Wednesday, May 27, 2015

My micro story published at On the Premises

I got an honorable mention in a cool mini writing contest over at On the Premises.  The task was to write a story between 20 and 40 words long that used the same (non-trivial) word at least twice—and each time it was used, it needed to have a different definition. 

Quite a fun challenge.  And 20-40 words is SHORT.  Here are the winners and honorable mentions, including mine:

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Filming vs writing

We were just wandering around Prague when we saw film crews and then two people running down the street, right past us--maybe six feet away.  "That's Elizabeth Mitchell!" I said.  "No way!"  But it was.  Her and Goran Visnjec.  Cool!  I felt a little silly being so excited, but as a big fan of Lost (at least the first few seasons), it was awesome to be so close to Juliette.

And the mechanics of it were fascinating--the big cameras, the chalking out marks on the cobblestones, the redoing of the same short scene, the guy whose job it was to feed the pigeons so that they could fly away when Elizabeth Mitchell and Goran Visnjec ran through.  Extras, make-up people, catering truck...all very interesting.  

But it looked like actually being part of the crew might be boring.  Lots of standing around, waiting, repeating the same short scene that might have 3 seconds on screen or get cut entirely.  Writing, too, is a lot of repeatedly revising the same short scenes, slaving over conversations and descriptions that eventually get cut, standing around thinking about how best to capture the mood.  But I think I prefer writing.

The show is Crossing Lines, and they're filming the third season, where these two actors appear for the first time, I believe.  I hope I one day see this scene on screen.


Saturday, May 9, 2015

Spring is a miracle

The evergreens are sprouting soft, electric-green new growth.  Life is amazing.

Photo taken May 7 in the hills above Vsetin, Czech Republic.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Indie Author Spotlight: Sean DeLauder

The Least Envied
by Sean Delauder

Everyone Has a Story
Cast back in time to a perilous wasteland, Andrew is tasked with recording the fate of an individual history has chosen to ignore. Threatened by knee-high creatures called Wogs, an enigmatic beast known as the Forest Monster, and the man orchestrating the slow annihilation of the world, Andrew discovers all hope for salvation and survival rests with a boy without a history.

My Review:
“The Least Envied” is an unusual book from the get-go, full of interesting philosophy, subtle humor, and strange happenings.

It begins in a surreal, underpopulated wasteland and follows a would-be hero who gets advice from inanimate objects. Other adventurers include a timid writer sent to chronicle the life of the would-be hero and a tired angel-type who doesn’t really believe his fight against Ultimate Evil will succeed.

My only problem is the pacing and repetition. It’s a long book, and not enough happened to justify the length.  There was quite a bit of repetition, especially around the nature of heroes and “Unless.” I know that’s the point of the book, but I think it would have been even more powerful if it were not repeated so much.

Other than that, the writing was really good, often poetic, with great word choice and interesting images. I highlighted several really outstanding passages, and may add a couple of the profound lines to my collection of quotes.

The similarity of Jim’s and John’s names confused me a little—I’d forget sometimes who was who—but I think that was intentional, and once I reached the end, I decided that it rather worked, and added to the parallels between the world of “The Least Envied” and our own belief systems.

I loved the wogs and the things that talked to Billy Bob. I loved the information posts and the clever humor and the idea that heroes were mostly…tall.

I look forward to reading more by Sean DeLauder. 

Author Interview:

1)   The Least Envied is an unusual story. Where did you get your inspiration?

I used to hate Westerns. They were trite and predictable and full of stereotypes. So, naturally, I wanted to take something so full of recognizable characters and turn them all on their head because that’s what I enjoy doing—taking the familiar and making it unfamiliar. Granted, anyone familiar with Joseph Campbell is going to be able to pick out a few general themes, but I tried to add my own particular twists to these as well.

As the story progressed I felt certain philosophical questions pop up that I thought it would be interesting to address. For example, what is a hero? We all have a picture in our brain with stereotypical characteristics, but really, what does it take to be a hero in a world where it’s dangerous to be one? What is the motivation?

Other questions arose as I went along, including existential questions such as what is our purpose; what would a god that controlled everything but insisted on being invisible be like, and what would be its motivations; what would be the motivation of anyone given a “divine” mission and what would be their state of mind after seeing it fail over and over again.

Of course, this story grew into far more than a mere Western, and the desert with which Westerns are often associated became a wasteland on a ruined planet. The story became less Western and more fantasy and science fiction, which is where much of my stories fit. My imagination tends to twist ordinary tropes into an indistinguishable blizzard of genres.

2) I loved the wogs, the scary little creatures I imagined as deadly mechanized zombie goats. Which were your favorite characters to write?

That’s a hard question to answer. I loved writing all of my primary characters. To flip that around, I had a more difficult time writing characters I didn’t like, if only because I didn’t like their characteristics. Characters such as Hobert, who was selfish and deliberately ignorant, I didn’t particularly enjoy writing, but I did enjoy making him look like a buffoon. And while those around him as well as other buffoons couldn’t see him for what he was, I’m confident readers will have no difficulty identifying his self-gratifying brand of stupidity.

3) Is the somewhat timid historian in the book based in any part on you?


If you passed my personality through a prism, you would get the characters in this story on the other side: the bitter, frustrated writer; the hopeful boy who wants to make a difference; the irritable old man who sees failure and futility everywhere; the god who has faith in humanity; the girl who sees all her efforts wasted; etc.

It’s probably true that all writers put something, or a lot, of themselves into their works. It may be necessary in order to write an honest story. Of the many I’ve written, I think this one has the most of me.

4) What’s the best thing about writing? The most difficult thing?

More than anything, I enjoy the opportunity to let my imagination run wild when writing. Once I’ve come up with several utterly absurd scenarios, the fun is finding a way to tie them all together. I’m sure it comes as something of a shock to a reader when a bunch of gibberish abruptly makes sense.

In terms of difficulty, I don’t know that I have any trouble writing. Finding time to do it is usually my problem. That said, I feel that may work to my advantage because it allows characters and situations to steep for a longer period, which means I have a better understanding of what they’re like when I finally sit down to write. And if I know a character’s personality, how they will behave in certain situations, the writing is very organic and extremely easy.

5) Can you share some of your own favorite books?
The best books I’ve ever read are T.H. White’s The Once and Future King and Richard Adams’ Watership Down. The former makes an abundance of observations about the human condition in comical and profound fashion, while the latter is a brilliant example of mythbuilding. With rabbits. Carl Sagan’s Cosmos is another favorite because it shares my philosophical views about human potential and disappointing shortfalls.

6) What are you writing now?
At the moment I’m mulling several projects. The sequel and prequel to The Least Envied, as well as an autobiography of Robin Hood. Those have taken a back seat for a murder mystery about a detective investigating a string of decapitations in the northeast during the 1980s. Because, naturally, I hate murder mysteries. As stated earlier, this means I’m going to take that trope and try to turn it upside down.

7) How can readers find you?

I’m all over the place. I don’t have a tumblr or my own webpage, but I’m everywhere else:

Twitter - @seandelauder

This author has held several positions in recent years, including Content Writer, Grant Writer, Obituary Clerk, and Staff Writer, and is under the false impression that these experiences have added to his character since they have not contributed much to his finances. He was awarded a BFA in Creative Writing and Journalism and a BA in Technical Communication by Bowling Green State University because they are giving and eager to make friends. He has a few scattered publications with The Circle magazine, Wild Violet, Toasted Cheese, and Lovable Losers Literary Revue, and resides in the drab, northeastern region of Ohio because it makes everything else seem fascinating, exotic, and beautiful.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Short Story Submission Tool--the Submission Grinder

Getting published takes a lot of time and effort.  I've recently discovered a helpful tool for finding magazines, contests, anthologies, and e-zines to submit to.  Check out my post about the (Submission) Grinder over at Writers On the Move.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Spring in Vsetin, Czech Republic

Spring has come to the Czech Republic!  These were taken last week, the last week of April.  It was the first day the newly leafing deciduous trees were so bright, casting everything in two tones of green.   I love it here!   
The lovely hills near Vsetin
My friends, Catherine, Hana, and James, headed off to Hana's cottage

Look at all that beautifully stacked wood!  What a lot of work.  And an amazing historic cottage!

Roasting spekacky--delicious, dripping-with-fat traditional campfire sausages
After the sausages, I brought out the marshmallows for roasting.  Hana and her husband and son had never roasted marshmallows.  Their son (almost 5 years old) was afraid of them at first, but after he tasted one--with a fork--he chewed thoughtfully and then said, "mnam!" (yum).

What a great day!