Writers, Do You Also Do Art?

I’m curious about this.  If you’re a writer, do you also like to do your own art?  For example, character art, scenery, buildings, and even cover art.

I consider myself to be pretty decent at drawing, so I can do a lot of my own conceptual art, though I’m awful at doing faces.  I’m much better at landscapes, buildings, and still life.  I can also draw animals and plants fairly well.  But I always have trouble with people.  I’m good with pencils, but terrible with paint.  I also haven’t had much experience with digital art, as I prefer good old paper and pencil.  I will be doing a lot of art for my books, except for people.

If you can do art, what do you like to draw?

So, About Last Night’s Earthquake

I was sitting in the sofa writing my last blog post when the TV gave a loud warning tone. On the screen was an early earthquake warning in Japanese and English. An earthquake was about to happen. The epicenter was in Nagano, the mountainous prefecture famous for skiing and the 1998 Winter Olympics.

The ground didn’t start shaking, though. The laundry and the lights were swinging a lot, but I didn’t feel any shaking and there were no creaking sounds I usually hear during an earthquake. I sat as still as possible. There it was. A very slow but significant rocking movement. Imagine being on a big boat that was gently rocking and you’d understand the feeling.

This wasn’t a small earthquake. Far from it. It was strong, magnitude 6.8. The depth was 10 km. I didn’t hear about any damage or casualties last night, but from what little I’ve seen through Facebook this morning, there have been some collapsed buildings and 22 people injured.

Yes, it was a pretty significant earthquake. The slow rocking movement was very deceptive. We were actually moving a lot, just not in sharp jolts. Very strange feeling. I wouldn’t have known if I were standing up.

Encyclopedia Entry #8 – Aitne

Aitne is a small moon of Jupiter’s that was discovered in 2001.  It’s also known as Jupiter XXXI.

Data

  • Dimensions: 3 km in diameter
  • Mass: unknown
  • Density: unknown
  • Surface gravity: unknown
  • Albedo: unknown
  • Temperature: unknown
  • Mean orbital radius: 22,285,000 km
  • Orbital period: 679.641 d (retrograde)
  • Inclination: 164°
  • Eccentricity: 0.393

Name Origin

Aitne is the diving personification of Mount Etna on Sicily.  Her sons are the Palici, the twin Sicilian gods of geysers.  Their father is Jupiter.

5 Interesting Facts

1. Aitne is a member of the Carme Group, which are small retrograde orbiting moons of about the same distance and inclination.

2. It was discovered by a group of astronomers from the University of Hawaii.

3. It had a temporary designation S/2001 J 11.

4. Scott S. Sheppard was the lead astronomer that discovered Aitne.

5. So little is known, there is no 5th interesting fact. No picture, either.

Authors Answer 3 – Character Beliefs

I have to let you know that this is the 666th post on this blog.  And what a wonderful coincidence that there is something that matches this week’s question very well.  Common in fantasy fiction, we often have an all powerful antagonist, and sometimes they are demons.

Codex_Gigas_devil

Question 3: How difficult do you find it to write characters who have vastly different beliefs than you?

Amy Morris-Jones

Okay, so in full disclosure, I’m not sure I’ve really written a character yet who has a vastly different belief system than I do. I’ve written characters with different genders, ages, educations, and socioeconomic classes, but those characters still bear my own Midwest sensibilities.

The closest I can come to answering this question is with regard to a short story project that I’m currently researching. Several years ago, an event happened in my small town in which people’s values were challenged by a family who “saw things differently” (how’s that for vague?!). My goal is to fictionalize the events, but I still want to explore  how these issues of difference, “us” versus “them,” permeate everything we do.

The challenge I face in writing this piece is more of an external one than an internal one. I believe I can write this story with an open mind, but I am very much a product of that same small town where the events occurred and I feel a sense of obligation to that community to be respectful of their position, too.

Wish me luck!

Caren Rich

Depends.  I haven’t written any characters with different religious beliefs.  Or rather I haven’t dug deep into those beliefs yet.  I have written characters with different morals and values before.  Quite a bit actually.  It’s not too difficult.  I’m not writing myself, I’m writing about a character I created.  I have stopped mid sentence and wondered if people will think I’m writing about myself, I think that’s a risk most writers take.

What I try to do is make sure the character stays true.  I have a character who’s controlling and a bully.  I have another one who’s an adulterer and one that’s a drug addict.  I am none of those things and would rather die than be a party to it.  But I really enjoy writing those characters.

I will admit that writing allows me to investigate different lifestyles.  Similar to role playing or acting.  The characters are real, in my head.  They are closer to friends or family and I want them to be true to who they are.  Writing allows them to do that.  In a way, it’s a little freeing for me, I can live darker fantasies through my characters.  I can write about a controlling psychopath without getting my hands dirty.

I don’t write about different religious beliefs.  I purposely hang back from that.  There are other things I refuse to write about because I don’t want my name attached to it and because I wouldn’t want to read it.  Basically, I write what I want to write.

D. T. Nova

Now this is a good question. And one that any author writing a story where a character’s beliefs change should make sure they take into consideration.

Strictly sticking to the word “belief” as I would use it, what a character considers to be true or false (and let’s also include what they think about the nature of truth itself and how important it is, because there are things someone couldn’t believe without disagreeing with me on that), my answer is “not difficult at all”.

Religion is not an exception. I don’t have any difficulty writing characters who believe things I don’t about gods, miracles, or prophets, precisely because I don’t make any important character a stereotype of their religion. I know that stereotypes are a kind of laziness themselves, but making a main character a stereotype would require getting into the head of a very specific mindset, while recognizing that every person is an individual means less time spent on avoiding a type of “inaccuracy” that isn’t actually any kind of problem.

But some people use “belief” to mean all the practices and rules associated with a religion, as in “telling me to not discriminate against gay people is disrespectful to my beliefs”. And based on my experience, I do tend to mostly associate this usage with people like that example; people who are looking for an excuse to claim that their own intolerance is itself something that people are unfairly intolerant of. Anyway, I don’t like using the word “belief” to mean this, but what little I’ve written that involved religious practices or restrictions wasn’t particularly hard either.

As for things like actually hating gay people, antagonists like that probably are the hardest kind of character I’ve tried to write.

Elizabeth Rhodes

In the past, I had trouble with this.  I was just starting out as a writer in high school, and began fleshing out characters and ideas with a friend through role-plays that turned into multiple novellas.  After a while she pointed out that I had a tendency to be too “uptight” with my characters – I didn’t want them to do anything wrong, or at least anything that I didn’t personally agree with.  Meanwhile, she wrote about demons who quite literally tore my characters to shreds.  It was a big wake up call for me.  Now, with my tendency to write with religious themes and shades-of-gray morality, it would be hard for me not to make my characters do or think things I didn’t agree with.

H. Anthe Davis

So far, I don’t feel like I’ve had much difficulty in writing characters who don’t share my beliefs.  In fact, I’m pretty sure none of my characters share my beliefs!  For me, it comes down to understanding how a character got those beliefs and why they hold on to them, and then letting them clash naturally with those who think differently.  Most everyone wants to be doing the good-and-right thing; even selfish people are selfish for a reason, whether it be out of self-defense or a feeling that others are deficient and undeserving.  So it’s just a matter of figuring out what ‘good-and-right’ means to each character.

Jean Davis

I enjoy exploring other ways of thinking through characters. It’s interesting to think outside yourself, discover how a character might respond very differently than myself based on the beliefs I’ve outlined for them.

Coming up with that belief system and understanding how a character would act based upon it does take more thought and time than one based on a system similar to what I am familiar with. As long as the story calls for it, that time is worth the effort to attempt to create a thought-provoking character.

Linda G. Hill

I absolutely love writing characters with opposing beliefs to mine. It allows me to delve into different ways of thinking that I wouldn’t otherwise even contemplate. Psychology intrigues me like nothing else. Discovering and uncovering what makes people tick is a constant occupation of mine – beliefs are part of what make people do the things they do.

Paul B. Spence

I usually don’t find it difficult at all.  As an anthropologist, I’m trained in cultural relativism, which is another way of saying “It’s all good.”  The only time I have difficulty is in the occasional scene from the point of view of the antagonists because I do believe that there is such a thing as evil.  You don’t have to be religious to know right from wrong, and characters who do bad things for the wrong reasons are difficult to write.

S. R. Carrillo

Pretty difficult in the beginning, but as I begin to flesh out their design and their background, etc., they come to life on their own. When I work to have a character think things differently than I do, it’s a work in progress that I draw on outside sources for – how someone I know reacted and what they believed comes into play a lot.

Tracey Lynn Tobin

Extremely. I find it extremely difficult.

When I was a kid I used to write stories about my friends and I going on grand adventures and the like. I was always the main character, so of course the story always reflected myself, my dreams, my beliefs. As I got older I began to realize that I was turning myself into a “Mary Sue” character and that maybe, just maybe, I should try making up some characters instead. My writing got better instantaneously, but there was still always that problem of separating myself from the character. I regularly (by accident, of course) infuse my characters with my own opinions, have them follow a thought process that is very clearly mine, and design them to hold similar beliefs and values to myself. Often, the editing process for me involves a total overhaul of my main character to make sure that they are themselves instead of me with a different face.

The hardest part for me is religious belief. I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to write a religious character as my main character because I’m atheist. I grew up in a Catholic family and I know enough about religion to be capable of writing someone with religious beliefs, but I think I would wind up disliking the character so much that I wouldn’t be able to continue.

(As an aside, it’s not that I dislike religious people; I’m actually very tolerant of other people’s beliefs. But I think you have to have a connection with your main character, and I would have a hard time connecting with a character who thought the exact opposite of what I think.)

Jay Dee Archer

It’s pretty easy to write characters that have the same beliefs as me, but then they’d all sound like clones of me.  But I find it interesting to write characters that are vastly different than I am.  But it’s not the easiest thing to do.  I think the biggest problem is making that character’s behaviour and beliefs exaggerated or stereotyped.  That’s the kind of thing that needs to be avoided.

I’m not religious, but I find religions fascinating.  Politically, I’m quite liberal, but I find it interesting to write a conservative character.  It seems that with fantasy, it’s easier to write characters that have different beliefs than I do, because they live in societies that are vastly different.  I can make everything up.  However, if it takes place around our time on Earth, it’s more difficult.  They have to be believable.

How about you?

What do you think about writing characters with different beliefs than you?  Do you find it difficult or easy?  And who do you agree with the most?  Leave your answer in the comments below.

Human Behaviour Mysteries

As you may know, I live in Japan.  Japan is a country where people are often very orderly, queuing in neat lines for the bus, restaurants, or the train.  It’s a place where everyone apologises if they accidentally bump into someone, no matter who was at fault.  It’s a place where shop staff always say thank you.  Sounds so polite, doesn’t it?  It’s very orderly, isn’t it?

Well, I’ll tell you something, there are certain places where this politeness and orderliness break down.  I’m not saying this is a Japan only thing, as I’m sure it happens all around the world.  Here are some examples.

In trains, people sit or stand without making eye contact and minding their own business.  But when getting on or off the train, people become maniacs.  They rush for a seat and they push people out of the way.  For example, whenever I get off the train, there’s always someone standing in the middle trying to push his or her way on.  I have to push the person out of the way to get off the train.  Another example is when a pregnant woman was about to sit down on the seat and a middle-aged businessman rushed on the train, slipped behind her, and sat down.  She had nowhere to sit.  I was standing, so I couldn’t offer her a seat.  If this were Canada, other passengers would’ve forced the man off the train for being an inconsiderate asshole.  What is it about trains that makes people go insane?

Driving in Japan is mostly safe.  People obey the rules, usually.  The exceptions are at intersections.  It never fails that someone runs a red light or completely ignores the pedestrians trying to cross at a crosswalk.  Four times one year, I was crossing a crosswalk at an intersection on a walk signal, and someone had to be so oblivious to the pedestrian walking directly in front of them that they nearly hit me. That’s four times!  The worst was when a woman stopped 10 centimetres from me.  She refused to look at me or even apologise.  I stood there for about five seconds staring at her.  Not one acknowledgment of making a mistake.  As for running red lights, one guy nearly hit me and a teenager already in the crosswalk while driving on the wrong side of the road.  He was trying to go between us.  I could have kicked his car.  I should have.

Finally, we have shopping.  But not just anywhere.  Costco.  In most stores, people are fine, but in supermarkets, I sometimes have to ask people to move out of the way when I want to get past.  But in Costco, which is where I was today, everyone seems to move in random directions, walk incredibly slow, and block the entire way by parking their carts in the middle, perpendicular or diagonally to the flow of people.  And not just one person does this.  Three or four people gather in one spot and just stand there looking like they have no idea where they are.  I’m looking at them, but they don’t seem to notice me standing there waiting for one of them to move.  It’s not just double-parking, it’s quadruple-parking.  I always feel compelled to move to the side so others can go past me.  But why is it that shoppers in Costco have absolutely no common sense?

Writers have to understand human behaviour, right?  But what about in these cases?  I don’t think like these people, so I often feel completely baffled by what goes on in their minds.

Do you have any more examples?

I Will Change the World with Education

One of my biggest passions is to help improve people’s knowledge.  I want everyone to have good access to education.

One of the things that is sorely lacking these days is science education.  Many people find it dry and boring, and many don’t realise just how important it is.  Without science, we wouldn’t have so many industries: medicine, computers, cell phones, transportation, television, movies, music recording, architecture, video games, and so on.  A lot of people place a high value on entertainment. Well, the entertainment industry requires science to be able to work.  All the technology required needs a good science education to engineer and manufacture. Science is also needed to improve technology, medicine, and environmentally friendly energy and materials.  Nearly everything is touched by science.

What I am doing to encourage an interest in science is to write about it.  I am using my blog to provide interesting information, as well as important issues related to science.  Not only do I want people to have good information, but I want them to find it interesting as well.  If it’s not interesting, many people won’t want to spend any time on it.  I want to share my love for science with everyone, and especially encourage young people to take an interest in it.  We need more scientists to help improve the environment, medicine, and technology.

What can you do to change the world?  Join this project to help encourage others to do the right thing and make the world a better place to live.  Write a blog post about what you do or could do to help your community, country, or other people become better.  If you need some ideas, you can find some on the Change the World project’s main page.  When you have finished, please nominate at least one other blogger to answer this challenge and link to their blog.  Also, please link back to the person who challenged you.  Include this text in your blog post.  You are under no obligation to take part in this. Thank you, and have a wonderful day!

I nominate the following people:

Looks like the Authors Answer group, doesn’t it?  I’m the first to do this, so I can’t link back to the person who nominated me.

Helping the World in Our Own Way

After watching the Malala video last night, I felt a strong desire to do something for the world.  She’s a great inspiration.  If you haven’t read that blog post yet, I strongly encourage you to do so now.

There are so many things we can do to improve the world.  Even little things can make a difference when it’s all added up.  I see it around me in Japan, such as entire communities getting together to clean up the streets (saw this yesterday). But there are so many more things that can be done.

At the moment, I’m unable to do much in Japan in the way of influencing policy or society.  I’m “just a guest” in this country, even though I’ve spent a quarter of my life here.  My opinion is not worth much at all, although this is my daughter’s home country.  What I can do is quite local.  I can reduce garbage, use less electricity and gas, and through my job, help many people improve their ability to speak English and give them a more global perspective on things.  You see, most people in Japan don’t know much about the world, and as such are prone to believe stereotypes.  There’s also an attitude of uniqueness here that people have, which I would like to break.  The longer I live here, the more I notice that people are just the same as anywhere else.  I want to show people that every place is unique in a way, but this does not mean they are the superior culture.

We’ll be moving to Canada in 2016.  That’s where I can make a bigger difference.  I want to get involved in the community, attend the occasional town hall meeting where public opinion is asked for, and even getting politically involved.  I will vote, definitely.  I also want to get involved in my children’s education, and help them realise that they too can work to improve the world around them.

I also want to do my share of helping online.  Through my blogs, I want to help educate people, give them another perspective on things, and encourage an interest in science and the world.  I also want to use my writing to make people think and also to entertain them.  Reading is a great way to relax and help the mind grow.

There are so many ways to help.  I found this blog, which is attempting to provide 1000 ways to improve the world.  It’s only on #67. What do you want to do to help?  What do you do already?

Exploring new worlds, real and fictional.

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