Y is for YOY? (Why Oh Why?)

Tonight I am asking myself, Why oh why did I wait until 10:00 at night to write this post?” I could have pre-written it, put up it on the scheduler, and had it automatically post today. But did I do that? No. So, here I am, 10:00 at night (yes I know, that’s not late to most people) writing my ‘Y’ post for the A to Z blog Challenge.

Why did I wait? I blame it all on the Pikes Peak Writer’s 2018 Conference – #PPWC2018. What an awesome event. Pikes Peak Writers hosts an annual conference where they bring a few hundred writers together, throw them in a hotel for three days with authors, publishers, editors, and agents who teach all these writers an amazing amount of writerly things.

I have come to PPWC for the past four years and love it. I have not only gained a wealth of knowledge from the facilitators, but I have made some lasting friendship as well. Each year I leave PPWC with my mouth hanging open and my brain bursting from all of the amazing things I have learned. WOW.

This year, I was not disappointed. Just to list a few classes I attended:

  • Perfect Placement – Debbie Maxwell talked about where to put the power words. When power words are at the end of a sentence, scene, or paragraph this compels your reader to keep reading.
  • Busting the Block – MB Partlow guided us through ways to overcome writers block. My favorite ideas were to have one of your characters pull out a gun. Even if that action isn’t relative to the story that’s ok. It is an excersises to get the creative juices going again.
  • WordPress for Writers – Kristy Ferrin took us, step by step, through the process of setting up WP. Even though I have been on WP for several years, I finally found out how to use some of those “things” (like what the heck is a plug-in?).

Over the course of three days there are over 60 workshops to choose from, panels, queries, critiques. Then there is always Write Drunk, Edit Sober. This prompt driven writing session is very popular too.

So, here I am, sitting on my bed in a hotel room, computer in my lap, and I’m no longer wondering Y-O-Y did I wait to write this post? I’m glad I did. I’m glad I could share just a little bit of this wonderful weekend with you. Next year, you all will be here too!

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This post inspired by – Y

Z is for Zoo

X is for X Words

We are getting down to the last letters of the A to Z Blog Challenge. Through the challenge I have been writing daily about the Isle of Man where my book, The Manx, takes place.  Besides all the wonderful characters and the folktales, I also included posts about visiting the island and some of the basics about the Isle of Man.

Now we come to the letter X. In my 1932 edition of 20,000 Words there are only three words listed that start with X: Xanthippe, xenon, xylophone. None of these really relate to my book so I have been at a loss as to how to make X work for the A to Z Challenge.

Next out is Roget’s International Thesaurus, 4th Edition, 1977. There are a few more words listed which are: X (as in a cross), Xanadu (remember that movie?), xenophobia, xerography, Xerox, X Ray, xylography, and xylophone.

An X is also seen as a symbol like a railroad crossing, a mathematical symbol, and a signature. Love letters are signed with an XO for kiss and hug, or XXXOOO for lots of kisses and hugs.

The X is Gebo (Gifts) in Futhark Runes. The gift as in the sense of both generosity and sacrifice indicating balance and all things relating to exchanges, including contracts, personal relationships and partnerships.

Why is the X always pronounced like a Z? Why have the X at all? Just turn all the X-words to Z-words. Except, if that was done than an X-Ray would become a Z-Ray and then you have a weapon that shoots death rays rather than a camera that shoots death rays. Wait…..what? Yeah. That’s what goes on sometimes with my grey matter. It gets a little weird up there.

Have an X-cellent weekend!

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This post inspired by – X

Witches of Slieau Whallion

Slieau Whallion is a hill located on the Isle of Man near St. John’s just off of Gleneedles Road. It has a grisly history of being the execution place of accused witches. They would be put into a barrel with spikes driven into the sides of the barrel, pointing inward. Then the barrel, with the accused witch inside, were rolled down the hill. Murderers were also punished this way. Quite a cruel way to die.

In my book, The Manx, Slieau Whillion is actually the name of a witch who befriends our heroine, Kaitlin and her side kick Donal. My Slieau Whillion does not take on the gruesome traits of the hill she was named for. She is a mix of Mrs. Whatsit, from A Wrinkle in Time, with a little bit of Dr. Who (think Peter Capaldi), and a dash of Winifred Sanderson (Hocus Pocus). She is eccentric with all the bells and whistles, plus a few added quirks that I have yet to discover. 

I am looking forward to finishing Kaitlin’s story so I can write one starring Slieau Whillion. She will be a blast to write.

Until next time!

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This post inspired by – W

X is for X

V is for Vampire

Vampire Grave in Malew churchyard.
~~Photo courtesy of: Peter Killey, Manx Scenes Photography

In a churchyard in Malew parish, Isle of Man, there is a grave that is said to be that of a vampire. It is eerie to look at photographs of the strange grave, and not surprising that a vampire legend would be born from it. It is interesting to have the juxtaposition of a vampire buried in a grave on consecrated ground in a parish named for a saint (Saint Moluag).

The person buried here went by the name of Matthew Hassel. It is said that after he was buried wails and other odd noises could be heard from his grave. It was declared he must be a vampire so his grave was opened, a stake driven through his heart, then reburied. The grave was covered with a slate slab and chained off to prevent him from rising from the dead. His wife Margaret is buried with him.

In truth, as best as history buffs can find, it is thought he may have committed suicide. If that is the case then he would not have been allowed to be buried on consecrated ground, but instead was interred by way of the wall at the head of the grave. There doesn’t seem to be a reason why they went to such lengths to bury him in the churchyard, but I’m sure it had something to do with saving his soul. Suicide was (and still is) considered a mortal sin.

The story that he was a vampire is fun for any writer. We look for those odd things that make for a good book to send shivers across our reader’s back. I am tucking this story into my “Idea” file to look at for a possible short story. Until then, let’s hope Mr. Hassel continues to rest peacefully.

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This post inspired by – V

W is for Witch of Slieu Whallian

U is for Universe

When the sun goes down and the stars come out, how many can you see? Where I live the night sky is getting filled with flood lights from shopping centers and parking lots. 18 years ago we could go out in our backyard and were able to see quite an abundance of stars. Today the numbers have dropped.

Isle of Man is considered one of the leaders Dark Sky sites in the British Isles. There are 26 sites given the status of Dark Sky Discovery. These are areas are so dark that the Milky Way seems to envelop the viewer. You can reach out and hold the universe in the cup of your hand. I’m told it is breathtaking.

The Isle of Man Observatory has a great photo montage that compares a night sky in an urban area all the way to a Dark Sky. Scroll down further on their site and you’ll find a calendar that shows the best viewing days for Dark Sky. Weather is a factor no matter where you star gaze, and the Isle of Man has it’s fair share of rain and clouds.Be sure to check the forecast before you make plans.

There is a wonderful inspirational piece by Nancy Willard that I keep by my desk:

Be hopeful…
I haven’t a clue as to how my story will end.
But that’s all right.
When you set out on a journey
and the night covers the road,
that’s when you discover the stars.

 

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This post inspired by – U

V is for Vampire Grave

T is for Tourist Trophy Races

My main character in The Manx, Kaitlin Manning, and her father, Charles, are on the Isle of Man to photograph the TT races when Kaitlin stumbles across the first piece of a puzzle that takes her far from the races. I became fascinated by these races when looking for a reason for Kaitlin to visit the island. I thought about having her on vacation or just visiting family, but that was almost too simple of an idea. I came across these races and knew I had my reason for her to go to the Isle of Man. Here is what I learned about the races.

The Isle of Man Tourist Trophy races, commonly referred to as TT, are time trial motorcycle races that take place on the public roads around the Isle of Man.  It is a 200 MPH street race over treacherous twists, turns, hills, and bumps. To race on this course is to put your life on the line; a very thin line.

The races started back in 1907. Rem Fowler won in the twin-cylinder class with speeds averaging 36 MPH. Today, the races have expanded to five classes of bikes that can average upwards of 130 MPH. The fastest average speed was set in 2016 by Michael Dunlop at nearly 134 MPH. The race record for the Sidecar TT was set in 2017 by Ben and Tom Birchall. They completed the 37 mile twisting course an average race speed at just over 116 mph.

Racers have nerves of steel to drive in what is known as one of the most dangerous races in the world. It is not just the roads themselves, but the obstacles alongside them. Some of roadways on the Isle of Man are narrow with brick walls and buildings that will come right to the edge of the road. A driver can come out of a tight turn heading headlong toward the side of a building. Fans sit just feet away from the riders who are screaming by at 200 MPH. One tiny error, any small unseen obstacle can turn deadly for both drivers and fans alike.

After reading so much about the TT I am looking forward to attending my first motorcycle race. I am a fan of quiet walks on the beach and hikes to astounding vistas (like to top of Mt Snaefell), but I am sure I’ll take time to see these monster bikes fly across the roads of Isle of Man.

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This post inspired by – T

S is for Mt. Snaefell

I had to giggle – just a little bit – when I first learned about Mt. Snaefell (see this map for location). When I looked at photographs of the mountain I scratched my head and thought, “That’s not a mountain…it’s a big hill.” I live near the Rocky Mountains and am used to the high peaks here (12,000-14,000 feet). The joke’s on me because it really is classified as a mountain; it stands tall at 2,037 feet.

There are a couple of ways to get to the top, and when I go to Isle of Man I will be taking the foot trail up. There is also the Snaefell Mountain Railway that takes passengers all the way to the summit. After working up a hunger from the hike, there is a cafe at the top. I’ve heard that taking a packed bit of food is a nice way to go as well. Dress appropriately. I’m told the summit is usually windy and cool. You could get snow, or rain, or both.

You might actually experience the summit on a clear, bright day! There is a well-known saying in the Isle of Man that on a clear day six kingdoms can be seen from the top: the Isle of Man, England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales and Heaven.

In the summer of 1883 William Wordsworth toured Scotland. During this trip he went to Isle of Man and wrote a series of sonnets about his trip. Included is one from his stop on the island a snippet for Mt. Snaefell:


TYNWALD HILL
“Once on the top of Tynwal’s formal mound
(Still marked with green turf circles narrowing
Stage above stage) would sit this Island’s King,
The laws to promulgate, enrobed and crowned;
While compassing the little mount around,
Degrees and Orders stood, each under each;
Now, like to things within fate’s easiest reach,
The power is merged, the pomp a grave has found.
Off with yon cloud, old Snaefell ! that thine eye
Over three Rhealms may take its widest range;
And let, for them, thy fountains utter strange
Voices, they winds break forth in prophecy,
If the whole State must suffer mortal change,
Like Mona’s miniature sovereignty.

If you go to Mt. Snaefell, I hope you drop me a note and tell me about your adventure there. Maybe we’ll get lucky and bump into each other at the summit.

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This post inspired by – S

T is for Tourist Trophy