Tag Archives: distraction

Dandelion Inspiration

Argh. It has been almost three months since my last post. Time for some introspection? Excuses? Self flagellation? Pledges to post regularly from now on?

Naw. (Who wants to read that?)
Well, maybe an implied pledge. Because obviously I’m starting to blog again.

I found this dandelion growing in my driveway the other day.

Nature finds a way to keep growing.

Nature finds a way to keep growing.

It inspired me with its tenacity and simple beauty. I want to be like this dandelion. Push through the cement and grow like a weed.

Happy Writing

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Character with a Bow

I’ve been taking archery classes for about four months now.

It looked like fun and I wanted to try it. Also, I plan to write a main character who uses a bow for survival, so I wanted to have first-hand experience. If that sounds like an excuse well… Okay it is an excuse.  I found out that it not only looks like fun, it is fun!

Miriah's best target shooting at 10 yards (so far)

Miriah’s best target shooting at 10 yards (so far)

But now whenever I see characters on TV and in films with a bow, I notice the inaccuracies. Partly because I want to make sure my writing is as realistic as possible.

First of all, a real archer would never hold the bow when she draws, aims and releases the arrow. When you see that archer in a film drawing the bowstring and gripping the bow with their bow hand? There is no way that is real. After safety, this was the first lesson. Gripping the bow with your bow hand when you shoot throws off your aim in an unpredictable way. So a real archer wears a finger sling – a loop of cord that goes around the bow and is attached to the thumb and a finger of the bow hand so the bow does not fall to the ground after he releases the arrow.

Anchor under jaw lineNotice my bow hand is not holding the bow

Anchor under jaw line
Notice my bow hand is not holding the bow

Another thing I notice on TV and film is the fictional archer’s anchor. When the archer draws the bowstring, are all three fingers under the nock, with hand resting (anchored) against his cheek? Is the nock between the first and second fingers with the hand under the jaw? Is the palm turned inward or outward? I have tried all of these techniques in class. In the current modern sport, which one depends on the type of bow, usual range, individual preference, and probably lots of other things I haven’t learned yet.

Anchor at corner of smileNotice my bow hand is not holding the bow

Anchor at corner of smile
Notice my bow hand is not holding the bow

In the fantasy or historic setting of a story, the anchor method would be a significant identifier of where (region or culture) the archer was from. For accuracy, the important thing is consistency and releasing the bowstring without conscious movement – your fingers simply relax. All movement in the bow arm when the arrow is released comes from tension in the back muscles that are working to draw the bowstring.

I’ve learned that you never (intentionally) “dry fire” a bow. That’s what it’s called when you draw the bowstring without an arrow nocked, and release. The energy that would otherwise go into the arrow and send it flying feeds back into the bow instead – it can break the bow. One way that could happen accidentally is if the arrow’s nock breaks. So a good archer always takes care of her arrows and inspects them regularly.

Another thing I will be taking into consideration when I write an archer is that shooting arrows is very tiring. A long bow (the most likely version in a low-tech setting) requires a great deal of strength just to draw. A composite Recurve bow (like the one Katniss uses in The Hunger Games film) is not as difficult to draw (it’s the type I usually use in class), but still wears you out. A compound bow is more high-tech (that would be my choice for a steam-punk setting) and makes it possible to “hold” the bow in the drawn position without much effort.

The character I write who is relying on her bow skills to survive will also need to practice every day. Luckily she won’t mind. Because shooting a bow is fun.

Happy Writing ;-)

The Next Big Thing Blog Hop

Today, I’m a part of The Next Big Thing blog hop, thanks to speculative erotica writer Victoria Pond, author of My Lady Gambler. The Next Big Thing is a branching pyramid-of-prose for authors to discuss their latest release or WIP. Each author answers ten questions (see below for my answers), and then tags other writers to do the same.

So it’s kind of like a chain letter for writers, without the dire threat of evil consequences if you break the chain. (Oh hey, that could be a writing prompt. Hmm…)

Marymoor Park, Redmond Washington

Rainbow over Marymoor Park in Redmond Washington

At the moment I am primarily focused on writing short stories and even submitting a few. But, I’m going to play along with the spirit of this exercise, and answer the questions based on my novel Work In Progress… using a very broad definition of “Progress”. It’s also the book I started for NaNoWriMo.

1. What is the working title of your book?

Arthropod’s Touch

2. Where did the idea come from for the book?

The idea for the “creatures that need killing” in my book came from watching a murmuration of starlings video. This is truly a spectacular sight, but just imagine if you saw that after watching Hitchcock’s “The Birds”. Now imagine insects instead of birds.

My two main characters were conceived of as part of the backstory for one of my Player Characters in my cooperative writing Role Playing Game. Since then they have transformed and grown into separate personalities who demand their own unique world.

One influence in my world building has been the pervasive inequality in western culture. I tried to imagine an ideal, and was also thinking about the MVP (Minimum Viable Population) concept in terms of humans colonizing a new planet. How would I (or my fictional counterpart) select humans to colonize a new planet with the intent of a) making sure the human race survived and b) increasing the likelihood that a new human culture would develop without a privileged class based on gender, race, sexual orientation, etc. This was the beginning of my world building. I’ve found that a vision of idealized perfection is a great place to start because then I can figue out all kinds of stuff that can go wrong.

3. What genre does your book fall under?

Post science fiction heroic fantasy.

4. Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

Now that is difficult, but I will give it a WAG (wild ass guess).

The brother might be played by Ben Barnes, whom I remember best for the title character role in the film “The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian”.

I think I’d like the sister to be played by Parminder Nagra, whom I loved as Jess in the film “Bend It Like Beckham”.

5. What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

Whilst coming to terms with what they are, siblings Kestra and Razmer must  rescue their Sept’s children, expose the Dyozan Bishop’s purpose for kidnapping them, and unite the Clades against a greater threat: the Sturmitera are swarming again and humanity cannot survive another Grand Murmuration.

6. Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

Until I have an actual manuscript in my hand, this is something of a moot point. My gut inclination would be to go the traditional route. But, who knows?

7. How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

I would need a time machine to answer this question. So instead I will declare a goal: to finish my first draft one year from now.

8. What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

My hope would be to create something that fans of Anne McCaffrey’s Pern books might like. Not that I could come close to her awesomeness! And whilst I’m in the land of wishful thinking, I would also hope it might appeal to fans of David Gemmell’s Drenai Series.

9. Who or What inspired you to write this book?

My mother is a big inspiration and source of encouragement. She provides an attentive ear for bouncing ideas around. When I’m having trouble figuring out a scene or short story, describing it to her helps me clarify it in my head. If I can’t explain it aloud, I know I have some more day dreaming to do. And of course I couldn’t be writing at all without the support of my wonderful husband!

10. What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

One of the things distracting me from writing this novel is the backstory. There is a short story, or possibly a novella simmering in the back of my head about the humans from earth that colonized the planet, and the aliens that are there when they arrive. I may need to write that story first.

That’s it! The Next Big Thing Blog Hop! Are you a writer willing to be tagged for the Next Big Thing blog hop? If so, let me know via comment or email [ miriah (at) live (dot) com ] and I’ll add you to my list here!

Now, I  hereby tag these writers to answer the same questions in about a week. (Or when they get around to it. No dire consequences, remember?):

Jessica Broughton, Genre: Speculative Fiction

Gayle Weatherson, Genre: Speculative Fiction

Frank Kim, Genre: Contemporary and Speculative Fiction

 

Nano Excuses

Well, here it is December already. I would like to say that I skipped posting to my blog for the entire month of November because I was busily plugging away at my NaNoWriMo novel. That’s what I’d like to say. But the truth is that I stopped nano-ing about a week-and-a-half in. It wasn’t a complete loss. I wrote about 7,500 words of the novel I had in mind, and about 6,000 words of the pre-quell novella that I also had in mind. So I didn’t come close to “winning” Nano. But – the way I look at it – it’s more than I had before.

I have some resolutions for the next Nano…

1) Get my family on board with supporting me. In advance.

2) Make sure that if there are any submission deadlines coming up at the end of November, I will finish that story before Nano starts.

3) Complete the detailed outline for my Nano-novel before NaNoWriMo starts.

Hmm. I see a pattern here…

Green Woman with Rowan Berries
This Green Woman is on the wall over my desk;-)

One thing I DID accomplish in November was writing and submitting a story for an “Urban Green Man” anthology. It had been two months since the last time I submitted a story, so it felt really good to send one out.

Another thing I did in November – that I’m counting as an accomplishment, but was really more like a fun distraction – was post two “Drabbles” (stories of exactly 100 words), and three “Twabbles” (exactly 100 characters each) in the Drabblecast.org forums. I’ve created a new page – Fiction in a Flash – here on my blog to share them.

I’m still First-Reading for Strange Horizons. It’s a volunteer gig that can be somewhat time consuming, but I feel that I am learning SO much.

Happy Writing!

Lùnastal, World Building, and Distraction

photo of Dragon "Green Man" with Rowan Berries

The Dragon guarding our front door, with Rowan berries.

It’s Lùnastal, also known as Lughnasadh and several other names including the first of August. Lùnastal is among other things a harvest festival; a time to celebrate the first fruits of summer and to anticipate the bounty of the harvest season. This seems a good time to reflect on the things I have accomplished, or not accomplished, so far this summer.

Confession time. Summer is more than half over, and since my kids said goodbye to elementary school in June, I have not finished a single story. I foolishly (or responsibly – my POV changes) scheduled summer activities that meet my children’s needs instead of my own. After all, being a parent is my day job and writing is my hobby.

Our summer started with the biennial Slighe nan Gaidheal 2012 Seattle Fèis. I reprised my 2010 committee role as registration manager on top of my newish role as Slighe  Treasurer. It was a truly wonderful experience and because of the hard work and dedication of many people, especially event chairs Seumas Gagne and Kate Freeburg, a tremendous success. But until recently I was utterly burnt out.

What have I been doing to improve my writing, when I can’t get more than ten or fifteen minutes in a row of quiet writing time? I have been reading. Pretty much any writing instructor or author will tell you that reading in the genre you’re writing is essential, and I have definitely found that to be true. Before I started trying to write short stories, I hadn’t actually read many short stories. (Charles de Lint’s short stories are the exception; I’ve been reading both his novel-length and short fiction for a long time.) So I’ve been reading short stories from online speculative fiction eMags. I just finished a collection of Connie Willis’ short fiction, and yesterday I bought a Steampunk anthology edited by Sean Wallace.

I could also claim to have writer’s block, except that would be a lie. What I have is more like writer’s ADHD. I start reworking a story that’s been languishing in the first-draft stage, and then I get distracted by a new idea. I take a break to write down the idea (either for a new story or some aspect of an in-progress story) and tell myself I just need to make sure I don’t forget it. The next thing I know, I’m writing that new/other story. Until the next distraction!

Speaking of writing distractions, I will add world building to my list. I have been developing ideas I have for a novel that will take place on another planet. Creating that world is both daunting and exciting; and of course fun! The dominant sentient species there is human. How did they get there? What happened to the original alien inhabitants? What are the origins of the two main religions, and how have they deviated from their founder’s intentions? How have the cultures and religions been affected by the environment? It’s a bit like playing god (or goddess in my case;-)

Happy Writing,

Miriah