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Posts Tagged ‘Writing’

Eating My Words

I love devising recipes from the books I read, so when I write, I pay attention to what my characters would eat.  Food is an intrinsic part of my worldbuilding, and sometimes, it leaks into my everyday world.

Today’s lunch, for example, was a favorite snack of a minor character in a colonial worlds novel I wrote (and that needs rewriting and editing): guacamole and bacon sandwiches, with sprouts tomato, radish, and cucumber slices, and a dash of pepper sauce. The bread always changed, and sometimes, it had no bread at all, being wrapped in romaine leaves or dolloped into tiny sweet peppers. For lunch, though, it was spread on sourdough bread, and the leftover spread became a pretzel dip.

Spock’s green Plomik Soup.

Elven lembas and Farmer Maggot’s mushrooms from Lord of the Rings

The Chronicles of Narnia’s Turkish Delights

Harry Potter’s chocolate frogs

The Song of Ice and Fire series using forgotten medieval dishes like lamprey pie.

The Liaden series, with the nut of their Tree and their hospitality wines.

These stories are deepened by the food and drink references.

Some authors bypass the need for food with dispensers, replicators, and pills (Riverworld dispensers, Star Trek replicators, and far too many pill stories by authors from Bradbury and E. E. “Doc” Smith to Aldiss and Werfel).

Others view food through an ethical lens, creating cultured meats and yeast vats of food (Margaret Atwood’s ChickieNobs, yeast vats in Asimov, Kornbluth, Gibson, and Pohl novels).

Food is a unifying and divisive device in novels, a tool of mockery as well as an indication of otherness.

So my stories, too, contain food references that add key elements and further the plot and maybe will make their way into the kitchens and bellies of any of my readers.

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Camp NaNo

I know.  I’m late to the game.

But at the urging of several friends and in support of the local ML, I decided to allow my word count to bolster their efforts.

I like NaNoWriMo for the support and camaraderie it provides, as well as the motivation to just get the words out. Editing can come later.

Camp NaNo is sort of like NaNoWriMo, only smaller. I’ve been in it for only 2 days though.

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Zoobervations

Baby Sumatran tigers were born at the zoo today!

No word on the hatching of the flamingo eggs.

The baby sea lion will soon be visible in the Aquaticus pools.

I hope to have time to get to the zoo this weekend to see the new additions. The zoo is one of my favorite places to write.  I have a number of places where I can sit in comfort, write, and observe both people and animals. I get a lot of character descriptions, clothing choices, and behaviors under stress. A lot of parents are very stressed at the zoo, yelling at their kids, dragging them along when the kids want to spend more time looking, or forcing them to stay in one place when they are thirsty, hungry, bored, or tired – and outright lying to them. This saddens me a lot, that parents publicly mistreat their children (I do sort of speak up when I am close enough, usually by sharing photos on my camera or telling them about a special trait. I direct my comments to the parents and invite their children in. It’s a brief distraction and sometimes it disarms the building stress and anger).

When I get too angry at the parents, I leave the zoo.

In my BuJo, I track the number of awesome parents and the number of stressed parents – and so far, the stressed parents outnumber the awesome parents 4 to 1. I work hard to find the awesome parents because my stories aren’t tragedies or moral lessons. They also aren’t totally goody-goody but the ratio will be flipped in my stories – the awesome will outnumber the stressed.

I’ve taken to calling the awesome parenting moments and the kind moments “kodak moments”, things I want to remember. Those get written in detail in my writer’s journal. The stressed moments are terser.

At our local zoo, I hang out at the Grandmother’s Pavilion, the flamingos, the Lion Overlook, the Elephant Pavilion, and Otter Pool as well as all the food courts. My other 2 spots are currently under construction and I am eager for them to be completed because they both overlook the lake.

I like the zoo better for writing journal observations because Security or the police don’t come and harass you for loitering.  It’s hard to find good public spots to go for observing people where a single person isn’t viewed with suspicion anymore – even if one is an elderly fat woman. Imagine if I were decades younger, especially a male! It’s only been the past year that hanging out in public spaces has become uncomfortable, too. Before that, people would smile, and sometimes stop to chat when I settled in a mall or a park to observe things and do some writing, or go to a festival and find a place to sit and observe and write. Now, they glower, and often threaten to call 911. A few actually do make the call (especially in parks and at festivals)!

But the zoo is still good. Still a safe place to sit and write and observe.

Yes, the library is also good for research and writing – but not so much for observing.  Ditto coffee shops, at least around here.

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Friends shared a video with me because they said it reminded them of 2 stories I’d written:  Soap Bubbles and Sylvan Acres.

Soap Bubbles is a collection of stories tied by location and characters – It’s set in a themed shopping district where Wiccan, Druid, and assorted other neopagan and ethnically-derived religions own and run the shops. Some of the stories are cozy mysteries, some are conflicts with outsiders, some are rescues, some are quests. One story is a about a training class for the local law enforcement, and some stories involve those officers in the stories, directly or indirectly.

Sylvan Acres is about a gated community of magical people – either because they are werefolk, fae, demi-gods, or are wizards, priests, witches. They are gathered in the gated community because it’s a portal for assimilation into the non-magical world. There’s the law enforcement that straddles the 2 worlds, and the embassy that tries to educate and assist both magical and non-magical communities. The story follows the people who run the embassy, but the LE has a strong presence, and 2 of the officers play a large role.

Of these stories, Sylvan Acres comes closest to the video Wizard Cops.

Of course, Wizard Cops is based on the reality show Cops. The goal isn’t to tell stories so much as it is to titillate, to show vignettes that don’t even always have the same cops from show to show. The continuity is the action, the crimes, not the characters or the plot.

I hope that my stories have the titillating actions as well as strong characters and a plot, or rather, a series of smaller plots that contribute to the larger novel plot.

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Mind, I do belong to a writer’s group, and they are very nice people. Some are published, most aren’t anywhere near ready to publish. That kind of inspired me to get off my lazy tush and start submitting some of my own fiction.

I’ve spent way too many years writing NaNovels and short stories off of pinterest prompts and doing nothing with them. They’ve languished on floppies and flash drives.

So, even though the people in this writing group don’t really understand what I write (they write crime novels and autobiographies and modernized Bible stories), they do their best for me. They’ve helped. I hope I’ve also helped them.

Being part of this group has solidified for me what I really want in a writer’s group, though.

And here it is:

A) gets together to WRITE (write ins, word wars, 1 day writing retreats, observation journaling, word challenges, writing games, first lines, flash fiction…). Part of each meeting is actively writing together, or the actively writing together is done once a month, with the other 3 meetings consisting of critiques, classes, guest speakers, progress reports, marketing tips, and other writer-related activities.

B) has progress reports (charts, accountability, swag*).

C) does reading swaps for critiquing (not only or always group critiques – that takes too long, especially at novel lengths).

D) encourages writing any length, any medium, any genre.

E) holds writing “classes” (character creation, journaling, lexicon work, sentence and paragraph creation, world building, set design, themes, plots…).

F) has local author guest speakers.

G) pairs writing partners for in-depth support and help.

H) meets weekly (monthly is just too slow, especially if you miss a meeting).

I) actively assists with marketing because so many authors are self-publishing now.

J) gives publication parties – for any length and any medium (maybe works with a bookstore on this when it’s novel length, and includes book sales and signing?).

Thus, a meeting would be spent:

1) 15 minutes of timed writing
2) 15 – 30 minutes discussion of critiques given
3) 15 minutes of progress reports
4) 30 minute “class” or guest speaker
5) 15 minutes marketing shares
6) 15 – 30 minutes socializing

Total meeting length – 2 – 2.5 hours.

(My minimum requirements are A), C), D), E), G), H), I), and J).)

*Swag could consist of stickers, badges, pencils, pens, plot ninjas, muse figures, plot bunnies, mini notebooks, flash drives, buttons, clappers, small packets of nuts or dried fruit snacks, small packets of tea (or cocoa, or mini bottles of booze, if the group is old enough…), themed magnets, bumper stickers, key fobs, post its, index cards, lip balm, hand lotion, literary bandages, writing related ink stamps, paper clips, book marks, and so on,most come from trashy treasures stores like Dillon Imports or MG Novelty or Oriental Trading Company. Stickers, buttons, and badges can be made on a printer and use a button making machine.

I like buttons and button making, but that’s probably because I have a button making machine. If I had a color printer, I’d probably be more into sticker making. Badges – well, those could be stickers or buttons or even computer badges to put on one’s website, not necessarily fabric badges to sew on.

Am I asking too much?

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