Tag Archives: science fiction

Writing Updates

This year has continued to be a particularly challenging one for the United States, and with the pandemic still raging, for the world. I just read this week of two new variants of the SARS-CoV2, and one is even more contagious than the Delta variant. While I received my J&J vaccination last March, I am thinking about getting either a Pfizer booster or the Pfizer full vaccination in the next few weeks. As I wrote before, the coronavirus is here to stay and will mutate at will. It’s up to us to take measures to protect ourselves from it now and in the future.

In July, I left my day job at the Minnesota Board of Barber Examiners and began a new job at the Minneapolis Community & Technical College. I’ve cut my commute down to 20 minutes each way but that means less time for reading on the commute. I only recently emerged from the initial job training and returned to a hybrid of work in the office and teleworking, then hunkering down at home and staying away from people (as my pulmonologist insisted that I do). Over the summer I also had to replace my laptop, printer, and modem. At least my health has remained fairly stable this year and my writing has gone well.

THE PERCEVAL SERIES

I continue to write on weekends, working on the fourth novel in the series, Perceval’s Game. I’m over halfway through but finding it somewhat difficult to get back into my writing mind on Saturdays. I continue to write notes for the last novel in the series, and any thoughts I have about the previous three novels. One character in the fourth novel is named after a friend who chose to have a character named after him in a fundraiser I ran a couple years ago. I recently updated him on the character’s development.

I had planned to launch at least two marketing campaigns, one in the first quarter and one in the third quarter, this year for Perceval’s Secret but did not. Posting the Aanora story did bring more sales for the novel, however, although sales remain disappointing.

The second novel in the series, Perceval’s Shadow, remains on the shelf for the moment, fermenting. I will eventually find a professional editor that I hope will stay with me for the entire series, but to work on the second novel first. I’m still thinking about gathering some beta readers and have talked with a couple people about doing it. Depending on what I learn from the editor and/or the beta readers will determine how I proceed with that novel. I don’t think it’s ready yet for publication, but just how much more work it needs is the big question. And Perceval in Love continues to ferment.

AANORA

This sci fi novella remains at the Fan Fiction website until next August. I did a bit of a push for it before it was scheduled to be taken down this past August. Then I decided to do some editing and cleaning up, and that actually bought me another year on the site. Yay! If you haven’t yet read it, you can find it here. I had a blast writing it!

ESSAYS

For most of this year, my essay writing (as well as blog writing) waited in the wings for attention. I finally worked on an essay I began last year and I think it’s about ready to send to the editor. I have been working sporadically on a collection of essays about classical music and how it’s affected my life. The working title is Music and Me. I’ve been writing down ideas as they come to me but haven’t yet begun writing the essays. I’ve decided that I’m committed to this project, so one way or another, I will finish it. Writing essays makes a nice break from fiction.

READING

Reading as much as possible and as widely as possible is an essential part of a writer’s life. I read science fiction, espionage thrillers, mysteries, and the occasional nonfiction. Since the America in the Perceval novels is an autocratic dictatorship, I was most interested to read Masha Gessen’s Surviving Autocracy, an examination of Trumpism, the damage it’s done to America, and what needs to be done to repair the country and society. Other standouts this year: Rendezvous with Rama by Arthur C. Clarke, The Little Drummer Girl by John le Carre, Still Life by Louise Penny, and Forever Young: a Memoir by Hayley Mills.

ANATOMY OF PERCEVAL

I’ve been terrible this year about writing at this blog. A part of me feels guilty about that, but I need to focus on the fiction in my limited writing time. I think a lot about this blog, and write down ideas for posts. So who knows? I may be able to squeeze in more posts as time goes on…..

Another Year for Aanora!

This afternoon, I edited Aanora: A Kelvin Timeline Story at FanFiction.net. I’d been meaning to clean it up a bit and add the URL for this blog in my bio at the end. When I did the edits and saved them, I discovered that the novella will remain on FanFiction.net for another 365 days. YES!!

If you haven’t yet read it, you can find it here. Read, enjoy, and leave a review!

Thank you!

“PUBLISHED!”

Last weekend, I finally took the steps to “publish” my Aanora story online. Not here at my blog, but at FanFiction.net. Why that website? Because, much to my surprise (and sometimes dismay), Aanora turned out to be fan fiction for the Star Trek 2009 reboot movies. So the full title is Aanora: a Kelvin Timeline Story.

It’s already garnered a “favorite” and a review, both positive. I love the character of Aanora, as well as Nelar, and the sneaky way my imagination let me believe that it was a sci fi story without famous characters until suddenly it was, gives me new respect for my imagination and creative process. This story also made me feel like a child again — the way children find the world full of wonder and awe, curiosity and fun.

So, is this it for these characters in my writing life? I don’t know. I do have some ideas for Aanora but they are still fermenting and I know better than to rush that process. Whether those ideas involve Star Trek characters, who knows? It might be fun to see what her “life” has been like outside of that universe.

Please have a read and feel free to comment here or at the story’s FanFiction.net reviews.  I do love hearing from readers!

https://www.fanfiction.net/s/13679196/1/

 

Have You Ever Made Yourself Cry?

After spending all of July 4th working on the first revision of the Aanora story, I wasn’t certain when I’d get that much time again to work on it. I completed over half, exceeding my goal by 18 pages. So it was a good day’s work. Then, as it worked out last weekend, I ended up having all of Sunday afternoon to devote to writing instead of the piecemeal work I usually do on weekends. So I decided to finish the first revision of the Aanora story. And I did.

And I made myself cry.

A complete surprise! As I came to the end of the novella, immersed in that world and the characters, what I’d written made me incredibly sad. I hadn’t thought of it as a sad ending, actually, which is the reason for my surprise. I didn’t think the ending had any kind of emotional punch. It was the ending of that story. Period. But as I was reading that last scene, I started crying, sad for the characters who were saying good-bye. I wasn’t sad that I’d finished the story because I still have work to do on it. I wasn’t sad that I’d never see the characters again because I will.

Now I’m really interested to know how other people will react to the ending, and it will be something I will ask my beta readers. Is it a sad ending?

I’ve wondered also if it’s truly a good thing when something I’ve written affects me emotionally. Is it a good thing when the writing makes the writer laugh? Or cry? Or angry? If it’s someone else’s writing, that’s different. But what about my own writing? If my writing triggers an emotional response in me, does that mean it will trigger an emotional response in readers?

Some time ago, I remember vaguely reading something on the internet somewhere, perhaps a blog post or maybe it was a craft article in a writing magazine, that if a writer’s own words can make herself respond emotionally, especially when the writer knows the characters and story inside and out, it’s a particularly good sign that it will emotionally move readers. What immediately pops into my mind is the opening of the movie Romancing the Stone when Kathleen Turner’s romance novelist character finishes writing a novel in tears. (As a writer, I always wondered which draft she was finishing.) Will it really?

When I finished the first draft, I didn’t cry. I was kind of relieved. I’d finished it. I had already begun to think of the stories that the novella had suggested to me, mulling over when to write them or not, and which one to write first. Then I turned to the two short stories I was also working on. Then I also had a brief period of frustration about working on everything else but not Perceval’s Shadow. It was imperative to leave the Aanora story for a while to ferment. It fermented for 6 weeks during which I rarely gave it a thought. Coming back to it for the first revision felt extremely good, and I was excited to have a whole day to start the work. So my emotional state was not anywhere near where I ended up when I finished the first revision.

Where is Aanora now? I’ve put it away again to ferment some more. I wonder if the ending will make me cry again when I do the second revision?

Update: Aanora Story

On July 23, 2017, I first wrote about the new character in my writing life, Aanora, and how she appeared. It’s now been eight months and what I thought was going to be a short story has turned into a novella of almost 13,000 words so far, and I’m still writing the first draft. Aanora herself has evolved and grown, and her magic has given me the opportunity to play around with narrative and action in ways I’ve not had before. I definitely see the appeal of Fantasy stories, but Aanora’s story is most definitely in the realm of Science Fiction.

The fourth planet in the Reederian 7 system loomed large on the view screen. The green and brown land masses competed with cobalt blue water that covered about half of the planet. Wisps of white cloud floated here and there. No volcanic or seismic activity registered on the starship’s instruments.

A brief description of Aanora’s planet. It is M class, teeming with life, but Aanora is the only sentient on the planet.  She describes the other life forms as being on the cusp of sentience. That idea really intrigued me. What does it mean to be on the cusp of sentience? The Planet of the Apes series of movies explores this notion, from what I understand, but I haven’t seen the most recent movies. The wildlife on Aanora’s planet is not friendly toward humans, however, but predators of them.

Standing in front of the granite wall was a tall figure wearing a long gold-shimmering sage green hooded cloak. The hood covered the figure’s head and left the face in shadow…. The figure’s arms rose…. Pale humanoid hands pushed back the cloak’s hood to reveal a female head with long black hair streaked a coppery red. The oval face appeared smooth and youthful, with a small nose. Her mouth opened in a radiant smile, her brilliant emerald green eyes focused on the captain as a golden light shimmered all around her.

Aanora’s first appearance in the story. She had emerged out of a granite cliff in which she was merged while the backs of the human explorers were toward her. She has abilities that the human explorers find both inspiring and intimidating. I’ve learned that she’s an accomplished diplomat, and her life has intersected humanity’s often. She has lived on earth, worked in a coffee shop. She is also over 200 earth years old. Her story has drawn me away from earth and demanded that I look at the Milky Way Galaxy as well as the larger physical universe with all my curiosity. It has been both fascinating and intimidating.

And what is her magic? I had originally thought of her as being a wizard, but I was quite wrong about that. What appears to humans as “magic” is really nothing more than her normal abilities. Aanora comes from a different dimension, a different universe with different laws from ours. She takes human form because humans were the first sentient beings that she met when she first entered our universe. I have yet to discover what motivated her to come into our universe, although I have a feeling that it will come up in this novella I’m working on now. And I’ve already seen that Aanora has many stories surrounding her life that I could explore if I so chose. A rich and deep character is an incredible gift from the imagination.

The villain in Aanora’s story has actually changed several times. The most recent one is directly related to Aanora and her presence in our universe rather than the human explorers who discover her. The questions that have come up now are about what role the human explorers will play — will they help or hinder Aanora? Are they innocent bystanders in a much larger conflict or victims? — and just how they all get out of the nearly impossible situation they are heading for. I know the ending, but I don’t yet know how I’ll get there. As it stands now, writing this story in pieces has actually served my writing process very well.  I have two more sections to write and then I’ll have a complete first draft.

I am astonished.