Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Run Away Research... Is This A Problem?

  Research is so important!
 I've found that getting something right really isn't as hard as we would at first believe; with the internet all the info you need is out there, you just have to go get it.
 And laziness is no trait for an author to have! Smile

 But sometimes Research wants to run away on me.

 I previously posted a bunch of links related to all the things you need to know when sailing the Seven Seas.
 I put them here to share them with others, and also to keep them where I can find them when I need them next!
 I keep many tales on the same stove, and when a scene Ruthlessly ATTACKS me, I can run right over to that tale and get it hammered down. It's the only way I know to make it let go of my brain! Smile
 Seriously, it's a problem.
 (But not something I can't handle! Smile )

So I let myself revel in all the seafaring things I needed to complete that particular scene,... then I ruthlessly shut the muchly inspiring websites down, (neatly saving the urls for the future.) I have to maintain control over what I feed my imagination.
 And yes, I really enjoyed my stint in the sea air. I'm looking forward to returning to that scene and getting more shippy-ness done!
 I had to drag myself away from my research to keep it from running off with my imagination... Getting too wrapped up in research for a "back burner" story can kill me for any other story. And that's no good!

 Right now, I have to maintain a "mountain-y" atmosphere in order to complete my current "Focus Project".

 How do you handle research? Do you have a problem with it galloping of in unproductive (or counter productive) directions?

 We need to hear!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Writer Interview: Sarah Scheele!

For this week's Writer Interview, we have with us Sarah Scheele, from Texas!

 Thanks so much for answering the call, Sarah! We're so glad to have you here this time, and we hope to get you back for a reader interview sometime later.

Sarah S: You’re welcome, Elizabeth! It’s my pleasure to be here.

E: So, let's get started.  Tell us a little about yourself and what you've written.
S: Well, I grew up homeschooled, surrounded by great books, so I fell in love with literature early. When I was tiny, I would listen as my mom read poetry aloud, and I started writing as soon as I could use a pen. Three years ago, I published a collection of sci-fi/fantasy novellas, Facets of Fantasy.  One of those stories, “Millhaven Castle,” has grown into a full novel—with the potential for sequels—and I’m hoping to expand on the others as well.

E. What's your favorite genre/genres, and what do you think really draws you to that/them the most?

S: My favorites are sci-fi/fantasy and comedy, no doubt about it. With speculative fiction, I can set up imaginary societies that explore how people interact in our real one. Putting the story in an invented culture like our own enables people to look at our world objectively from the outside. And comedy adds an additional layer of insight about the absurd or faulty within situations.

E: What's your most favorite writing related advice?

S: Strive to write what mirrors life. The difference between a great book and just another novel is that it becomes more than a story. It starts to mean something to people. It leaves the printed page and touches something that readers are dealing with in their real lives. You make that happen by putting in extra effort to observe the world around you.

E:  What is your favorite type of character to write? Why do you think that especially appeals to you?

S: Funny characters! It’s harder to be funny, for one thing—a real challenge for the writing mind. Comedy provides a moral purpose as well. If selfishness, arrogance, and poor reasoning are shown as ridiculous, people will be less likely to do these things. And I simply love making people laugh.

E: Where do you like to get your characters? Do you like to draw off of people you know, other books, or just pull them put of the blue?

S: All three, really. Sometimes I stumble across a stock character (for example, a rich old geezer who thinks he is still attractive) and I think, “Ah, that could be really good in my story!” I also analyze real people quite a bit. But once I’ve assembled a few characters and started writing, new people pop in and these are often my best. :D

E: Some writers talk about their characters getting out of control and things happening that they didn't intend to happen; have you ever had this happen?

S: All the time. A notable example is a character named George Longdogo. He began as a minor comic guest at a ball, but eventually grew into a foreign royal with a role in the plot! You know your characters are getting good when they stop doing what you want. After all, it’s easy to tell a paper doll what to do. It’s much harder to tell your sister or your co-worker. :P

E: How do you write, is it 'start with page one, scene one' and go through it in order; or just "whatever scene pops into your head"
(and that might mean that you have the entire middle of your book written before you even start on the beginning)?

S: Generally I start writing from the beginning. Then I stop without finishing it because a new, unrelated scene has popped into my head. After awhile, I return to my first story and realize it could neatly join with the new ideas I’ve been working on. So I’d say I write stories in chunks of about 1/3 at a time and gradually sew them together.

E: How do you plan your stories' "bones", or do you?

S: I listen to music.  Images like movie trailers flash through my mind. I’ll watch this “trailer” over and over as I listen to the song, even if I don’t quite know how this story will be written. Trailers have to pinpoint the pivotal moments, so they help me form abstract images of what’s central to the work.

E: Have you tried any plotting, outlining, methods; and what works best to your way of thinking?

S: When drafting, I often write by talking rather than by forming an outline. I present a scene to my sisters and as they interact the scene grows and grows. Once I’m very far along in the story, I organize it a bit and calculate how long it will be and how much more I need to write. That’s the only time when outlining comes in.

E: What is your worst writing trouble?

S: Perfectionism. From my early teens on, I wanted to be the best. I read the classics and compared myself to them, constantly trying to improve. I didn’t want to be a complacent, mediocre author. But I was aiming way too high. Even the greats started small and their early work wasn’t that good. I’m trying to let go and accept that there’s no work without faults. That’s an impossible standard.

E:  Good point! It's so hard to hit the balance point of "good enough". But everybody has to start somewhere!
 What is your worst writing fault? How do you identify and rectify its effects?

S: Character growth is hard for me. I’m much more an observer than a reformer, so I’m not really into sending my characters on life-changing experiences. I’ve noticed longer works quickly get stale when characters seem to learn nothing after many pages, so I try to make sure my people aren’t so elemental that they can’t develop.

E: Hey! It's been great having you here! We've so enjoyed learning more about another writer's mental workings! Thanks for participating. 

S: I’ve enjoyed it so much. Thanks for having me. :)

 And folks, Sarah can be kept up with and contacted at these links:
  Her blog, Stardust and Gravel
  ...on Facebook Sarah Scheele
   ...and on Twitter!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Q&A: Is jewelery making something you have an interest in?

Broach from ancient Greece
 From a recent question and answer time about Jeweler's Apprentice, I was asked...

Q: Is jewelery making something you have an interest in?

 A:  Yes, it is! I have done quite a lot of wire-wrapped jewelry. (Where you use strands of precious metal to create jewelry. Designs can range from simple to amazingly demanding, and I enjoyed pushing the limits of my skill and creativity!)
I didn't have access to the high heat equipment needed for casting, but it's something I always swooned over; so I've studied it quite a bit.

I've been privileged enough to see the works of some artists whose expertise was literally overwhelming. One man did a lot of wildlife in his designs, as lifelike as photos, and all in precious metal bas relief ranging in size from a scene a few inches across, (three tiny, perfect ducks flew across a green-stone pond in my favorite pendant of his,) to smaller than your little fingertip. (A man's ring showcasing an ivory elk tooth; with half of the bezel (the part that holds the stone in) being a bugling elk's head with the antlers sweeping back out onto the shank. (the part that goes around your finger.) The whole head was letter perfect, and less than the size of the tooth. ) The artistry took my breath away!

  His pieces were out of my price range, and justifiably so... but I'll always carry the image of them with me where ever I go!

 And, who knows? Maybe if I end up rich some day, I'll find him and buy something for me!

 In the meantime, I'll keep working on my own skills, and enjoy writing about the things I haven't quite gotten yet!

 What's your favorite piece of jewelry? (Real or otherwise!)

A Quarter horse logo pendant I did several years ago. Sterling silver.