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Friday, June 20, 2014

Yesterday, I wrote about Patreon, a service that connects writers, artists and other content creators with audiences willing to pay a small subscription fee for fresh, monthly content. With the help of friends and fellow writers on Google+, I've decided it isn't for me at the present time, and thought I'd share some of that discussion with you.

One writer mentioned that he doesn't use the service but knows several people who do because they remind him fairly regularly via social networking. That made me cringe a bit, since Sean and I moderate an online community of several thousand vegans and see that sort of spam nearly every day. It's annoying, and we moderate it out because nobody wants to be spammed. This brings me to...

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Thursday, June 19, 2014

Take a look at this. G'won. I'll wait: Andrea Phillips' Patreon Account

It'a a pretty cool idea, no? You pay a dollar or two a month and get a steady dose of fantastical fiction from someone committed to the craft. She gets to write short stories for an audience who already likes her work or wants to like it.

I'm thinking about doing this, for all the reasons she's stated. I've been professionally published, but the market is nose-bleed competitive. I have stories in my head that I want to get out of my head, and I'd like to make money on them. I might even serialize a novel or throw in an audio version of a previously published story from time to time, but I might charge a teeny...

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Friday, June 13, 2014

Great reading last night at the library. Many thanks to Cora-Lee, Laverne and Kate for inviting me to come, and many more thanks to the people who attended. Finally, Sean was brilliant as a second reader for the intros and outros of my epistolary tale, and it was tremendous fun to read with him.

So, "N is for Nanomachine" belongs to the world now. "But Ceallaigh," you might ask, "why is the Clockwork Phoenix antho in the picture? Weren't you reading a story from A is for Apocalypse?"

What a great question! My story for the Clockwork Phoenix antho takes place in the same universe that "N is for Nanomachine" does. So if you like the one, you might like the other...

Monday, May 26, 2014

I'm pleased to announce that I will soon be releasing a Lodhuven novelette entitled 'Grandmother Mælkevejen's Belly' under the Triskele Media imprint! This story takes place several hundred years after 'The Longest Road in the Universe' and explores the lives of Lodhuven descendants whose broken genome forces them to seek salvation from near-mythical Bodhuven dissidents rumored to be trapped in the event horizon of a supermassive black hole. Here's a little something from the story to whet your appetite:

The dancers waited in a fleshy knot at the center of the room, swaying like a solar prominence rising out of a...

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Monday, May 12, 2014

What It Is

A is for Apocalypse contains twenty-six apocalyptic stories written by both well-known and up-and-coming writers. Monsters, meteors, floods, war–the causes of the apocalypses in these tales are as varied as the stories themselves.

This volume contains work by Ennis Drake, Beth Cato, Kenneth Schneyer, Damien Angelica Walters, K. L. Young, Marge Simon, Milo James Fowler, Simon Kewin, C.S. MacCath, Steve Bornstein and more!

What People Are Saying About It

“In A is for Apocalypse, the world ends in both fire and ice--and by asteroid, flood, virus, symphony, immortality, the hands of our vampire overlords, and crowdfunding. A stellar group of authors explores over two dozen of the bangs...

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Thursday, March 13, 2014

I'm super stoked to announce that I'll be participating in writer and editor Rhonda Parrish's next letter-themed anthology entitled, B Is for Broken.

I've been assigned the letter 'C'.

Hmm...C Is for Clock...Cerebrum...Cànan...Ceangal...*grin* Did I slip into Gàidhlig there?

Aaand as soon as she releases the (admittedly awesome) cover for A Is for Apocalypse, you can bet I'll be showing it to you!

Monday, March 3, 2014

My poem 'Coming of Age' is the featured piece at Polu Texni this week. You can read it here.

Monday, February 24, 2014

The lovely Jolene Dawe has interviewed me for her Celebrating Pagan Fiction series. You can read the interview here.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Monday and Tuesday, I outlined the endings of Books 1 & 2 in what I'm presently calling the Motherland Duology, though that name might change as time passes. Today, I plotted the protagonist's thread through Book 1 in Freemind using the end to beginning technique I wrote about here in the comments:

This...

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Tuesday, February 11, 2014

I put out the call a few weeks ago for links to awards, blogs and other web sites for speculative fiction writers. My friends at SF Canada were quick to respond, and with their help I've compiled the following. Please note that this is primarily a short list of longer lists, since others have paved this road long before I came to it. Still, I hope you find the information useful.

Awards

Science Fiction Awards Database
The Locus Index to Science Fiction Awards (Phasing out and superceded by the the SFAD, above.)

Comic Awards (Thanks,...

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Saturday, January 18, 2014

The Guardian: Most writers earn less than £600 a year, survey reveals


I recently wrote about the idea that writers are routinely expected to create 'for the love', and the phenomenon is sufficiently related to the above truth about the writing life that I run the risk of repeating myself here. My argument there was that writers and other artists should not be expected to work for free, but my focus here is on some of the barriers writers meet on the way to whatever income we do earn.

Even when we carefully conduct the business of writing as a business, it takes...

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Monday, January 6, 2014

I've just encountered an interesting point of confusion between my writing and its reception by readers that I thought it might be useful to discuss. In a recent blog entry, I defaulted to the feminine, third-person pronoun when discussing an animal because I wasn't certain of the animal's sex and didn't want to use the gender-neutral 'it' for reasons having to do with my vegan ethics. This created some confusion in my readership, so I subsequently footnoted the relevant passage to indicate that my usage was a default preference and not a specific gender identification.

I often default to the feminine pronoun and list the feminine first when I need to offer pronoun options (e.g., her/him, hers/his). Failing the widespread adoption of a gender-neutral...

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Monday, December 30, 2013

2013 was a year of forward progress in my writing career, often self-directed. I began receiving the sort of rejections from top-tier publishers that validated the quality of my writing, the 'this isn't right for us, but we like your voice so please keep submitting' personal notes that mean my work is sufficiently professional to compete in the traditional marketplace and to make a proper showing of itself in the independent marketplace. I learned the term 'hybrid writer' from Kristine Kathryn Rusch's blog and became one, selling my work to traditional markets and also publishing it myself. It was a learning curve, both emotionally and...

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Monday, December 2, 2013

I've just received word by post that I've been accepted to the council of the Writers' Federation of Nova Scotia. Requirements for membership on the council can be found on the membership page, which includes the following:

Members who meet the professional writing standards defined in the By-Laws of the Writers' Federation of Nova Scotia may apply for Writers' Council membership. Only Writers' Council members may participate in the Writers in the Schools program, serve as workshop instructors, and feature in our 'Writers in NS' listing.

Applications for membership in the WFNS Writers’ Council must...

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Thursday, October 10, 2013

I'm delighted to report that I've been asked to contribute to a forthcoming anthology of fantasy and science fiction entitled A is for Apocalypse and edited by Rhonda Parrish. This themed anthology will feature twenty-six stories, one for each letter of the alphabet, all apocalyptic or post-apocalyptic.

I have been randomly assigned the letter 'N', as in 'nanomachines', 'never', 'night' and 'noodle'. (♫ One of these things is not like the other... ♫) =P

I dearly love apocalyptic fiction, and I have decided to write an epistolary tale, which is a form I also love and used to write The Longest Road...

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Sunday, September 1, 2013

To celebrate the coming of autumn, the autumnal equinox and the listing of The Ruin of Beltany Ring: A Collection of Pagan Poems and Tales on Smashwords, I'm offering it for 25% off from the Smashwords web site until September 22nd.

Your coupon code is: TF62U.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

I recently passed the Smashwords autovetter and epubcheck with great effort using an epub file, and I thought I'd share what I learned with you so that you might have an easier time of it than I did. This tutorial presumes you have some knowledge of HTML markup and CSS styling or can acquire that knowledge without too steep a learning curve, though I've provided a number of screenshots and code examples along the way to help you get started.

I'm using the excerpt edition of my poetry and short story collection The Ruin of Beltany Ring: A Collection of Pagan Poems and Tales (RBR) in my examples. It contains no images but the cover, and the only unusual formatting it contains is for poetry. So this tutorial is somewhat limited in that it won't help you with complex formatting in the body of your epub...

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Tuesday, July 30, 2013

For those of you who've asked, my short story and poetry collection The Ruin of Beltany Ring: A Collection of Pagan Poems and Tales is now available for Kobo. You can download it here.

And if you prefer, you can also download an excerpt of the collection on Goodreads. You know, to whet your appetite. =)

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

I don't quite know why I haven't posted an update about my writing life lately. I've been busy, though! TWSP is still out looking for a home, six reprints are out looking for new homes, and two new stories and a poem are out doing the same.

I've also been worldbuilding like crazy, which has been loads of fun. Yesterday it was the effect of far-future climate change on plant and animal species, and today it was Tuvan throat singing (Tuva is a minority language spoken in Mongolia and southern Siberia).

And in two weeks, I'll be at Harbour Con-Fusion in St. John, doing the guest-writer-panelist thing, which promises to be full of awesome and delicious win.

Anyway, sin sin, as my Gaelic teacher used to say. That's that!

And here's some Tuvan throat music for you, from Huun Huur Tu:

#writing #worldbuilding #tuvanthroatsinging...

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Friend and author Deborah Blake shares her very witchy blog space with me today so that I can natter on about 'The Ruin of Beltany Ring'.

Check it out here!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

...give up.

The latest Clarksworld Magazine editorial is an encouraging one for self-published writers. In it, Neil Clarke details some of the frustration the magazine faced at its inception; authors who wouldn't submit to online magazines, reviewers who refused to consider the magazine's stories, etc. He likens this early reception to the frustration independent authors presently face as they strive for respect in the marketplace and writes:

"If I had to guess, within two-to-three years, we won't be hearing much about respect based on the medium or method an author employs to publish their work...Traditional and indie publishing models both have value and the smart money is on...

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Thursday, May 2, 2013

The Kindle promotion went really well! 161 people downloaded The Ruin of Beltany Ring on Beltane (Get it? Beltany Ring? Beltane?), and nearly a hundred have entered the Goodreads giveaway so far. Not bad for a wee chapbook out there in the world!

But will the giveaways translate into sales? I don't know, and for this little book, it's not as important to me. I wanted for people to read some things I had written and get to know my writing style. Let's face it, there are authors whose writing styles we love (Guy Gavriel Kay and Lois McMaster Bujold are two of my favorites) and authors whose...

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Tuesday, March 26, 2013

A couple of weeks ago, I began to seriously consider an MFA at Goddard College. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the school, Goddard is a small college in Plainfield, Vermont with a reputation for being on the bleeding edge of liberal study. Just my style. =) The MFA offered there is a distance program with required on-site instruction one week each semester and welcomes writers from all corners of the industry; from poets and screenwriters to hardcore genre writers like myself. I’ve considered it often over the years, usually when I’m feeling the need for a boost in my writing skills, but ultimately I’ve always decided against it for various reasons.

I’ve decided against it again, probably for good, but the decision-making process has been...

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Saturday, March 16, 2013

I've recently mentioned that I'm self-publishing a chapbook of previously-published short stories and poems and that some months ago, I turned down a problematic contract for it. Unfortunately, that contract was likely the only one the chapbook will ever be offered for various reasons; it's specifically Pagan, it's a mix of fiction and poetry, it's short and I'm not a well-known writer who can sell on her name alone. Still, the pieces in it have passed through independent editorial processes, the collection is well-blurbed and a Pagan colleague introduces it.

Even so, I wouldn't have chosen to self-publish the collection at all if I weren't in a position to sell it at convention tables where I'm appearing as a guest. At Hal-Con, I brought anthologies...

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Wednesday, February 6, 2013

In case you were wondering... =)

I've been somewhat ill with a couple of health problems that while not critical, are vexing and taking up a chunk of my mental and physical energy. They're both under a doctor's care, so not to worry! But I thought I'd mention them, since I haven't posted much on social networking lately. I expect I'll be on the mend fairly soon.

On the writing front, I'm putting together a short inclusion piece for a non-fiction book a friend is writing (not sure if I can mention the details on it, since it isn't my project). The dense, arty sci-fi story with alliterative poetry is nearly done, and I like what I've done with it a whole lot. I'm still gearing up to outline the rest of the PTTB series too, which I'll start doing in the next week or so. I've also got a story, a novel and a poem out on submission, and as they say in this business, no news is good news!

So I'm still here, putting one word in front of the other, just like the rest of...

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Wednesday, September 19, 2012

As I've mentioned on social networking recently, I've been researching and outlining a set of short stories to write before I return to novel-length fiction. In some cases, the research has been fun (i.e. watching episodes of Dexter to learn how other writers have crafted sociopathic characters), some of it has been gruesome (i.e. reading on Aztec sacrificial practices) and now some of it has crossed a boundary for me, forcing me to reconsider the cultural backdrop of one of my stories.

The story is Songlines, which takes place in my Petals of the Twenty Thousand Blossom universe and to date has been a coming-of-age story about a boy of Australian Aboriginal extraction living on a far-future generational ship. I outlined the bones of it many years ago after reading a monograph by David H. Turner, one of my University of Toronto professors, about Australian Aboriginal music. But after polishing the outline yesterday, I realized I needed to read the...

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Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Today is for planning the next six weeks of my writing life. I've been fortunate enough to sell nearly all the stories and poems in my inventory, so while I'm waiting to hear back from agents about my novel, I thought I'd take a break and create some new things to share. One of the stories came to me whole cloth in a dream, and while the dream logic of it will likely need tweaking before it works as narrative, I'm still excited to finally be giving it some attention. The title came to me in the dream as well; Sing the Crumbling City. Another story is rooted in my distaste for the pseudo-philosophical concept of metanorms and my desire to write the evolution of a female anti-hero. It might be called Chachalmeca, but I'm not sold on the title yet. I also need to unearth a few unfinished poems from the journal I jotted them down in and polish them up.

Today is also the second day of the regular Kundalini yoga practice I've been trying hard to establish for...

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Monday, August 13, 2012

After a six-week hiatus of the domestic goddess variety, I am officially back at the keyboard tomorrow, with business, blog entries and story outlines a-plenty to sort, and not necessarily in that order.

I've been looking for a Neverwinter Nights clip that expresses my feelings about this return to creative productivity, but I can't seem to find it online, and I don't have the game installed, so I can't pull it from the dialogue. At first I thought it was a Deekinism, but now I think it belongs to that goblin I rescued at the entrance to Undermountain, the one that gets hired to work at the inn and complains about it all the time. All I remember is this gravelly voice grumbling "Baaack to wooork!" every time I climbed up out of the dungeon and back into the inn's basement.

You know, if you have to explain a quip that thoroughly, it just isn't funny anymore.

Anyway, I did find a montage of Valen and Deekin's best moments that made me wax nostalgic for the game...

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Thursday, June 21, 2012

Twilight of the World Sea People is now a polished manuscript. I'll be reading the whole novel again from the beginning over the next couple of days to tweak a few systemic errors I can't tackle with Find/Replace, but they really are just word changes here and there. By Sunday night, I'll have done all I know how to do with this novel. It will be the best book I could have written with the skills I had when I wrote it. I will finally (since books are never really finished) abandon it, and any imperfections therein I will happily live with unless and until I am asked by an agent or editor to address them.

I learned a lot about writing from this book, and I learned even more about the writing life, if such a thing can be said to exist. Primary among these lessons is that writing kicks your ass when you're doing it correctly and takes the very best part of your mind to do with any skill. Because of this, it's important to carve out space for the act of...

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Friday, March 23, 2012

It's far too warm as I write this update, but the forecast for the weekend promises cooler temperatures and snow on Monday! Very strange, but I can't say I haven't enjoyed the sun.

I've already posted most of what follows in social networking feeds, but I thought I'd consolidate it here for the sake of a proper update. On the writing front, the big news is the Scheherazade's Facade Kickstarter campaign, which is three-quarters of the way funded after its first week. Mòran taing to all who have promoted and donated to bring this anthology to print. Your support has meant a lot to me.

In other news, I've filled the great, grizzly plot hole in the center of my novel in a flash of inspiration that left me thinking, "Oh yeah! Of course that's what happens!" I'm a little later finishing up than I had hoped, but at least it's all downhill from here. No word on the agent front yet, but I'll post...

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Sunday, March 4, 2012

Novel edits are progressing slowly but surely. I'm working on the guts of the thing now, where the most important edits are happening, those having to do with plot changes and the like. Once I get past this hump, I expect the rest will be quite a bit easier.

I'm also settling into a blogging rhythm I like, now that I'm paying a little more attention to the thing. I've been trying to steer away from posts having solely to do with my writing by exploring issues I care about, which has the added benefit of giving me something new to write while I'm slogging through edits. I'm aiming for a weekly or bi-weekly activism update, a weekly or bi-weekly writing update, an occasional Gàidhlig update and the odd, interspersed note about whatever seems interesting to me.

Book II is beginning to take shape in my mind; I solved a major issue in the series yesterday, and I'm excited to find out how it will play out on the page.

And yes, I'm submitting Book I to agents right...

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Sunday, February 12, 2012

Stephanie Meyer has ruined me for long moments (Yes, I've read the Twilight series, and so has Sean. We did it for our niece, okay?!?). She writes about so many of them you would think all her moments were long; like the time that passes in a bank queue, or the last five minutes of a work day, or the half hour between taking two ibuprofen and the end of the headache. Patrick Rothfuss likes his long moments too, but not as much as Stephanie Meyer does, and his are far more interesting. Still, it's a crutch phrase for him.

I've been working on my own crutch words and phrases this evening; 'then', 'expression', 'a little', 'as well'. I'm also weeding out my looks, gazes, stares and other facial expressions (See? I love that word.) in favor of more interesting prose.

All in all, a good work day. Just a little farther to go, and then I'm done.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

I've been working on refining my editing process for some time now, and as I put another chapter to bed, I thought I'd lay it out for myself and for interested readers. This is a long-form process, but I've used an abbreviated version of it for short fiction. I think it strikes a balance between drafting huge chunks of prose before editing, which I simply cannot do, and micromanaging my fiction, which I have done.

On a good day, I draft between 1000 and 1250 words. It's a modest, but achievable word count that ostensibly produces a book-length manuscript in under a year. The following day, I edit the previous day's work and draft another 1000 to 1250 words. At the completion of a chapter, I pass through the whole thing three times; once to take notes, once to make corrections and once with a text-to-speech program that reads the work aloud. They key to this part of the process is to draft only what I can edit the next day and still make my word-count goal. Any more, and I...

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Friday, February 10, 2012

I'm sick of this book. I already know what happens in it, and I have all sorts of cool notes for the next one, and I want to 'splore new places in my universe and make things up and stuff. Editing is boring when you're in the nitpick-finishing-up stage and all the characters are lined up and stamping their little character footies at you to get on with the next adventure. I'm just sayin'.

Friday, November 25, 2011

I read once that Islamic artists deliberately leave imperfections in their work, because only Allah has the right to be perfect. I also read once that stories are never truly finished; they are merely abandoned. In the spirit of these things, I progress through the final edits of my novel.

Bi-la kaifa.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Upon learning I was about to undertake a somewhat complex revision process, my GEH (short for Genius Engineer Husband) rises to his feet, points his slide rule in the air and proclaims, "I can make a spreadsheet for that!"

And so he did.

It's a fine creation consisting of a page for each chapter plus one for the template and one for calculating how close I am to completion. I spent the day today gathering my notes, his notes and my beta reader's notes into an outline and then breaking that into overall, section and chapter edits. Afterward, I plugged them into the spreadsheet, and now all I have to do is go from chapter to chapter ticking each item off as I address it.

When there are Casbahs which need rocking, the GEH arrives, and he rocks them.

Bi-la kaifa.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Last night, I finally completed section edits for Part III of TWSP. I still hope to get some planning done for whole-novel edits this evening using a very fine spreadsheet Sean created for that purpose. Tomorrow I'm occupied with a number of errands, but I'll begin the final pass through the book on Tuesday and start polishing a synopsis. I hope plan to have it polished and ready to send out by the end of the calendar year.

Friday, October 21, 2011

I'm finding that the more worldbuilding I packed into my chapters, the better the prose tends to be upon revision. Chapters 14 & 16 were tough to write because they were so alien, so I assumed they'd be harder to revise. But it's the other way around. The harder the chapter was to draft, the easier it is to edit. Maybe I was paying better attention to the hard stuff, or something.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

I've taken the requisite week off after finishing the last chapter of Twilight of the World Sea People, and I begin a section pass tomorrow for Chapters 13-17. I'm really looking forward to it too; they were the hardest and most alien chapters to write, but I felt great about each one as I finished it. I honestly don't think they need much, but I owe them a look before I begin the final edits.

Sadly, I'm only working two days this week; Wednesday Sean and I are taking time for a very late Mabon celebration that will probably take the better part of the day, after which I have Gaelic class in the evening. Friday, I'm heading into town for a physician-prescribed massage, a pile of errands and a trip to my comic pimp err...rather, my local comic shop (there are 'New 52s' to buy, after all). This weekend is for apple picking, juicing and wine-making, which ought to make my sister Chelle happy, 'cause when I brews it, she mulls it! Next week, however, I'm back into...

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Thursday, September 8, 2011

I used to think it was somewhat cliché for a writer to claim that characters 'arrived' in her head and needed to be written 'their way'. I know better now and would add that one of the great joys of writing is discovering where the story is going before anyone else does, as it unfolds on the page.

I have some interesting places to go in Book II.

Very close to the end of Book I. Writing the last 1000ish words today and tomorrow.

Friday, July 22, 2011

At one time, this bibliography represented the body of my research for Petals of the Twenty Thousand Blossom. However, I realized many years ago that for the better part of my species and planet-building (alien physiology, land ecology, etc.) I neglected to add my scientific sources to this list. Since most of those were Internet science resources, and since I didn't bookmark them, there are gaps in my bibliography where these subjects are concerned.

Therefore, this is a best-effort bibliography of my pre-draft researches, reasonably accurate with the aforesaid caveats to 2007, when the primary world-building for this series was completed. I have excluded resources I reviewed and subsequently discarded along with resources specific to world-building and the writing craft in general.

Of course, none of the individuals whose work is represented here have endorsed my novels, and any factual errors present in the final series are surely mine.

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Sunday, June 6, 2010

I've always tried hard to walk the line between speaking my truth and remaining professional in my public journal space. I value truth-tellers and bold speakers who do not cower behind political correctness and herd mentality, even when I disagree with what they have to say. However, I am uncomfortable with finger-pointing and ad hominem attacks as well, so I try hard to refrain from those things. All this by way of saying that I hope you'll forgive the abstractions in the following entry; I'd like to discuss a couple of hard lessons I've learned this week, but I'd rather not mention names.

Lesson One:
Writers, value and defend your work. Know your rights, know how to address violations of those rights and pursue appropriate remedies when necessary. Most editors and publishers are well-meaning people who do competent work, but clashes are sometimes unavoidable. Often those clashes will happen with people from whom you would never expect inappropriate behavior...

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Tuesday, May 25, 2010

I wrote this course in compliance with Eastern Maine Community College's requirements as a Liberal Arts elective for second-year students who had already completed a composition course and a general literature course. I am providing this information for those educators who want to add Science Fiction and Fantasy literature to their curricula or to expand existing curricula to include such literature. All downloadable files on this page are compiled in Adobe Acrobat .pdf format, and you must have Adobe Acrobat Reader installed on your computer to view them.


Course Proposal & Syllabus

(Right click and choose "Save Link As" to download these files and stay on this page at the same time.)

[inline:eng223courseproposal.pdf]
[inline:eng223syllabusspring2005.pdf]

Some Exellent Internet...

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Tuesday, May 25, 2010

I've just finished a paper read (as opposed to a screen read) of TWSP Part 1 and learned some valuable lessons. It has taken me a year to write the 160-odd pages I've just read, and that's far too long for anyone hoping to earn a living as a writer. That time wasn't entirely spent in drafting though. I draft at a respectable pace; I can put down 1000 words a day easily, and that's a sustainable level of work for a novelist. The problem has been the amount of time I've spent editing the manuscript along the way.

First, there was the initial edit of the previous day's work. Then there was the edit I did at the end of each chapter scene. After that came the chapter edit and the final edit I did of Part 1 over the last two weeks. Each of these entailed a plotting component to ferret out story problems and a mechanics component to look for sentence-level issues. Honestly, for every hour I spent putting words on the page, I spent another six to ten looking back at them.

...

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Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Over time, I've developed a suite of tools I use to craft fiction and keep a web presence. At the same time, I've been developing my technical skills, so I've been able to leverage more powerful technologies, which has in turn increased my productivity. This article is an effort to bring some of these tools, both low-tech and intermediate/high-tech, to your attention in the hope they help you become a better, more productive writer as well.

By and large, I prefer free, Open Source solutions for writing. I compose in gedit and format submissions in Open Office, outline in Freemind and store my world-buiding in MediaWiki. So very few of the tools in this article will cost you anything but time and effort...

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Tuesday, May 25, 2010

I've participated in a number of group critiquing experiences and find them all to be somewhat lacking in efficacy, for different reasons. Primary among these is that each of them has suffered from competitive subtext, so that one could never be certain whether or not the critiques one received were motivated by a genuine desire to be helpful. Therefore, I don't usually recommend them to others, since a good degree in any subject from a reputable college or university, an earnest level of investment in the study and practice of the writing craft and a tenacious commitment to selling ones work suffice for most people interested in writing professionally.

However, I did recently investigate two writing groups because I'd heard good things about them from reputable sources. The first was the Online Writing Workshop, and the second was the Codex Writers' Group. I didn't intend to actually participate in OWW; I just wanted to see what they were all about. I had an interest in...

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Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Yesterday, I sat down at my laptop at roughly nine in the morning, and with the exception of periodic washroom breaks, hummus and toast at lunchtime and take-out Thai for dinner, I stayed behind my laptop until nearly midnight. In the interim, I came within spitting distance of the Chapter 1 rewrite, which I finished this morning. More importantly though, I redefined the two POV characters and the primary non-POV character in my novel. In doing so, I realized what does and does not work for me with regard to character construction in a novel, and I thought I'd share that information with you.

What Doesn't Work

Doing Nothing

While I've been able to successfully create short-story characters on the fly, I can't do the same for longer works of fiction. Novel characters, by necessity, have wider character arcs, more room to be and grow. Therefore, they need more substance to begin with. In the last incarnation of Twilight of the World Sea People, I...

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Tuesday, May 25, 2010

It is a commonly-held belief among speculative fiction writers that somewhere, out there in the great, dark heaven of the multiverse, there is a god who hands out apostrophes on big, pink memos and that when the writer in question has received said memo, her or his constructed language is, at last, complete.

Allow me to illustrate:

Sp’thra: Beggars in Spain (all props to Nancy Kress)
F’lar: Dragonriders of Pern (all props to Anne McCaffrey)
Dra'Azon: Consider Phlebas (all props to Iain M. Banks)

For the most part, said apostrophes decorate said constructed words nicely; after all, most readers want a story and not a linguistic treatise. In fact, I never noticed the difference between constructed languages that used this or other common conventions and those that did not until I approached the construction of languages for PTTB. And frankly, I still don’t care what convention an author uses to transport me into another...

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Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Everything I know about world-building and conlangs I am teaching myself, and that's no small task for someone who isn't a scientist but who writes speculative fiction. In the beginning, I was hoping for the One True Guide that would lead me on to the promised land of easy, accurate, and organized back-story creation, but I have since realized what all successful writers in the genre figured out long before I did.

There is no such thing. World-building and conlang construction are messy and time-consuming, and what you don't already know about the sciences you had better learn, because lots of scientists like to read speculative fiction, and they will tell you if you've published a piece of fiction with scientific mistakes in it. However, the...

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Tuesday, May 25, 2010

I highly recommend the poet study Beowulf and other Old English poems before attempting work in this form. All of my examples are in Modern English, since that is the language I write in, and I presume it is the language my readers write in as well. I have included resources at the end of the article for those who want to know more about the form and/or hear Old English poetry read aloud. Finally, I should add that I am somewhat new to this form myself, so if any heads wiser than mine find themselves here, I would appreciate comments, corrections and suggestions.

Alliteration

Old English poetry is alliterative, which means that it follows a system of alliteration which binds its verses together and creates a distinctive sound (Baker 119). However, Old English alliteration does not simply make use of the first syllable in each word. Rather, it makes use of the dominant syllable in each word...

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