2016 Ad Astra – Day Two (Night)

The afternoon and evening were much less eventful from the I-apparently-can’t-human-today perspective.

In “Crossing the Gender Divide”, I learned that whether or not your character is male or female matters less than making them a person first. As authors, we need to refrain from making assumptions like gender=female therefore, likes pink. Examples (good and bad) included:

  1. James Tiptree Jr.
  2. Andre Norton
  3. Wally Lamb
  4. The Wheel of Time Series
  5. Gail Simone

Next, I was off to “Does Diversity Sell?” where I mainly just enjoyed the discussion. It gave me something to think about. I think it’s good to write diversely, but I also think it’s good to connect with readers. There might be a Goldilocks zone there somewhere.

In “Loving the Villain” I learned that Frodo and Sam are the assholes that screwed up everything. Resources included:

  1. Once Upon A Time
  2. Legend (Tim Curry)
  3. Sons of Anarchy
  4. It (Book)
  5. Dexter
  6. Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog
  7. Shirley Jackson

Then I went to “The Disappearance of the Beginning, Middle, and End”, which turned out to be quite different than I thought it would be. One thing that stuck with me was, “Things always find their natural shape”. We talked about how many TV shows are keeping things going at all costs. The obvious example was Supernatural. How many times have Sam and Dean died? Some other examples included:

  1. Unbreakable
  2. Jemma
  3. American Horror Story
  4. True Detective

After that it was off to “The Rise of Kink” which was very interesting. Resources mentioned were:

  1. fanfiction.net
  2. reddit
  3. Erika Moen
  4. Cliterature
  5. Sexapalooza

After a quick bite to eat, I headed up to the Chizine Party to see friends. We worked out details for a future panel I’ll be part of in the fall.

Stay tuned for my final post on 2016 Ad Astra, which is coming *soon*.

Ciao,
R~

2016 Ad Astra – Day Two (Morning)

Day two got off to a weird start. I had a fantastic shower. Indeed, I loved every minute of it. When it was finished, I peeled back the curtain to see water all over the bathroom floor. For some reason, my brain decided not to put the shower curtain into the tub before showering. My jeans (a.k.a. my only pair of pants) were on the bathroom floor! I frantically waved the hair dryer at them. It was hopeless. Due to time constraints on breakfast, I went down to eat half dressed nicely and half dressed in pajamas. On my way, I asked the guy at the desk in my hotel about the connected mall. He said it didn’t open until noon. Disaster! After food, I talked to the guy at the other hotel’s desk, explained my predicament, and he presented me with a little box of bounce and gave very loose instructions on where to find the laundry room. I roamed the basement halls with my little box of fabric softener and my too wet jeans. I debated entering the Associate’s Only room but was sure I would be reprimanded and continued to wander in the bowels of the hotel. A staff member nearly ran into me and looked at me with incredulity when I explained my mission. He led me to a tiny unmarked room with two little machines and a chair. As I placed my jeans into the dryer, I felt relief wash over me, but it was not without challenge. For in that tiny room, there was little air exchange and the dryer was very hot. I had to prop open the door with my foot in order to remain conscious. At last, in triumph, I ran up the steps to my room to change and hurriedly pack the day’s necessities. I was a touch late arriving at the first panel, but given the morning’s hijinks, I felt OK about it.

In the “How to Outline and Plan Your Story” panel, we talked about pantsing being a good method for short stories and flash fiction, but longer works should have some sort of outline even if it doesn’t go further than 4-5 scenes.

  1. Know everything possible about the protagonist and antagonist.
  2. Knowing the premise of the story, which will bring about the inciting incident and hint at the ending. The premise should tell you if you’re writing a short or long work of fiction.
  3. Long pieces should be broken into the 3 Act Structure with minor climaxes before the major climax where the hero confronts the antagonist and the story resolves. Then overlay the hero’s journey on top of that.
    1. Make character sheets with common words/phrases they say, appearance/clothing, back story, favourite things, etc
    2. Setting outline to immediately immerse the reader in the world like Mad Max

Recommended resources were:

  • Blake Snyder’s – Save the Cat (beat sheet)
  • Donald Maass – Writing the Breakout Novel (workbook)
  • David Farland – The Kick in the Pants (editing passes)

Next, I attended a “Troubleshooting your Manuscript” workshop. As it was something I paid extra for, I’m only going to give some basic details. We talked about the opening scene being made of change, movement, conflict, suspense/unanswered questions, human activity/presence, setting, and narrative POV/camera view. Within that we talked about ways to go about it (sledgehammer vs introducing subtle details). We talked about how improper pacing and trivial dialogue lead to problems in the middle of the book. We talked about problems with character and dialogue tags. A good character example was Scarlet O’Hara because even though she is an awful person, many love her.

In the “Finding a Literary Agent” panel, I learned tips like trying a small handful and using Twitter to find out what kind of stories they are looking for. Query only one agent per agency as they often work together. Never write a query letter from the character’s POV. Get references if they do offer to work for you. Money only flows toward the author. Resources recommended were:

  • Query Checker forum
  • Query Shark archives
  • Writer’s Digest posts (examples of successful query letters)
  • #MSWL on Twitter

Next, I attended the inaugural panel “Welcome to Hellmaw”. I took no notes save what specifically spoke to my own writing. Want to know more? Check out the Ed Greenwood Group’s page.

The morning was capped off with another workshop, “DIY Publicity: Who to Contact and What to Say” where we learned about analytics and targeted queries for reviews. Recommended resources:

  • Alexa.com

Well, that was the morning. Stay tuned for the rest of Day Two later this week.

Ciao,
R~

2016 Ad Astra – Day One

Ad Astra began on Friday evening after I checked in and had a burger at the restaurant in the hotel. Registration was a breeze and I got my choice of a free book. I chose Ed Greenwood’s The Iron Assassin.

Later, a familiar friend roamed the halls: R2D2. I heard him through the walls. He sounded upset. Someone was surely trying to put an end to his fun. They’re always telling him what’s appropriate behaviour. For some reason, the picture I took of him got lost.

In the “Give Them A Laugh” panel, we talked about the different types of humour including situational, character, and verbal. In only an hour, it was difficult for the panelists to go into any depth, but there was enough to use as a launch point. One major point was that humour usually has to be interpreted and the reader shouldn’t be hit over the head with a joke. It’s OK if not everyone who reads the story gets it. Some recommended reads/watches were:

– Witches Abroad by Terry Pratchett
– Dr. Strangelove
– Buffy the Vampire Slayer
– Big Bang Theory
– Robert Asprin
– I, Phone
– Hitchhiker’s Guide
– Major Karnage
– Pirate vs Ninja vs Zombies
– The Technicolor Time Machine by Harry Harrison
– British humour
– Red Skelton

In “Loving What Happens vs Loving Who It Happens to” we talked about agency and how the character should end up in situations because of what actions they previously took. We also talked about unique viewpoints like writing from the perspective of a pet rock. The key is always connecting with the reader on an emotional level. Some recommended reads/listens included:

– Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?
– Speculate podcast
– Ursula le Guin

“The Roots of Religion and Folklore” was thoroughly enjoyable. We talked about urban legends such as The Michigan Dog Man. We also talked about how this paranoia we see with conspiracy theorists may go back to the days when paranoia warned there was a dangerous predator because “even chicken-shits have more babies than dead people do.” Recommendations included:

– The Cropsey Documentary
– Michael Moore was mentioned
– A documentary about a guy who pretends to be a murderer and no one ever turns him into the police. Can’t find the name of it.
– Satanic cults of the 1980s
– The Exorcist’s inspiration vs what it became
– The Texas Chainsaw Massacre inspiration vs what it became
– New Jersey “Watchers” letters
– The Fourth Kind

“The Dos and Don’ts of Writing Erotica” was prone to sexual innuendo as they took us through the ins and outs of the trade. The main points were that the sex should further something in the story just like any other plot device. Yes, that means there should be a plot of some sort. It’s also OK to just say they had sex without writing a scene if that’s what makes sense at that point in the book. Apparently dinosaur porn is big right now…

Then it was 11PM and I was too tired to go party, so jammies and a bit of reading were in order.

Ciao,
R~

Funky Friday: Here I Go Again

 

Image created using Bit Strips.

Image created using Bit Strips.

I’m leaving town soon, but I thought I have time for a brief post.

1. Ecstatic – My guitar was ready yesterday, so naturally I packed less than I should have and didn’t bake the bread. It sounds fantastic!

image

2. Hungry – Waiting on my bread to finish baking. There won’t be a dog or even other humans in my hotel room, so no ill should befall it this time.

3. Excited – Ad Astra!!!! I missed it last year due to a prior commitment. So much to do and see! And do many of my writing friends will be there. It’s wonderful being around people who love something as much as you do.

4. Busy – Still have turkey bacon to cook and veggies to cut up. I can almost finish loading the car. I should also dust it. It’s overdue. Then gas up and pick up a member of my writing group. Oh, and I better export a copy of my manuscript into word, so I can view it during the manuscript workshop. Also, the garbage needs to be taken out.

Well, that’s all the time I have.

Ciao,
R~

Ultra Busy Weekend Ahead

Ack! I forgot about Wonder Wednesday this week 😦

I assure you my brain has been pondering lots of things given the tips and tricks provided to me this weekend to improve my martial art. Also, because people have been suggesting I write something for the national magazine. I’m not sure how I feel about that given that I’m only a lowly Shodan rank, but perhaps I’ll find something to say.

I’m off again this weekend. This time, it’s for Ad Astra 2016 in Richmond Hill. Back to the GTA I drive tomorrow.

I spent part of yesterday deliberating between which panels I should attend. Here’s the plan:

Friday

7:00 PM – Give Them a Laugh (Comedy is something I’d like to improve on)
8:00 PM – Loving What Happens vs Loving Who It Happens To (I love love!)
9:00 PM – Cropsey Slender Man and the Angels of Mons: the Roots of Religion and Folklore (Sounds like something that will provide inspiration)
10:00 PM – The Dos and Don’ts of Writing Erotica (Aligns with possible future goals under a pen name)
11:00 PM – See if the birthday party is still going on

Saturday (I’m not sure when I eat lunch or dinner)

10:00 AM – How to Outline and Plan Your Story (I feel like I can always be better at this as I pants a lot)
11:00 AM – A Troubleshooting Guide for Manuscripts (Workshop I paid for)
1:00 PM – Finding a Literary Agent (Might want one someday soonish)
2:00 PM – Welcome to Hellmaw (Sounded fun)
3:00 PM – DIY Publicity: Who to Contact and What to Say (Workshop I paid for)
5:00 PM – Crossing the Gender Divide (Sounded fascinating)
6:00 PM – Does Diversity Sell? (Who doesn’t want their work to sell?)
7:00 PM – Loving the Villain (I want to make better villains that are hard to completely hate)
8:00 PM – The Disappearance of the Beginning, Middle, and End (Changing story structures sounds important to learn about)
9:00 PM – The Rise of Kink in Fanfiction and Fandom
10:00 PM – Check out the remainder of the EDGE party

Sunday

10:00 AM – When to Listen to Your Editor and When Not To (Sounds important)
11:00 AM – How to Go Beyond Getting Started and Get Something Finished (I feel like I’m never going to be done editing this thing and need a little something)
12:00 PM – Lunch?
1:00 PM – Marketing and Promoting Your Self-Published Novel (I plan to do some self and some traditional)
2:00 PM – Publishing Science Fiction and Fantasy – From Whence We Came and Where We Are Going (Sounds important)
3:00 PM – Work-Life Balance as an Artist (Could be important)

Then visit my bestie in Oshawa and reclaim my missing hair cleansing products.

Oh and possibly my new electric guitar will be ready on Monday. I have the day off, so that would be ultra sweet.

Tonight, I need to pack, but possibly wash laundry first. Also, solidify meals for the weekend. Need bacon to go with GF oatmeal for breakfast to be settled. Need something for lunches or just lots of convenient, healthy snacks. Maybe homemade bread with DF cream cheese and jam with veggies and GF pepperoni? Maybe stir fry for dinners? Think I just figured stuff out while writing this post…

Oh, no posts this weekend. Will recap stuff next week. May will be hectic like this too between Comiccon and Iaido seminar weekends.

I can’t wait to see everyone at Ad Astra! And learn stuffs!

Ciao,
R~