Short Story: Becoming

I am trying to write short stories. They may not be very good because they are fast and rarely edited. I would love feedback regardless – what do you like? What confuses you? Do you like the POV or should it have been different? To anyone who gives me feedback – THANK YOU. The prickle of the pine cone made her shift, sliding the offending matter out from next to her, poking into her bare thigh. She looked up at the tree and slowly took a deep breath. She picked up the ice carefully in one hand and brought it hard across her other. The sharp tang of blood filled the air. The rivulet poured down her forearm. She used the wounded hand to slice her other hand, blood now running down both wrists and pooling in front of her knees. She kept silent, placing both bleeding palms on the largest root she could find. The metallic scent of blood

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Writing: Science Fiction Evolution

I am reading some classic science fiction (Foundation Triology) and have found an understanding why I didn’t enjoy science fiction as much as fantasy when I was younger. There is a trend in the genre to be plot, world, and science focused with characters only being a carrier for these things to be explored. Asimov, Heinlein, Butler, and even Douglas Adams. It generally isn’t the characters we love and quote from these authors. Dune was an interesting books, but I didn’t connect with any specific character. The world, the politics, the exploration of different societies on different worlds feels like a core to book. Heinlein’s characters are notoriously flat and repetitive (if I read 3 Heinlein books in a row, I begin to confuse names they are so alike). Butler’s book I read was amazing and emotional, but it wasn’t the characters. Then I compare to the fantasy I loved when I was young: Tamora Pierce, Mercedes Lackey, Mary Herbert,

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Writing: Fearless vs. Brave

This idea came to me because my son is taking swimming lessons at the local YMCA. The age range is 6-36 months, and he is probably one of the older kids in the lesson. The younger kids are fearless. I’m having to teach mine to be brave. It’s a fine difference and yet another example of the beauty of the English language. Fearless – without fear. The younger kids do not imagine danger in the water and thus they show no fear. My child has moments of fearlessness, and then moments where I can see his little mind working through the fears. He must learn to be brave. Watching this human dynamic really was so fascinating. At this age, they can’t mask their feelings, so I got a great view of the variations. It’s a spectrum, not an “on” or “off” setting on a person. I think about some of the protagonists (and villains) I’ve written and consider whether they

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Writing: Backstory

This may never show up in the novel it is for. I don’t know. I kind of like the “start with some intriguing backstory of the world” introduction to a novel. I get mildly frustrated when it’s clear there is “known lore” in the world that the characters all just know but it takes the author AGES to finally tell ME (the reader). I also like a world-history deep enough people go “oooh, I want to see that story written out too.” Twelve hundred and eighty two years ago the great age of magic ended. It was called the magical bane; within minutes every man, woman and child with the mage talent died. Their spells unraveled, their magical compulsions snapped, and many magically created creatures escaped their enclosures. Deals with demons caused the greatest havoc as those deals were not ended properly, the demons did not get the souls of the magicians they had contracted with. No one knows how

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Writing: Auditory reading

Over Christmas time I re-listened to Going Postal and Making Money (Terry Pratchett). One of the reasons I love the audiobooks for Pratchett is his play on words. Pratchett doesn’t just use the English language. Pratchett abuses it in the best of ways, and his reader does a brilliant job capturing that. I also recently re-read Ready Player One and because I have listened to the audio book, there were parts I “heard” in Wil Wheaton’s voice. His tone, pronunciations, etc. I think a good reader does that, becomes the character’s voice and sticks with it. There are other books where the reader was not of such high importance. The only reason I know who reads Sanderson’s The Way of Kings series is because they read Wheel of Time and they are the only way I got through WOT was Kate and Michael’s reading it to me. I am listening to a book now called The Diviners and enjoying it. But

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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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