Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Put In or Take Out?

I mentioned in my last post that I'm listening to a lecture series on writing great fiction. The speaker (James Hynes) is also an author, though I don't think I've read any of his work. One of the points he made is about including enough detail to draw the reader into the story. He says he tends to overwrite the details in the first draft, because it's easier to remove the unimportant details than to add them in. I have to admit I'm the opposite. In my first draft, I'm still feeling out scene goals, plot points, and dialogue, so the setting tends to take a back seat. I try to work in more details when I'm more familiar with the story and the setting. The exception is when I'm working in story worlds that I've previously used, so I already know what the world is like.

Every author has a different approach to writing, and sometimes an author will change their writing process for different stories. (I'm doing this myself with my current works in progress. Both of them follow several different characters as POV/protagonists. I plan to have short chapters in these books and have the POV switch to a new character with each chapter. I normally write each chapter in order, but in this situation, I'm finding it easier to stick with one character for several scenes, even if I plan to break them up later.) Obviously, Hynes' approach works for him. Do you prefer to include a lot of details in your first draft, or do you work them in later? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.

Monday, September 17, 2018

Writing Book Recommendations

One of my resolutions this year was to read at least ten books on writing craft or marketing books. Although I started off pretty well, I just looked at my list on Goodreads and realized I've only read three books out of the ten. I just started listening to a Great Courses lecture series on writing great fiction, so even though I don't list my audiobooks on Goodreads, I might still count the series toward this goal--assuming I finish it before the end of the year. I probably have some books already in my collection, but I thought it might be helpful to see what other people recommend. Feel free to list your favorite writing books in the comments.

Friday, September 14, 2018

Science of the Week, 9/14/18

This week didn't offer much in the way of interesting science news articles, but here are some of the most interesting ones I read this week:

New research suggests Pluto should be reclassified as a planet

Throwing darts at approaching asteroids

Robot can pick up any object after inspecting it

Have a good weekend, and I'll see you Monday!

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Video: A Hard Day's Night

Since it's been a hard day's night at work the last couple of days, I'm having trouble coming up with something to blog about for today. So here's the opening to the Beatles' movie A Hard Day's Night. Enjoy!

Monday, September 10, 2018

Happy Anniversary!

Happy Anniversary to Eugene, the man who always knows how to make me smile! This picture was taken on our honeymoon. It can be hard to find time to celebrate a special day during the week. We discussed going out for dinner yesterday, but it didn't work out. Maybe this coming weekend we can do something. What do you do if your birthday or anniversary falls on a workday? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.

Wednesday, September 05, 2018

IWSG: Publishing Paths

Once again, the Insecure Writer's Support Group is encouraging writers to share their writing journeys with others. You can learn more about the IWSG on their website , Facebook page, or Twitter. This month, our co-hosts are Toi Thomas, T Powell Coltrin, M.J. Fifield, and Tara Tyler.

Our question this month is What publishing path are you considering/did you take, and why?

When I decided to be a writer back in the 90s, traditional publishing with an agent and a publisher was the only real option. Today, I consider myself a hybrid author. Although I'll still publish most of my work independently, I'll participate in anthologies if I find them interesting.I enjoy having control over my projects, and while I obviously want to find a steady stream of readers for my work, I can also write "projects of the heart" to keep my passion for writing alive. I'd rather retain full rights for my novels, but short story markets take fewer rights and introduce my work to new readers. No matter if you pursue traditional publishers/agents (remember: there's no guarantee they'll choose you) or take on the publishing role yourself, writing is a business, and there's no easy path to success. It takes time to develop your craft and find an audience.

What's your writing path? I would love to give you some choices here like the old "Choose Your Own Adventure" books, but I'm afraid there's only one place for comments for this post.

Monday, September 03, 2018

MCSI Now Available!

For those of you celebrating Labor Day today, I hope you're enjoying the day off. A holiday may not be the best day to make this announcement, but I didn't learn about the release of MCSI: Magical Crime Scene Investigation in time for Wednesday's post Anyway, if you missed the chance to participate in the Kickstarter for this paranormal investigation anthology, you can still get a copy. It's available on Amazon in ebook and paper formats. If you're looking for other ebook formats, it's also available through Smashwords. My short story, "Henry's Harness," is part of the collection, but I'm looking forward to reading the other stories as well. Here's the blurb and full list of stories and authors:

Cold cases, cold coffee, rushing into situations other people run from - being a cop is tough. But it gets even tougher when the particulars of the case don’t match up with the way the world is supposed to be. But some investigators take these paranormal speed bumps in stride. Your murder suspect is a dragon? Bring it on. Your evidence comes from a conference with the spirit world? No problem. Your kidnapping suspect is an undead creature sprung from Old World folklore? Okay, that might take the fortification of an extra cup of coffee and some back up.

We have 18 urban fantasy stories about solving the case with a little magical help ready for your curious mind. Come along for the ride and enjoy the thrills of investigation. Remember, Quod Sequitor - Follow the Evidence.

Our Stories and Authors:
The Mercury Division by Lynda Collins
How Many Hearts Will it Take? by Karen Thrower
Meat Market by Aaron C. Smith
Henry's Harness by Sandra Ulbrich Almazan
Nachtkrapp by Michelle D. Sonnier
You've Goat to be Kidding Me by Andrea Stanet
Half Someplace Gone by Blake Jessop
Le Dragon de Bronze by K.A. Mielke
The Twins in the Fog by Rie Sheridan Rose
Chief Hunkypants vs. the Magic Door by Josie Dorans
Harvest Moon by Jasmine Brown and Simon Young
Elemental Forensics by Elizabeth Hosang
Arm-in-Arm with Alchemy by Rosie Wylor-Owen
Corpus Delicti by Jade Black
The Clean-Up Crew by Edmund Lester
A Dead Mermaid on Eel Pie Island by Liz Tuckwell
The Advantages of Unofficial Consultation by Brian M. Milton
Poppies by Ashlea Adams

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Feedback on Story Title and Blurb

As if I don't have enough writing projects (I've been splitting my writing time between two very different novels), I've returned to the Season Avatars world long enough to write a short story set about fifteen years after Summon the Seasons. This will be the first story in what I'm calling the Selathen Avatars series, and it features Rob, Jenna's son. Rob will be one of the protagonists of the first novel in the Selathen Avatars series, and this story will set up the situation that we'll find him in. I'm hoping to publish the story at the end of September to tie in with my appearance at the Gail Borden Comic Con. The story's already been through a rewrite, but I'm still trying to decide on a title. I posted three on Facebook, and of those, "Seeds in Strange Places" was the favorite. It doesn't capture an important element of the story, though. Some possible alternatives are listed below:

"Seeds and Visions"
"The Season of Visions"
"The Seeds of Vision."

Any favorites? 

I'd also appreciate your thoughts on the blurb:

As the son of Challen’s Summer Avatar, Rob has learned everything that can be done with plants without magic. But he is also the son of the Fip Empire’s War Avatar, expected to marry a Fip princess despite his lack of interest in women. The Fip’s God of War also wants to use Rob’s strange vision for His own purposes. Can Rob sort through the conflicting demands on him to create his own path?

Monday, August 27, 2018

The Golden Age of Fandom

My son did something on Friday night that almost had me ask him what he'd done with the real Alex. He's always been indifferent to antipathetic about superhero movies, but on Friday night, he wanted to see Black Panther. We ended up getting the digital version on Amazon. Now we're discussing whether to go straight to Infinity War or start at the beginning with Iron Man. (We're going to skip to Infinity War.) You may remember that earlier this year I had to see those movies by myself in the theater because my son didn't want to go, so while I'm not a big Marvel fan myself, I am glad that he's expanding his fandoms. Hopefully this doesn't lead to him abandoning Star Wars; it's become a big part of our family by now.

When I Google "The Golden Age of Fandom," the top hits are all about comics or movies, not about stages in a person's life. I'm not sure if it's still true that the preteen years are the peak season for fandom. If anything, adulthood and a steady income allow one to buy collectibles on a whim and attend conventions. Parenthood certainly leads to a decline in disposable income, but if a child becomes interested in superheroes, Disney, Star Wars, Harry Potter, or any other fantasy world, they may rekindle a parent's interest or develop something new.

As a girl, I read all sorts of books, but I particularly remember reading Andre Norton's work along with the Oz series and other fantasy books. I didn't become heavily invested into science fiction/fantasy until my late teens/early twenties. As a middle-aged mom, I don't have the time or energy to feel intensely about a particular fandom, but I still care about the field. I think too that as a reader who follows her own interests, not just the best-sellers, I find less of a fandom for some of my favorite series. I can enjoy them even if I don't always find fellow fans to share them with.

Anyway, when did you enter fandom, and what brought you into it? Feel free to share in the comments.

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Inheritors of the Earth

When most people think of biodiversity, they think of saving the species we already have. While that's important, there are other ways that nature adapts to change. Chris D. Thomas discusses them in Inheritors of the Earth: How Nature is Thriving in an Age of Extinction.

We are currently living in an Anthropocene Age, where the Earth is markedly affected by our actions. Many people say that due to human activity, we are currently living through a sixth mass extinction. Thomas, however, turns conventional thinking about biology upside down. Instead of removing invasive species and preventing them from hybridizing with local ones, we should move endangered plants and animals to locations where they are likely to thrive. Although there are cases where invaders out-compete native species, this is because the invaders are fitter. For examples, island birds may lose the ability to fly over time. For them, flying is a waste of energy (since they have no predators) that could be better used for reproducing. When predators come, the birds can't escape, and they may be less able to fight new diseases. Mainland birds that have had to deal with challenges constantly are better able to survive in this situation.

Moving new species to different locations can create new niches in the ecosystem and give rise to hybrids that can form new species. One of the examples discussed in the book is an invasive plant that offered butterflies a new source of food at a time when their normal food source was threatened. When the apple tree was brought to America, it allowed a type of fly to specialize in a different food source, ultimately splitting off to form a new species. This new apple fly has three specialized parasitic wasps associated with it, so the apple tree brought about the development of four new insect species. These developments can happen fairly quickly, over a couple of centuries instead of millions of years.

Thomas ultimately reminds us that we humans are a part of nature, so everything we do is natural. Since the dawn of civilization, we have developed new species by selective breeding and brought others with us on our journeys. Global travel is creating a second Pangaea. Change has been part of life since the first unicellular creatures came into existence (and they brought about a mass extinction by releasing oxygen into the air). We should not try to recreate some long-lost Eden, but try to preserve as much biodiversity--genes--as possible, no matter in what type of body they reside or what types of technology we need to use.

As a science fiction writer, I find these ideas intriguing. Often, future worlds are depicted as being either all city or an ecological wasteland. Thomas offers alternatives. Camels and mammoths roaming the American Southwest, anyone? Science fiction writers should also think about the implications of colonizing a new world. Will Terran life forms be able to hybridize with otherworldly ones? If so, what would be the result?

Do you have a particular endangered species that you love--or a common one that you love to hate? Feel free to share them in the comments.

Monday, August 20, 2018

Comic Book Mania Convention

I'm pleased to announce that I'll be participating in Gail Borden Public Library's Comic Book Mania Convention. It'll be Saturday, September 29, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. I'll be there as Solar Unicorn Publishing, the imprint I use for publishing my books. In addition to my books, I'll also have crocheted characters and fabric Porg, Harry Potter, and Pokemon lanyards for sale. Buy a book and get a raffle ticket for a chance to win Tyrone the T-Rex! I'll add more details as they become available closer to the event. Hopefully I'll be able to schedule an online sale around this time for those who can't make it.

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