Story #2 finished – ahead of time!

I’ve caught up with myself after the stomach flu last week, and finished my second story for the Clarion West Write-a-Thon in two days. Ok, “On Finding a Shoe” is short, coming in at only 1700 words, but still, those two days include the whole brainstorming and research phase, not like my Mars story, which also only took two days to write — but a month of research.

“On Finding a Shoe,” however, is definitely not a Nebula candidate. 🙂

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“The Pool of Souls” finished

Finished my first story for the Clarion West Write-a-Thon, today, “The Pool of Souls” (well, at least the first draft). It comes in at just over 4000 words in its present incarnation. Here’s an excerpt:

Imila swirled the paper around in the pool, panning for ashes as she’d heard some men panned for gold in mountain streams. Flecks of souls eddied in the small vortex she created, circling around her hands as if trying to determine if this paper was meant for them. Imila watched in wonder as some of the silvery ashes detached themselves from the rest, coalescing in a shiny mass. She continued the circling movement, coaxing her daughter’s soul closer. Then the ashes caught in the rough texture, and the paper turned a shimmering bluish gray as it absorbed all that was left of Terya.

Clarion West Write-a-thon

I’m participating in the Clarion West Write-a-thon again this year. This time, I want to use it to get some new short stories finished. I’ve been concentrating on novels much too long, and my story inventory has dwindled to little more than a dozen. I’m going to try to finish at least six new short stories, and also polish and send out six stories that have not yet been on the market.

Wish me luck! And feel free to sponsor me if you’re so inclined. Clarion West is an excellent cause.

Brave New Worlds and (Cowardly?) Stubborn Old Bitches

As we all know by now, the publishing industry is in a state of flux, and none of us can really predict how things are going to look five years down the road. A couple months back I started trying to participate in the revolution by creating some ebooks of my own by uploading some previously published stories and novellas. All the experts assured me that I could have my files ready in a matter of hours, minutes even.

Uh, can you say days? And then come the error messages from Smashwords

Well, there was too much going on in May, including both travel and increased grandmother duties, for me to deal with renewed demands on files that had originally been approved. Finally tackled that task tonight, thus this little rant. I can only hope that all those experts are right and eventually I will need mere minutes to create new ebooks. Right now, however, I have pretty much forgotten everything I taught myself in March and feel like I’m starting over from scratch.

Perhaps an ebook a week is the ticket.

Events in May

This is going to be a busy month for me. Next week it’s off to Madrid for the next Villa Diodati workshop.

Two days after I get back from Madrid, I’m heading north to Braunschweig for a reading in German and English organized by Writers Ink. I will also be teaching a writing workshop there for members.

After the Braunschweig gig, I will continue on to Leipzig, where I have another reading, this time organized by the “Freundeskreis Science Fiction Leipzig” (FKSL). Maybe after all that, I’ll get a little more writing done again.

Writing a synopsis (again)

Here I am, writing another synopsis, probably the most despised of all writerly tasks. And I’m not even finished with the first draft of Fragments of Legend yet! So why am I doing this to myself?

1) I’m trying to learn how to use the synopsis as a tool for finding holes in my plot

2) The next Villa Diodati workshop is coming up, and I can get some valuable feedback from my fellow expat writers

Anyway, while I’m at it, I thought I would put together some tips I found useful, both to share with others and for myself, so that I would have them all in one place.

– Give your synopsis a hook, a reason to keep reading. If you can’t come up with one, then maybe your novel still needs one too. This is what I came up with as my hook:

“What if the most famous epic of medieval German literature, the Nibelungenlied, had been written by a woman? Kyra Silberburg, an American book conservator in Germany, discovers evidence in the backing of an old herbal that could mean precisely that.”

Ok, so it’s a literary mystery, not a Big Idea plot in which the goal is to save the world. But I like literary mysteries, and I like stories that challenge received notions of gender, and this beginning would promise a reader like me precisely that.

– Leave out the sub-plots

This is going to be a bit difficult with the synopsis of this book, since it plays out on three different levels: the modern level in which Kyra discovers the manuscript fragments; the medieval level telling the story of the woman who wrote her own version of the Nibelungen legend; and the mythic level of the events surrounding the downfall of the Nibelung Burgundians.

But since I’m mostly writing this for myself right now, I don’t have to worry about that yet.

– Don’t include every step along the way to the resolution, only the major turning points

This is turning out to be very useful for me as a writing tool. When I started doing this for the modern level of Fragments of Legend, I soon recognized a number of logic gaps on the one hand and unnecessary scenes on the other. Hopefully now that the important turning points are clearer to me, I won’t have to write as many questions to myself in my manuscript. Maybe I will even be less likely to get stuck on a regular basis!

Some useful links:

How to Write a Synopsis
http://www.meredithbond.com/Synopsis.html

5 Steps to Writing a Synopsis:
http://www.vivianbeck.com/writing/5_steps_to_writing_a_synopsis.htm

A page with links to a lot of links to different articles about writing the synopsis:
http://www.charlottedillon.com/synopsis.html

Green, Green, Green …

This might not be writing news, but I can’t resist. The state of Baden-Wuerttemberg in southern Germany (next to Bavaria) where I live, staunchly conservative and with a Christian-Democratic (CDU) government for the last 58 years, has just voted in the first coalition in Germany that will be headed by the Green party.

This definitely counts as at least a mini-revolution, on a democratic basis. As an aside, voter participation was up in the double digits, and most of it went to the Greens.

I am stunned and amazed and very, very happy.

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