Scored pretty good at work a couple of weeks ago! Our policy is to hold lost & found items for up to a year, depending on how expensive it is. Two months is average for most items, but higher priced ones remain for a lot longer. Someone left a laptop a year ago. Due to privacy and confidentiality, we had to find a way to destroy the files on it. Since I’m the tech wiz in our department (and honestly, I’m not THAT good,) it was given to me. I couldn’t hack my way into the hard drive to wipe it, so I had to remove it entirely for destruction. As a reward, I got the laptop — an IBM Thinkpad X40 with an attached dock! Looking online, I’ve found compatible hard drives for $80. I’ve always wanted to play with Linux, so it look like I’ll soon have that opportunity. Can’t wait for the tax refunds to arrive!
I’m telling you, this month has been fantastic as far as word production — 22,000 words! (And I’ve yet to take a day off this month.) Beloved Lady Mistress is still pouring out into the computer. It’s making me a little nervous, actually. I mean it’s going so smoothly right now, and I’m just about finished with the first draft. What’s going to happen when it’s time to sit down and write book three? ACK! I’m worried about jinxing myself.
Broken Trails has been through its first round of edits for PD Publishing. For a change, I’m not having to add more scenes to the novel which is the usual complaint from my editors (and readers!) I’m glad I took the opportunity to beef it up prior to submitting it to them. That was always the most draining part of edits for publication — being hip deep in a completely different book, and having to backtrack to write full new scenes to fill in the gaps on my truncated novels.
This week I’m going to discuss the scenery. Lots of scenery. Every ‘place’ I write about in my books usually comes from somewhere real. It makes it so much easier if I can picture the location in mind as I’m writing the description. Let’s see…what shall I start with? Why not the place where it all began…
There I sat in Spokane, Washington, working a job I didn’t enjoy, and missing Portland, Oregon like crazy! We lived in an itty bitty loft apartment, and my airbrush studio sat in storage for lack of space. While my art career idled on the sidelines, I was bored to tears. After discovering fanfic, I read everything I could until deciding to write one of my own. Only One is set in Portland so I could vicariously relive the city I missed. And it occurred during Rose Festival because that was going on at the time I started writing it!
Anyone who’s been to the Alexis restaurant on Burnside and 3rd can tell you there are no windows. I didn’t know that at the time; I was writing purely from research and memory. But I had been to the Virginia Cafe, Pioneer Square, the south park blocks. The abandoned flop house that Dreamer stayed in was on SW 11th and Clay — it’s not there any more. Xe’s building is on 5th and Couch. At the time it was an intriguing burned out building, boarded up and painted pastel blue. I’d go by it on the bus pretty regularly, and I’d always imagined what I’d do with it if I had the money. I still see it; it’s now a renovated brick office building with five floors.
In Oktoberfest, while I had been to West Germany and Munich during the festival, I’d never stayed there in a hotel. The family run business Xe and Rickie stayed in was actually a small place I’d spent many a weekend at in Heidelberg. The place was right off the walkstrausse near the fish market.
By the time I had begun writing The Breaking, we’d moved back to the Portland metro area. I wasn’t living in Portland, but out in Tigard. That’s where I put Gypsy’s house where Xe and Rickie finally met up again. (And Rickie came from OSHU on the hill when she woke up in the morgue.)
CyberEpic was set in Idaho mostly because I wanted a change from Portland. I didn’t really have anything in mind for most of the locations, including the dance club inside the Boise walls. Tank’s residence, though… That was the Sumner Court apartments in North Portland. I’d walked by the basement windows for months, peering inside and wondering what was down there. Since I never had the opportunity to find out, I placed Tank’s computer lab/raid shelter in it.
In Warlord Metal I had Sonny living in SE Portland. (My supervisor’s neighborhood, as a matter of fact.) The house itself was my dad’s split level in Boise, with the garage moved out back for Torrin to reside above. In Torrin’s flashback, the club she’s in is partially the interior of The City Nightclub in Portland during the ‘80s. As you’ll see farther on, this isn’t the only place The City has shown up in my writing.
Of course, Broken Trails is Alaska, but let me honest here… I’ve never been to Alaska before. Ever. I’ve always wanted to go — see the glaciers, the Aurora Borealis, a couple of sled dog kennels! Just haven’t gotten there yet. But whenever I needed the feel or smell or view of the mountains, I used the Rockies where I spent some of my childhood. (I’m sure that people who live in Alaska will be able to tell the difference.)
Moving on to things that haven’t been posted online:
The one major youth club where Whiskey spends time is in Seattle. The Strange Path (estimated publication of spring 2012 through Bella Books,) is where you’ll see that particular place. It’s a combination of a couple of places. The exterior is a small brick switch house for the train yard in downtown Portland. Inside, though, it’s a replica of the City Nightclub from the 80s. (Toldja it’d crop up again!) I had a couple of friends back then who weren’t legal age yet, so we’d party there.
I’ve written about three quarters of a post-apocalyptic novel, that I’ve entitled Orphan Maker. (I hope to be getting back to that by the end of the year.) It follows a group of children, survivors of a plague that destroyed the adults — I know, it’s been done. But I simply couldn’t make it through the one episode of the New Zealand show ‘The Tribe’. It was horrible. I had to write this to show what it should have been like! Anyhow, five years after the plague, the oldest is 19, and life goes on. I set them in the middle of the Rockies, specifically Donnelly, Idaho. I spent a couple of years there as a kid, and loved it.
Finally, I’ve been working non-stop on Beloved Lady Mistress as you know. I’ve had the most wonderful time the last month or so, creating a corporation called The Davis Group, which will house and protect my main protagonist. I’ve taken the hotel I work at, and have completely restructured it. LOL! Walking patrols has never been more fun, you know? Health club and pool on the third floor, maybe we can blow out these walls, and make a gym! What about a penthouse suite using the Presidential and all these rooms, too! Where would a security force be housed to protect the future leader of their people? Ah, heaven!
So, there you have it. The best way to describe a place is to already have something in mind for it. Everyone’s seen overgrown grass, and falling fences. Put them together with a weathered cabin, show the tree branches drooping from lack of pruning, encroaching ivy taking over the fence line and slowly pulling it to the ground. Once you have a visual to work off of, the rest is pretty easy.
And to see if you’re with me so far, how about I offer a little incentive for comments to this post? I’ll mail a personally signed copy of Tiopa Ki Lakota to the person who writes a comment that has the best description of an urban setting. 100 words minimum, I’m the judge. Deadline is Monday, March 21st. I’ll announce the winner on Wednesday the 23rd.
Can I get some assistance? If you have any questions for me, or suggestions on what you want me to write about, please let me know! The comment form below will require a valid email address to ensure you’re a real person. (I don’t collect the addresses or do anything with them, so you won’t be getting future spam from me.) If that’s not to your taste, you can email me — the link is up above on the left.