Saturday, January 1, 2011

Making Magic Is Hard

 Making magic is hard.

It takes a lot of time, effort, persistence and preparation.

It takes just the right mix of tools and ingredients.

It also takes a ton of elbow grease, the appearance of no effort at all, and, in the end, timing is everything.

I know.

I made magic this Christmas/Yule season for my little boy. In the lack of available 'magic' to be had, I made my own. My son will never know how much sleep I lost (months worth!), how much my fingers hurt (still - ow), how my muscles ache (ow, ow) and how easily I could nap for a week (at least)...

All the effort brought to mind urban fantasy characters of all kinds, tapping into magic, creating magic and transforming the world around them and then I realized: no matter what kind of person, hero or creature you are, you can make magic.

Even the most mundane of us can work magic. IF we try hard.

It's completely doable. It just doesn't come free.

Because it isn't easy. Not even the 'gifted' get off doing magic for no price. As with most things worth doing, magic is 90% (or more) hard work. And we all need some down time, some recovery time, some patch-us-back-together time as a result.

But it's worth it.

In the end, all the effort, the hard work, the battles and sweat and aching fingers.. yes, even my mundane 'efforts-by-human' look and feel like REAL magic, to my son but also, surprisingly, to me.

And I'm not done yet.  I don't think I'll ever be done because you know what? I plan on making this magic stuff for a long time to come.

I just need a little nap* before the next round... and maybe some IcyHot...

Happy New Year everyone.
May there be much magic for us ALL in 2011. 

* I wonder how long Santa naps to recover from his magical urban invasion/visitation? Maybe a good supply of cookies helps. ;)

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The NaNo Monster

If you know anything about NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) you know it's an exciting and daunting marathon/undertaking for most people who get involved during the month of November. Despite having only a vague idea of the monster task they're taking on* (not the least of which is themselves),  these writers dip - no, fling! - their hooks and lines into the abyss and go fishing for whatever stories lie in the deep, murky recesses of their minds, intent on reaching that forbidding goal of capturing (at the least) a small - complete - novel  of 50 000 words in only 30 days. As if that weren't forbidding enough, this year the NaNo critics have crawled out of the mud(dle) and blogged their scorn all over the web, adding another layer of obstacles for the writer to struggle through in their dream of bagging the big one.

I'm very sad at all the backlash I see NaNo getting this year. In fact, this post was originally a comment I left on a blog in response to one of the many "Is NaNo Good for Real Writers?" posts floating about the web right now.

The criticism is sounding either a heck of a lot like elitism or, alternately, a convenient set of excuses to avoid the true grunt work that real writing is : just you and the page, persisting putting words together for the purpose of a recognizable result. When every man and his dog really IS doing it you realize two things: 1) it's not as easy to be a writer as you might think (the minimum word count per day for NaNo is an average work day for a pro - and working writers HAVE to end up with 'good' words to keep their jobs) and 2) putting words on the page is where the writing begins, not ends. It's up to you how much quality you aim for.

NaNoWriMo is a wonderful concept, motivator and activity to participate in. It's also, in principle, more necessary than many would admit. It's very easy to dismiss NaNo because, yes, quality is not the aim of NaNo. Instead it's about showing you that a) writing is consistent, hard work and b) that it IS more possible than you might think to do. For those people who don't regularly write under deadline, NaNo does three things:

1) It brings home just how much WORK there is to writing by forcing you to do it. It's not all about crafting words  - first you have to have some words to craft. And if you want to ever be a pro writer, I'll say it again: the minimum daily requirement for Nano really is a fairly average day at work.
2) They say it takes 30 days to make (or break) a habit. NaNo goes a long way to getting the 'write EVERY day' necessity for serious wannabes going (and if you've been a little slack in the previous year it's a great way to get you back onto the writing wagon).
3) It shows you that, if you persist, you CAN write even when you don't feel like it, have crazy schedules getting in the way and more. And sometimes you even write GOOD stuff. (The many book contracts emerging from manuscripts birthed/unearthed/bagged-and-tagged during NaNo are testament to that.)

NaNo also teaches you things about your own writing that aren't possible any other way. For me, I've discovered that while I can do NaNo just fine, I'm happier with my writing if I can edit as I go, so writing a novel "NaNo-style" (ie. keep writing, don't stop and don't look back until you've hit 50 000 words and/or 'the end') is NOT the best writing method for me personally BUT other principles of NaNo DO apply - write every day, keep going when you feel you can't, some words are far better than no words, a little every day adds up quickly, you CAN achieve a big goal in a short period of time if you persist despite all manner of obstacles and limited time and yes: sometimes you HAVE to write through the crap in order to get to the good stuff. If you're writing something new - a new genre, new issues, a new style etc -  do you REALLY expect to get it right without putting in the learning effort in the first place? You cannot run a marathon without the regular exercise needed beforehand to build up strength, stamina, effective race techniques and strategy. At least not without putting your health in serious danger. Writing is the same. (That's the reason for the little NaNoWriMo logo of the guy running holding a pencil.)

If you're feeling disgruntled with NaNo (or similar undertakings**) I urge you to take a hard look at yourself - are you using other people's results as an excuse NOT to get involved? Isn't it YOUR result*** that counts? Or are you secretly worried that you'll end up being one of the many average people 'just writing'?

I suggest you challenge yourself. The best writers and the best writing come from facing the hard stuff. Nobody said it was easy. The terms of winning are even set BY you to a large extent. If you feel 'churning out words every day = crap' and you're not OK with that, work harder. That's the whole point. You are the only one who affects whether you win or lose in this race. Unlike the rest of your writing life, though, it's during November that you don't have to face the difficulties alone. There's a built in network or support, fans, cheer squads and even expert research help standing by to help you.
There are plenty of excuses not to try. NaNoWriMo is not one of them. If you're not up to getting involved then at least cheer on those who are. They're taking their dreams seriously and that is an achievement in and of itself.
 *Totally monstrous - because, no matter how many novels you've written before, that's what starting a new project from scratch is like.

**I just discovered GothNoWriMo (another unofficial offshoot of NaNoWriMo using the same concept) now exists - write a Gothic Novel during October in time for Halloween (so still 30 days only). That would be a fun group of people to connect with!

*** There are a ton of helpful tools available to help you quality-check along the way during NaNo - the community is very helpful in providing assistance to those who really are interested in producing quality. This website HERE for instance, has a quick quiz to check if you're falling into the Mary Sue trap with your MC. It works best if you're brutally honest with yourself and the process may actually teach you a few things along the way too. Either way, your writing will get better. Oh, and how did I find the website? Through a NaNoWriMo connection.

Note: Image at head of post by Monica Langlois as indicated. Ms. Langlois' work  also has a lot lurking under the surface. please click on her picture "Lolly the Unsuspecting" to go to her website & see her extensive portfolio.
Image of Kraken - artist unknown

Friday, October 29, 2010

Monsters With Human Faces - A For-Real! Guest Post by Emmett Spain

4 Monsters & Andrea the Hollywood Agent

Ta da!

If you read the last entry you saw I had an awesome guest post lined from the even more awesome Urban Fantasy author Emmett Spain (see HERE for my previous intro), only to get slammed with computer gremlins that 'guanoed' ALL over my system (gulp!) and cut off my access to the interwebz! (faint!)

Turns out Emmett is a glutton for punishment really nice guy, who offered me ANOTHER post on a topic of my choosing. I jumped at the chance (whoops with happiness), mildly suggesting Monsters would be an awesome topic as it's the focus of our next #UFchat* - the day before Halloween! (Woot! My favorite holiday/non-holiday!)

Halloween is the holiday where we become monsters-by-choice. We deliberately put on masks and turn ourselves into monsters (among other things), scaring ourselves and each other, reveling in the double-takes we make in seeing 'creatures of the night' walking, not only our streets, but knocking on the doors of our homes and staring back at us in the mirror. But did you ever stop and realize that most of the classic monsters are rather human-like to start with? Exactly what does that say about us?

Turns out Emmett's brain has been churning on this very subject and...

Ta da!

(Oh - we already did that part. Never mind - it's worth two of them. ;)

...he's shared it with us right here on Inklings!

(that's right! You saw it here FIRST this time folks!)

Wolfman by Hector Casanova & Harold Sipe

Here is the amazing Emmett's post on:


A Guest Post by UF author Emmett Spain

(he swears he only used his original brain-in-residence on this one)

Love and Marriage.

A Horse and a Carriage.

Urban Fantasy and Monsters.

Some things just go together, don’t they?

In popular media the monsters tend to wear human faces these days, and there’s a lot of reasons for that. Most of them are marketing considerations. Studio head: “Why would we pay all this money to get this hot young actor and bury him behind all that monstery prosthesis? People don’t want to go and see ugly people at the cinema, they want beautiful people! No one wants to see Robert Pattinson covered in scales! Or maybe they do. Still, there’s not enough of them to warrant us funding this $60,000,000 film. Lose the scales. Pretty him up a bit. Have you thought about glitter?” Other considerations are decidedly more practical—it’s hard to get a good performance out of a bad CG wolf, which is something we now know for a fact.

But that’s where urban fantasy novels step in. There can be bog monsters in central park, fallen angels with scales and horns, and enormous tree monsters if we feel like it. But still the pre-eminent monsters in the modern UF novel have human faces. Vampires. Demons. Werewolves. They’re the Big 3 right now. All can have human faces at some point or another. But why? Why do authors tend to write monsters with human faces and guises if the name of the game is fantasy?

Wolfman by Hector Casanova & Harold Sipe

Again, like the movies, some considerations are practical. If your characters are the bad guys, having them “monster out” isn’t much of a problem, but what if you want to cast them as good guys, or at least anti-heroes? It’d be hard to feel an attraction to a vampire if he walked around yellow-eyed and bumpy foreheaded all the time. It’s also pretty tough to connect emotionally with a werewolf in its wolf form all day. And a demon without a human visage falls back into the category of "old school monster"—those which tend to spout arch dialogue and commit senseless acts of violence about the place at any given opportunity.

But still, strip the need for a writer to establish connections with these characters aside, why are the monsters with human faces so appealing? After all, there must be a reason they’re everywhere in UF, right? The main reasons I see are as follows (some already mentioned):

· It’s easier to relate to someone in a human visage

· It’s more natural to buy in to a romantic attachment between two characters if they both at least LOOK human

· These characters are a better metaphor for the darkness in our own natures than anything with spines or tentacles

Wolfman Wolfed Out by Hector Casanova & Harold Sipe

Vampires are metaphors for sex. The exchange of fluids, the deep drinking from the neck known as the embrace… if you read most UF stories you’ll find vampires will kill any gender for food, but most often they drink from the throats of the opposite sex. That embrace is about the thinnest metaphor for a sexual act there is. Similar concept with werewolves, though they are a more extreme manifestation of our inherent animalistic traits. They don’t share the magnetism that vampires do… maybe it’s a hair thing.

Demons I see more as metaphors for our own worst traits. A lack of loyalty, an interest in cruelty, an absence of that spark of goodness within—demons are the purest representation of our own worst traits. They are the absence, the darkness within.

With all this in mind, I see these monsters in Urban Fantasy as being created from ourselves—vampires from our sexual desires, werewolves from our animal side, demons from our darker tendencies. The details and specifics of whether a demon has black eyes or yellow or red are almost irrelevant—what matters here is that these monsters are reflections of us. They are us. The worst of what we might be. Extremes of our own psyches.

They are the most frightening aspects of us as human beings.

Which in turn, makes them kind of fascinating.

Still, I don’t think we should ignore the humble old school monster. Hook nosed hags with cauldrons, pumpkin-headed ogres and four-eyed fish creatures… read enough urban fantasy novels and you’ll be sure to get your fix of the above and much more. And whilst you're looking for new books to read, maybe give this one a look in.

I hear it makes an awesome Christmas present.


Thanks SO much Emmett! You're welcome to guest post any time. :)

*The topic for our next #UFchat - the day before Halloween!- is Why We Need Monsters! (& the Importance of Halloween) Join us for a little-lighter-than-usual chat with some hairy brain twisters (there's a visual for you!) thrown in!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The Dark and Dirty Heroes of UF - an 'almost' guest post by author Emmett Spain

Harry Dresden by The Gryph
(Found here)

I had a guest post offered to me by urban fantasy writer Emmett Spain, author of Old Haunts! (cheers all round and excited hoots). Inspired by a #UFchat topic on Alpha males and dubious heroes of Urban Fantasy, we agreed on a topic - The Dark and Dirty Heroes of UF - (doesn't that sound just awesome?!), Emmett wrote at blinding speed and it was ready to post about 3 weeks ago, then ...
- kaput! -
The online access at #UFchat headquarters went down and stayed down. (gasps and sounds of bodies hitting floor in dead faint)

But look at me - I survived, here to tell the tale and all that (a weak little "yay!" from the back row)
I missed my opportunity to post the guest awesomeness by about 10 minutes. Literally.

I was doing the intro for my guest's excellent musings when - ta-da! - I saw an announcement about the post on Twitter by @oldhauntsauthor (Mr. Spain's Twitter moniker) and a note in my overflowing and sagging inbox (you didn't know they could do that, did you? It's a sad, sad sight) sending sympathies for the computer gremlin guano (chorus of "Eew!!"s) and that he would post it on his site in the meantime.

Literally. 10 minutes from posting. - le sigh -

So now that the post on Dark Heroes of UF has red-carpeted on its home turf at A London City Blog I will, instead, tell you a little of the awesome that is Emmet, give you a teaser of the Dark and Dirty post (now titled The Lure of the Anti-Hero), send you over to his blog to read the rest. Perhaps we'll be lucky enough to catch Emmett (or some other unsuspecting guest! Mwahahaha.. cough..cough gurgle) next time around.

(Gets net ready - or should that be Net?)

Ladies and Gentlemen:
Today I have the privilege of presenting urban fantasy author
Emmett Spain!
(wild cheering and neighing from the audience- yes, neighing)
who has graciously agreed to write a guest post for Inklings!

Emmett is the author of "Old Haunts: A London City Novel", a fellow Australian, a self-confessed writing junkie and a fellow Jim Butcher & Joss Whedon admirer. When someone mentions a love of action more than once in a sitting you can be certain their novel will be packing some too and Emmett's definitely does.

Here's the official blurb for his book (take note: lots of five star reviews for this one!):
Old Haunts: A London City Novel
Jack Worthington's life sucks. An old lady haunts him, his cash well is dry, and he's on the edge of losing all hope. So naturally, when he tries to do something good, fate rewards him by putting a bounty out on his life.

Knowing that his days--or hours--are numbered, he races to forestall his inevitable death sentence, but in his travels unwittingly stumbles upon a potential catastrophe in the making. Awesome.

Now he has to figure out why the ghosts of London City are sowing fear and paranoia into the minds of police and ordinary citizens, and what it all has to do with the anniversary of the infamous citywide riots that occurred one year ago to the day.

His search eventually leads him to a haven for the city's underworld denizens, where he must face a vampire with whom he shares a terrible link to the past, all while trying to stay alive just long enough to avert the apocalypse.

Some days saving the world kinda sucks.
But wait - before you rush out and get his book, first read his thoughts on the dark heroes of UF and why the word 'anti-hero' is usually a better fit when it comes to urban fantasy guys (and girls) who, despite having jobs and agendas such as assassins among other things, get our sympathy, (see the book -and tag line - below for example). Why? It may have something to do with these guys, and girls, getting lumped with saving the world. A lot.

Web of Lies by Jennifer Estep
Cover illustration by Tony Mauro
The Lure of the Anti-Hero by Emmett Spain (an excerpt)

Since I was a kid I’ve grown up on Superman. The Man of Steel. The Big Blue Boy Scout. The quintessential hero archetype. He does the right thing, he never lies, and he always comes through in the end. When people hear the word hero—we’re talking purely in terms of fiction here—this is the archetype that tends to spring to mind. Stalwart. True. Built of strong moral fibre. But could you imagine a hero of this nature popping up in an Urban Fantasy story?

I have a hard time trying to picture it. I admit, there are some characters in UF stories who fit the archetype from time to time—Michael Carpenter from the Dresden Files is the first that springs to my mind for his unshakable faith and unquestionable morality—but let me ask you… how many of these sorts of heroes tend to be the protagonists in UF stories? The answer is pretty much none. What we get more frequently are anti-hero protagonists—one of the most popular archetypes in the urban fantasy genre...

Continued at A London City Blog! Read the whole of Emmett's excellent and thought provoking post HERE.
Want to read more? There's another (nicely complimentary) guest post at Brian Rathbone's website where Emmett discusses the sorta-opposite-but-really-just-more-evil-twin end of the spectrum in "What Makes A Compelling Villain?"

And don't forget to check out the rest of his blog (great mining for UF enthusiasts and writers!) as well as his book "Old Haunts: A London City Novel".

You can also find out more of Emmett's secret thoughts HERE in an exclusive interview with (wiggles eyebrows conspiratorially) You may discover some veeeerry interesting things about our guest there..!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Writing Fight Scenes (& Other Unladylike Pursuits)

If you follow me on Twitter you'll know I usually hang out with the ladies-who-love-and-write-monsters crowd there (also known as fantasy and urban fantasy writers) and in the last few months I've been seeing this question (and variants thereof) pop up - a lot:

"How do you write fight scenes?"

Worst of all, I keep having answers, or at least a bunch of resources to share, (don't ask) so I thought it might behoove me (yes it's a word) to share them here. That way I can just link people & spend my time discussing wonderfully gory details instead of digging out my past-google-fu (and other nameless resources that I cannot share. I said, don't ask.)

The first thing I have to ask people is - considering you're writing fiction and are very likely to have various supernaturals kicking butt (and getting their butt kicked) with assorted humans and other red shirts - just how realistic do you want this to be?
You may wish to note here that unrealistic fight scenes were one of the big pet peeves discussed in our last two #UFchat discussions (Roasting the Genre - Per Peeves & Wish Lists Rounds 1 & 2).

You may also be checking out the outfits posted here - something also discussed in #UFchat's Roasting the Genre discussion - both the combatants outer wear and urban fantasy underwear... (you tell me - does an underwire push-up bra really sound like a good thing to be fighting in?) But more on that another time...
Invariably the answer is: "as much as possible" so next question:

We talking hand-to-hand? Fist fight? Weapons versus no weapons? Weapons versus weapons? And if weapons, what kind?
Most often I'm seeing questions about hand-to-hand, fist fights and the like, so let's get the other, basic stuff out of the way first:
1) Rule of thumb for all fighting - when the action happens, it happens FAST! Moves, blows, injury, everything. And it feels like you've been at it 20 minutes when it's barely 20 seconds - most real fights are just about done at the 30 second mark (this doesn't include sports - although if you watch fencing masters most of the match is mental sparring and feinting then there's a couple of seconds of blurred swords before it's all over at the end).

2) It HURTS - often in places they don't show you in the movies. Yes, it hurts less so right when adrenalin is surging through your system yes but then adrenalin isn't always your friend. Which brings me to... 3) Adrenalin is not necessarily your friend. In fact, it has a better chance of freezing you up altogether than it does of giving you extra strength and momentary immunity to pain. Seriously. Most people instinctively freeze (yep - guys too). They don't automatically fight back. Generally, it takes acting against instinct-in-the-moment to full-out fight in response to a serious (and potentially fatal) threat.

4) More injuries are sustained when people are emotionally involved (and full of survival-type adrenalin) than when they're not. Pro-fighters (including boxers, mercenaries and thugs) are emotionally disconnected from the violence (at least on a basic personal level, enjoyment is something else) and have trained how to relax and concentrate on the give and take - minimum effort for maximum effect. Lose your head and your likely to, well, lose.
Here are my Twitter exchanges so you can see how else I've ruined my sweet and innocent reputation (Cough! Cough!) with this fighting business:

Fighting – Fist fights & injuries to hands

# GENERAL TWEET BY @sandy_wills (PARAPHRASED) Looking for info on fist fighting – how bad would my hand look later after fist fight?

# @sandy_wills It REALLY hurts. Swelling happens at least a little. And you will cut the skin if you catch teeth. Check all blood is yours tho

# @inkgypsy (PARAPHRASE – NOT EXACT TWEET) Could somebody tell if I’ve been in a fist fight by the way my hand looks?

# @sandy_wills Maybe. :D It feels worse than it looks usually (from what I've seen/know anyway). Fighting isn't straight forward. (link coming

# @sandy_wills Here's a good link about diff between boxing & fist fighting - fist is more dangerous for multi reasons.

# @sandy_wills Oh yeah - other thing is anger tenses you up a lot (incl fists) so more likely 2 get hurt than pro fighter (sport or paid thug

# @sandy_wills Another quick look online found this solid advice: Is in line with what I've seen. #dontask

# Never thought I'd be giving fighting advice today... #neverknowwhatthedaywillbring

Fighting Hand-to-hand – incapacitating opponents & pressure points

# RT VampBookClub Writers: Tips for writing scenes featuring hand-to-hand combat? #UFchat

# @VampBookClub I know Deadline Dames had a post in the recent past - also RomWritersConventionAustralia had a panel too.

# @VampBookClub #RWAus10 was the hashtag. I'll try find the Deadline Dames post.

# @VampBookClub By @JackieKessler Everything I know about fight scenes I learned at tae-kwon do - xlnt. (See rest of post below for link & further description)

# @VampBookClub I also sent someone resources on fighting hand to hand a few weeks ago (fists/punching etc). Would you like that too?

# Not handy but I'll go do some digging. :) Any specific questions? (Don't ask why I know this stuff 'k?)@VampBookClub @dy0ulee

# @dy0ulee You're welcome. Pressure points as in vulnerable blood flow? (eg the same idea of Spock's neck grip making people pass out?)

# @inkgypsy (dy0ulee - PARAPHRASE) Yes! (re Vulcan grip)

# @dy0ulee Don't have anything handy but will dig. :) Therapeutic masseuses, sports injury people & reflexologists are good sources too.

@inkgypsy (VampBookClub - PARAPHRASE) Incapacitating someone? Making unconscious?

# @VampBookClub A key question is: is the one trying to make unconscious aware of intent (are you in a fight)? That's makes it almost..

# @VampBookClub ..impossible for anyone but a highly trained Master. Incapacitate is best bet then something awful like smother.

# @VampBookClub Other key question: is the opponent armed? If so without weapon yourself you're as good as dead - truly. Who/what vs who/what?

# @VampBookClub answered unaware opponent –not armed – incapacitate then kill (if I remember her @ correctly! - inkgypsy)

# @VampBookClub The neck is your best bet then. Can stun an opponent if you hit the jugular correctly but you usually only get one chance.

# @VampBookClub other option is to go for something like the eyes first then hit the neck - main thing is to be quick and cool. Adrenalin..

# @VampBookClub causes problems on both sides (can incapacitate you and can block pain in opponent). Does that help some

# @VampBookClub Glad to help - I have my research out in front of me but toddler calling - tweeting easier than blogging!

[And it turns out blogging is easier (and neater) than trying to remember it all, links included, for future questions...]

And here are some links you'll find useful (don't ask, don't tell 'k?).Writing Fighting - Specifically for Writers of Fantasy & UF:
Here are some good resources from the web for research and stuff. They don't have all the answers of course and fiction is fiction so you have some latitude to stretch the facts but it'll give you a good idea of what will finally read as believable and what won't:
On fist fighting & hand-to-hand:
  • How To: Defend Yourself an article - a few pages and worth reading every one. This should make it clearer to you what the risks are in fighting a) unarmed belligerents b) armed opponents and the best way to keep your skin on and to live to tell the tale.
  • Differences Between Fist-Fighting & Boxing by The Dragon Institute Blog- this makes the differences really clear (and if you didn't guess, boxing is safer - and not just because of the big puffy gloves). Other tips in there too - this is serious stuff.
  • An excellent reply (chosen as Best Answer by Eden's Rain) on Help With Fighting, Tips etc? here - specifically how not to hurt your hands so much when you punch someone, 'cause yeah - it HURTS!
On pressure points:
(you know, like when Spock takes out the baddies with his Vulcan grip) - this applies to trying to hit pressure points while in combat/fighting and when you sneak up on someone and try to take them out quietly.
  • This reply by MasterLambert on how martial arts Masters come to use pressure points in fighting is short but excellent - read it
  • Pressure Point Fighting - kind of a 101 but seems to indicate it's 'learnable'. I'd say not without a master teacher and a lot of long term hard training. Still good for teaching you what pressure point are and what you're trying to do when you aim to hit one.
  • Pressure Points - In A Real Fight - nicely laid out and easy to understand while not pulling any punches (heh), this article deals with the complications of adrenalin for both you and your opponent too.
As a bonus I thought I'd throw in some information on how to combat different vampires around the world - not a fighting manual as such but more a 'what to stash in your weapons bag' and 'effective approaches and tactics against different undead'. Please note - not all undead are vulnerable in the same ways. You gotta do your monster-hunting homework!Good luck, good training and good hunting - I mean writing - good writing!
PS All this information is awesome, of course, but you'll do better by combining it with some real life research - no, I'm NOT advocating walking down an inner city alley in the early hours of the morning and 'accidentally' bumping into someone. Repeat - do NOT do that! Research should not equal bodily harm. Instead I'm suggesting you go watch a martial arts class or combat training session (by a high level) and maybe participate in a basic one. "Live" is the key word here - YouTube, however awesome it may be, does not cut it. Go see, hear, smell, feel & wince in person. And if you're unfortunate enough to be in the vicinity of a real fight? GET OUT OF THERE! You only want your action on paper. Seriously. Trust me on this.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Weekly Urban Fantasy Chat Begins on Twitter

Do you like UF? Monsters? Lots happening! New releases, writing contests, trends/tips.. come join #UFchat
Ton of resources to back-up tomorrow's #UFchat! We haz urban fantasy kickassitude right here!

#UFchat! Bring your monsters & stomping boots. We'll dissect the ingredients in urban fantasy and much more...

Countdown to #UFchat. All monsters, monster-spotters and monster-makers welcome. Bring your boots...
(Every Saturday 3pm PST/6pm EST)

In case you didn't get the hint, Urban Fantasy writers and readers now have a place to talk all things UF on Twitter!

Every Saturday at 3pm PST (6pm EST) all monster-inclined, er, interested people can join in the chat by using the #UFChat hashtag. It's a great place (possibly an alternate universe, it's so fun!) to discover other urban fantasy people, including UF authors, you can connect with on Twitter. The chat lasts for an hour-ish. (Very 'ish', especially when les interwebs are infused with gremlins and other mischievous lightning bugs but that's another story...)

Oh - and I'm moderating. :)

Every week the topic will be posted the day before and the transcript of the chat will be posted within 24 hours following it (apocalypses excepted) on the #UFChat Blog. (Anyone who missed the chat is welcome to add their comments later in the day/night - must allow for night creatures! - and I'll make sure they're added too. Just use the #UFChat hashtag to be included.)
So far we've had a resoundingly successful first smackdown, er, session with the amazing Stacia Kane (@StaciaKane on Twitter) doing a Q&A on writing UF and her Downside books (which are also UFChat's first recommended reads. Our second chat this past Saturday was excellent too (in spite of it being conference season and family escape/vacation time), talking further about definitions of UF (oh how they vary!), how people discovered it (from TV ads to Gaiman to Red Riding Hood and more) and what ingredients are typical in the UF genre (as it's currently represented, 'cause, ya know, it's morphed/shape-shifted a lot since the 1920's when it first roared into being).

You can find the 1st week transcript HERE (with the Q&A part only HERE in a separate post for an easier read), the 2nd week's HERE and the recommended read for the month HERE.

The idea is that the chats will build a good resource for people, both in content, links to pertinent posts and essays, contests, book release information, community and more. In only two weeks , true to UF form the chats have had a ton of 'kickassitude'. (How could they not?) There's already a ton of awesome to dig into. (Woot!) I'm excited for the potential (can you tell?) and for stretching all our writing and thinking muscles. Oh OK - and for encouraging more UF (the good stuff!) to be written - we need more - seriously - society depends upon it ;).

You can follow @UF_Chat on Twitter for updates and announcements (and I also try to do countdowns to the chat ahead of time to remind people - boots are often mentioned being as necessary as they are) and you can follow me too (@inkgypsy). I never seem to shut up about the genre so if you like UF there will always be something in my tweet-timeline for you. :)

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Steampunk Retelling of a Fairy Tale - Short Series Podcast by Me!


There's a new special short series podcast dropping today - August 1st - at "Supernatural Fairy Tales" - and it's a Steampunk retelling of a Grimm's fairy tale - by me!

Dorlana Vann was kind enough to invite me to write a short story for her site and it's turned into an exciting mini-production, being presented in five weekly parts during the month of August in both text and as a podcast.

The title of the story is:
"Cages: A Steampunk Retelling of Grimm's Jorinde & Joringel in V Parts with Epilogue"
(gotta love those old-fashioned lengthy titles!)
and has a definite Neo-Victorian feel.

It will be posted at the Supernatural Fairy Tales site HERE
and I'll update this post with the direct link as soon as I find out what it is.

In case you're not familiar with the fairy tale you can read it HERE (and thank you to Heidi at SurLaLune for making this a readily available online reference for me to check when I didn't have my complete Grimm's handy!)

I also managed to secure permission from Steampunk band Abney Park to use some of their music in the podcast, one song in particular being perfect thematically. Many thanks to them for their generosity in sharing their fabulous music. You can check out their website HERE.I'll also be making a PDF of the complete story available for free download and distribution at the end of the series, so watch out for that.

Lots of steampunk fairy tale goodness coming your way!