Writing: Urban Fantasy

I’ve tried a few times to write urban fantasy. I find it less than fun even when I like my idea/character/etc. I recently was re-reading something I had written (in this genre) and reached the “damn, I wish I had finished this – I want to read the ending!” (of which there isn’t one) point. It made me start thinking about other urban fantasies. I see there being two styles to urban fantasy. There is the “Harry Potter” style where the magical and the “real” world never meet – and so there is this idea that WE are just “missing” what’s there. I think most urban fantasy seems to fall into this side – Dresden Files, City of Bones, etc. The protagonist finds out or was raised in a world with magic. It collides with the “real world” somehow (usually) and their attempt to be “normal” OR to escape “normal” people. IE, Harry would do anything not be like the

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Writing: Why is it a “Pilot”

I work in tech, and you hear a lot about “alpha builds” and “beta testing” and “pilot programs” – and the first two make perfect sense.  Alpha is first, beta is second.  It’s “pilot” that caught my attention the other day.  Why DO we call it a pilot?  TV shows have “pilot” episodes.  We have “pilot” groups in implementations.  Or “pilot programs” when testing new theories. So I turned to my trusty Google and found…. well, not a lot really.  I was sorely disappointed with the curiosity of Quora.  I was utterly let down by Wikipedia.  I turned to Dictionary.com and read through definitions (this is not 100% of the definitions, just 1 from each category): (n) a person duly qualified to steer ships into or out of a harbor or through certain difficult waters. (v) to lead, guide, or conduct, as through unknown places, intricate affairs, etc. (adj) serving as an experimental or trial undertaking prior to full-scale operation or use: a pilot project. Interesting…

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Writing: To Camp or Not to Camp

I have been writing every day most days for the past two weeks. It has felt wonderful and it makes me kind of want to push for a “50,000 words in 30 days” sort of month in June. I’m afraid to try as well because I will be returning to my daytime job from maternity leave and I have no idea what that is going to be like. So I am debating. Do I want to hold myself to something which without a new baby to juggle I’ve found challenging or not. I do like challenges, but I don’t like failing them (who does!). I could set a lesser challenge (that is part of the benefit of “Camp” NaNoWriMo). I could aim for 30,000 words (1,000 words a day). I could set an entirely alternative writing goal (write 16 chapters over the month). Decisions, decisions….

Writing: World Building vs. Plot

I’m going to confess. When I am plotting or world building the two tend to get very intermixed. I use my world building to help me define plot points and when I have a plot point I want to get to, I use the world to make it happen. I call this the troll-inn-escape. It’s a classic fantasy writing trope. The writer gets stuck so that night a troll bangs open the door of the inn. It can be lazy writing. “I don’t know what to do, TROLL!” Every time I read or watch that part of the first Harry Potter book (“there’s a troll in the dungeon!”) I wonder if Rowling was struggling to get Harry moving and used the troll-inn-escape. It also gives me hope that just because it’s a little lazy, it can be effective! My husband came downstairs one Saturday and found me with a bunch of post-it-notes and the wall. I was world building history

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Writing: Fanfiction or Not?

One of the blogs I really love is called QueryShark, an agent who will publicly dissect peoples’ query letters and gives advice. And puts it online to help everyone else see what they did right/wrong in their query letters. I find it very informative! Most of the time there is an idea to be supportive of a writer… Not this time. Seriously – read the query letter, read the blog comments, then read the comments from others at the bottom. In 2-3 years of watching this blog, I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a harsh response from either the agent or the comments below. Now – I think there is cause for this. I think copyright is a big deal. So the difference between re-imagining something like Romeo and Juliet and well, anything written after 1924 is like the difference between a goldfish and a blue whale. Yes, size is part of the equation – but you are also talking about

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Writing: PVP vs. PVE

I am going to crossover my gaming and my writing. Let me begin by defining these two acronymns for any non-gamers. PVE is “Player vs. Environment” – almost all single-player games can be put in this category (I know if I say “all” someone will point out an exception – though I can’t think of one!). No matter how you slice it, the player is up “against” the environment the programmers have laid out. No matter what the story is, the computer-controlled characters have a very limited AI available to them to deal with the player. They have limited dialogue and boundaries in motion and thought. PVP is “Player vs. Player” – multiplayer games. Fighting games, all the of Multiplayer Online Battle Arena (MOBA) games like DOTA, Fortnite, and Smite. (All those games getting turned into esports). Players add a level of complexity game designers haven’t been able to duplicate – a creativity in the way the characters, tools, and world

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Writing: Death of the Author (Part 2)

Wondering why there is a part 2? Because I think this actually goes beyond merely literary critique. Let’s take an example: The Bible. One of the big areas I see this is around homosexuality. And it makes me see a little cross-eyed because every verse that gets brought up is brought up either without the cultural context of the time it was written and/or the linguistic context. I’m not going to break down all the verses (there are 6 and you can Google it for yourself). But when people talk about Sodom and Gomorrah they always talk about man-on-man sex. It ignores the custom that when you feed someone in your house (as Lot did), in that culture – you have taken on a responsibility to protect them. This is huge. I would compare it to spitting in someone’s face in today’s world. It is such a taboo you’ve probably never seriously considered it except as an act of extremity –

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Writing: Death of the Author (Part 1)

This has been on my mind a lot lately. For a lot of reasons. The premise of the original essay (Roland Barthes, 1967) is that the author should be excluded when considering a work of art. You shouldn’t talk about Beethoven being deaf. You shouldn’t talk about Sylvia Plath having severe depression and committing suicide. You shouldn’t talk about J.K. Rowling’s tweets expanding/explaining the Harry Potter universe. When critiquing a work, you should only rely on the text within the work itself. The reader is the space on which all the quotations that make up a writing are inscribed without any of them being lost; the unity of a text is not in its origin, it is in its destination; but this destination can no longer be personal: the reader is a man without history, without biography, without psychology; he is only that someone who holds gathered into a single field all the paths of which the text is constituted.

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Writing: Women are automatically YA Writers???

This came up when a friend asked for women of color or women writers’ books. So I pulled out my goodreads and gave a few suggestions. I included Dragon Pearl because- well because I kind of loved it and I want a bazillion people to read it. I made a comment “YA but doesn’t feel like it.” Someone raised a question with a link to this article. Ok…. Breathe deeply and don’t get angry. So fifteen years ago when I first started looking at being a writer – specifically a Sci-fi/fantasy writer – the general was that women writers were predominately romance novelists. Apparently, they’ve been allowed to break into YA – but GOD FORBID they write for “real” sci-fi or fantasy fans. If The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin is “Young Adult” than so is every single book by John Scalzi – and they are NOT Young Adult. He is not classified as a YA author on any chart I know. The foul language alone in

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Review: Writing “Bad” reviews

Interesting conversation popped up this week that made me want to respond. Read this: https://www.theringer.com/pop-culture/2019/1/10/18176366/bad-reviews-jeff-weiss-a-o-scott-greta-van-fleet-post-malone-bohemian-rhapsodyThen Read this: https://whatever.scalzi.com/2019/01/12/yes-theres-a-point-to-bad-reviews-in-2019/ So I ran across these through Scalzi’s blog (I like his blog, I find it funny and enjoyable). I read these in the order I recommended to you. I then decided I don’t think Scalzi or Harvilla hit on some of the important things I think make a “bad” review actually very valuable. In the past year I think I’ve only post two “bad” reviews – and both of those I would definitely put in quotes because even on those… well let me link them and then defend them:Simon Sinek: https://librinlatone.com/2018/11/20/review-simon-sinek/Freedom: https://librinlatone.com/2018/08/07/review-freedom/ I think there are two reasons people would/should read a review (negative or positive): either they find the review itself entertaining OR they are looking for an informed opinion IF they even want to read a book (or watch a movie, go to a play, etc.). If those are the

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