Friday, January 28, 2011

For Hire

I'm brainstorming on my marketable skills. Want to listen in? Based on my own skill, experience, and interests, here is a list of ways I will be making money from now on.

Blogging: First off, there is this blog. It has started to pay off in a small way, it will keep growing as people visit and actually use the links. Secondly, I will blog for anyone else who wants a blog for self or business purposes. I am open to blogging as a guest, or as a ghost writer. These days the best way to promote a business is to have a blog for people to read about it. 

Writing: Work continues on my novels in progress including my Pen Sadler mystery series set in rural Central Texas, and my fantasy novel. I also have a couple of new plays working. More details to follow.

Drafting: I will continue to provide contract drafting services. My degree is in Drafting and Design, and I have forty years of experience as a working draftsman both manually and with CAD. Primarily I have worked in the steel fabrication business as a structural and miscellaneous steel detailer/checker. I will also provide custom house plans for people who know what they want, or any other related drafting services.

Permaculture: I hold a Permaculture Design Certificate. I will provide permaculture design service, as well as report writing and drafting services for other designers. I am also available to help in writing up permaculture, how-to, or other projects and related articles for magazine publication.

Resource person: I've been called a know-it-all. I hold a lot of knowledge in many diverse fields, I also am a very good researcher. Writing your own novel? Not sure about weapons? PLEASE check with me. Even experienced authors often make simple mistakes about weapons and other easy topics. Other research questions for any purpose whatever? Simple editing of text? Ask me first. Easy rates. 
Repairs: Small appliances, light welding, just about anything. Small construction projects too, and farm equipment. Just ask me about it!

Art and sales: I continue to represent Microbial Earth Farms at Bastrop 1832 Farmer's Market in season selling compost, soil improvement products, and compost systems. 
I also work with my partner Cat Dancing at Sherwood Forest Faire (booth 309, Feb. 19 thru April 3, 2011weekends) and other events. We sell Cat's Intarsia and stained glass art, as well as my own line of RainCrow and Sylph Song flutes.

There are probably a few more things to add to the list. I'll keep you posted.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Finding Hiram Turnbloood

     After a couple of weeks hiatus, for various reasons, I got back to work on a couple of my writing projects.
     I had a couple of ideas to incorporate into my fantasy novel, and I needed to un-scramble my mystery series.
     You see, I've been planning out a series of mysteries set in a fictional Central Texas small town. I have a main character I like and a few possible story lines figured out. Early on I had great fun planning the town, based on my experiences with many different smallish towns over the years. Thinking of likely places of business and town characters has been interesting.
The program SimCity or The Sims might have been helpful for this process, I expect, but the way I was going, I may have gotten totally distracted by that process and forgotten my purpose of actually telling a story.
     So there I was, willy-nilly popping in characters and coming up with suitable names, with an eye on the whole series rather than just one novel. For this project, I'm actively using the free yWriter5 program I've written of previously. I set up one file for the overall series, treating each projected book as if it were one chapter for purposes of making notes and keeping them organized. Another file is set up for the one novel of that series I'm actively working on. The software has the capability of importing data from one file to the other, such as character files, etc.
     After some time of plugging in new ideas for the series, and working on the selected novel, a couple of things became evident. One, the list of characters in the book was digressing a bit from the list for the series. Two, I was losing track of the relationships of main and peripheral characters. Now, one of the telling characteristics of small towns is the appearance that literally all the old-timers are related to each other in some way. Not totally true, but it certainly seems that way.
     I realized as I went along that I couldn't just randomly establish that character A was an uncle to character B, or that C was an ex-wife of D. Before long that would get me into trouble. In fact,  I was already getting there. It wouldn't be so much of an issue in a one shot novel, but as a reader, I value some consistency in a series. Also, at least one of my projected story lines involved genealogy, so I decided I'd better get straight on it from the beginning.
     As I wrote in my blog on genealogy, I use the P.A.F. program from the L.D.S. folks for my genealogy pursuits. They have evolved a different name for it now, but I still think of it with the original name.
     I set up a genealogy file with that program for my townsfolk. I entered all my established characters into PAF. As I proceeded, I worked out ages and generations, who was related to who, and added a few new characters to round it all out. I actually came up with a few surprises for myself. Like "oh yeah, if this person is that one's aunt, that adds this interesting slant!"
     Yesterday I finished working it all out in the genealogy program. I printed out an alphabetized list of everyone (three columns on both sides of one sheet to save paper.) The list had names and birth dates. I went back to my story software, started correlating/adding new characters and filling in ages I now had established, marking them off the printed list as I went. I had to refer back to the genealogy now and then for relationships. "Oh yes, Susan is Claude's wife."
      I had one name left over.
     Hiram Turnblood.
     Who's that?
     I didn't recognize the name. Not a bad name. In fact, an appropriate name for the older generations of  my townsfolk. I just didn't remember who he was supposed to be. I looked in my original character list. Not there. I turned back to the genealogy program that produced the printed list. Hmm, he's not there either. No Turnblood family names, even. Not only is he not connected to anyone I entered, he does not exist in the program that generated the printout. He's there in black and white on the printout, he just doesn't exist anywhere prior to that.
     Hmmm. Okay, I guess he wants to be included. I added him to the story program character list. I don't know who he is, or what his purpose will be, but there he is. You hear writers talk about characters who take over the story, but this is totally out of left field. I wonder who he'll be.
     Maybe he'll be a Norwegian Bachelor Farmer type. (Prairie Home Companion reference, for the uninitiated.) 
     At least in my fictional world there's no shortage of potential jobs.

The Ultimate Writer's Name Book: A Novelist's, Screenwriter's, and Playwrighter's Resource for Naming Characters