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Sept 2007:
26th Kootenay II
24th Yoho
22nd Kootenay
19th Back From the Canadian Rockies
5th Biggie
1st To Cut or Eliminate
Kootenay II
Posted by JVJ @ 2:44 pm
Sept 26th: 2007

Here are some more photos of Kootenay. I camped on the edge of the park one night and watched as the Milky Way slowly revealed itself above me.
A short hike west of the falls takes you uphill to the ochre beds and paint pots. The contrast in colors is striking; the deep orange of the earth and milky green of the pools. Ochre is a naturally occurring pigment and it bubbles to the surface here. Iron oxide builds up around the spring heads, forming pools.
Posted by JVJ @ 10:45 am
Sept 24th: 2007

Here I am in Yoho National Park, doing my best impression of Vanna White. The features Iím showing off are the Takkakaw Falls, which at 384m is the 23rd highest waterfall in the world.
And the Takkakaw Creek which flows into the Yoho River. The falls are fed by the Daly Glacier. When I first saw the color of the creek I couldnít wait to get down to the shore. Here, before me, was the Milk River Iíd written about in Fortress of Grey Ice and Sword From Red Ice. Tiny particles of limestone ground up by the glaciers give the water its milky appearance. It was wonderful to see something Iíd only read about in books brought to life. Tall pines, pebbled shoreline, milky water: I could be standing outside the roundhouse at Castlemilk.
Posted by JVJ @ 09:51 am
Sept 22nd: 2007

The first national park I visited was Kootenay. It was here we saw two bighorn sheep by the road. This one stayed put and inspected us while we took photographs. The other headed for the bush.
Kootenay is known for the Radium Hot Springs. For six dollars you get to soak under the stars. The water temperature changes depending on where you are in the pool, and vapors curl around you as the air drops toward freezing. The park's also known for the Vermillion River, which is an elk migration route. It's Fall, the right time of year, advised the locals. I spent a lot of time watching that river. No elk. Deer, but no elk.

Next month (late October/early November) I'll be attending World Fantasy Convention in Saratoga, New York. If you're in the area and would like to come to a book signing or reading, stay put for details.
Back From the Canadian Rockies
Posted by JVJ @ 09:37 pm
Sept 19th : 2007

I had a wonderful time in Alberta and British Columbia. Itís a spectacular part of the world. Soaring limestone peaks, glaciers, alpine lakes, dense forest, milky rivers: nine days isnít nearly enough to take it all in.
I saw Boo the 500lb grizzly in Golden, BC. I watched as he hunted in the bushes for small game and then took a bath. He dug the pond himself.
When I returned home I learned the sad news about James Oliver Rigney, who wrote as Robert Jordan. He was a great writer and will be missed.
Posted by JVJ @ 11:05 am
Sept 5th : 2007

I got Biggie from the Helen Woodward animal shelter six years ago. Her mother was a feral cat and Biggie's always been a little gun shy. If the doorbell goes you won't see her for hours. She'll be under the bed, hiding. Friends didn't know I had a cat for years.
She answers to her name and comes running, tail up toward you, like a dog. If she ever goes missing, the magic word that brings her home is T-U-N-A (she can hear it a mile away). She loves closets, isn't afraid of big dogs, but is terrified of other cats. Lizards are her prey of choice, and she catches them and they escape. She keep the tails.

I'm off to Banff and Jasper for a few weeks--should be good research for the books. I've never been to the Canadian Rockies before so I'm pretty excited. Updates when I return.
To Cut or Eliminate
Posted by JVJ @ 3:51 pm
Sept 1st : 2007

Dictionaries define the word edit as "to prepare for publication" and "to cut or eliminate". In order to edit one's own work one must learn to do both. The cut or eliminate part can be difficult for beginning writers as we worked so hard over our choice of words; lovingly cataloging all the details of a scene, providing vignettes to disclose our characters back stories, sweating the sentence structure, honing our verbs. It can be very difficult to look dispassionately at our work and ask, "How much of what Iíve written is vital to the story?"
Time and experience helps, but few writers are ever their best editors. That's why it's a separate profession. We need them. We can and should learn how to edit our work however, even if it's an imperfect edit. Most beginning writers overwrite their scenes. Too many details, side stories, clauses, adjectives, words. A good exercise to begin with is to look at something youíve written in the past (the older the better) and see how many words you can cut out and still leave the sense of the story/scene. For example: "John was a big man, carrying an extra hundred pounds" could be reduced to "John was fat." Or "That morning they left the house at ten and drove the two hours to San Diego" could become, "They arrived in San Diego at noon." The important thing is to start making judgments about what should and shouldn't be included in the finished work. One of the hardest--and most essential--skills for writers to develop is knowing when to hit DELETE.
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Booís Story
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