Monday, June 27, 2016

What I do while washing the dishes Ep.3

This is my notebook. That is not my cat.
     I received a reprieve this week. I got two thirds of the way through the first Writing Excuses assignment and hadn't touched the next one. When I started playing episode 10.3 over sink full of bubbles.  It was like walking into class and discovering the paper is due next week. Instead I got to listen to a wonderful interview with Cherie Priest. The delightful author of Maplecroft. Which is a tale based on Lizzie Borden and Lovecraftian creatures.
It drives all the other toys mad.
     The podcast was awesome as they discussed H.P. Lovecraft and his works. Lovecraft had a multitude of flaws, racist, sexist and overtly xenophobic. I wonder if there was anything that didn't terrify him. Priest had this keen observation that stood out to me. "Nobody hates anything they're not afraid of." This does not justify Lovecraft's views or opinions. It does helps me to understand where the author was coming from and the intention of his pieces.

     Last winter I got to sit in for the lecture part of 318R at BYU taught by Brandon Sanderson. The course for me was incredibly helpful. The great thing about this semester was that it was being recorded by Earl Cahill and the first lecture went live recently.

     If you look in the notes I get a mention for helping review the videos. It was nice to be useful. (I worked in my Uni's production studio in my undergrad days.) I love that this information is being shared with the public. These lectures along with Writing Excuses are a wonderful resource for writers who may not have access to formal education or training. 

    In the piece I'm currently working on I have one major scene to write and then of course the edits. (I do not recommend this next course of action. It's to easy to become distracted.) I took a break last night from that project and outlined my next project. My outlines tend to be general and they are a great starting point. What happens next is I'll write and something completely different starts to emerge. I see what else can I get out of the structure as I'm writing. 

Keep writing.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

What I do while washing the dishes Ep. 2

Fun fact; Purple dish gloves and touch screens don't mix. 

     When I'm listening to podcasts it's normally on my phone. Something I've found helpful is to put in a dish of some kind while I'm cleaning. My preference is a smaller Pyrex container. This protects my phone from soapy dish water and amplifies the speaker. 

    I try to Listen/watch a variety of things while taking care of the chores. Being that I'm trying to follow along with the assignments for Writing Excuses I try to give myself a week between each episode. What's been filling in my time is Crash Course. This week it's been Psychology and Philosophy I really enjoyed Episode 13 "The Problem of Evil. what I love about Crash Course is it's a great overview of a topic or idea and gives you an idea of where to go and look for more information. 

    Last week I listened to episode 10.1 for Writing Excuses. I didn't complete the assignment. Yep. Luck would have it that I was familiar with some of the ways they suggest to build ideas. However I'm missing out on chances to flex some creative muscles and be a better storyteller. I'm going to try a little harder and complete not one but two assignments this week. 
The plan at the moment is to take some of my writing time and dedicate it to the assignments. My little one is my number one priority. When she is asleep that's my opportunity to write. On occasion there are epic bedtime battles. Normally there are tears involved, sometimes mine. I fight for my writing time. 

    This week I listened to Episode 10.2 "I Have an Idea; What Do I Do Now?" 
My notes were scrambled and I ended up listening to this episode once and then skimming through a second time to find the points that stood out to me. 
  • Stories that suggest conflict. -Wells brought up looking for the How? That conflict is there if you look for it. (I've struggled with this on occasion.)
  •  "It's going to ruin somebody's day."-Sanderson Whatever the change may be it's going to have an effect. 
  • I love the point of What's at Stake and Who has Agency. That Mary Robinette Kowal brought up.
  • Notebook! I love my notebook and for idea storing it is invaluable. I'm not alone in carrying a notebook! 
  • The idea of "What would happen if?" This can be a process of combining ideas or digging a little deeper.
  • What would i do with this? & Would I get caught?  Howard Tayler Whether it's a magic system or unique piece of Tech.
  • Dig Deeper- Come up with a problem you can't solve. -Wells
  • Brainstorming  is great for idea development. The table I'm working on is covered in butcher paper that I've scribbled on for my current project. 
     I'm using these entries as a way to stay accountable. If you want to improve your writing or even different creative outlets Writing Excuses is a great place to start. 

Saturday, June 11, 2016

What I do while washing the dishes Ep. 1

     My place does not have a dishwasher. This means that dishes can take twenty to thirty minutes to complete. That leaves me some time to think as I rinse away leftover ketchup off brightly coloured utensils. Occasionally I'll let the music play but then I'm likely to get distracted by dance parties with the little one. The trick is to find something engaging but allows me to focus on the task at hand. Podcasts are great. However taking notes with dishgloves on is a whole other story.

     Since getting serious about writing I started listening to Writing Excuses. This is a brilliant podcast hosted by Brandon Sanderson, Mary Robinette Kowal, Howard Tayler and Dan Wells. All of these folks have done some great stuff and is worth checking out. The current recommendation is to start at Season 10. Which works as a master class in writing. It even comes complete with assignments. I had started at the beginning but have now jumped ahead to Season 10.

     What did I pick up from episode 10.1? It was all about that age old cliche question that authors get asked, "Where do you get your ideas?"

    The different type of ideas discussed where the following,

    -"Gee Whiz" Ideas; The idea that hits you over your head and demands your attention. (Thank-you Mary Robinette Kowal for putting it into words.) Normally the phrase "Wouldn't it be cool if?" is uttered. I am familiar with this form of idea generation. I was watching a documentary on bees and the undertaker bee was mentioned. This is the  bee dedicated to removing the dead from the hive. From that I got wouldn't it be cool if there were a space station that handled it's operations like a beehive. Complete with undertaker bee. This idea fits in with a story I'm currently working on. There are also quite a few "What if's" type ideas that run through my head.

     -Tone ideas; This is one that I hadn't considered. The idea is best described by the podcast example. A High Fantasy Heist novel. That would be an apt description of Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson. This form of idea I feel would be a great way to help build a structure. For me if the appropriate tone idea came along I feel it could really help me flesh out a story.

    -Exploring Themes; This one is based on media consumption. It's seeing, reading or experiencing something and then seeing what more can you do? What else can you extrapolate?

    The exercise was to explore some new ways to gain ideas. Head over to the website to look and see what they suggest. I'm going to give it a crack and see what comes to mind.

    Happy writing.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Works in Progress- Dragons Below

 I've had the opportunity this week to attend David Farland's Writing Enchanting Prose Workshop. Check out his website for more info
I'm so busy with assignments I don't have time to write about all of the amazing things I've been learning over the past couple of days. So I will share with you the beginning of a short story that I can't wait to finish writing. 

Dragons Below
George looked down the black metal staircase into the dark gaping entrance of the Shanghai tunnels. The brick and mortar walls started to rise as he headed down the flight of stairs. His heavy boots clanked on the grate as he went. He gripped his pack and let out a sigh. Pulling out a flashlight he walked into the darkness. The light lit up the phrase Keep Portland Weird that had been sprayed painted in neon green on the wall. It seemed to pulse in the dark. George had been holding his breath. When he breathed in the air was stagnant and musty. There was a clang and a crash from the stairs the noise reverberated through the tunnel. In the arched entrance way a thin fellow appeared and was silhouetted in the light. He stepped into the darkness.
“Sam?” George asked. “You’re late. Again.”
“Yeah I know,” Sam said. He hoisted a spray canister onto his shoulder. “Did they mention what kind of critters they are having problems with?” Sam asked.
“Nope,” George said.
“How do they even know they have a problem?” Sam asked.
“Tour guides have found damage,” George said. “And droppings.”
“Where’s the rest of your gear?” George asked.
“Well, you have your pack. I’m sure you have plenty of rat poison for the both of us.” Sam said. George could hear him stumble. He shone his flashlight back at Sam. It lit up some loose rocks.
“Thanks. Those stairs are something special.” Sam said.
“Come on let’s get this done.” George said. Walking further down the hall. The sound of a faucet tap dripping came from behind the wall. The large gray bricks caught the light of his flashlight as they went along.
There were footsteps above them. A broken beam of light beamed down into the tunnel. George looked up a thick glass tile was allowing light in and people on the street were causing it to flicker.
“How far are we going?” Sam asked. Sam crouched keeping his head away from the ceiling. George walked ahead with ease. Sam’s boots scrapped along behind him.
“The holding cells,” George said. “We may want to consider dropping traps along this hall though.” George looked at the uneven brickwork at the base of the tunnel.
“This part of the tunnel looks like one of my grandma’s old stockings,” Sam said. “Who knows what they’ve got living down here.” He moved away from a craggy hole that looked like a mouth with missing teeth.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Calamity Release!

Last week Tuesday I got to volunteer at the release for Calamity. The final in The Reckoners series. I love volunteering at these events!

Some volunteers end up on book prep. Which means you flap all the books. If it is a numbered event you line them up and add the number. They get signed before the event start and it's amazing how quickly this happens. There is a bit of lifting and moving. From the box to the shelf and eventually to an eager fan. You may have noticed the volunteers were running around in the  Reckoners shirts.

1 of 3 carts.

The great thing about going to these events is the other fans. I hear the best fan theories, questions and ideas bounce around the room. There are always a few clever costumed fans. There were a couple of Prof.'s with some impressive glowing glove setups. There was a fan wearing a bridge four temporary tattoo. Really a cool group of people discussing awesome things.

Despite being sick.

If you have been at any of the tour events for Calamity you may have notice that Brandon Sanderson has intermittently had a voice.  The reading from the Stormlight Archive had to happen over the Barnes and Noble PA system. The thoughts for the evening focused on choices and decision making.

Volunteering also includes line duty. If you were there I was that lady with the loud obnoxious voice calling 1,2,3 for pictures. There were some great questions that I would've never thought to ask. I love listening to what people ask about. The majority of my focus though was spent on keeping the line moving.

One kid who stood out to me was in line for his brother. He was such a trooper and waited about two hours. When he did get to the top of the line his mother happened to have his brother on the phone. Sanderson took a moment to talk to him. Every interaction is genuine. It's wonderful. 

After last call for signing there was another great moment. A former student of Brandon Sanderson's came up he had signed a three book deal with Hyperion he had a galley copy of his book. The book was called, "Jed and The Junkyard War."  

I love book releases!

Thursday, February 18, 2016

LTUE Symposium Day 2 & 3.

LTUE DAY 2 & 3

Wow. Day 2&3 of LTUE were amazing. It has taken me a couple of days to gather my thoughts. The panels were excellent. The information was exactly what I had been wondering about. Also it was amazing to be around other creators that were as excited about fantasy and science fiction as I was. I've made some new friends.

My big takeaway from the conference was this...
I should be writing. 

The experience was amazing. I plan on going next year. But it could be so easy to get distracted by everything that goes into being a writer. If you are serious about writing I think you need to be putting words on the page daily. On a good day (schedule allowing) I'll put down about 1'000 to 2'000. On a bad day I'm lucky to manage a sentence. But I'm writing. Even a blog entry is better than nothing. I found myself in these panels of awesome thinking, I should be writing.

Also the other idea I found myself dwelling on was Idea vs. person. In the world we become impassioned over an idea or topic. Doesn't matter if it's political, creative, religious or fandom. Sometimes the passion for these ideas can be taken to an extreme. Internet forums, social media are filled with examples of this. I think when we move into a position of defense we lose sight of the human in front of us. We look at that person as if they are the idea we are fighting against. In that moment we lose sight of who they are. Another human. We strip them of what unites us. Whether we are right or wrong in our ideals. We can not lose sight of that precious truth. That doesn't mean give up the good fight or stop talking about important issues. But to accept where someone is at with the concept. Whether that is acceptance or rejection. 
Writers have to be extremely careful. We need to be aware of what we are presenting to the world. During the conference the term "unconscious bias" came up. We need to look at the biases we have and ask ourselves is this how we want to shape the world? 

One of the Keynote speaker's was Kevin J. Anderson. Who not only has a prolific history of best selling books, but also runs WordFire Press. I was really impressed with his Popcorn address. You have to keep working and cultivating new ideas. Doing so keeps you writing and creating. If you have a chance to see the address it is well worth it. Listening to him speak you know he is a master storyteller.
I also saw how important it was to have a good crew. Anderson's flight got redirected twice on it's way to Utah. On the third trip tomato juice was spilt on him. The crew at WordFire Press had everything taken care of from the table to all the other responsibilities involved. I also got to help out and learn how a good crew operates. 

Thanks to anyone who participated in the panels. The panels I attended were fun and insightful. Left me with a lot to think about. 
Thank-You LTUE for putting on the conference and making it all happen.
And a big Thanks to WordFire Press for the great swag bag and all the useful info.

Awesome experience. I learned a lot that I'm already applying to my writing.  I can't wait to do it all again next year.

Note; I will be adding links to LTUE and other panelists and authors in the next day or so.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Life The Universe and Everything Symposium Day 1

This conference is amazing. LTUE is the annual Symposium for Fantasy and Science Fiction with the focus being on creators. Today I got to interact with some of my favorite writers and met some amazing people from the industry. I think for once I managed to keep being star struck down to a minimum.

Wordfire Press has put together a great swag bag for attendees. Including a copy of Mythica A Quest for Heroes. In the dealer room many of the authors are also present to talk and discuss their books.

A sample of panels I attended today;

Tolkien Won a Marvel NO-Prize
Dragons of Myth and Legend
Third Person P.O.V
Marketing on a Budget
Unfinished Business
Selling Short Stories
Writing Action Sequences

Reoccurring piece of advice, write. I love this conference because everyone there is either a creator or a fan of Fantasy and Science Fiction.

If you are in the Provo area there are two more days of LTUE. They have day registration. If not plan on it for next year because it's amazing.

Need sleep. What a great day.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Read All the Books! Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson

     I finished up the Mistborn trilogy at the beginning of this year. These were well crafted, engaging with characters I found myself crying over. 
     Bonus due to the fact that I live near BYU now I get to go to the occasional midnight release for Brandon Sanderson Novels. I love listening to the questions that come up. if I wait long enough normally one fan or another will ask the question that I've been wondering about myself. There is normally a reading for a unreleased book and a mini update about what's ahead.
     One of the best things to happen so far this year was that I got to volunteer at the Bands of Mourning midnight release. DragonSteel is an amazing company to volunteer with, you feel like you are apart of the crew. You get to help make an awesome experience for all the other amazing fans. Also if you have any sort of love for The Cosmere or Sanderson novels you get to be around like minded people. 
Spoilers Ahead!


     Mistborn is our introduction to a world where ash falls from the sky, the idea of green grass is foreign, and there is a incredible magic system based off folks ability to burn metals. Your lucky if you can burn one. If you can burn them all you are known as Mistborn. Burning the metals can give you different abilities strength, influence over emotions, increase physical abilities etc... 

     Then there is the social setup of the world. You have the Steel Ministry, the nobles and the Skaa. The Steel Ministry handles all the bureaucracy. This group also contains the unnatural Inquistors. The caste system continues with the nobles. Then finally the Skaa who are slaves for the nobles. This has all been setup by the Lord Ruler, who by the way doesn't die. 

     The first book in the series brought me Kelsier who I loved and adored. He is one of my new favorite characters in fantasy. Although he was mistborn. He was human and had he's strengths, prejudices and flaws. I'll probably mention this more than once, Sanderson builds characters, the characters are relatable and have flaws! 

     Unfortunately Kelsier played the part of the wizened old man to Vin. For those of you familiar with archetypes you realize this means he is removed from the equation so the young hero can come into their own. Vin I will write about in just a moment.

     Kelsier's crew is another element I love in these books. The friendship! I loved these guys. They all brought a different strength to the team. Why does Kelsier bring them all together? To overthrow the Lord Ruler the unbeatable supreme leader. Any rebellion that has happened is crushed. Also wordplay bonus. Club's house, is the clubhouse for the crew while they are planning the heist. 
    Vin has this amazing character arc that we watch develop. She is by no means perfect, which I love. There is a trend in some fantasy to either have women be a paragon or an object. Sanderson writes characters gender enhances the characters instead of being the sole focus of who they are.
     Also for those of you who are fans of the Cosmere. Hoid sighting! Who I've become convinced is the trickster figure of this universe. 

     When I watch a show I can normally call which way it's heading. It annoys my husband to no end. Once I dealt with the stunt that Kelsier pulled the crew does go on to defeat the Lord Ruler. I thought how is there going to be another two books? Lo and behold there is a whole other storyline that we don't really become aware of until the next book. However once we find out about there things all through the first book that make sense. Including the Lord Ruler's cryptic last words. 

    Mistborn Trilogy is a great read if you are a fantasy fan. If you love a great magic system. And if you have a love for great story arc and character development. 

Next time on Read All the Books! My favorite book in the Mistborn Trilogy. The Well of Ascension. 

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Under Construction

In the past week I've put down about 7'000 words on a novel I've been toying with for about a year. It's finally starting to come together.
On top of that another 1'000 on a travel memoir and log about New Zealand. I wonder what people would like to know about New Zealand or traveling.

I'm a writer!

I've entered the NYC Short Story Competition which starts Friday. Anxious and excited and can't wait for the challenge and feedback. The last time I put something out there for critique was well my University days. At the point I wasn't in a place to really handle any sort of criticism constructive or otherwise. I'm hopping into a strange new world here as I learn to accept and use it.

I'll be heading to LTUE in February. The panels look good and I'm hoping to see some familiar faces while meeting some new folks. Can you imagine being a presenter on a panel? That has to be terrifying and awesome rolled into a pudgy ball of you have no idea what your audience is going to think and in some cases do.

Of course I continue to read. Reading has always been my great escape. Right now I'm lost in a steampunk world of Mechanized Masterpieces A Steampunk Anthology.

There is also a lot of back room things going on. Debating about what social media to get involved with or avoid, in some cases running, as quickly as possible in the opposite direction.
Self Promotion isn't a bad thing but it seems more genuine for me if you seek out meaningful connections.  I'm building a website and going through the great debate of building it myself which I have a shaky knowledge at best of, or wordpress which I am comfortable with but has it limits. The great thing about a website is you can do whatever you want, and that is also the danger.

Then the question of content... I'm thinking reviews, especially books and games. Challenges, Convention experiences. Suggestions welcome.

2016 is going to be amazing.