Reimagining Fairy Tales

If you allow a writer one story, they ask for another.

I completed the outline for Dwarves of Seven (Do7) and immediately set to work on an outline for a story from my ideas folder. The plan is now to work on three novels or novellas inspired by fairy tales. I’ve layered my schedule for next year (shown below) with months blocked off to speed-draft each one. My stories for 2018, in order of priority:

  1. Do7, from the Grimms’ “Snow-White” with elements of “Snow-White and Rose-Red”
  2. RitN (an old project, revised) more loosely based on “Beauty and the Beast”
  3. A sea-prince story expanding on Hans Andersen’s “The Little Sea-Lady”

A boy in the waves

The newest outline is for the sea-prince novel. I’m learning more from working on this outline than I did for Do7.

  • I understand less about oceanography than medieval German folktales, so writing about dwarves in an alternative 12th-century Germany is easier than writing about sea-people.
  • Working from general expectations of a story, as I did for Dwarves, is easier than adapting a detailed short story.
  • Hans Christian Andersen was a more interesting person than I would’ve guessed.

I’ve started researching Andersen to understand what inspired him. My goal is write a story expressing the themes that matter to me but in a way that doesn’t contradict too much of the original author’s work.

These projects feel like new adventures to me! I want to throw myself into all of them simultaneously.

Let’s see how far enthusiasm can sail.


Reading Review – Winter of Women

Cover of Kristin Cashore's FireOnly men made my 2011 summer reading list. When I noticed this, I attempted to compose a list for the Fall of Females. That was more difficult than I’d expected.

I am very selective, and I was still in the mood for novel-length hard science fiction, which doesn’t seem to include many female authors.

On my shelves already are books by Octavia E. Butler, Deborah Chester, Ursula K. Le Guin, and Anne McCaffrey. My personal library also includes J. K. Rowling, Carrie Vaughn, and a handful of fantasy authors that aren’t as well known. A few novels by Diana Wynne Jones and Mercedes Lackey are still sadly on my wish list.

So, whose works did I still need to read?

I looked at CJ Cherryh, Connie Willis,…and Mary Shelley. The problem was that I started in autumn with Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. Wow, was that painful. No one had warned me about Frankenstein’s loathsome personality and the amount of time that his monster spends admiring perfect people. I learned there’s a reason more contemporary authors have rewritten the story several times.

I didn’t take home another novel by a female author until January, when I decided to forgo Stephenie Meyer‘s The Host for Twilight with the goal of better understanding RITN’s target audience. I then moved on to more books in the fantasy romance and young-adult genres:

Fire and Graceling by Kristin Cashore

The Game (novella) and Hexwood by Diana Wynne Jones

Beauty and the Werewolf by Mercedes Lackey

Steel by Carrie Vaughn

Inside Job (novella) by Connie Willis

Twilight surprised me, Fire was a delight (and a stronger work than Graceling), Beauty and the Werewolf was a disappointment, and the rest were about what I’d expected.

What am I still missing out on? I’d love recommendations, especially for science fiction and young-adult romance.

Cool Down from the Summer of Sci-Fi

Hello! I’m alive and kicking. I’m anxious about blogging again; however, it’s officially autumn and time to talk about the results of my Summer of Sci-Fi.

Back in May, I chose nine, well-known science fiction books to read by the end of September. How did I do?

I faced a couple unexpected challenges, mainly with acquiring books. My city’s sole library announced that it’s infested with bed bugs, making all of its books, in my mind, potential carriers of the parasite.

There’s a library near where I work that has a surprisingly tiny offering of science fiction. Even when I was able to walk (despite a sprained ankle) and willing to pass by the disturbing regulars in the area – such as bored cat-callers with uncomfortably creative pick-up lines; lonely, drifting, drunken men who mistake my wary smile for an invitation to converse; and those especially annoying people who enjoy smoking on busy, public sidewalks – I still wasn’t able to get my hands on a few of the books from my list.

Fortunately, I did read:

Out of these, Fahrenheit 451 is easily my favorite, followed closely by A Canticle for Leibowitz. The Time Machine is probably the least impressive of the group–but then, I’m not fond of Victorian stories.

Still to be read:

The Forever War is next on my reading list, if I can find a convenient copy this week.

How about you? What was your favorite book this summer? Are you looking forward to reading a particular book this season?

Summer of Science Fiction

It’s embarrassing; I write science fiction but feel like a stranger to sci-fi classics. (By the way, I know not everyone likes the term “sci-fi”. That’s too bad.)

Later this week, I’ll leave for an out-of-state visit to see family. I’m expecting down time. (Down time! Imagine!) And I realized: What could be a better opportunity than a vacation to start three months of literary exploration?

From now until the end of August, I will read for the first time (all the way through) the following nine, well-known books.

I, Robot by Isaac Asimov

Moving Mars by Greg Bear

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

Mission of Gravity by Hal Clement

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick

The Forever War by Joe Haldeman

A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter M. Miller, Jr.

Ringworld by Larry Niven

The Time Machine by H.G. Wells

I’m not sure which I’ll start with…it will depend on how much room is in my suitcase and on the selection at my sister’s library. However, I’m eager to read them all.

Have you read any of these books? What did you think?

Hugo Awards and a Film Screening

Hugo Award logoThe Hugo Award is one of the oldest and recognizable awards for science fiction in the world. It also, in my opinion, tends to be one of the cooler awards visually.

When the nominations for the 2011 Hugo Awards were announced a week ago, I quickly heard about it from friends of friends. Within the list of the nominations is Carrie Vaughn’s upbeat “Amaryllis” (viewable now at Lightspeed) for Best Short Story and Eric James Stone’s “That Leviathan, Whom Thou Hast Made” (still available for free on Stone’s site) for Best Novelette.

Winners won’t be announced until August 20, 2011. I’m guessing it will be a long wait for the authors who could receive this year’s glistening rockets.

~ ~ ~

Claudia and Roland, arguing in a car at night
Characters Claudia and Roland in “Via Dreams”

In more personal news, I attended a screening of independent films that included “Via Dreams”, a short psychological horror film in which I play an abused housewife. (The link will take you to the film page on IMDb.)

That night, I learned I hate watching myself in a theater. It didn’t help that the film was shot in high definition–to accentuate my skin’s many flaws, it seems–and that I hadn’t seen more than a few, broken minutes of the footage before experiencing the whole story in a room full of strangers.

Despite 20 minutes of anxiety, the screening was a great experience. In between each film, the host encouraged the audience to ask the directors questions and provide small bits of feedback. The critique breaks, though unexpected, reminded me of writing critique meetings and made the event more familiar.

Also on the positive side, I saw my co-star, my fictional husband, for the first time since our last film shoot. The screening gave us an opportunity to catch up on each other’s activities, critique the films in whispers, and share in the misery that bred from HD, odd post-production choices, and harsh inner critics.

Publishing News: Steel, Apple, and Leviathan

In my previous post, I put up a few links that I wanted to be able to find again and that might interest others. This is another link-heavy post–but so much better!

Cover of Carrie Vaughn's SteelThat’s because I remembered you might not yet have heard of Carrie Vaughn’s Steel, officially released in hardcover this week.

The first chapter of this young adult novel about a modern-day fencer who is magicked to an 18th-century pirate ship is available on Carrie’s newly re-designed Website. Take a look!

By the way, who else thinks this is one of the best covers of the season? Artist Larry Rostant used common elements of fantasy covers–a glowing sword and a partially-obscured face of a beautiful young woman–but also covered the girl in appropriate clothing of deep colors that accentuate the gorgeous sword and showed her holding the sword accurately. It makes the fencing geek within me want to dance…

Also released this month was the paperback version of Carrie’s first standalone novel, Discord’s Apple. Her first young adult novel, Voices of Dragons, will be released in paperback any time now.

Let’s move on to the short story world!

Eric James Stone‘s religious/science fiction “That Leviathan, Whom Thou Hast Made” has been nominated for the Nebula Award. You may read the entire novelette online for free until March 31.

I first read this story in the September 2010 Analog Science Fiction and Fact (thank you, Eric!) and was not surprised at its nomination. The primary conflict between differing spiritual views and science was resolved, as much as was possible, in a beautifully dramatic moment.

Winter Writing Events

Finding information on the Internet about nearby conferences, conventions, and workshops for speculative fiction writers can be a pain. I’m creating my own list but thought other writers might appreciate a look at some of the options.

Below are ten events in the U.S.A. that will either take place this season or have application deadlines in the next couple months.

The estimated cost is for Admission or Membership fee(s) for an adult and does not include travel or other discretionary expenses.

Many conventions are as inexpensive as a new book on writing, if you exclude travel costs. Conferences and large workshops are harder on one’s bank account.

To view any of the event Websites in the list in a new window or tab, right click on the link. Otherwise, the new page will replace this post.


Title Dates City Est Cost App Due
COSine Science Fiction Convention Jan 21-23 Colo. Springs, CO $35 N/A
Chattacon Jan 21-23 Chattanooga, PA $50 N/A
Capricon XXXI Feb 10-13 Wheeling, IL $70 N/A
Life, the Universe,
& Everything 28
Feb 17-19 BYU, UT
ConDFW IX Feb 18-20 Dallas, TX $35 N/A
Potlatch 20
Mar 4-6 Seattle, WA $90 Feb 11
Northern Colorado Writers Conference Mar 11-12 Fort Collins, CO $327 N/A
Clarion West Jun 19 –
Jul 29
Seattle, WA $3,240 Mar 1
Clarion Jun 26 –
Aug 6
San Diego, CA $5,007 Mar 1


Half of these are science fiction conventions. Are you wondering what a convention is and why you might want to attend one? Clarion graduate Paula L. Fleming explains in her article on Attending a Speculative Fiction Convention.

What Fleming doesn’t make clear are the benefits for people who are already selling their work. Robert J. Sawyer answers Why Authors Attend Science Fiction Conventions.

Have you attended one or more of these events?