Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Celebrations and IWSG

The dogs celebrating an escape from the heat.

For my IWSG entry this month, I offer an aphorism, inspired by the holiday.

All great writing is a celebration.


Kitten update: I have not seen them today. (And thanks to everyone who offered advice, support or just an ear.)


How will you be celebrating?

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Cat Lovers, Can You Help?

Those who read this blog know I'm mostly a dog person. Well, when I got up this morning to let the dogs out, I noticed three kittens on the back porch. They ran away when they saw me and I haven't seen them since (or before). I assume this means they're living under the porch/house.

I know very little about cats, so am in search of people with more expertise.


-- I borrowed a trap from the vet, but they've had over 20 kittens dumped on them recently, so cannot take them if I do catch them.

-- It's been well over 100 degrees in Georgia, and they survived that, so they must be able to find some cool place.

-- All shelters are packed and overflowing. The same is true for all rescues around here.

-- There is always water on the porch for the dogs. This might be why they were on the porch this morning. I've also put out other water bowls. Is there anything else I should do?

-- I have no idea whether my dogs are aggressive toward cats, though I had noticed them sniffing around the porch with interest in recent days. Since I heard nothing, I assumed it was probably rabbits.

I'm pretty much a complete novice when it comes to cats, so any basics you want to tell me would be beneficial. I'd really love it if anyone has experience with something like this before. You can also email me at hektorkarl at gmail dot com or send me a note on Twitter (@hektorkarl) if you prefer.

If I see them again, I will try to get a picture. 

Thanks! And Happy Holidays to all. :)

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Peer Pressure Made to Order (IWSG)

It's the first Wednesday of the month, which means it's time for IWSG, the Insecure Writer's Support Group, and I've triple checked this month to make sure I've got the letters in the right order.

I've been around the blogosphere less this past month and the blame falls mostly on one source: Twitter (@hektorkarl if you want to find me). I know Twitter gets bashed as a waste of time, and it can become flooded with spam, but I actually find it a great place to connect with other writers/people. And whereas as blog time tends to eat into other types of writing/reading/creating, Twitter can be fit into the cracks in one's schedule. It constantly flows. Surprising conversations erupt. Sometimes news breaks.

Finally, no matter the time of day, there's always someone on Twitter eager to write. It's peer pressure made to order. Just find a favorite hashtag (I like #1k1hr, but there are many out there), and someone will keep you honest with your goals.

So there's my excuse for the lack of blogging. (The blogging will likely pick up again when I get in the mood to get mythical again, but feel free to search me out on Twitter in the meantime.)


Anyone else find themselves drifting toward Twitter? (Twitter haters are welcome to pipe up as well.)


Friday, May 18, 2012

Oral Literature (Beyond The Iliad)

There's a project underway to get a collection of African Oral Literature reprinted. It will be distributed worldwide, including to many libraries in Africa (where it is a popular item). For as little as $1 of support, you can get a copy of the e-book. Details at

A few details, from the site:

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

How to Win Awards and Attention

It is a truth universally acknowledged that all bloggers write for attention and accolades. And though blog awards take us back to the cruel days in which kids did not bring valentines for the whole class but only for a select few, they also provide convenenient content inspiration, so I'm accepting this one bestowed by the brilliant Veronica Sicoe.

As per the rules, I have to share 7 things about myself. (For all my claims to oddness, this was not that easy, which much mean I'm not as abnormal as I like to claim. "And after all this time to find we're just like all the rest.")

Monday, May 7, 2012

After A to Z: Reflections and Lessons Learned

Last month, I ran through the alphabet guided by the loose theme of mythic moments. Now the organizers of this challenge have organized a series of reflection posts. So I'll discuss both the specifics of this challenge and some larger points that can apply to anyone's creative process.

1. Structure: I didn't meticulously plan ahead, and I liked how each letter nudged me into unexpected places. Only with X did I feel a bit trapped. Writing under some restraints encourages creative solutions. I liked the narrowing of possibilities (which paradoxically expanded the number of interesting ideas.) I also used a lot of alliteration. That was pretty fun.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

So You're Probably Going to Lose (IWSG)

IWSG (Insecure Writer's Support Group) is the brain-child of Alex J. Cavanaugh, who I'm pretty sure is the glue that holds together this corner of the internet universe.
Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak.
A lot of my posts fit this theme (here's one, for example), since I tend to propose a 'screw the fates, screw the odds, create something great' approach. For this one, I'm dipping into The Iliad again.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Zeus, Zoos, and Zzzzz...

(26th post on mythic moments for the A-Z Challenge)

Julien de Parme, Zeus and Thetis

We opened the month with Argos, now we close it with Zeus. From dogs to gods. That could almost be a tagline for this blog, so it seems appropriate.


I've heard a lot of whispers of blogging burnout. Okay, some of them were less whispers than direct proclamations. It's hard to steal fire from the gods on a daily basis. It's hard to do anything productive on a daily basis.

I've praised rest before, and I'll note that even Zeus, in the midst of what (to the gods) was the greatest show on earth, needed rest. From Book 14 of Fagles' The Iliad translation.
"Why hurrry, Hera?"--
Zeus who gathers the breasting clouds replied,
"that is a journey you can make tomorrow. Now--
come, let's go to bed, let's lose ourselves in love!...

"I will wrap us round in a golden cloud so dense
not even the Sun's rays, the sharpest eyes in the world,
will pierce the mist and glimpse us..."

And so, deep in peace,
the Father slept on Gargaron peak, conquered by Sleep
and strong assaults of Love...
So wrap yourselves in a golden cloud, and then do what you will.


What are your goals for May?

(For those who like communal challenges, they're running a National Novel Writing May challenge at the Bransforums.)


One year ago, I woke up on May 1 to find the car stolen. So there's a very good chance this May will get off to a better start!


Sunday, April 29, 2012

Yawps Barbaric

(25th post on mythic moments for the A-Z Challenge)

Walt Whitman Bridge

The spotted hawk swoops by and accuses me—he complains of my gab and my loitering.   
I too am not a bit tamed—I too am untranslatable;   
I sound my barbaric yawp over the roofs of the world.
The excerpt is from Leaves of Grass by New Jersey's great Walt Whitman. (There's now a bridge named after him, so that's mostly what I knew him for when I was kid. Leaves of Grass was also the book Bill Clinton gave to Monica Lewinsky. Whitman's yawps sprawl in odd directions.)

I admire works that can still seem odd years later, works that retain that 'x-factor' even after countless imitators have scraped their nails at the same chalk board. I speak often of things like rest and silence, but the most powerful moments of quiet are those that balance ecstatic creation, unforeseen energy and barbaric yawps.

Friday, April 27, 2012

X Factors and Readers

(24th post on mythic moments for the A-Z Challenge)

Many readers have very clear ideas on what they want out of a book. A YA dystopia with a bit of romance. A crime novel with a tough, jaded protagonist. A romance set in the Renaissance. An epic in which the good guy wins. A book with a lot of buzz. Any book on the craft of writing. Or the history of rock and roll. Or the redemptive qualities of dogs. A little knowledge of keyword searches, a glance at the reviews, and one can do quite well with this approach, only tumbling into occasional disappointment.

I get myself into trouble because I tend to like things that are less tangible. Things that cannot be found easily with an Amazon search or summary review. I seek out books that have 'x factors,' books that do something (extraordinary) that no other book does. (I realize this is partly an attempt to mythologize my own tastes, but I think there's a deeper point, and I needed a topic that began with X.)

In this view, it's the strangeness that sticks with us. The work that does something unexpected, and in doing so does not deceive the reader/viewer but instead makes them feel slightly elevated, slightly expanded, as if their creative worlds are now just a bit larger. Works that make us go, 'Huh, I hadn't quite realized that was possible.' It's hard to order that up, but we all need quests.
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