Category Archives: Articles

Return to Hole in the Rock

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A year ago I went to Hole in the Rock, an interesting sandstone formation in Papago Park. That was when I was still suffering from arthritis pain (before my hip replacement) and was unable to climb to the top.

Now that I’m bionic and healed and going hiking once a week, I decided to go back and try again.

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This is considered rather an easy trail, but it was still challenging for me. You walk around the back side of the mountain. Steps are built into the path and edged with rock. There were quite a few people there. Children scampered past me. So did parents carrying toddlers.

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From the back, this is what the mountain looks like:

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When I look at the steepness of it, I can’t believe I climbed up there. When I got to the opening, though, I couldn’t make myself descend the little stairs cut into the rock that lead into the chamber. Look for yourself–see them at the lower right corner of the picture below? I think part of my problem was that just out of sight on the left was a group of people enjoying the view and I didn’t want them to see me tumble down. (Although, if you’re going to fall on a hike like this, you want to do it when there are people around to help you.) Another consideration was that I had an expensive camera around my neck that I didn’t want to bang up.

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Here’s what the view from the top looks like through the hole:

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And here’s the view looking out from the back side, Camelback Mountain in the distance:

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Someday I’m going back with a little more experience and without my camera so that I can really experience Hole in the Rock the way the Native Americans did.

Creative Juice #128

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Creative Juice #128

May you be full of wonder this weekend.

Guest Post: 55 Social Media Hashtags For Authors (And How To Use Them) by Writer’s Relief

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This article has been reprinted with the permission of Writer’s Relief, a highly recommended author’s submission service. We assist writers with preparing their submissions and researching the best markets. We have a service for every budget, as well as a free e-publication for writers, Submit Write Now! Visit our site today to learn more.

Unless you’ve been living in a remote cave (or buried under a giant pile of writing research), you know hashtags serve a very valuable purpose on social media. Those clickable words or strings of words can help you follow ongoing conversations, sort posts according to interests, and expand the reach of your musings beyond your own friends and followers. Furthermore, tweets with hashtags get retweeted 55% more than tweets without them.

Boost your social media efforts and effectiveness by following — and using — this list of hashtags for writers:

Enjoy The Writer’s Journey

These “share the journey” hashtags bring the active writing community together by sharing the day-to-day trials and tribulations of the writing life.

  • #amwriting
  • #amediting
  • #writerslife
  • #WriterWednesday

Write The Words

Every writer needs a creative boost now and then. Follow these hashtag prompts to nudge yourself and others into getting the words onto the page.

  • #1K1H (1,000 words in one hour)
  • #WritingPrompt
  • #StoryStarter
  • #wordcount
  • #writingsprint
  • #NaNoWriMo (for the November marathon)

Pose A Question To A Pro

Need guidance from a professional? Pose a question or peruse the hashtag to pick up tips and tricks from the experts.

  • #AskEditor
  • #AskAgent
  • #AskAuthor

Gather Your Genre Group

No list of hashtags for writers is complete without a list of genre-related hashtags. Following these keywords can keep you up to date about what’s going on in the industry as well as connect you to fellow lovers of your genre.

  • #RomanceWriter
  • #Horror
  • #YA
  • #KidLit
  • #LitFic
  • #Crime
  • #Thriller
  • #Suspense
  • #DarkFantasy
  • #SciFiChat
  • #MGLit (middle grade literature)
  • #ShortReads
  • #flashfiction
  • #ChickLit
  • #WomensFiction
  • #HistFic
  • #RWA
  • #NINC
  • #SCBWI
  • #SFWA

Peruse Publication

Trying to get published can be bewildering. Follow one or more of these hashtags so you’ll be in the know.

  • #PubTip
  • #SelfPublishing
  • #SelfPub
  • #QueryTip
  • #Publishing
  • #GetPublished
  • #IndiePub

Seek A Slot

#MSWL is short for “Manuscript Wish List.” Editors and agents post the kinds of manuscripts they would most like to see cross their desks right now. For authors on the hunt for a new agent or a new house, #MSWL gives you a chance to strike while the iron is hot.

Augment Your Audience

Grow your tribe by sharing your writing with readers using the following hashtags:

  • #TeaserTuesday
  • #FridayReads
  • #MustRead
  • #LitChat
  • #SampleSunday
  • #novelines

Move The Merchandise

Hashtags are fabulous for book marketing, especially if you have a launch or a free or discounted book.

  • #freebook
  • #freebie
  • #freedownload
  • #BookGiveaway
  • #99c
  • #booklaunch
  • #BookBuzz
  • #NewBook

Harnessing Hashtags — The Right Way

Since hashtags are essentially keywords that help folks find what they’re looking for, it’s important to use them correctly. Here are a few guidelines:

  • Use hashtags specific to your message
  • Try to take advantage of the important keywords in your post’s text
  • Or, add hashtags at the end of the post
  • Don’t use too many hashtags, except on Instagram, where it doesn’t seem to matter

Once you get the hang of including hashtags in your social media posts, you’ll find that it’s an effortless way to expand your reach. Keep in mind: With the exception of Instagram, you should keep the number of your hashtags down to one or two. A Tweet or Facebook post riddled with hashtags, or followed by a river of them, looks a lot like spam.

For more writing tips and advice visit WritersRelief.com.

Walking on Arizona State University Campus

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Walking on Arizona State University Campus

After I climbed “A” Mountain last week, I walked on to nearby ASU. I passed by Tempe City Hall, below. If it looks kind of wonky, it’s because, yes, it’s an inverted pyramid.

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Just north of ASU campus is the Islamic Community Center. See “A” Mountain in the background.

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Look at these lovely street lamps disguised as palm trees:

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I love college campuses. From the time I was a junior in high school and was visiting potential higher education institutions, I’ve felt a distinct energy on campuses, a huge intellectual potential; students and faculty members with so much to offer and explore. I still experience that buzz any time I set foot on college property.

Every college has its Old Main building with a quad out front, and Arizona State University is no exception.

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ASU was founded as a Normal School,  a training college for teachers.

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The University Club is a private club for current and retired faculty, staff, alumni, community and corporate members, who can gather there for weekday lunches and meetings or special events.

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This is the entrance to Hayden Library, which is actually housed underground.

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I have no idea what this tower structure with the steps is, but it provides seating for people to eat lunch or check their phone.DSC03353

ASU’s Herberger Institute School of Music, one of the finest music programs in the country, is housed in this “birthday cake” building. Its architecture blends with the most famous building on campus a mere 100 yards away. . .

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The Grady Gammage Auditorium was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. It was originally supposed to be constructed in Baghdad, but the deal fell through. When ASU President Grady Gammage contacted Wright about building a concert hall for the University, Wright resurrected these plans. Neither Wright nor Gammage lived to see the building completed.

Besides being used for concerts of the University’s large musical ensembles, the 3,000 seat auditorium also hosts Broadway musical touring companies and many cultural and entertainment events open to the public. (The music building above also has a music theater, a concert hall, and a recital hall.)

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The sweeping ramps from the upper level of the building aid in allowing the audience to exit the building quickly after performances.

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ASU also has its own Art Museum.

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The Tempe main campus of ASU covers 661 acres and serves over 42,000 students. It is the fourth largest university in the US. I only photographed a few of the buildings, then headed to the light rail station (a 15 minute walk) for the ride home.

Creative Juice #126

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Creative Juice #126

Oops! I neglected to post some Creative Juice last Friday. I hope this wonderful batch more than makes up for it.

Revisiting “A” Mountain

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Revisiting “A” Mountain

Three years ago I hiked nearby Hayden Butte, also known as Tempe Butte and “A” Mountain for the big “A” on its face (for Arizona State University). I made it most of the way up, but turned back before reaching the top, because after negotiating what was for me a very challenging rocky area, I came across another patch like it and didn’t want to press my luck.

But recently I bought a nice pair of hiking boots and a trekking pole, and I’ve committed myself to hiking regularly, and I thought maybe I could try “A” Mountain again.

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It’s a little hard to see the “A” from this angle. Also, it’s a lot larger than it looks–60 feet tall!

I took the light rail to downtown Tempe. There are two stops at the foot of the butte. I got off at the Veterans Way/College Ave stop.

The first part of the trail is a gravel path which is sometimes a gentle slope, but mostly steep steps reinforced by wooden railroad ties. I stopped often along the way to take pictures.

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The light rail train approaching the Mill Ave/3rd St station.

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Hayden Mill, an historic landmark

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The lovely Tempe Mission Palms Hotel.

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Always construction in Tempe and on the Arizona State University campus.

This is the desert, folks, as you can see from the landscape along the trail.

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Pretty desert wildflowers (click on the smaller photos to enlarge):

 

A little-bit-better view of the “A.”

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After a while, the gravel path connects to an asphalt one, which is rather steep, but has a hand-rail. It ends at a level area with benches and a trash bin, a good spot to take a break and snap some photographs. Then we’re back to an unpaved trail.

It seems to me that the trail has deteriorated a lot in three years. The soil has eroded to such a degree that some of the steps are almost three feet high, challenging for a little old lady like me with two artificial hips.

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Here’s a hazy view of Sky Harbor Airport (upper left; control tower center) and the Phoenix skyline.

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Arizona State’s Sun Devil Stadium is nestled right next to Hayden Butte:

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Eventually you get high enough to see what’s on the other side of the butte: State Farm Insurance’s new headquarters and the Tempe Town Lake, built out of the dry Salt River bed.

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Also, by this time we are on the stretch that caused me so much distress last time. The path is steep, uneven solid rock with lots of nooks and crannies. I think I wore ordinary sneakers last time; hiking boots are much better on this kind of terrain. I carefully watched where I put my feet so that I wouldn’t turn my ankle.

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Because my eyes were down, I didn’t notice that the handrail on my right, which I was hanging onto for dear life, abruptly ended. Unfortunately, another handrail, to my left, would not be within reach for two more steps. In my surprise, I awkwardly swayed on my steep footing until I could maneuver my trekking pole into service. Can you make out the gap between the handrails in the picture below?

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Despite the posted policy requiring hikers to stay on the trail, some find lofty vantage points to check their phones:

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After that point, there was one (or maybe two) tall staircases fabricated out of concrete. Then there was another stretch of uneven solid rock. It was there that I turned around last time. This time I continued onward and was rewarded by a lovely view of Camelback Mountain (near the left horizon; from a different angle, it is easier to make out the camel’s head, neck, and hump; in this picture you really don’t see them unless you know what to look for).

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After that rock path, there is a short, maybe 6-step staircase made of concrete; a small level area with a trash can; and to the left another short staircase leading to a chained and padlocked gate. That’s as far as you can go. There’s no platform at the top to relax and take pictures; you’re better off stopping just before you get to those two little staircases. (This picture doesn’t capture it very well. I took it after I’d already started down. But you can see the handrail to nowhere.)

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It took me about 35 minutes to go up, taking photographs along the way, and about 25 minutes to come down. A lot of people, especially college students, passed me coming and going, so it is possible to do this hike in a significantly shorter time. You use different leg muscles coming down, and it’s steep, so I walked with care. I decided to take the asphalt path all the way down and bypass that first stretch of railroad tie steps. I ended up having to wander a long way around the base of the mountain to get back where I started.

If you’re interested, a very well-written online review details hiking the butte with kids.

 

Guest Post: How to Write an Effective Fight Scene by Doug Lewars

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Guest Post: How to Write an Effective Fight Scene by Doug Lewars

Thank you to Doug Lewars and to A Writer’s Path for this excellent article about crafting a breathtaking fight sequence.

Fight scenes are somewhat similar to chase scenes. I wrote about the latter last month. Use action verbs and use terse sentences. Real fights tend to be sloppy affairs and they frequently end quickly. In addition to punching and kicking there is frequently a lot of shoving. Staged fights are much better as reference material. YouTube is a good source of both so have a look at a few before writing them.

Although you’re probably going to be writing about a fight and not a boxing match, it is a good idea to learn some boxing terms. Things like hook, cross, uppercut and jab can be worked into the scene. Of course your actual fight will more likely be a brawl in which pretty much anything goes. So head butting, biting, elbowing, scratching, kneeing, kicking and the use of weapons are also permitted.

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Mind you, the fight scene will be pretty short if both opponents are using shotguns at point blank range so the nature of the weapon will probably dictate the amount of space needed for the fight. Don’t hesitate to make use of judo and jujitsu techniques as well. It’s easy to look them up online but stay away from the terminology unless you’re creating a fight between two practitioners of a specific discipline.

For example, Harai Goshi is a sweeping hip throw. Even the term ‘sweeping hip throw’ is probably too technical. It would be better to describe some – but not all – of the technique. The reason you don’t want to describe every last step is that your story will slow. Rapid pacing is critical in a fight seen.

Therefore, for the example above, you might write something like, ‘As Frank rushed at him, Jerry pivoted left, shoved his right thigh in front of Frank, twisted forward and slammed him to the ground.’ If you look up the actual judo move you’ll see that I’ve left out at least 80% of the technique but the sentence flows and that’s all your reader is looking for at this point.

Make use of sensations in the fight. ‘Frank grunted’, ‘Harald groaned’, ‘Tony yelled’, ‘Marty felt a stab of pain in his …’, ‘Something warm ran down the side of his face’, ‘He smelled the scent of roses as he lay panting for breath’, ‘The club seemed to grow as he tried to dodge’, ‘Bile filled his mouth’.

To continue reading this article, click here.