Archive for February 2021

Strike a Chord   5 comments

What does it take to impress you when you are reading someone else’s book?

Rules:1. Link your blog to this hop.2. Notify your following that you are participating in this blog hop.3. Promise to visit/leave a comment on all participants’ blogs.4. Tweet/or share each person’s blog post. Use #OpenBook when tweeting.5. Put a banner on your blog that you are participating.<!– start InLinkz code –><div class=”inlinkz-widget” data-uuid=”c4ecb3b2210444bdbf975ccdab377992″ style=”width:100%;margin:30px 0;background-color:#eceff1;border-radius:7px;text-align:center;font-size:16px;font-family:’Helvetica Neue’,Helvetica,Arial,sans-serif”><div style=”padding:8px;”><p style=”margin-bottom:15px;”>You are invited to the <strong>Inlinkz</strong> link party!</p><a href=”https://fresh.inlinkz.com/p/c4ecb3b2210444bdbf975ccdab377992” target=”_blank” rel=”nofollow” style=”padding:5px 20px;background:#209cee;text-decoration:none;color:#efefef;border-radius:4px;”>Click here to enter</a></div></div><span style=”display: none;”><script async=”true” src=”https://fresh.inlinkz.com/js/widget/load.js…“></script></span><!– end InLinkz code –>[fresh_inlinkz_code id=”c4ecb3b2210444bdbf975ccdab377992”]https://fresh.inlinkz.com/p/c4ecb3b2210444bdbf975ccdab377992

What Impresses Me?

Image result for image of a hammer dulcimer
Hammer Dulcimer

I’m not a musician, but I’m fascinated by musicians who can strike a pure clear chord and not feel the need to rush onto the rest of the song. Such resonate tone enthralls me and I can remember specific concerts where the musicians did that far better than any other concert I’ve heard.

I read a lot and when I read the prompt I knew it was a big question. I searched back in my memory for examples of being impressed by another writer.

I read my first novel when I was 8 and I’ve done a lot of reading since. That’s a lot of chances to be impressed.

Stark Photorealism

Some writers excel at descriptions. There’s a scene in Treasure Island that describes young Jim’s first view of the island. Written so realistically, the image etched itself into my 11-year-old brain so that when I first saw a photo of a Caribbean island a few years later, I knew immediately it was a Caribbean island. It was exactly what I envisioned Jim’s island looked like. Madelaine L’Engle excelled at it as well. When you read her The Young Unicorns, you feel like you’ve been into a subway tunnel in New York City. Susan Collins did something similar in The Hunger Games. It’s a writing technique that paints a realistic “photo” with words. That impresses me. I’ve tried it myself. It’s not easy to do, but the reader feels pulled into the story’s setting and it stays with them after they close the book.

Emotional Connection

The first novel I ever read was My Friend Flicka. I was 8 and going through a horse-loving phase. I’d never seen any of the 1950’s movies. The retrospectives on those came out in the 1980s when I was in college. The book pulls you slowly into emotional life of Ken and the McLaughlin family. Near the end of the novel, Ken has been ill and he believes his beloved colt has been euthanized. His father drives him out the ranch road and Ken sees Flicka is still alive. I didn’t cry when Ken thought Flicka died and I don’t cry generally when I’m happy, but as I read the scene I started to cry. The emotional connection gutted me. Over the years, very occasionally, I would read another passage in another book that would play on my emotions. Most-recently, I re-read 1984 and when Winston finally gives in to agree that there are three lights even though he only sees two, I could identify with his powerlessness, the acceptance of a lie to change the reality you know will be worse if you don’t. There’s a passage in All’s Quiet on the Western Front where the diarist describes a night on patrol — the eerie quiet across No-Man’s Land, knowing the silence is an illusion and that any moment death could spring upon him. In Brandon Sanderson’s The Way of Kings, the author describes Kaladin’s depression without once using any words that mean depression. I read The Way of Kings when I still worked for community behavioral health, which might explain why it resonated so strongly with me. Although I’ve had reason to be depressed in my life, I don’t stay there so I’d never understood the concept of clinical depression — where you just can’t do anything against it. For the period of time that it took to read the scene, I understood depression that is a black cloud that will always win.

What Impresses Me

When a writer pours something deep and real onto the page, I’m impressed. When it touches me deeply at a soul level, I’m impressed. I want to do that to my readers. I want to strike a chord that resonates so deeply into their souls that they can’t forget it. The knack for that impresses me.

Posted February 22, 2021 by aurorawatcherak in Blog Hop

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Useful Life Skill   13 comments

Did you ever get picked last in gym or some other class? Have you used that in your writing?

Rules:1. Link your blog to this hop.2. Notify your following that you are participating in this blog hop.3. Promise to visit/leave a comment on all participants’ blogs.4. Tweet/or share each person’s blog post. Use #OpenBook when tweeting.5. Put a banner on your blog that you are participating.<!– start InLinkz code –><div class=”inlinkz-widget” data-uuid=”a8df10e7c3ba4a5f9fe0bdc0a0364cea” style=”width:100%;margin:30px 0;background-color:#eceff1;border-radius:7px;text-align:center;font-size:16px;font-family:’Helvetica Neue’,Helvetica,Arial,sans-serif”><div style=”padding:8px;”><p style=”margin-bottom:15px;”>You are invited to the <strong>Inlinkz</strong> link party!</p><a href=”https://fresh.inlinkz.com/p/a8df10e7c3ba4a5f9fe0bdc0a0364cea” target=”_blank” rel=”nofollow” style=”padding:5px 20px;background:#209cee;text-decoration:none;color:#efefef;border-radius:4px;”>Click here to enter</a></div></div><span style=”display: none;”>http://a%20rel=</span><!– end InLinkz code –>Or WordPress Shortcode[fresh_inlinkz_code id=”a8df10e7c3ba4a5f9fe0bdc0a0364cea”]Or Unique URLhttps://fresh.inlinkz.com/p/a8df10e7c3ba4a5f9fe0bdc0a0364cea

Of Course!

I’m 5’1″. I wasn’t always short compared to my classmates. I hit my growth spurt early, so I was one of the tallest kids in class … in the 4th grade — and I was average until junior high when some of my fellow students started growing and then ….

Norwegian with a fish bat

I’m an athlete — in the water. I could outswim anyone from the 4th grade on. Even in high school, I came in at respectable times in girls’ sprints and I could even beat slow boys in the longer events. I was a top-rated distance swimmer in the State of Alaska. One of my records (for the 400 individual medley) still stands (so my son says from when he was swimming seven years ago). I was a great athlete … in the swimming pool.

Or if you wanted me to do something involving my legs for a long time — like the Equinox Marathon. The Equinox is considered the 2nd hardest marathon in the US (second to Pike’s Peak) mainly because it is usually started at hypothermic temperatures and sometimes (depending on the vagaries of Alaska September) finished at sweat-inducing temperatures. It also goes up and over the +2000-foot Ester Dome. I’m not a runner, but I’ve done the marathon route as a hike a few dozen times. I competed in the official marathon four times and finished it twice. I came in not in the bottom 20 both times, beating old people, the obese, and small children both times. A lot of actual marathon runners don’t finish the Equinox, so that’s not a bad record.

Back to the Gym Picks

I’m 5’1″. I wasn’t any taller in high school, so of course, I was always picked last for most team sports. I didn’t really care because I hate sports that involve teams. Yeah, I was on the swim “team”, but swimming is an individual sport. You compete against yourself and sometimes you beat another swimmer, but you really don’t have to rely on the athletic ability of someone else. And nobody else had to rely on my athletic ability. I obviously was no competition in basketball and at 100 pounds, I wasn’t hitting a baseball to the outfield. So I was always picked last.

Including the swimming section we had to do in sophomore gym. Technically, my high school didn’t have a swim team. It was a community team that the high school didn’t claim until my junior year. You’d think my classmates might have noticed that I came to first period with my hair wet from practice, but that apparently never connected because Joyce — a high school athletic goddess who was center for the girl’s basketball team and took our girls volleyball team to State three times — picked me last for “races” in swimming. Hey, at least she picked me over the girl who floated like a balloon in the water. Feeling my oats because I knew how good I was in the water, I joked that I had all the buoyancy of a brick (which was actually true; I had a very solid core — another clue Joyce missed when I walked out in my swimsuit.) I then proceeded to beat EVERYONE in every event. I beat girls who were 6-inches taller than me. I didn’t compete in sprints, but I still won them that day. against non-competitive swimmers. We only went up to the 200 meter and I won that by a quarter of a pool-length and Joyce was my closest competition. Boys and girls were in separate classes back then, but the teacher reported a few days later that I beat 80% of the boys’ times. The four boys I didn’t beat I knew from the Midnight Sun Swim Team. Of course I didn’t beat them. They were swimmers … and I had beat one of them in a practice race the week before. Because I swam the longer races, it was hard to get up for a race without competition and not a lot of girls locally swam 400 meters, so I practiced against the boys…and very occasionally beat the slower ones.

That summer, the school district adopted Midnight Sun as the school’s swim team, so I didn’t have to attend gym any longer, so it wasn’t until our 10-year reunion that I realized the impact of simply doing what I knew I was capable of doing had on my classmates. Joyce, ever the organizer, got the great idea to do some competitive athletics as part of our weekend. Some woman I don’t even remember from high school picked me first for the water monkey-in-the-middle team. I acquitted myself well because even though I haven’t grown since high school, I played water polo in college. My taller competitors wondered how I got my toes into the hems of their bath suits to propel myself above their heads. While that is an illegal move in water polo, it’s also a common move when the refs can’t see it and, well, monkey-in-the-middle doesn’t have any real rules.

Then one of the men picked me first for his norwegian team. Norwegian, or Eskimo stickball, is pretty similar to brannboll, though Alaska Native villages have some variations and it probably predates baseball in Alaska; sometimes called “anauligatuk”, “anau” or “laptuuk”, it’s called “norwegian” in the Interior villages and nobody seems to know why. Rod picked me for norwegian because he thought I was part-Alaska Native (I’m part-Lower 48 Indian) and had to have played a lot of norwegian growing up. Fortunately, I learned the game when visiting Ambler Alaska and played it with friends since — otherwise, that would have been incredibly embarrassing. Since I was the only woman on the two teams who had ever played before, it was kind of fun to watch those girls who never picked me look foolish for one afternoon. I worked extra hard to be very gracious in teaching them how to play the game.

Have I Ever Used Being Picked Last In My Writing?

The “picked last for gym” scenario is a children’s literature trope and I don’t write children’s literature, so I haven’t used it yet, but I recently drafted a scene for the next book in the Transformation Project series where Jazz tells Shane about why she took up running and shooting. I didn’t know about this writing prompt at the time. It was just a happy confluence of ideas.

Being Picked Last Sucks, But …

It’s character-building. I look back at the kids who were always the first on the pick-up team and I think they could have used being picked last a few times. I think it teaches you to be a better sportsman. For me, it taught me to be comfortable with the sports I was good at and not sweat the sports I wasn’t made for. It also taught me to not pick the best athletes myself. Everybody, even great athletes, needs the experience of being picked last just so they can know what disappointment feels like. Graciousness is a useful life skill.

Posted February 15, 2021 by aurorawatcherak in Uncategorized

Open Book Blog Hop – Story Ideas   1 comment

Do you get story ideas that you know you’ll never write?’

Realisation of my idea for a gingerbread and chocolate house diorama

I have lots and lots of story ideas. Everywhere I go, every time I do research, and every time I read a snippet of history, I get stories ideas. There are so many fascinating places, people, and innovations out there, but there is only limited time to write stories. I work full time and have a family so time is my most precious commodity and I have to decide which story ideas to pursue and which to leave for the time being.

I have a number of half written manuscripts on my computers including another middle school book called Silly Willy goes to London, a cli-fi book about genetic engineering and the fourth industrial revolution (I wrote the first 40 000 words and plotted out all three…

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Posted February 10, 2021 by aurorawatcherak in Uncategorized

NVDT #79 – Pepper Jack Cheese   Leave a comment

Not Very Deep Thoughts

PART OF OPEN LINK BLOG HOP

Prompt – Do you get story ideas that you know you’ll never write?

Constantly. Scenes, stories, this thing clicks with that visual, what were they talking about, who were they, what was going on and I’ll shell the scene into some characters and, well, they start talking and this happens. The following is a live jam, forgive the slop.

“Either a you morons seen my brother?”

Austin kept his eyes on the insulated half-gallon YETI tumbler he was filling with Coke. “Since when?”

“Since recent, retard.”

“You gonna drop that baby on us right here, Cheryl?”

“Austin, you know that’s not an approved refill cup.” Her eyes shifted to his carbon copy sidekick. “Donnie, you got somethin’ clever needs sayin’?”

“Nope.” He grinned, elbowed Austin’s shoulder. “I tell you what.”

Austin snort laughed, snapped the top on the YETI. “Harper ain’t been…

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Posted February 10, 2021 by aurorawatcherak in Uncategorized

On Writing: The Junk Drawer of Ideas   1 comment

Lines by Leon

(Thanks, Stevie Turner, for the inspiration for this post! )

Everybody has at least one. Only one if they are lucky. One in the kitchen (pencils, twist-ties, battteries, keys, etc.), one in the workshop (old bolts, screws, extra IKEA parts, allen wrenchs), well, you get the idea.

Writers are the same. I know I always have ideas floating around that if I don’t write them down, I’ll lose them. So I jot them down. A title: Sometimes They Leave, an opening line: “It was a dark and stormy night…”, or a catchy elevator pitch: Rambo moves in with Sheldon Cooper. Oh, the shenanigans!

Without ideas, there’s no possibility of a creation. Here’s a glimpse into Mr. Einstein’s notebook:

I suspect that many of my ideas won’t go any further than just that, but there is always a chance that I’ll be inspired to revisit one of those ideas and…

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Posted February 10, 2021 by aurorawatcherak in Uncategorized

More Ideas Than Time #OpenBook Blog Hop   Leave a comment

Source: More Ideas Than Time #OpenBook Blog Hop

Posted February 10, 2021 by aurorawatcherak in Uncategorized

Open Book Blog Hop – February 8th   1 comment

Stevie Turner

Welcome to this week’s Open Book Blog Hop. Today the topic is:

‘Do you get story ideas that you know you’ll never write?’

I don’t often get inspiration, but when I do it’s rather annoying as the story goes around and around in my head and I have to write the thing down. The story I’m writing now demanded to be written, but when I’m done that’ll be it for a few months and I’ll take the summer off to enjoy my caravan (as long as Boris lets me).

I’ve had ideas for stories but because they would take a lot of research it kind of puts me off. I prefer to write ‘off the top of my head’ so to speak, and do only the minimal amount of research so that it’s my words on the page and not information I’ve gleaned from the internet. Yes I’ve done a…

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Posted February 10, 2021 by aurorawatcherak in Uncategorized

The book I never wrote   Leave a comment

Richard Dee’s blog post.

Posted February 10, 2021 by aurorawatcherak in Uncategorized

Random Ideas   8 comments

Do you get story ideas that you know you’ll never write?

Rules:1. Link your blog to this hop.2. Notify your following that you are participating in this blog hop.3. Promise to visit/leave a comment on all participants’ blogs.4. Tweet/or share each person’s blog post. Use #OpenBook when tweeting.5. Put a banner on your blog that you are participating.<!– start InLinkz code –><div class=”inlinkz-widget” data-uuid=”8c063aea15e3491ba1c1a2c3133d9e03″ style=”width:100%;margin:30px 0;background-color:#eceff1;border-radius:7px;text-align:center;font-size:16px;font-family:’Helvetica Neue’,Helvetica,Arial,sans-serif”><div style=”padding:8px;”><p style=”margin-bottom:15px;”>You are invited to the <strong>Inlinkz</strong> link party!</p><a href=”https://fresh.inlinkz.com/p/8c063aea15e3491ba1c1a2c3133d9e03” target=”_blank” rel=”nofollow” style=”padding:5px 20px;background:#209cee;text-decoration:none;color:#efefef;border-radius:4px;”>Click here to enter</a></div></div><span style=”display: none;”>http://a%20rel=</span><!– end InLinkz code –>[fresh_inlinkz_code id=”8c063aea15e3491ba1c1a2c3133d9e03″]https://fresh.inlinkz.com/p/8c063aea15e3491ba1c1a2c3133d9e03

Yes, Of Course!

I think all writers have ideas pop into their head. Maybe we mull it over for a while. Maybe it’s just a fleeting thought nudged by current events. But we know we’ll never write them. Why? Well, it’s not the genre we’re working in…it’s not part of the series we want to finish…it’s way more complicated than the stories we usually write…we know we’re going to forget all about it in 10 minutes….

I’ve had stories crop up in my thoughts from time to time for all three of those reasons and so…I know I won’t write them but I do sometimes jot them down in my suspense file just in case a story does evolve from that random thought.

Yes, But!

I never planned to write Transformation Project series when I started it. It was a fun thought experiment with my daughter during a long road trip (Alaska, yo! All road trips are LONG.) The character of Shane, who changed considerably as we came to know one another, decided he wanted his story to be told and I finally sat down to write it and an entire series came from it.

I keep a suspense file for those random ideas because you never know when one of them will blossom into a writeable story.

Posted February 8, 2021 by aurorawatcherak in Blog Hop

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