Friday, December 7, 2012

Friday, November 30, 2012


So I am not finishing Nano but I have a good reason!  I got work.  Yes, I did.  This past week I've been working not just one job, but two!  See that?  That is accomplishment!

I was looking back on my posts and thinking "damn, I got kinda depressing in there!" Didn't mean to.  It's  a problem with being honest. I am a little too straightforward, sometimes.  All the time.  I guess it's my dysfunction.  We all have a little, right?

However!  I worked two 8 hour days, on my feet, outside in the rain and came home and wrote.  Both nights.  

Oh, man that felt good.

I don't even care that I didn't reach 50k words.  I worked--minimum wage? --who cares? I worked.  And it felt good.  It *feels* good, to know that I am bringing in  a little moolah.

Makes me feel more in control of...everything.

So I'm working on the Dezzy story.  Yes, that's shifting gears from the Nano project.  The two actually have very different styles of writing (why the hell???) Sometimes, they just come out that way.

Or, other possibility, it's all in my head.

I will finish the Nano novel!  But... not being rushed, I might just write and write and write.  It might be longer than 50k words.

Yeah... that's my problem... epics.  I write epics.  Sometimes short novels seem out of reach.  Novels turn into epics.  Short stories turn into novellas.  It's my life.  Or my writing, take your pick--it's true in either.

I'm gushing.  Life feels good.  Returning to writing fiction now--

Wednesday, November 7, 2012


My life is much the same, I am still applying for work, and that on-going effort has continued to make me very insecure and feed my self doubt.  But I decided to participate in Nanowrimo, and this project has given me a healthy obsession.

I have surpassed 16000 words on my Nano-novel and it feels great!

Focusing on this project has made me feel that I can achieve things, again.  The outpouring of support and likes I have received on Facebook has kept me motivated and dedicated to reaching my goals.  I know I need more positive affirmation sometimes than a person should rightfully expect from their friends and family, especially when so much of my life feels like a train wreck.

I used to use my writing to cope.  But the guilt I can come to associate with doing something I "want" to do over "need," to do gets in the way of me achieving anything in my writing.

So Nano has been the perfect excuse to lay the demons to rest.

I even handled an interview with a far more level headed approach than the previous ones -- about a year ago.   Still didn't get the position, but I haven't let that devastate me, either.

I am killing off characters in this draft, which is new for me. Destroying fictional people is a fine alternative to wallowing.  

No wallowing.

Just another 3k words today and a few applications off in the mail....

Yes, that is positive achievement.

In other notes:  I've been working on getting my blog into some shape that I *like* and the last few templates have been buggy.  As you can see, this one si not perfect either.  I've already started piling through the codes and trying to translate bits of it... Though I would also be open to assistance/advice as to how to get the day/post title to *Not* overlap.

Please inform me if you spot any other issues (and good tutorials  as to how to fix issues are also welcome).



Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Less Buggy Template? + Nano

I loved the colors in the other one, but this template is hopefully less buggy.  As I launched into Nano I realized that I would not have much time to work on the web coding.

I see this still has a few things that need fixing.  I'll get on that :)

In other news, Nanowrimo is going well.  I've successfully managed about 3k words a day.  One day I did more, as  I was unable to get *any* writing done on the 2nd, as I had an interview! (Yay!) Though no job offer :(

Still, at least I'm getting a good amount of writing done.

Wrapping up chapter 3 and plunging into 4, I'm hoping to reach 16000 words today.


Tuesday, October 23, 2012

New Template: In Progress

I love this new template...but it'll take a little bit of work.  So it will look a little awkward and messy while I work out the html changes.  I apologize!

This makeover should help me have a workable set up to post some fiction on other pages, and have everything presented in a pretty workable manner.  That's what I'm going for at least!

On Writing Progress:

Making final changes to a few short stories I hope to soon offer for sale.  I have an artist helping with covers, and have a few other ideas trickling out.

Nonowrimo prep continue, as the countdown begins for reals ... And I'll post my progress starting Nov. 1.

Monday, October 15, 2012

90's Blogfest

Sorry all, posting late in the day due to some technical a completely dead laptop.

This is my entry for the 90's Blogfest hosted by Dave Wrote This , a wonderful idea.

The 90's spanned, for me, from 1st grade to 11th grade.  The film and literature certainly left a major impression on me.

1990 -- Home Alone.  The 1st one, as  a total kid fantasy, I loved it.

1991 --Beauty and Beast, by Disney, was one of my favorite movies that year.  I loved that Belle walked and read at the beginning, which was something my childhood friend and I had done, repeatedly, across the elementary school playground at recess, months before the movie's release.  Also, I was enrolled in ballet and tap dance class that year, and the popularity of this movie made it our recital -- copyright questions aside, I didn't actually understand what learning to tap the can can and dance in the Saloon scene meant--but I'm sure it was suitably funny and adorable for my parents.

1992 --Batman Returns and Aladdin were my highlights of the year, even as Tim Burton's Batman got odder, I liked DeVito's Penguin and Pfeiffer's cat woman as a 4th grader.  This year I read Jurassic Park, which my mother had loved and was preparing for the movie.

1993 --Jurassic Park.  It was seriously fun watching my little brother hide his head at his first grown-up movie.  It was my first experience watching a movie I'd read the book for, though I must confess some of it had certainly gone over my head, in book form.  Knowing about what was going to happen on the big screen and remembering it from the novel was very exciting for my young self.  It had also catapulted my reading level well beyond my  expected age-level for literature.

1994--Forrest Gump -- Loved this movie.  A year after it came out, I had the opportunity to take a drama class through a summer program located at the local University, and they made a big point (likely due to his success in this movie) to state that Tom Hanks had performed in that very theater--a tiny theater that Sacramento State has since revamped and looked nothing like it's former self when I attended the University a little more than a decade later.

1995--Toy Story.  Loved the concept, and loved a movie about imaginative kids the same year I faced the horrors of middle school and all that brought.  Not my best years, but one of my favorite movies.

1996--Dragonheart, not because it was the best movie of the year, though I did love it, but because it was my first date ever.  So...that was something.

1997--Men in Black, it made my 13-year-old self laugh. And Will Smith was the only celeb I ever crushed on.  Hey, I was 13...

1998 -- There's Something About Mary -- because among my Freshman class, it was the must-see-movie.

1999 -- The Matrix and The Mummy.  The Matrix was, well, the Matrix and it shaped High-School Geek Consciousness.  The Mummy I liked because I was already developing an interest in archaeology and ancient history, alongside a healthy love of fantasy.

My taste was not terribly sophisticated, but I guess it does grant some insight into my experience of the decade :)  

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

IWSG & Nano

This past month I moved.  Again. Most of my insecurities have revolved around not having the most stable life, but ironically in the spurts of writing I've managed I've noticed a lot of growth in my storytelling and style.  

We are temporarily staying with a friend, just until we can get our feet under us.

This past month we--my guy and I-- hauled our belongings to our friend's house in car loads, one truck load, and so many boxes.  I have been putting things together piece by piece and marking the majority of my/our belongings for sale.  We held one yard sale at the old place, on our the last day there.   This weekend, we'll be holding another, here.

It is freeing to unload so many belongings.  I feel that I am letting go of an earlier life, and in the emptiness I can recreate myself, my life,  and my goals. Books are the hardest thing to part with, and I fear I am not going to lighten that load by much.

The move is helping me to parcel out what is truly important.  It's been an ongoing effort, that has whittled away much of the less important aspects of my life.  Which should work very well for my writing.

While I haven't had nearly the time to write I wanted this past month, I have chosen to participate in Nanowrimo, next month. I have been been brainstorming and it is going well so far. I am choosing to tackle a time period and location combination on my established world that I have not explored very thoroughly.  The prospect of more insight, new characters, and a vastly different plot-style have me very excited.

I have completed some character outlines, rough sketches and next will be addressing summarizing and outlining. In all, I think I'm on track to complete this project in a month. However, it is also a period of time that will help develop certain nuances in the main WIP, so if I don't complete it, the effort will still improve my current project.

Choosing that option feels smart to me, because there is no way I *won't* get something out of this challenge. That feels like the right attitude to carry into the challenge.  Meanwhile, it's been a stress reliever to play with the ideas, and build the story in my head, while moving.

I am looking forward to having more achievements next month!  While the circumstances of this move have been miserable, I think this was exactly what I need to find my center again.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Still Moving

Thought about characters...a sort of mental check-in while consumed by chaos. Curious how my recent experiences will be changing things.

I am usually very omniscient. But this time I saw through Gellayna's eyes ( female main character in current main project). I related this to my dear friend, and she said:

"Well, holding things together while everything is falling apart around her, is what Gellayna is all about."

I realized I couldn't sum up Gellayna nearly that well, but it's true. And for now, my life is giving me greater insight.

Here's to finding the little positives to fight the enormity of everything else, and combat the threatening bleakness. Here's to not giving into depression and despair, even when they seem to be lurking around the corner. Here's to turning this lowpoint into a highpoint.

A new chapter of my life (and my WIP) will begin as soon as this move is done. I can't wait.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Might not post for a week or two...

My world fell to pieces a bit this weekend. If not for the supreme graciousness and generosity of a friend, I would be without a place to stay. The guy and I are moving again, but at least there will be a roof over our heads, and we get to keep our puppy. She has brought joy to life in hardship.

I am determined to see this latest turn of events in the most positive way possible. There is much good that can come of this arrangement.  I will work hard to turn the few recent job opportunities that have emerged into something more solid.

I will not allow these times to crush me. I will not give up on my dreams or my writing. I see that so easily a person could, in my circumstance, elect to abandon past goals in favor of more practical pursuits. But I refuse.

It can't be like this forever. I can't have bad luck forever, not with how hard I have worked to change my own life. If I can complete a manuscript surrounded by this much adversity, I will become faster, better and hopefully less distract-able.

Strength and discipline and good writing are forged from life's trials. I keep reminding myself of this.

Have you found that your writing grew after tough times in your life?

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Thinking about Nano

Nano is a little ways off.  But I thought it'd be good to start thinking about it.  So... I am.

What happened last time I tried Nano?

1) I loved it

2) The story got really weird by the time I was hitting the end, and that made me stall.

3) I chose something off of my main world, and as such, I think the characters had even more control than usual.

So what am I thinking of doing differently?

Rewriting an old story.  Ten years ago I finished the rough draft of my first novel.  While the writing and storyline eventually led the thing to live on a shelf, I've kind of built up a history for Don-Yin.  Recently, that history has changed. I see it as one long story--something that each book, series, short story and vignette plays a part in exploring.

When one element changes along the way, I hit dominoes through the preset timeline.  It breathes new life into old ideas, and lets a story that went stale 10 years ago return as something completely different.

So I think I'm going to let Arrelle have another try at it. I will certainly plan thin gs out this time. Though, to be fair, much of it already is.

Her story and my current WIP is headed for a collision course, so I don't think working on both at the same time will be too much.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Goals, Angst & ISWG

This is my first ever ISWG post.  Go check out the list here for inspiration, from all the people participating in this wonderful network.

My Achievements!

I have made painstakingly slow progress on my novel, with no fault but a general sort of distraction.  Part of it is a writing distraction, which, ironically led to more achievements.  I have written 3 short stories. I am working on a novella, and laying the ground work for another "rewriting" project.

I have also started research for a non-fiction project. We'll see how that goes.

My Angst:

I lack a day job.  After a handful of odd jobs, and several almost-jobs (go in a few days and when it's time for a paycheck, and only then, they tell you you're overqualified and should seriously seek a "college-degree job." --Whatever that is anymore), I still have no income.

Without income, I feel so insecure about my material life--not merely my intellectual life.  I was worried about whether I'd have food for the week over the weekend.  Thankfully, it was my birthday, and so birthday money saved me.

My birthday was another concern.  I just turned 29.  The last year of my twenties.  I expected to have at least been hired for a full-time job by now.  I didn't expect "Private Tutor," to be my most recent job experience,  though if I could work as a private tutor and make enough to make ends meet, I think I'd love it. 

I've gotten over my guilt writing, which I had a heavy dose of last year.  I would start writing and be swamped by an overwhelming guilt that was writing and not sending my resume off to vanish across the interwebs.

But I have a line on a few and I'm crossing my fingers.

I'm taking a few classes again, just to keep busy.  I signed up to volunteer at the library.


I didn't like the idea of self-publishing for, well, ever.  I always feared it was unprofessional, and I've been nervous about if my writing was ready for a very, very, long time.  Insecurity. Now, it's coming down to a gamble: what about myself do I believe in?

My writing.

I have had my confidence as an employee/worker eroded by my 3 years outside of a regular job.  I, somehow, have not wholly lost my belief in my writing.

The sort of pittance self-published anthologies would earn me is more than I have coming in now...

I'm volunteering in order to restore confidence in my ability to work, and consider (yet again) a Master's in Library Science. I need a day job, for more than income.  I need it to feel capable, to instill a routine.  The more practical side of supporting my writing.

But this year, I will do it.  I can do it.  I am determined.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

On the Writing Environment

We all seem to need different environmental requirements to write.  For me, I need peace.  An environment lacking drama, dramatic people, or non-musical loud noises.  Unfortunately, due to other concerns, this is not always a practical requirement.

Non-writing stresses, changes in routrine that happen for whatever reason--and is usually related to living with other people (and these changes, then are not always bad changes) all throw me off. 

But I need to write, whether it's non-fiction, a  blog post, or a snippet of poetry that ends up padding the bottom of an over-full storage closet.  I need to write to slough off the stress.  I need to write to keep me focussed.  I need to have something that I create--a space that I create where I don't exist.  As wierd as that is, that's kind of how it feels. 

That experience gives me everything I need to manage an even-mood, a positive outlook , and sheer perserverance.  Oh, and how I've needed perserverance the last few years!  I thought sticking with college, pursuinga  BA, for 8 years, was nperservance.  Little did I know what other challenges I would rasie to post-diploma...

So in order to keep a roof over my head, I have made certain concessions I had not anticipated. My peace becomes threatened.

So I have decided to take action!  I used to write at cafes. I love having coffee at my elbow while pounding away at teh keyboard.  Yes, that isn't a practical location for coffee.  No, I am not aware of where I'm setting it when I'm wrapped up in the creative-midset.  Yes, coffee has spilled.  No, I haven't ruined a computer with coffee before. 

Though I must admit that I can be a super clumsy person and not-ruining any form of electronics through a coffee spill *is* actually an achievement.

So there are a few reasons why writing in a cafe is not a terribly bright idea. 

After that I wrote at home.  But since home is now usually overrun with the sounds of videogames, tv, and loud laughter coming up the stair, there is little place for me to hide myself away and blast Loreena McKennit, Deanta and Capercaillie...home is morphing into a non-option. 

I won't even discuss the chaos of squeezing a whole house into a room.  Even if that room is on the larger pseudo-studio end of the spectrum.  My writing space, classically, is the eye of my storm.  My office, bedroom at my parents--I was not good at maintaining order.  Where my computer was, however, remained relatively straight in comparison.  Now, I don't have the area nearly as straight as I would like it. 

So!  I'm at the library today.  I think I'll give this a shot.  Writing at the Library. 

There are these nice little studio rooms.  I can turn on Pandora and plug in my earbuds.  The music will not have to compete with any loud external noises. 

Here goes!


Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The Writer and the Story

It's always crazy when you meet an author you have absolutely loved, and you find that their personality is so different from their writing.  I think, because it is inevitable that large bits of us wind up in our writing, we expect, see or think it's similar for others.

And it is, I think.  But readers are wired to spot the familiar, relate-able things in the books they read.  That doesn't mean that they have the same attitudes towards these things, or that they share their perspective with the writer.  Often, this isn't the case.

So we end up thinking one thing, and often learning that the writer's perspective of the story is completely different.

This isn't a bad a thing, but I think it's important to keep in mind while writing.  That is, a book should have room for interpretation in a way that permits the various perspectives of a reader to inform the plot.  This isn't an attempt to advocate vague writing, but to allow the interpretation of a character's tone to be on the reader.

In my opinion, this is why "he said," "she said" is still the best taglines after dialog. If the words the character is using are "right" the different readers might read in different motive and intent, but as long as  the selection of them lead the reader in the right direction about the relationship between the characters having the doesn't hurt your story for your readers (or critiquers) to not see the interactions precisely the same as  you.

This is a more recent "realization" of mine.  I used to want to court specific ideas of my characters, world, plot.  I have such defined ideas of all these things!  If people saw them differently, then I assumed that I had not done  a good enough job relating my ideas.

But no two people have the same life experiences, and while we might come from backgrounds that instill particular values, and cultural perspectives, our engagement with each other is often hindered by radically different interpretations of events, words, and ideas.  If that is part of our daily human interaction, it makes sense for us to expect the same with writing and reading.

Viewing things this way, it becomes less about courting a very specific attitude toward characters and plot as it becomes about a sort of family of reactions.  The writer courts a general attitude, and allows for room of related responses, leading the reader toward the end that the writer anticipates, but not perhaps in the method the writer intended.

I think we should do our utmost to convey specific ideas regarding characters, setting, etc, but allow for readers' varied response.  If you try to sell a very specific idea of these things, it is easy to spend years pursuing an impossible perfection.

Perfection is an idea that I am abandoning and these are my thoughts on that process, questioning the attitudes that, I think, have been holding me  back and keeping me revising and rewriting for far too long...

What realizations, rationals, or understandings have you come to to help you be pleased with a completed draft?  

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Should you Write With a Cause?

Since I spent the week looking at SFF relevant to its place in a feminist sort of history, I felt it was fair to clarify this point:

Should you write with a cause?


I think addressing social issues directly is more a part of literary fiction than genre fiction.  I think genre fiction has a history of playing with ideas, but I don't think it has a place in main plot because I don't believe that authors should be preachy.  That said, I think we all have our own sense of how things work, and I think that there is no way that an author can keep his/her perspective out of their stories and characters.

I don't think we should purge political discussions from books just because it isn't appropriate, or it upsets some.  It's easier to take some of these concepts through fiction, where feeling a connection to the characters drives the readers ability to consider some of the issues of the world. Readers though, I believe, do distinguish between the issues in a fantasy world and the real world. I knew a girl once who's favorite character in a novel was gay, but in real life was a staunch opponent to gay marriage, which led me to think that people maintain this separation.

But that doesn't mean that causes should be anywhere close to the driving aspects of plot or character.

Characters should drive the stories, and any issues they faces should be same as we face in our world: directly relevant and impacting to relationships and decision making.  But the character is what it's all about.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Are strong Women Realistic?

Before I left a writer's group I'd participated in for quite some time, this question came up.

I was honestly horrified that a group of girls wanted to even ask this question.  It really made me wonder at the role models we have given girls.

But since I've been writing about the portrayal of women in the genre I feel the need to look into this question in more depth.

First, I established in yesterday's post that I believe strength comes from the ability to command authority, to win against some foe--internal, external, perceived--and to stand up for one's self in the face of adversity, or to undergo great trials without sacrifice of one's self, morality or ability to act on one's own mind.
I think there are plenty of examples of honest-to-goodness strong women in history.  I think there are plenty of career women who fit this description, an hundreds of moms.

To ask if a strong woman is realistic, to me, is tantamount to asking if a woman can know her own mind and act on her own decisions. I think most women can.  Pe4rhaps I'm idealistic, and I always want to see that others are capable, rather than not.

That said, I believe a woman is as capable of standing up for her convictions and acting on her own sense of moral obligation.

What does that mean for literature?

It means that we have woman who will take up arms to fight oppressors, women who will go on vengeance quests, female villains  who will seek power above all, as their moral compass might not match on to everyone else in the story.  But that does not make our bad girls weak, just villains.

But as the battles our heroes fight result from wrongs and injustices perpetuated through a chain of cause and affect stemming from interactions among our characters and their environment, we tend to back our heroes--male or female--into a corner where violence becomes the only option. They slay their demons quite literally.

I don't see this element of the literature to be a problem. To me, if women in  the books I read, or would give to a little girl, handle their problems forceful it means that they can...well...handle themselves.  That it doesn't matter what is tossed their way, difficult as it may be, they'll find their way through it.

The torture we give our characters stresses that even if the reader can have faith that the hero will survive, the  hero might not see it the same way. That internal conflict makes our characters real, but not weak.  It presents strong female characters to girls or women in a relate-able fashion.  Life isn't easy.  Not in the real world, so it shouldn't be in fantasy either.

In fact, in some ways it should be worse.  So strength needs to often take a physical form, whether or not our girl/women main characters sought to make it so.

Does Queen need to raise a blade or magic?  Not necessarily, but she has to make many hard decisions, send men--and perhaps even women--to fight on her behalf.  Her moral center is at risk of being compromised at every turn, and she is capable of becoming a very gray character.  Someone who has to allow ideals go, for a greater cause.  But the conflict, and the decision making, and not giving up--this is what makes our characters more compelling.

That is why we want strength.  As a reader, I have always felt that when I read about strong women, I found them inspiring.  I have always sought to be just as capable, to be just as persevering, and just as dedicated to the path I picked for myself.  I have done my best to work passed and through obstacles, to wait out the hardship, unflinchingly.

Strong women are a reality.  We have plenty of women real-life role models to show daughters, why not compliment them with some fictional ones too?


Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Violence, Strength, and Women

I loved women's literature courses in college.  One of the most interesting things discussed in Intro to women's Lit was the classically depicted strong women.

Classically, strong women were those who endured.  City of Women, a text by a Cristine de Pizan was full of early "strong women," and then you could look at the more recent Jane Eyre. While some women in City of Women were fighters, it wasn't often.  Jane Eyre wasn't violent, but sheesh did she endure some terrible luck!

Women who endured were oppressed.  They mostly accepted their station and found their identity inside what was socially acceptable. These often were career roles limited to things associated with a maternal instinct: teaching, perhaps healing, etc.

Looking at the medieval construct of the interdependent woman, the woman had to be devoutly religious and sexually unavailable (nun, anchoress).  Having any sexual identity went against female independence, because sex and marriage were associated.  This association means that there was a power play in the sexual act, coming from the wife being in an objective role, a submissive role, to the husband. The wife was owned, so exploring her own sexuality was to put herself in a position off lesser power aqnd authority.

This power structure was shattered by the pill in the 60's. If pregnancy was dissociated from sex, then sex could be had outside of marriage and a woman need not place herself in a submissive role in order to explore her sexuality.

Clothing that allowed a woman to express her sexuality became affiliated with independence, from mini skirts to halter tops and daisy dukes.

Only, they of course backfired, and we associate these fashions now with the exploitation of women.

Women in SciFi Shows, in order to be depicted as "strong" were increasingly dressed in uniforms (Star Trek, Babylon 5, SG-1, Aaryn Sun in Farscape).   Their outfits, while perhaps sometimes tight about the chest and hips, were honestly unisex.  They were dressed the same as the men.

So what about strength?

If women were increasingly not forced to accept a submissive role, then to be strong they had to do more than merely endure.

What do we tell a little boy on the playground who's being picked on? Give the bully a punch, at least if the same media we are taking issue with in their depiction of women can be trusted to accurately depict the common American parent.  We tell the kid to stand up for themselves.

Some parents tell their kids to use words.  Thanks Mom, love you much, but that didn't work out to well for me in the 4th grade.

Just speaking isn't seen as strong in our culture.  Sass isn't seen as strength, unless it can be followed by action.  That goes for men as well as women.  

So violence, being an action, is associated with strength --across gender. So if you want a woman to be seen as strong, she needs to be associated with action.

Action is not necessarily violence, it can be political maneuvering, social manipulation, or an ability to make hard calls in a career or leadership capacity.

Then, women, like men, can be considered strong for their ability to either maintain or discover a moral compass despite the trials they are forced top undertake thanks to our plot, story line, etc.

We are a competitive society, so in order to demonstrate that a woman is strong, she, like a man, needs to beat her foe.  This can be literal or not.

But, as a competitive culture, we also use violence in a very allegorical way.

Our worst enemy is ourselves.
We fight our demons.
Keep your friends close, your enemies closer.
He beat out his best friend for the medal.

In a literal woman-warrior scenario, the fight is often allegorical.  We use SciFi to explore ourselves, the same way any art is used.  But thanks to the capacity to build full worlds and histories, the issues we take on can be much more complex, ongoing, and subtle, than is the majority of our literary counterparts.

In order to answer the question: Can a woman be strong without being violent?

I would say, yes, but she has to be able to obtain authority, power, and distinction among her community.  Strength and some measure of cut-throat-ness is associated across gender designations.  But we have examples of women who can do more than endure, we have examples of women who can stand up for themselves and rely on their own sense of morality to triumph as heroes (heroines) in movies, fiction and shows.  




Monday, August 20, 2012

Women in Fantasy

Sorry all, I hate to bring up politics, but my inspiration for posts this week comes from two sources: a lively FB topic and ongoing media installments demonstrating a massive misunderstanding of female biology.

Growing up, reading Marion Zimmer Bradley's Darkover series, Andre Norton's Witchworld books, and watching the ever increasing roles of women in TV: Scully, Dr. Beverly Crusher, Kira and Jedzia-Dax on DS9, Xena, Capt. Janeway, Aaryn Sun and Zahn on Farscape...

I felt that women were being given ever stronger and more complex roles.  Characters that were initially sexualized could transcend their beginnings: 7 of 9: Voyager, Six: Battlestar Gallactica, Kate on Castle--character was introduced with sex appeal, but certainly didn't stay there, same for Grace Park's role on Hawaii 50.

But I can name a bunch of non-sexulaized roles women have played in some of these shows, beginning with Laura Roslyn in Battlestar, and Gina Torres' current role as Jessica Pearson on Suits. Meaning that while strong women, I believe, first appeared in many roles in SciFi and Fantasy shows and movies, they have graduated to mainstream shows.

I feel that it started in this genre (more recent movements, because Katherine Hepburn did wonders prior to the modern feminist movement, in mainstream movies), because of what I thought of a s a feminist movement within the genre.  Marion Zimmer Bradley had written about the faults of the genre around the seventies and earlier. Much of this revolved around some of the issues she had wrestled with when starting to publish in the 50's (I believe, but if she published anything earlier, feel free to correct me).  But in the 80's and 90's we saw an onslaught of female characters in the genre.  Especially women warriors.

Mercedes Lackey gained bestseller-dom and keeps plugging on. Say what you will about the quality of her writing, but when she came out with the first few trilogies of the Valdemar series, she was building on the foundation provided by Marion Zimmer Braddley, and grew the Sword and Sorcery sub genre.  While it might be cliche now, it wasn't in the mid-90's.

As a teen in the 90's I loved seeing strong women.  I loved male writers writing strong women, because it meant that the character "type" had grown beyond its activist-inspired beginning, to become not only stories loved by geek girls, but by guys as well.

At the time I took this as a big sign that our attitudes to women were changing. I, as a girl who came into adulthood around the turn of the century, had plenty of positive role models to look up to.

Then came the era of Reality TV, of Twilight, and the battle over women reproductive rights was unleashed again.

Maybe many people will think that things things are unrelated, but to me they are symptoms of the same thing: a degradation of our cultural view of a woman's place. When we think we can legislate morality, there has to be social support if the idea first.  The social support would then be a response to other aspects of our society---

Perhaps it is even a reaction to the trend that I saw in SFF in the 90's.  Trends like that are generally not merely limited to literature.  Rather, art reflects a changing consciousness in our society.  So if the accept roles were changing, it stands to reason that a backlash was due.

The problem then becomes what literature and art will we leave girls, literature that leads them to think for themselves or permit men to legislate on their behalf? Do we teach girls to become their own individuals, or do we stress their need to reinforce patriarchy?

Have women's roles in media backslid?  Are we depicting weaker, more old-fashioned women in  literature, TV and other sources?  Or are we going to continue the trend toward complex female characters?

One of the other questions raised in the FB discussion was can women be strong without being violent?


Thursday, August 16, 2012

Not One of My Better Weeks

This week has been very slow.  I wrote a bit in the novella, made some changes to the two and a half short stories I have floating around, and began the next chapter in the main WIP.  And I've been lurking in the blogosphere :( Sorry--Will leave comments!

I hate these weeks.  No amount of coffee seems able to keep the grogginess at bay.  My focus swings between different projects, different goals, until I am spending more time trying to fit my life into little to do lists and calendars than I am writing down anything of true importance.

So I funnel more energy back into the job search and housework.  The job search depresses me, and housework makes me feel more in control of surroundings.  The balance is supposed to help me keep up with writing as I achieve these other goals.

But, frankly, I have good weeks and worse weeks.

I think part of it is because I need to spend a lot of time...just in my own head.  That makes me feel lazy after awhile.  I need it, for my writing, for my self-confidence, for knowing myself well enough to know what move to make next.  But when I have nothing solid, nothing physical, to demonstrate the progress I'm making internally, I feel like I've been lazy. I may've gotten 4 hours of exercise, pacing while I think, but that's nothing to show for writing, and it eats into the job search...and after awhile I just get tired.

So I forgive myself sleeping in more mornings than not.  I sift through the job sites' email lists.  I take yet another state exam.

I dedicate a day to catching up on housework that, when feeling tired and borderline overwhelmed, I permit to slide.

Then I write. So the writing goes slowly, but it goes.

There are times where I feel my life is either on or off track, and sometimes I'm good for whole months, and sometimes...I'm not.  I haven't completed a rough draft of a novel, or a  bunch of short stories in a number of years.  So I know plugging on will do a lot for my own sense of my capabilities.  Some days I just wish I were faster at it.  

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

What was your Childhood Monster? Blogfest!

Thanks Christine for this exciting blogfest!  Everyone be sure to visit for more entries.

Monsters were definitely present in my childhood, but thanks to Sesame Street, perhaps, they weren't manifestations of my fears.  They were my best friends.

At a young age I developed a family of monsters that I used to understand my world and justify my dislikes. Like orange juice.  With lots of moving around in my preschool years, I didn't set down roots in any single community. I, instead, relied on my imagination.  My mother was so amused she wrote an article about this for American Baby that was published in the late 80's. Right around the time my parents' marriage fell apart, if I recall correctly.  

I had no clear idea what any of my "monsters" looked like.  I was far more afraid of people when I was a kid, but I remember that they felt like unfinished characters when I looked back on the experience after I started writing in late elementary school.

There were three kid monsters, Christmas Monster, Cindy and Todd.  Why I picked those names, I have no idea.  I thought I invented the name "Larry" as a child, and thought it was a girly name and so named my favorite stuffed dinosaur (she's magenta, and somewhere between a brachiosauras and stegosauras), Larry. Yes, I still have her, and I won't give her up for the world. A love of dinosaurs is also another likely source of inspiration for the family of monsters.

While I can't say that I remember what they "looked like," or if I ever gave them faces, I remember the artist's rendering in the article made my tiny self defensive.  That wasn't what they looked like!  I think it was because I thought of the three kids to be my sized rather than adult-sized.  There was nothing in my mind that said that monsters needed to be big and scary.  They just weren't human.  They were different.  But everything and everyone in my world as a child was new and different.  Moving didn't help, and perhaps the fact that I'd rather identify with the world through imaginary monsters--rather than imaginary little girls--meant that I already felt different from my peers, a fact of the constant movement and inability to make long-term friends at a young age, while also not being home with family, was perhaps partially responsible for.  

I was much amused at Monsters Inc when it came out, for obvious reasons.

Until I was 5, I built the family of monsters, up to the grandfather.  I can't say that I ever believed they existed, though.  Because the best recollections I have is recounting stories of the monster family to my little brother.  I think I kept them alive longer than they would've been because I could entertain him.  Just like I revisited and crafted a superhero I'd invented at 2 for my very first Halloween adventure--Superkitty--in the middle of my elementary years, in order to play pretend with 5-7 year-olds at the daycare, after school.

I was afraid of the dark until 11, but I wasn't convinced there was some specific boogeyman out to get me.  I just felt hyper-aware in the dark, and my overactive imagination kept me on edge, creating sounds and sights that weren't there.

With the light on, I was able to tell myself stories that made me content and put me to sleep. That was when my monsters comforted me, rather than scared me.  The dark itself, and not being able to see, to know, to understand--that was the scariest thing of all.

But as long as I could create something that stood between me and the perplexing and uncertain world, something to help me quantify it, understand it, and relate, then I was good.  That was what Christmas Monster did for me that a kid my age couldn't.    

I still rely on my imagination to help me cope with reality, but the nature of the relationship has changed drastically since my toddler-self reached for imagination out of instinct.  Now, it is at least a semi-conscious process. 

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Wrote a Short Story Today :)

After being preoccupied for a week by random stuff, I'm back on the right track!  Further, I managed a story in  a day.  Lately short stories have taken me a few days and sometimes more than a week.  Then, they don't often end up as short as I want them to be.

I really want to make August better, since my birthday is early September and I'll be 29 :(

So I want to get two more short stories written, finish the burgeoning novella and get a little farther in the main WIP ( two chapters? please?)

But, knowing me, I'll get 1 short story written, the novella will hangout, untouched, and I'll get farther in the manuscript draft than I intended.  There always seems to be a trade off.

I took a break reading (still working on the book I started almost a month ago *sobs*) but I've read two chapters in the last day :) So I hope that I'll be able to post my response to it soon.

I have to admit, I haven't been keeping up with news or watching anything worth sharing or discussing--just a ton of anime.  And Stewart and Colbert randomly --hey, I need to laugh!

Still, I'd say this is doing better, and now it's just about keeping up the momentum.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Writing: Slow, Cooking/Baking: Many New Recipes

I've slipped back into a planning mode.  I hate it when routine falters, but in the past week I've been busy with a lot of non-writing stuff.  There was problems with the AC, spending time deciding how to use all of my veggies from my garden, and feeling like I'm playing an eternal game of catch-up with the housework (thanks to my shedding puppy), and the tons upon tons of cooking/baking I've been doing.

Recently I've been working on perfecting a Lemon Poppyseed Scone recipe, and a good friend has been giving me authentic Chinese recipes to try out--and they've been a lot of fun, as well as yummy.

I'm hoping to back to my regular routine by the end of the week, but blog posts might be scarce till then.  Sorry!

Friday, July 20, 2012

Writing Progress: The Need for Flexibility

The Main WIP:

Silver Mask, my main work in progress is coming along. piece by piece.  It feels slow, but I've had to revisit my "thinking time" in order to catch up with the directions my characters are going in.  And so much is changing!

My last critique group helped me work out what scenes to include from my villain's POV.  Not my strong suit, writing bad guys.  I'm far less enamored with them than most of my book loving friends. But I understand the place of a good villain, in exploring the plot, world, and other things that my heroes might not be as exposed to.  So, I'm  giving it a shot.  But first it has to sit.  which I hate.  I just want to plunge in, but when I do that, before I'm ready, I get easily frustrated, disappointed in my own work. and so forth.

So Lord Koarv, my bad guy, gets to roll around in the back of my mind.

Meanwhile in the mental-work, I'm also working on the new climax/ending of the story.  I've played with a  few ideas, and one feeds into another old project that runs on a parallel timeline to Silver Mask.  I have to decide whether or not overlap will make sense.  If it does, I might get half way through Silver Mask, and switch gears to the other project.  That one should be significant;y shorter, after all, and then switch back and write the ending to Silver Mask.

Short Stories:

After my initial success, I thought I should revisit and reinvent some very old characters.  I figured, I knew most of their lives, the surprises would be minimal and I could keep it short.

Yeah. Right.

So Dezzine, my very first character is now leading me into a novella that should have been a short story.
The infamy she had in the original crappy child-scrawl has changed its nature, from one thing to something completely different.  That makes more sense, of course.

But also, the nature of the Curse, part of the history of one of the continents, has also changed.  I think this makes Dezzine and her story far more alluring, and fits the stories of this particular era into a better picture.

However, these events will play into the history that informs the project running parallel Silver Mask.  Likewise, the changes in the character Ethirin in Silver Mask made me revisit his people's history...

I know, complicated.  But the whole thing is changing for the better. It feels a lot like a rebirth of an idea.  

So, my progress might have slowed, but I'm on the right track.  And I'm focusing on more than one project---generally a bad idea, but for me, it often keeps me going while the knots in one WIP work themselves out.  


Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Books: The Hidden Stars by Madeline Howard

I meant to finish the book by today, but I failed there.  So I'll discuss what I've read and follow up with the rest next week.

First Impression:

Howard's style is gorgeous!  Since I am a big-picture person when I write, and do all my tweaking after the fact, I am particularly enamored of writing styles that maximize word choice and achieve a sort of lyrical quality.

The oh-so-careful wording and sentence structure carried me very easily into her Celtic-inspired world.  In a genre where the "big destiny" to take down the bad guy is losing popularity, Howard still manages to pull of the old story form without a glitch.  I am feeling in no way that this story is something I have ready a bazillion times before.  

Rather, I feel that with her conscious story-crafting that I'm walking into a brand new legend.  

Though, because it is a modern tale and not an ancient one, I'm expecting some pretty big plot twists.  With a curse, a Destiny, and Immortals, I'm ready for a big story, and still learning who my main characters are 50 pages in (sorry, haven't gotten too far yet).  But I have gotten far enough to have a feel for the world, story's direction, and who I wanted my main character to be.  Which--since I'm with her right now, first time from this character's perspective, I think Howard planted that interest effectively.

Next week I'll elaborate on this, and look at the characters and plot (a touch) -- I'll do some vague summaries, probably, so I don't spoil anything for anyone interested in reading it :)

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

TV I'm Watching: Eureka :(

Eureka is one of Syfy's "Hoarder" cliche shows, which seem to be beginning to disappear.  Eureka is going off the air and Sanctuary has been cancelled.  Not that I'm crying over Sanctuary, I couldn't really get into that one or Warehouse 13.

Eureka, on the other hand, I have found entertaining.  The last two seasons have had recurring guest roles from Felicia Day and Wil Wheaton--so I've certainly been enjoying everything they've added to the cast dynamic.  

But now we're on the count down to the end of the series.  I might be an episode or two behind, so the finale  was last night.

But if you want a fun, somewhat tongue-in-cheek SF comedy at some point, it's definitely something I'd look up on netflix.  Just don't expect something thought-provoking and deep--it's more about the character development, humor, and scientists that create inventions that should be innocuous but never ever actually are.  

Monday, July 16, 2012

A New Week

So after an attack of laziness and general feelings of being "unwell" I got back to business last Friday, beginning with housework.

I don't know what it is about housework, but whenever I've felt the need to assert more control over my life, or if I've been sick and suddenly regained energy, or anything of that ilk--the first thing I do after overcoming a slump is housework.  Dishes, laundry, cleaning mopping and the sort has just become one of those therapeutic things that I never used to value, but over the last few years have become increasingly important for the sake of keeping me...sane, I suppose.

During my laziest day last week, I lapsed into childhood and indulged in a Hulu anime marathon.  Persona 4, which was a game made into a pretty fun and enjoyable anime, that went a long way to making me feel better.  My first ever marathon was Sailor Moon at about 13 or 14, one summer time, off of VHS tapes I had received for my birthday (I believe). I watched a whole season/cycle in a day, and had never watched so much TV before in my life.

My eyes stung, my head hurt, and I wanted more of the story.

My opinion on that particular anime has changed as my perspective grew more adult.  But as a kid, Unagi/Serena seemed to have it all: pretty, loved by friends, and was important to the whole world because she had this grand destiny and stuff.  A definite kid fantasy.

Now, I enjoyed Persona 4 because while it shared the emphasis on friend loyalty, it had much more complexity than something like Sailor Moon's Monster-a-Week motif. Including a mysterious serial killer.

I also picked up an old book off my shelves last week: The Hidden Stars, by Madeline Howard, and am definitely getting into this one! I'll talk about it more later :)

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

TV: True Blood

The next season is definitely interesting...I'm liking the (likely) temporary hold on the love-circle..ish.  though, now she's moving onto yet another creature?

I have to admit--I didn't get into the books.  Sookie's trust issues, while understandable, were manifesting in too much annoying internal dialogue for my taste. I lasted into Club Dead...  I should probably just skip over it and try to finish the books anyway...

But I'm really hoping that the fairies can become a Big Bad.  Based on the kidnapping meets nightclub scene (that kinda reminded me of the opera house nightclub in Caprica's virtual world) I think they have that potential, though I guess they are trying to fill their ranks...

And generally, I'm just partial to an old-fashioned fairy story, so whether or not it's going to go there, I'd like to see more of the fairies scary side.

<3 Tara & Lafayette's characters, and I am curious what becoming a vampire will do to Tara, and how Lafayette will reign in the demon...

Jason is finally growing on me, though in the past he inspired too many facepalm moments...

But I have enjoyed this series.  And I think my favorite aspect of it right now is the Bill-Eric team. :)

Monday, July 9, 2012


I've been  spending a decent chunk of time making things, hoping to sell them.

Debate going on in my head:  Yes, I've been down this road before.  Why is this time different?

It is different because I have found a somewhat silly, but relatively simple project that comes out very nicely:

Napkin rings.

I'm making beaded and crocheted napkin rings right now.  I'm researching (again) where to sell them, or how to branch out on different internet storefronts.  I also have a few necklaces to finish up and then they will go up...somewhere.

I'll keep you posted, on the particular avenue I choose :)

Friday, July 6, 2012

Writing Progress

I've been working on some short stories, a few which might end up novellas.

Two are off to receive critiques at the moment, and I can't wait to put them into shape.  I don't know how I'm going to release them, but I do plan to.  I  have a few ideas in mind, and when I make a decision--I'll post it!

Also, work on Silver Mask continues.  Just (finally) completed chapter 8 and I'm onto chapter 9.  Slow going, but,'s going.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Geeky News

While I'm not generally a Microsoft fan (Nor am I an Apple fan), I must say that this keynote and product excited me.


1) The tech here will compliment my increasingly paperless home.

I have been doing more reading and critiquing on Google Docs than in another form.  The ability to use a pen to edit could help the screen adopt the same functionality as paper + pen, which is really a big thing to me.

2) The keyboard.

I do not own a tablet.  The guy's was a gift, but he uses his electronics mostly for reading (books/comics/blogs), listening to podcasts, some the accompanying keyboard has never been a priority and we never bought one...

I write and blog, waste time on social media, play a few simple games, Pandora and read (other people's writing, blogs, books).

In short I need a keyboard, and most tablets out there offer it separately.  So, I would have to save up for one device, get it and then save up for another?  No can do. The device would sit collecting dust until I had a keyboard.  At which point I'd wonder why I hadn't just saved up for a laptop?

Tablet v. Laptop:

I want something with the portability of a tablet, but the specs of a computer.

I am hard on cords, so I have determined I require either a desktop or a device that maintains a charge for a long time. I dislike buying 3 chargers over the course of the laptop's 5-yr life.  So, I have fallen out-of-love with laptops.

I would love a tablet that had laptop-like functionality, because I could use it as a computer, e-reader, I'd check e-mail and use it for cloud uses (reading/critiquing/editing/etc). but I just don't go very many places right now....and everywhere I go is running errands between this is more an "eventual" thing than anything


Microsoft very obviously omitted the actual cost. Which means this will be, no doubt, over-priced.  

Then Why the Excitement?

My guy is a lover of tech and has taught me something about it, well a few things:

a) never buy the first iteration of any new tech

b) if you love the tech, wait a year or two for someone to do it better

c) don't buy anything right when it's released, wait a few months at least, because when something newer circles the corner the price will fall--if not on the main websites, then as a sale on a smaller third-party site, Amazon, New Egg, or some other techie-e-store.

d) don't pay full price if you can avoid it, and most of the time there is a deal somewhere that enables you to get something for a much better deal.

e) always do your research, don't follow trends, and recheck all assumptions you have about a product before actually making a purchase.

f) Know your rights as a consumer, because with phones and devices that require contracts with a telecom, there's generally a way to wield your contract and service to your advantage, you just have to do it right and be respectful to the people on the other end of the phone.  Remember, customer loyalty and retention is important to companies, especially when you select a smaller business (on a relative scale).

So I get excited about this stuff, when something comes out with more friendly specs, but I am not going to hop up and buy it.  (Sorry)  I'll maintain the excitement going forward, eager to see what the market will do with these ideas, and wait for something similar that's actually in price range to appear.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Book this Week: Alloy of Law

Steampunk met Detective story met Fantasy and then came Sanderson's latest installment from the Mistborn world.

Awesome Stuff About this Book:

For any fan of the trilogy proceeding this, there are many snicker-worthy moments.  Your main characters from the 1st three books have become religious and mythical figures.  Are they still around?  After three hundred years?  In some form?  The book does seem to court these questions, and other than a hint of a scene at the end, it leaves us still asking.  Which, of course, means that I will wait eagerly for the second book.

Legacy of our original heroes:

The decisions at the end of the third book have dramatically altered not only the world, but how the magic works.  And we as the reader get to see the world created out of the dreams and decisions of our earlier heroes.  

I <3 the genealogy element.  Grew up around family members that had traced various branches of the family back to Europe, and I love the idea of characters being descended of other characters.  Though I also like how obscure he also made these lines, allowing for people to kind of muddle it even when they think they have records and a scientific understanding of exactly how this whole thing happens.

Lead Lady's random statistics:  I loved this tendency of hers. It gave us hints of how the world was constructed, her personality, gave greater insight into Wax (our main character) based on how he responded to her, and was just plain charming.

If your new:

The world, magic and everything is so dramatically different that you really don't need to read the first three to greatly enjoy this one.  But I suggest if you read this first, then go to Vin's stories, reread Alloy after.  

I am seriously thinking of rereading the Mistborn trilogy, and then following it again with Alloy--just so I don't miss a reference. More for fan-girl enjoyment than anything, mind.
Guns n' Magic:  

This is not a combo we usually see outside urban fantasy, but it works and works well here. The fight scenes get downright crazy, with the magic and guns working off each other.  I can't wait to see this sort of thing on a screen--it's definitely movie/show worthy.  

But first, there will be a video game :)

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

TV I'm Watching: Falling Skies Season Two

A year ago my guy and I were waiting for new shows starting in the fall, and this is when it got fun.  The last few years have seen a rise in SciFi and Fantasy across small and big screens.  These shows have been more than an escape, I've found more than a few inspiring.  The acting and story lines have gotten me very attached to characters, no matter if they are super-serious or somewhat tongue-in-cheek.

Falling Skies was chief on our list, with Moon Bloodgood (whom we loved in the show Journeyman, which only received a single season) and Speilberg producing.  We were not disappointed.

The show explores humanity in the backdrop of anarchy.  The hopeful have banded together under a militaristic banner, the disparate and barely connected arms of a rebellion. The leader of the 2nd Mass is a retired soldier (I am forgetting if he actually made general before the aliens came), and his 2nd in command is a history professor, with three sons.

The prof, played by Noah Wyle, lost his wife in the initial attack and is doing everything he can to keep his family together. The first season his main quest was recovering his middle son from imprisonment/enslavement with the aliens.

The prof was the hope of the group in season 1. But all hints of what is coming after he has returned from a very traumatic encounter are indicating that he is turning cynical and he and the general are going to shift rolls within the group (though I doubt the hierarchy will be altered).

Ok--I am trying not to give anything away, look up season 1 if you haven't.  If you stopped midway last season, I just want to say it gets really good.

Monday, July 2, 2012

The Project Idea that Hogged a Few Months

One of the things I love to do is cook.  There have been a number of alterations of my style and the content of what I cook the last few years.  I got into cooking specific recipes for awhile, and tried to blog, but realized that cooking is more of a lifestyle thing for me.  I constantly fail at taking picture of what I cook, and the failures went on so long that I became less interested in posting what I cooked.  

I no longer cook to specific recipes.  I can’t seem to follow cooking directions for the life of me--unless I am cooking with someone else.  I pull up one or two,use them as guidelines and plunge right in.  

I’ve made some amazing things this way.

But as things grew desperate last year I discovered a growing distaste for waste.  Much of what I have been cooking lately has included redressing leftovers.  

Michie, my dear friend who helped me plant my garden, and I have been working on  a new project.  It started out as a cook book and we are not certain what precisely it will become.  

There have been some very awesome discussions, a few almost debates, over this project and it has me very excited.  The approach here is the idea that cooking, like sewing, gardening and other activities are part of a self-reliant lifestyle.  The idea is that in order to control our own futures, we have to make responsible choices now. Clearly, with the position I’ve been in the last year or so, the ability to take control of my life is incredibly appealing. I’m certain I’m not alone. And there could be a million reasons why an individual would be interested in some of these topics.  

When we figure out the direction, I’ll share more.  Right now, it’s in its infancy.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Writing Progress

I’m working on producing at least one short story and one chapter a week.  I know that I often box myself in, expecting more than my current lifestyle permits.  But I’m working on that, and transparency helps.  

I’m human, and stuff comes up.  But I think that one short story and one chapter is not overly ambitious.

So here I’ll be stating my progress (at least for the rest of the year).

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Geeky News

This will be anything I find cool, from technology, movies, book releases, genre news, etc.  

I am a big geek (or nerd--though that is the term that instills the picture of Erkel in my brain and so I tend to avoid the term).  I love anything SFF-- if you haven’t realized already.  

I also love things a little more academic, so I might just share what I am learning at the time.  And it’s important to never stop learning :)

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Book this Week

I am going to cover a book a week here on out, best that I can. Because I am not buying very many books at this point in time, I’m going to be going through my collection and reading all those books that I meant to get to, and bought in better times.  So some of these titles might be quite old.  

I do not want to go into so much detail on these books that I spoil it for other readers, so it will be quick summaries and responses.  

This will also be limited to whatever I’m reading at the time.  If I haven’t finished a book in a week (which has happened with everything that I’m enmeshed in), I’ll report on my progress.  

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

TV I’m watching: Continuum

This is a twist on the distopian future, where the police woman and terrorists (rebels) attempting to upset the tyrannical corporate-owned world go back in time.  Our policewoman (or Protector) was carried there by an accident, and all she wants is to catch the gang and get back to her husband and son.

It is SciFi, distopia, and procedural in one.  

The twist I’m enjoying is that while the future is not one I’d be pleased with, and I expect the main character (Kira) to begin to question some of the things she takes for granted, the rebels are not heroes.  They are terrorists.  Good is relative, and gray dominates, making it uncertain where the show will go. I like that uncertainty, it keeps me watching.

Monday, June 25, 2012

2012 Midway Through

I started out this year saying: “2012 will be better!” and mostly, that’s been true.

The trials have been different this year, and I have found some excellent friend-support, in the form of an old High School friend I’ve had the pleasure of reconnecting with.  I planted a garden, have been working on crocheting (and this wonderful friend of mine took the time to spot *exactly* what I had been doing wrong all these years) and returned to jewelry-making.

I started another critique group, mostly because I craved the support and connection with a writing community.  I need to work on my writing, and I need connection to others with similar goals.

We’re doing all of the critique on Google Docs, and so it doesn’t have the chapter-by-chapter structure of my previous groups.  Right now, I’m thinking this can be more productive for me.  Mostly because I can ignore this sort of feedback until I am ready to address the revision (my main issue--adjusting the draft too early).

The job search for a day-job continues.  A friend on facebook shared an excellent quote on the subject, from a hilarious movie:

“Never give up! Never surrender!”

I must say, I think that as funny as that phrase came to be in the movie, it is an accurate mantra to convey my continued efforts.  

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Shows I'm Watching: Misfits

This show is awesome if wildly inappropriate.  However, having now completed the first 3 seasons I fear that with 3 of the original cast now gone, I may not like the next season too much.

The premise is a bunch of late teens/young-twenty-somethings who are drafted into community service for having been charged with misdemeanors (public fighting, drunk driving, theft of bowling-ally-candies, etc) and are out picking up litter (or some such) when a storm comes along and strikes them all with lightening, granting them powers.

Not exactly superheroes, these characters are constantly on the defense of the world going to sh**.  As random dangers show themselves, the young people become very dangerous to their probation workers, who, on the periphery consistently end up exposed to the chaos that seems to follow our main characters.  And like all paranormal sorts of stories, where these abilities defy the natural order of the universe, the magical other worldliness is never good for the normals.

On a side note:  I love the show, but need to acknowledge that one of the actresses was arrested for racially aggravated assault against an individual (who, judging by the name) is likely of Middle Eastern Descent.  I do not approve of this and my support of the show is in no way a support of this behavior.

Lauren Socha, the actress in question, plays Kelly and is the sister to Michael Socha, who plays Tom in the original British version of Being Human. 

Monday, May 7, 2012

Garden Carried Me Away

So the last two weeks I got my very first garden going.  Having been moved in for a few months, my focus has been on getting things-- life-- in roughly the order I require.

Also, in there, I had a week dedicated to job applications.  The hunt continues!

I have to say, the garden is really helping maintain routine.

Concerning the WIP, I hit a bump. I do this, much like with the blog--plunge headlong and then...tangent!... and off I am working on something else.  Sometimes this is because, like I did with the WIP, the direction the characters were leading me on was a little different than the one I thought I was on.  So...I break...and let the whole thing mull over in my head.

I have not always liked myself for these breaks.  I think I should be able to work as hard and focused as i know I am capable of--all the time.  But, part of this whole facing-myself-as-an-adult, is learning to accept my patterns as they are.

I can work better when I can work around myself, without holding to unrealistic expectations.     

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

TV I'm Watching: Grimm

Grimm is one of the new urban-fantasy meets fairy tale types of shows.  It does not treat the material in a fairy-tale way, but in the true Brother's Grimm Folkloric way.  This, combined with its Dresden-inspired-police- procedural, actually makes for a delightful combination.

It is darker than Once Upon a Time, and the German cultural references are like icing to fans of folklore.  The shows is fun without dumbing down too much, and an excellent introduction to the difference between folklore and fairy tales.

I'm hoping that the next season of True Blood will help to dissuade audiences that fairy tales are friendly things...

And I must admit the exploration of true monsters and complex relationships to "monsters" is an element in modern fantasy shows that I am greatly enjoying.

The premise:

A police officer finds out that his family is from a long line of "Grimms," a sort of human that polices the monster world (called vessen) and his adventures when his heretige and day job overlap. You get the impression that Grimms of history were more executioners than policemen, but our main guy's forrays into the vessen world are influenced by his tenure as a detective, and so he is doing his best to use the mundane justice system and avoid Buffy-style slaying when he can.  The result is that he is actually building some trust with the well-intended vessen.  Meanwhile, the real enemy hangs out in the background.


Monday, April 9, 2012

Addressing an Epic Cast: Slimming Down POV's

I fall in love with all of my characters.  That's just the way it goes.  So how do I pick favorites to carry a plot? I had to break up the plot, that's how.  I fear I'm a gusher.  Meet me for coffee and you get my life story.  That sort of thing.  And my writing was no different.

So I had to scale back my focus and ask not: "Who's going to carry the plot?" but rather, "Who will introduce the series best?"

That is how I got my answer.  Kyr, Layna and Teshen.

When I knew this, the plot changed.  It became more narrow, allowing me to explore the world from the perspective of my three POV characters.  The depth of the world, plot, and character interactions jumped out at me.

I picked my two end points -- Major Plot, Minor Plot (s)--and how they overlap.  I introduced minor characters (who were previously major characters)  briefly, and let them plant the seeds for the larger plot that will emerge in the sequel.

Book 1 is to a series like Chapter 1 is to a book:

This is my new approach, though I must admit that Silver Mask borders on a Forward, rather than a straight Chapter 1.  It is the slow introduction of the world, the characters, and what is at stake.  But my main characters don't and won't have the keys to see the big picture issues in the first book.  They are there--for the readers to guess at--and some free short stories that I am aiming to release this summer may give even greater hints.  Though those stories do not feature any of the characters from the novel-in-progress.

Perhaps it is ambitious for an aspiring author to plan a series, especially in the climate we have currently in the publishing industry, but I can only make so many concessions.  Clearly, for anyone who may be reading my posts or poking through my site, I think too much :P  Simple is hard for me.  So I aim for it, but I still can't limit myself to just one book in a world.  I admire authors who can.


Friday, April 6, 2012

Epic Fantasy versus Aspiring Author's Limitations

If you're like me, and you've been writing for-ev-er, or following someone who has been doing so, without quite getting to the point of submitting to agents and editors, you might be wondering, "What's up with that?"

For Epic Fantasy there's a Cast of Character issue.  Epics have lengthy casts. That's just how it goes.  When you fall in love with Epic fantasy, as a reader, the complex casts and the character interactions on the backdrop of fully formed world become mundane.  You wade through them, you have a method of keeping track of important points and the tropes of the genre help you to identify what specifically is important to remember.

When an aspiring author launches herself into writing Epic Fantasy, she *ahem* me,  attempts to follow the patterns laid out oh-so-carefully in the genre.

Then, you start running into problems.  You start hearing that you should limit your POV characters. You start hearing that readers should have a solid understanding of where the plot is headed by the third chapter.

You look at your library and think "But they didn't."

Rules for an aspiring author and for an established author are completely different.  Brandon Sanderson is a good example of this.  His brilliant Epic, "Way of Kings" was the first thing he wrote, but he couldn't publish it until he was successful with the Mistborn series and had been picked up to complete the Wheel of Time series. As an aspiring author--no matter how brilliant and wonderful his epic was--it couldn't land him with a publisher.  He had do that with "smaller" books with fewer POV characters and simpler premises.

There are a few exceptions, of course, there always are.

But limiting your manuscript is, in my opinion, a necessary evil for most aspiring Epic Fantasy authors.  It was also something that for years I could not figure out how to do.  In fact, this draft of Silver Mask is what really taught me how to limit the plot and focus on the characters.


What is your favorite Epic Fantasy novel/series and why?  

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Changing Character Strengths: WIP

Running late today!  Battling neck pain yet again.  But after food, medicine and me just getting tired if being in pain, I am trying to kick myself in the butt and get a move onto my goals.  This post, of course, will be one check mark on my list :)

Yesterday I posted about how my main character's flaws were changing, so I think it's only fair to look at their strengths and how they've changed.

Kyrriki Ednin -- His strength in earlier editions of this project was his ability to analyze situations, anticipate, and find the best solution to his infinite number of dilemmas. Now, he is strong for his sacrifices and stronger for what he is willing to do for his people--including jeopardizing his own position,wealth, comfort and all the things the other lords and even his people assume he holds dear. He is a hero because for all his faults, all his fears, he will place the well-being of others above himself.  However, these are also traits that Kyrriki is unaware he possesses.

Gellayna Hehriya -- Her strength before was her acceptance and love, but now it is her ability to endure.  She commands her knowledge and education, and finds strength in being able to apply these to situations, create opportunities to better her life and improve that of others.  She might not always like people, but that does not keep her from feeling she has a responsibility to help.  Being able to look past her flaws, her judgments, and not carry grudges helps her to become the heroine of the story.  

Teshen Hehriya -- This character's circumstance has changed more than his character in the prior drafts.  His strength is his ability to inspire others, his cunning, and his willingness to leverage his average appearance to dupe his enemies into misjudging the sharpness of his mind.

So!  How do the strengths sound compared to weaknesses? The aim is for the weaknesses to sometimes overtake the strengths and vice-versa in order to maintain complex characters driving the plot.    However, as some of the circumstances are not their doing, and these things drive them into their situations, it often becomes their reactions to their various predicaments that shape the direction of the plot, as well as the character development.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Changing Character Flaws in WIP

My characters, plot, world--everything has changed so much from the earlier versions of my WIP that I am stepping back to discern the character flaws all over again.  I knew them once, but my characters are so changed by the new circumstances that I need to "get to know them" again.  Which feels weird since I'm a quarter the way trough the rewrite.  But, hey, it will help when I hit the next revision stage.

My main characters and their flaws are these:

Kyrriki Ednin -- The Lord of Ednin is  petrified by fear of losing everything, a fear exacerbated by the murder of his sister and her husband.  He has to overcome the fear so that he can make decisions that will protect his people.  This means that he has to accept that he is the best champion they have, and that hiding is no longer the proper method to achieve his goals.

Gellayna Hehriya -- Gellayna Hehriya takes great pride in her peoples' traditions, but blind adherence prevents adaptability to her circumstances.  She pretends to adapt, because acting is part of the job she was trained for, but must actually accept the world she has found herself in and its dangers in order to affect change. she needs to let her experiences in the empire change her...into something more than a Rextian born in Kordic.

Teshen Hehriya -- Is a bit overconfident in his own abilities and knowledge, a touch narcissistic, and resents Kordic rule of his people so much so that even when he becomes aware that his sister is likely in danger due to his actions, he  embroils himself in more intrigue in the hopes of combating oppression, rather than seeking her out.

I think that will work.  The basic conflict in the WIP is the xenophobia of the Imperial laws, and how one enemy seeks to use those laws as a bid for power while the Empire hovers on the edge of war with lands to the south.  Fear and effectively, racism, are modes of control of an elite over an ethnically diverse Empire that wants to pretend it is homogeneous.  Meanwhile, the diverse identities end up expressed politically, philosophically, and begin to unite and polarize the Empire after the death of the Lord of Rijnic and his wife (Kyr's sister), an act whose significance will bring war.

I'm afraid my academic background is firmly visible in this plot, but so be it.   I'm working on actually reducing the description to something that does not wield such...highfalutin...word choice, but no guarantees.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

SciFi/Fantasy TV (What I'm Watching) : Game of Thrones

This is such a good time to be a geek-girl. Oh my happy eyes.  I know there are a bunch of shows that people have massively different takes on, but there are many that I enjoy.

Geeking-out was one of the first things my guy and I shared in common.  From Sci Fi to science documentaries and books, we shared a lot in common from the get go.

So when **** flew into the fan, and the customary dinner out was no longer an option, we fell on some series show-watching for our "time together."

I discovered that TV shows, of a decent quality can actually be inspirational.  This was not something I discovered as a  kid, as my family didn't have cable till I was in High School.  Even then, I didn't spend a lot of time in front of the screen.  

Now, however, I watch plenty.   Is that a  bad thing?  I don't know. 

Thankfully, there are plenty of SciFi and Fantasy shows on that I enjoy,  from the acting and writing to the whole art of some of these shows.   

The premier of its type, at the moment is Game if Thrones, which just kicked off its second season.  What a start it was!  I can't wait to see more.  

I love the fact that the  first season stuck as closely to the book as it did.  While the director said that they will play with the order of events in this season just to keep the predominately now-well-read audience on the edge of their sofas, I can't wait to see what they are going to do.

The scenery is just spectacular.  Every scene is very well placed, and the costume design is perfect. While I know this sounds like superficial details, they are each incredibly important in creating the world.  The setting is so important in fantasies because it creates the mood, the depth, and the basis of relationship to the reader.  While characters drive the story, the setting is like the canvas of the painting.  Without it, the superb detail of the characters would be reduced to nothing more than sketches.  

I think it is easier to get good actors than it is to get a Fantasy setting right on a screen.  Not to say that good acting is easy to find, but look into what they did to get these scenes right of the series -- Iceland, Turkey, Croatia, Ireland...   

You plop the outstanding cast in roles perfect to their ability and add the appropriate setting and wow--they really did a good job bringing this series to life.

I'm not going to go into what the series is about, but I recommend watching and reading it, both.  A perfect way to wind down the evening!

What is your favorite book adaption to screen? Big or small screen?