Sunday, January 31, 2010

Writing Status: Anarchy

My muse is in full anarchy mode. I'm pulling my hair out. I got a sense she was starting to revolt when I posted my Veered off the Main Road entry, but it's official. Sadly, I don't think she even knows what direction SHE'S going in.

Last night was all over the place. By the end of the evening I'd given up any hope of working on Damarion, blurted out 3 horrible story ideas, 2 "maybe has potential" stories, and 1 "what the Wisconsin?" idea. Then I thought I'd try my hand at the rewrite request but found her refusing to speak to me.

I swear this Muse is going to take what's left of my sanity. I'll end up a babbling, old, grey-haired crazy woman with an imaginary parrot on her shoulder.

Good writing all! (May your Muses be better-tempered)

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Science Updates

As a new post theme, I'm going to start doing periodic science and technology updates that interest me. The focus of these updates will be things I see arriving or down the pipe that will lead to some great science fiction concept basis. (Who am I kidding? They're just things I think are REALLY cool.)

Okay, here we go:

NASA unveils a new Space Suit...yay! This has been one of my dreams since the 1980s. It's taken longer than my sci-fi mind thought it would. But, no matter, it's here now. Taking a good look at the suit, it's very exciting. It modifies for different functions and environments and looks like some of the sci-fi prototypes in early 70s and late 80s science fiction stories.

Econeering...the way of the future. Watch out for this bioengineering science, and the key phrase, Econeering. If they are able to keep succeeding in this technology we're going to see the full potential of Terra forming at an accelerated rate. This technology is a little scary, depending on the ethical sustainment of the research and development.

Done wrong, this could turn into a more sinister sci-fi concept. Not only that, but with the parallel successes of genomic and nano technology I think we could see some blending of human, ecological, and IT on the future evolutionary timeline.

PZT: Flexible Energy Sheets...This is what I'm talking about! The new technology in this is amazing and something all sci-fi geeks should be uber excited about. PZT sheets can be placed anywhere that would stress and flex it and Wha-Bhammo! energy. This would be great in context to futuristic healthcare, space-living, long voyage transportation...the list goes on and on and on. (Phew...take a breath AR. The excitement's getting to ya.)
Well, those are three things that caught my imagination and stirred some great ideas.

Good writing all!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Book Review: The Loch

Dropping by CVS to pick up some crackers...okay, okay. It was chips. I was heading in for chips. Moving on...Running in I naturally passed by their little book area. The 3 face-front rows stared at me, and I stared back. I felt that instinct kick in. There was something here. Some visual clue that was triggering my subconscious.

And then, BAM! I spotted it. The Loch by Steve Alten.
I was not disappointed, for the most part. The story was an interesting and fantastic take on the Lochness monster myth. Alten used the basic theories and legends, but weaved them in with modern flawed characters and a well developed plot.

There was a bit of...fat...that dragged out the story at points. Once I got the feel of his writing style I could spot those parts and skip without remorse. I really, really loved his characters. It is a strength that I, as a writer, can't help but envy. Envy in a good way. It gives me insight into the "right way" and urges me to strive for that quality.

What I also liked was the little vignettes in between chapters. They were small enough not to distract and tied to the theme so well they added another layer of realism and connection.

Good job to Steve Alten on a great book. I will be on the lookout for other works of his.

Good writing all!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Veering off the Main Road

I met my goal, not quite in the direction I meant to go, but I met it. By Sunday I had about 3000 words. Almost 1000 of them are now tucked tight in Damarion's story. However, the other 2000 are on a project I'd meant to hold off on.

I guess writing is writing. When it comes down to it, I have to go where my muse takes me. Some people can really focus and drive their creativity. I can persuade her to a great extent, but when it comes down to it, she still drives me.

It's not that I mind this. Truthfully, I prefer it. There's a reason my subconscious is taking me in a certain direction and towards a certain story. A writer has to learn focus, but also instinct. Maye the story isn't working for a reason. Or maybe there's a little piece that's missing, and if you work on something else for a bit, that piece will fall into place.

Who knows. It's all a guessing game, but such a fun ride. I'm just glad I've started writing again.

Good writing all!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Adjectives and Adverbs Fettish

Tsk, tsk, comes out. I love adjectives and adverbs. (Hides under 3rd grade glow in the dark space comforter).

I do. I can't help it. Blue can't be just blue. Smurf blue, baby sky blue, smoky blue of the dusty horizon. Okay. The last one is a joke ('ll never know). Let me tell you, starting out I was slapped with the harsh, cold anti adjective/adverb tornado of the writing industry.

To admit, I didn't *really* understand what they were scoffing at. Of course, now I do...and I want to share what I know and have grown to understand. It's an evolving thing here, so if you think something's way off base, feel free to flip the bird at me.

Here we go (interpreted from the Gregg Reference Manual, 8th Edition):

Adjective: Modifies a noun or pronoun. A word, phrase or clause that answers what kind, how many, or which one.

  1. Dismal Amazon rain (what kind)
  2. Ten Amazon tribes (how many)
  3. The other Amazon tribe (which one)
Adverb: Modifies a verb, adjective, or another adverb. A word, phrase or clause that answers when, where, why, in what manner, to what extent.

  1. In a timely manner (when)
  2. I quickly rose (in what manner)
  3. He occasionally visits (to what extent)
It's well known that the adjective/adverb angst ranges from frowned upon to outright lynching. Me, I think that moderation is the key. My first drafts are riddled, drowning, and splattered with adjectives and adverbs. Through my first editing pass, I focus on them, each on a case-by-case basis.

With each one I ask myself: Is there a better way to write this? And, am I using it as a tell instead of a show?

Example: Surpringly, Julie didn't expect the party.

Revision: Julie opened the door and dropped her keys in the bowl. Flipping on the light, the burst of "Happy Birthday!" scared her back against the wall. On a laugh, she smacked Tony's shoulder and said, "I didn't expect you to do this!"

The revision expands and gives three dimensions to the character, the secondary character, and their dynamic to each other. The first is dry as a saltine cracker.

Other times it's just about overload. My original work Flora Planet is a prime example of adjective overdose. (I'm only giving the first paragraph, as it's rather embarrassing in hindsight)

"Standing in the forest clearing, my crew the first to stand in a new planet without assistive gear, I felt humbled. Thick warm air enclosed around us. Tall, thick trees, lush green plants, bold beautiful flowers, and bright blue sky filled our eyes. Leaves so large they were bigger than the hand. So many variations of green: dark greens almost black, bright green vines, moss green growing on rocks, deep green leaves, and green brown tree needles."
"Standing in the forest clearing, my crew the first to stand in a new planet without assistive gear, I felt humbled. Thick air enveloped us. Leaves, in varying shades of green from moss to almost black, were bigger than the hand."
See? Much tighter. Did the reader really need EVERY shade and to what part the shade was with? No, that can unfold throughout the story. Could you imagine a whole story of the original? EEK!

Okay, enough rambling for now.

Good writing all!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Book Review: Nomads of the Sky

In a throw-back to 1992, I'm going to review one of my all time favorite books, Nomads of the Sky by William H. Keith, Jr. (hereby referred to as just Keith Jr).

Keith Jr creates a brilliant masterpiece, building a universe that sparks the reader's imagination.

"Space was a velvet blackness, made glorious by the unwinking diamond dust of stars." (Nomads of the Sky, W. Keith, 1992)
This first line had a sci-fi chick like me dreaming off into space. By the end of the first paragraph I was fully enveloped in the story. Hell, I was the main character. I could feel space, the shuttle, even smell the tree space colony!

What enthralled me the most was the intricate way he built the universal society and made it believable. The tree space colony, done wrong, could've come across as crazy and laughable. Instead, his logical approach made me wonder why it hadn't been talked about in main stream science.

Now, the way the tree culture sustained their life....Well, yeah. I'll leave that up to you to read and find out about.

And, let me tell you the SCI in sci-fi is not overpowering or nauseating. It's just right and fits the storyline. Not only that, it helps unveal the character's flaws and strengths throughout the story.

So if you're looking for a classical, well written science fiction novel with well developed characters and plot, pick up the oldie but goodie Nomads of the Sky by William H. Keith, Jr.

Good writing all!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Writing Progress

Progress is a subjective word. That statement may be a diversion tactic on my part, but I'm sticking to it.

All right, all right. Writing hasn't been very good last three days. You won't find me listing the many excuses. It is what it is and I was not focused enough during what free time I had. I've managed to cut 2200 words from Damarion (about 4 scenes). I've added 1400 words to complete one chapter and 2 scenes. That's what I like to do in a day, so I'm very disappointed.

I'm going to crack my own whip on this and set a goal of 3000 words by Sunday.

Good writing all!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Point of View

A story concept has smacked you square in the face and you're excited to get started. You've laid out the idea in summary and/or outline form and have started your research. Now you have to decide what point of view it should be in.

There are four (arguably) points of view: first person, third person omniscient, third person limited omniscient, and third person objective. Each point of view has strength and weaknesses depending on the story.

First Person: The narrator is one of the characters. They cannot see what the other characters are thinking and feeling. Their interpretation is subjective.

Third Person Omniscient: Narrator is not a character in the story. They can see what they are all thinking and feeling and can interpret what they see.

Third Person Limited Omniscient: The most popular of the omniscient approach, this tactic ties the narrator to one character in the story. The narrator can see what that character is thinking and feeling and still interpret those aspects.

Third Person Objective: The narrator remains detached from the characters all together, only writing the action and dialogue. The narrator is only a spectator recording the story. Cannot see what characters thinking and feeling beyond the character's external actions/reactions. how do you figure out which POV to use? Well, I don't know how you should. I'm a newbie here, but I can list out how I decide what POV to use and you can see if it works for you.

Okey, dokey. I sit back and close my eyes to visualize my story. What view am I getting?

A) Is it like a television show where I see everything?

Yes: Do I see it sporadically from different character perspectives?

Yes: Do I feel detached from the characters?

Yes: POV is Third person objective

No: POV is Third person omniscient

No: Move to B

B) Is it like I’m walking through it?

Yes: Do I see it sporadically from different character perspectives?

Yes: Do I feel detached from the characters?

Yes: POV Third person objective

No: POV Third person omniscient

No: Do I see it from one character’s perspective?

Yes: Am I emotionally objective to the actions/plot?

Yes: POV Third person limited

No: First person

And that's how I figure out my POV.

Good writing all!

Tradition Versus Modern

There's been a lot of talk in my various writing groups lately about writing style. There are many stating that untrained writers are using "writing style" as an excuse to write bad and avoid learning the writing rules. The opposing argument is that the formally trained writers are suffocating the creative process of writing.

Obviously, this argument is divided into two camps of writers. The first group are people who have followed an education or training/learning path of formal English education. They have a passion for writing, but also a passion for the rules of writing. I think of this group as the Traditionalists.

The second group are those who have the same passion for writing, but haven't focused their education or training in the formal education. These people learn by sight and instinct. They know good writing from bad but can't tell you the why of it. I think of this group as the Modernists.

Both the Traditionalists and the Modernists are passionate about the art and craft of writing. Their difference comes in approach, which fit their individual personalities and are the core strength of their writing styles.

Modernists have the strength and creative angst to break through the latest rigid rules of writing and to form a new method of expression. They are cocky enough to do it without apologies. Traditionalists have the respect of the founding rules that transcend the various evolutions. They are cocky enough to fight off the desecration of those basic rules.

Both groups have qualities that the other can learn from and hopefully one day appreciate. As with the late 1700 through mid-1800, and then again through the 1940-1970s there were evolutions of writing that changed the way readers look at the core stories of values, morals, and,

Hope my little rant wasn't too much or too boring. Good writing all!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Moving On

Wow. It was a revelation evening for me last night. I sat working on Damarion's Voyage and watching Modern Family through the magic of DVR and realized I'd moved on from Galileo.

Galileo Wars was finished recently, as you know from a previous post. I've tucked it away and totally let go. The original concept of Galileo has been with me through everything. It was my first novel ever and I've been reworking and reworking and reworking it for almost two decades. It's matured with me. Its characters have evolved with me.

And now it's done. This is whether publishing-wise it's a bad story, okay story, or something agents/publishers will drool over.

I know I've probably posted that I've completed it...but it hit that along with that completion I've closed a chapter in my writing history. I feel released and free to take on any idea without the flittering thoughts of Galileo in the background.

Okay, internal moment over. I'm off to finish lunch and continue work on Damarion.

Good writing all!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Four Horseman Anthology Update

Yay! I'm so excited, as shown by previous exclamation point. Yesterday morning I received the first pass of edits by my - clears throat - editor (that felt really cool to write by the way..sorry, geek moment over).

Jessy Roberts, Pill Hill's editor, had some fantastic revision ideas that streamlined and focused the story in a way I couldn't imagine. I know that a lot of people get hurt feelings when someone critiques their writing. I don't. Mainly because when they critique it, it means they were paying attention. And, it means they aren't sugar coating you with brown-nosing or because they fear hurting your feelings.

This morning she sent me the cover art with permission to post it here. Now, just fair warning, this will be posted again when the book is on Amazon. I don't know if I'll be allowed to post the illustration for my actual story, but I'll let you know.

(enter drum roll)...

Eek! Okay, I lied. Another geek moment on its way. This cover is so awesome! I can't wait to have it in my book collection. I can't wait to read the other stories.

In general, I just can't wait!

I wrote my first story in 2nd grade. I remember, because I entered the story into McDonald's writing contest and won the kitchen toy. This kitchen toy was the first plastic version (whereas the previous were metal and would rust and wear down). Needless to say, I was the envy of the neighborhood until that richer, blond-ponytail girl's dad from down the street bought her one with an extra set of dishes.

From that first story came the seed of my passion for writing. After 2nd grade the traditional writer's inhibition kicked in and my work became personal and private. But, with that 2nd grade win another seed was planted. It didn't flourish until 2008. This was the need to have strangers read my work.

They don't have to like it. Heck they can hate it. But they'll have read words I strung together to create substance where there was once only thoughts and visions. I've been published online and it was exciting. But, I didn't realize the difference this would mean to me. This book will always be in existence, somewhere.

Even if just in someones attic.

Good writing all!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Most Interesting Incident

Hi had the most interesting incident yesterday evening. I couldn't find my muse, she was sad and tucked deep away due to recent non-writing reasons. So I took it in stride as the other parts of my brain didn't want to write either. Instead, I focused on cooking dinner.

I stood by the stove waiting for the water to boil and chuckled when the old adage crossed my mind, "a watched pot won't boil." I was watching it, with such intent that you'd think the very essence of my being counted on the water to start dancing. Fractured thoughts raced through my head as the water just sat in the metal pot, warming up at it's own leisure.

I've never watched water come to boil and so what happened when it did threw me off a bit. The very act shoved me out of the reverent, introspective state I'd been stuck in.

About an inch from the edge a little....water tornado started to swirl. A teeny size thing that would maybe frighten an ant. Its narrow funnel swirled slow, wobbling a bit as it started out. Then it grew wider and more steady. At the bottom of the pot teeny bubbles started dancing on the metal surface.

A quarter turn from the funnel, another started up. I watched them interact with the little bubbles squiggling around at the bottom of the pot. I leaned over at the miniature spectacle right as a big boil bubble reach the surface and rolled over onto itself.

With it came a story idea about an underwater civilization/world. It's so new that I haven't figured out the details, but the vague concept is simmering in my head just waiting to boil up to the surface.

I'll let you know when the full idea has arrived.

Good writing all!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Second Story Finds A Home

Yay! One of my babies found a home today.

Judgment is not very big, complete at a little over 2200 words. The story is a work of speculative fiction following Nita's journey into the afterworld. This is another story that started out as a dream. Though the dream was triggered by research, so I'm not sure it fully counts as a purely dreamed concept. It did, however, trigger a whole life evaluation.

The story will be in Pill Hill Press' upcoming anthology The Four Horseman: An Anthology of Conquest, War, Famine, and Death. I just double-checked their website and the release date is June 2010.

I first came across Pill Hill Press through one of my online writer's resources, Editors Unleashed. I clicked on one of the forum links to the small press and after reading the open submission knew I had to get something into one of their anthologies.

This book is going to be great and has the added bonus of being illustrated. I can't wait to see what the artist envisions for Judgment. As an amateur (very, very amateur) artist my brain has thought of a dozen ideas. But, they have a professional, so I know he'll pick a perfect image for it.

Here's a link to the full list of contributors: The Four Horseman - Final Selection

I'll keep you all posted on the progress of this and let you know when the book comes out.

Good writing all!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

New Project

With Galileo complete and on its way hopefully to be published, my attention has turned to my newest large project. For those of you unfamiliar with my writing structure, I work one large novel or novella and a few shorts/flashes at a time.

That is unless my little muse has drunk a virtual Red Bull, in which I'm sporadically spewing out loads of outlines, scenes, and idea blurbs. Most of these will be looked at by my muse later in shock and horror...then ceremoniously crumpled and tossed into the recycle bin.

But right now she's in a zen moment and really digging the next project in the queue. Damarion's Voyage is slated to be a novella with a goal word count of 35k-40k. Damarion started out life as three different stories.

Yes, I know what you're thinking, "What the Wisconsin?!"

I dreamed the main storyline and feverishly wrote it into a novella in two weeks. Then I sat back and realized it was emotionally void and one dimensional. Pissed off, I stuck in in my halted folder and moved on in disgust.

Then I dreamed this really wonderful floral planet and wrote a flash out of it. Or, I thought it was a flash. I even sent it to a magazine only to be told, "Um yeah. Nice visual of a world but no actual story included."

In the meantime, I had this older story in my back pocket (not really there, figuratively speaking) about a transcription of a found space voyage recording. The story is one of my favorite but missing all character dynamic.

So, all these pieces and each missing some main element or two. Busy thinking about Galileo on my way home one day (enter 1950s upbeat jingle here) and a car honked it horn...wait, I hate when people say it that way. The car does not honk its own horn. A person in a car honked their horn (there, much better). Any-who, the horn scared the jeepers out of me and for some reason I realized that the voyage story and the cardboard space journey were the same stories.

Don't ask me why, it must have been subconsciously floating right below the surface.

I hurried home and laid out both stories. The two seemed like a perfect mate to each other. I merged them into a generational storyline that bounces back and forth between father and daughter journeys.

After this first breakthrough I'd fiddled a bit and then realized one of the planets they visit (in their respect time) is this floral planet.

Who-ala, three stories into one. It's how my brain sometimes works, I don't know what else to say.

Well, good writing all!