Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Jody Ellen Shafer, character study

This morning, I made this painting of Jody Ellen Shafer, one of the characters in my upcoming NaNoWriMo novel, Death Angel.  You can read about her in the previous post.  She is a supporting character.  My painting isn't quite right, but it is the best I can do in the time available, must rush off and do other things.  Her hair should be even lighter, almost white.  And normally, she would have a flannel shirt on in beige plaid over this light shirt.  I may return to this painting at some point and fix it up a little.   I also just realized I forgot to add her freckles, which I was going to do at the end, but  I don't have time so you;ll have to imagine them for now!!!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Character Study, Jody Ellen Shafer:

This is a character sketch for my upcoming novel, Death Angel, which l hope to write in the month of November for NaNoWriMo, which I have signed up to participate in.

 Jody Shafer is a supporting character. In a "prior life," (3 years ago), Jody Shafer drove to Mexico with Rune Carmichael.* Rune went for an interview at a summer program for archaeology students. Jody went for the fun of it, and to keep her friend, Rune, company. And to drive--they drove Jody's car, a Miata, because Rune had a motorcycle which was not up to the trip. They counted hawks they saw along the way, saw coyotes and a rattlesnake. Also an armadillo. Jody had read that they could stay for free in a jail if they ask, so in some Podunk town out west, they do that. Rune is unhappy about it, but goes along. It is Jody who speaks to the Sheriff and makes the arrangements. She looks at it as an adventure. They are locked up and left alone for the night and Rune is frightened and doesn't want to do it again, so they camp at some spot with fire ants where they both get bitten. Jody is annoyed with Rune, thinking that the fire ants were much worse than the jail. (None of this happens in this book, but it is a theme for Jody and she refers back to it--much more often than Rune does, although Rune enjoyed the trip.)

 Jody loves to travel, loves road trips, smokes dope for fun (with Larry and other friends, but not with Colin McHaggerty) but is not dependent on it, has natural platinum blond hair that is almost, startlingly bright blue eyes, pale fair skin, and a smattering of reddish freckles across her nose. She dresses in faded jeans, pale-colored flannel shirts or blouses in tans and whites or beige open at the throat, and tan cowboy boots she bought on the trip to Mexico. She sometimes wears a cowboy hat. Jody is quietly pretty. Her features are regular and pleasant, her chin and nose just right, her lips sometimes pouty. She is sturdy and shapely with an inclination toward growing fatter if she isn't careful. She is excitable, cheerful, smiles a lot. Talks a lot, hugs a lot. Quick hugs with a step back afterwards. Jody loves white wine, which she shares with McHaggerty on a regular basis. She remembers getting so plastered with Rune that they fell down on the sidewalk and had to crawl back to the dorm. Rune barfed in her boots and Jody barfed in the bathroom sink. She likes to bring this story up, too, much to Rune's discomfiture.

 Jody was the only child of rich parents, had a nanny, went to a private school, and hated it. She is not at all "stuck up," and rarely tells anyone about her rich family or private school. Her parents named her Jodi, but she spells her name Jody to be less highfalutin. She often feels lonely. Jody is a senior at Syracuse University with a joint major in criminal psychology and sociology. She thinks she wants to go into police work and has already met Kathy Collins (?), the lady cop who is interested in the McHaggerty case. It is she who tells Rune to call Kathy. Jody comes into the investigation before Bart does. Jody, who was a virgin when she met McHaggerty, is having a long-term affair with the professor. She is tired of it and wants out. She doesn't know how to break it off. She uses the hospitalization and McHaggerty's affair with Eliza as an excuse to stop screwing McHaggerty, but she still cares about him--she can't help it. She feels confused about her sexuality and attracted to Rune and remembers their trip to Mexico with great fondness, wishing it had occurred to her then to make a pass at Rune. Now that Rune is on the rebound from a bad marriage, Jody thinks she might have a chance with Rune. *Note: I have changed the name of the main protagonist from Marcy Elmsford to Rune Berkana Carmichael, because I used the name Marcy for another main character in a different Ms, and do not want them to become confused in the reader's mind. Rune is the main character; Jody Shafer is a best (or good) friend.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

New art for Ballookey's Sketchbook

Here is my scan of the Hairy Woodpecker painting I just completed, 5 x 8, in Ballookey's Moleskine.  It completes my set of paintings in her mole, but I will not be able to mail until Monday at the earliest, since it's past postal hours on a Saturday.

Hairy Woodpecker, by Mary Taitt
Here is the double page spread, paired with the red-headed woodpecker:

Click the images above to enlarge.

I made a digitally altered watercolor painting as a pocket item:

This was originally a watercolor painting
And I printed 1 picture from my trip to Maine, a picture of the cover for the novel I am going to write during the month of November for NaNoWriMo (first draft of a cover idea) and three pix of people from the Renaissance Festival.  I am including prints, but didn't want to fill up the whole, so I amde them into a collage for the post:

Maine Reflection, Renaissance Festival and Death Angel cover, all by Mary Taitt

Friday, October 21, 2011

Cover Design #1 for Death Angel, my NaNoWriMo Novel

Death Angel, First Cover Design
Of course I used Hubby as my Model for this design.  He is representing Dr. Colin McHaggerty here, who is a "victim" of a murder attempt.  It may be a "cozy" mystery, of sorts, we'll see.  Design by me, probably not final.

Dust Jacket Blurb for Death Angel, NaNoWriMo

Death Angel

Dust Jacket Blurb for my upcoming book, Death Angel

Mycology Professor Colin McHaggerty is equally well-loved by undergrads, parents, grad students, TAs, faculty and administration, or so it seems to Marcy Elmsford when she first returns to the College of Environmental Sciences and Forestry to study for her PhD and work as Dr. McHaggerty’s teaching assistant. Suddenly, Marcy’s life revolves around McHaggerty.  The other professors, teaching assistants and even her own research project seem to take a back seat to the all-encompassing McHaggerty.  When McHaggerty turns up in the hospital with mushroom poisoning, Marcy refuses to believe the poisoning was “a terrible accident.” She recognizes that McHaggerty knows better than to poison himself.  But someone smashes into Marcy on her motorcycle—hit and run—when she begins poking around to find out what really happened to Dr. McHaggerty. Smashing up her motorcycle is just one of the warnings Marcy gets to “mind her own business.”  Marcy survives the crash and continues looking.  She discovers that the well-loved McHaggerty has many enemies and that the college is rife with unsuspected excitement and sordid intrigue.  Marcy’s trust, damaged by a recent divorce, is further damaged by what she learns about McHaggerty and others at the college, but receives a boost from Silas, a lucky witness and from Bart, one of the other TAs, who, in spite of the danger, joins her in the search for an attempted murderer. Though the police refuse to help, Marcy continues searching, never imagining she might find the answer to a 13-year-old quadruple murder.

This Synopsis and "dust jacket blurb" was written from the following "exercise" which I copied directly from Randy Wayne Whites page for writers:

Write the dust jacket copy for the book you hope to write. Write as if your book has already been accepted, as if you've already received your advance payment, and as if what you write will appear on the book when it is published. The well schooled PR people in New York write the jacket copy, not the authors but it does not matter in this exercise. The prose is often florid but, when professionally done, it emphasizes key why-you-must-read-this-book elements that will put you, the author, in better touch with your novel or work of non-fiction. Do not start this exercise immediately. Today or tonight, take down some favorite books and ready the jacket copy. Read it over and over. Even if the writing is hyperbolic, it should portray the story line accurately. It should establish key characters and plot elements. Also note that the word count is structured to fit. No more than 250 words, no fewer than 225 words. No exceptions. I suggest, later tonight, or tomorrow morning, you go into a space alone, turn off the TV and the Internet, and dedicate your full attention to this exercise: Write your dust jacket copy as described above.A deadline demands that you set your story free!

I am reading Randy Wayne White's book, Night Vision, and I love it!!!! (I hated it at first, and I am glad I stuck with it!!!!)

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Red-headed Woodpecker in Ballookey's Moleskine Sketchbook

Red-headed Woodpecker, Watercolor

I guess I am on a woodpecker kick.  Water color, 5 x 8.  Click image to view larger.

Mac and Cheese and Chocolate Pudding!

Mousse, box pudding, homemade pudding

Keith wanted Mac and Cheese and chocolate pudding for his birthday, but he wanted to have a leisurely evening f it, so we didn't do it last night, because last night, we went to Carmina Burana.  (FANTASTIC!) So today, I made a huge batch of our old family recipe Mac and Cheese and three kinds of chocolate "pudding."  I made chocolate pudding and mousse from a box and I spent a really long time making chocolate pudding from scratch.  I made the mistake of tasting it.  I almost fainted, it was so good.  I licked the pan.  Expect me to be complaining about being really sick for the next few days!  AK!!  (IT WAS SO GOOD).  I laid them out in front of Keith's place with little labels and I am interested to see which he likes best.  (I know which one I LIKE BEST!)   It would be to my advantage if he liked the pudding from a box best, as that is the quickest and easiest make, LOL!  But my guess is, he'll like the home made best--if you're interested, stay posted.  I took a picture, but I do not have time to post it.

The mac and cheese is in the oven, and the pudding is ready, but I am going to make asparagus and for me, since I can't eat mac and cheese, lab chops.  And a little stir fry.  I've spent the whole day (almost) standing in the kitchen and am tired, even though I haven't walked and may not get to--for the second day in a row--too ---ing busy!  And I have a doctor appointment tomorrow.  LATE, I will send the picture, if I ever have time.  Now I've got two days of walking to try to make up.  I'm usually pretty good about making up lost walking time.  I'll let you know.

The other thing I haven't done for two days or longer is work on NaNoWriMo prep.  I mean the actual prep, not talking about it.  To say nothing of not working on Welcome Home or my mole or any of my other book projects.  Yesterday, I worked on poetry and Keith's birthday and today, I shopped (without luck) for shoes and cooked for Keith's birthday.  That's it.  My whole day.

The reason K asked for Mac and Cheese and chocolate pudding is that I don't normally cook those things, since I'm allergic to them.  I would make them for him if he asked, though.  I'm taking a quick break because I've been standing so long, but I have GOT to get back to work or it won't be ready on time.  He'll be home in about 15 minutes!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Eggplant Poem, Draft and NaNoWriMo notes

This is a new poem that I wrote for my poetry class with Dawn McDuffie. It is a DRAFT:

Aubergine, Solanum melongena, a Recipe

Open your loppers and wield them like themandibles
of a huge insect. Steer them step-by-steptoward the tall rangy plants
that bow with the weight of theirfruit. Swoop and center the jaws
around the fruit-stalk, yank closed theteeth to sever the tough stem.
Watch the purple, pear-shaped fruit ploponto soil
damp and fragrant from days of rain. Carryit reverently
to the coiled hose, allowing each of yourten fingers
to stroke the rich, smooth skin. Wash the fewdirt clusters
from the plump base of the fruit with a softspray
and dry the fruit on your clean cottonapron. Enjoy the way
the water droplets sink into the fabric anddisappear,
leaving only faint and fading dark spots onthe paisley pattern.
Brush your lips against skin the color ofstormy sunset.
Inside, place a skillet on the fire, addfat, and turn up the flame.
Slide the cutting board from its home alongthe window wall
and pull the thick-handled butcher knifefrom its block.
Lay your sacrifice on the wooden altar andslice from the shoulders
to the hips. Pause to admire the creamy flesh and small designs
of seed. In a low, flat dish pourstone-ground cornmeal, flour,
salt, pepper, garlic, and a pinch of OldBay. Blend with a fork.
From the egg basket on the sideboard, raiseyour piles
of fresh-picked spinach, cilantro andparsley, pausing to sniff
the aromatic cilantro, and lift out twobrown eggs. Thump them
quickly against the edge of the sink, pullthe shells apart
and let the wet suns in their small seasfall into a flat dish.
Mix with the fork. One by one, lay theslices in the beaten eggs,
flip them, lay them in the cornmeal, flipthem and drop them
into hot fat. Listen for a quick sizzle anda hiss of bubbles.
When the edges brown, turn them over andwatch them dance.
When the slices resemble the sunset gold ofthe elm leaves
that gather in the tall grass outside yourwindow, lay them
on towels to drain and cool. Arrange likepetals of a flower
on Grandma’s heirloom Botanica platter, withsprigs of parsley
and cilantro. Danger! Don't make these more than once a year
and don’t burn your tongue as you groan andsavor
the crunchy crust that clings to the hot,soft fruit.

Mary Stebbins Taitt
forMargaret and Keith
111018-1516-2a(3),111017-1432-1b(2), 111017-0836-1st complete,111016 partial draft a
Furtherinstructions, not part of poem:
layerthe leftovers with tomatoes and parmesan
andbake. Cut into rectangular chunks and serve warm.
-OR- Place the freshfruit in the microwave ten minutes. Cool. Carefully scrape thesoft pulp
fromthe now delicate skin, add lemon, olive oil, tahini and garlic
andspread on pita, toast or chips. Wallow then, in the gorgeous glory of baba ghanouj.

As I've now mentioned a couple times, I've decided to participate again in NaNoWriMo--National Novel Writing Month. I did it last year and "won." Winning means writing 50,000 words. I did. That novel, however, is still unfinished. I waffled about trying again and decided to go for it. I have to average 1,667 words every day. Since I'll be traveling, and there's also a holiday weekend, I will have to write more on a number of days to make up for that. The average word -count per page is 250-300 words per page, when doubled spaced. That's about 182 pages or 6 pages a day. But not just six pages of drivel! I want to write six pages of scintillating, gripping prose. Of course, we only have to write a first draft, so maybe I can manage that, anyway. I do wish and hope to be able to complete a real first draft of a real novel that can be polished and sent out for publication--that's my goal.

What I am doing now is brainstorming ideas, characters, setting, theme, etc, as well as a time-line, chapter synopses, etc., and trying to do it in such a way that none of it can be incorporated into the first-draft novel, since the rules clearly state that I mustn't begin the actual writing until November 1 and must finish by November 30. I will be blogging about it as I go along, but probably only briefly, since I need to spend my time actually writing the novel, not blogging! I will also be posting parts of the novel as I write them. I have started a new blog which will contain JUST the NaNoWriMo posts, but I will also be posting much of it here.

I used to have one blog for each type of post, eg: art, photography, dreams, novels, poems, etc. My new policy is: everything (or most everything) goes HERE, in No Polar, AND also in the genre blogs, for those people interested only in that genre. There will be duplication, which I wanted to avoid, but the poetry people can just look at poems, the art people at art, and my friends at everything.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Synopsis, Death Angel, NaNoWriMo

I signed up for NaNoWriMo--National Novel Writing Month--and today, I added a very brief synopsis of my novel to the naNoWriMo site--and a photo:

This is my icon photo for NaNoWriMo
Mycology Professor Colin McHaggerty is well-loved by everyone, or so it seems, but when he turns up in the hospital with mushroom poisoning, his teaching assistant, Marcy Elmsford, does not believe it was a a terrible accident. But that's just what happens to her when she begins poking around trying to find out what really happened. A hit and run! Still, she continues looking, never imagining she might find the answer to a 13-year-old murder.

This synopsis is a first draft and subject to change.  In fact, rereading it, I can guarantee it will change, but not today, I have too many other things to do!!!  AK!

Musical Memories, small bit from Trip

Monarch in Berkshires, October, 2011

We're just back from a more than 1600-mile road trip, and John over at the Healing Seed reminded me of this little trip memory:   I love music and it brings back old memories and cheers me up--like good positive thoughts --one of the reasons I do gratitude lists when I am feeling down.

When we were driving through the Berkshires, I started singing, "The first of December was covered with snow/and so was the turnpike from Stockbridge to Boston,/though the Berkshires seemed dream like on account of that frostin', with ten miles behind me, and 10,000 more to go oh oh oh . . ." (James Taylor, Sweet Baby James.)  (Not sure if I have words exactly right, but you know what I mean.)  And that brought back all those memories of things that happened around the time of the popularity of that song, made me smile almost as much as the lovely scenery.

I had a boyfriend, Chris Burnett, when I was in college, and his family lived in the Berkshires.  We went there on a number of occasions, and always had fun, hiking, taking pictures, and one time snowmobiling.  He was a sweet young man, and smart.

And every year for so many years I can't count them, I drove through the Berkshires for the "Quintessential Fall Foliage Leaf-Peeping Tour" on my way to Maine to visit my brother and his family, alone, with my children, or with various friends or lovers.  So many memories from so many trips.  So many smiles.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Ivory Bill in Ballookey's Mole, by me

I've been traveling and unfortunately, too busy to do art on the road, but I'm home now and just completed the Ivory bill. Below is the two-page spread.  Watercolor, micron pen. (Click images to view larger.)  5 x 8.

Thursday, October 06, 2011

OK, this is really weird, I know.
I'm driving across the New York State Thruway on my way toward Syracuse, NY and to points North and east. As I came across Canada, I worked on two poems and then switched to brainstorming for my NaNoWriMo novel, Death Angel, A Mycology Mystery. I am not doing any actual writing on the novel itself yet, just working on characters, plot synopsis, chapter synopses etc. I can't begin writing until November 1.
I'll be traveling for more than a week and may not be online.
Here's the weird part: I'm all excited because I just solved a 50-year-old mystery. I'm so happy! :-D
If you want to know more about it, stay tuned.
Mary, Sent from my iPad

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Rediscovery of the Ivory-billed Woodpecker, Half a collaboration with Ammon

005 pen, watercolor.  Click image to view larger.  This is by me, Ammon will add his art later. Anyone else who would like to collaborate on this, for fun, feel free to download it, collaborate on it, post it, and I will link to it or post it.

Saturday, October 01, 2011

Pileated Pair. watercolor

Pileated Pair, painted from photos by Scott Carter out the window of his spare room at Silk Creek.  Watercolor, by me, Mary Taitt, in Ballookey's Mole.  Click image to view larger.  The male pileated is perched on the outside of the house, threatening his own reflection, which he takes as another male.  Click image to view larger.  5 x 8, in watercolor Moleskine.

Hills at Sunset

Hills at Sunset, Collaboration with Gretchen, she did the hills, I did the sunset.  Various Jelly Roll Pens, metallic etc.  I am sorry my hands aren't as steady as Gretchen's!  5 x 8, watercolor Moleskine.  Click to view image larger.

I've done almost no blogging, no art, no writing etc since the second flood.