Buffy’s birthday presents.

January 20, 2011

Buffy is in her thirties now.

I’ve seen a number of people commemorating the fact that this week, yesterday actually, would be Buffy Summer’s thirtieth birthday according to the hints dropped in the TV show. For several years, each January brought us a new ‘birthday party from Hell’ for the guardian of the Hellmouth, including vampire boyfriends turning evil, losing her Slayer strength, her Watcher getting turned into a demon, her little sister finding out that she was a key, and being trapped in the house by a curse.

It seems as if to mark this birthday, the ‘Buffy season eight’ comics series is finally wrapping up, and season nine will kick off soon, which is cool. I’ve still got a long ways to catch up on season eight myself, so I don’t really know what’s been going on in Buffy’s life since she left Sunnydale.

But at this point, on my writing blog, I’d like to reflect on the debt that I owe Buffy and her friends, (and her marvelous creator,) as a writer. It goes back to the spring of 1998, after that season two birthday episode with Angelus and the Judge, when I first really hit the Internet looking for speculation or clues about what would happen next, and in the process, as I recall, came upon a few Buffy fanfic websites, like slayerette.org and the Slayer’s Fanfic Archive. Read the rest of this entry »

A Wizard of Mars – Chapter Two

January 19, 2011

A Wizard of Mars chapter index

This is a big one, fifty-six pages, so I might be going a little quick. We open with Nita POV – I think that around two thirds of the chapters in the book start with Nita POV, though the number that end on Kit POV may be close to half.

Nita is learning to be an Oracle, which makes some sense, as she’s shown a rough talent for premonition in the past few books. She’s over at Tom and Carl’s house – taking lessons from the koi who pronounce prophetic haiku. Nita predicts a cloud passing over the sun – but she calls ‘now’ nearly a minute early, which is apparently not good enough in the Oracle trade.

Nita chats with Tom for a while, talking about how Dairine is still out looking for Roshaun. Nita asks if Tom’s manual has any status info on Roshaun, and Tom just asks Nita if she’s checked her own manual and says that anything he reads in his might not be relevant information for her – but says that if she does look in hers, he’d like to know.  Read the rest of this entry »

Fanart 10: Lots of small wallpapers.

January 18, 2011

Fanart series index.

Well, I think I’m going to be wrapping up this fan art series soon, though I might still share some from time to time. This week, though, I’ve got a lot of recent examples of what I call ‘wallpaper’ fanart as opposed to story banners or signature banners – fanart that’s just supposed to be pretty and possibly illustrate a moment or theme from the fandom show. I did quite a bit of that in 2010, though I’ll probably be moving back to more story banners this year.

So I’ve got six little wallpapers to show, each from a different favorite TV show. First, from Roswell, a Michael/Maria shipper banner, drawing from two early season one episodes when those characters were just starting to relate to each other:

In this case, as is usual for my wallpaper, I thought of the theme and the copy first, and then went looking for vidcaps that would suit it – from two different sequences involving Michael, Maria, and a motel room.

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Blogosphere Monday: And this time, concentrate!

January 17, 2011

Blogosphere index

I’m still feeling the blogfest love, so this week I’d like to spotlight one of the founding homes of the ‘Show me Yours’ blogfest“…And this Time, Concentrate!”

At this point, Summer’s blog has lots of cool stuff on gaming, pictures of snowy weather, advice for writers, resolutions about books to read and discussion of writing goals. Also some kittens, and Summer’s ‘Show me Yours’ is still halfway up page 1.

More than anything else there, though, I really love the paraphrased quote up at the top of the blog, from which it gets its name.

So, enough of my rambling on. Go follow the link and read Summer’s rambling!

Oh, and I’d like to give Misa a very special Blogosphere thanks for sending a Stylish Blogger award my way! Whoo-hoo!

Sunday Blogisode Seven

January 16, 2011

Blogisode index.

She didn’t quite say it out loud, but I got the notion that she finally realized how hung up I was on Melissa and didn’t want to stick around as second-best. I can’t really blame her, but it breaks my heart when she looks at me like this, as if I lied to her. Maybe I did, but if so I was lying to myself too.

“So, umm… I guess Vic rates a visit from all the prettiest girls on the ship, just for fainting?” I said. “Is something more wrong than we knew, bud? I thought you’d be discharged by now.”

“We’re keeping him around for observation,” Nat said. “And for your information, we’re not just here in our capacity as beautiful women.”

“I see… as good friends, then?”

“Try competent professionals,” Carla informed me archly. “I’ve been assigned as hyperspacial sciences’ liaison to medical for investiagting the causes of… of Kane syndrome and attempting to devise a practical program of treatment.”

“And I’m medical’s liaison with hyperspacial,” Jody shot back. “So of course I’ve been assigned to keep Carla busy so that she doesn’t get in the way. But that’s okay – we’ll lick the problem together.”

“Along with your guinea pig, don’t forget,” Vic said with a itred smile.

“Well, good luck to all three of you,” I said, shaking my head slightly. “It makes me feel a little better that there’s another line of defence other than our crazy landing party mission. Vic – you’re hanging in okay, right?”

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Blog the cat, Chapter One – Loglines

January 15, 2011

Blog the Cat post index.

The first chapter of Save the Cat, ‘What is it?’ is mostly talking about loglines for a screenplay idea. (The fact that the character of The Cat on the British show Red Dwarf, played by Danny John-Jules, had a great comedy bit in one episode centered around repeating the words ‘What is it?’ when confronted by a bit of Star-Trek-ish technobabble – is completely irrelevant.)

Blake starts by talking about pitching a movie idea, with a lot of different examples from a group of friends trying to pick a movie to see on a Friday night, to movie executives at the height of show business. His central premise is that you need to be able to sell other people on a movie idea quickly, not after ten minutes of explanation, and tell them quickly ‘What is it about?’

He presents a few examples, including Four Christmases, (which was probably still in development when the book was written?) and breaks down his four critical elements for a good logline pitch:
– Irony: A good logline must show something that is unexpected and emotionally intriguing, which is pretty much the same thing as having an element of dramatic irony.
– A compelling mental picture: A good logline should present the potential for the entire movie to blossom in your brain, from one or two sentences.
– Audience and cost: A good logline should convey a sense of who would be interested in watching the movie, and a rough idea of how much it might cost to make.
– Killer title: Not really a part of the logline proper, but the title also plays a part in the logline pitch, and the part the title needs to play is to say what the movie is, as clearly as possible, and with an ironic punch of its own. (He mentions ‘For Love or Money’ as an example of a vague title that really tells as little as possible about what’s going on in the movie.)

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Devin Versus the Distinctive Sweater

January 14, 2011

Okay, as I said I might, I’m posting the full text of ‘Devin Versus the Distinctive Sweater,’ which provided the ending sentence that I shared in the New Creations Blogfest. This is a bit longer than my usual posts, but I’ve decided against breaking it up for dramatic impact reasons. I hope that you enjoy it.

Devin Versus the Distinctive Sweater, by Chris Kelworth

The only thing that Devin Partlan understood was that he had to keep pedaling.

He didn’t know how he kept getting mixed up into this kind of thing. Just because his brother-in-law was some kind of spy, and Devin had accidentally found out the truth behind the ‘cover’, which suggested that Charlie wasn’t really that good at spy stuff, but so what? Devin suspected that there were other CIA agents whose family members knew some details about their jobs, and those family members weren’t constantly getting drafted and inveigled into missions. It just wasn’t at all professional.

On the other hand, after this kind of thing had already come up three times, possibly Devin should have thought better of planning a trip to Paris on the second anniversary of his and Kelly’s wedding. He’d thought twice about it, more about the money than the possibilities of French counterspies putting his life in danger, but – well, his dear Kelly had wanted Paris so badly.

And that was why Devin was cycling desperately away from the bad guys, trying to remember how to get to the one CIA Sanctuary that Charlie had ever told him about south of the Pont D’lena.

At least he’d kept on biking ten miles a day, six days a week, since marrying Kelly.

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Don’t fight the rule

January 13, 2011

I went back to the New writing workshop last night – I had a good time and got some good notes on the first three pages of “The Landing”, as well as listening to some funky poems and stories and telling the other writers what I thought about them.

It was definitely a different experience than the first time I went, in September. I came prepared for some ‘intensely constructive criticism’, and it wasn’t as bad as I thought it might be. But there was something else that I was reacting too differently.

The workshop co-ordinator made a point of spelling out ‘his rule’ for these workshops – the author hands out the copies, gives a little explanation if he (or she) feels inclined to, reads… AND THEN SHUTS UP. The rest of the group are then free to respond in any way they feel moved, to get into a discussion among themselves, but they are not supposed to ask the author questions. And the author is not supposed to reply to their feedback, beyond the level of grunts or pleasantries perhaps.

I do remember something being said along these lines back in September, but not as clearly – and I definitely didn’t follow the rule back then. That was a lot of the problem, I see now – I started to get defensive about my story, which probably got some of the other participants more insistent on making their points.

This isn’t the only way to run a critiquing circle, of course. The Chester’s group has a format where the people who wrote the piece are welcome into the discussion, and questions are often asked of them, and that works quite well for the group there by and large. But the rule for the new workshop probably encourages more indepth criticism, as opposed to promoting encouragement of authors.

I’ll definitely be going back to James street north for the New Workshop again this winter. And – I’m sorry for arguing back last time, guys.

A Wizard of Mars – Chapter One

January 12, 2011

A wizard of Mars chapter index

Okay, I’m going to be blogging my way through Diane Duane’s A Wizard of Mars, with a new installment every Wednesday. Spoilers will not be spared, so if you’re waiting for the paperback and want to experience the book fresh, steer clear!

The first paragraph goes as follows:

The problem, Kit thought, scowling at the paper, isn’t the basic shape so much. It’s what to do with the legs.

Now, as you might recall, I did an exercise on the opening of the first Young Wizards novel, So You Want to be a Wizard. That also started with a main character’s thoughts, which got me curious enough to take a quick look at some of the other books in the series. #2, Deep Wizardry, starts with a bit of action and dialog at the end of the paragraph. #3, High Wizardry, begins with dialog and then action. #4, A Wizard Abroad, actually starts by telling us what Diane’s about to show us in more detail. #5, The Wizard’s Dilemma, opens with dialog. #6, A Wizard Alone, opens with a mix of description and then dialog. #7, Wizard’s Holiday, and #8, Wizards at War, both open with description.

So, no signature opening for Ms Duane. Probably that’s good, she changes this up and keeps things fresh, though her voice is consistent in a lot of other ways. I do like that she kind of comes full circle to the beginning of the series, in this little way. But I’ve wasted enough space dissecting the first paragraph now, and should move onward.

Kit is in history class. Kit’s doodling pictures based on the old Edgar Rice Burroughs Mars books, and also using wizardry to fiddle with the busted air conditioner, because it’s a hot day, less than a week before the start of summer vacation. One his doodles is also ‘busted’ in a different way, feminine attributes-wise, and Kit gets ‘busted’ with it by the history teacher, Mister Machiavelli, who had a small but memorable appearance early on in A Wizard Alone. Mack likes the Martian chick, (in Victoria’s Secret, which he points out isn’t as skimpy as the original descriptions in Burroughs,) but tortures Kit for a while about the Korean border before letting him go.

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Fanart 9: Two Firefly Banners

January 11, 2011

Fanart series index.

I want to talk a little bit more about the ‘concept’ of fanart, since I realize that some of my readers may not have been exposed to it that much. To me, the point of fanart is using images from a television or movie to create a new picture, some kind of original vision, and convey that thought to other people who are already familiar with your fandom.

There are lots of different kinds of fanart, and I’ve only tried a few. Some people do original paintings or sketches, and some can do very elaborate manipulations using programs like photoshop and superimposing images that originally didn’t have anything to do with each other into a coherent image. I’m hoping to help with a manipulation fanart sometime soon, but I’ve been finding that even my part, finding the right pieces to put together, is much harder than I expected. Mostly, as I’ve explained, I just work with fairly simple techniques – DVD captures or promotional images, simple cut and paste graphic software, and so on.

And fanart can have lots of different messages that it’s trying to convey. There are some that are very simply calling back to a moment from the original canon, like my Simon/Kaylee wallpaper, or a few that I’ll be sharing later in the series. Some are meant to raise awareness for a particular site or event within the fandom community, a bit like virtual advertising flyers, like the signature banners from two weeks ago.

And then, there are fanfic cover banners, which are a bit like movie posters for somebody’s original fanfiction story. These are possibly my favorite, since I’ve been a very prolific fanfic author in my day, and it’s a great feeling to be able to show somebody a picture that kind of sums up thousands of the words that you’ve put down.

So, without further rambling, here’s a few banners that I made in the early summer of 2010 for two of my Firefly stories. First, “Passing through the storm:”

There’s a lot that this banner conveys to a firefly fan. First, it shows the ensemble of main characters in the story, and how they mainly relate to each other – River off by herself, Kaylee with Simon, Jayne with Zoe, Mal with Inara. To many fans, that roster will also suggest the timeframe of the story, particularly because the missing characters match with some who are no longer around after the movie ‘Serenity’. Also, most or all of the pictures are taken from the movie, not from the TV episodes.

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