Monday, August 15, 2016

My Writing Corner

It's hard to believe that it's already been more than two weeks since Realm Makers 2016 ended. It's been a hectic two weeks as well. With the kids starting school and catching up on the back-log at work, my writing hasn't jumped forward quite as quickly as I had hoped. I know a big part of that was because of my "writing space", also known as that pile of junk in the corner.

Yep, overly cluttered and surrounded by distractions! It also didn't help that our TV was about two feet to my left, which made it hard to focus when anyone else was playing games or watching shows on it, even if I had my headphones on.  Obviously time for a change.

So I packed up the boardgames taking up the shelf-space and shifted my desk so I'd be facing away from the TV.  It's also nice to have some clear space on the desktop now to use for notes or sketching.

It's still a work in progress, I need to organize the shelves and bring back in some writing documents and sketch books. But it feels much better now. I've just got to keep disciplined to make sure I don't just junk it up again. :)

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Realm Makers 2016 - Final Day - Nerfaggeddon

Captain's Log, Conference Date 20163007.

Today was a test of endurance.  Sleep deprivation techniques by an alien mind probe woke me up far too soon, followed by a mild cold. However MedBay prescribed a sustained treatment of DayQuill and Coffee that kept me going, if somewhat in a fog.

 The morning started off by attending a spiritual discussion led by the esteemed Steve Laube. This talk centered around waiting on god and asking a single question four ways.

What are you waiting for? (A group of beings known as Grammaticals, grew agitated when this question was asked, but they were mollified by a quick reference to an obscure style guide reference).

This question was altered to show how the emphasis would change the meaning:

1. What are you WAITING for? - This signified the agony of impatience. A reminder that while we may be in a hurry, God is not.

2. What are YOU waiting for? - Signifying the futility of self-reliance. We stick to our pride and resist putting our lives in God's hands. Striking the balance here can be difficult. Work as if everything is up to you, pray as if everything is up to God.

3. What are you waiting FOR? - This emphasizes the gift of anticipation. The slight hesitation in the sky, right before the sunrise, when all creation turns toward the east to behold the coming day.

4. For WHAT are you waiting? (The Grammaticals cheered as this sentence appeared... they are surely odd beings.) It Must Be GOD! While you are waiting, give thanks for what you DO have.

Thanksgiving should be the most natural & spontaneous response to God.

Following this inspiring and challenging message, I attended one of the more unique and funny sessions of the weekend. How to Court Your Work delivered by TJ DaRosa.

TJ described ways to look at writing as a relationship. Causing much laughter and some unique insight.

Some examples of this are:

The One Night Stand - The flash of inspiration that hits you hard, and you immediately rush to write the story in a single sitting. But often this does not translate into a longer work.

Internet Dating - Do you see a pretty face and immediately swipe to flirt? (You're probably a plotter)  Or do you dive deep into the person's profile first? (You may be a character driven writer)

Blind Date - You don't really know where you're going, or what will happen! Who knows what you'll find in the end.

The Friend Zone - You're in a one-sided relationship with your story world, constantly pouring effort in, but never getting a story out.  (You can try to break out of the zone by writing about how anything you create impacts a single person in your world.)

As  you can probably tell, the translator didn't always function, but it was a great time and lots of fun.

After a short break to refuel, I encountered the man known around the galaxy for creating the worst Christian Fiction cover of 2013, the ever suave Kirk DuPonce.

Kirk wowed the assembled beings with a display of his time-warping cover design skills, squeezing two days of work into a five minute demonstration.

Followed by the number one rule in cover design.

Always use the font Papyrus....  

if you really want a bad book cover.

Also a big congrats to Kirk for winning his second Parable award this year.

After this second light-hearted session, I returned for Steve Laube's final session on The Spirituality of Marketing.

This session explored the tension between Marketing and Ministry in an inspired way, by examining the life of the prophet Jeremiah. Honestly, I don't know that I could even capture a tenth of the insight and thought that went into this presentation.

But again, what stuck with me was that I cannot be afraid to follow the Lord's leading. Even if doing so makes me appear a failure to the world. Because true success is found in doing what God has told me to do.

Thomas Locke's ending keynote address gave another five great lessons to mull over and explore.

1. From this day forward you are a writer.  You must admit this privately to yourself and come to terms with what it means.

2. Accept the difference between your current project and your calling.  You must be able to emotionally detach from your story without losing sight that you were called to write.

3. Reward yourself often & well. Your sense of self-worth demands you reward yourself to upload your sense of passion.

4. Develop spiritual resources that foster your spiritual gift.

5. Where possible, adapt to the changing outside world without compromising your principles.

The conference closed with the Thunderdome Fight Workshop by Carla Hoch.  The following quote may best capture the spirit of this workshop:

Carla used her experience in martial arts and a great sense of humor to not only explain ways to fight off an attacker, but to help bring a sense of reality and deeper understanding to the fight scenes we write in books.

But the conference could not fully end, without an all out Nerf War.  Teams were drawn and flags were planted as the Gallen Hall first and second floors were transformed into a warzone between the team Fury and team Doom (GO TEAM DOOM)!  This was truly an epic encounter as over sixty attendees fought it out in glorious combat.  I will leave you with just a few photographic records of this event.

End Transmission.

Friday, July 29, 2016

Realm Makers 2016 - Day 2 - Discipline & Cosplay

Captain's Log, Conference Date 20162907,

My expedition among the gathering of the Realm Makers continues. And the marvels continue to unfold.

The day started off with some strangely familiar characters fighting it out over the light and dark sides of editing. A dark and explosive man named Kylo Ren, sought to teach all how to conquer win over their audiences by using the Force without the need for editing! But he was bested by the mysterious Rey, who showed the light side of the force, and a snickers, to be stronger.

It was truly an engaging start to the day.

Not to be outdone by forces form far, far Away, keynote speaker Thomas Locke gave a strong an inspirational talk about the discipline of writing and learning to identify the areas of control in your writing.

Some key thoughts that stood out from this most enlightening talk.

  1. Forge a discipline around your creative clock. And build a boundary around this time.
  2. If you hit a wall, feel free to walk away and let your subconscious work through it, but always come back.
  3. Forge the discipline of your writing space. Separate from outside distractions.
  4. Write your first draft with confidence, not looking back or re-reading what has been written.
  5. Write your second draft with doubt and questioning.
  6. Seek joy regardless of the outcome.
This message truly hit home and I will carry it with me in all my future endeavors exploring the realms that lay ahead.

Later, I observed the great and powerful Kathy Tyers divulge the secrets of the Relam Makers. This wise being spoke at length of the breadth of the speculative genres, and of the intense and exhaustive work that must go into creating fully fleshed out Realms.  

A few notes I pulled from this talk were:

  1. 90-95% of what you know about your world will never make it into the story.
  2. Mystery is ok but confusion is taboo.
  3. Write what you enjoy reading.
  4. If you make a mistake, don't immediately fix it, first ask, "Why did this happen?"
  5. Know the how the community works and how your characters fit in it.
This foundational talk of making Realms continued with the theme of discipline. The discipline of putting in the work that no one will ever see, but will surely notice if it is not done well. Excellence requires the dedication to ask and seek out the answers that give dimension and cohesion to created realm.

Perhaps the most striking display today, though was the Real Maker's awards banquet. For it was here that the beings in attendance showed their true selves as they transformed into beings majestic and terrifying.

I must cut the transmission here, but will leave you with an image log of these strange proceedings. And a message of congratulations to those whose realms were chosen for the honors bestowed upon them by their fellow Realm Makers.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Realm Makers 2016 Day 1 - Early Bird & the Launch Party

Captain's Log Conference Date 20162807,

I have arrived at planet Villa Nova for the gathering of the Realm Makers. This strange assortment of beings all have the incredible power to bring worlds into existence merely by willing it to happen through words and pictures. Exactly how this phenomenon comes about will have to be explored through further research, but my science officer says that it appears to be powered by an exceptional mix of creativity and passion.

Here are some of the things I witnessed today.

After arriving in this hot and muggy land, I ventured into the cool interior of a gathering place for these beings. There I had the privilege to witness the wisdom and insight of the amazing duo of Suzanne and Shaw Kuhn.
This session for the "Early Birds" gave invaluable advice about finding and protecting your Brand.

Some key data points:

1. You Are Your Brand - Your brand is your identity to your audience, it is why they see you as. And it is your promise to them for what to expect from you.

2. Send out you story in advance to people, asking them for reviews to use for marketing purposes. You will learn things about your book from those reviews that you would have never seen for yourself. Use this knowledge when promoting the book. And always thank your reviewers for their valuable feedback, and ask them to share their review when the book is released.

3. Know and befriend the five influencers:

  1. Book Retailers
  2. Librarians
  3. Teachers
  4. Book Clubs
  5. Avid Readers
These influencers will help you spread news of your book throughout the galaxy!

We were also introduced the the most odd of local culinary dishes, known as "Tomato Pie". Though I was reluctant to try this oddly cake-like pie, it turned out to be quite delicious. A true surprise, and not the last of which I expect to discover on this journey.

Later in the evening, I learned of a strange ritual known as the "Splickety Launch Party."

It was truly a sight to behold as a wolf in red pant found called forth beings from the audience to partake in such actions as pulling tissues form a box, pretending to be a walrus stacking marshmallows, and even the stacking of drinking vessels, all for the chance to win amazing prizes.

Though the truly spectacular event was saved for last

Yes! The local "politicians" form this land's contest of power appeared to debate many aspects of the writing world. From whether the oxford comma should be done away with, to the merits of the point of view. It was truly a sight to behold.

All in all, I have found this first day to be quite enlightening, and am looking forward to what new discoveries will be found in the days to come.

Thank you to all who have made this expedition possible.

End transmission.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Writing Progress toward Realm Makers

Concept Sketch of Rathe of Yanguch from Starfire
Short update for tonight.

I finished the first draft of the first chapter of the latest iteration (the 4th I believe) of Starfire's sequel. I'm not as far along as I wanted to be by now, but it is progress. I've also laid out Monday night and all day Wednesday as writing time, with Tuesday set aside for packing, and more writing.

I'm really enjoying this version.  Picking up with Rathe about three Saurian months (a Segat for those who are curious, each equates to 3 earth months) since we last saw him at the end of Starfire.

Rathe's struggling to come to terms with the events that ended Starfire, the cost that is still being paid, and what his new role is in the changed world. He has to contend with those who want to choose what his destiny will be, and with those who will stop at nothing to ensure he has no destiny.

Friends may be foes, foes may be friends. And in the end, everything he thought he knew will be thrown to the stars.

Which, reminds me, I've really got to work on the "elevator pitch" before I get to the conference! I struggle with how much to say without spoiling what came before and what Rathe has in store for him!

More on that later, though.