Wednesday, March 3, 2021

IWSG March: Risk Taking in Writing and Author Bio Question

 


It's IWSG Blog Hop Day! A time to consider our writing, to share our insecurities, and to encourage one another! Many thanks to found Alex J. Cavanaugh, the whole volunteer admin team, and the co-hosts this month:  Sarah - The Faux Fountain Pen Jacqui Murray, Chemist Ken, Victoria Marie Lees, Natalie Aguirre, and JQ Rose!

OPTIONAL QUESTION FOR MARCH - Are you a risk-taker when writing? Do you try something radically different in style/POV/etc. or add controversial topics to your work?

(Eek, I have the wrong question up! Sorry. It's actually about reading. Okay, so is this the question for next month? Idk. Oy.) Well, here's the answer for the question I asked myself, I guess. 

In brief, I am a risk taker in my short fiction and poetry. I've tried writing in 1st, 2nd, and 3rd POV for short fiction and poetry. I've tried experimental fiction forms and poetry forms I didn't know existed ten years ago. I've written in present and past tense. I like experimenting with short fiction and poems.

When I write anything longer than 5,000 words, I fall into a pattern of third person point of view in past tense. I tried to write a first person novel in present tense and somewhere between the second and third chapter in my rough draft, I switched back to third person in past tense. I tried rewriting the chapters, and reverted again. I ended up with a mess. So, for now, I am a third person POV writer who experiments in first and second person only in short stories.


AUTHOR BIOS

I have always struggled with author bios. I have said too little, too much, and written things oddly in a way that raised a few eyebrows like in one bio when I described my family and used the phrase: multitalented husband. I didn't mean it the way it was taken, but yes, it was commented on, my daughters were embarrassed, and my husband had a few chuckles.

Here are a few of the bios I've used, and one more at the end. If you have time, please let me know which one you think I should use and why in the comments.

1. The longest one is actually a page on my blog and I decided not to rewrite it here. Let's just say I plan not to go with it in the future.

2. I love words. I love the shape and taste of them. I find refuge in words and stories. I don’t always get it “right,” but I write anyway. It’s in my bones. – Tyrean Martinson

3. Tyrean Martinson lives near Gig Harbor, has a BA in English Education from WWU, works as a property manager and tutor, enjoys walking, and has recently taking up kickboxing. She’s the mom of two college-age daughters who are both into engineering and who don’t like Star Wars or Shakespeare, which means their mom didn’t brainwash them enough, although she really tried. Tyrean is an indie author of several books, both fiction and non-fiction, and has had over 100 short works published. She’s an admin for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group and a member of the SCBWI. She’s on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and has a blog at https://tyreanswritingspot.blogspot.com/

4. Tyrean Martinson, lifelong SFF fan, fenced foil and saber in college, once acted in plays, and then became a teacher and writing tutor, which gives her plenty of opportunity to use Star Wars and Marvel movies as examples, and gesture theatrically when she makes a point.

5. Tyrean Martinson (she/her) changes her bio nearly every time she submits a story. Why can’t she decide on the best one? Because decisions are hard. Life is too full of possibilities and wonder. Tyrean writes science fiction, fantasy, non-fiction, terrible poetry, devotions, and any idea that feels shiny with wonder. Her newest novella, Liftoff, was something she wrote to entertain herself during early quarantine, a “popcorn movie” style YA novella she hopes will be fun for readers, too.

6. Tyrean Martinson writes for her old self: the child who found refuge in the library, who found hope in stories, especially those which showed evil defeated by the roar of a lion, a small hobbit with a sword, a faithful friend, a bar of chocolate, or a band of unlikely heroes. Writing is in her soul and her bones, a part of who God created her to be as a daydreamer, creator, teacher, and believer. Tyrean is a member of The Insecure Writer’s Support Group, a critique group, and the SCBWI. Tyrean has written and published The Champion Trilogy, Liftoff, Flicker: A Collection of Short Stories and Poetry, Dragonfold and Other Stories, A Pocket-Sized Jumble of 500+ Writing Prompts, 5…4…3…2…1…Write: Speculative Fiction Prompts; Light Reflections (a poetry chapbook), and Dynamic Writing curriculum. She has also had over 100 short works of short fiction and poetry published in various magazines, ezines, and anthologies. Tyrean has a BA in English Education with additional teaching certificates in social studies and humanities. She has certificates from the Commercial Fiction Class of 2000, and the Advanced Commercial Fiction Class of 2001 from the University of Washington continuing education program. She also continues to take classes and teach classes in creative writing.

*Tyrean pronounces her name with a hard “e” sound in the second syllable. Her parents created this name for her, and only later discovered it was out there in the world already, with other pronunciations.  

What do you think? Are any of them useable? The last one just feels way too long for me. Do I take out some of the specific titles? And, do I include a pronunciation guide or is that a nerdy/rude thing to do?

In addition to these options, there's one where I tried to include that I'm the daughter of an amputee and someone with mental health issues, and have a multi-racial extended family. I was trying to give reasons for writing a story with an amputee and diverse characters, but it all felt wrong and awkward.

Please help, otherwise, this is me, running between options, probably way more confused than The Weekend in this gif:

via GIPHY

Monday, February 22, 2021

Writing, Faith, and the Daily Grind: What I've Learned to Live a Self-Started, Creative Life

 


As a writer, as a small business owner, and as a Christian, I have every reason to wake up with a smile, but there are days when the day seems to yawn open with a mountain of to-do lists and no end in sight for lengthy projects.

It can feel daunting to do the dailies. I feel the need to hurry through my lists, to cram in more "should-do-this-too." This all stresses me, and I find myself getting less done.

I discovered I need to change my attitude and my daily practice of work, writing, and faith.

There's one method that's been working.

I start my day slower, with prayer, and a plan for self-care and re-energizing moments.

I schedule in self-care moments throughout my day's schedule, in-between writing, work, and life events. 

Examples of self-care: journal writing, prayer, essential oils, massaging my feet and Achilles tendon (actually physical therapy), physical therapy exercises, dance breaks, singing breaks, getting outside for five minutes with my dog, petting my cat and my dog, drinking water, checking my planner and using stars instead of checkmarks to highlight my progress (this is tiny, but it makes a difference to me), creating affirmation lists and "finished" lists, photography, idea generation/dreaming up new ideas (I know I don't need more, but this fills me with joy), conversations with friends, conversations with my daughters, date night with hubs (even though this mainly includes playing cribbage or watching a movie at home, it is good to have it on the schedule), stretching, chair yoga, regular yoga, time on the exercise bike in 5-10 minute spurts, doing the dishes while dancing to music (I know this doesn't sound like self-care, but it is), and creating healthy meals also while dancing to music, writing down 1-5 things I am thankful for, taking a drum break on the ancient drum set in our garage, sending a "thinking of you" text/email to a friend, creating a collage for a vision board, and listening to music. (Did I mention music enough times?) 

I end my day with more self-care by writing prayers in my journal.

Somehow, when I take the time to practice self-care, I actually expand my horizons. I still have the same amount of time, but when I am more relaxed and more hope-filled, I can actually achieve my goals. Self-care helps me regain the energy and attitude I need for a self-started, creative life.

Maybe this seems obvious, but I had to learn it. Heck, I am still learning it. 

How do you handle the daily grind - especially if you are working from home and everyone in your household is?


Highlights from February for me:

  • Zoom celebration for Creative Colloquy, Volume 7.
  • Writing poetry and song lyrics.
  • Podcasts from One Hope Church - Listening daily M-F has boosted my Bible study, and I created two entries of the ongoing series so far.
  • Words on the page. 
  • Labyrinth revision progress.
  • Physical therapy for my Achilles is going well again. (I had a bad plateau moment and had to have a cortisone shot that really hurt a few weeks ago.)
  • Conversations with my daughters.
  • Idea generation in my journal has motivated my "regular" writing.
  • Editing the novel of a new author - his enthusiasm is contagious!
  • #365gratitude - I don't always post my entries, but I have been writing them down. When I do post, it's fun to read everyone else's posts. 


Monday, February 15, 2021

World Building for Science Fiction and Fantasy Authors: Start with Questions


Welcome to World Building for Science Fiction and Fantasy Authors

A Craft and Fandom Series


Start with Questions

One of my favorite parts of writing science fiction and fantasy is idea generation through questions.

These questions always start with the basic questions and build from there.

For example: 
A Group of Fantasy Questions Based on a Vase of Fake Flowers on my Desk:
  • What if the flowers on my desk were home to a particular species of tiny dragons? 
  • What if these flowers were picked by an unsuspecting human from an fairy dragon preserve hidden alongside a farm? 
  • What if the tiny dragons are then seen by a human child? 
  • Will the laws of fairy and human be at risk? What are those laws? 
  • Why would fairy dragons hide from humans? Why would they live anywhere near them? 
  • Will the human child need to help the dragons? Will the dragons help the child? 
  • What kind of trouble could they get into if the tiny dragons and the human child become friends? This is presuming the tiny dragons can communicate with the human child. 
A Group of Science Fiction Questions Based on the Dark Outside my Window as I Write:
  • What if aliens crash-landed and are camped out in the wooded area behind my house?
  • Why would aliens actually want to camp behind my house? 
  • Would I ever interact with them? What would that look like? Okay, maybe I'm too boring of a subject for alien interaction, but what if...the aliens decided to camp out and do some human research on a familial unit they thought was stereotypical, but then it turned out the familial unit was actually a group of criminal masterminds living together to disguise their nefarious deeds? 
  • What nefarious deeds? I'm not sure yet. 
  • What if the aliens decided to "help" the subjects of their studies with the unknown nefarious deeds? Would they help/hinder/cause humorous havoc? 
  • How would alien technology and human technology mix?
My first tip for World Building for Science Fiction and Fantasy is to generate lists of questions. Use the basic questions we're all familiar with and build on them.
What
What if
Where
When
Why
How

Repeat, and continue the idea generation with questions about the answers found for the first set of questions. 

Exercise #1 Start with Questions for World-Building

Ask yourself a question based on something you can see/interact with in your immediate surroundings mixed with something outlandish, fantastical, magical, technological, science fiction-based, or alien-based. Try for at least seven questions, all building on the first one.
Yes, this can lead you to write ideas like mine above which are a mix of real world and fantasy or science fiction. However, we'll change this up with Exercise #2.

Do not panic if some of your ideas feel like tropes the first time around. It's okay. 
First, tropes are useful. 
Second, tropes can be bent and reshaped into something new as you continue to ask questions.

Exercise #2 Rewind and Twist the Questions

Go back through your list of questions. Ask yourself the following questions:
  • What if I change my initial setting? 
  • Where else can this take place?
  • When else can this take place?
  • What is the most important element of this idea? (The interaction, the magic, the tech, the characters?)
  • Do I want to age up or age down my initial character ideas, if I have some?
  • If I have a trope, how can I twist it to make it fresh?
  • What tone do I want to use for this idea? (Serious, humorous, dramatic, adventurous, romantic, etc)
  • What do I like about the idea forming so far? What don't I like?
Note: If you don't like any of the ideas so far, go back to exercise #1 and start again. Don't waste too much time on the initial idea unless you love it. Each of these exercises should take less than 15 minutes, ideally, until you land on something that really gels, or you just find yourself itching to start the story or ask more questions. 


Do you have any questions?
Ideas for idea generation?
Please let me know in the comments. I'm building this series of posts with the hope of turning them into a World Building Guide at some future date.