Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The "Science" in Science Fiction (part I)

"What's the difference between science fiction and fantasy?"

"Genetics, propulsion and the speed limit of the galaxy."

I don't remember where I saw the above quote, but it has a point. Most of my short fiction falls under science fiction or fantasy. My shelves are filled with books on linguistics, travel, military traditions, flight, NASA and the space race, and quantum physics. It's a geek's library, but I'm always pulling down one book or another to check facts. If I can't find it, there's always the Internet.

Science is a starting point in science fiction. Space stations, ships, exotic races, futuristic weapons...the author extrapolates from current trends in biology, chemistry, and physics. Each writer puts their own personal spin on how they envision the future fifty, one hundred or even one thousand years from now. Arthur C. Clarke, Issac Asimov, Robert A. Heinlein and many classic sci-fi writers took those ideas and made them unique. A science fiction story might have the same elements as another one, but it's how the concepts are presented that makes it different from the others.

That said, I wince when I read something that is scientifically impossible. Even now, I still chuckle at Star Trek's transporter and think, "Heisenberg, Heisenberg." I can handle minor inconsistencies in the story, but a planet with 2 times the gravity of Earth and our heroes can walk on it with no problems? A ship hovering a mere 100,000 miles from and exploding supernova and getting through the holocaust unscathed? (Those must be some really awesome particle shields. Can I get those for my car?) And yes, I've read stories that involve those two examples.

Some of my sci-fi writer friends sit around and analyze every glaring (and not so glaring) scientific mistake in a story or novel. It borders on the nitpicky and ridiculous at times. If I wanted a purely accurate science story, I'll go read a journal or a dissertation. Sure, Einstein said there's a speed limit to the universe (light speed), but should it prevent a writer from telling a good story? What if the Millennium Falcon didn't have hyperspeed? Or the Enterprise with no warp drive?  Or no obelisk on Jupiter in "2010"? Or...

You get the idea. Now for the  "Fiction" in science fiction...(part II)

All original writing and art copyright A. Dameron 2000-2010

Monday, November 29, 2010

New Experiences, New Ideas

My kids love watching the Imagination Movers, a show on Playhouse Disney. Four guys (Dave, Rich, Scott and Smitty) work at the Idea Warehouse and help people solve their various problems. They stress creative thinking, brainstorming and seeing things in a different way. Their music is a mix of rock and other genres, with catchy tunes to keep you dancing.

One particular episode caught my attention. "Out of Tunes" involved a blues musician (New Orleans musician Chris Thomas King) who couldn't write any new songs for his upcoming CD. The Movers' solutions included getting your mind primed by asking 'what if?' and being physically active through exercise. Great ideas (sound mind, sound body), but in this case, it didn't help their client. So what was the root problem?

It turned out he wrote about the same subjects all the time. Food, family...and he was convinced he'd exhausted all the possibilities. So the Movers introduced him to their Fairy Tale Room in their huge Idea Warehouse and the rock climbing in the Rock Climbing Room. Armed with new things to write about, he was able to write brand new songs for his CD.

I know how the guy feels. Is my Idea Well running dry? Could it be there isn't anything else I can write about? My hands hurt seven days out of seven, and typing on a keyboard made them stiffer and even more painful. Or maybe...

I needed to shake up my usual schedule.

We visited my sister for Thanksgiving, and we wandered through new malls,and visited a favorite used bookstore. On our way home, we drove through all kinds of scenery: cotton fields, a paper mill, truck stops, antique shops and peanut stores. I drew sketches, scribbled story notes and ate all sorts of food from the Thanksgiving table.  In the process, I was refilling the Well.

Now I'm back home in Charlotte and the Muse is busy simmering Ideas in her pressure cooker. And the words are flowing again.

All original writing and art copyright A. Dameron 2000-2010

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

ADMIN POST: Taking a break for 2 weeks!

Due to health issues, I'm on a 2 week break. I Gotta Write will be back after the Thanksgiving holidays!

Have a safe Turkey Day and see you then!


All original writing and art copyright A. Dameron 2000-2010

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Thank you, Veterans! We salute you!

Thank you, all those who serve in the military now and those who served in the past. We owe you so much.

Most of my family are/have been in the armed forces. My dad is retired US Navy (28 years, Chief Petty Officer), one uncle served in Desert Shield/Desert Storm, another was a master chief petty officer during Korea and Vietnam. My brother is in the Navy now, and my cousins have been in the US Army, Air Force and Marine Corps.

I think one of the most inspiring men I've known is a retired WWII Air Force Colonel, who worked with Werner Von Braun during the heyday of the space program in the 1950's-60's. Man, did he have stories about his time in the service!  I met him when he went back to school to finally become fluent in German...and he was the oldest student, in his 70's at the time.

Colonel Jack Crooke, USAF (retired).  You're so awesome. I hope to be so awesome when I get to your age.

Have a good Veterans Day, everyone, and be sure to thank those in uniform!

All original writing and art copyright A. Dameron 2000-2010

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Song Lyrics: The United States Marine Corps Hymn

Happy Birthday, United States Marine Corps! My cousin's husband served in the USMC, and I knew many cadets while I was in the Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets.

Here's your song:

From the Halls of Montezuma,
To the shores of Tripoli;
We fight our country's battles
In the air, on land, and sea;
First to fight for right and freedom
And to keep our honor clean;
We are proud to claim the title
Of United States Marine.
Our flag's unfurled to every breeze
From dawn to setting sun;
We have fought in every clime and place
Where we could take a gun;
In the snow of far-off Northern lands
And in sunny tropic scenes;
You will find us always on the job
The United States Marines.
Here's health to you and to our Corps
Which we are proud to serve;
In many a strife we've fought for life
And never lost our nerve;
If the Army and the Navy
Ever look on Heaven’s scenes;
They will find the streets are guarded
By United States Marines.

All original writing and art copyright A. Dameron 2000-2010

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Devil's in the Details

...also known as "It's the little things that count."

I'm the first to admit that this is one area I need to improve in my writing. I'm used to getting to straight to the action, dialog and interpersonal interactions. When it comes to setting up the plot or describing settings or clothing, I end up expanding that during subsequent drafts. In my first drafts, I have a perfect picture of what the setting is and how my characters look like. Unfortunately, that doesn't always transfer to the page, at least, not without a lot of work on my part.

"Your reader is not a mind reader!" ranted one of my betas. She'd gone over one of my chapter drafts and put that note all in capital letters in the margin. "Who IS this person and where the heck ARE we?"

Oops. Yeah. Kinda glossed over that part. Granted, I'm not like Arthur Conan Doyle or James Joyce who spend pages describing the countryside or the "phantom lights over the moors" or something like that. I tried reading "War and Peace" and haven't gotten through the damn thing yet. I'd spent a lot of my younger years reading Spillane and Hammett and other crime noir and I think it shows. Fast pace, action, catch the bad guy, case closed.

Slow down, put on the brakes, describe the scene and people in it, enthrall your readers. Like my wise beta said, they can't read your mind.

All original writing and art copyright A. Dameron 2000-2010

Monday, November 8, 2010

A Short Letter to my Painful Joints

Dear Physical Body (especially my overenthusiastic immune system),

I know that the weather's changing from summer to fall. It's crisp and cold outside and we've had to put the heater on. The ouchies in my joints usually grow worse during these transitional months. I was expecting that after five years, so it's not a surprise. I've got the Icy-Hot, Advil and methotrexate all lined up.

But please, do you mind sparing my hands these days? I can't write or draw without them, and if I can't do either, I will absolutely, positively go insane.

Thanks much,

All original writing and art copyright A. Dameron 2000-2010

Sunday, November 7, 2010

I Live a Rich Fantasy Life

Writing distracts me from all sorts of storms in my daily life. I can construct all sorts of worlds where my characters actively explore the universe, whether it be through space ships or through relationships. No one is completely good or evil, but they interact each other and enrich their lives.

Yes, I know you can do that in real life too. I have three kids and a husband, plus friends, acquaintances and family I interact with on a daily basis. It's a challenge to deal with two autistic kids, their doctors, therapists and teachers. You just concentrate on getting through the day. Lately, the hubs and I have been doing our own thing, growing somewhat apart.

Writing is an escape, where I can feel like I have some control over the lives of my characters. They can still "boldly go where no one has gone before" without having to worry about a dwindling bank account, or a call from school because your kid lashed out and bit someone because she was frustrated.

Yes, I live a rich fantasy life. I do know that it's just that, fantasy, and that I've still got to deal with real life issues. As much as I wish I could stay in my own literary and artistic creations, I need to remind myself that others need me in real life too. But the fantasy is still there whenever I need to escape.

All original writing and art copyright A. Dameron 2000-2010

Saturday, November 6, 2010

How Often Do You Update Your Blogs?

How often do you update your blogs? Daily, weekly, every other day, monthly? When the inspiration strikes you? A lot depends on the reason for your blog: an informational blog or a business blog might update every day. An art gallery blog might do it weekly, and a "this is my life" might depend on how much time you have to write. There are no rules set in stone; it's all up to you and the message you want to relay to your readers/followers.

Here's a rundown of my various blogs and how often I update them. I've had the criticism of "you've got too many blogs", but I know people who have even more than I do.

Daily (if at all possible)
I Gotta Write
Lady Rainbow's Art (non-fanfic art)
USS Sarasvati NCC-Art1 (Star Trek art)

Annie's Flights of Fantasy (writing archive original works, just switched to a weekly schedule, thanks to time and other projects)
Writin' Across Universes (Star Trek/Doctor Who/Stargate/Other fanfic. Ditto, see above)

Whenever I can
Scribblings and What Nots (Life Journal)
Three Special Kids (special needs blog)
Mama Java (inspirational, food, Doctor Who gifs, pics)

Each one of my blogs has a definite purpose, so if a reader isn't inclined to read my Star Trek fanfics, but would be willing to read my short fiction and poetry, he or she could go to that blog instead. All the blogs are linked together, despite being on Blogger, LiveJournal, Dreamwidth and tumblr.

So, how often do you update your blogs?
All original writing and art copyright A. Dameron 2000-2010

Friday, November 5, 2010

Culture Clash between Generations...

I can file this under "Culture Clash" LOL 

Stopped by World Market this morning on errands and saw they had a sale on a childhood snack of mine: norimaki. (Japanese rice crackers wrapped in bits of seaweed wrapper, the same nori you see with sushi). OMG, I can eat a bag of these little things w/o realizing it. Anyway, I bought 2 bags for less than a dollar and introduced it to Baby Girl on the car ride home. 

She held the little piece in her chubby hand, stared at it with a definite "WHAT is this? You EAT this?!" Shocked 

That's OK. The guy in the truck behind us at the stoplight was looking at me kinda funny too. LOL

All original writing and art copyright A. Dameron 2000-2010

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Getting back to Linguistics 101

I'm going to be dating myself here. Fifteen years ago, I graduated from Virginia Tech with a degree in Foreign Languages and Literatures (with a teaching certificate). My biggest ambition was to teach English overseas (maybe in Asia?), travel, and see places that I'd only read about.

Fifteen years, several unexpected turns, and painful lessons later, I'm nowhere close to that dream. But that doesn't mean I still can't work towards it. I've kept up my languages with reading, interacting with others on the Internet, and finding materials in teaching stores and used bookstores. I still watch Univision occasionally, and keep up with goings-on within International House in Charlotte. It's difficult, but it's doable.

My husband used to tell me, "You just have to wait for the right opportunity." (Insert snooty attitude here). He hasn't said that since I pointed out how elitist he sounded. If I just sat around and waited for "the right opportunity", I'd be waiting more than fifteen years.

So I've dug out my old textbooks and scoured the Internet for updated information. Yes, the teacher must become the student again...back to the basics. I must unlearn what I've learned (that having a family--and two autistic children and a toddler--should preclude your dreams) and learn what I've forgotten, namely what a locative-content transformation is, how to solve a substitution cipher, and what Chomsky's Theory of Universal Language is.

Allons-y! Wish me luck!

All original writing and art copyright A. Dameron 2000-2010

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

What Would You Like in your Dream Studio?

Question posed in an e-mail to me today:

A view of the ocean or at least some other body of water

South-facing room with lots of light

Desktop computer with ethernet connection, DSL

fax machine, copy machine, scanner, phone

CD player/iPod with multiple changer

fully stocked mini-fridge and bar

Lots of chocolate handy

Art easel set up nearby

Storage for art supplies, canvases, etc.

couple of cats, maybe a dog

travel memorabilia on the walls

keyboard, guitar, musical instruments w/music and stand

someone to share it with

All original writing and art copyright A. Dameron 2000-2010

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Hanging on to Hope with a Thread

How do you hang on to hope that things will get better in the future when the present seems so bleak?

For personal reasons too complicated to get into right now, I'm in some sort of creative funk right now. Suffice to say, I'm having the equivalent of a creative mid-life crisis, and wondering whether or not I'm actually making a difference. I wince at the state of our bank account, and have to deal with parent/teacher conferences and calls home because of behavior. Not to mention other personal issues in my marriage.

I look at my kids. They and my creative work are the only things that are keeping me going right now. I think if I didn't have either, I'd probably have gone completely crackers by now. I have to believe things will be better. I have to.

But it's so difficult right now. How do you deal with issues like this?


All original writing and art copyright A. Dameron 2000-2010

Monday, November 1, 2010

Good Luck to all doing Nanowrimo 2010!

To all my writer and reader friends doing National Novel Writing Month...good luck and may you have fun spinning 50,000 words of great writing! I'm not doing it this year (too many things going on at the same time), but if anyone needs any cheerleading, drop me a line! I'd be more than willing to encourage you!


All original writing and art copyright A. Dameron 2000-2010