Words of Significant Weight

I own far too many books.

It never seems like too many books until I have to move them all.  I have already packed four boxes with just my fantasy collection (most of which is paperback) and I still have textbooks, kids’ books, nature books, interpretation books, Shakespeare, general fiction…  This could take a while.

I have to leaven the boxes with other things (like DVDs, games, etc) to make them light enough to lift.  I knew that words could have weight, but this is ridiculous!  I’m running out of lighter things to put in the boxes – I may have to shift to clothing. 

And don’t get me started about the National Geographics.  Every time I’ve moved, I’ve put my ever growing NG collection in the same box together.  Not this time!  Do you know how much nearly 14 years worth of NatGeos weigh?  Using the time-honored (and highly scientific) method of weighing myself and then weighing myself while holding magazines, I have discovered that the 2009 issues alone weigh about 8 pounds.  For those not near a calculator that equals almost 112 pounds worth of paper and ink.  112 pounds!!  Do you want to carry that much weight in a box (or two) in front of you?  Me, neither.

I might put the heavier hardbacks (and those yellow-spined magazines) into rolling suitcases.  That alleviates the carrying, at least until there are stairs involved.  Clothes can go in boxes, right?

Some have suggested that moving is a chance to purge, to simplify, to lighten your personal load.  While I am planning to viciously pare down my wardrobe and plan to leave behind a variety of randomness that I have accumulated, I absolutely refuse to reduce my collection of words.  Books are my friends when no one else is, and I will carry the boxes myself if the need arises.  🙂

Plug it in, plug it in

Just wanted to remind you: today the stories start on SerialCentral!! 

I know you are all anxiously awaiting my story, Burden of Knowledge, but please take the time to read the other stories, too!  You might find another fantastic author to follow.  Besides, part of the fun of a multi-author blog is the chance to share fans.  🙂

Pushing Paper

I am an electronic kind of writer.  I write everything on the computer – blogs are created in WordPress, stories are typed up on my laptop, and outlines and notes live in my hard drive. 

There are a few things that I keep in hard copy.  There are two hard copies of my manuscript floating around (not counting any my mom has printed) and I like to have a printed list of names to refer to while writing.  Occasionally I find a need to sketch a dress or draw a timeline, but most of my notes can fit in a small pocket folder.

Today I waded through boxes of old files, cleaning things out and re-organizing.  I had forgotten about a few things that have gone digital in the last few years: direct deposit pay stubs, bank statements, even some bills I get completely online now, not in paper form.  While I like to do many things on my laptop, there is one thing I refuse to do electronically: read books.  There is just something about holding a paperback in my hand or propping a hardback open on the bed that can’t be replicated by an e-reader, no matter how fabulous.  It does mean that I have to haul heavy boxes of books when I move, but I can live with that.

Shorter things are easy to read online.  I like to read blogs, e-zines, and news on the computer.  And starting tomorrow, I’m going to be reading fantastic stories on SerialCentral.  You should, too!!  Hopefully one day all the authors on the blog will have real, published books you can hold in your hand, but for now, you can enjoy their fiction (and mine!) online.

Finding Myself (again?)

What is it about family?  You can hear the same comments, advice, and suggestions from your friends, over and over, but it’s family who really bring it home.

I’ve been struggling with some very large things in my personal life lately.  (Did you read my Heartbreak post?)  In the process of life and these hurdles, I had somehow lost the ability to focus on myself.  One of the multitude of accusations made recently was that I am selfish, so I spent months trying to prove that I wasn’t.  Unfortunately, I am now in a position to need to stand up for myself.  No matter how much my friends reminded me of that, it never made it through.

My family sure made certain that my backbone was re-calcified before they left! 

It feels almost as though a part of me had been hidden and has finally been found.  I know that it won’t stay, that I won’t keep this new-found confidence forever.  Things like this can’t last.  But I plan to enjoy it while I have it, and I know that my friends and my family will be there to help me find it again if I need it.

Hm.  This post didn’t talk at all about writing, just about my life.  Oh, well, a little personal insight for you to enjoy, I guess!

Writing Magic

For those who haven’t read my manuscript, the world of Butterflies does not include a great deal of magic.  It is fantasy due to its setting – a world of my creation – not due to magical creatures or abilities.  This is for two reasons.  The first: magic is mostly unnecessary to the plot.  The second is bigger.  Magic is hard to write.

Magic is truly fantasy; it has to be created whole cloth from the author’s imagination.  Sure, many writers use previous stories as the foundation for their magic.  Elves, dragons, and fairies make frequent appearances in fantasy due to their traditional roots and their familiarity to readers.  Some authors have created excellent rule-based magic systems that provide an easy beginning for other writers.

I prefer to create my own system of rules for magic and how worlds work, but this is a big challenge.  I’m also a scientist, which requires finding a method of magic that reconciles with the way my mind reasons.  I’ve found a way to make some of it work, and other things I’m still developing.  Fortunately, the main character of my new story has instinctive use of her magic, making the need to establish full-blown rules less pressing for the creation of the novel.

And I get to return to the world of Butterflies for my serial story and the sequel I plan to write, relieving the need for magic to strain my brain.

Writing Practice

She walked slowly, the ground beneath her feet smooth and damp.  Water lapped gently over her bare toes.  Waves crashed against themselves far in front of her, running their energy out on the long, shallow slope of the beach.  She continued wading further into the ocean, stopping when the swells reached her knees.  The water, surprisingly warm, offered a marked contrast to the brisk breeze blowing off the water and the cool drops of rain that pattered gently against her shoulders and head.

As she stood, the water inexorably worked at the sand.  What had started with a trickle of grains rushing from beneath her grew to a steady pull.  The feeling of the earth being washed out from under her feet finally became too unnerving.  She took a step forward just as a wave crested near her; the spray hit her face and shocked a smile onto it.  Licking her lips, she tasted salt.  On the horizon, pelicans could just be seen diving for their food.  She watched, entranced, as they dropped one after another to collide with the surface, rising again when their attempts failed to result in fish. 

Without warning, a ray of sun burst from the gray clouds overhead and lit the horizon.  A gorgeous rainbow spread from sea to sky.  Reveling in the glory of the moment, she threw her arms back and raised her head, rain and salt spray mingling on her face, her hair streaming out behind her in the wind.  Her spontaneous laughter joined that of the nearby gulls.  In that instant she felt overwhelmed; tiny and insignificant, yet a part of something so much bigger than herself.

It’s Trivial

I love trivia.  My friends and I often play in the trivia bowl at a local spot, I like to watch trivia game shows on TV, and I have already mentioned my affinity for Sporcle

While the plot is the backbone of a story and the characters make it come to life, it is the little trivial details that add depth and flavor to a book or movie.  The color of someone’s hair rarely has a bearing on the outcome of the story, but authors generally share physical details of their characters to make them feel real.  A movie cut-away to follow a falling piece of a rocket doesn’t impact the final destination of the ship, but gives us a sense of completeness of the world in which it is flying.  These nuggets of information are like the seasoning of a dish; not enough, the story is too bland, but too many and your reader is overwhelmed.  The challenge for any author is to find the exact amount needed to make the story worth savoring.

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