Monthly Archive for May, 2011

all the lonely reviews

Though it might be better practice to ignore reviews of my stories, at this point in my career I just can’t resist peeking at them. At the very least, they’re evidence that┬ápeople other than my friends are reading my work. Fortunately, so far they have been rather favorable, and I’m just pleased that reviewers are spelling my name right. Here, then, are a few reviews of Shimmer magazine issue #13, which includes my short story “All the Lonely People”:

Locus Online
Lois Tilton calls my story a “depressing look at urban existence,” which is precisely what I was going for.

SFRevu
Sam Tomaino calls it a “sad, bittersweet tale.”

The Portal
Jessica Barnes says, “The concept and writing are stellar, as with the rest of the collection…”

You can order print ($6) and electronic ($4) editions of the issue online, read an interview with me, or view a video clip of me reading part of “All the Lonely People.”

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welcome to toontown

The brief hiatus at The Viewscreen is over, which means I’m as busy as ever: writing reviews, revising a novel, and juggling all sorts of miscellaneous tasks in addition to the day job. I have a small vacation coming up this weekend, and I really need it.

This time Torie and I are (re)watching Star Trek: The Animated Series. Though I went into this re-watch with some trepidation, so far I’ve been enjoying the show immensely. As with the original series, you have to overlook some flaws inherent to the budgetary constraints placed on the show, but these animated adventures often aspire to the same depth and quality of the live-action stories. Not many people have seen them and the series is rarely talked about, but they are very much an important part of the franchise’s long history.

This week we covered the first two episodes, “Beyond the Farthest Star” and “Yesteryear,” the latter which is D.C. Fontana’s quasi-sequel to the classic episodes “The City on the Edge of Forever” and “Journey to Babel.” I think they’re well worth your time, and fortunately you can now watch the entire series for free at CBS.com. Episodes are only 24 minutes long, so why not watch along with us and tell us what you think? You can also just read our lovingly-crafted recaps and commentary and share your two cents without having to watch a thing.

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live long & prosper

We interrupt our usual programming for an important message:

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how is a writing career like Smallville?

No doubt some of you shuddered in horror at the title of this post, but bear with me for a moment.

Last Friday, the series Smallville ended its record-breaking ten year run on the CW. As I prepared to watch the finale with friends this weekend, I reflected on that improbable incredible milestone and realized that it closely parallels a milestone of my own: I’ve been writing for publication for ten years, the entire time that show has been on the air. I wrote, revised, and submitted my first short story–which really wasn’t very short at all, nor publishable–only a few months before Smallville premiered in October of 2001.

And like young Clark Kent, I’ve come a long way since then. Here are some of the strange similarities I came up with:

  • Like Smallville, my stories usually start with unimaginative, single-word titles.
  • Like Clark’s love life, I had to deal with a lot of rejection before my first story was published.
  • I wrote some of my worst stories during the absolute worst year of the show, season 4. And that’s when I considered giving up on both the show and my writing career.
  • But then I graduated from Clarion West, and my writing improved greatly–just like the seasons after Clark graduated from Smallville High.
  • As Clark began to involve himself in a bourgeoning Justice League, I joined my own team of superheroes, the writers in Altered Fluid.
  • I set way too many of my stories in New York City, and far too much happens in Metropolis on the show.
  • In the last year, as Clark finally learned to be Superman, I sold my first novel! (There was even a subplot this season that has some resonance with Fair Coin, but I won’t get into that now.)
  • And… I’ve been planning my own wedding alongside Lois & Clark.

Eerie, isn’t it?

For all the show’s faults, and there were many of them, I’m glad I stuck with it for all these years, just as I stayed on the long road to publication. It’s even possible that the show somehow influenced my own work, since I was always critical of its meandering plot arcs, cliches, and poor dialogue–and hey, I am writing young adult fiction now, so all that high school drama counted for something. To take this post to an even more ludicrous level, the gradual way Clark added to his arsenal of superpowers over the years and learned to control each new ability is similar to the way writers must learn new skills and practice them, always pushing themselves to try new things in their fiction. The only thing keeping us from flying is our own fear of heights.

At the end of Smallville, another phase of Clark’s journey is just beginning, with its own challenges and rewards, and I’m eager to move on to the next stage of my career as I prepare for my first novel to come out. Up, up, and away!

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the scrivening, part 3: a work in progress

My friend Kris, a happy user of Scrivener, once told me that the way I organized my novel was like “a low-tech version” of the software. Now that I’ve played with some of its features, I know she was absolutely right.

So this is how I normally write my novels, which may sound quite bizarre to some of you:

  • Every chapter gets its own folder, eg. Ch01_QuantumCoin_drafts
  • Every time I work on a file, I give it a different file name, such as chapter_one_050411.doc. I’ll usually only work on a document once a day, but if I revisit it multiple times, I start adding letters to the end, a la the naming conventions for Federation starships. (chapter_one_050411A = NCC-1701-A). I usually end up with one to four files per chapter, which might be excessive, but gives me peace of mind. In the event of a corrupt file, I can rollback to the previous document, and I can always revert to a previous draft if I need to.
  • While writing, I note details about each chapter in a table (in another Word doc) that looks basically like this:
Ch/Word Count Characters Events/Scenes Notes
1/1542 Ephraim
Nathan
Jena
Crazy stuff happens Make this chapter better

Continue reading ‘the scrivening, part 3: a work in progress’

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