Privy Treasure Hunters

Prompt CONTESTWhen I was younger, a lot younger, (so young that my memories are very faded) my mother took me, along with a Girl Scout Troop, hiking. I remember the excitement of finding arrow heads in the dirt. As vague as my memories are, I seem to recall how numerous they were. Years later, Grandma took me to a museum in Kansas City where a few live buffalo roamed among the teepees. I was absolutely fascinated with the artifacts on display.

I used to dig in the dirt with friends from the neighborhood. You might say that’s pretty typical for children, but we dug holes. Big holes. Our goal was to dig ourselves to China. But I couldn’t help thinking that somewhere along the way I’d come across some cool ancient artifact. Even at that young age, I knew the thrill of the hunt, even if it was only a small rock.

I guess my fascination with the past was pretty evident early on in my life. I think that is one thing that draws me to writing historical set romances. I love the research and I’d jump at the chance for hands on exploration. I should have been an archaeologist, but I’ll settle for writing.

As much as I love the idea of digging through the dirt to discover artifacts, I don’t find this particular past-time of interest.

IMG_4628Privy Diggers! Or uh, outhouse diggers. There are all kinds of people who travel the United States looking for old outhouse landmarks. I know, right? You’re probably curling your nose at this whole thing. I mean, seriously, what in the world would posses any one to dig around outhouses?

Well, mainly old bottles. Seems there weren’t many trash collectors back in the day so folks just up and tossed their garbage down the privy hole. According to this digger, Outhouse Diggers, outhouse digging could tell a lot about the people using the outhouse, from their health to their financial status. He also mentions that it’s a great chronological exploration. Some of the outhouses he’s dug up had a span of over fifty years. Bottles aren’t the only thing found on an outhouse dig, things like pistols, clay pipes, human remains. Yes, I said human remains. Hundreds of years old.

Now, things like the flintlock pistol, swords and whatnot are almost enough to make me want to join in on a dig, but bones… not so much.

You really should take the time to read the article. Oh, and here is this one http://www.19thcenturybottlediggers.com/  that actually shows images of things found. Check out the little clay pipes (scroll down the page). Really cool!

I’ve come across a lot of eccentric hobbyists, but this one so far takes the cake.

What think you? Would you go digging around for outhouse holes?

 

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Developing Plot in Your Novel

May is Developing Plot in Your Novel month. All you have to do is google ‘developing plot’ and you’ll see a multitude of articles written on the subject. You’ll find anything from two steps to twenty steps. You’ll also find things such as the Snowflake Method, The Hero’s Journey, etc, etc But before you jump into steps you probably ought to know what plot is.

Plot is a plan or a storyline.

Okay, now that you know that little tidbit let’s look at why you have to have a plot. Okay, well not just a plot but a well developed plot. If there isn’t a plan, if there isn’t a storyline, your story goes nowhere. Your characters would be nothing more than gerbils running on the wheel. And so would your readers.There has to be direction with a beginning, middle, and an end. There has to be direction. Can I say that again? Direction.

Just imagine what the popular TV show Castle would be like if all Castle and Beckett did was sit at their desks, drink coffee, eat donuts and tap their pencils against their teeth instead of chasing bad guys. One thing is for certain, ratings would fall because watchers would get bored.

If there isn’t a plan, if there isn’t a well developed storyline, your story goes nowhere.

Like I said before, there are all kinds of resources on the Internet for developing plot, but I’m going to share with you the 1st video out of 27 from one of my favorite plot gurus, Martha Alderson. She’s also known as The Plot Whisper. I didn’t quite understand the extensiveness of plot until I started watching her videos and reading her book, The Plot Whisperer.  It’s a little long, but well worth the viewing. For the rest of the videos click here.

Enjoy!

Earthquake

The only natural disasters I experienced first hand happened when I was too little to know what was going on, and both of those have already been written about. So, I’m going to write about one of my obsessions. I’m not going to go into how plates shift and which types of earthquakes tend to be the strongest, and I’m not going to talk about my belief in the ‘earthquake storm theory’. Instead, I’m going to give you some facts that you may not know, ones that may or may not surprise you.

First let me remind you that earthquakes are a little different than most natural disasters. Avalanches and volcanoes can give off warning signs. With weather phenomenon such as floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, and blizzards we typically have some form of advance notice. With hurricanes and blizzards it can be days. And I can tell you from experience tornado warning times have increased over the years. When I was a kid, sometimes warnings weren’t issued until a funnel cloud reached the ground. Now days, weather-casters try to give some sort of an advance warning. With the Alabama tornadoes Jennifer talked about the other day, meteorologists predicted that horrible event days in advance. They just didn’t know exact locations. Radar technology is so far advanced these days that most of the time warnings are given anywhere from 15-30 minutes. Of course, there is always that one tornado like the one that hit Joplin a few years back that comes completely unexpected.

Earthquakes don’t really come with warnings. Scientists are trying, but it’s hard to predict where and when and how big and without those predictions people can’t take shelter or evacuate like they can with weather related natural disasters.

Did you know that at the time of writing this there were over 37 earthquakes in the previous 24 hours over 2.5 on the Richter Scale? I’m sure many of remember the devastation of the earthquake that rocked Indonesia on December 26, 2004. It was 9.1-9.3 on the Richter Scale. Over 230,000 people perished that day, and yet it’s only  #5 on the deadliest earthquake list. The 2010 Haiti earthquake ranks #7. That death toll is somewhere between 110,000-300,000. The deadliest quake occurred in 1556 in China. 820,000 people died, which I find jaw-dropping given the year.

The strongest earthquake ever recorded happened May 22, 1960 in Chile. The shaker measured 9.5. A tsunami, another natural disaster caused by an earthquake, hit parts of Australia, New Zealand, the Philippines, Japan and cause major destruction in Hilo, Hawaii. Tsunami waves hitting the coast of Chile were reported as high as 82 feet! The waves from the December 26, 2004 tsunami were over 100 feet. The death toll during this particular Chile earthquake is uncertain but some estimate it to be around 6,000.

You remember when we were kids and everyone just knew that one day California was going to fall into the ocean? Well, in 2010, Chile was rocked with an 8.8 earthquake. It moved the city of Concepcion 10 miles to the west. Man, was that powerful or what? According to NASA, this earthquake may have caused earth’s axis to shift. And everyone seems to think our crazy weather has something to do with Global Warming, or Climate Change. Some say the Japan earthquake in 2011 shifted earth’s axis too. And if I remember correctly from my Geology course, earth’s axis has shifted many times over its existence, but that is another topic for another day.

Now let me tell you about a little known fault line right here in America. Of course, if you grew up in the area you’ve heard about it. And, I guess if you didn’t grow up in the area, like me, you might’ve heard about it. You might’ve heard some tall tales like, ‘Kansas used to be flat until that there earthquake shook the United States.’

I’m talking about New Madrid. In 1811 and 1812 a series of earthquakes occurred along the Mississippi River. They were so strong church bells rang in Boston, Massachusetts and in what is now known as Toronto. These particular earthquakes, although not the strongest recorded, were felt over 1 million sq miles.

Large chunks of the Mississippi River banks disappeared. One of the earthquakes caused the Mississippi to run backwards for a few hours. Travelers on the river were in for a shock when they found themselves moving the wrong way at a high rate of speed only to be swept back down the river and over falls that weren’t there previously.

These earthquakes were believed to range from 7.0 to 7.7. Due to the fact that the area was barely settled, loss of life was minimal and most deaths occurred from those on the river. Imagine if an earthquake of that magnitude were to happen today. To put it a little more in perspective check out the picture on this page .

Just look at all the major cities. Now you may be thinking that hey, the damage pattern doesn’t look that bad, but let me tell you something; one of the New Madrid earthquakes cracked sidewalks in Washington DC.

Here is a video that talks about some of the effects of the New Madrid.


Some say New Madrid isn’t active, but I can’t help wonder if it’s only a matter of time before it reminds people that it is active. And if it does, I can’t help but wonder at the tremendous natural disaster we as Americans will be facing.

You can find more information about New Madrid at the following links.

http://www.showme.net/~fkeller/quake/lib/eyewitness1.htm

http://earthquake.usgs.gov/earthquakes/states/missouri/history.php

 

Just Dance

I told y’all last week how I like to walk outdoors. Something having to do with my ADD and the inability to stare at the same car in the same parking lot for an hour or two just doesn’t get my blood pumping the way it should. Another workout I really love is dance. Back in the day, when I was barely out of high school, I joined my future mother-in-law, sister-in-law and several other women at a local church to dance to Richard Simmons’ Rocking to The Oldies. I gradually moved to MTV’s hip hop.

Thankfully, a great group of women have created a bunch of routines to Christian music. It’s fun. It gets you moving. And… you can praise the Lord while working out to great music.

Let me introduce you to HOT Z Christian Dance Fitness. And, oh yeah, have fun!!!

The Great Outdoors

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Photo by Christina Rich

Hitting the gym isn’t always a feasible option, especially for busy mothers. Especially for busy mothers who write too. On any given day I can bet working at our upholstery shop until four, hit the romper room where I watch kids until five-thirty, run home to make dinner only to be off to take my daughter to dance class. Some days I leave the house before eight and don’t return until after ten-thirty at night. If all that busyness equaled cardio and pounds lost I’d be very healthy. Unfortunately, I probably burn more calories sleeping.

sunset 1

Photo by Christina Rich

As much as I love the gym and working up a good muscle burn, I’d rather spend my free time with my family, especially since our lives are so busy. Some of the things we do together are take walks. During the warmer months, I often walk three miles a day. Walking outside gives this ADD brain new things to look at so I don’t get bored staring at the same blue car in the parking lot at the gym. It also provides me with some fresh air and a chance to talk with my walking partner, not to mention the beautiful sunsets God displays for us in the evenings.

sunset 2

Photo by Christina Rich

Walking isn’t the only activity that can be enjoyed outdoors. My dad is an avid exerciser. He hits the gym several days a week, but he also likes to be outside. When weather permits, he rides his bike anywhere from fifteen to twenty miles a day. He’s a great inspiration and although I don’t aspire to riding a bike that much–I have a love-hate relationship with bikes–I would like to run a 5k. That’s my goal this year. It was my goal last year and the year before. Now that Hubs knows about said goal, I’m certain I’ll be meeting that goal this year.

There are many activities you can do outside besides walking, running, and biking; hiking, rowing, sailing, tennis, basketball, baseball, football, soccer, swimming, gardening. Yes, I said gardening. Did you know you could burn calories doing that? It makes sense. I think you work more muscles pulling weeds from the flower bed than you do performing calisthenics.

There are many more activities that can be done outdoors. If weather conditions don’t bother, just get out there and do it. 😉