Austerity – definition: the quality or state of being stern or strict
Today is my 500th post…whoop!
When I committed to posting once a day for 2013, I had no real idea if I would be able to maintain it. Close friends thought I was either barking mad or extremely brave to even attempt it. I have been strict with myself about posting daily but have also found that by drafting posts ahead of time has helped enormously. This ‘trick’, which I’m sure lots of you know already was particularly useful when there were days I have not wanted to post, especially when I vacationed in England with my family after five years away. We fell into our relationships so easily and I did not want to miss moments with them all. So all I had to do was click and submit. The hardest time was when sadly, my Mother passed away in September and I had to travel to England from Canada to be with my siblings. She had been fascinated but puzzled with this ‘blog’ thing but did see how important it was to me and reminded me to pop up to my brother’s place to click and submit every evening. There was one evening when my brother was not at home so my Mother took me to one of her friends houses especially, so I did not ‘fail’. Her encouragement for me to try new things throughout my life has been an inspiration, one I have passed on to my children. Her legacy lives on.
This year has given me an increased word knowledge from the desk diary I use as inspiration each day as well as wonderful connections with authors around the world. As the last month arrives on this personal challenge I feel a sense of community and fellowship and thank you all for visiting and commenting. I have no idea what my 2014 schedule will be so any suggestions are welcome although once a day is probably not on the cards!
I am sure all creative people have experienced today’s desk diary word – Vacuous – definition: empty of or lacking ideas or intelligence. I must clarify not the lack of intelligence bit but certainly the ideas bit…
It always interests me how other writers are inspired or have strange habits which assist them – there are commonalities of course – dreams, overheard conversations, a photograph or a life experience. Other slightly stranger inspirations are:
The ancient Greek writer shaved half his head. Ensuring that by looking so idiotic, he would stay home and work, instead of facing ridicule in public.
Shelley’s pet 23-foot-long boa constrictor was housed in her writing studio. With the snake wrapped around her shoulders she would write until the snake became restless and began to squeeze, then she stopped writing for the day.
I cannot lay claim to anything this weird, mores the pity. Maybe I can cultivate something? Are you willing to share your ‘strange’ habit?
My desk diary’s word for today is Warble – definition: to express or sing with trills. It got me thinking on how, as writers, we celebrate our accomplishments. I’m not just talking about getting a novel published here but the smaller victories such as defining a character, a story arc works out perfectly, our writing group congratulate us on a fine piece of writing…the list goes on – I think you get the picture.
Obviously getting a novel, novella, poem or short story published is marvellous and probably has us dancing and warbling around the house. However, to get to that particular point we have experienced (or are experiencing) numerous small victories. From the seed of an idea to the many hours of writing into the small wee hours, we overcome literary obstacles. The words can flow so fast we have trouble getting them on paper, a secondary character unexpectedly pushes to the forefront, the story takes a completely different direction…all of these are common occurrences. It is our ability to ‘surrender’ our process to these diversions that ultimately leads to celebration.
Nervously reading your first piece in front of a writing group or a friend being astonished that you can write are worth celebrating. Conquering writers block or concluding a story need celebration. How do you celebrate your ‘little’ victories? A glass of wine, a happy dance or a shout out on social media?
Our writing journeys are full of these delightful accomplishments – make sure you acknowledge them, they are your success however ‘small’.
A self professed ‘car’ guy, Tom has written a remarkable story of a B-17 bomber crew. We have all seen the old movies and admired the proud stance of the men and women who served our country in WW2. I have used Gait to link Tom to my desk diary word. Definition – a distinctive manner of walking; a particular style of such movement, which reflects the drill march.
a)Of the characters you have created or envisioned, which is your favorite & why?
My first book is based on my late father’s memoirs as a B-17 crew member and POW in Germany, so all of those characters were already there, and I just had to tell their story. Each and every one of them are true American heroes and will always have a special place in my heart.
In my second book, the main character is a rescued shelter dog (Shepherd mix) that observes the oddities of human behavior and does his best to explain it to the reader while looking out for his humans. He is a character that I’ve created, and I have to say, it’s really hard not to like him!
b)Do you favor one type of genre or do you dabble in more than one?
I’m all over the board genre wise. My first book was a novelized WW2 story based on facts. My second is a young adult fiction which anyone should enjoy. I have two others outlined, one is a fiction story about a rogue spy/operative, and the other is another novelized WW2 true story of another soldier who read Fortresses, and asked that I write his story too.
c)What do you enjoy most about writing?
Seeing the story come to life. Seeing and hearing people enjoy my work is pretty special too.
d)Have you got a favorite place to write?
I usually get the most (and best) writing done sitting in my recliner in the wee hours of the morning.
e)Do you plan your stories, or are you a seat of the pants style writer?
I’m kind of both. I try to do a brief outline of what each chapter will contain and work off of that, but if I come up with a good idea I’ll shoot from the hip, and see what comes out of it. It’s usually some pretty good stuff!
f)What inspires your stories?
Mostly personal experience, and the most colorful people I’ve met.
g)What are you currently reading?
Besides writing, I also work a regular job with long hours. Between marketing my finished book and working on number two, (plus three and four) I really haven’t had the time to read. I usually make time to read A Salty Piece of Land by Jimmy Buffet every winter, just to be somewhere warm, if only in my mind.
h)Do you have any odd habits or childhood stories?
No odd habits I can think of…wait…define odd? I have far too many childhood stories to tell here, but I often work them into my writing.
i)Do you have any pets?
A very intelligent and amazingly comical female German Shepherd named Maddy. She is actually the inspiration for book number two.
Yes, I do. I belong to the Huron Area Writers Group, or HAWG as we call it. It is a mix of established writers, editors, a retired English teacher, some aspiring writers, a photographer, and a very talented developer/editor/cover design person that has helped several of us self publish our work. I highly suggest any writer, aspiring or otherwise, join a writers group. They are a wealth of knowledge, inspiration, and encouragement. Without mine, my book would likely still be a few dusty chapters under the bed.
k)What age did you start writing stories/poems?
I discovered a love for writing quite by accident. I’m a “car guy” and went to college to pursue a business degree and open my own shop. When I heard I’d have to take Writing Composition courses, my first thought was of the Catholic School nuns with steel edge rulers waiting to give me a shot in the knuckles for violating the I before E, except after C rule from my school days. I literally asked if they could poke me in the eye with a sharp stick instead. It turned out I liked the writing classes, and was told “I was good at it, just don’t try to make any money at it.”
l)Do you have a book published? If so what is it called & where can readers purchase it?
Yes, I do. It is titled Fortresses, An Airman’s Story of Survival, and it is available in print and ebook at Amazon, or directly from my website.
m)If you could meet one favorite author who would it be and why?
Jimmy Buffet. I would love to learn more about how he develops the wonderful characters in his books.
n)If you could live anywhere in the world – where would it be?
It would have to be near water. I’m just not comfortable otherwise.
My best supporter and looker-upper of mundane facts (that I have little time for) is my sister Kathy. My mentor/encourager is Kathy Henderson-Sturtz (www.56vibes.com) who came up with the idea to write Fortresses from a firsthand POV. Of course, my writers group is always a constant source of encouragement too!
English: Quagmire Quagmire and forest The Snicks near to Shouldham Norfolk. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
There seems to be a continuation of great descriptive words on my desk diary lately, I hope you are keeping notes. As you can see from the definition of quagmire the second explanation is a difficult situation to escape from and it is where my idea for this post came from.
To engage our readers and keep their interest we create situations for our characters that they have to overcome by fair means or foul. The classic story arc sets out critical points that carry our characters through these. Let’s look at them.
We give our readers an insight into our characters ‘normal’ life whether it is modern day, historical or fantastical in nature. This gives our readers a sense of our main character(s).
This can be a multitude of things, as many as your mind can come up with. A situation, occurrence or event that is beyond your protagonist’s control.
With the elicit introduced the next ‘step’ is the mission . This may be a struggle to return life to normal or even a new’ better’ normal. The hero may overcome eventually but at what cost? A villain can have the upper hand for some time, forcing our protagonist to try harder.
Not only should we surprise our readers with the unexpected but also create conflict, obstacles and complications for our protagonist. This step is the middle of the story and needs to be compelling for our readers carrying them along with our character and their struggles.
With obstacles to overcome our protagonist’s real personality is revealed as the tension rises. There comes a point when a critical decision has to be made and our character has to choose his path. It can be a hard or easy but both will have consequences.
These choices have to result in a peak of tension or climax in the story.
There should be a change in the status of your main character. They may lose something as a consequence or their personality changes as well as their personality. These setbacks should be believable to your reader and develop naturally.
To end your story there should be a resolution for your character. Their personality or values will have changed and they would have learnt from their journey.
Do you have any tips for keeping the tension in your story arc?