Saturday, May 29, 2010

Storyblogging Carnival LXIV

NOTE: This is a repost, so I can't guarantee the links.

The latest Storyblogging Carnival is up at Dean's World. There are eight stories this time, from a variety of authors. Go have a look.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Storyblogging Carnival LXIII

NOTE: Once again this is a repost, so I can't guarantee the links.

The latest Storyblogging Carnival is up at The Skwib, Mark Rayner's place. There were only three entries this time, but we decided to go ahead anyway. We've had a couple of really low ones recently, but that may be blamed on the holidays we're just coming out of. If it continues, though, we may have to turn the carnival into a monthly, rather than a fortnightly, event. Let me know what you think.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Storyblogging Carnival LXII

NOTE: This is a repost, so I can't guarantee the links.

The latest carnival is up at Dodgeblogium, hosted by Andrew Ian Dodge. There are eleven stories this time, but five of them are really short, so go have a look.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Storyblogging Carnival LXI

Welcome to the sixty-first Storyblogging Carnival. We only had four entries this time, possibly due to the fact that we're just getting out of the Holidays. Hopefully we'll do better next time. On the bright side, it was a lot less work to put this carnival together than usual.

Stranger XI
by Andrew Ian Dodge of Dodgeblogium
A 100 word brief story rated R.

It was requested that I write a sporty Cthulhu tale and this my attempt.

Postcard #5: From the Shape-shifting Dreamplate
by Karen Hunting at Reason-and-Rhyme
An 511 word brief story rated PG.

"Shifting Dreamplate" might seem to be all fluffy words flowing, flowing -- answers to questions not asked nor cared about, but cried out in desperation nonetheless. But isn't it really more like the terror and wonder associated with the sealing in of consciousness when lying there before sleep... in sleep, before death... in death? Just maybe?

Being Marika
by Mark Rayner of The Skwib
A 2000 word short story rated PG.

A quasi-autobiographical short travel fiction, about how I nearly married a Fijian princess.

The Transformation of PeeWee Witkin
by Charmaine Frost at Reason-and-Rhyme
An 8,237 word short story rated PG.

Little people face big challenges -- perhaps particularly over the holidays -- and without an ounce of sympathy these challenges may sometimes turn their hearts to stone.

This concludes the sixty-first Storyblogging Carnival.

If you'd like to take part in a future carnival, please contact me. I am also looking for hosts. Other carnivals can be found here.

The Storyblogging Carnival can be found at The Truth Laid Bear's ÜberCarnival.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Storyblogging Carnival LX

Welcome to the sixtieth Storyblogging Carnival. This time we have ten stories by nine authors, including one of my own which I never got around to submitting.

People have done better this time around sending me blurbs for their stories. Thanks, guys, and I apologize for being impolite about it earlier. Now, rather than wasting my time ranting, on to the stories.

Postcard #2 Spirit Antarctica
by Karyn Hunting of Reason-and-Rhyme
A 467 word brief story rated PG.

Echoes of memories of a last half of the last raisonette shared in Antarctica never sounded so delicious! And even the cold and the splash and the dive had to have been worth it!

Chew on This
by Laurence Simon of this blog is full of crap
A 500 word brief story rated R.

This is a twisted tale of the realities of modern Halloween ruination.

Adventures of an Unlikely Super Hero (Part One): Ambition — For a Woman?!
by Laura Young of Dragon Slayer's Guide to Life
The first 547 words of a story in progress rated PG.

This story was published in Become Your Own Great and Powerful. It's the tale of a woman and her relationship with power.

by Anna O. of Anna O.: The Talking Cure
A 613 word brief story rated G.

Short story about a young artist grappling with her neurosis' and her struggle to differentiate between dreams and waking life.

yellow pillow case
by Anna O. of Anna O.: The Talking Cure
A 618 word brief story rated PG.

A short story played out in the narrative of a young woman's mind about change vs. consistency in relationships and life. In a universal sense, it's about the constant readjustments we all have to continually make in order to keep moving forward.

A Squirrely Lesson
by Madeleine Begun Kane of Mad Kane's Humor Blog
A 739 word brief story rated PG.

Madeleine Kane's home is invaded by a squirrel, and the exterminator doesn't want to pay a house call. What's a poor feminist to do?

Mist Magic, Parts 15-20 (Beginning)
by Dave Gudeman of Doc Rampage
The latest 1,493 words of a 5,485 word story in progress rated PG.

This is the story I was told by the mystery-man about how magic entered the world in the early bronze age.

Untold Onward Drawn - Part 2 - The Departure (Beginning)
by The Rocketman of The Rocketman's Change For A Dollar
The next 1,583 words of a 3,345 word continuing story rated PG.

"Untold Onward Drawn" is the (fairy-tale?) story of two happenstance travelers and the result of their supernatural encounter during a bit of primitive mythological archaeology. Part 1 was posted in an earlier edition of Storyblogging. I originally had no further plans for the piece; however, I recently took to the idea of continuing it. Part 2 of this installment was written just as the first - extemporaneously. Any subsequent entries will be added in the same whimsical manner. It's been great fun to write. Enjoy.

Es ist Schwer
by Postmodern Sass of Postmodern Sass
A 1,700 word short story rated PG.

"This is the story of my grandfather, who died, and how a little piece of him came back to me, 25 years later."

This concludes the sixtieth Storyblogging Carnival.

If you'd like to take part in a future carnival, please contact me. I am also looking for hosts. Other carnivals can be found here.

The Storyblogging Carnival can be found at The Truth Laid Bear's ÜberCarnival.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Storyblogging Carnival LIX

NOTE: This is a re-post of an old post, so I can't guarantee the links.

Welcome to the fifty-ninth Storyblogging Carnival. This edition includes nine stories from eight authors.

Recently, I've been getting a lot of submissions from the Blog Carnival submission form. This is good, since it increases the number of submissions, but there are some drawbacks. First, because there's no filtering, I sometimes get submissions that don't even resemble stories, and I wonder whether the submitter even read what the Storyblogging Carnival is all about. (There's a description in our page on the site.) These are rejected, with an e-mail to the author explaining why and what we're looking for in the Storyblogging Carnival. The second drawback is that there doesn't seem to be any way to explain what we want in our carnival submissions, and there's no entry on the form for some of those things. I have a fairly lengthy list, including some things other carnivals don't look for: aside from author, post title and URL, and blog name and URL, we want a word count, a rating for adult content, and a blurb describing the story. These are important, but I'm willing to let the first slide, since it's easy enough for the host to perform a wordcount (although not all of them do). I'll even let slide the second, since the host is ultimately responsible for the rating anyway (although, admittedly, I myself sometimes only skim the entries when I don't have much time to work on the carnival, which makes it hard to be sure about the rating). However, what I'm not willing to let slide anymore is the blurb. The carnival entry form does have a section for a description of the post, and it seems to me that if you want to have people read your story, you have to at least tell them what it is about. I used to write the description myself for the one or two stories that lacked it, but this time we had six entries with no blurb for the story. I e-mailed the authors to ask for their blurbs. Those who got back to me are in this carnival, and those who didn't are not. This will be the new policy whenever I host from now on.

by Jeremiah Lewis of Fringe
A 50 word brief story rated PG.

A man's new habit proves dismaying to friends.

Size Matters
by Jeremiah Lewis of Fringe
A 50 word brief story rated PG.

What's a few extra inches?

100 words on Horbgorble
by Andrew Ian Dodge of Dodgeblogium
A 100 word brief story rated G.

"The word of the week was Horbgorble. I thought it was something mispelled so I thought someone hearing it would definetely get the wrong end of the stick!"

Proving his religion — Dr. Tundra and the Noodly Norsemen
by Mark A. Rayner of The Skwib
A 350 word brief story rated PG-13.

Dr. Tundra proves scientifically that it is a lack of Vikings, not pirates, that causes global warming.

For Safe Keeping
by Rocket Barber of The Rocketman's Change For A Dollar
A 457 word brief story rated PG

A perspective on a sunrise.

Hunting Cows by Moonlight
by Chris Dolley of Author Chris Dolley's Page
A 618 word excerpt from a book rated PG.

"'Hunting Cows by Moonlight' is a self-contained and true story from my book, Nous Sommes Anglais - chronicling eight months in the life of a man who moved to France with one wife, two cats, two horses and a large puppy. Everyone except the horses feature in this story of animals turning their owner's lives upside down."

Secret Shopper
by Madeleine Begun Kane of Mad Kane's Humor Blog
A 704 word brief story rated PG.

Mad Kane tells the story of a rather unusual shopping expedition with her mom.

NaNoWriMo: The Path to Enlightenment?
by Laura Young of Dragon Slayer's Guide to Life
A 940 word brief story rated G.

How writing her live autobiography is changing one woman's life.

Where the Boys Are, Part II (The Beginning)
by Postmodern Sass of Postmodern Sass
The final 1,200 words of a 2,100 word short story rated PG.

Thanksgiving in Napa with a family of vegans and baby rock stars.

This concludes the fifty-ninth Storyblogging Carnival.

If you'd like to take part in a future carnival, please contact me. I am also looking for hosts. Other carnivals can be found here.

The Storyblogging Carnival can be found at The Truth Laid Bear's ÜberCarnival.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Storyblogging Carnival LVIII

NOTE: This is a repost of an older post, so I can't guarantee that the links still work.

The latest Storyblogging Carnival is up at Reason and Rhyme. Nine stories this time, the majority of them submitted through the BlogCarnival form. Have a look.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Whence the Storyblogging Carnival?

You may be wondering what happened to this month's Storyblogging Carnival. I apologize for not addressing it earlier... I sent a note to the e-mail list, but forgot to post something here. I'm afraid that I had to cancel May's carnival, since I only received two entries, even after copious amounts of begging on my part. This has me worried, since entries have been harder and harder to come by. Is it time to end the carnival entirely?

Even as I was wondering this, I received a ton of entries for the next one. So I suppose it won't end just yet.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Misleading headlines

Headlines often don't match the story. It may be my imagination, but I think scientific stories are some of the most egregious offenders. I don't know if it's because the editor doesn't really understand the content, or what. For example, consider this one, "Virtual reality used to transfer men's minds into a woman's body." (h/t Instapundit) It's certainly eyecatching. So what does the actual story say:

In a study at Barcelona University, men donned a virtual reality (VR) headset that allowed them to see and hear the world as a female character. When they looked down they could even see their new body and clothes.

The "body-swapping" effect was so convincing that the men's sense of self was transferred into the virtual woman, causing them to react reflexively to events in the virtual world in which they were immersed.

That sounds promising. What's the data they base their conclusion on?
Men who took part in the experiment reported feeling as though they occupied the woman's body and even gasped and flinched when she was slapped by another character in the virtual world.
Later in the study, the second character lashed out and slapped the face of the character the men were playing. "Their reaction was immediate," said Slater. "They would take in a quick breath and maybe move their head to one side. Some moved their whole bodies. The more people reported being in the girl's body, the stronger physical reaction they had."
Wait. What?

The first is subjective. It's hard to make any definite conclusions about what it means, since it's hard to say what they meant when they said they "felt they were in the woman's body." That was definitely their perspective, and to that degree they were.

As for the second, that may be more scientific, but it's less interesting. It's the simple realization that the first person perspective makes things appear to happen to you. Any player of a first person shooter could have told you that. When I first played Doom, I'd flinch from incoming attacks, crane my neck to peer over windows in my very two-dimensional computer screen, shift my weight to reflect my movement. It has very little to do with whether the avatar is male or female, but rather with the fact that I identify with first-person events as if they're happening to me. In doing so, I more projected myself in the avatar's place, than projected the avatar on to me.

So the experiment was hardly revolutionary in its discoveries, and I'm afraid that it's a long way from justifying the headline.

Monday, May 17, 2010

New blog

I may be embarrassing her by doing this, but my girlfriend, Kristin, has just started a blog. Like me, she's a writer, typically science fiction and fantasy. Don't expect her to put any of her work online--she's way too serious about publishing--but check out her credits.

Saturday, May 01, 2010

Writing for the Other Sex

A while ago, I was listening to the 3/16/2009 podcast of Writing Excuses, a writing podcast featuring Howard Taylor of Schlock Mercenary, Brandon Sanderson, who's writing the last few novels of the Wheel of Time, and horror writer Dan Wells. The podcast was on clichés, and the subject came up of how to keep characters of a different gender than the writer from being clichéd. When I first started writing seriously, I was very reluctant to write a scene from a female POV. I just didn't think I knew how to pull it off. This held until I was writing Fire, and I reached the third chapter and realized that it really had to be told from the point of view of Lucia, who is not only female, she's a teenage girl--fourteen at the time of that chapter. I agonized over it a bit, but ultimately bit the bullet and started writing. It was hardly perfect in the first draft (or the second or third, for that matter), but when my writing group finally got around to reading it, they thought I had done a pretty good job of telling the story from a teenage girl's perspective.

So what's the secret? Or is there a secret? Well, here are the things that helped me:
  1. I have two younger sisters. Okay, this is one of those things you can't really emulate--you either have siblings of the opposite sex or you don't. It was quite a boon for me, as I was an eyewitness to two girls growing up. That one was a year and a half younger than me, and thus roughly in my age group, and the other was seven years younger, so I could take more of an outsider's view, was also helpful. Even if you don't have sisters (or brothers, if you're a woman), you can still learn directly from members of the opposite sex. Friends, girlfriends, wives, and daughters can all help you to learn more, if you're willing to listen to them. That said, I'm not sure anything else is quite as helpful in understanding the opposite sex as growing up with them.

  2. I've read books by women with a female POV. That is, after all, what I'm trying to capture, a POV that seems natural. Stories in my own genre are best, but other genres can be helpful as well. It might help if I had more patience for Romance or Chick Lit, but I do have some limits.

  3. I have women in my writing group. In fact, I've pretty much always had more women than men in my writing group. Thus I have people to tell me what doesn't work, and what doesn't seem natural. If you don't have a writing group, or if by some quirk of fate they're all your gender, you can still have female friends read your story, and tell you what works and what doesn't. Understand, though, that it's rare to get really good criticism if the reader is not a serious writer.

  4. I make sure there's a person behind the stereotype. I'll admit, I'm not above using stereotypes. I wrote Lucia as a stereotypical teenage girl, before I brought her face to face with real tragedy to see how she'd deal with it (hint: not shoe shopping). I've done the flighty girl and the schoolmarm, and gave one of them visions and made the other rescue her son from evil wizards. Stereotypes are useful when conceptualizing characters, but mostly what they tell you is how other people perceive them. What's really going on inside of them, how they respond to crises--the two things that you need to describe whenever you write a story from their POV--never really fit the stereotype. You can use stereotypes, but make sure you dig deeper.

  5. I usually don't try too hard. I'll admit, I tried really hard to get Lucia's early POVs right. It may be that teenage girls are a special case, though. Or I just lacked confidence. I haven't tried as hard with my other female POVs. Women are, after all, people: I'm not trying to write about an alien race. There are differences, but I think where a lot of writers get it wrong is dwelling on those differences, rather than focusing on the person and on the story. Generally, if you can get the motivations right (where a lot of those differences do come up), the rest will flow naturally from that.
So that's what helps me write a female POV. How about you? What helps you write from the perspective of the opposite gender?