About Celia Reaves

I teach college and I'm working on writing my first novel. I previously published a textbook, but this is a very different project! I've got my fingers crossed.

Ready for Takeoff

A couple of years ago a bunch of my friends got together for a terrific weekend in a cabin on a lake in the Adirondacks owned by one of us. We laughed, hiked, sang, watched the Perseid meteor shower, and went tubing on the lake. Here’s one friend settled into the tube, ready for another friend to gun the outboard and give her an exciting, noisy, wet ride. I can still here him calling, “Ready? You’re sure? All set?” and her screaming back, “Go, already!”

Posted in response to the WordPress photo challenge: Waiting

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Tree Branch Self-Similarity

Trees are beautiful when they are lush and green in summer or when they flare with red and gold in autumn. What about winter, when the branches are bare? That’s when it’s easiest to see the self-similar structure in the tree’s branching habit. At each juncture where a bud begins a new branch, the angle of the branch is determined by the tree’s genetics and specific influences in the environment. Each tree species has a standard pattern, which is repeated with every bud, so that the shape of the junctures is the same, broadly speaking, in everything from the first heavy branches on the trunk to the newest fine twig. I’ve talked about this before, but I just can’t get enough of the beauty of these elegant patterns.

There are important biological factors behind a tree’s branching habit, but from a mathematical point of view it reveals a fractal pattern, which has the property of being self-similar. A self-similar structure looks roughly the same at every scale from the largest zoomed-out view to the narrowest closeup. There are practical limits in the real world (if you zoom in far enough you get to individual cells and eventually molecules, which aren’t particularly similar to the tree trunk), but within the range that we can call the tree structure the idea holds. If you zoom in on the picture above each branching region looks like the overall structure of the tree.

Fractals are important in nature and mathematics (as I’ve commented before). They are also very beautiful, and reveal the beauty in the structure of everything around us.

Posted in response to the WordPress photo challenge: Structure

My Cozy Corner

Isn’t this nice? This is where I’m usually found when my husband is out sailing (and you can just make out his boat above the chair in this image). The marina where we keep the boat sets up this gazebo each year, and I sit there in the shade, enjoying the view and the breeze, with my book and laptop and iced tea, and it’s wonderful. Sadly, this year they never put the gazebo in place, because the water level in Lake Ontario is so outrageously high that the ground never firmed up enough. I spent hubby’s sailing time either in the car or in the marina office, but neither spot is as comfy as the gazebo. I’m looking forward to settling back into gazebo bliss next year, though.

Posted in response to the WordPress photo challenge: Corner

Gorgeous Light

I’m a sucker for clouds, with hundreds of sky photos in my folder. Here’s a shot I love of the gorgeous, golden light on the buildings and clouds opposite the setting sun. This time of day is often called the golden hour because of the color of the light, and it creates a warmth that you don’t see at other times. The view stopped me in my tracks. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Posted in response to the WordPress photo challenge: Shiny

Elements

First of all, I want to acknowledge that there are actually 118 known elements, not just four! But I’m happy to play along for the purposes of this week’s photo challenge and focus on just the four “classical” elements. Here you have them all in one image! Rocks and plants in the foreground (earth), clouds up in the sky (air), the sun (fire), and Black River Bay off of Lake Ontario (water). I hope you enjoy the pic!

Posted in response to the WordPress photo challenge: Elemental

Revision Report

Once again, Camp NaNoWriMo provided the structure for me to complete a writing task. Two years after I wrote the first draft of my novel through Camp, this year I spent those 31 days on a complete, top-to-bottom revision, turning Draft 2 into Draft 3. This isn’t the finished draft by any means, but it’s closer. In addition to the day-by-day pressure to finish that I got from Camp NaNo, I also relied on the 31-Day Revision Workshop posted in Janice Hardy’s Fiction University blog. Both forms of structure were important to keeping me going.

I learned some interesting things about my book and myself as a writer in this process:

  • There was so much excess that I needed to prune away! I probably took out a hundred examples of “that” and another hundred of “just.” I cut out dozens and dozens of unnecessary dialogue tags and bits of stage direction (he nodded, she shrugged…). I converted a ton of “he was X-ing” to “he X-ed.” I insisted my characters stop saying the same thing over again in slightly different words. I rooted out extra adjectives draped all over the place. There was so much that had to go, the book was about 1000 words shorter when I finished than when I began.
  • Yes, I tend to overwrite. But this doesn’t scare me any more, because I know it and I can find and eliminate it in revision.
  • I still like my book. There have been days when I didn’t, and nights when I can’t imagine what made me think I could be a writer, but when I come back to it I find there’s still something there that speaks to me. Kay’s story is important, at least here inside my head, and I’m going to keep pressing to tell it the best way I can.

So what’s next?

  • Running the whole thing through a computer system to get word frequency counts, so I can find and eliminate some more of the things I say too often
  • Revisiting the chapter breaks, since I have a nagging feeling that some chapters should be combined and others broken up
  • Putting it away for at least a couple of weeks, probably a month before looking at it again!

In the meantime, I’m pleased to be able to hang the Camp NaNoWriMo WINNER badge on the site. One small step forward in this very, very long process.