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Posts Tagged ‘writing’

Don’t Let the Door Hit You, 2017

Last year was turbulent for many of us. The political climate in the U.S…. Need I say more? And the daily trials like large, unexpected bills. Plus I was intensely involved with SpoCon, my local science fiction convention. That appropriated a lot of my creative energy this year.

I’ve felt very much off my pace in 2017. My goal was to write 4 short stories and 15 chapters (60,000 words) of a new novel. I managed to write 2 short stories, neither of which have sold yet, and the novel I started last January stalled. I’m up to 10,000 words on a different novel now.

I’ve also been waiting for my publisher to set a release date on my next novel, Trials of the Eighth Order. I hasn’t come. That leaves me with no new, traditional publications in 2017. Of course, I did self-publish my two novellas, so I’m not completely skunked.

Coming Up in 2018

My next project will be a short story collection of my work for adult audiences. Tentatively known as Aunt Anne’s Archive, it should appear sometime in the spring. Aunt Anne’s Archive will contrast with Aunt Ursula’s Atlas which represents my children’s work as Lucy D. Ford.

There is also a good possibility I’ll go through my five+ years of blogging here on Wyrmflight to select the most interesting and popular posts for a collection. Dragon legends and Real-Life Dragons are probably the best categories for this project. I’d love to get feedback on which topics you readers might want to see.


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The ancient civilization of Egypt has long fascinated with its stunning monuments and the lure of treasure-filled tombs. One of the culture’s most striking features was the animal-headed deities of its traditional religion. Although their mythology did not include dragons as such, there were several reptilian deities among the pantheon.

Perhaps the most recognizable of these is Sobek, the river god. Sobek (also translated as Sebek, Sobk, Sochet and more) was depicted either as a crocodile or a man with a crocodile’s head. From the most ancient times, this deity embodied a cluster of traits centered on the river. He was the powerful flood, and the gift of fertility in its wake. Since a crocodile was one of the most lethal creatures known along the Nile, Sobek also represented Egypt’s military might and the pharaoh’s power.

Initially, Sobek’s cult was centered in the Shedet region (modern day Faiyum) near Lake Moeris, where crocodiles must have been common. A great deal of building around Shedet was devoted to Sobek. Another cult center was at Kom Obo, in southern Egypt.

The worshipers had no illusion about the god’s capacity for violence. Among his titles were “he of pointed teeth,” and “one who loves robbery.” When people prayed to Sobek, they were asking him to moderate the cruelty of the river and ward off disasters such as real-life crocodile attacks.

With the passing of ages, Sobek became incorporated into the central myth of Osiris, Isis and Horus. After Osiris’ brother Set murdered him and flung parts of his body around the delta, Sobek helped Isis find the pieces and restore Osiris. As an associate of the sky god, Horus, his ferocity was turned to protecting the innocent and warding off evil. This also underlined Sobek’s association with kingship. He remained prominent in the Egyptian pantheon until it was displaced by modern religions.

———-

Just a few of my books:

Aunt Ursula’s Atlas, Lucy D. Ford’s short story collection

Masters of Air & Fire, Lucy D. Ford’s middle-grade novel

The Grimhold Wolf, my gothic werewolf fantasy, and my epic fantasy, The Seven Exalted Orders.

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And cymbals crash as the door flies open. Ta-da! Aunt Ursula’s Atlas is here.

So I’m super-excited, in my stoic way. After years of searching out markets for my retro fantasy short stories, I’ve taken the leap to self-publish a collection. It’s a little bit scary, but mostly fun, to bring out a book on my own initiative.

 

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Cover illustration by Margaret Organ-Kean.

On a high shelf, in a hidden library,
There is a book of unknown wonders.

Open its pages. Explore mysterious lands.
See for yourself what lies within
Aunt Ursula’s Atlas.

So what’s inside?

Dragons, of course! And a unicorn. Some witches. A dryad. A dwarf. Thrilling adventures and hard lessons to learn. All this for $3.99.

Eleven short stories for middle grades — that is, grades 4 to 6. Half are in the fairy tale style you might remember from my podcast, The Dragon King. The others are an assortment of fantasy styles.

Where can you get this wondrous-ness?

Right now, it’s available only as an e-book. Trade paperback is in the works. It’s in Apple, Kindle and Epub formats, through a variety of outlets. I hope you’ll follow your favorite link and give it a try.

General purchase hub (links to Apple, Nook, Kobo, 24 Symbols, Inktera). Others soon to be available include Page Foundry, Scribd and Tolino.

And, of course, Amazon.

Not exactly a purchase link, but here’s Goodreads as well.

One last thing

Reviews! If you do buy the book, I sure could use some reviews. I’ll be contacting a few friends about specific publicity, but any one of you could add it to wish lists, mark it to-be-read, and otherwise help spread the joy.

Thanks for being so awesome!

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MisCon Science Fiction is celebrating its 30th year with a fine convention the weekend of May 27- 30th, 2016. In case any of you will be there, I thought I’d share my schedule for the event.

Friday, May 27th
6:00 p.m, Workshop, Description to Die For. I’m leading this one. It’s just under an hour of actual writing practice, so bring your writing materials.

Saturday, May 28th
10:00 a.m, Writer’s Workshop. Just what it sounds like. You had to pre-register for this one.
Noon, Elevate Your Dialogue.
1:00 p.m, World Building 101
4:00 p.m, Sky Warrior Books Group Reading
7:00 p.m, Open Mic Fiction Slam! Another of my pet projects. Anybody who wants to read, can read.

Sunday, May 29th
2:00 p.m, Anthologies and Collaboration

Things get hectic at school during the last few weeks, so I’m definitely looking forward to visiting my favorite Alternate Reality — science fiction!

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I find myself at one of those points we writers all reach, where I’m considering my work to date and pondering which direction to take. This particularly involves my short fiction, which I always struggle to find markets for.

Okay, yes, it is substantially my own responsibility that I continue to write stories that don’t have ready markets. I know that adult magazines consider stories with a fairy-tale flavor too juvenile for their readership, and I know that a 2,000-word short story is too long for juvenile magazines. But, bless me, that’s what I keep coming up with!

So I send submissions to 1 or 2 magazines with a remote chance of publishing me, because that’s all the markets there are. After that, I just have these stories without anywhere else to submit them. And so it goes.

I’m reluctantly coming to the conclusion that if I want my stories to be read, I will have to create a market for myself. It wouldn’t be the first time I set out to make something happen because I needed it to. I started volunteering with SCBWI in the early 2000s, because I couldn’t afford to travel for my career. I’m happy to say the local chapter is still going strong, too.

So I could go whole-hog and start a magazine for the readers I imagine when I write my own work. An actual magazine! The idea scares me to death, because it’s such an investment and there’s so much I don’t know. Also, it’s pretty cheesy to publish your own work and call that a magazine. Thus, in all likelihood, my stories still wouldn’t be published.

A more realistic goal might be to self-publish my stories in a series of collections. Perhaps 3 or 4 at a time, with a modest price tag. Since there are about 16 of them, depending which I choose, I could stretch that out for as much as two years depending on frequency.  Since I’ve finally got another microphone, I could podcast concurrently and have these available in e-book or audio.

To be even more modest, I could just do another podcast. Spring Break is in two months, and I’m sure I could get another novelette ready to record by then. However, I suspect that would not be enough. To build audience and achieve some recognition, I think I’ll need to push myself toward the second option.

This is what I’m currently pondering. The options, the expenses, the time away from my novel in progress. Those of you who have done this before, I would welcome your insights and advice. Thanks in advance, and stay tuned for further announcements.

 

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Author Sacha Black interviewed me last spring, and that interview is now live. Check it out here!

Thank you so much, Sacha.

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Brace yourselves — I’m about to make a weird connection. And first I’m going to ask, “Are the literary dragons dead?”

Many of us who write, grew up with the legend of great editors and publishers. Giants who sought out and cultivated promising writers. Whose literary eyes were keen and whose judgments were indisputable. We hoped that we, one day, would be lucky enough to catch such an editor’s eye and grow to greatness with their careful art.

Such “literary dragons” (see, that’s my weird connection) may have existed around the middle of the Twentieth Century, but I fear they have since been hunted into oblivion. The publishing world has changed so much. Corporations now control the editorial process. They concentrate on stockholder profits rather than literary art. To this end, it seems, they regard books as a product to be rolled off the assembly line, following a formula and subject to re-writes based on what the marketing people think.

For a more in-depth take on this problem, see this excellent blog from World Fantasy Award winner Kristine Kathryn Rusch.

I happen to agree with Rusch on this. I see so many books on the shelf that sound exactly like three other things I just read. It’s frustrating. In a genre like speculative fiction, which is supposed to be about limitless imagination, we really can’t think of anything original to write? After reading Rusch’s comments, I wonder how much the corporate mentality plays into this problem. Editors won’t (or aren’t allowed to) buy anything that hasn’t already been done before and sold a ton of books, because corporations, by their very nature, are all about the status quo.

In this context, I was reading a book by a new author. I’m not going to name names, because I’m not into shaming people, but… I wasn’t able to finish the book because of how the female lead was handled. She supposedly had an amazing power, yet she kept getting captured and rescued by the male lead. She was pawed over by a lascivious villain. All those annoying sexist things that clueless authors do to female characters? This author followed that formula to a T.

I drew the line when the female lead was possessed by a fire demon who burned off all her clothes (yet she suffered no actual burns). Then when she defeated the demon, she was taken prisoner and handcuffed with a black trash bag over her head.

Just take a moment to think about that image, would you?

So then the supposed good guys had a long conversation and not one of them bothered to offer her a shirt, coat, or any other way to cover herself. She stood there, naked except for the trash bag, while they discussed her fate.

And here’s another weird connection: Abu Ghraib Prison. Remember that? Naked prisoners on dog leashes, surrounded by grinning guards? Reading the scene in this book gave me the same sense of crawling horror that the Abu Ghraib photos did.

From the author’s picture, he’s just a young guy. He probably had no clue that anyone might find this scene disturbing or sexist or even just plain tacky. I’m left wondering, not only why he would put in such material without thinking it through, but where his editor was while this book was in production. Did nobody at the publisher read the manuscript carefully enough to recognize the author had written Abu Ghraib Prison into his story? Or did they think their “winning formula” would excuse the awful content?

This is how I know the literary dragons are dead. Because no editor who cared about writing would have let that scene go through.

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