I’ve known Cris for some time on various Facebook literary book groups and knew that she was a writer just like myself. I invited her to do a guest post about her writing space here on No Wasted Ink.
My earliest memories are mostly of my Grandpa telling me stories, even on into my 30s, about his childhood and other family members and how things were in the 1930s and on, whether farming or living in the city, even the Great Depression era. Then there were the librarians and story times, my cousins and campfires, now my nieces and nephews and stories I tell from my childhood about their parents and stories I remember Grandpa telling me. I became a storyteller because of other storytellers. Plus, I like to communicate and pass things on to the next generation.
I only recently started to consider seriously that I could have an easy, natural knack for writing. I’ve been writing essays and poetry over the decades since grade school. Most of the topics were of non-fiction genres, life topics, natural world, personal experiences and scientific research pieces based on other printed works. Authors like Jules Verne, Edgar Rice Burroughs and Mary Shelley have inspired my imagination to fire non-stop. The freedom and possibility to travel were THE perks I needed to motivate me into launching on this adventure. My mother quipped, “I always liked your writing.” It was all I needed to hear. When writing, I can exercise that part of me that says: “I have not, will not, and will never grow up.” My eldest nephew says he can’t wait to read my first book. (We’re real pals.)
My writing space best reflects that part of my self-perception where I think I am still just out of high school, living in a dorm setting. I typically will “travel” as I write, starting from laying on my stomach, or sitting cross-legged, story-boarding or writing idea/concept lists in my notebook, or typing up the story on my notebook, a plain Acer Aspire One where I myself upgraded the RAM chip. (I’m pretty good at tinkering with anything technical or mechanical. Such a tomboy. I can change the oil and filter in my car, if I want to.) Eventually, I get tired of one spot and graft over to another, such as the floor with a pillow behind me. I think this opens up the physical headspace for me as I tend to look upwards when I need ideas. (Mom tells me I used to watch the trees sway with the breeze and the clouds pass by. Come to think of it, I still do this.) Later, I move to the patio in the afternoon, then I graft back in. It’s a rare day that I can write not near a window. It’s like I have to be connected to the natural world.
I’m a minimalist at heart, so I use only the basics in physical tools. Paper and pen for ideas, lists and research. I use the netbook for typing up stories. But lately, I have considered telling a story from my head and recording it and then putting it to page. But, my real tool remains the same for the osmosis of story fodder: My gift of gab and knack for research.
Writer, Cosmic Captives Series
First novel in write-up: Lair of the Sun
Targeted: November 2012
Book Name: Starship Troopers
Author: Robert A. Heinlein
First Published: 1959
Winner of Hugo Award for Best Novel in 1960
Robert A Heinlein started his career as a writer by publishing short stories in Astounding Science Fiction, which was edited by John Campbell. He went on to write many more short stories and novelettes for Astounding Science Fiction, many of which later were republished as short novels. Heinlein’s first novel that was published as a book was Rocket Ship Galileo. It had been rejected at first because the notion of going to the moon was considered to be too outlandish, but Heinlein soon found a new publisher, Scribner’s, that began to publish a Heinlein “juvenile” novel once a year at Christmas. Eight of these first edition young adult novels were illustrated by Clifford Geary in a distinctive white-on-black style. The Heinlein Juveniles featured a mixture of adolescent and adult themes, the characters experiencing the sorts of personal issues that young adults commonly find themselves in, combined with fantastic futuristic machinery and complex ideas. Heinlein was of the opinion that young readers were much more sophisticated and able to handle more complex themes than people of the times realized and his writing reflected this.
Heinlein’s last “juvenile” novel was Starship Troopers. It is said that this novel was his personal reaction to the calls for President Dwight D. Eisenhower to stop nuclear testing in 1958. The novel met with great success and won the 1960 Hugo Award for Best Novel. It is still in print to this day.
Starship Troopers is a coming-of-age story about citizenship, duty, and the role of the military in society and is set during an unspecified time of the near future when humans have developed interstellar travel. The book portrays a society in which full citizenship, in order to vote or to hold public office, is earned by the willingness to place society’s interests before one’s own and in participation of government service. In the case of the young hero, this was military service. The novel is seen through the eyes of young Juan “Johnnie” Rico who narrates the story through a series of flashbacks. Johnnie remembers his enlistment and training in the Mobile Infantry and his part in the interstellar war with the Arachnids (the bugs) of Klendathu. Through combat and training, Johnnie begins as a lowly private, but eventually becomes an officer and decides that being a career soldier is his life’s path. Life in the military shapes him into the man he becomes.
Rico, through a series of conversations with Ret. Lt. Colonel Jean V. Dubois, his instructor of History and Moral Philosophy during his high school years, and Fleet Sergeant Ho, a recruiter for the Armed Forces of the Terran Federation, the political and military ideas of the novel are presented. This is the meat of the novel, the concepts of how this particular society sees itself and their version of manifest destiny. The ideas are robust, but controversial.
One of the main virtues of science fiction is to depict other ways that society and culture might organize and function, giving us the reader new sparks of ideas of how society might otherwise function. I am not certain if all the political ideas that this novel portrays would completely work, but it does give one plenty of room for contemplation. Even now, 50 years after its published date, Starship Troopers inspires heated debate about its core concepts. Somehow, I believe that Heinlein would have been pleased to know this.
While the development of powered armor is Starship Troopers most famous legacy, the novel’s influence into the concepts of contemporary warfare are myriad. The novel is on the official reading list of the US Army, US Navy and the US Marine Corp, the only science fiction novel to have that distinction. The all volunteer, high-tech strike force military of Heinlein’s book, a futuristic concept at that time since the armed forces of Heinlein’s day were filled by conscription forces serving a two year hitch, is now similar in style of our own modern day volunteer armed forces. I know of more than one young man that told me that he volunteered for service in the infantry based on reading this novel. The story is powerful and to some minds it might be disturbing.
Of all the authors that I read growing up, Robert A. Heinlein was the most influential on me, both as a writer and as a citizen. The ideas of libertarianism, of self-reliance, and of personal responsibility all came from reading the myriad of novels and short stories that this author wrote. His dead-on prediction of many scientific gadgets that we take for granted today, such as flat screen television, cell phones, and other everyday items was astounding. There is a saying among writers that “Heinlein was here first.” For good reason. His stories have shaped the genre of science fiction in ways that are incalculable. If you are to become familiar with science fiction in general, Robert A. Heinlein should be on your reading list.
List of Robert A. Heinlein’s Juvenile Novels:
Rocket Ship Galileo, 1947
Space Cadet, 1948
Red Planet, 1949
Between Planets, 1951
The Rolling Stones, 1952
Farmer in the Sky, 1953
Starman Jones, 1953
The Star Beast, 1954
Tunnel in the Sky, 1955
Double Star, 1956 — Hugo Award, 1956
Time for the Stars, 1956
Citizen of the Galaxy, 1957
Have Space Suit—Will Travel, 1958 — Hugo Award nominee, 1959
Starship Troopers, 1959 — Hugo Award, 1960
Pinterest is a social media site that has taken the web by storm. It is now considered the third most popular social media site right after Facebook and Twitter. Pinterest is a simple idea. As you surf the net and spot photos that interest you, you can copy and paste these images to your pinterest “boards” and share them with your friends. The images that you pin automatically link back to the original page where the image was posted from and you also have the option of sharing not only on Pinterest, but on Facebook or Twitter at the same time if you choose to. A “board” is a sort of photo gallery where you group your pinterest images by a subject category of your choosing. People that use Pinterest are known as “Pinners” and people that follow your boards can either “like” or comment on your pins.
One of the aspects of Pinterest that I find interesting is that it has become more of a woman-centric social media hub where men are few and far between. Reported figures put the females at anywhere from 60% to 80% of its users. It is also a media that attracts people who are more visual in their thought processes than analytical. If you have a book that appeals to the female demographic, utilizing Pinterest becomes even more important as part of your writing platform.
If Pinterest is all about images, how can I use it as a writer?
As a former filmmaker and now a writer, I find that images are at the heart of the scenes and characters that I create. Visual thinking is a natural part of the process of what I do as a storyteller. One of the first ways that I used Pinterest is to gather images that would help to inspire the locations, objects and clothing of the characters in my books. I’m currently working on a steampunk science fiction themed novel. In my Pinterest account I have a steampunk board where I pin all images of a steampunk nature that I gather from the web. Not only is this board a place for my personal inspiration of costumes, buildings and motor cars, but it also allows my readers to get an insight of where my stories are percolating from.
I’ve created a board featuring the book covers of my favorite novels that I gathered from Amazon. I’ve written the title and authors with the Pin. I sometimes like to Pin images of my favorite authors in my Writing board along with images of writing tools, famous quotes by authors and other writing related images.
Developing Your Pinterest Writing Platform
Remember, Pinterest is a visual way to link to a website. The goal is to draw in people to your website via your boards. Share your images so that the pictures with the corresponding links will spread out in a viral manner. Not only should you gather images from other sources, you must include images from your own website pages in order to draw click-throughs to your books.
Boards should not only be about you and your book. You want the boards to be a reflection of you as a person. Imbed the image links to your website among other interesting and visually stimulating images from other sources. Good places to find such images are other Pinterest boards, websites, blogs, DeviantArt and photo gallery sites. If you know who created the image, make every attempt to give the artist credit. If you have the skill, create images to Pin. Create boards with descriptive titles and place them in the proper Pinterest categories. Make it easy for your readers to find you. If you have published books, make a board for them and feature it among your other boards.
One of the time honored ways of drawing traffic to your website is to read other blogs and leave comments. You should do the same strategy with Pinterest by leaving comments on other people’s pins or pressing the like button. If you spot an image that would work well on one of your boards, re-pin it and gain attention from the original poster that way. Follow the boards of other writers that inspire you. You do not need to follow all their boards, simply pick the ones that interest you. Incorporate Pinterest into the rest of your writing platform on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+ by providing links or shoutouts to boards you find to be excellent. The point is to make as many connections as you can and to spread the love.
I am growing rather addicted to Pinterest and I find that its value to me as a writer is increasing, both as a traffic builder and as a place to gather inspiration for my writing.