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Posts Tagged ‘Lucy D. Ford’

Yes, I won a tiny contest on Aethereal Engines, the blog of author Jason H. Abbott. It’s one of those things where the blogger posts an image, and entrants post a 100-word snippet in response. Eventually there’s a prize based on how many “likes” each winner receives. However, I’m not going to beg you all to “like” it. I’m just happy that I won. Here’s my text:

A lone soldier, walking on patrol, confronted the monstrous guardian across a stretch of no-man’s-land. To be sure, it was impossible to miss the hulking form with a furnace blazing behind its one eye.

Who had created this monstrous, ancient guardian? What was it protecting, as it made its endless round? Nobody now living remembered. They only knew it was death to cross the barrier ridge.

Fortunately, he had no need to cross. Like the guardian, he kept to his assigned watch. On impulse, he raised his weapon in salute to a fellow watchman bound by duty.


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As I’ve been mentioning, Sandemonium is coming up this weekend. This is my first time there, but they’ve been going on for at least seven years. I’m excited to know what it will be like.

My presentation is at noon, and it’s on “Ugly Tropes.” This is a topic I’ve blogged about (relatively) recently, and I just plan to cover that in a more interactive way. It’s also an opportunity for me and my husband to sit at a fan table for our own convention, SpoCon, which is coming up in August.

Finally, Daron’s mother lives in Sandpoint, so I imagine we’ll work some family time in, too. I expect that we’ll have fun no matter what.


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After talking with my husband, I will indeed be attending the MosCon Revival convention. The dates are June 21-23, although I will be there Saturday and Sunday only. My topic is “Do Women Game Differently?” I’m hoping they will put a man on the panel with me, so we can have some back-and-forth to compare our experiences. This is even more on-the-fly than Sandemonium, the week before. I’m really not worried, though. I can talk and be entertaining for an hour, no problem.

For those not familiar with Inland Northwest conventions, MosCon holds a special place in many hearts. When they started in 1979, it was the only SF event in the region. The next closest were in Seattle, WA or Portland, OR. One of the two founders was the late Jon Gustafson, an expert in SF art. At his urging, MosCon became the first SF convention in the nation to have an Artist Guest of Honor. They may also have been the first to invite a Science Guest of Honor, but I won’t swear to that.

The conventions continued for 20 years. Although time took its toll in concom burnout or having to leave for career opportunities, they were excellent for many years. I’m thrilled to be part of this revival. If you’re in the region, I urge you to come up and join us.


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Today I’m talking about one of my favorite online magazines, Daily Science Fiction. As the name implies, they publish one story every day, five days a week. Their stories span the spectrum of the genre — science fiction, fantasy, horror, and odd things in between. The link above is to Friday’s story, a mother’s bittersweet take on Portal Fantasies. But every day is different, you never know what it will be, and for me that’s part of the pleasure.

Subscribing to Daily Science Fiction is free, and I’ve been getting their stories for three or four years now. Yet, despite being free to the reader, Daily Science Fiction is a paying market. They pay the SFWA standard. In fact, it’s one of my dream markets. Any time I write something that might fit their length, I submit to them first. So far, they haven’t taken anything of mine, but hope springs eternal. They say you should read the publications you want to sell to, after all.

You might see a small conflict here. The site pays writers, but readers don’t have to pay. Recently, they have begun asking for memberships. At $15 a year, it’s really cheap. So I’m urging you to check out Daily Science Fiction. Come for the free stories. Maybe you’ll stay for the membership, after all.


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This will be short, because I’m using my cel phone as a hot-spot. That’s because our Internet is down. A cable is broken. It may not be repaired until May 31st. First-world problem, right? I mean, all three of us have cel phones. But our cel data is limited. The DSL isn’t.

It’s been very frustrating, and kind of pathetic, how limited we are without the Internet. We’re so used to it. We take it for granted.

“There’s nothing on TV…” because we don’t have Netflix. While a shelf full of movies gathers dust. “I can’t hear my music…” because Pandora is unavailable. We do have a rack of CD’s patiently waiting, though. “I can’t write…” because my favorite blog is online only.

That last one is my daughter’s complaint. I’m old fashioned and write on a desktop PC, which is doing just fine despite being an ancient dinosaur from 2012. However, the outage has hobbled my ability to market my books and communicate with friends.

So please, CenturyLink, repair the cable and let us live in the modern age again!


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Stock characters. Stereotypes. Tropes. Whatever you call them, they both exist and do not exist simultaneously. They are pervasive, and very sneaky. You sit there writing, and a stock character pops out of your subconscious mind without your realizing it.

A stereotype, according to Dictionary.com, is “a widely held but fixed and oversimplified image or idea of a particular type of person or thing.” So you think of a particular place or kind of person, and a certain picture immediately appears in your mind. An “Arab” with a head-rag who is hateful to women and Jews. The country of Thailand as a haven of drug use and prostitution.

This kind of stereotype is not real, because nothing in life is that simple and concrete. When you take the time to learn about the country of Thailand or “Arabs” as part of the world’s heritage, it immediately becomes clear that there is so much more nuance and variation than the trope captures.

Yet stereotypes are real, because they show up again and again. They are ingrained in our minds. One time, I was working on a short story and it felt very off to me. Reading back through, I realized that every one of the men characters was an ugly trope. There was a mean dad, a deceitful preacher, a lazy cop. Actually, there was only one woman character, and she was a stereotype, too — a weak mom who should have stood up to the dad but didn’t.

I was annoyed with myself for falling back on these negative types. As a writer, I pride myself on doing better. So I tore that story down to the ground and started over again. The dad became strict but concerned, rather than dominating his son, who was the main character. The policeman was honestly doing his job. The preacher vanished entirely. The mom offered her son words of support.

When we’re trying to get that first draft down, it can be all too easy to rely on stock characters. But when you get to revisions, it’s always better to resist the stereotypes. Allow interesting variations, or even deliberately turn the character to make readers question that stereotype. Turn those tropes into treasures.


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My first review has come in on The Tower in the Mist, and it’s a lovely one. Alden Loveshade delivers perceptive comments on his Loveshade Family Blog. Thank you so much, Alden!

I also have a minor puzzle. One of my goals for the year has been to revitalize my author newsletter and get more activity going there. They say these can be a great way to connect with fans and perhaps get them to use those purchase links in the e-mails.

So far this year, I have improved my record of putting the newsletter out on time each month. I’ve tried to have entertaining things to say. Although one person does interact consistently, which is more than I had before, I have unfortunately seen more people drop off the list each time I send one.

Maybe it’s natural, and those who were accustomed to the previous moribund newsletter find monthly contact a bit too much. It’s a little disheartening, all the same.

What’s an author to do? Keep on trying until I weed out the disinterested subscribers, I suppose. And keeping peeking back at Alden’s review to cheer myself up!


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