Last week I read a Technology Review report about researchers finding an early DaVinci self-portrait. The paper on which the portrait had been drawn was later used by DaVinci himself when he was writing “The Flight of Birds.”
Sure, the fact that this portrait was uncovered at all was amazing. What is truly amazing is that once this was done, a later researcher decided to reexamine the find and try to recreate the results. Not only did she manage to duplicate what had been done earlier, but she did it all with free software.
And this is what got me to thinking about the challenges our protagonists face. How many of us pull back when presenting our protagonist with a challenge? “There is no way,” we tell ourselves, ” that my character would have access to the tools to solve this problem.”
Really? Because someone just uncovered a DaVinci potrait that had been overwritten some 500 years ago and she did it using free software.
Sure, she has to know how to use the software or she figured it out. But she did it.
What more could our characters accomplish if we really knew the resources they might have access to?
I never know what I’m going to find when I pop over to Wendie Old’s blog, Wendie’s Wanderings, but what I didn’t expect to find one day last week was an obit for one of my favorite authors — Anne McCaffrey.
I latched onto McCaffrey as a teen, reading first the Harper Hall books and then moving on to the Dragonriders of Pern books. My mother knew that if I was holding a Pern book, speaking to me was pointless. But I don’t think it bothered her. Otherwise, why would she have continued to give the books as gifts to both my husband and I?
McCaffrey’s books captivated me. As a writer, I envy her world building skills. As a reader, a writer, and a parent, I deeply appreciate her characterization. In a sense, characterization was part of her world building. Her worlds were realistically and marvelously diverse. So were her characters.
And she didn’t make a big deal out of this diversity. It wasn’t something she pointed out or lauded herself for. No. The characters were simply there — doing their jobs, fighting to gain their deepest desires. Living and loving. No explanations needed.
As a teen, I read her books without realizing everything that was in them. It wasn’t until another writer, Wendie Old, pointed some of it out to me that I went back and read McCaffrey’s work as a writer.
Why not pick up a childhood favorite and see what stands out now that you have learned a bit about how to pull together a top notch story?
Brrr. That’s what I’ve got to say about the Monday after Thanksgiving. Brrr. The high? 39 degrees and I’m loving it. I made it to the labyrinth and thus had an excuse for some time outdoors before I attempted work.
Work. So how’d that go last week with all of two work days? Not bad. I managed some work time with people home and came away from the week with 4703 words total. Not 6000 but not bad either.
One of the best things? I submitted my piece to the Muffin. It was accepted that day and is scheduled for mid-December. Woo-hoo!
Where you surprised last week when the National Book Foundation announced the winners of the National Book Award?
The winner is Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhha Lai (Harper). The other nominees included Chime by Franny Billingsley (Dial Books), My Name Is Not Easy by Debby Dahl Edwardson (Marshall Cavendish), Flesh and Blood So Cheap: The Triangle Fire and Its Legacy by Albert Marrin (Alfred A. Knopf), and Okay for Now by Gary D. Schmidt (Clarion Books).
I have one more book off the list to read. I’d love to know what criteria the judges used to pick the winner. The nominated books are so different from each other.
Well, last week was one of those weeks. Playing with the tail end of a cold, I managed to meet my word count goals, reaching 6229 of 6000, but finished very little. Yes, many things required rewriting. Hopefully this week I can wrap some more up and get it out and away.
But will I pull it off with only a two day (2 day) work week? We shall see what I manage. Honestly, I am going to take some time off this week so if I don’t get much checked off the list, I hope you’ll be understanding.
For those of you in St. Louis, my church is holding their annual Craft Fair and Used Book Sale Saturday, November 19 from 9 am until 3 pm.
I don’t go there for children’s books or the latest adult fiction, although I do sometimes find a gem in one of those areas. I love it for the cook books, reference books, how-to’s, and other older volumes that members have dug out of their basements, closets and attics.
In years past, I have walked away with:
Kipling’s Stories for Boys (Cupples and Leon Company, 1931)
The Art of Interesting: Its Theory and Practice by Francis P. Donnelly, S.J. (PJ Kennedy and Sons, 1920)
Foundation Stones of Success, Vol III, Conversational Lessons on Social Ethics by Estelle Avery Sharpe (The Howard-Severance Co, 1910)
Character Sketches of Romance Fiction and the Drama by the Rev. E. Cobham Brewer (Selmar Hess Publisher 1892)
If you’re in the St. Louis area and have some free time, why not pop by on Saturday and see what treasures we have this year? If not, look for used book sales in your area. You never know what you might find.
Last week, I finally got going on a long planned site redesign. First and foremost, things needed to be updated. Second, in rearranging my office this summer, I discovered that my web software had disappeared. Poof. Into the bozone. No disk to be found.
This, of course, posed a serious problem. You can’t update the site if you can’t find the software. So, in addition, to updating the info, I had to learn a new program. While I was at it, I decided to go ahead and make some other changes to the site.
Here is what I’ve pulled together so far. I’ll be making some more changes as I figure things out. Like how to get my pages in the order I want. Ahem.
Be sure to check out the page for my new critique service. Any time that I critique manuscripts at a conference, people want to know what I’d charge for “non-conference” critiques. Now they know!
Let me know if your browser has problems with the new site layout or if you have other suggestions for additional changes. This is something I’ll be playing with for some time to come!