Back to Basics: compelling short stories and character motivations

I have gone into back to basics mode: what does it mean to tell a story? I have been reading a lot of short stories since giving up on A Game of Thrones for what must be the eightieth time. Not just fantasy or science fiction, but authors of all nationalities, genres, and styles. I have been reading Chekhov, Stephen King, Margaret Atwood, Flannery O’Connor, and others who I used to read before I got the idea that I had to give myself assignments and read stuff that was current. I’ve noticed a couple of interesting things: Continue reading “Back to Basics: compelling short stories and character motivations”


Moana’s Journey

The psychology and symbolism underlying Moana are present in all great stories, and Disney knows how to tell them

Erin Tettensor, who also goes by the pseudonym Erin Lindsey, brought a blog about Buffy the Vampire Slayer to my attention, so earlier I was going to write about the face I make when people say “you write about women” or “you write about strong female characters” but I am pretty bored with that topic.

Instead, let me tell you about Moana. I just watched it for the first time and I regret not trying to see it in the theater. This is yet another movie that hits all the bases: it’s the first film telling of this legend as far as I know, it has great animation, great music, and above all a great story. Just like Frozen the tension is drawn out, the characters are engaging and the hero’s journey is rewarding. The Hero’s Journey has gotten something of a bad reputation because it has been abused, but at the heart of it, if you read Joseph Campbell’s book and really grasp the meaning of it, you see how it underlies all great stories and unifies human experience in the progression of our dreams. Continue reading “Moana’s Journey”

Boskone 2017: A con worth going to

The value of professional networking at scifi conventions cannot be understated, except by talented writers…

This past weekend I went to my second scifi convention in Boston, Boskone. I had a great time and met some people I only know online or from the other convention I’ve been to, Readercon.  Most importantly, this con was really useful as a professional, and I’m definitely looking forward to going back next year. Continue reading “Boskone 2017: A con worth going to”

Is this blogging?

In which I say I’m going to keep a regular schedule…

I am finally getting an idea of what blogging is supposed to be about, particularly because I noticed that I get the most reads on days when I publish a post. So I will start keeping a regular schedule and write at least one post a week on Friday. I used to be really puzzled and irritated by people who apologized for missing their scheduled blog posts, as if the whole internet is hanging on every word of this person I’ve never heard of. I would think “go ahead, don’t blog for a week, I won’t miss it.” But now that I notice why people should keep a regular schedule, I will try it.

Continue reading “Is this blogging?”

Basement Books: Classic Scifi Anthologies

…the Golden Age of Science Fiction is when you’re twelve years old. –Fredrik Pohl

When I was twelve my father had a collection of books in the basement with names on the spines like Isaac Asimov and Brian Aldiss, and this is where I first read scifi short stories. These books dated from the late seventies and early eighties, when my dad belonged to a science fiction book club and my oldest brother was a fan of Doctor Who, Star Trek and The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Over the past couple years I’ve been reeducating myself, after a long absence from scifi, about the luminaries of this period. Some of the names I remembered, like C.J. Cherryh, Harlan Ellison, and Fredrik Pohl, but many of them I had forgotten, like James Tiptree, Jr. I had asked my dad several times about these anthologies, but after moving from the house where I first read them, he claimed he hadn’t seen them. Complicating matters was that I had probably taken them off the shelves and left them in my bedroom.  I wasn’t looking forward to going to Colorado over Memorial Day weekend, but I was looking forward to trying to find these anthologies.
Continue reading “Basement Books: Classic Scifi Anthologies”