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renesears
08 May 2012 @ 08:04 am
I finished the piece I've been working on since January. It's my first embroidered fan art!





More pics and embroidery neepery here:

http://nerdbroidery.wordpress.com/2012/05/08/bugs-and-the-shadows-of-the-apt/

It's got me thinking about embroidered book covers and how cool it would be to make one.
 
 
Current Mood: accomplishedaccomplished
 
 
renesears
13 April 2012 @ 09:18 am
For those with an interest, Michele Chiapetta (@chippermuse on Twitter) has kindly let me talk on her blog about plotting and the evolution of my process from no preplanning to extensive preplanning. Take a look, should you desire:

http://thechippermuse.blogspot.com/2012/04/learning-to-love-preplanning-plot-talk.html

(I still require many revisions, though!)
 
 
Current Mood: cheerfulcheerful
 
 
renesears
23 January 2012 @ 07:30 pm
I think this sounds like fun:

http://www.maryrobinettekowal.com/journal/month-of-letters/

If you want a letter or a postcard or a doodle or something from me in February, shoot me a message with your address.
 
 
renesears
24 November 2011 @ 07:10 am
I am thankful that I told my dad I loved him every time I saw him. He knew that I love him.

I am thankful that the last conversation he had with my son was about how cool it was they had the same name. He knew my son loved him. I am thankful that he loved my son and his other grandson so much.

I am thankful for the thousands of ways my dad supported me.

I am thankful that my dad was surrounded by his loved ones when he died, although I wish I had been there, too.

I am thankful for my friends and family.

I am thankful for my mom and my sister and her family, and more thankful than I can say that they will be getting home tonight.

I am thankful that my family is close and I saw my dad several times a week every week.

I am thankful for my husband and son.

I am thankful for my sister.

I am thankful for my mom.

I am thankful for my dad. Jim Alexander October 14, 1944- November 21, 2011.
 
 
renesears
31 August 2011 @ 03:55 pm
I will be heading to Atlanta tomorrow for Dragon*Con. Very excited. I will be mostly at the Pyr booth (709/711 in the Marriott ballroom-- yep, it's a double-wide.) If you're there, come by and say hi. The authors will be signing, schedule here.</a? If you're not going to Dragon*Con, then have a good weekend, whatever you're doing. :)
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Current Mood: excitedexcited
 
 
renesears
23 August 2011 @ 12:14 pm
I got asked on Twitter about my stance on prologues. I thought I'd expand on what I said there over here.

I am not intrinsically against prologues. HOWEVER, the vast majority of prologues I see aren't necessary. A prologue should entice the reader, make them curious, or hook them emotionally in some way. It might introduce events that are significant to the story, but somehow separate-- happening before the main story, or to different characters that the main protagonists. If it is happening immediately before the story starts, to the same characters, from the same perspective, then I question why it isn't just chapter one.

Two examples of effective prologues spring to mind-- George R. R. Martin's A Game of Thrones is one. It opens far to the North, with the Night's Watch confronting a creepy Other. Then the main narration sweeps us south to Winterfell, and the Starks. The significance of the prologue is not immediately evident, but when you read about the decline of the Night's Watch, and that Winter is Coming, the prologue tells you that that's some serious bad news. Also, and I'll come back to this, it's 11 pages long.

A prologue separated by time is in C. S. Friedman's (awesome) Black Sun Rising. The prologue opens with a woman coming home, to her husband, in whom she's noticed a change in personality. It's worse than she thought; he's killed their children, and then he kills her. Then there's chapter one; a totally different character, and , we find out, centuries later. As the book progresses, we run across Gerald Tarrant, the guy from the prologue, who sacrificed his family for immortality. We already know that he's willing to do just about anything for power, and that he's not a nice guy. The prologue establishes that more powerfully than talking about backstory would, although that's a choice that Friedman could have also made, and I'm sure would have done well. This prologue is 8 pages long.

So those are two example of prologues done well. They are efficient, direct scenes that establish material that's important to the story, but not necessarily part of the main story. But, and this is important, these scenes contain everything that a broader scene must have-- characters who want something, who have a stake in the action, and conflict. They entice. They intrigue. A prologue gone wrong does none of those things.

Prologues I see that do not entice: the author knows that a big infodump in the middle of the story bogs it down, so rather than spicing their narrative with worldbuilding, they splat down a big lump of it at the beginning. This doesn't work. Readers connect to characters, not worldbuilding. They won't care about the history of the world until it's significant to the characters. A prologue with all the details of the history, mythology, and geography of the world, but no specific people is most likely going to be boring. I will probably skip past it to see what your first chapter looks like, but a reader picking it up at B&N probably won't, and the person who gets to the end of the Kindle sample will shrug and delete it. And I'm looking at your first chapter anyway, but my confidence has been shaken.

A type of prologue that can work, but that makes me wary: the jump-ahead scene. You have a scene from later in your book. It's totally awesome! It's the pivotal moment of your book! Your protagonist is hanging by the fingernails from a cornice! It's LIFE! OR! DEATH! So you start with that scene as a prologue, then rewind back in time and continue forward until you catch up with that scene. There are a few risks with that type of scene-- one, if I don't know the stakes for the character, why do I care that he's hanging by the fingernails? Two, the impact of the scene might be lessened by the time the reader gets there. Three, it makes me wonder if you're not confident about your beginning. How it can work: if the stakes are significant and strong enough to stand alone, and if by the time I get back to the scene, I have enough additional information that it changes the meaning of the scene. (Not a prologue, but a great example of the meaning of a scene changing: Sarah Waters' Fingersmith. She revisits the same scenes from different perspectives. Because of what the different narrators know, the meaning of the action is completely different the second time around, and it works brilliantly.)

A final thought on prologues: keep them short! Again, you want to entice your reader, tease them with hints, not bang them on the head with a lump of exposition that doesn't fit with the story.

Other example of prologues that work or didn't work for you are welcome, and of course, feel free to tell me I'm wrong about long prologues or anything else.
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Current Mood: busybusy
 
 
renesears
22 August 2011 @ 10:48 am
Congratulations to all the Hugo award winners, amongst whom I am delighted to count Lou Anders, who, after being nominated every year since 2007, won Best Editor Long Form. Yay!

I watched the award coverage streaming-- amazing to be able to do so, and a lot of fun. And cheers to my extended family, who watched with me. If you didn't catch it and have an interest, the video is here: http://www.thehugoawards.org/2011/08/2011-hugo-awards-live-coverage/
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Current Mood: happyhappy
 
 
renesears
17 August 2011 @ 09:45 pm
I have now been looking at manuscripts long enough that some of the ones that crossed my desk but weren't right for us are now books in stores. I went into my local B&N recently and spotted three that I had read (or read some of) in MSS form on the shelves. It's cool, but strange. And testament to the fact that a book can be right even if it's not right for us. Anyway, I bought a few and am psyched to read them. It's just weird to see them, all grown up with cover art and everything and think that I knew them when they were only a collection of pixels.
 
 
Current Mood: busybusy
 
 
renesears
01 July 2011 @ 10:12 pm
So over at SF Signal, Joel Shepherd has a guest post talking about how to write good female action heroes. It's a great post; to sum up, less eloquently, he posits that the key is to let her be the hero of her own story, which: YES.

However, rather than focusing on the positive, I'm going to address something brought up in the comments, which I've seen in discussions about women action heroes in the past, namely, that women wouldn't be able to hold their own in combat, a topic which Joel Shepherd and Tom Lloyd discussed in some of their posts over at Babel Clash (an interesting series of posts which also covered writing gods, among other things.) In this case, the commenter says that that's basically writing women as men with breasts, and that we (writers and film makers?) shouldn't make women assume the roles of men, as that is unrealistic.

For my own reference when this kind of discussion comes up again, and in case anyone else is interested, a cursory skim of history indicates that women have been in combat for as long as there's been combat: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Woman_warrior; also in stories about combat for as long as there have been stories about combat: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_women_warriors_in_folklore; and that many actual women have felt strongly enough about being in combat to disguise themselves as men if that was the only way they could fight: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crossdressing_during_wartime. Some of these Polly Olivers weren't discovered to be women until after their service; some of them not until after their deaths; and some were found out and suffered for it. To call women such as these not-women and to denigrate their stories as impossibly unrealistic is to ignore actual history-- not to mention a slap to women currently in the military.
 
 
renesears
14 January 2011 @ 01:48 pm
Ok, one more post about piracy, and then I'll move on. (maybe!) Lou Anders kindly linked and collected these posts over on his blog, Bowing to the Future. In the comments there, Caz brought up the point that "In real life, most people want to read specific books, not just to read SOMETHING." I totally agree! I often want to read a book by a specific author. The solution is pay for that book.

But why, asks my hypothetical illegal downloader. The author should be glad for the exposure. Also, I'm broke.

Well, enjoy that author's book. You may not get to read too many more by him or her.

The problem is that if not many people pay for an author's books, that author's sales (and livelihood, but for this post let's talk sales) will suffer. You, hypothetical illegal downloader, are only one person, but you are not alone. Tens of thousands of others like you are also illegally downloading that book, chipping away at that author's sales. I mentioned Saundra Mitchell's post. Shiloh Walker and her publisher made the decision to end a series because the thefts outweighed the legal purchases. By not paying for what you want, you are ensuring you will not get more of it.

If the fact you're stealing something doesn't bother you, if the fact you're hurting someone's (several someone's- the people who work for the publisher need to eat, too) livelihood doesn't bother you, you could at least consider that you're screwing yourself out of getting more of what you want.

I really loved sarahtales's first two books. I think The Demon's Lexicon and The Demon's Covenant are stunning books. Because I want to read the Demon's Surrender, I bought both of them. People who illegally download the books are not only stealing Sarah Rees Brennan's money, they're not only screwing themselves out of her future work, they're possibly depriving me of an author I want to see more of, and that makes me sad.
 
 
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