The Green Rider

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Green Rider Book Cover, Image Source: Amazon.com

So far, I’m about a quarter of a way through The Green Rider and I’m liking it.  It isn’t a favorite like the work of Brandon Sanderson, Tad Williams or Elizabeth Moon (my current favorite go-to authors), but it isn’t as bad as I remember it.  I think that I was wanting it (based on the reviews and the way people were talking about it) to be amazing and while it is a good, solid fantasy, it isn’t, for me, amazing.

I suppose I could look it up to see if this is Kristen Britain’s first novel (my computer isn’t actually connected to the internet as I’m typing this so as not to get distracted), even if it isn’t, it seems to have many of the first novel issues.  Just in the first third of the novel, there are pacing issues.  We get introduced to the “big bad” (who apparently is under an even “bigger bad.”  We get a world that is both incredibly airy and light intermixed with one that is incredibly savage.  The main character seems quite unprepared for both–the savagery of the world where she has to fight for her life and the rustic, almost idyllic world of the sisters who offer her respite.

I think this is one of the reasons why it is so hard for me personally to commit myself to writing novels (even though that is what I really want to do as a writer).  I find myself doing exactly the same thing–too many storylines and plot lines when what I want is a coherent whole that doesn’t meander, that doesn’t wander, but tells a compelling story from start to end about a character who starts out one way, but learns about himself/herself on the journey of the novel.  I’m sure that I can learn and master this form as it is the primary form that I read and enjoy, but when I sit down to write it, I find myself doing exactly what is occurring in The Green Rider where I am going down diverse tangents and the story doesn’t seem to have the linearity that I’m looking for and I end up abandoning the project.  Perhaps the lesson The Green Rider can teach me is to finish a rough draft for the project.  Write the whole thing for start to finish and then try to find ways/techniques to revise the story on the paper/page into the one that resides inside my head (& heart).

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Henry James, The Art of Fiction, and Me


So this is why studying the old “masters” are important: sometimes their writing can reach across centuries and happened speak to readers  at just the right time.  That is what happened last night when I read “The Art of Fiction” excerpt by Henry James last night.  

James said that the novelist should be concerned with both character and incident.  This is where I err. I’m all about incident and I’m not as concerned with character as I should be.  I like knowing what happened rather than who it happened to.  For instance, when I was a child,my parents used to take me to the local amusement park.  They would often take breaks and people-watch whereas I was there for the rides and people-watching was so boring.

I realize that I’m not really focusing enough on my characters and their characterization. I need to either get better at illustrating my characters in the outlining/rough draft phase (character sketches) or I may need to do a “character pass” in the revision phase to ensure my characters are real characters and not simply “ciphers” for the incident that I want to relate.  Henry James has given me something to consider to help me become a better writer.  Thanks to Dr. Renfroe for assigning him for me to read for class!

152 Hours 

152 Hours.  That’s how long the email from PlayStation congratulating me on completing Mass Effect Andromeda says that I played ME:A.  I wasn’t shocked as I knew that I had put a lot of time into it, but what was surprising was how much of the time wasn’t utilized well in terms of the story.

Story is important for narratives, be they games, books, movies, or any other entertainment medium that depends on narrative.  What I’ve learned with ME:A is that I can’t waste time with diversions in my stories because only about 60 hours of content in ME:A was actually story focused and interesting.  If not for my desire to finish the game, I would have abandoned it as YouTuber did recently.  

I won’t say that my time was wasted as I can try to store those narratives and repurpose them for my own uses, but I will say that ME:A wasn’t as impactful and engrossing as it could have been–because it was about 70 hours longer than it should have been.  152 Hours isn’t an inconsiderable amount of time and the story- tellers need to make sure that their content matches the investment of time that they ask the audience to engage with their narratives. 152 hours shouldn’t be a marathon, but an adventure!

Trying Something A Little Different 


I’m trying something a little new with my writing–I’m actually trying to write daily, but since I don’t have my computer (more on that in a different post) I’ve gone back to pen and paper.

What I’m trying now is to write a little bit a day and then over the weekend when I have more time take the writing on pen and paper and transfer it to the computer.

This is actually only the first week that I’ve tried this so I’ll report back here next week on how well I thought it worked out. I’m trying to be a more reflexive writer and be more aware of what works and what doesn’t.

I need to work on my consistency–I’ve known this for a while now, but I haven’t really put any strategies in place to help me, so I’m trying this out in the hopes of becoming a more consistent (and successful) writer.

Submissions: An Introspection

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Pen and Writer, Image Source: Shut Up and Write

Okay, I finally think that I have a system together to deal with submissions effectively.  It has taken me close to a year and half to develop this system so that it is effective (for me, at least), but I have refined and refined it over the past year and a half so that now I spend less time stressing over rejections and more time getting the work out and into the hands of markets.  I try my best to ascertain whether my story is appropriate for the market based on their guidelines and the stories that are on their websites/in the journals and/or magazines, but at the end of the day it is still a crapshoot as my taste in fiction apparently runs counter to “modern” (I would say, more nihilistic) sensibilities.  As a LibraryDella, a reader of this blog and librarian who has read my work, would tell you, some of my stories don’t end happily.  But, for the most part they do–LibraryDella just happened to read and respond to the batch that didn’t (sorry about that , LibraryDella! :)).  Anyway, today I wanted to talk about a little bit more about submissions to markets and my submission process.

Trailblazing New Markets
So, I use Duotrope to find new markets and to track the temporary opening and closing of submission periods throughout short fiction market (and novels once I start writing & submitting them).  Duotrope charges a yearly subscription, but I find that their service allows me to better track other submission opportunities (like anthologies, for instance) to help me publish more widely.  Their are other places to find markets–The Submissions Grinder–comes quickly to mind that are free, so please don’t feel that this post is an advertisement for Duotrope.  I just happen to like Duotrope’s layout, tracking services, etc., and it works best for my workflow.  I use Duotrope’s weekly newsletters to find out about new markets and opportunities for my stories.  From there, I try to figure out which markets my stories would be best suited to which markets and then submit.

8.88%
Currently, thanks to my Acceptances earlier this year and late last year, my Acceptance ratio is 8.88% (and Duotrope notes that this is above average).  I’m not bragging–I just want to point out how hard it is to write professionally and creatively.  A major league baseball player is considered successful hitting at .250-.350 range.  A creative writer, it seems, is “successful” at a much smaller range (just below 10%) according to Duotrope, at least.  So that’s on average, 1 in every 10 submissions, or in my case (approximately, 8 Acceptances out of every 100) as for me, my Acceptances tend to come in bunches–nothing for a long time (two or three years) and then 2 or 3 Acceptances in a fairly short order.

Persistence
The key is persistence.  I’ve come close a couple of times this year (2 stories short-listed, i.e., made it to the second-round of reviews), but they just didn’t make it for publication.  I will continue to submit them until they do.  I’d hoped that they would have both found homes in their respective markets, but they only thing that I can do is continue to try and submit the stories that are finished, write news stories to start the submission process all over again, and brainstorm new stories.  I just need to keep working and submitting.

Batman/Superman: SuperGirl

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Superman Batman Supergirl Cover, Image Source: DC Fanbase

Last week I finished rereading a graphic novel in the DC Universe.  It was in the Batman/Superman universe and it told (or more accurately) retold the SuperGirl origin story and the first meeting of Kara Zor-El.

I really liked this Graphic Novel a lot–although I think it one me over in large part due to Michael Turner’s artwork (an artist from Crossville, TN who died way too soon & who will be missed).

STORY
I like the way that the story was told and I also liked the dual-inner monologue that allowed the reader to see the story from both Batman’s and Superman’s point of view.  I also liked the actual narrative of the plot and the way that the story unfolded.  Kara’s “capture” and subsequent turn to the dark side seemed a little forced, but considering the time constraints of the story and the compressed nature of the narrative, I was able to look past this minor flaw.  I did think that they made too much of the dislike of Krypto (the Super-Dog) of Kara as it seemed to be going somewhere, but doesn’t actually pay-off.  I think it could have been rectified had their just been a panel or two showing a reconciliation or acceptance of Kara by Krypto at the end.  It wasn’t major, but no resolution of it did bother me a small bit.

ART
Michael Turner was an extremely talented artist.  I have another graphic novel by him that I will also be rereading and responding to later, but I enjoy reading stories that have his artwork.  His style is very bold and expressive and he reminds me of my favorite comic/graphic artists–Todd McFarlane and Jim Lee.  His style was very mature and I’m glad that his work became popular and got a wider exposure before his untimely death.  His style has that element of vivaciousness without devolving into “cartoony” that some artists seem to slip into when they draw.  His two page spreads were among the best in the business as they seemed among the most readable–either visually or when paired with words.

GRADE
A+.  If it isn’t apparent, I really like this story and this graphic novel.  The art and the story come together and produce a very strong narrative that I could (and have) read over and over again.

Star Trek Backwards

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Star Trek Original Series Crew, Image Source: Apopka Voice

I have found that I’ve become enamored with Star Trek series again–it is probably because I can binge watch it now, rather than having to wait a week for episodes to come out.

I’ve finished watching Star Trek Enterprise, Star Trek Discovery, and I just started on Star Trek Deep Space Nine (more on that one on another post).  My plan is to finish DS9, watch Star Trek The Next Generation, and then finally the original Star Trek series.

I’m not sure what I’ll do after that (probably) buy and finish the rest of Babylon 5 as I seem to be in a sci-fi mode right now.  Anyway, I hadn’t posted in a while so I thought I should at least update everyone on what I’m watching.  Hopefully, posts should go back to a (mostly) regular schedule.  Fingers crossed!

Till next time!