Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Lucky 7 Meme -- Spider Silk

Ok, so it’s been a while since Bailey Hammond (Over Yonder…) tagged me in this meme, but I’m finally joining the party!

The rules are pretty simple, and I will be blatantly ignoring some of them.

1. Go to page 77 of your WIP.
2. Count down to the 7th line.
3. Copy the next 7 lines and paste them into your post.
4. Tag 7 others to participate.
5. Let those writers know they've been tagged.  It seems like everyone I know has already been tagged. XD So, if you haven’t gotten in on the fun yet, feel free! Tell ‘em Silent sent ya’.

And now, without further ado, approximately seven lines from page seventy-seven in my current WIP: Spider Silk. Please note that it kind of crosses a scene change. XD

            “And Danny was left sitting in a puddle, eighty-five percent sure that he would be missing his date on Friday.

            If he ever saw David Archer again, Danny was quite simply going to kill him.


            Bear was laughing. His grin stretched like a ‘Welcome Home’ banner. All was right in the world. Or… Almost all.

            The man was sitting on the stump-table, eyes bright as he absently reached behind him for another leg of poultry from one of the platters they’d brought in. He sat facing David, who’d long since been squeezed onto a chair between Foel and Anzy.”

I hope you found this little excerpt diverting, and I can’t wait to see what your selections are like! ;)

Keep writing! ^^

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Review: Above World, by Jenn Reese

Cover of Above World by Jenn Reese

Title: Above World
Author: Jenn Reese
Genre: Fantasy (+ a quite healthy dose of scifi. Or vice versa)
Back-of-the-book Blurb:
"Thirteen-year old Aluna has lived her entire life under the ocean, just like all of the Coral Kampii in the City of Shifting Tides. But after remaining hidden from the Above World for centuries, her colony is in trouble, its survival in doubt: the tech that allows the Kampii to breathe underwater is beginning to fail, and many Kampii have already died. Yet the colony's elders, including Aluna's father, are unwilling to venture to the dry and dangerous Above World to search for answers.

So it's up to Aluna and her friend Hoku to face the terrors of land to find a solution. Once in the Above World, Aluna and Hoku learn that their colony is not the only one struggling to survive -- so are others in the skies and in the deserts. Will Aluna's warrior spirit and Hoku's intelligence be enough not only to keep themselves safe but also to find a way to save their city and possibly the world?"

The plot summary of Above World intrigued me. And the plot itself is intriguing. Far into the future, after overpopulation crowds humans out of their usual dwelling places, they transform themselves into beings based on mythical creatures (mermaids, harpies, centaurs, and so on) capable of living in other ecosystems – the ocean, high altitudes, the deserts, etc.

First of all, I love the concept. The world-building was rather good, with noticeable distinctions in culture between the Kampii (mermaids), Aviar (harpies), and all the rest. There was no shortage of action. The fight scenes were rather exciting, and detailed (the author studies martial arts, so…. There you go).

There’s an interesting blend of fantasy and science fiction here. It’s the kind of thing I would write. I’ve actually already written about bird-people and fish-people…

…which is what made it so disappointing when I could not bring myself to fully love this book.

I never really was engrossed in it, perhaps because that action-packed, exciting pace is so fast. Things move so quickly that certain areas weren’t developed as much as I would have liked.

Right from the beginning, things got a little Tell-y. The information was usually interesting; the placement just didn’t feel natural. Characters talked too long about things that should’ve been common knowledge to them. While reading, I thought more than once, “This book is mainly about showcasing the world and/or technology.”

Character motivations were sketchy in places. They flip-flopped – made rather dumb decisions on one page, then berated themselves for it (literally) two pages later. While some of the characters were interesting at first, I couldn’t truly like them because of their nonsensical actions, or actions that were out of character.

Out of character. That’s another thing I wasn’t thrilled with. I ask you, how can two Kampii children (who to our knowledge have never left the water before) pull themselves onto land for the first time and immediately recognize the smell of smoke? The word ‘smoke’ shouldn’t have even been in their vocabulary. Little things like this were scattered throughout the book, just noticeable enough to distract me and make me question the narration.

For instance [Minor Vague Spoilers in this paragraph, but not too big because it all happens within the space of a few pages anyway] in a colony of all females, where reproduction takes place in a nutrient bed  (In other words, no males required) and a couple-in-love from another colony is something to gossip over… In about two pages a girl from this colony begins a relationship with our male main character. This colony began as enemies, not entirely trusting, holding our MCs captive, as prisoners – and then again, two pages later, they’re all grand friends. *sigh*

Maybe a younger reader would be more entranced by Above World, but the logical inconsistencies and the info-dumps within the narrative made it hard for me to really get into this book.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

First Submissions

                Just before writing this blog post, I submitted my entry for a writing contest.

                Then I tweeted this:

"OH MY GOSH, TWITTER, I JUST PRESSED SEND. They HAVE the story. The story I've had around for a YEAR AND A HALF. AHHHHHHHH. #firstsubmissions"

                And this:

"I would like to think such occasions will be much less panicky as time goes on. Sadly, I'm not certain that will be the case. XD"

                And was met with several reassuring/sympathetic/commiserating tweets, along with an imaginary paper bag to breathe into and some imaginary bite-size brownies.

                This is not the first thing I’ve ever submitted, though, guys. It’s one of the biggest contests I’ve entered, sure, and I haven’t submitted much anywhere (yet). But I’ve entered contests, including a few small-scale, local ones in elementary and middle school that I, uh, won/placed in. *blush*

                Just recently, I got back results from a major contest I entered at An Honorable Mention in my region. Not great, but not bad, either. And I didn’t freak out as much about that contest.

                I still freaked out, mind you. I just freaked out less.

                Why? I think because my entry for that contest was not the best thing that I’ve written. I knew that, was okay with that, and decided to send it in anyway (partially because winners there would lose the rights for two years, and I wanted to possibly submit some other stories to magazines, etc.). Because I knew it wasn’t my best work, I was thrilled to get an honorable mention.

                It’s different with the story I’m submitting now. It has been around since October 3rd, 2010. I wrote it late at night (*cough*earlyinthemorning*cough*onaschoolnight*cough*) while listening to the song Airplanes by B.o.B. and Hayley Williams. I loved the thing. And I blogged about it way back then, for heaven’s sake, before this blog was even active.

                To this day, I think it’s one of the better rough drafts I’ve written. It’s changed in small spurts, with just a few major paragraphs altered or deleted after getting feedback from I-forget-how-many people. A few changed wordings. A few lines ironed into something smoother. That’s about it. The core is the same as it always was, and yet there’s a stronger focus now. A stronger character. A stronger story.

                It’s probably the most completely polished thing I have ever written thus far.

                Which is what makes this 1,500-ish word story so terrifying to send out into the world.

                For me, and every other person who’s begun submitting stories, I’m sure there’s more than a few questions floating around. We just need to live with those questions, and try to hold on to the answers.

                What if I lose?

                There will be other contests. Other places to submit. Other stories to polish, that will be better than this one ever was. Maybe they loved the story – they just loved someone else’s even more.

                What if they don’t even like it?

                Then they don’t like it. It’s a matter of opinion, a matter of who the judge is, and even a matter of what stories they’ve already read. It’s no different than when you sent this story out to reviewers, asking for feedback. There was a chance they wouldn’t like it. Your response to a rejection here should be similar to your response to a bad review; Make it better, or move on to something else.

                Most terrifyingly, what if I screwed up the formatting and get disqualified for something dumb? And then DIE?

                You will not die. Probably. I know this part is stressful, especially for people who haven’t submitted much before, but this should not be the most paralyzing part of the experience. Just follow the given directions as closely as you can, and if you’re not sure about something, ask someone. Preferably someone who knows what they’re talking about.

                … What do I do now?

                The answer to this one is simple. You keep writing. Write another story. Work on polishing other projects. Or maybe just write a blog post about the experience. *looks around innocently*

                And now, some questions for you.

                Have you started the submission/querying process? If so, what’s your experience been like? Any tips for the inexperienced submitter, or things about the process that have always tripped you up?