First in Category-Young Adult Fantasy

First in Category-Young Adult Fantasy
Dante Rossetti Award

Friday, October 21, 2011

When the Writer's Flood is at Trickle

Jean-Luc admonishes this doddling writer; arm uplifted, he commands, “Engage!”

“Aye, Captain,” I quaver, “but the dylithium crystals are gone, we canna reach warp speed.”

Do I only imagine that his expression deepens in solemnity; the finger points, “Make it so.”

What is a writer to do when one distracting event after another has taken her out of the required “mindset”? We don’t know what our character is going to say next, or where we want to set this scene?

Sometimes these things just flow… just keep typing (“Man the con!” Jean-Luc commands).

Aye, Captain, fingers moving, fingers moving…

Jean-Luc smiles, “I wish you clear horizons.” he murmurs.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Can Characters Plagerize??

Saturday was DVD night for us and I thoroughly enjoyed watching the movie
Thirteen Days
(Bruce Greenwood as President Kennedy), a docudrama of the Oct ’62 Cuban Missile Crisis. I was just a young Canadian kid when this event took place in history, with a clear memory however, of my school’s nuclear attack drills; the eerie wailing of the emergency sirens as teachers quickly marched us down to the furnace room, until the sirens wailed again, the “all clear”.I thought the movie did a good job of portraying just how much we owed John F Kennedy for his tough decisions, often contrary to the actions urged by his advisors. As the period of immediate crises ended, the President addressed these words to the American people:“For, in the final analysis, our most basic common link is that we all inhabit this small planet. We all breathe the same air. We all cherish our children’s future. And we are all mortal.”I was so moved by these words (who was Kennedy’s speech writer??), that while Bill got the next movie loaded and ready to go, I looked up the speeches of President Kennedy and learned that this particular speech was delivered in Jun ’63.

Next movie was, Sum of All Fears a techno-thriller somewhat based on the Tom Clancy novel and starring Ben Affleck (as a young Jack Ryan). Hmmm…what was my surprise when at the conclusion of the movie (détente of what had been a modern-day escalating face-off between America and Russia) when the screenwriters chose to put these exact words from President Kennedy’s speech into the mouth of Russian President, Narmonov, as he and the American President address the public from the White House. So what were Sum of All Fears screenwriters’ thinking? As writers is it ok for us to take an excerpt from an historical document and credit its words to our characters? (I’m genuinely curious about this and hope an editor or other writer who has encountered this will advise/comment about it)On the other hand, I’m sure all American viewers would recognize these resonant words as JFK’s; so perhaps the screenwriters intended that President Narmonov use these words as a nod to a great American President—would a Russian President use any part of an American President’s speeches?

Friday, September 30, 2011

The Seed of a Story

Every writer will have their own story as to how their novel, or short story, evolved—what was the seed that started it all. In 1995 I read an intriguing article in the Vancouver Sun, titled “Lumber firm wails the blues over “singing forest”. Apparently a local tree planter had a spiritual experience in a forest near Tenise Creek; she says, “something akin to the voice of angels rose from the landscape.” I tucked the intriguing article away and some years later, was sorting through my tattered old file full of various newspaper and magazine articles, the “Story Ideas File”, and read the “singing forest” article again. I began to type and wrote, ““The Elanraigh forest quivered with deep unease. Forest-mind sifted the westerly wind and breathed its warning.” And so a sentient forest came to be a major character in my YA fantasy, Elanraigh (Eternal Press, Feb/12) And what about dreams; you wake and some image from your dream clings as ephemeral as a wisp of fog, and quickly, before it’s dispelled in the light of day, you write the words, or draw the item, saving the image for what it might creatively conjure on the page. Or you have a favourite period of history and want to explore some unusual character’s perception of those events. What if....

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Through a veil, darkly...

Attended my husband’s uncle’s funeral today; knew him only from the periodic family functions we’d attended over the years, liked him very much, yet realize I didn’t really know him well. The family had prepared a power point presentation; photos covering the years of his long life from marriage to his late old age. They were poignant snaps of his life; a bridegroom, a young father, at work as a logger in the haydays of big timber logging; photos of him building fences, in the garden, skiing and curling. Then the grandfatherly poses with shining-eyed infants and toddlers. You wonder all over again, how much do any of us know about the other. I kept staring into Uncle George’s eyes; what was he feeling, where was he in spirit as he experienced all this different moments. Impossible. We see only certain facets of anyone’s true being, and even that is filtered through our own veil.

After I got home, I sat in the yard for a while. Felt the sun and a light breeze on my skin; heard the crows quarreling in the fir tree. Sensations and sounds that late Uncle George would have heard, that people gone for millennia have heard and felt. And the awesomeness of that connection through the tunnel of time was immense.

How do you write a character’s story. We build a back-story, they say. Know where your character came from; what he/she felt about the events in their life before your recorded events take place. As authors, we can do this. Rather than being external observers, we can slip into their skin and feel the wind and sun on it and know if it evokes pleasure or distress dependent on the memories we have given them. The power to create a richly developed character is there for us as writers, and they will live.

Thursday, June 16, 2011


Ok. The Writers Group are all running away to Mt. Washington on a retreat, and I couldn't go—family obligations came up. They're all going to get a lot of work done; raise their energy and run with it.

I'm trying to create an almost retreat-like atmosphere at home, but it's not quite the same. Tended to some gardening this morning; then came in and finished a Christmas story for an anthology our Writers Group are preparing. That's good, right? But then I got into reading Twitter buddies posts and following up on some good blogs. oops.

Now I'll go out and run some errands, plan on at least three good hours of writing this evening. How's that, guys?

Saturday, May 7, 2011

The Joys of Having a Writer Group

How much can one extoll the virtues of having a good group of writer-buddies? I've heard some writers say that they prefer to pursue their art alone-- and as in anything else to do with writing, each writer has their own style preferences.

Our group is an eclectic mix as to what we write; and our various ages and life styles. I'm grateful that there are at least four other Speculative Fictions writers, like myself--you know, the ones who don't roll their eyes when you get into ardent discussions about protagonists who are descended from Egyptian gods, or are evolved from Dragonkind.

I love that everyone in our group has a great sense of humour-- another useful survival tool in a writer's kit. In fact, our email string comments are frequently of the LOL variety.

Our "core group" is about 70% female and 30% male so we have at least some Yang amidst our Yin


How is the Tao like a Writing Group?

...because we have a mix of energies whose interplay manifest the world...or at least..a world

Thursday, April 21, 2011

How is Star Trek like Writing:


The boundless frontier

These are the flights of Fantasy, our mission is to create alternate worlds and unique characters

To boldly go, where no one has yet imagined.


Monday, April 11, 2011

Gender roles

Our female protagonist - gender roles?
How do we view our female character/ are we gender specific?

My family rolemodels were of the more “vintage” type as well–traditional stay at home Mom, trying to instill in me the qualities of a “lady”; strong and steady Dad, who always took the time to really listen. I adored him. These memories have found there way into my YA Epic Fantasy novel as well; however my teenage protagonist, though conditioned to fulfill her role as a “lady” is forced by events to physically fight a fierce enemy. Because she is defending those she loves, she draws on her experiences in mindlink with predators of the forest…she is then able to move past the fear and find the courage to do what she must.

As J.R,R. Tolkien illustrated so well in the LOR, courage is the going on when hope seems gone. So perhaps I see my women characters as frequently possessing this kind of strength; it may be concealed or dormant, depending on the cultural milieu we've created, until called upon in time of need.
Posted by Sandy H at 10:08 AM