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Posts Tagged ‘Space Western’

 All 3 of my eShort stories: Assassins, Sideshow by the Sea, and Bells, are YA/Cross-Overs. YA (young adult) books are written for the teenage reader. But some books that feature older teen and young adult characters, like Stephenie Meyer’s vampire-werewolf “Twilight” series, cross-over and become bestsellers in the adult book market.

Adults of all ages can enjoy a Cross-Over book’s plot twists, varied characters, and carefully constructed world. One of the earliest Cross-Overs I purchased for my bookshelf was JRR Tolkien’s The Hobbit. Though Bilbo Baggins is middle-aged in human years, in hobbit years he is a young adult. Tolkien meticulously built a complex world with its own races, geography, history, creatures, rules of war, clothing, and magic.

The book was a precursor to The Lord of the Rings trilogy which also features a young hobbit, Frodo, as the protagonist. Adding to the YA feel of The LOTR trilogy is the boyish friendship of Frodo, Sam, Merry, and Pippin. But the tangle of plots, subplots, themes, and characters that weave their way through The Lord of the Rings are rich enough to snag countless adult readers.

C.S. Lewis’ The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe and the rest of his Chronicles of Narnia are also YA/Cross-Over books. Written for the teen (and preteen) reader, the series continues to be read by adults young and old.

Another Cross-Over series I’ve filled my book shelves with is Terry Brooks’ The Sword of Shannara, The Elfstones of Shannara, The Wishsong of Shannara, etc. These aren’t really YA books, you might say. But I submit to you that indeed they began as a coming of age story of 2 young men, Shea and Flick, in a carefully crafted world. And then, the Shannara books topped the New York Times bestseller list and became one of the favorite fantasy series of many adult readers.

The last cross-over series I’ll mention is J.K. Rowlings’ Harry Potter. Harry, Ron, and Hermoine, the three main characters in Rowlings’ classic coming of age tales, begin their literary journey as 12-year-olds. And as such, attracted a faithful readership of preteens and teens. But it’s the cross-over into the adult market that has help make the books one of the most successful fantasy series ever published.

 I’m not the only one to notice and celebrate the increase in both the numbers and quality of YA/Cross-Over books. The Baltimore Sun, March 14, 2010, p.4, A&E section featured an article by Susan Carpenter in which she quotes Lizzie Skurnick, author of a collection of essays about YA literature: “I think part of the reason we’re seeing adults reading YA is that often there’s no bones made about the fact that a YA book is explicitly intended to entertain…YA authors are able to take themselves less seriously. They’re able to have a little more fun…”

 And that’s why YA/Cross-Over books Rock!

They’re entertaining, enlightening, and thought-provoking – but most of all – they’re fun! So why not check-out my YA/Cross-Over story, For the Good of the Settlement And soon, you’ll be able to read some of my other YA/Cross-Overs: The Return of Gunnar Kettilson in Cemetary Moon and Gifts in the Dark in Dia de los Muertos.

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 The snow outside is just deep enough to make a planned trip to the grocery store out of the question, so I decide to do some “office work.”

The business side of writing is necessary, but bothersome for me. Nevertheless, I pull up a couple of things that need to be printed out. Argh! The printer tells me it’s not connected to the computer.

Such techie things I usually leave for my husband to sort out, so I decide to register for a few smaller urls for some of my free stories and poems from www.tinyurl.com (A site I highly recommend. Smaller urls are a blessing!)

All goes well until I try to check for my story, Angels, published in the latest issue of Ensorcelled Magazine (from Berkeley). My computer tells me I’m forbidden to access the magazine from this server. I try several different ways to locate the magazine or story to no avail. (Update: The 4 free poems and 2 free stories that were listed here are no longer available. So, even more things went wrong since this post was written. Good news though, Angels is included in The Greener Forest and For the Good of the Settlement has been updated and published as an eShort).

I decide to check my eShort publisher to see how my eShorts (Bells, Sideshow by the Sea, and Assassins) are doing, only to find the website is down.

Hmm. I have a call into an editor and am awaiting her call-back. I check my phone to make sure it’s working. It is, but the back left burner on the stove seems to have a problem when I try to warm up some soup for lunch. Does this mean I’ll have to start making dinner a little earlier than usual?

Forget the soup. As I make myself a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, I decide today is the perfect day to finish some illustrations. As long as my spectacles (a far more interesting word than “glasses”) don’t break and I have water for painting, I’m good to go. Of course as I type this, I know the studio area of the basement remains unfinished and I’ll be wearing my Bob-Cratchett-style fingerless gloves to keep my hands warm as I draw and paint.

Perhaps, I’m meant to research a new story I’m working on. I can read snuggled down in a comfortable chair by the fire and jot notes on a pad. If I’m truly inspired, I can even return to the computer and type as long as I don’t want to print anything out.

What’s the point of this blog? You can always find excuses NOT to write (or illustrate), but if you’re going to have something for publication, you must push yourself to work. Research, write, draw, paint, edit, tiddy-up websites & blogs, register new tiny urls, revise… the list could go on — but keep busy! A writer writes. An illustrator illustrates. A wanna-be finds any excuse to turn on the television and set aside their creative dreams.

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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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 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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