For anyone looking for adventure, compelling female characters, and a wonderful look at a time and place that has since slipped from human memory Janette Oke is a great place to start. Her portrayals of the life of the early pioneers illustrate the courage and fortitude it took to survive in a strange land and the cultural shocks and discoveries that awaited the brave souls who left the comfort of their homes and stepped out into the wilderness.
"When Calls the Heart" tells the story of a young teacher who finds herself restless in her current life. Despite having a job she loves and a loving and supportive family something in missing. So she leaves behind the known factors of her life and answers the call to bring education to the deep woods of Canada.
I must admit to being mildly addicted to Janette Oke in my youth. I read every book she wrote and eagerly awaited each new instalment in the current series I was on.
Out of all the various punctuation marks I have ever encountered, memorized, or used the semicolon has hands down given me the most trouble. I constantly find myself running back to grammar and punctuation books. According to "The Writer's Handbook"
Semicolons help you connect closely related ideas when a style mark stronger than a comma is needed. By using semicolons effectively, you can make your writing sound more sophisticated.
Sounds simple right? And yet this little daub of ink gives many authors loads of trouble. Employers know this. I once had an interview for a job that required strict writing skills and they went right for the jugular.
"What are semicolons used for?"
I suppose that this weeds out the serious writers from the merely competent. It certainly threw me for a loop. Really what makes this one so hard?
Very much from the 'Truth is Stranger Than Fiction' category. The curious case of Benjamin Franklin. No author in their right mind would create a character like this. He is rags to riches. He is a stable-boy statesman. He knew how to manipulate the high politics of Europe and how to curse like a sailor. His writings inspired the very identity of the United States of America, and dragged in the gutters to the point that Playboy would think twice before publishing some of his articles.
If an author takes away any one point from reading books about or by this founding father it might be that there really is no upper limit to how outrageous you can make a character and still have it be believable.
For all of the advancement that the internet has allowed there is still nothing like a good relationship with your local library for a writer. There are some sources of information that cost money online; reference books about very specific times and places for instance that are free at the library. There are even some resources that are not available at all online believe it or not. There are times when the power or internet goes out (yes it does happen) that it is good to have a hardcopy around. So go find your local branch and learn to cozy up with twenty odd pounds of cellulose, cardboard, and cloth.
When something goes wrong in an author's life there is at least always the comfort of, "At least this will make good story fodder. Perhaps even a good blog post."
Teenager loses sleep and throws a huge fit.
Septic line bursts and floods under a house for six months.
Burst septic line is discovered during torrential rainfall.
Washing machines can be rerouted through the wall with only minor cutting.
The character doesn't really need a functional toilet in the house.
All the cats get in the shop.
The warmest and bestest cat bed is the dehydrator being used to cure herbs used to treat cat allergies.
The longest haired/shediest cat finds the bestest bed.
It rains even harder....
Springboarding off the previous post, the one where the need for conflict and mistakes in a story is mentioned, let's discuss the holiday episode. Be it a book series, a children's cartoon, or a gritty investigative procedural nearly every writer has to write something holiday themed. Why is this? While I am sure that there are a plethora of reasons, one of the biggest is the wonderful opportunities the holidays offer for conflict.
Families gather together for the first time in months if not years and old problems are dredged up even as new ones form.
Heart attacks and other stress related illness spike in frequency.
In the northern climes the weather itself becomes dangerous just as everyone is traveling.
Yes indeed any holiday is a cornucopia of conflict factors that make any author giddy with anticipation. It might seems a little mercenary to capitalize on that for writing ideas but if any one asks about the note taking you can just say you are making a list.
#ItsNotAHolidayUntil someone is crying in the gravy.
Today is the day that the United States of America chooses to set aside specifically to remember and honor those who served in the armed forces and came back alive. The Veterans. Now don't get me wrong, I thinks it's a great idea to have one day specifically set aside for an action of value. Humans are after all such forgetful creatures. The reminder every year is a perfect stepping off point for remembering those who served; a time to reflect on the best way to honor them the rest of the year. There are so many ways to help. Perhaps the best illustrations are what the veterans do for each other.
One Huey Mechanic who saw those old helicopters come back in pieces, with pieces of their crews fused to the twisteds metal, offers her services as a nutritionist to any who asks, to help bodies and minds heal from stresses that no human should ever endure.
One weather observer simply offers himself to sit and listen, to be available any time of day or night for friends and strangers who need to talk.
At a remote gas station a radio operator who once spent two weeks crawling through the jungle with nothing but his friend and a will to live stops and shakes the hand of a boy in green fatigues. He says Thank You.
For those of us who haven't been there there are other ways. As an author I do my best to speak the truth. Before I put anything down on paper I research, talk to veterans, read personal accounts. Hopefully everything I have written about the armed forces is based in solid truth.
Every writer knows that stories are about conflict. If there is no conflict there is no story. The "Seven Original Stories" are all set up as 'X vs. Y'.
So from one perspective common sense is the natural enemy of authors everywhere. Sure you can write a story about the characters who did everything right but fate still conspired against them, but that gets old fast. Characters have to make mistakes for the story to be engaging.
This is true whether an author is writing a newspaper article or a three volume space drama. Where would Star Wars be if Luke had listened to Yoda after all?
Being that making very stupid mistakes is an integral part of human nature most authors have to go no further than their local newspaper for inspiration.
ie While most humans have the common sense to act respectfully to the person who has the power to inflict severe punishment on them some just don't get the fact that judges are called "Your Honor" for a very good reason. This has led to the very amusing #BadThingsToTellAJudge.
It is by no means a new meme. Established publications like reader's digest have been running such lists for years. From Reader's Digest
Before I got myself a full time job I never understood how Mondays could possibly be a bad thing. For one I liked school. I liked my teachers, I like being with my friends, I like having access to the library, and I liked the playground so very much. What was a day spent without getting to be the navigator of the USS Bigplaygroundlog with Captain Bestfriend commanding? But most of all Mondays were the days the library opened.
For some horrible reason all the libraries closed Sunday and most of them closed Saturday as well. Here I was with two whole twenty-four hour days and not one single open library within seventy miles! I know because I had all of the phone numbers and schedules memorized. All of the books I had checked out the previous Monday were finished and sitting in my bookbag gathering dust. So Monday dawned and I raced off to school. As soon as the final bell rang I was headed into town like a story seeking missile. There were books to be returned and more to check out. If I was lucky someone had donated a new Sci-fi book as I had read all the existing ones.
There were always #MondayMotivations for me as a child.
Getting a standard forty hour a week job did put a crimp in the system for me and I began to appreciate my Saturdays and Sundays a bit more. But the libraries still open on Monday.
Betty Adams is an up and coming author with a bent for science and Sci-fi.