So, I filled in for the boss at the radio station Saturday to do a live radio “remote” of the Memorial Day parade in Fair Haven, VT. Was doing a non-stop play-by-play description of the laying of the wreath. And boy! Did I sound emotional!! Trouble is, I was emotional for the wrong reason—I’m allergic to bees, you see, and I didn’t have an epi-pen with me, and well, seven bees decided to have a conference on my bare arm. Yikes! I’m quoting Isaiah, describing a local hero who is laying the wreath beneath the flag, and I’ve gotta simultaneously search my bag for benedryl–just in case–while doing the play by play. Way I see it now? God has a sense of humor. He just wanted to be sure I had the proper quivering voice during the broadcast. After all —I’m sure the men and women we have been honoring this weekend went thru more horror and fear than the bees could instill in me. And they chose to go through it. Soon as I thought about those sacrifices and thanked God for what our heroes must have endured, the bees chose to jump up and fly away. Speaking of heroes, there are lots of heroes in my books! The SEED, a novel of suspense about unethical biotechnology and GMO’s; and the Johnny Vic historical adventure series that includes stories about Horace Greeley, George Washington, Calvin Coolidge, Benedict Arnold, Governor Bradford, and more. Make it your choice to check them out! www.annrichduncan.com.
“Like, I start the day ready to write up a storm.
I look at the empty screen. It stays empty.”
Does that sound familiar? Well don’t dispair, it happens to all of us. I found the perfect remedy after I was stumbling on my second Johnny Vic book. Some say, “Just write anything and soon you’ll get the creative juices flowing.” Sorry! Never works for me. I end up with jibberish. But wait! A sudden epiphony! The creation of a story takes two efforts. It isn’t just the writing . . . it’s the research, too! (even with fiction).
When the words don’t come to you, you have to go to them. Duh.
It’s just your muse telling you to relax and put on your Google eyes: flesh out the scene by researching the site where it takes place and adding factual information. Perhaps you could describe the building: was it designed by a famous architect? should it remind your reader of a past home? is it made of crumbling bricks or do the windows sparkle in the sunlight? Is it a city block or a country homestead? Can the character relate to the history of the place? Or, perhaps, you can describe a creature that scuttles by.
Just simply Google that thing, place, event, creature, whatever . . . and then, the results will most likely spur you on to add some details to your scene. For me, those details end up writing the story.
With my current “work in progress” I was researching the Sonora Desert and found out about an endangered species of cactus. Its rate of growth and the rarity of it helped me to work out a very important scene in which John Victor gets saved.
So now, when I find myself staring at a blank page, I take it as a sign that I just have to Google something. The following scene literally flowed after I’d done a bit of research about native Americans that Johnny Vic would have come across in his journey back thru time to the American Revolution. It involves an item I had never heard of. A firesteel. It’s on page 92 of “Travel With Johnny Vic” . . .
Ten minutes later, Jenny raced back into the house. “Dr. John! Dr. John! I can’t find him–but I did find this!” She held up a small metallic object and Linda’s heart wobbled when she saw Dr. John’s reaction. “What is it, Dr. John? What?”
He held it up for her to see. “I’m afraid this firesteel has a wolf pattern scratched into it. It may have been dropped by an Iroquois.” Linda said, “Firesteel?” Dr. John gave her a sidelong look. The woman did not recognize a common firesteel? “It’s the latest toy for the Iroquois . . . .” blah blah blah.
Firesteel. Calvin Coolidge. Civil War. GMO’s. Heirloom seeds. Cochise. etc., etc. I’ve researched them all. And more for my books. Your story could easily become a published book, with enough actual factual info!
Want more? Check out my books a www.annrichduncan.com!
Well, I’m sitting here, talking to my dogs, pictured right. Ginger and Gabriel. Ginger, our beautiful sammy dog (Samoyed Husky) sat down and put her paw up when I asked her if people would like to see a paragraph or two from the new book I’m working on. I took it as a yes. So here goes, but before you leave, don’t forget to click onto my website: www.annrichduncan.com. It’s got info about my YA historical adventure series featuring Johnny Vic and his treasure hunting adventures:
John was joking with Betty during one of the radio station’s commercial breaks, when one of his comments caught the attention of Paul MacDermott. Paul was a scientist connected with the Arizona Desert Museum in Tucson. Soft-spoken throughout the on-air ordeal, he suddenly became animated, flailing his arms, shouting for Todd’s attention.
Todd rushed to his seat, held a finger in warning, then addressed the listening audience. “Good afternoon, America! This is Todd Rascal, back on the air with a studio full of experts and one brave man, buried alive somewhere in the Sonora desert. And,” he finally gave Dr. MacDermott a nodd, “I now have Dr. Paul MacDermott at the mike and he seems to be excited. Let’s listen to what he has to say.” Todd was hoping that the somber scientist’s voice had finally become as animated as his body language.
“Thank you, Todd.” Dr. MacDermott immediately turned his focus on John. “John! I think we’ll be able to find you now! I’m sure of it!”
“Yes, really!” Grinning like a schoolboy, Dr. MacDermott said, “It’s something you said, John, when you were talking to your wife! I want you to describe that puffy little white thing that you picked off your pant cuff.”
“Umh, well, It’s one of those cactus thingy’s. You know, the seed pod or whatever. It’s umh, well, it seems to be covered with white wooly hairs.”
“Yes!” The animated scientist slapped the counter next to his microphone so hard that Detective Cromwell jumped and bumped his head against his own mike. “It’s not a seed pod, John, it’s most likely the dried skin from the fruit of the Nichol’s Turk’s head cactus. It’s an endangered species, John and there aren’t many in the area near Williston. Now, think hard and tell me, did you see a barrel shaped cactus? With ridges radiating from it? Was it covered with these white wooly fruits?”
“Well, now that you mention it, Doc, I think I did see some. Yeah, I’m sure of it.”
“This is important, John. How tall were they?”
“How tall? Gee, I don’t know.”
“Think, John. The Nichol’s Turk is very slow to grow. It takes ten years for them to reach two inches. And the thing is, we’ve been watching them for several years now, and the height of your cactus could tell us exactly which plot you are near!” Dr. MacDermitt couldn’t contain his excitement. He slapped the counter again, but this time Cromwell was prepared. He only jumped an inch or two.