Monday, April 30, 2007

Duct Tape, Madness, and Pandora

While editing What is Now: Easter Sunday, I stumbled over several fascinating tidbits about our solar system - geography of moons, the odds of terra-forming Mars, and patterns in various orbits - which have spawned various other story ideas. Thanks to a friend, I also have a wide array of information on a few religions which I find very useful when I write. To wiki and my friend, we say thank you.

That brings me to what I've been wanting to say. In writing What is Now: Easter Sunday, I found that I enjoyed the idea of discussing what it is that makes us human, what it is that ties us to our little dustball and makes us unique in the incredible vastness of the universe. I know I want to write various "colonial" stories involving the madness that could overwhelm someone when space becomes the new 'last frontier.' After losing myself in our own constellations in a little program called Celestia, I still want to play off the idea of finding yourself surrounded by strange stars.

Last thing: This has nothing to do with anything I'm writing, but I am insanely jealous of anyone who has satellite or cable this summer. Space week is coming on the Science Channel and I want to watch it so incredibly much. Did you know that in the event of an astronaut succumbing to psychosis, the treatment method involves duct tape? That's right. Duct tape. I seethe jealously at all of you who will watch this gloriousness.

So say we all.

P.S. Check out It gave me the greatest bands and free songs on internet radio - ever.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

On Siege and Storm

War Reports from the Front:

A storm is coming. While those may be the most cliche words in a fantasy series, it is the truth tonight as I sit in my dorm room. The clouds circled menacingly all day, massing their legion over our small city, and I believe, that following the traditional flashing of lightning spears and war-drum thunder, the stormlings will advance the siege against us. So, I have decided to wait out the coming battle with cool new musics and a horrifying Ray Bradbury story.

A storm is coming. This next week work and finals, along with a torrent of short stories and portfolios are bearing down on me with hurricane force.

A storm is coming. Editors beware! By this Friday, I will have flooded your post office boxes with the most lovely of manuscripts and incorrigible characters!

That's the news from the front.

So say we all.

Monday, April 23, 2007

On Surreal Dreams and Possible Horrors!

Last night I received critique from my friend-critic and while I expected it to be harsh (but helpful), it was anything but harsh and incredibly helpful. She offered ideas on the small wording of sentences and large structural ideas for the plot as well as for character development. My everlasting thanks.

When I woke this morning, I remembered a strange series of surreal dreams which just might make their way into a horror story. When I attempted to explain them to my friend, the sense of terror and cold was amazing. I don't have any definite titles yet, and while I am interested in developing these ideas, I may hold off until I spend a few weeks in Terry Wright's Science Fiction and Horror class next fall.

As far as what I am sending to magazines, here is the run down:

1. What is Now: Easter Sunday will be out by the end of this week. We can only hope and pray that at least one of the three I send it to will love it and buy it from me.

2. When Otis Met Everlyse is going out on Wednesday and while it probably will not generate moneys, we can hope it flies into a magazine of some sort, so that I can tell editors I have been previously published.

3. The Promethean has been completely dropped from my line-up, mainly because I don't care for the story. The idea was pleasant, but I know of various other ways I could use the characters. I want to return to this, but I want to focus more on the science fiction than fantasy stories at this point - probably because the genre is a novelty to me.

4. Science fiction as a genre fascinates me and while working on my novel this summer, I will be churning out various science fiction stories. Hopefully some will bring out female protagonists, since I hardly write females in any of my stories.

That's the update kids.
So say we all.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Something other than the Writing Life

This morning I checked my email and Dr. Vanderslice (Stephanie) had written me back about some MFA programs I am considering with just a touch of anxiety. Both articles were informative and incredibly encouraging. With the end of the year drawing close, I realized that my undergrad career is looming off in the hazy future and that maybe I should prepare myself for facing it.

Other than that, I have begun the arduous process of moving out of my dorm room. To be very honest, being uprooted every nine months is bewildering and frustrating. Like a cat, I become high-strung, nervous, and easily agitated. My bookshelves are empty and my DVDs are packed along with all of my stuffed animals and artwork. Tomorrow morning, my mom and dad will drive up to help me move back home for the summer, and for the next two weeks I will live in an empty room. But at least I will not have to face finals and the stress of moving out.

As far as the writing life goes, I have started revision on The Promethean and so far, the story is coming along. My friend-critic is critiquing What is Now: Easter Sunday and I hear back from her by Monday to begin revisions on that story. By the end of the year I should have at least one fantasy piece and one sci-fi piece to send to magazines. I've been working on my cover letters, but so far they begin along the lines of "Dear Mr. Editor-Person, Please love my stories." Hmm...that probably won't go over very well.

I'll keep you posted.
So say we all.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

On Banishing Beasties

I am afraid that my novel has crept away from me. I have not managed to work on it for the past few weeks because of classes and various other projects and hurtles, throwing myself ever closer to the end of the year. Short stories, in legion, have flooded my head and found their way onto paper in scraps and frazzled sentences, but all the while, I worry over the novel.

All of my characters are on hold, all the plot lines, drawn with so much momentum two months ago, shuddering under the strain of waiting for my return. Nice metaphor, no? I thought so. But in all seriousness, I am worried about the "spirit" of the work slipping out of my fingers, that I might lose inspiration to write or my love of the characters.

I am currently reading Chapter After Chapter on the recommendation of one of my professors, and the author discusses this directly. Her ideas are inspiring, but at the same time, I hear that quiet little voice hissing, "What are you doing?! Fantasy writers all fall into the same cliches, they always create stupid senseless stories, which no one will ever remember or enjoy! I like to talk over every other character trying to find his way onto a page! I like to use exclamation points!" This small but irrationally irritating cretin is an amalgamation of varying people in my own life and my own worries and doubts.

So with that recognition, I decree: Begone foul beastie of cruel intentions and subtly malicious words! Begone!

So say we all.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

On Revisions, Cliches and New Frontiers

For the past week or so, I've concentrated on editing What is Now: Easter Sunday and When Otis Met Everlyse, and received great critique from my best-worst critic friend. She discovered the miraculous and wonderful world of the Microsoft Word comment feature, and I benefited immensely from her advice! I know I'm probably a few years behind the revolution, but this newly discovered feature has enlightened me to the greatness of Word. Basically, this feature allows her to comment to specific pieces of my work in little comic-word bubbles without disrupting the flow of my original text. It's fantastic.

Another great realization of the week is that revision is a wonderful process - and I will spare you the horror of cliches like "like a snake shedding its skin" or a "phoenix rising from the ashes." But in all honesty, revision may be one of the greatest things I've had to do for class, mainly because I think it might greatly benefit my novel chapters when I revise them this summer.

The last thing for the evening is that I have started work on several short stories outside of my normal genre, mainly because of a writing/revision assignment in my fiction class. I'll keep you updated on the progress of these new ventures.

So say we all.

Thoughts and prayers are with those at Virginia Tech.

Friday, April 13, 2007

On Constructive Critique and Demeaning Critique

Hello again.

Today, I received critique on What is Now: Easter Sunday, a short story that was one called Breaking the Bowl. Most were very positive, but there was one that was scathing, I felt, for the sheer joy of being scathing. I couldn't understand why the writer of this critique felt it was professional/helpful to offer NO constructive criticism. But then I found that someone who would go out of his way to be so specifically unhelpful was not involved for the sake of critique.

So that brings me to what I wanted to talk about: in dealing with critique and rejection, grace is required. This guy gets me flustered and I generally feel that he is offering nothing positive. But at the same time, I try to appear friendly, smiling like a wolf with too many teeth. I wonder sometimes if someone who is combative, as he is, is not aggressive toward a genre itself (in my case Science Fiction or Fantasy.) Or simply toward other writers in a class.

While I know I don't like this person for his unhelpful and condescending comments about me and, more importantly, my work, I know that I have to tolerate him. I can take criticism very well, and I like suggestions and critique of my work - but I don't need someone to lay siege to me. While some may say that his critique is light compared to what an editor may someday say, it is difficult to deal with now. Maybe he's a hurtle on my road toward publication. But above all: I know that I have to act with grace, even when he does not. be very honest, is very difficult.
Keeping my head up.

So say we all.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Update and New Things to See

I know a few days have passed since last I updated, but I have a few very good reasons. They are as follows: I finished When Otis Met Everlyse and after a final critique from my critic-friend it will be ready to send to a magazine. I have continued to work through Breaking the Bowl and have finally found a way to lead the narrative so that the story reads very interestingly. The idea is that when the story starts, you will know how it ends, and so the story is just about how the characters will eventually get to that point.

So here is the update for today. I read a few other writer's websites and among those there are some that I think might actually help with all stages of the writing process. Holly Lisle, a published novelist and a great writer for writers has a site dedicated to help writers through various articles she's written, as well as a more focused site where she discusses her weekly podcasts (that's a hint for you to go to iTunes and listen - she's brilliant).

Another very helpful and fun site is Sunday Scribblings, where prompts and idea starters are posted regularly.

Lastly is a site called After the MFA which offers great advice and encouragement to people who either choose to teach creative writing or want to write for a living.

The links to these sites are posted on the right in the sidebar under Sites to See. Hope you enjoy.

So say we all.