Perspectives: Call for Submissions

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I’ve shared the length and breadth of my knowledge (at least what thoughts I’ve got beyond what anyone can research) and now it’s your turn. Tell me something from your knowledge, that can’t be found on a google search.

Post your thoughts in a comment below, or send it to sskid2000 AT hotmail DOT com. I’ll post the responses next week. ^^ Be sure to include a link to your website if you have one, because I like to link back to everyone I mention inside of a post.

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Perspectives: Living off the Land

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I learned a lot about this as a kid. My mother liked to do hands on learning experiences, and researching the oregon trail focused a lot on “living off the land.” Here’s a couple of things you writers should consider:

1. You can live off the land, but you probably won’t be very happy about it.

Wild greens have a lot… *ahem* stronger flavor than that stuff you buy at the supermarket.  The most common flavors I have found from my sampling of wild foods is SOUR and BITTER. For heaven’s sake! There’s a reason we invented farming, and it isn’t just convenience.

Draw attention to these flavors in your WIPs. Your characters are bound to be noticing the difference between wild food and farm food.

2. Wood fires change the flavor of food.

Almost every camp scene in the history of the written story has involved gathering firewood. It’s typically something the new people do. Here is something I learned the hard, painful way. Pine wood does not make for good eating. (Unless you go out and stuff pine needles in your mouth just for fun. If so, you’re good.)

If your character goes out to gather firewood, make sure he either knows what kind, or you have a suitable reaction.

3. It is impossible to creep silently through the forest.

I’ve been to the “Forest” where one version of Robin Hood was filmed. Of course you can creep silently there. It’s a carefully designed set built around protected California Oak Trees that must never be cut for any reason. You can walk under the trees easily, because there practically isn’t even grass. >_>

A real forest has this stuff called “undergrowth”. My experience has found undergrowth to consist of 90%  vines, mostly thorny vines, mostly wrapped around bushes that have more thorns and grow all the way down to the ground. 10% of it is tall grass punctuated by plants with various barbs on it, and 1% ticks/something else that makes you itchy.

Face it. You are not getting through unless you have a machette or follow the deer path, and only then if you’re okay with taking some parts on hands and knees. Watch out for that log. It’s rotten.

Even assuming you can get through the barrier that is Forest, remember that the forest is full of trees. The trees primarily drop leaves. The leaves land on the ground and become dry. The dry leaves make crunching noises when you walk. (Of course, if your hapless character has recently endured a thunderstorm, this is not a problem. Damp leaves don’t crunch. They’re just slippery. Falling on your booty does make noise!

Lois L’amore actually did impress me with his version of ‘walking silently through the forest’ which detailed timing his characters pace with the noise of the wind etc. I’m so willing to be swept away by a story with real knowledge!

4. Once you return to civilization, people are going to notice you’ve been in the woods. Yes, even if you bathe.

I’m sorry, but it’s obvious. The torn clothing. The inevitable loss of weight/gain of muscle. The lack of a proper hairstyle. If nothing else, there’s probably at least one squirrel booty hanging out of your saddlebags as he helps himself to your food. Never assume your character is going to just blend right in.

That’s it for now. If you’d like to submit your perspective, please email me at sskid2000 AT hotmail DOT com. We look forward to your guest post!

Perspectives: California

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I knew I was missing my homestate when I found myself remenescing over wildfires. Fire season spans across most of the year down there, and most of us don’t blink when we hear about a fire burning 30,000 acres. Even if there are three fires each burning 30,000 spread out in a line headed toward you. (Unless of course, you are unlucky enough to live in the hills instead of somewhere safe such as a valley. Then I imagine you are running to pack your bags and hope that huge swath of naked earth surrounding your house is a big enough fire barrier.)

California has its own unique personality, which I did not notice until my (then future) husband came down to visit me. He was awed by our attitude toward cops, and also to our speed limits. (I found out much to my horror that Washington speed limits are 5-10 miles slower everywhere.)

“When we [meaning Washingtonians] see a cop with someone pulled over, we slow down. You guys just keep going. It’s like you think since he’s got one he’s too busy to get you too.”

Well it isn’t exactly like that. It’s more like, “if you’re not the fastest person and you’re not the slowest person, and you don’t have an eye catching sports car, you’re unlikely to be the one who gets the ticket.”

That being said, I am the model of good behavior here in Washington. Even though the speed limits suck, and that kid on the tricycle is passing me. He’s going to be the one with the ticket. Right? Of course right.

Something that also really stood out for me when I first moved was the street names. We use actual names, with a theme to them where I grew up in California. Here, all the streets are numbered. Instead of Christine street, Karen Street and Vanessa street in one section, we have 176th, 175th, and 174th.

>.<

My dad actually noticed the other difference between these two states, that I think defines their personalities. When he came up for my wedding this past June, he seemed very flustered as we drove around the streets. Eventually, he brought this up to my Mother-In-Law.

“I have a question for you,” he said to her, not quite making eye contact. We all stared at him, because he isn’t generally that shade of red when he talks.

“Where ever I drive here, I see all these little pink stands by the side of the road, and the women in them are almost naked. What are they–um—selling?”

We stared at him for a moment, minds frantically racing to figure out where these naked people were. I was the first to burst out laughing, cause I’d figured it out.

“Coffee stands,” I told him between gasps for air. “Those are coffee stands!”

He thought they were selling–well–never mind. Washington is defined by its coffee, as you probably know, and also by the amount of clothing on the ladies who serve it. 😛

Those are the only differences that really strike me, weather aside. Despite what Bella will tell you, by the way, the weather doesn’t actually suck. I admit to staring at the sky the first time it snowed, and my first dumbfounded thought was something along the lines of, “Dandruff!” But it does snow in California. Somewhere. Just not where I lived. It doesn’t actually rain here in Washington every day. It’s just cloudy every single day. You don’t even notice after the first couple months, promise! ^^

That’s it for now! If you’d like to share your own perspective with other writers, please drop me a line at sskid2000 AT hotmail DOT com. Thanks all!

Perspectives: Dog Breeds

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I see a lot of dogs come in and out of the groom salon I work at, and from it I’ve learned one thing. Every breed has its own unique personality, and every dog is a shade of that personality. With that being said, here are my top three favorite breeds of dog, and how they act for all your doggie character needs.

Jack Rustle Terrier
Unless your character is a professional bicyclist looking for a dog that can keep up, s/he probably won’t be prepared for this dog. These dogs are high energy dogs. Their idea of a calm moment is enjoying a victory bowl of water after a triathlon. A Jack Russel kept to the activity levels of a sedentary family will take out its frustration in the form of barking, obsessive chewing, and digging. (All at once even.)

When paired up with the right owner these dogs are the envy of all others. They have firey, dynamic personalities. They’re playful. They’re fun. Match this dog up with your health nuts, adventurers, and crazy kids. Remember, even the frustrated ones aren’t bad. They’re just bored and misunderstood.

Greyhound

You would think more people would own this breed of dog. Greyhounds can be defined by their gentleness, and the aura of mysteriousness that seems to go with them where ever they are at. Despite being well known for their capacity as racing dogs, I am told by the local rescue they are just as happy as an apartment dogs.

If you’re looking for a watch dog, look elsewhere. These dogs are gentle, kind, and reluctant to bark. Pair this dog up with characters that have similar personalities. (And remember when outside its on a leash or in a fenced area!)

Chihuahua

Think of this dog as a really big dog in a little dog body. We’re talking Great Dane huge. Their personality depends on how they are treated. If you treat this dog like it is a big dog, it is one of the best dogs in the world to own. If you treat this dog like a little dog, you’re going to have the stereotypical yappy dog everyone thinks of when they hear the word Chihuahua.

Because of their fiesty nature, learning obedience is a must. Because they will go up and slap that Doberman Pincher in the face. (They think they’re big dogs, remember?)

Pair this dog up with confident handlers, or unconfident ones if you’re looking for that yappy biter image.

Perspectives: Judo

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Despite that line in “Blame It” by Jamie Foxx, Judo is not a kicking sport. Judo practitioners do not wander around smashing their heads through concrete blocks or practice moves that involve hitting something with a big stick. In fact, pretty much all of judo involves smashing an opponent into the mat at high velocities, with a sprinkling of chokes, armlocks, and hold-downs thrown in.

You can find out everything you need to know about the history, what the moves look like, and how tournaments work by doing a little bit of research. Here’s what the research doesn’t tell you:

  • Every dojo teaches the name of the throw being taught in Japanese. This way should you compete in a country not your own, you can still fight. You may not understand anything else, but you will know when the fight stops/starts and whether you won or lost.
  • Yes, that little girl can mop the ground with you, if she’s trained and you’re not. Yes, that blind person can whip you in a fair fight, especially if you try to be nice. Yes, that one-legged guy will drag you to the ground, flip you on your back, and sit on you till the match is over.
  • The easiest move for a beginner to use effectively would be O-Soto-Gari. It essentially involves sticking your leg out behind the legs of your opponent, and giving him/her a good push.
  • While classic movie throws like the Seoi Nage (Shoulder Throw) and Tomo Nage (stomach throw) look cool, beginners don’t always pull them off that well. Typical problems with shoulder throw involve standing up too straight (you have to load them on your back for that spring-board action toss) and for stomach throws, not knowing when to sit down and do it. (Tip: If you fall on your butt and your opponent is still coming down toward you, it’s a good time.)
  • Girls: Short hair and shorter nails are critical for this sport. Your nails will get caught on someone elses shirt and torn off. Your hair will get stepped on.
  • Short people rejoice! This sport is advantageous for you. Your center of balance is naturally lower than everyone elses, making it harder for them to throw you, and easier for you to throw them.
  • One of the three judo maxims translates to, “Mutual Benefit.” Judoka are never against each other in training. A fight is essentially meant to be free form exercise, not trying to kill the hated enemy.  

If your character is a martial artist, doing research on their particular form will help fights seem more realistic. Google and Youtube judo for details on how to perform the motions.