Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Busyness--Is It Real or Just An Excuse?

By takomabibelot via Wikimedia Commons
I love this picture. It reminds me of a bygone era, a simpler time when people seemed to read and write more.

But wait, aren't our modern-day inventions supposed to give us more time? What's happened? We've filled the gaps with more things to do. Which is great unless we're using busyness as an excuse.

Okay, let me explain.

I visited Jody Hedlund's Blog the other day. She'd written a very interesting post about how sometimes saying "I'm too busy," is just an excuse. You might want to hop over and read it.

Sometimes people don't understand that when they use the excuse of busyness it implies that others have an abundance of time or that they are lazy. And I know they don't mean it that way . . . or do they?

Oh, that's a scary thought. I'd rather believe they just haven't thought through what they are saying. Which reminds me. At one of my signings a lady told me that if she had time to read she'd read her scriptures. She offended me on many levels: my intelligence, my spirituality, and my work ethic. That slam hurt for quite a while

Here's the deal.

We are all given the same amount of time to do with what we want. Our job on this earth is to learn what matters most. And if we want to reach our full potential, we learn how to prioritize and juggle so that we can do it all.

Now, look at the picture above again. Actually during that era many people were sowing their own clothes, cooking over a fire, and working from sun up to sun down to put a roof over their heads. Yet, there were still those driven to write and read even though their time to do so was minimal.

Things have changed. Yes, our lives seem to be busier, but have we let the excuse of busyness keep us from doing what we want?

I hope not.

What have you done to help you keep busyness in its place? How do you prioritize your day to get the most out of it?


Wednesday, August 14, 2013

For the Sake of Research

I'm the one in the red jacket.

I've done many things I didn't think I would in the name of research for a novel, but I never, ever thought I'd go on a zipline. Never.

That is until a couple of weeks ago. See that motley zipline crew above. They are members of my extended family. During our family reunion I was asked if I'd like to go on the zipline. My daughter, Tricia, encouraged me to go, but when I learned it was ten lines I started having a major case of cold feet. I could tough it out for one fast ride, but ten. All sorts of doubts clouded my mind. I mean, I'm too old to go dangling in the air zipping over the ground. Good grief, I'm a grandma.

But then my nephew, Travis, said  this, "You could use the experience for research in your next book." Something clicked in my brain and all at once I realized deep down I wanted to go . . . no, I needed to go.

So I screwed courage to my backbone and went.

What a thrill! We started at 9:00p.m. and it took three hours to complete all ten ziplines. In case you were wondering, yes, we didn't get done until after midnight, and we were zipping in the dark. What an experience. It was like jumping into space, except in space you would just float instead of sipping rapidly to the end of the line.

I realized something. In the name of research I have done many things I never thought I would: herd cattle, hike to the top of a mountain, stay in a cabin by myself (well the dog was there, but a Yorkie isn't much protection) for two weeks, pan for gold, visit old cemeteries, visit foreign countries, and etc.,

Research can be more than searching the Internet or spending hours in a library.

What adventure you gone on in the name of research?

Heise Zip is where I did my zipline research. You might give it a try.

Here's a fun youtube video of the zipline As you watch, imagine doing it in the dark.


Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Visiting Scenes in Your Novel

Last week I had the good fortune to find myself standing on the north bank of the Snake River beneath Table Rock Mountain. Isn't it beautiful? This is one of my favorite spots in the world, and where I set some scenes in my novel, Wanted.

Here's another view of the mountain from across the river. In Wanted Jo, one of the main characters, rides her horse to the top of the mountain and looks down at the river and valley below as she tries to find answers to her father's untimely death.

Standing beneath the mountain last week, I longed to be on top looking down just like Jo did.

But I wasn't there for research or to recreate my novel. I was there for a family reunion. See my mother was born across the river from Table Rock Mountain. I have visited the area many times and  know it pretty well.


As I stood there taking in the scenery, smelling river grass and hearing tree leaves flutter in the breeze overhead, I wished that my readers could have been there with me. I tried my best to paint the scene with words, but it's not the same as being there.

The Snake River is as wild and impressive as I remembered. It looks shallow here because the water is so clear, but farther out there are sinkholes and rapids that are scary even in a boat.

(Side note: My mother and her brothers and sisters had to row across that river twice a day to go to school. When I was a kid and complained about walking a couple of blocks, Mom would remind me that it could be worse.)

There are many advantages to setting scenes in your novel in places you've been and know well.
  1. Your descriptions come alive.
  2. You're able to feel emotions your characters would have from their surroundings.
  3. And you can give attention to details that will add authenticity to your story.
I'm sure there are other reasons.

Why do you think setting a novel in places you've been can be a good thing?

Don't get me wrong. I do believe an author can write amazing stories without actually visiting where they have set their books. The reason they can do that is they have done extensive research. However, visiting the actual setting makes writing about it much easier. Take it from a writer who has done both.



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