Convolution: Typing other authors?

I was at Convolution (a small SciFi/Fantasy convention) last weekend. I went to two types of panels: writing advice and women in SciFi/Fantasy.

In a writing advice panel, one writer advised that we take a page or two from our favorite authors and type those pages verbatim. Gives you a feel for how that author writes. Maybe I’ll learn something, stepping into Asimov’s or Niven’s skin!

I am always, always, always looking for the female viewpoint for my superheroine Holly. One women’s panel made me mentally back away from putting a lot of tomboy into Holly. Perhaps Holly should like dressing up pretty once in a while, although the ladies at the panel seemed fine with Holly’s love of Batman T-shirts. (More for me to learn, I have NO idea how pretty dressing is done!) Holly likes strawberry lip gloss. She will never willingly show cleavage in public: she has issues about that.

I bought indie author books and met more indie writers. Child of the Sword by J.L. Doty, and I had a nice conversation with him, he said the best advertisement for your current book is putting out the next one (Hugh Howey told him). Female Science Fiction Writer by Amy Sterlin Casil, and I started it and it reads nicely.Goodbye from the Edge of Never by Steven Mix. He Said, Sidhe Said by Tanya Huff, Tanya was a panelist I liked so I bought the Kindle copy and showed it to her, hey I bought your book! In hard copy: Paradigm by Helen Stringer, Look Back in Horror by Malcolm Stewart (I have another book of his), and Podthology edited by Timothy Reynolds. Perfectly Invisible by Michael A. Stackpole, an alternate universe where Newt Gingrinch is President, how could I not buy that? Ah, so much to read. I love supporting indie authors.

I also bought a paperback collection of Terry Pratchette short stories. I checked, and the ebook was about the same price as the paperback, which was not cheap. Big publishers hate ebooks.

P.S. I am rewriting the start of the Kittygirl story. Her older brother teases her in the first scene. I’ll post when it’s done. I’m still getting over a cold, I coughed at Convolution. Push push push out the next story.

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Kittygirl: first draft!

I just finished the first draft of my Kittygirl story. Yes, it’s a little rough, needs more laughs and spice and less fat. Here’s the first three pages. Already I think the start is not hooky enough, it feels a bit dull and it needs more to GRAB the reader. But it’s my bedtime now. (current story length: 4983 words)

SUPER HOLLY’S FAN KITTYGIRL IN: THE FIENDISH BRAIN FREEZER!

SURFVILLE, CALIFORNIA. A SUNNY SIDEWALK NEAR A TALL WALL. EARLY SEPTEMBER. A SATURDAY. 2:41 P.M.

Kittygirl marched down the sidewalk, the faithful members of the Super Holly Hannson fan club close behind her. She and the fangirls all wore the right colors: blue shirts, red capes, yellow up-arrow chest logo. Well, almost all. Following behind was Kittygirl’s mom in an ordinary dress. Mommy never cosplayed.

At the Boogie Board wall, Kittygirl pivoted around and ordered the girls: “Holly girls, HALT!” They did it just like they were in the army, except for a little giggling. They were all as excited as Kittygirl. As the president of the Super Holly fan club, Kittygirl pointed upward and gave the announcement they had all been waiting for: “Look! Up in the sky!”

A whooshing sound grew louder.

One girl said, “It’s a bird!” Another said, “It’s a plane!” And Kittygirl crowed, “It’s … SUPER HOLLY!”

And that beloved blonde young woman wearing a blue-sleeve supersuit, red cape, and yellow up-arrow chest logo meteored out of the sky. She landed at Kittygirl’s side.

Super Holly Hansson stood with hands on hips. Kind of like Wonder Woman, except Holly had a yellow purse on her hip instead of a lasso. She said, “How’s my fan club?”

They chirped, “We love you, Holly!” Well! Holly looked so happy as her fangirls climbed all over her like she was blonde monkeybars.

Then Kittygirl heard it: a tinny version of Turkey in the Straw. An ice cream truck the size of a bus pulled up, blocking the view of the street. A window opened. A man in a white suit poked out his head and announced, “It’s f-f-f-free ice cream day, l-l-l-little ladies!”

Instantly the fangirls hopped off Holly and ran to the ice cream truck. “Gimme vanilla!” “I want chocolate!” “I want organic blueberry!” The man handed out cone after cone of cold yumminess.

Holly looked down at Kittygirl and giggled. “Well. My uncle Pop is right: fame is fleeting! Sweetie, why aren’t you in line too?”

Kittygirl smiled up at her tall, strong, pretty hero. “I’m lactose intolerant.”

Holly knelt down and held Kittygirl’s hand. “I’m so sorry! If I’d known, I’d have brought some soy ice cream!”

Kittygirl gave Holly a quick hug. “It’s okay. You’ll always be my hero. You saved me!”

Holly hugged also, her super-strong arm so gentle. “And YOU saved me back!” She stood up again. Mom walked up to Holly and handed her a huge ice cream cone.

Holly sniffed the cone’s four big pink scoops tower. “Mmm, I love strawberry!” She took a big super bite. And another. And another. And another.

Mom knelt down while pulling some hankies out of her purse. “Honey, later I’ll buy you some soy ice cream. Now, I have to wipe some fangirl faces. AStarting with this one!” With a mischievous grin, she wiped Holly’s face.

Holly winked at Kittygirl and whined, “MOMMMM-MEEEEE!”

Kitty giggled up at Holly. Wow, the sun behind Holly made her blonde hair glow like a angel’s halo. “Your hair’s so shiny. You’re so tall and brave and beautiful.”

Holly knelt down and stroked Kittygirl’s long black hair. “You’re pretty too. Especially your big kittycat eyes.”

Before Kittygirl got her cat powers, her eyes were dark Japanese brown. Now they were Siamese cat blue, her pupils vertical slits. “Yeah. But they kinda stare back at me when I’m brushing my fangs.”

Holly smiled. “Glad you adjusted to your powers okay.”

Supergirl on CBS? I’ll hope for the best!

Action_Comics_285I love the current superhero wave in movies and TV. I know it will not last forever, but I’ll enjoy the ride. Just like boogie-boarding a perfectly-caught wave all the way in to shore. Yeah, I like to boogie-board. But only near San Diego, where the ocean is warmer.

Anyway. CBS has just given the green light to a Supergirl TV show from Greg Berlanti (Arrow and The Flash, good; Wrath of the Titans, bad) and Allison Adler (a skirt, thank goodness; and Chuck, Glee and No Ordinary Family: GOOD!).

I admit I’d prefer a lighter, funnier touch than Arrow. We’ll see. (And here I am, getting over a cold by watching Breaking Bad reruns, and loving Gus’s Wile E. Coyote final scene.) I hope the Supergirl show don’t go the way of the current comic book. Supergirl goes rebellious goddessy, then goes angry Red Lantern, then goes cyborg? Sheesh, give the kid a happier life! (The comic book will get a new writing/artist team soon, I’ll check it out.)

P.S. Scripting Change accepted my Holly punching out illiteracy story. Actually, they said they loved it. I love when people love my writing.

Captain Underpants and funny descriptions.

I just bought the latest Captain Underpants novel. I recommend Captain Underpants—the goofiest superhero this decade—to anyone who wants a good belly laugh. And to anyone who wants to learn more about funny descriptions. Like me. A few examples:

1: “I just want to soak this moment in,” he said with delight, as fizzy, brown phosphoric acid dribbled down his chins.

2: He smelled the envelope like he was admiring the aroma of a gourmet meal.

3: “Actually, it’s worse than that,” said Mr. Krupp, his yellow teeth glistening in a grin so wide it seemed to stretch beyond the boundaries of his face.

I am in LOVE with number 3! Beats the heck out of “He smiled.” Keep in mind that Dav Pilkey’s Captain Underpants books have artwork on every page, FUNNY artwork, and Dav STILL writes these funny, vivid descriptions!

I learned something this week: funny descriptions make me laugh. I’ll write more of them.

P.S. His first name is Dav? Makes me think of Dev-Em, the juvenile delinquent from Kyrpton. Maybe Dav’s part Kryptonian. I can say this because I am Dav-Em, I mean Dave M!

Publication advice from author Todd Borg

todd borg tahoe chaseAt the Mountain View art and wine festival last weekend, I bought another book from Todd Borg, who seems to know my face now. He writes mystery/thrillers about Tahoe-based detective Owen McKenna and his great dane Spot. I emailed him a little advice about adding tags to his blog, and he was nice enough to email me some advice and a compliment that made me feel good.

I read through many of your blog posts, and I think you are a good writer with a clear voice. I believe that as soon as you start publishing a series of books on Holly or something similar, in graphic form or just prose form, especially if you can do it on Kindle at a low price, you will find an audience that will grow with each new book. From my experience, I think that regular publication is critical, regardless of whether it is monthly, semi-annually, or yearly. That way your readers will anticipate each new publication and spread the word before and after each new book comes out. Not only will you find an audience, but it will grow, and it will monetize your blog because your blog readers will naturally want to buy your books. All they need to be is quality, relatively cheap on Kindle, and produced on a regular schedule.
How’s that for unwanted advice??!! (Sorry about that!) But I rarely see writers who can write well, and you can, so I want you to turn your skill into a profitable career.

Todd, don’t be sorry! I’m sending that story I told you about (Holly punches out illiteracy) to Scripting Change today. Then I’ll push another story to Amazon. You inspire me.

Click here to see a list of Todd’s books. And click here to buy Todd’s books (paper or Kindle). He has won writing awards. He is worth your time. And he’s a nice guy.

What was the WORST book you had to read in school?

The word-stealing supervillainess in my story due Sept 15 is a bitter high school english lit teacher. Holly remembers that that old bat stuffed Proust down students’ throats like a stomach pump in reverse.

However, I have never even read Proust. So I would like examples of english lit books shoved at kids with the attitude of, “Eat your Brussels Sprouts and LIKE them, and don’t you DARE do a book report on a book that is (ugh!) FUN!” Yes, I am asking for comments.

Bad book ideas are welcome, but I will need them before Sept 15 if I am to consider them. I’ll start: The Metamorphosis by Kafka was a lousy book for high school. The moral of “people are a burden” is not needed for a teenager.

P.S. This story was inspired by a high school teacher who made our resident flower child do another book report rather than the book she liked based on the Dark Shadows TV series. He said, “Sounds like a sex novel to me!” Kids should be allowed to read books they like once in a while, that is how they fall in love with reading instead of having a loathing of it rammed into their frontal lobes by his evil, elitist hands. He thought he had “A-1 handwriting,” but he had a 4-F teaching style.

P.P.S. I like Brussels Sprouts.

Final draft!

Final as in no more major revisions, just editing to sharpen it up. I sent the story to my friend, fellow writer/poet, and black belt in karate Tina Gibson. I admit that already, after sleeping on it, I feel like it needs more editing.

I cut out Cal. He was not needed in this story. Don’t tell Holly or she might get mad at me for breaking up that date. And the story is starting in the comics shop again. The theme of reading comic books.

So here is the start of the story again!

SURFVILLE, CALIFORNIA. THE GEEK GUY’S COMICS AND COFFEE CORNER. EARLY SEPTEMBER. A WEDNESDAY. 5:52 P.M.

When Batgirl delivered a flying kick to a meaty thug’s mug and quipped, “Bykn hijfdkh stbbbb NARFFF,” I suspected a bad print run. When I opened the next comic book in my stash, where Power Girl said to an guy ogling her super-bosom, “Tb oxow rrr lup rrhg,” I wondered if I was having a stroke at twenty five. But when the store’s clientele told the Geek Guy that they did not want the coffee bar menu written in Klingon, I knew that more than my word balloons had popped.

On the wall mounted television, a panicky anchorman babbled: “This is an emergency news bulletin! Reading in Surfville is impossible! All words are gibberish!”

A guy stared harder at his copy of Chain-Mail Bikini Sword-Babe. “Hey! He’s right!”

The anchorman’s hairdo looked about to undo. “This just in! Thousands of townspeople are zombie-shuffling toward Surfville High School!” He blinked hard. “Oh, the humanity! I can’t read my teleprompter! How can I tell Surfville to stay classy now?”

The Geek Guy closed his cash register. He smiled at me. “So Holly. Time to up, up, and punch out illiteracy?”

I pulled my blue supersuit and red cape out of my yellow hip purse. “Yeah. But can I leave my Batman T-shirt and jeans at the cash register?”

All the fanboys turned to me. As if they did not do that already to the six-foot-one blonde Power Girl lookalike.

I glared at them. “I’m changing in the bathroom.”