Rewriting and Art

Well, rewrites on the novel have officially begun. I’ll be hitting the local Barnes and Noble to do some more, and await a chance for yet more revisions during the writers workshop I attend. I can actually do revisions pretty quickly, and don’t mind the process. As I said before, this is the stage when I have something to work with, and still have a lot of creative freedom over the project.

—————————

On a totally unrelated note, I finally got to do some drawing exercises for the first time in epochs. I seem to do okay with drawing dinosaur heads in particular. This is a pic I took (sorry for the awful lighting), and I don’t know what species it might be. Not T-rex; the skull is the wrong shape for that. Not Allosaurus either. Might be a little closer to Acrocanthosaurus, thanks to the wide-angled triangular snout and the height of its neck, but the antorbital fenestra (the hollow in front of the eye socket) looks a little small for that. Ah, well. I’ll just call it a “new species” of dinosaur.

Pencil sketches are where I'm most experienced. I need to put more detail into the body, though. All of my attention keeps going to the face.

Catch you all later!

Advertisements

VICTORY – The Novel’s Finished

My aspirations to write a fantasy series solidified (more or less) five years ago. I embarked on a journey to create a world, to find a huge story worth telling inside that world, and play the part of Victor Frankenstein as I sent a life-giving shock through its muscles and bones. The months were drawn out by a curse of procrastination, a Bachelors degree to finish, and no small amount of laziness under the guise of writer’s block.

Tonight, that curse has been lifted. Revived, the first volume in my epic fantasy series entitled The Wolfglen Legacy, now has a complete first draft. Wrapped up into one bundle of documents and backed up across cyberspace, this first novel marks the beginning of my journey through the world and stories I have labored over since I was a teenager. Today, my writing as a career begins.

Today, I celebrate. Tomorrow is for revision. Lots and lots of revision. Half of the book, right now, is probably worse off than the hurried scribbles of a NaNoWriMo project, and reads like Cliffs Notes that only outline the plot, and hardly speak a syllable of the character development, worldbuilding, personality, or fine-tuned language I am aspiring to bring into this novel.

I have no idea how I’m going to pull those other things off. Fortunately, revision is a process I happen to relish, because that’s when I have something to work with. The old saying goes, “you can’t edit a blank page.” But now, Revived no longer has any blank pages. And at least for today, that’s victory enough.

God be thanked, it’s done. It’s finally finished. The dragon is slain.

"Tyrant's End: Morent's First Thrust." Image courtesy of E.J. Mickels II, a talented artist who was kind enough to paint this in 2006 for my short story "Battle at Engorlash."

“Alcatraz” – A Letter of Recommendation

I am about to go on an anti-rant, so forgive me if I sound like a hyper fanboy. That’s because I am one.

Once in a while, you find one of those television shows that is blessed with just the right casting, concept, and a whole lot of intrigue that glues you to the seat. More than that, the storytelling is so engaging that you reliably (and willingly) tune in every week.

What is it with J.J. Abrams and enigmatic islands? The show's still awesome, though.

For me, that show has been Alcatraz on Fox. After the decline of the (in my opinion) vastly underappreciated Terra Nova, this new show from J.J. Abrams might be just the thing for me to get my Fox sci-fi kicks. I hope and pray that it sticks around at least for another couple of seasons.

So, most of you have either watched the show at least once, or have seen its considerable hype. But just in case you didn’t, it involves the inmates and guards mysteriously vanishing from Alcatraz Island in 1963. The US government covers it up and fabricates stories of how everyone was transferred away from the prison due to unsafe living conditions. In the present day, the inmates are returning without having aged a day. As if this wasn’t odd enough, the time-traveling jailbirds seem quite comfortable in 2012, and go right back to committing the same crimes they were arrested for. The show follows government agent Emerson Hauser (Sam Neill), tough-as-nails cop Rebecca Madsen (Sarah Jones), and Dr. Diego Soto, an Alcatraz historian/comics store owner with two PhDs (Jorge Garcia – seriously, whoever created that character was a genius). The three of them simultaneously track down the inmates and piece together the growing mystery surrounding Alcatraz.

Where has this show been all my life? It has Dr. Alan Grant and Hurley from Lost, hunting down time-traveling killers from America’s most infamous prison. What’s not to love about that idea? They really did have me at “hello.”

And for the most part, the show totally works and lives up to the potential of that concept. What we have seen in the first season is part cop procedural, part science fiction, part mystery. We get a breakneck introduction to the major characters, blended with a hunt for the criminals as they trickle into the present day one by one, and substantial flashbacks to the prison’s heyday in the early ’60s. I won’t give too many details, to ruin the joy of experiencing Alcatraz. If you haven’t bothered seeing the show yet, please. Get off my blog. Go find it on Hulu or somewhere. Forget about me, and watch it. Now.

Of course, like any show still finding its sea legs, there are a few kinks. Rebecca is pretty much a one-dimensional cop, even though Jones plays the part very convincingly. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. I just hope in the second season she will get more chances to grow and develop more of a personality. And sometimes the flashbacks to Alcatraz when it was still in use can be a little long, even if the situations and characters they show are utterly fascinating.

Overall, though, this is one show that has not even finished its first season, and already it has earned my loyalty. The storytelling is unique and generally fast-paced, Jorge Garcia and Sam Neill are always a delight to watch, and bit by bit the mystery is getting revealed. Unlike Lost. Don’t get me wrong, I loved that show too, but there were too many shocking “surprise!” moments that never got answered. As poignant as the finale was, I still wanted to know what was up with that freaking island.

In any case, Abrams has given us a strong series with tons of life, soul, and potential. Fox, please don’t cancel this one for a couple of years. The show is too good for that treatment. Besides, the opening music gives me chills every single time I hear it.

I have to give my most vigorous agreement to this blogger’s main point. NASA needs to reach Mars, and push back against the politicians that bully it and slice away its funding for their own ambition. NASA has to swing a few fists, at least long enough to get a manned rocket off the ground and on its way to Mars.

Cumbrian Sky

Right. I’m going to start this post with a warning. I’m usually a very tolerant kind of person, I much prefer negotiation to conflict and hate arguments. I always try to see both sides of an issue, and my posts here on CUMBRIAN SKY have always, I hoped, been fair and respectful to others’ opinions. But this isn’t going to be one of those posts. This one is going to be angry, and biased, and probably very unfair to some people, and will contain swearing. Why? Because I am just mad as hell about the latest NASA budget – which you must have read about, or heard about, unless you’re trekking to the pole or gliding down the Amazon in a canoe – and what it means for science, exploration, and the future. So, if anything in this post upsets you, or offends you, that’s fine, this is just…

View original post 4,633 more words

Colorado’s Ideal Coffee Shop; An Editor for Your Manuscript; the PPWC

Well, here’s an odd little post. Two slightly-related-but-not-really subjects. Think of them as a bit of local advertising, related to two of the most essential things of life: writing and coffee.

If you’re ever in the region of Black Forest CO, and need some coffee served with a smile, look no further than R&R Coffee and Cafe.

http://www.rnrcoffeecafe.com/

One of the friendliest businesses you’ll ever know. [[I’ll post pictures of the place when I can.]] I’ve been on very good terms with the family that owns it for a couple of years, and they’re kind enough to let me write for long periods of time whenever I can visit.

—————————————-

As for editing, you need look no further than Bree Ervin. I will be hiring her to look over my own novel once it is finished. With sharp wit, experience, and incredible professionalism, she has quickly established herself as a great consultant-for-hire for writers. In addition to being an editor, she also acts as a publicist, marketer, blogger, and a lover of twisted fairy tales and writer of zombie flash fiction. I recommend her blog, if you want to see her at work:

http://thinkbannedthoughts.wordpress.com/

—————————————-

Either one would be terrific if you plan on attending the Pikes Peak Writers Conference 2012. Creativity and the whispers of a reinvigorated muse will find you in the friendly atmosphere of Black Forest and R&R (just half an hour’s drive away from the Marriott where the PPWC will take place), and you can experience Ervin’s humor and charm personally at the conference, where she will be teaching a workshop and offering all kinds of advice.

Hope you all have a pleasant day!

For Those who Need a Good Laugh

How Chuck Norris plays Angry Birds.

I found this video on Youtube a few days ago, and I was practically dead from laughing so hard. If your day is difficult, or you’re just looking for a light moment in your day, here it is.

Now, off to finish the book I have worked on for five years. On to victory.

More Thoughts on Reader-Focused Fiction

Considering the rhetoric of self-publishers and indie publishers these days, especially in regards to traditional publishing, you’d think that authors are finally unshackled from the chains of tyrants who cruelly eviscerated work that “didn’t sell” and denied them entry into the life meant for them, the life of a Writer. Even if you’re not looking for Stephen King-caliber popularity, you are apparently being cheated out of your true potential by going with a gatekeeper. The image of the big publishing companies has rather swiftly evolved into something a little like this.

Meet my pet. His name's Skippy. Yes, you read that right. Skippy. Don't judge me.

But as happy as I am that everyone now has the option for selling their work and becoming known as an official Author, I want to reiterate from a previous post: your writing is meant to serve others.

I mentioned that I appreciate the gatekeepers, and that some people are running away from them for the wrong reasons. Even though the self-publishing industry is thriving more than ever, it seems to have lost a great deal of focus on serving readers with great storytelling, and shifted its focus to marketing. That could be just my limited exposure to such talk, so please tell me if I am wrong.

Most writing talks and articles nowadays are geared toward self-pubbers, with instructions on how to format a book, what price the Kindle edition should have, and how you can advertise your name through social media (Maybe that’s just “most” articles and talks I’ve seen and I need to hit the Writer’s Digests again).

I’m here to ask all fiction writers, no matter what they write or how they publish it: how high is excellent storytelling on your priorities list?

What of the readers who need a great book in their hands? What of the complex characters and patiently built plots they hunger for, flowing in the veins of a living story that tells them something True about themselves and about mankind?

Are you willing to kill your ego and send the book to an agent, or hire an editor for it? Remember this: every writer goes to war, picking up a rifle and doing their part. And whether or not they know it, they’ll need a drill sergeant to let them know what they’re getting right, and what they’re totally screwing up. If you’re a writer, you need such a colleague because you are bound to a cause that serves others, gifting them with an endless supply of new stories that they will care about. Readers want and need stories that challenge, that bewilder, that terrify and amuse and race through the blood until it becomes a part of them. Renewing your commitment to excellence is more important than ever, for your readers have so many excuses to be distracted.

Don’t let them be distracted. Give them a story that captures them as surely as a spell, and do this by honing your skills and wit until they are as sharp as obsidian. Learn to care about your readers more than whether the story needs to run through a gauntlet of “gatekeepers” to reach them. Your readers are starving for wonderful new fiction. They need the best tales you’ve got.