Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Major in Focus: Multimedia and Digital Culture

My second undergrad major (after Creative Writing) is Multimedia and Digital Culture.  Not too many schools have a program like this one.  So what does the program even look like?  Well, you can read about it, in an article I wrote for The Odyssey Online, right here.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Major In Focus: Creative Writing

As you may know, one of my majors in college is Creative Writing.  But what does a Creative Writing major even look like?  It's not a major that every school has, at least as such.  You can read about my program in an article I wrote for The Odyssey Online here.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

I'll Take This Over Suffocation

[Note: This story started out as a drabble--a story numbering exactly 100 words--some time in late 2014.  I later expanded it to a bit over 500 words, submitted it to a few places that rejected it, then used it in the March 2015 issue of my high school's newspaper as my fiction story for the issue.  I read it over again a few days ago, and I really liked it, so I'm gonna give it some new life here.]

            There is no wind on Edelraa.  Its trees never bend nor bow.  Its birds never ride a gale nor battle a gust.  And so they fall, for they have not grown strong like those of Earth.  Edelraa is perishing.
            I cannot change the course of our little colony ship, barreling through space toward the third planet in the system of the red dwarf Drake VII.  There isn’t enough fuel to turn back for home.  We must land on Edelraa, to survive there or be snuffed out like a candle; not a flame gently blown out, but one smothered under a glass bell.
            The first settlers on Edelraa were dying of starvation and suffocation at the time of their last transmission to our colony ship.  That was three months ago.  They have not responded to our replies.
            There are five hundred and thirty “people” aboard Sterling.  I’ll explain the quotes later.  We come from forty-seven nations across four planets, not counting the fifty children born aboard during our five years of travel.  The animals in our pen are multiplying, so much so that we’ve been eating steak every night for the past week.  The greenhouse is laden with green vegetables and healthy fruits, grown in designed soils.  Until this morning, I thought we might be able to throw our mission aside and live out of our tiny ship, without need to descend onto the deoxygenating surface of Edelraa.
            Two significant events occurred between the Earth-time hours of 05:00 and 07:00 today.  The first was an eerie transmission we received from the planet.  When it came in, I threw down everything I was doing and listened, believing it to be from my husband, the leader of the planet’s sole settlement.  As it turns out, there is a much larger power on Edelraa.  It calls itself the “Wind God.”  Apparently it is angry with us.  That explains quite a lot.
            The second event is just as supernatural and a bit more terrifying.  One of my crew woke up this morning dead.  Yes, she died, and then she woke up.  I had the brilliant idea to put on “Monster Mash” and see what would happen, but it only slowed her down.  She would be the “running kind” of zombie, except we’re in low-gravity, so the pursuit occurs in slow-motion.  Isn’t that how everyone dreams of having their brain devoured by a zombie?  So far she’s eaten two brains, killed three passengers with her plasma sidearm, and infected five other people.  Unarmed zombies are one thing, but pistol-toting zombies are a whole ‘nother story.  They give you a choice.  You can run away and get shot, try to fight and get your brain munched upon, or sit there and accept zombification as a new stage in your existence.
            I don’t feel a whole lot different as a zombie.  In fact, maybe there isn’t a problem here at all.  Since I don’t need to breathe, there’s no reason to not just form the colony on Edelraa as planned.  What’s the Wind God going to do, kill us?  I’ll take this over suffocation.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

On a Gemstone Sea

[Note: This is a narrative snippet.  It does not have a full narrative arc.  It's a rewrite of a few paragraphs of Stephen Crane's story "The Open Boat," but I hadn't read the story at that point, only the few paragraphs I was working with, so some aspects to it don't align with the original story.]

            Jonathan leaned hard against his brother as they each carved into the dark waters with their oars.  The sheer masonry of the wave served to lock his eyes to its majesty, but in truth there was little else to see.  It seemed that the ocean had had enough of the men.  They were Mongols, ready to steal its jade.  The boat lilted, tumbling over the wall.  A new barrier followed.
            The next snarling crest spit in their faces.  Norbert grunted.  “We’re gonna have to start bailing this ding out if this swell don’t calm the hell down.”
            The cook shot him a dirty glance.  He exchanged a phrase with the correspondent.  Something about stations and houses of some sort.
Jonathan huffed, hoping that the sea would start huffing with him.  He knew it wouldn’t.  There had been two Danish fellows on his first brig, tall whips of men.  When the ship had stopped to restore provisions they would race each other up and down the streets of the little coastal towns.  They made Jonathan exhausted just to watch them.  The sea almost reminded him of them, except that at night the sea didn’t stop, whereas those Danes had been suckers for a good supper and bottle of gin.
By the looks of the sun drooping on the horizon it was far past supper time.  The cook’s stomach growled.  His hadn’t swelled up yet.  There was no time for the hunger anyway.  Jonathan raised his oar, bit down into the water one more time.
The sun gained ground up the dome of the sky, and he laughed.  It was dawn, not dusk.  The sea was a bed of emeralds, streaked with streams of topaz.  Foam poured forth from the gem field, snow in June.

Monday, June 5, 2017

New Novel Start

So I started a new novel.  Typically, these drafts don't live long.  This will be at least my ninth novel attempt, eighth novel idea (one idea was reattempted later).  I've yet to finish a novel.  I've yet to come close to finishing a novel.  In fact, I have three novelettes I haven't even finished writing.  My longest completed story consists of only 2,978 words.  I have only six completed stories (though one is unedited) that are longer than 2,000 words and fourteen total completed stories over 1,000 words.  That leaves around 160 stories of less than 1,000 words.

My working title for this novel is "Teya."  At this stage of the game, I'm not using the accent aigu over the "e," but I think I'll add one in a later draft.  The novel has French inspirations with somewhere toward 17th-century technology.  It is adult fantasy, though it reads currently more like YA.  I'm still puzzling through the subgenre.  It has some mystery elements, at least at the beginning, and it feels a bit like Sword & Sorcery, though I would prefer Epic Fantasy.

After just over seven days of work (and only a short amount of time per day), I have 2,609 words written.  That makes this novel attempt my third-longest, I believe, after both attempts at my first novel idea.  My second attempt at my first idea garnered about 3,000 words, while my first attempt at my first idea hit around 11,000 words before I decided to start over.  I have one novelette with around 2,200 words, another with around 4,000 words, and a third that's over 6,000 words so far.  Hopefully, I'll one day finish at least the latter two of these three (especially the last).  My strategy with this novel attempt is to force myself to write at least a little bit every day and to keep adding words even though my draft so far is pretty dreadful.  I just want to get a finished draft, then I can start over from the beginning and make it clean enough to start normal editing.

This story begins with Teya discovering the corpse of her friend and Defender (in-book jargon) Jean.  Like one of the characters from a previous novel attempt (you can look at the first chapter, all or most of what I wrote before abandoning the story, by scrolling through this tag), she is missing a hand.  The process to become a mage requires the severing of a hand, but for many the ritual fails, as was the case for Teya.  Still, she was given an important role by her village, out of respect for her courageousness, what I'm calling in this draft "Chef d'Intelligence."  Hopefully I'll come up with a better name at some point.

I have very little clue where this story will go, but I know that I need to make my way toward a Call to Action, and that will probably come within the next 5,000 to 10,000 words.  There's already a certain level of disturbance, but it hasn't manifested as a true quest yet.  When I get there, I should be able to churn out words a bit faster.

I'll keep everyone posted on my progress through Teya.  I'm not so much worried about the quality of the book this time around.  I just want a completed draft.