EnE: Elemental Novel Experiences
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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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Friday, July 30, 2010

Confluence adventures continued
i thought that the writing panels would give me the best chance to give away business cards with my blog addresses (one of my goals for the event) but I forgot that audience participation is rare with a panel, and without audience participation, there was also little audience exchange afterwards. Panels are fun and all, but a mix of sessions with some panel members and some solo speakers who are good at involving the audience would be better.

As to my business cards, I ended up giving more away at the consuite, whenever i could engage in a conversation. That wasn't consistant: I won't change the topic of an ongoing discussion and people discussing health issues was almost as common as cats and science-fiction related topics (including some about books I never heard of, naturally). I still have plenty left over for the next con, and didn't get any cards in return, strangely enough (there were lots of people with cards at the last Confluence, where I learned that guys mostly won't ask for mine unless I ask for those and don't often just give them out without asking, though how else to get the exchange started I rarely know. Just handing them out worked and no one seemed to take it wrong though I suppose a few will just toss them away.
30 jul 10 @ 11:17 pm

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Confluence notes
Had a fun time and took lots of notes that I haven't typed up yet. Got lots of ideas for fixes to some of my stories that I'll share shortly. I got chances, for the first time, to talk with one of the guest authors in the Consuite: "Marc Von Kannon" (No, I don't know if that's his real name but that's what he publishes under), also known as authorguy, who has the blog: http://authorguy.wordpress.com/ He's a nice chatty guy, generous of spirit, and his blog has a unique flavor and covers a lot of topics, including writing and life experiences as well as notes on his progress as a published author.

I stayed up late writing and didn't have the best time sleeping on the last couple of train legs so I'm a bit short on sleep but it was altogether a fun weekend and I spent lots of money at the book stands, jewelry, and craft sellters, and I recommend it as a con for writers and readers if you get the chance. My next con will probably be Context in Ohio and I aim to have all of my Confluence notes posted before then (end of August).
27 jul 10 @ 9:59 pm

Friday, July 23, 2010

Still wired
And another hotel has allowed me to keep wired! So I've posted the rest of last Tuesday's scene and the next one: a battle scene. Battle scenes are always an especial challenge and I hope to attend another helpful panel on them this weekend.

Confluence is going well. I spent a lot of the day editing on the computer in the lobby, trying to keep abreast of preparations and make myself available for discussions. I did have a few, with old friends and new but still mostly forgot to give out my blog cards I made for the trip. I'll have to work on that tomorrow.

Besides attending some fascinating panels (notes will be coming soon), I had some fascinating discussions in the consuite upstairs. Very knowledgeable people, also some very opinionated but we're all human and the discussions were still interesting even if I didn't agree. The science, medicine, allergies, and physics were all fun and I hope I find out who I was talking to. I'm not the only one that's bad about offering introductions. Good food, too, and I mean "good", healthy stuff as well as tasty. Salad bar fixing (all the vegis), bean soup with something that wasn't quite hotdogs, and cookies and such which weren't so healthy but very tasty.

I brought along a binder with the story I wrote for the competition (I didn't win) hoping to solicit feedback with notecards and notepaper in the binder, but this one didn't have much in the way of a place for reading material (unlike some I was to last year) so I didn't leave it there. I may try again tomorrow if I find a quiet moment and just invite whoever is there to read it, or lay it on the one table that wasn't full of food stuff if I don't decide it is too presumptuous of me with so many real (which is to say published) authors here. As promised, I will post the story online for comments or entertainment. It will be at http://enexplorations.blogspot.com/ as "Doorway to Dreams" within a few minutes of posting this.

Comments to both the story and Onaline's latest scenes encouraged.
23 jul 10 @ 9:59 pm

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

away from home
internet away from home is a potluck adventure but this time it seems to be working so i have posted the next scene for Fantasy Explorations. Enjoy!

I like neat definitions. It makes querying easier for one thing, and it makes writing a clear message that others will understand the way I intend them possible, if still occasionally challenging. I was dismayed to discover that one of my “useful distinctions” is apparently not in vogue, at least not on the net: the differences between writer, author, and novelist. (My personal version: Writer--anyone who writes; author--someone who has published something; novelist--someone who has published a novel) seem no longer to be recognized as meaningful distinctions. possibly partly because of the internet itself. Blog writers are sometimes referenced as "blog author" for example, and the whole definition of publication has become mushier. Still, more uses are different from my personal distinctions than can be accounted for by that shift. The majority of things (webs, blogs, comments, etc.) that I found referencing "writers" were actually strictly limiting themselves to published novelists, as if there weren’t far more of us unpublished writers than (traditionally) published ones. So what search words do I use for the rest of us?

“Fantasy” is an even worse word on the web. It has so many meanings, I tried several queries over several hours and still didn’t find the meaning I was looking for, that is the Fantasy part of “SF and F”, especially the traditional sorts. Even, or especially, Fantasy Worlds are not traditional fantasy. What the term means on the net seems to be Imaginary worlds, of any sort. Only when I queried for both SF and F together did I find more than one or two random hits that had anything to do with the fantasy concepts I was looking for (and they were mostly about SF). I wonder if the word usage has caused a lack of Fantasy-related blogs (or a change in the terms I need to look for) or whether the lack of Fantasy blogs encouraged the misuse of the term (well, not misuse, but uses other than what I am looking for), or whether the internet and fantasy are just not all that compatible. For SF, computers is a natural forum. For classic fantasy, not so much.

Views welcome.
20 jul 10 @ 6:36 pm

Friday, July 16, 2010

Since I was again late last time for my usual schedule of posting story scenes, I have left the last one on and added todays at the end (it's really a continuation of the same scene anyway).

Expect the same irregular posts in the coming week, if I can post at all. Computer does not equate to internet access in my case.

My brain is still summer cooked but I have started a new story. It was intended as a writing exercise: I've done a lot of writing, but mostly from ideas I started work on years ago and I decided I should try to start something fresh. I'm posting my progress on my other blog under the Something New category at:
http://enexplorations.blogspot.com/search/label/Something%20New

For my trip, it may make better progress than this blog. for reasons I haven't quite figure out, the other one seems to be easier to get to from hotel computers. Maybe it's more tolerant of old software. I thought mine was pretty darn old, but I've been discovering that expensive hotels and not so expensive libraries have some really really old software, sometimes.
16 jul 10 @ 9:05 pm

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

What day is it? Where are we?
the summer heat is frying my brain and I can't seem to keep track of what day of the week it is, but I've posted a new scene to Fantasy Explorations and life goes busily on.

I finished typing in what I wrote over the last trip, including fixes for the SF novel I have on my other blog. It wasn't quite as substantial as I thought as I wrote it, but that’s fairly typical and this time I was focused on developing settings, so a lot more thinking than is sometimes involved and less actual composition and word smithing. Really, more thinking and imagining than wanything, especially in my light science fiction: two ships, several rooms on each ship, my cartoon sketches of ship design to help layout and sequencing, but this isn’t one where I have tried to invent a lot of new technology (recent changes in technology have already overwhelmed my senses, and a lot of it has not taken us in directions conducive of the human interaction that makes a story a story...) so it's really just trying to get enough of a shape to make the scenes flow consistantly (not a square room one time and a curved room the next time in the same room: I have a couple of universes where that works, but not the ones I was working on.)

Some of my SF and F is so light on the science or fantastical that I have considered relocating them to contemporary settings, but couldn’t quite do it. My novels so far have tended to involve a fair amount of big-picture politics as well as local action. Contemporary and recent historical politics as well as geography have failed to fit with my story lines and thus we have one of the features that makes the SF and F genre’s what they are: the importance of place. Sometimes I think the real difference between the two is that the places are more often low tech and natural for fantasy and the places are high tech for SF, although of course there are plenty of exceptions and crossovers.

One of the other problems with trying to turn my stories into contemporary fiction is that these days the world is reasonably well known and people have well-established concepts of what all the real-world places are like, if not today then just a little while back. It is possible to make up country names to a degree and generally go with unspecified, generic places, but the only times I’ve really seen that done successfully either have a clear (but unnamed) place of action, or generic big, generic small, generic East and/or Generic West cultures (I’m thinking, for example, of the Mouse that Roared: the country names might even have been real--I don’t recall--but they didn’t really matter as much as the historical pattern of US rebuilding the losing side. The specific pattern of interaction could have been made up rather than a real one, but they were still not entirely made-up cultures and the ability of the reader/viewer to identify features they recognize is part of the success. Very different made-up cultures come across as unbelievable in contemporary fiction and don't capture the reader in the same way as a contemporary novel.

Ditto the more recent princess stories where the American-raised girl learns she’s the princess of a generic small country in Europe. To totally make up new inter-relationships between known or implied modern countries... and when one of them is intended to be a more evil culture (and nothing like our current “evil enemies”... no, better to take it off-world. Besides, I suspect it really isn’t contemporary fiction content in other ways, either, if only because it reflects my personal interests and topics that non-genre fiction just can't contain.

I still need to flesh out the background to my characters (most of them aliens), the settings (space liner and a military ship) and maybe flesh out or adjust the story along the way. The concreteness of the setting--including as it must alien cultures and cultural impacts of the technological worlds at hand--can strengthen the story line so long as if it fits the characters as I have them already and doesn’t require a change in key events. The setting and culture can clarify motivations, direct dialect development, and help build nuances into the story that enrich the reading experience, even if the technology is barely more than suggested by the layout and by terminology used by characters not expected to know what makes the ships go.
14 jul 10 @ 10:10 pm

Friday, July 9, 2010

synopses
Since I ran late last time, I've left up the last scene for Fantasy Explorations and added another rather than replacing it. I may be doing that a few times in the next couple of weeks.

I've been rewriting my synopses, using the wonderful advice posted to http://www.fmwriters.com/Visionback/Issue%2015/workshop.htm It was delightfully well written with clear examples, the best guidance I have found on the subject, and will at the least make my synopses far better than they were. (No guarantee of success, of course). I won't post them here until after I've posted the appropriate novels, though: they give away the endings. The agent and publisher has to know, but the reader's don't. I might put some of the first part... but the web site at the link provided some good examples, too.

I wrote four so far: two for each of two novels, a longer (5 page max seems to be the norm) and a shorter version, about 3 pages. I still want to do a one pager but that is definitely the harder cut and requires more than just cutting out sentences, in order to convey enough of the message. It may be easier to start each from scratch. the instructions say think of it as giving directions to your home, in this case the story. Maybe a short one is like giving instructions to get to the neighborhood, and leaving the audience to pick a specific house or store...

9 jul 10 @ 9:53 pm

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

agent hunting
Sorry I'm late. We had company that stayed after the 4th and they took my attention until today. Another scene has been posted from Beyond the Wall. I think this one conveys better the flavor I want for the start of the book and a better hint of the nature of the "fantasy" element of the trilogy.

I went to the library, my big goal for the week, but the local library didn't have a writer's guard from this century so I went back to hunting on line and found a site that is at least almost as good: http://www.agentquery.com a query there for fantasy and science fiction agents got me a list of 90 of them.

The tricky part is that I could find no way to save the query results with the links, so I went through page by page and went to each link to copy the url to the details page for each agent (except those that had a note indicating they were not currently excepting queries). That's plenty to keep me busy preparing packages or query letters and searching the agent web pages for likely candidates to send queries to.

Still, I could copy and paste, and if I had found the book at the library, I would have had to write down everything by hand and then type it in to my computer as needed.

I'd love to hear other people's experiences as they start agent hunting, or publisher hunting for those publishers that may not yet require going through an agent. I haven't found a good site for those yet.
7 jul 10 @ 6:45 pm

Friday, July 2, 2010

multitasking
I've been doing a lot of what feels like multitasking lately, right now preparing for holidays, visitors, trying to fit in time for agent hunting--I took off from my paying job for the purpose--and getting ready for the next trip in a couple of weeks. I'm going to be daring and try to take my computer with me (not something I normally like to do but i think I'll be packing light enough to manage and am getting the hang of some of the intricacies of train travel enough to manage it.) the last stop on the trip will be Confluence. Say hi if you're there. Dragon t-shirts and dresses covered with patches are my usual choices for cons if the name tags aren't useful enough.

I think one of the things I don't like with agent hunting is that it goes counter to what I have been working toward: narrowing my focus to doing less things at once in order to get more things done. Agent hunting means going back to stories I've finished and figuring out things like blurby cover letters and synopses and other such things, and since different agents are going to be interested in different stories, bouncing around between appropriate stories (or as appropriate as I can guess from the minimal information I can find: an agent looking for romance and science fiction doesn't necessarily mean they want a story with both, but maybe...

So, what do you think of Chapter 2? Do you think it would make a better beginning?

Writer's challenge: take a story you have written, and chop off the first third or so. See if you can start at the new point and fold the previous stuff back in later.
2 jul 10 @ 8:22 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