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Archive for the 'Research' Category

Fantastic Tools for Writers

These days there are many tools available to help in the writing of a book. Here are a few that I use and recommend. Some of the tools overlap, and I don’t always use everything in the intended way. I adapt my usage to suit my needs and writing habits.

1. 4 The Words https://4thewords.com/

I’ve posted about 4 The Words before since I use this to write my first drafts. This is an incredible community where the writing is gamified. You set goals and battle monsters while traveling through different territories. Discovering this online writing game has genuinely helped me to get down my word total every day.

2. One Stop For Writers https://onestopforwriters.com/

This is another tool I’ve mentioned before. From the thesauruses to the plotting and planning tools, there is plenty to help a writer structure, plan worlds and characters, keep timelines and map their stories.

3. Plottr https://plottr.com/

While I’m not a plotter or an outliner, I still need to have a basic framework before I start writing a new story. I use Plottr to do this and keep track of my characters and story bible. Check out their free trial if you’re a serious plotter because this is a fantastic tool.

4. Fictionary https://fictionary.co/

I’ve recently started using this editing software to analyze my scenes and try to knock my work into better shape before sending it off to my editor. Check out the Fictionary channel on Youtube as well. They have heaps of helpful advice when it comes to editing your work.

5. ProWriting Aid https://prowritingaid.com/

I use this grammar and style check during my editing stage and find it very useful. While I don’t always follow the suggestions, this helps me battle wordiness and other bad habits that can creep into my writing.

6. Grammarly http://www.grammarly.com/

Another grammar checker that I use in conjunction with ProWriting Aid. It checks grammar and style, and this app helps me with my comma problem. I have improved in this area tenfold!

While I use other tools, these are the ones I use regularly and, as such, recommend. Please note that they are all paid tools, but each has a free trial for the user to figure out if this product works for them. Do check them out!

Hobbiton, Part Two

This is a continuation of my post about my visit to Hobbiton in Matamata. Part one is here.

Pheasant in the Vegetable Garden

I was busy taking photos of Hobbit holes and my surroundings and saw something moving. It took me a moment to realize the pheasant was real and it was busy feasting on the vegetables.

The Frog Pond

This is the frog pond. During filming the frogs made it challenging to hear the actors. Sir Peter Jackson paid someone to catch all the frogs and relocate them elsewhere so filming could continue without issue. The frogs found their way back…

The fake tree

This tree, which grows above Bilbo Baggin’s home in Bagshot Row is the only fake tree. All the rest are real. A few days before filming Peter Jackson visited the site and decided the tree’s leaves had faded to the wrong color. A man spent two days spraypainting each leaf. The trees are resprayed every few years.

Bilbo Baggin's Home

Bilbo Baggins is one of the more prosperous hobbits. We know this because his home has lots of windows, and Hobbits are taxed by the number of windows in a dwelling.

Shelley and the Hobbit Hole

There are two different sizes of Hobbit holes. I think the guide said they were 60 and 90 respectively. The Hobbit characters were filmed in front of the large doors, and the tall characters such as Gandalf were filmed in front of the small doors. I’m standing in front of a small door.

Each of the Hobbit holes is empty inside since the interior shots were all filmed at studios in Wellington.

Green Dragon Inn

This is the view of the Mill and the Green Dragon Inn. We walked across the bridge to the Green Dragon and finished our tour with a drink.

Drinks at the Green Dragon Inn

The drinks are all brewed especially for Hobbiton. I tried the apple cider, which was delicious.

If you’re ever near Matamata, I recommend a visit to Hobbiton. It’s pure fun and whimsey, and I loved every moment of my visit.

A Visit to Hobbiton, Matamata, New Zealand

I’ve wanted to visit Hobbiton in Matamata for ages, and yesterday, I finally got to explore the home of the Hobbits. In order to visit it’s necessary to plan and book ahead. My tour was for 10:30 and Hobbiton central was very busy with tours going out every half an hour.

Map of Hobbiton

This is the map of Hobbiton, given to each visitor. Hobbiton itself is situated on the Anderson farm, which is an operating beef and sheep farm of 1250 acres. The land in the Matamata area is gorgeous full of green rolling hills and perfect for Hobbiton. Sir Peter Jackson discovered his home for Hobbiton after flying over in a helicopter. After the Lord of the Rings movies were completed, Hobbiton was dismantled. When it was decided to film the Hobbit movies, Hobbiton was rebuilt in permanent materials and kept as a tourist attraction once filming was completed.

Welcome to Hobbiton

There are 44 Hobbit holes and seven maintenance men and women keep the 12-acre site in pristine condition. What I loved about the place was the attention to detail. Each hobbit hole has a theme or a clue as to the occupant’s occupation. There is a beekeeper, a fisherman, a painter and so forth.

A Hobbit Hole

Smoking Chimney

This one even had a smoking chimney. There were lines full of washing, and I loved the vegetable gardens.

The Fisherman's Home

Hobbit Hole

Shelley and the Hobbit Hole

I enjoyed my visit so much and took heaps of photos. There are too many for one post. Come back tomorrow for part two.

Owls ~ The Research and Maori Lore

For the last year, I’ve been obsessed with owls. I have no idea why, except that I like their cute faces and huge eyes.

Owl

Photo by Rúben Marques on Unsplash

My current work-in-progress is Black Moon Dragon. I was writing away, and suddenly, an owl appeared. Since this dragon romance is set in New Zealand, the owl was a ruru or morepork as they are more commonly known. An owl made an appearance in Journey with Joe (this was a pink owl) and I also wrote one into Stranded with Ella. None of this was conscious, but I clearly have owls on the brain!

In Maori mythology, the owl is a bird of the Underworld. The Maoris thought this because the morepork is a nocturnal bird, it has big, round eyes, and is a silent hunter.

Before the arrival of the white man in New Zealand, the Maori considered the arrival of the ruru a bad omen—a sign of death. They dreaded its powers and the people thought the bird was connected with witchcraft or makutu. Rumor said the ruru ate dead men’s fingernails and these became part of the owl’s eyes, which is why no one ever ate an eye.

The Taranaki Maori used to eat owls, thinking that by eating the birds they would prolong their lives. They did not eat the eyes. The Maoris in other areas considered eating owls distasteful.

While some tribes thought the bird a bad omen, others considered the appearance of an owl a family protector. They could protect, warn, help and advise on important matters.

One last thing about the owl—the first Maoris viewed the owl’s big, round eyes and adopted this wide-eyed look for their hakas (war dance or challenge).

While visiting England, my husband and I had a chance to fly owls, and we held a morepork. They are a small owl, much smaller than I’d realized. It was a rare privilege since although we often hear the owls call, they are seldom seen. Read about our visit to the Exmoor Owl and Hawk Center.

A morepork’s call is very distinctive. Early European settlers thought the birds where calling More pork. More pork, hence the owl’s common name.

Source: Maori Bird Lore by Murdoch Riley

Shelley and a Morepork (New Zealand owl)

This is a photo of me holding a morepork (ruru) during our Exmoor visit.