pameladlloyd: Alya, an original character by Ian L. Powell (Default)
Today's libraries are dynamic and offer much, much more than books. We're very lucky, here in Tucson, to have Liz Danforth (G+) on our library staff, where she has acted as a liaison between the more traditional library world and the gaming world.  A self-described "Librarian-Gamer-Geek," she writes the “Games, Gamers, and Gaming” column for Library Journal. Some of you may also know her from the artwork she's done for games (for example, Wizards of the Coast's "Magic the Gathering") and, if you're at GenCon, you can check out her work in the art show, you lucky person, you.

Here's a small sample of what's going on in the Pima County Public Libraries:

Baker's Dozen: get a taste of what's cookin' on the web

I realize that most of you are far, far beyond needing these beginning web classes, but I also suspect you know someone who could benefit, so I figure this isn't completely irrelevant.

Note: I've linked to the About page, because it lists links to each of the tutorials and also lists the tutorials not yet published.

Worlds of Imagination Sci-Fi/Fantasy Art Contest & Workshops

Teen artists may submit their artwork from August 13th through September 24th at any Pima County Public Library branch to enter the Pima County Public Library's annual Fantastic Creations Art Contest. Winning artwork will be displayed at the Joel D. Valdez Main library during October. In previous years (through 2009?), the awards were handed out at our local science fiction convention, TusCon, but this year: "The winners will be honored at an art grand opening on October 9th. The grand prize winner will have the opportunity to design the poster for next year's summer teen rock concert!"

The Science Fiction and Fantasy Art workshops are taught by professional artists on a wide range of topics.

Well, I'm heading off to watch an episode of Buffy ("Once More with Feeling") and then head to sleep. Y'all have fun, now.
pameladlloyd: Alya, an original character by Ian L. Powell (library stairs)
My Dad's Saturday routine includes going to the Westside branch of the El Paso Public Library, where he enjoys researching investments. This routine had been interrupted by my brother's death, but last Saturday we were able to follow the routine. The last time I went to the library with him, probably twenty years ago, his research was conducted with print materials, but now he logs onto Value Line, to which the library has a subscription. I suspect, but don't know for sure, that he was reading a print version of Value Line two decades ago.

Wanting access to the computers, as well as to the books, I spoke with one of the librarians about my situation and was granted a library card, even though I didn't have any local IDs. Hooray! for a system that works on a human basis and doesn't throw bureaucratic rules in the way.

The first thing I did with my new card was to sign up for a computer and, once I'd dealt with my email, to visit LiveJournal. My Saturday post (sorry, currently friends-locked) was made from the library. When my hour was up, all too quickly, I wandered the shelves in search of new reading material, having completed everything I brought with me, either on the train trip here, or in the all-too-limited bedtime reading I manage before I fall asleep. I could have perused the home library, but there's something alluring about a public library whose shelves you haven't wandered in decades.

I wound up checking out two books. The first was White Night by Jim Butcher. Jim Butcher and his wife, Shannon, will be co-Guests of Honor at TusCon, this year, so this seemed like a good time to reacquaint myself with his work. Besides, my eldest son and a number of his friends are huge Dresden Files fans, and my son has been at me for years to read more of his work. (I'd only read the first in the Dresden Files series, Storm Front, and while it was fun enough I hadn't kept up with the series. I enjoyed White Night and was pleasantly surprised to discover that I'd retained enough of the first book that there was a sense of continuity. I was also pleased that I didn't feel that picking up a book mid-series was a problem, as any references to prior events were handled so that they left me neither confused, nor feeling that the story had been interrupted for an infodump of the backstory. I read the first half of the book that evening, in the living room of some of my dad's friends, while he and they played Bridge. Most of the rest of it I finished Sunday morning, while my dad slept in. I really needed the relaxation and I was very grateful to have something to keep me happily occupied while I relaxed.

The other book I picked up was the second edition of The Annotated Wizard of Oz. (The cover isn't as decorated as the one on GoogleBooks, but it's still a very attractive book.) I've been enjoying it immensely, although I doubt I'll finish it before I return to Tucson.

In the Introduction—which may just be the longest introduction I've ever read, finishing on page cii (102) and including a brief biography of Baum, a history of his many publications with an emphasis on the Oz books, and a discussion of criticism of the Oz books— the editor Michael Patrick Hearn writes, "Of course, fairy tales and especially American fairy tales are not for everyone, for, as E. M. Forster wrote, 'Fantasy asks us to pay something extra.'"[Emphasis ] [1], [2].

As a reader and writer of fantasy, I found that line intriguing. Intriguing enough to write this long essay, as much to be able to mention the extra cost or effort required of fantasy readers, as to share with you the events leading up to that mention. It seems to me, that if fantasy (and its close cousin science fiction) requires greater effort upon the part of readers, that readers would read such works only if they feel they get something more from fantasy or science fiction.

1. Hearn, Michael Patrick. Introduction. The Annotated Wizard of Oz. By Baum. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2000. xcix-c. Print.
2. Hearn's footnote for the Forster quotation, 38. on page c: "In Aspects of the Novel (New York: Harcourt, Brace & World, 1927), p. 109." You can see the quote in context in the electronic version on Google Books.
pameladlloyd: Alya, an original character by Ian L. Powell (Kitty Call Out)
via [ profile] afraclose on [ profile] azkidwriters in this post, the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators is hosting:

The SCBWI AZ Greater Tucson Area Informal Networking Get-Together
(Tucson, Marana, Oro Valley, Green Valley, Vail, Benson, Sahuarita, Casa Grande, and all Surrounding Communities)

Saturday, December 6, 2008
Martha Cooper Branch Library
Meeting Room B
1377 N. Catalina Avenue
Tucson, AZ

Topic: Troubleshooting What Ails Your Work and Setting Goals to Fix Them In the New Year
pameladlloyd: Alya, an original character by Ian L. Powell (RCA victrola dog)
[ profile] jpsorrow, aka Joshua Palmatier, is conducting a Spirit of Giving contest, for which he is doing all the giving. He will donate hardcover copies of The Skewed Throne and The Cracked Throne to your favorite local (US) library, including libraries for schools, hospitals, shelters, etc., and enter your name into a drawing to receive either hardcover copies of all three of his books, or a gift certificate good for $40. All you have to do is send him the contact information for the person in charge of handling donations and the address to which he should mail the books. For more details, see his post: The Spirit of Giving Contest.
pameladlloyd: Alya, an original character by Ian L. Powell (writing)
This afternoon I attended The Fantastic in Word and Image Author and Artist Workshop, which featured Will Shetterly ([ profile] willshetterly) and Robert E. Vardeman. Moderating, was the fabulously talented Liz Danforth, who is a librarian here and was IMHO, an unadvertised bonus.

The format was very similar to a panel at a con, except that it was four hours ling with a break in the middle and a few snacks on a table in the back of the room.

I arrived late, due to a combination of factors that included a last minute conference with my husband over a trip to the grocery store, construction that required a detour to a different freeway underpass, a train which I handled by a second detour, and then me driving to the wrong location even though I'd checked the address twice and looked at a map, and even though I don't normally confuse the streets Tanque Verde and Golf Links. I might have even managed to get there in time if it hadn't been for going to the wrong place. Despite arriving twenty minutes late, I was greeted with friendly smiles and discreet waves by the people who know me. And as I crept into a seat, a woman sitting a couple of chairs down did a double take. She and I know each other from our involvement in the Society of Technical Writers, but had never discussed our interests in fiction.

Most of the audience were beginning writers, and the basic premise was that they would "hear trade secrets from veteran fantasy, science-fiction and comic book writers and artists." At this point, I'm not sure how many actual secrets there really are, since sff authors and artists are, in my experience, pretty open about the process of creating fiction and getting it published, but our panelists did their best to introduce folks to the basics.

As I walked in, the topic of discussion was outlining. Both Bob and Will favor the use of an informal outline or synopsis. Bob, if I understood this correctly, has always used one, even for short stories. Will, OTOH, came to them more slowly, starting his writing career with a preference for just sitting down and writing. He suggested that people who prefer not to use and outline or synopsis try playing with them and reminded us that if, as the story progresses, you find yourself wanting to deviate from your chosen script that it's okay to do so. Toss it out and write a new one any time you feel like it. Which, as he expressed it, was just common sense, although I have proved myself more than capable of twisting myself into all kinds of knots when attempting to follow an outline. (And, what do I think I'm doing when I use a fairy tale as the basis for a story, after all? Perhaps, my difficulty with outlines is all psychological and if I can think of them from a more relaxed position they can become a useful tool, instead of yet one more barrier.)

The discussion segued neatly into plotting. I had a little trouble with taking notes and focusing on what was being said at the same time (obviously, my super-student skills are fading), but IIRC Will mentioned that there were three different "plots" that are all active in a story: 1) the action plot (I think this is the one most of us are familiar with), 2) the relationship plot or story, and 3) the transformation plot or story. Will used O'Henry's "Gift of the Magi" as an example. In the action plot, we have a young couple who buy each other Christmas gifts. (Will said this better, but I think you get the point.) In the relationship story, we have newlyweds who don't yet know each other as well as they think they do, so each sacrifices something they value and which the other wants to honor, in order to get the money for the gifts, in the process bringing their love for each other into greater focus. In the transformation story, each of the characters grows just a little. It is the interaction of the three plot-types which give us a satisfactory story. Had only the action plot occurred, without the other two, the story would not have worked.

Bob commented that the action plot keeps him on script and helps him to avoid straying off on unproductive sidelines, but he thinks he would be very uncomfortable trying to plot out the relationship and transformation aspects of the story in advance, as he prefers to "discover" them in the writing of the action story; that's where his satisfaction as a writer comes in.

At one point, and it may actually have been at a different moment in the workshop, but I think it fits here well, Liz told us a story about her ex-husband, Mike, who is also a writer. Once while traveling abroad, they were asked to declare the purpose of their visit. "Business, or pleasure?" the guard asked. "Pleasure," they replied. But, looking at their passports, the guard responded to Mike, "No. You writers are always working." Liz went on to tell us that this was very true of Mike. Even when he wasn't sitting at a keyboard, he was always thinking about his writing. When he finally sat down to write, his fingers would fly over the keyboard like crazy, as if he were "channeling" the story, but what was really happening was that he had the complete story in his head, ready to be told.

I'd like to pause at this point to get your thoughts on outlining, plotting, and story arcs. When you're writing, do you like to use an outline or synopsis? If you don't, is it possible that you're doing a lot of this work in your head? Have you ever tried working (playing?) with plots other than the action plot?

My answers )
pameladlloyd: Alya, an original character by Ian L. Powell (the lady or the tiger)
As mentioned in a previous post, the local library is sponsoring workshops on "The Fantastic in Word and Image."

Here's the library's description of tomorrow's workshop:

This is the second of three workshops where you'll hear trade secrets from veteran fantasy, science-fiction and comic book writers and artists.

In this half-day workshop, authors Will Shetterly and Robert E. Vardeman will talk about how they work, what inspires them, big mistakes they've made along the way, and any other insider tips you can get out of them! They'll fill you in on their latest books and upcoming projects, and of course, there will be a Q & A session afterward.

This session is great for fans as well as would-be writers.

Light refreshments will be served.

Call 594-5357 to register and for more information.

You can find Will Shetterly on LiveJournal as [ profile] willshetterly. Bob Vardeman doesn't seem to have a LiveJournal, so we have to make do with his website. I doubt he'll remember me, but I met Bob back in 1990, when I attended my first SF con as an adult. His story, "Eating Vacuum," is the lead story in Space Pirates and the story I wrote with Karl is the last, which facts seem significant to me, in a very small way. :)

I'm planning on showing up, as well, although only as a participant, since with one and a half published stories, I don't get asked to tell secrets of the trade. However, this rarely stops me from speaking up. ;>

ETA: The location of the event is the Miller Golf Links Library branch at:
9640 E. Golf Links Rd.
Tucson, AZ 85730
Google map
pameladlloyd: Alya, an original character by Ian L. Powell (UFO over desert)
If you're local to the Tucson area, you might be interested in the series of three workshops hosted by the Pima County Public Library that starts tomorrow (Saturday, September 20, 2008), with the theme: Fantastic in Word and Image: Author and Artist Workshops and Contests.

The first workshop will be held tomorrow at the Himmel Park library from noon until 4 p.m.

Details behind the cut )

What amazes me is that I actually learned about this before it happened.