Reading Log: Shadowmarch

The four book covers for each novel in the series: Shadowmarch, Shadowplay, Shadowrise, Shadowheart.
Image Source: https://www.tadwilliams.com/books/series/shadowmarch-series/

So, today I’m going to talk about a series of books, both as one series and individually. The series is Shadowmarch by Tad Williams, one of my favorite authors. A quick bit of background: I’ve been a fan of Tad Williams work every since I discovered his Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn trilogy in high school. I’ve told this story before on the blog, but I first found about Tad Williams after purchasing The Dragonbone Chair from a bookstore in Atlanta, GA in the (now disused and mostly abandoned, but then thriving) Underground Mall area. The back wall in this bookstore was pure rock, hewn from the ground, and so, even though I don’t always read every Tad Williams novel, I’m still interested when I hear he has a new novel.

Shadowmarch

I really like Tad Williams’ novels when he writes Epic (or what used to be known as High) Fantasy. Tad’s world building is impressive. I’ve tried to read his Sci-Fi series and his non-epic works (The Otherland books and The War of the Flowers), but none of his non-epic works ever capture me in the same way as his fantasy novels. Basically, Shadowmarch is the story of a war between the humans and the fae, but for reasons that are very hard to decipher–at least initially. While I won’t give a plot synopsis here, I will say that even though I bought everyone of the Shadowmarch novels, I’ve only read them once before, right after their initial publication. That’s unusual for me, as I only buy books (or keep books) that I truly love. I think it is because, after establishing all the major characters and relationships in the first book, they go there separate ways in the subsequent volumes, only to return together in the 4th volume (as a group).

Book 1: Shadowmarch

As mentioned above, this book sets up the world, character, plot, and relationships of the various humans on one side and the fae on the other. It gives us our two main protagonists of the book, Princess Briony and her brother Prince Barrick, and then sets into motion a war that is initiated by the faeries. These are not your traditional fae and are formidable opponents. This is probably my favorite book in the series in that it establishes the most things in the novel. While not small, we get a LOT of world building, characterization, and plot development in this novel.

Book 2: Shadowplay

I remember not particularly caring for this one when I originally read it, and upon rereading it, I think I know why. While it focuses on all the major characters, at the time, I thought the Princess Briony was, by far, the most interesting character, and the places where she wasn’t “on the screen” really dragged. Also, while I don’t hate Prince Barrick, he isn’t a particularly likable character in this chapter of the story (unlike Chapter 1, where he had Briony to balance him out and neutralize some of his rough edges), and since we spend so much time in his POV, or in the Guard Captain Vansen’s POV (who is with him), that we get to see/interact with Barick a LOT, which makes the whole book seem to slow down. I appreciate it more now than I did at the time, but originally, it was really hard to get through Barrick’s sections.

Book 3: Shadowrise

This is where I remember the series really coming into its own when I first read it, and even upon rereading, I still think this. I think the answer is two-fold: 1) we finally start getting some answers in the form of clues, revelations, and hints about the story. While a lot is in mythology, the answers given are like pieces of a puzzle and the more we’re given in this volume, the clearer the overall narrative becomes, and 2) Prince Barrick finally becomes likable. While far from perfect, you can see why he has been such a “jerk” in the past and his demeanor gets heavily tempered in this book. While Briony’s “journey” stops (she no longer advances the plot as she had before), she gets some fairly heavy characterization in the form of serious court “intrigue” that is deadly serious.

Book 4: Shadowheart

This probably my 2nd favorite book in the series. Firstly, because Tad Williams “sticks the landing” with this series. So many authors that I’ve read (and even admire) have books whose endings just fall apart from me. However, this book manages to bring everything to a satisfying conclusion (for me). I do wish the final battle had been a little more involved (I think the “obstruction” sub-plot to keep one of the side characters from enacting his final plan to help take out the ultimate enemy went on too long and could have been shortened), but the battle that was depicted was epic enough and, at 727 pages, the book was already long (having originally been planned as a trilogy, but having to be changed to a 4 book series due to the original size of the third volume), so I can understand that the climatic battle might have been shorter than I might have liked. Also, both Barrick and Briony get to shine in their respective roles. While there is an annoying romantic “triangle” that Briony is involved in, I can say without spoilers that it doesn’t get in the way too much, and adds a bit of depth to Briony’s character–in other words, the author has Briony dwell on it for a paragraph or two, sometimes interweaving through a section, but she’s never on the subject for too long (in my opinion). We finally get answers to our questions and the full tapestry is revealed and I think it is a successful end to the series. I’m glad I bought it, but wish I’d reread it sooner. It is a great series and would make a great story to adapt into live action (series or movie) one of these days.

Are you listening, Hollywood?

Sidney


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I Would Rather Be a Reader, But . . .

Bookshelf in the MTSU Graduate Office_Oct. 2019 (Sidney Blaylock, Jr.)
Image Source: Bookshelf in the MTSU Graduate Office_Oct. 2019 (Sidney Blaylock, Jr.)

I would rather be a reader, but you can’t earn money from reading. Well, that’s not exactly true. There are “Readers,” people who earn money (salary) in Hollywood by reading scripts and passing them on (along with notes) to Hollywood executives who actually decide whether or not to purchase the scripts in question. There are also “Readers” who get paid to read stories on the “slush pile” (you know, those who aren’t written and submitted by “named” writers like Stephen King or George R.R. Martin–in other words, everyone else). Depending on the magazine, journal, or digital platform they may earn a salary, commission are paid by story (rarely), or may even volunteer their time.

However, the closest one can really come to getting paid for being a “Reader” is what I’m trying to do now which is earn a PhD and teach. Even that isn’t truly reading because, although you read and integrate the knowledge, you must then synthesize it and be able to successfully articulate what you’ve read (learned) back to the students in your class. Traditional lecture no longer works (if it ever did) and so not only must you find a way to articulate it back, you now have to find ever-more creative ways of getting that information back to the students (acting as a translator of sorts between the text and the students). Yet, it is only one of the truly acceptable ways in which one can make a living in which the majority of one’s “work” involves reading.

And So I Write . . .

I write because no one, at the moment, is writing what I want to read. Well, again, that’s not entirely true. There are still a couple (in this case three to five) authors that still write in the modes that I like to read. Most of the authors of the “older” generation have died or while they are still writing, their books are no longer considered relevant: David Eddings, Anne McCaffrey, and Robert Jordan are three that fall into the deceased categories. Each author’s books were bestsellers and were “big deals” when they were released. Now, however, they are considered “also rans.” The new generation writes in modes that simply don’t interest me as a reader. There’s nothing particularly impressive about George R. R. Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire (especially when you know that it takes its ultimate inspiration from The War of the Roses. Hey, other fantasy authors out there: There’s also the 100 Years War, the 30 Years War, The War of 1812, the two World Wars (obviously), the Norman invasion of 1066, and Napoleanoic wars, and that’s just off the top of my head without any research. There you go, pick one of those, add in quite a bit of sex and a lot of head chopping (among other things), create unlikable characters screwing each other over (among “other” things) and you should be all set with your own (modern) fantasy opus.

The things that I write are simply the things that I like to read. I can’t put it any more plainly and simply than that. I like reading about interesting characters who struggle and overcome. They don’t have to be “heroes” per se, but they do have to actually try to overcome their problems rather than wallowing in them and making themselves and everyone else in the story miserable because of it.

For me, writing is something that I do because I can’t find authors (with the exception of a few select ones) who write fiction–fantasy or science fiction that actually matter. The new generation seems to find things like “dream-boat vampires” or anti-heroes that would spit on you just for daring to look at them as the epitome of characters, while sneering down their noses at characters who actually aspire to values (and stands up for the values even though it costs them to do so).

For me, authors like Brandon Sanderson, Elizabeth Moon, and Tad Williams are ones who write characters that I still enjoy reading about and hope to one day emulate. And I won’t lie, emulating their success would be nice as well. Other authors that I still read, although I haven’t read recently include: Kenneth Oppel and of course, Diane Duane, whose original “wizardly kids/teenagers” books never enjoyed the amazing world wide phenomenon that another “wizarding” series did years later.

I write, not be successful (although, I won’t lie, that is an important sub-goal). Mainly, I write because I can’t find anything to read, or rather, I can’t find anything worthy of reading anymore because everyone else’s definition of “what’s good” has changed.

So now I write to (ultimately) so that I have something good to read as well.

Sidney


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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


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ReRead: Mage The Hero Discovered, Vol. 1

Image of Mage Volume 1 Graphic Novel with Bearded man with jeans and black t-shirt with a white lightning bolt in the middle.  A floating mage and an African American young lady with a magic green baseball bat.
Image Source: https://www.mycomicshop.com/search?q=Mage%3A+The+Hero+Discovered+%231

Over the weekend, I restarted trying to get books off of the tables, floor, and other places where I have them stacked and into some kind of order on my bookshelf (& when it finally fills up, I’m going to Walmart and buy new shelves until I get the books shelved or I run out of space in the house). However, I digress: my point is that I reread a graphic novel over the weekend and I will give a mini-review/impression of it.

Urban Fantasy, 1980s Style

Mage is an urban fantasy story before the term gained wide acceptance in the 90s. This volume, written and illustrated by Matt Wagner was collected from his comics and published in 1987. I, however, did not read it (or even know about it at the time). I discovered it through a later creation of Wagner’s, the Grendel series. Having bought on a whim an issue of Grendel, I was so intrigued that I actively searched out other works of Wagner. I’m not sure where I found this series (I have all three volumes–a used bookstore, a library book sale, or through Amazon), but I’ve owned these three volumes for a while now. Simply put, Mage tells the story of Kevin Matchstick, a hero who has to learn to be a hero once he discovers that he has “power” residing in him. This is a “hero’s journey” story through and through. What is remarkable is that it takes place in our world, in the 1980s, and features a fairly diverse cast (for the time period) with the African American young lady by the name of Edsel playing a pretty important role for much of the story.

An Early Work

I have to say that while I enjoy the story, it isn’t my favorite. Grendel was too violent (at the time), so I never really got into it after that initial exposure, although I will probably seek out volumes of it once I finish school. Grendel has a 1980s Robocop level of violence to it–or at least the issue that I read with Christine Sparr as Grendel. Mage, for me, was far more sanitized, but because it was an earlier work, the artwork was less detailed and the storytelling (both visually and through the narrative) wasn’t nearly as strong as I would have liked. Mirth, the mage character in the story (who takes on the role of a Merlin in the story–a wise teacher with magical abilities) is (in this volume) one big exposition dump. He “tells” Kevin everything and explains the rules/players in this story to him. As a matter of fact, Mirth has the largest dialogue balloons in the story. Still, it is a good fantasy story with definite shades of and nods to the Arthurian legend.

Overall Rating: B-

On GoodReads, I rated this 4 stars. If I could give a half a star, then I would have rated it 3.5. It is a good story, but there are so many small things that take away from it. The simplistic panel designs, the sketchy nature of the artwork, and the heavy reliance on Mirth’s exposition to get Kevin (& the reader) to understand the story just don’t work for me as much as I’d like. Also, while Edsel is a fully fleshed out African American character, two African American males do not fare all that well. Both are in a jail cell when Kevin is arrested by the police (read the story to see why), but both talk in a pseudo-African jive that was common for writers of comics to give characters of color at the time (tons of contractions, dropping the “g” for words with -ing). One even gets the fairly stereotypical name of Rashem, a name, while might be appropriate today due to people wanting “distinctive” sound names, otherwise would have been fairly uncommon in the extreme in the 1980s for African American. In the 80s, I knew a Reginald, a Curtis, 2 Ronalds, a William, and a Michael. My point is that distinctive names for African Americans were fairly uncommon at the time and for this reason, and all the other reasons, there are simply too many small issues that drag the story down and I can’t really rate it higher (and while researching the post, I saw that there are other editions available–don’t know if the issues have been fixed in subsequent editions, but I’m reviewing what I believe is the first edition of the story).

Sidney

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4 Days = 4 Chapters (Reading)

Word Cloud for Multimodal texts: Multimodal, learn, student, texts, create, words, knowledge, language, ideas, develop
Image Source: http://scalar.usc.edu/works/digital-writing-portfolio1/concept-2

So, I don’t have lot of time today, so this post will be on the shorter side. I didn’t get a chance to blog yesterday because I don’t have internet at my apartment anymore and since it rained and downpoured most of yesterday, I decided not to get out in the mucky weather since I didn’t have to do so.

Multimodal Composition: A Sourcebook by Claire Lutkewitte

I’m reading/rereading a book that I was given to help me with my Prelim exam–more on that at another date. The book in question is Claire Lutkewitte’s Multimodal Composition. Some of you with eagle eyes or elephant’s memories may notice that this book has been in my “currently reading” section down on the side of the blog for a long while now. I haven’t forgotten about that “widget,” but since I rarely log in to Goodreads nowadays (I just don’t have the time), I don’t really get a chance to update it like I should. Well, I told myself that once summer started, I would read a chapter a day from the books on the reading lists in order to be ready for the next preliminary exam and dissertation and so far, I’ve stuck to that plan. I’ve read 4 chapters from the book and will start on Chapter 5 on Monday. As there are 29 chapters total, I will be reading this book through the most of May.

Reading and Writing: Summer Edition

There are, of course a number of things that I want to read/write over the summer. I won’t take the time to enumerate them here, but as I start on them (and most importantly, finish them), I will most definitely list them here and do a small blog post about them. There are a ton of things that I hope to accomplish over the summer, but I know that if I start talking about them, so how they won’t get done, so it will probably be better for me to wait and talk about them once I’m deep into them, like I am with Claire Lutkewitte’s book. I need to remember what works for me, which is starting small and then working my way up to bigger and more extensive projects. Finishing a book may seem hard, but at a chapter a day, well, that’s not quite as hard and who knows, if I have extra time on the weekend, I may be able to squeeze out an extra chapter or two, meaning that I can finish sooner, and if not, then I’m still on schedule to finish by the end of the month. So my goal for this summer = break down as many projects as I can into smaller chunks and get as much down as possible (while still enjoying the summer sun)!

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Sidney

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  • Current Work-in-Progress–February 2019: Project Dog  (Sci-Fi Short-Story – 1st Draft — Character Draft “Finished”)
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Gone Dark

Image Source: https://www.rhinohub.com/silence-is-golden/

So this is the first post that I’ve made in approximately two weeks (maybe 2 1 /2 – 3 weeks). I’ve attempted several posts (my “Drafts” folder in WordPress is up to 9 drafts–this one is actually up to 10–but after it gets published it will be back down to 9 again). It seems like I’m always apologizing for stepping away from the blog, but that’s just the way that my mind works. I have to have enough time to work on my projects, personal or school related. That’s what I discovered trying to write “piecemeal”; I can do it, but it isn’t very good–it also isn’t (for me) a very rewarding way to write. I also discovered that I need enough time to make the drafts come out the way that I want them. Without both of these elements–time enough to get through a complete section (as I define it), then the work isn’t as good or as fun. That’s why my “drafts” box is filled with partially completed drafts–it isn’t that the ideas behind them weren’t good, but rather, I didn’t have enough time when I started them to get them where I thought they needed to be to publish them to the blog. Now, I look at them, and the idea is still there, but I’ve lost the desire/impetus to actually work on them.

Coming Back to Life

This blog post represents a resurgence in my writing life. Primarily, this summer is a “reading” summer. I have quite a few things I need to do this summer and nearly everything has reading involved. I have a book that I’ve been trying to read for nearly a year and a half (Multimodal Composition: A Critical Sourcebook by Claire Lutkewitte) beside me right now and my goal is to read at least a chapter before I go home for lunch today. This is going to be much of my summer–read, read, read. Of course, writing go back to being a thing. I should be back to my daily blogging routine and I should put time on my writing projects daily. As long as I have enough time to complete some “section” (like the goal of reading one chapter today), I should hopefully find that by the end of summer, I’ve managed to be a successful reader and writer.

Seeing is Believing

I’ve seen quite a bit of media, but one of the most affecting things that I’ve seen is a YouTube video (TedTalk) that I really found powerful and helpful. I will link to it at a later date and create a blog topic about it, but I really thought that the message was one that I could follow as it talked about making marginal improvements in order to make life-altering improvements. This is something that I don’t mind doing–if something is broken, I want to fix it, but making changes for the sake of changes doesn’t really help me (and usually makes things worse in the long run). However, it I “tweak” things, so that the changes are small and meaningful, then things seem to work out better for me, for example, working on characters before I start to seriously draft the story which was a small change that I feel has paid dividends to my writing. This is something I will be working on all summer.

Well, I’ve nattered on for long enough–this chapter isn’t going to read itself. Hope to talk to you all much more this summer and hope not to “go dark” again any time soon.

Sidney

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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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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)

Who Owns Fandom?

HarryPotter
Fans dressed as characters from the Harry Potter Characters. From The Associated Press.  Image Source: https://apnews.com/77daf58afa7f4bf2a45f93a93a59cdc8

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

  • 1st Draft – “Project Dog”
    Goal: 2500 Words
    Current: @500 words (+250 Words)
    I’ve written on it for two days and I’ve managed to get about 500 words written (I’ve hit my 250 word goal both days)!
  • Whale Song Revision (Fantasy Short Story) (2nd Draft)
    (Researched an article on Whaling, think that I have the two characters–a brother and a sister who are on the opposite sides of the issue.  Still, no Writing so far). Need to find a place to work in revisions–I can draft new material just fine, but I don’t seem to have any time to work on “drafting” revisions.

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.
    The Belgariad David Eddings
    Last week was NOT a good week, so I needed some “comfort food” for reading and my go to book for “comfort food” is the Belgariad (followed closely by Diane Duane’s So You Want To Be a Wizard.)
  • 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 5 today and I’m at the beginning of Chapter 6 (this book has 10 chapters).
    Wrote out a fairly extensive list of possible research topics to explore from chapter 5. Really intriguing book.
  • 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.

Warner Brothers (& Corporations) Want ALL the Moneyz

So, those who work in corporations might want to cover their ears (eyes?) for this particular blog entry because I’m going to take you to task for some of your less than savory practices. Yes, we live in a capitalistic society. Yes, content/copyright holders should make money from their content. No, others should not be allowed to profit from works that they themselves did not create. BUT . . . and this is a “big” BUT (hence the capital letters), there is a point where you can go too far, and I’m sorry, but Warner Brothers has crossed the line. What am I talking about? Well, it seems that Warner Brothers is taking a dim view of Harry Potter “Festivals” that are taking place across the country according to an Associated Press Story from June of this year: https://apnews.com/77daf58afa7f4bf2a45f93a93a59cdc8.

Warner Brothers HATES “Fandom,” BUT They Do LOVE their Fans MONEY!

Give me money to see my movies. Give me money to read my books. Give me money to buy my merchandising. NO, you may not use our characters if there’s even a chance YOU might make a profit from them, even if it is 1) for a good cause, 2) for fun, 3) not intended as a primarily-for profit enterprise. Warner Brothers wants to create a “fandom” in order to have a built in audience (consumer base) for their “franchise” (books, movies, merchandising, etc.), but they’re unwilling to let their fans express their creativity through (specifically) these festivals where they get to dress up as and “role-play” as their favorite characters from the series. Yes, as an author, I’m fairly protective of my work, so I understand wanting to “control” your creations. But at some point, you “have” to let go and allow your fans to “inhabit” your world and your characters.

Money, Money, Money . . . MONEY!

So, the above heading is the line from a song.  And this is the problem–corporations exist to make a profit . . . but here’s the thing: there’s no such thing as an APPROPRIATE amount of profit. It’s make as much money AS HUMANLY POSSIBLE. Unlike small businesses, where you need to build relationships and build trust with your clients, a corporation doesn’t need to do this. In fact, the entire Investor dynamic, encourages a “slash and burn” approach, slashing and burning the property/properties they own (or acquire) to make as much money as they can in as short of time period as they can. Where a small business is focused on growth and not extending their lines too quickly so as not to sink into a never-ending spiral of debt that they can’t recover from, corporations (because of their capitalization) rarely have that problem (their problem generally comes from not being able to assess market changes quickly enough to take advantage–K-Mart vs Walmart, Circuit City vs Amazon, etc.) Activision, unfortunately, has for last 10-15 years followed this “slash and burn” technique and they are rewarded year after by their stockholders but are reviled by gamers–and EA has tried to copy their model year-after-year.

Until corporations learn the lesson that Keanu Reeves’s character quoted in Speed that goes something like this when trying to get the wounded bus driver off the bus: “How about a little humanity?” The line goes on about having plenty of them left to kill. I would change that to: “there’ll still be plenty of MONEY for you to get from us in the future.”

Please corporations (Boards and CEOs alike), stop being Scrooge and wanting ALL THE MONEYZ IN TEH WORLD!

And yes, the misspellings are intention 😉

Sidney




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