This Friday, I embark on an odyssey. Actually, it's the Odyssey Writing Workshop. This is a six week course for aspiring writers of Horror, Fantasy, and Science Fiction. It takes place at the Southern New Hampshire University, near where I grew up. It's also a very intensive course, with classes every day, events every weekend, and a large workload, so I'll be slow answering email for the next six weeks. If you live in New Hampshire, I'll give you a call.
What's so special about this workshop? Well, I signed up for two reasons: a) I'm guaranteed a lot of personal critiques, and b) the guest lecturers include renowned authors such as Catherine Asaro, Ellen Kushner, and George R.R. Martin. I'm really excited about this! G.R.R. Martin is one of my influences, so I'm looking forward to classes taught by him, and...wow, a personal critique.
The downside is that I won't be working for six weeks, and I'll be apart from my friends and significant other. I'm not exactly a big fan of New Hampshire, either. Lots of mosquitoes and black flies. But what the hell; an opportunity to learn from authors like this doesn't come along every year.
I'll be at Odyssey from June 11 through July 25. Larry will visit me during one weekend in the middle of it.
2. LIKE LIZ AND BETH
My animated short film Like Liz and Beth is now online! Quicktime is necessary to view it. This film was featured in the 1999 CalArts Producers Show, and leased to Level 13 Entertainment, Inc.
3. LANDSCAPE PAINTINGS
There's new artwork in my art gallery. You'll find new pictures in these categories: Landscapes, Characters, Animation, and Fan Art.
4. RECENTLY PUBLISHED ART
Two magazines have offered to publish my artwork! You'll find my drawings and paintings in Lighthouse Magazine, a print zine based in the U.K., and the online zine EOTU.
5. CELEBRITY SIGHTINGS
Life in Southern California isn't complete without celebrity sightings. However, one rarely gets to sit next to Tommy Lee Jones at a sushi restaurant, or say hi to James Cromwell in the street! Yup, two in one week. And I have lived here for seven years without seeing a single actor! Talk about universal synchronicity...or maybe they were filming something up here. Anyway, both incidents were a bit awkward, because I (in typical Abby style) did not recognize the actor until I had humiliated myself in front of him.
In the case of James Cromwell, I stared at him because I was sure I knew him; thinking he was someone I know in real life. Then he said "hi there" and walked on, and Larry and I realized in the same instant that this was the voice best known for saying "That'll do, pig."
In the case of Tommy Lee Jones...okay, Larry and I sat down to eat some sushi. Larry immediately noticed that a famous actor was sitting approximately five feet to my right. So he gestured with his eyes a few times. I didn't get the hint. So Larry proceeded to write "Tommy Lee" on a napkin. I said out loud "Tommy Lee?" Finally Larry wrote "CELEB --->" in big letters. But the funniest thing is that all of the waiters, waitresses, and manager gave us extra attention, because we're regular customers. Tommy Lee ended up glancing at Larry like "Should I know you?"
6. SCREENPLAY WRITING
This past semester, I took a course in screenplay writing at a local college. Our teacher has written S.W.A.T. and a few other movies, and he's a fun guy to listen to. Anyhow, the class wrapped up and I did not complete my screenplay in time. Now I'm angry at myself for all that procrastination! But my screenplay is 90% complete, and I'm looking forward to finishing it ASAP. Okay, it's a zombie film, but I truly scared myself while writing it! With luck, maybe I'll be able to sell it to a movie studio. I also have a few ideas for future screenplays.
Screenplays are a much more limited format than novels, but they're also quicker and easier to write. Other differences: When you sell a screenplay, you give up all of your rights to that work (including characters and plot), but you can get paid big bucks. Novels are much harder to make money from, but you can keep ownership of your work.
7. NOVEL STATUS
Yeresunsa Book I: The Nameless is still sitting in the slush pile at Baen Books. It's been there since February, and I expect it will be there until 2005. I hope an editor at a major publishing house reads it within the next few years! I feel confident that this book can sell. On the other hand, I'm very eager to give it one more revision, thanks to reader feedback.
The Illusionist has been at Mundania Press since January. After I sent a query, they sent a very polite, prompt reply that they're still considering it. I expect to receive a rejection (or acceptance) sometime this summer.
8. MOVIE REVIEWS
I saw Harry Potter 3, Troy, The Day After Tomorrow, and a few others. Without giving spoilers: I recommend Troy, especially if you like to watch buff men fight each other in skimpy outfits. Actually, it was a good movie, despite a few Hollywood cliches and Brad Pitt's recognizable factor.
Harry Potter 3 was better than the first two, but I was still disappointed by how much vital plot information they cut from the film, or told out of order. At least this one holds together reasonably well. I imagine that Harry Potter 4 will absolutely suck unless they divide it into two films; the book is three times longer than the first three, and from what I remember, not much of it can be cut without losing the story.
And please don't see The Day After Tomorrow. Don't support the idiots who thought it would be a good idea to tell a father-son reunion story against a backdrop of plot holes!
9. BOOK REVIEWS
I'm on a binge of good books lately. My highest recommendations go to: Hyperion by Dan Simmons, Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood, The Diamond Age by Neal Stephenson, and American Gods by Neil Gaimon. Really. Those books are page-turners, and better than anything I've read in years. Now I'm hooked on the Hyperion saga; I wish I had time to finish all four books before Odyssey.
Neal Stephenson's Snow Crash is also very good. And I read Barry B. Longyear's Enemy Mine, as he's the first guest lecturer at Odyssey. It's worth a read, if you can find it!
Now I need to pack for my six weeks in mosquito country.