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Actually, I rather enjoyed most of the day. Baked. Watched both my husband and son game. Plotted.

By the end of the day, though, I had a terrible headache with eye strain (the new glasses?), and not as much written as I’d planned. Now for eight hours of sleep and doing better tomorrow.

Words written today: 507
Words written 2017: 507
Books completed 2017: none
Exercise reps: 1

Originally published at Erin M. Hartshorn. You can comment here or there.

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MOOCs (massive open online courses) have great potential. You can find everything from courses in language to psychology, genetics, art, and more. The biggest problem with a MOOC is that the learner has to be massively self-motivated and organized.

I recently finished up a class on Coursera (Imagining Other Earths) that delved into characteristics of planets, how we define habitable planets, and how life on exoplanets might be detected. Except “finished” is probably putting too strong a word on it. I turned in all the written work and engaged in peer evaluation of other papers, but I fell away from watching the videos early on.

I’m currently enrolled in a class on epigenetics, but I haven’t watched any of the videos or done assignments or quizzes. I’ll probably save the videos to watch at my leisure, but mostly, I’m using it as a source for collected information on epigenetics, as the instructor has already assembled a wealth of supporting material.

Another class starts today on diversity of exoplanets. I don’t know yet how much I’m going to participate in it versus just using it to further my understanding of what is already known.

What’s the common thread for these? They’re all topics I’m using to enrich the background of my science fiction. I can deepen my fantasy writing, too; the art & archaeology of ancient Nubia is something I’m watching to see whether it opens up a new course. I might look at Fantasy and Science Fiction: The Human Mind, Our Modern World, too, just out of curiosity.

There’s a lot out there — and this is just one site. If I wanted to learn to code, I’d be all over Codecademy; and Khan Academy I see mentioned most for math, but they have history, biology, computers, and more. And then there’s iTunes University, which has both audio and video courses from many different universities. And MIT and Stanford have their own free online learning. It’s a grand time to want to learn.

Have you done any online courses? If so, what did you think?

Originally published at Erin M. Hartshorn. You can comment here or there.

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Today was the Bethlehem Halloween parade. My son marched in the parade, and my husband drove the support van for the band. Logistically, this required that my husband drop our daughter and me off downtown to amuse ourselves until the parade started.

On the way downtown, the girl was asking how Cinderella’s real mom died, and then how her dad died. I told her the story doesn’t say but that I could pretty easily write a story where the stepmother poisoned everyone — except not Cinderella because the stepmother liked having a servant. (The girl is now referring to this story as basic fact — “in your story.” I guess this means I should start outlining it.)

Then we got to downtown, where as I said, we had to amuse ourselves. Given that the Moravian Book Shop (the world’s oldest bookstore) is there, this was not hard. We looked at books, ate lunch at the cafe, and bought her a small coloring book to amuse her while we waited outside.

I also bought myself an aspirational pin:

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Then we went out and found a tiny unclaimed wedge of sidewalk in front of a pair of parking meters, and the girl settled in to color her ballerinas. I pulled out a notebook and pen and started writing about the discovery of a dead body at a parade. I’m sure it’s just as well that the people around me didn’t know I was sizing them up as potential victims and suspects.

All in all, not a bad afternoon. Few hours of fun with my daughter, a couple of new story ideas, and a pin to remind me of one of my down-the-road goals.

How’s your Sunday afternoon been?

Originally published at Erin M. Hartshorn. You can comment here or there.

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People are gearing up for NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) once again — the annual challenge to write 50,000 words of fiction in the 30 days of November. (I did a Q&A about it a few years ago.) The local Municipal Liaison (the splendiferous Nicki!) has plot-ins going for people to get their ducks (or albino weasels) in order, e-mails are going out, posts are up on the Forward Motion for Writers forum.

Clearly, it’s October.

And this year, I’m not participating. Read the rest of this entry » )

Originally published at Erin M. Hartshorn. You can comment here or there.

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Two weeks ago, Alex F. Fayle tagged me with the Next Big Thing meme. I could say that the reason I didn’t post last week is that it was Thanksgiving and I was busy, and there’s some truth to that. Last week was highly family oriented. Another reason is that it’s hard to answer the questions.

This meme prompts writers to talk about what they’re working on at the moment, then tag others to talk about their own work. I have trouble talking about work in progress — often, if I talk too much about the work, I don’t do the work. Then there is the rather startling number of projects I count as in progress now. However, I shall do my best.

What is the working title of your book(s)?

The Mini-Golf Course Murders — the next book in the River Corners mystery series

Rage of Fire — the next book in my Elementalists paranormal romance series (currently working on outlining)

Jack Hawthorne 2 — needs an actual title, but so far it’s just labeled as the second in my middle-grade SF/horror series (also fleshing out the outline here — and for #3 as well)

Sundered Sword — a fantasy set in an alternate Baroque Tuscany (at least I think it’s Baroque, but this might need to be fixed)

Mirei — an interplanetary science fiction novel, currently referred to simply by the name of the first character to show up

For completeness’ sake, I shall include Return of the Albino Weasel — my current NaNo project

Where did the idea come from for the book(s)?

I’ve always loved cozy mysteries, and I think I first tried to write about Greg and Isobel Stone (they were already married in that version) back in 1990 or so.

The paranormal mystery series is founded on a love of elements. Love staring at fire, playing in water, feeling the wind blow about me. I could never pick just one.

Jack Hawthorne is based on loving reading middle-grade and children’s books, both growing up (series like The Three Investigators) and ones I read now with my son (like the Kane Chronicles), but wanting something with a bit more danger in it, albeit B-movie danger, as everyone starts changing into insects.

Sundered Sword started with a random thought from a Monty Python movie. “Strange women lying in ponds distributing swords is no basis for a system of government!” What if that was what determined the ruler, but the sword was broken and there were two legitimate claimants?

Mirei’s story is an on-again, off-again work in progress, one of the few that I haven’t planned out ahead of time. I suppose you could say I was inspired by squids in space.

The albino weasel is a running gag in our NaNoWriMo group. It was a phrase that cropped up at a kick-off party a few years back, a comment uttered into one of those silences that sometimes falls during a party. And we’ve got a great bunch of WriMos who are really entertaining to talk to and have cool and crazy things to say about their lives. So this year, my goal was to just throw all that into a story and see what happened. I’m actually rather bummed I haven’t done more with it.

Will your book(s) be self-published or represented by an agency?

I don’t plan to use an agent, even for those that I may submit to traditional publishers.

Things I know will be self-published: the mystery, the paranormal romance, and the Albino Weasel (assuming I get more written!).

And now to tag . . .

Bonnie R. Schutzman — Born and raised in Montana, Bonnie migrated east for graduate study and wound up staying. She writes vivid characters that I love to hear what happens to. She also golfs, paints, hikes, crochets, and takes time to be with her family. You can find her on her blog, Cowgirl in New England.

Edward Greaves — A New Jersey native, Ed’s the reason I joined the Garden State Horror Writers (soon to be rebranded as the Garden State Speculative Fiction Writers, I believe). He’s had a couple of short stories published, and he’s an associate editor for Space and Time magazine. This year he attended the Viable Paradise workshop. You can find him on his blog, Writing for Beans.

Dawn Bonanno — Dawn is a transplant from Brooklyn to Chicago. She runs, she draws, she spends time with her kids (including working on children’s stories with her daughter), and of course, she writes. She’s been a semi-finalist in the Writers of the Future contest, and she also attended Viable Paradise this year. You can find her on her Website, dmbonanno.com.

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Originally published at Erin M. Hartshorn. You can comment here or there.

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L.C. Aisling tagged me for a random online interview. My apologies for taking so long to get around to responding!

Rules:

1. Questions can be about everything. You can’t change the questions.

2. Answer must be at least 3 lines long and must be answered truthfully.

3. Don’t like the question? Look at Rule number 1.

Only then may you assign the next blogger to answer your ten questions. Read the rest of this entry » )

Originally published at Erin M. Hartshorn. You can comment here or there.

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When I ran my genre poll a couple of weeks back, I got a request to address space opera. As this is easier than the other subgenres requested (splatterpunk, wuxia, and bizarro), I’m starting here. Oddly enough, I was recently trying to explain to my son what space opera is. First, however, I had to explain both operas and soap operas as concepts. I don’t think I’ll have to do that here. Read the rest of this entry » )

Originally published at Erin M. Hartshorn. You can comment here or there.

Genre poll

Jun. 8th, 2012 04:22 pm
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Well, not precisely. A poll implies I’m offering choices. Instead, I’m giving you a “short answer” question. (Or maybe an essay question? No, not necessary, really.)

What genres or subgenres would you like to learn more about?

Could be anything — space opera, soap opera, operetta, Western, adventure fic, sweet romance — just keep it clean. Let me know what you’d like to see talked about, what you don’t see on the shelves, or what you’ve seen that you just don’t get.

Have a great weekend!

Originally published at Erin M. Hartshorn. You can comment here or there.

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I primarily talk about 3 different types of paranormal fiction: paranormal mystery, paranormal romance, and just plain paranormal. Read the rest of this entry » )

Originally published at Erin M. Hartshorn. You can comment here or there.

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I promised to get back to these posts, and I had a specific request for the differences among high fantasy, epic fantasy, and low fantasy. When I talked about fantasy, I discussed the various tropes and methods that can be used to categorize fantasy into different sub-genres without actually spelling out definitions for any of them.

This was deliberate. Read the rest of this entry » )

Originally published at Erin M. Hartshorn. You can comment here or there.

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Camp NaNoWriMo participant badgeI was going to do a big post about Camp NaNoWriMo, but Nicki wrote about it so much better already: Off to Camp.

This post, then, simply serves to say that I am joining in the fun this summer; I’ve signed up for both June and August. It shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone that I’m writing epic fantasy this year, or that I’m writing in a world where music and magic are inextricably intertwined. My plan is to start writing on June 1 and keep going until I either finish the series or have to take time off to write sequels to other books (like my next cozy mystery!).

I plan to keep up on my regular posting; don’t worry about that. :)

If you’re a writer, are you heading off to Camp NaNo this summer? What summer plans do you have, writer or not?

Originally published at Erin M. Hartshorn. You can comment here or there.

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(If you’re here for the A to Z blog challenge, scroll down for today’s post. This post is one in an on-going series on genres.)


I touched on this when I discussed fantasy a few weeks back. I gave some of the elements that are prevalent in various types of fantasy. For urban fantasy, I mentioned modern world, a big city, often a hard-boiled detective, may be but is not necessarily dark. Oh, and magic or magical creatures, since that’s what makes this fantasy rather than mystery or mainstream. Also, urban fantasy doesn’t focus on a romantic plot; if that’s the focus of a book (rather than a sub-plot at most), it’s paranormal romance. Read the rest of this entry » )

Originally published at Erin M. Hartshorn. You can comment here or there.

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I did have one request for a definition of cozy mysteries, so I’m going into mystery subgenres today. Next month, I’ll probably focus more specifically on the fantasy subgenres. Read the rest of this entry » )

Originally published at Erin M. Hartshorn. You can comment here or there.

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I meant to write and post this yesterday. I didn’t get to it because I was finishing up a work deadline — updating an index I’d worked on a few years ago. I was really happy to get the index done, and other commitments sort of slipped my mind.

Science fiction and fantasy, on the whole, are fairly easy to recognize: we see a space ship on the cover, and we think science fiction; we see a dragon or a fancy sword, and we go with fantasy. There is a lot in the speculative field, however, that defies easy characterization. It may blend SF and fantasy, or it may lurk on the edges where it’s easy to say, “Well, it’s not mainstream, but I’m not sure what to call it.” Today, I break out a few of those tougher-to-call subgenres for you. Read the rest of this entry » )

Originally published at Erin M. Hartshorn. You can comment here or there.

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Guess what? Just like fantasy, science fiction can be divided into types. Again, dividing lines can be age, plot elements, theme, or setting. SF can also be defined by the rigor with which science is addressed. Read the rest of this entry » )

Originally published at Erin M. Hartshorn. You can comment here or there.

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Fantasy can be divided into subgenres based on theme, setting, plot elements, intended audience, or some combination of the above. (Reminder: these are how I use these terms, and you will find others who don’t agree.) Read the rest of this entry » )

Originally published at Erin M. Hartshorn. You can comment here or there.

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What’s the difference between being an amateur and being a pro? There are all sorts of definitions. From most permissive to least:

The Olympic Standard: You have been paid for your work, so you’re a pro.

Breaking Through: You got paid pro rates for at least one story.

Stamp of Approval: You’ve sold three stories or a novel to a pro market, thus qualifying for a professional organization (SFWA qualifications; other genres may differ).

Going Strong: You’ve passed the SFWA requirements and even sold a fourth short story, thus disqualifying you for the contests for beginners, including Writers of the Future.

One of the Gang: You start feeling like a professional.


Notice what I did there? Feeling like you belong comes last.

Right now, I’ve had three pro acceptances, and when that third one is published, I will join SFWA. I’ll keep submitting to Writers of the Future until I have a fourth published short in a pro market. But am I a pro?

Ha!

I’ll accept the label neopro, which basically says “good enough to get published at this level occasionally, but still wet behind the ears.” I’ve got a couple of friends who think I should do panels at cons. Seriously? Who’s going to listen to my advice when there are people who’ve been doing this for years? There’s nothing I can say about writing that they won’t say, and probably more cogently. I’m still learning, and I’ve got a long way to go.

I might have moved up to the big leagues (maybe), but I’m still spending most of my time on the bench . . . which reminds me, I need to get back to writing.

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Originally published at Erin M. Hartshorn. You can comment here or there.

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Both when I’m talking about what I’m writing and when I’m talking about my reading, I use terms to describe books — space opera, epic fantasy, hard SF, cozy mystery, middle-grade, and so forth. You may know these terms; you may not. More importantly, what comes to mind when you hear these terms may not match what I’m intending to convey. So, rather than point you to somebody’s else’s definition (with a ton of caveats), I’m going to start a new weekly series discussing what I mean by various terms.

As an example of “may not match,” I want to talk a little about epic fantasy. Not defining it yet, just talking about it. If you look it up on Wikipedia, you will be referred to their article on high fantasy. One of the links from there is a list of high fantasy works — which I vehemently disagree with. They include portal fantasy, juvenile fantasy, and comic fantasy books and series (but leave out some authors who unquestionably write epic fantasy, such as Joe Abercrombie). This is why I feel a need to talk about how I define terms.

Oh, and next month, I’m doing the A to Z Blog Challenge again, and I’m considering doing an A to Z of epic fantasy this time (mixing authors, books, and series as needed to get all the letters), which is why now. I figured you should have some idea how I decided what to include.

Any terms in particular you want me to talk about? Or that you have strong opinions on? Let me know in the comments!

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Originally published at Erin M. Hartshorn. You can comment here or there.

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Scarlett Archer edited a lovely book, 1,001 First Lines, and she asked my thoughts on first lines. Check out the interview over on the book’s site.

Come back here later this week for my review of the book and my interview of her!

Originally published at Erin M. Hartshorn. You can comment here or there.

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As I’ve mentioned before, I often have more than one project in progress, so I had to decide which one to use for this post — I’m going to talk about Touching Time, my Mayan novel.

In my freelance work, I do a lot of proofreading of travel books. This often gives me little baby plot bunnies that I stuff into a hutch in my brain to see if they grow into anything. I’ve proofread a few for Mexico, the Yucatán, and Central America, and on the way, I ran across engravings that couldn’t be translated, cenotes, underground rivers, and abandoned cities completely covered by the jungle.

I think my thought process for Julia, my psychometric main character, originally had nothing to do with the Mayan ideas. She might have shown up in New Orleans, or maybe in England — somewhere with an atmospheric cemetery, trailing her hand across a gravestone to learn what the eroded carvings could no longer tell her.

When Moongypsy Press put out their call earlier this year, my mind flipped through the stored ideas and said, hey, Julia could read this untranslated mosaic. But then what did it say? Some research into the Mayan calendar and it’s repeating time cycles gave me the notion of time travel to a previous end-of-cycle period — triggered by Julia’s reading.

And those are the seeds the novel is being grown from — little bits of this and that from my work and my reading and letting my brain have the time to make the connections.

(Today’s post was inspired by the topic “Where I got my latest idea” — the opening question in the inaugural cycle of the Merry-Go-Round Blog Tour — an ongoing tour where you, the reader, travel around the world from author’s blog to author’s blog. We have all sorts of writers at all stages in their writing career, so there’s something for everyone to enjoy. The next post in the tour will be on the 4th, by D. M. Bonnano. Be sure to check it out.

If you want to get to know nearly twenty other writers and find out where they got their latest ideas, check out the Merry-Go-Round Blog Tour. You can find links to all of the posts on the tour by checking out the group site. Read and enjoy!)

Originally published at Erin M. Hartshorn. You can comment here or there.

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