When all else fails . . . do research. Let's face it, sometimes the writer has to turn off his brain, or at least switch it to idle. When I need to take a break from a manuscript, I dive into research.
When I do, I always find things that let me flesh out a story with confidence, or I get a great idea for a scene that hadn't occurred to me. Sometimes I just bump into something that's interesting and that I never would have found if I hadn't been hunting for information to use in my story--a little serendipity.
When I started writing Alligators Overhead I didn't know much about those reptiles except they scared the bejeebers out of me. But then I read that when Hurricane Katrina destroyed a lot of their habitat, thousands of these expert swimmers drowned, and conservationists worried they might not make a come back. Not so. They're back and they're back up to healthy numbers.
When I read that, I had to ask, "How do they count alligators?" Two ways was the answer. Find the nests and count the eggs. Euuuu! Not a job I'd want. Alligator mommies do not take kindly to anyone messing with her babes.
There had to be an easier way, right? No, but there was a harder one. Take a boat out into the swamp at night, shine the flashlight around the water hyacinths and red eyes stare back at you. Yep. You can count alligators because their eyes glow red at night. Hmm. Maybe the nest method isn't so bad.
In any case, that little bit of information made for a great scene with my two boys on their first venture into the swamp at night and a trail of red-eyed alligators behind them.
Once you start looking into counting alligators, you’d be surprised what pops up, like, Woody Pines and his Louisiana beat. This is Counting Alligators the safe way.
As writers do you put your brain on idle while you research, or do you have other ways to refresh while you’re working through a manuscript?
Great to be here, Alex. Gotta go and count me some alligators now.
Bio: A native Californian, C. Lee McKenzie lives on the edge of a redwood forest with her husband and assorted cats. When she's not writing or blogging she's hiking or practicing yoga. She usually writes young adult fiction that deals with contemporary, realistic issues. In Sliding on the Edge (2009) she dealt with cutting, and in The Princess of Las Pulgas (2010) she wrote about a family that loses almost everything and has to rebuild their lives together. Alligators Overhead is her first Middle Grade novel. Lee blogs HERE and her website is HERE. Watch the trailer for Alligators Overhead on YouTube
Thanks to everyone who has signed up for my next blogfest, Genre Favorites! I’m overwhelmed by the response. I wanted to keep it simple and open for everyone. Look forward to everyone’s posts on September 17.
George at CineMarvellous celebrated three years of blogging this week Congratulations! Don’t ever quit on us, man.
Do you write historical or alternative fiction? Edi’s Book Lighthouse highlighted a new magazine called Alt Hist that features short stories. You can read about edition number four at Edi’s site.
AJ Walker has a new book out, At The Gates, Book II of the Timeless Empire series. It’s $2.99 for a limited time on Amazon. You can also pick up Book I, Hard Winter, for just 99 cents at Amazon. Congratulations, AJ!
Someone else recently posted on the subject of how fast some people read. I admit, I’m in awe of those of you who crank through several books a week. I do good to read one or two a month. (I’m not a fast reader.) I also don’t do many reviews, although I will at least post a star rating on Goodreads.
I always buy my blogger buddy’s books though! I have so many on my iPad right now it just might explode. So even though it may take me forever to finally read your book, I do try to show support by purchasing it.
Science fiction edition - because that's how I roll. Can you name the movie or actor who said…
1 – “His pattern indicates two-dimensional thinking.”
2 – “You know, Burke, I don’t know which species is worse, You don’t see them (screwing) each other over for a (X) damn percentage.
3 – “Can I ask you a personal question? Have you ever retired a human by mistake?”
4 – “But, the place where you’re supposed to have the toilet paper, you got this little shelf with three sea shells on it.”
5 – “This was supposed to be my weekend off, but noooooo! You got me out here draggin’ your heavy ass through the burning desert with your dreadlocks sticking out of the back of my parachute.”
And the Ninja will be gone a few days next week for a much needed vacation. So no post on Monday, but I will be lurking…
Do you count alligators? Signed up for the blogfest? How fast do you read? And know any of the trivia answers?