Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Progress Report for September 2022

It doesn't feel like I made as much progress as I wanted to this month. (Of course, I can say that every month.) However, I did get a short story submitted to a new market, and I have more submissions planned for October, when more markets open. I have partial drafts of two solarpunk stories in progress. One of them is due by the end of October, so it's taking precedence for now. I have a sense of how to weave in a Filipino language subplot into Restaurants and Revenge, but I still need to figure out where to add the various mini-scenes. Good thing work is slowing down a bit so I can take my vacation time and hopefully get more writing done, along with my many other multiple projects.

Wednesday, September 21, 2022

Work-In-Progress: The Season Between

Since fall starts tomorrow here, I thought I'd celebrate by sharing some of my writing for The Season Between. This will be a short story collection set after Summon the Seasons, with each story featuring one of my four Season Avatars. This snippet features Ysabel, the Goddess of Fall's Avatar who is gifted with animal magic. Here she is investigating who's been interfering with Bittern Marsh, which is supposed to be a nature preserve:

“Ava. We are blessed to have you return to our humble home so soon.” Lady C’than’s voice was flat. However, the spread she offered was just as grand as before. Ysabel piled a couple of sandwiches and pastries on her too-small plate. She needed to give her body energy in case she needed to use her magic.

Lady C’than took only a cup of chocolate and a single cookie. “What brings you here, Ava?”

Ysabel polished off a sandwich before replying. “Bittern Marsh.”

“I beg your pardon?” The noblewoman’s dark eyebrows rose.

“I’ve discovered evidence someone has been harvesting cattails and trapping animals in the marsh, Lady C’than. That area belongs to the Four.”

“The Four do nothing with it,” Lady C’than retorted.

“That is exactly the point.” Ysabel set her cup down on the table so hard she chipped the bottom. She turned the mug so her hostess couldn’t see the damage. “The land is set aside for the wild creatures of Challen. It isn’t meant to be farmland or homes or anything else.”

“But it’s an eyesore, Ava! I’ve ridden through there several times and disliked it immensely.”

Ysabel sat up straight. “And what were you doing in the marsh, Lady C’than?”

She pressed her lips together.

“I need to know who’s been interfering in the marsh, Lady C’than,” Ysabel added. “Is it your family?”

“Of course not!” she replied a little too quickly. “It must be one of our tenants. I suggest you seek out Benjamin Maxham and his family. They’re always going where they don’t belong.”

Wednesday, September 14, 2022

The Allure of Anthologies

I've been posting here regularly about how slow my writing progress has been on my main projects: writing a Season Avatars short story collection, revising Restaurants and Revenge, and writing the first draft of Bubble Tea and a Body. As if I don't have enough to work on, I recently found out about a couple of anthologies that I want to submit stories too, but I don't have anything ready that I want to use. So now I'm busy drafting a new story that's due next month and thinking about two more anthologies that have December deadlines. 

Why do I do this to myself? I can think of several reasons. The themes are intriguing, and it's especially challenging to write to a specific topic under deadline. Sometimes it can be inspirational to work on a fresh topic for a while, especially when you're struggling with something else. Plus, if your work is accepted, there's a guaranteed payout and recognition from others for your achievement. (Self-publishing something is an achievement too, but not everyone sees it that way.)

If you like to write short stories, do you prefer to write for anthologies or magazines? What topics would you want to read about in an anthology. Feel free to answer in the comments. In the meantime, it's back to my current short story.

Wednesday, September 07, 2022

IWSG: Ill-Fitting Genres

Happy September! It feels like the rest of the year is going to fly by now that my son is back in school and busy with activities. I hope you find some time to enjoy the rest of summer and the upcoming fall.

As has become tradition, let's start the month with a post for the Insecure Writer's Support Group. Learn more about them on their website, Facebook page, and Twitter feed.

Our hosts for this month are Kim Lajevardi, Cathrina Constantine, Natalie Aguirre, Olga Godim (no link available), Michelle Wallace, and Louise-Fundy Blue.

Here's our question for September: What genre would be the worst one for you to tackle and why?

I used to read more widely in my youth, but these days, my fiction reading is mostly fantasy and mystery, with some science fiction and historical fiction mixed in. That means there are a lot of genres that I don't know very well. In particular, Westerns, thrillers, and horror hold no appeal for me, so they would be the worst ones for me to tackle. I know very little about the conventions and tropes in those genres. I'd probably create something featuring an eldritch cowboy pursuing a spy across the West to prevent a mass undead cow uprising or something like that.

Which genres are you least-prepared to write and why? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.

Wednesday, August 31, 2022

August Writing Update

 After a rough July, my writing seems to be back on track. I wound up finishing the rough draft of Kay's story (no title yet) for The Season Between collection. The only story for that collection that I still need to finish my rough draft for is Jenna's. I want to cut out a lot of the events that happen at the Fip palace and focus more on the crop issue (potato blight) Jenna needs to solve. However, I also need to reference the events mentioned in her son's story (Rob's Choice), so perhaps this will be more of a novelette than a short story. I plan to do some research on the Irish potato famine before returning to this story, so I have some time to mull it over before returning to it.

I've been holding off on Restaurants and Revenge because I felt it needed some more attention to Abigail's family and her interest in learning more about her Filipino heritage. I finally figured out a small sideplot to weave into the story. The beginning of this story is off to a good start, but I need to figure out where to place the remaining scenes. I've also returned to working on the first draft of Bubble Tea and a Body, though Restaurants and Revenge is a higher priority.

I have a couple of short stories that I feel would be a good match for a magazine or anthology--if I can find the right market. One of them is a flash fiction story, but the market I had in mind for it is closed for the indefinite future. I might try it elsewhere. I may also try writing something new for a themed anthology I recently learned about, but I haven't worked out the details yet. It may also depend on how much time I have now that the school year has started. In addition to taking my son to his athletic events, I'll be helping out with other school events.

I hope your writing is going well. See you next week for another Insecure Writer's Support Group post!

Wednesday, August 24, 2022

RenFaire 2022

One of our favorite annual family traditions is attending the Bristol Renaissance Festival in Wisconsin. Ever since my son was tall enough, he's been dueling my husband at the faire. They receive some basic training in fencing, don protective clothing and helmets, and go at each other with swords. The first one to pop five balloons tied to the other's helmet wins. Alex scored his first victory in 2019, and my husband bought him a stage combat dagger as a reward. Although Alex lost in 2021 (the faire was cancelled in 2020), he won again this year and received a stage combat sword. Here are a few photos to commemorate the occasion:



Wednesday, August 17, 2022

Can You Have Too Many Villians (and How Powerful Should They Be)?: Some Thoughts on Ms. Marvel

I don't have a lot of time for TV, so it took me a while to finish watching Ms. Marvel. Be warned; spoilers abound!



My feelings about the show are mixed. I liked the parts where Kamala interacted with her family and friends more than I liked the main story arc. I felt like the writers crammed too much into the short season. In particular, the two main villain groups (The Clandestines and the Department of Damage Control) felt like they weren't developed enough. In particular, the Clandestines went from being potential allies to enemies very quickly and without sufficient justification. The DODC's response to Kamala developing her powers was stereotypical and caused far more damage than it controlled. Perhaps they could have been saved for a second season of the show.

If the villain groups had a purpose in this show, it was (again, IMO) to bring enough firepower to the conflicts to challenge a superhero. We saw the DODC provide that in the finale. However, there was another villain in that show who had more potential. I'm referring to Kamran, who obtains Clandestine power from his mother. He has a backstory and a relationship with Kamala, which made their confrontation in the final episode emotionally charged and equally matched.

While villains should be powerful enough to make the protagonists struggle, there needs to be an emotional connection between the characters to make their story resonate. Otherwise, no matter how powerful an enemy is, dealing with them feels like cannon fodder. I'm currently drafting a story for The Season Between where Kay must deal with a heretic who doesn't have magic but is disruptive in other ways. The heretic has an unexpected connection to Kay that she has to confront. She can overwhelm him with magic, but ultimately she will have to find a different way to deal with this problem.

Would you rather have a story with lots of undeveloped villains or one evenly matched with the hero? Does story genre make a difference? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.

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