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Showing posts from January, 2011

Review of "The Way of Kings"



When my identical twin and I were little, most of the time people thought we'd be exactly the same in every respect.  Au, contraire.  We always had different tastes.  Even our bodies are a little different.  We both have skeletal deformities, but in different areas.  We seem to be mirror image twins.  Our cowlicks and our crooked teeth are on opposite sides; even some of her internal organs are backward.


She liked math in grade school, I liked spelling, which is why we switched desks after recess.  Our third grade teacher was oblivious that she was doing ALL of the math and I was doing ALL of the spelling.  Our dastardly plan to pass third grade with flying colors was dashed when Mom tipped our teacher off.  DRAT!  FOILED AGAIN!


As teenagers, she preferred to work on the farm with our Dad, I went to work at a nursing home.  In college, she worked for degrees in chemistry, theater arts, and nursing.  My degrees are in music education, anthropology/sociology, and fine arts educat…

The Blogger's Prayer



As I continue to muddle through my revisions, I paused yesterday to reflect how much the blogs I frequent every day have helped light the way, or at least the next step.  I hope that some day I can create a blog as good as the ones I've been reading.

Lord,

As I write tonight in my darkened office and meet countless others in pursuit of the same dream, Thank you for those with humility and the grace. Bless those who bring joy, laughter, and hope to the discouraged and downtrodden,
And for those who seek to light the way with wisdom and insight.
Bless those who set high standards for which to strive,
And a path by which to follow. And may Your light and their examples guide my own writing journey.
Amen.

Fantasy Has Several Meanings, Really...



I teach during the school year and work at a hardware store during the summer.  The store atmosphere is pretty low key, which is really nice compared to the frantic pace of the elementary school.  Plus, I love tools and get an employee discount.  I agreed to work weekends occasionally through this school year in case they needed me.

I had found out over the last summer that two other employees liked to write.  What a coinkydink!  What are the odds that 3 of the 8 employees were writers?  I thought it was pretty cool, so I asked them what they wrote.  One said, "Sci-fi," and the other, an older retired, man said, "Fantasy."  How cool was that!  All three of us write speculative fiction!  He also told me that he wrote with people he knows via the Internet.  Wow!  I write and swap stories for critique over the Internet, too! I thought.

They asked me to work a weekend earlier this month, and the store was absolutely dead.  It was so quiet I had no choice but to h…

Blog Title Change

After chatting with several folks via Twitter, I finally came to the obvious conclusion that I'm not writing urban fantasy.  "Duh!" you say, but in my defense, for some the definition of urban fantasy simply involves weird stuff in the modern world.  My modern world happened to be a cattle ranch 20 miles from the nearest town.  Definitely not urban, so I've changed the title of my blog to reflect my genre more accurately.

The Genre Dilemma

Several months ago, I read a blog post about do's and don'ts for conference panels.  I would cite the author and post if I could remember where I found it, so I'm terribly sorry.  It may have been Janet Reid's, but I can't be sure.  One of the no-no's was asking a question that was truly a thinly veiled pitch.  


Example:  "How do you think a story about robots that pick your nose would sell?  I can show you what I'm talking about, as I have the manuscript in my hand."


Earlier today, I participated in my first UF Chat on Twitter.  It was a blast and the discussion was great, and the other participants seemed very knowledgeable.  Several of them are published, and I had a question I wanted to ask regarding the genre of my novel, The Rider of Nealra.  I was afraid to ask, just in case I might look like Robot Pitch Girl above.  Just before I actually asked, though, my toddler woke up and I had to leave.  Several participants were game to help, however, …

It's Getting Old, and It Screws Up My Writing



Rant Alert!

Just as I find the portrayal of earthy elves to be pedantic, I find the portrayal of Christians in fiction a tad cliche.  Christians in the Christian literature I've read are too pure to be believable.  Christians in mainstream fiction tend to be either bigoted bad guys or shallow caricatures of what I feel it means to be Christian.

Please understand that I'm not advocating the censorship of authors who use characters in this fashion.  I also must say that after reading a few works of Christian fiction, I abandoned the genre.  There very well could be works out there of which I am unaware that address my criticisms.

Using these types of Christian characters bothers me for several reasons.  One, it reinforces both positive and negative stereotypes that separate Christians from others.  Two, those characters resemble no one I know, and it makes them unapproachable or unbelievable.  Three, my relationship with God doesn't resemble theirs in any way, shape,…

Native American Prayer

I'm quite fond of the blog, Montana for Real.  The blog's author is from northern Montana, and I live in the south central area.

In my short stories and my novel, I reference Natives and Native languages quite a bit.  The link above takes you to a prayer in the Blackfeet language.  It's a great way to hear a beautiful poem in a Native language.

My Review is Up!

My latest review for the Portal of Sword and Sorceress, XXV is up.

I hope you enjoy it!

How I Lost a Chunk of Hair to My Grandma's Vibrator



When I was a kid, I used words like "snatch," "gay," and "gerbil," and "tossed salad," freely and without fear of double entendres.  This continued into college, and I couldn't figure out why people sniggered and tittered when I told them about the incident with Grandma's vibrator.

My mom has a very bad back and had a bad spell when I was about ten.  Being so isolated out on the ranch and with very poor insurance, Mom was trying to avoid having to go to the doctor.  Grandma thought that a few rounds with her vibrator might loosen things up.

Mom used it a couple of times, then my twin and I got to playing with it.  It reminded me of an art deco Kirby vacuum that neither sucked nor blowed, a heavy steel monstrosity with red vinyl upholstery.  The vibrations were powered by a spinning disc that was drilled intentionally off-center.  Crank it up to a couple hundred RPM and the disc made it vibrate quite violently.

The disc didn't…

The Earthy Elves Cliche




I've recently gotten into sword and sorcery, partly due to reviews I'm doing for The Portal, and also thanks to the freebie books from the World Fantasy Convention.  One theme that seems prevalent throughout sword and sorcery and high fantasy is the nature of the connection between elves and the earth.  I've also seen the same thing between witches or mages and the earth.  I do think that the connection must be there in order for the elves to feel, well, elvish, but I find the way in which it usually is done is growing a bit tiresome.

Take Chris Evan's A Darkness Forged in Fire, for example.  His Iron Elves, his setting, and the premise are completely different than what one would normally find in high fantasy and are very refreshing.  I realize he is more sword and sorcery, but I have to compare his book to high fantasy, as that is what I've read up until now.  I'm just starting to get into sword and sorcery.  Overall, I've really liked the book.  (Up…