Publications for Linda Adams

Published November 28, 2013 by Linda Maye Adams

If you’re interested in my publications, please visit my publication list on my website.  I’ve identified stories that about Women at War and Women Veterans.  Enjoy!

Coming in 2015:

  • “The Stones Next Door,” published in the Tales of the Talisman anthology
  • Soldier, Storyteller: A Woman Soldier During Desert Storm
  • Same Time, Different War, a collection of stories and poetry about war.  Will include some I wrote during Desert Storm.
  • New Robot Smell, a short story.  Add technology to the military and sometimes you get what you ask for.
  • Rogue God, a contemporary fantasy set in an alternate world of Hawaii.

Old Writing Habits Die Hard

Published March 25, 2015 by Linda Maye Adams

I’ve been working on a steampunk fantasy short story this week. Steampunk is kind of like what Wild, Wild West or The Adventures of Briscoe County was. It’s set in the age of invention, where inventions could be fun and creative, all with a bit of rebellion wrapped in.

However, I don’t play well with historical. I’ve never enjoyed research.

Part of the problem is how history and research was taught in school. It was a list of facts that could be put on a test. I’m better at big picture than details, so I never did well with remembering obscure facts. The other part of the problem is how writers sometimes treat it: as if they were being graded. They have to research every single detail to make sure that the 1% of the audience who might know that fact won’t call them out as being wrong.

But I was reading Lessons of a Lifetime of Writing by David Morrell, and he said the following:

“The point is, research should be considered a reward and not a penance that you have to go through before you start writing.”

That made me think about if I could feel like it was less of homework in school. The truth is that it may always be something that I may never enjoy much.

But that’s how the steampunk story came in. I’ve been having a terrible time getting setting into the story at all, and that’s something that separates the pro writers from the beginners.

Steampunk fantasy is all about setting, so it would really push my learning curve.

The idea came out of a book I was reading on the construction of the Washington Monument. I’ve been exploring books to see what era or type of books will interest me, since it will help my writing overall.

Wasn’t thinking about the story at all when I was reading.

Then I saw an anthology call and thought it might work.

The story is called Stain of Ghost.

My approach was to take a single historical event and keep it in one place. That way I can focus on just a small piece of the time and work at getting the setting and the story to work together.

But took a lot longer than expected. I felt like was remapping myself. I kept looking at the random parts of the story and thinking:

“It’s not coming together. It’s nothing coming together.”

There were six scenes. I tried writing the first two scenes, and it was all over the place while I tried to figure out how to get the historical setting in without getting me overwhelmed by the history.   Then I wrote Scene 4, where I needed setting, not history, and something went “Click.”

I tossed about 1K for the first scenes and started those scenes over again. This time, I had gone out to Fort Washington that Saturday, and it was foggy out on the river. So I started with fog on the Potomac as well as something a coworker said to me about March (“She’s a cranky month.”). Suddenly I had three scenes done, looked at the fourth.

Wait? Was I almost done?

It sneaked up on me and was done.

Waking up, Military Style

Published March 23, 2015 by Linda Maye Adams

The image everyone probably has of the army waking up in the morning is what you see in the movies.

Drill Sergeant flips on the lights to an open barracks of bunk bears. He marches down the middle, banging an aluminum trash and scream for the soldiers to wake up. Maybe upending a soldier’s mattress and dumping him on the floor.

That’s basic training and the job training that follows.

Though I was in a women’s class, and we just had the lights and screaming. No trashcans. Can’t speak for what the guys had.

But it’s different for the regular army.

We had to be out for physical training formation ten minutes prior to 6:30 a.m., dressed in the proper uniform for designated time of the year. Right now, at Fort Lewis, we’d be in shorts and t-shirts and probably would still be freezing.

The time that we actually woke up was not important as long as we could be out there by the ten minutes prior. Usually there would be one who would get up at like 5:30. First, I’d hear the alarm going off down the hall, behind a closed door. Then a door slamming. Muted light coming from the crack under my door, from what was coming out of the bathroom down the hall. No one turned on the hall light yet.

Then at 6:00, that was when the rest of the alarms went off. The hallway light came on. Lots of banging of doors. Grumbling, too.

At the time, the women didn’t have to put up their hair for physical training. I just put mine in a ponytail and done. The African-American women usually tried to hide the night’s hair because their hair texture required more time than they had before formation.

They hated when we went to shorts. No more watch cap to hide the hair!

Then we stumbled outside and tried to look awake.

10 Quirky Things About Me

Published March 19, 2015 by Linda Maye Adams

This was inspired by a post from Patty over on Homemaker’s Daily.

  1. If I wake up and look at the clock to check the time, I’m awake — a problem if it’s too early. So if I wake up, I’ve been working on breaking the habit of glancing at the clock.
  2. It doesn’t matter to me what way the toilet paper is installed. I’m lucky to get it on the roll.
  3. I’m not drawn to music. I can listen to it, but I don’t go out of my way to listen to it. I do own CDs, but I play them very little.  I think this is because when I was growing up, my brother and father got into music wars (classical and disco), and then in the military, some of the soldiers would just crank it. The result is I associate music with LOUD and ANNOYING, not pleasant. It isn’t helped by walking into restaurants where the music is playing loud and the employees don’t see that as odd.
  4. I don’t drink any alcohol. Yeah, I got out of the military without drinking a single beer or glass of wine or hard liquor. I’ll cook with it, but the taste of it by itself doesn’t do anything for me.
  5. My writing clothes are tank tops and shorts.   No matter the weather.
  6. I’ve been known to wear tank tops in the middle of winter in Virginia. It’s a California-thing.
  7. I hang my clothes up with the collar opening facing to the left. That’s a habit left over from the military. However, the clothes are in no particular order, and sometimes they’re inside out.
  8. Contrary to other women, I don’t have a closet-full of shoes. I own two pairs of sport stories, one pair of hiking boots, and one pair of sandals. No high heels. I wouldn’t mind other shoes, but my flat feet have other ideas entirely.
  9. The least amount of shoes I have ever owned at once is one pair. I have wide feet, and most place don’t sell that. I usually have to buy up two sizes. One year, I simply couldn’t find anything, so I got what was available (men’s shoes!).
  10. I like reading fantasy, science fiction, mystery, thriller, YA, and sometimes literary. Really depends on the story.

Wanderings of a Pantser

Published March 18, 2015 by Linda Maye Adams

Sometimes when I write, it can feel like one of Billy’s Wanderings from Family Circus. Somehow I get to the destination, but it’s not always the straightest route. It’s kind of part of being a pantser (no outlines).

I worked on an urban fantasy short story last week called “Green Magic on Connecticut Avenue,” where I did a very pantser-thing to do: I wandered off in the wrong direction for about two thousand words. The story was for a short story workshop, and the requirement was to follow specific guidelines, like I would be if I were submitting to a magazine.

As the story evolved, I changed the POV character.

At 2,000 words, I rechecked the guidelines out of habit. As a visual spatial learner, it’s something I’ve learned to do because of how I read. I don’t read from one word to the next word, sounding it phonetically. Rather I take in the word as a whole in an instant and hop from word to word. Sometimes I skip a word, and this is just how I read, but it creates a big headache if skipping that word changes the instructions. So I always recheck myself at some point to make sure I didn’t read it wrong.

With the POV change, I’d veered away from the guidelines. Oops.

So I had to restart the story with the original POV character and toss out the 2,000 words.

According to years of what I’ve read — particuarly from outliners — this is abolutely INEFFICIENT. If I’d mapped out the story, I wouldn’t have wasted writing 2,000 words.

If I’d mapped out the story, I would’ve have likely wasted ALL the words. I didn’t know who the characters were until I started writing, and in fact, I ended up adding a character I didn’t expect and losing a character I thought was going to be in there.

Sometimes the best path is to wander.

Time, Military Style

Published March 16, 2015 by Linda Maye Adams

The Desert Storm veterans have been discussing military time. Some still use it 25 years later. My father uses it off and on, though he was never in the military.

Military time is 24 hour time. That is, once you hit 1:00 in the afternoon, military time continues the numbers, so 1:00 becomes 1300. It’s pronounced thirteen hundred hours.

There are probably two reasons behind it:

  1. It’s easy to mix up the times. In most cases in civilian life, context is kind of obvious. If you have a doctor appointment at 10:00, it’s reasonable to assume that it’s probably in the morning. But during Desert Storm, the airwar started at 0300, so 3:00 wouldn’t have had any context.
  2. The 24 hour time further moves the soldier into the military culture and forces her to think differently than the civilian world.

When I first entered Basic Training at Fort Dix (I enlisted about now, 25 years ago), the drill sergeants immediately got us onto the 24 hour time.

It was hard for me because I was always have to add the time up in my head to translate it into 24 hour time. I had sort of landmarks, like 1600, which is 4:00 p.m. That was because I watched the TV series Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, which had an episode called “The Sky’s on Fire.” In it, the submarine crew has to fire a missile at the Van Allen Radiation Belt to keep a fire from burning up the world. Guess what time they had to fire the missile?

Then there’s 2000 hours (twenty-hundred), which I’ve always associated with 10:00 p.m. because of all the zeroes I guess, but 10:00 p.m. is actually 2200 hours.

What no soldier ever wanted to hear was the phrase “Oh-dark-thirty” coming out of a first sergeant’s mouth. The first sergeant is kind of a personnel manager, but he also serves as a parent to the younger soldiers. “Oh-dark-thirty” tended to me something like, “I’d better not be coming at oh-dark-thirty to bail your ass out of jail.”

The time never really took for me in a way that stuck. It probably was because I never really wrote it down a lot, which would have etched it more solidly. But I always knew I wasn’t going to stay in the military forever, and a lot of times I was trying to get away from it when I was not on duty.

The result:

  1. On duty, I thought civilian time, mapped it in my head, and used the military time aloud. This wasn’t as hard as it sounds. We started work at 6:00 a.m. and ended worked at 5:00 p.m. Most of the harder times were after that, and I always knew that getting off work was at 1700!There are priorities.:)
  2. Off duty, I reverted to civilian time.

And when I got out, it was easy to go back to civilian time.

But times have changed. You can now go online and use a time converter!

Pens, Pens, Pens!

Published March 14, 2015 by Linda Maye Adams

Every year, it seems like I have to clean out my accumulation of pens. Somehow, they just gravitate to my drawers, and I find them on top of tables, in pockets, you name it.  A co-worker came over looking for a pen, so I opened by drawer: “Help yourself.”

His jaw dropped. I don’t think he expected a drawer of pens.

I didn’t start out using pens almost exclusively. When I wrote short stories when I was a kid, it was always with a number 2 pencil — you know the kind, those yellow pencils that eventually got ground down to stubs.

My father had mechanical pencils he always had stuck in his shirt pocket. These were 9 mm pencils, yellow. You can still buy them. I liked those, too, and not the 7 mm ones because the lead was always breaking. What good is a pencil when you can’t write with it?

But then came the pen.

And it was the army’s fault.

Everything in the military is written in black ink. That was one of the early things that the Drill Sergeants kept telling us. I’m not sure why they were so focused on pens.

Maybe it was because pencils break. Maybe it was because ballpoint ink doesn’t smear, which pencil would do if written on paper stuck in a hot, sweaty uniform pocket.

Anyway I’d always have one of the Skillcraft pens stuck in a pocket somewhere. These were simple ballpoint pens — no caps, because caps can get lost. The pens were pretty infamous for getting lost. Someone else would pick it up and use it, and it’d disappear into a pocket. The pens would have quite a journey.

Sometimes I’d end up with one with someone’s teeth marks on the end. Used pens!

If I found one on the ground, I always picked it up and saved it for later use.

Out of the army, the black pen has become any color. I still prefer ballpoint and also gel pens over the Sharpies. Don’t care much at all for fountain pens (does that mean I’m being unwriterly?).

Sometimes I walk into the office supply store and see colored pens on sale and think, “Yeah, I’m out of pens, so let me get that.”

Then I find about five in the bottom of a coat pocket and I wonder how they all got in there.

Pens. You gotta love them.

Picking names for story characters

Published March 11, 2015 by Linda Maye Adams

When I first started writing, I used to labor over finding just the “right” character name. What defined “right”?

Not a clue.

I’d geta baby name book — you know how hard it is buying one of those? Everyone thinks you’re having a baby, not a writer trying to find a name. I’d go through the book and identify about six or so names caught my attention. Didn’t pay any attention to what the name meant.

Then I’d go through my list and scratch out this one and that one because maybe I liked it a little less than the others.

Today …

For an urban fantasy short story I’m working on (Green Magic in Washington DC — the Cherry Blossoms are coming, you know), I was hunting through the Washington Post for last names of writers of the articles. Honestly, after doing a novel which had 30 characters because of the type of story it was, a name just isn’t that big of a deal.

Some writers say that the name makes the character, but I find that’s not true. I make the character. If I don’t do that right, a name isn’t going to change that.

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