That sneaky old April!

I can honestly say that today feels as though some good spring weather is just waiting to thrust

Springbrook Prairie Naperville 001
Springbrook Prairie Naperville 001 (Photo credit: Michael Kappel)

itself into the big picture—and none too soon, either! The sun is brilliant on this April Saturday morning; the sky is as blue and clear as one can imagine. And the temperatures are a very pleasant 50° at the moment here in northern Illinois. It’s the kind of morning that I really feel guilty sitting here at my MacBook to create this post because I know I should be out doing something—even if it’s just picking up debris and litter, leftovers from the winter blasts.

Chicken Wire Role
Chicken Wire Role (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Also, there are the numerous chicken-wire protective “cages” we put around most of our young bushes and trees to thwart the ravenous attacks of the rabbits these past frozen months. Last year, we failed to protect the plantings, and the rabbits chowed down heavily, taking everything right down to the ground. Fortunately, most bushes survived last year’s onslaught, and this winter’s precautions have seemed to work all the better. Now, it’s a matter of taking down the wire and stakes and storing them away until late next fall. Within the next few days, I’ll be making a trip to buy the first application of crab grass preventer/weed-n-feed.

I’ll also be attempting to fix our 20-foot telescoping flagpole. One would think that a simple little release button that doesn’t pop out would be an easy fix, but I’ve had a devil of a time trying to get it to work. I’m sure the problem is all a result of the terrible weather these past months, and I’m counting on the manufacturer to ease my pain and help me get the thing back in normal operation!

Sitting here and typing these words, I realize that April has really sneaked up on me this year. Could it be that we’ve been so beaten down by the winter that just was, that we have forgotten about the ceaseless march of time? And though it’s still been cold, damp, and bitter most of these early days of the month, there have been glimpses of what is surely to come.

And this year, I’m certainly ready to get out and tackle these spring chores that need doing—without any hesitation or hemming or hawing, either! Each day, I am thankful that I completed The Good Luck Highway when I did and am free now to spend the time necessary outside, away from my writing desk—especially on a day such as this one.

I’ve had some wonderful feedback and positive comments regarding my second novel. It’s amazing just how much a writer can learn about his own work through the comments and feedback from readers. My story, a very fun one to write, touches on friendship, love, disappointment, trust, and growing up. I hope anyone reading it will see these elements clearly—while having a fun time along with Mac and Led on their “adventure.”

Thanks to one and all who have bought the Kindle Edition, Nook Book, or the paperback. Very soon, I’ll get back to tackling my next projects: A series of short stories and the next novel. It will bring back Rick and Karen Brenson, main characters from Black Wolf Lodge. It has been a fun story to start writing, and I’m growing very eager to dive right back into it after being away since November.

Long farm lane that dead ends at a chicken house..
Long farm lane that dead ends at a chicken house.. (Photo credit: D.Clow – Maryland)

In the meantime, outdoor beckons…and I must heed its call!…CortlandWriter

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Parting ways with my fellow “travelers”…

Flemingsbergsskogen, April 2006.
Flemingsbergsskogen, April 2006. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

April!

It’s finally here, and yet we’re still forced to put on warm hoodies and jackets and keep the furnace running just a bit more than we’d prefer. I keep telling myself that it’s only a matter of time before I can ditch the long pants and long-sleeve shirts and don the “summer togs”—shorts and tee shirt! Oh, for those wonderful mornings when I can sit on our deck, warmed by the rising sun, and enjoy that first cup of hot coffee and listen to the calm and peace of a new day beginning!

Reaching April also marks the end of my recent experience in taking an online course titled Scrivener for Mac. As I’ve written about in other posts, Scrivener is a wonderful program that provides writers of all walks of life various tools and means to generate their work. When the course began on Tuesday, February 19, I was quite unsure as to exactly where this would take me. I had made up my mind that I wanted to do everything I could to “master” Scrivener so I could put it to work for my many WIPs (works in progress) and to be comfortable in most of its powerful components.

And now that all of the lessons, tutorials, Live Class presentations by instructor Gwen Hernandez, and questions and comments from students have come to an end, I must say that there is a distinct feeling of emptiness hanging around. The emptiness is not about the material covered in the class, but rather in the void that now exists because the class has ended! Call me sentimental, or whatever, but I’ve thoroughly enjoyed these days and weeks since February 19!

My morning routine of downloading the day’s lesson and working through it, hot coffee steaming at the ready nearby, was something of which I’d grown very fond these past several weeks. Not only was it an ongoing process of putting the individual pieces  of Scrivener together to see how the whole of the program functions, but it was also a fun challenge to finally grasp a concept or how to do something I’d not known how to do previously.

We were led by Gwen Hernandez, author of Scrivener for Dummies (Wiley, 2012). Before I’d taken the class, I had purchased the book and found it very good in helping with many of the trickier and more complex features of Scrivener. The book became even more valuable as a reference during the progression of the class. I return to it often for various answers to questions that crop up as I work on my current novel.

During the run of the class, Gwen provided clear explanations and answers to our many questions and comments, always with a wonderful sense of humor and lightness that made things very comfortable from the onset. The same tone pervades the book as well. Anyone who is serious about learning and using Scrivener needs to own the book. Also,taking the class—for Mac or Windows—is a terrific idea.

Traveler's Notebook
Traveler’s Notebook (Photo credit: koalazymonkey)

Along the way, too, were many fellow “travelers” very much with the same questions and goals as I had. And though we really have never met, my fellow Scrivener friends and I seemed to develop a sort of camaraderie that seems to occur in groups which are focused on the same goals and outcomes, regardless of each others’ experience or published status. I believe that is a direct result of a caring and competent instructor. Even with some of the technological glitches that cropped up from time to time, I still had a worthwhile time of it all. For a month or so, we were all on equal footing, wending our way through the world that is Scrivener.

Whenever I fire up Scrivener to get to work on my writing project, I will often wonder what my fellow travelers are up to and how their own various writing projects are proceeding. I will look for their names along the way in blog posts or book lists of recently published items and wonder if they will ever do the same themselves.

Now that the protective shell of our Scrivener class is closing, it’s time for us to stretch and flap our wings and fly. I know I can do so now, confident that Gwen and my fellow travelers have helped me to do so. And all these weeks later, since the course commenced, I know that my writing will be much better and headed in the right direction, with Scrivener helping me get there! I shall miss all my fellow “travelers” just the same...CortlandWriter