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Showing posts from 2010

The End of a Year, the Beginning of Another

As I huddle in my trusty dining room chair, bathed in the bluish white glow of the computer monitor, I'm stricken by how much has changed over the past few years...and yet, how much has not. As for what has changed...

Three years ago on this night, I wrote the first word of what would eventually grow into The Sword of the Patron, my first novel, which today hunts for a publisher willing to bless it with printed pages to call its own.
Like all things that start small and on a whim, my little experiment in storytelling grew and changed. What began as one novel split like a single celled organism and grew into two, when I learned I had far too much story to cram into a first-time novelist's meager pages. Two books then birthed the concept for a third, though this story remains in its infancy while I tend books one and two. Amusing, given that prior to that day in 2007, I had continually told myself I was no writer.

That novel I started three years ago has undergone multiple t…

Little Haitus

As I suspected, all things December have made editing the next episode of The Windrider pretty much impossible, so I'm just dropping in here to give a quick update on what's going on in my writing life.

November and December generated a couple of rejections for both a short story of mine and my novel, the former which I took quite hard, actually. Why? Because the reasons they rejected the story were spot on. It's hard to hear you gave somebody a peek at your ugly baby...but fortunately, in this case, I have power to make that ugly baby a real looker, if I do it right. For this particular story, I had experimented in writing above my ability in an epic lore style, and little character-driven me just shouldn't write that way. At least not at this point in my journey.

So what am am doing about that? I'm attacking that short story, which I believe will be a novella by the time I'm through, to deepen the characters, add a more specific sense of wonder, and hopefully…

A Dead Genre?

I'm a subscriber to David Farland's "Daily Kick in the Pants," and email newsletter that goes out...well, daily...and offers a wealth of practical advice to writers. I've gotten some priceless tidbits of wisdom and motivation from his offerings.

Well, today the "Daily Kick" dished up a line that felt more like a kick in the teeth. (No fault of Mr. Farland's...he calls things like he sees them, and he's just being frank without any malice toward me or any other reader.) David Farland said something in just  few little lines that sunk a sword into my gut. He wrote that his agent believes Tolkienesque fantasy to be dead and unsellable.

What?

I can't help but wonder at the plausibility of this statement, given the number of teens who every day who discover Middle Earth for the first time, and how if you hang around at least the younger readers of fantasy, how there is still a deep, tremulous excitement over worlds populated with elves, dwarves, …

We interrupt this programming for a quick mention of ACFW...

Well, several days have passed since I flew home from the ACFW conference in Indianapolis, so I had better get around to a short reflection on my time there. I know I have said this before, but it bears saying again.

If you are a writer...or want to be one...go to a conference!

Granted, not just any conference. A reasonably recognized one where they will have top-notch faculty is of course a better use of your time and money. But nowhere but the uncommon setting known as the writer's conference will you learn so much or have the chance ot rub elbows with so many great and influential people as you will on one of these sojourns.

At the ACFW conference this year, I had the chance to:
Pitch my manuscript to three people who either would never take an unsolicited email from me, or else never would have found that email in the pile of messages that clamor for their attention. Two of these connections resulted in a solicitation of either a full or partial manuscript.Sit under the teachin…

What the Market Will Bear

Image
Duchess Delquessa Ildonian leaned against the stone frame of her chamber's window, while her glance roved over the rolling terrain outside the palace. Rain fell in a steady thrum, shrouding the grasy hills and the winding road through them with a silver veil.
"Mistress, surely," her waiting maid's voice chided from behind her. "You must pry yourself from that window for a morsel. I worry over your insistent return to that spot, day after day."
Delquessa's gaze lingered upon the horizon. "Why sends he no word? Could the campaign stretch this overlong?"
"I assure you, I know not, mistress." The maid's footfalls neared. "Who among elves can fathom the minds of men?"
Not I, Elyrin, not I."

Welcome to a quick excerpt from one of my current projects--a 10,000 word short story I hope to submit for a short story anthology to be produced by Port Yonder Pressthis fall. As my new critique group looked over this particular story, …

Windrider Finale and an Announcement

I just wanted to drop a quick note here to let any of you who are interested know that the season 1 finale of The Windrider is now live on Digital Dragon. The Windrider, Episode XIII: Creo's Sight

I'd be deeply grateful if you dropped in on my friends and I over there and gave the story a read. While you're there, browse around an d see what else you like in the issue.

This all leads me to an announcement regarding the future of The Windrider. There's certainly no shortage of other exploits I can write about Captain Ecleriast and his cast of supporting characters, but due to a lot of converging circumstances, there's a bit of a change on the wind. Starting in September, the story of Vinyanel Ecleriast, Majestrin, and Veranna will indeed continue, only you will find the stories here at Call of the Creator, rather than over at Digital Dragon. (More on my thanks to DDM is coming, just not here and now. But if you'd like to hear Tim's perspective on how our jou…

Too weird to be normal--too normal to be weird

This is just about a constant refrain in my household. We live in limbo...in that gray twilight that knows neither mainstream nor alternative.

I'll speak mostly for myself here, since I'm sure my husband would rather I didn't mock him on the internet, though he is the one who told me I must blog on this. Anyway, as a Christian who is an artist, I find myself in a strange position. The parts of me that look artsy: my hobbies, the strange things I think about while I'm doing the dishes, the fact that I have more than a few sketch books full of elves, knights, and unicorns...these leave me with scant common ground with most of my physical social circle.  I think I appear ordinary enough until you get to know me a bit...then it becomes glaringly apparent that I'm a little kooky. My physical social circle (those people I have actually stood beside, rather than those whom I know only virtually) pulls mostly from church and homeschooling, and those people who are fantasy …

Fiction, as promised

In an effort to shift my blog over from articles (though occasionally, some will still appear here when I feel I have something to rant about, or a book to review, or something like that) I am posting a short story here for your enjoyment. The following was a story I submitted to a contest in the early part of 2010. It was a "tell us what happened in this picture" type of contest, where the catalogue running it offered an image of a knight, a king, a princess, and the suggestion of a nearby dragon. The story below takes a traditional stab at the image, but hopefully it will meet with your discerning standards anyway. ;) Without further ado...




A Willing Heart
by Becky Minor

Nothing spoils a momentous occasion like an uninvited guest. So when a forty-foot, bronze-scaled dragon swooped down upon the field of tournament behind Stonewarden Keep, the festivities not only ground to a halt, but the throng of spectators burst into cacophonous panic. Courtiers wailed. Peasants stumbled o…

Feeling Disoriented?

Yes, I admit, there are a few changes going on around here, and if that's disconcerting to you, I sincerely apologize...and will continue to apologize, since I have no idea when I will be done the renovation of this blog. I am one of those people who would rearrange my furniture every six weeks if I could--the fact that my current home allows for one configuration, and one only, of our furniture is making me batty.

Anyway, perhaps you're shaking your head at my swap of templates. Now that blogger has upgraded your ability to see your blog with new "clothes" on, I've been trying a few templates on for size. The current template's font sizes and the like are not my favorite, so we'll see if I can get that swapped out for a custom header soon. But nonetheless, it has been fun to see what other looks I might utilize around here.

The Donate Button (Dun-dun-DUN!)
Another detail you may have noticed is a little button on the right that says "donate." To…
Image
Since I am typically remiss in posting any recent artwork, I figured I'd throw an image here on the main page for folks to heckle. Most of my writing is character driven, which means (to me) that the characters come first. I design them, build at least a skeletal framework for their personalities, then throw them into a situation and see how they will deal with it. The outcome is usually a surprise, at least to me.

The character providing me with the most startling revelations of late has been Lieutenant Commander Vinyanel Ecleriast...oh wait...if the one or two people who read that serial drop in over here, I guess that was a tiny spoiler about something that happens in season two. But anyway, I felt it was high time I put a face on this character I've been writing about for a year now...or should I say, a face visible to someone besides me.

It's always a risk, putting an image with a written character. People always say "Wait, that's not how I pictured him."…

What's coming

So, as those of you who drop by here at all, you know I don't blog prolifically. I want to keep the blog running, since there is value in blogging that I won't get into here. But as I look at the content and purpose of my blog, I think I may make some changes around here.

I'm toying with the idea of doing monthly releases of stories written solely for this spot. As many of you know, I already am in a contract with Digital Dragon Magazine (www.digitaldragonmagazine.net) to write serial fiction, and that isn't changing. But, if I can do it, I may start offering fiction here as well...that is, if anyone wants to read it. (Comments about that would help! Nudge, nudge.)

I'm also debating taking some slightly risky advice from mega-selling fantasy author David Farland. (Runelords) I get an e-mail bulletin from his called "David Farland's Daily Kick in the Pants," which he uses to offer writers tips on the world of writing. Today, his advice was to set out a d…

The Changing Face of Books

When I started my journey toward publication just a couple of years ago (and I mean barely started--at that point I had a manuscript that was in such sorry shape that you would never know it was the embryonic phase of the novel I'm now sending queries about) I started poking my nose around the idea of the e-book. Just two short years ago, the overriding opinion was that e-books sat in a tiny niche that made it so you couldn't lose the user's manual to a piece of electronic equipment, and that the publishing industry didn't see the e-book ever growing into a mainstream means of publication.

Fast forward to 2010, and statistics show us that books sold in electronic formats have seen a 233% surge in sales over the past year. We've got the Kindle, the Nook, Sony's reader, and of course the iPad (which, by the way...the iPad's sales at its launch apparently dwarfed the launch of iPhone, and if you've been awake for even a few minutes over the past five years…

To Darkness Fled by Jill Williamson

It's always a happy day when book-sized packages arrive on my doorstep. Granted, this does not happen with great regularity around here, but when it does, you can count on my being buried in whatever I've bought until I've turned the last page.

Part of this latest shipment of books to my home included Jill Williamson's second installment to her Blood of Kings Series: To Darkness Fled. If you heft the book and its nearly 700 pages, don't let its length daunt you. It moves at a brisk pace...brisk enough that even this homeschooling mom who's trying to write her own serial as well as edit a novel (or two) managed to down the book over the course of a long weekend.

To Darkness Fled continues the story of Vrell Sparrow, Achan Cham and their companions as they flee the usurper Esek. Both Vrell and Achan have their turns telling the tale from their point of view, which I think the author handles well. It took me a while to shake the cobwebs out of my cluttered brain and…

A first, it wasn't so bad...

As everyone who suffers through my continual yammering about the progress on my novel, The Sword of the Patron, already knows, my book is currently sitting on the desk of the second agent I've queried about it. The wait for a response from the first agent wasn't so bad, but I credit that to the fact that for the 5 weeks it took the response to come, I was insanely busy, so I didn't have time to hover over my email like a hungry seagull at a picnic on the beach.

This time, life is relatively calm, and I'm finding the wait much harder to endure. I'm questioning everything. Should I really have gone the route of querying agents on my first-ever novel? Or should I have gone with smaller presses, waiting until I have a book in print with decent sales numbers before I bother the big guys? Or am I deluded that it would be any easier to get through the gate of a small press than it is to catch the attention of an agent? Should I have entered some contests, like ACFW's G…

Getting a chance to read...

I admit, I don't read as much fiction as I would like. Not at all.

So, that helps explain why it is I am just starting in on my discovery of Karen Hancock's work. One would think, as an aspiring female Christian Fantasy author, that Hancock would have been one of the author's I'd have tracked with all along. Well, finally, thanks to inter-library loan, I have finally begun her Legends of the Guardian King series, having just finished The Light of Eidon.

I won't give a synopsis here, but here's a link: http://www.kmhancock.com/Eidon.htm in case you want to research on you're own.

My reaction?

World: Ms. Hancock created a convincing world with enough detail that I could visualize the locales in which she placed the characters, as well as the local inhabitants of those places. She took the time to create the macro-scale relationships between cultures and governments as well as to get down to the micro level so much as to mention the peculiarities of local cuisine.…

Coined words

When people are geniuses, they get leeway the rest of us don't. But what are we, as writers, allowed to do with the precedent these geniuses set?

My current train of thought comes up over a single word I am debating over using (or not.) People like Shakespeare coined words all the time, words that have worked their way into our everyday speech. After all, according to Michael Macrone's Brush Up Your Shakespeare, the Oxford English Dictionary credits Shakespeare as the first to use these words, among others: "arch-villain," "bedazzle," "cheap" (as in vulgar or flimsy), "dauntless," "embrace" (as a noun), "fashionable," "go-between," "honey-tongued," "inauspicious," "lustrous," "nimble-footed," "outbreak," "pander," "sanctimonious," "time-honored," "unearthly," "vulnerable," and "well-bred." Now, if I …

When sentience isn't just a human trait...

Fantasy often presents the reader with not just fictitious cultures, but diverse races of creatures that all share the blessing of sentience. What is an author to do with this situation when it comes to deciding what these races believe about their origins and their eternal destination?

Secular fantasy doesn't have any obligation to wrestle with this question, but I believe that fantasy that has a Christian sensibility at its core cannot overlook this conundrum. Biblically, we are told that God created man in His image, giving man a component that will live on forever, and differentiating man from all the rest of His creation with this eternal part of his being.

So, what happens when a world has not only men, but elves, dwarves, gnomes, dragons, centaurs, and myriad other thinking creatures? (In reference to this question, I really ought to read Summa Elvetica by Theodore Beale, but in the absence of any insight from that book, I'll just have to ruminate on my own.) Does the Chr…

February DDM

Hello friends and readers!

Just wanted to blip a short message here to let you know that the February issue of Digital Dragon Magazine has hit the web. If you head over to www.digitaldragonmagazine.net, you'll find my ongoing serial, "The Windrider" in its seventh installment. The plot is getting thicker (or at least I hope you'll think so.)

If you do get a chance to head over there, I wonder what you think about the format changes for the e-zine. They are publishing to a downloadable PDF in addition to their online format. What do you think of that? How's the readability? They are making a lot of other changes there as they ramp up to launch Diminished Media, which will handle print publications as well. For reasons I cannot yet disclose, I am watching carefully how the transition goes. Things could get pretty exciting for those writers tied into Diminished Media's offerings, should all go well.

Also, if you do give the story(ies) a read, I'd love to hear…

The truth, the whole truth...

Is fiction a lie?

It amazes me how although we Christians all worship one God, we have such widely varying opinion on so many things. One of those areas of divergence is fiction. There are religious leaders who will say that only the bible and non-fiction books are worthy of the time it takes to read them. While I won't argue that any time spent in the Bible is time well spent, I do have to take issue with the idea that fiction is in some way wrong or evil.

So, those of us who like fiction argue that Jesus told stories and site his parables as an example. The fiction detractors come back with the idea that the parables weren't made up, but rather accounts of things that really happened. Now granted, just about any of the illustrations Jesus used were very practical, contemporary scenarios, so of course they could have happened. Does that mean that Jesus got the directive from the Father: tell the story of Esther of Capernaum...you know,the time she lost her coin? (Okay, now I…

Slim Pickin's

Nothing brings a smile to my face quite like a box from UPS on my porch.

Today's delivery? My copy of the 2010 Christian Writers' Market Guide by Sally Stuart. (I must interject, this woman gets some kind of medal for tackling this book every year.) I pushed the supple cover open to begin my treasure hunt through the pages within. My goal: to track down likely publisher/agent candidates to whom to send my manuscript for The Sword of the Patron.

To be fair, I am not entirely settled upon whether I will start sending the book to the four winds before Jeff Gerke of Marcher Lord Press has actually rejected it through the traditional submission channels. Since he has only had it involved in Marcher Lord Select, he hasn't actually weighed in on it. But I do need to do my due diligence on other publishing options, after all.

What I'm learning so far, however, is that the publishing options for a Christian fantasy novel aren't exactly numerous. The publishers that do take th…