Archive for March 2021

Renaissance Woman   7 comments

If you weren’t an author, what other art would you likely pursue?

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So Many Choices

If I weren’t a writer, how would I feed my need to be creative? There are so many choices. Creativity is a broad range of avenues. My daughter is a musician and visual artist who mostly works in t-shirts today, but used to do some lovely metal art. My son doesn’t have her voice, but he’s become quite a good guitarist and he’s learned to sing in his range. My husband invents heating appliances. I always admire people who can decorate their houses. My father was a chef (another art my daughter dabbles in). My mother was a USO dancer and my daughter danced ballet, hip hop, highland and modern. My friend Karen sews amazing clothes, especially kuspuks (Alaska Native parka covers). Quilting is one of the ministries of the women of our church. In the Fairbanks Airport there’s a 20-foot long fiber tapestry hanging in a stairwell. My sister’s adoptive father was a world-renowned wildlife photographer. An uncle could make a plain suburban yard look like a rich estate garden. There’s a neighbor who does wonderful carpentry that makes his house stand out from the rest of ours. Creativity comes in many forms.

I’ve dabbled in most of the things I list above. I don’t create heating appliances, but I do help him with his marketing. Nobody wants to hear me sing, but I helped my son write a song’s lyrics. I quilt. I do carpentry. I do photography. I dabble in cooking food — my emphasis is on taste, not presentation, however. Although I can draw and would love to get good at painting, I mostly construct collages that become book covers.

What Would I Choose?

Wow, I have to narrow down my choices? That would be tough. I think I’d choose photography. In fact, I think I have already chosen photography as that is the medium I use for constructing collages. But don’t expect me to give up quilting, cooking or writing. Creative people need to be creative or we die.

Enough said by me on that subject. I wonder what my fellow authors are choosing.

Posted March 29, 2021 by aurorawatcherak in Blog Hop

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Woldview Is Everything   8 comments

Whose perspective do you like to write from best, the hero (protagonist) or the villain (antagonist)? Why?

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How You See the World

A worldview is the fundamental cognitive orientation of an individual encompassing the whole of the individual’s knowledge and point of view. Worldviews are often taken to operate at a conscious level, directly accessible to articulation and discussion.

It affects our approach to live as a disposition toward certain types of thinking or way of viewing the world. An attitude is an approach to life influenced by our disposition towards certain types of thinking. So for example, Shane’s worldview includes an extreme realism. Shane doesn’t care if the glass half-empty or half-full. He only cares if it is real. Cai sees the world as an essentially optimistic place. These are their attitudes toward life. But worldview can also arise from political, economic, philosophical, or religious beliefs about the world. Jacob Delaney’s worldview included a strong feeling that he couldn’t boss other people around. That was an end result of a set of values he’d developed over a long life. As a Biblical Christian, Jacob believed faith is a voluntary association with his Savior that needed to be worked out as an individual, but also had implications for how he interacted in his community and the larger world. The end result was his firm conviction that he could speak to people about faith and religion, but that he couldn’t boss other people around.

Protagonist or Antagonist?

I prefer to write from the protagonist point of view because I typically share the worldview of the protagonist. It’s easier to write a character you agree with. But I have a whole range of characters who share elements of a similar worldview and they’re not all the same, so while it is easier to write from that broad perspective, each character requires a mind-shift to truly inhabit the role of that character. Jacob’s worldview differed from Rob’s which differs from Shane’s which differs from Cai’s. Jacob took an extreme view on free will for example. Rob’s view is a bit more nuanced and I like to include his occasional struggles with the Non-Aggression Principle — for example, when he chose to drug Shane rather than let him make a truly stupid mistake. Shane philosophically agrees with his grandfather on free will … for himself, but his career thus far has brought his free will into conflict with others’ free will. And Cai admits he’s judgmental and bossy and needs to relax his grip on other people.

Antagonists are Fun!

Although I prefer to write from the protagonist viewpoint, I sometimes enjoy writing from the antagonist’s point of view. It’s how I developed Gregyn in Daermad Cycle. He was a “bad guy”, but I needed his perspective, so I wrote it and I found this complex character who is worth writing. As I turn toward finishing Fount of Wraiths, I’m still exploring what his overall role in the series will be. I know he won’t ever be a thorough-going good or bad guy, but I’m still waiting to see if he will fall to one side of the line or the other.

Posted March 22, 2021 by aurorawatcherak in Uncategorized

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Take It Easy   6 comments

You’re going on a road trip: where are you headed? With who? What are your snacks? Music? Plans?

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Alaskans and Road Trips

10 Top-Rated Things to Do in Great Falls, MT | PlanetWare
Great Falls, Great Falls, Montana

Alaska is a BIG state. If we split in two, Texas would be the third largest state in the United. The Northern Region district of the Alaska Department of Transportation is larger than the State of Texas and it is one of three Alaska transportation districts. It is almost 400 miles (about 640 kilometers) from Anchorage, the largest city in Alaska, to Fairbanks, the second largest city in Alaska which is where I live. Fairbanks doesn’t have the population to support a massive shopping district, so if we want to indulge in retail therapy, we have a LONG drive to a mall (about 7 hours in the winter, about 5 in the summer).

To get our summer fish, we drive just about 750 miles round trip to a river village called Chitina. That’s on the Richardson Highway rather than the Parks (which is the quickest way to Anchorage). It’s also a more rugged road, built over an old stagecoach and sled dog trail from the pioneer days.

Sometimes when we take these trips, it’s just Brad (hubby) and me and other times it’s friends or one or both of our kids. I used to do the Parks drive to Anchorage at least once a year with the teenagers from our church. The Southern Baptist Convention of Alaska has a big youth evangelism conference in Anchorage about this time of year (covid exception, of course). That involved a vanload full of teenagers, frequent stops to go to the bathroom and buy snacks.

Truthfully, it’s hard to get tired of Alaska road trips. The scenery is AMAZING. Both the Parks and the Richardson cross the Alaska Range. You can see Mount Denali (McKinley) from the Parks (if it cooperates and emerges from the clouds), but there are several peaks just as beautiful visible along the Richardson, plus there’s this massive lake at the Summit (called Summit Lake) that is the headwaters from the Copper River salmon run.

But …

If I had to choose a road trip to plan, I would return for the Seattle to Great Falls Montana run. I did this drive in November, but it was dark for more than half the trip on the way to Montana and it was snowy and cloudy for the return journey. Plus, it’s a long drive for just one person to drive in a single day. It’s about 10-12 hours and there are elk on the road. Really, the buck was beautiful as he stepped out into the road. Fortunately, I’m used to dodging moose or else his harem would have been buck-less.

So I’d love to do that drive again, maybe spend the night in Idaho or Missoula, and have Brad (or one of my kids) along to share the driving duties. Brad would want to turn things over to me before we got to Lookout Mountain because the highway literally hangs off the side of a mountain and he doesn’t like heights. He feels the same about Hurricane Gulch on the Parks Highway. If we can’t cross at night, he prefers that I drive.

Snacks

We always start out with coffee. Road trips in Alaska are LONG, so you start early and…yawn. Caffeine is a necessity. We bring some fruit because it tends not to make the driver drowsy because road trips are long and…yawn. We also bring along a picnic of sandwiches and potato chips with some Coca Colas in plastic bottles that we took out of the freezer just before we left. Wait about four hours and they’ve mostly thawed, but when you crack the seal, the CO2 is still icy cold sometimes with small fragments of ice. Ah, refreshing. And we also bring along a large container of water. If we’re driving the Parks or I also found that most of the trip to Montana afforded this choice — we stop every four hours to stretch our legs and use the facilities. Usually, you have to buy something to use a store’s bathroom, so it’s whatever looks good in the grocery cases of the convenience store/gas station. Ice cream hits the spot in the Alaska summer. We do get hot weather in the summer.

Music

Alaska is big, so radio doesn’t always follow you everywhere and if you have reception, you listen to the one station that is coming in. It’s the only reason why I’ve listened to Alex Jones ever, for example. Tim Bell too. Often we load some rock music on my phone (better to keep you awake when you’re driving 12 hours through the dark) or occasionally we’ll load some podcasts. I could listen to Jordan Peterson for 5-6 hours without a break, but Brad likes a bit more variety. On that trip to Montana in November, I chased K-Love around the dial because it was the only station coming in for most of the trip and I’d already exhausted my podcasts on the airline portions of my journey.

Plans?

Well, my goal was to see my sister when I visited Great Falls. This time, that would be a sub-plan, but I would want to take my time on the drive and see the Rockies for real (I could sense they were there in the dark and snow last time). I would want to stop at the high point of the Continental Divide. I’d like to have lunch in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. My daughter says it’s gorgeous – again, it was too dark and snowy to tell. We’d probably spend the night in Missoula and then take our time driving the back route to Great Falls — the better to not hit the elk.

I got to eat dinner is Ellenberg Washington on my trip, but I didn’t have any time to drive around. My mom lived there in the 1950s, so it would be cool to look up her old address, just for kicks.

I’d want to take our time driving through Snoqualmie Pass in Washington. It was beautiful, but I was in a rush and going 80 mph negated a lot of lollygagging. (Seriously, with a speed limit of 80 mph, it was hard to even notice the mountains). I’d also love to see Great Falls itself, including the falls that give the town its names. There was a blizzard and covid when I was there, plus it was past the shoulder season, so I mainly saw my hotel room, a couple of restaurants and a lot of roads. I’d plan the road trip portions so that we stopped at different places on the outbound and inbound journeys.

So Many Choices

Truthfully, there are so many road trips I’d like to do. I’d love to have the time and money to drive all the “blue” highways of the Lower 48. Those are the secondary roads — the original major highways before the interstate system was built. Typically, they have better views, pass through fascinating towns, and generally provide a better travel experience than the Interstates that exist to get you from Point A to Point B. Road trips are a great way to hang out with your companions and see parts of the country we modern Americans too often simply fly over.

Posted March 15, 2021 by aurorawatcherak in Uncategorized

Coffee Shop Wit   9 comments

How often do you overhear an awesome one-liner or witty comeback, and tell yourself you need to write that down to use for one of your characters?

Overhearing HD Stock Images | Shutterstock

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Eavesdropping

I love to sit in a coffee shop or, (better yet) a diner or cafe listening to the chatter of my fellow diners. You hear all sorts of witticisms and observations about life eavesdropping. In Alaska, coffee shops have a slightly younger crowd than diner/cafes and so you’ll hear more wisdom in them, generally, because the people chatting have lived longer lives and have more experience.

The title for Book 2 of Transformation Project (Objects in View) comes from a conversation I heard at The Diner (a local eatery that closed last year for the two-month “hunker down” and has yet to reopen. The owners say 50% revenue produces numbers that don’t add up. They need at least 80% revenue to remain in business. Odds are not good for them ever reopening). Anyway, there was a conversation behind me one day when this old man (a retired colonel, I learned later) kept saying to his companions that “You gotta keep the important objects in view.” I jotted down because I liked it. A few years later, I needed a book title and, viola! It became a long-time Delaney family saying that echoes through the series.

I was waiting at a grocery to be the next one to scan my items when a couple behind me were talking with a third individual. The male friend said something to the wife — it was meant to be funny, but my husband might have gotten irritated by it. Instead, the husband said “I’m standing right here.” There was laughter and they moved on, so I guess no hard feelings. I jotted it down and it’s appeared once each in Transformation Project and What If Wasn’t.

Mary McHenry was an older black woman in our home church who was given to all sorts of witticisms. One time we were in a Bible study and we were studying John 15 – “If the world hates you don’t be surprised because it hated Me (Jesus) first and I promised you the world wouldn’t treat you any better than it did Me.” Someone in the group brought up that God never gives you more than you can handle and Mary, who’d had her share of heartache in life, said “God must think very highly of me.”

I’ve used that because it just encapsulates some people’s life difficulties.

In Objects in View, Shane and Jazz share a joke about Children of the Corn, and Shane’s response is a one-liner found on the Facebook page of one of my daughter’s band members. They stopped somewhere in Iowa in a place where they couldn’t see anything but corn fields and his answer was a photo of a character from Children of the Corn bellowing “Outlander!” I loved it, so I sucked it into my book.

Taking Your Time

I highly recommend sitting down with a cup of coffee and listening to people. I’ve spent time hanging out in front of the local high school and in a mall near the high school just to listen to their conversations for What If Wasn’t. A friend of mine has escorted me several times to the gym on the military base to listen to conversations there. Whenever I get a chance to go to a big city and hang out in a real mall, I always hear some phrase I know will be useful for my books or I observe some behavior I know I’ll use. A lot of writing is observation and stealing fragments of other people’s lives. Find your perch today and get started jotting.

Posted March 8, 2021 by aurorawatcherak in Blog Hop

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Changes   7 comments

Is ‘genre-bending’ and ‘genre hybrid’ a reality or a fallacy? Has plot changed since Shakespeare or the Bible?

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Gerald Jonas Quote: “As a genre-bending blend of police procedural and  science fiction, The Silk Code delivers on its promises.” (7 wallpapers) -  Quotefancy

Genre Specific

I enjoy good genre fiction – my favorites being fantasy, science fiction and mysteries — more or less in that order. You know what you’re going to get from books labeled with these genres. Generally, the categories are broad enough that I’m not bored and I won’t be put off by anything jarring from the plot.

On the other hand, sometimes marketing people get caught in grooves that begin to resemble ditches. When every book of a particular genre reads pretty much like every other book of the same genre, I find myself halfway through the latest book having already written a close approximation to the ending and — well, why bother?

Thankfully, now that writers have broken out of the Big Five matrix, some authors are getting frisky and daring. Some of the books I’ve enjoyed the most have been ones that don’t exactly fit in a specific genre, which is what we mean by “genre-bending.

Genre-Bending?

Any book (or it can be a movie) that doesn’t fit neatly into one single genre is a genre-bender. That fantasy with a strong romance thread to it is an example of a genre-bender. Han Kang’s The White Book is a memoir with threads of poetry and storytelling. I say I don’t read romance, but I used to regularly enjoy mysteries that had romantic elements.

Genre-bending books offer unique features outside the literary norm and because they don’t conform, they grab our attention in ways books that stoically stick to one genre sometimes don’t. It’s like going on a vacation to a place you’ve never been before and finding surprises around every corner.

Writing is true creativity because you have incredible freedom. As writers, there’s no reason to be stuck in a rut, thinking we have to follow certain plot points or character arcs.

Don’t Limit Yourself

Sometimes I get ideas for stories that don’t fit into a neat genre. Back in my early days of exploring self-publishing, I encountered advice that said my writing had to fit into various boxes or it wouldn’t be “marketable” That may be true if you’re first trying to market your books to a staid, traditional publisher, but self-publishers like me are marketing out books to readers and I think readers are more adventuresome than trad publishers, so we can throw caution to the wind, take chances with our imagination and perhaps create a truly unique story that bends all the rules and really invigorates modern literature. .Not all readers, but many want to be challenged and surprised by the different ways writers tell stories.

Posted March 2, 2021 by aurorawatcherak in Blog Hop, Uncategorized

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