Daily Prompt – Twinkle

Daily Prompt – 9/7/16

I decided to try the WordPress daily prompt today and try and get my feet wet in the community pool.

The first thing that comes to mind when I see the word twinkle is the song Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star. I think about looking out of my bedroom window as a child at all of the stars in the sky, wondering where they are.

How many love songs were written about both people in a love sick couple looking up and wishing on the same twinkling star in the sky?

I have always been intrigued with things in the sky. Laying in the grass looking up at the clouds. Trying to figure out what they were as they floated by. At night, trying to figure out what the multiple shapes the stars were forming. They are called constellations. Funny thing about the word constellation, in grade school we had to pick a spelling demon word, learn how to spell it and know what it means. I picked constellation.

As a pilot, I have to look up into the sky when planes fly by. Most pilots can identify the type of plane it is. I just wonder how they are ever able to get those big machines into the sky. It is a thing of beauty and wonder for me.

Just like stars twinkle, people can also carry a twinkle in their eye. I love to see that twinkle. Santa Claus has one in The Night Before Christmas poem. Sometimes it is a twinkle in a good way, sometimes it is a warning that they are up to no good. I think in Santa’s case, it was a twinkle created by the good feeling he was receiving from delivering the gifts to all of the children around the world.

So, in a short blog post, that is what the word twinkle means to me. And this is my first stab at the daily prompt.

Writing Prompt #4

Back at it again. I decided to pick another prompt from the book 642 Things to Write About. Here is the one for this week.

Write an anonymous letter to a stranger detailing the things you have you’ve learned about life.

To Whom It May Concern,

My name is Selma and I have been on this earth for almost forty eight years now. When I received your question about what I’ve learned about in life, I thought about the many things I have confronted and observed in my life so far. There are many simple lessons learned, but here are a few of the bigger ones and my thoughts about them.

My right is not necessarily someone else’s.

We all place judgement on what we see. To me the color may be blue, to you it may be teal. We do the same thing with people, even though we don’t think we do. We see things through our own life colored glasses. The how and why we do something is based on historical knowledge and present facts. I’m the type of person who grew up always doing the right thing. I think I did it to impress people, but also so I wouldn’t get into trouble. From that angle, I think I learned that the right thing is always right. Other people have gotten to the same place I am on a different road. What was right for them may not have been right for me. And that is o.k.

Teenagers are going to make bad decisions.

As much as we want to direct them to do the right thing (or what we might have done), they are going to make bad decisions. Decisions are made from life experience. Most teenagers haven’t done much living to have a base to make their decisions from.We can all look back on our lives and see things that we could have done better or smarter. Sometimes when these things are done, we don’t have the life experience that we need at the time to make the best decision. Teenagers aren’t necessarily the only ones who suffer from that problem.

Accept and appreciate each other’s differences and what they have to contribute.

This is one is really showing itself in how we relate to people today.  I struggle with what slavery did to the black and poor endured servants. Even though we may have different colored skin or more money, doesn’t mean that anyone is better than anyone else. I see that the blacks in American experienced what most people shouldn’t be put through. Most of them were brought here as slaves and treated badly by many white slave holders. I think this has created a feeling of retribution and anger that we still feel today.

I wish that we could start talking and listening to each other more. Hear what bothers us and others and see what we can do to fix it. Instead, people are reacting to and perpetuating this anger. For example, when it seems that someone is killed just because they were  black, and not because they did something to be shot, the anger is only seeing one side of what happened. Or, innocent families are being killed because of this anger and the killer just wants to make them pay because they happen to be the other color. Not everyone feels this way. There seems to be a minority from both sides perpetuating this negative view of the other group out of anger and retribution. By talking and listening, I think we can try and make this better.

People can be mean.

What people say to one another can be hurtful. Kids and teenagers do this to each other all of the time, since they don’t have the nuances on how to say something yet or they think it sounds cool. There’s even a movie called Mean Girls that shows how this phenomena has been happening in schools. I was teased in high school and even shunned by my friends because they decided that they didn’t want to be around me. They judged me to be a lesbian, even though I wasn’t. They carved the word “IT” into my band locker door so that they could show the world what they thought of me. Were they trying to be funny? Maybe in some ways, since they didn’t know how this would eventually affect me. It happened during my senior year and forced me to find new friends to hang out with just before graduation. It changed the whole way that I thought my high school career would end. On a sad note. They came back to me a year later and wanted to hang out. I didn’t do it, I couldn’t figure out why they would want to. Guilt I’m sure. This is the same kind of story that goes on in kids lives everyday, and in some cases have led them to commit suicide. I still deal with abandonment and trust issues to this day because of what they did. It made a major impact on me and the way that I am today.

All of these lessons have something to do with how people are and treat others. I’m the kind of person who has gotten hurt by people by being too nice, not setting enough boundaries, and giving too much benefit of the doubt. I’ve kept the hurt to myself so that I don’t make others feel bad and out of fear that they will walk away from me, like my friends in high school. I don’t think that I would change the way that I am, but I wish that people would be able to communicate with each other, find out what is wrong and try to fix it. Don’t be mean just to prove that you can. And don’t be afraid to ask for help when you aren’t sure what to do.

We all walk on different paths in life. The choices that we make and the things that we do are determined by our experience. We can make changes to make our experience either better or different. Don’t be afraid to do it if it can make things better.

Hope that this letter helped to answer your questions. Please let me know if you have any additional questions.

Have a great day,

Selma

Writing Prompt #3

Just an everyday writing prompt

So far this month, I’ve been using my own unfinished ideas and moving them forward for writing prompts. By developing those ideas, I may be able to add them to other ideas to make another story or a novel down the line.

Other writing prompts that are out there to give writers ideas to free write about. They come in the form of written statements, description of a scene, pictures or even songs. These ideas are found in books, online or in daily postings. These can be used as practice exercises or the start of something bigger. On some of my Facebook writing groups they are also referred to plot bunnies.

Writing Prompt – Writers Unite!

One of the Facebook writing groups that I belong to is Writers Unite. This is the paragraph that they created to introduce a writing prompt for the group. Usually it is in the form of a picture and it is used to start the creative juices going.

“We don’t put up prompts expecting a novel or even a novella. We put them up to get the creative juices flowing. All we ask is a paragraph or two to extend the prompt to what you see as the next step or the quick conclusion. Your imagination is like a muscle. The more you use it the stronger it gets. So… give it five minutes and tell me what your mind comes up with.

This image is being used simply as a writing exercise and is not free to use for any professional purposes at all since we do not have the rights to this picture.”

I have a book on my writing shelf called 642 Things to Write About by The San Francisco Writers’ Grotto. I think I’ll pick that one up and randomly pick something and use it as a writing prompt. Here’s the writing prompt that I picked for this blog entry from 642 Things to Write About.

You wake up by the side of the road lying next to a bicycle with no memory and no wallet. What happens in the next hour?

Gingerly getting up from the ground, she looked around the ditch she was sitting in. She didn’t know where she was or how she got there, but it was on the side a two two lane country road. She brushed herself off and noticed some road rash on her shin. Had she swerved to avoid something? How did she end up in the ditch? She didn’t remember, but got up and picked up her bike.

As she pushed her bike back up onto the road, she was trying to decide which way to go. She looked both ways and saw a sign to her right that said Smithville 5 miles. She decided that it was a doable ride to get there, so she got on her bike and started to pedal. She looked at the area around her and still didn’t recognize anything. She hoped that once she got to Smithville that she would.

After about a half hour on the road, she saw the city limits sign for Smithville and a gas station just beyond it. She decided to stop and ask for some information. She was hoping that someone could help her with who she was since she didn’t seem to remember that either.

She pulled into the gas station and parked her bike in the bike rack. This place must know something about riders to actually have a bike rack. That made her feel a little more confident about all of this unknown around her. Walking into the gas station she headed right to the bottled beverages section, feeling the need for a bottled water. She didn’t know how long she had been laying in the ditch before she came to. As she walked up to the register to pay, she reached for a couple of dollars that she carried in the pocket of her biker shorts. She found it odd that she couldn’t remember where she was, but she knew where the cash was.

“Will that be all for you today?” the clerk asked as he took the money from her.
“Where is Smithville?”
“Why do you ask that? Don’t you know where you are Wendy?”
“My name is Wendy?”
“Yes, Wendy Wilson. Did something happen to you on the ride?”
“I must have swerved to avoid something and hit my head. I woke up and didn’t have any idea of where and who I was.”
“Are you ok? Do we need to call a doctor?”
“No, I just have a little road rash on my shin. I should be able to bike home. Where do I live?”
“You live in Smithville. A little place out by the lake. Been in your family for years,” the clerk replied, “let me take you there. I can put your bike on the back of my truck.”
“This is going to sound like a crazy question, but do I know you?”
“I’m Ian. I’m your cousin.”
“I’m sorry. I must have hit my head pretty hard, but I don’t feel any bumps.”
“Maybe something else happened to your memory. I’ll be able to take you home in about twenty minutes. I’ll be done with my shift. Can you wait until then?”
“I probably should anyway. Since I don’t seem to know where I am.”

She took a seat in a little eating area that was located next to the deli. She was relieved to learn that she was close to her home. It would have been harder to deal with this if she were farther away where she didn’t know anyone. Wendy was glad that she found Ian here, he seemed nice. She sat there drinking the water wondering why she didn’t recognize anything if she did live here. She smiled as Ian walked over.

“Are you ready?”
“Yes, let’s go and get my bike,” Wendy replied as they walked out of the store together.

They walked over to the bike racks and unlocked her bike. She followed Ian as he rolled her bike over to his truck where he put it in the cargo area in the back. After closing the tail gate, he walked over and opened the passenger door for her.

“Here we go,” Ian said and started the truck.

He pulled out on to the same road Wendy had come into town on. He ran through the middle of town and took a left where the road ran into a dead end at Lake O’Brian.

“What a pretty lake,” Wendy said.
“Yes. It’s a beautiful place.”
“Is this the lake I live on? You said that I live on a lake.”
“It is Wendy. You live there with your husband Joel.”
“I’m married?”
“Yes, you have been married for a long time. You guys just celebrated your fortieth anniversary last month.”
“Wow. I can’t say that I remember that. Now I feel kind of sad.”
“We’re almost to your place. You’ll get to see Joel in a minute.”

Pulling off of the road and turning to the right, they drove onto a gravel road. After a couple of curves on the path through the woods, a two story log cabin appeared ahead of them. There was a man walking out of the house towards the spot where Ian’s truck stopped. Joel walked over to the passenger side and opened the door.

“Did you go out on a little adventure honey?” Joel asked her.
“I guess that I did. I don’t remember where I was, but I made it to the gas station and found Ian.”
“I’m glad that you found him, I was a little worried about you.”
“Why don’t I remember?”
“You are suffering from the onset of Alzheimer’s. You can remember things great sometimes and then times like this happen and you lose your train of thought or memory for how to get back home.”
“When did this start?”
“About six months ago, with smaller things. This is the first time you’ve taken the bike and not come back on your own though.”
“Do I like to bike?” she asked and started to cry.
“Yes, you do,” Joel replied in a very patient voice as he put his arms around her, “You love to bike all over.”
“Why can’t I remember it?” she asked through her crying.
“It’s a terrible disease that takes your memory from you. I’m sad about it too.”

And that’s how a random writing prompt works. I was able to come up with a short story that took this prompt on my own writing journey. Some of the inspiration for this was based on a book we just read for book club last month called Still Alice by Lisa Genova. And some of it is from a tough time that a good friend of mine is currently going through with her Dad and his dementia. She’s on my mind quite a bit lately, so that probably played a part in my experience with this one.

Writing journeys can definitely be affected by what is going on or has happened in our lives. It’s the experience that we can write from that can make our words more meaningful to us.

Writing Prompt #2

Snow White

Research for writing projects can become an interesting learning experience. Just like the act of looking something up on Wikipedia can turn into a two hour long journey starting with bears and winding up reading about Alaskan Explorers.

We are all familiar with the Disney movie, Snow White. I remember pulling the VCR tape out of the white box with her picture on the front. I wasn’t aware that it started off as a written story modified into a fairy tale, then into a Broadway Play and then into a black and white silent film before it even became the movie that I loved as a kid.

So, when I started looking into Snow White a little deeper, here are some of the interesting historical facts that came up. According to Wikipedia,

  • The original story of Snow White was published 1812 but the Grimms revision to make it more of a fairy tale came along in 1854.
  • The Broadway Play debuted on October 31, 1912 at Little Theater. Marguarite Clark played Snow White.
  • The seven dwarves were originally called Blick, Flick, Glick, Snick, Plick, Whick, and Quee, who was the youngest boy with a thievery issue.

When the story hit Broadway, Snow White was played by Marquarite Clark, an American stage and silent film actress, who made her Broadway debut in 1900, but her lead role in Snow White ultimately defined her persona as an actress. The first film version of Snow White was released December 25, 1916 as an American silent romantic fantasy. Walt Disney was fifteen when he saw the Broadway show in his hometown, Kansas City, and made it the subject of his first feature length animated film in 1937.

Digging a little bit deeper into the subject, I started looking at Clark’s personal life outside of the movie industry. She married Harry Palmerston Williams on August 15, 1918. Once I started on this path, I found out that not only was her life and career interesting, so was her husband’s. After closing a lumber company he had owned, he was looking for other interests to pursue. First it was fast boats, and then it was airplanes. He was prompted by Lindbergh’s solo flight across the Atlantic to buy a Ryan Monoplane from Jimmy Wedell, who he wound up going into the aviation business with.

Her husband’s company built air racers along with other aviation enterprises.  Her last film in 1921 was called Scrambled Wives, a silent comedy film which she took part in directing. After which she retired to her husband’s plantation.When her husband died in a plane crash on May 19, 1936, she became the sole owner of Wendell-Williams Air Service Corporation. Ironically, the other owners of the company had died in plane crashes before Harry. She wound up selling the company in 1937. The assets from the commercial airline piece of the company (the New Orleans to Houston air routes) wound up being the founding pieces of what would eventually become Eastern Airlines.

She died in 1940 at the Leroy Sanitorium of pneumonia.

Wow! And their story is a part of the Eastern Airlines story. Never knew that there was a connection between Snow White and an airline did you? Funny how life works out.

I’m trying to remember how the research got started about Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs in the first place. Was is on purpose? Or was it something I stumbled upon while looking into some other topic? Whatever the reason, it ended up netting me some great information to start writing about. As I look back at my notes, the Snow White information that I stumbled onto was originally going to become some additional family history for Mrs. Stockton, a character I have written stories about in a previous blog. She was the main character in an episode story that I created in July and August of 2014. That blog story became the inspiration for a short story that I wrote called  Mrs. Stockton’s Journey

The rough draft I started with those notes, talks about Shirley Stockton and her Grandmother’s love of Snow White. Her Grandmother had gone to New York City to see Clark at the Little Theater in 1912. At that show, she received a Snow White figurine from her mother.This figurine was handed down through the family and now sat on a shelf in the office in Mrs. Stockton’s house. She had placed it next to a picture of her Granddaughter Shelby when she had been Snow White for Halloween. She knew in her heart that Shelby would be the one to get the figurine when she passed away. With this draft, I even went so far as to figure out what years would work for my characters to be able to see the Broadway show for Shirley’s Grandma and the animated film for her Mom. The 1937 Disney Animated film was the one that she would have seen to make my timeline work for that part of the story.

On some other notes I found with with this same theme, I started a story about an elementary school English teacher, Mrs. Abbott. She was an older lady that lived outside of town. She was a cat lady who owned seven cats that she named after each of the seven dwarfs from Snow White. Mrs. Abbott named her cats after the original characters to stay true to the original story. She, like Mrs. Stockton’s Grandmother, had a love for Snow White and her class even made it her nickname.

Not all creative ideas are destined to take off into a story right away. Some of them just provide writing practice to see where the writer can take them with their current creative flow. And some of them will take on a life of their own at a later time and place. My writing mentor who passed away six years ago told me that sometimes the first manuscript that you write, never gets published. It winds up being a practice one for you to hone your craft with. It kind of shocked me when she said it. She saw the look if surprise that I must have had on my face and said,

“It isn’t a bad thing. It only helps you to become a better writer.”

I still have my first manuscript that my mentor refers to. It isn’t the one that I’m getting ready to have edited in a week. That one sits in a binder on my shelf with some good practice in it.

 

Writing Prompt #1

Happy Monday! For this week’s blog, I wanted to do a creative writing exercise, so I decided on a writing prompt. For those of you that don’t know, a writing prompt can be a statement, idea, picture or even a word that is picked and you just start writing about it. It is a great way to practice writing and to get the creative juices flowing in your head. I looked through a file of my own started story lines and picked one to work with. This one was titled Farming in Nebraska and was about a young girl wondering what happened to her Grandpa Harvey. This is where I took that idea for today’s blog.

Harvey

Harvey Knowlton was born and raised as a farmer. His father was a farmer and his grandfather was a farmer. Even though farming was the family business, Harvey’s son, Jacob, went to college in Lincoln, Nebraska and he became a banker. Harvey had hoped that his only son would want to be in the family business so he could hand the farm down to him to run. Jacob has two children, Robert and Samantha, so Harvey at least had hope that he could keep the farm in his immediate family.

Lately, he felt his body starting to wear out. He ran the farm with a couple of men he hired from a 4H event he attended just after Jacob went off to college. Working with Jack and Kurt was just like it had been when he was growing up. Harvey and his six brothers worked the farm together under his father’s supervision and it ran like a well oiled machine, his Grandfather made sure of that when he bought it and set everything up.

Ever since his wife Olivia passed away, just after Samantha was born ten years ago, Harvey had breakfast almost every day at Dolly’s Diner. He drove his light colored truck down the gravel road leading away from the farm, with the familiar sound of the crunching rocks under the tires. The truck always had a thin layer of gravel dust on it, which was never washed off.

After turning onto Main Street, he drove a couple of blocks down and pulled into Dolly’s. The parking lot was pretty full every morning, since it was the community meeting place to catch up on the daily West Branch gossip. He got out of the truck and headed into the diner and saw his long time friend Virgil Potter sitting in his normal spot at the counter. Virgil owned the gas station couple of blocks down Main from Dolly’s. It was handed down through his family like Harvey’s farm was to him. Virgil waved and Harvey acknowledged him with a slight wave in return and walked over to take an empty stool next to him.

“How are things today Harvey?”
“Good, Virgil. How are things with you?”
“Peachy, just peachy.”

That was the same greeting that has been exchanged between them every morning for years. Peachy was something that Virgil’s Dad, Stuart, always used to say.

“Coffee for you today, Harvey?” Claire asked Harvey, from the other end of the counter.
“Yes, please. Thanks Claire.”

Claire had worked at the Dolly’s since she was a teenager. She had grown up in West Branch, married her high school sweetheart, bought a house and raised kids here. Harvey liked the routine in West Branch, but was thinking it was getting a little bit boring. Or, maybe this was a part of why he was feeling tired lately. When Jacob announced that he had been accepted to the University of Nebraska, Harvey felt a little jealous. He had a great life here as a farmer, but hadn’t done much else or been many other places.

“Something the matter Harvey?” Virgil asked, “You haven’t heard a thing I’ve said to you.”
“Sorry Virgil, what did you say?”
“I was saying that the corn growers association meeting was really interesting last night, where were you?”
“I went to sleep right after dinner. Sorry I didn’t let you know.”
“No problem. I just wanted to make sure you knew that our farm rep was going to bring a couple of new seed samples before next year’s planting.”
“Thanks.”
“Is there something wrong with you?”
“No, I feel fine. Just doing a lot of thinking lately.”
“Well, you are coming to the Tractor Show on Friday, right?”
“I’ll be there to help you out Virgil.”
“I hope so, whenever we do the tractor parade there are a lot of people milling around. Another hand with the security detail sure does help out.”
“Glad to be of help. What time do you want me to be there?”
“Let’s meet at the Fairgrounds at 3:00.”
“It’s a plan.”

They continued the conversation over their normal breakfast selections, Virgil had the special and Harvey had ham and eggs. Afterwards they walked out to their trucks together and they each headed home to start on their daily farming tasks.

Harvey drove out of town and onto the gravel road back to the farm. He couldn’t explain how he was feeling right now. He felt very calm and reflective in thought. He was typically an easy going man anyway, but lately he has felt an additional level calm.

When he pulled the truck in by the barn, Kurt was walking out. Then as he saw the truck pull in, he started walking towards it. Harvey got out and started walking towards him.

“Good Morning!”
“Good morning Kurt. How are you?”
“Good. Did you just get back from town?”
“Yes. I just had breakfast at the Diner.”
“Sounds great. We finished tuning up the big tractor. And should be able to run it through the fields today.”
“Are you and Jack going to be able to get that done?”
“Shouldn’t be a problem at all Harvey. Did you have any thing else planned for us to get done today?”
“You know how it works around here, Kurt. But thank you for asking.”
“Then we’ll get the fields tilled. And meet you at the house for dinner tonight.”
“Sounds good. Are you guys planning on going to the Tractor show Friday night? Virgil needs help with crowd control and I’m sure he would love the extra help.”
“Yeah, I was planning on it and I think Jack was too.”
“I’ll let him know. See you at dinner tonight.”

Kurt went around the backside of the barn while Harvey walked back towards the farmhouse. He stopped in front and just stared at it. It made him smile as he remembered bringing Olivia to the farm the first time after they were married. His parents built a carriage house for them to live in until they both moved to the retirement home. Being the oldest, he was given first right to take over the family farm. His other brothers all moved out to their own farms or their wives family farms.

Harvey continued to stand there now remembering the day they brought Jacob home from the hospital, when he started to feel sharp pains in his chest. As he raised his hands to grab at his heart, he fell to the ground. When Kurt and Jack came in from the fields for lunch a couple hours later, they found Harvey laying on the ground looking up at the sky smiling.

|*|

Samantha couldn’t believe what had happened to Grandpa Harvey. He had been standing on the front porch the last time she was there and now he was gone. Her family had come back to the farm to bury him.

She wondered how was she going to find out where the keys for the truck were now? He would always ask her where they were and she would point to the pocket of the dark green overalls she remembered him wearing. While her Dad talked to Jack and Kurt, she walked into the farmhouse. As she walked through each room looking for the keys, it made her sad thinking that she had never met her Grandma. After walking back through the kitchen, she finally found the keys on a hook by the backdoor. Must be where he kept them when she wasn’t there. That is a memory of him that she will always hold dear in her heart.

Then she looked out the back door and down the gravel driveway and remembered how much fun it was running down it to the mailbox to pick up the mail. She would race with her brother Robert and he would win about 90% of the time. But the few times that she did beat him, felt great.

Her Grandpa Harvey lived and died in the place where he was born, West Branch, Iowa. He had never left the town except for a couple of trips to the Iowa State Fair for 4H, but she noticed that he always seemed happy here.

I don’t know whether this was the idea I had in mind originally, but this is the journey the writing prompt took me on today. Either I did learn a little about Harvey, or it was a story about him that was written today.

A to Z blog summary

What a process! 26 blog entries. Each one starting with a different letter of the alphabet. Starting with airplane and ending with zero.

I learned a lot of information through the research part of the entries. I also determined that I like the creative writing part better than the research part. That’s why on some of the entries, I took the information I found researching and created a story to illustrate it. Like right now, I’m writing this off of the top of my head and it seems to just want to flow right out of me. I love my creative flow, when it is working for me.

Here is a listing of all twenty-six of the blog subjects for 2015.

Airplane, Baseball, Cotton Candy, Dog, Elephant, Fishing, Gladiolus, Hula Hoop, Igloo, Jumping Jacks, Krispy Kremes, Lilacs, Mystery, Nightingale, Overture, Pecan Pie, Quonset Hut, Road Runner, Seattle, Transistor Radio, Unicorn, Volleyball, Walnut Grove, Xanadu, Yo-Yo, and Zero.

The journey through the month was fun. I hoped to finish it all in May, but I think having it done on June 3rd isn’t bad for doing that and so many other things that kept me busy in my day-to-day life. Working a non writing full-time career, Sam and I running from one baseball game to another as we manage both Max and Mitch being on both a school ball team and a summer travelling team. It is what life should be about though. Full of fun experiences and memories. We’re having a great time with all of it.

I enjoyed this challenge. It really got the blood flowing in my mind and kept things hopping on my blog. Just like working on a writing project, this gave me something to write about everyday and get the creative juices going. With the subjects being different from what I may normally write about, it did bring  some new followers to my blog. For those of you that joined the journey, welcome and I hope you enjoy the ride.

My favorite blog posts in this A to Z Blog session were Lilacs because it reminded me of my Mom. It also started my thread about Lila and Sally which was continued in Unicorn. Walnut Grove gave me the background to one of my favorite shows growing up, Little House on the Prairie.

Hula Hoop is going to turn into a feature that I’m going to write about EclecticHoops my friend Jennifer Jensen’s company. She sells and makes custom hula hoops in California.

There was a lot of work put into this project. I was able to get it all done with a little time here and a little time there. It helped me to prioritize my writing in my day-to-day life. A lot of the writing took place during lunch breaks at work and at many different baseball fields. Thanks to my smart phone, I was able to put the posts together on the run.

Other project status updates – I have a few readers doing a read through on my manuscript called The Hard Way. Looking to have the feedback on it in July and then get it ready to publish in an e-book format sometime this fall.

And, A Matter of Words is the name of the book that my short story will be published in this fall. It will be in a book with 20-25 other short stories. I will be sure to put information on the blog about when it is published and how you can get a copy.

What is next for the blog? Maybe another short story developed in stages? Maybe some updates on the next novel project? We’ll just have to see how the creative flow moves me.

Z is for Zero

Here’s the last letter of the A to Z blogging challenge for 2015. I started with an airplane and wound up with a word that is a symbol of no quantity and is also an important airplane that flew during World War II.

image

Sumerians were the first people to develop a counting system. They used spaces to show the absence of a number as early as four thousand years ago. The first recorded use of a zero like symbol dates back to around the third century B.C. in ancient Babylon.

The spaces made it kind of hard to really know what the number was supposed to be. The zero became the placeholder to replace those spaces. It would become the way to tell the number 10 from the number 100.

Then zero became a concept meaning the absence of any quantity. Zero is a numerical digit that plays a central role in mathematics. It functions as a place holder between the negative and positive numbers on a number line and allows us to perform complicated calculus equations. It’s also an essential part of the binary  code for computers.

Not only does zero play a key role in mathematics, it is also a nickname for an aircraft that was used in World War II. It was a long-range fighter operated by the Japanese Navy from 1940-1945. Named the zero fighter because it entered service for the Imperial Navy in the Imperial year 2600 (1940) and they named it after the last digit of that year. Dr. Jiro Horikoshi was the chief designer of this and many other Japanese fighters.

It was considered one of the most capable carrier based fighters in the world. As a dog fighter in battle, it achieved a legendary kill ratio of 12:1. The Japanese Naval pilots were seen as the best and most experienced naval aviators in the world in late 1941, at the time when Pearl Harbor took place.

There were some inherent flaws in the design of the Zero, but some of those weaknesses were overcome by the ability of the pilots flying them. The aircraft was made very lightweight, because the Japanese industry could only build 800 horsepower engines. It made the plane very maneuverable and easy to fly. It was made for low altitude flying, but above 15000 feet, the controls were less responsive. Because it was so lightweight, it couldn’t carry very heavy ammunition nor could it take very many enemy hits. It also saw having armor plating, parachutes, and self sealing gas tanks as being non-essential extra weight, so the airplane wasn’t equipped with them.

I realize this is a Japanese aircraft and that they were on the other side in the war, but it is very interesting how and why they were made so lightweight and maneuverable. That along with the abilities of the pilots who flew them made these airplanes a worthy opponent of the Allied forces.

So, the zero played both an important role in mathematics and in World War II. The fact that the word zero was the name for a placeholder and what an airplane was nicknamed shows what a contrast a double meaning of one word can have.