2 Fast 2 Read

Book Cover: The Art of Slow Reading by Thomas Newkirk.
Image Source: https://www.slideshare.net/ChristineMSchmitt/the-art-of-slow-reading-presentation

I struggled with today’s blog post because I have so much to do, but I also have so much to talk about considering how many posts I’ve missed over the past few weeks while trying to catch up with school.

Right now, what’s worrying me is my Preliminary Exam on Oct. 25. The reading List for it is massive (over 100 books, plus Award winning journal articles, a list of several important articles in the field, and reading over several issues of major Rhetoric journals in the field, just to name a few. Last time I took the test, I got sick the week before and wasn’t able to put my best foot forward in terms of doing what I needed to do and structuring the essays (3 in a five (5) hour period) well enough to do as well as I wanted.

2 Fast Reader = 2 Little Information

So, how do you combat this? By being a quick reader, or more accurately, by skimming a lot of the material and remembering key points from the text. There are even students who don’t read the entire book, but are able to “B.S.” their way through based on summaries, abstracts, etc. (and here I’m speaking more about class than the Prelims, but it essentially works the same way).

My problem, as I’ve said before, is that when I read slowly, I retain much more of it for a longer time. The more I skim, the quicker I lose what I’m actually able to comprehend. The Preliminary Exam is a necessary step in the PhD process, but considering that I’m teaching, grading, taking a class (which means reading for the class and watching movies for the class), and generally surviving–paying bills, running errands, etc., it makes it incredibly difficult to go through the myriad of works that are asked of me by the exam.

Slow and Steady Wins the Race (or at least They’re Supposed To)

I’m much better when I get to read slowly and deeply. Right now, I’ve finished rereading 5-6 of my favorite novels just by reading a section (or chapter) or two at night. It depends on my mood: how late it is, how tired I am, what I have to do the next day, how early I need to get up, etc., but I usually average anywhere from 2-3 pages (the usual length of a section) to 10 -15 pages (usual length of a chapter). Over time, this really adds up.

I’ve tried to do this over the summer, but it has been difficult because academic reading requires a whole new set of muscles. To read academically, you have to stop and look for key terms and key points, you have read and engage with the text (usually with a highlighter or by underlining) which adds additional time. Then you also have to untangle the turgid writing of many scholars–again, scholars are in love with the language and many scholars seem to subscribe to the idea that being obtuse is the mark of “smart” person. Many arguments are so dense and the writing so turgid, that it takes so much more effort to untangle their meaning than it does for popular work, so slow and steady means double (sometimes triple) the time and even getting up early to read means that it may take two or three days to unravel a 25-30 page journal article, much less a 250-300 page academic work.

All this means that while I’ve read and been attentive to reading, I’ve read far less than I’m comfortable with for the test given that I really need to pass the test.

The Prelims favor one of two people: 1) those who can read fast (skim) and retain it or 2) those who have massive amounts of time and far fewer responsibilities in order maximize their time for reading. Neither of those are me: in the past two weeks, I have researched and done a presentation and spent the time grading (daily work & Project Proposals). Arrgh!

I can only hope that I might be able to do well on the test by having read the “right” things, but I’m still concerned with 3 weeks to go that I’ve spent far too much time on grading and teaching and not enough on reading for the Prelims–which is not a situation that I wanted to find myself in. Again. Snarf!

Well, thanks for listening to my rambling on about school–have a great day!

Sidney


Please consider supporting these fine small press publishers where my work has appeared:




  • The Independent  (Sci-Fi Short-Story)–
    3rd Draft of 3 Drafts 
    Drafting Section 2 (of 3)
    Mythic Mag. Deadline = January 31, 2020
  • I, Mage (Fantasy Short Story)
    Pre-Production Phase (Planning)
    Pre-Writing on Rough Draft & Character Sketch
    Mythic Mag. Deadline = July 31, 2020
  • Current Longer Work-in-Progress: Ship of Shadows Graphic Novel 
    (Sci-Fi) Issue # 2, Currently on Script Page 32
    Personal Deadline = December 30, 2019

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Unlocked: Mini-Movie Review

So its been a while since I’ve written a blog, but I’ve still been progressing on many fronts. A couple of weeks of go I was in the mood for a spy action film. I’d seen this trailer, but I didn’t actually go to see Unlocked. When I saw that it was on streaming, I immediately put it on my list to see. I watched it a couple of weekends ago and thought that it was good. Not horrible and not great, but good.

The Action is What Makes This Movie

So, it is the action and action sequences that really make this movie. I really like the action sequences (reminiscent of the Bodyguard BBC TV show that I didn’t really care for except for the action sequences). There’s a lot of hand-to-hand combat, gunplay, and spycraft that makes up this movie. Even in the action sequences, one can still see the characters and the interplay between the characters and that is also very good.

The Script Really Lets the Movie Down

So, it is the script that really hampers the movie, particularly the plot. Good characters and good action, weighed down by seeming reversals that can be seen a mile away. I don’t want to spoil anything, but the events play out EXACTLY as one expects they will. This is one of those times where film critics (which I have a love/hate relationship with) are right: being derivative really hurt this film. The film makes (or wants to make) a statement about terrorism and peace and warmonger/warprofiteering, but wants to have everything fall into place in such a way as to “hide” the identity of the ultimate bad guy, but (slight spoiler here, so skip two paragraphs if you don’t want ANY spoilers):

. . . if you’ve seen The Fugitive, then you know exactly what’s going to happen. Same essential structure. And that’s just for starters. I can’t recall their names, but I can think of two more movies (oh, just remembered one: Broken Arrow) that do much the same as this one does.

Overall Rating: B

So this is probably overly generous (it should probably be a B-/C+), but I found the lead character played by Noomi Rapace and the male character played by Orlando Bloom to be a strong presence. I also liked many of the other actors (& their characters) in the movie and thought that the set-up to the movie was the strongest I’d seen in a while and with the action it seemed poised to be a good one, but ultimately, the derivative script let it down and I didn’t like the last 2/3rds of the movie nearly as much as I did the first 1/3rd.

Anyway, I hope that everyone’s week is an awesome one!

Sidney


Please consider supporting these fine small press publishers where my work has appeared:




  • The Independent  (Sci-Fi Short-Story)–
    3rd Draft of 3 Drafts 
    Drafting Section 2 (of 3)
    Mythic Mag. Deadline = January 31, 2020
  • I, Mage (Fantasy Short Story)
    Pre-Production Phase (Planning)
    Pre-Writing on Rough Draft & Character Sketch
    Mythic Mag. Deadline = July 31, 2020
  • Current Longer Work-in-Progress: Ship of Shadows Graphic Novel 
    (Sci-Fi) Issue # 2, Currently on Script Page 32
    Personal Deadline = December 30, 2019

Finally Found a New “Starship Show”: Gene Roddenberry’s Andromeda

Cast of the Andromeda TV show posing for the camera.
Image Source: https://andromeda.fandom.com/wiki/Andromeda_(TV_series)

So, even though I did a blog post a couple of weeks ago on Defiance, I’ve abandoned the show for now. The first season was fairly good–I would have rated it a B-/C+ as the “alien artifact” storyline did become more prominent during the later part of the season. B- is probably where I would have settled as it had just enough sci-fi concepts (and great acting!) to overcome what I feel is stereotypical and (to me) uninteresting world building, setting, and too much reliance on Western genre tropes instead of sci-fi tropes. However, what got me was that season 2 introduced new characters and gave the old characters new “problems.” I didn’t really cotton to the new characters, but I felt I could tolerate them–and the problems of the old characters. Of course, to be “edgy” (aka Game of Thrones before Game of Thrones), they had to (for me) take it a step too far by taking one of the hero characters from season 1 and giving her the problem of recreational drug use (their version of cocaine). Yeah, I watched one episode and barely tolerated it, but couldn’t do it with subsequent episodes, so I’ve bailed about halfway into season 2. I may skip the episode and go back one day, but for now, I have a new show: Andromeda.

Captain America in Space

So, this is a bit of an anachronism as Andromeda and its “boy-scout” of a captain came first in terms of appearing on screen with that whole “old fashioned hero out of time” routine. Dylan Hunt was frozen at the Event Horizon for 300 years and when he is rescued, he discovers that his “Commonwealth” has fallen. He discovers the worlds have fallen into disarray, so decides to make it his mission to rebuild the Commonwealth (UN for Planets, but not exactly like Star Trek’s Federation or Star Wars’s Galactic Senate) and restore some semblance of order to the galaxy.

Dylan Hunt is very much in line with the current Marvel Universe incarnation of Captain America. He fights for ideals and is idealistic. He is the hero and pretty much always wins, but the adventures are exciting. This probably will not appeal to most of the millennials who crave “bad people screwing each other over” and who call that “complex,” but if you’re looking for adventure and excitement and traditional space opera (which is my preference), then this one, while a bit hokey at times, still mostly works and is FAR more appealing than Defiance with its pseudo-Western and illicit drug use. And for those who would “nope out,” and claim Andromeda has no complexity, it actually has a character who is dealing with addiction issues, but it actually has the character fall, pay the cost, and then work to rise above and stay above their addiction and is referenced several times over the course of the first two seasons that I’ve watched.

2 – 3 Episodes Per Day

So, I try to download (it is currently available on Amazon Prime) 2 -3 episodes per day. I don’t always get through that many (sometimes I manage all three, but usually it’s 1 or 2). However, I really feel that the show, while not as consistently good as Babylon 5 or the Stargate shows, is still a very strong show and (for me) it is better than the nihilistic shows of Defiance or The Expanse (again, I really like the actors on both of the shows, but I don’t like the “tone” of the shows). With nihilistic shows, it feels like a slog to get through, but I always look forward to most of the episodes that I’ve watched so far.

I’m currently into season 2 and I’m deep into it–I think I only have maybe 4 more episodes before the end of the season. There are 5 total seasons, so I still have a way to go before I finish it.

I have to say that (at the moment) I really like this show and I have to say that the characters have (so far) grown on me. We’ll see if that continues to be the case.

Sidney


Please consider supporting these fine small press publishers where my work has appeared:




  • The Independent  (Sci-Fi Short-Story)–
    3rd Draft of 3 Drafts 
    Drafting Section 2 (of 3)
    Mythic Mag. Deadline = January 31, 2020
  • I, Mage (Fantasy Short Story)
    Pre-Production Phase (Planning)
    Pre-Writing on Rough Draft & Character Sketch
    Mythic Mag. Deadline = July 31, 2020
  • Current Longer Work-in-Progress: Ship of Shadows Graphic Novel 
    (Sci-Fi) Issue # 2, Currently on Script Page 32
    Personal Deadline = December 30, 2019

Biting Off Your Nose to Spite Your Face: #OwnVoices

Hands of many colors
Image Source: https://www.writersdigest.com/whats-new/agents-renew-call-diverse-books-ownvoices-submissions

Many blog readers know that I have a love-hate relationship with social media. Well, really its a mostly love-dislike relationship. I know that social media can sometimes be a positive force–alerting us to injustices, uniting us against unfair situations, or keeping each other informed (especially where family members and friends are far-flung and this is the only easy way of keeping in touch). However, in many of my own personal use cases, the toxicity of social media and the results that play out in real life often discourage me from adopting it with any great zeal.

However, I’m not a Luddite and I recognize that sometimes various memes and platforms can be a touchstone for change, but after an encounter with it in the field of writing, I still find myself ambivalent, even when the social media movement benefits me.

#OwnVoices: Pros

So, on Saturday, I was trying to find a place to send out a story that I revised: Starlight, Starbright. And one of the markets that I came across was one that wanted stories by authors of the same race/group as the main character–and they were looking for authors of traditionally marginalized groups (People of Color, etc).

Now the main character for Starlight, Starbright is an African-American male, and as I am an African American male, it (at first) seemed like a perfect fit. Here was a market that was looking for the stories that I was writing. So, the pro is that I have (at first glance) a ready-made market for my story. So I sent it to them, right?

No, I didn’t . . . and I don’t think I will.

#OwnVoices: Cons

Well, why the heck not? Weren’t whinging on about not being published/not having enough markets to submit to about 2 years ago on this very blog? Well, yes, that’s true, but the more I thought about it, the more something about the #OwnVoices movement doesn’t work for me.

You see, The Independent has an African American female as the main character, so even if they took Starlight, Starbright, then they’d never take The Independent as they would assume that I, as a male, don’t have the qualifications to write the female point of view and I just don’t believe that to be the case.

Setting aside for the moment that I’ve had several stories published with a female lead (Skin Deep, Sister-Knight, and by the nature of the story, Moon shares equal billing with Hawke in HawkeMoon), the main character in The Independent is an African American female based on my grandmother.

As I lived with my grandmother for my entire life until she passed away in 2013, I feel more than qualified as a writer to base the main character on her–in fact, it is more than just qualification at this point, it is an honor–but I digress. The point is, while I was not her, I listened to her stories, to her dreams, both fulfilled and unfulfilled, her aspirations, and her relating history, both how it affected her, as well as her own personal history, and this makes me uniquely qualified to write from a woman’s POV in this case as the main character shares a couple of very important character traits with my grandmother.

Now, to be clear, Ryn, my main character, only shares a couple of traits and is not a recreation of my grandmother in story form, but to assume that I’m not qualified to sell the story to this magazine that adheres to the #OwnVoices paradigm because my gender is wrong, just feels wrong as (to be honest) The Independent fits that magazines’s mission statement even more than Starlight, Starbright does.

Biting Off Your Nose to Spit Your Face

So, this is probably an expression that won’t travel well. I know it from my grandmother and I (assume) that it is a Southern US saying that basically encapsulates the idea of doing something that ultimately hurts you when trying to hurt someone else or a larger group/context/etc. Unfortunately, I think this is what the #OwnVoices movement is doing. They’re trying to be helpful, but ultimately, they are either doing harm, or no good at all. Yes, I’ve read stories where I know (from the author’s picture) that wasn’t an African American male even though the main character was and I remember how inauthentic those characters were (more ciphers than characters), but I’ve also read moving and touching stories by authors of different races and genders that have affected me deeply.

To refuse a writer the opportunity to explore the richness of characterization by limiting that writer’s choice of subjects doesn’t really seem to be in the best interests of the art, even if it opens up avenues for publication for those who might not publish otherwise.

In the end, #OwnVoices just isn’t for me. While I understand the appeal, I feel that since my grandmother can no longer speak for herself, so it is up to me, her grandson, to articulate what she wasn’t given the chance to articulate in her lifetime.

To deny me the opportunity to do that, is to (in my way of thinking) deny the very voices that movement claims it wants to hear.

Sidney


Please consider supporting these fine small press publishers where my work has appeared:




  • The Independent  (Sci-Fi Short-Story)–
    3rd Draft of 3 Drafts 
    Drafting Section 2 (of 3)
    Mythic Mag. Deadline = January 31, 2020
  • I, Mage (Fantasy Short Story)
    Pre-Production Phase (Planning)
    Pre-Writing on Rough Draft & Character Sketch
    Mythic Mag. Deadline = July 31, 2020
  • Current Longer Work-in-Progress: Ship of Shadows Graphic Novel 
    (Sci-Fi) Issue # 2, Currently on Script Page 32
    Personal Deadline = December 30, 2019

The Patient Application of Force

Image Source: http://www.thr3escapes.ca/pages/science_pages/rocks.html

Quickly–so sorry for the infrequent nature of blog posts. School has started and I’ve had an absolute nightmare with the financial aid office (and to be honest, I’m still not completely “safe” yet. More on this morass if and when it all get’s straightened out.

If a Tree Falls . . .

So, a tree did fall. Well, several trees. Well, several tree limbs. They fell into my backyard several years ago (2? 3?). Every summer that I’ve been here at MTSU I’ve tried to take a saw (I don’t own a chainsaw) and cut them down as well as cut down the overgrowth that has occurred on the back fence, and one of the two side fences on my property. And every year, I’ve failed.

Until this year.

What was different about this year? Instead of trying to do 4 or 5 massive Saturday “brush runs” where I’m out there everyday (sometimes in the mornings, sometimes in the afternoons, sometimes in the evenings), but it was always huge amounts of time that seemed to make no difference no matter how much brush I cut down and piled up–and those massive tree limbs, well, they never seemed to get cut either. Sawing manually takes a LONG time and is VERY tiring. Why not a chainsaw? Well, let’s just say that I know a former school mate who lost part of a toe in an accident with a lawnmower, so I prefer manual equipment when possible (no, I don’t own a manual lawnmower, but rather a gas one, but because of that incident, I try to be as careful as possible).

This year, I simply have gone out for an hour or two in the evenings and worked until it was dark and in all that time, I’ve cleared two of the three fallen limbs, and I’ve cleared most of the back fence. In other words, I’ve used what has been successful for me in the past, “Patient Application of Force.” I do a little at a time, but I do it consistently, and over time, that little bit adds up to a lot. I’ve put more time into the project of clearing the brush by putting in less time on a daily basis, but doing it consistently week-over-week.

Implications for My Writing

So, what I’ve learned is that I need to use this for my writing. The standard writing advice is to write everyday. Well, that’s not going to work for me because I have school, I have work, I have papers, I have deadlines, and I have reading and other things that simply must done. However, what I can do is find some time, specifically on the weekends (maybe even the time in the winter that I would have used in the summer to work on yardwork) when I can consistently write. For me, even if it isn’t everyday, the true nature of writing is consistency. As long as I’m consistent in what I do, then I tend to finish things and be successful in all the myriad of things. It is when I stop and start and try to do long sessions where things don’t work like I envision.

Right now, I am working on The Independent. While the draft isn’t likely to be the “final” draft, I feel that it is close. I’m 3000 words in and I feel that I probably have about 1000 to 1500 to go. I worked on it last weekend for the first time in almost 2 months and I’m hoping to work on it this weekend as well. I have the Graphic Novel to work on after that. Then I have another short story that I’m planning on rewriting as well.

Basically, what I’m coming to learn about myself (in general) and my writing (in particular) is that I simply need to be consistent in all that I do–otherwise, it doesn’t work. So that’s what I’m working on now–learning how to be consistent in all that I do. The blog returning after a nearly 3 week hiatus is one manifestation of this concept.

Sidney


Please consider supporting these fine small press publishers where my work has appeared:




  • The Independent  (Sci-Fi Short-Story)–
    3rd Draft of 3 Drafts 
    Drafting Section 1 (of 3)
    Mythic Mag. Deadline = January 31, 2020
  • I, Mage (Fantasy Short Story)
    Pre-Production Phase (Planning)
    Pre-Writing on Rough Draft & Character Sketch
    Mythic Mag. Deadline = July 31, 2020
  • Current Longer Work-in-Progress: Ship of Shadows Graphic Novel 
    (Sci-Fi) Issue # 2, Currently on Script Page 32
    Personal Deadline = December 30, 2019

Hawke and Moon: The Characters of HawkeMoon

Image Source: https://findtattoodesign.net/designs/884-hawk-and-celtic-moon

In celebration of HawkeMoon’s publication and “cover story” status in Storyhack, Issue 4, I’m delving deeply into the story, its characters, my process, and generally doing blowout coverage through the entire week. If you want to read the original Author’s Note for HawkeMoon written when I had just finished writing the story, here is the original blog post.

Storyhack, Issue 4 (Print): https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1686240082

ebook version: https://books2read.com/storyhack4

Hawke

So, in the issue, Hawke isn’t actually depicted anywhere that I could see–which is okay–but he is very much the protagonist of the story (at least, in my mind). He is the first viewpoint character and it is his motivation to find the King’s killer that drives the story along initially. Hawke is a strange character as he is the fantasy equivalent of an “African American” in a predominately “European” fantasy world. While I don’t delve into Hawke’s backstory at all in the story, he is described as having dark skin. I would imagine in this world that there is a southern region that functions much like Africa/The Middle East (hot, arid, and the sun beats down on the land increasing the melanin of the inhabitants). The two lands probably rarely interact so I’m not quite sure how Hawke would have come into “The Lands” (the European part of the world). I doubt it would have been slavery or any real world amalgam as that concept is foreign to this world, but he was “cast out” by his tribe, so perhaps he was taken in and expected to work for his meals? Not really sure at this moment to be honest. I do know that he is doggedly determined and highly moral and this has allowed him to rise through the ranks to become Captain of the King’s Guard, which is where we find him at the beginning of the story.

Moon

Moon is the character that has really caught the attention of the editor and the artists, I think. Having read The Assassin’s Apprentice by Robin Hobb and playing (& finishing) pretty much every Assassin’s Creed game from the beginning of the franchise (except for the smaller 2D offshoots), I knew assassins as an organized group were still pretty popular, but I almost made her a thief instead of an assassin due to the moral implications of killing for money. What I finally decided was the Moon needed to be an assassin as only an assassin would risk an attempt on the King’s life (especially with a feared Captain of the Guard like Hawke protecting him), so I gave her a moral code. She only accepted contracts for those she felt embodied “evil.” While I don’t explicitly get into this in the story, you do get an implication that she doesn’t kill indiscriminately. She is more of a surgical tool and works to make The Lands better through judicious use of her skill set. However, making her an assassin came with an added benefit: she became more than a match for Hawke. Moon doesn’t play “second fiddle” to anyone and her skills put Hawke to the test–again, great for tension and challenging the protagonist. Moon would be considered a “European” (i.e., white) in this world, which is where the artists take her. I personally envisioned her as extremely pale (as in “no sun”), but the artists have made her much less pale and more normalized. Again, this is fine–I’m just noting some of the differences between the way I envisioned her and how others envisioned her. Her crescent blades are also different, but I knew they would be–that mental image was very hard to describe in words. I’m no artist by any means, but I had to draw out what I was envisioning–to my knowledge, there is no real world weapon that is analogous to the crescent blades that Moon wields.

Setting

This story takes place in The Lands. In my mind it is a loose confederation of nations ruled by a King. The level of technology is about mid 1500s to early 1600s society–with burghers and the like from Amsterdam and that area. Again, none of this is explicit in the story, but I wanted to give readers of the blog a peek into what I was thinking when I wrote the story. The Lands have older medieval civilizations, but are much more modern and moving towards more enlightened society. I don’t think there will ever be a full-on renaissance in this world, but I could be wrong.

As mentioned earlier, The Lands represent a “European”-like society, but there is also a Southern area that has people of darker colors. This society and The Lands trade with one another and do not have any animosities towards one another. I haven’t really nailed this part down, though. This would be the first thing that I would work on if I choose to expand this out into a longer work (graphic novel/novel/screenplay).

Well, that’s all that I have for now! I hope you enjoyed this deeper look at the characters and setting of HawkeMoon.

Storyhack, Issue 4 (Print): https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1686240082

ebook version: https://books2read.com/storyhack4

Sidney


Please consider supporting these fine small press publishers where my work has appeared:




  • The Independent  (Sci-Fi Short-Story)–
    3rd Draft of 3 Drafts 
    Drafting Section 1 (of 3)
    Mythic Mag. Deadline = January 31, 2020
  • I, Mage (Fantasy Short Story)
    Pre-Production Phase (Planning)
    Pre-Writing on Rough Draft & Character Sketch
    Mythic Mag. Deadline = July 31, 2020
  • Current Longer Work-in-Progress: Ship of Shadows Graphic Novel 
    (Sci-Fi) Issue # 2, Currently on Script Page 32
    Personal Deadline = December 30, 2019

HawkeMoon is the “Cover Story” for Storyhack and is Available Now!

Storyhack, Issue 4.  HawkeMoon by Sidney Blaylock, Jr. in stylized font.  A picture of a scarecrow like monster in a hooded cowl menacing an Assassin (Moon) who is holding her trademark scythe-like blade with a dead brown tree in the background.
Image Source: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1686240082

Wow! Just Wow! I honestly cannot believe it. If you’ve been a long-time reader of the blog, or even if you’ve just joined, you’ll know that I’m a “semi-pro” writer. I write (and hopefully, receive payment & get published), but I’ve not yet written any long works, such as novels, so I don’t yet consider myself a true “pro.” The blog was my way of both promoting my work and talking about things I like (in the interim when I had nothing currently in print), but I am also using it as a motivation/springboard to “level up,” so to speak, to get comfortable writing longer, more intricate works. While I’ve been published before (and every time is an awesome feeling!), this time my story is the cover story for Storyhack, Issue 4! This is the 1st time that I’ve ever had a “cover story!”

Storyhack, Issue 4 (Print): https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1686240082

ebook version: https://books2read.com/storyhack4

Cover Story

What I can’t believe is that the editor chose my story as the cover/featured story! I knew it was first (based on the galleys), but I never once considered that it would be the cover story! Wow! I almost can’t express myself. I never expected that one of my stories would be chosen as a cover story/featured story. Not only is the cover sweet and presents a really cool and dynamic imagining of Moon, but the story also includes a interior image of Moon as well.

And it isn’t just my own work that’s cool! The whole issue looks really nice and the artwork for the other stores looks awesome. I can’t wait to read the other stories by the other authors who were selected based on the intriguing and awesome artwork included. I can say that this is truly a quality magazine and I am so happy that the editor, Bryce Beattie, selected my work for his magazine.

A Week of HawkeMoon

I hope I don’t wear out my welcome, but I’m so giddy at being selected as the cover story that I thought I’d do a week’s worth of coverage on the story. Specifically, I want to talk about the inspiration for the story, the characters, where I see it going in the future (any sequels, etc.). I’ve pushed back a couple of blog entries that I’ve already done to next week, so (fingers crossed), you might actually get two whole weeks of blog content from me this time, even though school is starting soon. I’ve actually already done an “Author’s Note” blog on HawkeMoon when I finished the initial story, but I intend to go more in-depth about the creation process and the finished product, now that it is available.

Please, please, pleasseee, consider purchasing either the print or the eBook edition–not for me, but to show support to the publisher. This is how we reward quality work and make it possible for people like me to continue to have opportunities to publish. Large corporate publishers are only interested in authors like Stephen King or J. K. Rowling who can reliably deliver large returns of investment, and so they’ll never even look at me, or someone like me, no matter how good our work is because we can’t give them huge audiences. However, if we support small presses like Storyhack, then we give opportunities to good and talented writers to find their voices and get publishing experience to perhaps become the “next” big-name writers–and I’m not talking about just me, but for all those like me who are suffering rejection after rejection for the one Acceptance/Publication that makes their dreams of being a published writer a reality.

Please feel free to reblog this post as/where necessary! Have a great week!

Storyhack, Issue 4 (Print): https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1686240082

ebook version: https://books2read.com/storyhack4

Sidney


Please consider supporting these fine small press publishers where my work has appeared:




  • The Independent  (Sci-Fi Short-Story)–
    3rd Draft of 3 Drafts 
    Drafting Section 1 (of 3)
    Mythic Mag. Deadline = January 31, 2020
  • I, Mage (Fantasy Short Story)
    Pre-Production Phase (Planning)
    Pre-Writing on Rough Draft & Character Sketch
    Mythic Mag. Deadline = July 31, 2020
  • Current Longer Work-in-Progress: Ship of Shadows Graphic Novel 
    (Sci-Fi) Issue # 2, Currently on Script Page 32
    Personal Deadline = September 30, 2019

ReRead: Myth Adventures One Graphic Novel

Image Source: https://www.amazon.com/Myth-Adventures-One-Robert-Asprin/dp/0898654149

So, today through Friday, I will be in orientation for the upcoming Fall semester (all of the Graduate Teaching Assistants are required to do Orientation every year). It generally lasts all morning and all afternoon with a break for lunch, so I thought I’d just catch on Mini-Reviews and Re-Reads to have a little fun with the blog for the rest of the week. These entries will be shorter and a lot more “fun” since I’ll be tied up pretty much all morning and afternoon for the next few days.

Funny Fantasy

Myth by Robert Asprin is a late 70s/early 80s phenomenon where writers took the uber-popular fantasy tropes of “First Wave” Fantasy Writers (such as Tolkien, Lewis, and the like) and “Second Wave” Fantasy Writers (such as Terry Brooks, David Eddings, and the like) and parodied and/or satirized the tropes in the Fantasy field up to that point. While the Myth series was fairly popular in this sub-genre for a while as was Pierce Anthony’s fantasy series based on puns, Xanth, it was really Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series that grabbed the lion’s share of attention for the “funny fantasy” genre which has only seemed to abate in the past few years to the best of my knowledge–for a time Discworld was as popular as was “Epic” (Doorstopper) Fantasy.

Myth Adventures One

In addition to prose books, the “funny fantasy” genre also branched out into the realm of graphic novels and comic books. Myth Adventures One is an early graphic novel (1985) that collected issues 1-4 of the Myth Adventures comic. I found this graphic novel in a Friends of the Library Booksale several years ago, and I really liked the story, even though “funny fantasy” isn’t a sub-genre that I read regularly–although I do enjoy the Discworld novels that I own. I’d only read a couple Robert Asprin titles before getting this one (a Thieves’ World anthology that he co-edited with Lynn Abbey), but I do like Asprin’s writing. It’s very much in the vein of Shrek (way before their was a Shrek), but still, it is that very broad humor that would appeal to kids–very into visual gags.

Do You Like Cartoony Art?

If you do, then you’ll love Phil Foglio’s artwork. Me, well, there’s some things that I love about the artwork and something’s that I dislike. I love the exaggerated facial expressions–many times the comedy is sold by the expression on the face alone. However, a lot of times, the body/figure is also exaggerated, and this often results in the character looking out of proportion or (more commonly) posed in anatomically impossible positions that draw me out of the story. Even in the cover, it looks like the main character is a giant, but the cover image is meant to convey that the main character is flying, but the sense of perspective is off, so much of your enjoyment of the story is going to come from how much you like (or can tolerate) Foglio’s art.

Overall Grade: B (85 out of 100)

There’s nothing really wrong with the story (it’s a bit complicated to follow which is why I didn’t provide a plot synopsis, but ultimately follows the trials and tribulations of a magician and his apprentice). The art, again, depends on how much you like Foglio’s cartoony artwork (think Loony Toons level of abstraction). I liked it better on the first read rather than this reread, so the humor is something may only work when it’s fresh, but I still enjoyed it.

Have a great day everyone!

Sidney


Please consider supporting these fine small press publishers where my work has appeared:




  • The Independent  (Sci-Fi Short-Story)–
    3rd Draft of 3 Drafts 
    Drafting Section 1 (of 3)
    Mythic Mag. Deadline = January 31, 2020
  • I, Mage (Fantasy Short Story)
    Pre-Production Phase (Planning)
    Pre-Writing on Rough Draft & Character Sketch
    Mythic Mag. Deadline = July 31, 2020
  • Current Longer Work-in-Progress: Ship of Shadows Graphic Novel 
    (Sci-Fi) Issue # 2, Currently on Script Page 32
    Personal Deadline = September 30, 2019
  • HawkeMoon (upcoming) = Edits turned in to editor 5/31/19

1% Inspiration, 99% Perspiration

Image Source: https://meshgh.com/2015/10/18/weekly-quote-genius-is-1-percent-inspiration-99-percent-perspiration-thomas-edison/

Before I start today’s blog, I just wanted to say thank you to the many readers who read and responded (and “Liked”) yesterday’s blog entry. It was really gratifying to see that others responded to what I was trying to express. Thanks again, everyone!

Today, I just want to take a moment to talk about what makes writing (this blog & creative writing) so much fun for me. And it comes down to a simple quote that was attributed to Thomas Edison, an American inventor who, famously, invented the light bulb. I basically follow this particular formula for every major project that I work on.

1% Inspiration

This is my favorite part of the writing process. For me, getting that initial idea is one of the best feelings that I can experience. When I’m figuring out plot, characters, themes, emotions, and the story world is both invigorating and fun all at the same time. I love coming up with ideas in my writing and I love seeing how wild and outlandish I push the concepts that I write. For example, in 20s I used want to be a Role-Playing Game designer. Every summer, I would sit outside in the scorching 90+ degree (Fahrenheit) heat and just work on a section of the RPG that I’d come up with that year (I also did the same with short stories–this is how The Ghost and the Shadow was written). Obviously, I never did anything with these RPGs, but that wasn’t the point–I was more than happy to just work on the “cool” concepts that I’d come up with for the games. Even now, I have folder after folder of concepts that I want to create stories, novels, comics, movies, etc. from because I absolutely enjoy sitting down and coming up with the ideas and the world and all the things that make the story world so exciting. This feeling lasts (for me) all through the concept phase, the creation phase, and even into the “rough draft” phase–where I put a simple version down on paper. This even applies to blog entries–I currently have 14 “drafts” in my drafts folder in various stages of completion (more than enough to have put together enough to have put out during the previous two weeks) So, what happened, where does the writing process go “wrong” for me? That (of course) is the next phase.

99% Perspiration

Okay, once I get to this stage, the enjoyment of the project wears off quite a bit. I guess, for me, its because at this stage that I realize that the project is never going to reach the actual “potential” that I have in my mind for it. No, that’s not true. Reflecting back, I think that it is more that now I have to continually “shape” the work in order to get it to match the potential that I think it had when I created it and I that “refinement” process isn’t nearly as easy and as “fun” as it was during the inspiration phase. In the inspiration phase, ideas seem to flow, like water from a fountain, and my pen/pencil, or my computer can barely move fast enough to get the ideas out. However, once we move to the perspiration phase, then its really like work, trying to “dig” ideas out and get them to work correctly. For the most part, I push though this phase, but it is hard. This one isn’t nearly as fun nor as enervating as the inspiration phase. For example, Dragonhawk was based on a book cover that I’d had since childhood and I had the idea for ages. However, I did a lot of work for that story: I wrote multiple outlines for it, I “built” it from the ground up (sentences to paragraphs to sections, meaning that the outlines went from bare sentences, to more elaborate paragraphs, to still more elaborate sections), I wrote character sketches for the two main protagonists, I revised it heavily to get its word count down, I stuck with it even when there were sections that didn’t seem to be working well and fixed those before sending it out, etc. (all which speaks to the quality discussion of yesterday’s blog). I remain convinced that it is the only story that I’ve ever had accepted on the 1st try because of the work that I put into making it into the story that I’d envisioned in the inspiration phase (and tangentially because I actually took the time to write out my characters and created a character sketch for them). This happens in my blogs as well–I don’t just treat these like “tweets” and quickly throw them up on the site just to get them done, but craft them like mini-essays. While necessary in order to get anything done and not be a “dreamer” like I was in the days of my (many) failed RPGs, this phase is simply work and isn’t as much fun as the other phase.

1% Catharsis

So, yes I know, this now adds up to 101%, but (for me) this is also a necessary step that Edison didn’t articulate, but probably should have. This is the phase when the project is complete and has been published (or turned in or posted). The sense of catharsis that I feel is akin to the euphoria that I feel when I originally began the project. The release of tension and the successful completion of the project is something that a writer is always trying to capture. I can only say that it is probably akin to the “runner’s high” that marathon runners experience as well. I felt this after my first publication of The Ghost and the Shadow and I’ve always trying to recreate this experience. I will say that it never quite reaches the level of when I first start a project–I suppose because of the tedium that I go through to actually get the project written in the first place, but still, this final phase is an important part of why I chose to write in the first place. The euphoria of beginning a project and the euphoria of finishing a project help to give me a buffer to get through all of the hard times actually working on the project. Without the inspiration and catharsis phases, I doubt I enjoy writing nearly as much as I do.

My goal now is to take what I’ve learned over these past two years and to apply them to longer and longer works so as to move into the realms of novels and books and become the writer that I always dreamed I might become. Crossing my fingers that it happens, but I’m also putting in the 99% perspiration to try to actually make it happen as well.

Hope you have a great day!

Sidney


Please consider supporting these fine small press publishers where my work has appeared:




  • The Independent  (Sci-Fi Short-Story)–
    3rd Draft of 3 Drafts 
    Drafting Section 1 (of 3)
    Mythic Mag. Deadline = January 31, 2020
  • I, Mage (Fantasy Short Story)
    Pre-Production Phase (Planning)
    Pre-Writing on Rough Draft & Character Sketch
    Mythic Mag. Deadline = July 31, 2020
  • Current Longer Work-in-Progress: Ship of Shadows Graphic Novel 
    (Sci-Fi) Issue # 2, Currently on Script Page 32
    Personal Deadline = September 30, 2019
  • HawkeMoon (upcoming) = Edits turned in to editor 5/31/19

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