Character Sketch: The Independent (Ryn)

Authors Note: My character is NOT based on Ginger Howard–my character is African American, female, and wears a “baseball cap.”  That is the ONLY similarity to the above image (still, I thought it would be cool to highlight Ginger Howard’s accomplishments!)

So, today I finished the character sketch for my 2nd Draft of my short story, The Independent.  I won’t go into too much detail here, but I do want to tell a little bit about the process.  I’m trying to create a character that resembles a real life person (who is larger than life).

Family Heirlooms

One of the things that I decided was that I wanted to make sure that I did was to give Ryn a “history.”  I’ve tried to do that by creating a link between her and the past generations of her family by giving her a family heirloom that she uses in the story that gives her  an emotional hook to both her past and her present.  I’ve done that by giving her a “baseball cap” that is her father’s and is really important to her and her father.

Space Story grounded in “Reality”

In Star Wars, Mark Hamill is said to have been concerned about the unreality of the story, but Alec Guinness was supposed to have helped him by reminding him that even in fantasy, their has to be a link to reality.  That’s one of things that I tried to do with this character sketch by making sure that I gave Ryn a true “reality.”  I hope that it is a not a trite reality, but I wanted to try to create something that is more “realistic” than what I normally write.

One Surprising Thing

One thing that surprised me as I was doing this character sketch was the background section.  The background for Ryn came together in a surprising way and I was surprised that I came up with this particular background for her.  I don’t know that it will stick (ie that I will keep it or use it for the story), but I really think that it us both unique and quite strange (for me).

Anyway, I found that Ryn was a great character to come up with a Character Sketch for my 1st (well, 2nd time) out in a while.  I intend to make this step something that I do for my 2nd drafts and hopefully this will making my stories better.

Sidney




  • Current Work-in-Progress: The Independent (Sci-Fi Short-Story – 2nd Draft)
  • Current Work-in-Progress: Project Star (Sci-Fi Short-Story -1st Draft)
  • Current Work-in-Progress: Ship of Shadows (Sci-Fi Graphic Novel – Script, Issue #1, Currently on Script Page 25)

 

 

 

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Potpourri May 2018

potpourri_wikihow

So this (short) post is just a little bit about everything that I’m currently doing right now.

  • Watching The Expanse: I’m not really feeling the show all that much, but I need a “spaceship” show at the moment to get me through Final Exam week and help me as I get my car repaired.  Will probably do a mini-review of it after I watch all the seasons (there are 3 total, but only seasons 1 & 2 are currently “free” on Streaming via Amazon Prime.
  • Project Poet (Rough Draft): Two-Thirds (⅔) way complete.  Not really happy with the way it is turning out, but then again, I guess that’s what rough drafts are for.  There’s no magic in this one, so it doesn’t really seem like a Fantasy story, but it is one that I really like the idea for.  I may have to find a way to add in a “magic system,” however, because it seems really slow and boring otherwise.
  • Recently Watched Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets: I’m putting this one on the list to remind myself that I need to do a mini-review of this movie as I saw it about 2 weeks ago.  I didn’t much care for The Fifth Element (never actually managed to ever get through the whole movie), but I thought this might actually win me over.  Spoilers for the mini-review: it didn’t. 🙂
  • The trailer for Ant-Man and the Wasp has just been released.  Now this is a Marvel movie that I think I can get behind this summer.  It looks really fun!  And best of all, NO SPOILERS ANYWHERE IN SIGHT!  🙂  🙂

 

  • Finished the OUTLINES for two (2) new Projects: Project Paradise and Project Independence:  I finished the plot outlines for two new stories.  Both are science-fiction stories that I’m really excited about writing over the summer.  More on these projects as when I finish the Rough Drafts for them.

Well, that’s all I have for right now as I need to work on finishing several small school-related projects.  Talk to you later!

Sidney




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Author’s Note: All Tomorrow’s Children

 

I’ve actually already written an Author’s Note on All Tomorrow’s Children, but I probably should have called it more of a “Rough Draft” Author’s Note because it really only discussed the inspiration of the story and some of the genre aspects of the story.  Now that I’ve finished the Working Draft of the story and just need to edit and polish it before I start submitting it to various markets, I wanted to do a full and complete breakdown on just what the story is just as I did for Here Be Monsters and WarLight.

AUTHOR’S NOTE – ALL TOMORROW’S CHILDREN

The Title

So this title has been kicking around in my mind almost sense I joined the Chattanooga Public library way back in 1996.  It was always around connected to a set of people using Psionics (mental powers–telepathy, telekinesis, etc.).  The original conception was around a group of kids who, in the future, were dominated and controlled by a fascist state.  They escaped and rebelled and fought agains the regime.  It was supposed to be a graphic novel, but I could never get it to come together.  A couple of years ago (my third year as a 6th grade teacher) a new idea came to me about a family of Psionics rather than a group of kids.

Theme

So, in the summer of last year, Sky News (British TV station) did a special report on JIHADI BRIDES and how many of them were lured into the camps of Jihadis based on elaborate promises made to them by these organizations.  Yes, super controversial, I know, but this is when the idea for the story finally crystalized.  What if one sister was lured into and recruited by jihadis for the cause of freeing Psionics from being discriminated vs the other sister who only came to lend her psychic talents to heal and make things better?  This is where/when I began the story in earnest.  It has undergone multiple revisions just to get to this point.  I see it as violence vs non-violence (Malcolm X vs Dr. Martin Luther King Jr).

Length

So this story isn’t very long and isn’t filled with a whole lot of details.  Outside of the mental powers, there’s not even a lot of “sci-fi” going on. I wanted to keep it short and simple, but I may have made it too short and not enough sci-fi.  On this final polishing pass, I may look for places where I can add in future technology to help distinguish as a sci-fi story, rather than a modern day story.

Time to Create

This took a long time to write–I’ve been working on it pretty in some form or another after I saw the video.  I’ve working on it in-between working on my school work, working on grading papers and teaching, working on it while doing many other things.  Also, I’ve had a really hard time writing it and a really hard time finding the TIME to write it.  That is why Jesmyn’s Ward’s advice in Elizabeth Flock’s interview Read, Write, Improve was so timely for me because she said: “Persist. Read, write, and improve: tell your stories. Accept rejection until you find acceptance, but don’t become disheartened, stop writing, and remove yourself from the conversation.”  I realized that I’ve simply become to wrapped up in the day-to-day world of living without giving myself space to write, so every day I try to carve out a small slice of time (even if it is only half an hour) to 1) read, 2) write, 3) edit (aka Read, Write, Improve).  Sometimes I can’t do all three, but I try to at least do at least one of the 3 and all three, if at all possible.  I generally wake up earlier now–and that’s what has allowed me to finally finish the Working Draft of this story.

Research–Jihadi Brides

So I’ve mentioned it before, I had an idea, but scrapped it and based the majority of the story, idea, and characters on the YouTube video by Sky New–Jihadi Brides.  There are a couple other videos that Sky News did related to this subject that also informed this story, but by and large, much of impetus for the story comes from that YouTube video.  I hope the story isn’t too derivative, but I tried to capture both the essence of the culture and the “lure” of fanaticism that I saw in the video, just in a world where mental powers exist.  If you want to see the report, I’ve included a link below for context:

 

Characters

 I originally had 4 main characters–Yeva, her sister, Javan (the husband), and a “Spiritual Leader,” of sorts, but I rolled the leader and husband into one for this draft to simplify things for me.  I also originally had planned for Yeva and her sister to be twins with similar names (Yeva and Veya) as twins do, but it became too confusing for me to keep their names straight and if I, the author, couldn’t do it, I realized it would be difficult for readers to do so, so I changed the sister’s name to something more relatable.

Up Next

I am almost finished with the Rough Draft of a short story for the “Project Skye” short story.  I can see the home stretch/finish line with it.  It is very “rough” as I jumped in without planning and boy, does it REALLY show!  The story is all over the place.  I estimate I’ll need AT LEAST two more drafts before it even resembles something which I would be proud to attach my name to on a submission copy.
Well, that’s all I have for now and thanks for reading this long Author’s Note!  Have a great day!

Sidney




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Submissions Every Day This Week (So Far)

So, I just wanted to let you know that I’ve submitted a story every day this week.  This is sort of just an update post of sorts.  I won’t belabor this post, nor name the markets, but I did want to let readers now that I’m giving it my all after the depressing defeat last week of both my stories that were shortlisted being rejected.

Citizen X

I just sent my story Citizen X  out to a market today.  I’m sure it has 0% chance of getting in the magazine, but I wanted to send it today as today is their last day for allowing submissions for this reading period.  As they have 4 periods a year, I want to try to make sure that I submit each period even when I’m pretty sure that they won’t use the story.  Still, what is the old “saw” for people who play the lottery: “you can’t win if you don’t play.”

HawkeMoon

I submitted HawkeMoon to an anthology that had a theme.  The story matched very well with the actual anthology, but I’m not sure how much it matched the theme of the anthology.  I think that it might work for the theme of “Shards” and I revised it a bit to make that idea more explicit, but I’m really not sure its going to work for them.  They did, however, push their date back from Feb. 1st to March 1st, so I wanted to be sure to get the story to them and let them make the ultimate decision.  We’ll see.  Depending on how well they think that I interpreted their theme, this probably has the best chance of all of the ones I’ve submitted so far (of course, if they don’t think I hit the theme, it will probably be the exact opposite–oh well, we’ll see)

Dragonhawk

Dragonhawk has already been published by Tales of the Talisman and you can find it on Amazon if you’re curious.  However, there are several podcasts that are looking for stories (preferably reprints) that they can have narrators read as part of their podcasts.  There is a Fantasy version, Sci-Fi version and YA Fantasy/Sci-Fi version.  I sent this to the YA one, but it didn’t work, but I was determined to submit it to the Fantasy version when it reopened.  I’m determined that every story that I do that gets published will go to these podcasts for consideration.  I’ve not had much luck with the reprint market unlike other writers, but I like and listen to podcasts, so I’d love to have my work featured.

Silence Will Fall

So, Silence Will Fall just went to the same market that shortlisted Citizen X.  I’ve had some success with this market, but it isn’t a given (as one can see by their rejection of CX).  I really like SWF (I like all my stories, but of the recent ones, this is probably one of my favs) and I hope they take it, but the movie that I blogged about recently may hinder it from getting sold, but I’m going to do my best.  We’ll see and I’ll keep you all updated on this (and all the projects) that are being submitted and in the works.

See you next time!

Sidney




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And Then There Were None

rejection_Lyn Fairchild Hawks

So, originally, this post was supposed to be entitled, “And Then There was One,” but I’ve heard back from the final publisher who had a story in consideration (“Silence Will Fall“) and by the image, you can pretty much see what the result was for the story.  I wasn’t really going to cover this in any great detail–just mention it along with the other rejections and move on with a generalized post on rejections–but there was a development over the time that I sent this story in and it was rejected.

A Quiet Place

So, in between the time that I submitted Silence Will Fall (SWF) the trailer for a new horror movie debuted called A Quiet Place.  While I had no idea that it was in development, nor did I even know about it until the trailer was released, it (coincidentally) shares many of the aspects that SWF has in it: 1) the idea that one must be super-quiet in order to be avoid being hunted, 1) the idea that noise attracts the “hunters” 3) both even features the characters using sign language, for Pete’s sake (although I assume that’s a natural outgrowth as I–and I assume, the filmmakers–both reasonably extrapolated that human communication would still need to happen and the only reasonably detailed system that works reliably would be some sort of sign language).  Now, the trailers don’t show the enemy, but they appear humanoid from the snatches of images that you get to see, while mine are completely and utterly alien in construction.  Still, I have a feeling that this trailer pretty much sank the chances of my story and I’ll detail why in a moment.  For now, here’s the trailer:

Brandon Sanderson’s Law

So, this is probably more a truism than an actual law, but as Brandon Sanderson articulated in Book 1 of his Stormlight Archives series, The Way of Kings, people don’t value originality and distinctness, so much as they do timeliness.  If two people invent something at roughly the same time, people valorize and praise the first and denigrate the second, considering it an also-ran.  History is replete with examples from the scientific community where scientists, working (unknowingly) on similar projects, papers, and discoveries have published their work/findings mere days apart and in pretty much every case, the glory of the find went to the first, even if the second was a more detailed or better formulation.  It also occurs in sports, in art, in pretty much every human endeavor–we valorize the first, regardless as to if it is the best.  I’m even doing here, as Sanderson was the first articulation I’d heard of this idea, and even though I already knew it implicitly, since he was the first one to say it explicitly, I’m naming it after him (for my purposes, at least–hence, Sanderson’s Law).

Silence Will Fall vs. A Quiet Place

Unfortunately, I feel that SWF probably fell victim to Sanderson’s Law and will continue to fall under its sway.  I didn’t “copy” A Quiet Place as SWF was from a dream–one where I can still see the final image in my mind’s eye even as I type these words.  While I’m pretty caught up (I feel) on Pop. Culture, I had no idea this movie even existed until the first trailer hit–and then my heart sank a little.  Of course, I can’t prove that the rejection was influenced by this, but I’m sure that if the editor(s) saw the trailer (and being that they are a Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Horror publication, it is likely that they did), it certainly didn’t help.

Will I continue to submit the story and hope for a publication, knowing that Sanderson’s Law is in effect?  Yes–but what else can I do?  It represents countless hours of story planning, drafting, revising, and editing, in addition to the time spent in the Writing Center and from my “Alpha Readers” getting feedback on it.  I can’t just abandon it to sit in a drawer somewhere for fifteen years or twenty years until people “forget” about A Quiet Place.  In this era of divergent and multitudinous options for content and content delivery, there has to come a time when more stories, even if they are similar, are accepted and published without regard to other media available.  One wonders how one ever become popular and mainstream if the “gatekeepers” never actually open up the gates?

Sidney



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Two stories Shortlisted–“Citizen X” and “Silence Will Fall”

I just wanted to let everyone know that I currently have two short stories on the “Short List” at two different publishers.  I should learn of their fate later this month.

Citizen X
Citizen X was a bit of a surprise.  I wrote it around the time of Here Be Monsters, but much like HBM it wasn’t highly regarded as I submitted it.  The ending was also something that seemed a bit controversial, so I pulled it from, intending to rewrite it.  However, I began to feel that I was too harsh towards the story and began submitting it again.  I was fairly surprised that it made it to the “short list” round for a publication–I mean, I wrote it, so of course I liked it, but I didn’t publishers would.  Here’s keeping my fingers crossed for it.  Even if it doesn’t make it for publication, I have to count it as a small victory that it made it to the “short list.”

Silence Will Fall
Silence Will Fall is a story that I’ve chronicled many times on the blog–it even has its own Author’s Note where I talk about the genesis and writing of the story.  It also is a triumph of the MTSU Writing Center, as my Consultant graciously helped with a revision of the piece to make sure that the ending that I “re-wrote” made sense and matched the rest of the tone of the piece.  While I have no control of the process anymore–it is strictly in the editors’ hands–I’d love for this one to get published, if only to give my Writing Center Consultant praise for a job well done!

The Short List
In case there are any who may not know what a “Short List” is: it simply means that the story has passed the first round of initial rejections.  The editors will then make a decision for the stories included in their publication from these stories.  Essentially, stories from this “short list” will make it in.  Making it to the short list is similar to making it to a 2nd interview to get a job, or getting nominated in a category for a prestigious award, like the Oscars.  There’s no guarantee of getting the job, or winning the award, but your chances are better–you haven’t been rejected altogether.  That’s the way it works in publishing as well.  No guarantees–they both could come back with a rejection, but at least those two stories haven’t been rejected outright.

Have a good weekend!
Sidney
Read Skin Deep for Free at Aurora Wolf
Read Childe Roland for Free at Electric Spec

 

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 BookBub.com.  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.