And because I lived across the road from him, I got many of his boxes. Lots of childhood treasures can be stored in a cigar box.

I listened to Sergeant Preston on the radio. What memories. How I wanted to be a mountie and own a dog like King.

TV was a brand new technology in 1954. We hadn't learned to sit comatose in front of one . . . yet.

One of the advantages of modern autos . . . they run so smooth there's seldom a backfire. But those random air-shattering blasts from the old rigs added adventure to an otherwise ordinary, routine day. Me and my young pals surmised the sound as a gun blast from a bank robber making his get-away, even though my hometown had no bank. That fact didn't darken my vivid ten-year-old imagination.

The summer of 1954, in Albuquerque, a ten-year-old boy becomes a Cowboy for a Rainy Afternoon.

Maybe I wasn't born 100 years too late.

Copyright©2010 by Stephen Bly

Find Steve at his website.
Enjoy his new blog.
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Cowboy for a Rainy Afternoon is available on Amazon or from his website's bookstore.