Friday, October 31, 2014

Happy Halloween!

Let's see, I guess I have a lot to report. First, link salad: Mason and I did a Halloween podcast in which we did our usual reviews but also sang too much and put on bad "vampire" accents: 31st on the 31st. Then, if you forgot to check out the Thursday installment of the School for Wayward Demons, it's up on the Enter The Unseen web site: "A New Home for How Long?"

Mason and I did our usual pumpkin carving/pumpkin seed roasting last night. This year, for the first time, Mason did all the carving and scooping of his own pumpkins. I'm going to get pictures of all of the pumpkins we did tonight when the candles are in them, but here are some "action" shots from last night:



The pumpkin above is going to have a bunch of knives sticking in its head when we're finished with it, which is why he looks a bit like he's wincing.

Here's a shot of us in progress:




There will be more pictures, particularly once Mason is in full costume tonight. He's decided to take up the long standing Morehouse tradition of preferring to stay home and hand out the candy. As part of this, Mason has made a featureless black mask and plans to dress all in flowing shadowy robes in order to 'haunt' anyone who shows up to the door for Trick-or-Treat. So you could say he's going as the Trick in Trick-or-Treat.

My only hope is that he doesn't make too many little kids cry. But, you know, he's a good kid. I know that's not his intention. In fact, it would break his heart if he made some little Elisa cry. I'm pretty sure who he has in his sights are the neighbor boys and those late straggling teenagers.

We've also been invited to a neighbor's costume party so I might struggle on my Renji cosplay and head over to try out their appetizers and such. As a bonus, I can bring along about six zillion roasted pumpkin seeds, because OMG we had so many this year. They were big and juicy too, so they're delicious!

I have a few other announcement to pass on. First and Foremost, I was invited to be the Guest of Honor at MarsCON again for 2015. MarsCON is going to be held March 6 -8, 2015: MarsCON 2015: Heroes and Wizards & Fae--OHhh MYyy.

Secondly, I'll be reading at this year's Minnesota Speculative Writers' Showcase. It's Sunday, November 9th from noon to 3 PM at Acadia Cafe. The Local Author Showcase has a Facebook Page with more information than you'll ever need! But, if for some reason, you can't see that, the salient bit of information is that Acadia Cafe is located at 329 Cedar Avenue South, Minneapolis. The event is FREE and open to the public. I was told I'd have only a very short period to read, so I think the idea is kind of like the Broad Universe Rapid Fire readings. You'll get a tiny sample of everyone's work. It should be fun. Hope to see some of you there.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

New School

Too cool for the School of Wayward Demons?

Aw, c'mon, give it a try.  I know you'll like it!  Rachel and I have just posted another chapter: http://entertheunseen.com/01-10-gathering-house/

And check out this amazing teaser art by Alexis Cooke!




Linky-Linkage

Because I forgot to come back and post our podcast link, "30: Still No Aizen" and my link to the Gangsta manga review: Gangsta by Kosuke, A Review, you are now inundated with the linky-links.

Also, today is a new Tate chapter. I'm rather proud of the opening line this time. It goes like this: "After being told I was off the case, I did what any well-adjusted grown-up would do: I sat at my desk and sulked." You can find this gem (and others) in Part 27: With a Little Help from Friends.

Later today, there will also be a new School for Wayward Demons chapter for you, but I think that Rachel has those set to go up around 1 pm. If you go there, be sure to check out all the little improvements we've been making around the site. We have a lovely new Table of Contents page, which you can go to to check out any chapters you may have missed (or want to re-read!) We also have link to our Patreon page, so you know, if you feel like supporting our work, you should go for it.

I support you supporting us.

In other news, I'm starting to get excited about Yuletide. I checked out the Sign-Up Summary and I found out that someone actually requested that funky little food manga I adored called, "Kinou Nani Tabeta?/What Did You Eat Yesterday?" and I'm super-duper hoping that I get assigned to write that one. But, seriously, OMG, if I don't get this one, I'm SO writing someone a treat in that universe. Because: food! Because: gay men! Because: ridiculously boring slice-of-life. IT IS ALL THE THINGS I LOVE.

Friday, October 24, 2014

The Road to Hell is Paved with "Wait, What...?"

Last night, Mason and I recorded another podcast. I started working on editing it and I thought I was going along just fine and then I did a REALLY STUPID THING, didn't save, quit the program, and LOST EVERYTHING.

Yes, yes, I searched all the temporary and back-up files. It's gone. I did a really dumb thing. I do not what to talk about it, especially since it's one of those things that even as I did it I thought, "Wait, No!"

However, it's easy enough to re-record. Mason and I always have such fun doing these that I plan to up-sell the idea of my royal [bleep]-up as and "opportunity" to make an even more cogent and funny show. Even though we can't get to re-recording until later this evening, we won't be that much later than we would have been if we published this morning. Normally, when I'm not being a moron, it only takes me a half-hour to edit, anyway.

Also, yesterday was a crazy day. I had work yesterday at the library.  That's not a hard job, but there have been some small stresses (though I can report those went well.)  HOWEVER, yesterday was just this big, huge ball of "WTF, EVEN??" (because, honestly? It started with Mason forgetting his backpack and us having to turn around and fetch it, making him tardy), I forgot to mention that a new chapter in the story I'm co-writing with Rachel Gold came out: Kitty Regrets, Erin Takes...

This one is actually a two-in-one in which we get short vignettes from Kitty (the demon hunter with mommy issues) and Erin ("the broken one"). Go check it out, see what you think.

The big writing project I'm going to try to tackle this weekend is to gather all my Unjust Cause bits into one big file and try to start restructuring and see what the hell I'm even doing with that novel. It's gone a bit off the rails, like my projects do, so I need to spend some quality time with it and get things back on track. I did have a lovely image come into my mind for the next scene I want to write, though, so I may just go ahead and write that today as well.

But the keyword today? SAVE. SAVE. SAVE.

Because... *sighes*

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

A New Chapter, A New Character....

I write so many things these days I'm sure it's hard to follow along, but, if you ARE following the School for Wayward Demons (looking at you, Frank G.) there is a new chapter up: Gabe Sees Demons... And They See Him. Today's story is the introduction of one of "my" characters, Gabe Herrara. The story also features art by Alexis Cooke:






If you didn't know, we actually have TWO artists working on the School for Wayward Demons. So far, you've mostly seen the work of Mandie Brasington, but today, we not only get Gabe's debut, but Alexis' too. This is just a small bit of a large piece I'm sure we'll see later on.

So, go check it out.

Also, if you were expecting a new UnJust Cause chapter today, I'm sorry.  Life jumped up and swallowed me whole.  I had work today, Japanese class this evening, and things just plied on from there, I guess.

Tomorrow, perhaps!

Friday, October 17, 2014

Podcast and Fan Fic Pet Peeves

First, because I know you've all been waiting.... the new podcast is up: Ni-ju kyu, Oetsu. The title is my attempt at combining the number of our podcast 29 (ni-ju kyū, in Japanese) with the character Oetsu who CONSTANTLY does this kind of number rhyming thing with his name in the current chapter of Bleach. We also review Fairy Tail, Toriko, and Ao no Exorcist (even though I wrote that one up as well.)






I have to say, for us, this podcast is pretty darned articulate, and since we forget to sing the spoiler song, there's 50% less annoying singing!

All wins, in my opinion.

I also wanted to report on my fan fic class at the Loft, which was part of the Youth/Teen Writers' Conference. The nicest thing about the conference is that it's free, which means that attendance is huge. There were probably about 25 teens in my class, which means there was a TON of energy. It helped that I started class with a "what's your fandom?" question that elicited some squee when people heard their own favorites mentioned. I also said before we started that this was a no shaming class, so you know, if you wanted to confess to still reading some One Direction bandom fic, no one was allowed to laugh TOO loudly at you.

The thing that I decided to do since everyone seemed keyed up to share was to ask them what THEIR list of fan fic pet peeves were. I got some interesting results.

NUMBER #1: grammar/spelling errors.

So, for all you grown-ups who think that the next generation doesn't give a toss about language because they're texting all the time, you would be so very, VERY wrong.

NUMBER #2 (and actually some other ones later could fall under this one): Tagging, Get it Right

The complaints for this one including being surprised by a fic that started out moderately dark that then took an unexpected left-turn, "Mature" rating that wasn't hot enough, and similar things.

We did discuss how hard "tagging the dark" can be when you're posting as you write... since you might not notice how dark something is getting. But, a lot of the answers boiled down to: get a beta reader and listen to them. I learned that there's apparently a beta reader/writer connection place on Tumblr called "Writer's Halfway House", which among its many tips, will connect writers to beta readers.

NUMBER #3: Self-insertion/Mary Sue.

No surprise there. Mary Sue has been disliked since the very first fic of its kind was penned. HOWEVER, I did point out that there's nothing wrong with Mary Sue especially when you're young and first trying things out. My very first piece of fan fiction (which happened to be my very first piece of fiction, period) involved Han Solo rescuing me from my dreary life. Nothing wrong with that... IF YOU TAG IT.

Which, by the way, was pretty much a solution to a lot of problems: tag, tag, TAG.

NUMBER #4: Weak endings/Didn't stick the landing.

Far more problematic, especially given the way a lot of fic gets written--which is to say, on the fly. We talked about general strategies, especially the idea of outlining or starting with an actual point. (Not required, of course, particularly for drabbles and such, but if you want to have a strong ending, you need a strong start. A strong start is far more certain when you have a THING you want to say, a point, a theme, a thesis, if you will.)

NUMBER #5: OOC for no reason

If you're a fan and you're writing to other fans about beloved characters, for goodness sake try to keep the characters IN CHARACTER. This lead to a side discussion about the point of AUs. Some people suggested that Alternate Universes were good for focusing on character, because you're taking them away from the world and it's about the core of what makes them who they are. I suggested that this can also be the pitfall of Alternate Universes, which I tend not to like, because more often than not they feel, to me, like original fiction with the names stuck in just to trick people into reading it--but that may be harsh. I have been burned. But, I've also been pleasantly surprised. One of my favorite fics is an AU involving Renji and Byakuya were it all starts as a sleazy hook-up in a bookstore's back closet and they're entirely human, living in the modern world.

NUMBER #6: Spearbearers made of cardboard/OC (original characters) who are flat

I felt particularly capable to talk about how to do original characters right because more than once I've gotten complimented on my original characters in my fan fic. (I suppose this skill comes from inventing characters for, well, novels, but still.) The answer, in it's simplest form is: treat all your characters as human beings. No human being has only one characteristic. We are all interesting, even the vile ones have something about them that is redeeming and charming, etc.

NUMBER #7: Evasion of plot

I was very surprised and pleased to hear this one come up. What is meant by "evasion of plot" is two things, 1) a tendency of fan fic writers not to go for the gold. They'll get to what should be a very painful moment and they back away out of a desire not to hurt their babies. But, what ends up happening is that the reader feels cheated of a bigger moment, a bigger payoff. And, 2) the similar, if different, problem of the author being coy with information that really just needs to be said. It's the whole 'why didn't they just say that earlier' problem. Or it's something that the reader should have been told, but is instead held back in the wrong-headed assumption that this makes the story more dramatic. The solution to that was: yeah, don't do that.

NUMBER #8: Fucking up the fucking

Yeah, we went there. There were a number of very interesting complaints about sex in fan fic. Firstly, the teens in my class do NOT want you to use inappropriate lubes. Please, people, do your research. A quote from class: "Peanut butter? JUST NO. So much NO." Similarly, do not break the laws of physical possibilities, which we labeled "parts doing the NO." I recommended the classic fan fic resource: Minotaur's Sex Tips for Slash Writers.

My students also really craved sex scenes that skipped all the purple prose of "his alabaster skin" (guilty as charged!) but to the excision of actual feelings. We discussed, actually, the similarity between writing a good fight scene and writing a good sex scene. I told them that in a fight, what you want to concentrate on is a singular point of view and remember that a fight isn't just about the dimensions of the instrument, what part goes where, and for how long (like sex) and that it's actually a highly emotionally charged event (like sex.) So parts are important (like sex), but ultimately it's about feelings (like sex.) So make sure your fight scenes aren't gratuitous either. Make sure there's a reason for the fight and for the sex.

Similarly, we discussed romance and how they want it to be so much more than love at first sight (which this generation firmly believes is crap.) They also absolutely hated when a write had a gay man who spent any time wondering "when they turned into a girl." They found this offensive on so many levels it wasn't funny.

Foreplay was discussed as both something that could go on too long and that there sometimes wasn't nearly enough of. So we ended up spending a lot of time discussing ways in which we could work to make the romance and sex feel REAL. I said that, even though part of the appeal of fan fic is its fantasy element, there is some value in considering real life situations while writing about sex. It can make sex cute, funny and resonate more deeply when you take some time to try to add the people parts of sex that make it awesome--an example I used is consider breaking up the hot and heavy action with the classic... and now the cat has wandered in and is sitting on someone's butt or staring at you from the dresser. This makes the moment (potentially if you can pull it off) funny and real feeling.

NUMBER #9: The art of the Summary

We didn't get to this one because sex and romance ate up the majority of our class period, but people want better summaries from you, oh fan fic writers everywhere. Please take some time to figure out how to best summarize your fic. (This may be something that Rachel and I can spend some class time teaching because I believe it's an art that can translate to original fiction skills, as it's the same one that you use when you write synopses for agents and editors.)

Those were the major ones. We got kind of specific, like "wanton" versus "wonton" but obviously that falls under grammar and spelling. Likewise, there were a lot of specific questions about sex, which I fielded like a pro, that ended up as part of the list which I combined into a giant #8 above.

Yeah... we had to shut the door. No only were we screaming about lube, there was just a lot of general excitement to get to talk to someone about this sort of thing--not just the sex parts but the whole "oh and this drives me insane" thing.

So I would say the class went well. It'll be interesting to see what the various evaluations say.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

New Demon Stuff

Mason and I will have a podcast once I'm back from teaching at the Loft's Youth Writing Conference today, but while you wait impatiently for that, you can read the newest chapter in the School for Wayward Demons that Rachel Gold/Calish and I are writing: http://entertheunseen.com/01-07-ben-takes-a-side-job/

In the aftermath of Theo's capture, we learn some interesting things about this strange new world she's stumbled into...

That's all for now, unfortunately.  I need to prep still, but I'll have more to write about once I'm done with class.  

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Link Salad Days!

I am so amazing and busy, you can hardly keep up with me, can you?

Today is Tuesday which is my super-duper productivity day. I've posted a new installment over on Wattpad :http://www.wattpad.com/76031780-unjust-cause-part-26-choices-made. In this chapter, Alex thinks she's got everything figured out. So, of COURSE, the universe throws her a curveball... in the form of one Spenser Jones.

Also, Rachel Calish/Gold and I have updated our School for Wayward Demons, which you can read here :http://entertheunseen.com/01-06-everyone-catches-up-to-theo/. In this chapter, the demons finally catch up to our cheeky thief, Theo. Will she manage yet another daring escape? Tune in to find out!

I reviewed a couple of things up on MangaKast, too, in case you were curious about how I felt about the latest Ao no Exorcist chapter (61) http://mangakast.wordpress.com/2014/10/13/ao-no-exorcist-61/ or its spin-off Salaryman Futumashi Okumura Yukio no Aishuu http://mangakast.wordpress.com/2014/10/11/sorrows-of-the-salaryman-exorcist/, which, in my opinion, has the best tag line in the history of strange manga tag lines, ever: "This is my seriousness!"

Okay, wow. Impressed yet?

If not, you should know that I also taught the Loft's Open Pages class on Fan Fic last night at the Savage Public Library last night. Savage! Savage, Minnesota, which is somewhere down there with the other suburbs like Apple Valley and Burnsville. I did find it last night. Drove right to it, thanks to Google Maps, in fact. The crowd was tough, though not 'savage.' I had two students, which was twice as many as I expected. In fact, in case of disaster, I'd brought along my Japanese to study. One of the librarians decided to stay and.... I guess add warm bodies, but I find that the addition of an adult can make things awkward sometimes. Though, tbf, I was plenty awkward on my own. I had a HELL of a time speaking. Like, words... I stumbled, very uncharacteristically, through my own introduction, but I managed a fairly decent recovery (I think.)

Because there was an adult (beyond me) present, the two kids took some warming-up.

Teenagers, you know.

Plus, the whole point of Open Pages is that the class is supposed to self-direct, so I intentionally come under-prepared, with the idea that if the consensus is "We want to talk about how hard plotting is!" then we do that. But, mouths stayed firmly shut in the presence of another grown-up, so I had to run though that list y'all gave me of 'fan fic pet peeves." Luckily, my teaching style (chaotic good) lends itself to interruption and discussion, so going through that list seemed to spark thoughts, etc., and by the end there was a lot of chatter among the three of us. Also, one of the students boldly asked for time to write, so we spent the last half hour doing just that.

I never know with these things, but it felt, to me, ultimately, successful.

Probably that means I bombed.

I'm constantly surprised by why teens take a class on fan fic... and the levels that they come in at. Like last night, I had one student who didn't entirely seem clear on the concept. When it came time to write, she needed much more than a prompt. She seemed confused as to the point of fan fic, event though we'd been talking about it for about an hour. I explained that some people use fan fic to fill in the corners of a story--the bits you don't get to see, but might like to. So, for instance, if she wanted she could try writing about two of her favorite characters doing something mundane, such as grocery shopping or shopping for shoes. She seemed to thinks this was silly, since most of the time the heroes were in a life-or-death situations. When would they have time to shoe shop? I said, see, that's kind of the point. To take them out of the the plot and see what they're like in their ordinary life. But, then again, I said, not everyone likes curtain fic. So, maybe instead, I suggested, you could do a fix-itabout something that bothered you in the story that you wanted to change or write something that happened after canon had finished... like the story of what Harry Potter is doing with his life after school.

Finally, she seemed to settle on something, but it was kind of baffling to me, especially in comparison to my other student who not only instantly started writing, but also said that they had a FanFictionnet that they'd been active on until they forgot their password.

So... two VERY DIFFERENT students.