Monday, September 3, 2012

Doing it Right, GUTGAA and Announcements

**If you're here for GUTGAA, my bio and questions/answers are at the bottom of this post.

It's Monday, and no one really likes Mondays, but I'm excited to have a bit of news to tell you on this U.S. Labor Day Monday.  First, I've accepted the editor position at the Pikes Peak Writers Blog.  Things will remain the same here.  Keep an eye out for a call for guest posts.

Second, I've been asked to do a presentation/workshop on blogging for both writers and readers at the AuthorFest of the Rockies.  This one is a month sooner than the stand-alone workshop I've already mentioned.

Color me excited!

Moving on...

I'm reading the book All Clear by Connie Willis, and I'm amazed at the amount of research she had to have done, and how seamlessly she's worked it into the novel.  The story is about time traveling historians who seek the reality behind history.  They go back as observers, unable to intervene lest they cause ripples.  However, when several of them find themselves in different parts of England during the Blitz during WWII, something happens, and they're trapped.

I picked this book up at the Pikes Peak Library's Mountain of Authors this past spring after listening to Connie Willis talk.  She was fascinating.  Like me, she gets wrapped up in her research, often finding herself on a tangent.  She had stored all these little known facts about the Titanic, Molly Brown, the Black Death and the Blitz, all because she got caught up in her research.  In fact, she said she doesn't enjoy the writing part, just the research part, but she writes to see what happens next.

I took notes on what she said, but looking at them now I see that I can't read my own writing.  Whoops!

I did a post awhile back inspired by my frustration with a book I was reading because it was set in Colorado, yet the writer had obviously never been here and hadn't done her research.  Connie Willis is the antidote to that.  I'm not done with the book yet, but I'm completely lost in the world she's created, tense and terrified for the trapped historians, rooting for the survival of the secondary characters, and entirely drawn in to a part of history that has always just been of passing interest to me.  Now I'm hungry to go read more about the era (once I'm done, of course).  I had no idea how many children were evacuated during the Blitz, my only experience of it having been the film Bedknobs and Broomsticks.  I got so many of my own story ideas (horror ideas, of course, because that is just how I roll) while reading this book.

To create such a realistic world is something we all hope to strive for.  Yes, this all really happened in the past, but the level of detail in her books is stunning.  Not only that, but she isn't killing us with flat information; everything is conveyed through the story.  Not only am I having fun reading this book, but I'm learning all kinds of things that I want to look into further.

One pointer she gave us (that I can read, yay) was to start your research with kid's books.  Children's non-fiction books tend to be more simplified, boiled down.  You'll get a feel for what you're researching in the basic sense.  After that, you can start researching via adult means, taking notes, using what you've already learned to figure out what to research more on.  "Look for the details that make your spine tingle," she told us.  "That will tell you that you're writing the right thing."  If you're interested in it, if you're excited by it, your readers will be, too.

-Where do you write?
I write in my dungeon at a desktop computer, in the living room on a laptop, or on paper wherever I happen to be.

-Quick. Go to your writing space, sit down and look to your left. What is the first thing you see?
A mishmash of photos of actors who resembled the looks and personality of my Lonely Hollow characters, plus a map of Lonely Hollow.

-Favorite time to write?
Any time I can!  

-Drink of choice while writing?
Water.  I know, boring, but caffeine puts me to sleep, so coffee is out.  Sometimes I drink herbal tea.

-When writing , do you listen to music or do you need complete silence?
I like music.  What I'm writing determines whether it's instrumental or just plain ol' regular music.  Editing usually calls for instrumental.

-What was your inspiration for your latest manuscript and where did you find it?
My inspiration was a dream.  I have no idea where it came from, but I woke up knowing I needed to write about it.

-What's your most valuable writing tip?
Don't procrastinate; write when you have the chance!

BIO: Hi there!  I am a mom to two in Colorado, and I write YA Fantasy, Urban Fantasy and Horror.  I read just about anything.  My first visit to a writers conference a couple years ago got me inspired, and I jumped back into writing, finally dedicating more of my time to it.  Looking forward to meeting you and working on my pitch!

Are you participating in GUTGAA?  What are your research tips?  Do you get lost in research or try to get it over with as fast as possible?  What was a book you read that you thought did a fabulous job of accurate research without being dull?

May you find your Muse.


Kyra Lennon said...

It's cool how so many people say their latest WIP idea came from a dream! Mine did too, but this is the first time it's ever happened!

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

So many have chosen water today! Who says writers aren't healthy?
Start with kids' books for research. Good tip.

Rosaria Williams said...

Oh yes, researching is especially important now when information can be checked so easily. Even as I was writing my memoir, I took the time to research various historical points around the times, for this very reason.

Tina said...

CONGRATS! WOW! How totally awesome that you got the editor job! You'll be GREAT!I Congrats also for the speaking engagements! I'm so proud if you, if a colleague can say that without it sounding like I'm thinking that I'm your superior or anything...but it's just so cool - I so enjoy watching my friends succeed! l
I Iove research, because I've always loved learning. I rabbit trail, though, and get really far away from where I originally headed. I don't think this is a bad thing at all, well maybe for the time spent RIGHT THEN doing it instead of what I WAS trying to accomplish.

Just watched "Dangerous Minds" for what's probably, conservatively, oh, 10th time. Great point she makes about how each fact, each vocabulary word, each whatever you learn, arms you further and makes you tougher to knock down.

1) I write wherever. I jot down ideas when I'm not at my computer. I carry a 3x5 size notebook in my purse. I have notebooks all over the place. Drawback: finding what I wrote when I want to write about it...

2) In my preferred writing space, which is here at the kitchen on my left is my cell phone.

3) My favorite time to write is when that idea pierces my muse...but those rarely come when I CAN write. They frown upon doing so while operating a motor vehicle, just to name one example.So I jot t down at the next red light. I'm most effective, creative, a better writer in the morning.

4) Depends on time of day. Morning: green tea, or if I'm feeling splurgy , a Bhakti chai latte from Ziggy's.

5) This varies greatly and since I've just written a post length comment I'll say "sometimes". But I'm jotting the idea down for a post of my own!

6) My novel was born out of a writing contest where we took turns providing prompts. It was supposed to be a 10 installment thing. Never finished.and that bugged me until I realized it was because it wasn't a short story, it was my first book. Feb, 2011.

Tina @ Life is Good

D.G. Hudson said...

Congrats on the editor job! Add that to your conference presentations and you're starting to pick up speed.

Not participating in GUTGAA, got too much on the go at the present.
Good luck.

Andrew Leon said...

The Doomsday Book by Willis is one of my favorites and one I may go back to. You should read it. I have Passages, another of hers, on my TBR pile.

Let me know if you need a guest post.

Heather Murphy said...

Congratulations on the editor position! Have fun with GUTGAA

Think Positive, Be Positive said...


I'm hopping over from GUTGAA and trying to visit some blogs...good luck with GUTGAA!

Donna L Martin

Dawn Allen said...

I love meeting everyone. Half the fun of these blogfests is expanding our sphere of influence as they say. Hope to learn more about you and your writing this month.

Anonymous said...

My research comes from all around me... sometime the smallest thing sparks an idea.

J.A. Kazimer said...

Whoo Hoo!!! Couldn't find a better editor for the PPW blog and I can't wait to learn all about blogging in your workshop. Shannon is AMAZING!!!! Congrats on all the good news.

Kelley Lynn said...

Hello! *waves* So nice to meet you!

I write with music too! Puts me in the right mindset. :)

Unknown said...

Conferences are a huge boost. Good to meet you and best wishes with GUTGAA. BTW, moving to CO next week. Yay!

Unknown said...

Congrats on the editor's position! I think starting with kid's books is a great way to go about researching. I'm a bit of a knowledge junkie so I can overdo it with the facts on occasion.

Lauren said...

That's why I like Sci-fi and fantasy so much--not only can I make up the rules, but also the history and the facts! :)


Stephsco said...

One thing I get very concerned over is setting, and my story takes place 50 years ago in a place I've never been. I've obsessed over old maps, wikipedia, travel photos and a few questions to native Texans to help me out. I definitely don't want anyone to think something I've said doesn't sound at all like where they grew up (even if it was 50 years ago). My next story is set in the state where I grew up. Whew!

The book/author you referenced is so right that research can kind of sweep you away. There's a definitely decision process in what historical details to show and what is overkill.

Here's my GUTGAA Meet & Greet post: A Girl and her Diary

Jeannette said...

Good luck with GUTGAA! I'll look out for your work over the next few weeks. :)

Anonymous said...

I love Colorado Springs! I bet just the clean crisp air is inspiration for writing :) Nice to meet you and see your blog!

Rebecca said...

music is always on when i write

Tracy MacDonald said...

Shannon- so great to see you in the GUTGAA world. Congrats on all of your new opportunities!
A2Z Mommy and What’s In Between

Mia Celeste said...

I'm trying to take a page from your book and write whenever I can.

Shannon Lawrence said...

Kyra, I think this is the only one that came from a dream for me, too. I was obsessed with it once I got it, too, which was the first time it had happened that way.

Alex, Connie is awesome. I wish I'd taken more notes, but I was engrossed in her talk. And yay for water!

Rosaria, so true! I tend to look things up if they're hard to believe, but also just when I'm really interested in that particular fact. Don't know about others, though.

Tina, I'd never think you were trying to sound superior, so thank you! I have notebooks everywhere, as well, and then jot things on any available portable surface I can find when I'm lacking one of my notebooks. You're right, it's hard to find them later!

D.G, thank you! It really does seem to be picking up. So exciting!

Andrew, I'll definitely have to check out that book next! I'm on the second one (All Clear) for the duology I was reading. Also, you will hear from me about a guest post once I'm all settled in!

Heather, thank you!

Donna, thanks for hopping by; I'll be by your blog shortly!

Dawn, I love getting to meet everyone in a hop/fest!

Tania, I agree; true for me, as well. And I love it!

Shannon Lawrence said...

Julie, thank you! You going to AuthorFest?

Kelley, music is such a great aid! I find it really helps me relax into it or get hyped up for an action scene.

Angelina, awesome! What part of Colorado? I hope your move goes well.

Jamie, me, too, and thank you!

Lauren, precisely! Good point.

Steph, I'm willing to bet you got it right! But you're right, so stressful and important to get it just right when there may be people reading who truly know.

Jeannette, thank you!

Roomthirty3, typically, yes, my natural surroundings here are a great inspiration and boost, or serve to relax me if I'm needing a break.

Becca, I can't say always, but quite often for me!

Tracy, thank you! Looking forward to GUTGAA.

Mia, always easier said than done, I know. Good luck to you!