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

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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

Afrofuturism Canon

Women in futuristic African Attire in the middle with characters from the movie Black Panther on the right and left of the women.  There is a blue background behind the characters with transparent futuristic faces in the background.
Image Source: https://revolt.tv/stories/2018/02/27/octavia-butler-black-panther-afrofuturism-tomorrow-0700aed4c1

I’ve noted before that this summer I’m doing a lot of reading for both Rhetoric & Composition theory as well as Afrofuturism (I’m also reading the new textbook for my English 1010 class coming up for Fall 2019 to try to lay out how I’m going to teach it). I’m noticing quite a few things. One of the things that I want to talk about today is the fact that because Afrofuturism is just now going “mainstream” due to the success of Black Panther, its “canon” (the works that define it) are still being written/formulated/expressed. There’s still a quite a bit of debate as to what exactly constitutes an Afrofuturistic text (heck, my spellcheck even now is underlining Afrofuturism in red, highlighting that the term is still one that is not widely disseminated).

What is (currently) considered Afrofuturism?

So, the one of the most current definitions of Afrofuturism that I’ve seen is that Afrofuturism is a future (futuristic future or future that has futuristic elements) that deals in some way with the African diaspora. That is, the contintent of Africa in some way or the forced migration of African citizens to other continents (mainly for slave labor) and the effects (future) that has had on the culture. While I personally feel that this definition is too narrow (for reasons I’ll explain shortly), this means that the “canon” is generally forming around authors and filmic representations of this idea. So far the major authors are Delany, Butler, Hopkinson, and Okorafor (a fairly recent addition). I’ve attempted and abandoned Hopkinson’s seminal work Brown Girl in the Ring, but at some point before my dissertation, I know that I’ll have to hold my nose and read a representative work by each of these authors. Again, while I have no particular animus towards these authors in particular, I don’t really like their brand of sci-fi, which in the days before the Afrofuturism term began to be used in the 1990s, there work would have been label Social Sci-Fi and this is a sub-genre that doesn’t really interest me as much. The filmic representation for Afrofuturism is even bleaker. Basically, the only “mainstream” examples are Black Panther (seminal, in my opinion) and maybe Space is the Place (formative). If you google Afrofuturism films, you will find others listed, but again, none of them could be considered mainstream.

What is (currently) Excluded from Afrofuturism

Quite a lot, actually–too much in my opinion. A specific example from one the articles that I’ve read is Hancock because it doesn’t explicitly deal with the African Diaspora. If that’s the case, then it stands to reason that other predominately African American/African Descent movies in the Sci-Fi genre would also be excluded, even if there is a valid for including them. I, Robot would be out (even though it talks about robots as an underclass/servant class like People of Color used to be), most of Will Smith’s other work, pretty much any of the Denzel Washington Sci-Fi movies, the (poorly reviewed) adaptation of the Dark Tower which “race-bends” the main character and most certainly should be discussed–in terms of controversy to Idris Elba’s casting and what that means for those of African Descent in Fantasy/Sci-Fi, and even the recent Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse, which I would argue is probably the most important Afrofuturistic film to be released since Black Panther because it argues for “self determination” and not letting your past define your future–yet, it doesn’t do so from an African Diaspora context, so it will probably be excluded–and I don’t think that right. In the book space, both Steven Barnes and Tananarive Due are working in the Sci-Fi genre, but while I’ve seen them on the list for one forumulation for the canon, they are often left off of others for the “Big Four” listed above.

Why We Need ALL Our Authors of Color

So, this one is running longer than I intended, so I’ll end by saying: we NEED ALL our African American/Descent authors who are working in the Sci-Fi/Fantasy space for Afrofuturism. Too often, Sci-Fi and Fantasy have been genres that have been the province of writers outside the African American/Descent culture and as such, our voices have been marginalized and hindered through lack of representation. Without voices inside the field, we risk letting others define who we are and more importantly, without different ideas flowing throughout the “canon,” we risk others labeling our contributions as “one-note” and lacking the diversity we find in ourselves and wish to bring to the greater writing community at large. “Canon” formation is a good thing, but limiting a canon too much can create a homogeneity that can rob us of our voices just as surely as no recognition at all.

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 = July 31, 2019
  • I, Mage (Fantasy Short Story)
    Pre-Production Phase (Planning)
    Pre-Writing on Rough Draft & Character Sketch
    Mythic Mag. Deadline = January 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

Book Haul for June 2019

Several Fantasy novels displayed on a table with the spines and titles facing the viewer.
Image Source: https://www.nosegraze.com/january-2018-book-haul-wrap-up/

It is about halfway through the month and I realized that I hadn’t yet talked about the books that I bought for this month. I bought two books from McKay’s Used Book Store, a local used book store in the TN area (they may have stores elsewhere, but I don’t think so). I really prefer our local Friends of the Library book sale (the proceeds go back to help fund library events). I think I remarked on this previously, but as a child, I used to get an allowance and it allowed me to get approximately 2 books per month (paperback novels were about 3.95 on average, rising to 4.95, then to 5.95 at the end of my childhood).

Movies, Edited by Gilbert Adair

Film strip on a purple background framed by a gray border on the left and right sides.
Image Source: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/524993.Movies?ac=1&from_search=true

Movies, Gilbert Adair (Ed.), (ISBN 0141180846)

This is an edited collection of essays dealing with movies. I bought it because I really wanted to get more invested in my “specialization” field of film. While I’ll probably never be a “true” cinephile, I do love movies and (before I started the PhD program), I tried very hard to watch a film every week–either through Netflix or through Blu-Rays. The essays in the book run the gamut from theory, the pioneering aspects of movies, to the movie-going experience and even creating. It is a fairly large book (447 pages), but the essays (a least the ones that I’ve read so far) are fairly short (3-5 pages). I’d love to say that I’m going to finish the book this month, but chances are good that its going to take me at least two months to truly finish it. So, far I’m reading the theorizing section, but what I’ve read so far is fairly interesting.

It was the back cover blurb that caught my eye: “At the turn of the millennium cinema permeates all of our lives. From the Lumiere brothers’ first public film screening at the end of the nineteenth century to the technical wizardry at the end of the twentieth, it has both recorded and created our history. Its images and icons are part of our collective consciousness. We are all film buffs now.” In so many ways, this is true. While my lexicon is made up of the Force from Star Wars, today’s generation’s “Force” is J. K. Rowlings’s Harry Potter films. Those are the touchstone films that the newest generation understand and can reference–there “force” is the “Dementors” as I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard of something “wraith-like” being described as looking like a “Dementor.” Films, do indeed, permeate our culture and are worthy to be studied.

Digital Fantasy Painting by Micheal Burns

A woman with a halter top and gun speaking into a communicator of some kind with two space ships at the top and bottom of the image and there is a warrior holding up a shining sword in the bottom left hand corner.
Image Source: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/21093633-digital-fantasy-painting?ac=1&from_search=true

Collins Digital Fantasy Painting by Michael Burns (ISBN 0007160038)

This is a book that I picked up on a bit of a lark. There was another book that I wanted, but that book was far more expensive than I wanted to pay at the moment, so I got this one instead. Now, anyone who knows me realizes that art (outside of words) is not one of my strengths. I see the images in my mind, but (as we know from my writing), I often get frustrated when I can’t duplicate the images exactly on to paper. Now magnify that frustration by a factor of 10 when I try to do art. What I see so clearly in my mind, doesn’t even come close to being replicated by my fingers and it’s so infuriating that I can’t reproduce it. I did do a stint in the 11th and 12th grades where I tried to work on my artistic abilities, but the progress was so slow that I realized that, not only would it take years to progress to any decent sort of ability, but also that it would probably take away time from writing and becoming a better writer, so I slowly let the idea of art fade.

So why did I pick up this book? Well, it at least gives me insight into the processes and ideas and techniques that real artists use to create their works, especially in the “new” digital arena. Add to the fact that these are fantasy works and it was almost a no-brainer. The factor that cinched it for me, however, was the fact that there was a section on creating “maps” for fantasy worlds. As a fan of maps and a hopeful novelist one day, I feel that creating maps is something that I can do artistically. Some of my earliest “works of art” were hand-drawn maps of various countries for school “reports” about those countries. Having a book that gives me concrete techniques for doing something that I used to do as a child pretty much sealed the deal. I’ve started the book, but haven’t gotten that far. The book is short, however, and at 160 pages (many with illustrations), this is one that I do feel that I can finish sometime this month.

My goal is to get 1-2 books each month (like I did as a child). Since I probably will only finish one of these two books this month, next month might be a chance to get that more expensive book that I saw (if it is still there) so as not to get more books than I can read (I have too many unread books now, so I don’t need any more). Still, hopefully next month I can update you on 1-2 more books that I’ve added to my collection! Have a great weekend!

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 = July 31, 2019
  • I, Mage (Fantasy Short Story)
    Pre-Production Phase (Planning)
    Pre-Writing on Rough Draft & Character Sketch
    Mythic Mag. Deadline = January 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

Afrofuturism in Film

Afrofuturism movies: Unknown Movie, Black Panther, Get Out, and design for Afrofuturism.
Image Source: http://www.btglifestyle.com/blog/2018/03/12/afrofuturism-film/

I have a confession to make: I really like Afrofuturism in Films. That’s not much of an admission to you might say? Well, how’s this for one: I don’t really care for it in book form. I can tolerate it in its musical form, but the books have never really moved me in the way they seem to move others.

Why Not Books?

I think the reason is that the books tend to limit themselves far too much. Wait, let me qualify myself before I get myself into trouble. I may have mentioned that my uncle was a seminal presence in my literary life. He took me with him to the public library every month to check out books. Every month. While I had other interests besides fiction in terms of books that I checked out, fiction (specifically, science fiction and fantasy) were the primary genres that I engaged with as a reader (both in children’s books and in general fiction when I grew too old for children’s books). While my library didn’t buy “popular” materials at the time (or at least, not a lot of them), quite a few did end up in the collection as they received starred reviews in Library Journal or Booklist (which were the primary way books were ordered for the library back then). Now, I didn’t know this at the time and only found out that this was how books were decided on based on working there are seeing the process firsthand. However, surprisingly enough, two of the major writers that Afrofuturism has been formed around, Octavia Butler and Samuel Delany, reviewed well and we had a fairly large (5+ books) collection of their work at any one time (usually closer to 6-7 books on the shelf at any one time). I would, from time to time, pick up a book from these two authors, but put it down again after reading the blubs on the back and the inside covers as they were always dealing with some social issue. I wanted galactic empires, world universe conquerors (like Thanos), spaceships, and heroism. While good in their own way, Afrofuturism stories were nothing like what I wanted to read.

Afrofuturism in Film

Not so for film. Even excluding Black Panther for the moment, the films of Will Smith in the 90s and early 2000s alone accounted for what I was missing from the books. Independence Day, I, Robot, I Am Legend, Men in Black, and heck, even Hancock, all are films that really show a diversity in subject and a grandness in scope that I felt was missing from the books by celebrated African American authors–and to be honest, in some ways, I still feel that they’re missing even today.

Based on my reading from Ytasha Womack’s Afrofuturism: The World of Black Sci-Fi Film and Culture I think I figured out the reason: the films use Afrofuturism tropes as a secondary consideration and not part of the main plot, while the books make it part of the main plot and interweave everything (plot, character, setting, all of it) as part of the narrative. For me, that falls more under the category of Social Sci-Fi (a legitimate sub-category of Sci-Fi) that is rarely used these days. Social sci-fi deals with the underlying structures of society and how future societies deal with their societal problems. While you might think this is rife for exploration for science fiction, these types of narratives tend to feature very little in the way of plot and external factors. Much like the absolute worse things about Game of Thrones they focus more on inter-character/societal dynamics and interactions than they do with actual plot or motivating (external factors). For me, as a reader, I find these the types of narrative the most annoying and the most aggravating to get through.

Now one might argue that this is the purest expression of Afrofuturism, but I would argue that it is the opposite. Black Panther featured an external conflict (Killmonger), but in an Afrofuturistic context–does Wakanda hide its wealth and abilities from the world or does it have a greater responsibility? That question is not at the forefront of the movie, but it is answered by the characterization of the hero (T’Challa/Black Panther) and his plot of overcoming his challenge/driving question (can a “good man” be King). The Afrofuturistic elements emerge through the telling of a great narrative–the narrative isn’t “hijacked” to serve the purpose of developing an Afrofuturistic society.

Now, I will probably read one or two of the representative works for , Butler and Delany so as to say that I’ve at least “read” them, but I already know from past experience, I won’t like them very much. For me, Afrofuturism only works if you can weave a compelling story around it–just creating an Afrocenric setting and culture in the future that runs into some sort of internal cultural conflict just isn’t enough to get me excited about the genre.

Sidney

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




  • Current Work-in-Progress–February 2019: Project Dog  (Sci-Fi Short-Story – 1st Draft — Character Draft “Finished”)
  • Current Work-in-Progress: Ship of Shadows (Sci-Fi Graphic Novel – Script, Issue # 2, Currently on Script Page 32)

Weekend Round Up #15

Image Source: https://www.rocketcitymom.com/weekend-roundup-november-8-11/

This blog entry is me formalizing a format that I started earlier in the year of just giving a quick rundown of some of the highlights of my weekend. As I tend to do most of my writing, gaming, and media consumption on the weekends, it makes sense to give a brief summary/overview of some of the more important aspects of my weekend life, considering they all have relevance to my life in general, and the blog, in particular.

Gaming

Nothing major to note. I got closer to finishing the driving game Gravel. Actually, I’ve already finished it (seen the credits roll after completing the main campaign, but I’m hopeful that I can earn the ultimate reward for my dedication, a Platinum Trophy, in which I complete all the required conditions. I’m currently sitting at 97% complete on the game–needing only 2 online trophies to finish the game. However, that might be a hard task based on the fact that no one is really playing the game online anymore that I can see (on the PS4 anyway). We’ll continue to see, however.

Writing

Managed to send off a story (reprint–Faerie Knight) to a YA podcast looking for Halloween, Christmas, and Dinosaur stories (Faerie Knight falls firmly in the Halloween category). I’ve had very little luck (none at all, if I’m honest) in the reprint category–none of my stories have ever been reprinted in a different magazine from their original publication, but since FA was a Halloween story (it takes place on Halloween night), I thought I’d give it a try. In other news, I started planning a short-story “duology” over the weekend. I’ve actually already written the first story (I, Magi) and I now have a “sequel” for it in mind. I will be working with it over the week to get a “rough draft” down on paper and then put it on hold until I finish Project Dog, Project Skye, and Project Independent. I feel as if I have too many outstanding projects and I really need to finish some of them off before moving on to others.

Media

Not much to see here this week. Not into Game of Thrones. I hate the whole “Bad things happen to Good people” sub-genre, no matter the genre (fantasy, sci-fi, etc.), so I refuse to be a part of the cultural conversation here. I did start the Amazon Prime show Hanna, but didn’t actually finish the first episode–although I will. I don’t think it would be right for me to give my impressions until I do, however.

School

So, this is where the bulk of my writing time went this weekend. I had a school assignment due at 11:00 pm Sunday night for my Victorian Literature class (on Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol). I finished it right around that time (after working on it since approx. 7pm). I really feel the Sunday night time-frame is a good writing time (when I’m not writing until 11:00pm or 12:00am), so as soon as school’s out (i.e., I’m finished with my classes, I would like to use this time-frame to actually work on some of my (many) “Projects.”

Well, that’s my weekend for this week–hope this week is a good one for both you and me!

Sidney

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




  • Current Work-in-Progress–February 2019: Project Dog  (Sci-Fi Short-Story – 1st Draft — Character Draft “Finished”)
  • Current Work-in-Progress: Ship of Shadows (Sci-Fi Graphic Novel – Script, Issue # 2, Currently on Script Page 32)

Reading Fast and Slow & Writing Fast and Slow

https://litreactor.com/columns/fast-draft-hell-7-lessons-i-learned-almost-writing-a-novel-in-14-days

In some instances, I’m a very fast reader and in other instances, I’m a very slow reader. This also pertains to my writing in many ways to my writing. I’m trying to be more consistent in all areas, but I’ve noticed these two traits for a while.

Reading Fast and Slow

I read fiction much, much faster than I read non-fiction. I read quite a bit of non-fiction, but I don’t read it nearly as fast as I fiction. I think it has to do with the “mental stomp” that I use when I read non-fiction. The term “mental stomp” is from one of my favorite books as a kid, So You Want to Be a Wizard by Diane Duane. Nita, the protagonist of the books, uses this “mental stomp” to impress facts upon her mind when she wants to learn something. For me, non-fiction books mean learning, and it is very hard for me to retain information if I just skim the book (which is what a lot of grad students do in order to get through a ton of reading quickly). I can’t do that and its hurting me as I prepare for my upcoming Preliminary Exams. I have to read through the material or else I don’t really retain the information. However, as long as I’m engaged with the book, I can “zoom” through a novel. I routinely read Epic Fantasy (which is sometimes called “Doorstopper Novels” because they are generally so large and heavy that their weight is enough to stop a door from closing). I can routinely read a thousand page novel in under two weeks–and that’s pacing myself. However, I find that my bookshelf is piling up with unread books because of all the reading I have to do for class which leaves little time for reading other works.

Writing Fast and Slow

I tend to be exactly the opposite when writing. I’m a fairly fast writer when I’m writing essays for school, but I tend to be much, much slower, when I’m writing creatively (fiction). I’m not sure why, although I suspect it has something to do with the way my brain processes images. I can “see” the picture of the image in my mind and I’m looking for words to replicate the image that I see. In essays, however, once I have a structure (i.e., thesis and method of explaining that thesis), I “golden.” My mind just fills in the words and sources to explain my ideas. Much like a camera, however, my mind wants to use words to completely capture the scene in my mind for fiction, which often leads me to be far more detailed, in some stories, than I really need to be in most cases. However, even at my fastest, while I’m a touch typist, I still don’t type as fast as I think, so a lot of my issues with writing are the method of input. I don’t really dictate well, and long-hand is great for notes, or jotting down rough drafts where I’m just “sketching out” the action, so the keyboard still remains the best way of writing for me. Even at my best speed, I can only manage about 35-40 words per minute, probably less when you factor in mis-keying and correcting errors, so I probably average about 30 words a minute (which is on the low side for touch typists who can hit anywhere from 50-100 words per minute with training–I think my fingers are too long to be as nimble as they should, but that’s just a supposition on my part).

Anyway, this blog entry was more just establish the fact that sometimes I read really quickly and sometimes I don’t (& why) and sometimes I write really quickly and sometimes I don’t (& why). I hope it was at least a little bit interesting. Have a great day!

Sidney

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  • Current Work-in-Progress–February 2019: Starlight, Starbright (Sci-Fi Short-Story — 2nd Draft — “Opening Incident” (2/5 sections)
  • Current Work-in-Progress–February 2019: Project Dog  (Sci-Fi Short-Story – 1st Draft — Character Draft “Finished”)
  • Current Work-in-Progress: Ship of Shadows (Sci-Fi Graphic Novel – Script, Issue # 2, Currently on Script Page 32)

Characters Lead the Way, Redux

Image Source: https://lonewolf.fandom.com/wiki/Shadow_on_the_Sand

While cleaning up this weekend, I happened to stumble across the original “Rough Draft” that I’d printed out for my story Dragonhawk. This story (to the time of writing this blog entry) remains my one-and-only story that was accepted on the first try. It is truly a “rough draft” in that it is only three (3) paragraphs long (and is probably shorter in total length than this blog entry will be by the time I’m finished writing it). What struck me, however, was the first word on the “rough draft” was Kelfryn, the name of the protagonist.

Inspiration from a Book Cover

So, the book cover above, is from a series of Choose Your Own Adventure books called The Lone Wolf series by Joe Deaver and Gary Chalk. While the D&D books were pretty popular at the time, the ones by Deaver and Chalk really spoke to me. While not part of the Warhammer universe, the illustrations still have that “Old World” feel that marks the Warhammer brand (and what is probably what drew me to that universe). While definatley dark (the character could and often would die and the “adventure” would be over–much like a “game over” screen in video games), I always found the artwork both on the covers of the book and in the interiors to be arresting and fascinating. The above cover of a warrior riding a giant “warbird” was particularly interesting and stuck with me into adulthood.

Kelfryn and Scryfe

As I began writing, I had several incarnations of this image pop up, most notably an idea for a novel entitled Sparrowhawk as I imagined the protagonist would be a young Norse warrior who was mentally bonded to the bird (much like Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonriders were bonded with their dragons in her series of books (which I, of course, loved and devoured as a child). I was also much taken with the idea of a bird hunting other birds–which is what the Sparrowhawk is named for doing. However, the novel did not progress and that idea fell by the wayside. After I had a few publications under my belt, I decided to revisit the idea, but this time I went back to the original image that had captivated me: the warrior riding a giant warbird. Then it came to me: why not have both the warrior and the bird still be mentally bonded, but why not have them hunt dragons?

The Art of the Character Sketch

From there, I tried to come up with a reason for them to hunt dragons and I likened them to fishermen. They had to hunt dragons to survive. Finally, I reasoned that even with the warbirds, dragons would be too ferocious, so they would only hunt things that the dragons left behind (scales, teeth, talons, etc.) when they went out hunting for food. Then came my stroke of brillance: I used Scrivener’sCharacter Sketch” template to completely write out each of the two main characters: Kelfryn (who became a young “wannbe” warrior) and Scryfe (his devoted warbird companion). I filled out all of the sections of the Character Sketch with a solid paragraph for each of the major categories (I found those sketches earlier this year–that’s how I know). After doing the character sketches, I simply started the story and everything seemed to fall into place–I didn’t have Writer’s Block at any point, nor did I have any major diversions to the story that I dreamed up–both character and plot seemed to just seemed to merge together, so that’s what I’m working towards now–getting back into the Character Sketch mentality.

Sidney




  • Current Work-in-Progress–February 2019: Project Dog  (Sci-Fi Short-Story – 1st Draft)
  • Current Work-in-Progress: Ship of Shadows (Sci-Fi Graphic Novel – Script, Issue # 2, Currently on Script Page 32)

Finished Traveller RPG! Mini-Review

FF-Classic-Traveller-logo-and-starship-detail-500x500
Traveller RPG Book Cover – Picture of Spaceship with a planet and stars on a black background. Image Source: http://rpgknights.com/category/rpg/traveller/

 

Word Count (What I’m Writing); Updated every 2-3 Days (mostly)

  • Project Ship of Shadows (Graphic Novel) Page Count: 17 (+5 past two weeks)
  • Whale Song Revision (Fantasy Short Story) (2nd Draft)

Goal = 5 Pages a week.  Working on Rough Draft for the next 5 pages on Fridays/Over the Weekend.
Actual = 3/5 Pages done last week. I wanted to do more, but I had a 5000 word paper due by midnight Sunday, 22 July 2018, so I simply didn’t have enough time to really work on it as I would have liked.  Still, I did manage to write fairly consistently, even if it isn’t reflected here as I wrote other things (for a school setting).

Currently Reading (What I’m Reading); Updated Weekly (mostly)

  • For Fun:
    Transhuman edited by Mark L. Van Name and T. F. K. Weisskopf
    Just started this anthology – it was given to me at a LibertyCon some years ago, but I’ve just now gotten around to reading it. I may not finish it/read all the stories, but so far, I’ve read the first story and liked it.
    Traveller RPG: FINISHED!
  • For School:
    Afrofuturism (by Ytasha Womack): This book describes the academic genre of Afrofuturism (essentially African American Science Fiction that deals with social issues in culture).  I just finished Chapter 3 today and I’m at the beginning of Chapter 4 (this book has 10 chapters).
    Here is a summary from Amazon: “In this hip, accessible primer to the music, literature, and art of Afrofuturism, author Ytasha Womack introduces readers to the burgeoning community of artists creating Afrofuturist works, the innovators from the past, and the wide range of subjects they explore. From the sci-fi literature of Samuel Delany, Octavia Butler, and N. K. Jemisin to the musical cosmos of Sun Ra, George Clinton, and the Black Eyed Peas’ will.i.am, to the visual and multimedia artists inspired by African Dogon myths and Egyptian deities, the book’s topics range from the “alien” experience of blacks in America to the “wake up” cry that peppers sci-fi literature, sermons, and activism. With a twofold aim to entertain and enlighten, Afrofuturists strive to break down racial, ethnic, and social limitations to empower and free individuals to be themselves.”
  • For Research/Personal Development:
    Great Aircraft of WWII by Alfred Price and Mike Spick (for Project Skye)
    Great Aircraft of WWII is a book that I’ve had in my collection for sometime–I’ve glanced at it periodically, but never read it cover-to-cover.  Now, with Project Skye, I intend to do just that.

Stepping Away from It

Sorry for not writing. Unfortunately, I still had an outstanding project due on July 22 and I spent much of the week trying to make sure that I was ready for it (I wasn’t, but that’s a blog post for another time). Regardless, it put a damper on my writing endeavors. I still wrote creatively (for the most part), but didn’t really have enough time left to pull together a blog post. Still trying to do these posts ahead of time, but some weeks that’s not an option, so it is sometimes difficult to get blog posts updated in a timely manner.

In a Galaxy Far Away

On Friday, as I was lucky enough to finish the Traveller RPG that I’ve been reading for most of the month. It was the book that I read after finishing Oathbringer.  The tagline for the book is Science Fiction Adventure in the Far Future. I enjoyed the book and believe that it would make a good game for those who are interested in playing either a Space Opera or Hard Science Fiction campaigns.

Space the Final Frontier

One of the things that I like about this game/system is the fact that it allows for one to play a generic Sci-Fi campaign or to tailor make a campaign to match any one of a number universes. There is an “imperium” that could be tailored for a Star Wars like rebels vs empire-like war. However, the best use of the game would be to create a campaign that is much more like an adventure game in space. Elite, Elite Dangerous, or even a “Space Cowboy” world like Firefly would be the best use of this system if one truly wanted to adapt the system to a specific universe.

For my money, I’d probably try to work and to create my own campaign for this rule set, using the “history” and “setting” to try to create something new and fresh.

Overall Grade: B

Sidney




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