Monday, January 27, 2014

Growing Up Red

Red--the color of my hair. According to the Miriam-Webster dictionary, red is defined as "having the color of blood; reddish brown or reddish orange in color." Growing up, I hated every strand of my reddish-orange hair. Please don't misunderstand. I had a wonderful childhood. But people either loved my hair or they (mostly boys) hurled nicknames at me: Annie, Little Red, Chester Cheetah. Don't feel too sorry for me. I always kicked back.

One of the secondary characters in my debut novel Free Runner is a redhead. In my research, I came across an interesting article, "Why Do People Hate Redheads?" Research is vital to any writer at any stage of their career. We don't just "write what we know." It's imperative we research and write what we don't know. My dreams last night included me running away from one angry venomous snake with fangs the size of giant needles, trying to puncture my skin. Warning! Researching things late at night can cost you a good night's sleep. I expect to be chased by the CIA or South African Button spiders tonight.

I sported blond hair until the end of Kindergarten. By the beginning of first grade, my head was covered in red. Great Britain refers to redheads as gingers. I learned that my great grandmother was a redhead from Ireland. During my dreadful teenage years, I dumped a bottle of peroxide on my hair--on purpose. Nothing happened. I poured lemon juice on my hair and sat out in the sun all day. The same "nothing" happened. I've since learned it is extremely hard to dye natural red hair.

"Bees are thought to sting redheads more than those of other hair colors." So, that explains my constant attack from killer bees. I should be thankful I'm a redhead living in today's world. If I showed up with my blazened hair during the Spanish inquisition, well, I'd would have been "accused of having stolen the fires of hell, then quickly burned as a witch."

On the flip side, if I were a slave in ancient Rome, I'd sell for a higher price. But not everyone appreciates redheads. If I was living in Corsica, someone might spit and turn their back on me. And according to this article, "In France, there is hardly a fate worse than to be a redhead." Sorry, French friends, not sure if that's how you really feel!

When I went off to college, I started to hear compliments on my hair from someone other than my mother. Today, you won't find one strand of gray hair on my head. I guess we don't go gray. White will probably be my fate. So, for all my dear old friends who called me names and now struggle to hide their gray hairs, I would like to say I've had the exact same hair color since I was five.

I feel unique to be a part of only 2% of all Americans and only 4% of the entire world population. If you don't hate on redheads, we can be friends unless you are a bee, have a spitting problem or own a time machine. If you are a writer, what are you researching? Does it give you nightmares or does it give you wings?

#amwriting #MondayBlogs #redheads #research

Monday, January 6, 2014

Welcome to the World of Parkour
Welcome to parkour, the fastest growing extreme sport in the world. The history of the founding of parkour involves several different individuals. Frenchman David Belle's name pops up the most when researching this fascinating mix of urban gymnastics and free running. The word pakour comes from the French word parcours, meaning course or route and has roots in French military combat training. Free running is similar to parkour, but the traceur or tracer (pronounced "tray-sir") runs while performing these stunts. The tracer is the term given to those practicing these moves, and I've gathered it is of the utmost importance to pronounce tracer correctly. 

I've been asked the question, "Are you a free runner?" No, but running has been my passion, my sanity and part of my life longer than I care to admit. I'm not an expert on the subject of parkour or free running, but some basic core elements consist of running, vaulting (with at least fifteen variations), jumping, and rolling. My oldest son introduced me to this addictive sport a year and a half ago. I watched him execute parkour moves, leaping from tall buildings with a single bound, and wondered if he morphed into a superhero.

The first stop in Free Runner is Los Angeles, home to Tempest Freerunning Academy. I prefer to ground my fictional characters in real places. My son directed my attention to Tempest's website where I was drawn to their unique symbol, mega indoor trampolines and ninja-warrior obstacle course. Jesse La Flair's (Tempest coach and professional free runner) video Unfound has had a profound effect on my ability to conceptualize my novel. This visual masterpiece and stunning performance makes free running look like art in motion.

In case you were wondering, parkour movements stretch across the globe. Apex Movement Parkour & Freerunning is "America's largest educational organization for parkour." They have four locations in Colorado and one in California. "Parkour Generation is the authentic, original parkour collective." This worldwide movement has been around for the past decade. Both Apex and PK Gen strive to educate and certify coaches to teach this unique sport to parkour enthusiasts.

In my debut novel, advanced parkour training enables a fourteen-year-old to live beyond the normal scope of the average human being. Free running defines my main character's existence. I hope you enjoy this gravity-defying journey that embraces survival and the art of displacement. The teen novel Free Runner is coming soon!

I've posted a video and several links in case you would like more information on the world of free running and parkour.

Tempest Freerunning Academy Video
Apex Movement
Parkour Generations
Tempest Freerunning Academy

#amwriting #debut #novel #freerunning #pakour #MondayBlogs

May #IWSG: Mayday!

         Come join Alex J. Cavanaugh and the Insecure Writer's Support Group. We discuss our fears, insecurities, ups and downs of the w...