Monday, May 29, 2017

Monday Meanderings

One of the key parts of a good story is the use of detail:  not exhaustive, generic detail, but the right handful of details to shine light on the heart of the story.  Of course, in direct contradiction to that statement, that's not exactly what I want to talk about.

Rather, I think it's interesting what details a writer chooses to include, both to serve the heart of the story and those that buzz in the background.  One writer might include an elaborate description of a tapestry, either to point up the richness of the court or its long history, or perhaps simple for the pleasure of writing it.  Another writer would snort at these tapestry descriptions as fluff, but think nothing of dropping in a huge description of the food served at the banquet.  A third might focus their worldbuilding attention on flora, both borrowed from Earth and invented for the setting.

Personally, I don't often write about musicians, bakers or chefs, but those elements often sneak into my work in other ways.  Taste and smell are integral to my descriptions; I pay more attention to describing music and musical metaphors than I might to other aspects.  I've used various takes of music-as-magic in stories.  And I know that my other biases and interests influence what happens in my work.  For instance, in Scylla and Charybdis, Anaea finds herself fascinated with physical books.  The book-as-paper has almost vanished from society in that world, but its tactile nature and permanence attracts her.

And ... me, too, if I'm honest about it.

Years ago, I read a writing book for SF/F writers (alas, I can't remember the author or book!) that discussed another writer's series.  The series was a portal fantasy, partly set in the real world, partly in a fairy realm.  The guidebook author said that the parts that fascinated about her were not in the invented realm, but in the writer's depiction of the state in which they lived.  (Again, I so wish I could recall!)

Authors can strategize, pick and choose the details that make it to the final draft, but to a certain extent, I don't think authors can decide which details interest them and they end up focusing on.  It's something that sneaks sidelong to the heart of who they are and what love.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Song Styles

This post contains indirect potential spoilers for Unnatural Causes, a book which is still in the editing process and thus some ways from submission, much less publication ... which makes the odds of remembering an unspecified song reference, out of context, years later, vanishingly tiny.

Still ... you have been warned.

I love a "Yes, but" ending in my stories, and my novels are no exception, so most of them are open to a sequel, even if I haven't specifically planned or even intended to write one.  I have some half-formed thoughts for a sequel to Unnatural Causes, and I know that this would be a fitting song to represent the romance storyline:

Near To You - A Fine Frenzy

Monday, May 22, 2017

Monday Meanderings

I've been quiet for a while because, almost three weeks ago now, my desktop crashed with a dramatic bellyflop, leaving me to the tender mercies of my old laptop, (mostly) affectionately know as the Frankenlaptop.  It is called the Frankenlaptop for a number of reasons:

1.  It is fused together from spare parts.
2.  It has died multiple times and been reanimated.
3.  It bears a deep and abiding hatred for its master.
4.  It is capable of beating people up.  (It is quite sturdy and heavy.)

I was working on line edits for Scylla and Charybdis (more to report there soon, I hope!), and I was genuinely surprised that my laptop played nicely enough with Track Changes for me to continue through the marks.

So for a while, my routine shifted.  I've avoided intensive web-browsing, such as video watching, and I don't have the programs to do those nifty little graphics for BookQW (Book Quote Wednesday).  I don't have any games installed on the laptop, either, which let me focus on writing ... and all right, binge-watching Orphan Black.

Did this change help with my writing?  Did it grant some new insight?  Nothing earth-shattering or obvious, but I've greatly enjoyed working on my current short story, "Pieces of Her," and my novel, Surgeburnt, feels as if it's flowing more smoothly ... for now.  This book has been a multi-headed beast, which given its fantastic premise, is appropriate.  But writing ebbs and flows, and there are difficult times and smooth times.  Maybe this is simply one of those.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Loyal Dice is now out!

Leading Edge 70 is out with my story, "Loyal Dice" ... Pazia's first adventure. It's been a long and convoluted journey getting this one to print:

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Song Styles

Happy Mother's Day to all the moms, grandmoms, foster-moms, stepmoms, like-a-moms, expectant moms, even fur-moms ... and all the moms I might have forgotten.

Because it's my day for songs, this one seemed appropriate:

Mom - Meghan Trainor

Monday, May 08, 2017

Monday Meanderings

I feel as if there's a constant tension in my creative process between the old and the new.

As a writer, I'm restless:  always moving on to new worlds, new characters, new ideas.  I love short stories in part because it enables me to take a snapshot of a concept - for instance, a flying city populated by people who believe the world below has been destroyed - and play with the thread for a bit before setting it aside and, like a child with crayons, merrily clutching for the next.  When it comes to editing for short fiction, I have a definite (if not always consistent) tipping point between when I'll overhaul a story and when I feel it's effort better spent on a new work.

I do this with harp, too:  I'm always eager to try new tunes, and I would far rather pick up new sheet music than revive a forgotten piece from my older repertoire.  And cooking:  I try new recipes almost every week.  I rarely go back.

On the other hand, I have a certain nostalgia for old concepts, characters and stories.  I'm an incubator at heart, so these tales that have had years to mellow from their writing have a powerful appeal.  I'm also a perfectionist, so looking at my old flaws, from awkward prose to questionable plot twists to cliche worldbuilding, I want to fix that ... and I'm also intrigued by the cascading changes that stem from making those improvements.

So I find myself caught between the two.  Should I try to salvage every story, or is it all right to decide that it's better to take what I've learned and spend the effort on a new work?  Should I go back and rewrite old novels, or is it better to mine newer, fresher ideas?  Is either extreme lazy and undisciplined?  Which one?  How in thunderation do I know?

And please, don't say, "Choose whichever appeals the most to you."  Oh, if I knew that, I wouldn't continuously dither about it.  Sometimes, it comes down to my sense of what might be more marketable, but that's always a best guess.

It's a work in progress.

Sunday, May 07, 2017

Song Styles

When I first started writing Scylla and Charybdis, I put together a soundtrack for it:  songs appropriate to the overall plot / theme, specific characters, relationships, and some choices for the gender elements that were just plain bratty (see:  "There Is Nothing Like A Dame" from the musical South Pacific).  But it's been several years since then; oh, the time between first draft and publication.

Recently, playing some of my newer tunes, it occurred to me that this might be a fitting addition:

Fire Under My Feet - Leona Lewis

It certainly speaks to adversity and hope.

Monday, May 01, 2017

Monday Meanderings

When I say I enjoy creating things and being creative, I mean it in two ways.  The first is the standard usage:  I like the invention, putting together something out of nothing or the mental bits and bobs of everything.  The intellectual and inspiration side.

The second is more fundamental and broader:  I like making things from scratch, combining materials into a result you can experience, whether visually or with your tastebuds.  The physical and tactile side (even typing is tactile), which doesn't necessarily have to have a "creative" component by the typical definition.  Then again, even in the most specifically followed recipe, there's some variance, some trusting of instinct, and nuance learned in repetition.

If there's a weakness in this interpretation for me, it's that I have trouble creating unless I have a purpose for the final product.  Food is easy:  that's going in my belly.  (Or someone else's.)  Stories and novels are intended for submission and the hope of publication.  I find that sometimes, it's hard to motivate myself to finish a harp arrangement unless I have a gig on the books where I can play it.  It's why I don't work much with visual art:  I have a fractal deviation, a drawing, a photo ... now what do I *do* with it?  What purpose does it serve?

Homemade ice cream requires no purpose, of course.  Just a bowl and a spoon.