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This blog is my online wordsmith workshop, where you'll find notes on my writing experiences, excerpts from my fantasy and science fiction novels, and essays of a more homeworld flavor.

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Tuesday, June 30, 2009

I'm ba-a-ack!
I've posted a new scene to the Fantasy Explorations page, not yet to the Homeworld. I'll be doing those at about the previous pace-- once or twice a week-- but more blogs hopefully, mostly notes and ideas generated by the HNS conference that was one of several activities that kept me away from the computer in June.

Heads up for the posts to come: I have some info on the panel members but there were a lot of changes due to cancellations and emergencies and such and i didn't get all the substitute names. If anyone was there that has better notes, feel free to pass along corrections and additions. So, and becuase it's not how I take notes, I don't have any who said what. I don't even have direct stuff that somebody said. What I tend to note,and so what I will be sharing is very filtered and possibly distorted by my own perceptions, interpretaions, and includes the ideas that the comments of others generated in my own overactive brain.

To get things started I'll mention a couple of items that were mentioned in passing in several sessions, mostly in the form of suggestions for newly published authors, but which generated many other ideas regarding the other points of view and persons involved.

Suggestions for fan and related clubs:

You can support authors and give more substance to your meetings by inviting an author to participate, if not in person (they may be very busy with their latest book as well as their next one), then remotely or vitually. Many are willing to participate in a book discussion, and later, if the group proves friendly, they may make a point of including your city in a book tour: itís always more pleasant to sit in a book store or library all day if there is a fan base in the area that can be relied on to come by and chat or ask for autographs, than to go to a city where the audience is unknown and the author may be an unknown to the locals.

Some suggestions for the sponsoring club:

To set it up, look for author and book web pages, blogs, face books, or publisher pages. these days, most have them, some on their own and some sponsored by publishers. these usually provide a means to contact the author directly or indirectly. Some even include space for fan and related groups to post links to their own sites. Be patient and flexible with times and means, and specific about your capabilities: do you have access to a speaker phone, for example? Can you rent one cheaply for a day? some authors may have camera and other more visual link capabilities but many will not (as one author said, cameras mean no sitting around the house, writing in your PJís) Doing this immediately after a book release is probably not the best time, but thier publicity schedule is likely to taper off quickly, so a couple of months after release, when some of you have had a chance to read the book and decide whether you like it is probably a good time to consider. Of course the usual meeting matters apply double: Be ready (having a few questions prepared in advance can help ease the author and the group into the discussion), be polite, send a thank you message afterwards, and if you have a web site, report on the success of the encounter and and supply links to the suthor's site(s) and to their book on amazon...

To show support to writers whose works you like, in other ways:

Spend some meetings, or parts of each meeting discussing books (or films, or other media of which you are a fan). Everyone might be encouraged to read the same book, or each person might share their opinion on some new release that they have checked out on behalf of the others. Making this a regular activity will encourage members to check out what's new as well as rereading old reliables, and that's always good for whichever author they choose to read. It will also help keep interest in the group's activities lively.

Participation could take the form of reading snippets, causal comments and opinions, or a full book review including summary (without giving away the ending), pros and cons, and comparisons to other books of a similar motif. If a book gets positive feedback, encourage everyone to read it, given them a month, discuss it again (and invite the author (or actors or others) to participate in the meeting in some form.)

Another way to show support to those who have gotten favorable opinions within the group is to share those opinions with others: blogs and twitters, providing links on the club web site to the author's pages or books, suggesting a book signing or other event to the local library or favorite book store (they, too, prefer the assurance of known, local fan base to a guess in the dark). It can't hurt, and it may at least persuade the library or independent book seller to purchase a book they might otherwise have overlooked. (Then encourage members and all your friends to attend the event, even if they don't intend to buy a book.)
30 jun 09 @ 8:33 pm

Friday, June 12, 2009

Before the next convention...
Just a blog note today, sorry.  Story scenes and essays won't be added for at least two more weeks with everything going on, mostly conventions and classes.  By later today I'll be at HNS but my mind is already on Writercon in Minneapolis and Confluence in Pennsylvania because I have yet to make all the travel arrangements for those. 
 
Conventions can be great, but you have to plan way ahead, months and months preferably, especially if you are a writer, because the writing sections usually have early deadlines for contest or workshop submissions.  I have a story for Confluence but didn't know about their competition and its theme until too close to the deadline to get my submission ready.  Still, I charge ahead getting it ready in case it fits some future competition for some different con (or publisher interest), and in hopes of maybe discussing it with someone at the convention, getting feedback and responses, etc.  All feedback is valueable (altough it often needs filtering and reinterpretation to get something helpful out of it), which is the primary reason for participating in contests and workshops (although winning a competition would be cool, too: a nice addition to my still-problematic query letters).
 
It's hard to get feedback at conventions.  A lot is going on, lots of listening to presenters, party activities, but at most of them I have found a chance to chat with at least a few folks, waiting for a scheduled session or in line, or taking a break or whatever, and there is always the chance that someone will seem potentially interested in my writing...  Not a great chance, but some, if the conversation flows in the right direction, and hopefully some of my attentive blog readers will show up at the same con as I go to and recognise my name. (My name tag usually just says Emmalyn at SFF cons, not the whole name, occasionally Evalyn, an old gaming name I used).  If you see an Emmalyn or Evalyn, feel free to say hi.  Even if it isn't me, I'm sure she won't mind a brief chat and a mutual laugh over the misidentification.  A con full of strangers can be a daunting experience and a whole lot of us are natural introverts.
 
Writing challenge for the month:  look up conventions on themes you like and find their competition rules.  Even if it's a con long past, write a story that meets the rules or modify an existing story so that it does.  Revise it until you think it is competition-ready, then get a friend to read it.
12 jun 09 @ 11:39 am

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Notes and mussings from New Mexico
Appleby's in Albequerque has a wonderful Caifornia salad, more avacado than the salads I generally get further north. Its not the solid consistency that fast food and chains have typically led us to expect, but I'm not sure it's a bad thing. Food in season and locally available is usually the best and avacados are definitely a thing of the south. The northern salads seems to be more generous with strawberries and cranberries, though those are mostly dried. The service was excellent, the classic southern charm (excuse me, southwest, with a slight and different sort of drawl).

Besides barbeque, new Mexican, and Mexican food rich in flavorful sauces, New Mexico offered inspiriation for the SF writer in me. With SF, we generally have a desire for alien landscapes, but ideas for them can come from here on our Earthly home. Were I to accurately describe a scene I saw between New Mexico and Texas, the reader would assume it was an alien landscape of my dreams. The farm fields were more often pink or lavendar than green, rainbow fans and circles were scattered in an almost pattern amid the squares of pink and green and orange clay. A gray and black spiderweb of ridges, lined with blood-red streams and a splotch of white, like bird crap a quarter mile long gave texture to the scene. Alaska has even more oddities of reality. The garden plants there were familiar enough, until you walked up to them and found them to be closer than you imagined, like moon horizon, and ten times as big. Pristine pools looked like painted matte glass in crayon shades of blue and green and yellow, an effect of the clear, toxic water and the chemical sand swirls beneath.

An alien landscape can be as simple as the truth. Describe what you see, as if for the first time. Have you ever seen the medieval drawings of elephants and giraffes? Verbal descriptions of plain, unexpected truth can fill the mind with imaginary creatures. A hundred legs seemed intent to pull the creature in as many directions as they moved in seeming independence. The fat head pulsed, seeming to look at me though I could see no eyes, nor even face, its back ever to me though I never saw it turn. A fringe like a lace collar was it's only clothes, a gesture of modesty, perhaps. Was that squeal its voice? Words seem to enter my head, thoughts that seemed not quite my own...

Writing challenge: pick an Earth creature and describe it and see how alien it might seem. Or a corner of a neighborhood park, or a weedy patch in your own backyard.
6 jun 09 @ 7:55 pm

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Every word should be an experience