Tag Archives: Travel

Road Writing

 

There are times during NaNoWriMo where one has to become mobile. This does not mean you’re off the hook for your daily goal! It means you need to adapt, improvise, and overcome. Here’s a couple of suggestions to help you.

Phone Apps and Thingies

  • There are several apps that you can use to translate voice to text. On my iPhone, I use Nuance’s Dragon Dictate, the free version. It works great and the price is right.
  • You can use Siri or the Android assistant to text or email yourself.
  • There are plenty of third party apps you can discover, both free and paid. Make sure you read the reviews and watch when it was last updated.
  • You can always record your voice and play it back to transcribe when you’re done driving for the day.
  • Make sure you bring along your headphones with a microphone. They tend to record better than the built-in microphone.
  • I would recommend you get a foldable keyboard that allows you to type normally with your cell phone. It plugs in like a piece of paper in a typewriter, and the bonus is some of them allow you to charge the phone as you write your NaNo story.

Laptop(s)

I normally bring along a Samsung Chromebook when I go to conventions. Chromebooks are lightweight and have excellent battery life. While it would seriously suck if someone were to walk off with your hardware, I’d rather lose a Chromebook that synced to the cloud (my cost was $160 a few years ago) versus losing my writing laptop (HP G650, $400 + $100 in maxing out the memory) or, heavens forbid, my main graphics laptop (Toshiba gaming beast, $1200 with RAID drives). You can also use an inexpensive Android tablet. I have a couple that cost me less than fifty bucks each.

The McDonald’s Mantra

I worked at a McDonalds back when I was 18 years old. I was more interested in dating the manager than doing actual work, but the folks who were there for a long while had a saying: “Time enough to lean, time enough to clean.”

Considering I was a lazy lout, that stuck with me over the years. Now I adapt it to writing, where if you have more than fifteen minutes of spare time you can get some words down. Use your laptop, Chromebook, tablet, phone, or a handy pen and paper. As Depeche Mode says, everything counts in large amounts.

If I’m waiting for a panel to start, I’m usually actively puzzling out a section of one of my in-work projects. If I have an hour until the next panel, I whip out my Chromebook and start typing. I learned this from author Kevin J. Anderson at a convention in Colorado. Whenever he had some downtime, he was quietly tucked away in some corner working on a novel. It was a good lesson — writers should be writing.

I’m scheduled to appear at Windycon 44 in the Chicago area tomorrow through the 12th of November. You can rest assured that I’ll be working on my projects, but please make sure to stop and say hello. Writing is important, but so is life and interaction. Tonya L. De Marco will be there with me, so you’ll probably be more interested in meeting her.

On November 17th and 18th, Tonya L. De Marco and I will be appearing at The Cosplay Convention and Anime Experience in Little Rock, Arkansas. We hope to see you there!

What are your suggestions for writing while traveling?



About the Author:
DeMarco_Web-5963

Guy Anthony De Marco is a disabled US Navy veteran speculative fiction author; a Graphic Novel Bram Stoker Award® nominee; winner of the HWA Silver Hammer Award; a prolific short story and flash fiction crafter; a novelist and poet; an invisible man with superhero powers; a game writer (Interface Zero 2.0 core team, third-party D&D modules); and a coffee addict. One of these is false.
A writer since 1977, Guy is a member of the following organizations: SFWA, WWA, SFPA, IAMTW, ASCAP, RMFW, MWG, HWA. He hopes to collect the rest of the letters of the alphabet one day. Additional information can be found at Wikipedia and GuyAnthonyDeMarco.com.

Google Can Take You Anywhere

A few years ago I heard a successful author say that you should have unique setting for most of your novel. Don’t use the same setting too much, especially in a fantasy or sci-fi story where you want to create a continuous sense of wonder for the reader.

As I wrote the first novel I wanted to publish, I took this to heart. Each time I had a new scene, it would be in a different place. It worked for the story, because the characters were on the run much of the time.

The story, New Sight, takes place in the western United States in modern times. Easy for setting, because I didn’t have to make up a bunch of world building rules and such. I remember pulling up Google Maps and charting where I wanted my characters to go. I needed a place of some mystical value, and I Googled that as well. When I had a basic roadmap, I started looking for interesting things in or near the places I wanted to use.

I found a hotel in Colorado that is an old drive-in movie theater. They’ve built it so that you can watch a movie through a huge window in your room while you’re lounging on your bed. I used this in one version of my story, but it didn’t make the final cut. Still, I may use it later for something else. Curiosity piqued? Check it out here.

I found out that Las Vegas has a hidden society of poor people living in the storm drains under the city. Yes please, totally used this. Sort of. Here is the article that my sister sent me after we’d been talking about it.

I found out that a little-known hike in Canyonlands leads to a place called Druid Arch. Some people think it is of mystical importance. Score!

That’s just a few examples. I’d been to Las Vegas, and didn’t end up using the hotel, but I wanted to go to Druid Arch. It took me a few months of getting into better shape, and one failed attempt due to stupid snow in April, but I finally got there.

I’d searched for info on the hike, and had found pictures and descriptions of it. Which gave me a good idea of what to expect. I dragged a few friends along with me. We only got lost once or twice for a few minutes, but in the end made it.

It was so fun seeing the place for myself. Feeling it. Smelling it. Hearing it. I added a few new details to the scenes I’d written there before my final manuscript went out. And, after I got my rights back from my original publisher, I used my own photos on the new cover. With help from an actual artist, of course.

It’s not always practical to visit the places you use in your stories, but at least take the time to Google them. You’ll be amazed at what you find from interesting landmarks to urban legends to people in the sewers.

Hi! My Name is Nathan, and I’m a Writer!

Several years ago, my company sent me overseas for a few weeks of training. Since I was already enduring the long trans-Atlantic flight, I decided to take some vacation time to make the most of my trip. I booked my flight a week early, and paid out of pocket to delay my connection in Frankfurt. I had been wanting to do a backpacking-via-rail trip for a while, and so I booked a Frankfurt to London round trip in order to take the opportunity to spend 10 days exploring the stretch of the UK between London and Newcastle.

Knowing that one of my friends participated in an study abroad program during college in Newcastle, I asked her what I should do with my few days in the city. She recommended that I take a bus ride up to the gardens at Alnwick. As she told the story, the gardens were created in response to a local student dying from a drug overdose. The city decided to create a poisons section in their local botanical gardens with the intent of educating visitors on the dangers of drugs.

Writing BookshelfMost writers I know are gigantic nerds for trivia and other useless tidbits. I am no exception. Just take a look at the bookshelf I have reserved for my writing references and you’ll see why the idea of a garden devoted to poisons appealed to me. One morning, I made my way to the Newcastle bus terminal, and spent the some time watching the beautiful countryside. Before long, I made to Alnwick. After paying my entrance fee, I spent a couple hours wandering and admiring the gardens.

Eventually, I found the poison gardens, which occupy an open space roughly the size of a small parking lot. Alnwick’s Poisons Garden is sectioned off from the public areas by a heavy, black wrought-iron fence. The only access is a gate that is kept locked at all times and is decorated with skulls and crossbones. Hard to misinterpret the message even if you don’t speak the local language.

As I approached, the tour guide waiting outside the gate informed me that a tour had just begun. When I asked her when the next would be, she smiled and assured me that waiting would not be necessary. She would open the gate and I could simply catch up the tour.

Once inside the gate, the Poisons Garden didn’t appear to be significantly different from the larger public space. There was a small path that meandered through flower beds and the plants were protected by mesh cages to keep people from touching. Otherwise, the deadly plants appeared to be unremarkable. However, I listened to the last three quarters of the tour aptly, taking pictures for reference material, and writing notes as appropriate. Upon leaving the poisons garden, I saw that another group was already forming to start their tour.

In one of my less-than-bright moments, I decided to catch the first quarter of the tour with the new group. As it turned out, each of the three guides gives their own version of the 20 minute tour, and with over 100 plants in the Poisons Garden, there was plenty of material to choose from. Enthusiastic for new information, and not thinking about how it looked to the locals, I decided to join the third tour as well and see what else I could glean.

As I left the gardens for the final time, I found the first two tour guides standing together and casting nervous glances at me. Concerned, I moved close enough to eavesdrop and began digging through my bag. The word “constables” was especially alarming. I did not have the time to be arrested in a foreign country; after all, I had a flight to catch from Newcastle to London the next morning so I could continue on to my company mandated training. Thinking fast, I did the only thing that I could to avoid being arrested.

I walked up to them with a smile on my face and introduced myself.

“Hello,” I said, “my name is Nathan Barra, and I am a writer. I came to the gardens to do some research for a book. Thank you for the tours, they were very informative, but I was hoping that you ladies could clarify a few questions for me.” The two women who had just been looking at me as if I were prone to poisoning the town’s water supply lit up and became passionate about helping me. Turns out, the the information on the tours is nothing compared to what the tour guides will give you if you make friends.

And that, is why I love to be a writer. Yes, there is joy in creating, relaxation that comes from the control of an entire world, and the sense of pride and accomplishment from a completed book. But in the end, writers get to do, and get away with, things a normal person wouldn’t have access to in the name of “research.” I have writer friends who gone on special tours of NASA, have shadowed prison guards, and are on a first name basis with rock stars. All in all, the perks of being a writer are pretty sweet.

This month, you heard from Fictorians and our friends in the writing community about why we love being writers. I hope y’all have new insight into our worlds and some inspiration to pursue your own dreams and craft. Life is only as interesting as you choose to make it. So go out, and make awesome choices.