May 7, 2005

One day, one of my projects will pay off . . .

Hello Friends and Neighbors!

My latest story is at Aoife's Kiss. I've been writing at a faster pace, but my publications are growing fewer. I don't think this is because I'm losing my touch. Nope. I've begun to submit to high profile markets first (like Asimov's), and these places take much longer to respond than smaller zines. It's not unusual to wait three months for a reply. In my case, it's often a rejection. Then I send the story to another market and wait another for another season to pass. I currently have six stories subbed to various markets: Borderlands anthology,,,, Conduit contest, and two closed anthologies.

You may be wondering what happened to my novels. Well, The Illusionist is shelved. It needs major revising, and I've been distracted with other projects (see below).

As for the Yeresunsa saga . . . if you read my blog, then you know that's the frustration of my life. I believe that Yeresunsa is publishable and good. But the first part of the adventure is 530,000 words, and no publisher will consider that length from a new author. So I chopped the story into three novels. The first of these three books was rejected from Baen Books a few months ago. The reader at Baen said that she'd love to see my novel in print, but the current ending doesn't work at all (which is natural, since that book was the first segment of a longer work). Anyway, when all is said and done, the Baen reader had a very good point. Based on her advice--and on feedback from test readers--I want to combine the first two books, thereby giving it a more conclusive ending. That will make for a long novel, even after I reduce it . . . but 250,000 words long, not 530,000 words. I'll still have a hellish time trying to get any editor to read it, but at least the possibility will exist. I hear tantalizing stories of authors who've gotten their 250,000 word first novels published. I hope to become one of them.

The Yeresunsa saga is not sitting idly. A literary agent requested an exclusive read on the first book, and has had it since December. I've queried her a couple of times, and as far as I know, she still plans to read it. I'm not in a hurry. I want time to combine/reduce the first two books into a fat novel with a solid ending, if the agent passes on it. And after that, at long last (and with great joy), I will write the next book in the series. I'm pleased that a few people have been asking for it.

I've planned other novels, but they're on hold in favor of a screenwriting project. I figured, I live in Los Angeles, I have film industry connections, and I write stories for fun . . . why not try to earn money for it? Yup. So I'm finishing a feature-length SciFi Thriller in between my short stories and work. To stay motivated, and to meet other screenwriters, I've founded an informal screenwriting group. We meet once a month in the L.A. area. If you'd like to join our mailing list, here it is.

Of course, that's the not the end of the projects I'm working on. My life is not complete without ten million things I can't handle. If you looked up the phrase "bit off more than she could chew" in, you'd see my photo next to it. I plan to finish animating my little Flash film. I want to animate a series of webisodes. I want to revise major portions of my website. The Wheel of Time section needs work, my art gallery needs an overhaul, I'd like to expend the review sections, and start a column in response to Group Hug. Oh yes, and I participate in a critique group that requires one critique per week. Finally--last but certainly not least--I'm going to TNEO (The NeverEnding Odyssey) this July. This involves something like 50 critiques that I need to complete by July, and I need to write two short stories within the next two months. I don't know what animal I'll need to sacrifice to generate enough free time, but it will have to be a big one. Maybe a cthulhu.

So you can understand why I'm not responding to my email very quickly.

Now it's time for BOOK and MOVIE REVIEWS!

I just finished listening to Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy. Maybe it was because I was listening to an all-star British cast recording while animating weird monsters, but I greatly enjoyed it. I'm not too keen about the ending--it sort of fell apart in mayhem and abstraction, as many epics tend to do--but it worked. The premise (original), characters (entertaining), and settings (nicely rendered) made the trilogy very worthwhile. I can't wait to see how New Line Cinema adapts it to film.

And I listened to Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Bronte. Maybe I'd better not comment on this classic, for fear of critical repercussions. Nah. Here's my opinion: Beautiful language, lovely voice, extremely engaging character and situation. BUT the ending just sucked. I mean, I hated Jane Eyre towards the end. All of my built-up sympathy for her character just evaporated. I can't say more without giving spoilers, but I had to say that much.

Falling Free by Lois McMaster Bujold was entertaining. Much more so than the book cover indicates. The more of Bujold I read, the more I like her, and the more I resent her marketing people for choosing terrible cover designs.

I give Dean Koontz's Odd Thomas a thumbs-down. Before you shoot me for saying that, please remember that I don't enjoy reading humor (not for prolonged periods, anyway). You might like Odd Thomas just fine. In fact, you probably will, especially if you liked The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy or Terry Pratchett. Odd Thomas was halfway between serious and funny, as some of Koontz's books tend to be, and I dislike those, although I think they're among his best-selling. The character of Odd Thomas was cool, nice to listen to, but the plot just didn't do anything for me.

Now, on to movies. I saw Hitchhiker's Guide and my reaction was "bleh." Again, you might not want to trust my opinion, but I have a few valid reasons on this one. The film-makers played up the romance way too much. This film is supposed to be a comedy. The sudden soberness of the romance slowed down the pacing. It became cheesy in a few scenes. Also, the character design of the manic-depressive robot was awful. He looked cute and superdeformed, with sad eyes, which gives away everything about him without a hint of contrast. As any film student knows, contrast makes a character interesting; it emphasizes the main traits. If you want your audience to be impressed by a legendery 900-year-old warrior, you make him look frail and puny. This emphasizes the fact that the warrior can kick anyone's ass. If you want your audience to fear a genius serial-killer, you make him look and behave like an ordinary person when he's in public. Etc. Anyway, the robot just looked stupid and fake.

What else have I seen recently? Honestly, not much, because there isn't much out that interests me. I saw Sin City and probably won't see it again. And Robots, which was well-made from an animator's perspective. Oh yes. A Boy and His Dog is a 1970s film based on a novella by Harlan Ellison; the ending makes the film worth sitting through, perhaps.

I'll be at to E3, the game expo in Los Angeles., in a couple of weeks.
I plan to attend ComicCon in San Diego in mid-July. I'll try to say hello to Robert Jordan.
And I'll be in New Hampshire during the last week of July. TNEO is being held at St. Anselm's College, near Manchester.
I'll also be at WorldCon (the world's biggest science fiction convention) in Anaheim next summer, 2006.

Thank you for reading, listening, or what have you. Best wishes!

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