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Career changing Inspiration

Getting Inspiration from Friendship

Grab Some Inspiration from Friendship

Friendship

Friendship is as inspiring as the memory of old love affairs. Our friends can help us write. Sometimes it’s because of something we did together. And sometimes it’s because we want to honor them.

Names

For stories which need a lot of names, why not ask your friends whether they want their names used? I’ve come up to people and asked, “Can I kill you in my novel?” People usually love this. Bonus – when you write about them or you publish, or if you post a quote, be sure to tag them. Because your best friend from sixth grade will probably be thrilled (but ask, in case they aren’t).

And if you’re going to make a friend a villain, be particularly careful about asking permission. A suggestion: for truly villainous villains (e. g. sadists and despots), don’t use friends’ names. For my 2015 NaNoWriMo novel, I needed to populate a space ship with crew members. Some got more screen time (page time, I suppose) than others. Asking whether I could use my friends’ names was the fastest and easiest way to populate the ship.

Furthermore, it paid dividends with social sharing because so many people were tagged.

Friendship Characteristics and Quirks

Why do we love our friends? Is it how they play poker? How they sing? Their love of the same fandom we love? Then find a way to adapt these details and put them in your work. It can be something as simple as a man stroking his mustache or a woman’s Kentucky accent. Maybe your friends collect stamps or they run track. All of these are good details.

Of course, don’t spy on your friends and take extensive notes. But you know these people well. You have already observed their teddy bear collections and their overly full makeup drawers. You don’t have to spy.

Scenes Inspired by Friendship

Did you and your friend meet in some interesting manner? Did you bond over something funny? Then ask, can I adapt this for my novel? And I say ask – don’t assume. Because some people may feel that’s overly private.

Takeaways

Be respectful, of course. And your friends might not want their memories used for writing fodder. So ask! And if they allow it, do be sure to thank them. The acknowledgements section of your book is a great place for that.

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Career changing Inspiration

Speculating About the Future

Let’s Consider Speculating About the Future

Speculating is fun. However, future predictions can be notoriously inaccurate. I’m still waiting for my flying car, for example.

However, some predictions have been eerily on the nose, such as cell phones, which are a lot like Star Trek’s communicators. So here’s a few idea on how to essentially build your own crystal ball.

Extrapolation

Adventures in Career Changing | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Speculating About the Future

The easiest way to speculate and predict is to take what currently exists, and then extrapolate from that.

Transportation

For example, consider transportation. Your car gets a certain degree of fuel efficiency and it has a particular top speed. It holds a certain number of people. And it has a particular styling. So what happens when you stretch those characteristics? And so you can consider a car that can go faster yet safely. Maybe your futuristic vehicle is self-driving, or a robot ‘drives’ it.

Since parking can be a pain in a lot of places, why not think up a car which can park itself, or can fold up so it doesn’t need a conventionally-sized parking spot? Maybe your new car is partly powered by solar or nuclear fusion. And how sleek and aerodynamic should it be?

Communications

And you can consider other basic areas of life. Let’s look at communications next. Because nearly all of us already have smart phones, think about the trends. Sometimes, phones get smaller, and are more lightweight and compact. However, at other times, they become larger and almost could be thought of as tablet hybrids. What do your characters need? And what are the limitations on either scenario? How small can the phone become? How large?

Can it be embedded?

Feeding the World

So what about food? People still starve. However, that’s usually due to distribution problems rather than enough crops being grown or the existence of enough arable land. Hence how do your characters (or your setting) solve this problem?

And so you can look at any basic area of life, from finding love to consuming entertainment or buying clothing. See where extrapolation takes you.

Off the Wall

And then there’s the somewhat pie in the sky, kinda crazy stuff. For example, let’s think about the second Back to the Future film. Doc Brown uses fusion power to make the DeLorean go, but one of the things he grabs for fuel is a discarded banana peel. What a brilliant off the wall idea!

Off the Wall Fashion

So let’s look at, say, fashion. Maybe it’s the opposite of today, where everything is covered up but genitalia.

But what kind of a society would support that? Or maybe everyone wears a uniform, but the uniforms look really odd.

More Ideas Out of My Overly Fertile Imagination

Cars could be six stories tall. Communications could be facilitated with chewing gum. Maybe you vote telepathically. The sky, as always, is the limit.

Takeaways

Depending on your genre, and how much room there is for humor, your ideas about the future can go in any number of directions.

Decide on how plausible you want everything to be. And don’t forget to take into account professional predictions like Moore’s Law!

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Career changing Covers

Color Theory, Part 4

Color Theory, Part 4

Color Theory, Part 4 – If you are interested in creating your own covers, or if you are a part of selecting your cover in your published work, you need to understand color theory.

Janet-Gershen-Siegel-Adventures-in-Career-Changing--CheatSheet4 Blue

What does it mean when you add blue to your cover?

The Basics

Color theory is the associations and impressions we get when confronted with a certain color or set of colors. Color matters.

Blue and its Family of Colors

Blue works as a lot of people’s favorite color. We associate it with both the navy and sadness. It is the color of both the sea and the sky. It is also has associations with the Union during the Civil War. A blue moon is a rarity. Winners get blue ribbons. We also associate blue with the Democratic Party, and with business, particularly conservative business attire. But it is also the color of blue jeans. Well-known blue books include the Uniform System of Legal Citation, Kelley’s used automobile values, and the Handbook of United States Coins.

Violet and purple are not exactly the same color, although we often use them as synonyms. Violet skews bluer; purple skews redder. And purple reminds us of gay pride, grapes, and Barney the dinosaur. Purple prose is overly flowery and ornate; we tend to see it as over the top. Both shades remind us of flowers; purple is more reminiscent of wine and cranberries.

Green is the color of early spring and Ireland. It is inextricably associated with both St. Patrick’s Day and Christmas, and is often associated with resurrection in culture, probably because of evergreens. Green reminds us of aliens (little green men!), sickness, and poison, but also limes and mint. It means go and was also the lowest level of terror threat according to Homeland Security.
Add green to your book cover and bring out nature or evoke business, or add purple to connect with gay pride. Or add blue for a conservative look, or to evoke the ocean or sky.

Upshot: Part 4

Colors are going to matter when it comes to your book cover. They can make or break your sales, so choose wisely.

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Career changing Covers

Color Theory, Part 3

Color Theory, Part 3

For color theory, Part 3 – If you want to create your own covers, or if you are a part of selecting your cover in your published work, you need to understand color theory.

What happens when you select a cover color predominantly from the family of yellows?

The Basics of Color Theory, Part 3

Color theory is the associations and impressions we get when confronted with a certain color or set of colors. Color matters.

Yellow and its family of colors

Yellow is a vibrant color but it is rather difficult to see against a white background. If your cover is mainly white, yellow is a poor choice for author or title lettering unless you outline the yellow in a darker color.

We associate yellow with sunshine but also with lemons, which can evoke either cleanliness or a car that just never seems to work right. Yellow can also evoke cowardice and caution. It can also feel like early springtime, particularly in the northeastern United States. This is because two early flowers, forsythia and daffodils, are primarily yellow in color.

It can also remind us of taxis and urban living. But it can also remind us of Buddhist monks’ saffron robes, or even the spice saffron itself, which is rare and expensive. In science fiction, it signifies an intermediate alert, a cause for concern but not out and out panic. But we also use an amber alert for locating missing children.

Gold

Gold more closely aligns with wealth and winning. We may also associate it with wedding rings and even old-fashioned false teeth. Gold is scarce. However, adding it can feel a bit much, like gilding the lily, as opposed to illuminating a sacred manuscript. Gold has ancient associations with wealth, and was reportedly used in the Ark of the Covenant.

Add yellow to your book cover for a splash of sunshine or wealth, or scarcity, depending on the shade.

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Career changing Covers

Color Theory, Part 2

Color Theory, Part 2

Color Theory, Part 2 – If you want to create your own covers, or if you are a part of selecting your cover in your published work, you need to understand color theory.

The Basics of Color Theory, Part 2

Color theory is the associations and impressions we get when confronted with a certain color or set of colors. Color matters.

Red and its Family of Colors

Red tends to be a bold, standout color. It works with a lot of other colors. It can also help if you’ve got a mainly black, white, or gray image for your cover. Red lettering can work with that background. However, if the value (brightness) of the red is the same as the gray behind it, you may find it feels like the color is vibrating.

Red means stop or anger or ripeness. It can also feel like excitement or danger, as it can remind us of everything from sports cars to raspberries to stop signs. The Twilight book covers in particular rely on red accents to great effect.

Pink

Pink comes across as a softer version of red. We often associate it with health and ballerinas, but also baby blankets and Barbie dolls. Its current association with femininity is fairly recent; until about the Second World War, it was considered more of a masculine color.

Color Theory, Part 2: Orange

Orange is more likely to be associated with hunters or the harvest or prisons, but it can also be associated with traffic safety. It can remind us of sunshine and, of course, oranges, but also the toxin, Agent Orange.

Copper

Closely related copper associates best with pennies or cookware more than anything else. However, we also associate it with bronze (about 90% of bronze consists of copper), and so we may link to the idea of third place medals.

Choose a color from the red family for your cover or for its accents, and expect some strong associations but also a cover that can really stand out.

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Career changing Covers

Color Theory

Color Theory

If you are interested in creating your own covers, or if you are a part of selecting your cover in your published work, you need to understand something about color theory.

The Basics

Color theory is the associations and impressions we get when confronted with a certain color or set of colors. Color matters.

A Wheel and Some Hex

Your computer generates colors based on combinations of basic colors. These are written in RGB (red-green-blue) or hexadecimal. Once you know the code, you can replicate any color.

Using RGB or hex is particularly important as you replicate your colors and branding across multiple platforms. What looks like pure fire engine red on my monitor may appear more like brick or tomato to you. But at least with a uniform color code, I can get it right if I need to copy the red from your page or cover.

Imaging programs such as GIMP and Adobe InDesign both have color picker tools which look like eye droppers. Select the tool, click on the color you want to replicate, and the tool will grab the correct hex or RGB coded color.

Color Theory: How Does Color Make Us Feel?

It’s just like a lot of the marketing issues surrounding books and book covers. That is, a lot of this will depend upon the buyer persona or demographic associated with the most sales of your genre.

Let’s say you are a science fiction writer. Then a lot of your readership is probably going to skew male. Although if you write LGBT science fiction, you may find more female readers in the mix. Either way, how do they feel about colors? Furthermore, if you mainly have an American readership, their associations with colors will differ from if your ideal readers are Canadian or Swedish.

Color matters.

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Career changing Inspiration

Getting Inspiration From The News

Getting Inspiration From The News

The News

News stories can be a fantastic source of inspiration. Remember the phrase, ‘ripped from the headlines‘? So while it has become a TV trope all its own, current events can really inspire. Because you just can’t make this stuff up.

International Events

Adventures in Career Changing | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Getting inspiration from the news
Do you get inspiration from the news?

In particular, when writing about an alien society, you can get a lot of mileage out of looking abroad. This is because governments, climates, poverty levels, languages, customs, and mores all differ. And some of those can differ rather substantially. Consider what weekends are like in Canada, in Israel, or in Japan. What about the educational system, or whether a nation is an energy exporter, or an importer? Furthermore, what happens when you look at dictatorships, or at least at different democracies?

National Current Events

By the time this blog post goes live, the American elections will be over (thank God!). However, what is voting like in the United States (this question also make sense when looking at other countries’ ways of doing things)? And what about the nominations process? Back room deals, lobbying, and pressing the flesh can all inspire. In addition, what about other areas of interest? How does the government balance the budget (if at all)? What about fads and fashions sweeping the nation?

And, naturally, these questions apply to other countries. None of this is confined to just America.

Local News

Your local news can be dominated by violence, or even by oddities. Small things can loom large if you live in a small town. I grew up in a fairly small town on Long Island although it has a connection to a larger township. Local current events often centered around the high school, the library, and the movie house. Closing a long-term business was a topic of great interest.

Sports

Sports are a terrific source for drama and inspiration, and include everything from come-from-behind victories to cheating and doping scandals. Are the winners gracious? Are the losers vindictive? Did something interesting happen to the spectators?

Takeaways

Open up your newspaper or do so virtually online. And check out the news next time you’re stumped for ideas.

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Career changing Inspiration Writing

Getting Inspiration From The Physical World

Getting Inspiration From The Physical World

A Look at The Physical World

The physical world can inspire, whether it’s the Appalachian Trail, or your bedroom, or the Himalayas. And while not everyone can live in Paris or visit Yosemite National Park, we can all be inspired by our own personal universes. Moreover, if your world can inspire you, then your readers can come along for the ride.

The Great Indoors

Adventures in Career Changing | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Getting inspiration from the physical world
Does the physical world inspire you?

So consider The Chronicles of Narnia. Why? Because the means of traveling to a magical world is via a common ordinary wardrobe. And how about Alice in Wonderland? Lewis Carroll told his story about a lot of things Alice Liddell already knew, such as chair legs and a deck of cards.

So from your desk to your computer or chair, what can you really see when you look closely? Also, go beyond the somewhat common idea of a computer sucking someone into cyberspace. It’s not a bad idea; it’s just been done a lot. Maybe your character is buried by paper. Or they end up in the vacuum cleaner. Attics and cellars can seem very frightening. What about the walls, or the ceiling?

The Physical World Includes The Great Outdoors

And then we get to the outside. So what do we see? Carroll saw hedgehogs, dormice, and rabbits. We can also see plants, of course. Are they large and menacing, or small and fragrant? And what about natural structures or scenery, such as mountains, rivers, lakes, and canyons?

Part of The Wizard of Oz takes place in an apple orchard. It’s easy to see how and why L. Frank Baum imagined trees talking and even throwing fruit. How about imagining how a certain structure came to be? We all know (or at least we should) that craters come from falling meteors or even comet strikes. But what if a crater exists because a spaceship landed there? A structure like Stonehenge can also inspire.

Takeaways

Get outside and take stock of your surroundings. They may inspire more than you think.

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Career changing Inspiration

Getting Inspiration from Exercise

A Look at Getting Inspiration From Exercise

Exercise

Exercise should be a vital part of anyone’s life. And you don’t have to be a gym rat to get inspiration from your workout or from what happens while you’re exercising. As we have seen in other instances, exercise is just another vehicle for inspiration if you look at it that way.

Your Workout

Adventures in Career Changing | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Getting inspiration from exercise
Exercise can be inspiring!

In order to maintain good health, you need to get up from your computer or chair on occasion. And you need to work out in some manner. Of course your decision as to what to do depends upon any number of factors. Maybe you’re elite and can train for a triathlon. However, for beginners, getting around the block might present difficulties. And if your area is sometimes an unsafe one, you might end up working out inside. So that can mean a gym membership or a pool or mall walking or even just equipment in your home.

Hence one factor is your environment. As you observe it, consider your characters. Would the chipmunks you see on a nature trail amuse them? Or would they fight off demons while jogging in a less than savory part of town? Maybe they see exercise as a meditation (a lot of people do).

Your Characters Working Out

Your characters can get in on the action, too. Action and fantasy characters would fight or train. Romantic characters could go for walks. Science fiction characters might work out as a part of military training or even as a health requirement in low gravity.

Observations

Getting outside means you can overhear conversations. You can people watch, too.

Writer’s Block and Depression

First of all, I want to make it clear that, if you feel the need for medical intervention, please go ahead! A lot of writers can experience certain levels of depression and so by all means, care for yourself. However, I am also suggesting that exercising can help. For example, if you experience seasonal affective disorder, you will need full-spectrum light. Hence you need to either mimic it with a special light or go out in the sunlight. And here in New England, the winters are full of days with very little sunlight. Hence I have learned to get myself outside and to shovel snow if I have to (I’ve got to watch my back these days, so I do not make the kind of fast progress I used to) or walk carefully to avoid slipping on ice. Good boots are a lifesaver.

If that’s not in the cards for you, a gym membership or mall walking can at least help. Because you will also need to get up, get dressed, and get outside in order to do either.

Exercise: Some Takeaways

Everybody needs to take a break from writing. Your eyes will thank you! So you may as well get up and get some exercise. Live long enough to finish your series! Do it for your fans!

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Career changing Inspiration Writing

Getting Inspiration from Visual Artists

Getting Inspiration from Visual Artists

Visual artists and the visual arts can be a source of intense inspiration. Because their struggles can be a lot like a writer’s.

Adventures in Career Changing | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Visual Artists
Do you ever get your inspiration from visual artists and their works?

Consider how a piece of art makes any of us feel. Does it inspire? Or are you puzzled? Can it move you emotionally? And what’s happening around the fringes? Because sometimes the details and the background are of more interest than the main subject. You know, just like in books sometimes.

Hence let’s take a look at some inspiring pieces.

Visual ArtistsOf course Leonardo Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa is one of the most recognizable pieces of art in the world.

Furthermore, the mystery of the piece continues to this day, as it has for a few hundred years. So, what, exactly, does her smile mean? After all, it’s a small smile. And so the model intrigues us, even now.

 

 

 

Here’s another one.Visual Artists Salvador Dali’s The Persistence of Memory is another very well-known piece although you might not have known its name.

Because the painting is so strange, it can offer any number of interpretations. How important is time? Is the setting a desert? And what about the odd white lump in the center? Could that maybe be a creature wearing a clock as a saddle? Maybe it means we are all driven by time and memory. Hence we are all under its yoke.

So think about the paintings (and sculptures, too!) which you know. And consider what you see in them, for they may help, particularly with writer’s block.

A Practical Idea

So did you know that Pinterest has secret pin boards? It’s true. And what that means is, you can always create a secret board for only you to see. Or you can share it with a select audience, such as beta readers or even fans, if you like.

And all you need to do is, go to your profile and scroll all the way down. You’ll find it on the left (“Create Secret Board“). And that’s all you need to. So fill it with art which has meaning for you.

Visual Artists: Some Takeaways

Visual artists and art can inspire. And the internet means you don’t even have to visit a museum, although you might want to, anyway.