Monday, August 8, 2011

If you're following the project: an aside

Last week, poor health struck. It always happens at the worst times. Right before my health slid my characters decided to become unpredictable. Midway through that last "chapter" they went off on tangent I didn't expect. They might be taking me down a different plot than I planned for.

So while the next chapter is started, I need to weave myself back into the complete surrender for the chapter to finish. What happens is that I plunge on, and let the characters carry me. When the whole thing is done, there is a high probability that where the novel started (and what the world--and magic look like at the onset) is not what it will be when the last sentence draws to a close.

For me, I spend a lot of time "planning" but a plannings session is more like watching the characters dance along in my minds eye. Sometimes I run through an idea before it hits the page. But with "non-Don-Yin" stories that isn't likely to happen with the same frequency.

Pausing when writing is really a bad thing. Especially when I just got in the swing of things. But I couldn't control my health.

sometimes, I feel guilty that life strikes. I blame myself for not pushing myself when I don't feel well. Perhaps I should try to push next time...but this last week, a wash, i sin the past.

So...if you're curious about process, this is a bit of an inside to how it works for me :)

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Chapter 5

It took a week of sitting on the stool before we actually began to discuss magic. And the day and week did not go according to plan. I had heard the others girls chatting in the room at night I still understood very little, but had the impression that they were impatient.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Chapter 4

The first night I couldn’t sleep much. Everything was new, and new was scary. The room had an aroma of spice and dust. I slept on a bed, and not the ground. The softness of the mattress seemed another example of unnecessary excess. The roof prevented me from seeing the stars. But I supposed that it was for the better.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Chapter 3

The boat wobbled and groaned. We plunged into the night, and clouds rose to hide the moon and stars from me. If it weren’t for the bahga’s wuffling breaths I could have convinced myself I was alone in darkness. I thought that being on the inland sea at night felt a lot like being trapped between words. Well, at least as I would have imagined being trapped between worlds would be.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Chapter 2

He arrived on a hairy bahga that shook its head as it shuffled its paws through the sand. He war white to arm against the sun, but was slender under the piles of fabric. I saw nothing but his gray eyes, and somehow that unnerved me. I felt that I was being greated by a ghost, a vision of walking sand with storm-light eyes.

Then he reigned in his beast. It reared it’s head, sending the long gray-white locks bouncing.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Chapter 1

When spring came to the Hadhen plains, all the ViKaTogani set off to meet at the Midsummer Gathering Mound; this was my favorite time of the year. We followed the Genna-ko, who called to the Genn and got them to move in an orderly fashion with no more than the sound of her voice, the click of tongue to teeth and the pounding of the ko-staff on the dry earth. The Genn, long legged and docile, were our prize. We drank their milk, we ate their flesh, and we traded them, occasionally for the foreign goods. We didn’t need much. Our Genn gave us everything we needed.

Or so I thought.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Elessa Chianic and the Magics of Chiadina

Next up! Gods, Magic, and choosing my main character.

Planning a world requires planning how it works. I usually like tying magic to gods, it just has always made sense. I mean, when we hear of magical things happening in mhythology, it's generally tied to some god, goddess or mystical creature that originates from the Realm of the Gods. If I go off of the concept that we need to draw boundaries in order to formulate identity, than it stands to reason that in order to wrap our minds around the concept of mortality (an unavoidable reality) we create stories of what immortality is. By understanding the fiction, we can begin to grasp fact. So structuring a belief system and how that belief system is practiced in each realm gives a better understanding of how each realm operates.

In Togan, it makes sense that the religious leader is closely linked to the herds. The person may or may not also be a secular leader. Because I picked Togan as the place to satrt thestory, and because my main character is not going to spend a long time there, it mmakes plot-sense to join the secular and spiritual in the leader that also commands the group-owned herd of Genn. Since the leader is affiliated with the Genn, it makes sense that his/her title will derive from the animal's name. Hence "Genna-ko."

In the more hierarchical realms, it makes sense to see more institutionalized forms of religion. With magic affiliated with the gods, the Temples become places that someone can learn magic.

I like magic as an inborn trait, generally accompanied with a physical representation of the magic. I have a bad habit of choosing eye-color as a representation of ability. Perhaps this was due to Dune's influence, or maybe just because I love the "window to the soul" idea. Still, if magic is in part a spiritual thing, than a "soul" link makes sense. There needs to be a tie to the divine, though. And divinity need not be perfect--they can be flawed as any Greek god--but the link needs to be there for this to work.

Now, that doesn't mean that magic is kept out of politics. Honing belief into a weapon is a skill humans have perfected many times over. This, again, I think is part of our pattern in constructing our identity based on structuring first what it is not.

The crazy bit of this is that most of the "Not" is so far from accurate that two sides can think exactly the same thing about each other "They eat babies!" --without ever realizing how fallacious their interpretation of their neighbor actually is.

But moral judgments based on fiction is how we vilify an enemy. Governments have to create an extreme "Other" to gain support for war, so propaganda goes out. That includes making war a moral imperative. and if there is a moral imperative to war, it is okay to use religious figures (priests and priestesses) and magic in the fight.

When this is achieved, however, and the people are calling for a moral impertive to fight, the political/socio-economic origins of the conflict are often obscured or wholly disregarded. Politics and economics cease to matter when humans think that war is necessary for the triumph of "goodness." So in the pursuit of maintaining "ghoodness" humans can easily sanction extreme evil, or even their own enslavement without batting an eye.

(This is me planning a plot based on some more academic/intellectual interests)

So enter the main character!!!

Ellessa will be Chianic-- the most powerful of the 4 magics.

born in Togan where there is no one to train her

--pastoral and foraging communities tend to have much smaller populations than agriculture as there is less need for massive numbers of offspring and generally a plant around that can prevent pregnancy, abort a developing fetus, etc--yes, there are natural birth control plants, but human's insatiable appetite for them over the centuries has led to extinctions of these plants. One of my profs in college had lived with a foraging society that still used one of these plants quite successfully. However, they weren't keen on sharing it because they knew their neighbors would descend and steal the rest of the plants, which were becoming endangered as it was. The most famous birth control herb was obliterated by Roman women in ancient times, and was related to licorice--

So Elessa will be sent to Lartien to train with the Priestesses.

Her ability and situation will create a manner to explore plot and story through a character who knows little or nothing, making the exploration of story easy for a half-developed world, and easier to follow for a reader.

The war can mount in the background, and the main character's outside perspective will make the situation more tense. The Lartien government and priestesses will try to use her to achieve their own ends. But the fact that her people, back in Togan, have high hopes for her as a leader make her seek away out of her training.

The Lartien don't make it easy, and she has to find a way out before her training is complete.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Notes on Chiadina: Resources

Based on the map, I then select resources that would make sense. Namely, crops, lumber, fish, etc.

Because this is a fantasy and I absolutely love wold-building, I am choosing made-up names for items. I welcome anyone who wants to draw what they think any of these things might look like to e-mail me their pictures. I promise to post them!

Kwenda of the North:

Trade with Xolanh
Fish from Dwoba & Twea
Chash grains from lower Kwenda
Voi orchards--lower Kwenda
Bahga herds--Upper Kwenda
Disse wood from Dwone forest

Videsse of the North East


Fish from Rydie and Baikessa Seas
Fish from the Ehrene Lake (Sea)
Kavar furs from the Ekida mts.
Three ports & geographic location = shipping & commerce center (potential piracy)

Lartiene of the East

Chash grains
Fish from Baikessa and Ehrene
Trade with Jodair
Nallo Orchards
Anic vinyards
anca oil
Jolar wood
Temm orchards
Dalki, Besso, Vahg = crops
Shair, Lomi, Boona = herds

Sanara of the South

Baikessa Straight = fish
Trade w/ Jodair
Jordelle and Hallone Lakes
Temm orchards
Fiar crops (like barley)
Fiada = (like beer)
Chash, Besso & Avikan = crops/grains
Boona and Twenni = herds

Togan of the West

Forest & Plains & Crops
Herds: Genn (like horses), Ipha (like donkeys), Bahga (like cows)

Lumber = Disse, Jolar, Enda

Crops = Fiar, Chash, Voi, Temm

Types of crops that show up repeatedly are essential to the regional diet.
The countries that have more resources are more wealthy, and also more hierarchical. Hierarchy and agricultural surplus go together.

The realms that have the most wealth are Sanara and Lartien. Seeing as they ahre a border, it makes sense that these two places are likely either a) at war with each other or b) on the verge of conflict.


The fact that Kwenda has a distinct crop region and distinct pastoral region means that it is likely Kwenda is composed of two ethnic populations. This can produce off and on internal strife as the governing system attempts to force cooperation between two peoples that see themselves as distinct. Whichever group holds authority will be instantly seen as the oppressor by the unrepresented group.


The long coastline and minimal resources make Videsse a trade center. The easy access to the outer islands mean that this people can easily have a pirate population. Videsse does not have as strong of an internal division, and so while on the fringe of the society, it is not subject to the same internal strife.


The abundance of grass plains and herd animals means that Togan is primarily pastorilist. As such, these people might not be seen as positively by the more hierarchical realms of the east. As there are some crops along the border, and trade might be common, there might be some individuals who leave Togan. The crops are likely produced on a much smaller scale in Togan than in the eastern realms. This means that it makes sense that the people would be horticulturalists rather than agriculturalists ( meaning that the emphasis is on subsistence rather than surplus) but when surplus is produced it is likely traded.

The socio-cultural and political map of Chiadina can then be developed more closely through the eyes of a particular character.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Chiadina: The Map

While it may be crude and childlike, I begin all projects with a map. I suppose I work backward. I draw the coastline, make the mountains follow the coast, the water (rivers) fall from mountain to ocean, occasionally pooling in lakes and land-bound seas. Trees follow the water. People build along bodies of water.

National boundaries follow natural features. All together you have a picture of distinct realms, with distinct geographical features.

Human society and culture is an adaptive trait formed to help us deal with environment and social pressures. So once you have a map of where people live and what resources each of your realms have, you can start to figure out who gets along and who doesn't.

The creation of who "we" are and who "they" are is intrinsic to humans. We derive some of our identity (for better or worse) from establishing what we are not. "We are capitalistic," you may've heard in the 50's, or last week-- "and thus not communist."

Same premise goes for fictional communities. The wealthy countries and those hurting for resources will be the most likely to head to war. However, the circumstances are completely different.

Then, of course, there is magic that will be tossed into the mix. I like to attach magic to a main character or strong supporting character and treat magic like a resource: it makes the magic-user political, lands them in a leadership role because they have a control of a commodity that others don't.

Of course, how important magic is in a world (how much prestige and thus authority your magical character commands) is determined by its frequency in the population, how critical it is to the commercial, governing, and political realities of the world.

You could also chose a magic that cannot cause harm. Those ones are interesting because the magical person is thrown into a whole bunch of conflicts you can't touch with more weaponized magics. So the moral, social, and psychological issues that you can explore in the character and plot development explode with potential ;-)

Tomorrow's post will be about resources and how they set up politics, culture, and such. Then on Thursday I'll take it back to the individual. after the whole world is built up, how can I reduce it to what-is-seen by my character?

Monday, July 18, 2011

New Project Just For this Site!

All right, so awhile back I wanted to revamp my blog. I've gone through a load of different things I wanted to do with this page. Then, finally when I decided what I wanted to do: stress hit.

I am now working 3 part time jobs, and still writing. Unfortunately my writing is increasingly limited to non-fiction because that is what I can be paid for. Not that I'm currently making much, but it helps in the overall scheme of things. Also, even if it's product description s and web content it feels awfully good to get a few bucks for my writing.

A few months ago, before stress-out-craziness stole my life, I decided to do a fiction project for Writing Worlds. I had it all set, and then my map went vanishing into the chaotic swirl of paper piles on my desk.

So, I've rebooted. I have another project along the same lines. I am going to walk through the world-creation and then the writing. If I alternate between the two from post-to-post, forgive me. However, this will be my process, pure and simple.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Lemons and Photos

On top of working to improve my food-blogging, I am also trying desperately to use up the oodles of food that somehow ended up hanging out in fridge and cupboards. It's no easy task. And as fruits and berries lend themselves easily to breads, muffins, scones and desserts, that's where my time is being spent right now. These
lemons are a good indication of the stockpiles I'm working with...

My dad's coworker had a tree, you see. I visited my parents house (mine is in the same area as theirs) and there was a massive bag of lemons. Apparently, this is what my dad thinks when i say: "I love cooking with lemons!"

So I'll be trying out a variety of recipes. The rainy weather seems to lend itself well to excessive baking. I am working on improving my photography skills and I *hope* this helps my blogging as a whole.

I suppose my current writing efforts are to improve my interaction in this medium. As taking pics of my cooking has been the most challenging aspect of food-blogging, I'm hoping that putting effort here will lead to better writing.

Odd as that sounds, but I think that learning to take pictures and choose pictures for posts is an important skill. Focusing on Modern Menu and Saucy Choppers will help me better my own abilities in this.

With my trusty little point-and-shoot and not some fancy camera, I'll do my best to take better pics...

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

June Starts Dreary

I woke up not quite feeling well today, as if i hadn't slept well enough or long enough. Neither of which were true. I stumbled through my shower, the picture taking for today's blog posts and am slowly forcing the coffee down. I hate slow mornings, they make me feel lazy, even when it is nothing I can fight.

The weather, too, on this the 1st of June very odd. Thunderstorms have descended. Winter still has Northern California in its grasp. But it should be getting on towards summer. The weather has been so odd...

Could my feeling sleepy and unwell be related to this weather? Do we react when the weather changes? Can we use this in writing?

Sounds farfetched...? But what if sunny weather gives one character energy, and makes another sleepy? Can this be used to influence actions, conversation, while also weaving in details about the environment? If the weather is odd, how the character reacts to the weather may well give us 1) insight to character, 2) insight to world, 3) time reference (something I generally have trouble including) and 4) Plot development (if the weather is a sign of something gone wrong, magically or other).

What do you think? Can you write a scene like this?

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Writing What I Know

I used to have a problem with the phrase, "Write what you know," because many of the individuals who taught this ideology placed heavy emphasis on experiential learning. Only, not all of us "learn" that way, or go about life that way. I have to get my mind wrapped around a concept or some level of understanding before I can actually "know it." The result is, sometimes, that my "knowledge" isn't easily quantifiable, not even by myself.

Sure, when I plunge into something I start to see, through application of knowledge what "I know," --and what I don't--but all in all, there is very little in my life that I have learned by doing.

Cooking and Dress-up, are kinda the stuff I learned by doing.

Fantasy writing *could* fall in that category, mainly because I've wrestled with the proper story elements for so long and acquired increased understanding through analysis, that it has finally planted me on the right track. That said, those experiential-valuing instructors often indicated that writing fantasy was pure imagination. So perhaps by not *exactly* placing my fiction in the category of "what i know" I am validating them...


I am trying to write on topics I "know" to diversify what I *do* write. I want to be able to make a living as a writer (eventually) and that means writing topics (and exploring topics) which I know somewhat about and wish to explore more deeply. So I am!

I am trying to write recipes, and put all my knowledge of economical cooking into words. I am going to chart my progress learning to sew...

Just... on other blogs. But keeping prolific, while I can, and keeping focused--these are important. And so...I am :)

Monday, May 30, 2011

Planning. Drafting. Doing.

The hardest part of writing is writing. I never believed this when I was a kid and not even a surgeon was likely to remove a pen from my fingers. However, it seems to me that the main issue with getting to the point of writing has been (for me) the assumption that i can do it at any time.

I mean, if I can write literally anytime, just sit down and go for it...why should I choose this very minute? When the laundry is overflowing? If the dishes are climbing out of the sink, it isn't a good time for writing, right? When a high school friend calls me on a Friday night to say: "Hey, I'm gonna be in town this weekend, you free?" the reaction comes all too easily: "Of course!" and writing is put on hold for a morning, which ends up including the afternoon and then I'd return home to dishes and laundry.

The "not right now" turns into "not today," and can become, "oh...wait, what have I done this week?" all too easily.

Life intrudes, and not until the grumpiness sets in, and stress descends all too easily about things that really shouldn't inspire any level of frustration...not till then do I realize just how essential it is to write Now. For myself, my mood, and my life.

So I get caught up in the planning, when I'm out in the world. Walking down the street, or taking the train into town. My characters make themselves known in my mind when I'm not, that moment, able to write. It's their vengeance, I suppose.

I try to channel the thoughts into notebooks. I plan the world, the story, try out snippets of scenes and short stories. Bits of writing float about, unfinished, to collect on a messy floor.

But that chair. To sit and to write, to focus on this moment...sometimes it takes more will, more insight into self than I have anymore. Sometimes, I am caught up in so many plans, so many obligations, that sometimes keeping the simple pledges that I made to myself get set aside for longer than I mean to.

So here is to simplifying life, to cutting down and back on my obligations. Here's to renewing my commitment to myself, my writing--and my chair.

Friday, May 27, 2011

The Blog Reboot

I think I got a little lost in the trees. There are times that I see something that I want to do and I go after it, only to lose myself along the way. I guess I have a tendency towards obsession, and whenever I reexamine the road to which I have pledged myself, it gets larger. I'm just not good at paring down.

Most recently this has happened with SWS. In the past it happened with my novel--which is now requiring a ground-up rewrite because of just how unwieldy it became (see? stubbornness--I'm going to completely re imagine everything rather than shelf the thing). But, when I step away and kind of look at the whole thing through a new set of glasses, I find the essence of the thing--of me--enmeshed in the center (because, you see, the two are a bit allegorical).

Perhaps this is a major personality flaw. I mean--I also have a cluttered home.

I have a hard time paring down my stuff, my life, my novel, my non-profit scheme....

Geez...I *do* seem to over complicate things. So I spent the night cleaning, I picked more minimalistic blog templates, and I am going to try to prioritize the things I need to reach my goals, those that are personal to myself and those I share with the tall guy standing next to me in the picture above.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Character & Environment, in Honor of Earth Day

Myths and Legends abound with fears and stories of natural disasters. Humans have this ability to shove the natural world away, and forget it's out there. if it's too rainy, or too windy, or too hot, or too--whatever, we complain. As if the weather the world were constructed for our inconvenience.

But our constructs--like the fence in my yard--are alterations in a terrain that once belonged to the natural world. Our human constructions are...artificial...existing to validate our sense of self, society, world and so forth.

When creating fantastical societies, it's easy to create a terrain which your characters pass over. Sometimes weather is used to reflect emotion, plot tension, accent a scene with an appropriate ambiance. But the natural world can also be personified. Often gods in ancient myths are associated with natural features--mountains, lakes, the ocean.

In order to bring your environment and thus the setting of your world alive, imbue the environment with meaning in your characters' eyes. Populate it with myth that reflect an understanding of niche and ecosystem. Do not assume that because we dress up these concepts with scientific terms that people prior to industrialization lacked an understanding of them. They had their own way of interpreting the same information, and noting the relationships between animals, plants and natural features.

And in urban environments, have the natural world encroach. Wild turkeys wondered through my yard a few times this past winter. They came in from the river and based on Facebook statuses had been seen as far as midtown.

To think that our urban lives are untouched by wilderness is inaccurate. We just don't like to see it. And yet, seeing a particular bird overhead, perched in a tree outside a window, or a nuisance in the yard can place your city geographically, reflect your characters' biases, and provide details that make setting pop.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

5 Reasons to Use Short Story Writing when Prewriting

Lately I've been focused on a self-imposed short story writing frenzy. So here are some of my thoughts on why short story writing is helpful.

1) World Building

In Fantasy writing especially, but also in any piece of fiction, the rules of “the world” dictate much about your characters’ actions. For fantasy, this can mean writing short stories that revolve around mytho-historic characters who may never appear in your Big Project. But knowing what forces turned a person into a myth, and more, can tell you a lot about the world in which your characters live. The more gray, the more complex your world, the more your characters will grow to reflect the society that shaped them. This makes the whole of your Big Project that more real and believable.

For literary fiction, world building takes on a different meaning. Each character has a different set of expectations of the world around d them. Go into the heads of minor charcter’s in the Big Project’s timeline, or even in the past. Use short stories in this manner to construct the relationships between your subset (family, community/etc) and their larger society. The placement of individual into the context of family, sub-culture, regional identity and national identity can begin to grant an understanding of the social norms for your charcter and how these things might not mesh with the general moral and cultural code of the larger society. Thus, you begin to create the shape of the world your character lives in.

2) Character Building

Another method is going into your charcters’ past and exploring the years and people in your Main Character’s life before the start of the story. This technique lets you explore the points in Main Character’s life that lead to his/her greatest strengths and weaknesses. Know where you Main Character’s insecurities stem from and why. Sometimes, knowing g the root of the character flaws will present you with the answer to how the Main Character can/should overcome the flaws over the course of the Big Project.

Also, these flaws can be cultural adaptive. Like a kid who’s life teaches him to distrust authority might survive longer in particular socio-cultural environments, but that same adaptive behavior might lead him to become a criminal when he’s an adult. Though he might not be a bad person despite it all, just a product of circumstances that he needs to leave behind.

3) Plotting

Short Story plots are at a basic level quite simple. But mastery of the short story plot presents the gift of knowing how to write on multiple levels at the same time. Knowing how to craft a plot that hits more than one level is the key to misdirection in the Big Project. Misdirection is what allows you to surprise Reader with plot twists. Subtlety requires not only careful wording, but good plotting as well.

Don’t be fooled by the basic short story arc. While that may have been hammered into you in academic settings, the structure of a short story is perhaps hardest to write because of its simplicity. Learning how to pare down to the basics but avoid predictability, demands practice and skill. Writing many short stories, and completing them all, will help you know how to do this well.

4) Word, Sentence & Paragraph: Choice and Order

Short stories must be succinct. It is the nature of the beast. Words cannot be used to fluff the story. Sentence order and paragraph order build the rhythm of your story, and are signs of character, world, and plot. When writing a short story all of your structural crutches are condensed and become as noticeable as a glow stick at night, in a ghost town.

So you can see them better in a short story, which means that you can deal with them more directly. And while they might blend into you Big Project—the glow stick at the rave—it doesn’t mean you should keep it (the color might be horrendous, no matter the context). The process of purging your structural crutches allows you to develop a deeper understanding of story-structure. You begin to take note of the differences between how you think your story *should* be received, and how it really *is* received. Oftentimes this boils down to learning the interplay of word choice, senatnce structure and paragraph arrangement.

Together, well crafted with a plot and a gently portrayed character, you have an outstanding short story.

5) Description

You can’t wax poetic in a short story. This goes a bit with #4, but description is often treated as a different category. Some rough drafts I’ve read seem to indicate that their authors think it’s ok to approach a short story in one of the following manners:

• “Ok, I need to paint a picture first.”

• “Oo, you haven’t forgotten where we were? Right? Let me add a sentence of pure description *here* to be certain.”

• “The character, wait! You don’t have an image? Let’s take a break so I can tell you how he/she looks.”

They don’t work. Not one of them. Not because Reader is opposed to seeing anything you want to paint, but because all of these approaches lead to frivolous words. The author that needs to take time out of the story to describe a setting or character is prone to providing panoramas to their viewers. The eye takes in more than it can process, yes? So when we create a panorama and then squeeze into a tiny corner, we are not presenting the story in a manner Reader would experience it if Reader were really inside the story. Rather, we are presenting a short story like a movie. The advantage that a story has over a movie is the ability to put the reader into the action; feel what the characters feel, see what the characters see. Reader does not need to see *more* than what Main Character sees, especially not in a short story. But in real life we don’t catch every detail when posed with a panorama, so why should Reader in a short story?
Description woven into story, character, plot, etc—is a word here and there. It is carefully crafted to create an image in Reader’s mind without taking away from the movement of the story. What we see is within the3 context of our perception of importance. So too is it for the Main Character. If the Main Character is properly leading the story, Reader should have a similar experience.
This is one of those *crutches* that a Big Project swallows. Short stories, on the other hand, make purple prose insanely noticeable. We’re an increasingly visual society, so this crutch is likely only going to become more prevalent. But Readers also seek more “meat’ than ever, better story and characters. So the skilled author presents both simultaneously (we are also a society of multi-taskers).

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

In a World where the Print Industry Falters

--A friend dressing up for last year's Horror Movie Night, put on by SWS.

Barnes & Noble. Borders. Now, there are big names migrating to self-publishing...what is this world we have wandered into? Questions of how much quality writing will exist in the future abound. Pessimistic comments float through web, with only some positive statements to punctuate the fear and voice an alternative answer.

We're all trying to find our way, wondering what the reordering of the industry will mean for our careers. Especially for those of us teetering on the verge of sending out a finished novel -- we can't be certain what the rules will be in the next two to three years. We can't expect the knowledge we've gained over the past decade to apply anymore.

It feels an awful lot like reaching into a full bathtub for a bar of soap. Every time I structure a plan, an understanding, some big news hits, and--Bam! It's like soap slipping through my fingers...

So I am putting together SWS. I've mentioned it a lot, but it's eaten up a great deal of my time. We will be offering classes locally, and hopefully--when we have the funds--in virtual space.

The classes will not only teach writing. They will also present editing, web-research and multimedia skills. I have been shocked how many know so little about basic programs. Further, schools are not offering training in the cloud--what's out there and how do you use it?

The Internet offers so much information for writers to sort through that often, finding what you really want--and knowing that you have found it--takes more critical research than (appears through my experience) to be generally assumed. I have helped numerous students at community college to send emails, save to usb and other simple internet tasks. I have sat with young writers who dismantle the significance of technology in their lives, and glorify computer illiteracy as if an era prior to the Information Age was a Golden Period to be emulated.

I honestly feel that that tract is futile. Intentionally preventing yourself from learning technology because you want to hold onto nostalgia that belonged to a generation before your own, seems disadvantageous to social adaptation.

Yet, this reaction to technology is due to the perceived reduction of social interaction. Rather than integrating technology into daily life in a way that fosters connections, there is resistance to learning how to use the computer to interact. but writing itself is communication, interaction. And for writers to adapt, they must find a way to integrate technology not only into their career, but into those interactions that foster career.

I know, perhaps you are thinking blogging.

But I am thinking of why I am building a non-profit. A setting with specialized instruction and exploration of writing-related knowledge to fuse the real life and the virtual. An organization that offers real-life connections and classes in technology, writing, etc.

Are there others institutions that provide this? Not in my city. Academic discourse only goes so far.

The picture above is from a somewhat successful fundraiser we held last year, a friend and colleague of mine. The participants elected to dress up for the horror movie night, and made a fun experience out of a small fundraiser. To keep afloat, our organization must do many more of these events. But you could say that the fascination with bygone eras and the romanticizing of medieval dress go hand in hand.

Though I am guilty of enjoying costumes myself, and so perhaps that makes me hypocritical.

Friday, April 1, 2011

(Re)Building Lara with Polyvore

I'm going to try this one out for a week! We'll see how well I like it :D

Meanwhile, I have been distracted by Lookbook and Polyvore...

It can be fun to create characters' outfits on Polyvore. Mind, all the branding makes these items far more expensive than my High School student characters in Wished Awry would actually wear...but the style is very Lara.

How does this help build a character?

I am not the best at description. I barrel into fight scenes, I draw conversations on longer than they need to be--and have discovered that I use these devices as a crutch.

So now that i am sitting on a complete rough draft of this Urban (Ya?) Fantasy, I am back tracking. I am fleshing out the characters (again) because now that the draft is complete, they've had their say--and changed my plans. So back to the drawing board! Then to make certain the puzzle pieces fit :)

Oh, and btw--I think I'll try a few new templates, so feel free to comment and leave your votes!

Friday, March 25, 2011

So I failed...

Meant to be good this year...and organized.

I got a job...not much, just tutoring. Sylvanopolis Writers' Society has progressed towards nonprofit status, but the work involved has taken my attention away from blogging.

I seriously miss it! I will return soon...this is me checking in.
I have found a new template! Yay! now for remembering how I did this before >.<

See you soon!

Promise :)

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Wednesday World Building!

I'll add a picture later :P

My story building is partially affected by High School History teacher who was convinced that geography affected history. I tended to like this concept.

All of my stories start as maps. My knowledge of geography is rudimentary...

Mountains follow faults, which may/may not be near a continental shelf...some distance from shoreline. Too many mountains produce desert on the opposite side do to the rain shadow effect. There is more percipitation at higher altitudes which lead to the formation of rivers. Where water pools, lakes can be found. Trees follow water. Rivers dump into ocean.

And natural barriers (mountains, rivers and forests) produce national boundaries.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Technique Tuesday: Methodology

So I fussed with templates yesterday, worked and went to class. And didn't post :( Sorry! As you can see--no change yet. It probably won't happen till Thursday. And then Thursday, Friday, and next week, I might try out a few different looks--so input would be helpful! I'm having such a hard time making up my mind :(

Anyhow! Tuesdays will be dedicated to the the hows and whys of technique--sentence, structure, word choice, because I believe that finding a conscious voice is the discovery of your own unique methodology.

What do I mean?

Voice is how you structure your style. But style is not an unconscious thing, it is honed through craft. Which, generally, requires years of revising and adjusting.

Like anything in our lives, we have to know why we write as we do. What do we consider affective and why? I want to exploit the thought processes that lead to the common "young writer" issues with sentence structure, plot and character composition by determining how we confuse poor writing for good writing and why.

Then through rethinking, re-approaching and rewriting we can fix drafts without wholly abandoning them. But then, I'm stubborn, and my methodology will likely be apparent in these posts.

My order:

Write--have reader/writer group examine the "big stuff" plot, character, etc...
Make changes when draft is complete and has sat for a month.
Take adjusted version to critique group for more thorough analysis, and let the critiques sit till 2nd draft is complete.
Let 2nd draft sit for a month-ish, and then apply adjustments identified by critique group members.
Send 3rd draft to final readers, who look for grammar, punctuation, etc. Fix that stuff last, and prepare to submit!

My methodology allows me to process what my critique group says into a manageable form. Some critiques are so detailed, I find it hard to know where to start implementing the changes. But I don't want to use everything. So concentrating big-to-small issues will help me know what I'm doing.

That will be the structure of these entries, too. I will start with plot, character, setting, and so forth then work down to sentence structure and word choice.

It might be a little too much of an insight to my thoughts :P And that *could* be scary, but let's go with it!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

On the Quest for a Blog-Makeover

A few months back, I started to realize that I wanted a new look for this blog. I also want to tackle things a little more regularly...and consistently. However the quest seemed to take up my blogging I'm posting even though I do not have the perfect new template installed.

What's gonna be new:

I am going to have daily posts on the following topics:

Media Mondays
Technique Tuesdays
Wednesday World Building
Theme Thursdays
Fiction Fridays

On Mondays I'll talk television, movies, books, etc.

Tuesday and Wednesday are pretty self-explanatory.

Thursday's themes will deal with academic ideas, and how to implement them consciously, or recognize them in your writing or in books you are reading. The first I'm going to address is Anthropology because i know it best :P Not to sat that a BA makes me an expert--far from it, but i am more familiar with Anthropological discourse than--oh, say--Philosophy or Psychology.

Fiction Fridays--fiction that will be blog only, based on the world that I am developing on Wednesdays.

So I hope to get the new template set up tomorrow :P

Here goes!