Tuesday, June 29, 2010

How I Write-- Research

Brainchild of Ansha Kotyk, How I Write is a weekly blog series all about writing and the different styles we all have. Click on the banner to go to the homepage and visit other participants or click below. This week is all about research.

I've always done a lot of research. Mind you, it also depends on what a person writes. For me, I tend to do a lot of science-y stuff. I do like to try and explain why they can sort of do what they can, even if it's paranormalish. I have books for that... books that talk about the science behind comic book heroes, or the television show heroes... books about the way the brain works and technologies that are being developed that will become the future. I use these to develop my story and layer it.

Or try to.

I don't really do a whole lot of research before I write. I used to. When I was first starting, I spent hours filling out books on serial killers or forensic techniques... or viruses. I spent hours on the computer printing out science terms, things I didn't even use. Recently with the start of Muses, I did do a bit of research on Nostradamus and ancient Greek/Rome. For the most part, I don't research first.

While writing is usually when I will; as things crop up. The science shelves in Chapters is my friend.

There are things I don't research however. Things such as real people or places. Everything I write is fictional in that way. It's isolated in the mountains... or the town is something that doesn't really exist. I don't have the patience to look for these small details that readers will be able to pick out. Of course, it's said that you might risk not involving your reader into the story but honestly, I like knowing that it's a made up world. I don't need the streets of downtown Toronto in my story or the inclusion of... whoever. For me, it just doesn't work that way.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Thursday Thirteen

This is from another email I received that I thought was interesting. 13 using for cucumbers.

1. Cucumbers contain most of the vitamins you need every day, just one cucumber contains Vitamin B1, Vitamin B2, Vitamin B3, Vitamin B5, Vitamin B6, Folic Acid, Vitamin C, Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Potassium and Zinc.

2. Feeling tired in the afternoon, put down the caffeinated soda and pick up a cucumber. Cucumbers are a good source of B Vitamins and Carbohydrates that can provide that quick pick-me-up that can last for hours.

3. Tired of your bathroom mirror fogging up after a shower? Try rubbing a cucumber slice along the mirror, it will eliminate the fog and provide a soothing, spa-like fragrance.

4. Are grubs and slugs ruining your planting beds? Place a few slices in a small pie tin and your garden will be free of pests all season long. The chemicals in the cucumber react with the aluminum to give off a scent undetectable to humans but drive garden pests crazy and make them flee the area.

5. Looking for a fast and easy way to remove cellulite before going out or to the pool? Try rubbing a slice or two of cucumbers along your problem area for a few minutes, the phytochemicals in the cucumber cause the collagen in your skin to tighten, firming up the outer layer and reducing the visibility of cellulite. Works great on wrinkles too!!!

6. Want to avoid a hangover or terrible headache? Eat a few cucumber slices before going to bed and wake up refreshed and headache free. Cucumbers contain enough sugar, B vitamins and electrolytes to replenish essential nutrients the body lost, keeping everything in equilibrium, avoiding both a hangover and headache!!

7. Looking to fight off that afternoon or evening snacking binge? Cucumbers have been used for centuries and often used by European trappers, traders and explorers for quick meals to thwart off starvation.

8. Have an important meeting or job interview and you realize that you don't have enough time to polish your shoes? Rub a freshly cut cucumber over the shoe, its chemicals will provide a quick and durable shine that not only looks great but also repels water.

9. Out of WD 40 and need to fix a squeaky hinge? Take a cucumber slice and rub it along the problematic hinge, and voila, the squeak is gone!

10. Stressed out and don't have time for massage, facial or visit to the spa? Cut up an entire cucumber and place it in a boiling pot of water, the chemicals and nutrients from the cucumber will react with the boiling water and be released in the steam, creating a soothing, relaxing aroma that has been shown to reduce stress in new mothers and college students during final exams.

11. Just finished a business lunch and realize you don't have gum or mints? Take a slice of cucumber and press it to the roof of your mouth with your tongue for 30 seconds to eliminate bad breath, the phytochemcials will kill the bacteria in your mouth responsible for causing bad breath.

12. Looking for a 'green' way to clean your faucets, sinks or stainless steel? Take a slice of cucumber and rub it on the surface you want to clean, not only will it remove years of tarnish and bring back the shine, but it won't leave streaks and won't harm you fingers or fingernails while you clean.

13. Using a pen and made a mistake? Take the outside of the cucumber and slowly use it to erase the pen writing, also works great on crayons and markers that the kids have used to decorate the walls!!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

How I Write-- Plot/Character Arc/World Building

Brainchild of Ansha Kotyk, How I Write is a weekly blog series all about writing and the different styles we all have. Click on the banner to go to the homepage and visit other participants or click below. This week is all about Plot/Character Arc/World Building.

Characters have always come fairly easy to me and at least for me, that is what makes world building. You can have as bland of a setting as you want but its the characters that will liven it up and make that story memorable.

For the most part, I'm not a plotter. I do outline briefly but it's never more than a couple of jotted points. I love writing series and the world building that you can create. There's something about being able to stay in a world and unfold its mysteries slowly. I like following characters from book to book and seeing them grow as they interact with the rest of the characters.

I've always wanted to create a World Bible, a folder that contains all the little details-- from the colour of characters' hair and eyes to main plot points and what the town looks like. I've always wanted to make one and I've even downloaded free writing software to do so but, I just haven't been able to get into it. As I write the books in the Fatal series however, I do recognize that I'll need to eventually because there are just so many characters. It doesn't matter if they aren't mains, they still need to be remembered and accurate from book to book.

I don't really have a way about creating my worlds. I am not a fan of writing about towns and cities. You will never catch a real life town in one of my books. Why? Things change too quickly. Details change and there will always be something I do wrong. Yes, it helps readers to get into the story more if they know the town, but for me, I really would prefer to either make up a town or have the setting out in the middle of nowhere.

I guess I don't really know how I create my worlds. It's all a bunch of guess work that comes as I write.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Letters to characters

Ever have the urge to write a letter to a fictional character? Obviously a lot of people do because there is a site dedicated to such letters! I can't recall who it was but someone twittered about the site yesterday. It's actually quite entertaining. While my brownies (recipe from this site!) were cooling down, I decided to read some of the letters. See below for an example of one such letter:

Mother Goose | Mother Goose's Fairy Tales | c. 1660

Dear Man in the Moon,

You never reply to any of my letters. I send you one every night when I go to sleep; my mind writes you a story and sends it up to you in the first-class dream post so you have something nice to read at bedtime. I imagined, until now, that you liked my letters, that you anticipated the stories my nights commanded. So this will be my last.

Do you remember when I dreamed that I joined you on the moon? You were a lot smaller than I had imagined, but compared to me you were still a giant. Your face was white-- white as bone, I had thought--and your body was encrusted with shining stones. They were not diamonds, though you could be forgiven for mistaking them for such things, because, until you looked closely at their surface, you would not notice the reflections of human imagination that generated your very being. Without those stones, those ideas, notions, you would disintegrate, drifting into the night to join the stars as an outcast.

You were nice to me when I joined you on the moon. You didn’t say anything--I’ve never heard your voice--but you smiled a smile that I will never forget. I understand now that I misinterpreted your expression of kindness for the same affection I felt for you.

I end my final letter by saying this. I once saw you leave the moon. I was awake; it was much too soon to sleep, so I know it was not another of my mind’s stories. I watched you, from my window, head south through thick woodland that tugged at you with selfish fingers. The stones began to break off, littering the forest floor as your strength faded. You disappeared into the forest, ravenous, desperately seeking a source of strength.

People said you came to a village--that you were given cold pease porridge, that you burnt your tongue, unaware that the porridge was not cold at all, that it was hot as your sister, the sun, and, so unused were you to the heat, it became the cause of your death. I know that is not true. You died in the forest. Your life was clutched by the branches and their cruel inhabitants. By the owls, the foxes, the woodsmen. All stole a stone. All played a part.

Farewell, Man in the Moon, and good-night.

With love,
Ailsa Sutcliffe

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Thursday Thirteen

13 thought Provoking Statements

I got an email last week with a bunch of these and I've always loved statements that made you think and go hmm... I wanted to share some of my faves from the list.

1. I think part of a best friend's job should be to immediately clear your computer history if you die.

2. Nothing sucks more than that moment during an argument when you realize you're wrong.

3. There is great need for a sarcasm font.

4. Map Quest really needs to start their directions on #5. I'm pretty sure I know how to get out of my neighborhood.

5. Can we all just agree to ignore whatever comes after Blue Ray? I don't want to have to restart my collection...again.

6. Was learning cursive really necessary? (although I see 3/4 of ppl not writing cursive, I do.)

7. You never know when it will strike, but there comes a moment at work when you know that you just aren't going to do anything productive for the rest of the day.

8. I'm always slightly terrified when I exit out of Word and it asks me if I want to save any changes to my ten-page research paper that I swear I did not make any changes to.

9. I hate when I just miss a call by the last ring (Hello? Hello? Damn it!), but when I immediately call back, it rings nine times and goes to voice mail. What did you do after I didn't answer? Drop the phone and run away?

10. I keep some people's phone numbers in my phone just so I know not to answer when they call.

11. How many times is it appropriate to say "What?" before you just nod and smile because you still didn't hear or understand a word they said?

12. Even under ideal conditions people have trouble locating their car keys in a pocket, finding their cell phone, and Pinning the Tail on the Donkey - but I'd bet my ass everyone can find and push the snooze button from 3 feet away, in about 1.7 seconds, eyes closed, first time, every time!

13. I totally take back all those times I didn't want to nap when I was younger.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

How I Write-- Idea Creation

Brainchild of Ansha Kotyk, How I Write is a weekly blog series all about writing and the different styles we all have. Click on the banner to go to the homepage and visit other participants or click below. This week is all about idea creation and how we come up with them.

For me, ideas have always come fairly easily. Anything can really inspire me, from something I've seen on tv (the History channel in particular), a song, heck even the rustle of the trees as I walk by could conjure ideas of what could be in there. I've always had an overactive imagination so it was no real surprise when I was a kid and I drifted off into my own thoughts. I'd sit on the hour- hour and a half- bus ride and just look out the window and daydream of boys and adventures and first kisses.

Grown, I still will drift off into a daydream. It's easy on the bus where you don't need to pay attention or while walking home. Everything has the potential to be a story.

i.e. Fatal series-- two Playstation games. I was hooked when I was in highschool playing Medal of Honor and Final Fantasy. I was in love with Squall so my J.C. was modeled after his looks. Medal of Honor... secret missions, war... guns... enough said.

-a few scenes from 2nd book in the Fatal series were based on songs such as: "For Your Entertainment" by Adam Lambert and "I'd Come for You" by Nickelback. Songs are particularly powerful for me and once a song grabs me, it's a repeat song that I listen to all day, pretty much every day.

Muse series--I got this idea from a show on Nostradamus and 2012.

My pirate story-- Came last year when pirates took a captain hostage. I was watching a news clip on it and couldn't help but think that it made a good story when things were flipped around a bit.

My time travel-- a friend told me about someone she knows who does re-enactments and the idea was borne of a little B&B with secrets.

Ideas are all around. What matters is how a person turns them into something more. I call these ideas and the motivation behind them my muse crack. Everything I do, everything I write is based on this muse crack.

For the most part, when I get an idea, it's not the "plot". I don't think in terms of plottiness. First comes the characters and from there... each step as I write builds the plot. I suppose you could say I have a very primitive, bare outline, but honestly, I can't even call it that. It's a mess. Really.

But the point is to let the ideas come. Let everything in. Even if they are bad. You may not jot them down, they may not be the next best seller but you need those bad ones to get the good ones. And if not, then what's motivating you?

Next week: Character/World Building

Kendal Ashby/Corbitt- http://www.twokendals.blogspot.com/ Rated R
Kristine Asselin – http://krisasselin.blogspot.com/ Rated PG
Tatiana Caldwell – http://tatianacaldwell.com/blog Rated R
Jennifer Carson - http://jennifercarson.wordpress.com/ Rated PG
Isabelle Flynn – http://www.isabelleflynn.com/ Rated PG
Ansha Kotyk – http://www.anshakotyk.com/blog Rated PG
Laura Pauling – http://laurapauling.com/ Rated PG
Gail Roarke – http://gailroarke.blogspot.com Rated NC-17
P.M. Rousseau – http://pmrousseau.com/ Rated R

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Where I've been...

I've been a bad blogger. Real life caught up to me. I moved last week after having spent months searching for a new apartment. One that I really love! It's great. It actually FEELS like my own place. I'm sure you'd understand what I mean. I'm really loving it. Also, in a couple of weeks I'll be bringing home two baby bengal kittens. :)