Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Short Story Publishing News

Over the Memorial Day weekend, I received news on three of my short stories.

First, a story I entered into a Women on Writing contest, didn't place, but I got my evaluation back and received a 13 of a possible 15 points in rating, so I'm pretty happy with that. Jeanette, that was for Adrift - I'll send you the evaluation, because I think you'll find it interesting.

Another short story was rejected by a magazine, but according to Duotrope's Digest (my new favorite website), that magazine accepts less than 5% of submissions, so it was a long-shot anyway. What makes me feel good about this one is that most of the reported rejections (on Duotrope) from that market are rejected within 7 days. They had my story for more than 30, which makes me think that perhaps they were considering it.

And finally... drumroll, please... I had a short story accepted to the Cynic Online Magazine! Yay! This one was my last assignment for the free writing class I took at the beginning of the year. It'll be posted in their July 1st issue. I'll link to it when it's published.
I have two other submissions out right now, and I'll rework and then submit Adrift and the other story that was rejected. Oh, yeah, and I entered the newest Women on Writing contest as well - so that's another story out there.

I'll keep my fingers crossed.

In other news, the edit on my novel In the Shadow of Olympus is coming along well. I have an electronic post-it note on my desktop saying it needs to be ready to send to readers by August 16th (Brian's birthday). So that gives me a solid goal to work toward. I've been editing one to two chapters a week (going over each chapter three times). When I get that edit done, I'll do another read-through and make any further changes. Then I'll be looking for people to read it for me and give their opinions/critiques.

Oh, and I made a title change to that one, it's now called Breather.

Okay, that's all. I'll update when I have more news.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Orson Scott Card Ender's Game Series Ender in Exile

Okay, yeah, I can't let this one go, can I?

While I'm waiting for the library to get the next book in George RR Martin's Song of Fire and Ice series for me, I'm reading some of those fill-in Ender's Series books from Orson Scott Card.

I'm disappointed.

I read A War of Gifts - it's a novella, easily read in a sitting or two. I found it not worth reading, really. As I was sitting here trying to think of what to say about it, I realized that's the problem exactly. It's forgettable.

I am coming close to being done with the 'filler' novel, Ender in Exile. This one takes place in the Ender's Game series between Ender's Game and Speaker for the Dead. Though it was written after Speaker and the following two novels in that series (more than 10 years later, I believe).

I'm disappointed.

I was looking forward to reading this because I loved Ender's Game and revered Speaker for the Dead. Since this one fell in between and filled in some of the gap, I was stoked. I shouldn't have been. It feels like this book was written by a completely different author. And while I do realize that Game and Speaker, for the most part, are very different books (they barely feel like they should be in a series together, even though they have the same main character), they were both well written. Exile, to put it bluntly, is not.

The characters are very one dimensional, the dialog is stilted and unrealistic, and the plot doesn't have a tenth of the brilliance Card showed in Speaker. It's not a good sign that, while I'm reading dialog, I think of it as 'dialog that an author wrote' not 'Oh! The information Ender is giving us' or 'Wow, she really put her in her place!'.  I know some of these characters are super intelligent teens, but do they really have to sound so formal? So robotic? They didn't during Battle School in Ender's Game. It takes me right out of the world Card has created when, in my mind, I'm rewriting his sentences, trying to get better flow and more believability.

And characterization. Ack!! I'm sorry, but really, I have to think Card has either become so enamored or so bored with Ender that he doesn't realistically judge his own character.

Rule 1 of characterization: Every character has flaws.

I think Card has forgotten that. Ender does nothing wrong. Nothing. Or if it appears he might be wrong, we're proven later that he wasn't. Grrrrr. Every idea and plan that Ender thinks of/puts into motion works perfectly. He's smart as a whip, mature (at 15? 16? Heck, I can't even rile myself up to care), and humble.

Card has boys, he has to know what teenagers are like. This ain't it.

There's no emotional depth to the characters. Even when we get a peek into their thought processes, those thoughts are bland and rational. Where's the teenage angst? Where's the anger, the joy, the jealousy? It's all reasoned right away.

So, yeah, I'm disappointed.

Of course, I'll read the last two short story collections of Ender's Verse, because, dammit, I'm no quitter.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

My Soundtrack

For my birthday this year, I made a list of songs I wanted on one disc, gave the list to Mark, and he dug up the songs online and created the disc for me. I love it. It's barely been ejected from my car CD player since I received it. It's an ecclectic mix - songs from my teen years, some from when I listed to mostly country music in my thirties, some newer favorites.

Here's my list (and no laughing at some of the choices)
Jeff Buckley - Hallelujah: Do I really need to say anything about this? The world is diminished with his passing so young.

Dixie Chicks- Travelin' Soldier. My singing resembles Natalie Maines' (though no where near as good as she is) so it's always fun from me to sing along with her. Plus, the song is heartbreaking.

White Stripes- Same Boy You've Always Known. I've become a huge Jack White fan, so when I say this is him at his finest, it means something. Plus, the song is heartbreaking. :)

White Stripes- Jolene. I just love this rendition of the Dolly Parton song.

Queen - Don't Try Suicide. Admittedly not the best Queen song, but I used to listen to this one with a friend when we were teens. I was never a suicidal, emo teen, but the song is just plain fun (why does that sound so wrong?). I was a huge Queen fan when I was growing up, and, like Jeff Buckley, the world is diminished by the young passing of Freddie Mercury.

Eagles - After the Thrill is Gone. I could sing along to the Eagles all day, but After the Thrill is Gone is my favorite. And, well, it's heartbreaking.

Mark McGuinn - Mrs. Steven Rudy. Just a fun song to sing along with. Was he a one-hit wonder?

Collin Raye - On the Verge. Such a pretty song. I've been to two of Collin's concerts - so much fun!

Chris De Burgh- The Lady in Red. Another song that is just plain pretty. And then he whispers "I love you" at the end - What's not to love?

Billy Vera and the Beaters - At This Moment. Another one-hit wonder on my list, but I often say this is my favorite song of all time. Am I a bit sappy? Yes, I probably am. Plus, the song is heartbreaking. Ha!

Billy Joel - It's Still Rock'n Roll to Me. One of those that's just such fun to belt out when you're in the car (by yourself).

Hall and Oates - You've Lost that Loving Feeling. I've been a big fan of Daryl and John since I was a teen. This song right after It's Still Rock 'n Roll to Me just keeps the groove going.

I'm already making a list for a second CD. After all, this one has no Springsteen, no Elton, no Simon and Garfunkel. I already know the next will have a Michael Jackson song (She's Out of My Life) and one from Chris Ladoux (Silence on the Line), because, dammit, they're heartbreaking.

So tell me, what would be your sountrack....

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Orson Scott Card's Ender Series; Water for Elephants; A Game of Thrones

I mentioned in my previous post that I've had some dental issues. Through the worst of it, the only way I felt at all well was to sit still and read. I read often, anyway, but I got in a habit of reading even more.

I've never been much of a SciFi reader, but after reading Orson Scott Card's Ender's Game (on the recommendation of Mark), I decided to read the rest of the books in that series. Interesting. I would recommend Ender's Game for anyone who loves scifi, including teens (and more mature tweens), but the other three in the core series are like a whole different series. Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed them, especially Speaker for the Dead, which, in my opinion, is a brilliant book. But the rest in the series delve more into philosophy, religion, society, and sciences. The last two in the series weren't as good as Speaker, but I read them anyway.

Then I went on to read the four core books of the Ender's Shadow series. After the first (again a different book than the rest), they deal with the machinations of war, family, redemption, and politics. Again, interesting.

My one big complaint with Card's writing is in characterization. I didn't always understand the actions his characters took. Ender's marriage was totally out of left field. It was hard to see why anyone would fall for the woman. For someone who gave up most of their life to help others, to marry someone who was so self-absorbed, didn't seem right. And the marriage seemed very forced.

And to have a child like Peter grow up to be a great man is almost laughable. He was torturing his siblings and small animals as a child - I can't see him growing up to be a empathic leader. Card tries to explain it, but it didn't float for me.

On the positive side, Card's imagination is staggering. The story lines and ideas he came up with are a wonder. He created interesting worlds and situations and saw them all through to the end.

I've purchased four more books that dovetail into the two series (some are short story collections) so I can finish my trek through the Ender world. I've yet to read them.

When I finished the Ender books, I picked up Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen. I'd heard about this book, and since it was written during Nanowrimo, it was one I was really interested in reading. Gruen is a master storyteller and a craftsman of believable, moving characters. If you want a masters class in characterization, just pick up this book. You won't be sorry. Amazing read. I'll probably go to see the movie (or wait until I can pick it up on PPV), but I'm not stoked about seeing it. Robert Pattinson plays the lead and I'm not a fan. And then I read how he took the role without ever reading the book and didn't even realize his role was the lead. What the heck? I thought actors did some research/reading before starting a role. Pffffttttt. Just makes me like him less.

I just finished reading A Game of Thrones. Enjoyable. A little hard to get into at first. The POV changes with chapter, but the chapter heading tells whose POV you'll be in, so it wasn't bothersome. I tended to skim through the war scenes. I'll read the rest, I'm sure. In fact, I have the next on order from the library (I'm not buying them - I've bought far too many books lately). I'd love to see how it's handled in the new series on HBO. Having Sean Bean in one of the leads doesn't hurt. When I think of the Lord of the Rings movies, the first thing I always think of is Boromir's death scene - Bean was fantastic. Oh, and if you read this, be wary of rape, murder, incest, and children marrying adults. Wow, that makes it sound pretty bad, doesn't it?

So that's my reading life lately! Are you sleeping yet?

I haven't started a new book yet, and it's driving me crazy! Do I grab an Orson Scott Card, or do I wait for that library book? Maybe I should go check my library account and see if it's in!!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Flood: Part II

Oh, I haven't posted in so long. I had some dental problems that caused more than a month of horrible pain and now another month of lighter pain. *sigh*

Anyway, spring flood. Ack! The Black River overflowed its banks again after a couple of days of heavy rain. We live on a corner and at one point, both roads were flooded over. Our section of the road was closed. I had to drive around the barricade to get to work. This is the highest I've ever seen the water here. We still have water in the cellar (and it's raining again).

We usually have a large yard. Not so much last Friday morning.

This is looking down the road at the creek bridge:
And a close-up of the bridge as seen from our yard:

 And finally, our visitors after the water receded:
 Can we have some sun now, please??