The Blank Wall and Paper


POST CARDS FROM THE MUSE

The Blank Wall and Paper

By Nandy Ekle

I have a friend who is an artist. She paints everything from glass jars to cardboard boxes. When we moved into our house with the extremely white walls, she was so excited.

“I love your new house,” she said.

“Thank you,” I said. “The walls are so white it makes the whole house gleam.”

She looked around the room and I could see the proverbial light bulb going on above her head. “I look at those walls and see canvases just waiting for paint.”

I smiled and just went on with my unpacking.

Now, quite a few years later, I remember her telling me that, and I think about the blankest thing that inspires me. When I was a kid in school, my favorite time of year was right before school started. My mom would cut the school supply list out of the paper and drive us to the five and dime store. There we would load up on crayons, pencils, paste, and paper. Lots and lots of paper. Back at our house the supplies were doled out and I spent the last few days of summer arranging and rearranging my school supplies.

I had to touch every brand new crayon, sharpen all my pencils and smell the paste. But my very favorite school supply was all that blank paper with the blue lines, just waiting for words to be inscribed.

To this day, well past my school days, blank paper still makes my heart smile, kind of like the blank wall my friend was excited to see.

Congratulations. You have just received a post card from the muse.

 

Writing in “Live and Let Die”


Writing in “Live and Let Die”

by Adam Huddleston

 

Roger Moore’s debut at 007 occurs in the eighth film in the series, “Live and Let Die.” The plot centers on James Bond investigating the deaths of three agents. He discovers that a Caribbean dictator, Dr. Kananga is involved and is growing a massive crop of poppy plants to produce heroin. Kananga is using the fear of tarot cards and the occult to keep the locals away from his headquarters. Although he is captured by Kananga’s henchmen, Bond ultimately kills Kananga, destroys the poppy fields, and escapes.

The plot was not horrible, but the editing left a lot to be desired. One particular boat chase scene near the end drug on for an insanely long amount of time. Several of the characters were beyond stereotypical and the Blaxploitation seen in many movies of that era was a little sickening. Moore’s portrayal as 007 was a breath of fresh air and I am looking forward to seeing more of his Bond films.

Valentine’s Day


Outtakes 233

Valentine’s Day

by Cait Collins

 

I write romantic suspense and women’s fiction, so I assumed I could write a great love story. Guess again. Writing a love story is not easy. It’s difficult to find the balance between cheesy and trashy. In some ways, I prefer the old days when romance didn’t mean falling into bed on the first date. Love is more than sex. It’s the development of a relationship from the first, sometimes awkward, meeting to the first date. Falling into like and then choosing to love someone. It’s committing to the love and allowing it to grow until the needs and dreams of one become a part of the partner’s needs and dreams. It’s walking into life’s sunset hand in hand and holding on until, as the vows say, death do us part.

But love lives on and the surviving partner opens the heart to new horizons and to new possibilities knowing the comforts and blessings of commitment. So, how does the writer approach writing a real love story? With respect and caution. One cannot be jaded or cynical. The writer has to look at the good and the bad in a relationship and honestly interweave them into the tale. The high points of the relationship must be celebrated and the lows must be faced and resolved. The telling must be truthful and explore the human side of the relationship.

So, I will never write a real love story. Not because I feel incapable of the task, but because I’m a romantic. I believe in romance. I like the idea of being cherished and appreciated. I believe in creating a haven for the one I love. He deserves a shelter from the pressures of life. Yes, I believe in happily ever after. And I know my view, my dream is not realistic.

I wonder how they used to do it?


I wonder how they used to do it?

Rory C. Keel

I thought I would write a few observations. We are surrounded by such a diverse assortment of super technology. For example, we have smart phones that are so powerful they can interrupt a personal, face-to-face conversation with an individual, and allow us to talk, text and send pictures simultaneously around the globe to multiple unseen individuals.

Computers are now a way of life. They check our spelling and grammar and make learning the many beautiful loops of cursive penmanship once taught in schools obsolete. And what is a pen anyway?

We sit in dark rooms like hermits, wearing our pajamas,  tangled hair and unshaven, and faces with no makeup, and with the push of a button circle the globe. We gather information on places we would love to go, and things we want to do–if we ever got dressed and left our home.

The sun is no longer needed to determine which direction is north, south, east or west. Grown men who stubbornly refuse to listen to their zealous wives give them directions will react, without hesitation, to the soft and sultry female voice of a GPS system, accepting every command without question.

With vehicles that can automatically parallel park, the useful skills needed in backing automobiles are forgotten, and the rearview mirror that automatically adjusts to the lighting, is relegated to review our hair, lipstick, or to check for pimples.

The aeronautics industry is also awe-inspiring. The kid down the block that used to chase the other children, dive-bombing them with his remote control airplane, is still in his backyard chasing the Taliban on the other side of the world with remote war drones.

Speed has not always been a friend to avionics. The world’s fastest commercial passenger jet, the Concord, is now retired. The expense of chasing itself around the world was too high. Crossing the International Date Line, it could arrive at its destination tomorrow, and come back yesterday.

The truly amazing thing about all the technology that we experience today is that it causes us to ask questions. But the most frequent question I hear today is not, “How will we do things in the future?” but, “I wonder how they used to do it?”

As an exercise, write about a few things in your past that have changed.

Roryckeel.com

A NAME


A NAME

By Natalie Bright

Stuck. On a name.

Actually, I don’t know his name which is why I can’t write the story.

Drat!

All of the components are there: setting, beginning, middle, and in my opinion, a brilliant ending. The story plays out in my head in vivid color, but what is his name? I have no idea.

As writers, we understand the importance of a great name. Fictional character names can inspire countless generations (Superman, DC Comics) and generate millions in promotional material (Charles Schulz’s Snoopy). We love those serendipity moments when a character’s name arrives like a gift out of thin air. Author David Morrell spoke at a writer’s conference about being extremely frustrated and stuck on a name for his character. His wife encouraged him to take a break and handed him a locally grown apple. The name of the apple variety was “Rambo”.

My character is quiet, yet very strong, and determined for all of his twelve years of experience. He’s not shy, but he’s not the life of the party either. He works hard and he loves horses. I can see him clearly. What in the heck is his name?!!

CHARACTER NAME RESOURCES

  1. School Yearbooks. I start with my son’s Jr. High yearbook. This is a modern story and there’s no better way to know what kids are being named than to glance at names in today’s world.
  2. Google It. Next I go to the life-changing resource that is Google (how did we survive before?). I’ve searched baby name sites for several days and jot down a page of possibles.
  3. Consult your Names Notebook. Whenever I meet someone with an unusual name, I make a note on my phone or whatever scrap of paper I can find, and then add it to my Names Notebook. Sometimes in conversation someone will tell me that their family has unique names, and they’ll jot them down for me. Also in my notebook are names of family members gleaned from Ancestry.com. Thanks to my Uncle’s genealogy work, it’s become a great source for ideas.
  4. Pinterest has some interesting links for names lists, like most popular, most unusual, most underused, ancient names, etc. You can find some of these on my Board “I Write” under @natbright on pinterest.com
  5. Still writing with character named ‘boy’. The search continues…

Where do you turn for inspiration and ideas to name your characters?

 

 

Freaky Friday


POST CARDS FROM THE MUSE

Freaky Friday

By Nandy Ekle

 

 

I’m in a deep sleep, the first really good night sleep I’ve had in a while. I dreaming I’m sitting on the couch holding a kitten that purrs as I scratch it behind the ear. The kitten climbs up on my shoulder, then screeches in my ear. I jerk awake shaking from the shock of the alarm screeching next to my head. In my startled condition I reach for my cell phone to turn off the alarm before it wakes my husband. My hand brushes against something made of wire and it tumbles off the nightstand into the darkness of space. I hear it thump on the floor somewhere around my bed and realize it was my glasses, without which I am totally blind. Nothing else to do but turn on the light, as if that will help. Ever tried looking for glasses when you can’t see because you don’t have your glasses?

Very carefully I find my spectacles with my eyes moments before my I find them by stepping on them. I head into the bathroom sure that a hot bath and good book will improve the path my day seems to be on. Turning on the water I go to gather my clothes for the day. When I get back to the tub, I step in the water and discover I did not balance the hot and cold correctly and my lovely hot bath is actually a disappointing tepid bath, and my new book is not living up to the beautiful picture on the cover.

I suddenly realize what has happened to me. I have woken to another Freaky Friday.

Congratulations. You have just received a post card from the muse.

 

Writing in “Diamonds are Forever”


Writing in “Diamonds are Forever”

by Adam Huddleston

 

The final James Bond film produced by Eon Productions to star Sean Connery, “Diamonds are Forever”, finds 007 investigating a diamond smuggling ring. His travels lead him to Amsterdam where he assumes the identity of a smuggler, then on to Nevada where he once again encounters Blofeld, the head of S.P.E.C.T.R.E. Blofeld’s plan is to create a satellite which would use the diamonds to focus a laser beam to destroy nuclear missiles. Bond discovers the antagonist’s headquarters is located on an offshore oil rig. In the film’s finale, he disables the satellite and destroys the rig.

As far as plot and dialogue go, neither was spectacular. The movie seemed to wander around at points, dragging in some places and speeding along at others. The acting was atrocious. I could tell that two of the smugglers were being used for comic relief but they ended up coming across as annoying.

I am a big fan of Sean Connery’s work, especially as Bond, but I’m saddened that his final (authorized) 007 film was so lackluster. The next film in the series is Roger Moore’s debut, “Live and Let Die.”

Characters and Careers


Outtakes 232

Characters and Careers

by Cait Collins

Characters don’t just sit around all day shooting the breeze. They have jobs, careers, and education. But where do you start in researching careers? If you know someone in the profession, make an appointment to discuss the job description, education, salary, perks, lingo, attire and so forth. But if you don’t have access to an expert in the field, there are other sources to help you out.

When I first began writing fiction, I knew I would need handy resources. Writer’s Digest released Careers for Your Characters by Raymond Obstfeld and Franz Neumann a number of years ago. It’s one of the first books I purchased for my library. The volume covers 101 professions providing good information on common careers and some not so common ones. It’s has helped me better define some of my characters. Unfortunately, it doesn’t provide information on jewelry design and gemology. So it’s time to punt.

I started with pulling information from my college geology classes and labs. What equipment did I need for my hero? What would he have in his kit? Would he do some prospecting on his own? What is the process for filing a claim? And as the writer, what did I need to learn to create this character?

My local Barnes and Noble Booksellers provided a number of books for my research. Tom Jackson’s What’s that ROCK or MINERAL? guided me in rock and mineral identification. Smithsonian Nature Guide Rocks and Minerals by Ronald Louis Bonewitz provided information on gem properties and locations. Gemstone Settings by Anastasia Young gave me insight on the types of settings and lingo. I began comparing some of my personal jewelry with the designs in the book so that I could describe the various pieces in my hero’s line.

I then hit the internet to learn what gems one could find in Colorado. I also found fee sights where I could go to pan for gold and sluice for gems and minerals. I may need to make a trip to the state to put my book knowledge to work so that I can accurately describe the panning process.

What do I hope to gain from this research? I will be able to create more dynamic characters, settings and description. And in turn I will hopefully give the reader a really great story.

 

I wonder how they used to do it?


I wonder how they used to do it?

Rory C. Keel

I thought I would write a few observations. We are surrounded by such a diverse assortment of super technology. For example, we have smart phones that are so powerful they can interrupt a personal, face-to-face conversation with an individual, and allow us to talk, text and send pictures simultaneously around the globe to multiple unseen individuals.

Computers are now a way of life. They check our spelling and grammar and make learning the many beautiful loops of cursive penmanship once taught in schools obsolete. And what is a pen anyway?

We sit in dark rooms like hermits, wearing our pajamas,  tangled hair and unshaven, and faces with no makeup, and with the push of a button circle the globe. We gather information on places we would love to go, and things we want to do–if we ever got dressed and left our home.

The sun is no longer needed to determine which direction is north, south, east or west. Grown men who stubbornly refuse to listen to their zealous wives give them directions will react, without hesitation, to the soft and sultry female voice of a GPS system, accepting every command without question.

With vehicles that can automatically parallel park, the useful skills needed in backing automobiles are forgotten, and the rearview mirror that automatically adjusts to the lighting, is relegated to review our hair, lipstick, or to check for pimples.

The aeronautics industry is also awe-inspiring. The kid down the block that used to chase the other children, dive-bombing them with his remote control airplane, is still in his backyard chasing the Taliban on the other side of the world with remote war drones.

Speed has not always been a friend to avionics. The world’s fastest commercial passenger jet, the Concord, is now retired. The expense of chasing itself around the world was too high. Crossing the International Date Line, it could arrive at its destination tomorrow, and come back yesterday.

The truly amazing thing about all the technology that we experience today is that it causes us to ask questions. But the most frequent question I hear today is not, “How will we do things in the future?” but, “I wonder how they used to do it?”

As an exercise, write about a few things in your past that have changed.

Roryckeel.com