Potpourri ( . . . a little bit of everything)

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So this blog post contains a little bit everything (hence the title).  I will try to keep this post shorter than normal; it (hopefully) will be just an update post.

WRITING

I was really happy with the way “Here Be Monsters” (HBM) turned out.  I haven’t heard a response from the 1st market that I sent it to yet, but having the setting allowed me to focus on the characters in a way that I haven’t been able to since “Dragonhawk” (DH).  I actually like HBM a quite a bit more than DH although they have a lot in common.

READING

Finished “Conquistadors” (finally) after struggling to read it all summer and fall.  I shouldn’t complain because it gave be the initial idea and setting for HBM.  I loved learning about the Conquistadors and the Aztecs, Maya, and Inca.  It’s just that I’m so stressed from teaching that it is hard to pay attention to an in-depth non-fiction work. For the past couple of years, I usually read Fantasy (David Eddings, Brandon Sanderson, and Diane Duane) or Science Fiction (David Weber, Elizabeth Moon) in order to “de-stress.”

Picked a new “history” book from the back of the Conquistadors.  It is the Condottieri. Hopefully, lightning will strike twice and I’ll be able to find an awesome story from this time period.  I just ordered a used copy from Amazon.com today.

REVISION

I plan on revising Rocketman for my next project.  It will follow the same 3 act structure (beginning, middle, end) as HBM, but I think I need a short half a page prologue/epilogue to completely get it where I want it.  I think I’ve settled on an epigraph to highlight the theme.  More on this later.

SCHOOL

I really want to see if I can raise my game and go back to school.  I’d like to perhaps teach in Higher Education and for that I’ll need a PhD.  I’m going to apply to PhD programs this year in hopes that I will be accepted.  Much of my “free” time will be spent studying for the GRE and preparing applications for various schools, so my writing output will be reduced temporarily as I try to accomplish this goal.

NEW STORY

The creative process will not wait, however.  I’ve begun to write down ideas for my next story.  I don’t have a title yet (although I have a tentative grasp of some of the characters and some of the plot.)  All I can say at this point is the inspiration that inspired me to start planning out the story.  One was a dream that I had last night with a gunslinger.  The other was a phrase that I wrote down about a month ago while still working on HBM: “Jedi Gunslingers.”  More on this later!

That’s all I have at the moment!

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Author’s Note: Here Be Monsters

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I finished a new short story!  It is entitled “Here Be Monsters.”  I tried several new things with this story, so I wanted to do an in-depth Author’s Note about the story to detail some of the things that I tried.

AUTHOR’S NOTE – HERE BE MONSTERS

Title

“Here Be Monsters” is the title of the story that I said that I was working on under the name “Project Monster.”  I’ve always had HBM in mind as the title of the story, but I used Project Monster as a code-name in case I decided to call it something else during the creation of the story (I rarely change titles once I decide on one, but it has happened.)  My concern that the title, when paired with the epigraph, may make the story’s theme too on the nose, but I like the way it works with the theme, so I’d rather not change it if I can avoid it.

Theme

This is the first story that I’ve called out what I think the theme is based on an epigraph (quotation of a famous person at the beginning of the story).  I’ve only used an epigraph once before–an article that I wrote on rough drafting–but I like the fact that Brandon Sanderson uses made-up epigraphs in his Stormlight Archive books.  Every story that I can find a suitable epigraph for it will probably have a epigraph from now on out.  I will definitely create a theme for every new story in the Rough Draft phase–I really like the way I create when I know the theme ahead of time.

Length

So, this story isn’t the shortest that I’ve done, but it is the shortest that I’ve done recently.  This story clocks in at approximately 4,100 words.  HawkeMoon was 5,600 words by comparison.  Considering that quite a few markets have a 5,000 word cap, this story would be able to be submitted, while HawkeMoon wouldn’t.  It has a beginning, middle, and end, and that is the way I created it.  I didn’t try to do a 5 scene structure and I think the story works better for it.

Time to Create

So, this took as long to create as other stories–but that was because I was sick for most of the month.  I finished the 1st scene right after Labor Day and then didn’t come back to it for nearly 3 weeks.  I finished it in the last week of Sept., and 1st week of Oct.  I think that I would have finished it in about 2-3 weeks.

Research

Conquistadores

So I’ve mentioned it before, but this book is one that I’ve been reading that directly influenced this story.  I minored in History, but I don’t think that I’ve really used my history degree.  I have quite a few books on history, but this is the shortest one that I own, so I thought I’d try to give it a read to cut down on the stress of teaching.  I really liked the book and the series and I’m looking to buy more on Amazon.  I have a book on Florentine history (much longer) and a book on Scandinavian history, so I can definitely try to mine those for ideas, but this was a revelation.  Instead of trying to create everything from scratch and ending up with a generic pseudo-european mishmash fantasy, I was able to give specific names to armor and weapons, the setting was influenced by real life and I was able to really get into the characters and their emotions.

Characters

So, I limited myself to 3 characters–the protagonist and his 2 companions.  I tried to keep the enemies fantastical, but keep the characters grounded in reality.  As I mentioned above, I wanted to really go deep into my characters and emotions.  I think these characters are as complex as the ones I wrote for Dragonhawk.  The characters have an arc and they seem to react appropriately based on their natures.  What I didn’t want to do was be disrespectful.  The culture is not my own, so I wanted to portray the conflict in an “everyman” kind of way, so as not to be disrespectful to another culture.

UP NEXT

I liked writing this way so much that I plan to revise a story (Rocket-Man) and put it in this 3 scene structure and give it a theme (already looking for an appropriate epigraph).   Once finished, I’ll start submitting it again.  Then I’ll start on a new project (probably a Weird West project that has been percolating since I started Here Be Monsters).