Archive for June, 2012
Play or download episode *here*
Hello, and Welcome to My Writing Niche, a podcast for new writers. Today’s podcast, #61, was recorded for Sunday, June 24th, 2012. I’ll be talking about The Horror Writing Workshop I recently attended, and I’ll read the story I created with its help.
Her family was going to Hell, and there was nothing she could do about it.
The red block letters stood out as she read the notice threatening to turn off her electricity. The foreclosure was wreaking havoc on her nerves, her husband’s benefits were running out, the medical bills were piling high, and the goddamned dog wouldn’t stop eating the couch.
She went to check on Amanda. The girl lay sleeping in her crib, her forehead beaded with sweat in the sweltering room. Why the hell was it so hot in here? No breeze blew through the open window. She shooed a fly from her daughter’s face. What would she do when the benefits ran out? How would her daughter get treatment?
Bending to plant a kiss on the girl’s forehead, she felt a sudden warmth tug her from behind. She turned and gaped, the wall suddenly funneling back into a bright spinning vortex. Searing heat pulled her, the room’s furniture falling toward the hole, dragging them to the edge. The mother screamed, clutching her unconscious daughter, and bolted for the open doorway. Clutching her precious daughter, she threw herself into the hall and fell panting against the wall.
From the floor outside, she watched the portal expand. Heat emanated from its depths; its light left its imprint on her retina when she looked away, the image seared into her brain. Soon, her husband bounded up the steps. When he saw the vision through the open doorway, he slammed the door shut and wound his family in his arms. “I didn’t know this would happen!” he sobbed. “It’s fine. I can reverse this. It’ll be just fine,” he said.
The mother had her doubts. Acts of god (or mad scientists, for that matter) were rarely covered by insurance policies, and their policy would expire at the end of the month.
It had been years since she’d assisted Ralph in his work, but minions were one luxury they couldn’t afford under present circumstances. She donned her goggles, adjusted the straps on her leather apron, and soldered the final piece of the machine into place. This would work. Their home would be destroyed in a matter of hours if the portal expanded exponentially, but Ralph assured her this would work. It needed to work.
She could barely stand to look as they aimed the reversal-gun at the gaping hole that had once been the heart of their happy home. She thought of their daughter safely stowed at Grandma’s house. At least the old bat was useful for something.
Presently, what remained of the house hummed with the machine’s vibrations. Electricity crackled. Sparks flew. She took cover behind the protective shield alongside her husband, gazing up at the hole that had once been the nursery. The gun went off. A sudden explosion of light and heat sent them reeling, despite the shield, into the wall beyond. She watched in horror as the portal engulfed the rest of the ceiling. She wondered how long the roof would hold. How much longer did they have?
Ralph stood up beside her, the expanding circle of fire reflected in his goggles. His mouth gaped. He made no attempt to move, and she screamed, “It’s getting worse!” – yanking him from his reverie as woodwork fell around them. “Goddamn it, Ralph! It’s getting worse!”
Her husband turned to reply, his face blackened by ash and sweat. They dodged falling debris, and she caught the fiery glint on his goggles once more. “I don’t know what else to do,” he sobbed.
She stopped and watched him run through the screaming remains of her former kitchen. Soot and debris rained around her, but none touched. “Screw it, Ralph. We tried it your way.”
She raised her eyes to the portal and muttered ancient words. Her voice rose until she was screaming above the din, pointing at the light beyond. A fierce growl emanated from its depths. Smiling, she turned, grabbed the small kennel, and hurled it into the flames. There was one horrific howl; then the portal sealed itself and the house was engulfed in silence.
She grinned. She had really loved that couch. Besides, their insurance did cover fire damage.
*The above story was completed as part of a worksheet for a Writers’ Workshop that I attended a few weeks ago. The three authors who taught the workshop discussed writing techniques. My thanks to Lucy A. Snyder, Linda Robertson, and Gary A. Braunbeck – as well as Backlist Books and the Massillon Museum – for providing this service.
A Princess of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs tells the story of John Carter, a Virginian soldier, who finds himself stranded on the Red Planet. Through his abilities (that the Martians lack) and his intelligence he must learn to survive, caught between the eternally feuding Green Martians and their Red Martian enemies.
This was a fun read. The recent release of the John Carter film, based on A Princess of Mars, is what first made me pick up the book. Until now, I haven’t been a fan of Burrough’s work, but this novel has made me reevaluate my opinion. However, it is the first in his series of Barsoom novels, so I was disappointed that questions were left unanswered by the novel’s end.
One of the things I noticed was how closely the movie had followed the book, though much of this was in spirit rather than a literal interpretation (which would have resulted in an 8 hour long movie). The novel’s timeline is much longer, as John Carter is stranded for months on the Red Planet, while in the movie it seemed much shorter. Things that he discovered in the novel over the course of months, he learned almost immediately in the film.
In the novel, he learned to speak the language of the Green Martians through lessons he took with his caretaker, Sola – the only compassionate Green Martian that he knew. She was looked down upon by the other Green Martians for being an “atavism” – a throwback to an earlier time when compassion and love were not considered vices. This is explained in greater detail in the book. However, the movie tidily shows how the Green Martians regard Sola’s compassion by showing her branded as punishment for helping Carter – a convenient scene for the filmmaker that never occurred in the book. There were many such scenes.
The film started out with a fantastic air battle between rival factions of the Red Martians; while the book certainly showed them fighting amongst themselves, it wasn’t something that happened early in the novel or happened in quite the same way. The men who manipulated the Martians in the movie never appeared in the book, though they might appear in another of the Barsoom series (which I haven’t finished yet). One of the Red Martian factions did war against Helium, and of course in both book and novel everyone who came across the Princess fell immediately in love with her. While I enjoyed both versions of the story, I found that extremely annoying.
One of the things I loved about the film version was the strength of the Princess. She fought. She got angry. She was incredibly intelligent and obviously a scientist. While the novel mentioned that she was part of a research mission when she was originally captured by the Green Martians, it wasn’t stressed what her mission was or exactly what her job entailed. Her function in the novel, besides illustrating the differences between Red Martian culture and human culture, seemed to simply be the pretty girl that John Carter fell and fought for. She was almost always angry or emotional, and she was always beautiful. Since the character of the princess was my favorite part of the film, I was disappointed with her portrayal in the novel.
I was not, however, disappointed with the novel’s portrayal of Woola – the Martian (for want of a better word) “dog.” This huge beast, in both film and book, was a huge animal who loved John Carter, helped him, and followed him like a puppy. He was a monster with a heart of gold.
One thing the novel had that wasn’t covered by the film was John Carter’s telepathic powers. Green Martians had limited language that they supplemented with telepathic thought, and Carter often “caught” stray thoughts that were not meant for him. Coupled with his proficiency in the language and the fact that the Green Martians could not read his mind, he had a powerful advantage. And of course, in both, he could jump great distances due to the difference between Martian and Earth gravity.
I would recommend the book, Princess of Mars, though the ending of the book is far less satisfying than the film. The parts of the film that cover Carter’s means of travel to Mars differs greatly from the novel, but I suspect those differences are ultimately unimportant – given that I have yet to read the rest of the Barsoom series. His back story on Earth is different, but his rugged and honorable character shines through in both the printed page and the big screen. All in all, I believe the film tells a better story than the novel, but the novel is still worth reading.
Play or download episode *here*
Hello, and Welcome to My Writing Niche, a podcast for new writers. Today’s podcast, #60, was recorded for Sunday, June 10th, 2012; and I’ll be talking about books! Specifically, I’ll be talking about books that have had a huge influence on my life.
14. Immortal Poems of the English Language (poetry anthology)- an anthology edited by Oscar Williams
Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions by Edwin A. Abbott (from reading Rudy Rucker)
And last but not least, Edith Hamilton’s Mythology
and John Wiswell’s original post, 15 novels that stick with me
Thank you for your time. Polite feedback is both welcomed and appreciated, and I hope you have a lovely week!
This week, I had the honor of being given the Kreative Blogger Award by John Wiswell of The Bathroom Monologues. The game involves listing 10 things about myself as well as awarding this to other bloggers whose work I admire.
I’ve played similar games before, so I apologize if I’ve already listed some of these things about myself. Here’s my list!
1. I never attempted to write fiction (other than for school assignments) until my late thirties. The only reason I started was because Nanowrimo offered me to the chance to write down stories that I thought would make a nice keepsake for my son when he was older. They were about a character I created for him called Monkey boy. Needless to say, the ‘novel’ was pretty unreadable (the entire first chapter was an info dump), but I was hooked and decided to keep practicing until I got better.
2. During my senior year of high school, my Lit teacher liked one of my flash stories (it was an assignment) and told me that I should consider writing. I was flabbergasted and asked what I should do. He just told me to write. Without direction (I assumed you needed a plan, etc.), I did not write again until my late thirties, though I never forgot that conversation.
3. Until the late 90′s, I was computer-phobic. In high school, I had taken computer classes though I didn’t own a computer, and through the wonder of high school I developed a long-standing hatred for programming and all things computer related.
4. During the late 90′s, my husband introduced me to search engines and chat rooms. I got over my hatred/fear of computers.
5. My original alias for chats and other on-line activities was ‘Titania’, from A Midsummer Night’s Dream, but I got tired of being constantly ‘hit on’ in the chat rooms because of my female moniker. So I changed it to the more androgynous ‘ganymede’ (the alias of Rosalind in As You Like It when she poses as a boy, as well as the name of Jupiter’s…uh, ‘cupbearer’). Then I was ‘hit on’ by gay men in the chat rooms, but much less frequently.
6. ‘Ganymede’ became ‘Ganymeder’ because I screwed up when I was creating my original blog. I added the ‘R’ to stand for the first initial of my last name.
7. When reading and writing, I prefer everyday language that’s easy to read. I don’t believe good writing equates to using big words.
8. I’ve written approximately 271,000 words of fiction since I started writing in 2007. That’s four Nanowrimo ‘novels’ of 50,000 words each, and (conservative guess) 142 flash stories of roughly 500 words each (according to my blog, not including links to other sites for flash). I am also not including word counts for short stories that have not been published or that I haven’t finished because the task of adding them up separately is too troublesome.
9. Open Office (now Libre Office) is my word processor of choice. I’ve lusted after other writing programs, occasionally used other programs, but I always seem to come back to Open Office.
10. I do not have a writing schedule. I write between doing other things, because I usually have to work my schedule around those of other people.
I apologize if I’ve said some of these before. I tried to keep my list restricted to information that has to do with writing, so my awardees are also some of my favorite flash fiction writers. My recommendations for the Kreativ Blogger Award are:
3. Annie Evett
5. Jack Holt
And last but not least, thank you, John! I’m flattered that you thought of my blog for the award.