Tag Archives: skills

Authors Answer 85 – Authors Aren’t Perfect

I know what you’re thinking, authors can do anything. They’re so amazing at everything they do. They have limitless abilities and are pretty much superheroes or idols. Right? Well, we may be almost perfect. We do have flaws. Okay, I’m kidding. We’re real people who have our talents and, believe it or not, things we just can’t seem to do. This week, we discuss our lack of talent.

320px-Modern-ftn-pen-cursiveQuestion 85 – Is there something you can’t do no matter how many times you try?

Allen Tiffany

Correctly spell “available”.

Tracey Lynn Tobin

I’m sure there are lots of things that I just can’t do no matter what, but the first thing that came to my mind was “fighting games”. You know games like Mortal Kombat and Street Fighter? I’m absolute rubbish at them. That’s not to say that I’m fabulous at other kinds of games, but fighting games in particular are my sworn enemy. I’m just horrible at the button combinations and the timing required. I’ve been playing games like these since I was a kid, but I’ve always just been a button masher, hoping for the best.

H. Anthe Davis

Can’t really think of anything, sorry.  There are plenty of things I haven’t tried, and plenty of things I don’t do because I’m bad at them, but nothing I keep hammering at despite being bad at it.

S. R. Carrillo

Stay sane. ^_^

Eric Wood

I have tried to learn to juggle 4 and 5 things but I just can’t get it. Granted, I haven’t put in the amount of time practicing as I did when I taught myself to juggle three things. Nevertheless, I just can’t seem to do it.

Paul B. Spence

Fly. I’ve tried thinking happy thoughts. I’ve tried throwing myself at the ground and missing. Nothing seems to work. Sigh.

Jean Davis

Knit. Can’t do it. Nor crochet. Neither of those things works with my hands or brain. Yet, I love cross stitch so it’s not a counting thing. I’ve tried both several times over the years, but to no avail.

Elizabeth Rhodes

To this day, I have never learned to whistle. I’ve tried, and occasionally a weak little whistling sound will come out, but I can’t do it consistently. It also took me ages to figure out how to snap my fingers.

D. T. Nova

Most things that I’ve been repeatedly unsuccessful at are things I did eventually get the hand of, and most things that I think I’m not good at I never tried that many times.

However, I still can’t draw well at all compared to the amount of time I’ve spent trying to learn.

Gregory S. Close

Yes.  I really suck at knitting.  I volunteered for my daughter’s 2nd Grade class a few years ago to help with the weekly knitting activity.  I thought it would be a cool skill to learn, and I’m generally fairly dextrous with my fingers.  Alas, I could not master this skill.  I could get it started, and I could occasionally get it going, but I invariably ran afoul of my own fingers and ended up with a mess.  It was embarrassing, as most of the 2nd Graders caught on eventually, and I was no help at all.

The experience did give me a lot of ideas about how to handle the physical act of casting a spell, and served as a good illustration about the difference between conceptualizing a task and accomplishing it.  How many wizards could grasp the spell theory of magic, but couldn’t master the spell mechanics to channel and focus the magic? I thought that was intriguing.  I also gave my surly mercenary knight the hobby of knitting, which he learned from a now-deceased mentor, and which plays a bit of an interesting role in the narrative.

Linda G. Hill

I can’t whistle. At least not outwards. Inwards I can do. Unfortunately it’s hard to carry a tune that way.

Jay Dee Archer

No matter how many times I try, I just can’t snap my fingers. Why? I don’t get it. I can replicate the motion, but the sound just doesn’t come out. What am I doing wrong?

Also, I can never seem to beat one of my friends at Angry Birds Friends on Facebook. I always come in second.

How about you?

What are some things that you can never seem to do correctly no matter how many times you try? Let us know in the comments below.

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Authors Answer 84 – Unusual Author Talents

I was going to call this Stupid Author Tricks, but I don’t want David Letterman to get angry at me. If you think authors just write, you’re wrong. They also have some interesting talents! This week, we share our talents with you.

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Question 84 – Do you have an unusual talent? What is it?

Linda G. Hill

I can lick my own nose. I’m incredibly fast at licking other people’s noses too. Mostly my family… strangers don’t take too kindly to it.

Gregory S. Close

I’m older and less fit now, so I don’t know if I still have this talent, but in my younger days I could do a pretty mean vertical jump from a standstill.  I enjoyed startling my friends by suddenly jumping to some seemingly inaccessible window sill or ledge.  Unfortunately, I did not also have super strength, spider silk with the tensile strength of steel, amazing agility or a sixth sense.  That would have completed the package into something more useful.

D. T. Nova

Not really. The only thing I can think of is the taco-tounge-roll thing that I’ve heard most people can’t do. It sounds silly, but hey, it’s what Buttercup has instead of freezing breath like Blossom or talking to animals like Bubbles…wait, that’s even sillier.

While that was true, it was more of a demonstration than an answer, since I’ve been told my talent is being able to remember random details from shows I haven’t seen in 20 years.

Elizabeth Rhodes

I can break a cell phone in record time. Not the most convenient talent. My current phone has a malfunctioning power button that will only work about half the time, so turning off the screen or the phone itself is a chore.

Jean Davis

What, killing fictional people in creative ways isn’t unusual enough? I used to be able to skin a deer in ten minutes back when I was a teenager and did it after school as my first job.

Paul B. Spence

I’m really good with weapons. Any weapons. I have a talent for survival. I suppose my most unusual talent is a talent for learning. I’m really good at many different things.

Eric Wood

Not that it’s unusual, but you don’t find many in every day life who know how to juggle. I can juggle three of pretty much anything. Eggs. Balls – baseballs, basketballs, doesn’t matter (though I’ve never tried bowling balls – yet). Rings. Bowling pins. I used to have torches I would light on fire and juggle those. I can juggle any combination of things, too.

S. R. Carrillo

I possess the unenviable ability to bust out into a cold sweat, no matter how calm or warm or comfortable I am.

H. Anthe Davis

The only thing I can think of is my fondness for making up new words to current songs, a la Weird Al Yankovic.  I used to reword songs all the time for my MMORPG characters, but haven’t done much recently — though I do pick at this idea I had of a musical version of my series now and then.

Tracey Lynn Tobin

I don’t know whether I’d call it an “unusual” talent, but despite the fact that I’m one of the messiest people I know (I put everything down where I stand, so everything is lost all the time) I’m ridiculously good with paperwork. A while back my coworkers and I were working on this thing called a “dredge” that was designed in the Netherlands, and the paperwork was just outrageously confusing. It turned out that in addition to the confusing nature of it, the people who had made our work packs had completely screwed up by trying to organize it the way we normally would, which meant that they had sheets from different files all balled together in the wrong order and it was just a complete mess. I worked with three electricians and two instrument techs for a week to get it all settled so that we could hand it over to the parent company, and I’m totally confident in saying that if I hadn’t been involved it would have taken a month. By the end of it one of the boys would ask me where in the 2000+ pages of documents was the page for a certain device, and I’d be like, “It’s in book #2, section #6, somewhere between pages 10 and 20.” lol

Allen Tiffany

Survival. I’ve done way too many stupid things in my life to still be alive, or at least not badly maimed. From playing with guns to driving at 125 in the middle of the night with my lights out I’ve done more than my fair share of immature things. Fortunately, I never hurt myself or anyone else. Here is the one that went a long way to helping me grow up…

I met an old friend who lived on the northwest Pacific coast. After a long night in a bar, we were not stupid drunk but had more than a few beers. We wound up on a beach (I don’t now remember where) at about 2:00 AM when it was near 40 degrees. The beach was extremely wide and had only a modest incline, and it was pockmarked by mounds of rock about 10 or 15 feet above the sand. We were chatting and not paying much attention, but found it mildly amusing to follow every receding way out until we came to another pile of rock, which we scramble up as another wave would come in.

Finally, we chased a receding line of water out, and struggled up another mound of rock as the next wave crashed in. The water rushed around our little island…and it kept going. And then another wave came in on top of the first. After that came the next wave, and then another. After about five minutes, the water was up to our knees and we were struggling to maintain our footing, dry land was at least 200 yards away, and we were wearing heavy jeans and coats. We also knew that if we fell off our underwater pile of rock, once the water started to recede, we’d be pulled out in to the ocean, and dragged under as our heavy clothes pulled us down. The cold water would also sap our energy.

After a while, we could no longer see the edge of the water. In the moonlight we hung on to each other looking around, feeling like we just as easily could have been in the middle of the Pacific. I don’t remember our exact words, but it was something to the effect of how stupid we were.

The water did — ever so slowly — begin to slide back into the Pacific basin. When it was only knee deep we jumped in and ran as hard as we could to the east.

Jay Dee Archer

I can roll my stomach. Well, I could do it far better when I was a kid, and these days, it just gives me mild nausea. My stomach rolls like a wave from top to bottom. My daughter can do it, too.

But I think a better talent is my ability to visualise any place as a map in my mind. When I know exactly what a place is like, I can see it in my mind like I have Google Maps installed in my brain. Now if only I could hook it up with GPS.

How about you?

What unusual talents do you have? Share them with us in the comments below.

Authors Answer 78 – When Authors Get Superpowers

Writing isn’t easy. Crafting a story is a difficult process. But we’re only human, so mistakes may be made. We’re not perfect. But what if we had superpowers? Not like superheroes, but literary superpowers. What would an author like to have as a superpower?

320px-Modern-ftn-pen-cursiveQuestion 78 – If you could have a literary superpower, what special ability would you like to have that would help your writing?

S. R. Carrillo

The power to instantly read any revision with fresh eyes. I have a tendency to think of my own writing as droll and dull after reading it over and over and over and over. It’s only after I’ve spent months away from a manuscript – usually spent working on a different manuscript in the meantime – that I get to see what I’ve written is actually exciting and engaging and emotional and GOOD.

If I could cut out the long wait period for those new eyes, it would greatly hasten the editing process in all its forms – copyediting, structural, etc.

Elizabeth Rhodes

Can I consider maximum caffeine efficiency a superpower? I’ll go with that. It would combat that “not enough hours in the day” feeling and I could write more as well as catch up on my reading and work through my shifts without feeling (as) exhausted.

H. Anthe Davis

I would like to have the superpower of not being lazy and inert.  Can I get that please?  What, I need to learn to exercise my own willpower?  Fine.  If I were to have an actual superpower, I would like the ability to insert my consciousness (as an observer) into other people’s heads, so that I could have by-proxy experiences to better understand other people and also activities that I can’t participate in — like climbing Mt. Everest.  Because I am a keyboard knight only, and I worry that my imagination doesn’t paint the picture right.  Also, I swear I won’t use my power for evil.  …Often.

Eric Wood

Ooh. Tough question Jay Dee. I though writing itself was a superpower! I suppose the superpower I would like to have is the power to weave obsession between my lines. The kind of obsession you get when you only intend to read one more chapter but instead stay up until 3 am on weeknight to finish the book. The kind of obsession that makes you want to tell everyone about this great book you’re reading. The kind of obsession that makes you want to read it over and over and over. That’s the superpower I’d like to have.

Tracey Lynn Tobin

At first I was thinking something along the lines of Flash-level writing speed, but that power really depends on whether or not I can think as fast as I write, since it wouldn’t really do me much good if I had to stop every ten seconds to let my brain catch up.

So now I’m thinking something that isn’t necessarily a literary superpower, exactly: the ability to get a full night’s sleep and be totally well-rested and alert in, oh, let’s say ten minutes. If I could do that and have an extra 7-8 hours more to every day, I would write so much that no one person would be able to read it all. It may sound weak when given the choice of any superpower, but honestly, the need to sleep is the biggest roadblock to my writing right now, so that’s what I’m sticking with.

Jean Davis

This is a great question! I’d love the power of engaging description. The ability to describe a room, a meal, an outfit, all the little bits that flesh out a world without making my own eyes glaze over would be great, bonus points if readers also are entertained.  So, when are we handing out the superpowers?  I could use this right now.

D. T. Nova

The ability to instantly know the words that most perfectly describe the images in my head.

Linda G. Hill

The innate knowledge on where to place a comma would be awesome.

Allen Tiffany

More time.

Gregory S. Close

Literary Power… ACTIVATE!  I choose: PROLIFICNESS!

I would love to immediately transfer my thoughts to the page as passable prose.  Once it’s on the page, I don’t mind editing the hell out of it, but sometimes getting the complexities down on paper before it gets bogged down, distorted and/or forgotten is a huge challenge.  I hate to think of good ideas and characters being squandered by my inefficiency.

Paul B. Spence

Hmm, a literary superpower? Okay… My mind works faster than my hands. I often drop words when writing. I suppose I’d like to type as fast as I think.

Jay Dee Archer

So many things I’d like. But I think what I’d like is some kind of barrier in which no outside distraction can enter. That means outside sounds like TV and people. Also, people can’t enter my barrier. Wherever I am, I can create this barrier and adjust it to whatever size I want, preferably the entire room I’m in.

How about you?

If you could have any literary superpower, what would it be? Let us know in the comments below.

Authors Answer 56 – Our Other Creative Endeavours

Authors are creative people. Writing requires a person to be creative. But just how creative are we? Some only write, while others are multi-talented artists. So this week, we find out just how talented a bunch we are.

Mona_Lisa,_by_Leonardo_da_Vinci,_from_C2RMF_retouchedQuestion 56 – Apart from writing fiction, do you do any other creative works?

Linda G. Hill

I used to knit, crochet, and quilt a lot but there hasn’t been much time for it in recent years. I’m too busy writing and editing, happily. 🙂

Gregory S. Close

I really love music.  If I had a choice at an alternate creative career, it would be to play bass guitar in a progressive rock band.  Unfortunately, there is a bit of a talent gap between me and that choice, so instead I’ve just tried to play when and where I can over the years.  I also enjoy composing different kinds of music, and would love to score a soundtrack to my novels, given a chance (and maybe an infusion of talent).

I am tinkering with an electronic-inspired score for my sci-fi/fantasy project, Greyspace, and also I wrote the music for my home-made book trailer a couple of years ago:

I have no illusions about the quality of the work, but I do enjoy making it, regardless!

Caren Rich

I love to quilt. I started with traditional quilts and then moved into art quilts. I don’t have a place to quilt at the moment so I’m concentrating on writing, but I miss it.

S. R. Carrillo

I consider all forms of art – music, writing, drawing, painting, photography, videography, etc. – to be creative, and I have a bit of a hand in just about every one. Except music. That one, I just appreciate. ^_^

Elizabeth Rhodes

Baking is my day job and I make cakes and candies as a hobby.  For a little while I made a small side business out of custom cake making, but it’s hard to get something like that off the ground.  You’ll find some of my work on my blog.

D. T. Nova

Does Super Mario Maker count?

In the past I’ve dabbled in more versatile programs that can actually create whole games, and it’s possible I might return to one of them at some time in the future.

Jean Davis

I used to draw and paint and still do on occasion, though I’m not as good as I used to be. I enjoy doing all sorts of crafty things when I’m not in writing mode. In fact, my friends complain to that can do anything crafty. But don’t ask me to knit or crochet anything because those are the two things I really can’t do. They’re my crafty kryptonite.

Eric Wood

I guess I do, if my blog can be considered non-fiction since I mostly write about my two sons and our adventures (and frustrations) with them. Otherwise, no. I don’t have anything on the go fiction wise. Perhaps when the kids are older and require less time (if that’s even possible) I’ll start creating more works of fiction.

Paul B. Spence

I draw, paint, sculpt, sew, make leather armor, scratchbuild model sci-fi vehicles, paint miniatures, and roleplay/do interactive storytelling, but other than that… no.

Allen Tiffany

Well, it’s damn sure not art! Though one of my daughters is an award-winning artist, she certainly did not get it from me. And though I once presented a paper at a conference arguing that all problem solving is a form of creativity, I don’t that is in keeping with the spirit of the question. So…no, I have no other creative talents.

Tracey Lynn Tobin

When I was younger I was all about the creative works. I didn’t just write, I also drew and sometimes painted, played piano and guitar and sang, and I would love to do stuff like building models; I once built my own “dollhouse” in a closet by using cardboard and paper to create all the furniture and decorations and whatnot.

These days I don’t have time for all that stuff, so I focus on the thing that is most important to me, which is the writing. I do occasionally pick up my guitar, but the moments are so few and far between that I have to tune it almost every time, and I rather enjoy coloring books, but that’s more a guilty pleasure than a “creative work”.

I guess the short answer is that I enjoy all sorts of creative stuff, but I simply don’t have the time to delve into them all.

H. Anthe Davis

I do some of the art for my stories, mainly maps and concepts.  I’ve done some video-editing, I’d like to tinker with game creation, I’d like to do some songwriting except I’m terrible at it…  There are many things I’d do if there were six of me, but it feels like I never have time.

Jay Dee Archer

I’d say my other main creative ability would be art, especially pencil drawing. I’ll be doing a lot of concept art for my books, as well as maps. Painting, digital art, and anything involving colour, I’m not very good at. I also dabble in photography, and have started doing video editing, but that’s at its infancy. I’m hoping to improve my photo and video editing skills in the future.

How about you?

I’m sure a lot of you have some creative abilities. What do you do artistically? Let us know in the comments below!

More Effective Language Study

As a language teacher, I know how people can study more effectively. However, sometimes teachers don’t take their own advice. Well, I’m going to take my own advice, as well as that of others.

On Duolingo, I’ve tended to keep doing new lessons. Well, unfortunately, that means I keep forgetting the old lessons. For each new lesson, I’m going to use the Strengthen Skills feature twice. That will allow me to review what I’ve already done and keep the words fresh in my mind. And repetition like that will help me remember more quickly.

I’m also going to start keeping notebooks. I’ll write down new vocabulary, verb conjugations, and more. I’ll practice by writing sentences, as well.

I’m also going to start using Memrise, which I haven’t really explored much, but I have been told it’s great for vocabulary. It even has Japanese, which would be nice to use.

Another thing is to try reading websites in the languages I study. However, I’m at such a low level at the moment that it wouldn’t be very practical. I’ll leave that until later.

Do you have any language learning strategies that work for you?

Natural Talent

Is there something that you just seem to have a knack for? Something you don’t have to concentrate on very hard to do well? Or is it more than one thing?

Ever since I was young, I’ve always been very good with maps. Geography was something I enjoyed a lot, and would capture my attention all the time. Any map was fine. Got a map of Delaware? I’d go over it and study it. In fact, I have a map of Delaware in my mind right now.  I know have a map of the United States in my mind with the location of Delaware, which is next to Maryland. It’s pretty small. You might miss it.

It’s not just country maps, but also local maps. If I drive or walk somewhere, my mind creates a map. If I’ve already seen a map of the area, it’s much easier. But when I combine looking at a map and exploring the area on foot, I completely memorise the area. I only need to do it once. Any time I go to that area, the map pops up in my mind, and I have an bird’s eye view of the area. I know exactly where I am and where to go.

I have no idea why I can do this. I seem to know where everything is. If I want to think about which direction something is, my mind calls up a map of the area, and I immediately know which way it is. It’s kind of strange, isn’t it?

But that’s not all.  I’m also very good at spelling.  But you may have noticed that I tend to use the British spelling, which is more common in Canada.

What about you? What’s your natural talent?