Happy New Year! What’s new in the Garden?

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Happy New Year, Gardeners!  It’s a great time to be in the Writer Zen Garden.

Inside this blog:

  1. Prompt Circles are back – next one is Jan 21st from 2-4 at Open Books
  2. Walking In This World online workshop, Jan 22nd through April 22nd
  3. F.E.A.R.S. Workshop – Finish, Edit, Analyze, Research and Submit, Feb 5th to Mar 4th
  4. Dialog – Who Says What To Whom, March 12th to March 25th
  5. A to Z Blog Challenge is coming in April
  6. Camp NaNoWriMo is coming in April

Check it out:

The Prompt Circles are back!  After a longer than expected hiatus, we’re excited to report that we are ready to start these up again.  Our venue is Open Books, an awesome place centrally located downtown near parking, transit, Metra, and those blue bicycle things.  Not that you’d want to bike in the dead of winter, but hey.  They’re there if you want ’em.  It’s on Saturday, January 21st from 2-4.

We have several online offerings, all of which are free but require a membership on the forum.  How do you get to the forum, you ask?  Visit here!

Did you know that the Writer Zen Garden has a calendar?  If you prefer getting your information visually, click over to Our Calendar and check it out.

On the Artist’s Way track: Walking In This World.  This is a 13-week workshop running from Sunday, Jan 22nd, through Saturday, April 22nd.  You will need a copy of the book by Julia Cameron, Walking In This World, which is available from your favorite bookseller or public library.  This is a participant-led workshop facilitated by A. Catherine Noon; if you’d like to lead a week’s discussion, please let me know.

The workshop will be conducted online through thewww.writerzengarden.com/forums website; you will need a user account to participate. There is no cost to join.

On the Author track: F.E.A.R.S. Online Workshop – Finish, Edit, Analyze, Research, and Submit.  Join author Tina Holland for her popular F.E.A.R.S. workshop, where she will help you Finish your manuscript, Edit it, Analyze it for its best fit in the marketplace, Research homes for it – traditional publishing? digital-first/small press? indie? blog?, and Submit.

It will run for four weeks starting Sunday, February 5th and concluding Saturday, March 4th.

Tina is past President of RWA Online Chapter #136 and author of ten romance novels. She is a sought-after speaker at regional writing conferences and a founding Board Member of Writer Zen Garden. We are super stoked to have her present for us and for her to offer her popular workshop for free to WZG members.

You need to be a member of the Writer Zen Garden online forum.  Membership is free.

For more information about Tina Holland, please visit her website. While you’re there, check out her popular author interview series (and authors, sign up to be interviewed!).

On the Writer track:  Online workshop – Dialog, Who Says What to Whom, March 12th through March 25th.

Join A. Catherine Noon and Tina Holland for a free online two-week workshop on dialog. We will have examples, discuss proper punctuation, (where DOES that pesky comma go? or is it a period?), and have lots and lots of practice exercises. Think of it as the March boot camp to get in shape for April’s Camp NaNoWriMo and the A to Z Blog Challenge.

You will need a free account on the Writer Zen Garden Forum.

April is a busy month in the Garden: We have not one but TWO web-based events for you.

April is the month for the international A to Z Blog Challenge! Find out more, and sign up on the main website.

We’re looking for Writer Zen Gardeners to participate on our blog this year, so if you’re interested, please contact your organizers A. Catherine Noon or Tina Holland.

Also, April is Camp NaNoWriMo!  From the folks that bring you National Novel Writing Month in November comes a fun event called Camp NaNoWriMo. You can set your own word count goal; it doesn’t have to be the full 50,000 like in November. Participants are arranged in cabins for mutual support and encouragement.

Find out more, and sign up, at the website.

If you haven’t joined the discussion on Facebook, you’re missing out.  Click over to the Writer Zen Garden Facebook Group and check it out.

V is for Viking Swords & Fantasy World-Building

Photo from http://www.coldsteel.com/
Photo from http://www.coldsteel.com/

Have you ever envisioned a certain weapon for your character that was so specific that nothing compared to it in reality? I faced that problem in my WIP, and it’s kind of like going on a shopping spree with an exact image of the perfect outfit…. I set myself up to fail. I had in mind an image of a large sword encrusted with gold and jewels. It needed to be light enough for my heroine to wield and perform some deadly choreography.
I’m a panster, so I write first and research later. And when I discovered that the weapon I envisioned was a cleaving sword, I had a problem, because in real life this type of weapon is too heavy for my heroine to wield. Not to mention that all the gold and jewels I imagined adorning the sword are, well, heavy. So, after consulting with Rayne Hall during her workshop about choosing weapons for you characters, we decided on a Viking sword:


But, do you know what I forgot? I’m writing fantasy…that means I can give magical elements to any weapon, I can make a cleaving sword light and I can make a dagger as heavy as a mountain. So long as I have an explanation and a solid world-building I’m good. And that’s the fun part about fantasy! I can play around with different things that have no connection in reality and mesh them together. I can play at being a surrealist, and have some fun. That’s the most important aspect of writing, right? And I feel inspired to try any kind of different combinations of weapons after visiting a Salvador Dali exhibition yesterday. There’s nothing more inspiring than basking in the creations of a great artist.
So, now I’m working on the Viking/cleaving fantasy sword mesh. I was thinking…it’ll be as light as a Viking sword, with the strength of a cleaving sword, and it’ll grow poisonous ivy thorns on command. It may, or may not, grow a parachute out of the tip. AND, if someone uses the wrong command, the sword will melt into resin and will trap the amateur sword wielder inside. It might be fun to trap my heroine inside and see how she gets herself out of this blunder. 🙂

What about you? Have you ever invented a weapon for your characters?

R Is For… Research

Of the team of Noon & Wilder, I am the ‘Research Queen’ and how I adore my job. Even topics that I originally thought wouldn’t be interesting, often turn out to be the opposite. I think it’s important to get the details right so the reader believes in your writing.

On the other hand, a writer needs to be careful that it doesn’t turn out to be a distraction or overwhelming. You want to make sure it still flows with the story and doesn’t come across as an info dump.

Though, allowing some distraction, keeps your own interest. An example is the Bear Creek Brewery that Noony and I created for the sequel of Sealed By Fire (yet to be published). We had a great afternoon at the Goose Island Brewery in Chicago.

Took a tour:

And a beer tasting seminar:

All, of course, in the name of research. So make sure you’re having fun. Oh, and it helps to bring a pen or favorite pencil, notebook and camera.