Saturday, March 31, 2012

Spring is Here! (W1S1 update)

...Well it's spring here in the desert. Already hitting 80+ degrees. Seems nice now, but just you wait; it'll be boiling by the time May gets here.

So the stats for this month:

Stories written: 5! (I'm surprised by this, too. And not only written, but also all of them subbed in the same month.)
Stories submitted:18 (several of these re-submitted or sim-subbed)
Stories accepted: 1
Stories rejected:13

Lovecraft eZine accepted "A Hand Beyond" for a future issue. Squee! This was a story I wrote for Wily Writers--they rejected it, of course--while I was going through a Lovecraft reading frenzy. Glad it found a nice home.

I'm also surprised by the amount I wrote this month; it honestly doesn't feel that much. Probably because all but one of these stories were written in a day or two. And by some miracle, I managed to get my Biblio Fantastica story in at the last minute--as I busily worked on it last night and this morning. Just like writing an essay in uni. Fun, fun.

And now something from Youtube. If you don't know already, I'm a HUGE Florence + the Machine fan, and I adore her video "Never Let me Go," which came out earlier this month. It's weirdly gorgeous--if there is such a phrase--and I hope you enjoy it. :)

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The Achilles' Heel of a Story

I was thinking about this, how every other story I write has some issue with it. Wouldn't it be great if we could all write a perfect first draft? One story I wrote this month had a nagging problem with the intro; it was kind of rough and unclear, and took a few rewrites to get it right--well that's the hope, at least.

While other stories, the ending simply doesn't hold up, and that has to be rewritten--or worse--the ending isn't written at all and the story sits there in USB purgatory. Oh, and on an unfortunate note, my USB stick broke and all my "in-progress" stories were lost. Some I was able to recover from emails, but yeah, I'm not paying hundreds of dollars to get them off a broken USB. So lesson learned: finish your stories...or do a better job at backuping. 

Anyway, there always seems to be that one issue, the Achilles' heel that prevents the story from being "good enough" to allow editors to see, or could potentially lead to the death of the story (literally, if you're like me and fail to backup).

So, to expand this out to you few followers, do you have an Achilles' heel in your story/stories? Doesn't have to be an actual issue with the story itself; low self-esteem about your writing can also be an Achilles' heel.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Story Review: Fool's Gold: A Coyote Cal Weird Western

Something a little different. Fellow W1S1er Milo James Fowler was cool enough to offer up his weird tale of the old west over on Amazon--so naturally, I had to review it.

A brief rundown: Our heroes, Coyote Cal and Big Yap, unravel the mystery behind the Trail of Death--all with bandits, horse chases, guns a blazin', and a Portuguese-Indian.

A parody of those old west shows such as Bonanza and other spaghetti westerns. It plays upon the stereotypes of the genre like the charming hero and pearly white smile, the grumbly goofy side-kick, the gorgeous girl who helps the hero recover, and so on. The story itself doesn't even take itself seriously, breaking the fourth-wall. It's all meant to have a good laugh at the genre.     

I found it enjoyable, a fun quick read. I definitely can see some Captain Quasar in Coyote Cal--both ridiculously over-the-top heroes. Though if I were to compare Fool's Gold to Coyote Cal's previous adventure, El Diablo De Paseo Grande in Arcane 2 , I'd have to say El Diablo wins. Partly because Big Yap plays a bigger role in that story, and I find him the funnier of the two heroes, plus the weird factor was so, so much weirder. *shivers*

So if you like parodies, along the lines of Galaxy Quest and Austin Powers, check out Fool's Gold for only 99 cents! And looking forward to more crazy adventures with Coyote Cal and Big Yap. 

Monday, March 12, 2012

Urban Fantasy the New Horror?

I originally wanted to follow-up my Arcane 2 review with this idea, Blogging is not my highest priority.

This has been on my mind for some time now, ever since I saw the trailer of a new RPG coming out later in the year (which I can't wait to play), The Secret World -- Blue Mountain area.

It certainly looks and feels like a horror, right? But towards the end, you see the characters fighting back against the nasties, which is counter to a horror, but familiar ground in UF.

The more I look at UF, the more horror I see in than fantasy. I know UF is suppose to be a sub-genre of fantasy, but I've never found it to be all that fantastical: most of the time it's simply your local town/city that has been turned on its head. Perhaps I'm bit of a traditionalist; I enjoy secondary worldbuilding, new places to explore, different environments.

UF writers can't quite claim that they built a whole new world, only made some adjustments to our own--though I suppose you could have a UF set in another world, but I haven't seen much of that. Horror is also often set in our world (think of where many of Stephen King's horror stories are set).

Then there are the tropes UF uses, many of those tropes coming directly from horror, such as vampires, werewolves, zombies, and other freaky creatures. The difference in how UF treats the tropes is that the characters are given the tools to fight the boogiemen instead of just running away. Think of Buffy the Vampire Slayer; Buffy went out and staked vampires' asses, no qualms about it. In a horror, it probably would've taken her a minute to gather her courage, figure out how to kill a vampire, and then attempt to stake their ass.

I'm not going to go into dark fantasy, although it certainly has its horrors, it has the secondary worldbuilding, or world-within-a-world, for its supernatural nasties. Also tends to have dark themes alongside the monsters. A good example of a dark fantasy is Pan's Labyrinth

I do want to make the point that simply throwing mythic creatures or monsters doesn't automatically make a story fantasy. UF does have worldbuilding, the adjustments to our world fit as well as the explanations. And this is what separates UF from Paranormal Romance. PR will never ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever be fantasy, specifically because of its lack of worldbuilding. Maybe it can be horror since the very idea of dating a dead dude is pretty horrific.

Friday, March 9, 2012

(Not) WIP: The Movie - blogfest

So Sheila over at Writings, Workouts, and Were-Jaguars brought this blogfest to my attention and sounded like something fun to do. It's being hosted by Kyra Lennon and Rachel Schieffelbein, so check them out.

Now I'm going to cheat here because I do not have a WIP, unless you count this stubborn short story--WHY WON'T YOU BE WRITTEN??? Instead, I'm digging out a trunked novel, Ghost's Rain--and yeah, I cringe at that title. Should I ever return to it, I have a much better named planed for it.

It's a dystopia, set in a alternate world, starring the badass heroine Ghost.

My snazzy photoshop skills + sims2
I absolutely adored this character, despite the fact that she's kind of a Mary Sue--apparently purple eyes is a very Mary Sue trait. She of course had her issues. Ghost was emotionally distant, suffered from PTSD, had insomnia which she took medication for--probably too much medication. She was a leftover from this long, worn out war which would later be known in the textbooks under the political fashioned "Fuchsia Wars"--the fuchsia is for how bloody it was. Because her childhood life was ripped from her, she became embittered, a ghost of her former self, and turned to assassination as way to avenge the past.

As you can probably tell, it was a story with a lot of heavy themes, grand ideas, and I didn't have the writing chops at the time to comprise it all. I wrote about 20,000 words, rewrote the intro 3 times before calling it quits. Still love the story, and will probably harvest the epilogue for a short story--nice thing about trunked novels is that they make excellent short story fodder.

Anyway, I'm derailing this whole thing.

I'm sure most think Milla Jovovich would be the perfect candidate for playing Ghost, since she does play just about every action female role. And I'd agree, but I always thought Keira Knightly had more of the Ghost air about her, a fierce inquisitiveness behind the eyes. Of course, she'd have to put on 20-30 pounds of muscle and deflate her lips.

As for soundtrack, this is probably one of my few stories that has one. I was greatly inspired by Blade Runner's soundtrack as well as the anime Cowboy Bebop. A few select songs, all sort of somber pieces:
Rain by Yoko Kanno, sung by Mai Yamane
Metallic Rain by Vangelis
Blade Runner Blues by Vangelis

Happy bloghopping!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

March of Madness (W1S1 update)

I guess you could say W1S1 is a maddening experience, but than again, aren't most writers just half a step away loonyville? *awkward silence* Soooo...stats for this month:

Stories written: 2 (a previously unfinished flash piece and 2,800-word humor-horror starring Steven! Poor guy, I really should give him a break--or not.)
Stories submitted:19
Stories accepted: 1
Stories rejected:15

That acceptance slipped in at the last minute. Eschatology, a very cool site that features Lovecraftian and post-apoc flash stories, will be publishing "The Storm" on the 11th of April! Which is cool because my other flash story in the Uncle John's Flush fiction anthology will also be coming out in April.

My goal for the month of March is to have stories submitted to Penumbra's Dream issue, and Dagan Books' BIBLIOTHECA FANTASTICA antho. I have the ideas down in my head, they just need to make their way to the word processor, and nothing like waiting to the last month, right?

In other news, The Uninvited is being unresponsive. I queried them after 60 days since on their site they say they respond within 60 days. That doesn't seem to be the case. I'll poke them again in another week, and hopefully get word, even if it's a "we're really busy right now." But I'd be wary of this zine for the time being, simply due to the lack of responses.  

And as tradition, something from Youtube. I must be into a indie mood, because I stumbled across this incredible music video Little Talks by Of Monsters and Men. It's a really nice upbeat tune and love how the video syncs up with the music. Oh, and remember how music videos use to tell a story? This one has a story! Enjoy!