Saturday, February 11, 2012

LTUE 2012 - Day 3

Life the Universe and Everything is winding down to its end and I'm home again with a binder full of notes based on the wisdom of many smart and friendly people.  It was wonderful though tiring near the end.  3 straight days of sitting in plastic chairs can do that, I guess.  I definitely want to return next year, perhaps as one of the panelists.  I have ideas too.

Today's highlights included hearing more of James A Owens guerrilla and sometimes Catch Me If You Can-ish efforts to advance his career.  He is funny and inspirational with how hard he worked to achieve his life dreams.  If you ever get a chance, he is worth listening to.

Howard Taylor gave great advice on the Artists On Art panel.  Focused practice on what you are NOT good at and getting a mentor to tell you how to practice correctly so you're not reinforcing bad habits.  Brilliant... and explains Howard's recent focus on boots (In Schlock Mercenary, he was avoiding drawing feet most of the time).  The ingredients for success are: Passion, Hard Work, Time, and A Good Mentor.  Nowhere in that formula is talent. Anyone can succeed but it will take work.

The panel on what authors wished they had done differently if they had known had good advice too.  The writers who fail are those that write one or two books and either never publish or become a one hit wonder that fades and gets forgotten.  Those that succeed keep writing even when many of their stories are rejected over and over or don't sell.  The writers on writing panel echoed that Theme with L.E. Modesitt Jr talking about the massive numbers of stories he couldn't sell, before and after breaking into the market.  Yet, he refused to stop writing.  One question was posed, even if nobody else ever wanted to buy your stories, would you still write them anyway?  My answer is yes!

LTUE 2012 - Day 2

Day 2 of Life, The Universe, and Everything was again wonderful!  It might take several blog posts to share what I heard and learned there.  At least I'll have subject material to work with for a while.  So here's a few highlights from yesterday.

James A. Owen's life is quite inspirational.  He was the event's keynote speaker and he refused to give up on his dreams.  He wanted to be a comic book artist and story teller.  By age 6 he was self published and selling his comic "Goldilocks And The Three Bears And Santa Clause" from his little red wagon to his neighbors.  He and his friend were the youngest independent comic company to set up a booth at Sandiego Comic-Con at ages 14-15, right alongside giants like DC and Marvel.  He worked for Don Bluth studios as a story board artist for all of 6 hours before being let go when the company downsized (he was hired on the same day they cut their staff by 75%, shortest job he ever had).  He had big dreams and many setbacks but the biggest point he made was not to give up on your dream, especially when the entire rest of the world tells you to give it up.

The panel on Science Fiction and Computers was great also.  Right before the panel began, I was thinking that I should mention the 1946 short story "A Logic Named Joe" by Will F. Jenkins.  At the beginning, they mentioned it too.  It is an amazingly accurate peak at what computers would become.  This story predicted things like Skype, MapQuest, Google, and Youtube in a time when the word "computer" didn't exist yet (at least as describing electronic calculating machines as we know them today).  I highly recommend you look that story up on (it's a free ebook download) and be wowed about how he predicted these things in a time when the first computers like Colossus and ENIAC were still largely unknown and nothing like the Logic in Jenkin's story.  Isn't it great when science fiction becomes science fact?

Stay tuned for more posts about LTUE 2012!

Friday, February 10, 2012

Life, The Universe, And Everything

Yesterday I attended the first day of the Life, The Universe, And Everything symposium.  It was amazing listening to some of the great literary talents that live right here in Utah.  I finally gave Lisa Mangum, my thank you letter from all the way back to the Talking Books event last year.  I finally got to meet Dan Wells in person and thank him for his part in the Writing Excuses podcast.  It's funny how I could catch his cohorts in crime, Brandon Sanderson and Howard Taylor, multiple times but until now, Dan had been rather elusive.

James Dashner and Larry Correia were both particularly funny and entertaining in their discussions about evil in fiction and action scenes.  The girl who gave the presentation on villains was great too, even bringing up Peter's Evil Overlord List.

Today and tomorrow, I will get even more instruction and advice from these wonderful people.  I find it wonderful that many of them aren't just good writers or illustrators, they're also willing to mentor and lift others up to their level of quality and professionalism.  That is something we should all do, whatever our expertise, offer a hand and lift those around you up.

Saturday, February 04, 2012

Contrasting Protagonists

All week, I've been hammering out a new chapter which might need to be broken down into two in my next book, Blood On The Vine.  As I've been writing, I've found it interesting how different the protagonist of this story is compared to Skye from my two Clouded Skye books.  I thought I would write up some of the comparisons.

Skye starts life as an orphaned street urchin.  She grows up to be a curious happy-go-lucky wanderer.  Life is a game, life is fun.  She's rather charismatic and optimistic.

Sanami, on the other hand, starts life as a slave on a plantation where a key ingredient to magic potions are grown.  She is cynical, abrasive, outspoken, and rebellious.  Life is not a game but a war.

Skye is short and skinny, the result of a youth of malnutrition and stunted growth.  Sanami is tall and gawky, the result of being born half Saphiir (a taller people generally), and half Yaddi (a shorter or more average people generally).

Both learned to fight but for different reasons.  Skye learned in order to survive but mostly because she found it fun.  Sanami learned to fight with the goal of rebelling against and destroying her slave masters.  Skye focused on learning to fight with swords while Sanami learned to fight with nothing but her own body.  Sanami's Kamaktan martial art form is heavily inspired by Brazil's Capoeira, a form developed by black slaves on Portuguese settled plantations in Brazil.  It was developed to condition their bodies to fight or escape their masters while being disguised as little more than an African tribal dance.

I like writing about Skye because she's funny and outright quirky.  I like writing about Sanami because she has a fighting spirit, raging against the machine and all that.  The two are nothing alike but they are both strong characters (see my post about strong women).  Both have ample reason to simply sit and bemoan their miserable lives, "Wo is me, my life sucks, poor me".  But no, they don't.  They both attack life head on.  Skye propels herself forward on hope and optimism.  Sanami propels herself forward on anger.  Neither sit navel gazing.

I can't wait till I get Blood On The Vine out for you guys!  You're going to love it!  The setting is so rich and open ended.  I could see myself writing stories in this setting for years.