What’s Up Wednesday? It’s almost NanoTime…

October 29, 2014

What’s Up Wednesday is a weekly blogfest to share the answers to a few simple questions… Join us!

What I’m WUWMaple65%2reading:
I dug up the very thick paperback copy of Jim Butcher’s “Furies of Calderon” that I got as a souvenir of the Odyssey Flash Fiction Slam in Nashua in the summer of 2013. I’m getting on for halfway through the story already, and it’s really cool, touching on some of the same themes as the Dresden Files but also very different, with the high fantasy tropes, the elemental furies and other magical beasties.

When I need to read on the bus and can’t stuff “Furies” into my bag, I’ve been reading the original “Gossip Girl” on my tablet. I enjoyed the series, just finished it earlier this year, and so it was interesting to go back and see all the differences with the way it first started.

What I’m writing:
Mostly just concentrating on getting ready for Nanowrimo, though I’ve also been squeezing a few critiques in. I’m really excited for Saturday to come!

What works for me:
The Storywonk “Sufficiently Advanced Magic” class has been really great. I’ve been figuring out lots of really cool stuff, especially about the setting for “Never Found” that I never expected to be thinking about, like werewolves making magical potions. 😉

What else I’ve been up to:
Kick-off was amazing! I’m pretty sure that Hamilton is gearing up for a record Nanowrimo, based on how many writers and novel-adjacents we had crammed into the back room of the Winchester Arms Sunday afternoon.

What about you? Click here to join the hop or check in with some other great writers.

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F is for Fairy Fatale

April 7, 2014

For the A to Z challenge this year, I’m sharing science fiction and fantasy story ideas…

So, here I’m mashing up the fae with ‘femme fatale.’ (And yes, I know that Jim Butcher has done this already in ‘Summer Knight’, but that doesn’t mean we can’t do it too.)

She sells our modern private eye on a fantasy, and she’s trying to find one of her own, something ephemeral, a (metaphorical) firefly. A dream somebody stole from her and she needs to get back.

If you’re interested enough to pick this up and write your own version, feel free; ideas are cheap. And let me know! I’ll be keeping the notions vague enough that lots of different stories might be written from them.

Thanks for visiting!


Ad Astra 2013 flashback: Best Fuego Grilled Burger!

May 11, 2013

Okay, well, the first thing you need to understand is when I went to bed on Saturday night, I set an alarm on the iPhone to wake me up with a custom ringtone. The second thing is that I’ve gotten into this habit of taking the iphone with me when I go to the bathroom in the middle of the night, because whatever email might have arrived between midnight and 3am is obviously SO important. 😉

So I wake up very groggily to the dim strains of a ringtone playing over and over again in the next room. By the time I finally got to the hotel bathroom to shut it off, that alarm had been ringing for something like ten minutes. Oh well.

I went to the hotel restaurant for the breakfast buffet, and wasn’t too impressed with their french toast or milk, (and there were no pancakes at all,) but went back for a second helping of bacon and breakfast potatoes. Maybe that was because I’d gone the day before with no meat and possibly a low level of protein, (peanuts notwithstanding.)

So after breakfast, went back up to the room again; the plan was to check out by nine AM so that I could help out with the vendor’s room again and not need to worry about running back upstairs. That worked out pretty well, except that I forgot about a work thing I was supposed to do on the laptop Sunday morning, (but that worked out okay twelve hours later.) I took a few things out to the car, and left other luggage behind the front desk with a claim check. It was a little while before anybody showed up for the vendor’s room, so I pulled out the Kindle and read some of Jim Butcher’s “Ghost Story.”

After the vendor’s room was open, I went upstairs, and met Magie and Maggie from the browncoats in the corridor. They were a little upset that the Star wars/Disney panel (with Jim!) wasn’t where they’d expected it to be, but I pulled out my schedule and figured out that they were nearly an hour early. 🙂

The Masquerade awards were given out at ten-thirty Sunday morning, and the participants outnumbered the few fans who’d come out to see who won. (And one participant, Link, wasn’t able to come because he was stuck on duty at the registration desk.)

So… I won an award!  Read the rest of this entry »


Ad Astra 2013 flashback: Cosplay Saturday!

May 9, 2013

Well, it’s more than a month since I went to Ad Astra, but I figure I can still tell you guys about it. My last Ad Astra post covered Friday, so this time I’ll start with Saturday morning.

I woke up pretty early, showered, headed out to look for the Tim Horton’s at the corner that I’d seen listed on Google Maps. It turned out to be a coffee counter at a gas station, and they didn’t have TimBits, so I grabbed two maple dip donuts for breakfast. 😉 Once I’d eaten, I suited up into security gear and went downstairs to see if I could help.

The volunteer room wasn’t open by nine, so I just kinduv hung around, and kept an eye on the vendors moving their stuff into the room. Soon the guy who’d deputized me as a volunteer showed up, and told me that my main job was to keep non-Vendors from wandering into the Vendors room before it opened up at ten. That worked out pretty well; I got to say hi to a lot of people, even though some of them were disappointed that they couldn’t get an early start on their window shopping. I also challenged a vendor or two who didn’t have their lemon-lime colored vendor badges out, and let a few people with ‘panelists’ slip through because I wasn’t sure I wanted to give them a hard time about hanging out with their vendor friends. 🙂 And it was fun to get to check with the ConCom liaison in charge of the Vendor’s room and tell the gathering horde that it was time to go and buy!

At ten, I went to a panel for ‘What’s new in fandom’, but started paging through my schedule and realized that I had a busy day of stalking Jim Butcher ahead of me, so I left the panel to take care of some business. First I checked in with the guy in the volunteer office to ask some questions about spending the day in Cosplay. The volunteer guy said that I could just leave the yellow T-shirt and the radio gear in my hotel room while I was dressed up. He was bonding a staff from somebody’s cosplay outfit when I got there, so that answered another question, if I should ask to get my blasting rod bonded as safe. So up the elevator I went, put on my Harry Dresden finery, and back down to the volunteer office, where a bit of black zip-tie was wrapped around the end of my ‘blasting rod’ broomstick, to mark it as convention-safe or whatever.

There were Jim Butcher panels in the next two time slots: “Standalone novel versus series” and “Magic in the big city.” I was complimented a few times on my costume, and two people suggested that I should sign up for the Masquerade contest that night, so I left after the first few minutes of the ’50 years of Doctor Who’ panel to go to the signup table and entered as a novice, no craftmanship judging: I didn’t craft most of the costume myself. My Mom did more of that, with all the time she put in on the white bead pentacle, and helping with the shield bracelet too.

Read the rest of this entry »


Ad Astra 2013 Highlights – Day One

May 3, 2013

Hi there, friends and followers. It was nice to be able to take a day off from blogging, now that April is over, but I’m happy to be back!

And I’ve got some exciting memories to share. I didn’t get a chance to deliver an Ad Astra report while the A-Z challenge was going on, but I made some notes that I’d love to share. Let’s begin at the beginning.

Okay, so I left work Friday around two in the afternoon, picking that hour so that if I made really good time to Toronto, I’d get there just in time for the 3:00 hotel check-in. Of course, things didn’t quite work out like that. This was the first time I’d driven into Toronto on a Friday afternoon; actually I think the only other time I’ve actually driven into Toronto by myself was going to the airport on my way to Kansas last summer. It worked out fairly well, but I got a little lost twice; once because I wanted to get off the highway for Burger King takeout, because the takeout bag was going to be part of my cosplay. There was construction on the exit I’d picked, so I decided to drive over to the next on-ramp, but couldn’t figure out the right way to get on the highway driving East, and ended up driving East along the surface streets until the highway drifted north enough to intersect my street, and getting on then.

I also went too far north on the 400, because I’d managed to print out the wrong directions. But I got to the hotel in good time, got checked in, ate my burger and fries, and went down to get my convention badge and program and all that. Rather interestingly, I got them on the honor system; the volunteers at the registration desk had a big list of everybody who’d pre-paid, but I wasn’t on the list. “When did you pay?”

“Um, last summer at Polaris.”

“Oh, that explains it then. Here you go.” And he handed me a badge. Apparently the list of people who’d paid at Polaris got lost, and they weren’t rechecking anybody who said that was where they’d signed up. I even had my payment stub, but he didn’t want to look at it. Oh well.

Read the rest of this entry »


Lots of Dresden Files stuff going on.

March 22, 2013

I’m on a Harry Dresden blitz at the moment. Let’s see, trying to take the list in some sort of logical order:

  • There’s only two weeks (minus a few hours,) until the Ad Astra 2013 convention kicks off in Toronto, with Jim Butcher as one of the guests of honor. I’m really excited to meet him and attend as many of his panels as I can, and a lot of the other items are about trying to get ready for Ad Astra.
  • I’ve been absorbing the Dresden Files novels on Audible at a fairly quick pace, for me at any rate. The marathon started about two months ago, Jan 13th, when I downloaded ‘Dead Beat’, the seventh in the series. I now have a little more than an hour to go in ‘Turn Coat’ (Dresden Files number eleven.) The plan is to finish the Audible version of #12, ‘Changes’, sometime in the week before Ad Astra, and get #13, “Ghost Story”, on Kindle, since that’s the one that has John Glover, not James Marsters, narrating the audiobook version. The Kindle will also be great for reading while I’m at the con.
  • Side note: If you’re catching up on the Dresden Files like me, you’re spoiler averse, and you haven’t already checked out the blurbs for #13 or #14, then don’t. As far as I can tell, there’s so many cliffhangers and plot twists at this point of the series that it’s impossible to tease what’s going on in one book without spoiling the one before. (Fortunately I don’t mind a few spoilers too much, myself 🙂 )
  • I’ve also picked up “Side Jobs”, the collection of Dresden-verse short fiction by Butcher, from the library, and read the first two pieces. It’s been fun so far, a different look at the characters and the world, and also a peek into the head of the author, since he’s written a short introduction to each one and explained the circumstances that prompted them; often an invitation to contribute something to an anthology run by somebody interesting. Read the rest of this entry »

Harry Dresden versus the Ghosts

June 22, 2012

Okay, another great book recently wrapped up, “Grave Peril,” by Jim Butcher. (Mild spoilers follow, I think.) As an aside, this is the first Harry Dresden book I read on Kindle, as opposed to on an audio-player, (yes, I know that the Kindle can be used to play audible.com books, but it’s not really good at it in my opinion.) It was still really easy to dive into, and I kept hearing James Marster’s voice in Harry’s dialog and narration.

I was told by a friend that the Harry Dresden books really pick up with this one, and was a little surprised and concerned, since I’d liked the first two in the series so much. But now, I can see what he meant. Harry is still the same dry, witty sunnuvabee, and there’s still a lot of great action and adventure. But Jim did manage to turn the dial up in a few important ways:

He took away what Harry was good at when it counts. This is a good trick for those of us who write fantasy, I think. In one of his early encounters with the big bad, Harry gets most of his wizardly power eaten, and so he has to struggle through most of the second act as a shadow of his awesomely magical self, while the bad guy gets to use his own tricks against him, because, as Bob the spirit puts it, ‘You are what you eat.’ This raises the stakes in a very personal way, and forces Harry to be much more creative and ingenious, as he has to figure out how to do more with less, or maybe with no wizardry at all.

He took away something that matters to Harry even more. I’m not going to say anything more spoiler-ey here, except that it’s about somebody we know Harry cares about. And this time, the consequences aren’t all cleared up by the end of the book. Again, it’s about raising the stakes, this time, on a personal level – show what matters to your character, then have them lose it.

He’s setting up plot elements for later in the series. This one doesn’t just apply to the loss I mentioned above, though it does count. Also, though the main bad guy has been defeated, some of his allies are stronger than ever. They’re pissed with Harry, and with all white wizards on principle, which means that the other white wizards are also pissed with Harry for dragging them into a war that they didn’t want to be part of.

I’m looking forward to Harry Dresden #4, “Summer Knight”!

 


‘Out of Media Res’ transitions

May 28, 2012

So, I dove into reading Jim Butcher’s “Grave Peril” this morning. I’d dipped my toe into the book back in late March, reading a bit from the first chapter, and didn’t get any further because I was trying to catch up on Elizabeth Twist’s short story challenge and just getting to some of the good parts of ‘Game of Thrones.’ So this morning, pulling out my Kindle on the bus, I started from the beginning again.

It’s an exciting opening, with Harry Dresden and a holy knight going to a big Chicago hospital to save some babies from a formidable ghost. And then, just at the most exciting part of the scene… we find out that it was an ‘In Media Res’ opening, starting in the middle of the action, or at least a point after the chronological beginning of the narrative.

A lot of the time when you have an IMR opening, it’s fairly obvious, but this one snuck up on me, partly because it wasn’t a trick Butcher had used in the previous Harry Dresden books. (Incidentally, this is also the first that I’m not reading in audiobook format, so it’s somewhat odd the way James Marsters’ voice is sticking with me, giving life to Harry’s words inside my head.) I knew that there were a few things going on that had to be explained about how Harry and Michael Carpenter got where they were, but hadn’t actually clued in that there would be flashback scenes to go along with the explanation, or that this was a flash-forward scene.

So I’ve started thinking about the moment when you come out of ‘In Media Res’, and transition back to the chronological beginning of the story. Sometimes, with a narrator in a book, he actually tells you ‘But wait, I’m going to have to back up a bit…’ or something of that sort. In a movie or television episode, there might be nothing to signal the transition but a bare caption: “23 and a half hours earlier…”

What are your favorite ‘In Media Res’ openings? Were you taken by surprise, or did you know that they were using the In Media Res technique from the start? How did they handle the transition back in time?


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