May 30, 2009

Is anyone feeling like this man?

I know I am. I have been feeling very overwhelmed this past week.

Although Wiscon was a nice diversion, it did set me back writing-wise. Add to that the long hours I worked this week and all the day-to-day stuff that wears on one’s mind and I know how this poor fella feels.

I usually look forward to the weekend as an opportunity to catch up but, one, it’s amazing how fast the weekends go by and two, it’s amazing how there seems to be just as much stuff to do on the weekends as there is during the week!

However, despite all that, I must come up with a plan to deal with everything I need or want to get done. Or else I will wind up like that guy, sitting in a chair, surrounded by chaos and with no idea how to go forward.

Since I tend to be one of those odd people who can’t just focus on one thing, I have a number of writing projects I’m working on. Squeezing those in while working full-time has been, to say the least, an adventure in creative time management. 🙂

I’m also reading a handful of books (mostly non-fiction) for research and regarding the writing craft in particular.

I’m having brainstorms about my novel and I am desperately trying to make sure I write everything down as I have learned, much to my dismay, that I can’t remember this stuff if I don’t write it down.

I’m determined, however, to bring some order to my life. One way or the other. 🙂


Wiscon and More Trek

May 26, 2009

I wish I had more time to talk about the con. But if you google Wiscon 33 or Wiscon 2009 you will probably find tons of posts about it. I’ve never been very good at the journalistic style of writing and also, as a result of attending Wiscon, I’m so behind on my fiction writing I really need to focus on that. Plus, back to work today. You know how that is after having had a three-day weekend. Ugh!

But I will say that I did enjoy most of the panels I attended. My favorites were the care and feeding of vampires (a panel of authors of vampire fiction who talked about how they came up with their vampire characters) and the one about roadblocks to publication , where authors and an editor discussed the things we as writers do to keep ourselves from achieving our writing goals. I have notes on both panels and will blog about them at some point. Oh, and the panel on tech tools for writers was pretty cool too.

Registration is already open for Wiscon 34. The Guests of Honor will be Mary Anne Mohanraj, writer, editor, and spec-fic community activist, and Nnedi Okorafor, author of The Shadow Speaker and Zarah the Windseeker.

However, unfortunately, that’s all I have to say for now about the con as I have to go in to work early this morning and, as I mentioned before, I’m really behind with my writing projects. Really behind. 😦

Oh, I did get to see Star Trek again. This time with my daughter who had not seen it. She loved it! And, as for me, it’s even better the second time around. And Spock is hot. 😀

Off to Wiscon

May 22, 2009

Well, not right this moment. And actually I just have to drive down to the hotel where it’s being held. (Of course, this is the month they decided to do all this crazy road construction downtown!)

I have to go in to work today but only until around noon. I have some errands to run and then I’m going to my first panel which is on Warrior Women. Or Writing in a Recession. Haven’t decided which one to attend yet.

Trust me, if a panel is boring I have no qualms about leaving and going to another one. Sometimes the panels go waaaaaay off topic and sometimes people just don’t have anything interesting to say.

Anybody can be on a panel at Wiscon. You just have to express an interest in doing so. Doesn’t mean you’ll get assigned to it but you can at least try. Also, people can suggest topics for panels.

I thought about dragging my laptop with me and reporting in during the Con. But I’m not so sure I’m up to lugging old girl around. She’s not the lightest thing in the world. I’ve been tempted to get one of those mini-laptops. Tempted but not taking the bait. At least not yet.

Anyway, as for my writing, I did submit a short story this week and edits are nearly done on my Ellora’s Cave novella. Yay! I’m working on an erotic space opera novella and, of course, my magnum opus, my novel. *Cue the dramatic music*

And we’re nearly done with the month of May. Time marches on. *Cue the dramatic music. Again*

Umm, does anyone think that, maybe, the wrong guy won American Idol? Not dissing Kris. He’s very sweet but well, I, geez, all, who cares?

I’m thinking about the woman, Tiffany Geigel, who auditioned on last night’s So You Think You Can Dance . She was born with Spinal Thoracic Dysplasia and she was out there dancing! She was actually quite good and she certainly made me feel like I should never whine or complain about not being able to do anything again!

Tiffany Geigel’s Audtion Just cursor down for the video of her audition.

Jonesing For Star Trek and Wiscon

May 17, 2009

I am really jonesing to see Star Trek again. That’s why I posted this pic. Just because I want to see Kirk and Spock and everybody else again. 🙂

Okay, can you believe this upcoming weekend is Memorial Day weekend! Where did the time go? Seriously, where is it? I want it back. I need it back! I have two stories I want to get out June 1st. I’ve got stories with deadlines upcoming this summer that I need to get to work on. Time, time, time. Never enough.

And, to top it all off, I’m going to Wiscon this weekend. Haven’t heard of Wiscon? Well, it’s a feminist science fiction convention and it’s held in Madison, Wisconsin every Memorial Day weekend. I’ve been going since 1998. Some people have been going since it was first created back in 1976.

It’s runs from Friday until Monday. Just to give you an idea of what you can find at Wiscon, I’ll list some of the panels I plan to attend.

Warrior Women in Current Fiction—Do They Exist, Really? – The kickass heroine is everywhere, but how kickass is she really? Is she a true warrior woman like the original Valkyries, or has she, like them, been stripped of her power and relegated to “looking the part” while doing the modern–day equivalent of not dripping ale on the hero?

Where is the Goddess These Days? – Previous WisCons had many program items about Goddesses and Goddess spirituality. These have been rather lacking the last few years. Is the Goddess passé, or is She so accepted there is no reason to talk about her any more? Is there any new Goddess–oriented fantasy and science fiction we might be interested in discussing?

Reinventing the Adventure – The adventure story archetype lies at the heart of both science fiction and fantasy, and is the oldest and arguably most profound literary form in human history. How come contemporary society has ghettoized this art form? Even in science fiction, many authors have shied away from adventure in their desire to be taken seriously. How can we reverse this trend? What does it take to write fiction that’s fast, fun, shamelessly adventurous, and at least as challenging as what passes these days for mainstream lit?

Spaces of Narration in Steven Barnes’ Far Beyond the Stars / Manifest Destiny in the 21st and 26th Centuries – 1) Spaces of Narration in Steven Barnes’ Far Beyond the Stars Juxtaposing scenes from 1940, 1953, and the 24th century, Steven Barnes’ Far Beyond the Stars is an intricate narrative of the past and the future. The novel, set largely on the Earth of the past, consists of interlinked narrative spaces that intersect with African American history. The novel reflects a vision of the future that is grounded in the past and suggests alternatives to the dominant cultural ideology. This paper will analyze the intersecting narrative spaces in Far Beyond the Stars.

2) Manifest Destiny in the 21st and 26th Centuries In this essay I explore Joss Whedon’s Firefly and Serenity within the current day sociopolitical climate and argue that these works are rife with social commentary and criticisms. Joss Whedon takes current day politics and places them in the future outerspace so that we, as viewers, may look closely at, and critique, the policies of our time and place. I compare the policies and actions of the “Alliance,” the fictional government of the Firefly/Serenity universe, to those of the United States and show the ways that both deligitimize and feminize those peoples constructed as backward through the deployment of ideologies that are but updated versions of Manifest Destiny.

Breaking Into the Young Adult Market – You’ve heard that young adult novels are hot. You want to break in. But how? Listen to a panel of authors talk about what it’s going to take. Bring your questions. Bring your enthusiasm!

Romancing the Beast – Paranormal romance almost always features the hero as a paranormal being and the heroine as an ordinary human. How does this resonate with gender relations and power relationships in our society? And is it emblematic of women seeing men as Other?

Keeping the S in SF – By many measures, the American public is increasingly ignorant of science, and by some accounts, increasingly afraid. At the same time, many fields of science are still dominated by men, with women consistently losing out in education and job markets. As science fiction writers, we are custodians of science’s popular appeal. How do we inject science into our writing in a way that inspires the young people we want to reach, and encourages our public to learn more?

Synopsis: a Necessary Evil? – Do we really need them? Why? Is there an easy or at least less painful way to write one? Get tips from people whose next sale may depend on how good their synopsis is.

The Care and Feeding of Your Vampire – How do our favorite undead heroes come to life? Vampire writers reveal their dark secrets and give a blood to fangs description of how they create unforgettable vampires.

Consistency vs. Variety – Many writers long to stretch their writing muscles, working in different universes and broadening their scope and depth. Publishers and some elements of the reading public seem to prefer consistency: they like a writer who turns out a series, sometimes effectively the same book over and over again. How does a writer balance their own creative need for variety with the consumers’ desire for consistency?

Dystopias Are Easy. Utopias Are Hard. – Have SF/F writers lived up to the challenge of imagining better societies and maybe even ways to create them? Do we have to alter the nature of human beings to achieve a more utopian world? Is there an unseen shadow world behind every utopia, the cost unreckoned? Is utopian fiction a bore? Panelists should bring together their favorite examples of feminist utopias, ecotopias, and golden ages of all kinds.

And, trust me, there are tons more to choose from. My choices are just a sampling of the panels offered. And all for the price of $45.00 for the entire four days.

Wiscon can be maddening, infuriating, crazy, engrossing, stimulating and rather fun. It’s a great way to get the old brain cells fired up and I’ve come away from past Wiscons with ideas for stories, a list of new books and authors to check out, and new perspectives on the genre and writing within the genre.

Now, I wouldn’t say Wiscon is for everyone–because it ain’t—but if you have an open mind and want to have your mind stretched even further Wiscon is the place to do it.

Now, I must get back to this maddening, infuriating, crazy, engrossing, stimulating and rather fun sex scene for my novella that I must return to my editor mañana.

I Need Say No More

May 15, 2009

Guilty Pleasure #1

May 13, 2009

Yes, that is indeed a Japanese samurai going up against a Viking. It’s a scene from Spike’s television series Deadliest Warrior.

I have to admit I’m a fan of the show. It’s every geek or nerd’s (which I do consider myself) fantasy. It’s like those questions that are sometimes asked. Who’s stronger, Wolverine or Superman? You know, the kind of questions that can never really be answered but that are fun to ask and argue about?

That’s what this show is. It pits warriors (that is, experts on, for example, Viking weaponry) from different eras or countries against each other. After a lot of what I like to think of as testosterone-driven techno-bio babble and not terribly convincing trash-talking, the experts analyze the different weapons, strategies and tactics of the opposing warriors.

Their data is then fed into a battle-simulation computer program and ran a 1,000 times to determine, for example, whether a knight or a pirate is the deadliest warrior. Once that’s done, at the end of the show, the showdown is filmed with stunt men so you can actually see a Spartan going up against a Ninja. Last week it was the Mafia vs. the Yakuza. This week, the Green Beret vs the Russian Spetsnaz.

I’m almost ashamed to admit I watch the show. It’s very violent in that the experts have the respective warriors for each episode show off their weapons by stabbing or firing at jellied torsos and skulls that are meant to show the effects of the weapons on the human body. Yikes!

But history buff that I am and having a fascination with warriors and warrior culture down through the ages, I’ve been watching the show every Tuesday since I accidentally stumbled across it while channel-surfing. (It was the epsiode where an Apache warrior was fighting a Roman gladiator. I went, whoa!, what the heck is this!?!)

My son watches it too but we spend most of our time criticizing the way the guys on the show go about determining who is deadlier. It’s really more a matter of context in the long run than anything, I would think, but Deadliest Warrior is my Guilty Pleasure #1. 🙂

Oh, next week it’s a Shaolin monk vs. a Maori warrior. I’m already betting on the monk. 😀

Trek. One More Time

May 10, 2009

Trek. Just one more time. 🙂

I went to see Star Trek Friday night and, as I mentioned in my comment in my post prior to this one, I thoroughly enjoyed it. Yes, they’ve taken some liberties (with the original timeline)and, most significantly, with the interactions between two characters in particular, but I did not have a problem with that.

Although I do not want to date myself, I am a Trekkie (yes, that’s Trekkie, not Trekker :D) from waaaaaay back. And I was more than a bit skeptical about this re-visioning, not only of Trek but of the original cast.

But what director J.J. Abrams and the scriptwriters, Alex Kurtzman and Robert Orci, did was look at the source material, capture the essence of what made Kirk, Spock, et al, who they were, translate into a 21st century sensibility and let it ride.

Chris Pine as Kirk and Zachary Quinto as Spock did not try to duplicate what William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy, respectively, did with those characters, but I think they did a fantastic job capturing the essence of Kirk and Spock.

Honestly, I didn’t have a problem with any of this new cast’s portrayals of the original characters. The young actor playing Chekov, Anton Yelchin, is really cute with his decidedly Russian accent. John Cho as Sulu gets to show off some derring-do and has a really funny moment. Zoe Saldana is beautiful and intelligent as Uhuru and holds her own against Pine’s bar-prowling Kirk, Simon Pegg is great as Scotty and Karl Urban (whom I have to admit I had the hardest time accepting as McCoy, C’mon, Eomer of The Lord of the Rings as Bones!) pulls off a funny yet surprisingly accurate portrayal of our good doctor.

Bruce Greenwood is one of those actors I can seriously listen to read the phone book. He plays Captain Pike, the man who was captain of the Enterprise before Kirk. I’ve yet to see Greenwood mishandle any role he’s given and he doesn’t disappoint with this one. Winona Ryder and Ben Cross play Spock’s parents, Sarek and Miranda, and they do what they have to do with their roles.

And, yes, Leonard Nimoy is in it and, I have to say, there’s a scene between him and Pike as the young Kirk that put a lump in this die-hard Trekkie’s throat. *gulp*

The movie looks great special-effects wise and, coming in at 2 hours and six minutes, and after having to sit, since Lord of the Rings, through a number of bloated movies that ran for more than two hours, it was quite refreshing to watch a movie that wasn’t bloated in the least.

Like its cast, Star Trek is lean and energetic.

And hot! Oh, yes, this is the hottest, sexiest Star Trek crew in quite some time. The hotness quotient is off the scale on this one! I can not but imagine that those who write slash fiction (fan fiction that details the emotional and sexual relationship between male characters in a movie, television series or book) are already burning up their laptops imagining heated scenarios between Pine as Kirk and Quinto as Spock.

I’m sure some of you don’t approve of either fan fiction or slash fiction but it’s out there and it ain’t going anywhere, that’s for sure. It was the original Star Trek series, interestingly enough, that launched slash fiction. The word “slash” coming from the slash mark in K/S, which designated a piece of fan fiction as one that dealt with the emotional and physical relationship between Kirk and Spock.

Actually, if you want to read up on this, I recommend Camille Bacon-Smith’s Enterprising Women: Television Fandom and the Creation of Popular Myth It’s a study of the world-wide community of fans of Trek but can also be read as an examination of any fandom, whether it revolves around Star Wars, the Twilight Series or Harry Potter.

Another one to check out is Textual Poachers: Television Fans and Participatory Culture by Henry Jenkins, which is quite excellent. It goes into more detail about fan and slash fiction.

(Please, just bear with me when I get like this. I have a life-long fascination with narrative and storytelling in all its incarnations, and can’t help but get a little carried away when it comes to the topic.)

Anywho, I’m sure there are some Trek purists who are already heating up the Star Trek forums nit-picking this and that and moaning and groaning about some such other. Since I don’t plan to hang out at those forums, I’ll just leave them to their sport.

But, in light of that, just a caveat. If you do see the movie, trust me, don’t think too hard about the plot. It might give you a headache.

Which reminds me to say something about Eric Bana, as Nero, the Romulan villain of our story. I’m a fan of Bana and I think he’s a great actor. So I don’t blame him if his character is probably the weakest one in the movie. It’s not his fault.

Lately, IMHO, there has been a marked lack of truly great movie villains. Heath Ledger’s Joker is probably one of the more memorable ones of the last decade. I have my theories about this which, as I love to say, I hope to address in a future post. 🙂

So yeah, don’t think too hard about the plot. Just look at as a storytelling device whose sole purpose is to bring together our intrepid crew and load yourself up with a big bucket of hot, artery-clogging buttered popcorn, the candy and soft-drink of your choice, take the kiddies, take Grandma, take your significant other, (there’s something for everyone in this movie!) and, as the young, hot and sexy Jim Kirk says to the delightfully-irascible-but-you-know-he’s-never-going-to-leave-Kirk’s side, Dr. Leonard “Bones” McCoy, buckle up and enjoy the ride. 😀