Sunday, February 27, 2011

Excerpt from "A Wizard of Arade"

Some of what I'm working on right now....


Alenk peered over the top of a small ridge to look into the valley below. The trees in the valley were cleared away, leaving a maze of stumps and kindling covering the valley floor. The cause of the destruction was apparent; an orange dragon the size of a small inn sat in the center of the valley, snarling and spouting flame at something hiding behind the remains of an oak tree. As Alenk continued to watch, an arrow flew out from behind the stump and hit the dragon in the neck. It roared in pain and as it reared up on its hind legs a young man raced out from behind the stump. He slashed the dragon’s leg, and ran back to the stump, rolling behind it just as the dragon bent back down to flame at its assailant.

“We should probably go help him,” Alenk whispered to Kendra as he slid back down out of sight of the dragon.

Kendra popped her head up over the ridge for a quick glance.

“Yeah, before he gets himself killed.”

“Well, I doubt he’ll be killed,” Alenk said as he pulled her back down, “And try to be a little quieter please.”

“Oh, yeah, sorry,” Kendra whispered, “And how do you think he’ll NOT be killed?”
“Well it’s just not that serious of a threat.”

Kendra stared at him for a moment. “What do you mean ‘it’s not that serious of a threat.’ You’re kidding, right?”

“Well, there will be some serious injuries sure, but look at them.”

“Exactly, they’re severely mis-matched!”

A loud roar interrupted them. “Did that sound closer to you?” Alenk asked.

Kendra slapped a hand over her mouth and nodded.

“Well, in that case I’ll go save the dragon before he really gets himself into trouble.”

Kendra stood there with her mouth open as Alenk climbed over the ridge.

“Wait!” she finally managed to say, “What do you mean save the dragon, what about that knight that’s about to get barbequed?”

Friday, February 25, 2011

More to come....

Busy, busy, busy lately.

This weekend, I'll hopefully have some time to write. If I do, I'll post an excerpt of what I'm working on for A Wizard of Arade. (Also, if anyone has ideas for a different title for it, let me know!)

Oh, I don't know if I mentioned this or not, but has a contest where you can enter your novel and the top prize is an edit by Del Rey's chief editor, and possible publication!
I entered Meskka, and we'll see what happens!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Reading Euphoria

As I said in my last post, I'm reading Mistborn.

I haven't had enough time to read lately...

Reading is one of life's greatest pleasures. I feel pity for those who prefer TV for "the visual richness".

For me, reading is so much more than mere words on a page, it's more like stepping into a holodeck from Star Trek, especially when reading a realy good author.

Most people these days don't seem to understand this. I'm not quite sure it's something one can be taught.

Anyway, the point is, that a good author doesn't let writing get in the way of telling a good story. A good writer uses words to make the story come alive and allow you to effortlessly play in their "holodeck", instead of impressing you with their prose.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Listen to the Pros...

In many of the editor/agent/etc. sites and books, they say that little stylistic errors and such can get your manuscript rejected before they're even finished reading it.

At first glance, this seems harsh. There are probably lots of really good stories out there that just need good editing.

I do see the point though. This was recently driven home for me when I was reading a book I downloaded from Feedbooks.

The characters yelled, interjected, objected, muttered, whined, complained... I got to page four before I found the word "said".

On top of that, there were perspective shifts, paragraphing issues, and more.

... I was unable to continue. That's a rare thing for me. Most of the time I can cringe and move on for the sake of the story. Not this time, which is a shame, because it might be a good story.

I was reading "Self Editing for Fiction Writers" at the time, and that little example drove home a point about just how important paying attention to the details can be. (Yes, I knew that, but re-enforcing it can sometimes be a good thing.)

So, I quit reading that book (I'm not mentioning the name... I don't want to hurt someone's feelings...) and started reading "Mistborn" by Brandon Sanderson... wow, now there's some good writing...

Monday, February 14, 2011

Where do you learn all this? OR How do you know that, you're not even published yet?

Today I thought I'd post some resources that I used/am using to learn about the publishing industry. Post more in the comments if you know of some more!


The First Five Pages, by: Noah Lukeman
Self Editing for Fiction Writers, by: Renni Browne and Dave King


Agent and Publishing stuff:
Nelson Literary Agency Blog
Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (oddly enough, many places recommend to join the author guild for your genre, but you can't join until you're published...)

Writing Stuff:
Author, Author (They have some publishing stuff too.)
Grammer Girl
For the Love of Writing

Also, check the web page for your favorite author, they often have good stuff there.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Why the website and all when the book's not out yet?

No one's really asked me yet, but I imagine at least a few of my thousands of readers (boy, do I have an imagination or what....) are wondering something like "Why not wait until after your book is published and people have read it to have a website and stuff on the books?"

Or, if no one's wondering that, I'm going to tell you anyway, because it's either this or another boring word count post...

Well, for one, sci-fi apparently isn't selling big right now. Despite that, sci-fi is what I love most, so that's what I write. I also know at least a few people who like sci-fi, so I want to know if anyone else is interested in what I'm writing.

If the book gets published, I'll have at least a few people eager for it to come out, and make the initial sales numbers better.

Or, failing that, I know I'll be able to sell at least a few copies if I self-publish. (And no, I'm not going to stop writing if the book doesn't sell. I'm having a blast doing this, and absolute worst-case scenario, I've got a fun hobby.)

I think getting people excited (hopefully...) about the book before it's available is just good marketing. Apparently, I'm also not alone in this, as this post over at Lit Coach says.

And that's coming from a successful literary agent, so I must be at least close to the right track.

Coming up next (day, week, soonish...): Where does someone new to writing with no industry connections learn all this stuff?

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Inspiration, Part 2

I've talked a little bit about inspiration in the past, but since I don't have anything else interesting to say at the moment (I could go into detail on the process for where I'm at in A Wizard of Arade, but right now it's just getting characters from point A to point B without being boring, and trying to work in some character development while doing in so as not to make the process boring and pointless) I'm going to talk about some specific ideas and where they came from today.

Anyway, more on where I get a few of these ideas.

The interesting thing about ideas is that different people can get the same idea at different points, as is the case with today's two examples.

One concept I love from both fantasy and sci-fi is a way to instantly transport people from one place to another. It's a fun idea to play with, and makes the plot speed up too. I've loved this idea since I was a little kid.
My brother and I would play with our action figures from an early age. We started out with Batman, Wolverine, and a stuffed orca and dolphin. We had fun both telling stories with these characters, and challenging each other with ways to explain how two characters from vastly different universes were interacting, and have it make sense. Even at around age eight or so, I think we did a better job then almost all of the cross-over books of any kind I've ever read.

Probably the weakest link in our imaginary universe was that the dolphins and whales were from Pluto... that led to a whole new set of story and continuity challenges once we took elementary astronomy.  Long story short, the dolphins were incredibly technically advanced, and one of their devices was called a Water-wall. It worked EXACTLY (down to effects and all) like a Stargate, with the exception that the dolphins could project the wormhole anywhere within a certain range. Imagine our shock when about ten years later we saw our idea in the Stargate movie, and later in Stargate SG-1.
I'd always intended to use this idea in another story at some point, but now had to modify it, or people would think I was just ripping off Stargate. (I will admit our idea may have been influence by the Iconian Gateway fom the Star Trek The Next Generation.)

Another device the dolphins in our imaginary universe had was a Sharkbuster belt. It featured the familiar fantasy plot of a small pouch that can hold an endless number of items. We thought, again, that we'd come with that idea on our own, but I've since seen it in a number of places, both older and newer than us. ;) (We did have a system all worked out for how it worked, basically a pocket dimensional portal...)

I 'm also re-cycling this idea in A Wizard of Arade, but trying not to focus on it for much other than comedic effect or convenience, since it isn't such an original idea after all.

So that's where two ideas come from, and an illustration of how ideas can not be so original after all. They say to read a lot before one writes, and this is one example of why. Knowing what's been done before can challenge you to stretch your imagination. "There is nothing new under the sun," but it's sure fun finding new ways to tell old stories.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Quotes on writing

I read a quote by C.S. Lewis a while ago that perfectly summed up how the writing process works for me. Unfortunately, I can't remember it. So I tried to look it up, and found a few more quotes on writing that I thought I'd share.

If there's a book you really want to read, but it hasn't been written yet, then you must write it.  ~Toni Morrison

The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug.  ~Mark Twain

What no wife of a writer can ever understand is that a writer is working when he's staring out of the window.  ~Burton Rascoe

Ah-ha! I've found the quote I'm looking for:

"With me the process is much more like bird watching than like either talking or building. I see pictures. Some of the pictures have a common flavor, almost a common smell, which groups them together. Keep quiet and watch and they will begin joining themselves up. If you were very lucky (I have never been so lucky as all that) a whole group might join themselves so consistently that there you had a complete story; without doing anything yourself. But more often (in my experience always) there are gaps. Then at last you have to do some deliberate inventing."

That's more what the writing process is for me.