Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Life in Venus's Atmosphere?

 2020 has been full of strange news so far, but perhaps some of the strangest could be the possibility of life in Venus's atmosphere. On the surface of the planet, it's hot enough to melt lead. However, scientists have detected phosphine in the atmosphere at concentrations high enough to suggest the gas is being made by anaerobic bacteria in the atmosphere. (Venus's atmosphere is mostly carbon dioxide.) It's not definite proof, and the phosphine could be produced by some unknown method, but it is a tantalizing notion. Here's one of the articles about this discovery. 

If there is life on Venus, does it use DNA and the same genetic code as life on Earth does? Does it use the same basic biochemistry? Is there the possibility of multicellular life? How would it influence science fiction to know there is life on other planets? These are just a few of the questions that I'd want answered. What are yours? Feel free to share them in the comments.

Wednesday, September 09, 2020

September: Self-Published Fantasy Month

 

Did you know there's such a thing as Self-Published Fantasy Month? Neither did I before reading about it in Virginia McClain's newsletter. Apparently September is devoted to self-published fantasy, at least, according to this website. I wish I'd learned about this sooner so I could come up with more ways to celebrate. Of course, the best way to do so is to buy, read, and review self-published fantasy. I've decided to drop the prices of my Season Avatars books and Ordinary Wonders collection to $0.99 for September to make those works more accessible. The website I linked to also suggests posting about your favorite self-published fantasy authors.

Here's a list of authors I've read and enjoyed, along with general descriptions of their works:

Christine Pope (fairy tale retellings and a series about witches; I've read more of the former than the latter)

Lindsay Buroker (action-packed stories with humorous characters in a secondary world)

H.L. Burke (she has a couple of different series, including a steampunk one and one involving magicians)

Charlotte E. English (Modern Magick series, about an English society trying to save magic)

Aviva Rothschild (The Beatles as characters in a D&D type world)

I'm sure there are more that I can't remember at the moment, and this doesn't even include cozy mystery authors who include fantastic elements in their stories.

Do you have any favorite self-published fantasy authors? Feel free to tell me about them in the comments.


Wednesday, September 02, 2020

IWSG: A Beta Partner of Your Dreams

We made it to September and another post for the Insecure Writer's Support Group. Learn more about them on their website, Facebook page, and Twitter feed.

Our hosts this month are PJ Colando, J Lenni Dorner, Deniz Bevan, Kim Lajevardi, Natalie Aguirre, and Lousie-Fundy Blue.

 Here's our question for today: If you could choose one author, living or dead, to be your beta partner, who would it be and why?

I would have to pick my favorite author, Patricia A. McKillip. McKillip is a master of evoking a sense of wonder and magic. She excels at description (something I always feel I need to improve in my work), and she's so creative she has multiple stand-alone works. I would learn a lot more from her than she would from me.

I had the honor of meeting Patricia McKillip at WisCon several years ago (It must have been 2004, when she was a Guest of Honor), so I'll share my autograph from that event, even though it's not personalized.



Which author would you pick as a beta partner? Feel free to share your answer in the comments.



 


 

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

End of August Project Update

The last couple of days have been very much "A Hard Day's Night" work-wise, so I'll just quickly summarize where I am with my multitude of writing projects:

1. Cozy Mystery #2--I'm not sure yet if I want to call it Restaurants and Revenge or Food Safety Can Be Fatal. (I think the second one is more fun, but since I work in food safety, I'm not sure how that would look professionally.) My plan is to write about 500 words a day and aim for about 15,000 words/month. I'm around 13,000 at the moment, so I should make my goal. I just need to figure out a few more details about the murder.

2. Untitled Fantasy Short Story--I have a complete first draft around 4,300 words. I rewrote the opening scene, which naturally will affect the other scenes even though they feel more complete to me. Hopefully by September I can start submitting it to markets.

3. Dryads and Dragons--My original plan for August was to write about 200 words on this project per day. I made my goal for several days, but between squeezing in other projects and trying to figure out how I get from the middle to the end, I haven't worked on it for a while. 

4. Cozy Mystery #1--It's been about a month since I finished it, so it's time for the first read-through. How many inconsistencies will I find? Did I portray my heroine's Filipino heritage accurately? What will the beta readers think? Tune in sometime next month (hopefully) for the answers! In the meantime, enjoy the Beatles:


https://youtu.be/Yxq40ZYIibw



Wednesday, August 19, 2020

ReCONvene 2020

 

 I originally hadn't planned to attend any more virtual conventions this year, but when one of my blogging buddies, Terri Bruce, posted about ReCONvene 2020 (the virtual version of Boskone), I was intrigued by a couple of the panels. (Terri published a short story collection called Souls last month. The cover is pictures, and You can check it out on Amazon at the link.) Since it was only ten bucks to attend the convention, I decided to register. Below is a list of the panels I watched. 

Glimpsing Climate Recovery

The Distant Future in Science Fiction

The AI Amongst Us

Modernizing Fairy Tales and Myths

Exploring the Literary Sandbox of Speculative Fiction

Worldblending in Speculative Fiction


Unfortunately, the con chose not to record the panels, and I didn't take notes. (One good thing about virtual panels is that it's easier to do things like clean, cook, and crochet while you're listening.) I was particularly interested in the Modernizing Fairy Tales and Myths panel, but it didn't go into the details of adapting old tales to new settings as much as I hoped it would. It occurred to me after the panel was over that I could have asked for writing tips in the Q&A, but by then it was too late. 

The panelists (at least, the ones I'd heard of) were mostly traditionally published authors, and all of the panels were well moderated. A couple of the panelists missed panels for technical or other reasons, but on the whole the panels were well run. Obviously a virtual convention lacks many of the charms of an in-person convention, but since this I've never been able to go to Boskone, a virtual convention is better than no convention at all.




Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Businesses in Cozy Mystery

 Although I've been reading cozy mystery for a few years, this year is the first time I've tried writing in the genre. I finished the first draft of the first book of a series at the end of July. Now I'm working on the sequel. It's a lot of fun, and I seem to be making better progress on it than I have been with the urban fantasy trilogy I started a couple of years ago. (My goal is to write at least 500 words/day on the cozy mystery and 200 words/day on the urban fantasy. I started tracking at the beginning of August, and I've met my goal more often than not.)

One thing I've noticed about cozy mysteries is that when they involve business owners, they omit certain types certain types of business activities from the story. For example, I'm currently reading a series about a witch who runs a bakery in a small town. I already read the first three books and just started the fourth. There's lots of talk about baking, cleaning the store, making deliveries, and selling to customers, but no mention of preparing payroll for the employees or pest control. (I originally had more items in this list, but to my surprise, the third book included disasters like running out of supplies or surprise health inspection.) Maybe authors don't feel comfortable including those tasks or think they don't contribute to the story or cozy atmosphere. 

As a reader, I'd like to see some of these activities too, as they would make the story feel more realistic. As an author, I hope other readers are open to learning about them. For example, in my current WIP, my main character is going to attend a multi-day class about food safety in restaurants. I've also had to attend food safety training for my job, but there's never been a murder involved. Hopefully homicide is more entertaining than hairnets. Later on in the series, my main character will go to a nearby berry farm for ingredients and end up having to solve another murder. Just another day on the job, I guess.

Are there tropes in the cozy mystery genre (or any other genre) that you think ought to be subverted? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.



Wednesday, August 05, 2020

August IWSG: Pieces and Forms

We made it to August, everyone! Welcome to another Insecure Writers Support Group post. You can learn more about them on their website, Facebook page, or Twitter feed.

Our hosts this month are Susan Baury Rouchard, Nancy Gideon, Jennifer Lane, Jennifer Hawes (no link available), Chemist Ken, and Chrys Fey.

Our question for this month starts with an unattributed quote: "Although I have written a short story collection, the form found me and not the other way around. Don't write short stories, novels, or poems. Just write your truth and your stories will mold into the shapes they need to be." Have you ever written a piece that became a form, or even a genre, you hadn't planned on writing in? Or do you choose a form/genre in advance?

Although I am still more of a pantser than a plotter, I generally do know length of story and genre when I start writing. However, I've written stories that were meant to be standalones but became part of a series. Lyon's Legacy is probably the best example of a story that sparked more stories.

I'm afraid I don't have much to say on this topic, and I should be working on my multiple writing projects. So if you'd like to comment on this post or link to your blog on the same topic, please do so.


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