Research today and yesterday


In today’s world of the internet if we want to learn something most often we go right to Google and pull up links on whatever topic we are interested in. There is a lot of crap out there and a lot of wrong info but if you dig deep enough you find gems.

You hear constantly that research was better and more accurate in the days before the web. Take it from me that is not true. There were tons of books, written with a slant that was that of the ruling attitude of the times. But there were also a lot of interesting books to be read.

When I was a kid I was really interested in the stories of before times. Of how other cultures thought of how the world began, would end and of other creatures. In seventh grade I had one of the most amazingly dry history teachers of all time. His delivery of information was almost ponderous up till he started telling us about Egypt. Then he came alive with burning eyes. It was like being taught by a mummy that had come unwrapped to tell us all about the legends of his people. It was then I decided I wanted to be an Archaeologist.  This was long before I learned the difference between archaeologists, anthropologists, historians, archivists, etc. I believed until I was in my senior year of high school if I wanted to study the tales of other long gone cultures I would have to be an archaeologist. But in my senior year I was disabused of the dream of becoming one. First by teachers and counselors who pushed me into business classes and then by my mom telling me that college was too expensive and that I needed to make a living.

Now I know that there were a lot of scholarships, grants and loan systems out there that would have helped me go to school but no one at the time mentioned them to me. Now I know it was because I was both from the projects and a girl. They didn’t think I was right for the college world and that it was best I go to work right away. Or if I was to take classes it should be data entry (yes that was a field of study back then) or bookkeeping courses. I worked for years as a bookkeeper and did data entry but I continued to pick up books on whatever subject interested me.

For the types of books I was interested in going to the local library was really useless. As wonderful as the Nashua Public library was, it was lacking seriously in books on ancient cultures belief systems and the fiction I liked to read. So I turned to places like the new age book store that I found in western Mass when I was visiting friends. I got a lot of books that would be considered white light nut job stuff by some of the people I know back then. They told thing from a nontraditional slant which is just what I was looking for at the time.

Thankfully now we have many more ways to do research and cultures to research. Any of you who have actually read the stories and books I have put out will see the basis in ancient stories of my work. Everything from Celtic to Japanese to some of the native cultures of the North American continent.

Now what started this rambling blog post is I was sitting down reading a novel I downloaded from Amazon on a free offer.  Like my Death Walks Through stories this had a different take on the incarnation of Death. You don’t realize it through most of the novel because it is written richly with lots of understanding of the Navajo culture to it.

I was drawn into the take by the detail and the feel of the story. Unlike many other Urban Fantasies written in the 21st century this one was gentle in pacing and very respectful of both the Navajo and the white people in the story. While there was a pair of MIBs trying to get the mysterious item in the story, they were really the only cliche in the entire novel.

Research and an open mind gave this writer a novel that was quietly amazing. I plan on reviewing it up on Amazon later today. If you are interested in reading my reviews of books over there just look for Lisa Williamson. Though that can be confusing as there are two of us with that name who are publishing. I am NOT the one who wrote the book about a young woman, The Art of Being Normal. That is NOT mine. I write fantasy, etc.

 

Bits and pieces of Letters to the Dead


Under another name I putp  ua letter to my birth father after he died. It was my way of dealing with the empty piece of loss inside my chest. After I wrote that one I realized that I have lost a number of people in my life but I never got to say what I felt and what I thought about their effect on me. Since I wrote that piece I have been working on letters to others of the dead who I wanted to finish my thoughts of.While these may never see print I felt I needed to put them somewhere. So here is part of the letter I started to my Nana.

***

As I have reached the second half of my life I have started to lose those who were pillars in the development of who I became. Fifteen years ago I was lost inside myself, wondering why I was here and then I got the call that you were gone. That call devasted me but it also brought me more into focus.

The years since then have been filled with highs and lows as I tried to be as strong as I believed you had been.

Looking back I realize that my earliest memories are not of my mother or father but of you, my nana. You taught me to sew by making outfits for my teddy bear. That ragged blue and white friend looked both silly and so fine to my childish eyes. You taught me to like flavor in my food and to find the absurd in the printed word.

One of my fondest memories was sitting and cutting out stories from the trash rags about spacemen and monsters. I believe you helped me discover what I would find as a life long interesting in all things not mundane. You were a writer in your own right. Everyday you would sit down and write something and being published in the paper was so cool to me.

Before you passed I thought you had told me all your stories but in the past few year I have learned things that saddened me, shocked me and yet convinced me that while some things made you seem selfish you were and are still my idea of a strong woman.

Though for a long time we weren’t sure exactly how old you were it amazed me that you were in your nineties when you left us. Now I wish I truly knew your full story. From raising you son alone in the depression to losing a child to having my mother too early, life was hard.

And it is how you and my mother were together that confuses me. She was your only daughter. A delicate child who should not have survived yet she did. Doggedly fighting to thrive even though she had so many issue. Was it her outwardly timid personality that bothered you? Was it the physical weaknesses or her desire to be what other wanted? Was it her constant babble or was it that she didn’t stand up for herself that kept you from getting close?

I know now that inside you had to have been lost. You were so beautiful that men flocked to you but I think that didn’t help you. Did you ever find yourself for yourself or just through the eyes of the men you dated or married? You came from a different time but women have always had ways of being themselves.

I miss you, missed you even before you left us. I tried to stay in contact with you but in the months and years before you passed you had gone away. Dementia is a horrible thing. It takes away the person you were and leaves in place a different face. You forgot you had a daughter some days and other days thought I was that daughter. The saddest moment was when I last visited and you told me how much you disliked the woman who married your son. You had thought that Al was your son and that mom was the woman who took him from you. The only daughter you had and you forgot her. It broke my heart.

The day I stood at the funeral home and listened to people talk abut you I realized I didn’t know you at all and sadly I never would really know the true story of you. I miss you Nana, every day and every way I miss the woman who had time to teach me little things. I miss simpler times we spent together and I miss you.

 

 

The difficulty of picking a title


All writers know that we need a good title to catch the attention of our readers. After an eye catching cover, the title really brings people to at least take a moment to look at your book.

Now as many of you know I have been writing for a long time. Coming up with titles is a real pain. There are thousands of books out there, all using titles that you just might have wanted to use. What to do right? Searching every single e-retailer would make any author throw up their hands and just give up. Thing is you just can’t do that with every story you write. Think about it folks. The average novel writer might just put out one book every year or two, but those who write shorter fiction like I do would be going back and forth, changing their title a thousand times before they could publish.

As an example one of my earliest online stories was a Ranma 1/2 fan fiction that I titled Sins of the Father. Go to Amazon and you will easily pull up 20 pages of work with similar titles, 15 on the first page alone. They come from every single genre out there for sure.

Now I could go on and make a chart of how many other titles that I can used would have multiples but it would be depressing.

Random thoughts and babbles while having allergies


Well last night wasn’t fun. Like so many I have allergies. Woke up in the morning with congestion which moved on to a half head of pressure, then pain, nausea, light and sound sensitivity and lethargy. Made me not want to do much. Then when I finally gave in and took an allergy pill before bed, while the mind would not shut down! Lots of very weird and funky stuff would not stop till I got up and wrote them down. Here is what goes on in the mind of the Mad Writer when she can’t sleep.

###

First a really bad poem

Summertime
sniffles abound
Alergies to what
Everything it seems

Restless
Can’t sleep
sun up too long
missing long cool nights
Can’t wait for fall

Lying in bed
pain in my head
tasting alergies
go to sleep you said

Wishing it was easy
only slightly less weezy
meds aren’t even helping
making me too cheesy

###

Then this dribble

Bloody Annoying

I told him back off, leave me alone. If he had listened then I wouldn’t be watching as his blood pooled beneath him. Never say I am doing nothing and to make you a sandwich when I am writing. Really, just get up and do it yourself, stupid. Sorry dear.

###

Then some various story ideas. From this one I am gonna call Zombies, Viruses and Mad Men

***

It’s been ten years since everything collapsed. The old world ended pretty messily.
There were monsters of mankind’s making, both living and dead. Things were pretty bad for a long time, but nothing can last forever.

While the big cities had turned into wastelands or war zones, there were still places out in the world that were barely touched by the madness that had descended. Places that had been hidden so well that they looked like a part of the natural world around them. There were pocket valleys high in the mountains or small islands shrouded by mist on the big lakes. Small enclaves deep into the desserts where few went and even underground caverns that held groups who knew how to hide.

When what ever it was that animated the dead ran out, bodies covered the streets and fields where humanity used to be the thickest. Then came the year of disease. Those who had not succumbed to the viruses let loose by the governments and those thinking they would overthrow those governments changed. There were good, bad and truly evil left, but the numbers of humans dropped from seven billion to just under a million world wide.

I imagine there were places never touched by the plagues, places that the militias hadn’t risen or that the mafias hadn’t taken. I was young when it all went down, a mere child if you want the truth. Recounting how I survived the city after my mother had hidden me away before she had been taken by the gang is another tale, one I try not to remember. It took me a long few weeks to get past the men with guns during the day and the monsters at night.

Before it collapsed there were all kinds of theories. The most popular was of course the whole zombie/virus thing. So many thought they could just blow the heads off and they would survive.

###

To the beginnings of a possible YA story

***

I wanted to be a good daughter and support my parents, but the idea of switching school into a private academy one hundred miles from all my friends was bad enough. Being forced into wearing a uniform with knee socks and a little skirt? Well let me tell you I argued with my parents.

“Mom, come one! This is ridiculous!”

My mom just smile and shook her head. “It isn’t ridiculous persay, sweet heart.”

I tolled my eyes as I tried to tug the skirt down to show less leg. “Really, Mom? You would have never wore this…this!”

My mother chuckled even more before reaching behind me. “Well, I wouldn’t know about that.” She opened what I thought was just some boring old book and turned it toward me. “Open up to page 65, Sara.”

Out of curiosity I did and I swear my eyes near popped out of my head. There in living color was a picture of a much younger version of my mother dressed in the same uniform. She wore it with more style than I thought she had. I mean come on this is my mom. She usually was found dressed in jeans and a tshirt, yet she made that uniform look like something straight out of my favorite manga.

###

You never know what might come out of my head at night. There was another bit but I dont share erotic content. Nope I write it down and sell it! Now here is hoping one of those two story bits turns into something more than a few paragraphs in a folder. Back to the salt mines

 

How about some drabbles?


With the god awful heat and humidity I could sit at my desktop computer and write new stuff or I could sit over by the fan and blog on the netbook. Can you think which I decided to do?

Drabbles are of course fun to read and I need to sit back and write more of these short glimpses into the world of my mind! Enjoy

###

Birth of a Familiar

I sit upon this cold gray stone and ponder the world around me. My brothers are green and my sisters are brown but somehow I am different. Black is the soft skin that covers my limber body, as black as the heart of evil. Scattered across my skin are odd shapes. They glow with an odd purple light that has frightened away my siblings. I look up and see the face of a man and suddenly I understand the odd croaking of his voice. “You are my familiar now. What is your name?”

I open my mouth and answer. “George.”

###

I haven’t titled this one yet but here goes:

The fire burns slowly, melting the snow on the ground. I move closer, shivering from the cold. This night is the one I have waited for, for so long. Watching the skies for that single sign that will tell me that it is time. Winter has gone on to long, stretching out for longer than any living can remember.

There above the slowly brightening sky I see it. The bright tail of light racing across the sky makes the time of change. Soon we will be free of this never ending cold, soon spring will return. Will she be gentle?

###

Stepping into the light

For so long I lived in the darkness, the bars of my cage all I could see. Whether they were there to keep me in or keep things out, I was never sure. As I rested unaware the door opened. I opened my eyes to a golden glow, at first I was afraid, but then I stepped out. There before me was a slender branch, a path to freedom. Taking a deep breath I placed my bare foot on that branch and walked so willingly into a future unknown. The golden light caressed my skin as the world dropped away.

###

Next week who knows I might do poetry or quickie fictions or something else…we will see.

 

Writing and emotional pain


In the word of writing what goes on in the life of the writer effects what they write. If good things happen, authors can write happy, upbeat stories. If bad then the author can write darker things.

They tell us all the time that you need to write what you know, but as writers of fiction, especially fantastical fiction, we will write abut things we don’t know personally. It is taking what we do know, what we have experienced that helps make these children of our mind become real to the reader.

In the past few months I have had many sad things happen in my life. Loss is one thing that can make or break writing. I have always used writing of one type or another to deal with emotions. The amount that have come at me since the beginning of this year have put me in a confused place.

I have started a handful of different things, from fiction to nonfiction. I hope today to sit down and type up the many notes I have scattered through three different notebooks. From a story about a mute dancer priestess to a letter to the dead, I keep scribbling down notes and hoping they will make sense in the future.

Every author goes through periods of time when they cant write, this has seemed to be mind again. While I have put out collections over the past few weeks I haven’t really written a lot of new and amazing stuff. Today I plan on changing that.

Been a while and look what happens


Hey you few brave and loyal blog readers. Yeah it has been a while. Life threw me a number of curveballs since last summer. The details are too many to go into but I apologize for not being a good little blogger/writer and keeping the world up to date.

Today I have seen one real sign of what happens when a writer drops out of sight for a while. When I googled myself I found that another Lisa Williamson who is a writer has taken over. Now what bugs me is a writer with just one book with the same name is a big name. Okay I am sure her book is a good one but really it is just a book about the current hot topic of transgender people.

First off, NOT ME. Those who have contacted me thinking I was her, sorry. I am a writer of short stories, flash fiction, poetry, novels and so much more. I write fantasy, science fiction, horror and paranormal romance. I try not to grab onto something that is the hot topic and write a tale. My stories are filled with wonder, magic and other worldliness along with real issues. My characters are diverse but I haven’t and dont plan on making a character who is focused on their sexuality. I write about issues that are old yet always new.

So if you read this thinking I was the Lisa Williamson who wrote, The Art of Being Normal, I’m sorry. You can find her other places. If you are on the other hand a fan of things like elves, dragons, guardians, wizards, witches and more? Well I am the author you are looking for.

I took off time after my last novel, A Fragile Peace, at first because I was burned out, but then for technical and yes health reasons. Now I am back to putting out work and I have released six collections of short stories and flash fictions, some that have bee seen before and some that have not. I am back to writing things both as Lisa Williamson and as LA Mason.  Hopefully totally new work with spark a resurgence of people reading my work.

If you can’t afford a professional editor the next best thing is writer friends


As many of you know I am busy working on my novel. Over the years I have found that I commonly work by writing and editing at the same time. I have been known to go over my work from ten to thirty times. While a lot of more successful writers will tell you that you can’t do that. Thing is that might be true for the kids coming out of the education system now but I was in school in the old days.

Now i am not saying I can do it all, I know I can’t. But what I am saying is that while there are things I still need to learn. While my characters, dialog, pacing and world building are good, I need a bit of help getting the punctuation right. Now this is where the help comes in. Finding a set of eyes that can catch what you miss.

Thankfully I have found some. I won’t say who because well…like many writers…I’m greedy! Yes my beta readers are great people who are kindly helping me put out better work. I thank them in what ways I can.

In my newest work I have received back the first of the edits. I was surprised as how many little things I missed. See even when you use spell check, grammar check, programs to make sure you don’t over use words and read through and through you will miss things.  You will spell words correctly, only they will be the wrong word. You will be missing words that would make things flow better and of course more readable.

So I am very glad that my beta readers are old school like I am. They find things I miss like commas and hyphens.  Growing up back in new england I found that reading my work out loud won’t get those commas in the right places. See we are fast talkers. Things that seem to bother those from slower places. The beta readers who have so generously taught me things that I didn’t know three years ago…or more reminded me of things I learned and forgot.

So if you are short of funds the smartest thing to do is to look at your friends from writer groups but realize that you need to give as well as you receive. Read your friends work and give them constructive criticism. If you are like me looking for punctuation help then you can help them find plot holes, pacing issues and character things. I can always tell if a character is coming across two dimensional.

So folks why am I babbling like this? See So many talk about getting an editor, they never comment about which type. You need to find people who will yes help you with line editing. If you are not strong with spelling and grammar you will need that. If you write slow and overly worded prose, then you need someone to help you with pacing. If your dialog drags or is stilted, well then you just might want a friend who writes believable dialog.

So make friends, write, write a lot and listen when they tell you that your pacing is slow, that your dialog is crappy and that your story has a hole in it.

Writing unsure


As a writer I get to put a lot on the page. Emotions, beliefs, imaginings and so much more. At the moment as you know I am working on the next in the Saga of Loralil Greyfox boos. A Fragile Peace: Found picks up after the ending of Revenge is a more emotional book than the first two. Writing the journey Loralil needs to go through to become an adventurer is something I didn’t expect to be quite so difficult.

When writing the inner emotions of a character you actually have to delve into your our beliefs and understanding of the emotions. Not that I understand truly how this character feels. She has been cut off entirely from any family due to death. Lots of death and that is always a fun topic.

Working on the traveling sequence I realize that you can’t have a fantasy quest type story without a lot of creatures dropping in to visit, fight and probably die. So I am currently trying to deal with those sequences.

One of the important things is to make your creatures recognizable without having them be too cliche. I was going to use bugbears for a monster attack and realized that they are both cliche and not what I remembered them to be. One of the things in fantasy writing is that the monster creatures evolve. Bugbears have been around for a very long time. In fact they are based off of old Germanic boogymen tales. Centuries ago mothers would tell their children to behave or the bugbear would get them. Just a wee bit too cliche don’t you think?

So instead I have turned to a different monster. Still a bear but one that thanks to a twisted mage in the past is actually a cross between a bear and an owl. I am sure you can see the potential of such a monster.

The fact that these are truly monsters means that not everyone who goes up against them will survive. Sad but true but you can’t keep everyone in the party alive till the end of the book. Currently I am working on the aftermath of that encounter. Coming up with funeral rites for two different cultures is a little confusing but I can’t wait to see where it goes.

While I admit that working on this part is coming slowly but once I do finish up the writing part it actually reads really well. Here is hoping I can get more done and move into the Spine mountains. I all ready have a plan for the traveling through the mountains to Tal’shin.