Not Enough Time

notenoughtime_lifehackdotorg

Image Source: Lifehack.org

So this will be a (much) shorter than usual blog post, but readers may realize that I missed a blog post yesterday.  Simple answer: too much work for class.  I did all my readings, but I needed to post a response to the readings on the class discussion board.  That response (written at breakfast time) took up all my time and I had no time left for writing a blog entry.  Sorry about that.

Time just seems to get away much quicker than I realize on days that I have class.  I’ve tried alarms, notifications, even SIRI to help me be more productive, but sometimes the readings take longer than I anticipate or sometimes it takes longer to write the responses.

Perhaps if I dictate my blog entries as I’m preparing breakfast, then I won’t have to lose that “creation” time if I still have something else to work on in the morning (I try to only have the blog to work on in the morning, if possible) as I can only seem to complete one or two writing tasks while doing my morning routine.  Perhaps as I struggle through this summer course, I’ll find a process that works for me creatively and consistently.

 

Book Haul for April 2017

 

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I love books and I love reading.  I love going to bookstores and libraries and just walking down the rows of books, pulling out books that look interesting, reading the blurbs on the dust jackets and the backs of the books.  However, I don’t love the modern incarnation/conception of libraries and bookstores with their focus on book “communities,” reading “clubs” (aka reading “circles” or “groups”), and focus on other non-narrative media (movies, audio, and even video games are fine for me because of the narrative aspects of those media, but when start moving into toys, and food and beverages, that is where I lose interest).  However, I discovered that if I’m able to get to the bookstores/libraries early enough in the day, I can recapture some of that joy in cruising the aisles in order discover that special book that I can lose myself in.  So, I thought I write this week’s blog entry on the four books that I bought recently at a used bookstore.  I don’t know if this will become a regular feature of the blog, but it seemed like something fun to write about.  I bought two fiction books and two non-fiction books this time around.

TOWERS OF MIDNIGHT (Book 13 of the Wheel of Time Series) by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson

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I have read this book before.  I have completed the entire Wheel of Time novel series having started reading them way back as an undergraduate when I started my college career at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville (UTK) before I transferred to U.T. Chattanooga (UTC) a couple of years later.  This series is one that I found with help from a friend from high school who was also attending UTK  (An aside: quite a few of us actually ended up at UTK, especially in that first year and we often talked about cool Fantasy novels that we were reading).  I read this book about a year or two after it was published.  I didn’t read it initially because I concerned about Sanderson’s (or any other writer’s, for that matter) ability to successfully conclude the story that Jordan had been working on for so many years.  However, after reading an Advanced Reader’s Copy (ARC) of Brandon Sanderson’s Way of Kings, I felt confident in Sanderson’s approach that I went ahead and finished the three books the Wheel of Time Series.

WRITING FANTASY AND SCIENCE FICTION: HOW TO CREATE OUT-OF-THIS WORLD NOVELS AND SHORT STORIES by Orson Scott Card, Philip Athans, and Jay Lake & the Editors of Writer’s Digest.

Writing Fantasy and Science Fiction

Source: Amazon.com

This is one of those books that I simply couldn’t resist based on the cover and the title.  I try to buy only one book in each genre (in this case, how to: writing), but I simply couldn’t help myself when I saw it.  It covers a lot of material that I already know and/or have in other forms somewhere else, but I”m super interested in transitioning from short form Fantasy and Science Fiction into long form Fantasy and Science Fiction and I’m looking for any tips and techniques that I can find to aid me in my process.  It also has a very comprehensive “reference” section that relates to various historical elements that might be useful to a Fantasy writer, in particular and I just couldn’t resist.  I don’t think it will be as helpful to me as the other book on writing that I bought (see below), but it did have a dragon on the cover.  Note to future authors: if you want to pique my interest, just put a dragon or a spaceship on the cover.

BLEAK HOUSE by Charles Dickens

bleak houseOkay, so this is one of those books for “school.”  My program has a fairly exhaustive list of famous/important literary works for incoming PhD students to read and take a test on.  Now I’ve already taken (and PASSED! 🙂 ) this exam, but I the idea of a list of important literary works is a “challenge” that I really want to undertake.  So I’ve made it my goal to finish all the books on this list.  I actually downloaded the audio version of this book to listen to on the drive to and from school, but I really do follow the story better when I can read it, rather than listen to it.  So, I decided to buy this copy and read it during my “downtime” between classes, waiting in lines, etc.  I’ve read Dickens before, but not this specific book, so I’ll be interested to see if I like it as I do all of the other Dickens novels that I have read.

WRITING THE BLOCKBUSTER NOVEL by Albert Zuckerman

Writing the blockbuster novel

Source: Amazon.co.uk

This is another book that I’ve read before–I read it at the Chattanooga Public Library long before I started working there.  It didn’t really make all that much of an impression on me at the time as I was primarily interested in learning “short story” writing.  I wanted to learn how to write short form fiction before stepping up to the “big” works of novels, screenplays, and the like (graphic novels, while around, were not really viable options at that time).  Now, however, I think that I’m ready to learn the lessons of novel writing.  I especially love the fact that point number on the dust jacket in the inside cover is “how to develop and use an outline.”  Anyone following the conversation that I had two weeks ago with a blog commentor named Tom Cordle will appreciate the fact that I like outlines to guide my stories into rough draft stages.  Outlines make sense to me where as just jumping in blind does not.  I can’t tell you how many novels that I have “in my mind” that did not make the translation onto the page because I did not complete a strong outline/rough draft.  I’m hopeful that this book will allow me to produce an outline for a novel over the summer and (fingers crossed) a rough draft for it by Christmas of this year as well.  Well, I can dream big, at least.

Well, that’s it for me.  Here’s hoping you have wonderful, book-filled, week.

 

Potpourri ( . . . a little bit of everything)

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So this blog post contains a little bit everything (hence the title).  I will try to keep this post shorter than normal; it (hopefully) will be just an update post.

WRITING

I was really happy with the way “Here Be Monsters” (HBM) turned out.  I haven’t heard a response from the 1st market that I sent it to yet, but having the setting allowed me to focus on the characters in a way that I haven’t been able to since “Dragonhawk” (DH).  I actually like HBM a quite a bit more than DH although they have a lot in common.

READING

Finished “Conquistadors” (finally) after struggling to read it all summer and fall.  I shouldn’t complain because it gave be the initial idea and setting for HBM.  I loved learning about the Conquistadors and the Aztecs, Maya, and Inca.  It’s just that I’m so stressed from teaching that it is hard to pay attention to an in-depth non-fiction work. For the past couple of years, I usually read Fantasy (David Eddings, Brandon Sanderson, and Diane Duane) or Science Fiction (David Weber, Elizabeth Moon) in order to “de-stress.”

Picked a new “history” book from the back of the Conquistadors.  It is the Condottieri. Hopefully, lightning will strike twice and I’ll be able to find an awesome story from this time period.  I just ordered a used copy from Amazon.com today.

REVISION

I plan on revising Rocketman for my next project.  It will follow the same 3 act structure (beginning, middle, end) as HBM, but I think I need a short half a page prologue/epilogue to completely get it where I want it.  I think I’ve settled on an epigraph to highlight the theme.  More on this later.

SCHOOL

I really want to see if I can raise my game and go back to school.  I’d like to perhaps teach in Higher Education and for that I’ll need a PhD.  I’m going to apply to PhD programs this year in hopes that I will be accepted.  Much of my “free” time will be spent studying for the GRE and preparing applications for various schools, so my writing output will be reduced temporarily as I try to accomplish this goal.

NEW STORY

The creative process will not wait, however.  I’ve begun to write down ideas for my next story.  I don’t have a title yet (although I have a tentative grasp of some of the characters and some of the plot.)  All I can say at this point is the inspiration that inspired me to start planning out the story.  One was a dream that I had last night with a gunslinger.  The other was a phrase that I wrote down about a month ago while still working on HBM: “Jedi Gunslingers.”  More on this later!

That’s all I have at the moment!

Errata

Sorry this blog post is late . . . IIterally just got Wi-Fi back about 50 minutes ago.  It has been out since Friday night.  Eventually I will get this problem sorted, but it is very annoying to say the least.  

BOOKS

Currently, working my way through 2 books: Trading in Danger by Elizabeth Moon (rereading) and Teen Titans: It’s Our Right to Fight (Graphic Novel).  I love the idea of a young girl as a space captain which is why I love this series by Elizabeeth Moon so much!  Later books go off the rails for me (they take the character too far from the roots by making her too much like Honor Harrington rather than fufilling the promise of interstellar trade/commerce with combat intermixed with shipping schedules.).  The Teen Titans have always been a “guilty pleasure” for me.  One of my first comic books was a Teen Titans title (the one where Starfire fights her sister–it also has the origin of X’Hale (?)).  The storyline is from the mid-eighties, but it was intense.  Another Teen Titans comic that I bought at the time was when Dick Grayson abandoned his Robin identity for Nightwing.  I remember not being impressed by the suit, but the late 90s/early 2000s revision made him relevant.

WRITING

I am approximately 1.5 sections (of 5 total sections) through Project Roland.  I missed writing on Tuesday, so I’m approximately a section behind.  I have a May 31 deadline, so I may need to step up the speed (as much as I can).  I have decided to work around my network issues by writing/working Project Roland when I have Wi-Fi and working on (paper & pencil) rough drafts/notes for other stories.  I worked on 2 ideas today while my network was out: Project Templar and Project Djinn.  Hopefully, these 2 projects will turn into short stories over the summer.  

MOVIES

Just rented White House Down last night and watched it via Amazon streaming.  I have to say that I wasn’t impressed.  I would give it 3 stars.  It is very derivative and the narrative seems to try for over-the-top spectacle at the expense of the narrative/characters.  It takes its cue from Die Hard, but I referenced scenes from The Matrix and an odd tone shift as we got a scene from National Treasure.  The other movie that dealt with The White House that summer was a better movie (Olympus Has Fallen).  It wasn’t great, but I didn’t have to work as hard to stay invested in it as I did with White House Down.  

I plan to see the new Avengers movie next week.  Internet willing, I’ll post (spoiler-free) impressions on the next blog entry.

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I think I’ll end this post here–talk to you all next week!