Dec 31, 2010

Get Ready for Time Travel

Into a new year we go - 2011.


Wow. Really?

Happy New Year!

May it be your best ever.

Dec 29, 2010

While Waiting for my Monolith Action Figure to Arrive ...

I am all a twitter [although, I have not tweeted about this] about my monolith action figure in transit. Looking forward to its arrival.

Husband's and I's mutual gift to each other this holiday season was a blue ray player to replace the dying dvd player as it was especially annoying when it would stop in the middle of my workouts.

One of our holiday traditions is to buy a set of dvds to watch. Last year it was the original Star Treks, which we thoroughly enjoyed. It had been so long since I'd seen it, I had forgotten many of the episodes. There is something about those old shows and the Kirk and the Spock - just could not stop watching.

This year, I found the series Carnivale. It caught my attention while perusing the offerings among HBO and Showtime. I find they often have shows I like watching. I had never heard of Carnivale, but the blurb interested me and Husband. So, we took it home. Hmmm, great choice. We've been thoroughly entertained and have a hard time restraining ourselves to one episode a day. Set in the 1930's during the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl, it follows the travels of these carnies. Their new recruit, Ben, was picked up in the show opener burying his mother. He just escaped from the chain gang and is a fugitive. The story of Ben unfolds slowly. He has some strange powers which are revealed in drips and spurts as the show goes on. Juxtaposed with the carnies' stories is the story of Brother Justin, a methodist preacher in California. He and Ben share dreams, and it seems powers. Too bad there are only two seasons.

We've also been watching Threshold. It originally aired on CBS in 2005. I wondered why I had never seen it then read only a few episodes aired in the US and it was on Friday nights. So, we were probably watching Stargate. Anyway, there's a bit of throwback to an X-Files feel. A friend sent me the dvds and I have to say it was a good choice. Too bad it didn't catch on. It's an enjoyable watch. Aliens and lots of skeery scenes. So far, very fun.

My other guilty pleasure is neither fantasy or sci-fi. Husband got me the final season of the Tudors. Boo that it's the final season. I can not hold myself to one episode a day and already finished watching it. Love, love, love this series.

The Cape is coming to NBC the premiere is Sunday, January 9th and it will air Mondays at 9:00 p.m. Nice to see Summer Glau again. Same time slot as The Event, which has me confused since The Event was picked up for 22 episodes. That would be a real sci-fi feat to air two shows at the same time. I've enjoyed The Event and look forward to The Cape.

What about you? Any shows you've seen which you find compelling? Anyone else a Big Love fan? I have yet to see season 4, but will remedy that soon enough. I'm also sorry there were only 2 seasons of Rome.

Dec 27, 2010

Gift of Encouragement

How was your holiday?

Mine was pretty good. My video genius has many talents. Her day job is a printer. So, she sent me two bound copies of my first novel - THE SKIES IN HAND. I have to admit it was exciting to open the package and see my book in print. Totally unexpected. It's not an official copy as it's not under a publishing contract yet, but it was a very thoughtful gift. Helps keep me going. Whatever New York thinks, I like it. I think it rocks.

Revision work on my second novel is starting to pick up speed. Although I've changed details of the plot, I have not altered the plot much at all. Will switch a few things around, but otherwise I follow what I did in the first draft for the most part.

Video genius also sent me a book I wanted for research on the next novel. Has things cooking on the back burner for that one. I must get to the Bend Historical Society before we leave. So, that is on my slate for this winter. Probably some time in January.

I also need to work on getting some submissions and queries out. I'm going to concentrate on moving on that this week. Need to get my next total rewrite of a short story done, too. I did one, but I still didn't get it right. So, now I've got to do another one.

The road to any goal may be a bumpy one, but there's no way to go but forward. And it's nice to have friends giving me shoves along the way.

How about you? What keeps you going? Get any shoves lately?

Dec 23, 2010

Best of the Season to You and Yours

Have a safe and joyous holiday.

There's Klingons off the tanenbaum. Shoot them up, Captain! Does anyone else's Christmas tree have space battles?

Winter in the high desert

Dec 21, 2010

Winter Solstice Total Lunar Eclipse

Orson Bradbury came out of storage and instead of working in dust, he got a workout in the snow. Oddly, or maybe not, the temperature in Bend was a balmy 30 which was warmer than several nights up at the observatory last June where it got down to 28.

Orson Bradbury in September up at PMO

Sunset - uh oh, that's a big cloud
The last total lunar eclipse was about 3 years ago. Occurring on the winter solstice is rarer. The last one happened about 400 years ago. I hope you got to see it. I've seen pictures on the web that got a deeper orange than we did, but it was an awesome thing to watch.

I peeked out the window a little before 11:00 p.m. pacific time and saw the shadow of the Earth just starting to nip at the full moon. So Husband and I got Orson out in the driveway and went and asked the next door neighbors to turn off their porch lights.

About 11:40, the moon was completely dark. Here are some of the photos I captured. When we started there was a big fat cloud right over the moon, but it went off thankfully.

Full moon behind some cloud cover

The eclipse begins. Despite the big cloud - giving the photo the
grainy appearance - you can see the shadow of the Earth
on the Moon
This is how you know the world is round - you can see the curve
of the Earth on the Moon
More of the Moon is swallowed in shadow
The view not through the telescope
You can see some of the peachy / orangish color of the Moon
in this photo
And the full Moon gets smaller

and smaller
The Moon is almost gone

Did you get to see any of the eclipse? Please share your story.

Dec 20, 2010

Death of the Space Opera? And a Lunar Eclipse

With Syfy's cancellation of Stargate Universe on Friday [although they will air the 10 remaining episodes], us sci-fi heads are left without any good space opera. Zilch. Nada. Joss Whedon, phone home.

Supposedly, another Battle Star Galactica is in the works. After Caprica, I'm not excited. If a show doesn't have enough action for me, there is a serious problem. And let's drop the constant drinking and smoking in the Battlestar Galactica world. It's distracting and annoying. And please don't make things so Earth-like. We watch space opera for an 'escape'. Escape is key.

What is a space opera fan to do?

Syfy, if you're that hard up for ideas, call me. Although, I didn't see anything wrong with SGU. I liked it, especially once we got aliens and space battles and started exploring the alien planets. I didn't mind the large cast. I even enjoyed Rush's imperfections. Made him interesting. A large cast gives a show more possibilities. I get bored if it's about the same characters all of the time. Ie, Voyager became the holo doctor and Seven of Nine show. I got might sick of the both of them. To the point where I wouldn't watch if the episode was about either of them. There were other crew members on the ship, it didn't have to be the holo doctor and Seven of Nine show. Then Syfy had to bring holo doctor to Stargate. Gah!

I am excited about the upcoming season 4 of Torchwood. It will be airing on BBC One and Starz this summer [2011]. I get neither channel, so I'll have to wait for the dvds. Gives me something to look forward to, though.

I watched the final episode of Sanctuary - well, the last half of it. I'm glad to see they brought John back, and I found the concept of Hollow Earth interesting. But the lead-in of wrestling ... is just wrong. Friday nights have been sci-fi night for a long time. Nothing against wrestling, but how is it science fiction? The costumes? Is that how?


 I caught the last half of Star Runners on Syfy the other evening. Starring Trip from Enterprise. I came in where the giant bugs were attacking. [yes, I enjoyed that part thoroughly] It was actually not bad. If it was a Syfy original, it's one of their better movies.

Ice Quake wasn't bad either. I watched the whole thing. I was entertained. Can't say the same for Dragon Wars. The special effects team have a lot of talent, but I can only watch that one in short bursts. The idea of it is good, but the reality of it isn't.

Anyway, I am disturbed that when SGU goes off the air, there will be no space opera on TV. Nothing to get excited about. Alls I'll have left is repeats of fallen favorites. I have plenty of SG-1, Star Trek and Firefly on dvd.

Instead of a new Stargate or Star Trek or Battlestar, maybe we could get something new? With something new, there are no expectations. Might give new ideas a better shot at finding an audience. Maybe.

What would you like to see in a new space opera? I'd have to vote for space battles and pretty men. Husband votes for 'in space' - no Earth stuff - and no cutsey aliens.

Astronomy News!

December 21, is a total lunar eclipse. Visible in North and South America on Monday night. For more on times to look:
It's also the winter solstace. Shortest day of the year. All you horror, fantasy and sci-fi writers, lots of good fodder in this conjunction of celestial events. Yes?

Dec 17, 2010

Decorative Arts

Fridays at the Met.

After leaving the Miro exhibit [no photos allowed there], we meandered through a room of decorative arts. What a beautiful home all these objects must have made.

What a wall!

This would look good in my house

Interesting vahz. Eh? I would name it Momo.
What would you name it?

I could see myself writing many novels and stories at this desk.

Decoration is the art in our stories as well - those little details and touches. What kind of setting, story or character would you create using these objects? Do you have a case of desk envy, too?

Dec 15, 2010

Jingle Jangle for Writers and Sci Fi Fans

The inspiring Retta Cat correctly guessed the reference in Pictures of You on Monday.

Oh, the joys of discovery. What did we do before the internet graced our lives? Here are some fab things I found while wandering around cyberspace.

First off, here's a wonderful gift from JE Fritz, a great long list of writers resources.

So, how about some sci-fi holiday music? Seasons Geekings from John Anealio. What a talent!

For the Arthur C. Clarke fan, they need a monolith action figure.

For the writer geek - a curio box of author caricature figures. Sorry they wouldn't let me nab a pic of it. Also available are alien ornaments and other sci-fi trinkets.

For the video game enthusiast Space Bunnies Must Die is it.

An alien abduction lamp is a must for any science fiction fan

Amazon also has many alien themed model kits to choose from. Would look great around the alien abduction lamp.

What treasures have you found around the internet?

Dec 13, 2010

Pictures of You

I've been looking so long at these pictures of you that I almost belive that they're real ...

On getting closer to our characters.

Creating three-dimensional characters from the main to the strong supporting cast to the villains, requires more work than will ever appear on the printed page.

I usually save this work for the revisioning stage as my characters don't always become fully known to me until after the first draft. Sure I have ideas about them from the start. Often they have ideas I never would have thought of until the story is well under way. Sometimes they just don't care what I think and scream, "THAT IS SOOO NOT ME!"

There are many devices and techniques for getting into a character's head and shoes.

1.  Write out what your character's life was before met in the story and what the character's life will be after the story. Everyone has a back story. Everyone has goals. We especially need to understand how our main character will be different once the story ends.

2.  Create a lexicon for each character of significance. In real life, we all have jobs which come with their own vocabulary. Mine differs from my husband's. How does your main character's differ from his / her friends' or enemies'?

3.  Interview your characters before dramatic incidents. With legal pad and pen in hand have a tete a tete with the pivotal characters before writing the scene. Pretend you're Barbara Walters. Helps us get into their heads.

4.  Plan out and decorate your characters' personal spaces. Don't be arbitrary. The decor should illustrate their character and traits.

5.  Plan their wardrobes. Same as above.

6.  What is your character's ideal world? How can you make them fight for it? What obstacles will really tick them off along the way? Helps us create the tension and turning points.

What other techniques can you think of for getting to know our characters better? Bonus if you know where the quote came from at the beginning of the post. What do you get? Ummm ... special recognition. Uh, yeah. :D

Dec 10, 2010

Medieval Arts

Friday at the Met.

We meandered through medieval arts, and arms & armor in our attempt to find the Egyptian Temple. Getting lost inside the Met is exhausting, but not a bad thing. It's a way to bump into beautiful things.

I find the locks and bolts on the armor rather
disturbing. Not an outfit for the claustrophobic.

What's interesting about the armor is that it was
decorative as well as functional.

Armor for a Queen's champion. Fancy schmancy.

Although, I was aware armor was heavy and stifling, I did not know of how they were practically locked into it, or of the elaborate decoration on much of it. They were objects of art as well as war.

What have you learned recently, or become more aware of?

Dec 8, 2010

Entertain Me!

I still lament missing Sharktopus on Syfy, but I'm sure it will be on again at some point. I recently got to see Triassic something or other - dinosaur skeletons attacking a town. Not as superb as Mega Piranha, but still an entertaining watch. Especially when the T Rex swallowed his catch. lol Then when it started ... never mind. I would hate to spoil it for you.
A certain amount of ridiculousness is a treasured prize to me. A guilty pleasure. I was recently informed of Night of the Lepus. Giant, man-eating rabbits. Excellent! I must see it!

Why do I have a passion for these ridiculous beast movies? I have no idea. They certainly entertain me. They require no serious thought. Perhaps it is the equivalent of the beach novel in film form for me. What's your guilty pleasure?

Here are some sci-fi tidbits I found while traveling about cyberspace:
Spock is cited by the Texas Supreme Court as an authority on interpreting the Texas constitution. Awesomeness Texas judges to cite the Kirk and the Spock as legal authority.

News on the upcoming new Star Trek movie, which I'm also mega excited about. I loved the first.

And a rumor about Firefly in Australia. I'm trying not to get my hopes up too much.

What has you jazzed this week?

Dec 6, 2010

Format Cat Speaks "Formatting the Novel"

I'm green with envy at Format Cat's knowledge
 You probably know how a page is supposed to look, but do you know how to tell MS Word how to create it? It's an art [or exercise in frustration] unto itself.

Since finishing prep work for my second novel, it was time to start the revision / writing. In my novice days, I wrote each chapter as a seperate document. Handy, but WRONG. So when I do revisions, I have to convert 60+ documents into one. Starting with novel#3, I'll do it right from the start. :D Maybe. Have I mentioned my rebellious nonconformist streak?

The title page is pretty easy - name, address, phone, e-mail, etc ... all goes at the upper left corner. Word count will go in the upper right corner. Halfway down the page, center the title of the novel in all caps. Under it, two spaces down, center 'by Your Pen Name'. Thus:


by M. Pax

Then formatting becomes frustrating. At least for me. Maybe by novel#10 it will be old hat. So far, no.

Hit ENTER after your name.  Then you'll want to go under INSERT and under BREAK select NEXT PAGE. Not 'page break'.

Now is the time for document formatting. Double spaced. I use 12 point Times New Roman, which is pretty standard. Under 'FORMAT' select 'lines & spacing' and click off window/orphan control. Click off other boxes there if they're on that affect page spacing / formatting.

Back in the document, there will be the margin bar at the top of the page. Move the top arrow in five spaces. This will give you an automatic indent every time you hit ENTER. Editors, agents and the like will love you for knowing this.

A few lines down from the top of that fresh page type - CHAPTER 1, then start typing away. If you have chapter titles, the formatting goes CHAPTER 1--CHAPTER TITLE [that's two hyphens between]

Almost done. We still need a header. On the first page of chapter 1, select 'VIEW' 'Header and Footer'. In the Header box type your last name / TITLE. Thus:  Pax / NOVEL#2  page number. This line should be over to the upper right hand side. Highlight the whole line then use 'Align Right' to format.

Page number will follow the title. This part can be tricky. As the software is counting your title page as one. First, 'unlink the header to previous' - the 4th icon in from the right hand side in the header toolbar. Then hit 'format page number' - the third icon in from the left on the header toolbar. Select 'Start At' and type in 1. Then place the cursor where you want the page number to appear [upper right] and hit the page number icon - first icon from the left hand side. It is important to do this on the first page of chapter 1 and not on the title page.

If you have a prologue, you will need to repeat the above process. Then you will begin numbering the prologue with i, ii, iii, etc ...

Although it then comes out looking correct, MS Word does not seem to understand page 1. When I print, it will print from the title page if I specify 'page 1'. Hmmm. Oh well. Not a problem once I move on from page one. I put my papers in a recyle bin and use the backs to write out grocery lists. So, it does not go to waste.

For additional help, type in page numbering or section break in microsoft help. Which is what I always end up doing when starting a new novel. It's easy to forget how to do it. Now I can look up this blog article. Which is why I wrote it. No, I mean, I wrote it to help you. :D

Yes, this means I've actually begun the rewrite of novel#2. Woot! How about you? Where you at on your current project[s]?

Dec 3, 2010

Fridays at the Met

I sure got my exercise at the Metropolitan Museum of Art when I was back east. It'd be easy to spend months in there in an attempt to see it all. We did not see it all in the many hours we were there. Maybe half of a percent.

First up is the Met itself and some statues.

It was a very busy Saturday in NYC. The one thing I've
missed most since moving away 20-some odd
years ago, is the museums. I <3 art.

Close up on the decorative facade of the Met.

One of the sculpture halls.

What fascinates me about art is the way the artist speaks to us so clearly. Time is no obstacle. Language is no obstacle. Art transcends both. There is a young artist sketching the statue. What will he leave behind to inspire future generations?

Moments in time that transcend the ages
Art often inspires my characters and stories. The emotion and passion that tumbles out of a piece awes me.

A sculpture of a Siren. I love the interplay of foreboding
with alluring beauty. Makes me think about capturing
the same feel in type.

My niece asked me to photograph this on our
way to find the Egyptian Temple.

This statue was in the same room. It
spoke to me. What did it say?
I'm not sure about that part yet.

I read Scientific American on the plane, which got my juices going on story ideas, too. I should get a subscripton. It often inspires me.

What has inspired you lately?