Wednesday, November 22, 2023

Olga Ulbrich, 1932-2023

Sometimes things are happening beneath the surface that you don't see until it's too late. We found that out the hard way this month. My mother, Olga Ulbrich, was admitted to the hospital in late October for dehydration. A couple of days later, we found out that she had Stage 4 liver cancer. It had already metastasized from elsewhere in her body, but we never found out where it had started. She was admitted to hospice on November 11th and passed away on November 19th. She was 91. Here's a link to the funeral notice; her obituary hasn't been added as of the time I'm writing this post. Attached is a photo of my mother from when I was a baby. She's on the right; my aunt is on the left, and my great-grandmother is holding me in the center.

Although I'll probably post for the Insecure Writer's Support Group next week, I plan to take the next few weeks off. My final post for 2023 will cover my reading challenge.

Wednesday, November 15, 2023

Gods of Writing and Stories

A recent show on Disney Plus (I don't want to identify it in case of spoilers) saw one of the characters become the God of Stories. In this situation, the god took on responsibility for maintaining the multiverse, allowing a multitude of stories and different lives to flourish. I really like this idea because in my Season Avatars universe, there is a goddess who calls Herself the Grandmother of Stories. She is one of the primary gods of the Hidden Archipelago, but Her interest in stories draws Her to events around the world so She can witness historical events. (She not only provides story recaps for the reader but also appears in the climax of the series.) The Goddess of Stories grants Her Avatars gifts with language and public speaking, and one of them will feature in the next book in this setting (it's tentatively called Avatars Abroad.)

Inspired by the show and my work, I tried to come with an actual god or goddess of stories from mythology. I'm not sure there's one devoted specifically to storytelling. The Egyptian god Thoth is associated with writing; when I visited the British Museum in 2006, I brought back a small statue of Thoth (pictured) and offered him my leftover English money. Unfortunately, that wasn't enough of a sacrifice to jumpstart my writing career, but there are plenty of other gods also associated with language and/or intelligence (see this list from Wikipedia.) The Greek Muses are probably the best known goddesses associated with creativity, but plenty of other pantheons acknowledge the importance of creativity. Here's one such list. It includes Hindu and Japanese deities in addition to some of the more well-known ones. 

Do you have a "patron muse?" (As a Beatles fan, I consider John Lennon my muse since he also was a writer.) Can you think of any other deities who might be a god or goddess of stories? If so, feel free to share in the comments.

Wednesday, November 08, 2023

Old Story Drafts/New Tumblr Account

The other day, while I was looking for a document, I came across old printed drafts of some of my novels. I even found a copy of the very first novel I attempted to write. I used to save drafts as ways to prove I was the original author of my work. However, most of the stories (except the first one) have been published, often in versions quite different from the drafts I've saved. I've glanced at lines here and there, but I don't intend to hold on to these drafts anymore. I intend to shred them when I have time. I also found some poems I wrote in high school. Some of them make me cringe now, but a couple of them weren't too bad. I'm not sure what else to do with them, so I might publish them on my Tumblr account. If you use it, I'm smua70 there.

Do you keep printed copies of your old drafts? Why or why not? Feel free to share in the comments.

Wednesday, November 01, 2023


How is it November already? With a new month comes a new post for the Insecure Writer's Support Group. Learn more about them on their website and Facebook page.

Our hosts this month are PJ Colando, Jean Davis, Lisa Buie Collard, and Diedre Knight.

Here's our question for November: November is National Novel Writing Month. Have you ever participated? If not, why not?

For those who might not be familiar with NaNoWriMo, it's an annual challenge to write 50,000 words of a new work in thirty days. This requires an average of 1,667 words per day. I've participated twice, once in 2007 (when my son was still a baby; I figured it was a good way to kickstart my writing again), and in 2010. Although I hit my writing goal both times, I never finished either novel. For me, writing at that speed doesn't produce quality work. I suppose I could try to find those drafts and revise them, but I have so many other projects that it's unlikely to happen. I currently have three different stories in progress, though one is consuming much more mental space than the other two and therefore devours most of my writing time.

To those who are participating in NaNoWriMo, I wish you luck and offer you this tip: try writing on your phone. Save your work in cloud storage so you can access it anywhere on any device. I write in Word, so I have the Microsoft 365 app on my phone. Although writing on my phone does occasionally introduce extra spaces and odd characters into my work, I can fix those errors when I'm on my laptop. A phone is much more portable than a laptop or even a tablet.

Time to end this blog post and return to my story. If you're participating in NaNoWriMo, feel free to share a description of your work in the comments. 


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