What Have I Been Up to?

What have I been up to? That’s a big question. Let’s see. when it comes to my books I’ve Published a new mystery book called The Art of facts.

2bbb03cd97e1cad62bd4b4405f1aa294 A 1920’s steampunk mystery centered around Out of Place Artifacts, archaeology and murder that goes from the halls of a Denver Colorado university to the dusty desert of the Australian Outback. Join Professor Maxine Hadison as she searched for her estranged father’s killer in a world where it seems everyone is out to steal something.

Also I’ve tackled children’s fiction under the pen name Anna Lee with Curly, Pugsly, and the Time Trunk and Curly &Pugsly’s Christmas Adventure.

 

All three of these can be found on Amazon.com  or on my Amazon author pages LeAnna Shields or Anna Lee.

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Writing in Church

*Sigh* I know it’s been too long since my last post here. But lately I’ve had something weighing on my mind and heart. Now I’m no expert and this is just from personal experience. I’m a Christian and I love going to my church, and when I tell people I’m a writer I get to polite and genuine interest. But then comes the reaction to what I write. I write speculative fiction (fantasy, steampunk, sci-fi the stuff that asks the big “what if”). Just last Sunday I heard (for the tenth time from the same woman) that I should forget that and focus on children’s fiction. Now I’ve written that and it’s fun, but it’s not my passion or my calling children’s fiction requires short stories and my imagination doesn’t work that way. I guess my question is this. What is it that the church either can’t or doesn’t want to grasp about the battle that writers have entered? We praise and pray for Missionaries who go into the darkest parts of the world to shine light. Here we have people who put themselves out into the darkness of literary fiction and non-fiction and it seems like all we get is “Here’s a better idea.” and when the whole “how can we pray for you?” question rears it’s head how can I say, “I’m suffering from writer’s block.” or “yeah my *insert petty sounding problem here* is stopping me from writing.” AHHHH! Part of what I see is that to the general public writing is seen as a hobby unless your picked up by the big 5 publishers. How can someone see a hobby as a ministry or a mission? I know I don’t have the answers to this. All I can say is, there has to be a way for the church to come around it’s writers, to make them feel like they are not fighting their battles alone. It’s hard enough asking the big “what ifs” without people saying “your on the wrong path” or telling you your endorsing a belief system you’re not. Church, come on you have a group of people here that are feeling out of place, there has to be something we can do.

The Genre Universe.

Let’s talk about the subject of sub-genres shall we? These elusive little buggers have been pestering my thoughts lately. For now let’s compare the main book genres to planets in the Solar System (yes I did just go there). Now for the sake of argument I’m going to divide Science Fiction and Fantasy into their own planets, I’m also going to over simplify the list. So in the fiction solar system you have the planets Romance, Mystery, Science Fiction, and Fantasy. Are you all following where I’m going so far? Great, because here’s where it gets interesting to me. Let’s take our imaginary star ship to the planet Science fiction and as you get closer you start to notice the lands of Space opera, Hard science, Alternate History, Cyber Punk, Steam punk (Where I mainly write), Dying Earth, Terra Forming. If I were to name them all this piece would take you all day to read. So now our ship pulls into the docking bay in Steam punk and all of a sudden you discover there’s a sub-sub-genre!  Steam pulp!  By now you’re wondering why I’m going on this rant right? The point is that as a writer and self-publisher it can get complicated when trying to find where your fan base is if you’re not fully familiar with your chosen genre.

The Pantser’s Plague

I don’t know how familiar you are with these terms so first let me start with an explanation. There are roughly two approaches to writing a book one is called the Plotter. These are the people who write out elaborate timelines and outlines. They create thought boards that track their character’s every move. Then there’s the other side, they are known my their short name. the Pantser. This name comes from the fact that they write by the seat of their pants, letting the character guide where they may. I fall into this camp. Now each side has their good points and bad points. for the Plotter you have a relative certainty about where your story is going. For the Pantser you have creative freedom. in some cases too much freedom. In my case my characters can change anything about themselves mid story. Race, gender, names, anything is up for grabs and the story starts over. This is The Panter’s Plague. A new problem I’m coming across is story dehydration. You start with a nice juicy story idea, but halfway through the poor thing starts crying out for water. *sigh* I’d join the ranks of the Plotters, but I’ve tried it and my brain just doesn’t work that way. Oh well I guess all I can do is keep plugging away and as soon as I find a solution to my problem I’ll let you know. Bye for now I gotta get back to the stories.

New Year, New Goals.

Well with the dawn of a new year it’s time to look to the future with optimism and set our goals. Last year I changed the way I greet the New Year. Instead of the annual list of things I want to change about myself. I make a list of things I want to learn. Last year my list was to learn the art f needle felting, Calligraphy, and I wanted to try to make my own journal. This year my list includes teaching myself to paint, to use pastels, to sew, and to cook healthy meals. I hope to meet more goals than last year as well as meeting new writing goals. So let me wish you all a Happy New Year, and wish you all luck on your goals.

A Writer is Always Learning.

A writer seems to in part be a seeker of knowledge. It all starts with that first inkling of a story idea. What now? To the internet! Suddenly between Facebook and Twitter detours (of which there are many.) you find yourself on obscure sites researching even more obscure topics. Topics like the theoretic height of a griffin or confirmed Out of place artifacts. I tell you if I see another ancient astronaut theory website… Well you get the idea. We authors are a curious group that seem to draw pleasure in finding the odd factoid in the hours spent researching our books.  Or maybe it’s just me. Anyway that’s my two cents.

That Went Well…

Hey Readers. Let’s see in the last thrilling installment I was going to attempt National Novel Writing Month. Well I tried and once again didn’t finish, life was going to make darn sure of that. In the first week of November I had a funeral, a trip to the dentist, and jury duty. Oh well in the three weeks I had left I managed to beat last years word count only to discover I had to restart my story to change the narrator’s point of view (the curse of a writer who goes by the seat of their pants).  But even though I never finish a Nano I always come away from it with a terrific story idea and this year is no different.   I don’t want to give away too much, but it involves three sisters, archaeology, murder, and mysterious artifacts. Well until next time readers. Happy Holidays!

We’re gonna try this NanoWrimo thing again!

As October begins to draw to a close my mind is drawn to colorful autumn leaves, costume parties, and… wait…what? Is It that time already? No! Not November. That means it’s NanoWrimo time. AHHH! For those of you unfamiliar with Nano It stands for National Novel Writing Month. Every November some authors get delusions of grandeur and think we can actually write a 50,000 word count novel in the time from November 1st to November 30. I have tried this annual exercise in futility twice. (if you’ve succeeded at this, more power to you.) Every year life sees fit to get in the way. This year I’ve decided to partner with a fellow writer, the way we see it if we split the writing load to where each of us only has to writer 25,000 words we’re more likely to  actually make it to the finish line this year. So now I’m up to my elbows in research in the history of archaeology to get ready. Also hoping my Rory’s Story Cubes game and some other Nano strategies  along with my Pinterest inspiration will be able to stave off the dreaded writer’s block. Wish me luck readers. I’ll let you know how we did in December.

The Writer and the Classic Movie.

Okay today we’re going to shift focus a little (pun intended). Today I’m going to be talking about classic movies and writing.

Now I can already hear some of you asking, “What could a dusty old black and white movie possibly have to do with writing?”

Well here’s your answer, “Everything.”  If you write suspense consider the classic Hitchcock works Rear Window, North by Northwest, Notorious, and To Catch a Thief. All of these in my opinion are perfect examples for their ability to hold your attention and keep you guessing.

For the detective fiction/ mystery writer I recommend the film noir classics of Laura (best opening line in my opinion) and The Maltese Falcon. If you prefer your mystery with a little comedy I recommend The Thin Man Series. I pick these movies not only for the terrific one liners, but also for the relationship between the lead characters Nick and Nora Charles.

For psychological thrillers nothing for me can beat the classic Gaslight. The subtle ways the main character is slowly drawn almost to madness until… (well why spoil it if you haven’t seen the movie.)

If you write sci-fi I can recommend movies like The Day the Earth Stood Still, and The First Men In The Moon (this one especially for the Steampunk writer).

I could go on naming a movie for any kind of writer but that would leave use here till next year. What I’m saying is watch the classics, even the worst b budget movie has something to glean from it, even if it’s what not to do.

Time to Re-focus.

Okay, now that things have started settled down it’s time to get back to writing. But now that I have the time to relax and write all the ideas I’ve held back for three months have formed a writer’s log jam. Great, Seven different stories floating around in my head and I can’t get one of them one “paper”. On top of all this I’ve been working on making a deal with a local bookstore to have my book The Clockwork Golem on their shelves. Plus making arrangements for some more local sci-fi conventions (sigh) an indie writer’s work is never done.  Apparently All of this seems to result in very vivid dreaming at night for me that somehow involved an anthropomorphic fox wizard telling me to build a boat out of dirt so we can sail somewhere. I of course try and tell this creature that a boat made of dirt won’t work. I really need to start writing again.