Review of These Convergent Stars by Janine Southard

18712119.jpgI bought a copy of These Convergent Stars from the author, Janine A. Southard at a local science fiction convention and I’m very glad I did. Janine Southard created a fast-paced romantic-comedy about Maya, a first contact specialist and the problems she incurs as she observes a new species and their culture.

Southard created an interesting setup and well developed characters especially the protagonist, a genetically-modified shapeshifting cat person, created to sniff out biologically compatible species. In the book, she discovers another group of cat people.

Southard has a fun way to turn a phrase especially in dialogue. One of the first idioms is “Green grass and cool water” when referring to a planet.

I recommend it if you are looking for a fun and fast read that mixes cat people in space, mistaken identity, a first contact situation and romance.

My RadCon Schedule

RadCon “The big Con with the Small Con feel” is a Science-Fiction Convention held annually in Pasco, Washington. They cater to all genres within the SciFi community and have a variety of panels, gaming, films, artist alley and more.

Note: This year I will just be attending on Saturday.

 

Sat Feb 13 10:00:am Sat Feb 13 11:00:am Evaluating Writing Critiques
2203 So you’ve had a manuscript critiqued and you’re trying to decipher the feedback. Some people say one thing. Some people have quote rules. How do you tell the good advice from the bad? This panel will discuss how to keep the advice that benefits your writing while ignoring the bad.
Bruce Taylor Elizabeth Guizzetti Mark Ferrari S. A. Bolich Shannon Page Tom Gondolfi

 

Sat Feb 13 3:00:pm Sat Feb 13 4:00:pm Webcomic Construction
2201 Webcomics can look easy to do, but jumping in blind can sometimes result in cramped pages, aborted plots, difficult file sizes, and a lot of frustration. This is for the people who want a webcomic, but are stuck on where to begin. Meg James will discuss tips for planning, scripting, and other technical aspects of creating your webcomic.
Elizabeth Guizzetti Kenneth Siefring L James Meg James

 

Sat Feb 13 6:00:pm Sat Feb 13 6:30:pm Elizabeth Guizzetti
Reading (2211) Elizabeth Guizzetti reads from The Light Side of the Moon
Elizabeth Guizzetti

Writer’s Fashion: Do clothes make the author?

What do writer’s wear each day?

Casual, Business, or all out fancy pants?

I have heard of authors who found that getting dressed helps them get more work accomplished. Charles Dickens fastidiousness was especially well documented.  In this blog post by Noelle Sterne, she refers to the importance of “being dressed for action.” She points out getting dressed is a helpful ritual for the creative process. She found being sloppy put writing on the bottom of her list.

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Pre-walk Tycho. Note his expectant gaze for adventure. Rosie is running around so I can’t get a photo with both of them in it.

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Rosie and Tycho postwalk.

Being sloppy don’t effect me in such a way. Mostly because I have another ritual. I make breakfast, drive my husband to work, take my dogs to the park for an hour. Then it is time to kick off my shoes, because I don’t wear shoes at home and make a cup of coffee. Most of the time, I wear exactly what I wore to the park: my old ripped jeans or yoga pants and t-shirts. Exchange the jeans for shorts if its warm. Add a sweater if it’s cold. I tend to wear my hair in a pony tail or a loose bun.

Then the pups take a lie down and I get to work immediately for five or six uninterrupted hours.

Now for weekends, I have a convention or other author appearance, I have a few nice shirts, non-ripped jeans, and one casual dress and a few jackets of charisma. Hey, I live is Seattle and Seattle is causal.

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One of my jackets of charisma.

Here are a few authors who were kind enough to speak about what they wear when they write.

Dan Thompson said:  “If I’m writing at home I have to be barefoot when I write. Socks annoy me and make me frustrated. Barefoot allows me to curl up on my chair and write without feeling restricted.” 

Another lover of freedom in movement is Christina Thompson: At home I wear sweats and a t-shirt. I usually don’t wear a bra…too confining. My other quirk is I brush my teeth before I start. It helps me focus more on the writing and less on wanting snacks.

(I totally understand the snack issue, that’s why I always make breakfast before I get to work! :) )

RL King has nearly the opposite feeling. “I have to wear my shoes. If I don’t wear them, I tend to relax, and I consider writing a job. It is a fun job, but it is still a job.”

Anna's sweater

AnnaLee’s Sweater

AnnaLee Zenkner has a ritual outfit.  “I wear this sweater that I found at a value village when I was a teenager and I still wear it. It’s an old man sweater that obviously got shrunk in the wash… But it shrunk into my perfect intellectual girl sweater and I will never give it up. Why? I call it my “professor sweater” I wear it to think, ease drop, observe, sip scotch or coffee and create obnoxious opinionated characters.”

Adam Watson of Darkslinger Comics: “Whatever I am wearing or not wearing that day. I have never needed any special clothing requirements.”

And apparently nothing stops David Boop: “I have worn everything from a three piece suit to my birthday suit, because I write whenever I have the energy, the opportunity and the equipment available to do so. I have written at a desk, in bed, on the toilet, in a car, on the light rail, in noisy or quiet situations. When you need to write, nothing should come between you and your craft.”

What do you wear when you are writing? Do you have any rituals that help your creative process?

SciFi Movies that I can watch again and again

Like every science fiction fan, I was at the theater to watch StarWars The Force Awakens over mine and Dennis’s Christmas break. We enjoyed it a great deal. I don’t care about what other people decided to argue about. To me, the films must stand alone and it does.

So I decided to make a lists about those certain films that are pleasurably rewatchable. Some of these films are new, some are classics. but here are my favorite dramatic and horror science fiction films. You will totally notice that I tend to love double features.

MV5BMTU1ODQ4NjQyOV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwOTQ3NDU2MTE@._V1_SX214_AL_1) Alien (1979) and Aliens (1986)
Directed by Ridley Scott

The Nostromo receives a distress call from an unexplored planet. After searching for survivors, the crew including Sigourney Weaver, Tom Skerritt, John Hurt realize a deadly alien has joined them. For new viewers of this film, it is easy to forget how groundbreaking it actually was.

In the sequel, Aliens, the planet that they found the alien on has been colonized. When they lose contact with the colony, Signory Weaver and space marines go back to discover what happened. With all practical effects, these movies still holds up. I have to be honest I don’t generally watch Alien 3 which I feel is the weakest film in the franchise. Aliens Resurrection is okay. Sometimes we watch it as a triple feature, just because we are in an aliens type of mood. And if we need a fourth film we can always slide in AVP or Prometheus. MV5BNTQ5ODU0NjUwOV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwOTcwNDgwNzE@._V1_SX214_AL_

 2) The Thing (1982)
Directed by John Carpenter

A US scientific team in the Antarctic Kurt Russell, Wilford Brimley, T.K. Carter, Keith David, David Clennon are confronted by a shape-shifting alien that assumes the appearance of the creatures it kills.

3) The Thing from Another World (1951)
Directed by Christian Nyby, Howard HawksMV5BODA5MjE1MTY2Ml5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNzU5MjQxMDE@._V1_SX214_AL_

Starring, Kenneth Tobey, Margaret Sheridan, and James Arness, this film follows a group of scientists and the US Air Force fend off a blood-thirsty alien organism while at a remote arctic outpost. What I love about this film compared to the 1982 version, is that the characters joke with each other and seem to really enjoy this film while still taking it seriously.

4) Interstellar (2014)
Directed by Christopher NolanMV5BMjIxNTU4MzY4MF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMzM4ODI3MjE@._V1_SX214_AL_

A team of explorers, which includes Matthew McConaughey and Anne Hathaway travel through a wormhole in space in an attempt to ensure humanity’s survival. Other than a pointless death in the middle of the film, I loved this movie.

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5) The Day the Earth Caught Fire (1961)
Directed by Val Guest

Two English reporters, played by Leo McKern and Edward Judd, discover the USA and Russia unwittingly test atomic bombs at the same time. This alters the nutation and the orbit of the Earth.

This film romanizes the time when being a science reporter was an exciting job that actually paid a salary. It is a classic End of the World tale. MV5BMjA4NDI0MTIxNF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTYwNTM0MzY2._V1_SX214_AL_.jpg

6) The Prestige (2006)
Directed by Christopher Nolan

Christian Bale and Hugh Jackman are stage magicians who try to one-up each other in an attempt to create the ultimate stage illusion. Scarlett Johansson steals the show in a supporting role and David Bowie appears as Nikola Tesla. While it is not a traditional “science fiction” film it has science fiction and fantasy elements.

7)2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
Directed by Stanley Kubrick and
2010
(1984)
Directed by Peter Hyams

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In 2001, Humanity finds a mysterious, obviously artificial object buried beneath the Lunar surface and, Keir Dullea, Gary Lockwood, William Sylvester with the intelligent computer H.A.L. 9000, sets off to discover its origins and purpose.

In 2010, a joint U.S.-Soviet expedition with John Lithgow, Helen Mirren, Roy Scheider are sent to Jupiter to learn what happened on the mission in 2001. I admit my sacrilege. I would rather watch 2010, than 2001. Though honestly, I tend to watch both of them at once so it doesn’t matter.MV5BMTA4MDQxNTk2NDheQTJeQWpwZ15BbWU3MDE2NjIyODk@._V1_SX214_AL_


8) Blade Runner
(1982)
Directed by Ridley Scott

In this gritty dystopian police drama, Harrison Ford plays a blade runner who must pursue and terminate four replicants, Rutger Hauer, Daryl Hannah, Joanna Cassidy and Brion James who returned to Earth to find their creator in hope to lengthen their shortened lifespans.

MV5BMjM2MDgxMDg0Nl5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNTM2OTM5NDE@._V1_SX214_AL_9) Jurassic Park (1993)
Directed by Steven Spielberg

A theme park/zoo—that spares no expense—suffers major corporate espionage that allows its cloned dinosaur to escape their pens and try to eat Sam Neill, Laura Dern, and Jeff Goldblum.

(Note: I love this first one, I don’t necessarily love the sequels.)

10) When Worlds Collide (1951)MV5BMTg5MTkwNzQxNl5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMTYzMjgyMQ@@._V1_SY317_CR6,0,214,317_AL_
Directed by Rudolph Maté

As a new star and planet hurtle toward Earth, a small group of scientists, technicians and industrialists frantically work to complete the rocket which will take 40 survivors to their new home. Starring Richard DerrBarbara RushPeter Hansen in a slightly annoying love triangle, the rest of the movie is fantastic.

And one more: that I have only seen once, but I think its very rewatchable, so I’m going to give it an honorable mention: The Martian.MV5BMTc2MTQ3MDA1Nl5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwODA3OTI4NjE@._V1_SY317_CR0,0,214,317_AL_

What movies can you watch again and again?

RustyCon Schedule

Held at the Seatac Hilton, Rustycon is an annual science fiction and fantasy convention with a smaller, relaxed intimate feel. They have multi–track programming in writing, gaming, films and media. They also have a dealer’s room, art show, and a hospitality room for the general membership. If you’re looking for the convention experience without the crowds of ECCC or the pressure of Norwescon, you’ll LOVE Rustycon.

Hope to see you there!

Fri Jan 15 4:00 – 5:00 pm
What I Would Have Liked to Know? Emerald D 2016
Tips from old pros. What we really would have liked to know when we started out. Things that we would have liked to have someone tell us 30 years that would have made a world of difference to where we are now.

Panelists: Elizabeth Guizzetti, Jeremy Zimmerman, Randy Henderson

6:00 – 6:30:pm
Elizabeth Guizzetti Reading from The Light Side of the Moon

Sat Jan 16 1:00 – 2:00 pm

Craft: Writing Non-Traditional Story Arcs Emerald D 2016
Did you see that episode of Sherlock where John got married and it seemed like a pointless clip show until everything came together? How about the one where Picard’s Enterprise got stuck in a time loop? Fiction doesn’t necessarily move in a fully linear order. Come discuss the less-well-traveled plotting techniques with local authors.
Panelists: Cheryce Clayton, Elizabeth Guizzetti, John Lovett, Michael Ehart

3:00 – 4:00pm
Critique Groups and Meetups Emerald D 2016
How do you find a decent meetup or critique group? What should you look for in a group? Are there red flags to watch for?

Panelists: Elizabeth Guizzetti, Grant T. Riddell, Manny Frishberg, Tom D Wright

5:00 – 6:00 pm
Vulnerability Via Writing Emerald D 2016
The act of writing makes us vulnerable. Intentionally facing our truest fears and deepest pain can give our stories dimension, meaning, and purpose. While writing can be therapeutic, how much is giving too much of ourselves? How can our work be informed by life experiences, without necessarily being autobiographical? And once the words are on the page, how and why would we let them go? Come prepared to look at writing in a new way.
Panelists: April Daniels, Elizabeth Guizzetti, Sienna Saint-Cyr, Tom D Wright

6:00 – 7:00:pm
Designing Technology for Dystopian Futures Emerald D 2016
Learn how authors design future technology for science fiction and Utopian/Dystopian futures using their imaginations, current tech and new inventions.
Elizabeth Guizzetti, Greg Hallock, Jean Johnson, Mike Birch

Sun Jan 17 10:00 – 11:00 am The Craft of Word Creation & Word Choice
Emerald D 2016
Linguistics is more than the creation of a language. It’s also word choice, dialect, accents, and culture. What’s really modern, and when should you invent words? (Will include Janine’s embarrassing story of adding Shakespearean English to a video game world. Why would she do such a thing? Find out and watch her blush.) Join us as we look at how and why to make a new language, and why you might just want to use an existing one!
Panelists: Alma Alexander, Elizabeth Guizzetti, Janine A. Southard, and Raven Oak

12:00 – 1:00:pm Favorite Female SF/F Authors–New & Old Emerald D
With the change in publishing, access to books has grown exponentially like never before. In a sea of books, how does one discover new female authors? Join us as we discuss our favorites, new and old, and how female writers continue to pave the way for the next generation. Come find out who’s missing from your collection!
Elizabeth Guizzetti, Janine A. Southard, John (JA) Pitts, Michael Ehart

Review of Stephen King’s The Bazaar of Bad Dreams

Hardcover, 495 pages
Published November 3rd 2015 by Scribner

 ISBN13: 9781501111679
I received this book for Christmas and read it on a quiet afternoon while D. played computer games. Stephen King gives readers a collection of stories with comments about  when, why, and how he came to write (or rewrite) each story. Overall I enjoyed all the stories in this anthology.
As with most anthologies, some of the stories were scarier than others, and personally, I enjoyed the super natural ones, more than the darkness of humanity ones. “Mile 81″is about a car which ate people was an excellent start and the final apocalyptic story “Summer Thunder”  was also excellent. It stuck with me for a few hours and I had to clear my brain before I went to sleep. My favorite story was “Mister Yummy” where Death appears as someone that the victim loves or lusts after.
My only negative criticism (And it really stuck out because I read the book in a single day) was that a few characters in different stories had the same name. King reused Ellen/Ellie in a few stories. Same with the name George.

Happy New Year: Setting Goals that You Will Actually Achieve!

happynewyear

Many people write goals or resolutions during the new year, and one of the most important thing I have discovered in the past decade, is how important setting clear achievable goals are for my career. So I decided to write about my process. I create my author goals by using the SMART goals system conceived by a business psychologist, George Doran.  SMART stands for

S – Specific. Set goals with specific outcomes. 

– Measurable. Set that you can track or measure. 

A – Achievable. Set realistic goals that you’re prepared to pursue. 

R – Relevant. Set goals that matter to you, that will have a positive effect in your life.

T – Time-bound. Give yourself a deadline or as I do, use an event as a deadline. I most often use a convention and work backwards.

BIGGEST MISTAKE: Don’t set goals which are out of your power to achieve. 

Don’t say: Write 5,000 word short story for [Awe-inspiring lit mag] and be published by [Awe-inspiring lit mag] by June 2016.

Why? Because [Awe Inspiring lit mag]’s Editors are not within your power. They may not need or want what you are selling.

So Step 1: Set Smart Goal

SMART GOAL:  Write, edit, and submit 5,000 word short story to [Awe-inspiring lit mag] by May 1, 2016.

Step 2: Figure out calendar. This will help you measure progress and break it down into manageable steps. For the goal above: this is how I’d do it.

Day 1: Brainstorm Short Story Ideas

Day 2: Decide upon idea

Day 3-15: First Draft Deadline (I don’t worry about my word count in my first draft, but if you do, then break it up into smaller segments.)

Day 20: Read Aloud, Make changes. Fill plot holes.

Day 21-60: Wait (Note: Work on another idea while you wait.)

Day 60-70: 1st Rewrite/Polish

Day 71ish: Send through Critique Group, Beta Readers ETC.

Day 100: Consider Critique and make changes

Day 101-120: Final Rewrite

Day 121-131: Rest manuscript. Research markets, and decide first market you are going to send it to. Write query letter. Whatever you need to do to prepare yourself)

Day 132-140: Final Grammar Edit

Day 141: Submit short story

Special Note: You may be a faster author than I am. You need to set the calendar for what you can do, not what anyone else can do. As you can see it takes me about 141 days to get a short story in marketable condition, but it takes me about a year for a novel. Why? Because the steps I need to take are nearly the same. Some people write short stories because they are fast, but they are not fast for me. So when I write a novel, this is how I create my timeline:

Day 1: Write out Big Idea, Themes, Basic Characters Bios, a few scenes and outline.

Day 2: Put each scene on a 3 x 5 cards

Day 3 – 45ish: First Draft Each day I write out the scenes from 2 or 3 cards. I go crazy fast in the beginning, because I need some words on the page to cement me to the project.

Day 46: Rest

Day 47-107ish: Second Draft I reread manuscript and go scene by scene. Rewriting. Researching. Adding details. Sometimes the characters tell me to change things here.

Day 108 – 137: Wait. Stories are like wine or cheese. They need to age. Work on another idea or consider publication options.

Day 138 – 199: 3rd Draft. Find plot holes and fill them.

Day 199 – 210: 4th Draft. First Grammar Edit and Polish

Day 211-270ish: Give manuscript to First Readers. Wait again! Work on another idea right now or begin considering publication options.

Day 271 -275: Consider Critiques. Look for common themes within suggestions.

Day 276 – 306: 5th Draft. Find more plot holes and fill them.

Day 307 – 321: 6th Draft. Second Grammar Edit and Polish

And I have a marketable novel! Woot. But I’m not done yet…

Day 325: Either send it out to markets
OR
Begin the road self publishing and I write a calendar for everything I need to do to for that.

So that’s how I do it, how do you set goals? Any goals you’d like to share?

 

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