Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Armchair Writer with a Remote

Journeyman on NBC. You knew I'd get around to an opinion about it, right?

Aside from the common belief that the general TV audience doesn't have the attention span or patience for a storyline this complex, completely disproved by the success of Heroes and Lost, I'm not convinced this show has longevity. And you all know how much I wish for time travel longevity, right?

Many comparisons have been made to Quantum Leap, for obvious reasons, but the similarities stop at the whole time-travel-make-things-right premise. Journeyman has the potential to explore deeper, more complex emotions and moral choices because the main character is traveling as himself, not the embodiment of another, and must return and face the consequences of his circumstances. However, because Sam Beckett communicated with the future via secondary characters and technological devices, he remained firmly in the storyline of the past, allowing the viewer full, uncluttered access to the problem at hand.

Now, this opinion is coming from someone whose novel unfolds backward in twenty-four hour increments, but Journeyman is symptomatic of the fast-paced--even hurried dramas that are becoming staples on network TV. Quick dialogue. Rushed scenes in an effort to break for more commercials and keep an audience from multitasking five other actions to stop long enough to become engaged. So many moments in Journeyman's pilot fly by. The emotional payoff to an amazing ending, where the entirety of the episode becomes clear was completely rushed. The moment he discovers his lost lost love might indeed face the same strange phenomenon he's struggling to understand, her line is rapid-fire and buried beneath an effective, but too-loud background score. Dan Vasser experienced one moral dilemma after another in the span of 38 minutes, yet the writers and directors only skimmed the surface of these emotions, asking the viewer to fill in the rest.

I applaud NBC for continuing to harness the success of Heroes and the craving the audience has for something fresh that offers complexities the viewer will analyze long after the credits roll. I hope the lightning speed of the pilot was merely set to engage a new audience and the pace will slow a bit to capitalize on the unique challenges facing the characters.
Oh, and note to self: if this fiction thing doesn't work out, I can, apparently, work as a newspaper reporter in San Francisco and earn enough to buy a four million dollar Victorian.

What did you think?

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

A Book of Lasts

Something resonated with me a few days ago, as I'm preparing a member of my family for a rite of passage in our faith. Naturally, thoughts turn to other times I've made a similar journey in the past. Times when the merest notion of "firsts" called for celebration. First steps. First words. Even first teeth elicit a special road marker along the side of the road each of us must travel.

But with time, as it does most other things in our lives, those firsts slip away, a fond memory recalled in less frequent moments as the years stretch on. In place of first words, the infinite cacophony of questions or complaints or merely the lyrics to a song unimaginable in that captured moment in the past, take over and the memory slips into black and white and shades of gray. Instead of first steps toward you, they sprint away in their independence.

But if there is a book tucked away of "firsts" for each of us, a memoir of childhood to be brought out and dusted off, what if there were a book of "lasts"? The last time we kissed our spouse. The last words exchanged between an elderly parent and a grown child. The last glimpse we had of our child. How different we would live our lives. How much we would savor each moment as it slides into the next. How much we would yearn for the next to never come.

Without time travel, there can be no known books of lasts. Thankfully, perhaps. A safe, albeit unsure reminder of what is to come, we remain ignorant of these road markers, knowing they exist somewhere in the grand scheme of fate or merely the inevitability of our lives.

What did you do today as if it were written in your book of lasts?

Monday, September 24, 2007

The Time Machine ~ Week of September 24, 2007

This week:
Time Travel-friendly romance publishers and links
Heroes Wiki
~ ~ ~
Dragon Moon Press
3521 43A Ave.Red Deer, AB T4N 3E9Canada

Currently seeking paranormal in the vein of Kim Harrison, Shanna Swendson, PC Cast, Karen Chance, or Kelley Armstrong, with the fantastic element key.

Grand Central Publishing
237 Park Avenue New York, NY 10017

Currently seeking historical and contemporary romances, including romantic suspense and paranormals.

Juno Books
9710 Traville Gateway Dr #234
Rockville, MD 20850

Currently seeking contemporary fantasy often referred to as "urban fantasy" these days: a woman with "kickassitude" and supernatural power (or some paranormal connection).

Kensington Publishing
850 Third Ave.New York, NY 10022

John Scognamiglio is actively looking for historical romance, romantic suspense and paranormal romance/urban fantasy. Word count: 85,000-100,000. Selena James is actively looking for African-American romance and women’s fiction. She’s also looking for romantic suspense, paranormal romance, and futuristic romance.

Medallion Press, Inc.
1020 Cedar Avenue Ste. 2N Saint Charles, IL 60174

Currently seeking romantic suspense; historical including Medieval, Renaissance or highland; paranormal including vampires; futuristic or science fiction, fantasy, horror, suspense/thriller and mainstream fiction including mainstream historical fiction.

Pocket Books
1230 Avenue of the Americas New York, NY 10020

Currently seeking single-title contemporary romances, historicals, romantic suspense, gothic and paranormal romance, African-American fiction, erotica, and women's fiction. We enjoy historicals with Regency and Scottish settings. Word length: 80,000-95,000.

Sourcebooks, Inc.
1935 Brookdale Rd, Suite 139Naperville, IL 60563

Currently seeking all subgenres: time travel, paranormal, erotic, contemporary, comedy, suspense. historical. The sexier the better!

Visit websites for specific submission information

~ ~ ~

For those of you anticipating the return of Heroes to NBC tonight, here's a Heroes Wiki that explores time travel.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

A Penny for Your Creativity

I'm blogging over at my Saturday blogging spot, Sparkle This, on filling the creative well with an "Artist Date". Come over and leave a comment about where you'd take your muse on a date.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Particle Theory and The Woo-Woo Factor

In the scientific realm, there's a theory that states:

If two particles have been linked at any time during the history of the universe, they will always be able to communicate with each other.

I found this statement again while reading through my notes from Michael White's book Weird Science and it occured to me this theory is a common thread running through my novels. This is the driving premise behind the ending to my last book, Chasing Midnight. Subconciously, but even stronger is this theory in my current work, The Night Caller, where communication and the breech of the space-time continuum play such a heavy hand in the story.

So what is it about this theory that's so compelling? It smacks of a romanticized ideal, taking scientific proofs to an entirely different philosophical level. It speaks to the connectedness we all want, but strive a lifetime to find or hold onto. Do particles on a molecular level behave with the same properties as such complex human conditions as love? Hate? Does this explain psychic phenomenon science has yet to find measurable evidence for? The experience when we meet someone for the first time and it seems we've known them a lifetime or from somewhere we can't ever quite place? The undeniable gravity we feel toward a place we've never been? Do the greatest mysteries of the universe lie in the activity of base particles?

Have you ever felt linked to something or someone you couldn't explain?

Monday, September 17, 2007

The Time Machine ~ Week of September 17, 2007

This week:

Short Fiction contests and markets

For those with a literary slant to their time travel short story, the deadline for Zoetrope's 11th annual short fiction contest is October 1. Entries must be previously unpublished, 5K words or less and accompanied by a $15 entry fee. Final judge: Joyce Carol Oates. Top Prize: $1,000 and inclusion in the spring issue of Zoetrope: All Story. All finalists considered for representation by the William Morris along with six other literary agencies.

The deadline for Glimmer Train's Short Story Award for New Writers is September 30. Editors are looking for literary stories up to 12K words. Top Prize: $1,200 and first rights publication.

Science Fiction Writers of Earth is holding their 27th annual Science Fiction/Fantasy Short Story Contest. Submitting the $5 entry fee comes with a one year membership. Previously unpublished manuscripts must be 2,000-7,500 words. Top Prize: $200 and placement on the SFWoE website for 180 days. Deadline: postmarked on or before October 30.

The Magazine for Fantasy and Science Fiction is open to submissions of SF works up to 25K words in length. Submissions for fantasy fiction are always competitive, but editor Gordon Van Gelder is especially interested in science fiction and humor. Payment is 6-9 cents/word on acceptance with first North American and anthology rights.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Magnetic Center

Fast Draft has officially come to an end, for me anyway. Some of my compadres want to harness the momentum and continue. Me? Catch up on life that happened around me for two weeks while I was in a turn-of-the-century house in a fictitious Colorado mining town with a tortured hero and a wounded spirit.

Fast Draft was more to me this time than just completing a first draft in two weeks. During those fourteen days, I celebrated a first booksigning with one of my CPs--a vicarious joy hard to put to words--and said goodbye to a feline love of eighteen years. Writing became more to me than just hitting a page count each day. Writing became my compass, my magnetic center, through the highs and lows. Several times I hit a wall, thinking the worst possible luck had struck me during this window of time I was supposed to be performing at maximum potential. Why couldn't life, and death, have waited just a few more days?

When I hit that wall, I'd take everything I was in the moment--the grief, the hope, the uncertainty and the love I felt so acutely--and pour it into my characters. My joy and darkness became their own. More than anything I've written to date, this novel is a labor of love in the purest sense.

To learn more about Fast Draft, visit Candy Haven's website.

Tomorrow, time travel markets...

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Day Ten

FastDraft: Day Ten

"One worthwhile task carried to a successful conclusion is worth half a hundred half-finished tasks." ~B.C. Forbes

Today, this is me, but still I write. Three more days to go to a completed first draft. The fatigue I feel now--the same shared by the entire group I'm on this journey with for these two weeks--is nothing compared to the fatigue of a draft that lingers month after month, waning in enthusiasm and spark.

Write on. . .

Sunday, September 9, 2007

The Time Machine ~ Week of September 10, 2007

Many of you may have heard Madeline L'Engle died this week, the legendary author of both children's novels and Christian works. This week's Time Machine is dedicated to things you may not know about her John Newbery Award-winning novel A Wrinkle in Time.

She conceived the story idea "during a time of transition" in her life in the Spring of 1959 when on a respite from moving her family back to New York City, she found herself on a ten week camping trip--an expedition where, she explains, "we drove through a world of deserts and buttes and leafless mountains, wholly new and alien to me. And suddenly into my mind came the names, Mrs Whatsit. Mrs Who. Mrs Which." She also had a keen interest in quantum physics at the time, which explains its presence in the story.

After submitting to "forty-odd publishers", L'Engle's agent returned the manuscript to her. Then, at a chance meeting--a tea party thrown for her mother at Christmastime--she met John Ferrar, who was not publishing children's books at the time, but took a chance on A Wrinkle in Time.

When asked why finding a publisher had been so difficult, L'Engle had several theories. Some publishing houses had simply told her it was "too different" and couldn't decide if it was for adults or children. She attributes their reluctance to the heavy themes of dark and evil and the consensus that it might be too difficult for children to relate to. She also believes having a female protagonist in a science fiction book just wasn't done at the time.

According to the New York Times:

"'She once described herself as a French peasant cook who drops a carrot in one pot, a piece of potato in another and an onion and a piece of meat in another.

“At dinnertime, you look and see which pot smells best and pull it forward,” she was quoted as saying in a 2001 book, “Madeleine L’Engle (Herself): Reflections on a Writing Life,” compiled by Carole F. Chase.

“The same is true with writing,” she continued. “There are several pots on my backburners.'"

Known as the Time Quintet, the remainder of titles in the series featuring the Murray family include: A Wind in the Door (1973), A Swiftly Tilting Planet (1978), Many Waters (1986), and An Acceptable Time (1989).

In May 2007, a new edition of A Wrinkle in Time includes a previously unpublished interview with Madeline L'Engle along with the text of her speech when she accepted the Newbury award.

Oh, and as an aside, if you watch the television show "Lost", Sawyer was caught reading this novel on the beach, sexy-nerd glasses and all. Think the writers are trying to tell us something?

Next week :: More time travel markets and contests...

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

New Words and Classic Clip

This week, I'm heavy into FastDraft mode, cranking out pages for my new novel The Night Caller. Read more about it on my website.

If you're new to the FastDraft concept, be sure to visit Candy Haven's website to learn more about it. Sign up to be part of her Write Workshop on Yahoogroups. She has an amazing workshop that has changed the way hundreds of writers find success. It worked for my GH finalist manuscript. Check it out.

As I'm completely braindead for all things not related to cops, 1881 or photography, here's a time travel moment in a soon-to-be-classic. Even if you don't *get* the humor in Napoleon Dynamite, this is funny...

Sunday, September 2, 2007

The Time Machine ~ Week of September 3, 2007

This week ::

~Tanglewreck by Jeanette Winterson
~The Book of Time by Guiliaume Prevost
~Celebrity Time Travel

Lovers of Harry Potter looking for new adventure will find it in this week's fresh releases in time-travel young adult fiction:

Tanglewreck by Jeanette Winterson
Something frightening is happening with time. One moment, a time tornado rages through the streets of London, and those caught up in its path vanish without a trace. The next moment a woolly mammoth is seen lumbering along the banks of the River Thames. At the center of these bizarre time warps is a house called Tanglewreck, which is home to eleven-year-old Silver, her bony and bad-tempered aunt, Mrs Rokabye, and a mysterious clock known as the Timekeeper. Silver doesn’t understand exactly what the Timekeeper does, but when two sinister figures come looking for it, she knows instinctively that she must guard it with her life. (Grades 6-10)

*This novel is drawing critical comparison to Madeline L'Engle's classic, A Wrinkle in Time*

The Book of Time by Guillaume Provost

A statue; a coin; an old book. They look as dusty as everything else in the Faulkner Antiquarian Bookstore, where 14-year-old Sam Faulkner seeks his father, who's been missing for days. But when Sam slips the coin into the statue, he's swept back in time -- to Scotland in 800 A.D. -- where he must find both the statue and another coin in order to return to the present. It's the first step in an adventure that will take him to ancient Egypt, World War I, even Dracula's castle -- and a mystery that will end only when Sam saves his father, or loses him in time . . . (Ages 9-12)

The website has posted its finalists for the ninth celebrity time travel photo shop contest in which entrants post doctored photographs of celebrities in eras other than their own. Check out the fresh crop of your favorite celebrities or browse through the finalists from the previous contests.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Blogging Detour

Want to find out who Maude is? Saturday is my day to blog over at Sparkle This! Come find me.