Archive for the ‘#mondayblogs’ Tag

Real Fictional Locations   14 comments

Do you use real or fictional cities in your writing? How do you incorporate them into the story?

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A Cautionary Tale

There’s something to be said for skipping some world-building, but authors generally need to be more careful when they use real locations in a work of fiction.

There was a book written in the 1970s about Fairbanks during the TransAlaska Pipeline construction boom. It wasn’t a very good book, but I was forced to read it as an assignment in an Alaska Literature summer course I took for extra credit. I wanted to graduate in four years but the University of Alaska tried to foist a 9th semester on me by saying one of my English credits didn’t qualify because…reasons. So I took a correspondence course because I had a life to get to.

This book, which I don’t remember the name of, supposedly described places in my hometown, and it got a LOT wrong. The writer supposedly lived in Fairbanks during the TAPS, but I’d bet he didn’t spend a lot of time here. So I’ve always been leery of using real locations, other than Fairbanks, Seattle (where I’ve spent a lot of time), or Manchester New Hampshire (where I’ve also spent a fair bit of time) as locations in my books because it’s offputting when authors get stuff wrong about your town. One of my favorite mystery novelists Phyllis A Whitney admitted at the start of a book that she’d moved some locations around in a novel for plot flow and that’s great. I’m sure the people of Charleston SC appreciated her honesty, but what if I get something inadvertently wrong and a reader goes to that location trying to find it.

Nope, I prefer not to do that.

Real as a Foundation for Fiction

But I do use real communities as the settings for my books. I just don’t identify them that way. For example, the town of Emmaus in Transformation Project is based on two real towns. One is my mother’s hometown in North Dakota. Some of the people in the town (renamed) and some of the buildings are borrowed from that location, transported by fictional magic to Kansas, where I use the statistical data of a Kansas town in that general location to tell me what highways run by it, whether they have natural gas or a nuclear plant nearby, and what the weather is like at different times of the year. What flight trajectory would you take if you were taking off from this town? What crops grow well there? I drove through that town 30 years ago. It seemed like a nice place, but I don’t think the residents would appreciate if I took liberties with their town in my fictional book. So it’s called Emmaus, Kansas, which is a very fictional town with some basis in reality.

I did the same thing in What If Wasn’t series. I picked a town where I wanted to situate the story. I’ve been there — once–15 years ago or so. I spent an afternoon. That’s not enough to say I really know the town. I use the town as a template for the fictional town in the novel series, but I feel much freer to take liberties because it’s not really that town. It’s Port Mallory, New York, and it only exists in my books.

Someday, I do plan to finish the story I’ve been noodling with that is set more or less in Fairbanks. But I don’t know for sure that I will identify it as such. Yes, I’m intimately familiar with this town, but the fact is I might need to make adjustments for plot flow and I’d rather not make a muddle of my hometown.

Making Lemonade   6 comments

Nov 14, 2022 How do you deal with negative feedback? Do you have tips for critiquing other writers’ work?

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Junkyard Dog Editor

Back when I first presented my work on the now-defunct site Authonomy, I received a review by one of the best writers on the site. That should have been good news, but this guy was meaner than a junkyard dog. I say “guy” uncertainly because he had at least two sock accounts, one in which he played a young British woman. Both of them were mean-spirited beyond measure and most people with any sense avoided them like the plague. Unfortunately, I don’t believe in lying about who you are, so I somehow made an enemy of this jerk.

Go Hiking

Anyway, his review of my book would have made a lesser person cry and probably take their work down and never publish it. But I was a reporter and journalists are used to taking critique of their work. What’s more, it was summer in Alaska. I logged out and went hiking.

I came back in a week all refreshed by sunlight and clean air to see a few people had tried to repair what they perceived might be damage, and I said thank you and moved on. I left that flawed copy of The Willow Branch up on the site and gave serious consideration to Michael’s review. A lot of it was just mean-spirited screed meant to illicit a response he never got from me. I’d seen him do it to others, so I put it in the dust bucket where it belonged.

But behind the nastiness, some of his critiques were legitimate. He was a good writer and he honed on my weaknesses with a laser sight. I wasn’t writing an exciting story. There was no definable bad guy My characters were perhaps too “nice.” I wrote the story for myself, not the readers. I needed to consider what they wanted.

Off-site, I re-edited the book. It caused me to create the Kindred sections. I was honest about what happens in Tallidd’s compound (which alienated a few Christian readers but got more compliments on how I handled it with deftness). I decided to insert Gil (Ryanna’s abusive ex-mate) into the story instead of just having him as a background motivation for what she did. I ended up creating a great character in Prince Maryn and then killing him at the end of the first chapter.

Since I couldn’t get my present-day characters to engage in violence right away (they would later in the book), I drew from history and created the whole historical line that has now become an important feature in the series. Since they were at the beginning of a civil war, those characters were far more willing to draw blood early in the book. This left my primary characters free to rebuild society.

The extra story led to me split an already overly long book into three books, which will eventually be five or six published books. Those original three are here in part because Michael’s critique made me determined to publish the book instead of just noodling with it.

In other words, Michael handed me lemons and I made lemonade. Negative criticism didn’t need to break me. It helped me go in a better direction. When I put the rewritten first three chapters up on the site before its demise, I got a lot of compliments with “wow, this is a big improvement, when does the first book come out.”

A Better Way

I don’t recommend Michael’s method of critique. It’s brutal and unnecessary. I’m sure there were many Authonomy writers who gave up on great projects because of his critique. But sometimes, you do need to give negative criticism of someone else’s work. It should always be done in the spirit of trying to help the writer produce a better product, not destroy their enthusiasm for the project. Always mix what you think is good about the project with helpful suggestions to improve it.

Remember, there’s a human being on the other side of your critique. Treat him or her like you’d want to be treated.

Posted November 14, 2022 by aurorawatcherak in Blog Hop

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What That Makes You   7 comments

What assumptions do people make about you when they hear you are a writer?

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Making Assumptions

I suppose you’ve heard the old saw about what making assumptions says about you?

Enough said on that topic since this is a family-friendly blog.

Assumptions Made About Me

I’ve only really encountered three assumption from people who learn I’m a writer.

The first two are perhaps understandable. What do nonwriters know about the lives of writers?

First, they assume I’m unpublished. Twenty years ago, they would have been correct because back then the big publishing houses could control the gateways to publishing, but that’s changed in recent years. It’s an understandable assumption but an incorrect one. I wrote for my own entertainment for a long time, but now I write for the entertainment of a paying audience.

Then, upon hearing I’ve actually published 15 novels, they leap to another incorrect assumption — that writing is all I do. This is not true. I have a life outside of writing (or my life includes writing) and I also have a money job that pays for things like the mortgage, medical care, and funding my retirement. It takes a lot of effort and no small amount of luck to become a self-published author whose writing pays the bills. I’m not there yet. Because I don’t assume stuff, I am not expecting to quit my job before my retirement plan reaches maturity.

The third one is an assumption that I find annoying. They leap to the assumption that published authors make a lot of money and therefore I’m rich. This is most annoying when it’s my husband’s relatives making these assumptions. My books do make money, but they don’t make me rich. In fact, if you look at the lives of truly professional writers, you quickly learn that most aren’t rich. Even the ones who work for a big publishing house make middle incomes.

And, so this third type of assumers truly earn my first comment. There’s no such thing as a free lunch, folks, and I don’t have a huge bank account. Maybe someday my books will get the readership (and the earnings) I believe they deserve, but for now, they’re a hobby that pays for itself.

Introducing   8 comments

How do you come up with the names for your characters?

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Naming Conventions

I write in several genres, so naming my characters varies depending on what book I’m writing.

In Daermad Cycle, which is a Celtic-inspired fantasy, there are several races of peoples and of course they have different names. It wouldn’t make sense to just select names at random. For the Celtic names, I google Celtic names and then adapt to the novel’s naming conventions. For the Svard names, I google Scandinavian names. Those are pretty easy. However, there are no real-world equivalents for Kindred names because they are the indigenous population of a fictional world. I created a naming convention — paternal last name first, clan name second, first name last — and then I just began goggling names from various cultures around the world. I slowly developed a sense of what I thought the Kindred would consider to be good names and then I set about deciding what my characters, who mostly already existed, should be called.

In Transformation Project and What If Wasn’t, these are stories set in more or less contemporary America. Transformation Project is set in Kansas, but based loosely on the North Dakota town my mother grew up in. The culture of that town is a mixture of German-, Scandinavian-, and Irish-descended people. I mostly troll online telephone directories for American Midwestern towns. I find last names I think work for my fictional community’s ethnic structure and then I separately find first names that I think go well with those last names. I’ve run across some truly interesting names in my telephone book searches, but I (regretfully) choose not to use them as they are because I don’t want anyone with a unique name feeling as if I somehow stalked them.

What If Wasn’t is set in Long Island, New York, and I pretty much did the same thing, although the name Peter is one I’ve always liked and my husband doesn’t, so since it couldn’t be our son’s name, I set it on my main character. I wouldn’t want my child to go through the tough times Peter has been through. The name Ben Anderson actually is a real person’s name, the best friend of a high school friend of mine who gave his friends as much reason to be sad as Peter does. I guess it’s kind of a tribute to a guy I haven’t seen in 30 years.

Some names just come to you. In What If Wasn’t, there’s a character called Grey. He’s the father of Trevor Grey, one of Peter’s friends, and he’s also Alan Wyngate’s best friend (Alan is Peter’s father). He was Grey from about 30 seconds after I started writing the character and I didn’t really give much thought to his real first name. When I wrote the third book in the series, I found I needed him to have a first name for official reasons. Why would a man call himself “Grey Grey?” Well, if he had a dorky first name, that would be a good reason. So, I listed out a bunch of names my generation considered to be dorky back in our day and Melvin stood out. Of course, a lot of those kind of dorky names from back then are being revitalized and coming back into use, but that doesn’t mean Melvin Grey has to like his name. He’s a rich eccentric businessman. If he wants to just have one name, why not? It works for Cher and Bono.

So, I do have a method to naming of characters, but sometimes the method can be a little obscure. Sometimes, I just like a name. For example, Jazz Tully in Transformation Project. I worked with a woman several years ago who went by Jazz. She explained her real name was Jessica, but her toddler brother couldn’t manage Jess. It came out as something like Jazz, so she collected this nickname. I knew Shane’s eventual love interest would be named Jazz before I even sat down to create the character because it’s a name that should be used.

On the other hand, Marnie Callahan Delaney, Cai’s wife, was never supposed to be Marnie. The character had been around in my head for a while. I knew her personality, but not her name. When I wrote the initial scene with her in it, I choose “Marnie” (a friend’s name) as a placeholder, fully intending to try out names for her later. But when I got back on edit, the character had accepted “Marnie” as her name and resisted changing to the name I’d researched and selected.

I’ve said before that my characters can develop opinions of their own and if I try to push too hard, they stop talking to me, so I let her keep Marnie, even though it meant I had to reset Maggie’s name. She’s Marnie’s mother and I knew she would name her two daughters with a first initial that corresponded to hers and her son with a first initial that corresponded with his father’s. Although I never wrote the scene, I created one in my head where Maggie and Jason argued over the name change of their daughter on the day of her birth and in doing so, I convinced the character of Maggie–a very strong-willed woman–to accept her own name change. I also had to reset Marnie’s sister’s name to Marie, but since the character is dead when the series began, that was easy. Dead characters in my novels have no opinions, for which I am grateful.

I wonder how my fellow writers develop names for their characters.

Posted May 16, 2022 by aurorawatcherak in Blog Hop

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It’s a Business   9 comments

May 2, 2022

What did you do with your first book “paycheck?” (Thanks for reminding me of this idea, Richard.)

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Where have I been?

First, I want to apologize for being absent the last few weeks. My husband had trade shows and I was helping. I just couldn’t get my act together for the blog. And our kitchen ceiling sprang a leak last week, so…yeah. Life got in the way.

I Reinvested

I know, so boring, but truthfully, I try to approach this venture as a business. The Willow Branch owed me money that came from my paycheck and it was tempting to go spend it on a nice lunch or celebratory dinner, but that would just mean the book still owed me money, and I had less money to invest in making the book profitable, so I reinvested those first earnings into advertising. Two years passed before The Willow Branch had paid back its initial investment and then I took my husband to a celebratory dinner courtesy of the book paid for from actual profits.

I know, so capitalistic! But with each subsequent book, I’ve gotten better at marketing until now the books generally pay off their initial investment within three-to-six months of publication. It’s still a hobby, but it is a hobby that pays for itself because I treat it like a small business.

Posted May 2, 2022 by aurorawatcherak in Blog Hop

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Adopting My Own Chaucers   5 comments

Do you have a favorite secondary character in your books? Or a favorite sub-plot?

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A Knight’s Tale shows the power of a well-written secondary character to capture the heart of the audience. We all adored Heath Ledger’s servant-turned-night, but it was Paul Bellamy’s character of Chaucer that got all the attention.

In other examples, there’s the fine comic characters Shakespeare sprinkled throughout his plays. Many of us remember their lines more than we remember those of the main character.

Favorite Byways

Secondary characters and subplots can be all sorts of fun because I feel freer to experiment with them, be a little quirky, do the unexpected.

Since I write series, there’s a lot of subplots that are side channels to the main story arc. I’m not sure I can identify something as a subplot. Some of these little detours have become important elements to the main plot that will bear fruit in later books.

Favorite Second Bananas?

This is where I have an easier time answering. Some of my favorite secondary characters might become primary characters in later books, but this is where they stand currently.

Stan Osimowitz, mayor of Mara Wells, is a secondary character I almost always enjoy writing. He’s loosely based on some men I knew growing up. Always ready with a quip, Stan makes wry comments about his world on a daily basis.

For the exact opposite reason, I enjoy writing Alex Lufgren (also from Transformation Project). Alex is earnest and moral and he absolutely loves. Originally, I thought he’d be a main character, but so far he’s been a back-burner slow development and yet, think he’s going to do some big things in future books. Why? Because I know the story he’s telling me. It’s totally consistently Alex, but it’ll surprise some folks.

Over in the What If Wasn’t universe, Trevor Grey remains my favorite side character who has the potential to carry a book all on his own. Trevor is bigger than life — bold, quirky, and a good friend despite the complications that are hinted at from time to time. I especially enjoy that he has no filter because when the obvious needs to be spoken, Trevor can be counted on to blurt it out. He’s got a lot of potential as a character and that’s what I want in side characters — to give me an opportunity to use them for something bigger. As you read, you just know there’s more there than meets the eye, so where is the character going to go next. I’m not telling, of course, but Trevor won’t disappoint, I promise.

In the What If Wasn’t series, my favorite side character became a main character in the third book — Clotilde Matrim Wyngate burst out of her mousy role as the family housekeeper to reveal herself as Alan Wyngate’s young wife. I knew that was coming from the first book, but I didn’t really know who Tilly would be until I started writing her and I couldn’t be more pleased with her transformation. She will also have a future in the rest of the series.

Side Characters and Subplots

I think they provide enormous opportunities to play with a story a bit, to do things you can do with your main characters and create some fun variety from the main plot. Especially with writing series, I need to toss in some variety to freshen the story while continuing toward the final destination.

What We Don’t Know   6 comments

What is the strangest bit of information you’ve run across while doing research for a story? Or maybe the strangest word?

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Research, then Research Some More

Strange facts are bound to show up if you research for an apocalyptic book series. There’s a lot of things I don’t know…or didn’t until I started to write. For example, my town of Emmaus in Transformation Project is set amid Kansas corn fields. I’d driven through Kansas, I’d seen the corn fields and I knew a few things about corn that the average American doesn’t know because my mother grew up on a Midwestern farm, but really, I didn’t know what I needed to know to write from the perspective of an Emmaus farmer. That became obvious when a alpha reader from the Interior Writers’ group said “I don’t think you can eat ethanol corn.” I needed to know that for sure because it was vital information for my town surviving until spring. You CAN eat dent — ethanol corn. Like all corn, it needs nixtamalization with food-grade lime or wood ask to release the nutrients for human consumption and it isn’t tasty eats, but you can eat it.

In a related topic, we all know horses and cows can sleep standing up, but did you know they can only dream when lying down? I’ve never seen a horse have rapid hoof movement like dogs have rapid paw movement, but my uncle who owns horses assures me they do move their legs like their running when they dream.

While researching general aviation aircraft so Shane’s piloting would be true to life, I learned a cloud can weigh more than a million pounds. That seems so odd for something you can fly a plane through, but it also explains why sometimes planes crash when they encounter such a cloud. The next time I flew through a cloud in a GA aircraft, I considered that fact and hoped the pilot knew what he was doing.

While doing research for Daermad Cycle, which is set in a Medieval alternate reality, I learned that forks were once considered sacrilegious because they were seen as “artificial hands.”

Did you know you can nose-print your dog if you want an identifying record? I actually learned that from my brother who used to have some very expensive show dogs. In related trivia, the human tongue — just like a finger — has a unique-to-you print.

Stan Osimowitz, mayor of Mara Wells in Transformation Project, was an interrogator in the military many years ago. I originally planned him as a character who would engage in such things as water-boarding, but then the character developed a personality of his own and I haven’t found a willingness to torture people. However, if he ever needs to, I now know that if your entire fingernail is removed, it would take about six months to grow from its base to tip.

Strangest?

I’m not sure this counts as THE strangest information I’ve learned, but it made Transformation Project possible. In researching nuclear bombs I learned that suitcase nukes are not ICBMs. Make no mistake, ICMBs would contaminate a wide swath of territory radiating out from where they hit. Not only would nobody survive within the blast radius, but radioactive materials would get up into the atmosphere and kill people at least hundreds of miles away. Because of weather patterns, clouds would carry death around the globe.

But suitcase nukes sit near the ground and they don’t have a lot of force behind them. Yes, they would catch the buildings on fire around them and kill everyone for quite a distance, but they don’t blow a hole in the ground and toss a lot of radioactive dirt into the air. The area of radioactivity resulting from them is smaller. They’re also a much lower yield so their area of damage is less. They are still bombs and a horrible instrument of mass destruction, but they’re more easily contained by tons of concrete.

I also learned that the US power grid and most of our electronics are completely vulnerable to an electromagnetic pulse, which can be caused by a nuclear bomb launched into the upper atmosphere. It wouldn’t necessarily increase radiation levels on the ground, but it would shatter our electrical grid, destroy modern cars, and render any computer connected to the grid at the time of the pulse into a paperweight. Oddly, some devices would survive because they were unplugged and turned off during the EMP event.

These bits of scientific knowledge really don’t classify as “weird”, but they are quite different from what we were taught in school. I grew up after my brother’s half of the generation hid under their desks in drills that were meant to keep them alive. My half of the Boomer generation (what is sometimes called the Jones Generation) scoffed at the idea you could survive a nuclear war. We’d seen Planet of the Apes after all and we knew it would be the end of thinking mankind. War Day came out when I was in college, suggesting you could survive a limited nuclear war…maybe. But when I set out to discover the best way to do the apocalypse, I really was convinced surviving nuclear war wasn’t possible. Then I ran across a fascinating war-game scenario in which suitcase nukes could be used to disable up to two dozen key cities in the US. About 50 million people would die instantly, but the rest of the country would not be irradiated. It’s the evidence I needed to write a believable story about people surviving a nuclear terrorism attack on 18 American cities.

Well, what else is a novelist going to do with such information but write an apocalyptic series?

Posted March 14, 2022 by aurorawatcherak in Blog Hop

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I’m Not Mocking You   5 comments

Can you speak in an accent that isn’t your own? Can any of your characters do this? How do you indicate that in your stories?

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No Natural Accent

My daughter can manage several believable accents and so can her father. I am not a natural mina bird like they are. However, I will pick up the accent of someone I’m talking to and I find this is quite common among people born and raised in Alaska.

This may be because Alaskans don’t have an accent of our own. We are a state of migrants. In the Al Pacino movie Insomnia, a character explains:

“The thing about Alaska — you’re either born here or you’re running from somewhere else.”

Insomnia

While we aren’t all criminals on the lam, almost every born Alaska has parents who came from somewhere and sometimes from different somewhere elses. My mom was from the Midwest. Her father was the child of a family of Canadian immigrants (some of them only one generation removed from Europe). Her mother was a American Indian mother whose father was from Ireland. My father was from a Washington state logging town populated almost entirely by Scandinavians and his father was born in Sweden, while his mother was raised in a Swedish-speaking community in the Midwest. Although Dad didn’t sound like Frances McDormand in Fargo (unless he was playing around) or a character out of Vikings, he didn’t sound completely “American” (whatever that means) either. Mom had a decidedly Dakotan accent (think Lawrence Welk, if you’re familiar). I assumed I sound like a mixture between the two, but my husband, who has lived a lot of places before landing in Alaska, says I have “Army-brat accent.” You really can’t pin me down.

And then I go and make it harder by imitating the people I’m talking to. I’m not trying to mock them or fake their accent. I simply pick up some of their ways of speaking. And it’s really a cultural thing because I hear other born-Alaskans doing the same thing. When I talk with my friend Kai who is from Taiwan, I’ll pick up her cadence and I’ll change some of my pronunciations to hers, especially if they’re Chinese words. If I’m speaking with my friend Francesca, I’ll pick up some of the tones of Puerto Rico. If I’m speaking with my Australian-born coworker Jeff, I’ll take on some of his accent. People originally from other countries are impressed when I can say their name on the first try.

My theory? Alaskans don’t have an accent of our own, and the culture around us was always in flux when we were kids. This may be changing now, as I think I catch hints of a developing accent from my kids and their friends, but when I was growing up, born Alaskans were a minority in our own state , so that we adapted to the incoming immigrants rather than the other way around. For example, we call narrow bodies of flowing water “streams” here, but many of the Midwesterners and Southerners who lived here during the Pipeline construction call them “cricks”. No, not creeks. Cricks. If I’m hanging out with an immigrant from those regions, I will often adopt “crick” and “far” for fire, and several other examples that my husband always remarks on. If I’m hanging out with his family, I’ll often start dropping my R’s, though I don’t put Rs where they don’t belong. Although my inlaws would call my friend Johnna “Johnar”, I wouldn’t, because it’s not her name. But North Boston becomes Noht Baston, because that’s how they say it. Most people who are not from Louisville, Kentucky, call it Lu-E-vil. I call it “Lu-ah-vul” because that’s how people from Louisville say it. Same with New Orleans. It’s “Nu-ah-lins” and the “s” is almost silent. My husband’s home state is New Hampshire, which most people pronounce as New Hamp Shire. It’s not. It’s Nu-ham-sha, according to the locals.

If I’m trying to fake an accent that isn’t my own, and have no native speaker to cue from, it’s probably going to be Texan or Oklahoman, and I’m also pretty good at Tidewater because three of my long-time pastors have been from that region between the Pine Barrens of New Jersey and the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Texans and Oklahomans were very prevalent in Alaska when I was in high school, so I had a lot of practice at matching their accents. Also a good friend is from Georgia, so I could perhaps pull off his accent.

Truthfully, it’s getting harder to do that as Americans now listen to newscasters all the time and so our accents are moderating and became less distinctive over time. There was a period of time when many of our newscasters were from Canada, so children ended up speaking a combination of their parents’ accent with a sidecar of Ottawa public schools. Because Appalachians and folks from the Ozarks are often treated with disdain in our society, they will often drop their accent when they leave the holler (how they say “hollow”) and then end up sounding a lot like Brad Pitt when he’s not trying to sound like an English gypsy.

My Characters

Shane Delaney can do accents. That is brought up by Marnie when she’s talking with someone about Halloween. Like my daughter, he’s a musician, so he picks up cadences and pronunciations. So far he hasn’t gotten to use them much, although in my current work-in-progress Worm Moon, he does an impression of the local vet who is from Wisconsin — so sounds a lot like Frances McDormand in Fargo. That movie had zero to do with North Dakota, by the way. It took place in Wisconsin and I’m told by friends who moved from there that it is an accurate depiction of their accent.

Shane is also fluent in Spanish and sounds like a Chicano when he speaks.

Shane’s handler, Grant Rigby, is a master of dozens of faces and the accents that go with them.

Book Vandalism   7 comments

Let’s start a war. Do you dog-ear books or use a bookmark? Do you ever make notes in your books?

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Dad’s Long Arm

My father was a book-phile from as far back as I can remember. My mother loved to read too, but she was less fussy about her books. Dad must have gifted me with a hundred bookmarks when I was a kid. He definitely didn’t like dog-earing or, worse, setting down a book open and breaking the spine — Mom’s favorite way of keeping her place. He also didn’t believe in writing in books. He always said you should leave the book in good condition so the next reader could enjoy it.

The only exception to this was his Bible. Thankfully, he did make that exception because I now know a lot about his faith that he always refused to talk about because I can most decipher his margin-note code.

Me?

I usually use a bookmark (or receipt, or twig, or…), but if nothing is handy, I will dog-ear a book rather than lose my place. I make notes in non-fiction books, but not in my Bible. I keep a separate notebook there. That way if I need to replace my Bible, I don’t lose all my notes.

It doesn’t drive me crazy if other people make notes in a book, although I’m always perplexed by people who do it in a fiction book. I’m sure there’s a reason I can’t figure out.

Posted February 28, 2022 by aurorawatcherak in Blog Hop

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Damages   4 comments

What’s the worst wound (emotional or physical) one of your characters has ever had to deal with? How did you react to writing the scene?

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Hard on my Characters

I write post-apocalyptic and fantasy. It would be silly to assume everybody in a post-apocalyptic world is going to survive and the thing about fantasy is that everyone runs around with these great big swords. Sooner or later, someone is bound to get killed. Might as well just accept reality in such fiction.

Daermad Cycle

I started out killing Prince Maryn about 20 pages into The Willow Branch. His death sets up turmoil of the next century in Celdrya. It’s always in the background. I’ve got a beta reader who says she is always waiting for who dies next. Clearly, I kill my characters if the story demands it. At the end of The Willow Branch, Tamys is at the edge of death. He lives, but is blind. In Mirklin Wood, Danys falls and his survival remains a question even at the end of Fount of Wraiths.

Transformation Project

I kill 30 million Americans by the end of the first book Life As We Knew It. I kill a hundred more, including characters who had spoken, in Objects in View. Jacob died peacefully in his sleep of ordinary old age in Gathering In. In Winter’s Reckoning, Shane falls and dislocates a hip and comes close to dying of hypothermia. Everybody thought Mike died in Gathering In, but he appears at the end of A Death in Jericho, just as Cai takes a bullet across town. You’ll have to read Worm Moon, due out later this year, to find out if Mike is really alive (Shane’s PTSD has included a “ghost” of Mike) or if Cai lives.

What If Wasn’t

This series isn’t a post-apocalyptic or fantasy, but a new adult drama set in Long Island, but somehow I can’t get away from injury or death.

At the end of Red Kryptonite Curve, Peter drove a car into a tree, dislocating his shoulder and smashing Chyenne’s face. The book ends with Peter deeply depressed, admitting he’s an alcoholic, and he wants to save himself.

That desire to stay sober is not as easy to accomplish as it is in a Hallmark movie, so at the end of Dumpster Fire, Peter’s drunken actions result in Alyse’s death and potential injuries to others. Do you think an 18-year-old kid who kills his sister, even accidentally, might suffer some emotional wounds? That’s the subject of Pocketful of Rocks which comes out next month. All I can say is that I bawled when I wrote the book..several times. Often times when I write injury scenes, I try to be very clinical about it so it doesn’t touch me, but with Peter, the scenes center on him and…wow…painful. I thought Shane could be dark, but Peter….

The Worst?

I think, if I had to choose, the character with the worst physical injury of all of them is Geo, Jazz Tully’s brother (Transformation Project), who was shot in the head and is currently serving as a lab rat for his employer. He can’t move, speak or breathe on his own, so I’d say that’s the worst injury…so far. I actually woke up a few times while writing his scenes, momentarily feeling like I couldn’t move, so it is disturbing to write it.

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