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.

Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Aurelio H. Almazan, Jr., DVM: 1940-2022

Just a brief note that my father-in-law, Aurelio Almazan, passed away last Friday. He will be missed. You can read his obituary here. We will be attending his wake this coming weekend and the funeral next Monday, so I may take next week off from blogging.

Wednesday, August 03, 2022

IWSG: Who Do You Write For?

How is it August already? It feels like July just started, but I've already started preparing for my son's return to school. (Of course, I normally start preparing for that as soon as school lets out.) Anyway, it's also time to prepare for another Insecure Writer's Support Group post. Learn more about the IWSG on their website, Facebook, and Twitter.

Here's our question for August: When you set out to write a story, do you try to be more original or do you try to give readers what they want?

I have to be honest: part of the reason I write is because I can't always find the stories I want to read. The tropes that appeal to many readers don't always appeal to me. (For example, I personally don't care about physically attractive romantic interests who are controlling jerks. Once they make a poor first impression on me, they have a hard time winning me over. I prefer more equal relationships where the two people engage in banter.) However, I think whenever you write in a particular genre, you do need to meet certain criteria if you want to avoid reader rejection. For example, romances require a Happily Ever After or at least a Happy For Now ending. Genres like fantasy and science fiction certainly have their share of tropes, but originality has a place there. For example, the growing interest in genres like hopepunk and solarpunk show that many people are looking for stories that offer solutions to the problem of climate change, even if these solutions require changes in our way of thinking. Cozy mysteries do seem to have a more defined set of reader expectations: it's not just the mystery aspect, but there are also certain conventions about the setting, characters, and implied lifestyle that readers expect. I am trying to adhere a bit closer to genre conventions with my cozy mystery, but there are places within those parameters that offer me a chance to tell my version of these stories.

In general, I think most readers want to read the same types of stories many times. (I'm going through a similar phase in that I want to read cozy mysteries more than anything else.) They can offer comfort and predictability in an uncomfortable and unpredictable world. However, it takes something original to deal with an unpredictable world, and we all need to shake up our routines occasionally to change up our thinking. There's a need for writing original works and also for those that meet reader desires. Whenever someone offers you a dichotomy, seek a balanced, third way instead.

Where do you stand on the spectrum? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.

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