Monthly Archives: December 2011

Criminal Fun


Workshops

January is starting off great with an online workshop with former FBI agent Lucinda Schroeder, “Inside the Criminal Mind”. I’ve taken about a half-dozen workshops at savvyauthors.com and the information shared is worth the small fee, usually anywhere between $15-25. Plus, anytime you can get first hand information from a specialist you have a valuable tool to add realism to your fiction.

Research

It’s no secret that my next few titles center on art theft. To that end, I’ve spent some time researching art news, thefts, controversies and the role this has played in modern history. My Google alert continues to send daily links to blogs and news articles from around the web. A predominant trend is the theft of public art for the value of the metal. Scrap yards are on alert for these works, some valued in the 10’s of thousands while the perps melt them down for a few hundred dollars of scrap. Whatever your writing topic or interest, Google alerts are an easy way to get a roundup of information that is current as well as keeping you up to date on evolving stories and opinions.

The North Carolina Museum of Art is also providing invaluable information via their Lunch and Lecture series. Recent topics include registering priceless works for a major exhibition (procuring insurance, security, transportation and installation) to designing crowd flow and security for an exhibition with an expected attendance of over 150,000 people. Again, learning the titles and job responsibilities of museum staff will add depth and immerse the reader into my character’s world. If you look around, I’m sure you’ll find unconventional sources of information for your work in progess too.

Pleasure

Portrait of a Gentleman Wearing a Gold Chain /...
Image via Wikipedia

Again, the North Carolina Museum of Art is one of my favorite places. Their current Rembrandt exhibit, which runs through January 22nd, presents the largest collection of Rembrandt paintings ever displayed in the United States.

The meaning of a painting is affected by the other works displayed around it. In this case, the story of Rembrandt’s life, the evolution of his work and his legacy is well told. For hundreds of years, works by his students have been incorrectly attributed to Rembrandt, but the side by side comparison clearly shows the mastery he commanded. It’s more than the brush stroke which can be taught, or the lighting which can be imitated. There is an intangible quality that places thought and emotion within the eyes and faces of his subjects.

Fun

In keeping with the art theft and criminal mind theme, here’s a bit of fun from Art Series Hotels. The Cullen, The Olsen and the Blackman Hotels in Australia are designed in the style of 3 of their greatest artists. Until January 15th, guests are invited to steal an original Banskey valued at $10,000. Once the steal is successfully executed, the guest gets to keep the art.

“No Ball Game” was pinched December 19th by a guest posing as a hotel employee who even managed to get the staff to help her place the stolen work in her car.

If you want your chance to play cat burglar, there is another Banskey now on the wall, “Pulp Fiction”.

Good Luck.


The Art of Procrastination


I’ve been in a writing abyss for the past 2 months. Any and every word is taking four times the effort to write and I catch myself wondering if the there is a point to the self-inflicted suffering.

It’s the holidays, my day job is overbooked crazy and there are a million other things to take care of at home including folding and putting away 10,000 loads of laundry.

So, it’s time to find my motivation. If I were a method actor, I’d dig deep into the character’s psyche for that lost nugget of hope. So far I haven’t found it. Here’s where I’ve looked:

Read a sample.

  • Scrabble for iPad (I’ve now won more than 50% of the games played #inyourfacecomputer! )
  • Neverland (SyFy miniseries)
  • Tossing Runes at façade.com until they say what I want to hear
  • Audible books (47 hours of Connie Willis’ Blackout and All Clear)

Being a writer means I have special powers when it comes to creating distractions. Now I have to AIS (Ass In Seat) and get the last chapters tweaked and sent to my editor. Then—and only then—I can relax and enjoy the eggnog.  Granted, I still have a gingerbread house that needs decorating and presents to wrap and 5 pounds of shrimp to pickle, and….and…and…

I never have writer’s block, just procrastination pains. How do you deal with the urge to do nothing?

I’m trying to focus on the prize at the end of the work… being published.


Magically Mundane


In my professional life, I have to focus on message and concision and visuals while usually constrained to 30 seconds.  Yes, I produce those dreaded commercials:)

However, it does lend resources to my writing life.  I’ve learned there is only one best word for each use and it has to be active, visual and interesting. It has to help move my message–my story–forward.

The process takes me back to a high school art class where we were instructed to create art that makes the ordinary interesting and makes the viewer see the content in a new way, guiding their eye to what you want them to notice.

Writing is the same.  We want our readers to see what’s special about our characters and care.  They don’t want a caricature of the same people they see everyday.  They want details and new angles.

When I’m shooting video, I look for unusual ways to frame the shot or change the height from how we would normally see the scene. In my current novel, I have multiple viewpoints looking at the same subject: art theft. Each character is developed not only by their words and actions in their perspective viewpoints, but also by the observations and opinions of other characters.

I like to give my characters limitations either physical or mental which they have to overcome.  I love characters who are clever and notice the details in an ordinary scene that gives them the advantage.  I love love love characters that surprise me.

Case in point: as I’m re-writing the last chapters of WIRED, my sister, and first beta reader guessed who I planned to kill off.  Guess what?  Now he lives!  hahahaha.  Seriously, I’m changing the entire ending to keep the reader guessing until the very last word.  The first rule in making the mundane magical is to do the unexpected.

Happy writing.


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