Friday, November 27, 2009
a post before i travel
I've posted a nice long scene on Space Explorations, the last for most of two weeks. I'll be out of reach of the computer,
probably for the duration. This scene introduces several new characters. I'd be curious to know if you can tell which ones
we'll be seeing more of throughout the book. (Several we'll see a little more of, some more than others). Also, are the
descriptions sufficiently clear? It didn't seem appropriate to go into great depth with so many characters being introduced
at once, but brief intros aren't usually my thing and picking the right bits always the challenge in brevity.
27 nov 09 @ 8:01 pm
Some of you may have noticed my attempts at a Technocrati listing. Still didn't work. I know its not my site, though their
automated software says it is: if it were my site, then wouldn't be able to show a thumbnail of my site successfully, but
they do and it is clearly the right site, but it still can't figure it out. I thought with their site fixing, it might work,
but then I had the impression that there might be people doing the checking and not automated software, too. Software doesn't
constitute a "we" in my book, but maybe I'm just old fashioned. Anyway, I think I've given up. It was, afterall,
just one more way for people to be able to find my site if it has what they are looking for. I'll just have to try more alternatives.
Thursday, November 26, 2009
doesn't help if I put the wrong code in the wrong place.
26 nov 09 @ 7:24 pm
really not my sort of thing but i can play along for awhile.
I'm trying yet again to get the site registered. Technocrati claims to have improved their functions (it sounds like they
un-automated it) so maybe it will actually work this time. We'll see. Not sure what it will actually do, but it's supposed
to help people find the site when they are looking for blogs with my topics.
26 nov 09 @ 7:15 pm
Monday, November 23, 2009
Babbles about scenes
More on Qiri has been posted on on the Space Explorations page, several short scenes this time, of Qiri interacting with people
on Conclave. Readers can tell a lot about a person by the people who surround them, but I sometimes find myself waffling
about how much to include: is character development enough reason to include a scene about side characters? Can it, should
it, add something more to the story than that, can it advance the story in a more concrete way?
23 nov 09 @ 8:26 pm
Those are the kinds of questions that I ask myself on revision but they are rarely if ever part of my first draft. The first
draft, it's just a side character, a bit of the culture, an idea that I'm trying to capture. In the process of building the
many first draft scenes, I often try several ways to capture and present some idea that I consider important to the story,
the character, the world. That, too, gets fixed in revision, especially when I read aloud. that's when it becomes more clear
to me that I have successfully and sufficiently presented the idea, maybe too often, and if the scene doesn't do anything
else, it is likely to be deleted or the remnants merged with another scene to make it more complete after the redundancies
have been removed.
I've added and removed several of the scenes on Conclave. The people there, with a few rare exceptions, don't play big roles.
Some don't appear again, but I think it important that they and her life there are sufficiently clear to provide the contrast
with her life elsewhere and the non-normal circumstances of her life.
That's probably one of the advantages of contemporary science fiction--no need to show the other side of life, because it
isn't intended to be much different than the reader's life. With aliens and distant worlds and times, the normal needs to
be shown, directly or indirectly, as well as the new and abnormal, the change that makes the meat of the story.
Well, I can see I'm babbling, so I'll close with tha a writer's challenge:
Write a scene where your protagonist is encountering one or more of the people that are part of their normal life, then
start the same scene with a side character that the protagonist has just met. Can the scene follow the same course? What
else changed along the way?
Friday, November 20, 2009
Follow up, salt, and other stuff
Comment RE: Curse of the Spider King blog tour
20 nov 09 @ 10:34 pm
name: Wayne Thomas Batson
comment: Hi, Emmalyn! Thanks for three wonderful days of Spider King hoopla! It was very kind and skillful of you to post
such interesting stuff.
--Always a delight to hear from the author! Thank you for following up on the tour! With many blogs posting commentary,
I know it must be quite a challenge to post comments! --EnE
I started to draft a blog on salt and its use in our family and it became an essay on ways to reduce salt intake for our health
so I posted it with my food essays on the Homeworld tab. It was so odd. Usually I have to set out to do an essay piece on
purpose, and haven't bothered much lately as my attempts have rather fizzled. I'm not used to it just spilling out--imperfect
to be sure, but still, an essay structure and substances rather than the chatty bit I expected. I suppose partly because
its a topic I am well familiar with. I've tried a wide range of diets and regardless of the purpose (health, green/organic,
weight), they all say reduce salt. Some suggested ways and means, others just why, but either way, a long lits of odd tidbits
cluttering my brain were ready to hand once I started writing on the topic. I guess that's where the "write what you
know" comes in.
The hard part of that sage advice is knowing what you know. Until I started writing, I never considered salt a topic I was
notably knowledgeable about. And how does anyone know anything about distance times and far flung worlds? It only when I
start to describe/invent some element of that alien life that I realize I know a fair amount about some elements, not enough
about others. Qiri's bureaucracy, for example. It's simplified, of course, but elements of it and her role within it are
based on briefly studying Byzantium's extensive bureaucracy, and nineteenth century Russia's, where most of the educated of
the country worked for the government, and presented their real intellectual work through journal articles, their opinions
through book reviews that nothing like the tame reviews of today.
I guess you just never know what will be useful tidbits.
Writer's challenge: Read a chapter of some book, any book. consider which of your stories might benefit from a little more
on that topic, or write a scene where that bit of information might play a role.
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
Curse of the Spider King - one more comment
"She heard the words of a familiar Bible verse in her mind and recited it aloud: "For I am not persuaded, that neither
death, nor life, nor angels, not paricipalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor hieght, nor depth,
nor any other craeture, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is Christ Jesus our Lord."
18 nov 09 @ 7:04 pm
Wayne Thomas Batson and Christopher Hopper's Curse of the Spider King is my kind of Christian novel: the above passage and
its associated scene are probably the most blatantly religious element of the book: all else (Christian values, concepts of
doubt and faith, and lessons for life in Biblical stories) are all clear but light, and integrally part of the story, never
taking the reader out of the tale in order to offer a sermon or redundant explanation, yet the messages were clear. I recognized
at least one Bible story along the way, and it too, was integral to the story as a whole, not an insert, not a step away from
the flow of the words and the action of the tale, and that is as it should be. That is the kind of message that will reach
out and touch a broad audience, and I look forward to more of the same in the sequels to come.
If I have a quibble, it is that Kiri's knowledge of a Bible passage seems to come entirely out of the blue, whereas I think
I would have offered a hint that Kiri's family was a church going family, that she had perhaps played music in church as well
as concerts, something to explain her knowledge. (There may have been a hint, but if so I missed it). And really, it is
the most minor quibble, something I would do that they didn't seem to, but certainly not an issue than detracts from the success
of the story.
For more views and opinions on all the elements of Curse of the Spider King, see the blog tour list on my favorite links tab.
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
More on Curse of the Spider King
The History of Berinfell
17 nov 09 @ 8:50 pm
The book that the teens are encouraged to read/experience, is a great story in itself and will help the Curse of the Spider
King, by Batson and Hopper, appeal to adults and to traditional medieval-culture, Tolkeinesque fantasy while being sufficiently
background not to offend those who prefer the contemporary story that dominates the first book. If only our own historians
could write history texts so artfully, even if they can't literally make the lives of the past take form around us like the
magical tome! Introduced with hints of sketchy formatting appropriate to an ink-and-pen book, the historical sections make
a great way to introduce the background without the sometimes pace-slowing effect of memories and past-perfect backflashes.
The "Principle Cast" list was also an effective and unusual way to introduce not only the characters, but some of
the terminology, with just enough about the story to awaken interest if the back blurb or cover art wasn't quite enough.
(See some of the other tour participants on the Favorite Links tab for comments on art, blurbs, and other elements of the
book that I haven't chosen to focus on.)
For those among my readers that are wanna-be authors like myself, I'll point out a writing technique that the delightful author
duo used and that I found intriguing: the thoughts of the characters were sometime out of alignment with the action around
them. I thought that would be a distraction to the reader, but the difference between thought and present action was always
clear. The thoughts provided character depth with their thoughts and plans for the future, foreshadowing, and gave added
texture to the ongoing scene.
Not so unusual, but always intriguing, is the use of chapter titles, and a table of contents with same. Curse of the Spider
King has LOTS of short chapters, adding to the challenge of creating effective titles that are appropriate but that, with
a table of contents, can't give away too much. I haven't chosen that route for any of my books, yet, knowing how hard it
is to come up with one title, much less 46! The author partnership (or whichever of them came up with the titles) did a great
job and I can only hope I do half so well with my book titles.
Writer challenge: draft or outline a chapter and come up with several chapter titles: what works? what doesn't?
Monday, November 16, 2009
Book Tour: Curse of the Spider King
Curse of the Spider King by Wayne Thomas Batson and Christopher Hopper, is the start of a new series and has already won well-deserved
recognition and soon will be familiar to every fan of contemporary fantasy. Batson and Hopper make a powerful combination
and together have written a delightful tale that will entertain adults as well as the tweens it's aimed at.
16 nov 09 @ 7:34 pm
The central characters of the tale are seven twelve-thirteen year-olds, finding the transition to teen-dom more than usually
interesting, as they discover that they are not only the royalty of a foreign world but the targets of the evil Spider King,
ready to finish the long-delayed job of ending their reign before it can begin.
The teens are each given copies of a very magical book, the History of Berinfell, that bring the world of Berinfell alive
around them when they touch its pages. Batson and Hopper may not have the spell to make a three-D world wtih a touch, but
their words come close to achieving the same effect with Curse of the Spider King. The imaginative adult as well as the preteen
and teen will find themselves caught up in the lives of the teens as each faces new enemies and old, brave choices, and a
life they never could have guessed awaited them.
More opinions can be found on the blogs under the listing on Favorites for Blog Tour
You can get your own copy of the book at:
Curse of the Spider King - http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1400315050
Also check out:
Wayne Thomas Batsonís blog - http://enterthedoorwithin.blogspot.com/
Christopher Hopperís Web site - http://www.christopherhopper.com/
The Berinfell Prophecies Web site - http://www.heedtheprophcies.com
Aside: Another episode of Qiri's life has been posted on the Space Explorations tab.
Friday, November 13, 2009
another blog on blogging
Another chapter of Qiri's tale begins. (No, she doesn't have a tail).
13 nov 09 @ 9:58 pm
Blogging is a curious thing, I know this one isn't quite the intent. Except in as much as writing IS my day-to-day life,
this one isnít about my life as many are. If ever I'm tempted, I think of Lola and other comics and related commentary:
It's easy to say too much that really shouldn't be public. And even if I was willing to reveal so much of myself, the trivia
of my existence, or thought anyone would be interested, our lives are seldom just about us. We don't go through life without
interacting with others, and we don't have the right to make their lives public just because we make ours so.
I know its done. From all I've heard, that's what Facebook and Myspace and many family blogs are all about. I read somewhere
that the average readership of such blogs is about a dozen, the million-hitters aside. It's all out there for anyone with
a computer, but so are millions of other sites and the plethora makes one particular one, a serious end to privacy, hard to
attain. Who could see them all? What could they find without knoweldge from some other source to guide the endless search?
Is privacy lost if no one looks (like the classic falling tree)?
I'm a srrong believer in privacy as a right too often and too easily deprived, as those who have read some of the Homeworld
posts can probably guess. These days, some 80n or 90 percent of creative nonfiction is personal essays, tales of private
life, often tragic and triumphant, health and dying, personal and soul-tearing.
You wonít find that in mind. Mine rarely has an "I". Most are not even about humans though if I have done my job
well, the reader will see humans in the spirit of the words, and messages of life. Even the herbs are inspired by people
that come and go into our lives in a general sense if not individuals who inspired me and provided fuel for the thoughts,
the words, the mood. (Gray Spring was intended as a cheerful piece when I sat down to write, a spring day of flowers and
good cheer, but I let my thoughts loose and they were not as cheerful as I hoped. The writer is there, but I cling to privacy,
and finding me in my blog will take a closer look.
Monday, November 9, 2009
and now for adventure - don't wait
Well, the last of scene 3 is finally posted. It was fun to write and to polish but like many such scenes, the favorites usually
need to be chopped and scene 3 will not make it into the next draft intact. Maybe sections, but the overly thought out, not
quite successfully romantic scene needs to be in the background. Stories need to start both lighter and more active. Action
will carry readers into the story better, and it is never wise to have a central character overly thoughtful. Good information,
good things for her to consider, but better to at least split it up into scenes of guilty conscious, second guessing, and
decisions based as much on emotion as logic.
9 nov 09 @ 9:22 pm
Certainly logic is not a common human trait. My sister and I have just been shaking our heads over some of the decisions
we see people making around us, and common sense, thought, and logic seem not to be major contributing factors in any of them
so far as we can see as outside observers: driving practices, family relations, school and jobs, day to day time management
on the job: it seems human nature is far more often to underthink than overthink. Not always to bad effect. Instinct and
emotions definate have their place and logic can get in the way, too, but sometimes we would like to see just a bit more reasoning
before big decisions.
Qiri can be as thoughtful as we'd like others to be, but not to the current extent of bogging down the story. She can think
before she acts: afterall, she can still back out. She can decide it's all a trick. She can get pressured: people are, regardless
of their better judgement and whatever sense of right or logic they can hold onto. I could make a whole drama around that,
too, or move some of this en masse there, though in my current draft, events for the next while should proceed apace.
Maybe too fast, even. These first few chapters of Qiri's story have not yet achieved the balance I am looking for and I will
be grateful if anyone spots more places where I get bogged down or places where events speed by so fast that it isn't clear
what happened or why.
Thursday, November 5, 2009
Travel writing and my own change of view
I'll be busy this weekend so I am posting a day earlier than my usual schedule, such as it is. If you missed the episode
of Qiri that I posted Monday, let me know and I'll send it.
5 nov 09 @ 7:49 pm
I don't always write spur of the moment blogs, as you might guess. I often draft notes or at least an idea during the course
of the week or during past weeks (then change my mind and post something else at the time).
I thought that this would be a good week for a blog on writing and traveling for which I'd prepared some notes awhile back,
since I'll be traveling this weekend--neither far nor long, but still, longer than my usual shopping and errands. But I realized
immediately that it was... off, to that point that I wonder what odd mood I was in at the time, or what recent experience
had lead me to write it.
I had written:
I write a lot when I travel but not so much about traveling, or at least not the traveling that Iím doing (my fantasy and
science fiction characters are often traveling to strange and wonderous places, and I write about them anywhere that I have
pen and paper or a computer).
That's not at all true. I may occasionally write very little about a short work trip that has little to differntiate it from
other work trips, but that's not really the norm and I sometimes fill a diary-sized journal/diary in a week or two about all
the places we visit, activities and observations, near-death experiences with wild animals (like free range cattle) on the
road, and other things that catch my attention. I do write, or revise, (which usually entails some writing for filler scenes).
I do keep a journal, and sometimes its about the places I'm at but more often its about the people I interact with, the people
Iím traveling with, if any, and my moods and troubles along the way.
Maybe it was a work trip and I was traveling with unusual people, the only time I can even imagine writing about traveling
companions, and we don't really meet that many people (beyond the five second exchange of money for suvenirs or fast food).
The most common exception is probably air travel, especially on my own. Then I might actually exchange words with whoever
is sitting next to me, if they are inclined. I'm fairly take it or leave it for chatting, though I rarely initiate more than
the most innocuous comment about the service or security or weather. It's not a great trait for a writer. A writer needs
fuel for their characters and a great source is the people we meet, if we can get them to show us something of their character
Of course, Iím usually traveling for business rather than to sight see. When I sight see, I generally write observations,
but usually not in sufficient detail to do more than jog my memory and sort which photos go with which stops along the way.
An exxaggeration, but closer. No matter how much I write, it seems like I should have/could have written more, and I'd probably
feel the same if i wrote three times as much.
I wrote (more the thing):
I think it takes a certain purposefulness to do much more. I have occasionally written a little extra with a particular end
result in mind, such as a plan to do a trip journal/scrapbook for others not able to make the trip for themselves, a certain
flavor to the trip. The availability of reasonably priced postcards helps--writing about the place on the post cards encourages
attention, and causes me to think of more to add to my journal. A dearth of suvenirs, conditions for photographing and a
lack of other means of jogging my memory also provide an incentive to write more, but doesn't prod me into noticing as much
detail. Some of the writing will be about the places, likely more complaints about the lack of photos and shopping.
Challenge: talk to a stranger for a minute longer than you normally would. Write about the experience.
Monday, November 2, 2009
Egotistical meanderings and other advice
Another section of the very long ongoing scene had been posted. Yes, still not enough action and I think these first couple
of chapters, like many of my first chapters will probably end up as a series of backflashes and "history" for the
characters, but for now, I hope you enjoy the characters and the prose.
2 nov 09 @ 8:10 pm
Perhaps itís inevitable, with my perennial hopes for successful publication as well as my history studies, that I think about
eventual biographies. These days, one trilogy ought to get me at least a wiki page, after all. It tends to blur right in
with my images of a murder mystery/crime-show style exploration of my life and background by strangers. (For Criminal Minds,
I would be classes as intelligent and disorganized; for some of the other shows, I'd just be a pain because my rooms never
hvae the neat empty look of houses on t.v. and they'd have a hard time determining anything of value: as the recipient of
everything that doesn't belong in the rooms we've recently cleaned and revamped, my room currently looks like it has been
ransacked. Anyone want a job filing and sorting?)
Bios, though, traditionally focus on written material like letters and journals. I have written plenty of both, though rarely
found good correspondents willing to continue the dialog for long. I'm not a great letter writer, either, though compared
to most these days I guess I'm a prolific one. I write far fewer than I used to as most that i write to donít, for a variety
of reasons, generally respond beyond the annual Christmas card so a biographer might have a challenge finding the letters
that would tell something of value, still, they sometimes contain very different material than my journals.
That I write more than one letter per person per year probably makes me unusual these days. I look at the collected correspondences
of the Adams family (the presidents, not the horror house occupants) and Jefferson and friends and wonder where the equivalent/corresponding
communications are these days. A little over the phone and a little more in person, probably. They couldnít easily see each
other and had to express in writing words that might not even need to be said if they had been able to drive over for a visit
in a couple of hours like they could have with modern conveyances. But still, not all are in close proximity and are left
to communicating via variations on the written word. But if that kind of discourse: thoughtful, philosophical, emotional,
meaningful communication; is taking place on line, via texting, or whatever social software is not available, I haven't come
across any in my browsing or in my discussions with those who use elements of it themselves. The rare blog will come close
and people do post thoughtful posts and comments, creating a brief dialog amidst the noise, but most of those I've come across
have been notable more for their overly complex verbiage than their logic, more for their intensity than because they have
focused on an issue with more than trivial impact.
Of course, there is a vast web out there, of which I've seen the smallest part, and many blogs and other pages are viewable
only to a select few, rather than publicly availably for viewing. Like the family letters of old, beautiful, thought-provoking
discourses on private, or hard-to-find public pages may be long unseen before they are made public, if ever they are, if there
exist any ways to access old private chat archives and files long after participants are deceased and software has passed
through many generations.
My own blog is public, but I assume not easy to find, even if my topics explored those deep meaningful subjects that I seek
(I've given some thought to the topics, even addressing them here, but to do so in what amounts to a monolog misses the point.
I need the interchange, the questions and counter arguments that help all of us give better thought to the topic, help us
find our unfounded assumptions, and look at them with new sight.) the tendency of search engines to put popularity over focused
content doesn't help (How many people shop online rather than communicate in any other form?)
For most biographies, it is only the communicating that is of concern, not necessary on matters of great import (or at least
the greater concern: shopping may offer insigths into some parts of a person's life). Like shopping, tweets and other short
communiques on trivial day-to-day matters may offer some clues to the nature of a persons life (how much time they spent on
it, what they got out of it, compared to their time and consequences of other aspects of their life), especially if looked
at in total, if they addressed more than ďWhr RU now?Ē and "When's dinner?" (however that might be abbreviated
in text shorthand) but tweets and facebook and phone texting conversations, from what little I've seen, seem almost exclusively
to be about who, what, where, when, and to be in such dense code that the context must be well known before the text, by itself,
can take on any meaning. And if why is addressed, at all, itís only by implication.
For the biographer and historian, context and why are the primary interests, and for the writer conveying a meaningful, meaty
message, why tends also to be the focus of the substance, with the other W questions taking second place. Why does it matter
if privacy and rights are lost in the name of safety and security? Why does one home owner care what another does with his
yard, what a developer does in another state? (We actively avoided housing association properties because most are inadvertently
and ignorantly anti-green in their policies and practices: green lawns are hard on the environment, as is over-pruning; as
are houses with few and small windows and open layouts that don't allow unused space to be closed off from heat and AC.;
badly designed housing developments hurt us all and generally cost communities more than they bring in through properly taxes).
Why, as the ultimate explanation of the choices people make, is key to biographers and historians as well as the meat behind
the good and bad decisions of government and society. But who is answering these questions today? Is anyone even asking?
Challenge: choose a social issue of the day; have two or more opposing characters take different views and argue it out.
Did either change their mind? Waht forms of persuasioin, arguments did they use (physical, emotional, intellectual on a
variety of focuses, theological?) Did you see the issue differently in the end? Try swapping views between characters and
do it again. What happens then? Can the "good guys" take a view different than your own and still support it?