Power to the pixel: Virtual FantasyCon 2016

Virtual FantasyCon 2016Virtual FantasyCon is a fun and interesting online event happening in October and best of all it’s free.

The location is your computer. You can drop by any day during the event and check out the booths for that day. There will be authors, bloggers, editors, artists, and publishers to list just a few. There will be a Cosplay booth, Blog Hop Hunt booth, panel discussions, and a new booth this year an Author Cache Sale booth (This booth is new and is only for the participating authors on the day of each event. Books on sale for $1.99 or 0.99 can list these books in the comment section below for guests to find and buy.) It is put together by lovely people like Carol March, Raven Williams, Denise Garrou, and others who have worked behind the scenes to make this event happen.

It’s a place to catch up on your favorite author and discover new authors. There is epic fantasy, urban fantasy, dark fantasy, children’s fantasy, and YA fantasy to name just a few of the different types of authors that will have a booth during the event.

 To find out more about the event check out the following social media links:

 

I went last year and I had so much fun. I had forgotten how revved up one can get at a convention. There were so many people to meet, so much to do: giveaways, panel discussions, costume contests. I had a booth and I’ll have one again this year, on Epic Sunday, Oct 9. Unfortunately, I’ll be away from the Internet that day, so I’m counting on you fantasy fans to keep the energy high.

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Untethered

Almost everyone carries a smartphone these days. They sit in pockets and on tables. They sleep on headboards and are the first things their owners check in the morning. They’ve edged out more mundane equipment like calendars and MP3 players.

They aren’t magical, of course. Or are they?

UntetheredIn Untethered: A Magic iPhone Anthology, 21 authors twist reality and call into question the mundanity we hold in our hands. They ask the question, “Is that smartphone completely explainable by science?” and they decide the answer is a resounding “No!”

From award-winners and bold new voices, from experienced fantasists and professional technologists, these stories are fun, clever, and often positive about the power of technology.

Enjoy new stories from:
Rhiannon Held / Manny Frishberg / Edd Vick / H.M. Jones / Kris Millering / Raven Oak / Jon Lasser / Sarina Dorie / Jonathon Burgess / Jeremiah Reinmiller / C.S. O’Cinneide / Stevehen Warren / Aaron Giddings, Sr. / Amanda Hackwith / Dale Cameron Lowry / Dawn Vogel / Kyle Yadlosky / J.S. Rogers / Angela Dell’Isola / Stephanie Djock / A. Moritz

At the intersection of fantasy and technology, iPhones could go either way.

Magic knows your number, and it’s calling you.

Untethered: A Magic iPhone Anthology

 

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Journal of a novel: Sept. 14, 2016. Creative tension

In a series of posts, I’ll share both Steinbeck’s Journal of a Novel and what I learn from it, and I’ll show you what the writing life is like for me.

John Steinbeck worked on his novel every weekday and even on some weekends. I, too, have been writing. I just haven’t been blogging.

I had Labor Day off from work (that sounds like an oxymoron) so I spent it writing. I finished the first draft of Lady Blackwing, a short story, an assignment for a writing class that I’m taking.

Also, there’s several writing contests that I’m considering entering. One is Creativindie’s writing contest for a free writing retreat. A vacancy has opened in a retreat to a castle in France from Oct. 25 to Nov. 23. I plan to do my sixth National Novel Writing Month marathon in November. How better to focus on my writing than to closet myself away in a French castle? The contest entry requires that I supply a first chapter, a book summary or an outline. I don’t have that much at this writing. I don’t even have a working title. I can tell you this, though: it will be a contemporary mystery in which Kabbalah plays a big role. I have in mind a total genre mishmash with elements of Fantasy, Mystery/Thriller/Suspense, Religion and Spirituality, maybe even some Romance.

I have been keeping up with reading John Steinbeck’s Journal of a Novel. In his April 16, entry, he asks his editor if they can refrain from talking about the work-in-progress when they meet. Steinbeck says

…it confuses me and throw me off the story.

I can relate, but for a different reason. I find that if I talk too much about what I’m working on, I don’t write it. It’s as if there’s a tension about it that I can relieve by writing. (Oddly enough, that very thing is portrayed in my Lady Blackwing short story). Talking about it can also dissipate that tension thereby reducing the need to write.

Once the project is well underway, though, I often need to brainstorm, to try out different directions the plot can take. My late husband was wonderful for this. He would listen patiently while I rattled on about people, places, and events that don’t exist. Working it out in my notebook isn’t quite the same thing.

 

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Journal of a novel: Dept. 7, 2016. The market

In a series of posts, I’ll share both Steinbeck’s Journal of a Novel and what I learn from it, and I’ll show you what the writing life is like for me.

I’ve been absent from this Dee-Scoveries blog for a few days. It’s not that I haven’t been writing. Like John Steinbeck, who worked on his novel every weekday and even on some weekends, I have been writing. I’m taking a class in Fantasy and Science Fiction Writing. We’re instructed to write a page a day and I do have a short story in progress as a result. In fact, in the last day or two, the engine finally kicked over and it’s hard to stop at a single page.

In his April 10, Journal of a Novel entry, John Steinbeck warns his editor that

this is a different kind of book.

Steinbeck reports that in a phone conversation, his editor

…said this morning that you had to sell x thousands of copies. I am sure, after all of our years together, you will not ask me to make one single change for the sake of sales …

Steinbeck goes on to write

I am not writing for money … if money comes that is fine but [if] I knew right now that his book would not sell a thousand copies, I would still write it.

Perhaps. Although I’m guessing his editor and publisher would have something to say about it. I don’t believe that I know too many authors who are willing to work a year or more on a book that wouldn’t sell. Most of us are still trying to figure out what we need to do so that we can make a living from our writing.

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Journal of a novel: Aug. 31, 2016. Invention

In a series of posts, I’ll share both Steinbeck’s Journal of a Novel and what I learn from it, and I’ll show you what the writing life is like for me.

In his April 4, Journal of a Novel entry, John Steinbeck writes about a problem you wouldn’t think that a novelist would have: fictionalizing.

… true things quite often do not sound true unless they are made to. … You open the morning paper and you will find a dozen stories of people who have done things which are not true to you because they are not in your experience. … you would have to use every art to make it acceptable.

He suggests that someone write an essay about this, and maybe I will.

I write a lot of fiction, but I don’t make up much stuff. Most of the time, I find myself putting normal, believable characters into extraordinary situations. Tested in these confrontations, the characters show what they’re really made of, sometimes surprising themselves. But the battles aren’t all that unusual. Well, except for the dragon fights.

I’ve got a work in progress, a short story, and I’m giving myself pep talks to go a little crazy, a little over the top. It’s a Fantasy and so quite appropriately could portray all kinds of outrageous people, places, and events. I’ve been having arguments with myself.

“Oh, that would never happen.”
“It’s a Fantasy story. Go for it!”
“But will it be believable?”

I think that’s some of what was worrying Steinbeck: how to take what seems improbable if not impossible (even if it did in fact happen), and tell the story in such a way that the reader accepts it.

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Journal of a novel: Aug. 30, 2016. Intent

In a series of posts, I’ll share both Steinbeck’s Journal of a Novel and what I learn from it, and I’ll show you what the writing life is like for me.

Although John Steinbeck didn’t work on his novel on March 28, he gave it a lot of thought. In his Journal of  Novel entry on that day, addition to ruminating about the character of Cathy Ames, he was a little in awe of his own ambition with regard to his work-in-progress:

My god this can be a good book if I can only write it as I can hear it in my mind.

I’ve been there. It all does seem so clear, so vivid, in my mind’s eye, but transmitting that in writing so that you can see exactly what I see is a challenge. No matter how carefully I choose my words, I may still fail, because the same word has different meanings for different people.

That’s a whole ‘nother blog post.

Something else that happens that’s delightful and at the same time scary is when readers find something in my work that I didn’t put there. And I’m not going to say the readers are wrong, that it’s not there. Often, it is there. I didn’t intend it, I didn’t see it, but by golly, they’re right. How’d that get there? How’d I do that?

It’s scary because we writers like to think that we’re in control of our writing. We try so hard to be deliberate, not to mention artful, about how we string words together. To find out that something’s going on independent of us, well, as Steinbeck said, if I can only write it as I can hear it in my mind …

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Journal of a novel: Aug. 29, 2016. Villains

In a series of posts, I’ll share both Steinbeck’s Journal of a Novel and what I learn from it, and I’ll show you what the writing life is like for me.

In my last post, I blogged about John Steinbeck’s page-count discipline, how he wrote at least every weekday and sometimes on the weekend. Except on March 28. According to his Journal of a Novel entry, he planned to take the day off. No reason, just because. Actually, he planned to go really wild and get a haircut, a “real genuine” haircut.

I get it. Going to get my haircut is a big deal for me too. For some reason it seems like a major undertaking and I tend to put it off. Then when I finally go and the stylist whacks off inches, I’m astounded at how long it got since the last salon visit.

Just because he didn’t write doesn’t mean Steinbeck wasn’t thinking about his book. In his journal, he muses about the character of Cathy Ames whom he described as “a monster.”

 … don’t think they do not exist. If one can be born with a twisted and deformed face or body, one can surely also come into the world with a malformed soul.

Thanks, Mr. Steinbeck. That solves what’s been a problem for me, i.e. crafting villains. It seemed to me somewhat one dimensional to have a purely-evil character, with no redeeming virtues or even the hint of an explanation for the turpitude. Steinbeck’s reasoning makes sense, though. So the next time I find myself writing about a villain, I’ll leave off the psychoanalysis, pull out all the stops, and create a character that is unquestionably evil. Like, you know, a troll who leaves a one-star review on an author’s amazon page with no further explanation.

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Journal of a novel: Aug. 26, 2016. Page count

In a series of posts, I’ll share both Steinbeck’s Journal of a Novel and what I learn from it, and I’ll show you what the writing life is like for me.

John Steinbeck wrote every weekday, and sometimes on the weekends. He wrote one page, maybe two. It doesn’t sound like much. Maybe he mulled over each word extensively before he committed it to paper. I’ll admit when I read about his “page a day,” I was somewhat amused. I would have expect more production from a writer of his ilk.

One way or the other, I also write every weekday, and sometimes on the weekend. I’m not always advancing a novel or a short story; sometimes it’s a blog post, an essay, or a promotional piece.

I ran out of time yesterday to get a Journal of a Novel post onto this blog. It was an exceptionally busy day. I’m auditing a fiction-writing class and yesterday was the first meeting. In addition, I had my normal amount of work to accomplish. Nevertheless, I got some creative writing done. Our “homework” is to make like Steinbeck and write every day.  One page. We’re to work on short stories and turn in five pages every Friday. (Ramping up at top speed, we were assigned three pages for this week even though it’s a short “class week.”) This is called the “Page Count” part of the coursework.

Instead of sitting around waiting for inspiration to strike, we’re to get into the habit of writing every day. It creates a discipline, and keeps the brain engaged in the work-in-progress. In addition to the requirement that we write a page a day, we were charged with writing NO MORE than a page a day, even if our brain is buzzing with ideas. Ending the work day with something still to be written means we’ll be up and running the next day. So now I understand Steinbeck’s work habits better. He may have employed this very same practice.

Magic UnveiledSo even though I am engaged in getting two novels out in the next five months, plus finish a short story and a poem slated for submission, I started a new short story to meet the course requirement. By the end of the semester we’re to have crafted three short stories. At least one should be heroic fantasy and one should be urban fantasy. Those familiar with The Bewildering Adventures of King Bewilliam know that I have a LOT of novel-length heroic fantasy under my belt, so I thought for my first outing I’d give urban fantasy a whirl. I’ve been writing magical realism lately; you can read my short story Blackwing in the Magic Unveiled anthology when it launches in October. My class project is also magical realism in a contemporary setting. At the rate of five pages a week, I’ll have the first draft done in three weeks.

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Journal of a novel: Aug. 24, 2016. Show, don’t tell

In a series of posts, I’ll share both Steinbeck’s Journal of a Novel and what I learn from it, and I’ll show you what the writing life is like for me.

I have to laugh. In John Steinbeck’s first Journal of a Novel entry, he describes the notebook in which he’s about to write and reports that:

a puppy gnawed the corners of the front cover

I left my copy of Journal of a Novel in a vulnerable spot. My cat, who’s fond of chewing things like computer cables and iPad cases, left some vampirish fang marks on the cover. It looks like someone attacked my book with a giant stapler.

In his March 29 entry, Steinbeck writes:

It is the custom nowadays in writing to tell nothing about a character but to let him emerge gradually through the story and the dialogue.

Wow, is that ever true today. The catch phrase is “show, don’t tell,” and woe betide the writer who uses too much exposition. When I first received this instruction in an early creative writing class, I didn’t quite get it. I can’t remember when the light bulb went on over my head but I understand it now, so well that I tsk-tsk when I read someone else’s work that has too much telling and not enough showing.

However, I recently got a much better sense of what Steinbeck was griping about when I picked up Lady Chatterly’s Lover, first published in 1928, several decades before Steinbeck. Between Steinbeck and D. H. Lawrence, you might be thinking I’m on a program of reacquainting myself with classic literature but that’s not why I was reading Lady Chatterly’s Lover. I was doing research in connection with a poem I was writing.

I was stunned by how much telling and how little showing there was. Steinbeck nailed it: the writing style is completely different. Had Lawrence shown and not told, Lady Chatterly’s Lover would probably be three times longer than it is.

It would be an interesting writing exercise to rewrite Lady Chatterly’s Lover using today’s “show, don’t tell” writing style. Then Steinbeck could stop grumbling. I’ll add that to my Story Ideas list.

 

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Journal of a Novel: Aug. 23, 2016. A different breed

In a series of posts, I’ll share both Steinbeck’s Journal of a Novel and what I learn from it, and I’ll show you what the writing life is like for me.

In his Monday, March 26, Journal of a Novel entry, John Steinbeck muses about being different from other people:

I dislike thinking of myself as different or set aside or separate from other people and yet I am forced to sometimes, much as I dislike it. It is borne in upon me that I do not like the pastimes which amuse and satisfy others—the games, both mental and physical, cards, gambling, tennis, croquet. It is not that I dislike them but that they bore me and in no way hold my attention.

I can relate. Football season is about to start. The sport is especially popular around here and most of the people that I know can’t wait for the games to begin. I couldn’t care less. Instead, I’m laying plans for the event that looms large in my fall calendar: National Novel Writing Month.

In my lifetime, I have attended two football games. One was a scrimmage between two pro teams. The other was a college game that I went to on a date. I knew nothing about the game and had no idea what was going on. Being a dutiful girlfriend, I tried to show that I was engaged in what the guy was interested in by asking questions. I was requested to please be quiet so that he could watch the play. OK … At the conclusion, I suggested that henceforth he take a buddy and leave me out of it.

Now as my friends talk about defense and wide receivers and downs and interceptions, my eyes glaze over. The same way that their eyes glaze over when I talk about book trailers and online cyber book festivals and epub conversion and Facebook author page takeovers. Yes, I definitely live in a different world.

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