Archive for the ‘#writingcommunity’ Tag

Merchandising   16 comments

They’re making an action figure of you. Describe the toy and accessories. (Do you have a catch phrase? Favorite items, clothes, hair style?)

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=”9f6161a80e2445269264929e54996f8e” 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/9f6161a80e2445269264929e54996f8e” 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=”9f6161a80e2445269264929e54996f8e”]https://fresh.inlinkz.com/p/9f6161a80e2445269264929e54996f8e

Politically Incorrect

I’d be so pleased if someone wanted to make an action figure of one of my characters, but I hadn’t really thought about one of myself. I’m a novelist. I do engage in activity, but I’m pretty boring.

But here we go ….

I doubt store would be willing to carry an action figure of me because my life is noncompliant with the established hegemony of the day. But here goes.

Small toy (I’m short) with long, dark, curly hair, usually in a braid down my back or tied in a top knot. Blue eyes. Hiking boots, rip-stop nylon pants, leather gloves.

Accessories?

This is where the stores would have objections. At my most active, I’m hiking an Alaska trail into real wilderness where large carnivores think humans look tasty. There are 100,000 black bears in Alaska and about 30,000 grizzly bears. About a dozen people a year are mauled every year here. So, my number one accessories are a 357-cal revolver and a 12-gauge shotgun. They’re absolutely necessary to stay safe in Alaska, but I can just imagine how hard it would be to convince merchandisers that those items need to be part of my action figure.

Merchandiser: Why not bear spray instead?

Me: Because bear spray doesn’t work. I don’t want a pissed-off bear who sneezed between taking chunks out of my body.

Merchandiser: But parents will object.

Me: Maybe this whole action figure idea isn’t going to work out.

What’s My Catch phrase?

Anyone who knows me knows that I am a libertarian who believes in individual liberty and little archaic concepts like privacy and self-determination. My catch phrase shouldn’t surprise anyone who has followed me for a while.

“Nothing to hide, but a lot I don’t want you to see.”

Testing the Limits   7 comments

What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done in the name of research?

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=”dcd0df93db194da5abca500d6d173ee4″ 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/dcd0df93db194da5abca500d6d173ee4” 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=”dcd0df93db194da5abca500d6d173ee4″]https://fresh.inlinkz.com/p/dcd0df93db194da5abca500d6d173ee4

Crazy? What’s Crazy?

Traveling With The Jones | Holland america cruises, Ketchikan alaska, Alaska  travel
Ziplining

I’ve done a lot of research. I’m not sure any of it was crazy because it all lends to authenticity and that’s always a worthwhile pursuit for an author. I’ve also done a lot of things that other people consider to be crazy just because I live in Alaska where adventure is a cultural value. I don’t consider them crazy because I’m…well…crazy, but viewed from another perspective I’ve done some “crazy” things.

What Crazy Things?

I’ve hiked a glacier. Glaciers are dangerous and you don’t want to do what we did unless you have a friend along who has hiked some much more dangerous glaciers than we did. But even then — we had our dog along and Friday, who wasn’t a very obedient dog (huskies aren’t), refused to go the direction we wanted to go. She wasn’t scared. She was just going in another direction and refusing to change her mind. So our friend used his long pole thing to check the National Park Service-marked path in front of us. There was still an ice bridge over a moulin that was opening up. Had we tried to cross it, we might all have fallen to our deaths. It’s about the only time we praised Friday’s disobedience.

I dove off a cliff in Hawaii. Okay, I jumped. My husband dove. I couldn’t quite convince myself to slam my head into water that was 30 feet away. Yeah, it might have been fine, but breaking my neck didn’t appeal, so I jumped. Oddly, this might have been one of the scarier things I’ve done. I’ve done lots of things that were scary while I was doing them, but jumping off that cliff had anticipatory terror.

To get my driver’s license, my brother made me drive the ice track. It was usually used by “crazy” people to practice high-speed ice racing, but a lot of locals used it to teach their kids (or kid sisters) to handle driving on ice and snow. My experience there may show up in the next Transformation Project novel. There is nothing quite so exciting as losing control of a car on ice when going 50mph.

Hiking in the Alaska wilderness scares some people and I admit, I sometimes spook myself, but it’s a beautiful scary place and I’m glad I do it. I’ve crossed rushing rivers, canoed spring flood, caught wild salmon with a net on the end of a long landing pole from a river that claims a few human lives every year. I’ve climbed frozen waterfalls and read a novel while waiting in a moose stand 20 feet up in a tree to, prepared to kill our winter meat. I’ve hiked miles off the Dalton Highway to shoot a caribou for the same reasons. I’ve been (inadvertently) within an arm’s length of a moose. I’ve climbed rock faces with nothing but a thin rope to keep me from falling to my death. I’ve ziplined. I’ve carried my children in backpacks through the wilderness we love, where we might encounter a moose, bear or a pack of wolves at any time. I’ve flown a light aircraft (no, I’m not a licensed pilot). I’ve piloted an outboard boat along an Alaska river. I’ve fished for halibut in six-foot seas. (Trust me. In a six-pack boat, six foot seas are scary). I’ve crossed a river via a hand-tram (with a Labrador retriever secured between my knees).

Speaking of that Lab, we once shared one-half of the backseat to a Subaru Legacy for about six hours. It was pouring out and we were right beside a highway, so we had to stop because we couldn’t see to drive and we couldn’t tie her to the bumper because she would have been miserable in a downpour and might have been hit by a semi. We were loaded for fishing, so we created enough space for two adult humans and an 80-pound dog to sleep. My husband took the driver’s seat which reclined a little, I took the backseat, put my legs up on our gear on one half of the seat, my back against the door and Cana sat on the floor and rested her head on my stomach. SHE was a great and obedient dog.

Some of the things I’ve done were part of my employment including my journalism career. I’ve fired a 50-cal anti-aircraft gun. LOT’S of FUN!!!! And it impressed a military unit that I wasn’t afraid to do it. I’ve machete’d brush so the State of Alaska could build remote runways. I’ve worked a slime line — gutting fish to make money for college.

Crazy Writer?

I’ve done a lot of odd things for research purposes. My children laugh when we talk about the mock sword fights in our backyard. How can an author write high fantasy with no knowledge of sword fighting. I spent a week hanging out with a friend who owns five horses so that I could learn about horse care. Horses are truly cool animals, but I never want to own one. Way too much work. I picked a friend’s corn so I could learn how it’s done. I’ve climbed on my neighbor’s roof to check out his solar panels. I’ve toured GVEA’s wind turbine project. When I wrote the car chase scene for Life As We Knew It, I took my husband’s Jeep to a race track to assure my writing was accurate.

I hung out with a friend while he refilled bullets. I asked a gun smith if I could hang out in his workshop for a day. I hung out with another friend to watch him use his ham radio. I live next door to a military base and we hear their artillery often. And that’s just touching the surface.

Craziest?

I think the craziest thing I did for research was put a gun’s barrel in my mouth. Trust me, I know what I’m doing with guns, so there was no danger. I’d removed anything that could kill me and secured the firing pin. It was still an absolutely creepy thing to do, but I learned something interesting in doing it. As the first scene in “Transformation Project”, the sense of realism had weight and the taste of gun oil is not something I would have considered if I hadn’t done that.

Hail Research

I applaud writers who focus on research. Nothing drives me up a wall quite so much as when authors write from a character’s perspective, casting the character as knowledgeable about something, and gets facts wrong. A little research prevents that — usually. Sometimes you can’t find correct information on the Internet, but you can write from your own perspective and add authenticity to your writing. Obviously, if you’re writing about something really dangerous, you might just want to interview someone who did it. For example, I wasn’t going to hang myself for research purposes when I wrote Day’s End. But I know some crazy ice and rock climbers, so I interviewed them and I also interviewed a retired special forces soldier to see what he would do in the situation Shane found himself in. Everything in that scene came from research that either I did or someone I interviewed did, right up to Shane dislocated his thumb so he could free his hands.

Shameless Plug

A Death in Jericho will be out April 13. Meanwhile, you can pre-order it at a cost-savings.

#openbook

Posted April 5, 2021 by aurorawatcherak in Blog Hop

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Renaissance Woman   7 comments

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

Sony CD Mavica Digital Still Camera | Lincoln Crum Auctions

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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?

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=”7363af9f1d0f41ffbca9b645e2e915ba” 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/7363af9f1d0f41ffbca9b645e2e915ba” 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=”7363af9f1d0f41ffbca9b645e2e915ba”]https://fresh.inlinkz.com/p/7363af9f1d0f41ffbca9b645e2e915ba

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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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

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=”8fc41c2820e54ca3bf2fe69781350a39″ 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/8fc41c2820e54ca3bf2fe69781350a39” 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=”8fc41c2820e54ca3bf2fe69781350a39″]https://fresh.inlinkz.com/p/8fc41c2820e54ca3bf2fe69781350a39

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?

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=”f75ee74936fd4f9aa183e6189594c764″ 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/f75ee74936fd4f9aa183e6189594c764” 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=”f75ee74936fd4f9aa183e6189594c764″]https://fresh.inlinkz.com/p/f75ee74936fd4f9aa183e6189594c764

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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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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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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Tools of the Trade   4 comments

Jan 18, 2021

What software do you use for your writing? Bookkeeping? Artwork? Calendar?

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=”c479dee328bf48b1860f810b73480cb2″ 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/c479dee328bf48b1860f810b73480cb2” 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=”c479dee328bf48b1860f810b73480cb2″]https://fresh.inlinkz.com/p/c479dee328bf48b1860f810b73480cb2

Writing

I write in Word, but I used to use an open-source word-processing program and will return to that when I no longer get a special discount as part of my day job. Microsoft is very proud of its software, but I don’t agree with monopolies, so I’ll do what I can to encourage its competition. Open Office is accepted by Amazon so it’s a win-win.

Bookkeeping

I currently use Excel. That will go away when that special discount goes away (this is not expected to happen soon, but sometime in the next decade). Open Office has a spreadsheet program, so I’ll probably switch to that.

Artwork

I prefer Paint.net, although sometimes I create drawings in Paint. You really can’t beat Paint.net’s photo editing functions and I mostly use it to create the collages that become my book covers.

Calendar

I frankly still prefer a hard copy calendar I can write on, but since teleworking which has made a transition to working digitally complete, I am now using a digital copy of an open source calendar that I post notes on various dates. I don’t like notifications that pop up all the time and so I flag my future dates on Sticky Notes so I see them whenever I open my laptop’s opening page. As I remove the sticky note, it reveals the photo behind it and I kind of enjoy that process.

Posted January 18, 2021 by aurorawatcherak in Blog Hop

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Not Touching It with a 10-Foot Pole   5 comments

Is there a genre you’d never attempt to write? Why?

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=”ba04be053dbe4fbe8bbd2992969344f3″ 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/ba04be053dbe4fbe8bbd2992969344f3” 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=”ba04be053dbe4fbe8bbd2992969344f3”]https://fresh.inlinkz.com/p/ba04be053dbe4fbe8bbd2992969344f3

Never Say Never

It’s something my daughter learned as a dancer — never say you can’t do something. George Takei shares the story of being asked to do an episode of Star Trek involving a sword. He’d never fenced in his life, but he wasn’t going to turn down the opportunity to act, so he said he could fence and then ran off to a gym to have someone teach him. My daughter has played a wide variety of musical styles because she’s not said “I don’t know how.” My son was asked to step in as a professional bass guitar player this summer. He didn’t play bass, but he’s a guitarist and the keeper of his sister’s bass, so he spent a week learning how to play bass and then played at several outdoor venues this summer. He also didn’t used to be a singer, but decided to teach himself how to carry a tune last year and now he can and does sing. He’s even sung lead for the band and had the (admittedly somewhat drunk) audience clap for his performance.

Tearing a page from the book of my talented children, I am in a constant quest to teach myself how to write genres I’ve not written before. However, is there a genre I would never try to write?

Erotic fiction

I’ve attempted to write romances and I’m getting better at it. I’ve learned to add elements of something else in so it doesn’t feel so bogus. I’m just not a “they lived happily ever after” kind of writer and that’s my major stumbling block to writing the genre.

But I also don’t write sex.

Why?

My Christian faith is the most important thing in my life, although it is not always front and center of my writing. It infuses every part of my character, so it can’t help but shine through, but I am not writing Christian-genre books for a Christian audience. This means I reference sex (and other bodily functions) and the Christians who appear in my novels aren’t always as pure as the fresh driven snow. I’ve taken some heat for this from judgmental reviewers who feel that humanity has no place in “Christian” literature, but again — I’m not writing Christian-genre books. I am a Christian who writes novels and has some Christian characters in otherwise non-sectarian books.

But there are limits and describing sex is a boundary for me. First, I don’t think it’s necessary for me to write it. There are other authors who can fulfill that market. I’m happy to let them do it. I don’t want to write books that I’d be ashamed to have my pastor’s wife read. Jennifer is a realistic Christian who isn’t one of those upset by my portraying Christians as flawed sinners saved by grace, although I have known other pastors’ wives who held a more Pollyanna-ish view of the world. Still, I suspect she wouldn’t be down for a sex scene. I don’t even need to ask, actually. I know she wouldn’t be down for a sex scene. I like it when my Christian friends say they enjoyed my books, but if a sex scene existed in my book, I’d be embarrassed if Jennifer said she was reading it. So, yeah, not writing it.

The other reason is that I don’t cheat on my husband — not in reality and not in fiction. I try not to read books that ask me to imagine having sex with other men. (Brad repays me for this by not indulging in porn). Erotic literature is the female equivalent of men’s pornographic videos and I don’t recommend either party in a marriage cheat mentally. Every marriage I know of that indulged in mental cheating has ended in divorce, often following an incident of actual cheating. The Bible says the body follows the head, so I try to control where my head leads me. Occasionally, I run across a sex scene in a book where I wasn’t expecting it and I read it, but I don’t seek out that sort of literature. (Brad has a similar attitude toward sex scenes in otherwise entertaining movies.)

Rabbit Trail!

Okay, I have to tell this funny story. Many years ago we were watching a mystery set in a monestary in the Middle Ages “In the Name of the Rose.” It was a great movie — a murder mystery. Except, about halfway through, the young monk played by a teenage Christian Slater engaged in full-on sex with a kitchen wench. There was no reason for it. There was no build up to it and no other plot point revolved around it. It wasn’t in the book that the movie was based on. It was just there to garner an R-rating for a movie that didn’t need it.

It took about two seconds for our group of friends (all from our church) to realize what was going on and then our friend Jeff tried to fast-forward through the scene. This was in the VCR days and it just served to highlight the act playing out on the screen.

I believe Brad is disallowed from choosing videos for group consumption among certain segments of our friends because he picked the video that night. He ranks it as one of the most embarrassing times of his Christian life — the time he brought “a porn video” to Christian group night.

Imagination is Key!

Now imagine writing a sex scene and all the time an author spends getting the scene just right. It would be like doing that scene from “In the Name of the Rose” 20-30 times, replaying it in my head, over and over. I don’t write my husband into my books, so ….

Erotic literature is a genre I’m not going to attempt to write and I’m completely okay with that.

What Else?

I also don’t write horror. I admire the few Christian horror writers out there (Ted Dekker, for example), but I don’t read a lot of horror as a genre, so I don’t really want to write it. But I’m not saying I’d never attempt it, because you should never say never so long as it’s not against your moral code.

Posted January 11, 2021 by aurorawatcherak in Blog Hop

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