Spelunking in the Edits Cave

February 26, 2010

I’m going to be deep into edits for the next two weeks for my vampire novella that will be coming out from Ellora’s Cave. I’m also working on current WIP’s at the same time so I may be MFB (Missing From Blogsphere) for a bit.

Personally, I have a bit of a fear of caves after visiting Cave of the Mounds as a child on a field trip and having to walk through a rather narrow passage. I can still recall the terror I felt. *shudder*

But the rest of the field trip was quite enjoyable and I remember thinking that as much as I was afraid of those really claustrophobic passages, caves are very cool places. Both literally and metaphorically. 🙂

Maybe, at some point, I will revisit those caves. However, I couldn’t see myself ever actually going spelunking. *shudder*

For the time being, however, I’ll be deep into the symbolic cave of doing edits.

Ciao for now!


CUT TO

February 21, 2010


I love this time of year because this is when Turner Classic Movies (TCM) does it 31 Days of Oscar as a prelude to the Oscars. It’s a veritable cornucopia of classic movies.

Honestly, I get so spoiled during this month that when TCM goes back to its regular programming schedule it takes a bit of an adjustment.

Saturday, TCM did a triple header of sci-fi movies: 2001, A Space Odyssey, 2010 and Close Encounters of the Third Kind.

I have seen all three of those movies many times but they are also three movies I can pretty much watch again and again. My son came in while I was watching 2001. He’s never really seen it, except for clips here and there, but he happened to come in at the point in the movie where astronaut Dave Bowman, in orbit around Jupiter, has left his ship and is about to take the ultimate journey beyond the infinite.

He asked me some questions about what was going on. I did my best to answer them. 🙂

If you’ve never seen 2001: A Space Odyssey, warning, Will Robinson, it’s a definite head trip. And it’s definitely not everyone’s cup of tea. On the surface it’s frustrating, boring in some spots and downright incomprehensible in others. And I love it! And it’s a movie, shall I say, that’s not afraid to take some major risks.

One of the biggest risks it takes is near the beginning. Kubrick structured 2001 into what you can see as either a prologue and three acts or a four act movie.

The first act, or prologue, is called “Dawn of Man.” That’s right. The movie literally starts at the beginning, millions of years in our past, when man is nothing more than an ape-like creature struggling to survive. A strange black monolith suddenly appears among the man-apes. Kubrick does not explain where the monolith came from or who left it there. But there it is. Black, rectangular and somewhat ominous.

However, as a result of the monolith’s enigmatic appearance, one of the man-apes, while scrounging for food, picks up a bone and discovers that he can use it as a tool. And more than just a tool. He uses it as a weapon to kill one of the members of an encroaching band of other man-apes.

Now, what happens next is one of those penultimate moments in movie-making history. As the man ape, having defeated his foe, triumphantly tosses the bone into the air, Kubrick cuts to an orbiting nuclear weapon.

Yep, we make a leap of millions of years from a prehistoric African savanna to the far reaches of outer space. We have, in an instant, traversed millions of years of human evolution and civilization. Why does Kubrick do this?

Because all that happened in between doesn’t matter. At least not in the context of the movie. All the terrible wars, scientific advancements, horrible tragedies, literary and artistic achievements, etc, etc, etc, that humanity has experienced is reduced to a single jump cut.

What happens next is what’s important. Not what came before. Man has traveled into space although he still makes war upon his neighbor. He has moved beyond the primitive struggle for survival on earth and out into the stars. The final frontier, so to speak.

And what does humanity find? You got it. Another monolith. Just like the one the primitive man-apes encountered millions of years ago. But this one is on the Moon. Where it had been deliberately buried. And why was it buried deliberately on the Moon?

Because it was a test. The aliens, or whoever it was, who put that first monolith on the Earth buried this one on the Moon as a signal to them that humans had evolved far enough to be able to travel into space. And when that monolith on the Moon is discovered, it sends out a signal directing humans to Jupiter.

Now, as a writer, what I find fascinating about that famous jump cut (or match cut, if you want to get technical) is that writers have to ask themselves constantly what should or should not be included in a piece of writing. Writing is about making choices. Do I show this about the heroine? Do I include that about the hero?

The part of human history that Kubrick left out in his cut has been the subject of countless books, movies, operas, paintings, etc. But in the context of the movie, it didn’t matter. It wasn’t important.

What was important was what was coming next. Humans had found that monolith on the Moon and everything that had happened prior to that event, although important as backstory, was not important for the story itself.

So, when I write, I tend to ask myself, does the reader need to know such and such, especially in the context of what I’m writing about? If not, I cut it.

Now, it’s possible that I may have spent a considerable amount of time thinking about why it is that my heroine can’t stand the smell of spaghetti. But if it doesn’t have anything to do with the plot or her character arc, I don’t include it.

It’s like an iceberg, the majority of which lies below the water line.

Writing is a lot like that. So much lies beneath the surface, whether it’s subtext or backstory. The trick is knowing what to put in and what to leave out.

In the movie 2001, Kubrick made a bold choice to encapsulate the whole of human history into a single cut. It blew people’s mind when the movie came out in 1968 and it’s still, after over 40 years, an incredible cinematic moment.


Novellas

February 16, 2010

The last few months of 2009 I was working on two novellas. One was a vampire story and the other a fantasy. I submitted them to my editor at Ellora’s Cave. She accepted them both and I’m mailing out the contracts today.

I don’t know when they will be released but when I get more news I’ll share.

Currently, I’m working on an erotic contemporary fantasy that I actually wrote a couple of years ago and which I’m bound and determined to get done and submitted. And I’m finally, finally working on a steampunk.

I had initially envisioned the steampunk story as a novella, but when I started working on the characters and plot, the story got too big and now it’s turning into a novel.

I’m also working on a couple of short stories, both of which I had also written a few years back. I’m revising them for an anthology call and hope to submit them both by the end of the month.

So, all in all, I’m just keeping busy and trying to stay out of trouble. 🙂


Congrats to a Good Friend!

February 12, 2010

Yesterday, my good friend and writing pal, Joely Sue Burkhart, shared with me some very exciting news!

Now, I’ve known Joely since 2004 when I happened to answer a question she’d had on a Yahoo loop about a writing contest. And since then we’ve been traveling along what we like to think of as our journey to Mount Doom.

Kinda similar to Frodo and Sam’s journey in The Lord of the Rings. Except the object of our quest was not to destroy the One Ring but to get our hands on that brass ring of success.

And here we are, 2010, and we’re still trudging along. But stopping every now and then to raise a cup and sing a song. We’ve both had our ups and downs, disappointments and accomplishments. And through it all Joely has been a good, good friend and I honestly can say I wouldn’t have gotten very far regarding my writing or even have stayed on track with it without her support and friendship.

So, when she emailed me to tell me that the novel she has labored on for so long, a romance that incorporates Mayan mythology, had been accepted by Angela James at Carina Press, trust me, if I’d had a champagne bottle and if we didn’t happen to live miles away from each other, we’d have been toasting away.

So, major congratulations, Joely! And here’s to many more!

Joely was kind enough to provide me with a blurb of her novel. I know I’m looking forward to reading it.

Called “Ruin” because he destroyed his entire civilization, the Gatekeeper is sworn to kill anyone who tampers with the Bloodgates, which are portals to the mystical realms of the Maya gods. After countless centuries, he believes his curse will end with the current calendar cycle — until humans discover the ruins of his city on the shores of Lake Atitlan, Guatemala, and unbury the last copy of a codex detailing his magic.

When Dr. Jaid Merritt’s partial translation of the codex accidentally sends her father to Xibalba through one of these Bloodgates and releases demons from the Maya hell, the “Un-Indiana Jones” is forced to face her fears and travel to Guatemala on her first dig in twenty years.

To save her father, Jaid must survive the Gatekeeper’s wrath and help Ruin reclaim — and relock — the Bloodgates before the bowels of Xibalba empty into our world.


Snow Crystals

February 11, 2010

I know the following is not going to be much comfort to the millions of people affected by the Blizzards of 2010. We get a lot of snow in these parts but I can’t even imagine getting out from under more than two feet of snow.

No, actually I can, because we’ve had some pretty bad snowstoms around here. I just don’t want to imagine it because it’s not a pleasant memory.

I do hope that everyone affected by these monster snow storms stays safe, keeps warm and that a heat wave comes soon and melts all that snow.

But not too quickly, because then you’d have flooding to deal with and that’s a whole ‘nother set of woes.

But I did want to share this. Last night I was watching the news and they started talking about snow crystals and recommended the following site to go to. Snowcrystals.Com.

I remember as a kid when I learned that within those huge mounds of cold, white stuff I had to trudge through to get to school were these tiny, tiny crystals that were so incredibly beautiful. They looked to me like something tiny, tiny fairies had made with their tiny, tiny hands.

But this was Nature! Nature had created these lovely, delicate jewels. And it was actually all very scientific, having to do with oxygen and hydrogen molecules and such. You can read about it at the website. And see more pics of snow crystals and even a movie of a crystal forming.

Just wanted to share it because thought it was all kinda cool and those snow crystals are really lovely. 🙂

Despite the frustrating and undeniable fact, of course, that when there are billions or perhaps trillions of them preventing you from getting to work or to school or to the grocery store to get formula for the baby, they are anything but lovely.

Trust me, I feel your pain!


Argh!

February 9, 2010

Suddenly, I have lots of stuff I want to blog about (mostly a bunch of movies I’ve seen the past few weeks) but I’m struggling to get some submissions out this month.

Unfortunately, I didn’t make my 2/1 deadline for my novella. So I’ll just set that particular novella aside and expand it for another market. Real Life intruded before I could finish it and well, them’s the breaks, sometimes.

I’m determined not to have a repeat of that as I have two other submissions I want to get out this month.

However, I watched some really interesting movies the past week and I hope to blog about them at some point. My brain is just sorta wrapped around the stories I’m currently working on and I can’t seem to shift it from a fiction mode into a non-fiction mode.

Or, perhaps, that’s just an excuse on my part to justify laziness. I tend to berate myself a lot when I don’t do everything I want to do. Stupid, really, for me to do so. I’m only human. 🙂


Just Keep Swimming

February 3, 2010

Okay, found one way to deal with my Ten of Wands life.

Dory, from the excellent Finding Nemo, offers this advice about life.

Yep, gotta remember that. Just keep swimming!