#SFF Genre Talk: The Queen of the Tearling and Low-Tech Futuristic Worlds

The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen is the first book in a fantasy trilogy featuring Kelsea Raleigh, a nineteen year-old newly crowned queen. One of my favorite parts of the story was its world, which is a low-tech futuristic one.

fantasy, futuristic, medieval, magic, Erika Johansen, The Queen of the Tearling

The story takes place in a fictional country called Tear, which exists at some point in the future (Wikipedia says it takes place in the 24th century, although I couldn’t find where that was mentioned in the book) in a New World (which, I assume is somewhere in the Old World, i.e. Europe??). This vague backstory might be frustrating to some, but I was interested as both writer and reader in how Johansen built her world.

In the distant past, the new queen’s ancestor sailed himself and a bunch of followers from America to wherever they are now. But utopianism didn’t work out as well as everyone wanted and, at the story’s open, the country has been subjugated by the neighboring country, Mortmesne, which is ruled by a queen as evil as her country’s name suggests.

The world of the Tear and Morts might seem odd or inconsistent to a reader unwilling to imagine a low-tech future without a causative apocalyptic event. There are geneticists, but no cars. There are ruling monarchs and magic, but no guns. There are cities, but very few books. There was a Crossing, not a Catastrophe. But I think low-tech futuristic worlds are ripe with potential. (Yes, I’m admittedly biased; my Noon Onyx series takes place in a low-tech futuristic world. As a writer, I love the possibilities of this as yet unlabeled sub-genre… which I’m not necessarily suggesting we label. Are we any closer to understanding what “dark fantasy” is or what type of stories are truly “new adult”? Worth noting, though, that others have already taken a stab at naming it. Best Fantasy Books uses the term “Futuristic Fantasy” and its list of books shows how long the sub-genre has been around.)

Regardless of what we call them, low-tech futuristics seem to offer the best of two other sf/f sub-genres: historical fantasy and post-apocalyptic fantasy. Readers get to immerse themselves in a medieval-ish, make-believe otherworld, but one with recognizable references (e.g. the Brothers Grimm and Leonardo da Vinci). Instead of centering on how the characters will survive the immediate aftermath of some sort of grand catastrophe, a low-tech futuristic story has more room to breathe in terms of plot. It can be epic instead of laser-focused. Its pacing can be slower and less breakneck. Most importantly, however, it provides flexibility for a writer to pick and choose which real world elements work for them and their story. This expansive, though eclectic, approach can lead to a world that feels familiar, but different – to a world that has broken its historical constraints while at the same time remaining accessible and identifiable to readers.

The bottom line is that low-tech futuristic stories allow writers to play with the past, instead of being limited by it.

So what about the rest of the story?

The Queen of the Tearling is part of a trilogy (the third book, The Fate of the Tearling, comes out tomorrow) and this first book feels a lot like Act I of a bigger story, which is fine. There are lots of unanswered questions for future books to address, such as:

Who is Kelsea’s father?

What’s up with Andalie, her lady-in-waiting?

And the Robin Hood-like Fetch? (whose name brings out my sophomoric sense of humor because I could NOT stop thinking of Gretchen from Mean Girls every time his name was mentioned in the book)

Here are a few other brief, disjointed thoughts about the book:

I loved all the fictional epigraphs at the beginning of the chapters. Yes, they seem to give much of the plot away, but somehow story tension remains (see unanswered questions above).

The book has been shelved multiple times on Goodreads under Young Adult, but it’s not YA.

Emma Watson is starring in, and producing, the movie adaptation.

What do you think of low-tech futuristics? What do you call them?

Have you read The Queen of the Tearling? What did you think? Have any other, similar books to recommend?

Advertisements

ONLY 5 MORE DAYS TO ENTER! FFnP’s On The Far Side Contest (#SFF #Writers #GetPublished)

Unpublished writers: FF&P’s OTFS Contest gives you an opportunity for feedback and the possibility of getting your work in front of an editor. Rules, categories, and list of final round judges are below.


Futuristic, Fantasy, & Paranormal RWA chapter presents:

2016 On The Far Side Contest

Write fantasy, futuristic, or paranormal? Then the On the Far Side contest is for you!!

Welcome dragons, witches, ghosts, psychics, vampires, shapeshifters, unicorns, and any creature your imagination can conjure up in a galaxy far, far away, in a time long past, or in your very own backyard. Every category MUST contain a futuristic, fantasy, or paranormal element.

The deadline for submissions is May 15, 2016. All entries and fees must be received by the contest coordinator by this date.

Entrant Eligibility:

1st rule: Every category MUST contain a futuristic, fantasy, or paranormal element.
2nd rule: Entrant must not be published in full-length fiction (40,000+) for the genre entering/or not published in genre entering for past 5 years. To further clarify, if your current WIP or entry is a paranormal historical then you can enter even if you are published in standard paranormal, etc.

Entry Fees:

  • FF&P Members in good standing:      $20 each entry
  • Non-members:                                      $25 each entry

On The Far Side IS ALL ELECTRONIC!! NO MAILING FEES!

To Enter: Click Here
Email address for contest: otfscontest@romance-ffp.com


Rules

  • Every category MUST contain a futuristic, fantasy, or paranormal element.
  • Entrant must not be published in full-length fiction (40,000+) for the genre entering/or not published in genre entering for past 5 years. To further clarify, if your current WIP or entry is a paranormal historical then you can enter even if you are published in standard paranormal, etc.
  • Entry must begin with the first pages of your WIP, and may include a short synopsis. Entry MUST BE 20 PAGES TOTAL. This includes any synopsis pages. (Synopsis is not judged, but may help judge determine the elements of your story and offers chance to practice a very important skill). Do not send more than 20 pages even with your synopsis or your entry will be disqualified.
  • When submitting your 20-pages total, please adhere to industry standards:
    • 1” margins
    • Double-spaced
    • 12-point face type, Times New Roman
    • Optional synopsis should follow manuscript portion of entry. (If manuscript is 18 pages, then synopsis must be 2 pages)
    • Do not include illustrations, author bio/photos, vocabulary lists, or footnotes
    • The title and category should be on the top left of the page, page number on top right
  • The author’s name shall not appear on the submission. If your name appears anywhere on the submission, you will be disqualified.
  • Entry and payment for submission must be submitted by midnight Eastern Standard Time by May 15th, 2016
  • No changes may be made after the contest deadline.
  • Entries must be sent in: .doc or .docx files are preferred, but .rtf files will be accepted.
  • No more than TWO (2) entries per entrant per category.
  • ALL RULES MUST BE FOLLOWED OR YOUR ENTRY WILL BE DISQUALIFIED.

Judging:

  • First round entries will reviewed by experienced, qualified, or published judges
  • FF&P cannot guarantee commentary on every entry, however we strongly encourage our judges to provide positive, constructive feedback through track changes. However, judges will remain anonymous.
  • Entries will be judged by a minimum of FOUR (4) first round judges. Lowest score will be dropped to determine final average. Three highest score manuscripts will advance to the final round. All judged copies will be returned to non-finalist entrants Coordinator chosen date. Finalist entries will be returned after winners are announced on Coordinator chosen date.

To Enter: Click Here


Categories

Please choose category which best suits your submission. If you are unclear which suits your story best, pick closest, then an alternate.

  • ROMANTIC ELEMENTS: Any of the below categories with romantic elements (a romance plays a significant part in the story, but other themes or elements take the plot beyond the traditional romance boundaries. No HEA required. Think Gone with the Wind)
  • HARD SCIENCE FICTION/SF/FUTURISTIC: Set in the future with science fiction elements that include technological advancements; these stories may involve futuristic earth, other planets, aliens, or space travel. (Think Star Trek)
  • DARK/LIGHT/GENERAL PARANORMAL: Paranormal happenings are a major element of the plot. (Think JR Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood)
  • TIME TRAVEL/STEAMPUNK WITH PARANORMAL ELEMENTS: A character or characters travel back or forward in time; these stories can take place in a historical, contemporary, or futuristic setting. Steampunk should include typical steampunk elements.
  • URBAN FANTASY: Includes mythical creatures and magical/paranormal elements. Settings and time frame are current modern world.
  • FANTASY: Setting takes place in medieval world. (Think Lord of the Rings).
  • YOUNG ADULT: Novels appropriate for teen and young adult readers, typically featuring main characters in high school or college. These stories may take place in a contemporary, historical, futuristic, or otherworldly setting. Minimum word count: 40,000 words. (Think Twilight)
  • NEW ADULT: Specialty romance for readers ages 18-24.
  • HISTORICAL: Historical with paranormal elements. These stories must take place in the past – from ancient times to WWII.
  • EROTIC ROMANCE: (WITH PARANORMAL ELEMENTS): No straight erotica – this means there must be a HEA ending or at least a Happy For Now and your entry must contain a significant paranormal element (such as a futuristic setting; time travel; paranormal creatures–vampires, shape shifters, werewolves, and or any other mythical creatures or magical elements typically deemed fantasy, futuristic or paranormal in nature.)

* If you have entered the contest, you may not judge in the category you have entered.

For more information contact the Contest Coordinator, Jillian Jacobs at  otfscontest@romance-ffp.com

Coordinator will not judge contest.


Timeline

  • March 14th: Contest opens for entries and judges
  • May 15th: Contest closes at Midnight EST
  • May 22nd: All entries distributed to 1st round judges
  • June 19th: Deadline for 1st round judges to return entries to contest coordinator
  • July 5th: Finalists notified via email and phone.
    1. All scores/feedback returned to contestants who did not final
    2. Notify 3 finalists per category- by phone then email
    3. Finalist entries sent to final round judges
    4. Post finalist list on all formats
  • August 1st: Deadline for final round judges to return entries to contest coordinator
  • August 8th: OTFS winners notified and announced
  • September 15th: Certificates and On The Far Side pins delivered

Judges for Final Round

ROMANTIC ELEMENTS Andrea Somberg, Harvey Klinger Inc.
HARD SCIENCE FICTION/SF/FUTURISTIC Laurie McLean, FUSE
DARK/LIGHT/GENERAL PARANORMAL Peter Senftleben, Kensington
TIME TRAVEL/STEAMPUNK Robin Haseltine, Entangled Publishing
URBAN FANTASY Melissa Singer, Tor
FANTASY Chris Keeslar, Boroughs Publishing
YOUNG ADULT Becca Stumpf, Prospect Agency
NEW ADULT Samantha McMahon, Soul Mate Publishing
HISTORICAL Penny Barber, Lyrical Press
EROTICA Deelylah Mullin, Torquere Press

The Fantasy, Futuristic, and Paranormal chapter of RWA appreciates your willingness to enter this contest. Not a member of FF&P? Find more information at www.rwa.org or visit the FF&P website:http://www.romance-ffp.com


Good luck, everyone!

#Writing Resolutions: 5 Ways to Keep Them!

I’m over at RWA’s Fantasy, Futuristic, and Paranormal Chapter today with 5 Ways To Keep Your Writing Resolutions. Haven’t yet made a 2016 writing resolution? There are plenty of ideas. Made one but not sure how to keep it? That’s what the post is for. Made a resolution and already know how you’re going to keep it? Stop by and share your secrets!

New Year’s Lagniappe: Is your resolution to write a novel this year? I’m offering to coach one member of FF&P who hasn’t yet reached PRO/PAN. Details are in the post. Happy writing, all!

Took this at the NASW Aviation Museum in Cape May, NJ. They have all sorts of vintage 1940s stuff. I suppose, one day, my laptop will look just as dated.
Took this at the NASW Aviation Museum in Cape May, NJ. They have all sorts of vintage 1940s stuff. I suppose, one day, my laptop will look just as dated.

#Writing #Workshops for January (and new puppy pictures!)

This will be my last post as FF&P’s workshop scheduler. Starting in January, I’m going to be coordinating the new release announcements, which happens over at our chapter website. My last workshops post offers info on two great ones for the New Year: one on author newsletters and one on how to write multiple books in a year. Obviously, I could use both workshops! 😀

Also, pictures of our NEW PUPPY are below!!! It’s been almost two years since we’ve had a dog in the house and we were ready! His name is Tug (yeah, makes me laugh too. Do you know how hard it is for a family of four to agree on a pet name?! Like the Spice Cats, Tug was named by my kids.)

And are we the only ones who haven’t yet seen THE FORCE AWAKENS? We’re going tonight…

◊◊◊◊◊

Below are the online workshops being offered in January by RWA’s Fantasy, Futuristic, and Paranormal Chapter. If you are a writing instructor and are interested in teaching a workshop, please contact Jenn Windrow for available dates, rates, and proposal submission guidelines.

Author Newsletters: Adding Value to E-Newsletters to Grow Your List and Strengthen Readership Loyalty

01/04/2016 – 01/29/2016

Stumbling along the ever-changing landscape of social media?  Frustrated with posts that only reach 25% of your followers?

Drive traffic to a source you control: your e-newsletter.

In this workshop, you will learn strategies for growing your list by offering value adds to your e-newsletter subscribers.  In addition, we will take a look at tools for measuring the responsiveness of your list, what attracts readers, and what doesn’t work.  Take control of communicating with your readers.  Build an e-newsletter that works for you.

About the Presenter, Jessie Clever

Jessie Clever always wanted to be a writer.

Then she found out you had to market your books.

While she went on to write Regency romance, Jessie kept to the practical course and earned her MBA with a concentration in marketing, gaining hands on experience in companies ranging from entrepreneurial start-ups to multi-channel international retailers. She now uses her knowledge and experience to help authors expand their readership and deepen the loyalty of their readers. Learn more at somedayladypublishing.com.

Cost: FFP Members:$15.00/Non-Members: $25.00

Register for This Workshop

The Book Factory: Producing Multiple Novels in One Year

01/04/2016 – 01/31/2016

  • Is life getting in the way of you completing that novel?
  • Ever think there’s not enough hours in the day to find time to write?
  • Have a full-time job distracting you from your real passion of being a novelist?
  • Are family responsibilities weighing you down and interfering with your writing goals?

I’m here to tell you that YOU CAN DO IT ALL and DO IT SUCCESSFULLY!

In 2009, I successfully managed one husband, two jobs, three children, a difficult pregnancy, AND still managed to write twelve books, sell ten of those books (including all the editing and promotion), and coped with other various life challenges thrown in just for fun!

How did I do all of that and still find time to eat and sleep?

I developed a method of writing known as “The Book Factory Method”. It does require commitment and desire to “get it done”. If you’re willing to put in the effort, you can produce multiple books in one year.

What’s the benefit of completing multiple books in one year?

The more books you have ready to submit, the more chance you’ll receive contract offers on one or more of those books.

Why shouldn’t you just focus on one book and continue polishing that book all year long?

The cold, hard truth is that you might not ever sell that one specific book. You should always have more than one project “in the works”.

Are you one of those writers who starts multiple projects but never finishes any of them?

Then this class is for you as well. We’ll talk about how to finally see those projects through to completion.

Have trouble with time management or procrastination?

We’ll address methods for getting organized and staying focused. Plus much, much more!

If you want to learn how to get started, stay on track, and get those books ready to submit…this workshop puts a method to the madness of novel writing.

About the Presenter, Kerri Nelson

Kerri Nelson survived a fifteen year career in the legal field and then took her passion for crime solving to the page. But her journey to become a mystery author took a decade long detour into the world of romance where she penned twenty-two novels and novellas in various sub-genres.

Born and raised a true southern belle, Kerri holds many useful secrets: how to bake a killer peach cobbler; how to charm suspects with proper batting of the eyelashes; and how to turn your parasol into a handy weapon.

Kerri is an active member of both Sisters in Crime and International Thriller Writers and as a mentor to other authors, Kerri has successfully developed her popular Book Factory Method and assisted dozens of authors achieve publication via pitches crafted in her Pitchworthy class.

She also edits professionally through her freelance editorial service, Deep Cover Edits and as a staff editor for two small presses.  Her latest writing adventure is the new #1 Bestselling Cozy Mystery series “The Working Stiff Mysteries” now available wherever books are sold.

Cost: FFP Members:$20.00/Non-Members: $25.00

Register for This Workshop

new puppy
“All you need is love… and a dog.” (And some cats…)

TUG

#Writing #Workshops for June (and a cat pic this time)

Below are the online workshops being offered in June by RWA’s Fantasy, Futuristic, and Paranormal Chapter. If you are a writing instructor and are interested in teaching a workshop, please contact me for available dates, rates, and proposal submission guidelines.

NUTMEG
NUTMEG

Advanced WordPress

06/01/2015 – 06/28/2015

Now that you have your website or blog set up, it’s time to get creative. This course will focus on advanced customizing of WordPress sites such as installing WordPress on your home computer, creating a webhost server that is not connected to the internet so that you can test ideas in a risk-free environment, troubleshooting your site when it crashes, creating custom menus, importing and exporting content from different sources, creating user-friendly permalinks, search engine optimization, and using the WordPress community forum. The class lasts four weeks.

Lessons include:

  1. Setting up WP on your home computer: working with local host for both Mac and PC.
  2. Working with menus: creating custom menus, putting menus in your sidebar.
  3. Playing around in the WP Content Folder and troubleshooting: what to do if you crash your site.
  4. Fun things you can do with your site: embedding videos and adding images from the web.
  5. Optimizing your site for search engines.
  6. Uploading your practice site to the web.
  7. Going live.

About the Presenter

Pepper O’Neal has a doctorate in education and has taught a number of adult education classes on many different subjects. She currently works as a freelance researcher and author. When she was told by both of her publishers that she needed to have a website, she realized she needed to finally join the age of technology. She also realized she had two options. She could pay someone to design the site for her, or she could to do it herself. As she hates depending on others for things involving her career, she decided to learn how to use the free web-design software WordPress and Joomla. She took classes, hired experts for tutors, and picked the brains of her web-designer friends. After designing her own websites, she decided she liked doing it, and now she designs websites for others.

Cost: FFP Members:$20.00/Non-Members: $25.00

Click here to register for this workshop.

The Never Ending Plot / Subplot Resource

06/01/2015 – 06/26/2015

Polti’s principle of 36 situations shows “There are no new stories.” This 8-session workshop from Sally Walker takes the writer through his situations and explains how to apply, twist and spark every story and its characters into unpredictable freshness, even with genre expectations.

About the Presenter

She eventually graduated from Papillion (NE) High School then nursing school at the University of Albuquerque and, eventually received a BFA in Creative Writing back at the University of Nebraska at Omaha.  That degree was accomplished while working full-time as a Critical Care/ER nurse and raising a very active family of three daughters with her engineer husband.  Adeptly juggling family, nursing, civic and Episcopal church responsibilities, Sally founded in 1985 and has conducted the weekly meetings of the eclectic Nebraska Writers Workshop to feed her own hunger for in-depth knowledge and skills. The Workshop has grown from a few tentative to over 50 confidently publishing and produced writers. Her own goal-oriented writing ethic has resulted in a vitae packed with novels, short stories, poetry, magazine articles, stage plays, screenplays and a variety of writing seminars.  In 2000 she was hired as part-time Editorial Director at The Fiction Works and Script Superviser for the affiliated Misty Mountain Productions. After retiring from her nursing career of over 30 years, she was elected President of the prestigious Nebraska Writers Guild, serving 2007-2011.

Cost: FFP Members:$20.00/Non-Members: $25.00

Click here to register for this workshop.

#Writing #Workshops for May (oh, and a chipmunk pic, bc why not?)

Below are the online workshops being offered in May by RWA’s Fantasy, Futuristic, and Paranormal Chapter. If you are a writing instructor and are interested in teaching a workshop, please contact me for available dates, rates, and proposal submission guidelines.

What does a chipmunk have to do with writing or workshops? Absolutely nothing. We caught this little guy (girl?) in our house earlier this week. No idea how it got in, which is somewhat disturbing. Not that I would have wanted them to go after it, but my cats showed zero interest. We let it go in the backyard.
What does a chipmunk have to do with writing or workshops?
Absolutely nothing.
We caught this little guy (girl?) in our house earlier this week. No idea how it got in, which is somewhat disturbing. Not that I would have wanted them to go after it, but my cats showed zero interest. We let it go in the backyard.

Beginning WordPress

05/04/2015 – 05/31/2015

This class will focus on understanding the basic functions of WordPress such as making posts and pages, adding images, copying and pasting from one post or page to another, creating links, connecting your social media links for Facebook, Twitter, etc., using plugins, widgets, and themes, creating parent and child pages, using menus, and customizing the look and feel of your site. In short, everything you need to create a website or blog and make it uniquely yours. The class lasts four weeks.

Lessons include:

  1. Navigating the Back End of WordPress
  2. Understanding Themes: Changing the Look of Your Site Through Themes
  3. Customizing the Themes: Changing the Header and Background
  4. Understanding the Difference Between Posts & Pages: What They Are; How to Use Them
  5. Adding Images & Links
  6. Things you can do to Jazz up your site. Using Asides and Widgets
  7. Working with Plugins: Understanding Plugins, Some Plugins You Must Have, Setting Up FB & Twitter Links on Your Site
  8. Some Things You Need to Know About the Web and Websites

About the Presenter, Pepper O’Neal

Pepper O’Neal has a doctorate in education and has taught a number of adult education classes on many different subjects. She currently works as a freelance researcher and author. When she was told by both of her publishers that she needed to have a website, she realized she needed to finally join the age of technology. She also realized she had two options. She could pay someone to design the site for her, or she could to do it herself. As she hates depending on others for things involving her career, she decided to learn how to use the free web-design software WordPress and Joomla. She took classes, hired experts for tutors, and picked the brains of her web-designer friends. After designing her own websites, she decided she liked doing it, and now she designs websites for others.

Cost: FFP Members:$20.00/Non-Members: $25.00

Register for This Workshop

Beware the Info Dump, My Child

05/04/2015 – 05/17/2015

Say you’re starting work on your latest story. You’ve just done a ton of research to get all the details right, down to the outer ridge of your heroine’s left boot. You are proud of what you’ve done, and who could blame you? Inspired, you want to bring the reader into the story and you want him or her to be as fascinated and intrigued by it as you are. But you make a small tactical error. Just a small one. You dump all this stuff at the beginning of your story so they can get started on the wonderfulness that is your story… And you are left scratching your head when the readers don’t come, or they read the first couple of pages…and wander away, choosing not to continue.

What happened? Why weren’t they fascinated? What’s wrong with them?!

How much research is just right? What’s the tidbit to work in? What isn’t?

This class will teach you some tricks and tips to keep in mind when it comes to making the best use of your research, along with examples.

About the Presenters, Elizabeth Flynn and Heather Hiestand

Elizabeth MS Flynn has written fiction in the form of comic book stories, romantic fantasies, urban fantasies, historical fantasies and short stories, a young adult novel, and a graphic novella (most published under the name of Eilis Flynn). She’s also a professional editor and has been for more than 35 years.

Heather Hiestand wrote her first story at age seven and went on to major in creative writing at the University of Washington. Her first published fiction was a mystery short story, but since then it has been all about the many flavors of romance. Heather’s first published romance short story was set in the Victorian period and she continues to return, fascinated by the rapid changes of the nineteenth century. The author of many novels, novellas, and short stories, she is a bestseller at both Amazon and Barnes and Noble. With her husband and son, she makes her home in a small town and supposedly works out of her tiny office, though she mostly writes in her easy chair in the living room. She also writes as Anh Leod.

Cost: FFP Members:$20.00/Non-Members: $25.00

Register for This Workshop

#Writing #Workshops for April

Below are the online workshops being offered in April by RWA’s Fantasy, Futuristic, and Paranormal Chapter. If you are a writing instructor and are interested in teaching a workshop, please contact me for available dates, rates, and proposal submission guidelines.

The Query Conundrum

04/06/2015 – 04/19/2015

Query writing doesn’t have to be a mystery!

In this highly interactive course, you’ll learn the basics of query writing.  Plus, view successful queries, write your own rejection letters, read all about my chat with a popular agent on what her ideal query would look like, practice your query writing skills, and then receive a free query letter critique from me at the end of the course.

Lessons Include:

Query Me This…

Understanding the Basics

Everybody Loves a Good Query

Right to the Point

You Talkin’ to Me?

About the Presenter, Kerri Nelson

Kerri Nelson survived a fifteen year career in the legal field and then took her passion for crime solving to the page. But her journey to become a mystery author took a decade long detour into the world of romance where she penned twenty-two novels and novellas in various sub-genres.

Born and raised a true southern belle, Kerri holds many useful secrets: how to bake a killer peach cobbler; how to charm suspects with proper batting of the eyelashes; and how to turn your parasol into a handy weapon.

Kerri is an active member of both Sisters in Crime and International Thriller Writers and as a mentor to other authors, Kerri has successfully developed her popular Book Factory Method and assisted dozens of authors achieve publication via pitches crafted in her Pitchworthy class.

She also edits professionally through her freelance editorial service, Deep Cover Edits and as a staff editor for two small presses.  Her latest writing adventure is the new #1 Bestselling Cozy Mystery series “The Working Stiff Mysteries” now available wherever books are sold.

Cost: FFP Members:$20.00/Non-Members: $25.00

Click here to register.

Adding the Unexpected:

Subverting Reader Expectations

04/13/2015 – 04/26/2015

The unexpected can illustrate character, move plot, and provide new goals, all while keeping your reader up at night turning pages. But, you don’t need to have aliens land in the middle of your quiet dinner party with the mayor to keep your readers guessing. By dissecting popular movies and a few books, we’ll discover simple things you can do to keep your audience engaged and coming back for more.

Some of the movies and books discussed will include:

  • Star Trek (2009)
  • Captain America: The Winter Solider
  • Lord of Scoundrels by Loretta Chase

Don’t worry if you haven’t seen or read each of the scenes, they’ll be thoroughly described in each lesson and I will post a heads up before each one in case you’d like to watch/read for yourself.

Join me to learn new ways to secure your book’s place on the “keeper shelf”.

About the Presenter, Elle Keen

A longtime member of RWA, Elle enjoys writing paranormal, fantasy, and futuristic stories and since she’s normally got a fairy or two hanging around, unexpected things tend to happen.

“Elle Keen knows her way around the unexpected. You’ll get what you need to take your books to the next level from this class.” – Gini Koch, author of the Alien/Katherine “Kitty” Katt series from DAW Books

Cost: FFP Members:$10.00/Non-Members: $15.00

Click here to register for this workshop.

#Writing #Workshops for March

Below are the online workshops being offered in March by RWA’s Fantasy, Futuristic, and Paranormal Chapter. If you are a writing instructor and are interested in teaching a workshop, please contact me for available dates, rates, and proposal submission guidelines.

Balancing the Paranormal and the Romance

03/02/2015 – 03/29/2015

It’s difficult enough to write a good romance, or to write a good paranormal or fantasy novel—when you put the two together you now have an even bigger challenge. How do you structure your story so the paranormal plot doesn’t overwhelm the romance? How do you create characters that have a great romance—with paranormal elements that increase the conflict and are key to the story? This workshop looks at a process to create a really strong paranormal romance that has a romance as the main story arc, but which also uses paranormal/fantasy elements that are vital to the plot.

Lectures include:

  • What’s the difference between Urban Fantasy, Fantasy, Paranormal, and Paranormal Romance?
  • Blending other subgenres (such as suspense) into the mix—what can this give you and what are the dangers?
  • What’s a story arc and what are character arcs?
  • Crafting your characters for romantic conflict that includes vital paranormal elements?
  • How to balance action and romance—what are the turning points for each?
  • How to test if your story is really more of a paranormal/fantasy or a romance?
  • Do you have strong enough antagonists—and are they well developed to create maximum romantic conflicts and increase the paranormal/fantasy elements?
  • Making sure the dark moment hits both the romance and the paranormal/fantasy story line.

About the Presenter, Shannon Donnelly

Shannon Donnelly’s writing has won numerous awards, including a RITA nomination for Best Regency, the Grand Prize in the “Minute Maid Sensational Romance Writer” contest, judged by Nora Roberts, RWA’s Golden Heart, and others. Her writing has repeatedly earned 4½ Star Top Pick reviews from Romantic Times magazine, as well as praise from Booklist and other reviewers, who note: “simply superb”…”wonderfully uplifting”….and “beautifully written.”

In addition to her Regency and Historical romances, she is the author of the Mackenzie Solomon, Demon/Warders Urban Fantasy series, Burn Baby Burnand Riding in on a Burning Tire, and the SF/Paranormal, Edge Walkers. Her work has been on the top seller list of Amazon.com and includes the Historical romances, The Cardros Ruby and Paths of Desire.

She is the author of several young adult horror stories, and has also written computer games and does editing work on the side. She lives in New Mexico with two horses, two donkeys, two dogs, and the one love of her life. Shannon can be found online at sd-writer.com, facebook.com/sdwriter, and twitter/sdwriter.

Cost: FFP Members:$20.00/Non-Members: $25.00

Register for This Workshop

The Nuances of Dialogue

03/02/2015 – 03/27/2015

Whether in prose or dramatic mediums, characters need to speak in a succinct, entertaining manner that moves the story forward. Inner character motivation and personality can be revealed through what is spoken and how. This workshop will cover diction & syntax, concepts of multi-layered meaning, the difference between speech patterns of male-female speakers, influence of age-education-culture, how to control lecturing and argument orchestration.

About the Presenter, Sally J. Walker

Sally J. Walker has taught over 35 different workshops both on-site and on-line.  An avid learner, she is always ready to change and grow her own process then pass on what she has learned in a practical manner intended to challenge participants rather than dictate end-all-be-all concepts.  She has taught for Omaha’s Metropolitan Community College, Kansas City’s Johnson County Community College, Lincoln (NE)’s Southeast Community College, several chapters of RWA including KOD and Scriptscene, a Romantic Times national conference, and the Moondance International Film Festival, as well as conducted a mini-workshop of writing and meditation for Omaha-area churches.  Sally has also been an Artist-in-Residence and motivational speaker at several Omaha area schools and conducts free weekly mentoring sessions for teens at the Ralston Baright Library.

Cost: FFP Members:$20.00/Non-Members: $25.00

Register for This Workshop

#Writing #Workshops for December

I hope everyone who celebrated Thanksgiving on Thursday had a terrific one. If the prerequisites of the holiday are giving thanks, catching up with friends and family, and eating way too much then I scored a hat trick. I’m nearing my 300th post so I’ll save my detailed thanks for that one, but for now, please know that I very much appreciate each and every one of you. You are all amazing!

Before I get to the main content for this post, a final reminder: **LAST CHANCE; GIVEAWAY ENDS AT MIDNIGHT TONIGHT ** I’m giving away one print copy of the Mammoth Book of Southern Gothic Romance. International. Three ways to enter: comment here, contact me here, or tweet.

FF&P DECEMBER WRITING WORKSHOPS

Below are the online workshops being offered in December by RWA’s Fantasy, Futuristic, and Paranormal Chapter. If you are a writing instructor and are interested in teaching a workshop in 2015, please contact me for available dates, rates, and proposal submission guidelines.

Finding Your Hot Premise

12/01/2014 – 12/14/2014

What’s the premise that’s going to have an acquisitions editor sit up and take notice? What’s the story concept that’s going to make readers lunge for the buy button, stand in line to buy the print edition, camp outside the theater waiting in the cold for the film adaptation to hit the movie screens? Nobody knows for sure, but here’s a workshop that can give you ideas on figuring out what’s going to work for what you write and how to work it into the story that every editor and agent will want to buy.

About the Presenter

Eilis Flynn has spent a large share of her life working on Wall Street or in a Wall Street-related firm, so why should she write fiction that’s any more based in our world? She spends her days aware that there is a reality beyond what we can see … and tells stories about it. Published in finance, romance, and comic books, she lives in verdant Washington state with her equally fantastical husband and the ghosts of spoiled rotten cats.

Cost: FFP Members:$15.00/Non-Members: $25.00

Register for this workshop here.

Worldbuilding 201

12/01/2014 – 12/14/2014

What’s the difference between a story set in a vivid world and a tourist guide with a plot? In Worldbuilding 201, we’ll examine examples and do practical lessons on incorporating your world into your story, so that it brings the story alive instead of taking it over.

About the Presenter

Award-winning novelist Karina Fabian has plenty of voices in her head without being psychic. Fortunately, they fuel her many stories. When not writing about dragon detectives, a psychic fighting his way back to sanity, zombie exterminators, or nuns in space, she writes creative biographies of Catholic saints and homilies. Mrs. Fabian teaches writing and book marketing seminars, but mostly is concerned with supporting her husband, Rob Fabian, as he makes the exciting leap from military officer to civilian executive, getting her kids through high school and college, and surviving daily circuit torture…er, circuit training.

Cost: FFP Members:$15.00/Non-Members: $25.00

Register for this workshop here.

#Writing #Workshops for November

Below are the online workshops being offered in November by RWA’s Fantasy, Futuristic, and Paranormal Chapter. If you are a writing instructor and are interested in teaching a workshop in 2015, please contact me for available dates, rates, and proposal submission guidelines.

Show and Tell
11/02/2014 – 11/30/2014

Both showing and telling are valuable tools for any writer–writers need both narrative passages as well as dramatic scenes, so each has its own place within any writer’s skill set. In this workshop, we’ll use writing examples to figure out the truth hidden in the advice to “show, don’t tell.”  Learn how “show, don’t tell” really means “show more with dramatic scenes, and tell only when you need to move the story along.”

The “showing” part of the workshop blends a set of exercises to strengthen an understanding of what makes a scene come to life by using more vivid descriptions to reveal characters–their thoughts and emotions–by showing them in action and using deep POV.

The “telling” part of the workshop includes tips, tricks, and techniques to help strengthen narrative and identify when it’s time to “tell” your story to the reader to compress information, smooth transitions, or otherwise better establish settings and scenes for the reader.

Topics we’ll cover:

1) Definitions — what is showing, what is telling

2) Telling: Use of the Narrative Voice

3) Breaking it down part 1: Showing to Pull a Reader into Your Scenes

4) Breaking it down part 2: Better Narrative (so a reader doesn’t skip this)

5) Going Deeper in Viewpoint to Better Show a Character’s Inner World

6) Transitions & Word Count–Where Telling Really Helps

7) Showing and Telling–Mixing it up Again

About the Presenter, Shannon Donnelly

Shannon Donnelly’s writing has won numerous awards, including a RITA nomination for Best Regency, the Grand Prize in the “Minute Maid Sensational Romance Writer” contest, judged by Nora Roberts, RWA’s Golden Heart, and others. Her writing has repeatedly earned 4½ Star Top Pick reviews from Romantic Times magazine, as well as praise from Booklist and other reviewers, who note: “simply superb”…”wonderfully uplifting”….and “beautifully written.”

Her Regency romances can be found as ebooks on all formats, and with Cool Gus Publishing, and include a series of four novellas.

She also has out the Mackenzie Solomon, Demon/Warders Urban Fantasy series, Burn Baby Burn and Riding in on a Burning Tire, and the Urban Fantasy, Edge Walkers. Her work has been on the top seller list of Amazon.com and includes Paths of Desire, a Historical Regency romance.

She is the author of several young adult horror stories, and computer games. She lives in New Mexico with two horses, two donkeys, two dogs, and only one love of her life. Shannon can be found online at sd-writer.com, facebook.com/sdwriter, and twitter/sdwriter.

Cost: FFP Members:$20.00/Non-Members: $25.00

Click here to register.

Writing On A Shoestring Budget
11/03/2014 – 11/30/2014

Is your writing career a business or a hobby, what’s the difference, and why does it matter? If you’ve finished your novel, magazine article, and/or non-fiction work and are ready to send it out, now what? Are you really ready for it to sell? Have you thought about how to handle all the business details that come with success? Are you taking advantage of the tax breaks that come from simply finishing the work-in-progress? What if you consider your writing business a career but don’t have anything ready to send out?

Did you know there are legal tax tricks that can save you money on income taxes? Do you know how to set up a small business and deal with things like getting a tax ID number? Do you know how to avoid a random audit on your business and/or personal income taxes and how to keep red flags off your tax returns? Should you set up a, sole proprietorship, corporation or an LLC? And how do you make a small business a sub-chapter S corporation? What are the tax advantages of doing so? What is a registered agent, why do you need one, and how do you get one? How do you prepare the Articles of Incorporation, Bylaws, etc., for your small business? When should you just use an assumed name for your business, and how do you get one? Will your small business require a business license?

The class will handle all this and more. From whether or not setting up a structured small business is the right decision for you, to how to go about setting it up, what kind of business to set up, and how to minimize your tax liability. All on a shoestring. If you’re serious about being a professional writer, this class is for you.

About the Presenter, Pepper O’Neal

Pepper O’Neal has a paralegal degree from the University Of San Diego Law School and a doctorate in education from the University of Mexico. She has over twelve years’ experience working with business attorneys in California, Washington, and Oregon. Though she’s self-employed as a full-time researcher, non-fiction and fiction writer, she still freelances for attorneys throughout the US, doing research and preparing legal documents. She’s also worked a number of years with tax attorneys and consultants in helping business clients reduce their tax liabilities. She has also been involved in the initial setup of a number of education-related small businesses from daycare facilities to community educational centers. Over the years, she has taught a great number of adult education classes on many different subjects.

Cost: FFP Members:$20.00/Non-Members: $25.00

Click here to register for this workshop.

Worldbuilding 101
11/03/2014 – 11/17/2014

We all love to read about vivid, lively worlds, but writing them can seem like a challenge? What do I consider? Where do I research? What should I include? This course will cover the major aspects of worldbuilding, then talk about how to put it together and show, not tell, about your world in your story.

About the Presenter, Karina Fabian

Award-winning novelist Karina Fabian has plenty of voices in her head without being psychic. Fortunately, they fuel her many stories. When not writing about dragon detectives, a psychic fighting his way back to sanity, zombie exterminators, or nuns in space, she writes creative biographies of Catholic saints and homilies. Mrs. Fabian teaches writing and book marketing seminars, but mostly is concerned with supporting her husband, Rob Fabian as he makes the exciting leap from military officer to civilian executive, getting her kids through high school and college, and surviving daily circuit torture…er, circuit training. Read about her adventures at http://fabianspace.com.

Cost: FFP Members:$20.00/Non-Members: $25.00

Click here to register for this workshop.

#Writing #Workshops for October

Below are the online workshops being offered in October by RWA’s Fantasy, Futuristic, and Paranormal Chapter. If you are a writing instructor and are interested in teaching a workshop in 2015, please contact me for available dates, rates, and proposal submission guidelines.

Dialogue:

Don’t Let ‘Em Say What You Mean

10/03/2014 – 10/31/2014

We all know great dialogue when we read it—and the best dialogue seems effortless. But good dialogue takes work and a few key ingredients.

What do you need to get your characters talking in ways that make for riveting, exciting scenes?

1) Your Characters’ Voices
2) Conflict: Everyone Needs to Want Something
3) Making it Better Than Reality
4) Subtext: Layering Under the Words
5) Internal Dialogue – What’s too Much?
6) Invisible Tags and Punctuation
7) Accents, Ye Olde English, and Slang
8) Punch it! – Making Careful Edits

About the Presenter, Shannon Donnelly

Shannon Donnelly’s writing has won numerous awards, including a RITA nomination for Best Regency, the Grand Prize in the “Minute Maid Sensational Romance Writer” contest, judged by Nora Roberts, RWA’s Golden Heart, and others. Her writing has repeatedly earned 4½ Star Top Pick reviews from Romantic Times magazine, as well as praise from Booklist and other reviewers, who note: “simply superb”…”wonderfully uplifting”….and “beautifully written.”

Her Regency romances can be found as ebooks on all formats, and with Cool Gus Publishing, and include a series of four novellas.

She also has out the Mackenzie Solomon, Demon/Warders Urban Fantasy series, Burn Baby Burn and Riding in on a Burning Tire, and the Urban Fantasy, Edge Walkers. Her work has been on the top seller list of Amazon.com and includes Paths of Desire, a Historical Regency romance.

She is the author of several young adult horror stories, and computer games. She lives in New Mexico with two horses, two donkeys, two dogs, and only one love of her life. Shannon can be found online at sd-writer.com, facebook.com/sdwriter, and twitter/sdwriter.

Cost: FFP Members:$20.00/Non-Members: $25.00

Click here to register.

Plotting

10/06/2014 – 10/19/2014

Plotting is a crucial aspect in every novel. This class uses the three-act model of plotting which is appropriate for the pantser, the plotter, or a combination of both. The approach is plotting major points of the story and will also show the relationship of plotting to characterization through Deb Dixon’s “goals, motivation, and conflict” method. There will also be a short lecture on sagging middles and hitting the wall, what they are and how to avoid them.  Classes will be a mixture of lecture and exercises. By the end of the class, a student will have plotted one novel.

About the Presenter, Monette Michaels

My undergraduate majors were English and Mathematics from Purdue University. I then attended IU-Indpls Law School. My first job was in legal editing. Currently, my day job is as an arbitrator in commercial, securities, and employment law.

My creative writing background: I write as Monette Michaels and Rae Morgan. My first-published book was Fatal Vision (as Monette Michaels) in the late 1990s with one of the early e-publishers; it was re-published by LTDBooks, a Canadian indie press, in 2000. I went on to write several other single titles for LTDBooks: Death Benefits (an EPPIE finalist), Green Fire (a Dream Realm finalist), and The Case of the Virtuous Vampire (an EPPIE finalist and a CAPA Finalist) and now re-published as The Virtuous Vampire at Liquid Silver Books. I won an EPPIE in 2005 for Blind-Sided, published at Atlantic Bridge Publishing.

Currently, I write three series as Monette Michaels: the Gooden and Knight Paranormal Mystery series (The Virtuous Vampire, The Deadly Séance), The Security Specialists International series (Eye of the Storm, an EPPIE Finalist, Stormy Weather Baby, a novella, Cold Day in Hell, Storm Front, a novella, Weather the Storm) and the Prime Chronicles Trilogy (Prime Obsession and Prime Selection) .

As Rae Morgan, I write the Coven of the Wolf Series ( Destiny’s Magick, Moon Magick (Dream Realm finalist), Treading the Labyrinth (EPPIE finalist), and a novella“No Secrets,” in Zodiac Elements: Water). My single titles are Earth Awakened (a Terran Realm book), Enchantress, “Evanescence,” in Edge of Night, and “Once Upon a Princess,” in Ain’t Your Mama’s Bedtime Stories.

For the first years of Liquid Silver Books, I was the Acquisitions Editor and also edited books. I am currently a Senior Editor and do still read, acquire, and edit for the main lines of LSB, as needed.

Cost: FFP Members:$20.00/Non-Members: $25.00

Click here to register.

Vampires Along Silk Road and Beyond

10/06/2014 – 10/19/2014

Welcome to Vamps R Us! Is there another mythological creature that’s been as the source of so much more entertainment and speculation in recent years than the legend of the vampire? Pop culture and entertainment is overflowing with the bloodsuckers, and has been since Bram Stoker introduced the cover boy for vamps, Dracula, back in 1897.

But he wasn’t the first vampire to catch the imagination of the public, and Transylvania wasn’t the first place to see vampires. There have been stories about human-appearing monsters all over the world who suck the blood and the life force out of people, sometimes seducing them along the way, sometimes just going straight for the jugular, thanks very much, for thousands of years.

The descriptions about them change, of course, but there are a couple of details that don’t: One, vampires are always the dead come back to life, and two, they always vant to drink your bloooood. Except … vampires aren’t always dead, and they don’t necessarily want to suck your blood. Confused? Don’t blame you. It turns out that not only have there been legends about the vampires for thousands of years, but they’ve been spotted all over the world, and they’re all little different, differing from region to region, period after period, in the most unexpected of ways. The one thing that doesn’t change is their ability to mesmerize and terrify us.

Intrigued by ghosts? Let Jacquie Rogers and Eilis Flynn take you on a walk around the world to examine those myths, and see how ghosts shift, change, and evolve as we travel, and haunt us wherever we go.

About the Presenters,

Jacquie Rogers and Eilis Flynn

Jacquie Rogers’ first burning desire was to be a baseball announcer, but that didn’t work out so she decided to write romance novels. Her latest novel is the third in the Much Ado western romance series, Much Ado About Mavericks. Faery Merry Christmas is her latest fantasy release. Jacquie is owner of Romancing The West, a popular western blog, and teaches online classes on various writing topics.

Eilis Flynn has spent a large share of her life working on Wall Street or in a Wall Street-related firm, so why should she write fiction that’s any more based in our world? She spends her days aware that there is a reality beyond what we can see … and tells stories about it. Published in finance, romance, and comic books, she lives in verdant Washington state with her equally fantastical husband and the ghosts of spoiled rotten cats.

Cost: FFP Members:$15.00/Non-Members: $20.00

Click here to register for this workshop.

#Writing Workshops for August

RWA’s Fantasy, Futuristic, and Paranormal Chapter is offering two workshops in August. Descriptions, sign up links, and other details are below. Reminder: If you are a writing instructor who would like to teach a class for FF&P, please consider submitting a proposal. We are currently scheduling workshops for the first half of 2015. For more information, please contact me.

LAYERED PLOT TECHNIQUES

We all want to tell a compelling story. We all want our books to be un-put-downable.

When we study a number of plotting techniques, we discover they’re all similar, and different enough to seem discordant. It is possible to make that discord work for us. This class will show how to create a synthesis of techniques that will translate into strategies we can use to make our stories richer, deeper, stronger.

Layering Plot Techniques  focuses on synthesis and assimilation, starting with three of the instructor’s favorite plot techniques/structures: Christopher Vogler’s Hero’s Journey, Michael Hauge’s six-stage structure and the W diagram.

At the end of the class, you’ll have a deeper understanding of plot than any of the techniques could give you alone.

Instructor Bio

In her previous life Terrel Hoffman studied physics, researched superconductors and wrote documentation for engineers. In her current incarnation, she writes paranormal romance and steampunk fantasy,  and teaches writing topics like this one. In addition to her degree in Physics and her educational forays into math and technical writing, she has trained to be a life coach. She is a certified guardian ad litem, has mentored at-risk kids on probation and has served as a CASA (court appointed special advocate) for children in dependency. She holds memberships in the Pacific Northwest Writers Association and RWA National, as well as several regional RWA chapters in the Pacific Northwest where she lives. The two cats who share her home assure her she is their property and treat her accordingly.

Cost: FFP Members:$25.00/Non-Members: $30.00

08/04/2014 – 08/31/2014

To sign up for this class, click here.

GAME OF HISTORICAL THRONES

USE THE PAST AS YOUR GUIDELINE FOR CHARACTER MOTIVATIONS, PLOT DETAILS AND WORLDBUILDING

This brilliant idea strikes! You know it’s a winner! It’s got everything you love in a story and you’re rarin’ ta go on it. Then reality strikes back. You have no idea why certain things happen, what should happen next, and there is this scary world building to deal with yet. What to do!!!!???

Head to the past, that’s what. People are people (even aliens from other planets and dimensions and parallel universes are people) and that means the sort of elements you need have been played out before…and will play out again and again and again over time.

In fact, using George R. R. Martin’s GAME OF THRONES as an illustration, see how he might have done just this!

In this 4-week workshop we’ll begin harvesting ideas from the past to recreate in our own special ways to fill the gaps in the brilliant idea waiting to be birthed. We’ll look at how these elements can be used in a contemporary tale or a historical story unrelated to the inspiration we’ll use or how it can show up in something you spin that takes place in the future.

And we’ll do it quick, getting ideas on where to go and what to mine as that brilliant idea evolves into a complete manuscript in your very near future.

Your brilliant idea can lean more toward romance, incorporate mystery, or be totally convoluted fantasy, so come one and come all!

Instructor Bio

Beth Daniels currently writes as Beth Henderson and J.B. Dane, though she answered to Lisa Dane and Beth Cruise in the past as well. She has worked with editors at Berkley, Zebra, Leisure, Harlequin/Silhouette, and Simon and Schuster’s Aladdin Paperbacks, done e-books for a now defunct company (not her fault, she says), and began her writing life with hardcover books slated for library use with a publisher that got out of the romance business (again, not her fault). More recently she’s had a number of articles about writing picked up by e-zines, saw a short story published in a mystery and suspense magazine that turned up its toes the next year (really, really not her fault), and has a story in the MOTHER GOOSE IS DEAD anthology from Dragon Moon Press. For over a dozen years Beth taught college level composition, both in the classroom and online, and a credit course on Novel Writing. Five of her former Novel class students are now published. Twenty-six of Beth’s manuscripts have appeared in print or e-book format. These have been historical romantic adventures (6), romantic comedies (10), romantic-suspense (3), and young adult romantic comedy (7). Her titles have appeared in 12 different languages in over 20 countries. At the moment she is working on various manuscripts and collaborated with another RWA member on a contemporary/fantasy/romantic adventure. She also ventured into self-publishing to keep her out-of-print backlist in print.

Cost: FFP Members:$15.00/Non-Members: $20.00

08/11/2014 – 08/18/2014

To sign up for this class, click here.

#Writing: May FFnP #Workshops — How to Build a Super-Heroine and Book-to-Film Adaptations

Last chance to register for this month’s FF&P workshops: HOW TO BUILD A SUPER-HEROINE and HOW BOOK-TO-FILM ADAPTATIONS WORK. Details are below. FF&P is RWA’s Fantasy, Futuristic, and Paranormal Chapter. A couple of months ago, I volunteered to help them with their workshops. 

Are you a writing instructor? Do you have experience offering workshops to writers? If so, I’d love to hear from you! Send me an email (archer at jillarcher dot com) with the proposed workshop title and description, as well as an instructor bio or you can just send me a link to the classes you offer so I can take a look.

Other ways to get involved? Consider joining FF&P or let me know if you’ve taken any awesome workshops lately. Hope everyone’s writing is going well!

HOW TO BUILD A SUPER-HEROINE

Developing your characters can be a delightful task or a painful one, but when those characters are of the super-powered variety, you’ve got an even bigger challenge. In this workshop, Eilis Flynn will examine how super-heroes, and in particular super-heroines, are a little different from other characters you’re creating. What do you have to look for, what do you have to beware of, what do you have to know in order to make the strongest, most memorable super-heroine you can? Using suggestions about powers, weaknesses, origin stories, and personality from the workshop attendees, we’ll build a sample super-heroine to inspire your own stories and super-heroes.

Instructor Bio: Eilis Flynn has spent a large share of her life working on Wall Street or in a Wall Street-related firm, so why should she write fiction that’s any more based in our world? She spends her days aware that there is a reality beyond what we can see … and tells stories about it. Published in finance, romance, and comic books, she lives in verdant Washington state with her equally fantastical husband and the ghosts of spoiled rotten cats.

Cost: FFP Members:15/Non-Members: 20

Register here.

HOW BOOK-TO-FILM ADAPTATIONS WORK

Do you have a novel you think would adapt well to a screenplay?  Have you ever watched a film version of a favorite book and come away annoyed at the changes and deletions?  This 8-session workshop will teach you the steps of adaptation necessary to transfer one medium into another Sally Walker has learned that landed her several adaptation contracts.  One session will be the analysis of the two successful adaptations that motivated her, THE EAGLE (2010) and THE LUCKY ONE (2011).

Instructor Bio: Born to poor farm folk in the little rural community of Exira, Iowa, Sally attended many schools in western Iowa and the Omaha, Nebraska, area.  She eventually graduated from Papillion (NE) High School then nursing school at the University of Albuquerque and, eventually received a BFA in Creative Writing back at the University of Nebraska at Omaha.  That degree was accomplished while working full-time as a Critical Care/ER nurse and raising a very active family of three daughters with her engineer husband.  Adeptly juggling family, nursing, civic and Episcopal church responsibilities, Sally founded in 1985 and has conducted the weekly meetings of the eclectic Nebraska Writers Workshop to feed her own hunger for in-depth knowledge and skills. The Workshop has grown from a few tentative to over 50 confidently publishing and produced writers. Her own goal-oriented writing ethic has resulted in a vitae packed with novels, short stories, poetry, magazine articles, stage plays, screenplays and a variety of writing seminars.  In 2000 she was hired as part-time Editorial Director at The Fiction Works and Script Superviser for the affiliated Misty Mountain Productions. After retiring from her nursing career of over 30 years, she was elected President of the prestigious Nebraska Writers Guild, serving 2007-2011.

Cost: FFP Members:30/Non-Members: 35

Register here.

Fantasy, Futuristic, and Paranormal Chapter of RWA #Writing Workshops March 2014

Check out FF&P’s

upcoming workshops:

CONFLICT OF MYTH

03/03/2014 – 03/16/2014

Myths have been called collective, shared dreams, and come to us from virtually all civilizations which have existed for the last 7,000 years.  This workshop, influenced by the philosophies of Joseph Campbell and Manly Hall, will focus on selected Egyptian, Greek, Roman, Celtic, and Native American myths to understand their esoteric themes and conflicts, which still ring true to the modern heart.

We’ll first look at the structure and components of myths and their meanings.  Then, we’ll compare classical mythical conflicts to contemporary movies to develop a better understanding of how these ancient conflicts can play out on a modern stage.  Finally, we’ll study how to incorporate these conflicts into our current work to resonate more deeply with our modern readers.

About the presenter, Susan Sipal

S.P. Sipal is published in fiction and nonfiction through articles, short stories, and a novel and is an editor at Musa Publishing. Best known as an analyst of the Harry Potter series, she’s spoken at numerous fan and writer conferences at the national, international, and online level.  Her most recent release is a short story entitled “Lighting the Sacred Way,” set in ancient Ephesus, and included in Journeys of Wonder, volume 2.

For more info, click here.

DRAGONS ALONG SILK ROAD

AND BEYOND

03/03/2014 – 03/16/2014

Here, there be dragons! No matter where you go in the world, take a look at the folktales and the myths in the culture you’re in, and more likely than not you’ll find a mention of a dragon or two. Some of them will be described as green or gold or red, some of them will be described as having wings and some won’t, some of them will be described as having five claws, some four, some only three, some even have more than one head. The details don’t matter, though, because it’s clear that there are legends of dragons wherever you go.

Ranging from the dragons that play an important part in Chinese culture all the way to the legend of Quetzalcoatl found in Central American culture, they are all around us, whether or not we recognize them by name. Stories about dragons have been around as long as human society itself, and they reflect the society in which they reside. The term “dragon” itself is of Greek origin, meaning “a serpent or python,” and it can also mean “to see clearly.” Wherever the legend of the dragon appears, they represent society, culture, and wisdom (thus the “seeing clearly” part), since dragons are often referred to as having spiritual qualities.

Join Eilis Flynn and Jacquie Rogers as they take a trip around the world in search of dragons. Whether you make use of the legend of the dragon in your own stories doesn’t matter, because you’ll find that examining the legend of the dragon up close is really an examination of yourself and your story.

About the presenters, Eilis Flynn and Jacquie Rogers

Jacquie Rogers’ first burning desire was to be a baseball announcer, but that didn’t work out so she decided to write romance novels. Her latest novel is the third in the Much Ado western romance series, Much Ado About Mavericks. Faery Merry Christmas is her latest fantasy release. Jacquie is owner of Romancing The West, a popular western blog, and teaches online classes on various writing topics.

Eilis Flynn has spent a large share of her life working on Wall Street or in a Wall Street-related firm, so why should she write fiction that’s any more based in our world? She spends her days aware that there is a reality beyond what we can see … and tells stories about it. Published in finance, romance, and comic books, she lives in verdant Washington state with her equally fantastical husband and the ghosts of spoiled rotten cats.

For more info, click here.

To see FF&P’s full workshop schedule, click here.

To propose a future workshop, please contact me.

Are you a #writing instructor?

I volunteered to be the new Workshop Scheduler for RWA’s Fantasy, Futuristic, and Paranormal chapter — FF&P. This means that I’m the person who will be scouting out neat, new workshops for FF&P to offer to members and non-members alike.

What is FF&P looking for?

We are looking for workshops that will appeal to fiction writers in general, not just writers who write in speculative or romance genres (e.g. craft, business, inspiration, writing life, research… character development, worldbuilding, three act structure, GMC… online marketing, social media, self-publishing, traditional publishing, hybrid options… designing your own covers, hiring your own editors… querying, submitting, conferences… fan conventions… book signings, personal events… etc.!) but, of course, we also love workshops that are geared toward our favorite subgenres: fantasy, futuristic, SFR, PNR, UF, steampunk, time travel, and young adult fiction with speculative elements.

If you are an instructor who is currently offering workshops, please consider submitting a workshop proposal to me (use my “Contact” page or email me: archer at jillarcher dot com) and include the following:

  • Your name and online contact information
  • The title and duration of the workshop
  • A brief description of the proposed workshop
  • Whether you’ve taught the workshop before and, if so, where
  • Your bio

If you’re interested in seeing what type of workshops FF&P currently has scheduled, check out the line up here. (I’m also going to do a second post today listing a couple of March workshops that are being offered).

Finally, even if you aren’t an instructor, please let me know in the comments or send an email if you have any fantastic workshops to recommend.

Please forward this post to anyone who might be interested.

Thanks, everyone!

What to Read and Watch: 3 Fantasy Novels + 2 Futuristic Movies + 1 Horror Show #SFF

I’m a panelist at SF Signal’s Mind Meld today. The question was:

What lesser-known books have you read, fairly recently, that you think deserve more attention, and why?

If you stop by, you’ll get to see what my answer was (hint: 3 fantasy novels), as well as read the other panelists’ answers, which should give you some great reading ideas for your holiday break.

For those of you who need to take a break from your TBR pile (it happens; you’re forgiven 😉 ), below are my thoughts on what I’ve been watching.

General Spoiler Warning: I find it hard to discuss things without giving too much away. I’m not a reviewer, I’m a fan. So… if you don’t like spoilers, go watch MR. NOBODY, HOW I LIVE NOW, and AMERICAN HORROR STORY (COVEN) and come back.

Mr. Nobody

Like Inception and Cloud Atlas, this is a movie you’re gonna wanna watch twice. I knew from the trailer that it was trippy science fiction (a good thing). Even so I still had to resort to some post-viewing internet searches to get the red-yellow-blue thing. But once I did, I thought it was a brilliant visual way of reinforcing Nemo’s various life choices/paths. The story is about a man named Nemo Nobody who is 118 years old when the movie starts. He is the last mortal man in a futuristic society that has learned how to achieve immortality through stem cell compatible pigs (that part sounds absurd, but the movie isn’t, and the filmmakers treat the concept as absurdly as it sounds… perhaps a commentary on the futility and absurdity of man’s constant search for immortality?).

In any case, Nemo is being interviewed on his deathbed. A journalist has snuck into his room and wants to hear his life’s story. But his joy at snagging the scoop turns to confusion as Nemo weaves a story that is full of multiple inconsistencies and not a few earlier deaths. Nemo isn’t just musing about “what if” or “wish I woulda.” His constructs three different realities with alternate endings in each. Most of us tell our life’s story in chronological order. Not Nemo. His story is full of all the choices he made – and all the ones he didn’t. It’s pretty neat. (Although I found his “blue” life and wife hard to take, but she’s supposed to be that way. Great acting by Sarah Polley, btw. Who saw The Claim? That’s another good one to rent, although there’s not even a whiff of SFF in it).

All of the above aside, I’m not sure I agree with the ending premise: that all your life’s paths are just as worthy, equal, or meaningful. At the same time though, since we live in the real world (where smoke will not go back into the cigarette even if we live to be 118), I think it’s important not to regret past choices or wonder too much about paths not taken.

Interested in reading more about Mr. Nobody?

How I Live Now

Fifteen year old Elizabeth a.k.a. “Daisy” – a troubled teen who hears voices and has a constant need to wash her hands – arrives from the U.S. to spend a summer with cousins on a remote farm in the English countryside. A nuclear bomb is dropped on London. WWIII breaks out. Martial law is declared. And then… bad stuff happens. The kind of stuff you can imagine. And then are glad that you’re only imagining it, not remembering it.

The movie opens with scenes of idyllic summer days (you know their only purpose is to sharply contrast with whatever’s coming next) and scenes from an idyllic summer love (the fact that the young lovers are cousins is glossed over and, in light of the film’s true horrors, I had no trouble forgetting about that too).

Saoirse Ronan plays Daisy and she is terrific, as always. I wanted to know more about Daisy’s character. Why did she hear voices before the war even started? Why was she always washing her hands? There was other evidence of mental and/or emotional vulnerability (medication, a vague reference to a possible eating disorder) but the underlying cause was never explained. Were all of Daisy’s pre-war problems just due to the fact that her dad ignored her? Maybe the character was more fully fleshed out in the novel. Or maybe it doesn’t matter. The message of the film was survival and forward motion, not looking back.

Regardless of the cause of Daisy’s initial troubles, the one bright spot of the film was watching her transform from a prickly, obsessive, anti-social teen into someone with close family relationships, the competence to plan and execute a cross-country trek back home through land pock-marked with enemies and other dangers, and the will not just to survive but to make sure those she cares about do too.

Above all, How I Live Now is a film that makes you appreciate life. All of it. The big stuff. Family. A safe place. A sense of self. And the small stuff. Gardens. Sunshine. Clean water.

American Horror Show (Coven)

Even though I’m a speculative fiction fan, I don’t read or watch a lot of horror. But I love certain aspects of it: dark, macabre storylines, monsters, usually a twist or two, and sometimes, humor. I think I first heard about this show in Entertainment Weekly and the premise intrigued me: a New Orleans boarding school for non-conformists who also happen to be witches. In the first episode, a witch accidentally kills her boyfriend – by her act of passion, not in an act of passion – and another is burned at the stake (she comes back to life in E2). The show never looked back. Each episode just got more and more outlandish, which is what makes it so entertaining.

Ordinarily, by now, I would be wondering how the creators could possibly sustain the dramatic trajectory they’ve put themselves on, but that brings me to the other reason I got hooked on the show: its unique anthology format. Each season is a standalone story, with its own story arc – a promised beginning, middle, and end – all in one season. Each season stars many of the same cast members: Jessica Lange, Taissa Farmiga, Evan Peters… As well as some who are there only for that season: Kathy Bates, Angela Bassett, Emma Roberts, Zachary Quinto… So, of course, I had to go back and start watching season 1 (Murder House) in between episodes of S3. Be forewarned, however, this is not a show for the meek. (Fans of True Blood or Game of Thrones, you’ll be fine. 😀 ).

What about you? Have you seen Mr. Nobody, How I Live Now, or American Horror Story (Coven)? What do YOU think? Hope everyone’s having a great week!