Wednesday, November 12, 2014

I think I'm back now OR Europe Part 1

Wow, what a RIDE!

First jetlag, then personal health stuff that was less fun than, well, anything else.

Now that I'm back let's get down to some Europe pics. Book related mostly, but maybe I'll be nice and add a few extra...


First, (and this isn't the book related ones...), I had to add this picture. The hubbs bought himself LEDERHOSEN! Yes. The full garb. This is his hat, which he wore EVERYWHERE. It was awesome. I love that man of mine.


Don't know why, just cool.




I keep thinking somehow the druids will make their way into DEAD LIBRARY, but I haven't quite figured that one out. But Stonehenge was every bit as cool as I imagined.


Yes, I totally did that...



This first Europe Edition Book Of Mormon will mean something to other LDS folk. =)



This is a place that's special to me. Groombridge Place is my ancestor's home. And though it's not so much a literary place, I've personally read about it in my own family history books, so I added it. Also, if you've seen the Kiera Knightly version of Pride and Prejudice, this is the house they used. They now do tours there. Unfortunately for us it was closed the only day we could go see it. But we did get some great pictures of the outside. 


The white cliffs of Dover. Wow, how beautiful! Has anyone read a book where they were mentioned? I'm curious. It seems like a place that should be written about. 



Kings Cross Station. Wish we could've gone in, but we were on a mission that day and couldn't spare the time. 

And next just some other random pics from London. I think you'll recognize some of these =)



Buckingham Palace
hahaha


Buckingham Palace
Buckingham Palace
You'd be surprised how hard it is to get a great shot of Buckingham Palace. This wasn't the best view, but you get the idea.
The second one was better, I think.
Westminster

You've got to zoom in on this one. I loved the ads on these buses.






Shakespeare's theater

Shakespeare's Theater



Tower of London exhibit honoring those who fought in WWI I believe.  




Anyway, that's all for now. I may post more. There was at least one other pic that was book worthy that I should put on here. This is a drop in the bucket. I think I took over 3000 pics. But man! If you ever can--I know how hard/expensive it is--go to EUROPE! So much culture there, so much to learn and see and experience. And so much fodder for stories.



Thursday, September 4, 2014

Laziness in writing and vacation time baby!

I'm going to write possibly my last post for the next three weeks or so because not to get all excited, but

I'M GOING TO EUROPE!!!!! 

AHHHHHH!!!!

Don't you just hate people that say things like that? I do too. But...

Yeah, I'm sorry. Feel free to hate me. I was lucky enough to live in Germany for three years as a teen because of my dad's work with the LDS church. It was hard, painful, terrifying (not knowing the language and all and going to local Germany schools) AND the best thing that could have happened to me and I wouldn't change those years for anything.

So, what happens when I get married? (this is about fifteen years ago)...My parents take all my siblings but me back. I tried not to be jealous. It was hard. But hey, I got to babysit the cat for a while there, so that was fun. ALMOST as fun as going to Europe. So, when my dad passed away not quite two years ago my mom decided it would be a nice break to treat herself and my husband and I (also to make up for that trip lo all those years ago) and take us to Europe. We decided to wait until she was up to it, and here we are, ready to leave in just two weeks!

You don't feel bad about me going now, do you?

Okay.

But that's all off topic. If I have to have a theme for this post it would be laziness.
Didn't expect that did you? Oh yeah, it's in the title of the post.

So, what does laziness have to do with writing? Well, I think it may be obvious. Sometimes, (and I hope I haven't written a post like this yet...probably I have, but I'm getting old...36 now, you know. Gettin' gray hairs and everything) when we are learning the rules of writing, what keeps us from following through? Why aren't our stories magically executed in perfection?

Laziness.

At least for me, I think this is it. Practice also helps. Sometimes we can't get it right the first time. But in all honesty, I think it's laziness and we don't even realize it.

Yes, I think I've written a post like this before. =) But this is on my mind all the time. I'm always pushing myself to not give up just because things don't seem to come out the way I want even after wishing on that sparkly star in the sky each night. I'm tellin' ya, it's not usual for those stars to come down and write your book for you. It sucks. What's wrong with them anyway? I mean, I took the time to talk to them and everything and not just stare up at them with manga anime eyes, adoringly.

Give it a try. If you're not executing things the way you've learned, take the time and really work on it until it comes out the way you like. The inspiration will come. I promise. And if it doesn't, I'll help you (not that I know much more than you do probably =).

Anyway, Adios, unless I find the time in all my packing and planning to blog again. And next time I'll be totally awesome and write something unique for a change. Eh?

In the meantime, tell me what you've learned lately. I'd love to hear. Or read, whichever...

Friday, August 29, 2014

Saying Goodbye to a friend

I wasn't sure I wanted to write this post. But I will...

My critique partner and friend, Estee Wood, passed away last week. This was harder one me than I thought it would be. We've only ever met in person once, but right away I felt a close connection to her. She has always been an awesome friend and writing critter with so many strengths I'm sure I don't know all of them.

In her last days she didn't even let me know how much she was suffering with her cancer, but she did one final critique for me anyway. I can't express what that means to me, or how much it hurts. I wish I could have been more help to her. I wish I would've gone to visit her one last time whether I was up to it or not. I wish I could've seen her reach her publishing dream before she went. I wish so many things.

But one thing is for certain. Her family was the most important thing to her. No matter how much we dream and want to accomplish, family is what counts most of all as well as other relationships we build around us.

We don't take our achievements with us when we die, unless they are achievements of goodness, virtue, charity. These she had in spades/

I hope I can be as strong as Estee during my trials. She was a trooper.

Love you, Estee.

Until we meet again.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Navy SEALs

Navy SEALS are heroes! Wow.

http://www.sealswcc.com/slideshow/albums/album-310566/lg/seal-swcc-dot-com-navy-seal-photo-download-000470.jpg

Had my interview with former Navy SEAL man. His experiences were just what I read about, but it was great hearing his point of view of things. Boy, do they go through a lot! For example, the first week (lovingly entitled 'Hell Week') they don't sleep. Ever. On top of which they have to do extreme physical stuff, like carry a 200lbs boat around with them every where they go. Or doing exercises with a giant log. Or running on a soft-sanded beach. And if you fall behind, you become a part of the 'Goon Squad', where they Sugar-cookie you (Roll in the wet sand) and make you do extra work before finishing the run.

Not only will this information now round out my MC, but what I learned can help with 'battle plans' later on. Sort of like the Harry Potter idea where Harry learns things throughout the year and then applies it. I don't think that is ever a cliche.

The only downer? I asked former Navy SEAL dude what he read when he was younger. He was into Non-Fiction books that would help him prepare to be a Navy SEAL. And Stephen King =). But maybe I can grab guy readers who'll appreciate a fictional view of things realistic. It's not as easy getting into a guy's head as a female, like I used to think. Growing up with mainly men all around helped, but I have had to dig deeper. It's an experience I love as a writer, though. It's always a good thing to try to understand others, especially those most different from you. Think of all the wars fought throughout history. They all began because of a difference of opinion.

Just thinking aloud here.

Anyway, there you have it. Carry on, people. Carry on.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Research!

Just a quick stop-in to say 'hi'.

Here's something exciting I learned while doing research for my MC...

Question: Have you ever felt like you could never find the right person to talk to? I mean a professional type to research and glean certain info from? Well, I'm here as proof that it can be done. I'll admit I'm a pretty lazy person sometimes, at least when it comes to talking to people I don't know well or know at all. Shy party of ONE here.

Anyway, I did it! I found an impossible to find person. A NAVY SEAL! Well, former Navy SEAL. (You shouldn't be able to find current ones because their identity needs to be secret for obvious reasons). He lives just a few blocks away! AND he's willing to talk to me! I'm so stoked about this because I've read so much, but you can only get so far that way. Talking to someone who's been there is the best way to get what you need to form a realistic character.

http://www.sealswcc.com/navy-seals-photos.html#.U-j46fldXpV
These guys are my heros!


So, that's my news. Have you needed a professional to talk to for a character profile? Were you able to find one? How did you go about it?

As silly as it sounds, all I had to do was be open with someone I was talking to. Be myself and let them know what I was doing and they helped with the rest. Stupid, I know. Maybe you don't have that problem. Maybe you're super outgoing, but for all those who aren't, keep trying! You can do it!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The Importance of Research


Charles Manson. Sorry about the creepy image. It will prove a point later on, I promise.


I've been learning the lesson of what good research can mean for a story. Not just mediocre okay-I-did-some-scooping-research. But GOOD, in-depth research.

In the beginning years I naively thought that a trip to Wikipedia would be sufficient for all my research needs. Years later as I'm doing final edits on a certain project I decided to dig deeper. Get to the real juicy stuff. And you know what?

I LEARNED SOMETHING.

Yes, I did. Not that Wiki isn't great and all, but I saw several shades of the people I was researching for, other points of view that really rounded them out for me and gave me something more to add to the kaleidoscope that is them.  Added depth. And in the meantime there was this great side effect of me getting smarter, too.

It opened up another idea for me, too. Not just getting the facts straight in my novel, but also realizing all the different ways I can see a character. It affected the way they spoke to each other, how they perceived different situations, how it changed their daily routine/focus or what they did in their down time or when they were stressed. You know, a more psychoanalysis of them.

You might think that one could get carried away with this. Okay, you could. Maybe. But don't despair, my brain did not explode. I got what I needed, and then kept editing. Sometimes I would go on stints. Edit. Research. Edit. Research something new. Edit. Research an even newer topic. In this way I was getting what I needed and not tiring my brain and also not getting out of the habit of editing either.

Here's an example of what I had in the works:

In my story DEAD LIBRARY, my MC, Christian Lewis is a military brat. In the beginning I had him totally obsess about this girl, a girl that he not only likes, but also appears in his dreams in rather realistic ways (don't worry, nothing gross here). Well, my critters thought he sounded like a stalker and needed more than her and the need to fit in to round him out as an individual. So, I gave him a hobby of sorts. A goal besides that of the one that will pop up and become the main story theme. He now wants to be a Navy SEAL when he's old enough. Well, more than a need. He's driven. It's what will get him away from his controlling dad, yet keep his dad happy (since he's also in the military and loves the idea of 'being tough').

So, now that I have this point of view for my character I couldn't really leave things up to my limited knowledge of Navy SEAL life to fill in the blanks. I needed to research. A person like Christian would have really researched Navy SEAL life to know what to expect or if he even wanted to do it. Whether by choice or because his Dad pushed it on him. I needed to know what Christian Lewis knows. What would be expected of him? How should he prepare? What does he know already? Does he have an 'in'?

These things really fleshed out Christian in a way that he'd never been before. He wasn't just a shadow of myself anymore (like most writer's characters are). He's someone separate from me, and yet relatable. And not only that, but I chose a hobby that can help him later on in the story (ie. He will be better prepared to strategize  how to take out his enemy when the time comes).

Another character, is Erick. AKA Christian's new best friend. He's  a genius. I'm not implying that he's just smart, he's actually a child prodigy. And not only that, but he realized this at a young age and doesn't want his parents to know, so he won't become one of those scrutinized wunderkind on television. He wants to blend in--not be noticed--so that he can go on creating inventions he can sell to the highest bidder (a buyer that won't care who he is or how old he is).

Anyway, in the beginning I actually didn't do any research on Erick's character. Because I couldn't find anything that would help at the time. Well, I got smart and realized a better way of looking. Man you wouldn't believe all the YouTube videos out there! Maybe there's still a better way, but that's where I started. This led me to other websites where I found out all about modern day prodigies. This changed a few things about this character, but mostly confirmed things that I already believed. (Hopefully I have him accurate!). Most importantly, I got a look into the lives of someone like Erick. They are normal kids in their way, have the same needs, but they just know a whole bunch of awesome stuff! Again, I really enjoyed this research!

One more character to discuss then I promise I'll stop =). THE VILLAIN!

This is one that I really struggled with for several years. I think I got a good grip on the bad guy character a while back, but I thought, what the heck, let's do some more deepening with the old rapscallion. So, back to YouTube I went. This time to news stories. I love that these stories are so readily available!

So, who do you research for your villain's? Well, I went straight to the worst possible criminals of our modern day. Serial killers. Ted Bundy and Charles Manson to name two. Did you know that Ted Bundy was an average guy from a non-obvious background?? He was almost a direct duplicate of my own husband! (I'm speaking looks description and line of work =). Charles Manson (maybe you know all these stories), was a real gold mine for insight into an evil psyche. There were extensive interviews with him. Man, this guy was obviously possessed, and to this day does not regret a single thing he did. And yet you feel sorry for the guy. (Sort of). Man was his life hard!

This is what I'm talking about, though. MAKE THE VILLAIN RELATABLE. I've said this before, and maybe I've even mentioned the advice I've heard from other authors, that you start with two characters--the good guy and the bad guy--and then switch rolls and see what happens. See if they're really fleshed out and have distinct points of view that make them choose to be the way that they are. They both have to draw you in. You have to like them, even. Evil or not, they're still your babies. Am I right?

But back to Manson. This guy had a plan. He created a whole routine to desensitize his so-called family members. He'd go through rituals with them each and every day. Fulfilling their need of family connection, giving them the attention they needed, the 'love', and in turn building himself up in their estimation. He was the beginning and the end to them. He'd then erase their idea of right and wrong. Delete their brain knowledge (put them on drugs so this was much easier), and then download his own ideas. (This is how Satan works, btw, for all you religists out there).

And once he did that?

He retrained them. Turned them into killing machines. And JUSTIFIED their actions.

Of course there was a reason people! He had a goal. Just like good people, bad people have goals, too. And to them they are GOOD goals.

Yes. Nuts. But, too true.

So, creepy as it was to watch parts of this--very disturbing--it was also educational and great fodder for my own villain.

Now with my research underway and almost complete, I have juicier details to make my world a real world. And ways to really hit home with readers of all varieties.

Now let's hear from you. What has helped you create that super-fantastic-awesome character? Do you have a favorite way to research?

Let me know!

And thanks again for dropping by!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Word Crimes

Two posts in one week?? Is it the Apocalypse? Or doughnut day?

Let's make up for last week, eh? Just something simple, because I can't have brains exploding all over the place. That's only good for Zombies. Maybe snakes. And little brothers.

Weird Al says it best, I think, when he says:

Quit committing those word crimes!

Here you goeth: