Thursday, April 29, 2010

GRRM participates in Dragon Page podcast.

Listening to it now, thought I'd share. Maybe I'll return with some thoughts afterwards. Follow this link.

Ooh. Even better, a link to the interview with Maureen Ryan of the Chicago Tribune (conducted during C2E2, but not released until today).
Follow this link.

Some scenes from the pilot will have to be reshot thanks to cast changes: HBO has confirmed that the role of an exiled noblewoman, Daenerys Targaryen, is being recast and Tamzin Merchant will not play that role in the series. In March it was announced that Jennifer Ehle has dropped out of the project and Michelle Fairley has taken over the role of noblewoman Catelyn Stark.

Pity. I had rather warmed to the idea of Merchant as Dany.

Fantasy Trope Analysis: TBA

Note: I started this post two weeks ago, and then you know... but I read it and I liked and here we go.

While my belly isn't aching (you may say, "Quit yer bellyachin', Bill!"), I do a lot of reading and this morning, I was catching up on blogs from around the world and stuff.

Found this article which talked about writers and blogging and other social media. Nicely done post.

And the warriorwriter had a dern tootin' good idea. We should talk about more geeky stuff! (Which is essentially what they were saying, sua?)

I'm torn, in a sense, because my novel is incomplete/in draft, so I do not like being specific about what I'm doing within it. (I also happen to think that I'm being delightfully original in my handling of tropes and global cultures and I'm spiffy-tastic, and I don't want to spoil the surprise just yet.)

But, eh, WW makes a good point about writers writing to writers, which gosh darn, isn't a good way to get more (potential) fans.

I'm going to thread the needle, and find some topics that I can get excited about, which might suggest what I address in my writing, without giving too much away.

It'll be fun. Or stupid? Well, either way, I haven't seen anyone else mashing things up, and that Suvudu Cage Match was certainly interesting in its own way (or nerdgasm-ish, according to Larry).

As I said yesterday:
Any fantasy tropes you wanna kick around? Vampires vs Elves, Vikings vs Pirates vs Ninjas vs Assassins, Dragons vs Griffons, etc, etc. Yea, eventually, I'm going to cover them all, because (ha!) I write about them all. I do. It's a REALLY big world and I like to mash things together that shouldn't BE together. (They have super cool conversations!)(Okay, I'm not really planning on Vampires and Werewolves, per se, but I do have a derivative idea where I can mock.. er.. mix them up a bit.)

Aside, when I say "mash" them together, I don't mean like "Abe Lincoln Vampire Hunter", I mean - put two or more things in the same room that have never been put in the same room, like I dunno, Reagan and Hitler, for instance, and watch the scene unfold.

While I'm thinking about it...
- real world history of the trope, cultural origins (I like this sort of research)
- popular character identities of the trope
- good examples, in movie, tv, or print
- horrible examples, in movie, tv or print
- why is it a trope, overused, underused, general commentary on it

Either you pick one, or I'll just start picking them at random, we'll do one and see how it goes, and semi-regularly depending on what I've got going on.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Wednesday Writer's Report

Did you miss me last week?! Well, I was unwell. Covered that already. Moving on.

Being sick or distracted by the real world tends to bugger up the writing process, but I did spend a couple days earlier in the week spinwheeling out of the mud.

I admit that one of the biggest retardants to my creative process is the demon I've come to embrace in bloglandia. You see, I read a lot of agent, author, publisher blogs - for the advice, perspective, duh? - as well as a crapton of other review blogs, and sometimes I get this sense, this feeling that


And, frankly, it's a little depressing. Then I go and try make comments to these GURUS, trying to make new friends (ten million posts on making friends in the biz, yo), and they go unanswered.


Then, I stumble upon someone's manuscript. Not any of YOURS, gentle readers* - people chatting with agents and so forth, they post up their junk out of their trunk, word. (*Haha, gentle reader apparently is very annoying to many people.)

Anyway, I see that and I read it with a critical eyeball and I remember to think, "I'm at least half as okay as that." (In broader, more egotistical mental strokes, mind you.)

Am I really, truly? Dunno. But navel gazing annoys me (wait for it before you scream hypocrit), so I don't want to get to this circle-jerk exploration that seeks validation in why I'm doing what I am doing.

In the past year, almost to date, I've written the count you see above. I can do better than that, and that's why I'm doing this. It motivates me to stay on top of my game, to watch my progress - and wait, why make it public?

I used to be a performing Emcee/DJ, and just before I'd start a show, I'd be very nervous, butterflies, anxious - but when I got up there to do my introduction, once that microphone was in my hand and I knew that people were watching me - I was a superstar (in my head)(in a low rent pub in the middle of nowhere)(something other modest goes here) and I felt the power. The power to succeed. Rawr.

You can ignore or comment on these posts as suits you (Precious LOVES comments), but I like to track what my thoughts are and I like to make it public, on a trend, so that I'm forced to feel that same power when I stare at my blank screen, as I used to feel before I took to stage.


Anyway, I am thinking of some more interesting content, and I was going to include that notion in this post until I started babbling - in short, because the warriorwriter said so, I want to chat about fantasy stuff in addition to books, movies, TV shows, etc., that I like.

Any fantasy tropes you wanna kick around? Vampires vs Elves, Vikings vs Pirates vs Ninjas vs Assassins, Dragons vs Griffons, etc, etc. Yea, eventually, I'm going to cover them all, because (ha!) I write about them all. I do. It's a REALLY big world and I like to mash things together that shouldn't BE together. (They have super cool conversations!)(Okay, I'm not really planning on Vampires and Werewolves, per se, but I do have a derivative idea where I can mock.. er.. mix them up a bit.)

Okay, don't answer that - I'll do another post tomorrow.

P.S. congrats to China Mieville for winning the Arthur C. Clarke Award.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Cat investigates new IPAD

Everyone's talking about the new IPAD, and its potential for revolutionizing how people get books - and/or - how it's going to destroy publishing. Forever!

Well, be that as it may, I am a starving artist, so I will not be buying one of those doohickeys. I like books, the real kind.

That doesn't mean you shouldn't think about getting yourself an IPAD. In the video below, see how Satan's Helper (Iggy) investigates the entertainment potential of the new technology.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Dothraki Language

A quick post, just because I'm excited to share.

As you may or may not know (I'm pretty sure I've told everyone that I know) HBO is filming a series based on George R.R. Martin's A Game of Thrones.

Today's big announcement, already covered elsewhere in blogland, is that HBO hired a linguist to create the Dothraki language. The blog Winter is Coming broke the news earlier.

But, for those of who just think that's uh... well, super cool, David Peterson, the linguist, has started a blog specifically for sharing and commenting on this new language. Here, in fact. (Edit, 4/13, the site was moved, so I updated the link.)

I've actually started crafting a language for Catalyst, and will probably have the core of a second one before I'm done tinkering. Am I a linguist? No, no. I just think it makes the world more interesting. (That and regional accents, grawr.)

My interest is in watching this unfold and seeing how much I can learn about the process. Thought I'd share.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Sunday Muse-ings. Accents.

I usually read books that are written by authors who are more talented than I am, particularly where descriptive prose is concerned. It helps me find my inner voice, by challenging me.

I lost a little ground this week in writing progress because I had to go back and revise stuff that I had written while reading for my first review. Grrrrr. No worries, though, I'm doing the Malazan challenge and Erikson doesn't affect me that way. I find him very hard to read, and that, believe it or not, makes my writing better.

I'm originally from the Isaac Asimov school of prose, which is essentially plainspeak. It has a level of accessibility that still addresses complex people, places and things. That noted, I still wanna be GRRM when I grow up. Seriously. ;-)

I received my first 'critical review' return on the first chunk of my novel, and I am pleased to announce that it didn't get burned! Yay!

Which brings me to what I'm musing about this week.


Accents. If a character has a regional dialect, this brings up a couple of concerns.

One is - will it sound like an accent to others with the same accent? If two people from Boston are talking to each other, do they even realize - or hear - their Mass. accent?

You're thinking, "Probably not."

So, the question REALLY is: Should a reader hear their accent if the speakers don't recognize them? (And yes, this will leave me with a crapload of revising if I change how I'm doing things.)

Second question!
Let's say Billy Joe Bob has a thick southern accent. Yeehaw, ya'll! Giddy up! (Etc.) Does the voice in his head, his internal monologue, have that accent, too? Or as JoeBob might say, "Dunno what de're goin' on 'bout, ah tawk jes fine."

I'm of the opinion that internal monologues are never accented. Because that voice in our head is perfect.

I'm of the opinion that accents consist of two distinct attributes. One is the formation of lips, tongue and teeth to produce the words inside the head. The other is the vernacular, certain words used to describe certain things, which may sound unusual to someone from another region.

"Pop", "Soda", "Coke", "Cola", "Cool refreshing beverage." - Same thing, just depends where you're from.

Bonus question: Once you've been through a few chapters with a heavy accent, is it okay for the accent to disappear a little bit (and spare you trudging through it), since you've sorta gotten used to the characters and their oddities - and then if/when they meet someone from another region/culture, to reintroduce that accent, because it will be an unfamiliar usage of the language to the new perspective?

Or is it better to keep up the accent throughout?

I've studied a few languages (I'm barely fluent in English, sorry can't impress you here), and I'm a huge fan of regional dialect as a way to distinguish cultural gaps. But if you're not well traveled or experienced in foreign languages, accented dialogue could be a bit annoying.

I'm interested in whatever you have to say about it.

Otherwise, have a great week.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Wednesday Writer's Report

Good morning (or good afternoon, for those in Europe).

In case it wasn't obvious, for the record, that "excerpt" was not real. It was an April Fool's thing. Ha ha?

A semi-productive week. Finished the revisionary/pacing on the E tribe's current chapter, knocked out a scene in the latest D tribe chapter, and am about 1/3 to 1/2 way through the first short story chapter.

This week's goal is to finish the D chapter (3k words should do it) and finish the first short (4-5k estimate). This weekend I am receiving the first 'heavy edit' return from one of my readers, regarding the first 8 chapters.

It's too early for serious revising, but there is backstory and exposition to cover along the way - so it's important to know when/where this stuff should go.

Catalyst starts out pretty active, then pauses for a few chapters (where I'm at now), then picks up the pace again to reach climax and slip towards resolution. I will have to reindulge myself in some research again in the near future, to refresh my memory.

Of note, this week, I've shifted my "schedule" in order to better deal with external factors. It seems to be working, though my daily average is just over 1k a day - I'd rather see that closer to 2k for this particular story.

I'd like to blame the world on my lack of productivity, but it's me. My self discipline has taken a dive. I'm easily distracted by shiny whatz-its and interesting noises.


I'm reading Terry Goodkind in prep for my first review. I figure he's such a staple of the genre that you can measure my response to him versus your own tastes. He's the litmus test, if you will.

I'm reading the first novel in his epic series, and coincidentally, I'm 40pct through it.

I'll leave the review for the review, but I want to ask you something...

How much do you need explained to you, when you're reading fantasy fiction?

In other words, would you rather be told exactly how the characters are feeling, sitting or standing, or would you rather figure it out based on available information?

For myself, I tend to write only the stronger sentiments, but otherwise, I let you try to figure it out with subtle gestures, body language and vocal tonality.

For instance:
1) Bill wanted to write a nice blog, but he was hungry and to make matters worse, he was hungover. But, he was almost done, so he pushed himself, typing fast at the keyboard. Finally, he leaned back and felt a sense of accomplishment.


2) Hunched over his desk, Bill clacked away at the keyboard. An empty wine glass from the night before kept vigil over his work. He stared at the screen with a vacant expression on his face and grunted in annoyance when his stomach growled. After a few more keystrokes he said aloud, "Aha. Done!" and leaned back with a smug smile on his face.

The two paragraphs say the same thing, but the latter is closer to how I would write it. The latter forces you to draw conclusions based on evidence - I only provide observations that you would note if you were standing there.

Occasionally, I will let you inside a character's head, but usually when they are uncertain - because that's a subtlety in expression that would not necessarily be obvious to a bystander watching the world go by. But, I'm a keen observer of people, and by default, so is the reader.

Otherwise, I prefer to let the smirk or quip or comment carry the scene, and you can figure out if it's a legitimate response or a defense mechanism, etc.

I will do inner monologue if it's not obvious where the POV's head is at, particularly with those stoic types who are conflicted.

Anyway, if you've any thoughts on how much information you need to be told, I'd appreciate it.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Sunday Muse-ings. Religion.

(Spiffy graphic, huh? I found this on another author's blog, can't remember which now.)

Since it's Easter Sunday, and I have the place to myself for a few hours, I thought I'd put up today's blog before I got some work done. I am an ace procrastinator. Truly, my discipline is crap, lately. That's the other reason for tracking progress; if you see how little I am doing, it will motivate me to do more.

Plenty of fantasy fiction does fine without delving too much into religion. Others make religion an integral part of the story, and a few make religion the entire subtext of the novel.

I am a big fan of religion, although I'm not particularly religious. I believe that it creates fantastic situations for conflicting ideologies, it offers entertaining explanations for life and death, and rituals are always fun to read about.

Image of attended ritual held at Stonehenge. Found on, unattributed.

It's something that I want to delve into, moreso in future stories with more advanced cultures, for those reasons. But, it's also something that I have to be careful with. I have a good understanding of theology under my belt, from my childhood interest. I walk away from organized religion with a belief in humanity, in accepting consequences for our actions, and making decisions based on intelligence, not faith.

It's a topic that I can, and have, go on about for some length. But, I don't find that particularly interesting in a novel, so I have to keep religion very basic, at arm's length, les my own beliefs creep into the POV's.

In epic fiction, I believe that religion is an inherent aspect of the worldbuilding, and that - just like Humans - no being of an intelligent race is NOT going to have an answer in regards to birth, death, creation, balance of the universe, etc.

Historically, religious organizations have always influenced cultures, one way or the other. Most of the striking events from Europe to the Middle East were originally based upon spiritual motivations (and not-so-ironically, to this day, the headlines regarding change and conflict are heavily based upon the same).

I think it's necessary. Perhaps it's something that should be given as much 'air time' as land and building descriptions. Perhaps religion should be at the core of at least one conflict in every story, in order to reflect current sociology.

Fantasy fiction and cultural religions: Does this stuff interest you, does it make the world more real, or does that make it TOO real, and you'd rather do without?

Happy Easter.

Easter Movie: Killer Peeps

Happy Easter!