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Archive for November, 2009

Techie Brain  SMN4Q64GB9ES

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vcw-a-cvr[1] Hooray! My second eShort, Assassins, was published.   This time around, the short story is classified as an “Adventure” tale even though it is set in the future on a planet far, far away. And more than a science fiction adventure, this story could be classified as a Space Western!

Hmm. Does this mean I have a stagecoach rattling along a prairie trail? No, but I do have a bus driven by a reluctant hero rattling down that same prairie trail (only it’s on Konur Prime instead of in South Dakota or Kansas). Does that mean there’s a chase scene? Yes, and the get-away horse is a big-rig truck. Does that mean there’s a damsel in distress? Yes, she’s a failed genetically altered “experiment” who is running for her life from an assassin with her pet singing opossum. There’s even a saloon and gambling establishment run by a red-headed woman. And I took the cover photo in Colorado at Garden of the Gods that stands in for The Canyons on Konur Prime.

A little more about Space Westerns. These stories take advantage of the character-types, challenges, and situations typically found in traditional westerns — only they take place in the future on frontier planets or “along the trail” between planets.  A recent example of a Space Western is the television series, “Firefly,” and its movie offspring, “Serenity.” But the spirit of the Space Western was really rejuvenated years ago by movies like “Star Wars,” “Alien,” and the “Star Treks.”

Whether Assassins is called an adventure, science fiction tale, or space western — it’s a fun read. If you’re a writer — why not try and write one? And a note to you readers, Assassins has a gun fight by the train tracks at the story’s end between the good guys and the bad guys! (But I’m not telling you who wins).

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 Great news: My zombie love story, The Return of Gunnar Kettilson, has been accepted by the print magazine, Cemetary Moon. Editor Chris does a wonderful job. The magazine is perfectbound with nice cover art, and I’m delighted to be included. This is my 1st zombie tale, and it begins:

“Celia sat straight-backed on an oak bench in her moonlit kitchen with the long-handled ax stretched across her lap. She listened for the shambling footsteps of her husband, Gunnar Kettilson, comforted in small measure by the presence of her great-aunt beside her on the bench. ‘Do you think he will come?’ Celia whispered as she rubbed the wooden ax handle with her thumb and wondered if there’d be maggots…”

I’ve finally completed the rewrite on my dragon story, Weathermaker, and sent it off to the editor of the Dragon’s Lure anthology. Will it be accepted? I have no idea, but I do know is it’s a better story now that I’ve addressed some of Editor Danielle’s concerns. Plus, I got to add some more dairy product lures (milk, string cheese & yogurt), some cool info on the stages of Chinese dragonhood, and a bit about Chinese painting.

Perhaps you can tell that I do research on the topics included in my stories. Research not only gives an author more information to help her create the world of her story, but also lends an air of authenticity to the writing. And sometimes, a scrap of myth or folklore discovered while doing research will push the narrative in a new and exciting direction.

In conclusion: Hooray for Zombie Love! Let’s hope Lung, the dragon in Weathermaker, proves lucky! And writers, why not try a little research?

For those interested, both of these tales are now available in my book, The Greener Forest.

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 As a fan of fantasy & science fiction, I’ve found that although characters, plot & dialogue are vital to a genre story —  the location where a story is set has a tremendous impact on the success or failure of the completed project.  Discovering at FaeireCon that I need a Steam Punk setting for my novel’s faeryland was a breakthrough.

Some readers & writers might be shaking their heads, but those of us who’ve tumbled with Alice down a rabbit hole, walked with Lucy through a wardrobe, or stepped with a character through a looking-glass, know location often decides the direction of a story.

Without The Shire, the Mines of Moria, Rivendell, Helm’s Deep, Mordor & the rest of Middle Earth, J.R.R. Tolkien’s fantasies wouldn’t be the same. Many of the challenges faced by Bilbo, Frodo, the other Hobbits & their companions are a result of the places where they find themselves while on their journeys.

When George Lucas imagined the adventures of Luke Skywalker he took us from the wastelands of Tatooine to the forest moon of Endor, the swamps of Dagobah, the interior of the Millenium Falcon, the ice world of Hoth, the Cloud City of Bespin & dozens of other locations in the vast galactic sprawl of moons, asteroids & planets that is home to the Star Wars saga. The contrasts in the various settings gives rise to action, encourages character development & helps the reader “suspend their disbelief.”

Another favorite of mine, Neil Gaiman, chose the sidewalks, pubs & subways of a city in Great Britain for his Neverwhere. He knew the claustrophobic closeness of tunnels, subways, apartments, and urban nooks & crannies would make a difference in the feel of the story. Likewise, when he wrote about Wall & the world of Faery that existed next to it, the settings made a difference in what it meant to locate a fallen star in Stardust.

And what about Harry Potter? J.K. Rowling’s decision to have Harry travel from a cupboard under the stairs to Hogwarts, Diagon Alley, the Weasley home & the rest of the author’s wizard world gave rise to the change & growth of Harry, the dialogue, the other characters, the antagonists, the plotlines…

In each of these examples & countless others, location is one of the keys to the success of the tale. In my story, Sideshow by the Sea, the boardwalk-carnival-seaside location was an important element. The locale’s flavor added not only a touch of reality to the fantastic, but was a familiar presence for many readers. In my next eShort, Assassins, the vast prairies, mountains & canyons of the planet Konur Prime are a familiar touchstone. In fact, this science fiction adventure tale could be classified as a “Space Western” — with updated versions of the stagecoaches, saloons, gunslingers & heroes of the Old West moved to — why, a new LOCATION of course!

For those who want to know what a number of authors think a Space Western is — check out: http://www.spacewesterns.com/articles/73/  If you scroll down in the article, I’m the 6th author interviewed.

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Butterfly Fairy

Butterfly Fairy

I spent a magical day at FaerieCon last Sunday. I got to chat with the Dragons Lure Anthology editor & assure her I’m hard at work on my story. I also got to visit with Kim Cross of Faerie Magazine. She’s wonderful to chat with & is enthusiastic about new projects for the magazine. I urge you to check out this beautiful publication: www.FaerieMagazine.com

I visited the dealers’ room & was happy to see so many artists present, including illustrator Charles Vess (whose work is breathtaking).

But the best part of the day had to be listening to writer Charles de Lint talk about writing urban fairytales, etc. He not only talked at length about his creative process, etc., but answered all questions posed by the audience in a friendly, professional manner. If you haven’t taken the time to read this author’s books, you should do so (I think there are about 65 published ones to choose from).

And lastly, looking around at the fabulous costumes (I must admit to buying some striped knee-socks, elbow-length fairy gloves & a fabulous rat puppet while looking) — I found the inspiration for Faeryland in a novel I’m at work on. The Medieval Faeryland I was trying to use in my novel didn’t feel quite “right”  — but the Steampunk Faeries wandering here & there at FaerieCon seemed “right.” Therefore, the Faeryland in the novel I’m working on will be Steampunk (think Victorian England or the Australian world of Mad Max).

My thanks go out to FaerieCon & its fairies for a magical answer to my setting challenge!

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 Yesterday, I re-read the comments from Editor Danielle on my short story, “Weathermaker.” Yikes! There were suggestions, questions & changes galore. Now, comes the tough part: Do I find a way to solve all the problems pointed out by this editor in the 2 weeks for re-write she has given me & re-submit the story, or do I leave “Weathermaker” as is & send it elsewhere?

So here are my choices: 1) Easy answer: leave it as is & send story elsewhere. 2) Some work answer: make a few changes & send story elsewhere. 3) Lots of work with no promise of publication: make the changes, lengthen the story, explore areas of the narrative that are just hinted at, delete areas of the story that are not necessary for the forward movement of plot, make the characters deeper, etc.

If the writer respects the editor (and I do), then the choice she makes says a lot about what she values. #1 is for the writer who’d rather see a work of lesser quality published just to be published. #2 is for the writer who’s willing to put in some effort to improve her writing, but is still publication driven. #3 is for the writer who’s committed to putting her best writing on the editor’s desk, and hopefully, in print.

Which did I choose? #3 – While after days of rewriting & revising, the resulting version of “Weathermaker” might not make it into this anthology, the story will be the best one I can write at the moment. And the resulting tale should have a better chance of publication elsewhere. So — Thank you, Editor Danielle for challenging me to write a better story!

Update: The finished story can be read in The Greener Forest.

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