Monday, April 30, 2012

Monday Shout Outs

I had a wonderful weekend full of BBQ and writing. Really, what more can you ask for out of life?

To keep the ball rolling and start the week off right I want to throw out some love to a couple writers near and far.

Fist off, I'd like to invite everyone to check out the new YA novel "First Comes Love" by fellow Corvallis writer Katie Kacvinsky who has a book signing here in town on May 8th, come one come all!

Second off (wait, is that right?), for those of you with a morbid streak (like me) I encourage you to check out The Death Writer, a cool blog about all things death and how they relate to writing.

Also, I would like to thank everyone again that took the time to help my on my query letter. Let's give it up for:

Morgan Shamy
Connie Keller
Steven Till

Reneea Miller

Veronica Sicoe

Finally, I'd like to celebrate the end of the A-Z blogging challenge! I don't know about anyone else but I am sick of alphabetized blog posts!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

National Poetry Month: My Writing Haikus

I didn't realize it but Vanessa Eccle over at The Writer's Block pointed out that April is National Poetry Month.

I dabble in poetry so I thought I'd share some writing inspired Haiku. Please let me know what you think. Please share if you like. Enjoy!

The Writer
Painting worlds with words
A blank page is my canvas
I am a writer

Rejection Letters Suck
The rejections flood
my inbox with seeds of doubt
only sewn by choice

Barnes and Nobel
I enter the store
My sweat and tears on a shelf
A dream that's come true

The Query Shark
Enter the waters
Your work in the chum bucket
The shark is hungry

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Losing the Lorax

I have a couple interesting science/writing related bits-of-interesting to share with you today that I picked up from Conservation Magazine.

The first is an article reviewing a study (Williams et al, 2012) tracking the decline of nature-based characters, settings, and themes in children's books titled "Losing the Lorax".

This is a trend I find a little disturbing. As a child, some of my favorite books were nature based. For example:

Pickle Chiffon Pie was all about appreciating nature without dominating or altering it.

Or my all time favorite children's book, Make Way For Ducklings, taught us that sometimes nature needs a helping hand.

This study makes me wonder, where is this trend coming from? Do you think the loss of nature in children's books reflects a change in our societies priorities? Are children's book authors writing fewer nature themed books or are the publishers publishing fewer? Any thoughts?

The other cool science story really has nothing to do with writing it's just...CHECK OUT HOW TINY THIS FROG IS!!!

At less than 8 mm long, this little guy the smallest non-fish vertebrate known to man. You can learn more about the frog and its discovery from the aptly titled article "Downsizing". Enjoy!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Lucky 7 Meme Part 2 - This Time It's Personal

No seriously, this time it is personal.

Why? Because the first time I participated in the Lucky 7 Meme about a month ago, I was never actually tagged by anyone, I just did it on my own.

What? He wasn't tagged? He wasn't tagged! Fake! Fraud! He's a witch! Burn him!

Please don't burn me at the stake (I weigh much more than a duck). I was new to this whole blogging thing and just wanted to fit in.

This time I was tagged by the lovely Veronica Sicoe at Building Character.

We all know the rules by now so let's get to it. Last time I posted 7 paragraphs from page 77 of my epic fantasy WIP "Sol of a Gladiator". This time I'm posting the first 7 paragraphs from my first fight scene. Enjoy!

            The Coliseum throbbed. 
            It was as if the massive structure had a pulse, a pulse with a name.  The thousands of spectators that packed the stands had enjoyed the earlier carnage but it was now time for the main events; time for the champion fighters to emerge from the bowels of the coliseum to be pitted against man or beast.  The sandy floor was already stained with the blood of the fallen and the throng chanted the name of the one that they would have add to it.
            Sol, Sol, Sol.
Slow and steady, almost somber like a funeral march the name repeated.  Amplified by the deep stone bowl of the coliseum, the sound was deafening.  Blocks away babies awoke crying in their cribs as the surrounding city shook with it.  Down in the lowest dungeons carved into the living stone beneath the coliseum, fighters stirred in their bunks.  The animal handlers backed away from the massive cages, whips cracking, trying to subdue the beasts driven mad by the sound.  Ladies of society high in their shaded luxury boxes covered their ears while casting disparaging looks down upon those from whom the chant sounded, but still it continued.
            In the whole of it there was only one that was oblivious to the throb.  Crouched in the dark at the foot of the gate between the coliseum floor and one of the many tunnels that lead to the dungeons, the gladiator himself was too deeply immersed in concentration to give any heed to the din.  It likely would have been lost on him anyway.  After all, for the thousands who chanted his name, this was all a spectacle of pleasurable entertainment.  For him it was a matter of survival.
            The armor clad figure rested on bended knee in the dirt awaiting the opening of the gate.  The two guards standing a dozen paces behind him had given him no weapon this time so he held his empty hands clasped on his thigh.  His head was bowed and eyes shut tight as he contemplated the first crucial moments after the gates opening.
            It was true that Sol was strong, but there were stronger.  He was fast, but there were faster.  There were those that were smarter or even better trained for combat, although not many.  Sol was a successful fighter for a number of reasons but one thing stood out, adaptability.  He had the uncanny ability to take in a situation at a glance, decide what tools were available to him, and act without hesitation.  It was something you couldn’t teach and few had it.
            Sol knew from experience that the first few moments after the gate opened were the most crucial of the fight.  Many questions had to be answered and answered fast.  Man or beast?  How many?  Armed with what?  What’s the available cover?  These questions and more had to be answered, answered well, and usually answered at a dead run to have a chance at staying alive.  Each time he emerged from the tunnels he faced a new challenge.  The lone rule of the coliseum was that the crowd got what the crowd wanted.  And since the crowd demanded novelty the promoters went to great lengths to satisfy. 
            Exotic animals were brought in from the far corners of the constantly expanding Empire.  Many times they were pumped full of stimulants or narcotics before entering the arena making them crazed and unpredictable.  Elaborate battle scenarios played out complete with detailed props and scenery.  With a different horror awaiting him each time the gate opened, a fighter could take nothing for granted.  Every appearance had to be approached with an open mind so as not to be caught off guard.


Monday, April 16, 2012

Revised Query Letter: Please Help

The time has come for me to enter into the query process. A couple of you (awesome people) were good enough to give some me some pointers on a previous version of my query. I am posting a revised version and I'll be eternally grateful (aka I'll be more than willing to return the favor...or paint your house or something) to anyone and everyone that is generous enough to share their thoughts. Here it is:

Dear Agent-X,

In the heart of the tyrannical Astrolian Empire, deep in the bowels of the Coliseum, the orphan Sol is raised by a makeshift family of sympathetic guards and fellow slaves to become the most famed gladiator in all the land.  With his fighting partner, a yeti-like giant from the frozen south, Sol must battle cunning warriors and exotic beasts to delight the crowd and stay alive. 

When a captured member of the Resistance is forced into Sol’s cell as a sex-prize, her words of rebellion compel Sol to question his long-accepted fate as a slave.  Outside the Coliseum, an unknown bard’s tales transform Sol into a symbol of defiance and inspire an oppressed populace hungry for a hero. The streets fill with talk of revolution and the Empire decides the fighter must fall.

To quell this potential insurgence Astrolia’s most ruthless assassin is tasked with Sol’s vilification and eventual demise. Sol’s only hope is to rely on friends, new and old, in order to do what no slave has ever done: escape the Coliseum and the only home he’s ever known.

Thank you for the opportunity to submit to Agency-X. SOL OF A GLADIATOR is an adult Fantasy novel complete at 84,000 words. I am seeking your representation because...

Thank you for your time and consideration. 

Adam Gaylord
Phone No.
email address

Friday, April 13, 2012

Catching Up

The ladies say "Hi".
I just got back from a week out at one of my field sites in eastern Oregon and in addition to having no internet access (which was a nice break) I got to see some of my ladies (elk). The fur is flying out there (literally- they're shedding their winter coats) and the whole place is a mud hole but I had a good time, saw some cool wildlife (great grey owl, ermine, bald eagle, etc), and had a wonderfully quite setting to FINISH MY WIP!  That's right, after countless rounds of revision I am calling my current epic fantasy WIP ready for query. I'll probably be posting my query letter and asking for feedback soon so stay tuned.

Also, I know we're not supposed to talk about our rejections on our blogs (I promise, I won't do it again) but I received my first ever official rejection letter a couple days ago. I'm sure I won't feel so enthusiastic about all of my rejections but for this one, my very first, I had to celebrate the milestone. Now I'm a writer for sure!

In other news, I wanted to thank the always wonderful Veronica Sicoe for mentioning me on her blog and I encourage everyone to check out the site On Ficton Writing where Veronica is an editor. It's a great resource for writers.

Finally I would like to thank everyone for stopping by my humble writing blog. It's been a little over a month since I dusted the cobwebs off this thing and changed it from a me-bitching-about-politics blog to a writing blog. Since that time I've had roughly 1,000 page views, over three-dozen comments, and I'm up to seven followers (hooray followers!!!)! Thank you to everyone who's visited and commented. I'll do my best to keep saying interesting...stuff.

Pippin is excited!

Friday, April 6, 2012

A Touch of Optimism: Remember Why You Write

I'm usually a pretty positive person.

I'm not saying I'm a perky, bubbly, rainbow-unicorn type of person,

I'm more of a "things may be $&^#y but they'll turn out all right in the end" kind of guy.

That being said, I've been in a little bit of a funk lately. I think it happens to most writers at one time or another. I don't know whether it's the Oregon weather (IT RAINS ALL THE DAMN TIME!!!!) or what; I've just been unable to shake the dark clouds of pessimism that rain thoughts like "I'll never get published" and "My story's not very good" and "Am I wasting my time?" into my feeble little mind.

So I was all ready to write a post today about dealing with doubt and how to pick yourself out of a funk BUT...I find that my pessimism has lifted. Want to know what did it?

I went and saw "Wrath of the Titans" in 3D last night.

I know what you're thinking but stay with me. I'm not saying this was a life changing cinematic masterpiece. This movie features questionable acting, a shaking plot, and way too much reliance on special effect. That being said, it was exactly what I had been hoping for. IT WAS FUN! It was an entertaining and enjoyable night at the movies. There was plenty of action with great battle scenes and the characters had just enough depth that you could relate with them and care about them. The thing is, that's pretty much what I want my story to be.

All I've ever wanted from my writing is to create something that I enjoy and that I think others will too. I don't want to change the world. I don't want to define the genre. I want to write stories that I enjoy writing and that an audience will enjoy reading. I want to write fun books. With all of the pressure I've been putting on myself I think I forgot that a little.

So when you get in a funk and the clouds of pessimism are gathering, remember why you write. Remember what you enjoy about writing and why you care so much.

And maybe go see a movie.

Monday, April 2, 2012

The Daily Stories We Have To Set Aside

I don't know about you but when it comes to writing, creativity isn't my problem; originality (maybe), time management (definitely), compelling voice (probably) but creativity, no problem. In fact, pretty much the only way I can get anything done is to reign in my creativity. If I don't I'm like a Jack Russell terrier, chasing story lines like their squirrels and starting new projects so quickly that nothing ever gets done. I have WAY too many unfinished projects as it is . I seem to come up with a new story daily and I know I'm not the only one that has this problem. So how do we writers deal with this burden of an over-creative mind?

If you walk into my office (a windowless lab space in the basement of the Fisheries and Wildlife building that I lovingly refer to as The Cave) the first thing you may notice is "Holy crap, this guys' a list maker". And you would be right. I have no short term memory. Make as many jokes as you want about why I have no short term memory because it really doesn't matter, I won't remember anyway. So the only way I stay on track with my LIFE is to make tons of lists. I love lists. And even more than that, I love crossing things off lists. Of course in order to cross things off my lists I have to prioritize what needs to be done and when.

The same thing holds true for all the story ideas that my Jack Russell creativity throws at me every day. When you get these ideas, don't dismiss them. Don't say, "I need to concentrate on my current WIP" and throw them to the side. Start a Story List. When you get an idea, add it to the list. Keep track of what's on the list and prioritize what upcoming project you're going to tackle next. Not only does this keep you from forgetting what may be a wonderful (but ill timed) idea, for me it's very motivating. I know that not only do I want to finish my current project for its own sake but I have some cool ideas waiting patiently for me when I'm done. It's great!

How about you? How do you deal with your inner Jack Russell?