This Blog’s Header

The photo atop the blog (and below, in case I change the blog’s photo) was taken by me. Its purpose is to promote the novel (Shifting Mars’ Sands) that I’m currently reviewing with a writers’ group. With any luck, in the spring, I’ll start a quest to find an agent.
It shows the first page of the manuscript. On it, is a Moleskin notebook that I recorded notes from my research. Also, I created a map of Mars where most of the action takes place.
The final flourish is a Levenger fountain pen that is apropos to the blog’s name.
I didn’t create any of these items because I knew I’d want a picture of them. They were all useful.
Take, for instance, the map. I didn’t have it while I wrote the first draft of the novel. When I was proofreading, I realized in one scene at a cave at the base of a mountain range bordering a valley that I had the sun setting in the characters eyes when they walked out of the cave. A couple chapters later, the characters walked out of the same cave in the morning with the sun rising and nearly blinding them.
That’s a neat trick, standing in the same position at dawn and sunset with the sun in your eyes both times. Oops! At that point, I hand drew a map (later I made a computer version that you see in the blog header–no one wants to see my chicken scratch map), so I’d know which direction my characters were facing or driving.
I caught the mistake before either of the chapters hit my writers’ group. I would’ve been embarrassed if someone there caught such a fundamental problem. I don’t even want to think about it slipping by them and an agent or editor noticing the problem.
A lot goes into writing a novel, and many tools are needed to keep everything straight. When I started this project, I never imagined I’d need a map, but now that I have it, it’s easier to write the outside scenes.
I found dictionary.com/thesaurus.com to be incredibly use for obvious purposes. At some point, I wandered across the definitions of “thesaurus.” Everyone knows it’s a book of synonyms. What I learned, however, was that one of its meanings is storehouse or repository. That sense of the word worked perfectly in the story.
I can’t discount wikipedia, either. Everyone knows to steer away from it when it comes to hot button issues or controversial persons. But for pure data on Mars and scientific theories, I found it an excellent starting point.
I paid $10 dollars for a musical scale wheel that shows the key and the notes that comprise the key. It helped me tweak a scene to the point where no one questioned the factual musical information presented.
For my new project, I have a calendar for 2069. I used Skymap Pro to discover the time of moonrise in Pittsburgh for a night in 2069. If it helps you get words on the page and have them be accurate, I say use it and keep using it.
While the desire to write my new novel burns within, I continue to research and plan, so when I write it, I’ll put a better effort on paper than my previous first draft.

About George

I'm interested in many things, from Mars to space travel, music to books, movies to creating my own stories. My sci-fi novel, The Music of Mars, is available now.
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