Luck, the Irish, and Writing Toward Your Dreams

This entry is part 8 of 8 in the series Writing in Ireland

It’s St. Patrick’s Day. Do you feel lucky?

Clint Eastwood as Dirty Harry, "Do you feel lucky, punk?"
No, not in a Dirty Harry sort of way. More of a, Are you ready to achieve your dreams? kind of way.

Let’s listen to some Irish talk about dreams. Continue reading

Things to Know About Self-Publishing

Rocky Mountain Fiction WritersHere are some of my thoughts about getting started in indie publishing! Feel free to agree or disagree with me over there, fellow writers — comments welcome!

http://rmfw.org/5-important-things-to-know-about-self-publishing-part-1-by-laura-vanarendonk-baugh/

and

http://rmfw.org/5-important-things-to-know-about-self-publishing-part-2-by-laura-vanarendonk-baugh/

vintage travel poster style image of Skellig Michael with text Come Write In IrelandIf you want to hear more from me about self-publishing, make sure you check out the August 2017 edition of http://www.irelandwritertours.com/

Come Write With Me! in Ireland!

vintage travel poster style image of Skellig Michael with text Come Write In IrelandSo we’re closing on the biggest gift-giving occasion of the year, and you don’t know what to get that writer on your list? What about an investment in their writing career? Nothing says love and encouragement and “I believe in you!” like a contribution to their goals. (And reading their work. But that’s much harder to wrap.)

If you are the writer, feel free to leave this page open on a conspicuous monitor or maybe even send a helpful link. Continue reading

Writers Learn EVERYTHING.

I know I’ve talked about the fun and eclectic nature of story research before, but it’s worth returning to.

Devils Hole Pupfish Latina: Cyprinodon diabolis

Devils Hole Pupfish Latina: Cyprinodon diabolis (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Topics I have researched for this single short story include but are not limited to:

  • the Devils Hole Pupfish
  • the history of Chinese bronze casting
  • the natural history of Kazahkstan
  • cassowary attacks
  • the destructive “Cultural Revolution” in China
A poster from the Cultural Revolution, featuri...

A poster from the Cultural Revolution, featuring an image of Chairman Mao, and published by the government of the People’s Republic of China. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

All to make the story more plausible and real. You’re welcome.

(This story will be published in early 2017.)

#WIPjoy Day 14: Cliffhanger

Share a cliffhanger? I’ll keep this short, in the spirit of #WIPjoy, but here’s Euthalia’s first day in the Norse village, beating out communication with the very few words she knows with a kind older woman.

It was fresher than the boat’s provisions, at least, as they had saved the spices and treats to bring back to the village. And Euthalia, no longer surrounded by dozens of strange male warriors, found herself relaxing enough to feel real hunger. She devoured the bread.

“Good, good,” praised Birna. She nodded. “Eat. Tomorrow, slagtoffer.”

Euthalia did not know the word. “Slag — what?”

Birna smiled, a little tightly, and drew her hand across her throat.

Well, then. Continue reading

Miyazaki & Story

I’m not a huge Hiyao Miyazaki fan — okay, I haven’t even seen all the standards! — but I really like some of what he says here about story in general and about stories for children.

And what he says about stories of fantasy and monsters requiring the realism of human character and emotion, that’s spot on.

(Also, I love that even someone of Miyazaki’s stature is writing the story as he goes along. Makes me feel a bit more justified in my not-exactly-over-plotting approach.)

Writing Games

Being a writer is easy. It's like riding a bike. Except the bike is on fire. You're on fire. Everything is on fire and you're in hell.So I came across an interesting game premise recently.

Well, not a game, per se. There’s no gameplay and no storyline and no final boss battle. There’s no leveling and no skill-building and no farming. No gold, no XP. Instead, it’s just a virtual environment to be explored like an open-world game, for the purpose of prompting would-be writers to actually write.

Lots of people want to write but are then intimidated by the blank page. And traditional writers’ adages don’t necessarily help.

There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed. - Earnest Hemingway

Enter Elegy for a Dead World, a game to encourage novice writers to shut off the self-doubt and just write. Continue reading

Writer Brains and Research

Jules Verne, French science fiction writer of ...

Jules Verne, the godfather of plausible speculative fiction. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“Fantasy is even harder to write,” I alleged recently, “because you have to make the science work.”

If the science in a story isn’t plausible — whether you actually call it science, as in hard sci-fi, or whether it’s simply background dressing or setting, as in a romance set aboard a diving boat — the rest of the story won’t be plausible, either. In the romance above, for example, even if the story is supposedly just boy-meets-girl, if the couple blithely dives hundreds of meters without special equipment and resurfaces without ill effects, I’m not going to buy the happily-ever-after. Continue reading

Found Story Bits

old typewriter welded onto a chain pedestal at the Bottle Tree RanchSometimes you walk away from a story in progress for a little while — in this case, because I’ve been working a lot and traveling — and you forget what you were doing.

And then you come back, and you read over what you had, and you’re like, “Did I write that?”

I opened a file again tonight for the first time in weeks, and this is on the most recent page:

“I have a burned arm. It’s not like I’m crippled. And I don’t need to be able to handle a sword or anything.”
“No, but you use your hands for your magic.”
“That’s a focus tool. It’s not strictly necessary.”
He gave her a skeptical look. “And what happens if you can’t use your hands to focus?”
She twisted her mouth. “Don’t stand too close to the target, okay?”

I wonder how it turns out?

So To Honor Him – a tale of the drummer boy

Garishly-dressed drummer boy with Italian Greyhound.

This is more than a bit ugly. And why does he come with a dog?

Maybe it’s always been there, but a few years ago I started noticing a curious trend of Drummer Boy figures in Nativity sets. Had the carol become so prominent in our Christmas traditions that we were now including the recent and wholly fictional character in depictions of the scene? And why were so many of them oddly inappropriate to the setting? I was simultaneously a little weirded out and a little intrigued.

I’d always liked “The Carol of the Drum” at least a bit. It’s simple and not terribly authentic, but it’s got a decent message (“your best is your gift”) and anyway it’s catchy, pa-rum-pum-pum-pum. It was only written in 1941, allegedly based on a similar Czech song but the original (according to Wikipedia, anyway) has never been found. It probably has more to do with the carol “Patapan.”

It became hugely popular after the Von Trapp family (of The Sound of Music fame) recorded it and Harry Simeone recorded it two or three times, renaming it “The Little Drummer Boy.”

K.K. Davis' "The Little Drummer Boy"...

K.K. Davis’ original “Carol of the Drum” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So I’d always enjoyed the song. But it bothered me. I mean really, who plays a drum for a baby? Most of my time around infants is filled with admonishments to make no noise, lest we wake the sleeping screamer. I know people who even travel with white noise machines for their young children. And how did the Wise Men happen across a renegade drummer from an anachronistic military band? Because that’s how the kid is usually depicted in illustrations. And where are his parents, anyway?

If you want skip ahead to the story, jump to the bottom of the page.
If you want to hear about the research, read on for a bit.

This has bothered me off and on for years. And then I found my brain starting to do something about it. Where did this kid with the drum come from? Continue reading