IWSG: Favorite Genres to Write

Question of the Day:

Of all the genres you read and write, which is your favorite to write in and why?

Fantasy is the most fun. Science fiction and creative nonfiction are usually the most fulfilling.

Creative non-fiction helps me deal with my own past.

My love for writing science fiction helps me sort through my feelings about people today and our relationships with technology.

I feel that fantasy is the most fun to write because of the thousands of years of human stories that can be explored for inspiration: historical facts for historical fantasy, fairy tales and old folklore for contemporary stories, and all the ways past stories combine in in new environments for futuristic and other-world fantasies.


Insecure Writers Support Group Badge

The Insecure Writers’ Support Group aims to inspire writing and sharing. Writers are encouraged to express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who “have been through the fire” can offer advice. It’s set up to be a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds.

See a full list of IWSG authors, click here.

The co-hosts for this June 5 posting of the IWSG are Diane Burton, Kim Lajevardi, Sylvia Ney, Sarah Foster, Jennifer Hawes, and Madeline Mora-Summonte. Thank you, hosts!

Blog Updates and Recommendations

Have you noticed the changes in this site’s design? I expect few readers have. Email and WordPress subscriptions won’t show the site design.

For anyone reading on the full site: What do you think?

The sliding menu in last month’s design was not keyboard friendly, which is a feature I usually check but didn’t when choosing that design. I was also struggling with features that likely matter to no one else but me but were taking up too much of my attention. The muted colors up as I type coordinate with the cover of “Grotesquery”, which brings me cheer.

Another change is that I will be boosting more blogs.

SiM Presents: Science in Sci-Fi, Fact in Fantasy

Today I would like to introduce Science in Sci-Fi, Fact in Fantasy by Dan Koboldt. This weekly blog series hosts experts on relevant topics to discuss elements of speculative fiction.

We debunk the myths, correct the misconceptions, and offer advice on getting the details right.

Posts already covers a broad range of sciences, historical topics, character types, and fantastical tropes from the past few years. The series can be a fun, educational distraction for fans of sci-fi and fantasy.

Remembering Memorial Day

Do you know the meaning of Memorial Day and Veterans Day?

Both are federally recognized holidays in the United States, so many Americans get the last Monday of May and a day around November 11 off of work. Both days are meant to honor past service people.

What were we expected to think about on each day?

The short answer is that while Veterans Day (in November) primarily honors living personnel, Memorial Day honors the military personnel who died in the line of duty.

The people meant to be honored on Memorial Day aren’t the ones who can choose to march in parades or attend memorial services. That means publicly cheering the stranger wearing a U.S. Marines veteran badge might be more appropriate on another day.

Memorial Day Activities

The traditional activities on Memorial Day are decorating the grave of a service person, saying a prayer, and lowering an American flag to half-mast until noon. This can feel outdated, or unhelpful. Another option is to listen.

I’ve long thought of Monday as a time to support the veterans or civilian family members whose memories can remain raw months or years later. Those of us who have already worked through grief over a lost soldier, or who haven’t suffered any losses personally, can be receptive to stories of the military personnel who have died.

Those of you who are remembering people who were close to you should know your voice can be heard.

Remembering the Past for the Future

Speaking up and listening might be harder this year than most. Focusing on the meaning of Memorial Day can be harder when our own federal administrators don’t understand the holiday.

The current United States Commander in Chief has been talking over veterans and active duty personnel, military advisors, and military families since before his campaign. Despite opposition from senior military officials and others who care about ethics, public safety, and international relations, POTUS 45 is threatening to pardon war criminals next week. In my view, he is using a day meant for recognizing the human costs of service to boost his horrific attacks on humanity.

Please take a moment for yourselves. Enjoy an extra day off of work if you get one. But also, please, take a moment on Monday to consider the threads that weave us together.

May you have a thoughtful Memorial Day.

IWSG: Early Experiences with Words

Happy May Day! I shared a simple card on Twitter. Oddly, I forget the flowers. What is May Day without flowers? 💐

Blog Notice:

Another thing I forgot was to check last week for the close of Ad Hoc Fiction‘s “Switch” ebook, which included one of my stories. The anonymous contest voting typically lasts a week. I had figured posting a week and a half after the contest start would be safe. However, the period for that edition lasted two weeks. I took down the story when I noticed.

A version of my Ad Hoc story will post again to my blog this Saturday.

IWSG Prompt and Answer

What was an early experience where you learned that language had power?

When I was in elementary school, likely somewhere within third to fifth grades from what I remember, I sat in the parking lot of Walmart in the back seat of the car waiting for my mom to return from shopping.

She returned in a huff. My dad asked from the driver seat if she bought a pair of glasses.

No. All of their glasses are atrocious.”

Dad was prone to arguing at anything my mom said. This time, he accepted her answer with a shrug.

Atrocious. I collected that word in my mind, holding onto it. Atrocious. I looked it over and felt its points. What a word. A new favorite in my vocabulary but special, a word that needed to be stored away from daily use. Atrocious.

The hundreds of the glasses in the store were all wrong for my mother. They were too ugly for her to show Dad. She’d looked in the mirror and saw conflict, the way, unknowingly at the time, I would through my teens for similar reasons.

The word sounded more mature than ugly and more intense than horrible. Other kids might not know it, but I could consider it as a tool for talking to adults. It had more power in uneven relationships that mundane, egocentric phrases such “not for me” or “I didn’t like them”. The value in the word avoided monetary cost, a topic that always seemed like a jab at a cancerous wound when mentioned.

Despite the appalling feelings associated with it, the word is also beautiful. I’ve wondered at the leading “a”, the “t”  at the leader’s side like shelter, then the rowing to a delicious finish.

Atrocious. That word is as protective as a dagger flashed at predators who need reminders to respect others. Like any knife, it could be used as a weapon to harm someone, but I continue to marvel at it in my collection.

Like an ornate dagger, that’s a word better stored than needed.

dagger

 

 


Insecure Writers Support Group Badge

The Insecure Writers’ Support Group aims to inspire writing and sharing. Writers are encouraged to express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who “have been through the fire” can offer advice. It’s set up to be a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds.

See a full list of IWSG authors, click here.

Writing from the Anti-Hero’s POV

Who’s insecure? You’re insecure!

The good news is that today is March’s Insecure Writer’s Support Group (IWSG) day.

What IWSG does on the first Wednesday of each month is prompt writers to blog about writing-related fears, doubts, and successes. Participants are then encouraged to support each other in comments.*

Today’s Question:

Whose perspective do you like to write from best, the hero (protagonist) or the villain (antagonist)? And why?

My answer is associated to why I have also called my site Shadows in Mind. Traditional heroes and unsympathetic villains are difficult to understand, and clear cut conflicts are too often unbelievable to capture my interest. I write gray (shadowy) characters and conflicts.

I enjoy writing in gray areas where the difference between heroism and villainous behavior is the reader’s perspective. I think “Grotesquery” is a good example of that with each fearful protagonist an antagonist while trying to do good.

So, I’m most comfortable writing from a hero who is their own antagonist. (I’ve been blessed with a great amount of experience!) For fiction, this type of character is referred to as an anti-hero.

I understand that many writers intentionally avoid anti-heroes, but the typical hero and villain are too challenging for me to write.

Quick and Dirty Glossary

Are you wondering about my use of these literary terms? Because the meanings of these character types are subject to opinion. Here are simplified definitions based on mine.

Hero:

The Good Guy fighting against evil. This character is often an ideal of virtues.

Protagonist:

A character who moves along the story by striving for a goal; often, the hero.

Villain:

The Big Evil, often despicable. Not to be confused (in fiction, anyway) with a lower society person from the country.

Antagonist:

A character creating obstacles for the protagonist(s).

Anti-hero:

A Bad Guy fighting against evil -or- a character whose personality and actions share are a mix of typical hero and villain traits.


*Please be patient as I figure out how to leave appropriate comments and quickly respond to the wonderful support here. Your comments are appreciated!

The Insecure aWriter's Support Group badhe

Click here to see the Linky Tools list for the ISWG Blog Hop…

Creative Outlets: Take 2

I shared yesterday what my creative outlets have been through recent years. Lee Lowry’s post on A Taste for Murder reminded me of another outlet on my better health days: graphic design.

I put together several of the design elements across my website, including headers and the donation badge in the site footer. However, my favorite design activity is to create book covers.

Pulling apart a story into pieces to form a cover that can suggest what a reader will enjoy about the story is about a satisfying as picking apart the remains of dinner to make food sculptures for the family. (Does anyone else do that? I might have missed several of my creative outlets in the first list….)

While some of the covers are for publication (for example, “Grotesquery”), others are to test out how I feel about a story. Here are a few of the ebook covers I’ve designed for myself.

 

 

 

ISWG Creative Outlets

I’ve been feeling insecure as a writer this evening, which is convenient. Today is this month’s Insecure Writer’s Support Group day!

Typically, I remember a day too late to participate.

What IWSG does is prompts writers to talk about their writing-related fears and doubts on their blogs. Participants are then encouraged to support each other in comments.

Today’s Question: Besides writing, what other creative outlets do you have?

Answer: I’ve enjoyed drawing, painting, practicing photography, performing at  various types of events, training in martial arts, singing, and dancing.

These activities are bigger challenges than they were in my 20s. Money, time, and energy have always been limiters. I’m always worked around or despite trauma and chronic health issues. Now, though, there are more frequently days when holding a pen(cil) to draw is agony, more painful than typing. Cleaning up the pain takes more energy than I have (what with the standing, walking, carrying, scrubbing, and looking for drips or spills). The physical training in martial arts and dance are impeded by the same issues. I can no longer use a flash on a camera without triggering or exacerbating a migraine. My offline social life has become almost nonexistent, and driving to gigs is dangerous most days.

What’s frequently left is singing, to myself and my child. We even sing original stories to each other.

That, singing, keeps some of the fear away when I can’t write.

The Insecure aWriter's Support Group badhe

Click here to see the Linky Tools list for the ISWG Blog Hop…

Shades of Memory

cropped-sunsetheader.jpg

Once upon a bright Californian desert, I lived in fear of the sun.

That fear might have been inspired by an incident with a seat buckle when I was a toddler. Back then, car seats exposed more metal than what’s allowed today. I don’t remember the incident but know I witnessed my sister burn on her seat that heated in the desert sunlight coming in on her side of the car. The babysitter said she screamed and screamed. The burn left a permanent scar on my sister and (maybe) emotional ones on me.

I’m not sure I liked direct sunlight or heat before that. My parents insisted that I stay out in the sun on decks and beaches long enough for my skin to burn, and I remember wanting to stay inside. I do believe the incident in the car intensified my fears.

We moved north to green woods and valleys deepened by whitewater rivers. My family complained of the overcast skies that lasted for months. I explored the cool shadows of the forests.

Sure, animals that could eat me lived in the shadows, too. I knew to avoid routines while outside during the dawn or dusk, those glorious times between night and day when shadows filled with rainbow colors. Those were hunting times. I hunted for beauty.

I’ve known since early childhood how to avoid dangers where the light is dimmer. Don’t look like prey. Feel for each step. Know the difference between a baby oak and poison oak–I mean, know what’s actually dangerous. These are important lessons for living in the shadows.

foggy mountain rang at dusk

In my twenties, I learned to live in cities. The human to non-human ratio is higher in urban environments than it is in the country. Most of the dangerous predators are of the same species as their prey. Construction interferes with routes as much as weather does. Toxins are everywhere in higher doses than one finds in an old-growth forest.

Shade can take on new meanings* with greater exposure to human cultures. Shadows are cast by the people who attract the most notice.

As a writer, I like to take the places and types of characters hidden behind stereotypes. They’re buried in history. They’re too alien/unfamiliar. The characters aren’t the typical age or gender, or they’ve blurred the lines between heroes and villains. I blend the light and the dark. That looks familiar to me.

These days, I also try to fill shadows with rainbows.

That’s what I’d needed when I was younger.


* Just Wanna Share: “Throwing Shade”

What is the correct usage of ‘throwing shade’?” on Stack Exchange

Tufted ducks lifting off from golden water

Tweeting Again -and- Oh, Horror!

Tweeting Again

I can give ❤️s again!

Twitter emailed me an apology for the inconvenience of locking me out of then restricting my account. The email confirmed that an automated system is charged with removing spam accounts. “[I]t looks like your account got caught up in one of these spam groups by mistake.”

I’m grateful to stop waiting for an answer.


Oh, Horror!

More than a week ago, I asked, “What is the story when frightening and disgusting the readers is the intention to create another mood?”

I don’t have an answer to that yet. The question arose from my curiosity about Horror. I’ve created an interview questionnaire for Horror writers. My intention was to better understand their perception of the genre. However, I don’t yet have the guts to approach potential interviewees.

Turns out, I’m kind of scared of people who openly admit to horrifying readers on purpose. I might be afraid to learn I’m one of them.


Website Updates

Visitors–Do you like the new background color? It’s more blue than the previous gray. I’ve also started changes to Shadows in Mind front page, which will continue through this week.

Thanks for keeping up with me.