Archive for July, 2010
Thursday, July 29th, 2010
For those who turned in last week to read the first chapter of my short story “Blood Crimes;” chapter two is out at Paizo’s website now. If you like your fantasy dark and a bit pulpy, be sure to head over and check it out.
Thursday, July 29th, 2010
Wow, so many things I could say about this for potpourri day. Suffice to say folks, we’re two days into RWA Nationals 2010, and it has been a wonderful time. Both the education opportunities and the networking opportunities are amazing. I can’t say enough good about the hotel and the conference.
As for how I’ve spent it, lets just say I’ve spent my days in workshops, and my nights socializing. The SFR Brigade had a little get together two nights ago, and tonight will be The Gathering for RWA’s Fantasy, Futuristic and Paranormal chapter. I’ve picked up a little sun down here, mostly during my spin through the Magic Kingdom, and I’ve met more wonderful people than I will ever be able to thank or remember.
Nora Roberts gave a phenomenal keynote speech that had us all cheering as she reminded us of how far we’ve come in the last 30 years, and about the friendships that form at Nationals that can carry you through a lifetime.
This is an unusually rambly post for a Potpourri day, but I wanted to start a write up of the fun and hard work that has gone into this conference. Truly, having a blast.
Wednesday, July 28th, 2010
Next week is GenCon, the “Best Four Days in Gaming” or so it’s called. I wouldn’t know. For me GenCon is a working con, just as much as World Fantasy or RWA. This year it comes hot on the heels of RWA, so that I barely have time to do laundry before I repack and head out again. It’s a rough turn-around but one that is sadly necessary.
As someone doing media tie-in work, GenCon is a chance for me to interact face-to-face with the people whom I see only as e-mail addresses and twitter feeds the rest of the year. Ideally, I try to arrange time with them before hand, since I know that they are as busy as I am. This is as much a courtesy to myself as it is to them – my order-craving side tends to come out in a convention situation, and I like to know exactly what I am supposed to be doing and when.
There’s plenty of interesting seminars on this year’s writing track as well – for those who were unaware, GenCon hosts a writing symposium in-house that gets bigger year after year. There are even a few seminars for those who write genre romance, as well as for those doing (or interested in doing) tie-in work. I will end up having plenty to do to keep myself busy over the four days of the con, even if gaming isn’t likely to make an appearance.
For those interested, I’ll be holding down a corner of the Fantasist Enterprises table in the heart of Author’s Avenue. If you’re attending this year’s GenCon, stop by and say howdy!
Monday, July 26th, 2010
A very wise friend of mine once said that it was difficult to tell the difference between a writing conference and a support circle for Asperger Syndrome sufferers. I try to remember that when I go to conferences because, theoretically, it should help to know that everyone else is just as introverted and uncomfortable as I am.
Note that I say should.
To be honest, I don’t do the conference thing well. Like a lot of writers, I suffer from terrible Imposter Syndrome when I meet other people who practice my craft. It doesn’t matter that I have a full shelf over my desk with all my works on it, I still feel like the kid who’s snuck into the party and will be thrown out as soon as they figure out I don’t belong. This is why I started taking my knitting to conferences, it helped keep my relaxed. As an added bonus, it provided a safe neutral topic I could talk about without seeming nervous.
Writing is a solitary business – it’s a profession that is, for most of the year, carried out in semi-vacuum. It’s you, your beta readers, your editor, your agent and occasional forays into media-marketing. There’s not a lot of face time for most writers, even the ones who are lucky enough to have a local support group with whom they can share the trial and triumphs. The great majority of us are introverts, and the idea of being in a social situation leaves us uncomfortable. We get together anyway, and eventually we either build up our courage (or have a drink to settle our nerves) and we say hi to somebody. Because as much as it can be a rough road to walk alone, it’s also pretty cool to meet someone on the same road and be able to catch a few pointers, or warn them away from a few pitfalls. Some of my dearest friends are people who I met at writers’ conferences.
I say all of this because this week is RWA – that the National event for Romance Writers of America (of which I am a member). It’s a big deal, sells out early, and is generally awesome. Take all those things I just said about having issues at a regular conference, and triple them. Then add in the discomfort that this will be my first RWA, and you can imagine the sort of stomach churning terror I am dealing with.
Seriously. I eat Tums like they’re a fifth food group.
That said, I try to think of myself, despite all evidence to the contrary, as a friendly sort. So if you’re at RWA, and you see me (I’ll be knitting, probably a red-orange clapotis scarf, I haven’t decided yet), please come say hello. We can always talk about knitting.
Saturday, July 24th, 2010
Blood Crimes my new story for the Pathfinder RPG setting has been released into the world, or at least has started showing up on Paizo’s Pathfinder Tales site. You can find it Here. Go read it, I’ll wait here.
Are you back? You probably noticed it was a serial release – they’ll be putting out a chapter a week for the next four weeks. Be sure to visit again each Wednesday to read the next thrilling chapter.
Likewise, head over to The Galaxy Express to read my contribution to Parallel Universe. The Literature of Hope hits a lot of the things that make Science Fiction Romance one of my favorite genres to read or write.
Keeping up with Appearances
In other news, this next week will see me at RWA, trying not to melt in the heat even while I work on knitting and learning. After that, it’s a trip to GenCon, where you’ll be able to find me in Author Avenue. Look me up and say hello!
Friday, July 23rd, 2010
I know, I missed last week’s potpourri installment. I even feel guilty about it. What can I say, I was in the Pacific Ocean, miles from decent internet access. I’ll try and make it up to you this week by giving you a day filled with linktastic goodness:
Monday, July 19th, 2010
As I mentioned previously, my short story “Blood Crimes” is going to be the featured serial on Paizo’s Pathfinder Web Fiction site – it’s a fun and gritty little tale of life on the streets in the undead-ruled kingdom of Geb, and features some characters who I really grew to like in the short time I spent with them, so I hope you enjoy it. The story is serialized in four parts, starting next week.
Speaking of my random tours of the Web, I am pleased to announce that I am participating in this year’s Parallel Universe – a blog party for writers of Science Fiction Romance hosted out at The Galaxy Express, and timed to coincide with RWA. My bit, “The Literature of Hope” will be posted the evening of the 24th, but I hope that you stop by every day and read the essays, since plenty of wiser heads than mine have been asked to contribute. Parallel Universe runs from tomorrow (20 July) through the end of the month.
Monday, July 19th, 2010
The Tarot Deck, a mystical fortune telling device that looks into your future and knows all. Or, if you’re less interested in the mysticism, a great way to pull together a quick background for a secondary character. I wanted to explicitly state secondary characters in there, but I’ve met folks who use it for their hero and heroine as well – just not for me. As you’ll recall, I dislike surprises, so I tend to know my mains’ backgrounds pretty well.
That leaves a lot of room for everyone else though, and sometimes I just don’t know what a secondary character wants, or why they’ve decided to help. When that happens, I pull out a deck of tarot cards (I have a couple different decks, but mostly I use the standard Rider-Waite) and lay out three cards. One card indicates a motivating moment in the character’s past, one represents his or her current state, and one is used to indicate the character’s goal.
So for example, I draw the Tower, the Three of Pentacles and the Ten of Swords – It gives me a character who came from a broken home or otherwise never felt safe, but has now mastered a skill and exchanges it for money. At some point in the future, the character will betray someone, either the hero/heroine or the antagonist. It’s not much to go on, still, but it gives me a sense of direction and gets my gears grinding towards a more compelling secondary character.
I can’t really bring up tarot and writing and not talk about the Fool’s Journey. There is a school of thought that views the twenty-two cards of the Major Arcana as a metaphor for the path we each take through life. I’ve been to seminars on writing and the tarot where this was discussed explicitly as a means of evaluating characters, or even plotting the novel. I’ve never done it, partly because it has similarities to Campbell’s Hero’s Journey, which I think has been done to death. If you’re interested in learning more, there are plenty of resources on the fool’s journey to get yourself started.
So how about you? Have you use the tarot, or some other randomization technique, to explore the background of a character? I’m always looking for a new method – feel free to leave yours in the comments.
Wednesday, July 14th, 2010
This is part two of an Essay I started on Monday, dealing with the fun and frustration of writing fiction for franchise tie-ins, specifically as it relates to the work I’ve done for the Pathfinder RPG.
As I said in the previous essay, there’s a lot of fun in being allowed to play with other people’s toys, provided that you show care and respect. This holds doubly true where gaming fiction is concerned, because you end up walking a delicate tightrope between including effects that reader-players recognize and can understand with trying to keep them from thinking “Somebody just botched their Stealth check”.
With Pathfinder, I had certain elements that had to be included. Knowing that one of the characters was a spellcaster, I had to constantly think of ways that magic could be used to short circuit the plot I’d laid out. Having readers think “Why didn’t he turn invisible/teleport/levitate” out of that situation only added more complexity. I ended up keeping a list of all the spells available to that character tacked to the bulletin board next to my desk, and would look at for every scene to ask which spells might throw a wrench into the works.
The biggest issue for me, however, was presenting a thrilling story that felt like a tabletop session with it reading like one. My approach to that was to focus on a single point of view and tell the tale from as tightly restricted a POV as I could. This does lead to some interesting times – the central character in Feast of Fools is self-centered and somewhat lacking in the brains category, and he tends to interpret the events around him in the most favorable light towards himself. Still, there are moments (the Featherfall stands out) where what’s happening is obvious to the reader even if it’s not to Ollix.
In all, I had a blast writing for Pathfinder – it’s a great world, with a rich pulpy feel and can tell all kinds of stories just by moving from region to region. With luck they’ll let me shave the nib on my pen and revisit.
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