Friday, December 27, 2019

Ebook of Ordinary Wonders Available!

Although I don't normally post on Fridays anymore, I have some news that I should have shared a couple of weeks ago. I've published my first short story collection. It's called Ordinary Wonders: A Fantasy Short Story Collection, and it contains eleven short stories. Some of them were independently published, some are reprints from anthologies, and a few of them are completely new. This collection also includes the four short stories from Young Seasons. (I had originally planned to prepare a print version of Young Seasons but decided it was too short.) Here's the full list of stories:

Letters to Psyche         
The Owl and the Spider’s Son  
Silver Rain      
Bugged Out at the Museum      
Caps in Red and Gray  
Blood for Sap, Sap for Blood   
Henry’s Harness          
But Not Today
Last Locomotive from Wistica 
To Name the Anilink   
Jenna’s Rosebush

Currently, this collection is only available as an ebook. I have to go through both KDP and Draft2Digital for the paper version, and it's more difficult than I expected, especially since I decided to experiment and create my own cover. (Sorry, Maria.) I'll post again once I have it figured out. In the meantime, the eBook is available for $2.99, which is a great bargain. Click this link for a list of available retailers.

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

My Thoughts on The Rise of Skywalker (Spoilers)

Happy Christmas Eve, everyone! Since Christmas is tomorrow, I figured I'd post a day early. And what better to post about than The Rise of Skywalker? My family and I saw it Friday night and will see it again tonight. I'll summarize what I liked and didn't like about the movie after my first viewing. There may be some spoilers, but I'll try to keep them brief.

Things I Liked

Leia--This was supposed to be her movie, so I'm glad they were able to find a way to incorporate her and give her a heartfelt sendoff.

Seeing Favorite Aliens--It might be fan service, but I still enjoyed seeing Porgs and Jawas, even if for an instant.

The Climax--I can't talk about this without giving away a lot of the movie, but there were quite a few moments of awesome there.

Kylo's/Ben's Arc--Maybe it wasn't a complete redemption, but we did get to see how he and Rey are two sides of a single coin.

Things I Didn't Like

Pacing--Especially in the first half of the movie, I felt like we jumped from place to place without enough time to process everything. It wasn't always clear who was going where--characters would be onscreen without explanation.

No Explanation for Palpatine's Reappearance--This should have been foreshadowed earlier in the trilogy, IMO. How did he survive, and why did he wait so long to return?

Too Many New Characters--While I liked Janna, I felt like she was used to replace Rose, who should have had more screen time. I would have preferred more time and character development for established characters.

Rey's Backstory--Honestly, I would have been happy leaving it with what we saw in The Last Jedi. I like the idea of the Force being accessible by "nobodies" instead of just those from a special bloodline.

I went into this movie not knowing what to expect. I liked it, but my favorite movie in the saga is still The Empire Strikes Back.

If you've seen The Rise of Skywalker, what did you think of it? What's your favorite Star Wars movie? Feel free to share in the comments.

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Pantsing as Experimentation

I saw a meme on Facebook recently saying that pantsers (writers who don't outline their stories) use the first draft as an outline. While that may be true to some extent, writing the first draft provides me with more than an outline. The first draft allows me to get to know my characters better, beyond what a character sheet can tell me. As I write, I can feel out my characters' quirks, reactions, and more. It also helps me establish settings and help me figure out how the characters solve problems. Of course, it's possible to develop all of this separately prior to writing the book, and even I will agree that it feels like a lot more work to write a draft, then try to extract an outline, transfer information to a writing bible, and of course take the story through one or more additional drafts before finishing it. Why then does pantsing seem to work for me when outlining ahead of time doesn't?

I think for me, part of what drives me to write is the experimentation aspect of fiction. As a writer, I get to create characters and worlds, put them in tough situations, and see how they work. I need the details provided by actually writing the story to determine how successful it will be. Sometimes it doesn't work; like all writers, I have trunk stories that will never be published. Sometimes I start a character down one path and decide it's not working, so I have to scrap what I wrote and start over. While it can be frustrating, it's part of the process. As I go along, it gets easier. It took me about two years to write the first draft of Dryads to Discover but only five months to finish the first draft of Dryad in Doubt. Part of that was because I was working on more short stories during Dryads to Discover, but part of that was that I didn't know the characters very well with the first story. I felt more confident with them in the second book, and it was easier to draft a middle section.

Now it's time to start the final book in the series, Dryads and Dragons. I'm torn between starting where I left off and trying to create a rough outline first. Given what I've said above, I should start writing it. I don't want to do a scene-by-scene outline, but I do feel the need to establish the major acts of the book before getting started. Hopefully by the time this post goes live, I'll know what approach I want to take and be on my way.

Do you feel your stories are experiments, or do you like to outline them first? How much do your stories change as you draft? Feel free to share in the comments.

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Story Selected for Third Flatiron's Best of 2019 Anthology!

Since I sent in the reprint contract last week, I can officially announce that my short story "Specimen 1842," originally printed in Third Flatiron's Hidden Histories anthology, has been chosen to appear in their Best of 2019 anthology. The anthology will be digital format only, and the anticipated publication date is February 1st, 2020. I'm thrilled to have my story chosen and will be posting buy links to the anthology when they become available.

Wednesday, December 04, 2019

IWSG: Living the Writing Life

At last, we've arrived at the final Insecure Writer's Support Group post for 2019. The IWSG  is a group where writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds! (And no matter where you are on your writing journey, we all have our insecurities.) Learn more about the IWSG on their website, Facebook, and Twitter feed. 

Our hosts this month are Tonja Drecker, Beverly Stowe McClure, Nicki Elson, Fundy Blue, and Tyrean Martinson.  

Our question for December is really an exercise in imagination: Let's play a game. Imagine. Role-play. How would you describe your future writing self, your life, and what it looks and feels like if you were living the dream? Or if you are already there, what does it look and feel like? Tell the rest of us. What would you change or improve?

 Although this question asks us to imagine our ideal writing life, realistically, I don't think it'll be possible to reach it until I retire, simply because of family and financial obligations.  I also find it hard to crank out new words eight hours a day. It's one thing to sit in an office and be productive from 8:30 to 5:00, but as a consequence, I find it hard to shift my brain into writing mode outside of my normal writing time. So, what would be a dream writing life for me? I'd start by getting enough sleep, not staying in bed too long after I wake up, and exercising first thing in the morning. I'd either walk outside if the weather is nice or on the treadmill with a book when the weather is bad. After breakfast, I'd putter (yes, I'm middle-aged enough to putter) around the house for a while taking care of chores. Then I'd devote the rest of the morning to things like marketing, blogging, checking e-mail, and other publishing and administrative chores. (Of course, if this really was my dream writing career, I'd have an assistant to take care of some of that for me.) I'd write at home in the afternoon, ideally getting down a couple thousand words. After dinner, I might relax for an hour or two, reading or crocheting, before putting in another writing session. While I currently might write until almost bedtime, I'd like to finish the day by reading some more before going to sleep.

Sounds like a tranquil and productive life, doesn't it? One good thing about this schedule is that it would allow me mental downtime to think up new stories. Our society requires everyone to live a fast-paced life, and with constant distractions (yes, I'm thinking of the smartphone games I'm addicted to), it's hard to find mental space for creativity. On the other hand, even I, an introvert, admit that long-term, this lifestyle would isolate me. While day jobs do take up a lot of your time, they do force you to get social interaction and be exposed to new things. I think I would have to factor in some sort of outside class or regular meeting to make sure I get enough stimulation. This schedule might not work now, since my son is still in school. It might be more feasible when he starts college. My husband's job or health would also affect how much time I'd spend writing and how much on other things.

What would your dream writing life look like? How much time would you spend writing and how much on other things? Would you isolate yourself or seek out other people? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.

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