Finals, Grading, and Papers

So, this week is Finals Week.  I have two Final Exams, two papers, and grading of my students Final presentations, so my posting will be spotty this week.  Just an update on why I may not be posting on regular schedule this week, but I will do my best.

I don’t usually have Final Exams, but this semester it worked out where I final exams in both of my classes.  I will actually be studying for my Spanish Final once I finish writing this blog post.  Both Finals have a take-home component to them, but my Spanish also has an in-class Final Exam component to it as well.

I’m in the middle of grading my students papers as well.  I usually have them already done, but I added in revisions so I’m working my way through those who have turned in their revisions as well as grading Final Presentations.  I intend to rework the way I do revisions as I feel that while it is a good opportunity, it just didn’t work out well with the timing of my other classes/classwork.

This is where I really fell down this semester.  I still have time and my deadline isn’t until tomorrow, so I should be able to get them done, but I will be rushing far more than I really needed to do so.  Much of this came because the papers were due at a time that was super stressful (when the phone went down) and all my attention shifted to getting the phone fixed when it should have been on my school work.  Not my finest hour, but it is what it is, so I just have to get it done, somehow.


Barbarian At The Gates–Barbarian C64 Game (Nostalgia Review)

So this is one of those games that I didn’t really play a whole lot growing up.  I got it based on the strength of reviews and screenshots from a Computer Magazine, but it was based on the Amiga version and back in the early days of computers, there could be a whole world of difference between one system’s game and another (not like today where most games produced by companies other than Sony or Microsoft have virtual parity with their counterparts),  Barbarian (Commodore 64/C64) was a game that was essentially a side-scroller.  As I recall, you moved right or left and tried to defeat enemies on the way to a specific objective.  I don’t really recall all that much about it–except that I remember being disappointed that the game didn’t have more depth to it.

Compare the Differences

This is the Commodore Amiga Version:

and this is the Commodore 64 version:

You’ll notice that the title of the C64 video is Bad Conversions.  This is very accurate as the game does not stay true to the original and was poorly executed.  I remember that this game was released not too long after the original Conan The Barbarian movies with Arnold Schwarzenegger and while the Amiga version recreated the experience of the movies as faithfully as possible at the time, the C64 version did not.  I can’t recall if this was a Christmas present or a Birthday present–like most children, I got my games as gifts as presents and I remember the potential of this game being so great (I was, of course, into He-Man, Conan, and even Red Sonja along with all things warrior related at the time).

This is why I now rely on Reviews rather than screenshots–I learned early that media, especially advertisements can be manipulative and that it is up to the buyer to beware.

Caveat Emptor!


Perfect is the Enemy of Good

So, I missed a blog entry yesterday, and I’m extremely late with this one.  Sorry about that, but I’m in the midst of grading and working on assignments for school.

One thing that I have to really work on for next semester is my ability to actively plan and execute my projects, be they academic, professional, writing, or personal.  I fill like that I have a lot of projects on the “fire,” but like a poor chef, I’m not really all that good with managing and prioritizing what needs to get done.  The net result are days like today, with wasted productivity and me in mental anguish about all the things that need to get done, instead of actually doing those things.

My goal, I guess, needs to be not worrying so much about making something “perfect,” but rather on completing it and making it at least good in the sense that is finished and then I can use revision as necessary to make it perfect.  The stress that I feel from trying to make something perfect could be better utilized to actually finishing the piece (whatever it may be) and gaining satisfaction in that way.

Well, I’ve defined the problem and proposed a possible solution.  Now all that remains is to execute the strategy and see how works in action in the real world.  So, while NaNoWriMo was a complete bust for me and I’m slowly sinking under weight of grading and assignments, I need focus on completing one task at a time and the rest will take care of itself.  And that’s why you’re getting this blog post–even as ridiculously late as it is–because I’m trying to complete one task after another today with hopes that I will be successful at, if not eliminating, at least minimizing the mountain of assignments and tasks that have accumulated over the past weeks.  Wish me luck!

Finished a Story: All Tomorrow’s Children

So, last night I finished the rough (very rough) version of my Working Draft of a new story that I’ve been working on.  I’ve referred to it in previous posts as Project Children.  It’s full title is All Tomorrow’s Children.  It is a Science Fiction story and it is in the “punk” genre.  In today’s parlance, many non-traditional sci-fi stories that are set in the current to near future and have a speculative element to them are labelled with some sort of label describing the setting and then “punk” added to it.  Gothic turn of the century technology = “Steampunk,” while a dystopian world set in an icy/cold environment = “Frostpunk.”  True story, as I’ve seen things as exotic as Magepunk.

All Tomorrow’s Children falls into the category of “Mindpunk.”  I’m not sure that there’s even a current “punk” associated with the mind, but “Psiberpunk” sounds too much like “cyberpunk” (the original “punk” genre) and too pretentious (for me) even though the story deals with Psionics and mind-powers.  I think “Mindpunk” best describes the story and is how I intend to market it: Sci-Fi Mindpunk story set in the near future.  While it is a different world (in my mind) than that of Skin Deep, it shares some of the same themes and deals with a story about those who have “mind powers” and those who don’t.

I don’t have time to do a full Author’s Note for the story, but I will definitely do one for it when I think I have the story fully revised and edited and I begin to submit it to publishers.  Right now, I’m just trying to bask in the satisfaction of having finished a (short) story after a long time, probably not since Silence Will Fall.  Now if I could just get the Ship of Shadows (Graphic Novel) and Project Skye stories off the ground, I’d be a really happy writer dude–but for now, I’ll guess I’ll stick with plain old happy writer dude!

Fae going on sale today!

Also, I just discovered over the weekend that FAE (the anthology where my story “Faerie Knight” was published) is going on sale today (11/13/17) at  The email I received said it would be on sale on Monday, but I don’t know how long the sale will last, so if you’re at all curious about my story (and the story of other fine writers), you might want to head over and check it.

Students Hate to Revise (Figuring out how to get past the Do It Once paradigm)

So, I don’t usually talk about teaching or my students or anything like on my blog as the purpose of the blog and my teaching endeavors don’t usually mix.  However, something happened in a class a couple of days ago that I really feel merits discussion.  I don’t have a lot of time so I’ll be brief: a discussion came up about revising and having the opportunity to revise and change an essay, and the comment was made (and I’m paraphrasing): I know its not quite right, but I just don’t want to have to go in and work on it again.

That’s the whole point of Revising/the Revision Process.  We got into a short discussion about it and I tried to make it a “teachable moment” by telling them that’s how real writers write.  They weren’t having it (for the most part–I think I got through to some of them).  To them, the whole I idea of revision stinks because it means more work on their part–not the it is to make it better part.

Yesterday, I had to reread Kate Chopin’s The Awakening for class.  I’d already read it in High School, but I went back and dutifully read it again.  I got much more out of it than I had before just by going over it a second time and I revised my opinion of the work (see what I did there).  In addition, I got a Rejection Notice on a story.  The editor was nice enough to provide feedback and gave two places where the story broke down for her.  I went in, revised the story, “fixing” those to places (i.e., adding in more detail that I thought would explain those places better) and resubmitted it to another publisher, but I will submit another story to that market until I get one that sells.

Not to dilute my message, but I’m convinced that’s the reason that people also don’t want to outline either.  Too much work involved.  So, no (or little preparation) to write something, and no (or little) revision after the work is written.  I, as an educator, have to break down these barriers if I want my students to truly be successful writers.

Writing a Scene

So last week I began to create a tentative “Bible” for the world of the novel.  It wasn’t much, I just put down on paper some of the ideas floating in my head and fairly hastily sketched out the ideas for the world that I needed to know such as the history, important people, and the important institutions of the world.  Again, nothing major, but all of it is helping me to refine my process of thinking about the larger world and Skye’s relationship within it.

This week, while I finally have decided on how Skye should look, I still don’t have a clear handle on her personality, so the consultant and I decided I should write a scene with her in it.  I know next week is going to be hectic for me so I actually wrote out the scene write after I the session.  I’m not sure that it accomplishes my goal.  It is an action scene, so it has Skye doing a lot of things and being clever, but she doesn’t really say a whole lot, nor does she really emote.

I think I’m going to have to try to find time to write a non-action scene that is heavy with dialogue as well to see what that looks like.  I can’t seem to find the emotional resonance with her character.  I’ll see what the response is next week, but I think the action scene doesn’t show enough of Skye’s emotions or feelings to really give an indication of who she is and how she acts in real life.  I really need to know more about her personality and what makes her tick in order to do this story correctly.

EDIT: While search for a heading image for this blog post, I came across this interesting Infographic about 5 ways to write a scene.  Considering that Infographics was one of the “genres” that I taught this semester, I thought it only appropriate to include one in my blog post–also, since I’m still having issues, maybe if I try writing a scene in each of the 5 “ways” that the graphic suggests, maybe by the end of the process, I’ll have a better understanding of Skye’s personality and who she is as character and person.

Entering the “Flow”

Trying to find time to write (even these short blog entries) has been challenging this week.  It has been difficult because of all the time constraints, myriad of school responsibilities and life events that have interfered with writing.  But even more disruptive has been the loss of the “Flow,” that I found on Saturday, but haven’t seen again since.

Now, apparently there is a TED Talk describing the “Flow,” but full disclosure, I haven’t seen it.  I just caught the last part of a NPR episode on it.  In a nutshell, the “Flow” is humans operating at their Peak Performance for a time (usually short).  In sports, it has long been known as the “Zone,” or “being in the Zone.”  It is when we humans get so caught up in the activity that we are doing that we transcend ourselves and create something or do something that borders on the miraculous.

Saturday, I had the “Flow.”  I wanted to completely rough draft out the rest of the basic story of Project Children so that I could work on a scene a week (really I wanted to do a scene a day, but with all of the work I have to do, a more realistic option would be a scene a week).  I completely wrote out a strong draft on Saturday and it didn’t take me anytime.

Well, today was the first day I had time to try to write a scene and everything conspired to keep me out of the “Flow.”  I couldn’t find my notebook where I’d written down the rough draft and I had to clean up to find it.  When I finally found it, I had to stop and work on something else, and one thing led to another and here I am, still haven’t written another word on the story even though it is literally pencilled in my notebook.  I can’t find the “Flow” all of a sudden.  I really need to work on this if I want to write that novel. I have to find a way to find the “Flow’ daily, otherwise all the planning in the world isn’t going to help me get a novel written in this next year.