A bridge over a beautiful waterfall

A bridge over a beautiful waterfall
Nature brings magic

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

A plea for help

Dear readers,

A recent update from my sister-in-law has broken my heart.  My mother-in-law, who's been like a mom to me for the last 12 years (barring a few months here and there where we were at odds over various things), has days left to live.  My husband's trying to get some days off so he can fly down & say goodbye.  The problem is I won't be able to go because we don't have $2000 to go.

We also don't really have the money for him to go because I'd have to get my driver's license back before he can go anywhere and that's almost $300 right there.


I'm offering personalized short stories for $5 and personalized novellas for $10.  If you're interested in helping us out and getting us to Texas so we can say our goodbyes to a very special woman, please buy one.  I'll put a lot of effort into each and every one, and I promise you'll get them in a timely manner.

If you don't want to buy a story, please donate?  I know I'm begging.  I wouldn't be doing this if it weren't vitally important.  I'm putting a donate button up on the blog.  I'm not too proud to beg for help in getting to Texas to say my goodbyes to a dying woman - or to attend her funeral if she dies before we can get down there.

Please, any help you guys can give would be awesome and much appreciated.  I'm sorry to post such a begging post here.  But...this means a lot to me and is something I feel I desperately need to do.

Writing Wednesday - Fan Fiction: Practice or Plagiarism

Fan fiction has always been a touchy subject among writers - both published and unpublished.  There are thriving fan fiction communities out there where fans post stories written in someone else's universe.  I've always referred to it as "playing in a neighbor's sandbox with their toys".  The world is established, the characters are established, and you can let your imagination take over and write a story without having to put the work in yourself to do the world building.

Now, I've written fan fiction.  I still do from time to time.  I've even published some of it online.  Does that make me a bad person?  Well, depending on the author whose world I'm playing in, it could.  There are a lot of authors who don't mind the fan fic, and there are a lot of authors who do.  The link leads to a list of authors and their reasoning behind their decisions.  It's very interesting to read through.  It's also interesting to note the authors that used to be rabidly against fan fiction who have now decided to permit fan fiction to be written - within certain limitations.

But it still brings up a very good question: is fan fiction plagiarism or just practice for aspiring authors?  I'm of the mind that it's practice.  One of the stories on my list "Jehnna's Story" started out as fan fiction set in Mercedes Lackey's world of Velgarth and the kingdom of Valdemar.  But I quickly realized as I wrote the story that it didn't quite fit.  So I started changing things to where it took place in my world of Aleran.  By the time I was done, there was nothing left of the fan fic aside from the name of the character.  Everything was completely different.

Another question to consider is those of us who read a book and go, "I could write something better than that."  I've had a few books where I've finished the book and decided to write a similarly themed story but in my own world.  Now, is that wrong?  Would that be considered a loose form of fan fiction?  Or is it plagiarism?  Or is it something completely different?  Again, there are people who disagree with me on this one too.  I say it's perfectly fine to take a base idea from one book so long as you make it your own and don't copy the other author's book theme/idea for theme/idea.

My Ghost Bard story was inspired by my rather disappointed feelings after reading The Bone Doll's Twin by Lynn Flewelling.  I thought I could tell the story better.  So I started writing about a girl whose twin brother was murdered by their own mother because she thought all twins were demons.  It evolved from there in quite a different direction from the original story until it was a different creature altogether.  But I still started with a similar premise - a child haunted by their murdered twin.

So, dear blog readers, I leave these questions for you.  What's your take on fan fiction?  And what's your view on "rewriting" a novel that you were sorely disappointed in?

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Sunday 'fess up...Anni's a little dizzy

Okay, not a LITTLE dizzy.  I'm A LOT dizzy.  We're talking out blacking out because of the dizziness type of dizzy.  Luckily I haven't blacked out since Tuesday, but I did that rather spectacularly in the women's restroom at work after having done it for about 10 minutes at my desk.  People around me thought I'd just dozed off at my desk, which I do have a tendency to do.  But I wasn't asleep.  I'd passed out.  Yeah, my co-workers aren't the brightest crayons in the box.

I'm off work until we either stop this completely or at least come up with a viable treatment plan for this.  Motion sickness pills only help a little.  And that's what I was told to take.  I was also told to take Valium but I won't take that unless I absolutely have to.  It knocks me out and makes me even loopier than normal.  It's designed to make me not care about anything and to sleep it off.

Sitting up to write is difficult, so I've taken to curling up on the bed and writing from a mostly lying down position.  This presents a few challenges - not the least of which is a laptop that falls over if I've got it on my legs.  But it works and I can write somewhat comfortably while I wait for the dizziness to pass.

I haven't gotten much done this week, but I have gotten a few things done.  I got the second chapter of The Fallen up on WordPress.  I'll make sure the links to that and my other story from Monday are at the end of this.  I've also finally figured out how to work with Cracked World so now I'm making progress on it again.  Slow but there's progress.  I keep wanting to crack Only A Name but I've made myself wait.  It needs a little longer to simmer before I go attack it again.

For Earth Hour, I turned off my bedroom light and tried to write by candlelight.  I don't know if that kicked the Muses into high gear or what but Cracked World suddenly started cooperating.  I may have to do the "writing by candlelight" thing again.

Picked up Fiction Writer's Workshop on Saturday.  I'm going to use some of the exercises for Writing Wednesday posts.  I'm not going to copy all the exercises in the book but I will use those ones that I find particularly useful.

I did do some reading and found out something interesting: statistically speaking, fantasy short stories are a lot harder to sell than science fiction short stories.  I found that bit of news very interesting and wonder how true it is.  I certainly haven't had much luck on selling my short stories.  Of course, I haven't submitted any of them within the last month.  I got tired of finding rejection letters in my email and my snail mail.

Posted the usual stories for Monday and Friday.  Links are here as always.  If you do go read them, please leave me a comment.  Even if it's just to say "Hi I've been here".  It'll make it so I want to continue posting.

The Soldier and the Boy
The Fallen - Ch 2

Vlog is done, as always.  I babble a bit about various things including this past week and my upcoming birthday. It's in May, and Himself and I had a long talk about what I wanted.  It's all very simple and I mention it in the vlog.  If you're that curious, you'll just have to watch the vlog to find out.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Writing Wednesday - Narrating the world around you

Yesterday, due to a vicious attack of vertigo, I ended up in the ER.  I was sitting in the wheel chair they put me in and waiting for my turn to visit the doctor in the back.  I was slightly out of it, so my mind was already predisposed for wandering.  I found myself narrating the wait in my head.

I "wrote" in my mind the sounds, sights, and smells (I hate hospital smells) of the ER.  I fabricated the ailments of those waiting around me because I honestly didn't KNOW what their ailments were.  There was the lady with the curled hand who could've broken it in a fight.  There was an elderly lady who looked like she'd taken a fall - but who pushed her down?  There was a young couple, probably late teens/early twenties, that constantly got up and walked the length of the waiting room.  She was the one who was being seen.  Was there something wrong with her that we couldn't see, such as cancer or a bad case of the flu..or something else?

It's amazing what can happen when you let your mind wander.  I continued to let my imagination run wild - mostly to keep myself from panicking - while they took me back to check me out.  I daydreamed about the lives of the nurses.  Who were they?  Why were they nurses?  What did they do in their off time?  The doctor was a nice guy for a change.  I've had several assholes in the ER lately.  So why was he nice and so many others absolute jerks?  I thought about that as well.

By the time I got out of there, I had a few short scenes mentally noted down for one of my UF stories based on the trip to the ER.  I've found myself narrating events around me in my mind.  It's like I'm reading my life as a book.  It's a strange way of looking at life.  But I find I'm better able to describe scenes in my writing by running things through my head while I'm dealing with life.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Sunday 'fess up...Anni won an award!

First of all, many thanks to Deirdre for my blog's first award.  *blushes*  I appreciate your visit and I'm honored you thought I deserved the award.

Second......can we just not talk about writing this week?  Please?  *looks around*  Oh all right.  I'll admit it.  I failed miserably at the writing this week.  I got some reading done though, and I figured out a few twists for Cracked World.  But all of the edits on Only A Name kind of burned me out on writing.  I'm feeling a lot better now so I expect I'll be able to tackle Cracked World more this week.

It's pretty much guaranteed we're not going to Texas.  Unexpected car repairs (brakes went out) and medical bills as well as me having to cancel my overtime this week (got sick) have forced us to take a major hit in our finances again.  But we're still going to take a mini vacation in April.  Even if it's just hanging out in a hotel/motel in town & avoiding everyone we know for a day or two...we're going to get our vacation.

Did a little beta reading for KD Sarge this week.  I'm not very good at it but I hope that I at least helped out a little.  I read a new book this week and I enjoyed it but, well, I'm reserving judgment on the rest of the series because of how disappointing I've been finding the UF books I've read lately.  I'll get a review of the book up on Books in the Woods here in the next week or so.

Vlog is live, as always.  I actually finished it last night.  It was kind of nice to be able to sleep in today and not have to worry about getting that done.

Story links from this week's Magic Monday and Freak Friday:

The Rescue
The Fallen Ch 1

Now for the vlog and a few other videos for your entertainment.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Writing Wednesday - The Writing Process

A DM I got on Twitter asked me what my writing process was.  I had to think about that for a minute when I was asked because, honestly, I don't usually think about the writing process.  I just DO it.

I start with an idea.  Who knows where the idea comes from?  It could be a random snatch of conversation heard in the break room or the servery.  It could be a line from another book or a movie.  It could be a flock of birds, a cloud formation, or a sunset.  It could be a dream.  But wherever it comes from, I always have to start with an idea.

That idea could be a character, or it could be a setting.  Many times it's a little of both.  I sit down and I write.  I write as much of the story as I know.  Then, when I've written what I know, I let it sit for a few days while I work on something else.

Once I've let it sit, I go back and read through what I've written.  I decide what I like and what I don't, and I work with those parts that I like.  Sometimes I don't even wait a few days.  If the story catches fire in my mind I push through and get the whole story told.  It doesn't always have a lot of detail in places, but I can go back and add that detail later in revisions.

Now there are times when the idea I start with is a barely formed character.  I use that character to build up the world he or she inhabits. (As evidenced by my WW posts on world building with Ashe.)  Sometimes I have a setting and must create the characters to interact with the setting.  As long as I get my ideas down onto paper or word processor, that's what matters.

So my process is as follows:

  • Get an idea.
  • Write as much as I can on that idea.
  • Revisit the idea after a short period of time and expand on what works.
  • Revise again and again until I have a polished piece.
  • Repeat as necessary.

So what's YOUR writing process?

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Sunday 'fess up...HAPPY HAPPY HAPPY WEEK

Hello my lovelies!  Boy has Anni had a good week.  Very busy, very stressful, and very LONG - but still good.

I did a lot of overtime this week.  It made for some long days.  I got a couple really good days in the fitness center too.  I'm working on trying to make it in 3 days a week for my regular workout and one class as well.  So 4 days a week in the fitness center.  I haven't consistently managed it yet but I'm trying.

We got our car paid off.  We get to go get the title on Thursday.  This is one less bill for us to pay.  Although we'll have a new car payment soon enough.  We need two cars.

We've also gotten all of our court costs from our nightmare paid off.  All I have left is my traffic fines and my reinstatement fee.  Then I can legally drive again.  YAY!

My biggest news is in regards to my writing.  I FINISHED ROUND 1 REVISIONS ON ONLY A NAME!  It comes it at 348 double spaced pages and 95,677 words.  I am really proud of myself.  Now it's going to sit and gather dust for a few months until it's time for round two of the revisions.

We've got a line on a 3 bed 2 bath trailer that we could possibly get into by the beginning of next month.  This means we'd have an office as well as getting out on our own again.  We've got our fingers crossed on this one.

Going forward, I have some big plans.  I've got a bunch of writing projects I want to play with.  I'm also going to start posting stories on my WordPress blog.  I'll be posting Magic Mondays - high fantasy, mostly my Aleran stuff but some random bits as well - and Freak Fridays - my paranormal and urban fantasy stuff - on WordPress.  Writing Wednesdays and SFU will still be posted here.  On the SFU posts I'll link the posts from earlier in the week on my WordPress blog.  I'll also post them up on Facebook and Twitter.

Vlog is posted as usual.  Added my story links & some video links as well as the vlog this week.  Enjoy!  If you read my stories, please leave me comments so I know someone's actually reading them?  Please?  Thank you!

Deirdre's Legacy
A Murder of Crows
Mama's Angels

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Writing Wednesday - Guest Blogger K.D. Sarge

So here I am on Annikka's blog and she's not around. I'd love to TP the trees and short-sheet the bed, but there's that katana to worry about. Especially since I've misplaced my axe.

So instead I have some questions. I'm going to go ahead and answer them, but I'd love to hear other opinions too.

What's wrong with escapism?

People look down on speculative fiction as "escapist" but I think when those critics read, they probably also prefer books that take them away, whether it's to a dark and moody New England town or Siberia or what have you. To me, that's what a book is for--to take the reader out of her life and show her someone else's. We may be glad to come back (The Scarlet Letter) or sorry (The Lord of the Rings) but we're grateful we got to go.

Escapism isn't running away. It's taking a break. Who doesn't need that sometimes? Especially if you come back from that break revitalized, stronger, maybe even with new ideas to try on whatever in your life you needed to get away from.

What exactly is a Gay Theme?

I remember an article about gay marriage in which the writer asked why we had to have the line between "regular" marriage and gay marriage. If he, a gay man, were to walk his dog, would it be called gay-walking? I think of that when my stories are said to have "gay themes."

Maybe the problem here is that "theme" is a technical term to writers. To me, a theme is what the book is about. Taro's book (Knight Errant) follows his attempts to balance his own desires against those of the people he loves and honors. In another book, Joss Ravid fights to keep a young girl alive after she becomes the focus of a feud among ruling families.

Taro and Joss are both gay. It's one of about two things they have in common. Both deal with romantic relationships in their stories, but it's one more struggle, not the main conflict of the book.

Gay characters do not a "gay book" make. And saying a novel doesn't have a gay theme should not imply that there's anything wrong with books that do.

Who are those adults you write for?

I don't like that the "adult" label is increasingly applied to anything and everything regarding sex. I understand why it's "adult" and not "racy" but I still think we could find a better way. (I also firmly believe that a portrayal of unexamined violence is far more harmful to a child than a gratuitous sex scene, but that is a whole other rant.)

On occasion, I write some seriously sexy stuff. But I have a story that's about a fourteen-year-old boy who has been a sex slave since about seven. Suddenly he's thrust into high school and expected to be a normal teen. I doubt there will be any sex in it at all--but I would assert that story is as adult as anything I've ever written.

Also, just for the record--having a gay character does not make the story adult. Some people just need to grow up.

How difficult did you find it to write a gay couple?

I didn't think of it that way at all--or it probably would have been horribly hard. Instead I wrote two young men and let them find their own way into a relationship. That was hard enough.

I have the advantage of setting on my side in this. It's sci-fi. I did work to avoid stereotypes, but it helped that I didn't have to justify using or ignoring what's perceived as gay culture in twenty-first century America. Therefore Taro is about as manly as they come--brash, confident, competent, strong in body and in person--he even wears military fatigues most of the time. He's also as gay as they come. If orientation is on a spectrum, Taro is alllll the way at the end.

Rafe may be closer to what people think of when they think "gay man," but it's also a bit of a trap, because Rafe is not gay. He's pansexual. His more "gay" behaviors--interior decorating, for instance--are taught skills to make him more valuable.

Which rather amuses the hell out of me.

Did it make it difficult to find an agent?

I really think it did. Not because of any prejudice against gay characters, but because people didn't know what to do with it. Things are changing (Thank God) but there has long been a belief that gay fiction is a genre, and science fiction is a genre, and mixing genres is Not a Wise Move. Sure, the more well-known writers can do it, but beginners need to toe the line.

I'm afraid I don't like lines.

These beliefs on genre-bending may be borne out by sales; I don't know. It may be like the belief that white people won't buy books with people of color on the cover--a self-fulfilling prophecy.

What I do know is that if we writers don't put other stuff out there, the system will only become more hidebound. Turtleduck Press is one answer to that--we'll edit each other and we'll insist on quality, but quality what doesn't matter. Poetry, novellas, choose-your-own-adventure...we'll try whatever we like.

We're kind of betting that we're not the only ones tired of being told what people will read.

And that's why I self-published.

K.D. Sarge is the author of Knight Errant, published through Turtleduck Press.  You can find her on Twitter @KDSarge and on her website http://www.kdsarge.com/.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Sunday 'fess up...Anni's week was busy

Hello everyone!  Welcome to this week's Sunday 'Fess Up!!!

This week has been a long one.  I ended up getting sick on Friday but I'm doing a lot better today.  I'll be doing more overtime next week, so my free time is limited.  But at least I'm going to be getting things done.

I'm rather proud of myself this week.  Even though I haven't spent as much time working on the revisions on the computer, between my breaks, lunches, and dead times at work I've gotten over 3500 words hand written for the current scene I'm trying to rewrite/revise.  I'm doing the transcription today so I'm ahead of where I thought I'd be.

I've only got a couple more major scenes before the end of the book.  I'm getting really excited.  Not only because revisions are almost done but also because I've got a couple new projects I'm REALLY wanting to work on.  One will ultimately become a serialized series on my WordPress blog.  The other...I'm not sure yet.  I'm not sure if it's going to be a serialized story arc or if it's going to be a novel all on its own.  We'll have to wait and see how it plays out.

Now for some random cool videos...

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Writing Wednesday: Guest Blogger Racquel Henry

7 Things an Author Website Should Have
by Racquel Henry

There's been much debate on whether or not an author should have a website before they're published. My take has always been, “what can it hurt?” Whether you're published or unpublished, if you're going to take the plunge and opt for a website, there are features every author website should have. I've compiled a checklist containing seven items.

1. A Homepage
In a way, a homepage is like a cover page. It looks nice, it's more professional, and it provides an overview. Your overview should include your name, what kind of writer you are, a picture of  yourself, etc.

2. An “About Me” Section

Also known as an author bio. Readers want to know about you. What do you do in your free time besides writing? What's your favorite book? Where are you from? How do you write? Obviously you  don't want to get too personal here, but a couple of quirky facts should do the job.

3. Publications
If you've been published, then you definitely want to have a section where readers can find out what you've written. If you have a book out, or it's soon to be released, make sure you list it and make sure    there's a buy button or link to where people can purchase your book.  If your work appears in magazines or  newspapers, add a link to that as well.

4. Blogs
Having a blog is always a good idea. It connects you to other writers and has the potential to draw more readership for your writing. You can either have a section on your site where you blog, or you can use a blog host such as blogger or wordpress. If you do choose to use a host, then provide a link from your website to your blog site. 

5. Latest News
If you've done any interviews, radio or TV shows then you should always have a link to those. If your novel or book is featured anywhere or is given a positive review, then link that also. The same goes for readings, speaking engagements or major projects.

6. Excerpts
An excerpt has the potential to wet the appetite of the reader. These days people tend to be more guarded with their money. They want to make sure they're spending it wisely. Having an excerpt of your book could have a positive outcome on the reader's decision to actually purchase the book.

7. Contact Information
You never know who is looking at your site. You need to be accessible. Someone could want to schedule an interview with you or maybe a big director wants to make your novel into a movie. You can include information about your agent if you have one, an email, an address, etc. If you do include an address, I would suggest a P.O. Box and not your home address. There are still a good deal of psychos out there.
So, when you're ready to start building that author site, include those seven things and you've got one awesome website!

Racquel Henry is an MFA student at Fairleigh Dickinson University. She is the editor and co-founder of The Black Fox Literary Magazine. In her free time she enjoys reading, writing, music, and web design. Racquel is in the process of editing her first novel tentatively titled, What's In the Fabric. You can find her at her own blog, Racquel Writes http://racquelshenry.blogspot.com or on Twitter: @RacquelHenry