September Links

Welcome to another edition of stuff from around the web!

My husband’s birthday passed this week, so let’s all say a big happy birthday before we begin.  HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

So, what’s new on the web?  Let’s start here – my good friend Rana, who I met through Buffy-Boards.com, a Whedon themed message board, just posted a guest blog at The Happy Herbivore.  She took a challenge to go one month eating only from her pantry – which I think is crazy, but she makes it work!  Read about the adventure here.

Do you remember my discussion of revision in the blog post, Too Close for Comfort? This blog post on Positive Writer hits the nail right on the head when it comes to my feelings when revising that story.

This article says it better than I have – this is how I find time to write between a full time job and being a mommy.

This New York Times article is about one of my pet peeves, which I also share with my writer/hubby Ismael – don’t ask me what I’m writing about!  I can’t give you a well-formed answer!  It’s impossible!

An article that mixes writing, fandom, and one of my son’s favorite things?  Yes please! 

Check out this interesting new company, creating audio tales and earning money for literacy.

If you’ve ever wondered what revisions of a book feel like from start to finish, my favorite author, Kelley Armstrong, has got you covered in this fascinating play by play on her tumblr blog.  For updates to this step by step edit of book 2 of her Cainsville series, stay tuned to kelleyarmstrong.tumblr.com.  And, if you like mysteries with a bit of supernatural involved, check out the first book, Omens, which is already available for purchase.  I’m already flipping out waiting for the next installment.

Ready to start querying agents?  Here’s a collection of advice from literary agents on how to get published.

Here’s a little ditty on writing Sci-Fi and Fantasy.  The first question and answer involve something I discuss with people all the time.  Many people consider it impossible to complain that science fiction and fantasy are unrealistic, because isn’t that what they’re supposed to be?  But the truth is Sci-Fi and Fantasy can be unrealistic – if you don’t follow your own rules.  As a speculative fiction writer, you set up your own rules for your environment and you can’t later break them without a damn good reason.  Something as simple as being consistent in the rules of your world can bring realism to a novel about three-headed space goons from Snorg.  If all Snorgs are three headed, that two-headed one had better have a reason for being there that is better than, “Oh, I forgot Snorgs were supposed to be three-headed,” and it has to show.

And on that Snorg-filled note, I bid you adieu until the end of this month, when we will discuss politics and public image. See you then!

StoneThread Publishing Anthology – Things You Can Create Blog Hop

ImageHello readers!  I know I said I’d be discussing the married life of two writers in this next blog, but it appears I’ll have to push that back in honor of the early release of Things You Can Create, the speculative fiction anthology released by StoneThread Publishing containing my short story of the same name.  You can purchase the book, which is being released in e-book format only, here.

So, in honor of the release, I’m participating in another blog hop, the purpose of which is to introduce all you readers to the talented team of writers behind the stories in this anthology.  You can find the blog introducing this blog hop and a list of all of the authors who will be participating, as well as their blogs, here.

Enjoy the blog hop and this brief Q&A about my story.

Q: What is the title of your story?

A: The Things You Can Create

Q: Describe your story in one sentence.

A: A successful but bitter writer faces surprising consequences when she decides to kill off her main character’s love interest.

Q. Where did you get the idea for the story?

A: Writers all grow very close to our own characters.  They are our creations and they start to feel like friends and enemies.  They certainly begin to feel real.  The idea for this story came after a few too many cups of caffeine and a few too many hours torturing the main character of my novel.  At 2 in the morning, it’s easy to imagine anything – “My character would kill me for this!” isn’t much of a stretch.

Q: If your story was optioned for film, what actors would play the main characters and why?

A: Not sure.  I never pictured anybody.  I could definitely see Autumn Reeser as Laura, Kelly’s publisher.  When I think about it, I could picture Angelina Jolie as Juliana, Kelly’s main character, due to the badass qualities of both.  That is a slippery slope, because now I’m seeing a young, quiet but focused Brad Pitt as Kennedy, Juliana’s lover.  I can’t say who would play Kelly.  I feel like that would give too much away…

Q: Who are your favorite authors and why?

A: That’s a tough question.  I have favorite authors in many genres.  I love Orson Scott Card for his ability to think very far outside of the box, Kelley Armstrong for her ability to show the human condition in sub-human circumstances, Matthew Warner for his disturbingly accurate attention to detail, Suzanne Collins for her ability to make grandiose topics completely relatable, and Veronica Roth for the cadence of her writing voice.  And Joss Whedon for just everything.  Does Joss Whedon count?

Q: What else about this story will enthrall readers?

A: If you like “The Twilight Zone”, you’ll appreciate what this story has to offer you.  I’m no Rod Serling (nobody is), but there is a definite spooky feel to the piece that is very similar.  In that vein, it is much more of a character study of our writer, Kelly, than it is a suspenseful thriller or an action story, although this does contain elements of that as well.  

Q: What are you working on now?  

A: I have two more short stories completed, both of which are not genre fiction, but literary fiction.  I am currently shopping those out.  I have a third in edits.  I’m also working on the novel I discussed in my blog last week as well as two others that have taken a backseat, but are still in the works.  Basically, I’m a busy woman.

Finally, a brief excerpt of the story in question…

Some would say that the good I’ve done for her has done little to outweigh the bad, but I’m fine with that. Why? Because it pays to torture Juliana Collins. I sleep well at night despite the fact that her sad eyes stare back up at me from the ink-filled pages. Every time I see my name splashed across the newest Kelly Marin original, I take pride in it, despite the years I have spent torturing my hero in book after book of the “Chronicles of Heroism” series. It makes it all okay. I made her. She owes me. But lately that has changed.

Lately, a lot has changed.

 

 

And I promise – next blog I will actually discuss my married life with a fellow writer.  I promise. 🙂

How Fandom Made Me A Better Writer

A fangirl or fanboy is somebody who has an intense love for a book/movie/tv show/actor and shows it by congregating with others and discussing it, researching every single thing related to it (watching all of an actor’s movies no matter how bad, finding all behind the scenes info available about a movie), and creating ‘fanworks’ (fanfiction, fanvids, photoshop edits).  I am guilty of doing every one of these things.  First it was Buffy the Vampire Slayer or anything Joss Whedon related.  Then, it was Stargate SG-1 or anything Michael Shanks related (i.e. his latest series, Saving Hope).  Author Kelley Armstrong is my main book obsession.  The Hunger Games is another one.  When a fan finds a group of like-minded individuals either at a Convention or on the web, they have become part of a fandom.

So, how did a time-consuming activity like fandom help me as a writer?

1) Characters – Being part of a fandom exposes you to new people.  Meeting people with similar interests does not mean meeting people who are similar to you.  Among my closest online friends, you’ll find: an archaeology major from Florida, a brilliant woman who goes under the name of an infectious bacterium, and a librarian with Asperger’s.  I’ve learned so much about differences in people from them, and so many others.  Conversations with them have spawned fresh story ideas and that archaeology major inspired one of the characters in an upcoming story.

2) Learning social networking – I used to be a lurker.  I would go on sites like Twitter, Tumblr and Fanfiction.net and sift through them without ever bothering to participate in them.  Then one day, my little sister made me sign up for a Tumblr, proclaiming me a secret fangirl who needed a “place to flail.”  She wasn’t wrong.  Not long after joining Tumblr, I became a full-fledged fangirl, writing fanfiction and posting thoughtful analyses of my favorite television shows.  This, eventually, led to the building of a Twitter writing network and to this very blog.

3) Deep Discussions – The perception of a fangirl is mostly the picture of a girl who shrieks like a banshee when her favorite singer blows a kiss into a crowd of thousands and proclaims proudly, “That was for me!”  Most of us are a tad more mature than that.  I’ve had significant discussions on the full character arc of Stargate’s Daniel Jackson, read essay length writing pieces on why Clary Fray from The Mortal Instruments Series is a Mary Sue (aka, a perfect character with no flaws and special characteristics that nobody else has – a literary no-no), poked holes in the entire plot of Buffy Season 7, expounded at length on how you can tell something’s a Joss Whedon piece without reading the credits, and played strange games like “Place the characters from The Hunger Games into Hogwarts houses” (thanks for the that one, Pip).  That’s character development, how to create strong characters, spot and correct plot holes, tie loose ends, and have a distinct and strong voice – all essential writing skills.

4) A book idea – I was goofing off with my favorite online crew of friends, discussing Stargate character, Daniel Jackson.  Somebody said, “Wouldn’t it be great if you had a Daniel on your shoulder, telling you what to do?”  And someone else said, “Wouldn’t it be more fun if it was Jack O’Neill?”  (Daniel is brilliant, but calm and peaceful.  Jack is a tough as nails bad ass.)  And I thought, how would one truly react if they had their favorite character from their favorite television show trying to direct their lives?  Last post I referred to the story of the divorcee with the imaginary friend, remember?  And thus, a story was born…

5) Fanfiction – Fanfiction is when you take characters you love from a piece that you love and write a story about a previously unrecorded adventure.  This is strictly for fun, not profit, and can be a powerful exercise.  For somebody who is serious and respectful of the original work, it can be a bit like writing for television if you were sitting in the writer’s room with the series creator.

Shortly after joining Tumblr, I got my first fanfic idea.  This was after six months of a stress-induced writing drought.  With some trepidation, I pursued it – a short story length tale.  I posted it and spent the next couple of hours obsessively waiting to see what people thought about it.  It got good reviews.  Reviews that asked me to keep writing for the characters.  My peers, people who loved the same television show I did, thought I did a good job with their world.  So I tried another one, a longer one: about 100 pages broken into 10 chapters.  I posted chapters once a week and was prodded constantly by people that now considered themselves my fans to post more.  I’d received useful constructive criticism and compliments.  Eventually, I won fan-voted awards for both stories.  I couldn’t believe my eyes.  The entire time I’d been working on these pieces, I had been cringing, thinking I should be hard at work at the original thing that I couldn’t write.  It didn’t occur to me until I was posting thank yous for my fan awards that this was just as important a step as if I had taken a writing class.  Writing fanfiction returned my confidence to me.  It reminded me that I was a good writer and asked me for more and it gave me the kick in the pants I needed to start writing my own work.  People genuinely liked my ideas.  They liked the way I handled characters.  And maybe, they would like my plots and my voice in a brand new world of my own creating.

I started writing in earnest once again less than a month after I published that first fic.  By the time the fan awards came in, I had begun seriously considering myself a writer.