Thursday, July 30, 2009

Dead Debutantes

No sooner than did I mention publicly that I've had no meaningful creative inspiration didst such spark upon me arrive. I've come up with another potential story that I'd like to write called "Dead Debutantes". It's amazing what your mind can come up with while listening to the radio on a drive through Redmond, WA. The scene opens with the wholesale slaughter of an entire debutante ball in England, circa 1600. Gruesome, yes, but necessary to introduce the protagonist, a one Mr. Jonathon Grey. He presents himself as an investigator of the peculiar and unusual and sets about solving the crime. Very soon, though, we realize that Mr. Grey has an agenda of his own and the successful resolution of the murders is entirely secondary to his main goal.

Many things are still swirling through my brain on this and I'm in the process of knocking ideas around and seeing which ones are keepers and which ones need to recede into obscurity.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

I Haven't Been Doing Anything

Normally I come along from time to time with word counts on my latest story or clever descriptions of things I've read or places I've gone or maybe regale you with a witty observation on the human condition. I have none of that for you now.

Truth is, I haven't done much of anything the last few weeks except play Medieval II: Total War, which has taken the place of Civilization IV. I haven't written much if anything at all. I haven't gone anywhere exciting like Korea or Hawaii. Looking back, life has been pretty much a long drawn out episode of regularity. I'm not even sure I can come up with a snappy ending to this blog post.

(Thinking... thinking...)

Nope, can't even do that.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The Enclave by Karen Hancock

This month the CSFF brings you The Enclave by Karen Hancock. It's a science thriller (if there is such a genre) with a Christian perspective and Karen is growing as a respected writer so you should make the effort to check it out.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Shakespeare and the Glory of White Trash

Saw a version of The Taming of the Shrew last night by the Seattle Shakespeare Company. We've seen several of their productions and always enjoy them. They pick non-traditional settings as a backdrop for the plays, a modern, Yugoslavia style war zone for Romeo and Juliet, a 50's Chicagoland gangster supper club for A Midsummer Night's Dream, and this time they really hit a home run by setting Shrew in a trashy southern trailer park. Shakespearian dialogue delivered in hillbilly drawl is hilarious. The whole thing was brought together by the juxtaposition of the run down trailer park and the talk of fancy estates and large dowries. You see, true white trash have a delusional sense of self importance and that was played to the hilt. The part where Petruchio finally brings a meal to Katherine has the actors scrambling over a box of KFC chicken, considered by many of the trailer park set to be 'fine dining.' And when Petruchio delivers the line, "Come on, kiss me Kate!" while wearing a dirty white T-shirt, raggy jeans, a John Deere ball cap, and a cheap beer in his hand it takes on a whole new dimension. It was masterfully done and if you're in Seattle you should find a way to see them.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Bad Review Up On Tangent

I was very glad to see the folks at Tangent get back into the swing of things because they are a vital part of the short fiction scene. I was still glad when they reviewed "The Witch of the Westmoors" in Abandoned Towers #3. The review is generally negative, with the reviewer expressing disappointment at my failure to really bring them into the story. What can I say, it was a flash fiction piece and I struggled to get it in under 1000 words. Not a lot of room for world building. But as a wise man once said, the only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about.

File this under 'Not So Good Things For July.'

Thursday, July 09, 2009

More on the Clarion West Reading

There were other interesting things about this author reading than just the audience. (One was the shockingly high price of textbooks, but that's not relevant right now.) The most important one is that it confirmed in my mind that written fiction is meant to be read to oneself and not heard by someone reading aloud. This has nothing to do with the goodness or badness of the piece that Bear read from. What I'm talking about is the way we internally pronounce things as we read, the way our internal cadence and rhythm develops, the voices and accents that we assign to characters. You know, all the stuff that we do to fill in the blanks and really enmesh ourselves in the fiction. This cannot come across during a reading unless the author is also an excellent actor.

This brings me to the next point. A reading, to me, seems to depend on a reader's performance capabilities and less on their ability to write well. You've heard it said that the best actor can make the worst dreck ever written sound good. That's probably true in every case except Eragon. The thing is, reading out loud tends to pull someone involuntarily into performing the piece instead of just reading it. That seems to distract from everything. It distracts from the author's written work, which is visual in nature and we cannot see the paragraph breaks and interrupted dialogue and other clues that writers give to readers so that they can understand better. It also distracts from my internalizing the piece and living vicariously through the protagonist because I'm more intent on watching the reader than reading it myself.

All this leads me to believe that there must be another purpose beyond the enjoyment of fiction that lurks behind author events and readings. Not that they are bad, because I had fun and enjoyed it, but they just must have a different reason for being.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Clarion West Author Event: Elizabeth Bear

Tonight I entered the Special World of the Seattle Literary Community by attending a reading by Elizabeth Bear at the University Bookstore next to UW. It was the first author reading I've ever attended and it was right in line with expectations. There was a large crowd that necessitated the moving of bookshelves and addition of seating; I was lodged semi-comfortably in the back row with my head brushing against stacks of books.

To my left was a young lady who had an outgoing and expressive personality of the kind that one immediately finds enjoyable but would likely wear thin on a cross country trip in a station wagon. She was, however, fun to trade witty rejoinders with. On my right was another young lady who sat down with a copy of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. I, of course, being the sophisticated and cultured individual I am, immediately exclaimed, "Wow, that's like the coolest book!" I then went on to gush about just how cool it was with all its dagger wielding pleasantries and brain munching goodness.

The rest of the crowd was about what you'd expect at a Seattle literary event. Lots of sweaters, beards, and piercings. People with oddly dyed hair who knew more about The Shadow Unit then I could ever hope to. A guy who looked like he lived in his mother's basement claiming that he hated science fiction that treated the audience like a guy who lived in his mother's basement. In all, I'd say the crowd was a fifty-fifty split between Normals and Angsty Urbanites.

I would have stayed longer to chat and stalk some other people I know only through the blogosphere, like Jordan Lapp and Cat Rambo, but I had to return to the Ordinary World of messy diapers, dirty dishes, and tunafish sandwiches for dinner.

(More on the literariness of the event in a later post.)

Friday, July 03, 2009

Something Else Good About July

I've been waiting to see the opening salvo from Heroic Fantasy Quarterly and now that it's here I have to say I'm impressed. There are three very strong stories offered in their first issue. "The Black Flowers of Sevan" has a couple of great characters, the dialogue is perfect, and the story resolves nicely. Speaking of clever resolutions, you'll love the story of the Dragon Slayer in "Man of Moldania." Then wrap it all up with an intriguing tale of betrayal, revenge, and sorcery most foul in "Beyond the Lizard Gate." The editors sought to bring us a hard hitting collection of heroic fantasy and I think they have a smashing success.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Good Things for July

Not only has Rage of the Behemoth hit the stands but 1 July is also the official publication date for Abandoned Towers #3 which includes my story "The Witch of the Westmoors." That, coupled with the fact that the Mariners are above .500, starts July on a very positive note.