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Combining Writing and Scuba – That’s Taking a Plunge

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In her latest article for Scubaverse.com, South Florida-based author Charlie Hudson offers some hints, tips and advice to anyone who has ever considered writing scuba diving-themed stories.

Charlie 4Setting yourself up for a second (or third!) career focused on personal satisfaction is a goal that many people share. In our case, it required several years of planning and preparation, one moderate trade-off and one major one. My husband and I did, however, make the appropriate arrangements to relocate to South Florida after his retirement from the Army where he now teaches scuba and I write. During my Army career, I did a fair amount of technical writing and when you roll that up with my love of scuba, it’s reflected in many of my books. The non-fiction book like Islands in the Sand: An Introduction to Artificial Reefs in the USA is an easy match to see, but I carry that over into my novels where plenty of characters are veterans and strong female characters take the lead. Police Detective Bev Henderson of Shades of Murder, Shades of Truth, and Shades of Gold, tends to be a bit rigid, while the spin-off female character of Chris Green, who becomes an underwater investigator in Deadly Doubloons, False Front, and Georgina’s Grief, is more complex – and a veteran to boot.

Charlie 6In actuality, most of my characters are composites of people that I’ve met, except for times when I have to create a genuinely bad person, and for that, true crime shows are incredibly useful for not only inspiring characters, but also for methodology of investigations and murders. Conversely, accidental deaths can be given a sinister twist as happened in Shades of Murder. I used an entry on a scuba forum that talked about the unusual circumstances that surrounded a freediver’s death. I began to think, “Hmm, how could that be made into something other than an accident?”, and the main idea for the plot emerged.

Charlie 2A lot of writers bless the Internet as an invaluable tool. The list of “My Favorites” on my computer can have an odd collection of sites at any time that corresponds to sources that I’ve been checking for scenes. I recently deleted the ones on Meth Labs, but have left the Meaning of Aura Colors, and naturally, the Yacht Broker site that I draw heavily from for the Chris Green series. Getting the scuba scenes right is one thing, but in order to properly describe a variety of different boats, I need the exact image and specifications from a reliable source. We all make our choices as to writing style, and my technical writing background drives my insistence on having accurate scenes when I am depicting certain things. As an example, when I wrote Small Town Lies and Small Town Haven (not scuba-related) I spent hours with ladies who quilt, learning about the craft, and more importantly, the passion for it. Even though I’ve always admired quilting and grew up around it, that isn’t the same and sitting down with quilters and watching/listening to them.

Charlie 5That is not to say that I don’t enjoy fantasy writing – it’s merely that if I am reading a novel that addresses a particular topic that I am familiar with, it’s annoying if there are errors in how a situation or characters are portrayed. My reaction in that way as a reader strongly influences the way that I develop plots, characters, and scenes. I don’t want my readers to think, “Huh, that doesn’t make sense,” even though they are reading a novel. Again, every writer makes a choice as to style, and mine relies heavily on believable characters and strong dialogue. A fan once said, “What I especially like about your characters is that I can see them and imagine being able to sit down with them.”

I have encountered criticisms from readers who don’t agree with a technique I describe, and in those cases, I do tend to go back and make sure that the source I used was correct. And on more than one occasion, whoever my particular subject matter expert is cautions me against overcomplicating a scene, and that is invariably good advice.

Charlie 3At other times, locating experts in a particular field brings unexpected fun.  One of the best examples of this is Rob and Robin Burr of Rob’s Gifted Rums with their wonderful website of www.robsrum.com.  Considering the amount of time that the character of Chris Green spends in the islands, having her adopt estate rums as a preferred drink seemed like a good idea. Since my knowledge of the really good rums is limited, I found Rob’s site and it was perfect. Since I was using his site, I initiated an email exchange to verify that he didn’t mind me plucking recommendations and descriptions. Not only has a pleasant relationship resulted, so did attendance at the 2014 Miami Rum Renaissance Festival. It’s an annual event held in May and I highly recommend it for anyone who might be in the area.

Charlie 1There can also be amusing encounters with experts; One day, I was having lunch with a good friend who always wants to know what I’m working on. I was explaining about some advice that I had been given in trying to work out a particular murder scene. I was chatting along about the topic and she inclined her head to a table near ours that I hadn’t paid any attention to. There were four police officers in uniform and apparently they had become interested in our conversation.

The journey into commercial writing has definitely been filled with lessons for me and I try to share those lessons when other writes want to know about the intricacies of self-publishing. It’s the sort of advice that I wished I could have had early on when I set upon this path. I’m only an email away if you have questions (charlie@charliehudson.net). My novels, non-fiction books, and a rich archive of short stories can be found at my website of charliehudson.net or drop into Charlie’ Corner Café at charliehudson.net/weblog, and I invite you to follow me on Twitter: @chudsonwrites.

Photo: Mario Vitalini

Charlie Hudson is the author of Deadly Doubloons, Islands in the Sand: An Introduction to Artificial Reefs in the US, and other dive-themed novels and non-fiction. She and her husband, Hugh, are both retired Army and live in South Florida where they pursue their “fun” second careers. You can see all of Charlie’s work and access her blog at http://charliehudson.net

Dive Training Blogs

Dream Dive Locker Build Out. Part I: Demolition (Watch Video)

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It’s finally here! Time to start building the greatest dive locker the world has ever seen! Part I: Demolition! #dreamdivelocker

This is the first of a series of videos showing the evolution of building out my dream dive locker. My dream dive locker needs to be dive gear drying and storage, dry storage, workshop, office, editing suite, You Tube studio and classroom. That’s a lot of functions for a small space!

The first step is planning out the space and demolishing the laminate flooring. Then I taped up the walls to get a feel for the space. We have a lot of work to do!

But finally we will have a purpose built space to house all of our dive equipment! Subscribe to our channel to follow our progress! 

Thanks for watching, Team!

James


Subscribe here: http://bit.ly/DiversReady

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Marine Life & Conservation

The BiG Scuba Podcast… with Paul Rose

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Next in a new series of podcasts shared by our friends Gemma and Ian aka The BiG Scuba Podcast…

Ian and Gemma chat to Paul Rose. A man at the front line of exploration and one of the world’s most experienced divers, field science and polar experts, Paul Rose helps scientists unlock and communicate global mysteries in the most remote and challenging regions of the planet.

He is an experienced television presenter and radio broadcaster. With a proven track record in business engagements, Paul is a sought-after speaker, chairman, host and moderator for industry, government and NGO events.

Former Vice President of the Royal Geographical Society(link is external) and Chair of the Expeditions and Fieldwork Division, Paul is currently Expedition Leader for the National Geographic Pristine Seas Expeditions.

He was the Base Commander of Rothera Research Station, Antarctica, for the British Antarctic Survey for 10 years and was awarded HM The Queen’s Polar Medal. For his work with NASA and the Mars Lander project on Mt Erebus, Antarctica, he received the US Polar Medal.

Paul is a mountain and polar guide leading Greenland Icecap crossing and mountaineering expeditions and polar science support logistics. He worked for four years as a Mountain Safety consultant to the oil industry in the Middle East.

On his 2012 Greenland expedition, Paul led the first expedition to successfully traverse a new 275km icecap route of Knud Rasmussen Land and repeated his first ascent of the north face of Gunnsbjørnfjeld, the highest mountain in the Arctic.

His professional diving work includes science support diving in Antarctica as the British Antarctic Survey’s Institute Diving Officer. He ran the US Navy diver training programme at Great Lakes Naval Training Centre and trained many emergency response dive teams including the Police, Fire Department and Underwater Recovery Teams. He remains a current and active PADI Dive Instructor.

Find out more about Paul Rose at www.paulrose.org


Find more podcast episodes and information at www.thebigscuba.com and on most social platforms @thebigscuba 

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