Potpourri: A Little Bit of This and A Little Bit of That

White bowl of Potpourri on a wooden platter with four white lit candles..
Image Source: https://www.livinghours.com/potpourri/

So, I’ve not done one of these in a while. For more recent subscribers to the blog, I used to do a Potpourri blog post fairly often. Usually, I’d do them on the days when I didn’t have a set topic to work on or was too busy to do a full-on blog post (nowadays, I just usually miss a day when that happens–hey, not proud of the fact–just being honest–but these Potpourri posts used to cover several topics and would tide me over until the next day or the day after that, when I had something I felt was worth blogging about.

Potpourri (I’ll stop bolding it now) can mean a mixture of spices designed to act as an air freshener (more specifically), or more generally, as a mixture of things. This is how the TV show Jeopardy! uses it and this where I got both the term and the concept. Just a hodge-podge of various topics that I discuss that may or may not have any relationship to each other, but I don’t feel really warrant the time or energy to devote a full-on blog post to covering. While I’ll probably be doing more of these over the coming weeks/months as I prep for school, I will try to keep them to a minimum. Like anything else, it can lose its “specialness” when overused.

English Language Homophones

“Through” does not equal “throw.” To be honest, they aren’t even true homophones. And yet, that’s what I wrote in a previous blog post a day or two ago–and that’s not the only one I’ve caught this week. I do know the difference (I promise); I’m a English PhD Candidate, after all. However, I’ve noticed that quite a few of my posts recently have places where I’ve used the wrong word. So what’s going on?

Well, two things: 1) I’m writing these on my Chromebook now instead of Macbook Pro. Both Apple and Google have an auto-correct feature built into the OS. However, the last time I checked, the Apple auto-correct didn’t extend to the WordPress editor (or if it did, it wasn’t nearly as aggressive). Google’s auto-correct definitely does extend to the WordPress editor and it is very aggressive (except with obvious typos like teh–which it will underline and tell me it is spelled wrong, but it won’t actually correct those things) and 2) I’m writing these blog entries much faster than I ever used to in the past. I’ve said it multiple times, but most blog entries take anywhere from 45 mins (low side) to 90 mins (high side) to write. I (mostly) write them the day they are posted (although I’m trying to “bank” more of them to go up in the future). I usually have work (or something that needs to be done that day, so I can’t spend too much time on them. So after writing them (the most time), finding and image and sourcing it, going back to a previous blog to find my “Signature” and then putting the categories and tags in, I give the blog a final cursory glance, looking for any glaring errors, and then I publish it. However, homophones are not “glaring errors.” They stick out in context, when you read it, but when I do my scan, my mind just “skips” right over them. I try to fix them when I see them, but sometimes I see them when I’m reading over them later in the day if I see them, but sometimes I’m not in WordPresses’ “editor” mode and I forget to go back to them when I am writing the next post.

So, if you’re wondering how someone with pretty obvious mistakes can be a PhD Candidate in English, let me assure that I really do know the correct word in context. However, being the both writer and editor is really hard, and it’s even harder when you’re on a time limit.

Akira

As I mentioned a while back, I’m trying to spread out my weekly movie viewing throughout my various streaming services in order to maximize the value from them–I was finding that I was really only watching one or two services even though I’m paying for several (discounted because I’m a student, but still . . .). I’ve watched things from Tubi (free), Netfilix, and Amazon Prime Video recently, so I thought I’d give Akira on Hulu a watch.

I have to say . . . this is NOT looking promising. I’m familiar with Akira, but I’ve never actually seen the movie. I bought an issue of the manga when it was released here in the 1980s (I think for the futuristic bike on the cover), but as it was an issue that was well into the story, I had no clue who the characters were or what was going on, and so didn’t pick up any other issues. While everyone always raved about it in sci-fi magazines that I read at the time, I didn’t see the appeal and went back to other anime properties (Appleseed and the Japanese/American hybrid of Robotech).

However, Saturday night, I thought now might be a good time to take a look at the original, especially since there is a planned Hollywood live action movie (a la Ghost in the Shell) planned to be released in a couple of years (although Covid may have pushed that back).

I gotta’ say, for all the accolades, I’m not really all that impressed by what I’ve seen so far. I’m only 35 minutes in (it is a 2 hour and 5 minute movie), but even trying to look at it through my 1980s/1990s lens, I still have yet to see what all the fuss was about. Yes, it is one of the first cyberpunk movies (and an anime at that), but the ideas and the execution are, so far, subpar. Mad Max (and all of its future sequels) got the aesthetic down far better for a post-apocalyptic and we won’t even talk about how Bladerunner (so far) is superior in every way, even though it came out years earlier–in terms of Neo-futurism of the cityscape. So far, there’s a anarchy that is implying that the system has broken down and yet the system is still in place with the schools, the malls, the army, and the police. While I won’t judge it until after I finish it, the 35 minutes that I watched felt like it was an hour (not a good thing) and the last time that happened lead to me being mightily unimpressed by a little movie called The Dark Knight. And with me, that’s not a good trajectory to be on.

Not the Same Old Story, But A New Story

Okay, so while I’ve had success as a writer by getting published and by receiving payment, I’ve not had much success in getting my work “reprinted.” I’ve had zero success in having any of my stories reprinted. However, I was talking to a friend at the Writing Center and was indicating that I felt that just by the fact the stories were published, indicated that they had potential and something special that I felt I did right and I wanted to use those to write longer projects.

However, over the Covid break, I’ve learned that I simply can’t tell the same story over again in a different format. This is what I tried to do with Ship of Shadows Graphic Novel. I wrote half of the short story over again in issue 1 and issue 2 was supposed be the 2nd half, issue 3 & 4 would be new material, expanding out the story. While it was a good try, what I learned is after I’ve written the story, I don’t have any interest to revisit it again. The story has been told to my satisfaction, so I need to find a different story to tell–maybe at a different point in the lives of the characters or a different story with the characters coming back to interact in some way (cameos or the like).

Thinking back to some of my favorite movies and their sequels–I really love movies like Alien & Aliens and Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back, & Return of the Jedi because it takes the story forward and advances the plot forward. The sequels that I hate are Karate Kid II, Jurassic Park The Lost World, and Home Alone 2, where take the same characters and situations and just transports them to a new setting. So, they’re essentially telling the same story–just in a different place. I think that’s why Alien 3 is one of my most hated movies–they wipe away all that Aliens worked to achieve, just so they could go back to the formula of the original Alien movie, but this time set on prison planet instead of a ship. Same basic story, different setting.

I’ve learned that I can’t do this. I have to advance the story or tell a new story with new characters or old characters returning in new roles. That’s what I’m working on now–instead of reprints–trying to make and market longer works based on new stories and ideas from my older published works.

This has a precedence that isn’t seen much in the publishing world anymore. Writers of sci-fi and fantasy novels, mostly sci-fi though, often cut their teeth on shorter works and developed them into their blockbuster series–Anne McCaffrey and her Dragonriders of Pern series was created this way, as was 2001 from Arthur C. Clarke, which came from a short tory (called “The Sentinel,” if I remember correctly). Now, however, this is considered “old fashioned” and most everyone, including those who probably shouldn’t, go straight to novels, graphic novels, and screenplays because we can’t have building the craft anymore–nope, thanks to Game of Thrones and Harry Potter, everyone wants the “big score.” Everyone wants the immediate “mega-success” and overnight stardom that the authors of those two series enjoyed–although, it should be noted that Martin was publishing mid tier books that weren’t “hits” in the 80s and 90s (Fevre Dream, anyone?). For me, the enjoyable part of the writing process is over once I’ve published my story–trying to duplicate it, just in a different form just doesn’t have an appeal for me apparently.

I’ll talk more about this later, but for now, work first, talk later. Have a great day!

Sidney


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




Currently Working On (7/2020):

  • “Project Wall” (Science Fiction Story)
    Drafting: First Draft
  • Unhallowed (Weird Western Story)
    Drafting: 2nd Draft (Working Draft)
    
  • Childe Roland Graphic Novel 
    Up Next: Rough Draft (Story)
    
  • I, Mage (Urban Fantasy Story)
    Drafting: 1st Revision

Writing Log: July 2020 (7/2020)

A Bullet Journal that shows a bar graph and a smaller set of boxes that indicate days/acts written with the boxes colored in when done.
Image Source: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/365776800984668476/

Wrap-up for June 2020 (6/2020)

Before I move into new projects for July 2020, I wanted to take a moment to wrap-up what I’ve done for June 2020 to both tell you, the reader, what I’ve accomplished on a monthly basis, but also to hold myself accountable for the goals that I’ve set for myself during this time-period with the hope of becoming more professional over time and finishing more (and longer) projects as time goes on.

The Independent: Finished my revision of the project for a goal of submitting it to a market by June 30th. I originally revised it with help from the MTSU University Writing Center, but then I saw a short segment by Neil Degrasse Tyson in which he explained what a “flatlander” in two dimensions might interpret someone like us who live in three dimensions if they tried to interact with them. I tried to do the same, but with time. We live in space (three dimensional space-height, width, depth), but there is also a time component that we aren’t privy to (except to note its passing). I tried to take that idea a little further–what if there was a race who lived in a “curled” up region that we can’t interact with because it is mostly a region of time–what would that look like, how would that act, etc.? The I tried to have my “space truckers interact with this “dimension” in the story briefly. I think it came off moderately well. I don’t feel that I necessarily hit it out of the park, but I don’t feel that it is particularly bad or without merit. I feel that if I had more time, I might have been able to handle it better, but the story (from seed to this revision) is already 3+ years in the making, so I really need to get it out there. Maybe feedback (if I get any) will help me push the story into a stronger position if it doesn’t sell.

Project Arizona: Although I started on this one late (well into the month of June), I still have almost finished the 1st Draft of the story. This is where the power of working on the story consistently has helped. This is the story I will be working on for July.

Project Wall: This is the one next story will be working on. While I won’t draft it until next month, I will be working on character sketches, world history, politics, and other “Bible” documents for it all through July.

Prospectus (School): Finished my prospectus (hurray!). Even though I need to get “official” approval from my graduate director and my graduate committee, I’m going to start putting together a tentative dissertation outline and begin preliminary work on the dissertation with the books that I have available to me. I probably won’t get to work on it “formally”/”officially” until September at the earliest, but that doesn’t mean that I can’t still put together a draft so that it isn’t a burdensome to do in the Fall and Spring of next year.


What’s on tap for July 2020?

Well, there are several goals that I’m hoping to do, however I only want to talk about a couple of them in-depth here:

  • Work on 2nd Draft (and officially unveil the title) for Project Arizona. I don’t think I will dive right into a 2nd draft of this story immediately as I think I will do another project in the interim. Hopefully, though by the 2nd week of July I will be ready to start drafting a second draft. I actually like the way much of the 1st draft turned out, so I will try to begin turning those places where I’m “telling” the story into places where I’m “showing” the story (dramatizing). It will be a beginning to end look at the draft, where I rewrite as necessary. I also have a title in mind for the story and I intend to start using it once I unveil it officially.
  • Plan Project Wall: Now that I have a “rough draft” down on paper, I’m going to do what Hollywood would call “pre-production.” I’m going to try to nail down the elements of the story that may not necessarily appear in the story, but are crucial to the reason the story exists. Basically, answering a lot of What, Why, Where, When, and How questions that I still have about the story. It also has a title, but I’ll wait to unveil it.
  • Lastly, I really want to get back into the “graphic novel”/comic book writer mode. That’s a place where I feel I can grow. Eagle-eyed blog readers will notice that the “Ship of Shadows” line under What I’m Working On” hasn’t changed in a while. Now, whether the graphic novel actually is me working on that or another project altogether, I want to put together a script that I can try to market by the end of the year at the latest, so I’m planning on working on it starting this month.

Well, that’s it for now. I hope that this month will be a productive one as last month was. Have a great weekend, and if you’re in the U.S., have a safe and fun July 4th Holiday weekend!

Sidney


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




Currently Working On (6/2020):

  • The Independent  (Sci-Fi Short-Story)–
    Finished: Revision 1

Rating: 5 out of 5.
  • “Project Arizona” (Weird Western Story)
    Drafting: First Draft

Rating: 4 out of 5.
  • Ship of Shadows Graphic Novel 
    Finished: Script, Issue #1
    Next: Script, Issue #2

Rating: 1 out of 5.
  • “Project Wall” (Science Fiction Story)
    Finished: Rough Draft

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Reading Log: 6/2020

A notebook with a simple notation for title of books and information about the books read.
Image Source: https://www.tinyrayofsunshine.com/blog/reading-log

Well, Covid-19 has affected many parts of the civilized world and forced changes to the way many of us live our lives and interact with one another. You might be asking what does that have to do with reading? Well, for me, quite lot actually. You see, where Corona virus has affect many people’s lives and social interactions, for me, it has greatly affected my reading life and the ways in which I read.

No (Physical) Library Spring/Summer 2020

Obviously, I’m a huge proponent of libraries in general, and my own in particular, having worked as a Library Assistant for 17 years and being an Language Arts Teacher (maintaining my own classroom library) for 3 years, including purchasing books with my own (limited) funds. Obviously, due to the pandemic, my local library has been closed (rightly so) to help prevent the spread of the virus. However, this has had the knock-on effect of curtailing my intention of renting more books from the library and purchasing less. I’d planned to get back to my monthly visits of the library as well, but alas, this won’t happen for a while.

Reading Took a Hit

Add to that the fact that I’ve been rereading books on my shelf and I hit Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings at that time. Now, I love Tolkien’s work, but it is dense. His writing style is not something that is made for light reading to escape–which is what I wanted right at the pandemic’s height. It took me a while of procrastinating, but I finally had to put this particular book aside and start on another one in order to get back into the reading life.

All that to say that my reading life, which you would think would have increased with the pandemic, actually was affected by it because the book I’d queued up to read wasn’t the one best suited for the time.

Mage: The Hero Discovered (Volume 3)

About the only (non-school) related book that I got through since the last reading log was the 3rd volume in the Mage: The Hero Discovered trilogy by Matt Wagner. This is probably my least favorite of the trilogy because 1) there’s quite a bit more dialogue in which the protagonist is having his “origin” explained to him rather than us seeing it organically, and 2) the protagonist goes from stubborn to obstinate, which requires the dialogue to get him to “move on.” Basically, it is the exposition of the story, just shifted to the end rather than coming at the beginning. A good story, but one that is dialogue heavy.

Lone Wolf & Choose Your Own Adventure

The only other things that I’ve gone through was to skim through all my old Lone Wolf books by Joe Deaver and Gary Chalk, and later with Ian Page and Joe Deaver, and other Choose Your Own Adventure books that I own. If I’m honest, I was mostly skimming them, looking for inspiration for new short stories, but I had so many that I have already on my “backlog” to get to that it seemed foolish to look for more. I may revisit this activity next summer if my well of stories begins to run dry, but right now, I have enough to work on for the next year or so (and that’s not even counting school-related writing), so I think for now, I’ll just make sure they’re reflected in my online catalogs (Goodreads & LibraryThing) and place them back on my bookshelf.

Well, that’s all I have for today–have a great weekend everyone!

Sidney


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




Currently Working On (6/2020):

  • The Independent  (Sci-Fi Short-Story)–
    Finished: Revision 1
  • “Project Arizona” (Weird Western Story)
    Drafting: First Draft
  • Ship of Shadows Graphic Novel 
    Finished: Script, Issue #1
    Next: Script, Issue #2
  • “Project Wall” (Science Fiction Story)
    Finished: Rough Draft

New Pulp Sub-Genre

Four diverse book covers, each showcasing a different type of New Pulp hero: A Detective and fantasy cover are display prominently
Image Source: https://thepulp.net/the-hunt/new-pulp/

I just submitted an entry to a new directory that will be coming out that lists creators (writers, artists, editors, reviews, and publishers) of New Pulp stories. I didn’t really know that I was one until I published in Storyhack, but after researching more into this fairly new sub-genre, I think that many of my stories have, at least at their core, a New Pulp aesthetic that I may try to emphasize more.

So, What is New Pulp?

Great question that–to be honest, I had to do some digging on the web to really figure it out myself. I guess the easiest way to define it would be to give you a definition of “Old” Pulp and then tell how “New” Pulp is different.

Basically, these are the stories from the 1930s – 1950s that you hear so much about. These are sci-fi and adventure stories that cared far more for the flavor and zest of the story than actual realism or verisimilitude. These are the stories in which rocket-ships have fins, aliens live on Mars without vacuum suits, and hidden civilizations hide under the earth or in deep forests. Pulp was no so much interested in the “real world” effects of science, so long as the authors could use their imaginations and create stories that illustrated conflict.

New Pulp are stories that take the same action and adventure element, but which do not necessarily throw away realism or verisimilitude to achieve that adventure aesthetic. These are stories that have the adventure/action element at their core. Essentially, this is the “Action Movie” genre for fiction.

This is What I Like To Read

One of the reasons that I’m not as invested in Sci-Fi and Fantasy (in fiction) as much as I used to be is that the concept of a “hero” has pretty been dumped and the new concept is either “morally ambiguous” (aka “gray” characters) which basically just means the protagonist is either a “badass” that does things for his/her own self-interest (Pitch Black) or “mean people doing mean things to each other (Game of Thrones) or the idea of “literary” sci-fi (which is “character-driven”) which means little-to-no action. It’s all about the dialogue and the internal conflict.

I love characters and characterization, but I love characters doing something meaningful. That’s the type of fiction I like to read and write: characters who are engaged in an action or problem and seeing how that character will succeed or fail based on his/her personality traits or flaws. What happens when you’re an “ace” pilot, but the ship you’re piloting is a piece of junk? How do you survive on an alien world with just an umbrella when it’s raining lava, but you’ve seen Fred Astaire’s Singing in the Rain since you were two years old and know it by heart? New Pulp (or at least what I understand it to be) comes closest to this, and while I won’t always be writing/publishing in the New Pulp sub-genre, I can tell you that the aesthetic will always be there–I want my stories to be fun, adventurous, and exciting, which are (as I understand it) the very hallmarks of the New Pulp sub-genre.

Now, when I write, am I thinking about writing a “New Pulp” story? No, I’m thinking about writing a Science Fiction story or a Fantasy story, but I do so with a lot of action, and knowing about the New Pulp sub-genre gives me more places and opportunities to market my work. Hopefully, there will be fewer rejections than from tradition/literary markets who (by and large) don’t give a flip about the things that I like about the Sci-Fi and Fantasy genres, rich characterization AND really cool plot/action.

How Can I Find Out More About New Pulp?

Well here are a couple of websites that can help you out:

https://thepulp.net/the-hunt/new-pulp/

https://www.writermag.com/get-published/the-publishing-industry/pulp-fiction/

Also, here is a good publisher of Pulp/New Pulp (and full disclosure: the place where I sent my entry to be included in a directory of New Pulp creators that I mentioned in my introduction.)

Airship 27: http://www.airship27.com/

Well, that’s all I have time for today. Sorry this post is late, but between work and watching the Playstation 5 Reveal event, I’m behind in getting this one out. See you the next blog post.

Sidney


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




Currently Working On (6/2020):

  • The Independent  (Sci-Fi Short-Story)–
    Editing: Revision 1
  • “Project Arizona” (Weird Western Story)
    Drafting: First Draft
  • Ship of Shadows Graphic Novel 
    Finished: Script, Issue #1
    Next: Script, Issue #2

Still Working on NaNoWriMo: DSSRV Outrider, Issue #2

Giant Spider terrorizing a frozen landscape.
Image Source: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/508203139184792584/

I’ve been working sporadically over the month for NaNoWriMo. On Saturday of the week before last, I managed to sit down and think about what I wanted to do for the graphic novel version of Ship of Shadows. As regular blog readers know, I finished the first issue of the script in the spring of this year, but bogged down over the summer in terms of writing it. I (unintentionally) took a break from the story as I thought I knew where it was going when I wrote the outline, but discovered (in the actual draft) that wasn’t where the story needed to go.

Showing Tana’s Backstory

One of the things that I realized was that I already told this story with the published short story, so it was very difficult for me to get super-engaged in this story as there was nothing new in this version of the story. The new ideas were coming in issue 3 and 4 (at least in the original draft). However, my mind kept rebelling and the more I tried to work on issue 2, the more my mind rebelled and the less and less motivated to work on it.

What I realized was that I had a goal in my mind for these various “remixes” of the story: the short story is the introduction of the world and characters to me (and my readers), while the novel is a longer, more lived in version of the world where the character is at the height of her abilities, but is thrown into a situation that will challenge her abilities to the maximum (& may even break them!)

So what I decided was the graphic novel should help me understand the character better. In other words, I would find out (along with the readers) more about Tana’s backstory. Why is she the way she is? And this is where I decided issue #2 should go. We see Tana at her lowest moment as a child and she must find a way to pick herself back up. Then issue 3 should pick up with the second point of the story, but the stakes should ratchet up from the original story and end on a cliffhanger. Then issue 4 moves back into Tana’s backstory. Issue 5 should then show them getting out of the horrible situation and issue 6 (the final issue) should resolve the story and show how Tana, who is a “pilot” becomes a “captain” (remember, in the novel she’s been a captain for quite a few years and has quite a bit of experience under her belt).

The Graphic Novel as a Linkage Between Short Story and Novel

If it hasn’t been clear, I’m now using the graphic novel to dig deeper into Tana’s character and I’m hoping that it will help me understand who Tana is as a character by delving into her backstory.

While I don’t intend there to be a direct one-to-one linkage between the graphic novel and the novel (i.e., that you have to read the graphic novel before reading the novel), I do want to use it to help me figure out my characters, my setting and world, and the emotions/character traits for my story. Hopefully, by working on the graphic novel and seeing how Tana develops as a character earlier in her life, I can then “build” upon that to show the readers a three dimensional character at the start of the novel, or at least, that is my hope.

See, NaNoWriMo is still helpful even if one doesn’t have the time to actually work on the pieces–one can still do the “dreaming” necessary to help create strong and meaningful drafts later down the road.

Sidney


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




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

NaNoWriMo 2019

NaNoWriMo Calendar--Calendar with checkboxes and word count.
Image Source: https://writerswrite.co.za/perennial-nanowrimo-calendar/

So, I’ve discussed National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) on the blog before, so I won’t belabor the point too much. For those who might not have heard about it, it is a way of tracking your progress through the month (in terms of Word Count) for a novel. I believe that the Word Count is 50,000 words produced in the month of November in order to count towards getting recognition that you’ve completed NaNoWriMo for that year.

While admirable, I’ll likely never “complete” NaNoWriMo because, as I’ve pointed it out in previous blogs on the subject–November is the exact wrong month for me to try to accomplish such a lofty goal (at least while I’m in school). I have far too many school-related activities to do to even begin to work on a 50,000 word draft. Just this week, in addition to prepping a class, I need to grade 38 Annotated Bibliographies and Daily Writings, I need to research and write my own Final Project Proposal and Annotated Bibliography for the class I’m taking to turn in by Nov. 3, and I need to take care of the several school-related things (like applying for an Honor Society by deadline) that I’ve slacked on doing while prepping for Friday’s exam.

So I don’t have time to do NaNoWriMo, right?

NaNoWriMo 2019–Well, Sort Of . . .

While I don’t have time to really invest in writing the full draft of a novel, I do have time to sit down and jot down a handwritten “rough draft” of a novel. As this is, for me, “Year of the Shadow” where I write long projects based on my short story, “Ship of Shadows,” I have a strong idea for a novel featuring many of the characters from the short story. I began writing out the skeletal form of the story, but stopped at Chapter 5. I was just jotting down 2-3 sentences per paragraph, but I wanted something more substantial. What I didn’t realize is that what I was doing was developing a “plot outline” where I was emphasizing the events, but I was also creating character “hooks” that I could use to start discussing the characters.

In beginning of November, I plan to write out this plot outline again, this time going all the way to the finish of the novel. Then I plan to do the same for the Screenplay and the Graphic Novel. As a matter of fact, I think that’s why I’ve stalled on the Graphic Novel. I really want to get Tana’s “backstory” in the graphic novel, but I didn’t structure it that way and now I think I need to go back to issue #2 and rewrite it, so that it is a flashback scene, so that when she actually tries to save a fellow crewperson, we see the motivations behind the actions rather than me trying to tell it through “captions” above the panel.

Summertime and the Writing is Easy

The perfect time for NaNoWriMo, for me, would be the summer. In the summer, I have much more “free” time and I can use that for writing (even if it is in shorter bursts than I’d like). Even though NaNoWriMo doesn’t work so much for me in November, I can use it to get a “Rough Draft” of the novel together (and the same for a screenplay and the graphic novel).

Even though in January, I plan to “switch” to a different project for my “Year of . . .,” that only means that I plan to start thinking about a new story that I’ve published and how I might be able to expand them out and touch on the backstory of characters and figuring out the sequel for the story. However, that doesn’t mean that I can’t actually be working on a 1st draft for the longer pieces. My mind is good at doing “2 things” really well. As I mentioned in the gaming post, I can really do well in manipulating two different modes/registers at the same time. Any more than that, then my mind says too much, don’t want to do it.

This is what I want to avoid–getting too many projects going at any one time (& not finishing any of them). It would be awesome if I can get to next November and have what NaNoWriMo promises: a finished 1st Draft of a novel (and other projects). Once there’s a 1st draft, then 1) I’m invested and am much more likely to see the project to the end and 2) it is far easier to critique a product rather than an idea. Write now, all my longer projects have been just “ideas,” and you can’t critique ideas because you can always change it to make better–to match your vision.

So, to sum up, my goal for this NaNoWriMo is to, instead of using it as month for novel (and other longer writing projects), it is a time to “plan” out those projects and set those plans down on paper and to use the next 12 months, until next November to get those 50,000 words written.

So this is MY 2019 NaNoWriMo Challenge: 1) Rough Draft of Novel “Ship of Shadows,” 2) Rough Draft of Graphic Novel “Ship of Shadows,” and 3) Rough Draft of Screenplay of “Ship of Shadows.” If, at the end of the month, I’m able to get these done, then I’ll report back on the progress. If you never hear anything else about this until next year, then you’ll know that I didn’t get it done.

Hey, at least I’m honest! 😉

Sidney


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




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

ReRead: Myth Adventures One Graphic Novel

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

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

Funny Fantasy

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

Myth Adventures One

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

Do You Like Cartoony Art?

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

Overall Grade: B (85 out of 100)

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

Have a great day everyone!

Sidney


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




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

ReRead: Star Wars X-Wing Rogue Squadron — Battleground Tatooine

X-Wing Fighter destroying a Tie Fighter over an alien world.
Image Source: https://www.amazon.com/Battleground-Tatooine-X-Wing-Rogue-Squadron/dp/156971276X

So, I reread Star Wars X-Wing Rogue Squadron (Rogue Squadron) over the weekend. I haven’t been reading much on my own except for school nights, but I thought I start to reread my collection once a week.

One of the Few Star Wars Graphic Novels I Own

Surprisingly enough, I don’t own that many Star Wars graphic novels (although I plan to increase that through used bookstore purchases) as graphic novels became a “thing” after I was already moving away from “comics” in general and moving more into “writing/creative writing.” It may have been a good thing since most of the Star Wars comics/novels/graphic novels have been “removed” from canon once Disney acquired the license. However, I still like to dip into the world and universe, even knowing that most of the work is no longer “relevant” to the Star Wars world.

Good Story (Even Without the Lightsabers)

I tend to be a “lightsabers” kind of guy, meaning that I really like the ligthtsaber combat in the films. However, I also like the space combat as well. I feel that the new films have focused more on space combat than lightsaber battles, but I’d still like to watch them. And that extends into the graphic novel realm as I enjoy reading about the adventures of Rogue Squadron which is what this graphic novel is about. The story was good–not great–but good, as was the artwork. Finally, I thought the inclusion of a hard to find second story at the end was a nice touch.

Overall Grade: B (85)

While it could have been more dynamic, I still enjoyed the setup and the resolution of the story. Its a fun, “popcorn” story and one that I enjoyed. I’ll definitely look for others in the series.

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

Year of the Shadow

Arched Shadows on Italian Wall
Image Source: https://pixabay.com/photos/shadows-arch-urban-city-sunshade-1456887/

This has been an idea kicking around for a while now, but I haven’t really been able to decide how to make it work until this year. I wanted to start it earlier this year, but was so focused on my preliminary tests that I didn’t really give it the time it deserved, but I finally figured out a way of making this “Year of the Shadow” work, so I’m going to work at it on the weekends and we’ll see what comes of it.

What the heck am I prattling about?

I’m talking about “The Year of the Shadow.”

Year of the Shadow

So what is the “Year of the Shadow.” Well, the short version is that is where I develop a character that I’ve already published in a story somewhere into multiple projects throughout the year. The long version is that when I was talking with Toni, a fellow Graduate Student and a Writing Consultant at the MTSU Writing Center, I felt that the stories that I’d already published meant that there was something there that intrigued editors enough to buy them and publish them and I should probably use those stories as starting points to help me create longer works with those same characters. She agreed and thought that would be a great idea. I started with Tana from my short story “Ship of Shadows.” This is where the idea for the Graphic Novel came from. However, I got stuck shortly afterwards because I didn’t really know where to go with. I thought I was “unstuck” a couple of weeks ago, but when I tried to write it, I found I still didn’t know what the purpose of the story truly was and discovered that I still felt lost in the story.

Year of Tana

I could have almost entitled this the Year of Tana because my goal is now to focus on the character Tana from Ship of Shadows. In the short story, Tana is a “pilot” of a DSRV. My graphic novel will (hopefully) show how Tana goes from a pilot to a captain. The novel that I’m planning for her will show how navigates being captain and being her own independent contractor/small business owner as she struggles with both crew issues, finding ways to make money, and external issues. I intend to branch off and do a “variant” version of Tana for a screenplay where we see an alternate version of Tana and see her parents for the first time. Finally, I hope to finish off the year with a Pilot for a TV show going back to the novel and using Tana’s adventures there as my guide.

52 Weeks

I’m already 16-17 weeks behind schedule, but I didn’t really have plan earlier (or rather, I had a very nebulous plan), so I can’t really worry about the time lost. All I can do is work hard to make sure that now that I have a plan in mind, to devote time each weekend to making the plan work to the best of my ability. So, while I’m about 17 weeks behind, “The Year of the Shadow” has now commenced.

DSRV OUTRIDER–Finished the Script for Issue #1 (of 4)

spider_demont_by_davesrightmind-d776a1v
Image Source: http://www.scifiideas.com/sfi/alien-ideas/creature-concepts/spider-demon-laskaris-iii/

“Ship of Shadows” Graphic Novel = DSRV OUTRIDER

So, a couple of nights ago, I finished the first issue of the Ship of Shadows Graphic Novel.  It is 28 pages long (so far) and is the first part of 4 stories.  I’ve decided on a name for the overall series–DSRV OUTRIDER. The DSRV stands for “Deep Space Recovery Vehicle” which is the type of the vehicle that the main character, Tana, pilots.  Outrider is the name of the ship.  This is important because I hope that I’ll be able to write more stories/have more adventures with Tana as a character (my ultimate goal is to have her become captain of the Outrider) and I want to focus more on the ship and its adventures rather than the one story that is SF Horror.

Artist or Go It Alone?

I think I may have to go it alone.  I discovered my artist last year, but it took my all year to figure out a system that works for me in terms of writing and creatively.  The artist was very interested at first, but has lost interest over time–which, I don’t guess I blame him–as it should have taken a year for the whole graphic novel, not just issue one.  I really have tried to refine my writing processes over the past year to be more effective and I’m slowly getting there, but slowly doesn’t seem to be good enough for others.  I don’t mind going it alone–it’s just that many of the publishers for graphic novels want to have a “team” in place (art and writing).

What’s Next? The Art of Adaptation

I need to figure out Issue #2, so I’m going to move it off the “front burner” and work on rough drafting Issue #2 (major plot points).  I had great success with actually writing a rough draft for the story and then writing the second draft on the next “rotation.”  The thing is, in the short-story, one of the characters saves themselves off-screen, while for issue #2, Tana will save her on-screen.  I have an idea of how this happens, but I want to write it down in rough draft first before I actually try to write it in the next draft.  I’m adapting the short-story, but that doesn’t mean that I want to make it exactly like the short-story as the graphic novel affords more pages to go into more detail.  In the story, it wasn’t necessary for Tana to actually save the other character–just to make the attempt.  However, in this story, to show Tana’s attachment to her “mother” figure, she would have to save her to make her character believable.  I’ll probably start to write issue 2 in November (maybe sooner depending on whether or not the proposals that I hope to send out are successful).

Anyway, that’ all I have for now.  Have a great day!

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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