Monday, June 17, 2013

Living in a tinderbox!

The past week has been a little exciting. It could have been worse, but sometimes one thing prepares you for another. In our case, our practice with hauling horses and camping made an evacuation a piece of cake.

Last Tuesday, I was sitting at Panera Bread for my weekly critique group meeting. I got a text from my husband that there was a fire near the home of one of our friends. I interrupted the group to call and leave a message offering any assistance needed.

Five minutes later, my mom called wondering why I wasn't on my way home because there was a FIRE! My mom tends to exaggerate and worry, so I said we were almost done and I'd be home soon.

Then someone looked out the window and hollered. No exaggeration, this was a real FIRE. Huge smoke plume billowing over the beautiful Black Forest area north of Colorado Springs. Uh, right where we live. So I ran home and gain a little more perspective. We were about 4 miles away and the wind was blowing away. My mom packed everything she cares about. I walked around and realized there was nothing I cared about any more than the other things and figured there was nothing really to worry about. We hooked the trucks up to both horse trailers (we have 7 horses).

But we did stay up all night watching the non-stop news coverage, just in case the wind changed. The next day, the wind was predicted to change. So I packed some minimal clothes so I wouldn't be doing something unimportant if the worst happened. Then it got dark, the smoke cloud was way high, but right over us. So we packed the hay and grain for the horses. Then the smoke dropped, we couldn't see across our property and all our cell phones started going off with evacuation orders.

We threw the suitcases in the trucks, grabbed some food, loaded the horses way easier than I'd expected and started looking for a place to go. I knew one friend had said we were welcome, but I couldn't reach her. By the time we made it to her place someone else had brought their animals in, so we tried the fairgrounds. No way our crazy arabs were going to be polite to all those nice mannered quarter horses, so we decided to head back to our friend, we could just tie the horses to the trailer if need be. Cuz we do that for fun on our endurance rides.

Then other friends started asking for help evacuating a llama farm. We couldn't help because our trailers were still full and would soon have horses tied to them. So they found somewhere else for us to go to free up our rigs.

We ended up making a whole extended family of new friends (two of them had evacuated as well, with dogs instead of horses though). For us, the whole thing turned into a little vacation. We had limited internet so hubby could work, but really he just watched the news. The horses made new friends, we even went on a trail ride. And we lived in the living quarters of our horse trailer. We made plans in case our property burned. Boy, would our lives be simpler, and much easier to just move anywhere we wanted. There has to be a silver lining in everything. Has to be.

Of course the darkest point was watching the number of homes burned, tracking the addresses as they came in and finding out that some of our friends had lost everything. Not to mention, the beautiful Black Forest becoming truly blackened. So many people have had their lives turned upside down. We're trying to find places for some to live, some temporarily, some permanently. Our property (which was never closer than 1/4 mile to the flames) has room for more horses. We'll all pull together. Everyone has some strength or past experience that will help someone else get through this.

They still don't know what caused this fire, but I sure hope they find out and catch the person if it was man-made. And I'll warn anyone now - do NOT throw a cigarette butt out of your car in front of me because I will make a phone call and then I will follow you. I'll make the rest up as I go.

Be strong everyone, you will get through this. Tomorrow is Tuesday and I haven't done any writing or editing. Where's the silver lining in that? Well, I came up with a great new book idea!

Monday, June 3, 2013

Are you ready for some Query Kombat? If you haven't heard of this, check out #QueryKombat or these blogs of our wonderful hosts:
Michelle4Laughs, Writer's OutWorld, and SCWrite.

I made it into Round 1 as alternate when someone had to back out, so I'm a long shot for sure because these are some wonderful entries!

Round 1 is complete - and if I counted right - I made it through to round 2. My entry, along with my Kombatant Wishwell is here. So much wonderful feedback from the judges and other Kombatants.

I've made massive changes to my query and first 250 - which are posted below. I'd love some feedback. Better? Still needs work?

Kombat name: Interstellar Pez
Genre: MG Sci-fi/Adventure
Word count: 43k

Eleven-year-old Mike daydreams of becoming superhero Mighty Mike, but all that gets him is top billing on The List of Chumps to be Pounded after School.

His love for all things science and science fiction lands him in the middle of a Federal investigation when a badly dressed, blue creature invades his favorite hiding spot and begs for help researching human reactions to alien environments. Candies from a shiny red dispenser will test Mike’s responses to extraterrestrial conditions by triggering temporary super (and not-so-super) powers. Mike figures he’ll be able to blast his name off The List forever.

Speed, strength, and invisibility—awesome. Frog legs and belching zoo-animal noises, not so spectacular. But if Mike wants to become a real hero, he will have to save his friends—and worst enemy—from Feds who aren’t what they seem and a four-armed, snout-faced alien wielding the Interstellar Remote Control of Everything.

First 250:

Mike stuffed his spaceship doodled notes and yesterday’s quiz with a large “A++”  into his backpack. The zipper shredded the pages, but he flung the half-closed pack over his shoulder and sprinted from the classroom before the bell finished ringing. He burst through the front doors as the halls filled with fifth and sixth graders. The yellow backpack thudded against his back as he dashed toward the community park.

 Chest heaving, Mike slipped into the woods. He skidded down a bank covered with last year’s leaves and plunked onto a half-rotted log behind a massive oak tree. Dirt clods splashed into a puddle.

 Mike stared at the ripples. Hiding like a wimp sucked, but it was safer than being found by Brutus and his gang. The husky sixth-grader was the keeper of The List of Chumps to Be Pounded After School. Mike wasn’t the only target, but some days it felt like his entry was permanent. The List wasn’t limited to boys or kids either. Girls with glasses, the crossing guard, the town drunk—many felt Brutus’s twisted idea of fun. Mike’s offense was being too smart.

After the science teacher referred to him as the next Einstein, Brutus chanted Afro-Einstein for weeks. Which totally baffled Mike since his close-cropped hair didn’t look anything like Einstein’s wild tufts.

The puddle stilled into a mirror. A shadow loomed over Mike’s watery reflection. He leapt to his feet—right into the puddle—ready to sling his backpack into Brutus’ head.

Except it wasn’t Brutus.