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Monthly Archives: July 2014

“Right”-ing the First Chapter

The White haired ShooterTHE WHITE HAIRED SHOOTER

I’ve begun writing in earnest this week. I’m content enough with the general outline, and have melded my blog notes into usable shape.

The title of this post indicates my first and so far biggest hurdle in getting this book off the ground. Finding the words to introduce the reader to what I will be offering them and opening up so they trust and consider me a friend, that’s a huge stumbling block. I know once I get rolling into the next chapter, words will flow. But at this point they sort of “suck.”

I’ve written and rewritten more than a few times. I have been tempted to just bypass Chapter 1 altogether (for the time being) and start in at chapter 2. I’m thinking that is partly COP OUT, and partly WISE.  Cop out because I think this chapter sets the tone for the body of work as a whole. My opinion is the first chapter “makes or breaks” whether the reader wants to read on, or not. Wise because I know I will be rewriting this first chapter many times during edit, and certainly it will have changed. From my experience, the book will take on a life of its own as I go.

My question and shout out for help: Is the First Chapter dilemma I’ve described common among “writers?”  It’s pretty daunting. I’d love to get some help here!

— Peggy

 
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Posted by on July 27, 2014 in Writing the Book

 

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DUST = Value

The White haired ShooterTHE WHITE HAIRED SHOOTER

This appears to be a week of personal revelations as I launched my book writing project.

I don’t know if this is “normal” or not, but ideas and concepts are starting to line up.

Although I don’t have “formal” training for writing, throughout many years I have studied a variety of disciplines.  One is real estate appraisal theory and practices. Today I realized I am applying some of those principles to the process I’ve been using for this book.

Since the book is nonfiction,  maybe that will work? Time will be the judge and I would appreciate if anyone out there thinks this is completely “whack” they would let me know. Gently, please. Newbie would-be-authors can be fragile!

Earlier I saw a need to refine and limit the material I would be covering. In “appraisal speak,” I had defined the SCOPE of this project.

When I started to review who my intended audience would be, how their needs might be met,  how to engage readers with my work, and learning what other material is available on the subject, I now realize I am looking at the VALUE of what I am writing. In “appraisal speak,” an acronym to remember the component factors of value is “DUST.”

D = DEMAND  Are people looking to purchase (read) what I want to write about.

U = UTILITY  Is this material usable? Can people put what I write about into practice?

S =  SUPPLY  What is the competition?  Is there an Undersupply or  Oversupply of material out there?

T =  TRANSFERABILITY   Is the work in a form that can be transmitted/transferred easily? Are there barriers to being published?

I have been trained to look at value that way, and I have begun to apply it to this process. I imagine that the art and craft of writing likely has similar disciplines to apply to a body of work to indicate its value. I hope to discover some of those disciplines along the journey!

— Peggy

 
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Posted by on July 21, 2014 in Writing the Book

 

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First Lesson: “Banana bites”

The White haired ShooterTHE WHITE HAIRED SHOOTER

The first lesson in this “self taught” book writing course of mine is:

Beware TMI

too

much

information

Trying to cram in every idea that has occurred to me over the months I have been compiling my notes in blog form is not going to fly.  The number of pages to execute would make the book so heavy it wouldn’t even be shippable by barge!  I can see the original book I envisioned can easily be made into THREE books.  I have such a wide range of ideas and topics that I want to express and convey.

I may have, in my usual fashion, bitten off more than I can chew!  But that rarely keeps me from a task. Just got to break it down and handle in smaller batches.  As I told my boys growing up, you can even choke on a banana if you try to to swallow it whole. Got to take “banana bites.”

I am refocusing my effort to what I want to examine the most. I’ve narrowed the premier tome to assisting a mature woman make the decision to buy, or not to buy, a gun for self defense. That leaves a lot of room for generalized discussion, facts, and considerations. This is the topic I believe is the least addressed in what I have found “out there,” particularly as it relates to the more mature woman.

I’m thinking the second book in the series will discuss basic information about hand guns and ammunition, basic shooting practices, and of course, safety. Finally the third one would be how does a mature woman carry, store, use, and become prepared mentally, physically, emotionally for the situations and consequences she may encounter.

As always, I welcome any comments, encouragement, suggestions, ideas, and HELP!  You folks in this community are such a generous positive bunch, thank you!   — Peggy

 
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Posted by on July 21, 2014 in Writing the Book

 

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A Quick and Dirty Fix Comes Back to Haunt Me…

The White haired Shooter

The White haired Shooter

I didn’t get very far today on my project of lining out the flow of “my book.”

Instead I took a much delayed sidestep to clean up my computer.

Ever made a decision to solve a problem facing you with a quick and dirty fix  because you didn’t want to have to make a lot of changes “RIGHT NOW?”

It is another lesson in:

Expediency of the moment  

*   does not equal  *

      The best solution.

Dang. It bit me again.

Eighteen months ago  I needed to perform an emergency replacement of my old computer (now in PC heaven) , with a snazzy, then-new computer running on the newly re-invented ribbon bar style 2007 MS Office Suite. I opted to install my old antique MS Office 2003 on it in order to be instantly up and running and thus avoid the learning curve and frustration of figuring out how to make the dang ribbon work.  Since then, at my day job, I have adapted and learned to love the ribbon. But at home grit my teeth and painfully cope with the conflicts I created.

It dawned on me, just today, that I need to stop living in 2003 (yes I am not very swift).  If I am going to submit a polished product to an editor or potential publisher, I don’t want to drag in the old 2003 Word I have been clinging to. So, in the end, the decision to get serious about “the book” trumps my laziness!

Well, I did it. Now my darling computer is running faster after a quick tune up, and I have moved one step closer, albeit still half a decade behind, to updated software.

And also, as a bonus, misery loves company. I now know there are other people out there that took this same shortcut, and are now struggling to clean it up. I ran into quite a few of them in the forums I searched, and we enjoyed a nice pity party.

I  learned Microsoft has put together some nifty utilities to solve the problem, and if any of you reading this need to know more about that, just let me know and I’ll share what I learned.

Back to my project now. The outline is starting to flow. Another bonus, I had lots of time waiting for downloads, installations and rebootings to think things through!

~  Peggy

 

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on July 19, 2014 in Writing the Book

 

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The Process Begins.

The White haired ShooterTHE WHITE HAIRED SHOOTER

I thought since this is my first structured attempt at finally “writing a book,” I might as well blog about the process. Much akin to deciding to make any serious change in life going “public” helps with accountability!

While the content of “the book that will be” has changed multiple times throughout my life,  the common denominator has been a failure to find a process to write. The “starts” with no “finishes” has resulted in a graveyard of paper, Word files, and best intentions.

This time I am on a mission.  And it helps that I finally can make some time to devote to the process, and have a wonderful husband who is supportive – if somewhat bemused.

I have always been the “wind beneath the wings” kind of person, and I am very content doing that. But writing is something I have wanted to do for ME from early childhood. I feel  I have quite a few books in me, and I’m not getting any younger. Lends me courage to get to it when I think about it in that respect.

I’ve never formally studied “how to write” a book. I concentrated on “hard science” in school, worked in the electronics industry in the 70’s and 80’s and have written a lot of training manuals in my day along with countless database programs to accomplish tasks. All very practical. But not what is in my heart!

What I hit on was a more structured approach, and it had its beginnings with this blog. This was for a couple of reasons: To see if I could sustain writing on a topic for a significant period. (I believe 6 months of weekly articles qualifies as a YES.) And I wanted to test the waters and see if there was merit in the topic I would write about. (I thank those that have come along side me so I can say a modest YES to that as well.)

To cope with my inner child who loves to play and distract me, I started another blog ( located at silverdustbunnies.wordpress.com ) so that I would have an outlet for the oddball topics that come pouring of my imagination as I sit at the keyboard.

I am ready. I already have completed the first leg on this journey, and ready for the next.

I copied these blog articles to my computer and discovered they total a startling 30,843 words once compiled!

Ye gads I am wordy…  (just in case nobody noticed before! )

Anyway, I am now about the process of outlining how I want the book to flow, and when I catch a break from that… and my day job…. and working with my husband’s leather business… and the garden… and the other blog, and….  well you get the point… I’ll update where I am at on this journey.

I welcome any comments, encouragement, suggestions, ideas, and HELP!  I really appreciate all I’ve received so far from this amazing community, which is something I didn’t expect when I first began! Thank you!   — Peggy

 
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Posted by on July 18, 2014 in Writing the Book

 

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Taking a Break from the Blog….

The White haired ShooterTHE WHITE HAIRED SHOOTER

Hi,

After reviewing what I have written since the beginning of the year, I think I have accomplished the first part of my “plan.”  I have explored writing about the mature person’s experience in taking up handgun shooting later in life. Thank you to everyone who has commented, followed, and liked this effort.

My intention is to take what I have learned from jumping through various topics, and now organize my thoughts and get serious about writing a book on this subject.

To say that I am “ready” for such an undertaking would be foolish.  There are only so many hours in a day, a week, a year, and time keeps ticking away. No time like the present to jump in, fully committed to the task.Don’t know how long this process will take, but I will be back posting here from time to time and check in on my new blog friends.

I am addicted to writing, and have another blog that will stay active during this time. If you would like to see another side of the White Haired Shooter, where I am doing more of a photo journal on where I reside, and practicing my writing “skill” or “craft,” while I am about the book write, I’d love to see you at:   http://silverdustbunnies.wordpress.com/

Thanks again. Keep practicing and improving your skills, if I can help you with shooting related issues let me know, and always be “aware” in any situation – at home, in your car, at work, while enjoying the outdoors! I’ll be back!

Happy and Safe shooting  –  Peggy

 
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Posted by on July 15, 2014 in General Discussion

 

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A Few Thoughts on Practice and Adverse Conditions

The White haired ShooterTHE WHITE HAIRED SHOOTER

 

A Few Thoughts on Practice in Adverse Conditions

Summer has arrived, and I haven’t written in this blog in awhile, but I’m hopefully getting back into my routine. Before starting back in with the series on Ammunition Basics, I thought I would take a side road, and share an experience from this past weekend that got me thinking about how prepared I may or may not be for unexpected conditions.

In order to be effective and prepared you can’t just confine yourself to how you draw or shoot your handgun. It must become an attitude you adopt in everything you do. Situations we run into in life are not clearly compartmentalized, and escalation is a potential whenever people are involved.

When we encounter the unexpected we can quickly become confused, angry, and unable to or poorly process ideas. We will respond from the baseline of what we have always done, or of how we have trained.

I have trained to be aware of what is around me, to anticipate and respond to perceived needs and threats.  This weekend’s encounter emphasized that my training has not resulted in my being as situational ready as I would like to believe.

While this incident was minor with virtually no potential use of firearms, it did make me think.  While a person can practice a new “skill,” until a real life situation is encountered, no one really knows how they may react

What follows demonstrates I didn’t have as good a read on the situation as I would have hoped, and the flagger I will be discussing, didn’t demonstrate a very good response either. I am sure we are both well meaning, diligently trained persons, but neither of us got a “gold star” on this one.

…………

We normally don’t travel on major holiday weekends, but Friday the 4th of July our “ancient” hot water heater gave up the ghost. That meant a trip to Kalispell on Saturday, which is a little over a 100 mile drive each way.

My husband had driven on the ride over, and after completing a few stops “while we were there,” I started the drive back home in the early afternoon.

The first twenty or so miles of the highway between Kalispell and Libby after you leave the valley is a winding, hilly road, with only one lane in each direction and very little shoulder. The speed limit is 70 mph.

After just a few minutes on this section, I rounded a blind corner and about 30 yards ahead on a straight stretch of about 100 yards two rescue vehicles with flashing lights were completely blocking the right hand lane. They were responding to a single vehicle rollover accident, and the car had come to a rest upside down in the steep roadside ditch, and the oncoming lane also had an abrupt dropoff with virtually no shoulder. No choice but to stop as quickly and safely as possible.

No ambulance had arrived on the scene yet, and a Volunteer Fire Department flagger was talking on her radio while standing immediately behind the bright red fire rescue truck and highway patrol vehicle.

As I neared, I saw the SLOW side of the sign facing in my direction, and continued to decelerate. I started to move over to the left hand lane, preparing to pass very slowly around the rescue truck, shifting my eyes off the flagger to make sure the road ahead was clear.

When I looked back in the direction of the flagger, she was violently gesturing and waving the STOP at me. I can’t say when she had flipped the sign over, because my attention had been elsewhere. I immediately maneuvered back into the right hand lane, and came to a complete stop about 10-15 feet from her and to the rear of the patrol car. All this happened in seconds.

She was still talking into her radio, I presume to the other flagger down the road. She terminated the call, and came stomping over to the drivers side of our vehicle, obviously very angry.  She gestured me to roll down my window, and I complied. Leaning in towards me, face red and contorted, shaking her sign at me she screamed “What the hell was that about?”

With the yelling and her sign close to my face, I rolled the window back up.

Infuriated even more, she whirled around and marched to the patrol vehicle, her sign dropped down at her side. The officer approached our vehicle, and motioned  me to drive forward and stop behind the fire engine. By now my adrenalin was pumping and my voice was shaky and full of emotion and tears felt like they weren’t far off.  I hate when that happens, but I managed to relay what had happened, and the patrolman told us the flagger was pretty jumpy because she was in a vulnerable situation. He waived us on our way without any further questioning.

But here’s my take on the escalation in this incident:

Ms. Volunteer Fire Department was obviously one of the first responders on the scene. I don’t know how much experience or training she’s had controlling traffic, but  I suspect from the way she flagged traffic it’s not much. I base this on my own experience flagging with a road crew on a similar country highway. The 90+ degree heat of the day is intensified while standing on an asphalt roadway. Keeping a cool head is a must even under brutal conditions.

I have no way of knowing what she had done or had seen and experienced on that response incident, or even how many duties she was responsible for in addition to flagging. I can only imagine how charged her nerves were. From that platform, a minor infraction elicited an explosive reaction.

I am not saying I didn’t err, I did.  If there were “do-overs” in real life, I now

wouldn’t take my eyes off the flagger, and would stay in my lane until I had positive “eye contact” with the flagger, and receive a definite, affirmative motion to stop or proceed. Anticipating what someone wants you to do, and taking  action on that assumption, even with the best of intentions, is not appropriate.

While I rolled the window up reflexively in what felt at the time like reasonable self protection, chances are very slim she would have done more than just yell, or possibly pound on my truck in fury.

Finally, I realize my reflexes and ability to process are not as quick as they were years ago. While I am currently healthy, have excellent vision, am mentally alert and physically active I believe I need to assess my physical and mental condition regularly to make sure I am a responsible driver, and likewise when decide to own and carry a gun.  I pray I know when I reach the time to hang up my spurs, so to speak.

Again, this was not in itself more than a wake up call. But the correlation to approaching  a change in self defense practice is not a very big jump. My preparedness in an emergency/unexpected situation has been shown to need work.

In practice it’s usual to focus on gun related aspects, how to shoot, maintain grip, stance, sight picture, follow through and so forth, and also maintaining vigilant awareness of the surroundings.

But once adrenalin kicks in, decision making typically is compromised. It is good to know how I will react. Fight or Flight. Or, maybe cringe or cry.

Training and reacting under adverse or less than ideal conditions is rarely done by most people during self defense practice sessions. But I know many trainers have advocated training in less than perfect lighting, weather conditions, and even stress producing situations, and recommend it be made part of regular self defense exercises. They now have my attention.

Happy and Safe shooting  –  Peggy

 
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Posted by on July 10, 2014 in General Discussion

 

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