Using Leftovers — Research

Welcome back everyone.  I’m happy to see you.

Today let’s discuss leftovers.  How do you (or could you) use leftovers in any of your creative pursuits?  Yes, it could be leftover food — and even better if you post a recipe about it!  However, I mean leftovers in a much broader sense.  Apply it to any craft or process or activity you choose.

Leftover Research — Blue John

3-things-cover_3-2016

My editor brain often serves me leftovers — leftover research.  There have been more than a couple of times when I get so intrigued by a research topic that it comes back, not yet finished with me.  One was the mythology I found while researching The Dead of Winter.  (You can find a few old posts about that epic nestled away in this blog.)  Myths from ancient Wales had little part in that novel, if any.  However the leftover research inspired some characters in Atonement, Tennessee as well as the work in progress, Atonement in Bloom.

Then there was the little feast author  Lord David Prosser provided when he left the gemstone, Blue John as one of the “things” for the original Three Things Serial Story.  Of course I had to Goggle the name, and as research topics sometimes do, it stuck with me.  (You can read the first episode involving Blue John here.)

Years later when I began a steampunk story, The Delta Pearl, as my 2016 National Novel Writing Month project, I needed several character names that were gemstones.  That time Blue John gave me more than a name — it created an entire character.  He even got the area where the gemstone is found as his home, not to mention his accent.delta-pearl-cover-1

So today I thought I’d share a snippet that used this leftover research.  I’m still working on the middle of The Delta Pearl, but here’s one the scene that includes Blue John, the First Mate of the Delta Pearl, and the heroine, Émeraude Perlezenn.  It’s just a slice of life aboard the strange riverboat in this steampunk tale.

***

The Mate looked positively frazzled as he rolled charts and tidied up the bridge.  Onyx, the clockwork owl perched on a sexton, and hooted at me as I entered.

“Who-who?” the owl vocalized.

I knew that was the owl’s version of “Who goes there?”  At one point, Captain Cecil Perlog fancied teaching the owl to talk like a pirate.  Granted, the normal rules of nature did not apply to clockwork creatures.  However, the Mate and I managed to convince him that human-like speech was more the province of parrots than owls.

“Oh really, Onyx.  It is not as if you don’t know who I am,” I chided the unrepentant owl.jenna-coleman-as-emeraude

“Who-who?” the owl asked again, but I ignored him.  “Blue, are you all right?” I asked the flustered Mate.

Blue John Boulton had been the first mate of the Delta Pearl for as long as I had been aboard the riverboat.  Born in Derbyshire, he still had the particular English accent of that area.  His dialect produced more than a few unexpected and often archaic sounding turns of phrase.

Though his eyes were the most magnificent shade of blue that was not how he came by the name Blue.  His parents named him for a unique form of fluorite mined in their area — Blue John.  However he was usually called the Mate, or simply Blue.

Blue was typically cool and composed, but seemingly random events could sometimes agitate him.  Some might even say he was paranoid.

“You know how the Delta Pearl can get finicky about such things as borders and boundaries.  I don’t know why it should matter to her…  But I’ve seen it a time or two, when she reacts strongly to crossing a line of demarcation, like the borders between states.  And that’s nothing compared to how she gets with time zones.”

It was not the first time I had seen him in a tizzy.  “When will we reach the boundary for the state line?” I asked.steamboat-mississippi

“Right about dinnertime, all factors remaining constant,” the Mate told me.

“Well, there’s no need to run around like a chicken with its head cut off.  There’s plenty of time.  What can I do to help?” I asked with the sudden realization that the Mate probably took precautions of which I had been unaware.

“Is that another of your grandpa’s sayings?  I love it when you talk like a southern belle,” he told me with a saucy wink, seeming more like the Blue John I knew rather than the frazzled mess that stood before me.

“Just make sure any artifacts,” he began but paused when he saw the perplexed expression on my face.  “That’d be anything, any item, decoration, or furnishing onboard that you just knew was dodgy somehow.  You know, anything that’s ever given you one of those strange feelings.  Anyhow, make sure anything like that is properly secured.”

“You don’t truly think there is that much cause for alarm, do you?” I asked, trying to keep the incredulous expression off my face.

“Better safe than sorry, Émeraude.  Better safe than sorry.  That includes the clockwork creatures,” he replied.Edwardian man

Onyx gave a triple hoot of protest at Blue’s words.  “Nen mate, now then old boy.  I’m sorry about that,” the Mate told the owl.  “It will only be for a short time,” he added consolingly before turning back to me.  “Em, if you can possibly find Amethyst it would be best to store the spider somewhere safe and secure.  I know she’s a hard one to find when she doesn’t want to be seen.  So just give it a try.”

I turned to go, but Blue stopped me, his eyes wide.  “Oh, and that portrait of the woman wearing the cameo like yours — make sure you cover it up!  The whole thing, just hang a sheet over it, or anything you can get your hands on quick.  That’d be the main thing right there.  Cover that portrait.  Thou art kind, Émeraude.  I appreciate the help.”

***

Nothing exciting… as I said, it’s more of a slice of life aboard the Delta Pearl.  However, I hope you enjoyed visiting the mystical riverboat.  Have a wonder-filled, hug-filled weekend.

Copyright © 2017 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

All rights reserved.

No part of this work may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission.  Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights.

 

What to Wear?

Welcome everyone.  I’m glad the weather does not usually effect our ability to have these virtual visits, but horse-feathers, it’s cold out there!  Or at least it is cold for a lot of us.  The question of what to wear is answered by “A coat!”

Life October 1929

Life Magazine, October 1929

Have you guessed that I’m leading into another writing process post?  Some people don’t like “descriptive writing” but I find some level of description helpful, whether I’m writing or reading.  An occasional mention of a character’s clothing can help in several ways.

To me describing a garment is particularly helpful if the story is set in a different era, or an entirely different world.

I enjoyed Robert Jordan’s descriptions of the clothing of the various cultures he built in to the world of his “Wheel of Time” series.  The garments helped define the nationalities. They also helped me keep up with the vast array of characters in that voluminous high fantasy series.

Also a quick mention of clothing can firm up the physical environment or climate.  Your character might wear a tank top or a cozy sweater, sandals or fur-lined boots.  Regardless of the garment it can help the reader feel your fictional world.

“What to wear?” can help develop a character’s personality.  I don’t mean just the items of clothing you choose to dress them, but what they pull out of their closet and why.  For instance, Ralda Lawton, the heroine in Atonement, Tennessee (© 2012) has a tendency to feel frumpy.  Ralda’s “go to” at-home garment is a tattered sweat jacket.  It also shows up in book-2, Atonement in Bloom, (currently in progress).  Meanwhile her friend Bethany (© 2012) consistently wears black.

Also in “Bloom” a new character is easily identified when the townspeople discuss him — because of his bowler hat and suit.  That’s not something one often sees in quaint Atonement, TN.Lew with hat

In writing a series, describing attire can serve as a reminder about aspects of a character.  Bethany’s affection for hats is brought out in “Bloom.”  I used the sequence to let you see the playful side of my Goth accountant.

The sound of a squishing footfall told me I was not alone.  I didn’t have to look to know it was Bethany Gwen.  Maybe it was logic, maybe it was intuition, but I knew it was her. 

Bethany lived farther up the street in the opposite direction.  She was an early riser, an accountant, and a Goth. She was a study in contrasts. 

A vivid color caused me to look down instead of up when I turned toward her.  Bright pink flame and swirl designs covered her shiny black galoshes.  On each boot, amid the pink flames a scull rested atop crossed cutlasses.  I shook my head.  In all of Atonement, only my friend would wear such foot-gear.

“Those are great,” I said of the galoshes, giving her a lopsided smile.

As was her usual habit, nearly everything else she wore was black, including an antique top hat and the ruffled umbrella she carried.  Bethany had tied a hot pink ribbon around the hat to match the boots.  The black garb made the galoshes seem even brighter.

“You like?” she confirmed and stuck one foot out in a precarious way.  “I couldn’t resist when I saw them online,” she said.

“Oh yes,” I said with a chuckle.  “Hey, wait a minute, you’ve cut your hair,” I commented moving a step closer to be sure, since she wore a hat.

Bethany doffed her top hat and bowed.  Then she stood and ruffled her new pixie cut.hats-vintage-magazine-red

As you see, that scene was not really about clothes.  It lets you know about the character’s personality.

Do you have a favorite book that makes use of clothing descriptions?  Or is there a character you enjoy who has a signature item of clothing?  If so, then be sure to mention it in a comment here.  You know I love hearing from you.

Mega hugs!

PS:  My apologies if you can’t get the videos in your location — or if commercials have been added.

Also known as “The Way You Wear Your Hat…”

Is Your Writing Beastly?

1920s Dorothy Sebastian

Dorothy Sebastian 1920’s

Today I thought a little “writing process” post would be fun.  So I ask you… Is your writing beastly? 

Don’t get defensive. I’m sure your words are beautiful.  However, maybe it should be beastly.  One way to animate your words is to well — animalize them.  (No, that is not a word.  Now it’s a “Teaganese” word.)  I caution against over use of this animalized technique.  However, it really can liven up your text. 

In The Three Things Serial Story, if Pip (and her Roaring Twenties friends) thought someone or something was the height of excellence they might say it was “the bee’s knees” or “the cat’s pajamas.”  However you can animalize your writing in more descriptive ways.

Here’s a bit from Atonement, Tennessee.  Ralda and Bethany happen upon Cael and Gwydion in the middle of an argument.  So the women pretend they didn’t overhear the men.  They try to choose a tombstone for one of Bethany’s charcoal rubbings, which is intended to be a gift. 

After a little looking around, Bethany and I were choosing between a floral carving and one of an angel.  Cael was inordinately pleased by the choice of the angel, but Bethany became worried that Lacey might think it was too “graveyardy.” 

When we went back to the design of a cluster of roses, I noticed that my florist friend looked rather self-satisfied.  For a moment I thought Gwydion would stick his tongue out at Cael.  I didn’t know just what the source of the testosterone filled undercurrent was, but they had practically gone from posturing lions to school boys.1926 life halloweenkitty

Also, you’ve probably heard sentences like the following. He moved with feline grace.  Her owlish eyes regarded me curiously.  He was a nocturnal creature, thriving on late night forays.  You get the idea. 

My challenge to you is to animalize a sentence — leave it in a comment here.  But remember, this is a G rated blog!  (Sorry if I just took the fun out of it.)  

Here’s a list to get you started.  It doesn’t even begin to cover all the animal adjectives.

Avian Hircine Simian
Asinine Icterine Skunky
Bovine Leonine Slothful
Canine Lupine Snaky
Catlike Murine Tame
Crocodilian Nocturnal Tigrine
Delphine Owlish Ursine
Elephantine Piggish Vulpine
Feline Ratty Vulturine
Fishy Reptilian Weaseled
Foxy Serpentine Webbed
Goatish Sheepish
Goosy Shrewish

 

LifeFlapper1922

Have fun!  May your 2017 be filled with mega hugs.

Happy New Year!

 

Copyright © 2016 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

All rights reserved.

No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission.  Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights.

All images are either the property of the author or from Pinterest unless stated otherwise.