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July 2012
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September 2012

ROW80-3 check in 8/22 - more courses

My current course, Fantasy and Science Fiction, is chugging along. We start the Hawthorne/Poe Unit today, a mixed bag apparently. I've enjoyed the readings so far, and some of the forum discussion, as well as the essay writing process. Peer evaluation - not so good. We assess form (how well it's written) and content (how good is the thesis and argument itself) as 1-3, low, medium, or high. The quality of the essays I see is mixed, with most missing the mark with form and/or content. We get info each week showing how our marking relates to the average over the others - several thousand of them. The class average, and the course's target, has 60-65% getting average, rest skewed a little to the low end. Mine so far is similar for form - maybe a few more low marks. Content - most are getting a 1, either because is confusing, or no support, or is plagiarized. This is a non-credit course, and anonymous - why plagiarize?

I do like this concept of free online courses, and the way Coursera is working to make  them interactive. Already signed up for more courses - all intro level. Astronomy in December, Philosophy in January, Sociology in February. Some overlap but the estimated work load on the sites, and reading list, all look OK. I see all these as part of being a writer or fantasy and science fiction - for us to write 'what-if's about different things and peoples, we have to learn about what's around us. 

So - how went the last few days? A bit of editing, caught up somewhat on blogs I follow, and read a fantasy book. A Knight of the Word, by Terry Brooks. Second of three, almost stopped in the middle when Brooks started sermonizing, but glad I hung in. Rest of my time was reading, analyzing, writing, editing, and discussing Frankenstein.

Oh - I also did a Flash Fiction about returning to school. A little sad.  

Next few days? Finish videos for Dracula unit, watch new ones for Frankenstein, and start reading Hawthorne and Poe. Write a Flash Fiction for Friday. And start getting all my short stories reading for submitting! 

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Back to School

This week's challenge from Flash Fiction Friday is to write about going back to school.

Today, here in my little burg, is officially “back to school” day. Kids and parents are up early, breakfast is being quickly consumed, houses frantic as kids and parents race out the door to usher in a new school year. Roads are congested with parents driving kids to school and street corners are lined with kids waiting on buses, myself adding the prior as my daughter enters her last year of school. A senior at last. Though I wish I’d been more encouraging to get her to learn to drive. It’s a trade off I guess, do I want an hour more sleep or a lower insurance premium? Right about now I’m thinking I could use a little more sleep.

To celebrate the new school year, I present you with a “back to school” word list.

Prompt: Write a story using the following word list: Traffic, New Shoes, Calculus, Bus Stop, School, Principal

Word Limit: 1000 Genre: Open Deadline: Wednesday,  August 22th at 9:00 p.m. ET

My story follows, it's about 400 words.

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ROW80-3 check in 8/19 - the monster

The current book for my Fantasy and Sci-fi course is Frankenstein. An interesting choice, since, unlike the Hollywood version of the story, there is very little science involved in the book. Or fantasy. Frankenstein is 'collecting materials' (body parts I assume), and 'the instruments of life (the hardware) and then suddenly the monster lives. The doctor is seized with horror and remorse over his efforts to mock Creation itself. Within a few paragraphs he races from the room, and spends the rest of the novel running from his guilt, overcome with angst like a hero in a modern soap, sick over what he has done - both physically and psychologically - and haunted by the vengeful monster he created. 

My monster has been my novel, created, yet incomplete, glaring at me from the corner of my desk, haunting me. Unlike Frankenstein, I did create a second one, a slightly better one. It is a quieter beast, but I know is biding its time.

It's time to slay the daemons, or at least tame them. I wrote the first novel in the bliss of ignorance, knowing little of style, structure, outlines, or character arc.  For the second novel, a year later, I had the dubious benefit of more of the knowledge of how to write. I liked to think I was the better off for it, but then, with the two of my creations standing next to each other, I saw even more flaws in the first one. My approach to editing the first novel has initially been a process of hacking off parts and sewing them back on in a different arrangement - a drastic and daunting process. I read a description online of a one-pass editing process, and have been trying to apply that, but keep getting bogged down even further. I've decided that approach just doesn't fit for me and this task - I need to rearrange the parts before I think about any changes to make them prettier. 

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The Saucers

This week's challenge from Terrible Minds is to pick one of three opening lines and write a story. Here's what was requested:

Here are the three opening lines I’ve chosen:

Brendan Gannon: “Everyone else remembers it as the day the saucers came, but I remember it as the day a man in a suit shot my father.”
Joe Parrino: “Three truths will I tell you and one lie.”
Delilah Dawson: “Thursday was out to get me.”

Here’s roughly what I ended up looking for:

I wanted lines that told multiple potential stories. Meaning, a writer could read it and find a world of stories coming out of that one line — not just the one obvious one, say. Some lines were very specific to a genre or to an event and so I hesitated using them, despite their inherent awesomeness. The exception here might be the “saucer” one, but it was so cool I had to use it. Don’t judge me.

You’ve got 1000 words. Due by Friday, Aug 17th, at noon EST. Post online, link in the comments.


I tried to be creative, but looks like from the other entries that almost everyone picking the 'saucer' line picked the same twist. Oh well, was fun to play with anyway.

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