Friday, July 31, 2009

The fabulously funny SF/F author, Karina Fabian

Karina Fabian writes humorous, Christian speculative fiction. I found Karina online and was intrigued by her sense of humor and her industry. Read on and you will be, too.

AW: Can you describe the journey to your first published book?

KF: Long, erratic and unexpected. I wrote a novel in college that was good but nothing spectacular, and sent it around to collect rejection letters. In the meantime, I went into the Air Force, got married, had kids... Later I dusted off the manuscript, blanched, rewrote it and sent it around again. In the meantime, I got involved in some writers' groups and my husband and I were starting short stories about an order of nuns who did rescue operations in space. Around 2000, two publishers, Kat Lively and Joan Stromberg, put out a call for submissions. Joan was looking for someone to write craft books for a Catholic girls' club, while Kat was starting an electronic publishing company for genre fic. Writing craft books sounded like a fun project for me and the kids, and Kat's FrancisIsidore e-books company a good fit for our Rescue Sister stories. Kat, however, asked us to create an anthology of several writers instead.

I can't remember which came out first: The Little Flower's Craft Companion or Leaps of Faith, but both were a far cry from what I'd expected in my writing career, yet both were fun to compose and works I look back on with pride. I've since written two other craft books for EcceHomo Press. FrancisIsdore e-books folded and Kat has moved on to edit for Mundania, but Leaps of Faith is now out in print from The Writers' Café Press. (Took us five years to find another publisher.)

Marketing those books has led me to other publishing opportunities, and I now have two more books out Infinite Space, Infinite God and Magic, Mensa and Mayhem. I have another anthology and another novel coming out in 2010, and I'm in one anthology Firestorm of Dragons, and will be in three more coming out in the next year.

All in all, it's been a fun time. And the novel I wrote and re-wrote? I have someone interested, but now I'm thinking I may re-write it again first.

AW: Who were your favorite authors before you started writing? And now?

KF: There is no "before I started writing" unless we go back to Kindergarten. So, fave authors: Madeleine L'Engle, Terry Pratchett, Douglas Adams, Jim Butcher, Maya Bohnhoff, Robert Asprin... Just to name a few.

AW: Does your sense of humor ever get you in trouble?

KF: I've always had a peculiar sense of humor--lots of puns, twisting situations... Sometimes, people don't get my humor, but that's OK. So far, I've only had one negative comment about humor in my work. A fellow author I admire said she can't recommend my novel because "she believes in the dignity of the person." I can see her point--my humor can be silly and a little over-the-top, though never of the caliber of the Simpsons, for example, while hers is more gentle. However, I also know that people get themselves into undignified situations, and those can be just plain funny. Ironically, as a child, I didn't always realize that, and I was quite hard on myself and my life. Now I laugh a lot more at my foibles and follies--and I'm a happier, saner person for it.

Plus, my husband and I fell in love trading puns, and are still crazy in love. We annoy our children, yet they share our humor (and how many 14-year-old girls say they enjoy clowning around with their mom?). And my books have been heralded as hilarious and intelligent, so I'm glad for my sense of humor.

AW: What are some of your favorite ways to torture your characters?

KF: My best friend (also a writer) and I call it "torturing your characters for fun and plot-fit."

It really depends on the story and the characters. When I'm doing something funny, I will take clichés and twist them or stretch them to the extreme. For my next novel, Live and Let Fly, I'm spy-spoofing, so I watched a lot of spy movies and read books and took notes on clichés to twist or incorporate into my characters. (Did you know Bond was afraid to fly--and inevitably, there was a storm during his flights? Naturally, I had to create a scene for my spy-guy so he could have a nice "episode." Of course, I made it a killer magical storm. What fun is a little lightning?)

Sometimes, my characters make trouble for themselves or each other. For example, I did not invite Coyote to the Mensa Convention in Magic, Mensa and Mayhem. He just showed up for the panel discussion on thinking outside of the box, started flirting with all the Mensans (and the guests, hotel staff...), and generally gave Vern a real headache by the time the case was over. Of course, he broke parole to get to Florida, so Vern got his revenge.

Other times, I just keep asking "what if?" Vern, my dragon detective, came from watching a noir skit on the comedy show, "Whose Line Is It, Anyway?" and his tortured past developed by asking "What if dragons can't die? What would St. George do to dragons? What if he took away his dragon greatness and made him earn it back? What if bad deeds meant he lost powers?" and such. Poor Vern! It's three steps forward and one back with him.

Finally, sometimes the plot just creates its own tortures. These usually surprise and disturb me.

AW: What made you decide to edit anthologies? How has editing anthologies affected your writing?

KF: I edited anthologies because I was asked. I enjoy it, but it's a lot of work, so in one way, it's taken away from my writing time. In another, it's made me a better writer because I get to work closely with some super talent.

AW: Can you give us a thumbnail of what's going on with Christian speculative fiction? Can you recommend some other authors?

KF: Before I start, I want to note that when I talk about "Christian fiction," I am talking about fiction with an obvious Christian message, which speaks frankly about matters of faith and the Christian religion. It might move into the arena of evangelizing or peachiness, but just as often simply recognizes the Christian faith. There are several wonderful books out there (mine included) that are classified as Christian because the characters or theme is recognizable as Christian, yet the treatment of the faith is so lightly handled that they would be equally at home in the secular world. (In fact, it's my opinion that if the authors had chosen to make up a religion instead of using a real one, they would have been published by a large, secular publisher.)

Christian speculative fiction (science fiction, fantasy and horror) is a growing phenomenon, but one you're more likely to find in small presses than in major publishers and bookstores. The major Christian publishers still (in general) conform to the CBA/ECPA guidelines, which can be very restricting for genre fiction, and the major publishers have just begun to experiment with Christian fiction as a genre.

I know of several presses, magazines and websites dedicated to Christian fiction:


The Writers' Café Press

Idylls Press (Catholic)
Marcher Lord Press
Double-Edged Publishing



Ray Gun Revival
Laser & Sword Magazine
Residential Aliens
Coach's Midnight Diner

Websites with Emphasis in Christian Speculative Fiction:

Lost Genre Guild
Christian Science Fiction and Fantasy Blog Tour
Where The Map Ends
Christian SciFi
Speculative Faith
Christian Science Fiction and Fantasy Central
Christian Fandom

AW: What are you working on now?

KF: I just finished editing Infinite Space, Infinite God II, which comes out in 2010 form Twilight Times.

I have two books in the works:

--Discovery is a science fiction story based in my Rescue Sisters universe. What keeps you from God? An exploration team discovers an alien device that exposes their greatest spiritual wounds--and until they find healing for their souls, it will wreck havoc with their lives.

--Gapman is my third DragonEye, PI, novel. Ronnie, mild-mannered entertainment reporter for the Los Lagos Gazette, falls into a vat of enchanted toxic waste, gets bitten by a radioactive pixie, and is struck by lightning while crossing the Interdimensional Gap. When he develops superpowers, however, the real chaos begins!

I also have a new series, Damsel and Knight, in the works. This is also in my Faerie/Mundane universe--police mystery fantasy/romance starring Police Captain Michael Santry and Veronica Bates, a griffin-turned-human. I have the first three books mapped out, but I need to finish Discovery and Gapman first.

I also want to go back and rework my Miscria trilogy and get the last book done.

Of course, my best projects are my four kids, and I teach writing and marketing via my website,, and am president of the Catholic Writers' Guild. I am teaching a couple of classes at the MuseOnline Conference in October and organize the Catholic Writers Conference Online in February.

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Tuesday, July 28, 2009

A writers work is never done...

So, for example, after the 8-5 staff writer job today, I worked on a website for a friend, composed interview questions for Kevin J. Anderson, corresponded with writing buddies, did some editing on a short story and now here I am blogging. Next is reading a book for review. I wonder how long my eyeballs will stay open. Then again, the new german shepherd is in need of a walk and so is my back. >sigh<

On Friday, I'm off to Washington state for SpoCon. It will be so lovely not having to work half a day before I catch the plane and not having to rush. I'm only expected for the opening ceremonies Friday. My schedule, if you're attending is here.

Saturday is the deadline for the flash fiction contest. I can count the entries on one hand right now, so your odds are terrific. Send in those stories, especially if you know how to do flash. It is rather an art form. One I'm very fond of pursuing. :) The details for the contest can be found here. Winner gets a signed copy of Awesome Lavratt and publication right here. If you'd like to sell it afterward, you retain all rights and I'd be happy to pull it down after 30 days if you so desire (someone asked).

I passed the 200 mark on LinkedIn connections. Do I get a badge or something? I'm still getting responses to the link I posted to my social networking entry at the Redwood Writers blog almost a month ago.

Maybe I should stop givin' stuff away? Naw! It's too much fun.

Thursday I have to prepare for SpoCon and Monday I have to cram for my presentation, Cyberspace 101 for Authors, on Tuesday. Which makes me think I should probably blog about that on the RW blog soon to pump folks up and get more warm bodies. Well, there's always time on the plane up and back as well. Good thing I work well under pressure.

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Friday, July 24, 2009

Gregory Frost - fantasy writer, story teller and artist

I read Gregory Frost's most recent duology, Shadowbridge and Lord Tophet. You can read my reviews on Mostly Fiction. Frost has an incredible gift for storytelling. He has written seven novels all together. Fitcher's Brides was a World Fantasy Award finalist.

He has also authored numerous short stories and articles and taught writing at Michigan State, UC San Diego and Temple University. He now lives in Philadelphia and is a current director for the fiction writing workshop at Swarthmore College.

AW: What literary works have most influenced you?

GF: That would be a long, long list. From my childhood everything from Dr. Seuss to The Hardy Boys to a version of The Odyssey. Growing up, fiction by Jack Williamson, Roger Zelazny, Hawthorne, Poe, “Flowers for Algernon,” A Canticle for Leibowitz, “Leiningen versus the Ants”, fiction by John Collier, Ray Bradbury, Arthur C. Clarke, Rod Serling, Robert Louis Stevenson, Shirley Jackson, Richard Matheson, Ian Fleming, Len Deighton, Leslie Charteris. The list goes on and on. I discovered early on that I was bent toward any fiction that had some supernatural or fantastical element to it. I devoured everything that crossed my path, and I think everything I read provided some kind of influence. In my adult life, where I think (I hope) I pay more attention to how stories get assembled, how and why they work, I’ve been captivated by Italo Calvino, Vladimir Nabokov, T. C. Boyle, Mark Twain, Shakespeare, Flann O’Brien, Gene Wolfe, and a whole lot more. We are what we read.

AW: Do you remember how and when you first envisioned the delightful and many-layered world, Shadowbridge? (to readers: Shadowbridge and Lord Tophet)

GF: I was playing around with an idea in the 1990s based on a drawing I’d done of a kind of alien character on a definitely alien bridge. At first I thought about writing a science fiction novel with this image; but while that was just sitting and gestating, I began writing fairy tale-spun stories for Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling, and reading a lot of fairy tales, books about them, about folk tales, and about the fantasy fiction of different cultures.

Then one night my wife and I were having dinner with Michael Swanwick and Marianne Porter. Michael and I were standing in his back yard on a chilly night, sipping wine, and he asked me if I was working on anything. At that point I had gone through a very long dry spell where novels were concerned. I just didn’t feel terribly compelled to write one, so I was penning short fiction exclusively.

Anyway, I started to tell him about this idea with the bridges, but as I spoke of it to him the science fictional trappings fell away, and all I described was this world of bridges where people are perpetually traveling from one place to another and each span was culturally different, odd, weird. He gave me one of his Swanwickian looks that can pin you to a wall and said, “If you don’t write that, I’m going to steal it.” And with that the die was cast.

He coerced me into writing a short story set in that world just to establish ownership of it, so I wrote “How Meersh the Bedeviler Lost His Toes” (published in Asimov’s, it was a finalist for the Theodore Sturgeon Award for Short Fiction), which introduced both the trickster figure of Shadowbridge and the master puppeteer-storyteller, Bardsham, who was modeled very roughly upon an Australian shadowpuppeteer I had the good fortune to meet, named Richard Bradshaw (so I got to reference both him and Shakespeare with the name).

Somewhere in there, Michael pointed me to a 10-volume work called The Ocean of Story, which I found a copy of at the University of Pennsylvania library and began reading. That, far more than the 1001 Nights, comprises stories embedded within stories, and so I slowly began seeing this shape emerge—oddly, very much a spiral shape unlike traditional Western linear storytelling.

I had about half the first book written when Terri invited me to contribute a book to her Fairy Tale series, so I took off a year and wrote Fitcher’s Brides.
And then my father died, which proved to be stunning, and for a good eighteen months I could not write. It was a scary feeling because it wasn’t writer’s block in the usual sense. It was a complete desiccation of the place where stories bubble up inside me. That was simply gone.

Anyway, I’ve now strayed far from your original question.

AW: What method do you use for keeping all of your characters and story threads straight while writing novels with such incredible worldbuilding?

GF: I sketch some of them. I was an art major and did a lot of portraiture in school. So it’s easy for me to sketch out major characters. The story threads may seem complex for Shadowbridge but really there is the one throughline, if you will, which is Leodora’s story, and all the others are tributaries of that, channeling in some way into the story that becomes The Tale of Leodora, which is ultimately what the two books are. I have another Shadowbridge book half sketched out, and none of the characters are the same, although someone might have a walk-on part.

Some years ago I wrote another duology, Táin and Remscela, a kind of mad retelling of the Irish Táin Bó Cúailnge. And that had so many characters that I finally just cast it like a movie. So I cast Sean Connery as Fergus and Peter O’Toole as Laeg, and so on. That helped in particular with their dialogue, because I could hear them saying it. Now, nobody reading those books would ever pick up on that, as it was all in my head, but it helped me keep everybody’s part straight.

AW: How old were you when you first started writing?

GF: If we’re willing to include comic books, then very early. I was a comics junkie as a kid and I was also the kind of kid who could sit and draw for hours on end. So I drew, and wrote, my own comic books. Totally derivative, I even stole lesser known superheroes like Dr. Fate. But I was writing because I needed to in order to make the story work. I thought I would grow up to be an illustrator.

Beyond that, I didn’t start writing stories as stories until my second year in college when I took a night course and an exceptional teacher really got me hooked on writing stories. The more I did that, the less I drew and painted. But effectively I wrote at 19 like a 14-year-old who’d been at it for awhile. I was starting out way behind the curve.

AW: Who encouraged you the most early on?

GF: Aside from that teacher in art school (whose name I am embarrassed to say I can no longer remember), two people: David Gerrold and Lin Carter. After I quit art school I took a year off and tried to write a novel. I ended up with a 250 page manuscript for a fantasy novel. About the same time I read David Gerrold’s book about his experiences writing an episode of Star Trek (10 points for those who know which one), and I wrote him a fan letter in which I explained that I was trying to break into print with my own fantasy novel. David, knowing nothing more than that about me, sent me back a letter of introduction to Lin Carter, who at that time was the editor of Ballantine Books’ Adult Fantasy series.

This was like being given the key to fantastical city. I sent the manuscript and the letter off to Lin Carter. He read maybe 20 pages of it, and I will say flat out it was abominably bad. But Lin took the time to go over my first 10 pages point by point, line by line, to explain what I was doing wrong. He finished off the letter with a recommendation that I keep going. He said that I had a natural storytelling gift and I should develop it.

He may have been doing nothing more than being kind to a clueless kid who wanted to be published, but I hung onto that positive feedback and ended up in undergraduate writing at the University of Iowa, where I had as teachers Joe Haldeman and T.C. Boyle, both of whom had a huge influence on me. Joe pushed me to send an application to the Clarion Writing Workshop and I was accepted.

So in effect I’ve published because some other writers in the science fiction and fantasy world were incredibly gracious and supportive. When my first novel, Lyrec, came out, I sent a copy to Lin Carter. It was the material he had seen a decade earlier, chopped and cannibalized and repurposed.

AW: In what ways has writing shaped who you are?

GF: That’s probably a question for someone who knows me and can step back to answer. I’ll say that I think it has caused me to think of the world in story terms, to look at reality as storytelling loam. But as I discovered very early on, I appear to be hard-wired to write fantasy, and I seem to have little interest in writing endless series or massive brown bag trilogies.

AW: In what ways have your beliefs or personality shaped your writing?

GF: The other side of the coin, isn’t it? You know, when I say that I had to cast a book because of the number of characters in it…well, they’re all me in some fashion. Our fiction is invariably a product of who we are and what we think. Sometimes that’s overt—as in a story of mine, “Dub,” which is a Lovecraftian cowboy comedy that stars, effectively, George Bush as the idiot title character and Dick Cheney as his sneering sidekick, which happens to be a talking hat.

Sometimes it’s less obvious, as with Kate, the heroine of Fitcher’s Brides, through whom I channeled a lot of what I think about religion in general and Christianity in particular. I never set out to write a book with some agenda, but some of me is going to get in there. If, as we’re told all the time, every story has already been written, then the only thing we have to offer is our unique perception and expression of those stories.

My stories will never look like anybody else’s, nor will theirs look like mine. Otherwise we wouldn’t read each other—we’d know how it all turns out.

AW: What are you working on now?

GF: Two things: A supernatural mystery novel set on the Main Line outside Philadelphia, which is in some kind of nearly completed stage; and what appears at the moment to be a weird crime-novel spin on a Lovecraftian theme.

AW: What's your "holy grail" as a writer?

GF: I don’t know that I have one in particular. I think that each book and each story is kind of a temporary holy grail, with me questing to make it as good as I can. It’s like acting in theater—you live inside this particular role for a period of time and it becomes a facet of you, and then you learn a new one, and after a time all these roles you have played inform you, give you more and more facets, more things you know how to do, and more sense of when to be subdued and subtle and sly.

AW: What other mediums or genres would you like to explore?

GF: Well, for God’s sake, someone tell Miyazaki that he needs to do a film of Shadowbridge! Really, I would love to explore graphic novels—the boy who drew comic books that lives inside me still wants to see one of his books turned out as a graphic novel. Beyond that, as I mentioned above, I’m attempting a mystery novel. Granted it’s about as off the wall as it can be, but that’s still a new direction, folding together elements of screwball comedies and romance novels, too. I’ve been writing, I guess, across genre lines since I started, so I don’t feel as if they’re separate territories, really.

AW: Have the shifts and shocks going through the publishing industry affected you personally?

GF: Not yet, but they will once this book is done and we have to go hunting for a publisher. I’ve no idea what’s left of the crumbling book empires, but I know no publisher has survived unscathed. I know that some books are still being bought, but I know also that the Borders bookstore chain has been murdering writers left and right by refusing to carry their books simply because the chain is bleeding from every orifice. I’d have sympathy for them maybe if it wasn’t my life and the lives of my compatriots that are being shredded. In some ways I want to see Borders sink soon because I think the longer they’re in business, the more damage they’ll do to writing careers, some of which will be squashed before they even start.
Honestly, though, I don’t know what will follow the chains. Small, independent stores with the capacity to print your book right there in the store? Maybe. That’ll be a new approach, and then the marketing free-for-all will begin, Twitter take all.

Read more about Gregory Frost at

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Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Conning, writing and reading

I got my proposed schedule for SpoCon over the weekend. It's as though they wrote the whole convention schedule around my preferences. It's perfect. Check it out:

Beginning with the opening ceremonies on Friday night. Last year we had a bat in the belfry - well, it wasn't a belfry, but it really was a bat. And lots of entertaining antics.

9 AM Broad Universe Rapid Fire Reading.
12:45 Autograph session with Dr. James Glass, Patricia Briggs, Lyn Hardy and Kathy Mar
4:30 PM "My-Twit-Book, Sci-fi and you" (Talk about custom made! Social media and SF authors.)
5:45 PM "Grammar: When to Break the Rulez"

9 AM "Worldbuilding 201: Social Systems"

Can't wait! And I get to pal around with my buddy from Other Worlds Writing Workshop, Sue Bolich.

Check back on Friday for an interview with Gregory Frost of Shadowbridge and Lord Tophet fame.

I have several entries for the Attack of the REAL Blob flash fiction contest. Don't let the fact that they've identified the blob forestall your imaginative genius. Remember, this is science fiction I'm asking for. Deadline is August 1. Winners get published herein and a signed copy of Awesome Lavratt, my tongue-in-cheek SF novel.

Not much new with my writing. No time. I'm hoping to get a rewrite of one story done and a rough of another on Saturday.

And for my fellow list lovers: I just got this one from Minnette's Worlds. It's a list of writer resources links.

I've started The Unincorporated Man by Dani Kollin and Eytan Kollin. I met them both at BayCon in San Jose. It had me hooked on page one and hasn't let up. Review and interview to follow.

Now I must get back to Torchwood: Children of Earth. :)

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Friday, July 17, 2009

Attack of the REAL blob flash fiction contest

So, apparently, the blob really does exist. Off the the Alaskan shore. Here's the story in the Anchorage Daily News. So far "they" know:

1) It's not an oil slick
2) It's organic
3) It's gunky
3) It has hair-like strands
4) It's 12-15 miles long
5) No one has ever seen anything like it

So, what do you know about it? Write a speculative flash (under 1000 words) story about this Alaskan blob and email it to me before August 1, 2009. The winning story will be posted here and the winning author will receive a copy of Awesome Lavratt. Winner will be announced August 15, 2009. Please paste entries in body of email and include your real name, and pen name if applicable.

And though I promised I'd never do this...

Here's our newest family member, Allegro.

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Wednesday, July 15, 2009

I'm in the library!

I used to take the kids to the library about once a week to load up with books. While we were there I would occasionally look at the shelves, hoping that one day my name would be on one of those book spines. That day has arrived. I'm not sure how, though I suspect it has to do with my guardian angel editor and my writing club. You see, my book isn't yet available through the usual channels the libraries use to order books.

I've been working on my website. Discovered that though Dreamweaver says it uploaded my page successfully, it's not there. Hmmmm. So, it has once again become a two-step process until I can figure out the problem. Thank goodness for Mozilla's FireFTP add-on. I've been compiling a list to ALL the reviews for Awesome Lavratt, which, of course, I should have done long ago. That will be added probably tomorrow.

I rewrote a story on Monday and solved a problem with the new one yesterday. I still have to write that one and polish the other. So many words, so little time...

The Redwood Writer author event at Copperfields on Sunday was great. The book story thought so, too. They sold 100 books by our club's authors.

I'll be presenting a mini workshop on social networking in Petaluma, CA on August 4th. More details later. I'm looking forward to SpoCon at the end of the month in Spokane, WA. I haven't received my schedule yet, but the panels have been posted on their website. They look like a lot of fun.

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Friday, July 10, 2009

Writing, networking and author interviews sneak peek

My story, "For Chance to Dream" is now available in issue #25 of Beyond Centauri. If you find it in a bookstore, let me know. Otherwise, it's available online at from the publisher, Sam's Dot Publishing. Beyond Centauri is for ages 9+. You can get a subscription or just buy one issue. My first print magazine sale! And my first sale to this demographic! My copy hasn't arrived yet. Can't wait to see it!

The social networking blog entry is up over at Redwood Writers as promised. I also posted the link on some of the sites contained therein and received a lot of great responses, including more suggested sites.

I'm also doing a workshop on social networking on August 4th in Petaluma, CA sponsored by Redwood Writers. More details later.

Yes I know this is Friday. There should be an author interview up. Well, last weekend was spent, instead trying to whip a new story in shape. But I have some great interviews on the way. Karina Fabian, Juliette Wade, Gregory Frost, Dani and Eytan Kollin, and David Brin. As always, interviews go up on Fridays (obviously not every Friday).

I haven't decided whether or not Warehouse 13 is going to deliver. Sometimes you have to watch more than one episode because there's so much setting up of the situation and characters in the pilot.

I have decided that I'd rather watch a bad SF series than a SF, err that's SyFy now, channel movie. They continue to disappoint. Is it that they can't afford good writers? Are they hiring their nephews and nieces to write them? They sort of like paint by numbers. Like there's a workbook with blanks for (disaster), gigantic (name the animal or insect, past or present), (profession) of estranged spouses who now have to work together. Ok, ok, I'm climbing off my soap box now.

Anyone know an expert on biometrics or DNA testing? My story is languishing for lack of information. I sooo don't have time to do proper research. I'd be happy to pay in acknowledgments. :)

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Tuesday, July 7, 2009

blogging, feeding and digging

I finally figured out how to be an author on Goodreads. Better still I have this blog feeding there. I love reciprocation! I also figured out how to feed automatically to Facebook from Networked Blogs. Outstanding!

I'm posting a blog entry at Redwood Writers in a couple of days in which I'm revealing all of the 50 or so author social networking sites I'm on.

Meanwhile, hubby is now a Facebook fiend just two weeks after joining and now he has a blog as well. His blog is End 21st Century Slavery. My husband, the activist. :)He says he's going to blog every day. Now I have to help him to feed and digg it.

I got another story rejected on Sunday. This was a reprint that was accepted to the first place I sent it. Just goes to show, that the selection process is subjective and the piece has to fit the venue.

I recorded Warehouse 13. I'm off to watch. Of course, I'm getting a little annoyed at the fact that I find shows I like and then they disappear for months on end, sometimes never to return. Some of that was due to the writers strike, so maybe it will happen less now.

If you're local there's a multi-author book celebration for this month's meeting of Redwood Writers. More info at the blog or on their website.

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Friday, July 3, 2009

Writing - the short story process

Today's goal was to finish a short story for sending You Know Where. I'm about halfway through. It's interesting because all the pitfalls seem to be coming up faster. The talking heads, the meandering plot, unimaginative characterization... you get the idea. Usually I find these things on the next pass. In this short form, they stop me cold. Or is it that I recognize them sooner and don't want to have to overwrite only to slash whole chunks out later? I'm in a time crunch here.

So what do I do when I'm stuck? It's a question I've asked several authors in interviews.

My brainstorming buddy wasn't online today, so all those questions I would have asked him, I had to ask myself. I actually opened a word document and poked and prodded at my prose with things like, "How do I tell this story without TELLING it?" I answered, "Start with a murder." I also came up with some cool SF tech to introduce during one of those talking heads scenes that will let me keep the scene.

Yes, I asked myself questions, yelled at myself and told myself to quit being dialog heavy. And answered myself. All on the same word document that I saved as Notes for IA story. Didn't you know that writers are crazy? But it worked. Then I had to work on the story arc and realized that what I really had was a detective story with SF trappings. I don't read a lot of detective stuff and I don't want it to be canned. So now I'm trying to figure out how to have the protag solve the mystery without it looking inevitable, expected and linear.

I also wasted time on FaceBook. Of course, I can't say time spent on FB is all a waste. I did build my network. Now if only some of them would buy my book. :)

I want to finish writing what will be a blog post for Redwood Writers next week, so I switched gears and worked on lists for that for a while.

But there was progress on the short story. I now have more cool tech, a full background and motivation for the bad guy (or girl, in this case) and it starts with a murder, which I've already written. Hopefully I'll finish the first draft before the weekend is out.

What else? I received more new books in the mail. The Immortality Factor by Ben Bova and a Japanese SF translated into English. So more reading. I've learned to go back to my old practice of reading books in tandem. Reading Valis and The Book from the Sky was brutal. But now I'm reading a book by Philip K. Dick's widow, Tessa and another book about Deborah in the bible at the same time. Those will be vastly different. I think it will make it go faster. Up next is The Unincorporated Man by the Kollin brothers. Then Immortality Factor.

Once I have this story out of my hair, I can get more reading done. I still have a story that needs a great deal of reworking. Maybe next weekend I'll do rewrites of both - in tandem. No, that would be REALLY crazy.

Look for another author interview next Friday. I'll let you know who on Tuesday.

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