Thursday, February 21, 2019

Pearl Trees - A Useful Research Tool

Hi, some thoughts on researching a novel and other writing.....

Research methods and tools are all over the internet, and if you want you can purchase these ideas and tools for large and small sums of money. I have only invested in one: Pearl Trees. 

Below is an example page (from my Pearl Trees site) on how I am researching my latest novel, Finding Juliah (sequel to Shells ...). I show two categories, but you can create as many categories as you like. You'll notice I am also researching 'church history' for my genealogy blog. My grandmother had a jail ministry, I've been told, so I'm learning about early Tacoma ministries.

For 'Finding Juliah' I have a lot to learn about Thai culture. Pretty daunting to  be honest, because I want to be as authentic as possible in my writing. Pearl Trees helps a lot and is easy to use. If you find a website of interest, just copy the link into Pearl Trees. Easy-peasy. There is a yearly fee (can't remember exactly how much), but it doesn't break the bank. Worth it from my perspective. So, to sum up, Pearl Trees is reasonably priced (or try a free version), easy to use, stores your research, and is a tremendous help with organization.

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Memories Shape Our Lives and the Stories We Write - Remembering a Father's Love

Maui. I never saw one Nene!
At the novel's opening fourteen-year-old Callie Davis lives in a foster home with her little brother Lucas. Their mother is missing in Thailand and their father has been dead for two years. Yet the sounds of the hospital equipment and their dad's final words as he lay dying on a hospital bed still affect Callie deeply. When she escapes with Lucas and stows aboard a sailboat, they become quite close with the captain's elderly mate Clancy. 

Missing their father more than ever, both warm to his affection and Norwegian charm as they would a grandfather. When Clancy nearly dies in the shark attack, Callie can barely cope with the possibility he just might die....let alone his dog too. Callie struggles to stay strong for her brother's sake and knows she must focus on finding her mother above all, but it's a tall order for a fourteen-year-old girl.

It was not hard for me to imagine how Callie and her brother felt. I lost my father suddenly in my early 30s and later a favorite uncle in his late 80s. I drew upon the loss and feelings I had back then to tell Callie's story in particular. As the oldest of three siblings in my family I understood the responsibility of being the oldest. Below are some brief remembrances of my own father. I could write more about him, but when drawing upon your emotions as a writer, it helps to define things simply.... 

Remembering A Father's Love

When I was young my father and I 
did gymnastics in the living room with barely a care.
Slapping his knees, he flipped me high in the air.

When I was young my father waited patiently below, 
smiling and calling out to me to let go.
High atop the tall slide I let my fingers slip, oh, oh, oh.

When I was young my father built me a scooter 
with old scrap wood and roller skates. 
Pushing off with one foot, I raced to show my playmates.

When I was young my father turned an army blanket
into a beach trampoline. 
Everyone took turns riding the wild horse machine.

When I was young my father sanded the rust,
pounded out dents, and painted a bicycle blue.
So I could have a bike that was fresh and new.

When I was young my father built a wooden swing set
in the backyard for my brother and me.
There we pumped our legs to our heart's content, wild and free.

 When I was young my father drove a van to work 
but around town drove a big fat Buick.
Where I sat in the back and always got carsick. 
When I was young my father loved to go fishing
in the bay with my grandfather in his boat. 
They caught plenty of fish, both liked to gloat. 

When I was young my father relaxed to the beat of Tommy Dorsey.
He snapped his fingers, smoked, and drank lots of whiskey. 
But mostly, he took time to love and recognize me. 

My handsome Daddy - Tacoma
(Commodore, Day Island Yacht Club)

Sharon M. Himsl, Writer / Author
          Published: Evernight Teen
The Shells of Mersing

Sunday, June 3, 2018

The Rewards of Old Files - Historical Goldmine

I spent the morning looking at all the unpublished stuff I've written over the years. So much I still like and will continue
to fine tune and tinker with as you would a beloved car or home, but the majority I guess, will stay buried from most eyes. Probably best. 

However, I did rediscover an old email file from the 1995-2000 period and once again realized I had a goldmine of personal communication for a memoir someday, beginning with 1995 at the onset of Email and the Internet, and my amazing year in Southeast Asia.

Historically, 1995 is when the information highway online exploded and took off worldwide. Nothing in the computer world has been the same ever since. How we read, how we purchase books and other merchandise, how we research, how we access the news, how we communicate at work and home were all affected, so much so, that the 'before period' is almost unbelievable today.

BTW, 1995 is also the year The Shells of Mersing is set. It's neat when life comes together in the real and fictional world and makes you part of history .  Just had to mention that because I am forever fond of the characters and settings in this book.

Cleaning old files has its rewards (in my case, keeping), but with it, comes some responsibility. Taking time to relate your experience during historical periods to family members can be meaningful and helpful to future generations, especially those studying history. Not everyone is a history buff, but trust me, there is at least one in your family. Honestly, I'm sorry I didn't have the history bug when I was younger. I missed some fabulous stories, I'm sure.