Zette's Days of Writing

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February 1, 2017

Headache.

Yeah, that's about all I can say about the day.  Writing is not moving along very well.  Programs are acting oddly, too.  Things that worked fine yesterday are not working well today.

Ugh.  There are times when you just have to wonder.

February 2, 2017

The weather has gotten colder again, but I don't think this is going to last for long.  We're not in an arctic wasteland like February sometimes is, so that's good.

And writing, despite everything, is going okay.  Editing is not, but I'm working my way up to that problem.  the new novel is still moving along and is going to be well over the 70k I had predicted.  I don't know if that's good or bad -- but at least it's been fun to write!

February 3, 2017

I've been hiding in my office mostly.  I get that way in the midst of winter.  I'm watching a new Great Courses Plus course.  This one is on Ancient Egypt and it is great.  I'll admit that Egypt has never been an ancient land I've been particularly interested in, but mostly because the whole chronology is maddening, with the New/Middle/Old Kingdoms, too many dynasties, and don't forget the Intermediate sections.  I leapt in to this one specifically because I don't feel as though I have learned enough.  46 half hour lectures.  Let's see what I know after 23 hours of this material.

I'm enjoying it so far.

But really, I could stand spring to show up about now, too.

February 4, 2017

We took a nice drive out and around a bit today.  Nice Saturday drive in weather that was not too bad.  I was glad to get out and do a bit of photography again.

I want to get back to working on other art stuff.  I really want to learn how to work with Adobe Illustrator.  That, I hope, is going to be one of my projects for this year.  I've gotten fairly good with Photoshop (though there is so much yet to learn!), but I would like to be able to work with the other program, too.  It's designed more for graphic design stuff, and that might be a good thing to learn.

I've been doing the Writing Comes First stuff and doing pretty well with it.  There are still days when it drags, but for the most part going straight to writing without playing around with the Internet and other things has been good.  I hope I can keep it up.

February 5, 2017

We had a quiet, lazy Sunday.  I got a fair amount of writing done, though not the 3k I would hope to write.  That's all right, though.  I need to let this story flow, especially since I don't have an outline.

Or at least not much of one.  I did finally write out a list of eleven things, none of them more than 3 words, that just keep me focused on the steps as I've seen them.  I think that will help get through what should be the last third to half of the novel.  I can't tell yet.  It keeps getting to be larger than I expected.

February 6, 2017

When I started Journey of a Thousand Truths, the idea was that the MC was heading for a place called The Court of the Tiger.  Okay, that's pretty straightforward.

70k words later and he might almost be there -- but that's only the halfway point of the novel. 

Amazing how these things work sometimes.

February 7, 2017

It is supposed to snow a bit tonight.

And then up in the 50's on Friday.

This has been an odd winter.  Just odd.  I don't think it's going to get any better, either.  I don't mind so much, though I would like to see a bit more snow.  Yeah, I'm odd.  Still....

The novel is just short of 76k.  I got a good run at it today, so I'm happy.

The cats have been trouble.  Headache sort of trouble.  I hope they all settle down soon.

February 8, 2017

We got a bit of snow last night.  Cold, cold, cold today -- but tomorrow up into the 50's.  Oh yes, that will mean a headache from hell, I'm sure -- but still, looking forward to it.  After that we'll have days in the 40's and 50's for at least a week.

No, not your normal February, but here we are.  I'll be glad to turn down the heaters and save some money.

I need to figure out a schedule of things.  I'm doing pretty well on some stuff and not so well on others.  Writing is fine, of course.  Today I spent some time learning some basics about Adobe Illustrator.  Give me a year or so and I might be able to make nice circles or something.  LOL.  Really, though, it's been fun so far.

February 9, 2017

We had a lovely little ride and pictures on the river at sunset tonight.  I wanted a shot of what is probably the last ice we'll see on the Missouri this year, and I got very lucky with the pictures.

The writing is going well still.  Can't complain there!

But what odd weather we're looking at for February. 

February 10, 2017

There was an eclipse tonight, but it was too early to really see it.  And the comet is very late, so I'll miss that, too.  But still, not a bad night.  Lovely weather. 

I'm worried about all this lovely weather.  I don't trust it at all.  Something is going to come our way, if not this winter, than in the spring.  Or summer.  That something could be a drought and this is the start of it.  That's not a pleasant thought.

Still, I suppose I ought to enjoy this while I can!

February 11, 2017

I am going to Squaw Creek (now called Loess Bluffs) Wildlife Refuge tomorrow.  Yay!  I can't wait!

The weather will be fine, though not as good as it had been the previous couple days.  Supposed to be up to around 50f though, so can't complain.  It will be fun to get down there again, and we've never been there in February before.  Yay!

February 12, 2017

Wow. That's all.  Just wow.  What a wonderful day at the refuge!  We have to go down in February again if the weather is even reasonably nice next year.  Snow geese!  Swans!  Eagles!  Ducks everywhere!

Had a really wonderful day and about 850 pictures to sort through.  Yay!

February 13, 2017

I am sorting through pictures still.  Sorting pictures has taken my attention from writing.  Honestly, I'd dropped down to about 1k a day for the last few days anyway.  It will pick back up again.  In the meantime -- I have pictures!

I feel as though I am getting my feel for photography back.  I think I lost some of it in the years Russ was in New York.  I'd take pictures, of course, but there wasn't much of a challenge, except when he'd be home and then it would be a mad rush to go places and take a lot of shots.

This was far better.  Even though we won't be back soon, I still had a feeling like I didn't have to worry -- we'd return.  The pictures show more calm, especially the hour I spent just watching the Snow Geese.

Fun times!

February 14, 2017

And today some soup made me ill.

There's no hope of winning sometimes.

In other news, I'm watching a Great Courses set on Ancient Egypt and I don't think I've ever enjoyed Egyptian history so much.  This is just great.  I've done 14 classes, which means 7 hours of material, and I can't wait to do the next one!

Oh, and still sorting pictures.  LOL

February 15, 2017

I think I am finally ready to go back to the zoo again.

I haven't been there since 2013 (?) and a trip when I got very sick while I was there.  I had to wait it out for Russ to come to pick me up and I was miserable.  I've been really afraid that would happen again.  I've also wanted to spend the time with Russ more than I wanted to spend the time in the zoo.

But last night I was looking at some pictures from my last zoo trip -- the one where I was miserable.

They were gorgeous.

I want to go back.

February 16, 2017

Lovely ride tonight!  The weather is incredibly nice.

I don't trust it.

And I'm right.  Checking the weather coming up -- snow a week from today and back into the 30's for a while.  It won't last for long, though, since it is inching up on spring.  Yay!

The novel has finally reached dragons.  I don't know what to do with them.  LOL.  That's going to slow me down a bit.

February 17, 2017

The novel is ... well, it is still moving.  It is even interesting and I hope that it keeps going this way.  I don't see the end.  I am not even certain I know what the end is anymore. 

Odd to write this way, but it has been fun.  I just wish the Devlin novel would edit as well.  That one, though, his giving me trouble.  Sigh.

February 18, 2017

We saw geese down at Snyder's Bend!

That was fun, unexpected -- and the weather was lovely, too.

Getting down towards the end of February already.  That just seems odd.  I thought I would be done with the novel by now, too -- but it isn't going to happen any time soon, especially if I don't stop getting these awful headaches.  Ugh.  I know it's mostly the weather dancing up and down around here.  Not fun in that respect, though I do like the warmer weather.  I've even had the heat off in the office!

Spring is really coming!

February 19, 2017

I am somewhat stuck on the novel at the point where my main character has to retrieve something for a dragon.  I know what he's after.  I'm not sure how to make it exciting.  That's a bit annoying right now.  I would like it all to just fall together and let me get on with the story!

Ugh.

I keep inching forward a little bit at a time.  There are days like this when I think I ought to just become a photographer and give the rest of this up!

February 20, 2017

I think I have my answer.  It might be a bit clichéd, though.  Still, I can use it for the first draft and change it later if I want something else for this particular point. The important part is to create a problem , deal with it, and move on in the story.  The problem itself might not be exactly what I first imagine, but the essence of how the character deals with it is still present.

I am working on tagging zoo pictures.  I don't know if I mentioned that or not.  It's a fun, odd thing to do.  I've dragged out all my animal books and I keep Google Images almost constantly open trying different combinations of descriptions to try and find out what I have.  Fish are damned hard.  Birds are the next hardest.  The mammals are generally not too bad.

I have odd ideas of fun.

Pretty River

The weather is going to change soon. Winter is coming back, apparently.  We'll see.  But even if it does, it won't stay for long.  This is the best part of late winter storms.

I need to figure things out for the novel.  I have a bit of a plan, but the story just isn't moving very fast.  Maybe that's not bad.  It is getting there -- just the writing itself seems to be slow.

Maybe winter isn't my best month?

February 22, 2017

They are still saying the storm is going to hit.

Unfortunately, Russ has to drive clear across Iowa tomorrow.  By the time he comes back, the weather will likely be bad. 

This just makes me uneasy.  I hate when this kind of stuff happens.

February 23, 2017

Well, at least the rain and ice didn't hit before the snow started.  It still looks bad, though.  I hope Russ isn't too late tonight.  I hate this kind of stuff with him on the road.

Writing?  Not going to happen much.

And the weather is going to be cold again for a little while.  Also, headache from the weather change.

Not the best day.

 

February 24, 2017

Yeah, we got snow.  And Russ made it home before it got too terribly bad.  It was a pretty snow, too.  And the good thing, of course, is that it won't last.  Spring is coming pretty fast now.

Writing is somewhat better.  I managed to get my characters fighting it out with a giant magical spider.  Always fun.  It's been slow writing it, but I think the scene works.  I might not change it after all.

I am not ready to publish anything yet this year.  That's not good.  I need to get moving on something.  I thought it was going to be Devlin 4, but that's not working out for me.  I don't know why.

But then, looking at how the new novel is giving me trouble ... maybe it's not the story, but me instead.

Hmmmm.

February 25, 2017

I think I'm having too much fun tagging zoo animals, even if it is very frustrating sometimes.  Fish are the worst.  I think I've mentioned that, right?   I've done better with them than I expected, but honestly, I just need books with lots of pictures.

Still cold here.  Lots of snow on the ground.  It's quite lovely!

And that's it for today!

February 26, 2017

We had a nice drive to De Soto Wildlife Refuge today!  I talked a little bit about the novel I might start on my birthday -- only ten days away?  How did that happen?  I better make up my mind soon.

I thought Journey of a Thousand Truths would be done by now.  I thought a 70k book at best.  I'm now over 101k.  Well, fine.  I'll just run with it.  But I still need to start something on my birthday, too.  The Devlin novel looks like it would be fun. Besides, I haven't done anything sf for a while.  Given the basic premise, it should be interesting to write.  Russ and I had discussed it a bit before, but now bits and pieces of it are falling into place -- enough for me to get it going.  The great thing about the Devlin book is that I have the world building and the characters in place for the most part. 

So, I think that's settled.

Maybe.

After all, I still have a few more days to go, right?

February 27, 2017

Or maybe there is this idea:

First, I'll admit that I have often found Egyptian history kind of boring. The same with Greek. The truth was that I simply hadn't found the right teacher. I'm watching a 48 part course on Egypt from The Great Courses with Bob Brier as the instructor and it is fascinating. The classes are about a half an hour each and I am half way through them, which means I've already watched 12 hours worth of material. I'm not even through it, and I already want to watch it again. Instead, I'm going to watch is 32 (or maybe it is 24) part class on reading hieroglyphs.

Last night I had a raging headache and it kept me awake. So as I curled up under the blankets, I thought about Tutankhamun's young widow and how she came very close to completely changing history as we know it -- at least in the way my imagination worked.

First, it's important to know how someone became King of Egypt -- Pharaoh -- if you wanted the strongest hold on the throne. You might have been named heir, but it was important that you marry the woman with the most royal blood and she became your Great Wife. This is why there were so many marriages to sisters and half-sisters. It was not always the case -- Ahkenaton, Tutankhamun's father, was married to Nefertiti, a beautiful commoner, though of high rank. Tutankhamen might not have been her son, but was the child of a second wife. He does not show up in any of the material about his father and Nefertiti, though all the daughters and the son who died young are mentioned. The most famous Pharaoh of all time, though, is never mentioned in the historical records before he was Pharaoh -- and long after his death, a successor (Horenheb) erased his name from practically everything. Not just his name, though -- his heretic father's history and the history of the man who followed Tutankhamun also disappeared.

Anyway, Ahkenaton and Nefertiti's daughter Ankhesenamun married Tutankhamun. The two had no children who came to term. When her husband died, Ankhesenamun was the only person with truly royal blood still alive. That meant she was the key to the throne for someone. Whoever married her was going to become the next Pharaoh.

She wrote a letter to the king of the Hittites. This was a very powerful nation in the area of modern Turkey and a long time enemy of Egypt. She asked that he send one of his numerous sons to marry her and she would make him Pharaoh. She said she would not marry a servant and that she was afraid.

Suppiluliuma I, the king of the Hittites, didn't believe the letter so he sent someone to investigate. Word finally reached him that it was true. He sent off a son and his retinue to Egypt, but they were met at the border and the son was killed.

The former Vizier of Egypt, a man named Aye, becomes Pharaoh. He is shown as such even in Tutankhamun's hastily created tomb. Tutankhamun died at about the age of 18 and they had only seventy days to prepare the burial place, which is the official time that the preparation of the mummy takes place. Shortly after she wrote the letter, Ankhesenamun disappears from history. Aye's own tomb lists a different wife. No tomb to Ankhesenamun has ever been found, but it is obvious that Aye had married the most royal woman to become Pharaoh ... that she was forced to marry the servant.

(If her name sounds somewhat familiar, you've probably seen the Brendan Fraiser Mummy movies.)

So what would have happened if the Hittite king had sent his son right away? What if Ankhesenamun had succeeded in her plan?

Maybe everything would have changed.

Let's pretend....

Through the marriage the Hittites made a permanent link with Egypt and the fabled Egyptian wealth. With it, there were able to fight back the peoples of Mesopotamia (Assyrians, Kassites, Hurrians -- I can't remember what peoples were actually powerful at this point) and conquered all that part of the ancient world. They gain more from Egypt than just her wealth, though. Nearly every conquerer of Egypt became seduced by the culture. A Hittite became Pharaoh and he and his successors helped to spread the glory and the gods of Egypt from the Nile valley all the way up to Troy and down to Babylon.

Now, this Egyptian-Hittite empire might have pressed west as well, but I'm going to pretend that they had their hands full with everything eastward and along the southern Mediterranean shore. The Greeks might not have had their Troy or they might have had some battle against this new empire. The Greeks might have developed in much the same way as they did in our reality, but there would not have been a Persian Empire that had tried to invade. Maybe the Egypt-Hittite empire would have done so, but let's say that this melding of empire was already a thousand years old when the Persians would have invaded and maybe had its hands full rebel provinces and trouble to the east and south. Though our real Egypt had some tumultuous times, they still held on remarkably well all the way down to the Romans. Even the Greeks played at the Egypt game.

So....

Maybe there would still be an Alexander if the Greek lands had been left to their little wars between the multiple kingdoms. Phillip might have united them. Alexander might have taken his father's throne.

But the Persians had not attacked Greece. Alexander didn't have the mandate to invade and burn Persepolis in revenge for their attack on Delphi. If the Egyptian-Hittite power still reigned strong and kept it's attention eastward, someone as wise as Alexander would not want to draw that giant's attention.

However, Alexander would have done something.

What if he looked West instead? Those upstart Romans might have become a bit of a problem. If he moved against that area of the world, he would have saved his cousin from that disastrous Pyhrric Victory later. So instead of paving the way for the Romans into the east, he subjugates them and keeps heading west. What if he reached the end of the world in Ireland in the company of Druids?

This is an entirely different world. In this one, Caesar is part of the Greek World and Romans might well be slaves. Or maybe he is part of the army recruited from the Roman peninsula. I don't believe a person is created just by his genes, so the circumstances would have had to work just right for Caesar to be anything like what he was in the real world, whether he was successful or not. The same with Alexander and anyone else.

What if the Egyptians take over everything and Alexander is, in essence, Egyptian? Phillip (his father) had made the Macedonian capital a haven of Greek Culture -- but even so, the Greeks of places like Athens never considered them to be more than northern barbarians. What if Phillip brought in Egyptian culture instead? How odd would that be, to see the Gods of the sunny south living in the winter lands of Macedonia?

I'm not even seriously considering anything like shifts made by Judaism, Christianity, or Islam. I am not looking at the lands of India and beyond and what they might have done when faced by these giants to their west. I am only looking at historical people and pretending that they would be much the same in terms of drive if not position.

In this pretend world, the Egyptian-Hittites hold the Southern and Eastern Mediterranean shore (and inland from there). The Greeks hold the northern shore and the western islands. Or the Egyptians take all and rule from their river-fed lands. Egyptians never liked to travel far, partly because you had to be buried in the land of the pharaohs in order to partake in their resurrection and eternity. Perhaps they could expand the idea of being buried on the west bank to include anything west of the Nile, but the Northern, European edges of the Mediterranean would have been far more difficult to include in that world (and death) view.

Egypt as an empire lasted for thousands of years. Yes, they fell sometimes, but they always rose again in the same mold. They had a very strong sense of self -- so strong, that even the Greeks after Alexander fell under the spell. Alexander succumbed to the glory of Egypt to some degree. Did the Oracle at Siwa set Alexander on his way to the east by proclaiming he would be supreme ruler of them all? A handy way to get rid of a troublesome Greek, wouldn't you think? At least until it turned out to be true.

Oh, but that's more real-world stuff. I am infatuated with my 'Let's Pretend' world where the Egyptians have the south, the Greeks have the north -- the Romans are troublesome slaves (but maybe great at designing and building things), and the Druids were the beloved of Alexander.

I want to write in this pretend world. I want to see the Romans rebel against their Greek masters. I want to see pyramids on the straits of Gibraltar and the 35th Tutankhamun proclaimed Pharaoh amidst rumors of another band from the Chinese hinterlands heading into the eastern edges of the empire. Are the Mongols coming? How far into Europe will they get? If the Romans revolt, will Egypt help the Greeks get it settled? They would be wise to, unless some fool of a Pharaoh thinks it's time to take over all the known world.

There could be a lot of stories in this world, but it would also take considerable work to get the foundations built. I am going to play with it, but I honestly don't do well with historical fiction despite the amount of history I read. This is the kind of project that would take years just to set up, though. And what if I added a sprinkling of magic to take it into the world of true fantasy stories. Egypt certainly had its tales of magic, after all.

So if everything changed with a letter, where would it lead?

I think this one is going to stay with me for some time.

February 28, 2017

Ah yes, end of the month already.  No, I really can't say I got as much done as I had hoped.  No anywhere near it, in fact.  I need to get Journey done in the first draft and I'm slowed down because (big surprise), I'm coming towards the end of the novel.

I always slow down towards the end.   I still have quite a ways to go, but even so, I am looking at how the adventure ends.

Still tagging zoo animals.  Thousands of animals.  Thousands of pictures.  AAAIIIEEEE!

But I'm still enjoying it.  This is kind of my present to me this year.  Just have some fun with stuff I already have.

Sounds like a good plan and a great way to spend the days leading up to the birthday and afterwards.

Okay.  I talked myself into it.  LOL.  Like it isn't what I am already doing.