Reader Friday – Writers’ Research Vacations

In last week’s post we read our story openings before the New World Ruler, survived his chopping block, and became part of the 1001 Authorial Knights. Now, as we settle into our spartan quarters on the upper floors of the King’s castle, we discover a parchment with a list of rules we must obey.

They are really fairly simple: Produce at least one book every 1001 days (approximately 2 years and 9 months). And don’t cause any trouble.

But, the surprise: Below the rules, is a perk. Out of every 1001 days, we may take a research vacation anywhere in the world. The only requirements: The maximum length of the vacation is six months. We must be accompanied by one of the King’s swordsmen. And we must take notes and report back to the King when we return, telling him what his subjects are doing and discussing, i.e., Is anyone even thinking about rebellion?

So, you reach for the stack of maps and begin considering the possibilities.

Please tell us:

  • Where will you go?
  • Why did you pick that country or region?
  • And what do you hope to learn while you are there?
  • Oh, and one more thing. Do you have any secret plans for while you are there? Do tell.

Cutting the Cord

Do you feel jittery if you’re away from your cell phone or computer more than an hour? Get withdrawal symptoms if you haven’t checked your email recently? Find yourself longing to get back to work when out with friends? If so, you need a vacation.

I approached our recent ten day cruise with trepidation. How would I exist without the computer? Could I go without checking my email for even one day? What would I do with all that leisure time? I’d get bored out of my mind during four days at sea. Oh yes, I had books and newsletters on my iPad and Kindle to bring along, but how long can you sit and read without getting antsy?

If you share these concerns, believe me, they will evaporate once you’re out on the high seas, ski slopes, beach, or wherever you choose to go. Out of sight is out of mind. As soon as we set sail, I powered down my iPhone and locked it in the cabin safe. No more email, until I signed on to the ship’s WiFi for quick checks later during the week. I found enough to do that I didn’t miss my inbox.

I had to make myself go online to use up the minutes I’d purchased. Even reading newsletters became too much like homework. I stuck to the fiction I’d loaded onto my Kindle and vegged out on a lounge chair to read, or otherwise I spent my time chatting with other guests, eating, walking around the decks, eating, climbing stairs to wear off the calories, sipping cocktails, eating, watching a couple of movies, and—wait for it—relaxing.

Is the “R” word not in your vocabulary? Then you definitely need to take a break. Just make sure your vacation is sufficiently long to give you time to unwind, play for a few days, and then prepare to reenter reality. And who knows, inspiration might hit along the way.

I got inspired by one lady on a prior cruise. Based on her elegant appearance, I created the countess in Killer Knots, my cruise ship mystery. This time was no exception. When my husband and I both saw this woman, the word “witch” came to mind. Likely she’ll end up in one of my paranormal romances. But even better, the cruise ship captain was a woman. Change her to a spaceship captain and we’re off and running with another story. So give your brain a rest and take a trip away from home. You’ll come back relaxed, refreshed, and inspired.

If you’re the type who loves to hang out and avoid work entirely, this article isn’t for you. You’re the one who needs a kick in the pants to sit down and write. But that’s another topic.

When you find  yourself (if you do) glued to your electronics, how do you break away?

And since tomorrow is Thanksgiving, let’s be grateful for friends and family and things that enrich our lives that don’t depend upon electricity. Including you, dear readers. Thank YOU for visiting our blog throughout the year!

Conjugating Verbs

By Joe Moore

Each week, all the Kill Zone authors fly to a Denny’s in Wichita (chosen because of its central location) for a breakfast meeting to plan our upcoming blog posts. Some of us lean toward topics about life and how we equate it to our stories while others gravitate toward the mechanics of writing. There’s usually a smattering of rants, and of course we can count on Miller to have some great tales about his free-range chickens. It gives us an opportunity to chat while enjoying a tasty Grand Slam breakfast that’s always fresh and fruity.

gs At last week’s meeting, we realized that not only were we running out of 2009, we were also running out of new ideas to blog about. We agreed that we needed a break to recharge the portion of our brains devoted to posting at TKZ. We made the executive decision to repeat what we did last year and take two weeks off for Winter Break. So from Monday, December 21 until Sunday, January 3, the Kill Zone blog will be closed for the Holidays. That doesn’t mean we won’t be hard at work thinking up new and exciting topics for 2010. As a matter of fact, next year we will be announcing two really brilliant ideas in which all of you can participate. One involves the combined creative efforts of your seven Kill Zone bloggers and the other will involve all you writers out there. The end result of both should be very cool. So stay tuned to TKZ for two unique and (as far as I know) original ideas.

At this point, I bet you’re wondering why this post is called Conjugating Verbs? Well, just as the waitress was bringing my second helping of Silver Dollar pancakes, which I like with the strawberry flavored syrup, I declared to my fellow bloggers that I was so out of ideas, my next post would be about conjugating verbs. So here goes. This is my most cherished and only memory from four years of high school Latin: Amo, Amas, Amat.