Nothing about writing today. Just the concept that no matter what you are working on, be it your "day-job" or your novel remember to take the time out to rest and recuperate your facilities. Smell the monkey flowers, or just have a bowl of chocolate ice cream.
Where do characters hatch from? Like most of my ideas and concepts in the fiction I write my characters come from a wide variety of sources. Some are simply built to order for the situation. For instance I need a military commander for a base in Alaska. The real bases in Alaska have a handy list of their commanding officers posted online. So I spent a few hours perusing those pages and came away with an amalgamation of the ranks, faces, and described personalities that fit the story I was writing. Some are born of partial memories of real people with added traits to make them memorable. One, not in "Dying Embers", was a revenge of sorts. There was one person who was in a position of rule making, rules that affected me, who made my life particularly unpleasant for a few weeks. Nothing huge but enough to inspire me to write a caricature of this person into a story.
Round about the cauldron go;
In the poison'd entrails throw.
Toad, that under cold stone
Days and nights has thirty-one
Swelter'd venom sleeping got,
Boil thou first i' the charmed pot.
There is a very good reason that folks are still talking about the Bard's work four hundred years after the man himself died. His stories, be they the comedies or the tragedies, touch on the deepest bones of the human condition; life and death, loyalty and betrayal, fear and hope. Though the English he wrote in is now no longer spoken the tales he wove (or stole) still resonate today.
Macbeth, for all that it is and was entertainment asks some very big questions about fate and freewill. The creeping terror of the main characters being driven mad by their greed driven actions could very well push any movie made on it well into the horror category. It inspired Tolkien in his creation of the Ents. Sitting down and reading the play might take some time but the world created here is well worth the effort. If you are a more visual type plays make excellent graphic novels and someone figured that out so you can indulge in a play on paper as well.
While I did a lot of research on a wide variety of subjects but the one point of research that sticks out the most clearly in my mind was for the scene in "Dying Embers" where a character begins to suffer from a mysterious from of anemia. (Go ahead and click the link! Learn something.) Now by that point in the story I knew what the cause of the anemia was as I had worked out the details of the problem to a very fine degree, but I was still a little unsure of what the symptoms would be other than extreme fatigue and lethargy. This required research, more than just a search engine could provide. So I did what any self respecting author would do. I bribed a friend.
Fortunately I was in good with my personal doctor. Even more fortunately she lives near Portland, OR and works in McMinnville, OR so coming up to her and asking what effect a ferrous-chelating alien particle would have on a human system just got me a thoughtful explanation and not a mental exam. (THAT was completely unrelated.) So remember, cookies get you information!
So a rather big part of writing Science-Fiction or Science Fantasy is, surprisingly or not, science. Now some authors go the hand-wavy route and you get things like "Attack of the Fifty Foot Woman." There is no real science, just a covering of words and terms and concepts that are associated with science due to either being so new that they are still being handled by research or simply still unproven. The other side of the scale, those scientists who do their research and get it very right, is exemplified by Jules Verne. Yes this nineteenth century man got a lot wrong about the inventions and discoveries of the coming century but he predicted skyscrapers, solar sails, skywriting, Skype, and most famously electric submarines all decades before they became a part of the culture as they are now. He did all this with a basic understanding of Newtonian Physics, market forces, and the imagination of a small boy.
Being a scientist myself I lean hard toward the Vernian tradition of Science-Ficiton. I spend many hours and day researching the smallest details. Some were fairly easy to track down if not apply. There is a vicious alien virus eating the iron out of the hero's blood? Call up the local ND/MD and ask what the symptoms would look like. Faster than light travel is still trickier of course. I copped out of the more complex tech and went for wormholes but was still able to find current research that allowed me to hypothesize a functional wormhole generation device.
Over this series of articles I will detail where I got the inspiration for many of the science points in my book "Dying Embers" and where I just wave my hands and let the fiction part of Science-Fiction do it's work.
These Golden-Mantled Ground Squirrels
(Callospermophilus lateralis) were watching me work on a shade house and decided to pose for my camera. There was a burrow nearby and I assume that it was the presence of their young that made them so bold. But just look at those little paws and round ears! It was just too cute not to share.
Good news on the book placement front. "Dying Embers" has been accepted at a small store in Ft. Klamath. I will be doing the full write up this weekend.
While was out and about working in the great outdoors today (and I almost didn't escape the office) there was an amazing thunder storm overhead. Bolts of lightening miles long lanced across the sky. Thunder rumbled in long rolling waves through the mountains. The radio was alive with the fire crew calling out the coordinates of lightening strikes and then detailing the fires they contained with amazing speed. Now I was tucked away in my truck even if I was on the rim of a 7000ft caldera so I was perfectly safe. Still the bosses hovered and fretted but could find no truly justifiable reason to chain me to the desk for the day. ( I was generously allowed to go 30ft from my rig) Seriously having bosses who care deeply about one's health and well-being is nice but over active maternal instincts can tip that into coddling territory. How it is possible for an over-protective boss to hover while telecommuting from ninety miles away I don't know but she managed. So long and short of it I got to go out in the thunderstorm.
It really served to remind me why I chose the phrase "Thunder over Denali" for my go to expression of astonishment and frustration. A thunderstorm over a mountain is a wondrous sight and a powerful experience.
If an author really knows where to look there is no shortage of stories to be told. Or rather there are the seven original stories and a near infinite ways to retell them. On almost surprising source of material this author has found is of all things a plant book. Pojar and Mackinnon got together to list out the plants native to one of the wettest temperate areas of the globe but ended up doing more than than. They reached into the culture and revealed not only what the plants were used for but what they meant to the people who relied on them. There are stories in the book of vengeful husbands and various trees scrambling to collect the melted Pitch who was too slow returning from the beach. Sitting down and flipping through the pages of this book is a fun and possibly inspiring read.
Spring has hit full swing in the high mountains. It is very inspiring on many levels. Song burst forth from birds, insects, and amphibians alike. Every plant from the most humble sedge to the most glorious flower to the tallest tree is putting forth flowers and pollen. The runners are out in their shorts, mp3's strapped to their shapely but small biceps. The musically inclined are out on logs and boulders offering a metered counterpart to the more organic notes of the wild. Writers are dusting off their note pads to jot down ideas and paragraphs outside where it might be dangerous for laptops to follow. Gardeners have planted their beds and pots.
So yes, since I fall into most of those human categories it is just a touch distracting...
Betty Adams is an up and coming author with a bent for science and Sci-fi.