The next chapter: April 2014 update

The Next ChapterIf March was a little weird, April was a whole lot weird.

Lemme ‘splain.

I abandoned the thought of keeping to any kind of “schedule” with regard to my writing. At the end of last month, I had drafts for Apprentice of Wind and Figments completed, or so I thought.

So you’ll understand my surprise when I went to print off Figments, that I hadn’t, in fact, finished it. A few hundred words fixed that up, but boy was I embarrassed.

Then, once I had AoW and Figments printed, I heard Initiate of Stone calling my name. Even though I haven’t heard back from all my betas yet, I needed to do a little work on IoS.

I just finished reading Roz Morris’s first Nail Your Novel, and before that, I read Victoria Mixon’s Art and Craft of Story. I wanted to do a combination approach with each draft, using Roz’s form of beat sheet and Victoria’s holographic structure.

With IoS, I had previously eliminated a POV character. Now I’ve decided to remove her entirely and give the specifics of her plotline to other POV characters. It was something others had recommended and I resisted. I guess I just needed time and space away from the ms to realize the truth.

And it wasn’t half so difficult (read fraught) as I thought it would be.

So I knew that I would not be doing a lot with regard to “new words” in April because I’d mostly be focusing on working with my printed drafts and most of the new work would be on my blog.

Then I edited a couple of stories for submission, but the net new words for that was just over three hundred.

Once again, I find myself surprised.

April's word count

I am still eternally grateful to Jamie Raintree for this fabulous tool

Total word count for the month: 11, 612 (!), 10,930 of that from blogging alone.


Mind you, I have been blogging all those juicy sessions from Ad Astra. It’s transcription, but it counts.

Here’s the round up for the year so far:

Month Total Blog Initiate of Stone Apprentice of Wind Figments Gerod and the Lions Short Stories
January 11,532 7,114 0 2,781 207 821 609
February 9,789 6,303 0 47 308 1,296 1,835
March 10,781 8,193 0 333 1,488 312 455
April 11,612 10,930 0 0 381 0 301

So this has been an interesting month, and the next few promise to be as well.

I won’t be actively querying until I have revisions done on IoS, so that’s on hold, again, too.

I did receive my contributors’ copy of Sulphur IV, the literary journal of Laurentian University. I have three poems in there. The CV has been updated.

The Sudbury Writers’ Guild, with its slick new web site, is moving forward with its anthology, so I’ve set aside some work for that.

I made a decision at the end of March. I’d been an associate member of the League of Canadian Poets since 1999, but I’d never gone to its annual conference or AGM. So I decided this year not to renew my membership and instead invest in SF Canada and the Canadian Science Fiction and Fantasy Association (home of the Auroras).

It’s been interesting so far.

As far as what’s coming up, Baen Books has a short fiction contest, and I’ve just become aware that Lightspeed has an open reading period for Women Destroy Fantasy.

So there you are.

Progress continues to be made.

How is your writing life going?

Ad Astra, day 3 (finally): Science in Urban Fantasy

Panellists: Shirley Meier; Alyx (A.M.) Dellamonica; James Alan Gardner; Dennis Lee

SM: I write fantasy and science fiction.

AD: Science fiction with an ecoscience bent.

DL: I recently coauthored a science fiction book with Mercedes Lackey.

Q: How do you reconcile fantasy with real world science?

SM: In Dead Girl Walking, zombies are a part of the world. My protagonist wants to be an astronaut. How do you hide your essential nature (rigorous medical testing). Does she have the “rot” stuff?

JAG: Urban fantasy is contemporary-ish. Can, or should, magic be explained? Charles de Lint doesn’t explain his magic, it’s wondrous. What is the attitude toward magic in your novels? Is it threatening, or saving?

DL: Magic is an underlying, mysterious thing for me, but it follows the rules of science, the laws of thermodynamics. My mage does magic by completing complex equations in her head.

SM: Most people accept our technology as magical. Flick a switch and you have light. Push a button and you can communicate with people all over the world.

JAG: Magic and technology are not indistinguishable. In urban fantasy and superhero subgenres, 1% have “bought” immortality. The blue collar class has lucked into it somehow. It’s wish fulfillment. Neil de Grasse Tyson says that you don’t have to “believe” in science. It works for everybody. In fantasy, you often have to be “the right” person. The one. Anyone can learn science.

AD: Access to science is privileged too, though.

SM: Barbara Hambly’s editor wouldn’t buy one of her books because it was written in terms of fantasy. The science wasn’t explained.

AD: What about Thor? Marvel’s tried to explain that all of Asgardian magic is, in fact science, but it’s not explained either. What about Pern? Lord Valentine’s Castle?

SM: Dracula was born out of the fear of women’s power of creation and “blood magic.” People are as afraid of science or nature as they are of the supernatural.

JAG: They are placed side-by-side, too. The virus zombie vs. the raised, Vodoun zombie. There’s a story from the set of Star Trek: The Next Generation, where the writer’s would put in a placeholder: Jeordy – tech. This would be the cue for the researcher to come up with some kind of plausible explanation for what science had apparently just made happen.

SM: With NCIS, it’s the same thing. Their placeholder is: Abby – technobabble.

DL: The project I’ve been working on has been a Google Docs collaboration. Each author has a specialization and lends their expertise to the project. Pharmacology, molecular biology, etc.

JAG: Peter Watt asked the question, “At what point is your bafflegab authentic enough?”

DL: It has to be grounded in something real.

JAG: Orson Scott Card says that there are three questions the reader shouldn’t ask: Huh? So what? and Who cares?

SM: When did we stop trusting “once upon a time”?

AD: Are there better branches of science that fit better with fantasy?

SM: The so-called “soft” sciences: sociology, anthropology, political science.

JAG: In my latest novel, I have four young protagonists, a physicist, a chemist, a biologist, and a geologist. All of them are “supers.”

SM: Is the increasing prevalence of autism evolutionary? It’s one of the questions that intrigues me. I inherited the history library of a professor friend of mine. It’s an excellent resource for steampunk. The science in steampunk needs to be shown, not explained.

DL: One of my characters is a geomancer, so she has to have math and physics.

SM: Look at Dresden. Magic is the realm of the guy in the basement with a hockey stick wand. Magic has a cost. Science does not.

DL: Science has to have a cost.

AD: Why? I want to write magic that works and has no cost.

SM: Then we have the problem of Superman.

Q: Does is come down to the transfer of energy? The way I see it, once that’s broken, so is the science.

JAG: Iron Man breaks science all the time.

Q: Do you explain it?

SM: You have to sell it, make it believable.

DL: Serve the story.

JAG: Like the faster than light in Star Wars; you either buy it, or you don’t. You can’t keep technology a secret.

Q: What about explaining the force in terms of “midichlorians”?

JAG: Midichlorians doesn’t really explain anything.

SM: Is A Wrinkle in Time science fiction, or fantasy?

Q: Or the technomages from Babylon 5?

SM: And we’re back to the Superman problem. Read A Canticle for Leibowitz. There is science beside the new church and its radiation saints.

JAG: Ultimately, you have to serve your story the best way you can.

Sundog snippets: Roz Morris online workshop, part the second

So. In case you missed last month’s post, the @M2the5th Google Plus community has had the privilege of Roz Morris’s expertise for monthly online workshops.

Yesterday’s was entirely on Twitter as the participants requested.

Here’s the storify for your edification.

May workshop storify

Next month’s will be on Saturday, June 7, 2014, on Twitter, using the hashtag #mto5. If you want to know more about how to participate in a Tweet chat, please read this post. If you want to find out even more, please join the G+ community linked above.