Music That Drives My Writing | KPop Edition

It’s no secret I love Korean dramas. I’ve divulged in them since discovering Boys Over Flowers in 2009. Around the same time I fell in love with Korean pop music, or kpop. Some of the biggest names you may be familiar with are BTS (Bangtan Boys), Girls’ Generation, Big Bang, Blackpink and Twice.

Kpop is an interesting world with a long, harsh, convoluted history. There’s a myriad of articles out there about how their idols are treated, or how bad fans act. I tuned in to what’s called the “Second Generation” of kpop groups when I spent a summer working on my college campus in Tennessee. Since then I’ve built up several Spotify playlists filled with favorite tunes. Some of it absolutely puts me in the mood to write – which is strange considering I write historical adventure set in Victorian Pennsylvania!

Holy Water by SHINee’s Taemin is currently in my ears.

For today’s musically charged post, I’m sharing twenty kpop songs that drive my writing. They’re a healthy mix of recent tunes and old school jams. Even if kpop isn’t your thing, music is universal. Perhaps you’ll find something new to love! In no particular order, here they are:

1. “On” by BTS

2. “Power” by EXO

3. “Mic Drop Remix” by BTS ft. Steve Aoki

4. “Holiday” by Girls’ Generation

5. “Holler” by Girls’ Generation sub unit, TTS

6. “In the Air” by SHINHWA

7. “U & I” by Sumin

8. “Ninano” by Minzy

9. “HOLUP!” by Bobby

10. “BLUE MOON” by Hyolyn

11. “Electric Shock” by f(x)

12. “Roller Coaster” by Chung Ha

13. “Black Dress” by CLC

14. “Rise As One” by Max

15. “Hurt Locker” by 9Muses

16. “Electric Kiss” by EXO

17. “Starry Night” by Mamamoo

18. “WANT” by Taemin

19. “Lil’Touch” by Girls’ Generation sub-unit, Oh!GG

20. “Get the Treasure” by SHINee

The Character Arcs in Star Trek Voyager

Why is there all this focus on Star Trek on my website? The answer is simple – it’s my absolute favorite franchise. Every time it’s on, it’s like I’ve come home to a friend, or rediscovered a favorite comfort food from ages past. Not only that, but if you can look past the sometimes-hokey story lines and bad episodes (there isn’t a single franchise that can claim immunity from a badly written episode), you’ll grow to love the characters themselves.

Star Trek Voyager‘s original run began in January 1995 with “Caretaker,” and wrapped in 2001 with “Endgame.” Throughout its seven seasons the writers introduced and said goodbye to many secondary characters, and some primary ones too.

In writing, a character’s arc, or their development, is an important piece to the story’s overall puzzle. When written well, a character can incite excitement or take a viewer or reader into the depths of despair. The downside to any Star Trek series is there will always be a character(s) who’ll get more screen time than others.

As with any story, each character has a purpose. Some are clearly main characters, others decidedly supporting, and still others make but a brief appearance. As I learn more about these character arcs, I started comparing them to the crew of the USS Voyager. We’ll observe them by rank, and figure out which arc they fall under. But first, let’s take a quick look at the types of character arcs.

These examples all come from KM Weiland’s “Helping Writers Become Authors,” because her resources are awesome.

Please be sure to stop by her blog, because she goes more in depth with each of these. This is just quick reference for this post. Also, each arc is linked to Weiland’s website so you can dive even more deeply.

Positive Change Arc
To paraphrase: Also known as one of the heroic arcs, characters with this arc uses a known or newly learned truth to try implementing positive change.

The Disillusionment Arc
Characters with the disillusionment arc will either join with the positive resolutions of the story or return to their original world, even while knowing the new “truths.” This is a.k.a a “negative change arc.”

The Corruption Arc
Characters with the corruption arc rarely want to positively change. Instead, they use their original lies to continue on in the “new world”

The Flat Arc
[Also a heroic arc] “These characters experience little to no change over the course of the story. […] Sometimes these characters are catalysts for change in the story world around them.”

The Fall Arc
Another negative change arc. The simplest definition of a Fall Arc is the character must face the consequences + aftermath of their choices. No matter what they try to positively change, if they try, it’s met with resistance and futility.

Now let’s see which senior officer exemplifies which arc.
Do any turn to Corruption?

Note: Spoilers and episode recommendations to follow

Captain Kathryn Janeway
Kate Mulgrew
Arc: The Flat Arc

Hear me out here. As the first female captain portrayed by the Star Trek franchise (we can only assume that other female captains preceded her within this universe), Captain Janeway had a lot to live up to. Let’s face it. She followed the likes of James T. Kirk and Jean-Luc Picard. A scientist a heart, Janeway often took it upon herself to study the mysteries of the Delta Quadrant along with her underlings. Episodes like “Year of Hell,” “Scorpion” and “Macrocosm” successfully exhibit her tactical resilience. However, she does have a stubborn streak. One where both Commander Chakotay and Lieutenant Tuvok oft have to act as checks and balances, and remind her she isn’t alone in her command-making decisions. Throughout all seven seasons, Captain Janeway remains one of the most constant characters of them all, and clearly the most developed even before the show begins. For this reason, I’ve labeled her as a Flat Arc character. While she wrestles with her truths throughout the entire series, she rarely falters. What influenced my choice –> How to Write a Flat Character by KM Weiland.

Commander Chakotay
Robert Beltran
Arc: The Positive Change Arc

Commander Chakotay, ex-terrorist under the Maquis (if you followed the Deep Space Nine series you’ll know more on what this means), and once a cadet at Starfleet Academy, Commander Chakotay is a perfect example example of the positive change arc. We see a LOT of change within Chakotay’s character (and many fans today wished he’d “hooked up” with Janeway, especially after “Resolutions“). Even after Chakotay’s own fall from Starfleet, and even after his commanding position as a Maquis, I think Chakotay became a father figure to the ship’s crew. Both Starfleet and Maquis alike. While his arc eventually flattened out in later seasons, he was uniquely (purposefully) placed to step in as commander in “Caretaker, Parts 1&2.” From his initial introduction to “Endgame,” you know you’d want Commander Chakotay defending your honor. (ie “Basics 1&2“).

Lieutenant Tuvok
Tim Russ
Arc: The Flat Arc

Commander Tuvok, the steadfast Vulcan of Voyager’s bridge staff, as well as proficient tactical officer, rarely had episodes dedicated just to his character development. Out of VOY’s entire run, only “The Raven,” “Author, Author,” “Gravity,” “Repression” and “Innocence” showcase Tuvok’s loyalty and tenacity as he works to solve problems or even a murder. His keen investigation skills are sharpened by his interactions with the rest of Voyager’s crew, whether he’s willing to admit that or not. Tuvok’s arc was hard to place, but his is the same as Janeways: The Flat Arc. Before you “poo poo” my conclusion, think of this way. Before VOY aired, you can tell Tuvok’s character already had purpose. He’s placed as Janeway’s confidant and valued friend. And, as the oldest member (being a Vulcan), he’s already had a long-standing Starfleet career (“Flashback“). As such, it only makes sense Tuvok would have a somewhat flat arc.

Lieutenant Tom Paris
Robert Duncan McNeil
Arc(s): Positive Change with a lot of Fall

In the series’ opening, we already know Tom Paris, son of a Starfleet Admiral, fell from grace due to bad decision making and then lying about his mistakes. In Starfleet, rank and relations won’t protect anyone from their own undoing. But Janeway gave him an opportunity to redeem himself (“Caretaker”) and his flyboy nature couldn’t keep him from negotiating a deal. We see his arc grow until season five’s episode “Thirty Days.” Up until that time, he’d worked to earn the field commission he’d been given in an emergency situation. From there he had to work again to regain his crew’s – no – his family’s confidence in him. Notable Tom Paris episodes include “Alice,” “Vis a Vis,” “Lineage,” and “Investigations.”

Lieutenant B’Ellana Torres
Roxann Dawson
Arc: The Positive Growth Arc

B’Ellana Torres was especially hard to nail down, but she’s definitely got a positive growth arc. When we first meet her in “Caretaker,” her Klingon half rules over her human one, and she often gave into it during Voyager’s early seasons. One of her major turning points took place in season four’s episode, “Day of Honor,” when she finally (spoiler) admits her true feelings to Tom Paris. Her development does taper off a bit as with any show, but we get to the core of who she is by season four’s end. Notable episodes: “Extreme Risk,” “Lineage,” “Faces” and “Dreadnought.”

Ensign Harry Kim
Garrett Wang
Arc: The Positive Growth Arc

Garrett Wang himself has portrayed Harry as “Voyager’s whipping boy.” With everything the writers threw at him – multiple near death experiences, actual death experiences, individual time travel – Harry could’ve easily gone by way of the Corruption Arc. However, Wang’s character managed to keep his optimism, curious mind and scientific know-how. Ensign Harry Kim, I think, drew a lot of his strength from others around him, most profoundly Captain Janeway and Lieutenant Tom Paris (even though Paris disappoints him from time to time). Even though Kim was, in my opinion, under-developed, he still had some positive growth, if not a little flatter than most. Notable Harry Kim episodes include “Caretaker,” “Favorite Son,” “Demon,” “The Disease,” “Course: Oblivion,” and “Ashes to Ashes.”

The Doctor
Robert Picardo
Arc: The Positive Change Arc

My original feelings about The Doctor aside (I found him quite annoying, along with the rest of the crew), The Doctor does possess a positive change arc. This emergency medical hologram (or EMH), probably had the most lines on the show. One such example of his arc is that it took him years – literally years – to choose a name for himself. From his first scenes to very last. There’s also the added logistical nightmare behind his technological “genes,” somewhat solved with the addition of his mobile emitter in “Future’s End.” After season three he calms down, but has a tendency to throw himself into each new hobby he picks up (opera, a holo-family, social lessons with Seven of Nine, just to name a few). Notable episodes include “Darkling,” “Revulsion,” “Flesh and Blood,” and “Projections.”

I’m a doctor, not a battery.

“Gravity”

Neelix
Ethan Phillips
Arc(s): Disillusionment to Growth to Flat

As you can see, Neelix is a complex fellow, and that complexion is perfectly portrayed by Ethan Phillips. Phillips had previously played several characters in the franchise, including a Ferengi on Next Generation and a different Ferengi on Enterprise. Neelix begins his Voyager journey in disillusionment. While his girlfriend, Kes, settled into life on Voyager quite easily, Neelix was tempted to run on several occasions (as in “The Cloud“). At some point in season two, he and Kes are no longer a couple, and he begins to finally grow as an individual, spreading his own wings and expressing a willingness to try new things (“Fair Trade“). By Season Five, with his character established, his arc flattens. Notable episodes include “Jetrel,” “Once Upon A Time,” “Rise,” and “Investigations.”

Kes
Jennifer Lien
Arc(s): Positive Change –> The Corruption Arc

Wait? Seriously? The original ying to Neelix’s yang? Unfortunately, Kes is one of those characters viewers either loved, or loved to hate. Kes, a Delta Quadrant native, willingly joined Voyager‘s crew because of her intense desire to explore the galaxy and leave her Ocampan homeworld behind. Due to her species’ strong telepathic and mental capabilities, Kes eventually had to leave the ship in season four’s “The Gift.” This is where her corruption arc comes into play. Spoiler ahead! Kes returns briefly in season six’s “Fury,” as an incredibly angry individual, believing the crew abandoned her. Something corrupted her in the new years since “The Gift.” But does she stay corrupted? You’ll just have to watch to find out! Notable Kes episodes include “Caretaker,” “Before and After,” “Cold Fire,” and “Persistence of Vision.”

Seven of Nine
Jeri Ryan
Arc: The Positive Growth Arc

Jeri Ryan as Seven of Nine joined the cast at the end of season two, effectively replacing Kes. The Voyager writing room ramped up her arc, using Janeway as her guide as they did with Kes. (Do you see now why Janeway needed to be the most established character in the beginning?) However, Seven grew so much that she was able to call out Janeway as they disagreed on procedure and life in general. Her story continues with Star Trek’s newest addition to its lineup, Star Trek Picard. Notable Seven of Nine episodes include “Imperfection,” “Scorpion,” “The Raven,” “Someone To Watch Over Me,” and “Bliss.”


If you’re a Star Trek fan, did I get this wrong? Or did I correctly analyze these ten characters from a writer’s viewpoint? Feel free to agree or disagree in the comments below.

Conclusion: the more you learn the art of writing, the more you’ll analyze your favorite forms of entertainment.

For I dipt into the future, far as the human eye could see; Saw the Vision of the World, and all the wonder that it would be…

Alfred Tennyson, from the bridge plaque on the USS Voyager

Writing Prompt:
Pick one of your favorite television and try figuring out their character arcs. Perhaps you’ll discover why you love them or love to hate them.

15 Things To Do As You #StayHome

I live in Pennsylvania, with Tom Wolf as the governor. Whether you agree with his politics or not, I don’t envy the job he’s been elected to do. Especially since he’s ordered Pennsylvanians home for another month. While I, gratefully, still have a job, I never thought I’d see the day when I actually can’t just go out to dinner after or see a movie with my mom on Discount Tuesday.

As a writer, I’ve got plenty of work ahead of me. But, without fail, writer’s block sets in. Or stretch my legs. So, if you’re life’s dramatically changed with current affairs and need something new to do, here are fifteen things you can do as you #StayHome.


  1. Whittle down your To Be Read book pile
    If you’re a reader or even a writer, you already know all the excuses you give yourself to not read. You don’t have to do any of those Goodreads or Kindle book challenges, or keep others appraised of your progress. You know that pile’s been on your mind. Go read!
  2. Journal
    While I’ve never been able to get into journaling myself, I know it’s incredibly therapeutic for many others. There’s bullet journals, art journals, prayer journals, food journals; I could go on but there’s so many types out there. If you need help getting started, have a read of Jofelo’s article for inspiration.
  3. Plan ahead – give yourself something to look forward to
    Last year, before COVID19 reached Pennsylvania, I’d already decided to tour more historical places around my city for novel research. I’ve got at least five places to visit when the weather’s a bit warmer, and it’s something to look forward to. What are you most looking forward to? Let me know in the comments below!
  4. Puzzles
    Puzzles are a Redman Family Christmas staple activity in my family. Without fail, we’ve done one each holiday season, even after both my grandparents died. Now, I find completing a puzzle spirit lifting and relaxing. Puzzles both keep my anxiety in check and are something I know I have control over.
  5. Go through and organize your digital photos/files
    As a writer, I have many MANY files, folders, graphics and documents. Every once in a while I’ll discover a duplicated folder, or five of the same image. When I get to that point, it usually takes 2-3 hours to sort, delete and combine. And hey, if you decide to do this, that’s one afternoon right there!
  6. Borrow some non-fiction titles from your local library via eBook
    Since many libraries – if not all – are currently closed, grab your library card and head for your county’s online card catalog. While not every title will be available to borrow electronically, there should still be a large list to choose from. Just remember to return the book(s) when you finish them. Someone else may be waiting to devour them!
  7. Explore old family recipes, or discover some new ones
    After my Grandma Redman died, we kept her metal box of family recipes. Many years later, all the ladies finally got a cookbook of her most popular dishes and desserts to try making ourselves. One of our favorites is her corn casserole (now loved by my niece and nephew). But, if you don’t have a stash like that, there’s a ton of recipes for every cuisine available online.
  8. Finally do that gardening project you’ve stared at all winter
    Have you got a patio, deck, or a full yard? I’m sure, then, you’ve got at least one or two tasks out there that need done. I started on mine Sunday afternoon. However, the wind advisory cut that short. I just need a slightly warmer day so I can start planting my fairy garden!
  9. Participate in that “Chalk Your Walk” challenge
    My sister and her kids did this last week. My walk got a bunch of random “E’s,” but it’s the thought that counts. If you’re a parent, I’m sure there’s chalk somewhere in your house. Go for a walk with your chalk and bring some smiles to your neighbors.
  10. Send “snail mail” to family and friends
    This is something I used to do all the time as a kid. I’ve since fallen out of practice, with Facebook and all that social media. There’s just something magical about holding a physical note in your hands, because it means someone decided to take the time to sit and write it. The paper and stamps don’t need to be fancy. Just let them know how your family is and check up on them.
  11. Start your spring cleaning, one room at a time
    For some reason, when people hear “spring cleaning,” they think they have to do the whole house at once. With a worldwide focus on cleanliness, perhaps now’s a good time to deep clean your home, one room at a time. You don’t even need to start with the messiest. Work your way up to it; use it as motivation to finish.
  12. Watch a new show you’d never consider before (like Star Trek?)
    Personally, there’s no hope for me when it comes to this category. I grew up on Trek and science fiction shows like Firefly and The X Files. Now, I’m very much into Korean, Japanese and [some] Chinese dramas. That being said, you don’t need to “get hooked” on what’s new and popular. There are loads of fantastic shows available online from the past several decades to divulge in. Now’s a perfect time to explore a “new” old show.
  13. Research local history
    Since 2016, I’ve taken a deep dive into Southwestern Pennsylvanian history. Granted, most of it is for my historical work in progress, but it’s opened up another level of learning I never before experienced. Much of what I’ve learned was never taught in school (or, if it was, I don’t remember). Every city/town has its own history. Perhaps it’s time to explore?
  14. Practice some self care
    With everyone being encouraged to “stay six feet apart” and “social distance,” self care’s never been more important as the current state of anxiety rises. Remember: It’s okay to take time for yourself to do something you love. Have a night dedicated to rewatching a favorite show, or reread a favorite book. Or, if you’ve got the supplies already, grab some nail polish, a face mask, a snack or two and have a night of pampering.
  15. Actually shower + get ready for the day
    I don’t know why this one isn’t first on the list, but here it is. Let’s face it – we all need a “pajama day” once in a while, but doing practical things like showering, making your bed and laundry will help keep you grounded in some form of normalcy.

And there you have it. Fifteen things to do as you #StayHome this week (or next). If you’ve already done something suggested in this list, try something else. Remember, it’s okay to have a little fun in these uncertain times. Don’t worry – you’ll get through!

A Gallery of #WIP Aesthetics

If you’re brand new to the online writing community like I was two years ago, you’ve probably seen loads of confusing Twitter hashtags. There are so many that I had to look up guides to help me decipher them. They felt like a World War II encoded message or Morse Code telegram that needed solving. Let me leave a few of these incredibly helpful lists below – it’s okay to feel overwhelmed! The great thing about these tags is they help you find fellow writers, and many can even connect you with editors, agents, and even publishers you’d like to partner with.

  1. 10 Twitter Hashtags for Writers – Publishing Talk
  2. 44 Essential Twitter Hashtags Every Author Should Know – Authormedia
  3. 50 Twitter Hashtags For Writers – Self Publishing Authors Podcast
  4. 100 Twitter Hashtags Every Writer Should Know – Aerogramme Writers’ Studio
  5. 240 Hashtags for Writers – Curiosity Never Killed the Writer

I’ll give a small piece of advice. Go through those lists and pick out ones that interest you. While many are genre specific, several are incredibly popular such as #writingcommunity, #writerslife, #writerlift, #WIP (work in progress) and #wordcount.

One of my favorites is #WedWIPAesthetic. I already make all the graphics for this site, and the idea of creating aesthetics – collages of images that express themes or character traits in a WIP – really appealed to me. So here are just some of the aesthetics I’ve created for Project Firedamp over the past couple of years. Please do not use any of these without my expressed permission.

Many of these are dark and gritty, and I don’t know why the WordPress plug in lowered the quality on several of them. It may be fitting, because in late Victorian Pennsylvania, things weren’t as gorgeous as they are today. Granted, social issues still exist. But life wasn’t kind to the white collar workers in the 1800s. Two goals of Project Firedamp are 1- to not sugar coat the past and 2- to look to hope the future can bring.

They say to write what you know. I know Southwestern Pennsylvania.

And Pittsburgh’s still rising from the ashes of a collapsed steel industry.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this small glimpse into Project Firedamp and what I hope to accomplish with its stories. Do you have any WIP aesthetics to share? Drop your links in the comments below!

Five Disease Filled Star Trek Voyager Episodes You Should Watch This Weekend

The COVID19 pandemic is no laughing matter. If you’re reading this blog post, I don’t want you to think that I’m ignoring its widespread and global impact. The purpose of this post is to provide a short break from the monotony of #StayHome mandates, and bring a little Trek joy into your life. One of Star Trek’s overall messages is that of hope. Hope for a better future. There is still hope, and I’ll hold onto that with every ounce of my being.

Since the genre’s conception, Star Trek has offered up a myriad of themes throughout its fifty year history. With over 770 episodes within thirty-five series across the board, I won’t bore you with a Borg style analysis of them all. I’ll just focus on one of my favorite incarnations, Star Trek Voyager.

Voyager, which originally aired from January 1995 (I was ten) to May 2001, is the third series of the franchise established by Gene Roddenberry. As a fan for all my thirty-five years (just realized that number correlates with how many series there are), I can attest that it took Voyager a bit longer than most to stand on its own two feet. Unfortunately, many fellow Trek fans call it “a soap opera in space.” But I think they underestimate its potential. However, to this day I still cringe at one of its opening scenes between Captain Janeway and fallen-from-grace problem child, Tom Paris.

What were we talking about?
Oh yes.
Themes.

Now I’m not sure if this is a theme or a constantly rehashed plot device, but Voyager’s writers certainly loved throwing whatever disease they could at the crew. Let’s take a look at just five of them, and I’ll recommend episodes you can watch this weekend (all available on Netflix or CBS All Access – neither are sponsoring this post).

1. The Vidiian Phage
From their first encounter with the Delta Quadrant aliens, the Vidiians, in season one’s episode Phage to their last in Good Shepherd, Captain Janeway and the crew swing between wanting to help and wanting – no, needing – to escape a people whose pandemic reached the height of their bell curve long before Voyager entered the system. The classic struggle of keeping their humanity and values in check got the crew into trouble than they bargained for, as the Phage is one of the few, true pandemics in the Trek franchise. While the topic of pandemic is a sensitive one for today’s time, the lessons woven throughout these episodes are worth their weight in gold.

Episode Recommendations: Phage, Faces, Lifesigns, Deadlock, Coda, Resolutions

2. Janeway’s and Commander Chakotay’s Virus in “Resolutions
And here we are with Voyager’s Season Three, Episode 25 titled Resolutions. Janeway and Chakotay are bitten by some alien insect (I’ve always thought of it akin to a mosquito) on an away mission. For weeks The Doctor tried to find a cure, but eventually they had to return to the planet of origin to leave their commanding officers behind. It’s a great “what if” episode showing human resilience and determination. Plus, a little “love story” doesn’t hurt either. I highly recommend you watch this.

3. The Caretaker’s Unnamed Disease
The first time we meet Lieutenant B’Ellana Torres’ Klingon temper is on the Ocampan home world, where she and Ensign Harry Kim are sent to be cared for by Kes’ people after contracting a mysterious disease brought on by The Caretaker’s medical tests. Every crew has to start somewhere. So as corny as you may feel some parts of this first episode is, you’re going to love the friendship between Kim and Torres. They’re very much so the definition of ying and yang, and both fierce in their own ways.

The Caretaker, as he’s called by the Ocampa and Kazon, brought ships from across the galaxy in order to find a mate. When certain humanoids proved highly incompatible, they contracted the disease. To this day I find the character immensely selfish. Let’s not be like the Caretaker, okay?

4. Favorite Son‘s Transformation Virus
The first two seasons of Voyager are riddled with awkward scenarios, and Favorite Son isn’t an exception. Okay, it was only awkward to a ten year old who harbored an immense crush on Harry Kim. There. I’ve admitted it. Imagine my dismay seeing my favorite character surrounded by women one Wednesday night.

Every man’s dream, right? (I’m not a man).

This scenario isn’t unique to Voyager. The Original Series and Next Gen writers loved using this particular plot device. But was Harry’s “disease” or “transformation” real or truly manufactured? You’ll just have to watch to find out!

5. Macrocosm‘s Giant “Insects”
Decidedly one of the creepier episodes for my past self, I HATED hearing the droning noise the SFX folks gave to the macrovirus’ invading the ship. If I’d been onboard, terror would’ve rendered me incapable of doing my duty. Early Trek writers loved including that “creep factor.” That aside, it was a great Janeway development episode, and showcased her resolve to get her whole crew home that she had throughout the entire series.

Just as Janeway reached a tipping point in this episode, humanity’s reached one as well. Everyone’s been affected by COVID19 in one way or another. What really counts is how we choose to handle ourselves. However, I don’t recommend suiting up like Captain Janeway and going after macro mutations.


Honorable Mentions
1. Admiral Janeway’s Borg Virus in Endgame: Parts 1&2.
2. Ensign Lindsay Ballard’s Kobali transformation post mortem in Ashes to Ashes.
3. Lieutenant Tom Paris’ Warp Ten barrier transformation in Threshold.
4. Ensign Harry Kim’s, ahem, STD, via a crewmember of The Varro ship in The Disease.
5. The “computer virus” that kept Ensign Kim and Lt. Torres from leaving stasis pods in The Thaw.
6. Kes’ early elogium in Elogium.
7. Lieutenant Tuvok’s degenerative neurological disease in Endgame: Parts 1&2.


As you can see, my original thesis statement is correct – the Voyager writing room loved giving the crew travelling across the Delta Quadrant towards home a run for their money. Sometimes the story lines made sense. Sometimes they didn’t. But I can say for certain it made great Wednesday night viewing (then Friday nights when the show moved to UPN).

After I finished my homework, of course.

Here’s a little Voyager tour to brighten your day!

Why Now is A Great Time to Start a Blog

Blogs are to the Internet as quills and ink are to writing. Blogs have been around for a long time, but with the introduction of new tools, plug-ins, and easier access to web hosts, they’re easier than ever before to build, maintain and analyze. Is that the only reason why I say now is the perfect time to start one? Absolutely not.

With many of us affected by current world events, more people than ever are searching for new content to divulge in. Blogs help us find like-minded hobbyists, or fellow fans of a favorite television show or musical group, and so on. Use this interesting time to connect with others and learn something new in the process. You don’t need to be an expert to start a blog.

There is a learning curve when it comes to building a great site, an audience, and a social platform. Don’t let the idea of learning something new dissuade you! And don’t worry – you don’t have to spend an arm and a leg to get started either. Are you feeling up to the challenge? Everyone has to start somewhere, so let’s take a look at five steps that can help you along your way.

Step 1: Search Out Other Blogs.
This is where the content creator proverbial rabbit hole begins. A specific topic search is the best way to find out what other creators are putting out. Do you knit, organize or read? How about cooking, drawing or baking? Is cross stitch your thing or do you adore fairy gardens?

While there’s quite a menagerie already lending voices to their respective communities, don’t be afraid to add your own! If, at this point you just want some new resources to glean from, then skip the rest of this article! What? What’s that? You still want to dip a toe in? Great!


It can be very easy, when creating online content, to copy or mimic someone else’s work. It’ll be tough, at first. Have patience. You’ll definitely find your own voice. That doesn’t mean you can’t be inspired by other creators. Give credit where credit is due and source your resources.


Step 2: Decide On Your Content.
What are you the most passionate about? What do you want to discuss or dive into the most? Lifestyle content is a growing, dare I say it, industry. There is, however, a Even more specialized content on platforms like YouTube is shifting to daily vlogs – or video blogs – in which viewers can see another way of life.

That’s just the tip of the iceberg; just an example of what you can do. Personally, I’ve never enjoyed being in front of a camera. I’m a writer, so the braod topic of writing was the most obvious route for me.


You will experience a lot of trial and error as you grow your platform. Don’t be discouraged if an idea doesn’t pan out. Example: I once tried maintaining a Korean pop music site. While I enjoy the genre, my passion for running the site quickly died. I still listen to kpop on a daily basis, but my true passion lies with writing.


Step 3: Pick Your Platform(s).
These days, many platforms are free-to-start to give users the chance to explore and decide if that host is right for them. The only host I use is WordPress, and I have a Premium Membership. It took a year of use to take the plunge, but I’m awfully glad I did. I just wish they had a plan between Premium and Business. I’d like to use plugins, but I don’t need eCommerce tools. That’s when user feedback becomes an important tool for the site host. Find one that works well with your ideas. There’s no harm in having multiple accounts. Remember: Don’t spread yourself too thin. Start slow and work your way from there.

Below are ten examples each of video and web site hosts for you to peruse.

Video Hosts

Web Hosts

*I’ve included parent companies in case you’d rather not be associated with them for any reason.
**If a parent company isn’t listed, that host is privately owned.

Unless you’ve gone to school or video editing and filmography, or you’re self-taught, you may want to begin with a web host blog instead of a vlog. I only mention that form for those who are better speaking words rather than writing them.

Okay. Have you chosen your host? Let’s move on to the next!


Feeling overwhelmed at the start of something new is natural
and completely normal.


Step 4: Utilize Social Media.
Admit it. You groaned reading this step. However, social media’s grown to become an integral part of daily life. Let’s face it – there isn’t a single social media site that’s clean as a whistle when it comes to reputation. You have to choose what’s right for you. I use Twitter on the daily; Facebook isn’t in my vocabulary; MySpace who?; Snapchat and TikTok? I’ve no idea how to use those.

Picking what social media to use can be more overwhelming than finding your home base platform. Of course, you don’t have to use it at all. But it’s much easier to connect and share your creativity with potential readers through shared links and tailored updates. If you found this blog, you probably did so through Twitter, or WordPress’ Reader.

The point of the matter is, you don’t need an account with every offering. In fact, having more than two or three typically cuts productivity and increases procrastination if not utilized properly. My perfect storm is Twitter and Pinterest, with minimal involvement on Instagram.


Social media can be an incredibly effective tool.
Don’t let it distract you from accomplishing your life goals.


Step 5: Learn to Use Graphics to Your Advantage.
Humanity is a very visually influenced species. Last year I stumbled upon the Yes, I’m a Designer website in search of ideas for my own creations. As with anything, protect your work, and be cautious in what sources you pull your graphics for posts from. (I’ll leave the subject of copyright up to the experts). Since 2012, I’ve created graphics for church, my own fan fictions (when I wrote them), and, eventually, this site.

I use BeFunky. It’s $6.99 a month (cheaper than a Netflix subscription), and includes large libraries of stock images, design elements, filters, and other design tools. If you want to go this route, here are some great web based graphic design programs you don’t even need a degree to use. Some are more advanced than others.

All these sites offer different skill levels from novice to advanced. As with anything, choose what course is right for you.


Well, now. After all that, are you still interested in blogging?

I’m not going to lie – keeping a blog is a lot of work. With creativity, persistence and a little luck, you can hone your little corner of the Internet into a cozy place you love.

Hapy blogging!

Three Blog Ideas That Worked

Last week I shared a companion post to this one, Three Blog Ideas that Failed. In it I stressed that blogging is subjective. What’s worked for one site may not have the same reception on another.

Don’t focus on having a great blog. Focus on producing a blog that’s great for your readers.

Brian Clark, source

In last week’s post I highlighted just three things I’ve tried over the past four years of blogging. Many more ideas, design elements, and collaboration attempts failed. However, I felt that the three I included are things many folks set up as well. Enough talk about failure! Let’s discuss three blog ideas that have worked for anotherhartmanauthor.com.


FIVE QUESTION INTERVIEWS
Introverts. We like our routines, our happy places, and our hobbies. The very idea of my participating in book release activities intimidates me, so who am I to disrupt someone else’s life by inviting them to take part in a web-based interview?

Then I thought: If I can’t be brave enough to take a chance on someone else, who, then, would be willing to do the same for me? Of course, I’m not expecting reciprocation. That would be completely presumptuous of me.

But readers want to hear from their favorite authors, and not just within the context of a social media environment. They want to know what makes fellow authors tick, what inspired the idea for a novel, or what tools they use to help them write. I am very grateful to everyone who participated in 2019’s interviews, and I’m looking forward to connecting with even more of you in 2020!

CONNECTING via SOCIAL MEDIA
After deactivating my Facebook account after eleven years of maintaining one, I didn’t think I’d ever want to get back into social media again. I kept my Twitter account, but I’d also deactivated my Instagram, Pinterest, MySpace, etc. We can compare all these social media accounts to the many, many streaming accounts now available for television viewership. With Netflix leading the Calvary, weren’t we supposed to save money by cancelling cable and moving to web based content. Consumerism is all about having options. The same goes for social media. While these services are free to set up and use, there comes a point when it’s just too much.

For me, I do all my interacting on Twitter. I use Pinterest to share #WIP aesthetics and build up inspiration boards for writing. And I very, very rarely use my newly established Instagram account. Bloggers know where their readers come from and adjust their online habits accordingly. I’ve also come to love TweetDeck. It’s made social media a much more enjoyable experience by providing streamlining tools to weed out all the things you don’t want to see. Or by showing you things you want to be a part of.

Find what works for YOU, and be consistent.

CONSISTENT BLOGGING
From 2016 to 2017, things weren’t consistent on anotherhartmanauthor.com. Even though I wanted to grow this site, my writing journey was just beginning. If I managed to post content, it was all a complete reiteration of someone else’s idea. Of course, there’s “nothing new under the sun,” as they say, but I hadn’t yet found my niche (does that word sound familiar?).

As 2018 and 2019 rolled around, discussing blog topics on early stages of writing and newly learned history felt more natural. People know when you’re not expert. They can tell by your words and sources you choose to quote. (Still, always reference your sources).

For four years I worked without a set blogging schedule. A few weeks ago I recognized my need for one in this post, and I’m slowly working on incorporating it into my life. Pre-scheduling blog posts also helps. That way, you can write it in advance and, if your web host offers it, you can set it to go live on a future date.


So, did you pick up on today’s theme? If you guessed consistency, then you’re right! Consistency is the key behind all these things working together.

Consistency brings us back to the original quote shared at the beginning of this post – Don’t focus on having a great blog. Focus on producing a blog that’s great for your readers.

In 2018 I realized I was blogging for myself, not others. A new game plan was needed, and incorporating these three things + consistency, has helped. I’m far from perfect, and everything’s still a work in progress.

Just make sure that, in whatever you decide to do with your blog, it brings you, and others, joy.

Three Blog Ideas That Failed

Blogging. It’s such an obscure topic. What works for one may not work for all. Bloggers who’ve been around five or more years have established followers and loyal readers, so they know what their audience looks for. Each website creator has their own niche of interests, and their content reflects that.

Niche /niCH,nēSH/ – adj. – denoting or relating to products, services, or interests that appeal to a small, specialized section of the population

Source – Google Search

This site began in 2016. Its intent – a place where we can collectively share writing experiences and maybe, just maybe, the things I’ve learned along the way can help someone else. Speaking of, here are three blog ideas that failed on anotherhartmanauthor.com over the past four years.


A MONTHLY NEWSLETTER
I’m not yet an established author, so I don’t even know why I thought I’d quickly gain readership with an e-newsletter. I don’t have a degree in English Lit. I’m not an experienced historian. I haven’t worked in publishing. Hence I had little to contribute to a market already saturated with e-newsletters. The extra work accomplished but one thing: it was an effective manuscript diversion and everyone knew it. Readers are savvy folks, dontcha know?

Any time you think to add one more task, ask if it’ll interfere with your writing goals. It it does, reevaluate. It might be a worthy addition later on.

SHORT STORY SERIES
Roughly two years ago I attempted posting a short story series. I’ve thought a lot about its concept – Could it work as a subplot for my WIP? Could I eventually have it published on its own in some magazine? Is the story even worth exploring? While I kept the story within my chosen genre and era (Victorian historical adventure), it was nothing but a procrastination method. Just as the e-newsletter was. It kept me from concentrating on my actual goals.

I am, in no way, saying you can’t have multiple projects running at one time. Do what works for you. And I can only concentrate on one story and one alone. Who knows? Perhaps my writing multitasking will improve as I grow my craft.

BOOK REVIEWS
If you know me, you’ll know that I’m the least opinionated person in my family. When I am, it’s because I absolutely love something and will sing its praises. That’s why I’m the worst book reviewer. Personally, it’s a strange feeling to say anything negative about someone else’s hard work.

At first it wasn’t too much of a problem. That is, until writer friends asked me to review their newly published books. While I appreciated their faith in me, I found I couldn’t properly review without bias. They say to bookend a con with two pros. But what does one do if there are more cons than pros? No. I couldn’t carry on with the reviews. Besides, there are more people out there with stronger voices than I.


We creatives can be very emotional creatures, can’t we? I’ve included myself in that because I know just how defensive I can sometimes get when someone critiques my work.

Remember – anything you put online is a reflection of your business. That’s right. Business. Creating content is a physical representation and extension of yourself as a writer. Removing emotion from your business is easier said than done. It’s perfectly normal to feel dejected when something doesn’t quite work out the way you wanted it to.

It’ll take time for you to find your niche, but there’s absolutely no harm in trying something new!

My Top Five Writing Distractions

Each and every writer gets distracted. Deny it if you like, but you know what distracts you from your goals the most. Here are my top five writing distractions.

Research Rabbit Holes

As a historical adventure writer, research is part of my personal journey. When the idea for my work in progress first came forth, I never imagined I’d spend the next four years going down the research rabbit hole.

Old habits are hard to break. Getting stuck on research for days on end prompted the creation of a weekly schedule, and I intend to stick to it. Mondays are now designated non-fiction days, so hopefully that will help keep me on track for the rest of the week.

However, research can lead to ideas for other stories…

Ideas for Other Stories

You have a light bulb moment as you read a biography about a person who once existed. Or an idea for a spin off series from the one you’re currently writing pops into your head. Or you decide to write a script for your own science fiction series after being a fan of Doctor Who for years. No…you should be working on your WIP, shouldn’t you?

Does any of that sound familiar? That’s what happens when I do research. I’ve got piles and piles of notes, and not all of them pertain to my current project. But that’s one of the joys of discovery. And a curse of being a creative. I’ll never give up research. And by Jove, if it sparks another book for The Firedamp Chronicles, I won’t be mad at all.

Social Media (yes, that includes this blog)

This distraction is the most self-explanatory of all, and the trickiest to rein in. With Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Pinterest, MySpace, Instagram and so many others vying for attention, it’s a wonder I get anything done. Sometimes I don’t.

I envy people who’ve managed to find a healthy balance between their online activities with daily life. Perhaps, since I’ve finally set up a writing/reading/research schedule, that it’s time to set up one for social media activity as well.

All the Korean Dramas

American television. Although I am a citizen of the United States, I know diddly squat about what’s on prime time or currently popular. What I do know are Korean dramas. Would it surprise you to know I adore an amazing historical Joseon Era drama over, say, an American episode of CSI?

My love for Korean dramas began during the summer of 2008. I lived and worked on my college campus repairing and repainting dorm rooms. When work was done, I dug up as my episodes of Boys Over Flowers as I could. Now Korean dramas are easily available from Viki to Netflix. And they’re my number one crutch when it comes to staying on task with my reading. Just as I do with my reading, I have to plan out time to binge a new (or rewatch an old) Korean drama. Along with my love for Star Trek, my love for Korean dramas will never go away.

I just have to make sure they don’t interfere with my love of books.

Good Ol’ Procrastination

And finally, there’s good ol’ procrastination. Whether it’s watching a myriad of YouTube videos for an entire afternoon, stress baking all the cookies, or constantly checking emails for query responses, perhaps it’s a sign you truly need a break from your computer or notebook.

When I find myself drifting, it’s time to step away – do some gardening, clean the house, take care of family – and detox from all the words. Especially if nothing’s clicking or making sense.

It’s okay to take a break from your project. And maybe, just maybe, that a mundane task may be just what you need to reset and rejuvenate.

What distracts you the most? Feel free to share them below and know you’re not alone!

A Three Blog Roundup | Part One

In 1991 I was six years old and the Internet was just a baby. In 1991 blog, SEOs, tags and website providers didn’t exist. The world in 2020 has never felt smaller, and that’s an amazing thing. That’s what I like about these kinds of posts, because they bring attention to others in the publishing biz from around the globe. We all share a common goal, no matter what language we speak: to become better writers, editors, publishers, artists or agents. Here are three blogs on editing, technique and grammar for you to explore.

Shady Characters

Keith Houston is a published author who enjoys talking about the nuances of punctuation. In fact, I’m sure (if he ever reads this post) that he’ll analyze the crap out of my writing. And he’ll be right in doing so. I can’t help but be jealous with one of his recent accomplishments – publishing a book in Korean – because that’s one of my publishing dreams! If you’re looking for some quirk and learning along the way, check out Keith’s blog.

Links


source: Google images

Here’s a blog post I wrote last year about my favorite Victorian slang,
and one on punctuation I never knew had names.

Helping Writers Become Authors

I hope yinz (that’s a Pittsburgh word) aren’t sick of reading about Ms. KM Weiland on this site, but I can’t sign her praises enough. Her blog is a great resource for practical writing solutions, writing community encouragement and so much more. Okay, okay. I may be a little biased here. But she was one of the first people I connected with when my writing journey began in 2016. I sincerely hope you check her craft books out!

Here’s a blog post I recently wrote about life needing structure, along with our stories.

Grammar Girl

Brain farts. We all have them as we work through our writing processes. Sometimes it’s a word that just won’t come to mind. Or something we wrote is quite grammatically wrong and we can’t put a finger on why. That’s where Grammar Girl, aka Mignon Fogarty, comes into play. Her posts explore everything and anything, well, grammar related. I, for one, am incredibly grateful for her tips. If you’re ever stumped for words, take a break and read some posts on word choice. All writers can benefit from a bit of non-fiction.

Links


source = grammarly

Well, there you have it! Three blogs that deal with punctuation, technique and grammar. Do you have any go-to blogs for writing help or general writing amusement? Feel free to share their links in the comments below.

Do you like this type of post? Let me know if you’d like to see more Blog Roundups in the future.