Well… I am blushing right now. I had my short story, “The Apprentice,” accepted at Residential Aliens a few months ago, but, somehow, in all the holiday and vacation madness, I missed the publication date (12/2/12). But, despite that, the issue of RA that the story was published in is still on the website, so you should head on over there and check it out!
“The Apprentice” is a prequel to a story that RA published a couple of years ago called, “The Sorcerer’s Wife.” TSW a story about the end of Brand’s life, and TA is a story about the beginning. Viola, the antagonist in TSW was such a vibrant character that she inspired me to write another story, this time from her point of view.
If I ever thought of a concept big enough, this would be a fun world to revist for a novel. TA goes a little more in detail about the Game, but there is still more to learn.
Anyway, I don’t want to say too much else or I’ll give away the story, but head on over to RA today to read “The Apprentice,” and if you haven’t read “The Sorcerer’s Wife,” you should check that one out, as well (in fact, I’d recommend reading that one first.No comments
Celebrity casting my novels-in-progress has become totally addicting. How do you find the face of that character you made up out of the ether? Unless a particular person/actor/what-have-you sprang immediately to mind, you comb through Google images based on some kind of search (dark haired dark eyed actors over 50; blonde blue eyed teenaged actress) until someone pops out at you with your character’s face.
However, is this a useless, time wasting exercise? Is it a time suck that you should eschew instead of actually writing? Or is it an exercise that can help you along the past to completing your work in progress?
The answer to all those questions is probably yes… and no.
Procrastination can take on many guises. Anything you devote all your time to that is not writing, is procrastination from the end game of a finished novel. However, finding the celebrity look-alone who embodies your character can also help with the writing process. It can help you with your descriptions. It can help you see the character better in your mind’s eye. It can help you take that character that might be a little vague or fuzzy in your mind and push them to the next level, and characters that live on the page are the ones that contribute to the vivid fictional dream that we all aspire to.
It’s hard, though. At least for me. A task that, while fun, does take time. Because I can’t settle for just anyone. Just because an actor has the right hair color and eye color, that doesn’t mean that actor can embody my character. I have to see something in a photo of that actor that feels like my character — a mischievous smile, the quirk of an eyebrow, the gleam of intelligence in his/her eyes. The wrong casting is worse than no casting at all, because then you’re struggling to make the misfit work with the character in your head.
But when I find one I like, I tend to have attachment issues. Even if someone more perfect comes along [or if my sister, a.k.a., my most opinionated (and best) editor doesn't like who I chose], I have a hard time switching to someone else once I’ve bonded with that character. But, I have that problem in other areas of writing, too. I hate putting in a placeholder name for a city or character, because it is super hard for me to switch later, even if what I’m switching to is so much better. My mind gets set on something, and that’s the way it wants things to be.
And now I’m celebrity casting in reverse, too. I figured out that my fantasy novel needs another character to flesh out the group. One who will most likely be an agent of the bad guy in the end. I was scrolling through pictures for some other character entirely, when I saw this one picture and realized that it was the face of my new character. The casting was perfect, and I don’t even have a good idea of that character in my head yet, but it just clicked. But now I have this face, and no name and only the barest of skeletons of character to go with it. So, it will be an adventure creating her opposite from how I normally go about these things.
Well, my laptop battery is winding down, so I guess I will sign off for now. Perhaps I can comb through a few more Google images before it powers down. I have a few more characters left without a face.No comments
I watched the first two episodes of the new TV series Revolution the other night. In a time close to now, something happens that makes everything that runs on electricity useless. The world goes dark. 15 years later, those who survived are living in a world with agrarian culture, city husks that house refugees, and republics ruled by deadly militia.
All in all, it was a pretty interesting show. I really liked Miles, as well as the two main supporting characters — a geeky guy who was a founding member of Google with 80 mil. in the bank before the darkness and the British doctor woman. The main girl, Charlie (early twenties) is not as instant of a hit. In the first episode, she vacillated between bratty and useless. In the second episode, she got some hunting and crossbow prowess, as well as some conviction, but they need to watch out as the conviction bordered on the edge of sanctimonious.
I’m also not sure about the subplot about getting the power back on. That one seems a bit of a far reach. The rest of the show would be intriguing without that. But, we’ll see how it develops.
The show made me think about dystopian fiction, though. It is really prevalent lately. Everything from The Hunger Games to the Chemical Garden trilogy take place in a society that has been rebuilt after at least the U.S. and maybe life everywhere as we know it has crumbled. I really enjoyed The Selection, but even though it wasn’t a story about surviving after the apocalypse, the world was built on a dystopian concept.
I wonder why dystopian fiction is so popular right now. Is it just the next new thing; the thing that hasn’t been written about ad nauseum (yet)? Or do we, as a culture, subconsciously think that we’ve hit the pinnacle and there’s nowhere else to go but down? That we’re much more likely to go the way of The Hunger Games or Razor Girl than Star Trek? If so, that makes me a little sad… but, it has lead to some really good reading.No comments
I stayed up way too late last night reading the newest installment in the Heather Wells Mystery series by Meg Cabot (Size 12 and Ready to Rock). It’s been a long time since there was a new book in this series, so I was excited to read it. Hence the being up until almost 2 a.m. on a work night (bad, Erin!).
In preparation to read the new one, since it had been a while, I reread the previous three books in the series, which is always fun. Heather is a great heroine and amateur sleuth. She was a teenage popstar, back in the day, but when she decided she wanted to sing her own songs, her record label dumped her. Then she found her long-time boy-band boyfriend cheating on her, just after her mother ran off with her manager, and all her money. Oh, and her dad has long been in jail for tax evasion. Now Heather works as the assistant director for a college dorm (excuse me, residence hall) by day, and does the billing of her private investigator friend/crush, Cooper, by night for free rent in his brownstone. When people turn up murdered in the residence hall, Heather also turns out to have a knack for getting college students to talk and solving the crime.
It was great fun rereading all of Heather’s old adventures. She has a great voice in true Meg Cabot style: pop culture references, jokes, wandering stream of consciousness, acerbic commentary. (Aside: I saw Meg Cabot speak once. During the Q&A I was going to ask her how she got such great voice for her narrators, but I didn’t have to. She actually talks that way herself!)
The nice thing about Heather as a character, aside from her colorful background, is that she’s so realistic and down to earth. She’s a normal person; someone you can relate to. That is so different from the Gossip Girls and Carrie Bradshaw’s of the world. Heather deals with family issues, unrequited love, and body image while she solves crimes. And she genuinely cares about people.
The new book fit right in with the rest of the series. Heather was in top form. She seemed a bit more confident than in the last book, but that was most likely due to her new romantic relationship (which I will not spoil for you if you have not read this series). I also loved that this book helped Heather come to terms with one of the big things in her past — the woman her ex-boyfriend cheated on her with. Heather was able to get past simply hating the woman (which is more character growth than I might be able to achieve) and see the real person, and also help that person with a terrible problem from her past. Heather was able to put that past hurt behind her, and now she can move on in her new relationship, the cheating ex and his new wife behind her.
The previous book in the series gave Heather the chance to work out her issues with her father. I was excited to read that there will be another book in the series, and it’s going to reunite Heather with the mother who stole all her money and abandoned her. That is a show-d0wn I have been waiting for since book one!
My only complaint about the new installment to the series is that Cabot does not seem to have a good memory for the over-arching details. Several things in this book did not fit with the continuity established over the rest of the series.
The original books say that Cooper’s grandfather, in addition to leaving him the brownstone, also left him a hefty sum of money. In this book, they can’t afford the housekeeper she wants on his and her salary combined. What happened to the hefty bank account? Did he lose it all during the recession?
In the first book, the president of the university and his wife live in the penthouse of the residence hall where Heather works; however, after the conclusion of the mystery, they move to a neighboring building where they don’t have to live with students anymore. This neighboring building is mentioned numerious times in the subsequent two books — and the conclusion of the third mystery even takes place in the same building, just a few floors down from the Allingtons. But in the new book, the Allingtons are living in the penthouse of Heather’s dorm (er… residence hall) again, as if they’d never moved.
Another thing that really bugged my copy editor nature was that Heather’s love interest in book three, Tad, had a name spelling change. When mentioned in book 4, it was consistently spelled Tadd. And, another small error was Heather thinking about Tom being the only boss she’d ever liked, and how it didn’t count because she’d never officially worked for him. But that was not true, either. Tom was officially Heather’s boss for all of book 2. He was unofficially her boss again in book 3 after her current boss was murdered.
None of these things are huge on their own, but every time I notice a continuity error, it throws me out of the groove of the story (i.e., the fictional dream, a la Gardner). As a reader, I really hate that. It made book 4 in the series less satisfying than all the other installments. And, as a writer, continuity errors are something I strive against.
Maybe, these errors cropped up because it’s been so long since she wrote the last Heather Wells novel. Forgetting a few small details is natural. And the details stood out more to me since I read all four books in a row.
But… if it were me and I wanted to get back into that world, the first thing I would do would be to re-read all the old books to get back into Heather’s head and her world. I recently wrote a prequel to a story that I’d written a few years ago, and rereading that first story was my very first step.
And, even if Cabot didn’t have time to devote to re-reading (due to her busy life as a best selling novelist — I’m sure she has tons of signings to do and many other books to write, as well), couldn’t an editor or a copy editor do so? I remember reading how J.K. Rowling had a copy editor whose sole job was continuity of the world. But, I guess Cabot did not have anyone to do that, so several continuity erros existed, I’m sad to say.
Overall, this is a great series and I highly recommend reading it if you enjoy mystery novels and fun, female narrators. But, when you get to book 4, just try to turn a blind eye to those continuity errors. I’m hopeful that Cabot will do better with continuity in book 5!No comments
One of the four stories I sent out on submission last month was accepted. Woo-hoo! It’s been a while since I felt that feeling — since “The Vote” was accepted by Every Day Fiction back in 2010, I guess.
Anyway, I’m very excited. The story should be published by the end of the year. I will link it here when it’s live.
It’s a prequel to a story that I wrote a few years ago that I really liked. I enjoyed going back to those characters and that world, and I’m really excited that the story was so well recieved by the editor.
What a great way to start off the month of September!
Here’s hoping that at least one of the other stories out there on submission has similar luck.No comments
It is really sad when you find an old story on your computer, start reading, get totally caught up in the world and the characters, and then it just stops. Especially when it leaves you wanting more. I did this over the weekend. Got totally wrapped up in a sci-fi world (colonies on the moon) that I created a few years ago (before babies). I have several stories set there, all drafts, not all even finished. But the world is totally clear to me. I don’t remember all the research I did now, but it’s there on the page. And I like the characters, too. Sadly, my plots are either unfinished or rather lacking.
And, yet, I want to know more. One of the stories especially… what happens next? I have no idea now where I was going when I wrote it back then. And, I probably didn’t know where I was going with it back then or I would have finished it at the time.
I tell you, though… I wish I could jump into those stories and read them all the way through, beginning to perfectly plotted end, and find out how they turned out. I’d really like to know what happened to those guys and girls on their colony on the moon.
OK, subconscious. That means it’s time for you to get to work!No comments
It seems there are a lot of stories and shows out there about con artists these days. Leverage, White Collar, and Ocean’s 11/12/13, to name a few off the top of my head. Oh, and The Heist Society series fits this bill also. The thing I’ve noticed about all these stories is that the cons all have names. The Ella Fitzgerald. The Zigzag. The Flopper-diver. And all the con artists in the shows seem to know exactly what the con consists of just by the fancy little name. They don’t even have to discuss who’s doing what. “Oh, we’re doing the White Rabbit? Great. Meet you at the club in ten with a water ski.”
I’ve been wondering lately if that is based on reality or not. Do real life con artists out there have fancy names for all the different cons? A secret language, of sorts, that only real con artists know? Terms that weed out the ones who are really in the game from the wannabes and the law enforcement?
It’s definitely good world building. When they use these little names in the stories, I feel like I’m being let in on a super secret world, a world within our world. Kind of like Harry Potter’s world, and how the Muggles never know, but in this instance, the con artists are the wizards, and everyone else is a Muggle.
But then I wonder if it’s just a conceit. Something movies and shows made up to save a little exposition time. Like keys hidden in the visor of a car or elevator doors that don’t bounce open when the bad guy reaches in to grab the good guy.
If the stories use those names, it saves them the time of explaining who’s doing what and what’s going on. The audience just accepts that everyone knows what to do and goes with it. Boom — you can head straight into the action.
And there are purposes for such short hand. If the writer uses it to skip the boring stuff and move into the interesting stuff, then it’s a conceit well used. We don’t need every single detail. It’s better writing to just say she got a drink, rather than detail her walk to the cupboard, selection of cup, filling of cup, walk to table, etc. But, if it’s used to skip plot or character development to just horn in more action, then it’s a problem.
It’s also a conceit well used if it brings a little detail to a made up world, makes the reader feel included. But it should be used to enhance. If all you rely on to create your world is the little cheats and short cuts that are part of the public consciousness, then that’s just lazy writing.No comments
Today I unsubscribed from Every Day Fiction’s email list. Felt kind of weird. I’ve been on that list for several years. But I just realized that I never read the emails anymore, so why bother having them come every day? Not that I don’t read the stories. I enjoy going to the website and reading the stories. I usually go and read a bunch in one fell swoop, get my flash fiction intake for a few days. And the website also has the rating and commenting features, and I like giving the authors of stories I like some love.
I guess that’s why there are so many options for accessing content. Everyone can find the one that works for them.No comments
I don’t know what it is about summer. Maybe it’s the hot weather keeping us inside? Or maybe it’s a more relaxed daily schedule (it’s amazing how many non-school-related activities take hiatus in the summer)? Or maybe it’s the annual work lull (plenty to do, but no pressing deadlines or overtime)? Whatever it is, the past two years, my only short story submissions were in the summer. Last year, I submitted a piece in July (it was eventually rejected). And this summer (earlier this week, in fact!), I actually submitted two pieces. We’ll hope they recieve more love than last year’s offering did.
As much as things are busy and crazy, I have not abandoned writing completely. Lately, I have been tinkering around with novels. For some reason, short fiction plot bunnies have not been nibbling on my brain as much as they once did. But, I found a few older pieces that I like and have had fun polishing them up the past few days. And it whets my appetite for more. It’s amazing how much better a story can look when you haven’t read over it in a couple of years. (Well… sometimes. Other times you cringe more than you did whe you actually wrote it!)
Of course, having submissions out there somewhere immediately brings on that impulse to check one’s writing email account multiple times a day. (I didn’t check it for, like, six months, and now I’m checking it daily.) Of course, I don’t anticipate a response to either submission for a while. Optimistically, we’re looking at late September/early October. Ah, the life of a writer…
In this fit of writing activity, over the weekend I even went through my story page and made sure all the links were up-to-date (several of the e-zines had closed their doors… boo!). So, now, if you click on one of the remaining links, you can be assured that you will at least get where you’re going. So, check it out, if you’ve a mind to.
Happy writing, everyone! (And, if you’re not a writer, happy reading!)No comments
I was so sad to find out this week that A Thousand Faces, the quarterly journal of superhero fiction, has ceased publication. I’ve known other markets that folded in the past, including some that folded after printing my stories. Even one that folded when they wanted to publish one of my stories and had not done so yet (which sucked!). But this one hurts the worst. And I didn’t even have any stories out to them at the time.
I’m probably late to the game finding out that they ceased publication. I don’t know when they closed their doors. What with the toddlers running about, I’ve had next to no time lately for writing, much less checking out all my favorite short fiction markets. But I was feeling a need for some superhero fiction this other day, went to my bookmarks, and the link didn’t work.
My sadness is two-fold. First of all, I’m sad because I really loved the stories that Frank published. He focused on the man (or woman) behind the mask, and brought the heroes into the real world. And yet, the writing was always fast paced and packed a punch. Are there other places out there to find similar fiction (especially that I can read online for free)? Maybe there are. Despite both liking superhero fiction and writing it, I’ve never been much into comic books, so I’m not up on what’s current there. If you know of any good markets, hit the comments and give me a link!
The other reason I’m sad is that of the four superhero stories I’ve had published, ATF published three of them (EDF published the other, Frigid). My first ATF story (Zero to Clean in Ten Minutes or Less) was my second fiction acceptance ever. And one of the other two (Bridge Club) is one of my favorite short stories I’ve ever written. And the third (Dinner for Three) was just good fun. I actually had a couple more superhero story drafts set in that universe that I thought I might get polished up enough to send over there sometime soon (Supersonic and his wife have a baby, and a superhero’s wife wants a divorce). Sadly, that’s not going to happen now. Not that I can’t submit them elsewhere, but ATF was, thus far, the home base for my superhero ‘verse.
Short fiction markets come, and short fiction markets go, but I have to say, A Thousand Faces, you will be missed! (But, I did notice that you can still get print issues of the old issues here. So, that’s something. ).No comments