Monday, March 30, 2015

Romance versus Thriller

People have asked me, "How can a writer create stories in two such different genres as romance and mystery thrillers?"

I realize most (but not all) writers write stories in a single genre, but for whatever the reasons, I enjoy writing in both genres equally well. I often get great thriller ideas while writing a love story. I happened to be writing a thriller novel a short while back and I suddenly got this great idea for a love story, which turned out to be my book, Memories of Lake Wabaskang. The idea I had intrigued me so much at the time I stopped writing the thriller, placed it on the back burner temporarily, and began writing the love story instead. That story, Memories of Lake Wabaskang, was published prior to the book I was originally writing at the time, but it was eventually also published. That is simply how my mind works.

While speaking as an invited guest to a class at an elementary school one day for their annual Career Day, one of the students asked me how I start a new book. The question caused me to think because I generally do not start a book at the beginning and chronologically continue to the end. I told the student that while it probably made the most sense to start a book at the beginning, I often started somewhere in the middle or even at the end of a story and work my plot lines backward. I told the class that I have actually completed a book by writing the beginning of the story last. Until that student asked me that question I had never really given it much thought. Now I realize that I rarely start at the very beginning of a story, although once in a blue moon I do. I am not sure just how other writers construct their stories, but I believe I will ask the question in some of my writing groups and of my various contacts.

I was also asked how I keep my characters straight in a story. That was also an interesting question for me to respond to at the same class. My method is to list my characters as I invent them just ahead of the story I am writing. I list their names, the relationship with the main character, their physical description, perhaps their age, anything else that sets them apart, plus various other aspects or characteristics of that person I will need to remember later. At the end of my stories, I generally list the people under the heading of, Cast of Characters. This is a simple way that I keep the characters in my stories straight in my mind and in my story. I am certain all writers have their own methodology for keeping their characters straight, but this is the one I use. My memory is not good enough to remember them otherwise.

Where do my ideas come from? That was another question a student asked me. The answer to that one is complex, because I don't have a simple response to it. My ideas come from almost anywhere and at anytime. Sometimes I write from personal experience while at other times I write purely from an idea that pops into my head. I am a prolific reader, so I often get an idea from reading another author's story where I write about an idea that was left unexplored by that person. What I never do is copy an explored idea or any part of another author's script. That would be cheating and it is illegal.

So as you can see, writing is very complex in that rarely any author ever does it the same as somebody else. I say that if you have an idea for the start of a story, sit down at your computer and begin writing to see where it leads you. I recommend writing a family story to get in the proper mood. That is how I started, and I can guarantee you that all families have interesting characters and traits that are fun to explore.

Happy writing to you.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

A Styrofoam Cup

Sometimes I write of other things than just my books. A few years ago I was in a creative writing class and the assignment was to write one page about a commonly used product. I had just been drinking a cup of coffee from a foam cup, so that is where I went with my assignment--right to that cup. While it may be boring to some, others may find it very informative, just as I did.
A Styrofoam Cup

Ah, here I am with an assignment to write about the old Styrofoam cup. Alas, there is no such thing. I bet many of you didn’t know that. Yes, it’s true. Styrofoam is a trademark of Dow Chemical Company, and according to Dow, you can’t drink from a Styrofoam cup. Styrofoam is used for insulation and floral foam, not for disposable food packaging, such as drinking cups.

A Styrofoam cup is actually made from a form of foamed polystyrene.       But that doesn’t keep it from being an excellent product. The cup has very good insulating abilities. Polystyrene is made of 95 percent air and only about 5 percent polystyrene molecules, according to the Polystyrene Packaging Council. It’s that 95 percent of the cup that does most of the insulating. Using more foam increases the distance through which thermal energy encounters the resistance of insulation and thus decreases the rate the energy can escape. The thickness of a Styrofoam cup will affect its ability to keep its contents hot or cold.

STYROFOAM Brand Foam is not used in the manufacture of disposable foam products, such as food packaging, cups, plates, coolers or egg trays. These disposable products are made of either molded expanded polystyrene beads or thin extruded polystyrene sheet, neither of which is manufactured by Dow in the United States.
Styrofoam, or more accurately, polystyrene cups are a better deal for the environment and has better biodegradability abilities than paper cups. Since 95% of the content is air, the cup will condense to 1/20th its size in short order when compressed by the garbage on top of it in the landfill. In fact, less than one percent by weight of the total municipal solid waste disposed is polystyrene.  Paper cups on the other hand, are made from trees that must be harvested, which hurts the environment, and because of the laws that govern landfills today, paper cups may never completely disappear due to biodegradability. Very little of the waste discarded in today's modern, highly engineered landfills biodegrades. Because degradation of materials creates potentially harmful liquid and gaseous by-products that could contaminate groundwater and air, today's landfills are designed to minimize contact with air and water required for degradation, thereby practically eliminating the degradation of waste.

Polystyrene cups get the job done. They are:

* Versatile, practical, and convenient to use
* Maintain beverages at their optimal temperature longer
* Insulated foam keeps your hands comfortable
Ideal for hot and cold drinks
* Coffee, tea, cappuccino, hot chocolate, hot cider, juice, and soft drinks
* Sanitary, sturdy, efficient, economical and convenient

 So next time you get a cup of java to go, remember, you can't drink coffee from a STYROFOAM cup - because there is no such thing!

 Paul R. Meredith


Monday, March 2, 2015

Healed Hearts

My new romance novel, Healed Hearts, is now out as an Amazon Kindle e-book. This is a story about never giving up on love, no matter how evasive it may be or how much bad luck one encounters as they seek that one true love they were destined to have.

Healed Hearts is a extraordinary example of a true romance story with a happy ending. The story takes place in the heartland of America in places I have lived and know very well.

I hope you will take the opportunity to read this inspiring story. It has just about everything one could want to expect in a story of love and inspiration.

Here is the link to the story.