Quote of the Moment

"What's Past Is Prologue." - William Shakespeare

Friday, December 31, 2010

From 2010 to 2011

I can't say 2010 was kind to me, or that it was a good year. It was a year, it passed, stuff happened. Enough said.

Okay, maybe I won't leave it at that. When have I ever left things alone?

I didn't reach all of my writing goals, but I did progress with a few things. Dead As Dreams still needs to be completed, but I have less than one third of the rough draft left, and I can see the ending far down the tunnel, a little pinprick of light (that has been going through one huge arse mountain since I started writing it back in 2005). I completed and revised some short stories, as well as sending many stories out to slush piles. And I successfully survived my first class for my M.F.A. program.

A friend, Heidi Ruby Miller, posted her submission, acceptance, and rejection stats for the year. This made me curious what my numbers ended up being for 2010. Unfortunately, this meant I had to go through my submissions program and count everything per manuscript (since I don't have a handy spreadsheet to track the numbers yet...I will have to change that!). My numbers are below. =)

Novel Queries

Submissions: 6 (5 to agents, 1 to a publisher)
Rejections: 5
No Response (some counted from the previous year): 3

Short Stories

Submissions: 38
Rejections: 36
No Response/Still Waiting/Withdrawal (some counted from the previous year): 6

I didn't want to depress myself by listing a category for acceptances when I had none. True, it would be nice to have those acceptances, but looking at my numbers, I'm pretty damn proud of myself for submitting that much. What does it mean? That I haven't given up. Perhaps 2011 I'll happily have an acceptance category, but for now, all I can do is keep going!

So, how did you do for the year? Achieve all your writing goals, feel like you accomplished a lot, even if you don't have any acceptances as proof? It's always useful to take a look back on the year that's just passed, so you can think of what you want to do in the coming year.

Some people may roll their eyes at resolutions, but many people feel that sense of a new beginning when the old year comes to a close and a new one begins. It's a circle, the snake eating its own tail, but there is still a beginning and an end, the end being a new beginning.

How to begin 2011? Good question!

First, if you want to work alongside other writers and make a goal for each month, keep Writing Quest in mind. I just started Writing Quest - January up on Facebook. The event is open to the public, and I'll continue to host a Writing Quest each month. If you don't have a Facebook account, feel free to post your goals here!

I'm feeling pretty good right now, since I just came off a 2 hour stint of writing, ending with 7 new pages and the completion of a short story rough draft. This means I must make sure to rein in my desire to list outlandish goals and think I am Super Woman who can complete a list of countless resolutions. Got to beat down that story completion high (who needs drugs when you can just write?).

If you've been watching Twitter, I've been poking some fun at resolutions today. So, I'm going to list some GOALS for the year. For 2011, the list will not be exhaustively long. Promise.

- Revise Mind Behind the Mind once more, and start sending it to publishers (since wait time can be up to a year, it might only hit the slush of one publisher).
- Complete the rough draft of Dead As Dreams.
- Don't start anything new! Got to finish some things first. I include Fate stories in the Not New pile - hell, I had that series idea 3 or 4 years ago (hence, Not New).
- Hey look at that, my study is clean, and I just spent 2 hours in it, writing, so I don't need this on my list this year!
- Keep submitting, and submitting, and submitting....
- Survive my M.F.A. program once I start full time in June.

That's it. Short and sweet. Of course I intend to keep up with my blog, as well as critiques, but those don't need to be on my goals list. One of these days I'll get to catching up with my writing forums and listserves, but I'm pretty sure that's not going to happen this year.

What are your goals for the year? Or have you chosen to make a resolution or two? I'd be happy to hear what everyone else has planned!

Happy writing in 2011!

NEXT UP: Terry Pratchett's Colour of Magic

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Fringe - This Decade's X-Files?

SPOILER ALERT! If you have not watched through Season 3, Episode 9 of Fringe, there are spoilers ahead.

* * * * *

Fringe, a science fiction show in its third season on FOX, has the potential to be as successful as X-Files. The turn it took at the beginning of this season, though, could have driven many of its viewers away. But I'm getting ahead of myself. This may be a mid-season look at the show, but for those that have never seen it before, I'll go over some of the basics that I think makes this show great.

Imagine that there is a parallel universe out there, one that reflects our own in many ways. Of course there are differences--the twin towers still stand, technology is more advanced, and they contain fringe events (kind of dimensional holes, glitches from our own dimension) by sealing the location, and the people, in some sort of gelatinous mixture. They have to contain it, or our world may destroy theirs. We don't get a glimpse of this parallel universe until the end of Season 1, though, and it's not until the end of Season 2 that our main characters cross over to this different reality. In our world, Olivia Dunham (Anna Torv), along with Dr. Walter Bishop (John Noble) and his son, Peter Bishop (Joshua Jackson), explore the odd fringe events taking place here. This eventually leads them to discover the parallel universe, a world that sees itself at war with our own--the people there think the only way to save their world is to destroy ours. Rich world-building and a well thought out plot sucks you into Fringe. Even though Olivia and her team investigate weird events, in the end those odd events still have some type of explanation (whether it's explained during the episode or a season or two later).

Yes, the world the writers have built is great, but the true shining star is the characterization. Olivia is an FBI agent who loses her fiance to a fringe event, eventually finding out he was involved. She's assigned to investigate these events. I'll admit, in Season 1, her character was the hardest for me to swallow. She felt a bit flat because I didn't see a lot of emotion from her. Seasons 2 and 3 have changed my mind, her character being fleshed out little by little. As far as we know, she is the only person who can safely cross over to the other side.

The first time we meet Dr. Walter Bishop, he's in a mental institution. A brilliant scientific mind that has fractured. He is the comic relief of this show, and by far the best character, in my opinion. His character is quirky and needy, but he still has much of the scientific knowledge needed to investigate the fringe events.

Peter Bishop, who originally was estranged from his father, is the perfect foil for Walter, and eventually a love interest for Olivia. It just so happens that Peter is actually from the other dimension (unknown to him until the end of Season 2). Walter's son died, and he couldn't bear to see this other Peter die, so he crossed over--the only way to save Peter was to bring him back to our world. This was the event that caused the instability in the other world.

It's about time I get to season three, don't you think? It starts out slowly. Our Olivia is trapped in the other world, while their Olivia is infiltrating our dimension. Walter, Peter, and other characters have no clue that there is an impostor in their midst. Our Olivia is brainwashed (with the help of some drugs and memories) to think that she is actually the Olivia from the other world. Great set-up for the beginning of the season, no? I thought it was, but it didn't stay that way.

They alternate episodes, one in the other world, then one in ours. Makes sense. Unfortunately, once our Olivia is finally brainwashed, the episodes in the other world left a bitter taste in my mouth. The characters around her weren't developed to their full potential, which made them come across cardboard and felt like mere tools. Not only that, but anything we discovered about this world didn't have as big as an impact as I think it could have. I contest that it is far more interesting to explore a new world from the eyes of a stranger. Since Olivia thought she belonged there, we saw the world from familiar eyes, so everything to her was ordinary and commonplace. The world failed to come alive for me--it had been more alive when Olivia, Walter, and Peter had crossed over initially at the end of Season 2, since they were all discovering the differences compared to our world.

The big thing that sunk me, and made it hard for me to hang on from episode to episode, was the length of time it took for our Olivia to finally get home and, more importantly, for everyone on our side to figure out that the Olivia working with them was an impostor! It's not until Episode 8 when the Olivias end up back in their respective worlds. I can see a few episodes, but not nearly half the season.

Episode 8 was great, I have to admit that. It just kills me that it took so damn long to get there. Walter was in prime form in the episode--I'm still laughing over the word he created, Vagenda (you have to watch the episode to get the context, it's well worth it). A lot of action, twists and turns, speed bumps, and someone's life sadly ends. Good fun, but it should have come four episodes sooner, in my opinion.

Am I alone in my feelings? No, I'm pretty sure I'm not. My husband read a few articles throughout the last few months that reflected dissatisfaction, and the viewers were slowly declining. I think stretching things out so long was what did it. Is there hope? Yes, I believe so. Fringe is an excellently imagined story, and if the writers pick up the pace and start throwing more punches concerning the war (which our side now knows about), then they can redeem themselves. Every series has a slump period. I can only hope that the viewers they lost will come back or new viewers will start watching. Fringe should have at least two more seasons in it--not sure if it will reach eight seasons like X-Files. It has held its own going up against the original CSI, Supernatural, and Nikita, among other powerhouse shows.

This is the clincher, though--starting at the end of January, Fringe will move to a Friday time slot (it has been airing on Thursday nights, with some odd Monday night episodes during Season 2). Many people consider Friday a death slot. Will the final bell toll, or will Fringe embrace that time slot as X-Files did in the past? Perhaps in the mirror dimension, they've already hit the cancel button, or perhaps it's been renewed for another ten seasons! No matter what, I'm sure Fringe has plenty of surprises in store for the future.

NEXT UP: Resolutions and Goals for 2011, and a look back at 2010.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Critters Workshop - Expanding to Other Genres!

Apologies for the lack of a blog post last week. My daughter and I were really sick all week (I will spare you the disgusting details), so I am behind on everything.

I've mentioned before that I belong to Critters online workshop, for SF/F/H. A few months ago, the Critter Captain (Andrew Burt), decided to create some new workshops, stretching into other genres. Yes, some of the new workshops have been up and running for a while, but I figured this would be a good blog topic, just in case some people still don't know about it. =)

If you're interested in taking a look at the new workshop offerings, you can find them all at http://critique.org/ Not only are there workshops for mystery, romance, and non-fiction, but also for other types of media, like videos and music. You need to sign up for each workshop separately, though. So, if you're looking for a place to exchange critiques, this is a good place to start!

Speaking of critiques, I have some novel chapters to read. Happy critiquing all!

NEXT UP: A mid-season look at Fringe.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

In Between

I am officially done with my Horror: Monsters class - the final paper was sent out a few minutes ago. Yay!

That means I'm at the dreaded In Between. My next online course won't start until January, but I can't let me blog linger until then (I'm not even sure if I'll need to post my essays to my blog for that course - I will be stepping away from horror and delving into Recent F/SF)!

In the past, I have had long dry spells from blogging, and though it was mainly due to lack of time, I also think it was because I didn't have any type of focus in my posts. Seriously, I have probably whined enough about my life and attempts at writing, which has probably driven most readers away.

Time for something different! The problem is, I need to figure out exactly what to do. I will probably still comment about my trials and tribulations now and then, but I'd rather post something that other people find useful (I am not so self-absorbed to think my complaints are useful).

I admit, I enjoyed posting my essays - I made sure to include my own opinions as well as taking a serious look at all of my readings. And I hope others enjoyed them too.

What I think it boils down to, though, is I need to know what people want to read. Obviously most topics should be writing related. Some of the things that have crossed my mind are as follows: book reviews/discussions, movie reviews/discussions, TV episode reviews/discussions, focusing on certain aspects of the craft of writing, guest bloggers, writing prompts and challenges (Writing Quest is still ongoing, by the way - Writing Quest December), discussions of writing related websites/blogs/internet material. And I am willing to take any other suggestions, no matter how far off the wall they are. True, these ideas don't break any new ground - there are so many blogs nowadays, especially writing blogs, that it's hard to find something new and innovative.

I do know this - as long as I am in school for my MFA, I will likely only be blogging once a week, and any required class posts will take place of a normal blog post. Once I've completed my MFA, I hope to up my blog posts to 2-3 times per week - they don't all need to be long, and I can have daily themes as well.

What do you all think? What do you want to see me blog about? =)

P.S. Don't ask about NaNoWriMo. I feel a miserable failure, even though it was school and the toddler that got in my way mostly. I am hoping to make up for my November slump. My December goal is to write 35,000 words at least! Progress will be reported via Twitter. ;)