Archive for July 2021

What Happened to the Air?   11 comments

Write a scene or story that includes a character who has a phobia. What do they fear? How does this phobia affect their life?

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=”559b943cb279451fa8849dfbf412e728″ 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/559b943cb279451fa8849dfbf412e728” 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=”559b943cb279451fa8849dfbf412e728″]https://fresh.inlinkz.com/p/559b943cb279451fa8849dfbf412e728

Writing on the Fly

Claustrophobia: Everything you need to know about the fear of confined  spaces | The Times of India

I grabbed the wrong blog topic this week, so this submitted late. I don’t have access to my books because I’m doing this off-the-cuff. So I’m non-compliant with the blog hop topic to write a scene. But I will discuss phobias in my writing.

Everybody has insecurities and in today’s environment, maybe they should. There are some truly pernicious trends in how we treat one another that make it a dicey proposition to even step outside our doors. And the internet — boy, howdy, do we treat each other in ways that are unacceptable. So, I don’t know if I would call it a phobia, but some of my characters have social anxiety. They fear being judged and bullied by people around them who have been empowered to judge and bully others in the name of several of those trends — social justice, what passes for politeness today, fear of stating an opinion that isn’t the current orthodoxy, or just living an ordinary life and being judged by others who think that life is less-than. In the case of Declan in Words I Wish I’d Said, he’s spent so much of his life trying to please people who would not be pleased that he’s spent nearly a decade mostly isolated from people in general. Coming out of his shell to love Autumn is a huge risk for him given his past.

Currently, in the What If Wasn’t series, Peter’s mainly just faced teenage angst (a consequence of our easily offended society) and a growing drinking problem, but given how Dumpster Fire ends, he’s bound to have scars going forward, but I can’t talk about those right now because the book hasn’t been published.

In my books, there’s really only one character who has a legitimate phobia and that’s Shane Delaney. It’s not really a phobia, as in an irrational fear. Claustrophobia has its roots in physiology rather than psychology. Shane is one of a minority of people who is sensitive to carbon dioxide and as a little kid, forced to hang out in a storm shelter with his Kansas family, he had a bad reaction. He’s never forgotten that, so whenever he is in a situation where the carbon dioxide level is higher than normal, he comes close to panicking. He can control it, as he did in Objects in View, where he actually lit a match to assure himself the oxygen levels were within normal range, so he could at least tell himself to calm down. Meanwhile, across town, a storm shelter’s air handling system failed and killed a hundred people. Shane’s reaction is a phobia at the levels he experiences it, but there’s a rational basis for the fear. Carbon dioxide suffocation is a real thing.

In Gathering In, I describe the symptoms as Shane follows his father through an old bootlegger’s tunnel and at the far end, he is so overwrought Rob has to tackle him and hold him to the ground. The symptoms are what I experience as someone who is sensitive to carbon dioxide – tight chest, face feels covered in dirt, sweating, numb hands, walls closing in. It makes it hard to think and above all, Shane wants it to be over as quickly as possible. Being the bold guy he is, he normally just runs through that which scares him, but he still feels the effects. You can absolutely know all the scientific reasons for why your body is reacting the way that it is, but your body and your mind interact and in the case of a physiologically-based “phobia”, your body demands to be in charge. Because it is rooted in physiology, Shane’s never going to get over being claustrophobic, but he will continue to do what he has to do even when he hates doing it and, like me, he may eventually learn to live with it.

Counting My Chickens Before They’re Eggs   Leave a comment

Let’s talk about book descriptions. Do you write yours before or after you write the story?

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=”37aed1931a2e4706a3a3a04550684a4f” 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/37aed1931a2e4706a3a3a04550684a4f” 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=”37aed1931a2e4706a3a3a04550684a4f”]https://fresh.inlinkz.com/p/37aed1931a2e4706a3a3a04550684a4f

When Do I Write My Book Descriptions? Before or After?

How about during?

As with a lot of book-writing, I don’t really follow industry dogmas. I know “plotter” authors who write a detailed outline before they write the first page of their books and often that includes writing the book description. I know “pantser” writers who write the book description right before they publish the book. Both have passionate arguments for their method. I’ve listened to both sides, I see value in each, and I don’t subscribe to either.

I think I subscribe to my mother’s Midwestern wisdom that said “Don’t count your chickens before they’re eggs.” (Yes, a little twist on the usual saying. She had a lot of those).

During

I definitely never write a book description until I’m well into the first rough draft. Even when working through a series in which I have a basic idea of the high points of the plot, I can’t tell you what will be special in any given book until I’ve written most of it. I need the eggs before I can count them.

But that’s not completely true either. During the draft, sometimes I will write something and I know it will be pivotal. I have a slush file where I write the book description and at that stage I write notes about what might be in the book description. By the time I’ve finished the second draft, there could be several hundred words in the file. Not all of them will survive writing the book description, but that’s where I store my basic ingredients. I take a pinch here, a bit there, and viola, the book description emerges. Sometimes the book description is finished early in the editing process and sometimes it’s written as I’m finishing the formatting. And that sort of flexibility works for me.

What Works for Me and You

What works for me may not work for anyone else and what works for all those writing gurus may not work for us. While it is advisable to keep your methods flexible and hopefully learn new and better ways of doing things, we should all use the writing processes that work for us individually. If you’re a super-organized person who knows exactly how your book will turn out before you’ve ever started the first scene — lovely. But discovery writers like me aren’t going to get much done if we must complete the outline and have the book description written before we start, so we’re going to do it our own way and we’ll both have a book description before we publish. Anytime before that SUBMIT button is pushed is a great time to write a book description.

And now I really have to go fix the back cover of Gathering In because I see it’s not quite right. Oh, my!

Open Book Blog Hop – Sunrise to Sunset   Leave a comment

https://authorstevensmith.co.uk/2021/07/19/open-book-blog-hop-sunrise-to-sunset/comment-page-1/#comment-207

Posted July 19, 2021 by aurorawatcherak in Uncategorized

NVDT #95 – No Prompt Day – Instead – A Lesson from History   Leave a comment

Not Very Deep Thoughts

NOT Part of Open Link Blog Hop (EDIT – surprise surpise – the link reappeared)

The Prompt: I think it was something about when is your best time to write or when do you manage TCB, but the invite vanished. So…

I like to read authors before they were classics, icons, Nobel winners. Because I learn a lot and it gives me hope. Not of writing anything Nobel worthy, but telling a decent story with some skill.

In another blog I mentioned Faulkner’s Mosquitos. Written in 1927 it highlights the same issues of publication writers face today. Popularity of sports stars and celebutantes, high profile society murders, nepotism. Along with, as today, not everyone was literate, or had the price of a magazine, much less a book. But there were a gazillion more outlets for the written word because there was very little competition for entertainment. Movies were…

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Posted July 19, 2021 by aurorawatcherak in Uncategorized

Creativity By The Sundial #OpenBook Blog Hop   Leave a comment

July 19, 2021 Is there a certain time of day when you are most creative? When you handle the ‘business’ side of writing? What’s your favorite time of day? My bedroom faces south. …

Source: Creativity By The Sundial #OpenBook Blog Hop

Posted July 19, 2021 by aurorawatcherak in Uncategorized

The best time of the day.   Leave a comment

https://richarddeescifi.co.uk/best-time-of-the-day/

Posted July 19, 2021 by aurorawatcherak in Uncategorized

Sublime Sunlight   17 comments

1,614 Sunlight Breaking Through Stock Photos and Images - 123RF

Is there a certain time of day when you are most creative? When you handle the ‘business’ side of writing? What’s your favorite time of day?

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=”9ca8ac45fdd94dc78bc4eb2cddcaa504″ 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/9ca8ac45fdd94dc78bc4eb2cddcaa504” 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=”9ca8ac45fdd94dc78bc4eb2cddcaa504”]https://fresh.inlinkz.com/p/9ca8ac45fdd94dc78bc4eb2cddcaa504

When I Am Most Creative?

I’m definitely a night owl, and I have a fulltime job that occurs during the day. In some ways that’s great for me because I can work to make money when I would normally be sleeping and then when I get home from my money job, I can be most creative during the time when I’m most awake. It works for me. I do sometimes find the need to sleep confining, but I also only need about 6-1/2 hours of sleep, so that leaves a fair number of hours in which to be creative. When I retire or the book business starts supporting itself, I look forward to sleeping to noon and then working to 2:00 am writing books.

Business Time?

Of course, being an indie author means I’m also a small-business entrepreneur. While it would be lovely to just write and publish books, I know nobody would read them if they didn’t know they exist, so there’s marketing of all sorts that needs to be done. There’s posting on Facebook, Twitter, MeWe, and Parler, as well as Goodreads and there’s ads on Amazon. That all takes time and money, and I’ve discovered I can’t just let Amazon ads ride automatically because the cost will run away with me while other times the ads are priced so low they get no clicks. There’s a balance to be achieved where I spend no more than half of what my books earn, but I aim to spend less than 10% of what my books earn. Some months I manage that and sometimes I don’t.

Finding time to do book business is a challenge that I constantly fight with because it takes away from writing time. I’ve tried various times of day, but I most often use part of my lunch hour for marketing. I log in, get the job done and get out because I’m already in business mode and I also have a one-hour deadline, trimmed to 45 minutes because of the need to eat and use the facilities. That leaves my evenings free — mostly — for creative endeavors.

Favorite Time of Day?

My favorite time of day has nothing to do with creative writing and it is also seasonally influenced because I live in Alaska, which has such extremes of sunlight, so my favorite time of day varies with the seasons. In the summer, when we have about 19 hours of sunlight every day, my favorite time of my day is about 9:00 pm on any sunny evening when the sun comes around to the north side of our house. It’s still pretty high in the sky, so It turns the birch trees a green gold and scatters golden beams across our vegetable garden. It also lights up the headboard of our bed and, if I have my way, I’m sitting right there sucking up the rays. Seriously, the photo at the top of this article tries to capture the sublime moment of our summer evenings, but it doesn’t. I’m not sure a camera really can.

But in the winter, we get as little as 2 1/2 hours of sunlight a day (with about two hours on either side of civil twilight and I love to sit in my living room, which is on the south side of my house, and watch the low sunlight of a January midday filter through the steam from my coffee or tea as it wavers up into the dry indoor air of my winter home. Sorry I don’t have a photo, but this snap of what I can see outside a friend’s window at the same time of day will have to suffice.

Exploring Fairbanks, the Golden Heart City - Anchorage Daily News
Alaska Range

That’s the Alaska Range — Mts. Deborah and Hayes (Mt. Denali is just off the right side of the shot because you can’t see it from Dan’s house because there’s an upland in the way. That mist in the winter air is called ice fog and it occurs naturally at about -20 below zero near rivers and lakes. It’s actually ice crystals that collect near ground level. Those trees in the foreground are black spruce and the flat area beyond is the frozen but still moisture-producing Tanana River.

Posted July 19, 2021 by aurorawatcherak in Blog Hop

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New Book on Kindle Vella   3 comments

Serialized Fiction — another way to enjoy good novels.

Words I Wish I’d Said by Lela Markham

Posted July 15, 2021 by aurorawatcherak in Uncategorized

Looking for Voices   15 comments

Are audiobooks the future of book sales? Do you have your stories on audio?

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=”de01953722184f988c5ec1ea08917ee4″ 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/de01953722184f988c5ec1ea08917ee4” 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=”de01953722184f988c5ec1ea08917ee4”]https://fresh.inlinkz.com/p/de01953722184f988c5ec1ea08917ee4

Predictions

Someone hailed me a prophetess in a book review recently because I had riots and a deadly flu years before they showed up in reality, but I think I just got lucky and have no special ability to see the future. So, I hesitate to say something WILL happen. I can look at trends and make surmises, but predictions need a bit more accuracy than that.

Audiobooks are certainly a growing proportion of the book sales market and I feel safe in saying they aren’t going the way of the dodo anytime soon. I wouldn’t go so far as to say they’re “the future of book sales”. There are a lot of visually-oriented people who will still prefer to read books rather than listen to them. Personally, my mind wanders when listening to an audiobook while print books can hold my attention for hours. Remember when the forecasters insisted physical books were an endangered species? Well, they’re still more popular than ebooks, so….. Audiobooks are certainly growing in popularity and I think they’ll be part of the future market mix, but I don’t think they’ll replace or even overwhelm print sales. Variety is the spice of life and literary enjoyment.

My Books?

My books are not on audio for a couple of reasons.

The first is that I don’t like my voice. I don’t like to see myself on camera and I don’t like to hear myself on recording. I hear all my flaws and I don’t like it.

So I’m looking for audio talent, but I can’t afford to pay anyone (it makes no sense to spend money you will never recoup) and nobody ever responds to the royalty-share offers. My husband says he’ll do it (and he has a lovely voice), but it’s not as simple as he is willing. Audiobook production requires a quiet space, no background noise, no hard drive whir, etc., and he’s come to the conclusion that he might need to build a sound room to get the production values Audible requires in a house that requires a heating unit to come on about every half hour in the winter and the windows to be open in the summer.

But once I overcome those challenges, I definitely plan to produce audiobooks. I’ve had requests, but…yeah, it’s not as simple as “Good idea, let’s do it.”

Hiding in Plain Sight   4 comments

If your character wanted to wear a disguise, how would they dress?

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=”e09f2785f6e1449286ac4cf178b0bd0b” 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/e09f2785f6e1449286ac4cf178b0bd0b” 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=”e09f2785f6e1449286ac4cf178b0bd0b”]https://fresh.inlinkz.com/p/e09f2785f6e1449286ac4cf178b0bd0b

How the CIA Trains Spies to Hide in Plain Sight | WIRED

Which Character?

It would be very different depending on my characters, right? Shane (in Transformation Project) would choose differently than his brother Cai or his friend Jazz. Padraig (in Daermad Cycle) would choose differently than Tamys and Gregyn lives his entire life as a ruse. Peter (in What If Wasn’t) would probably love to be someone else right about now, but who would he choose to be?

So Many Choices

Shane Delaney aka Eric Faraday

Shane and Javier from Transformation Project each spent about a half-decade pretending to be someone they’re not. They were government contractors. Shane infiltrated a militia and then later was a double agent in B&W’s Knight Industries. He didn’t really need to alter his appearance, though he did alter his identity. Now that he’s done with that, he occasionally eludes to going “off the map” during his mercenary career.

“I drove a truck into Shalimar Province wearing a kaffiyeh and dark contacts.”

The Delaney’s Indian ancestry runs strongly in Shane. His hair is dark and curly (like the Metis of my tribe’s history). He tans a deep brown. His eyes are dark green, but colored contacts takes care of that. He’s not as dark as some Middle Easterners, but he fit in well enough so long as he kept his mouth shut because though he learned to speak some of the local language, he was by no means fluent.

Having done it before, I would think that would be his disguise of choice now.

When he and Mike Sanchez were in Santa Fe, Shane hid behind dark glasses, his tan and speaking Chicano Spanish. In the Transformation Project universe, Santa Fe has become a separate country where speaking Spanish is the best way to stay alive.

Javier Chavez aka Bobby Noreen aka Martin Pulgarin

Javier Chavez infiltrated the Naharis Network, an affiliation of Islamist terrorists that seem to have been involved in the massive nuclear attacks that started the series. Javier was born in Columbia, but raised in foster care in the United States. As Bobby Noreen, he claimed to be a part-black, part-Hispanic felon who converted to Islam while in prison. He grew his dark hair long and curly and learned Ebonics and Arabic.

When he fled his government agency duties, he shaved his head to make it harder to identify him. The character of Martin was a sheet rocker from White Plains, New York. Javier has let his chrome dome grow out a little since coming to Emmaus, but he still isn’t sure which is the real him.

Grant Rigby

The King of Disguises among my characters is Grant Rigby, long-time employee of the Central Security Agency. Shane never expected to see him in the same guise twice. As Shane’s handler, Grant didn’t want anyone to trace the guy talking to Shane in the coffee shop back to his family and so he excelled at hiding behind disguises. He visits Shane in his house once and looks like a redneck mechanic — plaid flannel shirt, gimme hat, grease on his hands. When he meets Shane in a coffee shop, he’s dressed like a businessman. Shane remembers meeting him once in Miristan and Grant looked so much like a local (in thawb and ghutra), Shane almost shot him. In his real life, Grant is ordinary – light-brown hair, blue eyes, medium-height, medium-weight — exactly the kind of guy nobody notices because he looks like everyone else, a perfect canvas to be someone else, anyone else.

Hiding in Plain Sight

With the exception of Grant, none of my characters is a thespian. They don’t know how to create fake noses or the other makeup techniques to change their appearance, but they have successfully pretended to be other people in the pursuit of information.

I don’t know how Grant would dress. I think he doesn’t know until he is faced with the need to infiltrate somewhere. Shane prefers not to change his appearance too much because he isn’t uncomfortable in his own skin as a rule. He struggles with his past actions, not with how he looks. He can fake being Middle Eastern or Hispanic and since he is white, he can choose a Caucasian role. That covers a lot of the world. Javi, however, grew up in a situation where being himself wasn’t always a good thing and so I think he’d enjoy being someone else entirely. His choices are limited because he’s so dark, but then again – Jessica Alba managed to believably play a blonde in the Fantastic Four. But what would Javi choose? He hasn’t told me. If he ever needs to disguise himself again, I’m sure he’ll let me know how to dress him.

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