Monday, November 30, 2009

MFG 201 Class Project

I’m currently enrolled in MFG 201 (History of Creativity up to 1500 AD). This course requires a “creativity project” to be turned in at the end of the semester, aka next Monday. The project has to be something the student has worked on for the better part of the semester, and, obviously, needs to be creative.

Two months-ish ago I emailed the TAs (and ultimately the professor) to find out if I could use my current novel, Circus Soul Heiress, as my project, and I got the green light for it. I did, after all, start the book at the beginning of the semester. It’s not going to be finished by next week, but I have enough for a good presentation. I’m not printing the thing out—heaven forbid, it’s still a rough draft—but I am assembling a Powerpoint presentation to highlight the key factors of the novel, especially ones that pertain to the class. (History, culture, technology, etc.) I’m including excerpts from the book as examples.

So far it’s turned out pretty well. My sister and I spent FOREVER photo-editing a picture for the cover. It’s not the best cover in the world, but I wanted to have a self-made image to start off the presentation. (Something that says, “Look at all the work I did! Give me an A!”) Unfortunately, we couldn’t find the Photoshop CD to reinstall it on the computer back home (Where I was last week for Thanksgiving), so we downloaded GIMP and used it instead. There’s a paint brush mistake we still need to take out and such, but here’s the picture:


Special thanks to my models, Andy and Jessica, and to my photographer, Sara (P-chan!). BIG thanks to Andy again, who understands stuff like GIMP a lot more than I do (Though I’m currently learning the basics of Photoshop in my print publishing class!).

Let’s hope I get a good grade, eh?

Sunday, November 22, 2009

As Prescribed

I’ve started work on a new short story entitled “As Prescribed.” I’m hoping this piece will be my entry to the Mayhew contest, held annually at BYU every February. It’s actually a light sci-fi, which is unusual for me. (I tend to do general fiction or fantasy short stories.) I’m also planning to write it in third-person objective, which I’ve also never done. But, if I pull it off, I think it will be a decent work of fiction. Here’s hoping.

On another note, I still need to edit my [very] short story entitled “The Bar.” I’ve had the peer reviews back for weeks, but haven’t touched it. “The Bar” is my first allegorical story, based off Lehi’s dream in the first book of Nephi.*

*The first book of the Book of Mormon, which is LDS scripture

Thursday, November 19, 2009

My Weaknesses as a Writer

Every writer has his or her weaknesses. Even professional ones. (I won’t name-call, of course.) I have a lot. Obviously. I have a great deal to accomplish before I make it in the publishing industry. What better way to conquer said weaknesses than by exploiting them for all to see? Great idea!

One of my biggest problems (also the one I’m doing the best at conquering) is creating interesting protagonists. I have many past novels where my protagonist is fairly complacent. Because of this, I added a new word to my repertoire this last year: proactive. Proactive protagonists are a must have! This is one of the reasons The Oracle Seals needs so much revision. I’m completely changing my main character’s personality. Fortunately, I see CSH as a chance to atone for my past failures with characters.

Fighting and battle scenes. I’m working on this. I’ve come a long way since my early days with fanfiction, but I’m far from up-to-par (rhyme intended). My roommate linked me to several websites that talk about fighting scenes, one of which is here. I intend to utilize these tips in the future. I desperately need to. There’s a lot of fighting in CSH.

The one that I get called out on every time in writing groups is my word choice. I try to be creative with my limited vocabulary and often come short. (The best example of this is when I referred to a character’s pet sheep as her “consort”. My sister got a good laugh out of that one.) Honestly, if I could take an extend-your-vocabulary class, I would. Adult fiction is written by smart people. I must become smart. (Or find some clever way to fake it.)

These aren’t all the problems I have, but I don’t have the time or energy to vomit endless pages of my weaknesses into one entry. Future entries, possibly. Feel free to share your own weaknesses as well. :)

Monday, November 16, 2009

Brandon Sanderson

Brandon Sanderson is currently my favorite author. His Mistborn series is fantastic. Best fantasy I’ve ever read. Amazing magic system to boot. I admit to not having read Elantris, but I plan to amend that this December. I have read one of his newer novels (the one he released before the 12th Wheel of Time* novel), entitled Warbreaker, but wasn’t too pleased with it. It’s not a bad novel, by any means, just not great. I rant about it here if anyone cares to take a gander.

Brandon Sanderson is also one of three authors who does the Writing Excuses podcast. I LOVE this podcast—it’s great. It’s in its third season now, and it’s brimming with great tips and ideas on writing. Each episode is only fifteen minutes long, because “you’re in a hurry, and [they’re] not that smart”. I recommend browsing the archives; they have a lot of great information. (The podcast on puppeteering is one of my favorites. Season three, episode fourteen.) I got to attend this podcast live at CONduit in Salt Lake City this past summer. It’s fantastic. And I’ll admit it—I’ve daydreamed about being a guest author. (Someday, someday…)

Every winter semester (January-April) Sanderson teaches an advanced writing class at BYU. There are only fifteen slots available, though he’ll let just about anyone audit. I, fortunately, was finally able to nab one of those spots during registration last month. I’m really excited, and I pray I can impress my professor with at least one bit of my writing. I’ll learn a lot, I’m sure. I really appreciate the fact that Sanderson still teaches this class—he certainly doesn’t do it for the money. Between the class and Writing Excuses, I think Sanderson genuinely wants to teach others to write. (This makes me forgive the terrible layout of his website.)

I haven’t done any editing on CSH since I started writing it in September, but I’ll have to read through my chapters come next semester so I can polish them before my classmates tear them apart. Wish me luck.

*The Wheel of Time is an extensive series written by Robert Jordan, who unfortunately passed away before he could finish his story. Brandon Sanderson was recruited to finish it for him.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

About Me

I’m currently in my last year of college. I attend Brigham Young University in Provo, UT. I’ll graduate in April 2010 with a BA in English (emphasis in creative writing) and a minor in editing. My emphasis is my dream job—I want to be a novelist, particularly in the fantasy genre. My minor is my real-world job. I hope to find work as an editor when I graduate. I do like editing quite a bit, so it works out.

Speaking of editing, BYU hosts a semi-professional sci-fi/fantasy journal called Leading Edge. It’s legit enough to be in Writers Market, anyway. The staff is entirely volunteer. I came once a week for nine months as a slush reader. Then, this last summer, I got promoted to assistant production director and started coming twice a week. When my senior year started this past September, I stepped up to production director, which makes me very happy. (We’re in the process of redesigning the website, and in said process the staff members finally got updated. This gives me some sense of legitimacy.) This little chunk of resume is more for editing than writing itself, but I’ve learned a great deal about both topics in my time at the magazine.

The rest of my writing credentials are a bit weak as far as a cover letter is concerned. I paid for my freshman year of college with the La Verna S. Clark Creative Writing Scholarship, and I’ve placed twice in the Mayhew Creative Arts contest for two shorts stories I wrote (Inside the Cloud Jar and Door Framed). Last year was the first time I submitted a fantasy short story, and I didn’t place. This was a downer for me, but life gets dull if you always expect to succeed.

I’ve sent a couple of stories to magazines. Not adamantly, but I sent them nonetheless. I’m collecting rejection letters, trying to treat them like trophies. (I do a fair job of this.) As someone who signs the rejection letters from time to time, I think it’s only fair that I receive them as well.

My goal is to be published. Not just a short story in a magazine, but a novel on the shelf of Borders or Barnes & Noble. I think I could be happy with life if I were to publish just one novel, though ultimately, I’d love to be professional. I’ve started many a novel, but most fell flat. Fortunately, I completed my first novel (at 169,000 words. A bit long) at the end of July. It’s called The Oracle Seals and is in dire need of [hefty] revision. But I finished it, and that’s what’s important. I went to CONduit in Salt Lake City this past summer, and an author (I’m kicking myself because I can’t remember his name) said that 95% of would-be writers never finish a novel. By finishing a novel, you automatically put yourself in the top 5%. I wanted that. Daily word-counts*. If there’s anything I can testify to, it’s daily word-counts.

I’m working on my second novel now. The temporary title is “Circus Soul Heiress,” though whether or not I keep it upon completion is up in the air. I’m about 1/3 of the way through the first draft. I plan to be finished by April, and then have both novels ready for peer review by August 2010.

*And now I’m wondering if word count should be hyphenated, but I’m too lazy to pull out my Chicago Manual of Style to find out.

About this Blog

I figured it’s about time I start my first, themed blog. To me, a blog has always been an online diary, a place to vent and rant and expose the goings-on of my life to friends, family, and especially-bored internet junkies. I keep both a private and a public blog—I vomit whatever musings I so desire on my private one (for the enjoyment of close friends), then edit out the embarrassing stuff for public viewing. I jump around a lot, as I’ve been told. I spend one or two sentences per topic, and most posts cover a large range of topics. But hey, it’s my blog, so I can jump if I want, right?

But! No jumping shall be done here. This page is all about one thing: writing. Writing, my true passion in life. My love and my dreams. My inspiration and aspiration. This blog will be dedicated to writing in general, as well as my own trials and challenges with the written world. Stay tuned—hopefully I’ll conjure up something decent.