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Welcome to my blog!

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This blog was 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.  Some of the advice therein may still be of interest to new writers so I have left it here but due to technical difficulties, I no longer post here regularly.  You can look me up on Dreamwidth, although I do not post frequently. 

Feel free to share a link to this site. If you opt to download it or share content, please give due credit to this website and the author: Emmalyn N. Edwards. Thank you--Emmalyn

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Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Starting over
Starting a novel is always the hardest. I've about decided that I'll skip the whole first chapter that I just finished posting else move it to later, as a backflash, and start with what is now Chapter 2. It's a bigger change, a bit bigger action than the quiet stalking and possibly sappy emotions of Chapter 1.

I expect that the same may apply to the book that has yet again been all-too-quickly rejected by an agent. I have read many books that I loved that started with something less wild than the big action sequence for the first quarter of the book, even slow character introductions with no more than a walk down the street, but apparently I'm not good a pulling that off because I can't get beyond a generic rejection without even a request for a bigger chunk of the book. (I also have no idea how to write a proper synopsis, much less a 'short one' or a 'full' one, which I'm sure doesn't help).

I know you can't start with the real start of the story, at least not what I would ever call the start, more like the middle, but where that middleish should be, how much to back flash in how big of a chunk... It's always put luck as I see it. If anyone knows of a good approach, suggestions welcome. If I ever get a request for more than the first few pages, I'll know it worked and share whatever I can figure out.
29 jun 10 @ 6:23 pm

Thursday, June 24, 2010

a review of communication modes
I'm posting a bit early because I'll be busy this weekend. I added a scene to the Fantasy Explorer page but just appended to the bottom of what was already there for anyone that might have expected to have some more time to get to it.

Since I've started a new tale, I thought I would do just a little looking back on my blog and the issues around blogging in general. We have gone a long ways with social software. I havenít felt the need to give advice to bloggers, commenters, or other sort of poster the way I sometimes did when e-mail was new and no one realized how to convey sarcasm and other complex modes of discourse electronically. (Many people didn't realize how much those modes of talk depended on tone of voice, and that trying to do it just as if the reader could hear that tone was almost guaranteed to inadvertently insult the reader.) Perhaps as a result, sarcasm has become more rare, more selective, both in conversation and in written communication. Electronic discourse has become more free flowing, but mostly very literal, and with its own style points that donít always convey back to speaking.

There is also much more than e-mail now, and some of the modes of communication follow the pattern and some less so and I am not yet comfortable with the new modes, if I've even encountered them at all. Those E've dealt with in some capacity or another seem to me to be missing something, a certain richness of vocabularly, and what I can only think of as responsiveness. Obviously, not everyone comments on every blog they read, so there is far less expectation that anyone will respond even to confirm that they read the post, than with an e-mail. I can only guess at the stats but Iíd bet the scale or reader to responder/commenter nears exponential.

In talk, a total lack of response is considered positively rude, even at a lecture where at least a token few people in the audience or a host are likely expected to ask questions or say thank you afterwards. E-mail is somewhat mixed but if you asked a question or make a suggestion, it has a specific known audience. That audience is expected to recognize if they should respond and generally do so. An e-mail list might be 5 or 10 or 50 or occasionally in the 1000ís and no more than one or two might respond if they know something that pertained. Still, the vast majority of e-mails are part of a dialog. Blogs... well the average audience might not be much more, but that audience if fluid, invisible, often unknown and always variable. That makes the blogs somehow subtlely different in tone or feel or emphasis, though I can't quite pinpoint the difference in style, can't imagine how the writing might be different for an e-mail to one person or a face-to-face. I sometimes suspect that some of the popular blogs are those who manage the transition best, or more rare, manage to pretend there isn't a difference at all, despite the change in mode. My own, I'm sure, often comes off as a lecture, as if I were speaking at the front of a room to a group that might or might not be there willingly (I've taught both sorts of audience). Maybe I should try tweeting just to relearn the art of 'chat'.

24 jun 10 @ 8:22 pm

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Welcome to the land Beyond the Wall
Onaline has returned to my blog and her first scene is posted. This book is intended to be fully independent of the first book so those who weren't around to read that one shouldn't be lost. It's the ending that I'm not sure is as independent of the next two as I would like. On the other hand, one of the books that has come out fairly recently didn't even try to tie off the end into a book and i gather the author successfully sold the trilogy as a package, so maybe its not QUITE important as all the advice to writers has been saying. (The first book is more a prequil to the trilogy than part of the trilogy, being borderline fantasy at all. This one falls much more into the traditional fantasy genre, though it's magic remains very subtle, under the surface, hinted at but largely unseen save in impact).

It's been long in the writing and revising (so long I suspect it's older than many of the readers), was set aside repeatedly, and revised and polished again. The intended audience has changed more out of my understanding of the audience than in its nature but I fear some of the language may be more archaic even than intended. Does it add to the flavor or detract from the story? As always, I appreciate your feedback.

A note from one of my readers:
Mater said:
Hi Emmalyn! Waiting for my email to come up, and and realized I could spend the time checking you out again. Glad your trip went well, and looking forward to seeing you on the next one shortly.

Mater, I hope you like the revisions to the story. Sit back and enjoy. E-mail is too much work, anyway. -- Emmalyn
22 jun 10 @ 9:32 pm

Friday, June 18, 2010

The end; beginning coming soon
The last section of Qiri's story has been posted. I hope you enjoyed the book. A sequel is in work but will be awhile in coming. Meanwhile, the next book in Onaline's life has been waiting patiently in the wings and will start here soon, as Space Explorations again becomes Fantasy Explorations. If you really prefer space tales, check out Cerelian Gold on http://enexplorations.blogspot.com/ That book is about two thirds of the way through but unlike Qiri, the previous posts stay on line under the Cerelian Gold category. In reverse order of course. if you prefer a sequential version, e-mail me and let me know. It's a very different style, and more drama, less fluff than Qiri's story, but it is space fiction.

About endings. In some ways, they are harder even than beginnings. In general, writers know the endings long before they get there, otherwise the story would be all over the place and never get to an ending at all, but that's more a plot ending than a verbal one. it's the fine tuning of the words that is hard and I have rewritten this one several times, trying to set the right tone, to give it a stand-alone quality (always recommended these days) yet offer an opening for the next book, enough questions raised in the reader's mind to make them want to pick up the next one when it comes out.

Qiri is free of the pirates, and of the Gamenth, but she is still a fugitive, and a claustrophobic going to a planet of caves. i think that works fairly well as a book, but not series, ending, but the reader might see it otherwise. Let me know what you think.

Thanks,
Emmalyn
18 jun 10 @ 9:57 pm

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

thoughts like hail
work has pulled me in a dozen directions daily and my thoughts at home are about as scattered. I started a financial advice category on my other blog and posted an essay on Science Fiction classics at http://enexplorations.blogspot.com/2010/06/what-defines-science-fiction-classic.html
besides posting more of Qiri (there are only one or two scenes left).

More from my trip journal:

Our trip ended Memorial Day weekend. I ended up selling poppies at the mall and in the local parade on a spur of the moment invite. It was great fun and very enlightening. The poppy selling, especially.

It turns out that they were such a rare item for awhile that it's almost like they are a new thing to the young, including parents of young children. (In case any of my readers don't know, every cent goes to helping wounded veterans: the poppies are donated, the collection all volunteer, so no "overhead" expences taken out. A donation of any size will get you a poppy or more if you ask.) Some who didn't know contributed anyway. I think one charmer thought they were for the poor, as if I were selling day-old flowers from a basket, but we tried to tell the ones who looked at us sideways like questionable beggars. (I've looked at enough people that way myself, so I knew the look: Unfortunately for those other charities, however valuable, they didn't advertise their cause well, and when I asked, the answers were long-winded recitations that i walked away from with not an answer to what the charity was, still). "For wounded vets" was clear enough for most so we said it often as the poeple trickled through and sold all that we had. There's a growing awareness that we have a bunch of wounded vets now, again. So, next time you see poppies, you know what they are for, too.
15 jun 10 @ 9:42 pm

Friday, June 11, 2010

sometimes it's harder than others
For some reason it took much more effort to get this section of Qiri's story ready. I think I have it edited, spell-checked, formatted, and find a dozen fixes in every category still needed. Our eyes function correctly, but the message doesn't always pass through our minds without distortion, don't you think? (It would make a great science fiction theme, I'm sure, though I can't think of an appropriate story line to go with it just now).

More on our journey:

our vacation trips tend to send up with a theme (or several), some recurring element that sticks in our minds as the focus of our memories, and once noticed, probably stand out for he restof the journey even if the are less prevelant later in the journey. In our last NW trip to Olympia, it was mushrooms and slugs becausewe had gone a little too late in the year and very else offered variety or color as it dribbled and chilled our bones. We saw some fat game birds and massive trees and other interesting sites, but most of the time the trees were less than impressive and hard to capture in our cameras, and we saw lots of kinds of mushrooms, so we took pictures of every kind we saw, unique clusters, prime examples, cute little cocked hats, and other things and several different kinds of or at least patters of slugs --spotted, striped, and long and fat.

Travel journaling can ballance the focus a bit, by jotting down the other things and using it as a memory jog later, or add focus on that theme as I write essays on that theme. This time it was more the photos that focused the theme, less in the writing, for now.

This time it was purple and yellow flowers. Spring had finally come to some of the NW and every kind of purple or yellow flower seemed to be in bloom so we have numerous pictures of them on every camera. We saw pocket chipmunks, lots of vultures, maybe hawks, and plenty of other birds as well as mule deer and seals, but the purple and yellow flowers and the effort to decide whether the next one was a new one or one we had many pictures of is very vivid and will probably linger strongest, even into other trips (we still watch for mushrooms and slugs from that trip long ago and have pictures of both for this trip, too.
11 jun 10 @ 9:05 pm

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Travel notes
This is a very brief version of a few of my travel notes. Eventually it might be a proper poem or essay, but now its just a rambling taste of our journey.

Sunrises and sunsets, hoping to find a clear view with just enough clouds for color. Cloud formations and ocean waves and long unseen family and friends, catching up and reminiscing or looking ahead with rough times easier forgotten. Nature walks on paths a hundred unique textures, paved, demarked, stone or wood chips, or ribbons and paint to make the way through little more than deer tracks, captured in pictures or words or a little of both but never enough.

Long steep hikes to waterfalls, the base or peak or a midway curious turning, there, no, a little further, ah ther's the sight of longstanding, quiet, fame, raoring ribbons of white foam and spray, or is that rain, the thing worth seeing , the thing worth saving (is nothing ever saved on level land, easily accessed for viewing by all?"

The flavor of the city, each city, each unique, if tawdry, a character if old and faded: Portland's bridges, none accessible through sanity's route. It takes a madman's turns and luck's delight. San Francisco's pale tones and short homes, one way this and that and up and down and more of the same save Pier 39's mini Coney Island delights. hear the seals, see the seals, laughing at the birds.

Lessons in geography and history and biology through sights and markers along the way. It was quite by accident we visited Mt St Helnes on the 30 year anniversary, and learned much along the way. What is that mountain range? Oh, it's merely the little peaks of the rim. We've been driving up this one mountain the whole time. We have no concept,no concept at all of nature's power. we wish for just a little rumble, a little puff of steam that day...

The scope of the trees is harder to see, in perfect proportion, pictures without people (or tiny little cars, like toys at the base) can hardly hint at the size. That cliff? No, that's another tree you're driving around as the road endlessly twists and turns with night fall or tree's dense shadow.
8 jun 10 @ 9:45 pm

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Settling into the pattern
Another scene has been posted to the Space Explorations page. It has a bit of narrative that really should be a full blown bakcflash (else an earlier scene) but I decided that a brief narrative served the purpose for now, if not quite capturing the mood effectively. As I edited this scene, I realized that I was probably saying emotion words a bit too often (fear, afraid, nervously, etc). It is always recommended to present the symptoms of the emotion, instead, though I will occasionally specify after presenting, just to ensure clarity. The revised version will probably go more toward the mis, but how much to describe during a fight scene is always touchy anyway, that it didn't seem proper to put in too much about facial expresssions and other small, personsl details. if you spot a place where more details seem appropriate, let me know.

It's one of the things I think Williamson's In Darkness Hid did pretty well--avoid using the emotion words and instead expressing them through action. However, there were places that seemed a little flat to me, the emotions either not expressed or felt or not clearly enough presented: either one can be a problem if done too much, but for the most part, I think it worked well enough and certainly didn't prevent the book being highly entertaining.

The title is about my life. It was a long trip and the weather and other conditions have changed in my absence and it always makes it hard to get back into desirable and other necessary habits, like the evening routines that get both laundry and blogging and other things done in a timely fashion. I intended to post this one yesterday but didn't quite get there. Somehow, the bad habits seem to linger a bit more and come back quicker.
5 jun 10 @ 7:09 pm

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

I'm back
I'm back and I've posted another scene to Space Explorations: I left the last scene in place but added the next to it since I posted the last one later than my usual schedule. It's undergone quite a few changes since the draft I took with me on my journey: almost all additions to add clarity and hopefully a little depth to the fight scene and the build up toward what is intended to be a climax, coming soon to a blog site near you.

A few comments on By Darkness Hid:

A start to one of the better books I've read lately. (It's not so much a book as volume 1) The primary character (there are really two, in alternating sections of the book but Achen beats out Vrell on several levels) is very interesting, understandable yet not a traditional/typical hero, a young adult coming into his own with more than the usual naivite about himself, discontertingly (but fittingly) ambition-less. Vrell makes an interesting contrast, being his opposite in many ways, though she, too, lacks ambition, less understandably. She is born to wealth and power but seems oddly unaware as well as disinterested in anything but a few minor comforts that she has lost in her efforts to avoid an unwanted marriage.

One has the feeling that marriages will be an important element in the ultimate story, as there are several marriages, mostly unwanted and arranged going on in the setting of the story, or failing to go on, but what role they will ultimately play, or what opinion about arranged marriages the author might be suggestion are questions not yet answered here in volume 1.

A bit sporatic, I'm afraid, but its late and I'm still catching up after weeks away. Required bit: I got a free copy for the purposes of reviewing through CSFF. On the other hand, that hasn't kept me from being critical of other books. My only complaint about this one is that it caught my interest and didn't finish. I believe book 2 is out, however...
1 jun 10 @ 9:36 pm

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Be sure to get in touch so I know you're out there! See contacts page or e-mail wyverns(at)earthlink(dot)net.

Every word should be an experience