Saturday, January 28, 2012

Fanfiction Spotlight: madis hartte

Today's Featured Author: madis hartte
I know this author from a Christian fantasy author's forum where I hang out on a regular basis. Her stories are absolutely amazing!
Recommended Reading:
Everything, but especially
Melody Williams a plot/drabble collection of stories with Melody from Pete's World and the Metacrisis. A wonderful pairing, especially the voice of the young TARDIS the Metacrisis is growing. Don't be overwealmed by the length--some of the chapters are just one sentence.
Recommended for: fans of River and the Doctor, people who like AUs with amazing character development.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Commuter to Reality: Reality

"The best fantasy is written in the language of dreams. It is alive as dreams are alive, more real than real … for a moment at least … that long magic moment before we wake. Fantasy is silver and scarlet, indigo and azure, obsidian veined with gold and lapis lazuli. Reality is plywood and plastic, done up in mud brown and olive drab. Fantasy tastes of habaneros and honey, cinnamon and cloves, rare red meat and wines as sweet as summer.
Reality is beans and tofu, and ashes at the end. Reality is the strip malls of Burbank, the smokestacks of Cleveland, a parking garage in Newark. Fantasy is the towers of Minas Tirith, the ancient stones of Gormenghast, the halls of Camelot. Fantasy flies on the wings of Icarus, reality on Southwest Airlines. Why do our dreams become so much smaller when they finally come true?
We read fantasy to find the colors again, I think. To taste strong spices and hear the songs the sirens sang. There is something old and true in fantasy that speaks to something deep within us, to the child who dreamt that one day he would hunt the forests of the night, and feast beneath the hollow hills, and find a love to last forever somewhere south of Oz and north of Shangri-La. They can keep their heaven. When I die, I’d sooner go to Middle Earth."-
George R.R. Martin (paragraphs mine)

And that says it all. But in case you're intimidated by the long quote, let me state in the worlds of Owl City: "Reality is a lovely place, but I wouldn't want to live there."
Besides, if we're Christians, we should believe in another world, a reality beyond what we can see with our eyes. So why is it that only such a small box of writing is labeled "realistic?"

Wednesday, January 25, 2012


Don't make people into heroes, John. Heroes don't exist and if they did I wouldn't be one of them

I was reading a blog update when I found this picture: a clip from the BBC production Sherlock, the joint work of Moffat, master of nightmares, and Mark Gatiss, both career fanboys.
I'm currently finishing up season two, episode one of the show. There are currently two seasons out, each consisting of three-90 minute episodes. As for content, it's definately a show intended for an older, mature audience, and "A Scandal in Belgravia" has several moments of nudity and mentions of machoist practices. (At least I think that's what they call it. I am not googling it).Anyway, it's rather odd...and Sherlock is definately not a hero...picture Eleven's thought process crossed with Nine or Six's attitude towards humanity in general. Further updates after more episodes.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Commuting To Reality: Stirring the Soup

There once was a cook who liked to explor different recipes for stew. Not all of them turned out well, but all of them were learning experiances. Because the cook wanted to explore other options, she decided to take a class from a head chef. The chef would only allow vegetarian soup, believing that meat-based stocks were only a way to ignore subtle flavors. Besides, so many people were becoming vegetarians that it was not a wise idea to make meat stews.
The cook sighed but accepect. After spending much time rummaging through the vegetables offered, she chose her ingrediants and made a small batch of stew. The chef tasted the sample, declaring that the cook's favorite ingrediant (although used in smaller quanities than the cook prefered)was too strong for the restrictions. And the result desired was such that the cook could only met it by nearly elimating her ingrediant.
The afore mentioned cook is also weary of the soups that the chef requires students sample.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Regeneration: Of Fire and Water

My first introduction to the word “regeneration” was in AWANA Sparkies (a Scripture memory program) when I learned Titus 3:5 in the NKJV: “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit.” In the entire Bible, the only other appearance of the word is in Matthew 19:28: “So Jesus said to them, “Assuredly I say to you, that in the regeneration, when the Son of Man sits on the throne of His glory, you who have followed Me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.”

But over Labor Day weekend 2010, I introduced myself to a new definition of regeneration—one that involved Christopher Eccleston turning into David Tennant who eventually changed into Matt Smith.* Other characters seen regenerating in the new series involve the Master and River Song; the latter is quite entertaining, while the former is terrifying. Attitudes towards it vary from lighthearted babble (Nine to Ten) to viewing it as death (Ten to Eleven.) It occurs by fire, burning away every cell in the body and rewriting one’s personality.

“Some new man goes sauntering away—and I’m dead,” says the Tenth Doctor to Wilf. In a way, it’s true. The very human, highly emotional and logical Tenth Doctor becomes the childish, adorkable Eleventh Doctor. Some aspects remain consistent across regenerations, such as heroic behavior, technobabble, and loyalty to his friends. Even aspects that don’t seem to continue—such as Nine’s self-loathing and guilt—still exist under the skin and are painfully brought to the surface.

While Scriptural regeneration is an abstract concept, sci-fi makes it cinematically clear. Time Lord’s trick—“a way of cheating death”-- is actually a fairly accurate picture of the changes in a Christian’s life when he or she accepts Christ. While one becomes a new person, it does not abolish the past, but gives a new perspective on life. Some traits remain constant, others come or go, but we’re still us.

Happy Appreciate a Dragon Day

History of Appreciate A Dragon Day
Great Dragons of Old

Reading Suggestions:
Dragons in Our Midst/Oracles of Fire/Song of the Ovulum by Bryan Davis
Tales of Goldstone Wood by Anne Stengel
DragonKeeper Chronicles by Donita K. Paul
Dragons of Starlight by Bryan Davis

Friday, January 13, 2012

Commuter to Reality: Apprentice Writers

Okay, that's not exactly how my professor put it, but she keeps talking about not aiming too high--a still life, not the Sistine Chapel ceiling. And all this stuff in the book about needing to get to know your character, knowing what they want...
I don't think I know everything about writing. I know I learned tons in my poetry classes, and even my best fiction is nowhere near ready for publication. But I have completed four NaNoWriMos, have several serial stories in progress, and had one short story accepted to the online magazine Mindflights. My characters don't just tslk to me--they argue and fight and REFUSE to do what I want them to do. I really don't feel like a beginner anymore.
And so what if I want to aim high? It's my decision, and I accept that I probably won't make it. But I'd rather aim high and fall then aim low and succeed. I learned more from my 2010 NaNo--which was absolutely frightful-- than from a short drabble that got good reviews. But the failed NaNo showed me several things--about cast size, passion, and plot balance--that I have employed in my better stories.
I'll do what she wants, of course. But I have a feeling 'aiming low' will be harder for me then aiming high. My litary backyard is much harder to enjoy than all of time and space.

Commuter to Reality: 'Pulp Fiction'

Many--perhaps most--teachers of fiction writing do not accept manuscripts in genre, and I believe there's good reason for this, which is that wereas writing litary fiction can teach you how to write good genre fiction, writing genre fiction does not teach you to write good liteary fiction--does not, in effect, teach you "how to write," by which I mean how to be original and meaningful in words.--My textbook

I stumbled across this quote from the back of my textbook while glancing through it (finally arrived yesterday, much to my relief). Ironically, the professor mentioned the difference between genre fiction and "literature" in class today. Her points boiled down to:
1. Genre writing is plot-based, literary fiction is character-based.
2. Genre fiction does not have pyscological realism.
3. Genre fiction relies heavily on large, often unrealistic events.
At least, that's what I heard.

My response:
1. How do you show character except through events? Also, if you cannot take out the specific character and replace him without the plot collapsing, doesn't that imply a certian degree of character-basis?
2. To quote G.K. Chesterton's Orthodoxy/:
The fairy tale discusses what a sane man will do in a mad world. The sober realistic novel of to-day discusses what an essential lunatic will do in a dull world.

3. In certian worlds, big events may be quite reasonable.

And examples for all three (All from Doctor Who for consistancy)
1. The Doctor may enage in many adventures, but those adventures often stem from/are complicated by his nature. One episode that grows directly out of the Doctor's character is "Amy's Choice."
2. While no one now alive is responsible for the genocide of their home planet (we think), the Doctor shows the scars of that action even when he tries to hide it. One of the first things mentioned about him in the revived series comes in conversation with the Nestene Concious,
That's not true! I should know, I was there. I fought in the war. It wasn't my fault! I couldn't save your world! I couldn't save any of them!

3. In the Whoniverse, it is perfectly reasonable that aliens invade Earth (especially on Christmas) and are scared off by a screwdriver, because they know who they are facing.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Commuter to Reality: A Report from the Field

Here we are in the wilds of the web, attempting to track down an inspirus realisticus. Although I have an abundance of inspirus speculatus, my current sponser will only be satisfied with inspirus realisticus captured by outline summeries. This adds an additional level of difficultly, as I perfer the pantser ploy.
I began by inspecting older specimens of speculatus, hoping some of them had realisticus realitves. But this approach proved unsuccessful. My associates had no helpful hints for me, nor did my old records prove useful. I then attempted to search the forests of flickr for images of realisticus, but none of them leapt out at me, and I wish for a healthy specimen. I have also inspected dearblank and postsecret to no avail. I am currently seeking the audio realisticus, but time is running out, as my sponser requires proof of the beast's existance by Wednesday.

Commuter to Reality: Irony

So I google "mainstream fiction story ideas" and what is my top result?

SF Explores Ideas the Mainstream Fiction Won't

Commuter to Reality: Sparrow Syndrome and Pessimism

What's good about sad?
It's happy for deep people.
--Sally Sparrow, Blink

Well, judging from the first two class periods, "Writing of Fiction" will give me plenty of material for blog posts, if not short stories. The series will be titled Commuter to Reality, because my muse is going to have to come in from my wide imagination into the little corner of it that is considered reality.

The second part of the title, "Sparrow Syndrome," comes from the Doctor Who quote. Sometimes, you just want to watch Aslan's death or the montage at the end of the last Sarah Jane Adventure because you want to cry. (One reason why 'School Reunion' has become one of my favorite episodes since Elisabeth Sladen's death in April.) Part of it is the relief of taking off masks, acknowledging that everything is not okay. Sometimes it's realizing that other people have it worse, even if those other people are imaginary. Tearjerkers can even be heartwarming, like the very end of 'The Doctor, the Widow, and the Wardrobe.'

On the other hand, there are sad stories that are merely depressing. For class, I read a story called 'Balancing Act.' The professor says that she assigns us certian stories to let us know what she might be looking for. Well, this story doesn't exactly inspire confidence in any of my ideas. It's about a husband and wife who gradually drift apart. The last sentences convey the whole tone.
Each walked a tightrope of need. That single afternoon, she later decided, was what had kept them together for another three full years.

Woop-de-do. Life in grayscale with no real hope of color or even sepia tone isn't sad, it's depressing. If sadness is rain, then stories like that are the nasty, stinging perceptation--not snow, rain, or even sleet--that you can barely see but grinds your face like pebbles. Rain can be poetic. You can dance in rain, watch it come down, let it water your garden. There's nothing to be done with the stingy stuff but dart inside and get out of the way.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Commuter to Reality: Beyond the Veil

I write because I believe there is more to this world then we can see at first glance. While "realistic" fiction may speak to the events of the day, speculative stories weave a golden thread in the February gray of the everyday. Like the population of Storybrooke(Once Upon a Time), we have forgotten the other side of our life. Like Frodo, we are on a quest larger than we can imagine, that draws from all the old tales and never ends. And like any of the Doctor's companions, we are meant to break the bonds of space and time.
To quote the title of a C.S. Lewis article "Sometimes Fairy Stories May Say Best What's to Be Said." Unfortunately, that will not be the case for Eng 2---, 'Writing of Fiction.' In the first class period, the professor announced that fantasy, sci-f, and magic realism (as well as historical and young adult) are not permitted genres for the one story to be written in the class. Furthermore, a plot summery is required before writing the story--extremely irritating to my pantser tendacies.
Although I can see why those restrants are in place, I am already struggling to find the gem of an idea. Most of my ideas are sparked by other stories or dreams I have--both of which tend to be of the Time-Lord/dragon/flying variety. All my best stories start with an image or an emotion, whether it's three roses in a color darker than black, richer than red or intense shame. I do have a plot, as such, but without an image or an emotion, it lacks potential.
If images are the heart of my stories, this image suggests why I write fantasy. Why bother with the pattern on the curtain when there's something hiding behind it.?

Monday, January 9, 2012


William Tyndale may not be a household name, but his work to translate the Bible from Latin into English formed the basis of the King James Bible, which recently celebrated its 500th anniversery. This biography also provideS historical background for the period, almost to the point of being a dual biography for Tyndale and his foe Thomas More.
With the historical background and somewhat explict quotes, this book is not meant for young children, but is intriguing for those responsible enough to handle it.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

The Doctor, the Widow and the Wardrobe

A delightful blend of lighthearted adventure and tearjerkers, "The Doctor, the Widow, and the Wardrobe" stands well on its own, but with extra rewards for Narniacs, such as the line 'What do they teach in schools these days?' The scenery was gorgeous, the aliens creepy--did they have to use something so close to the Weeping Angels' theme?--and the resolution heartwarming.
My favorite part, however would have to be Madge scolding the Doctor and what he does afterward. The whole scene, but especially...
Amy: We’re just about to have Christmas dinner. Joining us?
The Doctor: If it’s no trouble?
Rory: There’s a place set for you.
The Doctor: But you didn’t know I was coming. Why would you set me a place?
Amy: Oh, we always do. It’s Christmas, you moron.
Rory: Come on.