As a writer, I use the internet heavily when I’m doing research. there are times I would hate for someone to actually look at my search history, and when I know I’m going to be asking some strange questions I drop into “incognito” browsing.
So, what strange things might a writer look up? For crime fiction you can bet they are looking for forensics, weapons, poisons and anything else murderous you can imagine. For a romance writer it might be hormones, relationships, or personality types. For me? I have looked up all of those things and more.
I write in a variety of genres so my search history is also varied. For a historical fiction I am working on I needed to know what life was like in a mining camp in the early 1900’s. It was rough to say the least. For The Manx my research not only includes everything and anything about the Isle of Man, but the rich folk tales of the island as well along with the royal history of Castle Peel. Murder in Sulpher Gulch is a mystery. I join my crime writing friends in looking up everything about murder and the Mafia.
The strangest bit of research I’ve done has been in the area of crime. It is so far outside my realm in life that I never knew much about it except what could be gleamed from cops shows on the television. (BTW…most are very inaccurate. Don’t go off television shows). One short story I needed to know what kind of poisonous plants grew in the south eastern areas of Tennessee. Once I found a few good ones it then took more research to see if a person could be poisoned with them and how it would be done. Weird stuff.
The one place on my list of to-do’s is to pay a visit to my local police station. I have a few story lines that involve murder. I don’t know the first thing about police procedure so I expect to get to know the local police quite well.
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I love to read just as much as I love to write, and I have a few favorite reading spots. I always get a few pages in just before I go to sleep, but when I settle in for a long reading period I love my recliner. I can prop my reader on a pillow and fall into the story.
When I write, it is always at my desk computer. I like its location with a large window to stare out of when I’m formulating the next scene. But, if I had anywhere in the world to write? That’s an easy one. I would sit against a wall of Peel Castle on the Isle of Man. I don’t know if there would be a good spot to see the water as well as feel the castle wall on my back, but when I get there I’ll let you know.
I am still working through The Manx and had hoped to have it published by now. Yet, it has always been missing something that keeps it under wraps, and I know it is missing a trip to the island itself. As an author I want to know first hand what the air tastes like, how the trees sound in the wind, and feel the stones bite into my feet. These are the things that will breath life into the book.
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As I write this post, I am in Moab, Utah, specifically Arches National Park. I have never been here before so the experience has been nothing less than awe inspiring. I find it incredible the things that Mother Nature can create. Moab itself is surrounded by immense red bluffs that are fantastic, but once into the park my breath is taken away.
Am I surprised by this? Yes and no. I did research the area before we came. I scoured through a vast amount of information, history, and photography. So, I knew this was going to be amazing, yet what I didn’t know was that not a single word or photograph began to express what it is really like here.
So, it took me by surprise when I thought about how this can correlate to reading or writing. The greatest authors do exactly the same thing for their readers as Arches N.P. does for a visitor. One can do as much research as they want into a famous author, but until they read the works and fully absorb the immensity of it, the experience falls short.
Today is the last day of my visit here, and I have one last adventure to undertake. I will rappel down 250 feet into a grotto. My nerves are on edge and I can already feel the adrenalin start to surge, much the same way a great writer can pull the reader into their story.
How about you? What books have you read that have taken your breath away? Where have you gone that was so much more than you expected?
Today’s post was inspired by Arches National Park and IWSG.
The purpose of IWSG is to share and encourage.
June is here and I think it is finally looking like summer in Colorado. We had a cool, wet spring. In late May we even had 8 inches of snow. Quite unusual for this area of the state. With all the weather I spent a good deal of time indoors working on my new book, Sulpher Gulch.
I have written in many styles and am finding the cozy mystery quite fun. I read a series of books by Amanda M. Lee that really tickled my funny bone. Her series, Wicked Witches of the Midwest, are based on three witches who live in Hemlock Cove, a quiet village in the lower part of upper Michigan. For me, it is a laugh out loud series. Janet Evanovich is another author who also gets giggles from me. I loved the Plum Series.
How do I keep those giggles going after the series end (or I just need a break)? Write my own. First off, writing a cozy mystery was a new venture for me. Add the humor side and I found myself in uncharted territory. Yet, I didn’t feel discouraged, lost, or otherwise sinking in a doomed ship. I felt energized (remember the pink bunny?).
I started Sulpher Gulch just a short while ago and am nearly finished. I am excited to see this coming together and am looking forward to the cover design and its release. I haven’t set a date for that yet, but when I do, you will be the first to hear.
Today’s post was inspired by:
The question posed for this month’s post was, “Of all the genres you read and write, which is your favorite to write in and why?”
Every year, on my birthday, I ask for books. My family comes through with gift certificates to my favorite book haunts. Because I consume books like some people drink coffee, the gift certificates are perfect.
Below is my reading list from 2018. I usually post this list in January or February, but, hey, what can I say? Better late than never. I read a ton of Amanda Lee’s books because they just struck my funny bone in just the right place. She cranks out books faster than Janet Evanovich (I’ve read most of her’s too), and has the same sense of humor. I can never pass up on something funny and easy to read.
People ask me, “Did you really read all of them?” YES. If I came across anything too awful to finish it is not listed here. I am pleased to say that I did not have to pass on any books last year.
Note: I have listed these books alphabetically, order by author, so they are not in any particular ranking of best to worst.
Glass and Steel Books 3, 5 & 6
The Ink Master’s Silence
The Convent’s Secret
The Apothecary’s Poison
David R. Bernstein
Fiction Can Be Murder
A Resort to Murder Mystery I & II
Charlie N. Holmberg
A Paper Magician Novel
The Plastic Magician
The Page Turners
A Lila Maclean Academic Mystery Book 1
The Semester of Our Discontent
The Paradise War
Amanda M. Lee
A Moonstone Bay Cozy Mystery Books 1 & 2
Witch Out of Water
An Elemental Witches of Eternal Springs Cozy Mystery Books 1, 2, 3, 4
Bat Out of Spell
Spell on Earth
Hotter Than Spell
Spell or High Water
A Charlie Rhodes Cozy Mystery Book 1
The Bigfoot Blunder
A Wicked Witches of the Midwest Mystery Books 1-11
Any Witch Way You Can A Breath of Witchy Air
Every Witch Way But Wicked
A Witch Before Dying
Witching You Were Here
Murder Most Witchy
The Trouble With Witches
Witching On A Star
Something to Witch About
Charms & Witchdemeanors
Witch Me Luck
Life’s a Witch
The Wrinkle in Time Quintet: Books 1-5
A Wrinkle in Time
A Wind in the Door
A Swiftly Tilting Planet
An Acceptable Time
Questing Witch Series Books 1 & 2
Killing Trail: A Timber Creek K-9 Mystery
The Manipulated Series, Books 1 & 2
The Expatriates, Books 1&2
Song of the Sending
Promise of the Scholar
His Dark Materials, Books 1-3
The Golden Compass
The Amber Spyglass
The Subtle Knife
Susan Kaye Quinn
The Debt Collector
Mortal Engines, Book 1
Lisa Brown Roberts
Spies, Lies, and Allies: A Love Story
Thief in Time, Books 1- 3
A Thief in Time
A Sword in Time
A Flight in Time
The Southern Reach Trilogy Books 1, 2, 3
The Chaos of Stars
Of Bone and Ruin
The A to Z Blogging Challenge for 2019 is now in the history books. I participated right up until I just couldn’t. I had some deadlines that squeezed between having to adult and my job. I had to make a choice and left the challenge at ‘R’.
The Reflection post is a tradition at the A to Z Challenge. It gives everyone a chance to look back at what worked, what didn’t, what we’ve done, what was learned, and where we hope to go from here. There is a list of 10 questions that have been posed by the A to Z organizers. I may not answer all of them, but I hope, by doing this reflection post you will join us next year, or you will do your own challenge at some point.
A to Z asked: What did you love about the challenge?
This is the second year I participated and what I like the most about it is the push to keep up on this blog. I sometimes forget my readers (how rude!) when I’m falling down the writing rabbit hole. By doing this challenge I am reminded to get back to the important people — YOU, my readers.
A to Z: What would you change about it?
I would like to see a Blog Hop link. Was there one? Maybe I missed it. It would be nice to be able to have a link at the end of our posts (Linky Tools) so readers can easily check out the rest of the blogs participating.
A to Z: What was the best moment for you during this year’s challenge?
I hate to say this, but the day I had to call it to a stop. I know that is counterintuitive, but I was relived. I over extended myself and by stepping away I was doing myself (and everyone involved) a service that benefited all of us.
A to Z: What is the best comment your blog got during the challenge, and who left the comment?
I got so many wonderful comments from everyone who read the posts. I hope they all keep coming back to visit and commenting. It is encouraging to have comments and likes because then I know there are readers who enjoy the posts.
I found several new blogs to follow along the way. Check them out :
A to Z: Will you do the challenge again?
There were more questions and much more to say, but I think I will close here by saying WOW!! A huge thank you goes back to everyone who worked hard to make this challenge happen. This is one of the best writing challenges I participate in and I’m looking to continue for sometime to come.
Until then? Happy reading!!
What was some experiences where you learned that language had power?
Language, I have found, has more power than I ever realized. What about you? Think about it. If you were to walk up to a random person on the street and tell them their shoes were ugly, what would happen? My guess is that, if you could be a flea on their sleeve, you would see them go through the rest of their day in the dumps. On the other hand, change a single word – ugly to awesome – you change the tone of their entire day.
Television, books, social media, person to person communication, and even books, are opportunities to use language to influence, support, or demoralize people. In my home, we dropped network television and I immediately noticed a difference in my attitude. If I read a humorous book my outlook brightens.
Much of my childhood was spent learning the negative power of language, and as I grew, and had children of my own, I learned how to turn all that negative to positive. In college I studied photography and we had to give, and take, critique. I saw first hand how a few, carefully stated words, could either save, or kill, the artist within a person.
When I read books, then write a review, I point out the best of it rather than everything the author has done wrong. Mind you, there is room for improvement in most things, but I show a writer how to improve with positive language. Whenever I am given feedback that is supportive, I tend to learn more and have a stronger desire to continue on.
Language is a powerful thing. It really is as simple as having a glass half empty or half full. To borrow on another saying, “You attract more bees with honey.” That honey will always taste sweeter when you carefully choose words that support and encourage. Now that’s power!
Every month, IWSG announces a question that members can answer in our IWSG post. These questions may prompt us to share advice, insight, a personal experience or story. We Include our answers to the question in the IWSG post or let it inspire our post if we are struggling with something to say.
It’s a Blog Hop!! Check out these other amazing blogs…..
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It has been fun. A riot.
I enjoyed getting to know my fellow A to Z Blogging Challengers. Your blogs are great and I look forward to reading them through the rest of the year.
Unfortunately, I have to jump ship on the A to Z Blogging Challenge. I left off at R and with the deadlines I have been facing, well…………. S, T, U,V, W, X, Y, and Z will have to go on without me. Thank you to A to Z Blogging Challenge for hosting. I’ll be back in 2020!
Once we get into May, when the dust has settles, I will introduce everyone to the new blogs I found that I think you might enjoy as well.
Have a great rest of April!!
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What is the big deal about short stories? Why have them? Why do readers prefer the short story over a full blown novel? First, let me say that novel length manuscripts have NOT gone by the wayside. There are still vast numbers of people (myself included) who read the thousands of wonderful books out there. Yet, short stories are on the rise. More and more readers are turning to the short story. What is different today, then let’s say 40 years ago? Are there reasons the short story is more popular to day?
Short Attention Spans & Time
It has been said that our attention spans are shrinking, therefore our desire to sit a read a four hundred page novel has also shrunk. One study suggested that our attention span has dropped to a mere 8 seconds. The statistics were published in Time magazine, the Telegraph, the Guardian, USA Today, the New York Times and the National Post. Since 2015, that theory has been debunked.
Another angle is we just have too many choices (think mega-stores like Costco or Sam’s Club, or coffee shops like Starbucks). When I walk into a coffee shop with a menu the size of the Encyclopedia Britannica I can’t make a clear decision so I order coffee and leave. Quick, easy, and black.
Time, for many people, is a huge culprit. Busy lives can drain away minutes, hours, days, and weeks before we realize that the time has gone by. Careers and family obligations alone can drain the day away. When there is only twenty minutes left for reading, a novel is challenging to get through.
Whatever the reasons, a short story can fill the tiny gaps in our day. They are usually quick reads that are satisfying, and packed with meaning. Short story writers learn early on how to keep a tale riding on a tight rope. They are a trapeze artist walking a narrow path with the reader, their audience, holding their collective breath. When the artist reaches that last sentence the audience erupts with applause.
There is always the quick gratification that is gotten through a short story. A reader can sit and finish a full bodied story in about an hour.
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Marion, Nelson, and Oscar were behind. Finals already started, and they had nearly a month of work to catch up on. Keeping up was a challenge at times, but they were lucky that most of their professors were understanding.
Oscar stared out the dorm window. He watched a few students crossing the quad with coats pulled tight against the blizzard conditions. Campus should have been shut down for classes but this campus never closed.
“It’s a bummer classes weren’t cancelled. It’s a bomb cyclone and a blizzard. They could at least give us a break.” Marion was the youngest in the crew. Her straw hair frizzed out in every direction.
“That would be pretty cool.” Nelson, was a brainiac only because he had a photographic memory. He complained it was a burden, but Marion and Oscar had a hard time feeling sorry for him.
Simultaneously, three watches pinged incessantly and furiously they started thumb punching on their cell phones. “The other side of campus. Let’s rock.” Oscar gave a confirming nod to the other two just before they blinked out.
The three reappeared behind the chemistry building. Crouching low they scanned for any threats. The wind ripped through their clothing and snow pummeled into every crevice.
“See anything?” Oscar shouted over the storm’s pandemonium. If anyone replied, it was ripped away by the storm.
A pop. Then another.
Oscar wheeled back around to see Professor Bane standing over two forms lying in the snow.
“Next time, you might want to materialize somewhere less in the open. Now, get back to the dorms. The weather is quite unpleasant.” Professor Bane turned and blinked out before he took a step away.
Oscar transported warm gear to the so none of them froze to death, but he still didn’t know how to transport anyone other than himself. He spent the next two hours dragging his crew back to the dorm room.
It took another hour for the two to wake up. “What happened?” Marion was the first to wake, but they waited for Nelson. The three settled, wrapped in thermal blankets drinking tea.
“Finals week happened. We just flunked the first part of Professor Bane’s test.” The three groaned in unison. Oscar continued, “I’m not sure how, but we have to get through these finals. My Dad will kill me if I flunk out again.”
Professor Bane went directly to the Director’s office as requested. Director Thorne sat behind an ostentatious mahogany desk looking up when Bane entered.
“How did they do?”
“Fastest reaction time on record, but they materialized in the open. They are going to be good though. I could feel their power surge when the signals came in and when they materialized. You were wise to choose them as recruits.”
Thorne leaned back in his chair, “Yes. I am looking forward to seeing how they progress.” A slow grin grew across his face, “I must say, tonight was a bit on the cruel side, don’t you think?”
Raising his shoulder in a shrug, Bane replied, “Maybe. But the storm will make sure Oscar knows how to transport others by the time they are tested again. Frost bite is a great motivator.”
This is a scene I wrote ages ago when I was thinking of a book about a school for gifted students. The school was going to be a college of sorts, but I never got a clear path as to where the story would go. Then a slew of books came out centered on schools like this and I decided to shelve it. I came across it last week and thought I would share it. I changed it up a little bit to fit my need to get caught up in A to Z. Life likes to rear up and grab me every once in awhile and I have to step away from my desk.
My inspiration for this post was: to catch up on A to Z in one post (sorry for the little bit of cheating) and for the letters……….