Thursday, July 29, 2010

Thursday Thoughts

Completed the synopsis - and, of course, it's way too long. I would say I've written shorter stories, but I've published micro fiction, so that really isn't saying much. Already gone back through it once to glean a few unnecessary turns of phrase, but I can see I need to pull back on the level of detail. That's always difficult: so much seems important to me, if not for the direct plotline, then for characters and motivations. I get concerned if characters aren't fleshed out enough in the synopsis, their role in the finale appears convenient - even though it's well supported in the book.

Still dithering as to whether to enter the contest I mentioned a few entries back. Got a rough sketch for the story, but it now seems so pedestrian to me. Whether this is actual or I'm in a funk: to be determined. Possibly, I may simply decide it's not up to me and let the world decide.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Thursday Thoughts

So I am now a bit past the halfway point with my Journal of the Dead synopsis. Laugh if you will at my slowness, but I've always found synopses painfully hard. Am I providing enough detail? Am I providing too much detail? Which elements are too minor to mention? Am I describing this in too banal a fashion? Am I describing this too dramatically, not appropriate for a synopsis? Am I creating enough character emotion, or am I overdoing it? Is there enough world description? (This is particularly important as I think the setting is fairly original and hopefully a selling point.) Is there too much? Which characters need their names capitalized? Why X and not Y? Is this sentence painfully clumsy? Can I please commit hari-kari now?

However, I have found that having the outline has been very helpful in funneling myself along the appropriate lines. Once I'm done with the long synopsis, my goal is to polish and cut ... eventually it will need to be 3-4 pages. I managed that with Flow, but Flow was almost 40k words shorter and with significantly fewer plot elements and characters. Then create a one page synopsis from the long synopsis ... and finally a capsule description for the query letter.

I'm also concerned with whether or not the synopsis makes it clear that there is a change in tense (from third person past to first person past). This is not something I want to "surprise" an editor / agent with. On the other hand, it's called Journal of the Dead ... still, I'm going to make sure that it is crystalline clear in the query letter segment.

Also, to completely switch thoughts, Fantasist Enterprises ( is having a fundraiser in an attempt to fund their next book project! ... which includes one of my stories. So check it out if you feel so inclined.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

It's Out!

Sybil's Garage Issue #7 (and my poem Emigrant, of course) is now out! I am eagerly awaiting my contributor copy. Check it out at:

Emigrant explores the idea of someone moving away from Earth and their longing for home. I was very tempted to title this "Hiraeth" (HERE-ryth, rhymes with scythe) which may be impossible to translate exactly, but means roughly "longing / homesickness" on a deep soul level. However, there is nothing especially Welsh about the poem, and as beautiful as the word is, you shouldn't need a footnote to understand the title of a poem. At least, I don't think so. ;-)

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Almost Out!

Just received this peek at the cover and TOC of the next issue of Sybil's Garage:

For some reason, I am deeply amused that I am sharing an issue with Hal Duncan (also no relation*) - who I saw once at a conference and is a bona fide accent-and-all Scot. ;-)

We Duncans are mighty.

(* = Dave Duncan being "no relation," so Hal Duncan is "also no relation")

Saturday, July 17, 2010

All Caps?

Here's an odd one:

I know you capitalize the names of major characters in a synopsis the first time they appear. For a fantasy work, what about place names? I've never seen a guideline on this.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Thursday Thoughts

I am pondering writing a story for Gypsy Shadow's next writing prompt contest. I usually don't write for prompts as I have a backlog of stories to submit of literally years - all right, I think it's two years, but still. However, this one caught my eye and I have some interesting ideas floating around, so we'll see how I feel once I finish my multiple minds, one body story. If not, the plan is to finish free writes through the end of 2009 and then sort through my most recent boot camp attempts, pick one, and turn it into a full-fledged tale. Well, even if I do enter the contest, that's still my plan, just with an intervening step.

Other steps planned: synopses and query letter for Journal of the Dead (as mentioned), and then, @ August 2010, print Scylla and Charybdis for initial read. I am just going to sit down and plough through it without trying to make any notes or do any editing, get an overall feel for the book. I am headed to visit my parents in Baltimore in August, so I may wait to read it for that trip. Of course, I am not Pratchett.

(My airline travel tradition has always been to read a Pratchett novel, which is why there's a review for "Making Money" from yesterday. I started it Thurs when I left and finally finished.)

Goal for sometime between now and August: write up my plot snippet and pros / cons lists for next writing projects. I have five or six ideas for where I'd like to go next, and it comes to a wrangle between things that I think are more unusual / saleable and the massive rewrite project which has been eating my head for months.

Months? How do I have any brainpower left, you ask?

I have a big head.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Goodreads Review: Making Money

Making Money (Discworld, #36)Making Money by Terry Pratchett

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

"Making Money" serves up a dose of full-out mayhem amongst the familiar scenery of Ankh-Morpork. It's amazing how running gags have woven together to create their own mythology - in the case of the golems, one that is continuously evolving and changing.

This is the second book that features former swindler Moist, and in some ways, it suffers from pitfalls of sequel-itis. Much of the first two-thirds of the books feels as if Pratchett tried to rewrite the outline for "Going Postal" with different details. While I found the fantasy explanations for modern concepts entertaining in "Postal," here I found them repetitive. A few elements seemed to depend on experience with the previous book ... in particular the romance with Adora Belle, which largely seemed to assume the reader would know the characters were attracted to each other and provided little to no further elaboration.

... then the unexpected happens (of course) and the last part of the book bursts into complete and delightful mayhem. I found the denouement more entertaining and credible than the one in "Postal" - and Vetinari never ceases to entertain when seen at careful distance.

As far as continuing elements that both evolved *and* stood on their own, I have to highlight Moist's frantic attempts to reclaim his sense of adventure and Gladys' wonderful evolution as a "lady" golem.

Overall, Moist remains an excellently drawn loveable rogue, and this book is tense, humorous and engaging.

View all my reviews >>

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Thursday Thoughts

Wasn't planning on posting today, but my writing files are all transferred and on the laptop already and I'm not leaving for a few hours, so a bit at loose ends.

Still in a cool-down period with my writing, though I've made some progress on Journal of the Dead. I want to do two things with it next: review the first twenty pages or so to make sure that I've thoroughly grounded the world and main character, and then pick pages to review at random. Not sure how many yet, but it seems another good way to get a fresh eye on it.

Before that, though, I am going to try a draft of synopsis and query. This will not be a fun experience, though I'm hoping having the outline will help me narrow in on what to mention for the former. For the latter, I will just muddle through. Squish squish. Tis the bane of my existence, I tell ya.

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Thursday Thoughts

First of all, there may be no Thursday post next week: I am leaving that day to judge a harp competition and teach a workshop in Grandfather Mountain, NC.

Moving onwards, not much to talk about this week. I took a deep breath and took a step back after finishing Scylla and Charybdis. There is more editing to do on Journal of the Dead, of course, but I'm not really in a rush and just ... enjoying the lapse. Some critique comments have made me aware I need to take another few pokes at the beginning, and I'm just letting it percolate before I attempt anything.

Working on another short story, though - a different take on one body, multiple souls / inhabitants. This seems to be one of my buttons and it gets pushed a lot. I also resubmitted Voices, which is set in the early history of Journal ... so my head has been unusually filled with mindspeech and ghosts lately. (There's a statement that, taken out of context, could get me sent to a psychiatrist. ;-))