Jump to content


  • Content Count

  • Joined

  • Last visited

  • Days Won


Everything posted by Penguinball

  1. Found this thread on the 4theWords forum. I don't have anything to contribute to the list, but I thought people here might find it useful. Its a list of fiction podcasts, covering a range of genres. I'm just copy/pasting the responses. The Magnus Archives - horror podcast in the format of people reporting strange occurrence that happened to them. Gradually develops a very compelling overarching story. Sayer - sci-fi humor/horror, a (malevolent?) AI and the human-inhabited astroid it controls. Told as if you are the protagonist, listening to the AI snarking at you. Wolf 359 - Sci-fi humor podcast that develops an overarching plot. Format of the podcast is the recordings of the communications director of a station orbiting a distant star. Nightvale - probably the most classic of these. The Adventure Zone - another popular one. Three brothers playing dnd. Develops great story. Others I like: The Bright Sessions: Superhero-ish. Therapist gives counseling to clients with strange powers. Develops an overarching plot. Format is therapist's recordings. The Penumbra Podcast - Private investigator in sci-fi martian city, intermixed with other stories. Format is audio of what happened mixed with narration from PI. EOS10 - Sci fi humor, one completed arc Kakos industries - extremely irreverent and explicit podcast about a company that intentionally does evil and it's CEO. Format is CEO's recordings. I loved the beginning, but later episodes make it not a favorite. ARS Paradoxica - time travel, war (starting with WWII and heading into the Cold War) and espionage, politics, queer characters, existential dread, physics, and feminism. Honestly one of the most compelling stories I've ever listened to. Dames & Dragons - another D&D actual play podcast (like The Adventure Zone) but instead of three brothers and their dad, it's a group of ladies and enbies who have been friends for a long time (and it shows!) Not only is the campaign interesting and full of surprises, but every single character is so, so good. McGillicuddy and Murder's Pawn Shop is something that has me really hooked now. It's sort of an urban fantasy/horror set in 1920s and it has lots of cool world building. Love and Luck is my favorite queer love story with a bit of magic and characters who are too good for this world (and their relationship is GOALS). The Behemoth is a short, finished story about a teenage girl who follows an ocean monster across the country. It makes a lot more sense than this sentence, I swear. Very thoughtful and imaginative. Inhale is another short, completed audio tale about a superhero with a really interesting power who tries to leave her past behind and hides in a small town where she works as a librarian and contemplates her past. RedWing is one of my favorite superhero tales ever. It's very queer, very inclusive, and I just love the main character. The premise obviously borrows lots of inspiration from Batman, but the execution is very original and fresh. Normally Ordinary is another superhero-themed one I recently found. Really fun with a very likable main character/narrator. Friend of the Family is a monster-hunting dark comedy about a legacy monster hunter and a vampire who bicker a lot and somehow always manage to save the day. Bubble is another monster-hunting comedy with a great setting and a hipster flair. A lot shorter than the previous one, still lots of fun. The Leviathan Chronicles is sci-fi / spy thriller that is absolutely huge, buckets of wonderful and sadly still unfinished as far as I know, but I've heard there's hope. Heart Beats: A Heartwarming Fantasy is a story-focused actual play podcast with only two PCs sat in a strange little town. It's sort of slice-of-life suburban fantasy, and it never fails to lift my mood. Turncloaks is another actual play one, but it's very different, although it's still very story-focused (the storytelling can rival a lot of podcasts that are straight-up storytelling, not roleplaying). It's a highly political dark fantasy story with lots of twists. If You Give a Mouse a Dagger is yet another actual play podcast that I've just recently discovered. It's set in the Redwall setting and uses Fate Core, and I just love all the characters. They're just amazing. L.A. by Night isn't technically a podcast, it's a stream that's put on Youtube as videos, but I just can't resist mentioning it, too. It's a Vampire the Masquerade actual play, and both the storytelling and the roleplaying aspects are really top-notch, even if I sometimes thinks the crew plays too closely to clan stereotypes for my personal liking.
  2. I wrote words!Today's date: June 17thWords to add: 278 words
  3. I love what Sanderson does with the worldbuilding in the stormlight archives, it really shows what you can do when you go deeper, not broader. Think of the consequences of the setting, and explore them to their fullest consequences. Your coastal storms would be a way of life for those people, it would be ingrained into their culture. They might have certain laws that look strange from the outside, but are there to keep the people safe. In my world I'm working with has a locally contained disaster. The god of the forge used to have a city on a big island, with a ring of smaller islands around it. During one of the many wars between the gods he decided he would remove himself from the conflict. He sunk his island down and also raised the ring of islands into the sky, creating a barrier to keep the ocean away from his own city, which is now far below sea level. The vents from his forge put out vast heat, and they vent into the ocean. This creates masses of steam and wind. In order to cloak his island, the forge god imbued part of himself into another god (splintered himself off), whose purpose was to strengthen the steam and wind, creating a maelstrom above the forge city. The peoples of the ring islands take advantage of these winds with gliders and balloon ships to travel. This is maybe not exactly what you are looking for, this is a lot more magical than a hurricane. Brainstorming here, but I imagine a hurricane hitting the steam sea would be massively disruptive. Cold air and water hitting the steam would cause the winds to become chaotic, and dangerous for anyone caught out in them.
  4. Well I'm unashamedly a fan of the whole 'sexy vampire' trend, so I prefer my vampires to look quite human, with some small changes. I like bleached skin and eyes that reflect light differently than humans (like a cat's in the dark). I would like retractable fangs, but they are also almost too convenient for story purposes, it makes it too easy for them to blend in. So permanent fangs is good, that increases the danger to them because they can't hide quite as easily. I want them to catch eyes when they are in a crowd, for the humans to wonder about them but not quite be able to put their finger on it. I like the stories where the change perfects the humans in small ways when they are changed, lose some fat, gain some sculpting, better skin. Anne Rice had them flush their bodies of impurities, which is kind of gross with the detail she went into, but its an interesting concept. That's pure wish fulfillment though 😛 Things I don't like? I've seen a couple movies make the vampires monstrous by doing weird things with the biting mechanism (Blade 2 and the face splitting vampires, The Strain with the sucking rope tongue thing). I'm just not a body horror fan though, so there's that.
  5. And this is the topic I thought would get attention. Come on people, I know there's some tropes out there that bug you! What are your opinions on the most contentious ones? The Chosen One Convenient Prophecies Medieval European setting Horses are motorcycles Black and white morality (evil overlord vs pure farmboy) Cliche fantasy races (elves and dwarves ripped straight from Lord of the Rings) The Common Tongue (everyone speaks the same language everywhere, how convenient) There's only one girl in the group, and 'she's not like other girls'
  6. There's been topics about things that bug us in the fantasy genre before, but I wanted to do a slightly different take on it. Instead of just listing things we don't like, and why, I also want you to list a fantasy trend (trope, plot device, etc etc) that a lot of people dislike that you LOVE, and defend it. I want to hear why you think love triangles are awesome, or that the chosen one farm boy isn't overdone. For example, I haaaaate it when authors play with sibling relationships, love stories where there's fake outs about whether two characters are related or not, or they were raised as siblings, or adopted, and fall in love anyway. Just feels incesty even when it isn't (looking at you Mortal Instruments). Maybe that's a tough one to defend, but I'm all ears! One trope I do love that gets a lot of hate is enemies to lovers. When done poorly, or when there is a power imbalance involved it can feel like an abusive relationship, but when its two equals who start out disliking each other, but grow to understand and care...oh man, I love that trope. I love it because it increases tension, the 'will they/won't they' question. It also usually has a nice bit of chemistry, so it feels compelling. So to recap: 1. Tell us about a trope you dislike, and why 2. Tell us about a disliked trope you love, and why its not that bad 3. If someone above hates a trope you love, defend it! Explain why it deserves a second look (while remaining polite, defend without being defensive)
  7. In order to feel like a fully realized and balanced, a character needs to have flaws. This can range from having a bit of a temper to a crippling inability to say No to anything in between. What flaws do your characters have? How do they deal with them? Do they impact the plot?
  8. All up to date! Tagging @lisa.morgan, @lorneytunes, @Pinchofmagic, @Tangwystle, @Tigtogiba34 with the reminder that there is still a lot of time to get word counts in!
  9. I wrote words!Today's date: June 12thWords to add: 250 words I didn't make note of where I started and where I stopped, plus I edited what I had written previously, so this is an estimate.
  10. Bumping for visibility! There's lot of times to get an entry in!
  11. Lots of room! Actually does anyone remember how many spaces there are? Is it 10? We can always start a second cabin if needed!
  12. Really places the whole self publishing movement into perspective doesn't it?
  13. Welcome @Skya! Glad you found us! I'm focusing on short stories right now too. I've done novels in the past during NaNo, but I want to start submitting short stories and getting my name up there. Are you comfortable telling us more about the story you are working on? And a point of clarification, Worldsmyths just had its 3 year anniversary so we aren't THAT new. When we moved to new forum software we archived a bunch of stuff, but its still there, gathering dust 🙂
  14. Welcome! Stalking has paid off! Two months is a long time for a tab, I tidy mine up all the time, I dislike visual clutter. Anyway, welcome, ping me if you have any questions/comments/concerns/bad jokes!
  15. Invited! Maybe I'm the wrong person to ask, but I am Pro-Cheating when it comes to Camp NaNo. If it motivates to get words written, even if they are transcribed, then I think that fulfills the purpose of Camp.
  16. Maybe more less common than out of place? Its a perfectly valid way of outlining. I fully understand the need to have a thorough, methodical approach to a problem 🙂
  17. Yeeeaaaaah. The takeaway I got from several of the speakers was to just not worry too much about it. Plug away at building a list, but don't make it a priority. Only put time into social media when you don't have other stuff going on. Caveat though, the majority of these speakers were talking from a traditional publishing perspective. A self published author needs to put a lot more work into social media to build their audience. Again though, marathon, not a sprint. An audience will come over time as you put out material and interact and build relationships.
  18. Below are links to things I was told are good resources, with some context of what they are used for. Social Media: Claim your author name profile BEFORE you start having publications out, so you can dibs the name, and have somewhere to direct potential readers. https://www.pinterest.com/ https://www.facebook.com/ https://www.instagram.com/ https://www.goodreads.com/ https://twitter.com/ Website Creation: These are two inexpensive, reliable options. There is also Wordpress, but it involves more money/knowledge of coding. https://www.squarespace.com/ https://www.wix.com/ https://analytics.google.com/analytics/web/provision/?authuser=0#/provision Use to keep track of visitors and page clicks https://slack.com/intl/en-ca/ Good collaboration tool https://www.namespro.ca/ To register your domain name, get both the .com and your local country extension (like .ca or .uk) Other Resources: https://www.publishersmarketplace.com/ Paid website that allows you to see agent profiles and see who is making book deals. Good for seeing if someone is a fit for you before you query https://queryshark.blogspot.com/ How to write a good query, and other resources https://www.psliterary.com/ The P.S. Literary Agency (PSLA) represents both fiction and nonfiction works to leading publishers in North America, Europe and throughout the World, recommended for the query letter template https://www.victoriastrauss.com/writer-beware/ Writer Beware, calls out and warns of shady agents and publishing scams https://www.sfwa.org/ Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America - A professional association with a lot of industry clout and resources. The magazines on their list pay well. Canadian-Specific Resources: https://www.pacla.ca/ Professional Association of Canadian Literary Agents - Can look people up and see who's who https://prixaurorawards.ca/ Canadian Sci Fi and Fantasy Awards (Aurora Awards) https://onspecmag.wordpress.com/ Canada's only Speculative Fiction magazine http://www.sfcanada.org/ SF Canada exists to foster a sense of community among Canadian writers of speculative fiction, to improve communication, to foster the growth of quality writing, to lobby on behalf of Canadian writers, and to encourage the translation of Canadian speculative fiction. SF Canada supports positive social action. https://quillandquire.com/ Canadian book and magazine news
  19. Being Weird on Purpose - Writing Speculative Fiction, as presented by Candas Jane Dorsey. This was my favourite panel of the conference. She talked about speculative fiction - What it is, and some tips on how to do it well. Her talk was quite dense and I know I missed writing down a lot, but here are the key points. All fiction is speculative. Even if it takes place in this reality, it is never 100% accurate. Towns are made up, dialogue is constructed. Inner thoughts and feelings or real people are speculated on. Humans love allegories. We generalize from experience until we see meaning in patterns. Speculative fiction offers patterns. Allegories can bypass human defenses and biases Realistic fiction is actually quite new, and was not the default historically. The term 'speculative fiction' first was used to be more inclusive of other languages and cultures that use a variety of terms to describe the same sort of thing There are many lists of things not to do, but all the 'don't do this' rules can be broken by a clever writer - you can break the rule if you do it WELL Spec fic vs literary - In speculative fiction the journeys the characters understand (physically, mentally, emotionally, etc) are often longer, and they tend to have outcomes. A literary story may cut short or not be fully resolved. A quote from someone I missed - "Fantasy is a self-coherent narrative', meaning that it doesn't subvert the elements of a story, it moves in a predictable way (of course there are examples of more experimental stories, but generally speaking). 'Delaney's Levels of Subjunctivity' Subjunctivity - The relationship between something proposed or portrayed (especially in science fiction) and reality; degree of realism or probability. She talks about Delaney's three levels of Subjunctivity as a way of figuring out if something is speculative fiction or not. 1. Reportage level - This writing described things that did happen, factual events. This covers things like memoirs, newspapers, news reports (barring fake news of course) 2. Realistic Fiction - Things that 'could have happened'. The didn't, but they don't violate the rules of our reality. So this is things like from modern mainstream literary fiction to romance, high literature, pulp fiction, coming of age stories adventures. They may have made up towns or people, but the rules of the world and the setting are largely the same as our own. 3. 'Could NOT have happened' level - Elves do not exist, dragons do not fly. No matter how realistic the setting (urban fantasy for example), it is impossible for this story to have happened. As soon as a fantastic element is included, it infects the story with this level of subjunctivity. Think LOTR, Harry Potter, ghost stories, paranormal romance, magical realism, surrealism, horror, fantasy, etc. Sci fi fits into a strange place with several levels of subjunctivity. It sits at 'could not have happened' based on reality right now, but extrapolating trends could push it into 'has not happened', or even 'has not happened YET'. Spec fic, and especially fantasy, has internal rules. You have to change the rules of your world so the cool thing you want to happen falls into the 'could have happened' level. If it falls into the 'could not have happened' then your world is either poorly explained, or you have a plot hole. Our worldbuilding when we first start out, often is like fanfiction of our own world, its incomplete, not fully realized. You get the DnD style of characterization, Bob has 12 strength points. But WHY is Bob strong, what made him that way? Your worldbuilding too will have consequences, your characters shouldn't trip over cool ideas and mess up the plot. She talks a lot about the work of Samuel Delaney, who has several books and essays that Dorsey uses to teach this subject. With spec fic you can say things that are metaphorical in the real world, but are interpreted literally in fiction. Consider "She gave her heart up willingly" The background is equally as important as the foreground with spec fic - ie, the worldbuilding that is needed to explain how this world works. "The door dilated" is the sentence she gave as an example. That one word, dilated, tells us so much about the setting. Doors are different here, perhaps designed to accommodate a different shaped being. Humans don't need round doors after all. What can we infer about the world from that one word? "The red sun was high" - This tells us that maybe there is dust in the air, or a sunset. But that's not the whole sentence. Heinlein wrote, "The rest sun was high, the blue low." - This tells us a lot more, there's two suns, so its not earth. This world might have different gravity, plants, ways of life. Even the shadows would be different. So much worldbuilding with just a couple words. It is unnecessary then to explain that 'Bob lives in a binary star system' Your own language is such an important tool in spec fic, you can use it in a very short way to create a whole world. Another example "The city floated over the plain this week." - The addition of 'this week' tells us that not only does the city float, but it is mobile and doesn't stay in one place. Spec fic readers love the detective work of piecing together the details. This is another reason why info dumps are bad. It removes the mystery and feels so clunky. Exercises: 1. In your WIP, find a lump of exposition/info dumping, and see if you can find one adjective, one verb, and one noun (at least one of each) to tell this information in a descriptive sentence instead. Are there are ways to use the senses to make it all snap into place? 2. For the people of the world of fairy, or Mordor, the things we see in the books are normal. They don't require extra information and backstory. For them, magic (as an example) is normal. From your WIP, find a secondary or background character and write a short scene in which they go about their day. All the extraordinary things of your setting are normal for them. Show them being comfortable in your world. 3. Interview your characters, ask them 'Where is the voice coming from" - Why do they say what they say, do what they do, what shaped them? They shouldn't be there to dress the set, no Red Shirts or Spear Carriers. 4. Interview your 'really cool idea' too (your worldbuilding premise, the 'what if' question you are asking). To make this idea work, what needs to be different from our world to this one? Pin down what research you need to do. What are the long term effects of the idea? What plot elements have to happen to cause the idea, and what are the consequences of those plot elements. 5. Put two characters in a fairly commonplace setting, and put them through the 3 levels of subjunctivity in short scenes, or even a few sentences. What happens, what needs to change? How do the characters change in response to changes in the setting? Example - "A kid is sitting under a tree reading a book." Example - Meeting to talk about writing here and now in this room is very different compared to meeting to talk in Cambodia in 1076 when the Khmer Rouge were executing all artists and thinkers. Changing the setting changes the danger the characters are in, the tension, the choices they've made to even BE in that place.
  20. Hello! I'm home after the last day of the Alberta Writer's Guild conference. I'll summarize the notes from the keynote speaker first, Ian Williams. His talk about entitled 'Crossword Puzzles' and was about the intersection between myth and reality, particularly the myths, impressions, and dreams we have of what it means to be a writer, as compared to the REALITY of what it means to be a writer. He gave a set of 4 myths and realities, and discussed them thoroughly. 1. Myth - "Good Writers Need to Suffer" Reality - "We can be healthy and still write" What he is talking about is this longstanding vision of the writer that is romanticized, the suffering, depressed, anxious, traumatized writer, and how that pain feeds writing. While writers absolutely can be those things, and their struggles should no be downplayed, but it shouldn't be assumed that a writer NEEDS to be those things in order to create good writing. he says to emphasize the positive, I survived, I am well, or to find the small victories. 2. Myth - "You are the representative of the group you are identified with" Reality - "I don't have to be more than myself" This point speaks more to marginalized groups, people of colour, queer, disabled, women, etc. The audience perceives you as belonging to a group, and takes your opinion to mean that you speak on behalf of the entire group. You become a representative, whether you like it or not, and regardless of the individuality within the group. This puts a lot of pressure on you, you have to be conscious of what you say. It is important to remember that you ARE an individual, and if you aren't comfortable with speaking on behalf of a group, say so. 3. Myth - "Being a writer, I will be rich and famous, or I will be poor like Edgar Allan Poe and die on a bench in Baltimore" Reality - "You'll probably need a day job" This myth speaks to the gran aspirations we have, and the pressure we put on ourselves to achieve them. It might not be rich and famous, it might be goals like "I will win X award". Its the things we seek to gain a sense of self worth from our writing. The reality is that those things aren't super likely, and you will need a day job, and you will need to choose to focus on writing for its own sake, and to find happiness in work that can be fulfilling. 4. Myth - "The popularity of our public persona, as filtered through social media, is related to how popular we are offline. And that you the author are responsible for maintaining that popularity, and the success of your book" Reality - "Being popular on social media does not equate to being a good author" You don't need to become a social media monster in order to be successful. You should be yourself, and only use social media to the extent that is useful for you. Do not rely on recognition through social media for approval. Also, its good to have a secret life, you don't need to have EVERYTHING online.
  21. I'm leaning to maybe not open ended, but a longer time period. This project would fall more towards the bottom of my priority list at the moment, a spare time kinda thing?
  22. This post will be a lot shorter than the one on social media. This presentation was by Carolyn Forde of Transatlantic Agency. She is an agent, she started by talking about what an agent does, then went into a question and answer period. Here's some of what she said. An agent is your liaison between yourself and the publishers. They pitch your book to publishers, negotiate the control, and follow up through the whole editing and publishing process. The reason you want an agent is because they have the knowledge, experience, and most importantly, the networking and contacts to get you the best deal possible for your book. Self publishing is a perfectly valid option. Yes, you get the full share of the profits, but also have to do all the work yourself, editing, marketing, dealing with amazon, creating a cover. Agents in Canada typically make 15% commission. Agents in the US usually make 20%, as they are often working with co-agents, and they each get 10% Have your manuscript as polished as can be before sending it to the editor. If this means paying for a freelance editor, so be it (Note, I've seen a lot of advice saying otherwise, as publishing houses HAVE editors, so take this with a grain of salt). When querying, have a thorough understanding of what your book is about, as in, what category does it fit in, what are the industry terms and buzz words that would describe it? Being accurate in describing your book in your query letters is vital. Networking is important, well as building an online presence. Agents and publishers absolutely google you and look at your online presence. I asked what is considered a large audience and she said numbers vary by agents preference, but generally 10k followers is seen as a small but buildable base. You need to be getting 6 figure followers or more before you are considered as having a built in audience already Query letter - you should explain why you are reaching out to that agent, why you think they are a fit for you. This means you had to have researched them first. Don't just blindly submit to everyone To learn more about agents check places like Quill and Choir (might be Canadian only?) and Publisher's Marketplace (paid, $25USD per month). The Marketplace has lists of which agents are taking on clients, and how many deals they've brokered lately. This allows you to make educated guesses about who is active and able to close deals. Querying simultaneously is not only allowed, but expected. It often takes months to hear back, and it isn't feasible to wait 4 months for a no before trying the next person on your list. Just make sure you let the agent know you are querying simultaneously Getting referrals from other authors is a great way to meet agents. Of course this necessitates being friends with published authors. Wait 3-4 months before following up with an agent to see if they have read your query yet. (This number varies a lot online from what I've heard but most sites agree that 2 months is too soon). Do NOT be aggressive and email them constantly, they will absolutely bin your book Try to go with an agent from an established agency. Becoming an agent is like an apprenticeship program, even if they are a junior agent they will still have the support and resources of the rest of the agency. Free agents do not have this support, and may not be able to get you as good a deal NEVER pay reading fees. There are some hybrid companies that are offering both editing and agent services, and some of these are legit, but generally the money show flow TO the author, not away. NEVER sign for lifetime rights to be given away. It can go wrong in so many ways. Series - When querying a book with sequels, don't mention them in your query letter. Say you have a standalone book (make sure it is!) that has sequel potential. If you are signed, THEN you can bring up that there are more of these books (Another reason I heard is that the publisher may have editorial feedback that brings your books in a different direction than what you had in mind, and you don't want effort to go to waste with books that may not fit after the first book is edited)