Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Early Wednesday Post: Writing advice

This should be going out Wed, but I have a booger of a day job and will likely be hard at it all day.

So. I know you'r expecting the next installment in filing off the numbers of fanfiction.
Instead, we're giving Writing advice.

Tonight, Jonathan Maberry, well known writer of zombies, asked us on Facebook if we outlined our books or went with it. I'm a pantser until the story presents itself, then I come up with a rough outline to get me through all the events.

A young man friended me, asking for writing advice.  So here is my accumulated collection:

" A magic trick is:
Pledge: Establish the ordinary.
Turn: Events reveal the ordinary to be extraordinary.
Prestige: Pay off the Pledge and make the extraordinary meaningful.

A joke is:
Feed: Sets up the scenario.
Strait: Events affirm audience's assumptions.
Punch: Twists to reveal the assumptions were false.

If the story doesn't do one of those 2 things it probably isn't worth telling."
(A piece I learned just tonight on that very thread)

"If anything can dissuade you from writing, it should." --Harlan Ellison

"Remember, only 2% of writers make a full-time living at it. Only 2% of them make more than $30,000 a year." --Poppy Z. Brite

"Write a story every day. Write it. Finish it." ~Ray Bradbury

"Write 2000 words every day. Some days I am done and about my errands by 10 AM. Some days, I am still at 1500 as Tabitha is calling me for supper." ~Stephen King

"Write. Put one word after another. Find the right word and put it down. Finish what you're writing. Whatever you have to do to finish it, finish it!" ~Neil Gaiman

"You can do anything for fifteen minutes." ~Flylady

"Write five words. Tell yourself only five. If after the five, you have the urge to continue, finish the sentence, maybe the paragraph, maybe the page. But start with five." --Victor Milan (author of 50 novels)

"Write it down! It does no one any good in your head!"--Schikaneder in Amadeus

"Mood's a thing for cattle or making love or playing the baliset. It's not for fighting." --Gurney Halleck, Dune Same goes for writing

I didn't manage all I was hoping to in the month of April, but I did get one short story submitted.
So, why are you listening to me?
Listen to them. Go write!

Monday, April 29, 2013

Machine Ghosts and Space Walks: World-Building and Science Fiction Part 2

Machine Ghosts and Space Walks:

World-Building and Science Fiction Part 2

When dealing with near-future science fiction, we have to first figure out what direction man has taken.

In a progressive future, there is no world-changing event that caused a crux-point. This is a natural future, with extensions of current trends. This is a good idea for warning stories of things the author decides need to be explained fully. In Equilibrium, Strange New World, and other totalitarian works, the authors decided to push current governmental trends into their worst possible conclusion. This is a tool for forcing the audience to consider where their current choices are heading.
In an apocalyptic future, there has been some major event that changed the natural progression of the world. Most near-future stories have this in their timeline, whether a World War, or some ecological disaster, or any combination of weapons, wars, and disaster. This was an especially popular tactic in the mid 20th century during the Cold War, as the threat of nuclear holocaust became very real to many. Illustrating life after the bomb was intrinsic to the culture of science fiction.

All of near-future science fiction can be classified between these two. Deciding which one may help you begin to identify what makes your science fiction special. However, for the purposes of our investigation, we’ll keep the full world building to a minimum and explore what we need for the story, as each character is a reflection of their surroundings.

Firstly, identify the main technological advancement that touches the characters. Usually, but not always, this is not Faster Than Light travel, which hereafter will be abbreviated FTL. In something like Star Trek, we have FTL, but it was assisted with alien races. We’ll cover FTL in Far-future next week. Most main technological advancements would involve a new form of propulsion, nano-technology, or human mutation. While any combination of factors can be advancements, it’s handy to start with one and build from there the approximate level of technology in your world. Note that in near-future science fiction, the audience tends to expect a sense of realism to their science. Finite laser weapons and energy-to-matter conversion are difficult concepts, since they bear no resemblance to today’s science. They’re best left to far-future, where science has yet to even dream of treading. It pays to do your research in this endeavor. Isaac Asimov was famous for his realistic work, and to this day it’s been used as a blueprint for scientific exploration and robotics. Is this only fifty years in the future, where smart cars have been finally standardized to the point of driving lanes where humans can set it and forget it? Implanted phones that still lose reception, some exceptionally expensive compartmental living on the moon or a space station, and sensory or voice-activated computers are logical for a technological level. AI may still be somewhere in the future, or right on the cusp of exploding. You may find several factors of your plot simply by identifying technology.

Secondly, quantify the type of living arrangements the characters come from. At this stage, identifying the society is also useful, but we’ll be covering society building at a later time. Can the origin world still support life? If not, how has humanity coped? Environment bubbles, space stations and satellites, and compartmentalized living are all viable. Teleportation devices and other molecular movers are uncommon in near-future science fiction, and usually are considered cutting edge and probably expensive as opposed to an everyday form of transportation.

Thirdly, we come to the inclusion of another species. We see aliens as a natural part of science fiction, but this isn’t always the case. Arthur C. Clark famously said, ‘Two possibilities exist: either we are alone in the universe, or we are not. Both are equally terrifying’.  Consider that to include an alien race in your world means that society-building and environmental factors will be doubled in your pre-writing workload, but it can be wonderfully satisfying. Remember that an alien race cannot exist in space without being equally as advanced as human society – for the most part, an alien race will be as multifaceted and varied as our own. The races of planet Earth have never managed to agree on one world governmental style, culture, or practice and for the most part never will. Even a totalitarian government has to quell rebellion and ride on the coattails of an unimaginable disaster to function. To paint an alien race with only one face appears two-dimensional and cheap for the most part unless it’s accounted for in the culture and society of the new race.

With these three factors decided on, the world should begin taking shape. It’s the first step. When you’ve created this much, consider placing your rat in the maze. Put your character in the setting and see how they react. Your character should already have a job. Write a 500 word blurb. If they’re a doctor, force them to react to a medical emergency. If they’re a pilot, watch them get called to the pilot’s seat. You’ll be surprised how quickly the rest of the quirks and day-to-day life take shape by letting the character flesh out their own experience once you have a ‘populated room’ for them to play in.

If the 500 word blurb feels natural, don’t forget to catalog the new little quirks to let other characters share it. In the Fifth Element, we see how day-to-day living leaves us with a sense of the world. Beds are wrapped in plastic, cigarettes are mostly filters, and cars still have a manual control. Aliens exist, and they have touched and integrated in our world, though they still seem to be struggling to be treated as anything but the strangely beautiful or the terrifyingly distant. Mankind has been shoved into tiny living spaces, and even their travel must by necessity be in very small boxes. The details make the universe, and can sometimes be very important.

Don’t forget. The stories have all been told before, in some iteration. The trappings of the world and the personalities of the characters are what will really draw in the reader.

Your homework is to write your 500 word blurb and post it. Whether it ends up in the final manuscript or not, you will always refer to it as the first time your character opened their eyes and moved around their surroundings, like a child discovering their nursery. It will evolve.

Next week, we’ll be examining far-future science fiction, FTL travel, the true idea of space, and complex societal structures.

Post back, and feel free to discuss!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

The Lost Laboratory

Greetings, darlings!

My name is Gabriel Belthir, and I run the Columbus office of Inkstained Succubus. I'm an author of three short stories and a novel. I'm happily genderqueer, happily married, and still happily the mad scientist around our little press here. Our segment runs every Monday
(give or take if I'm on the road) and it'll be classified like so:

Notes from the Lost Laboratory:
These segments are part of writer's workshops or other interesting bits. We'll host other author's blog posts, interview people, and occassionaly run contests or other offers for the Columbus office.

Currently we're running a writer's workshop on World-building in science fiction called Surfing the Cosmos on an Ironing Board. Look for the second installment next week!

Leaks from the Deadly Ninja Sewing Circle:

These updates will be sporadic at best, and usually over the weekend. These will be exciting announcements, sneak peeks, first glimpses, beta reader calls and offers, and other neat little tidbits.

Coming soon, we'll be asking one of our resident authors, Jimmy Gillentine, to give us a sneak peek into his next manuscript. Only here on the InkySuki blog!

We're so excited to truly open a node of the internet devoted to our readers and fostering new talent. If you would like to post with us, drop me a line with a proposal for your post or an excerpt of the new work you want to promote. You may end up in Dispatches or Notes, depending on your blog or interview.

I'll be in tow!

Surfing the Cosmos on an Ironing Board: World Building for Science-fiction Part

Surfing the Cosmos on an Ironing Board
World-building for Science-Fiction Part 1

So you’ve decided you want to write science-fiction. Whether it’s been a life-long love affair or a recent flirtation, something about postulating the future charms you. The idea of writing grand space operas and gritty struggles is a necessary one – we write science fiction because we need to warn of a future we fear, or to teach a future we desire. Science fiction, outside of almost any other genre, is designed to force the reader to think. Even action sci-fi, a recent phenomenon, still forces ideas deep inside of us.

However, the charm of science fiction comes from a parasitic relationship between its characters and its setting. In most areas of writing, the characters shouldn’t be dependent on their surroundings, and in fact most stories use ‘sets’, a means of understood placement that allows the reader to input their own visuals into the story. Science fiction by its own nature can’t allow set pieces, because the depth of the fiction comes from world-building. World-building is perhaps the most important thing you can do in science fiction. The decisions made during the world-building, even if the readers are never aware of them, color the characters, the society they come from, the understandings they have of the world around them, and how their relationships function. This is how we introduce alien concepts to a reader.

So the first decision to be made is the area of time. There are three basic time-frames to choose.
The first type of science fiction is near-future. In near-future science fiction, the characters know where earth is. They’re more than likely from our own Terra Firma. Aliens may or may not be involved, but they may still feel a little new and scary to the characters (Unless they are the aliens. Always fun to play with that.) and definitely don’t come from earth. Everything from Blade Runner to Johnny Mneumonic would be considered near-future, as would Star Trek, since the origin planet is known and exploration is a main theme.
The second type of science fiction is far-future. There is no ‘origin’ planet. The society has outgrown its own history and has been in the galaxy for as long as anyone can remember, or the origin planet has been destroyed. This allows for wild speculation and involved fiction, but it can be more difficult to allow the readers into the world. Star Wars and Dune would both qualify in this type.
The third type can be called several things, whether Time (though this doesn’t adequately describe it) or Modern (though this doesn’t either) or Alternate (which is closer). In this form of science fiction, something that is already familiar to the readers is invaded and touched by the future or scientific elements that change the game. The Terminator series would be an example, as would Doctor Who. Time Travel falls into this category for the most part, as do First Encounter stories set in modern day, as well as mutation stories and scientific experimentation blowouts. The story isn’t near-future, it’s happening right next door to the readers.

After deciding what type of science-fiction you’d like to write, there are some key points in each type to look into.

Next week, we’ll look at the key factors to world-building in Near-future Science Fiction. After spending some time looking at each type, we’ll focus on society-building from the ground up.

Your homework for the week: What draws you to science-fiction? Do you desire to warn, or praise? What are the basic concepts that you want to place before your readers? Is there already a character that’s making themselves apparent? And if there is, which type appeals to you, and why?

Post back, and feel free to discuss! And please excuse the day late and dollar short - we ended up in a place without Internet last night.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Filing off the Serial Numbers: part one

Filed down fanfiction is all the rage these days. From Fifty Shades of Gray onward, there is a movement to get the derivative works turned into salable original fiction.

Inkstained Succubus has a call for this as well. There are two pieces of my own filed-down fanfiction in IS collections. Today, I'll be talking about how to file off the serial numbers well. In later episodes, I'll show you how I did it.

There are two kinds of filing. One is when you take a whole story and alter it. The other is when you take elements you invented for an established universe and drop them into an original one. I'll be talking about the first kind today.

I got my own start writing fanfiction, back in the days when we had to resurrect Spock ourselves. Over the years I've written in about two dozen different fandoms. But very few of the stories would make the transition to original fiction.


Because they are very closely tied to their universes.

The best illustration I can think of is Brimstone. (short lived series, 1997)
Brimstone fic tends to be fairly one-note. The series episodes mostly had the same basic plot: Dead cop Zeke Stone is hunting down the Damned Soul Of the Week for the Devil. Good series, good characters, but you can't translate that to original fiction.

AU fiction can work very well for the transition. If you've already made everyone in a paranormal universe into a human, or if you've sent your own Mary Sue off to an American wizarding school, or if you've made Han Solo a trucker and Luke a mechanic out in the Arizona desert, or if you've got a crossover between a couple of movies set in neutral ground, the transition is much easier.

Once you've decided on a story, you have to file it down.

The first step is to change your characters' names and scrub the universe references. This is vital.  Once this is done, look it over and see what's left.

Have a friend not in the fandom read it. Get their opinion.

If you have a solid story left, flesh it out. Give Fred and Bob or Jane and Sue their backstories. Make them as real as Kirk or Harry or Leia was when you wrote the story.

In short, treat the fanfic as a first draft. Change the names. Change the setting. See what you're left with.

Part Two: A Walk Through, coming next week.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

News from the Inkstained Succubus

If it's Wednesday, it must be Angelia's turn to blog!  And that means a lot of random odds and ends.

The Website has been updated. A list of forthcoming conventions is now up. All the books are available from the store. Our talented WebWiz, Gabriel Belthir, made it all nice.


Inkstained Succubus is giving away its first book at Jessewave's! We're excited to be offering the Riding the Nightmare reprint collection. All you have to do is leave a comment to be entered.


Not to mention that the cover model for Beyond the Veil is having a birthday today. Our Aphrodite, Victoria Sparrow, is 21.


There are a variety of calls still open for anthologies. And as always, we are open to novels and nonfiction as well.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Story calls!

We like anthologies here at Inkstained Succubus.
So, here are the ones we're soliciting for now. All anthology stories are 5000-10000 words long.
Please follow the submission guidelines

Self-Rescuing Princesses and the Witches who Love Them
Deadline: May 15, 2013
​Expected Release: August 2013

An enterprising damsel can usually get herself out of distress, sometimes with the help of a female companion or lover. Female oriented fairy tales, focusing on the two heroines. Humor highly encouraged.

Pairing: F/F, need not be explicit lesbian
Happy Ending Required.

Filed Off
Deadline: June 15th, 2013
​Expected Release: October 2013

We all know someone who has done it: filed the serial numbers off their fanfic and been published. Now it's your turn. Find your best sexy story between 7500 and 12000 words long, file it down, rewrite as necessary and join Inkstained Succubus' Contest anthology. There will be a prize for the reader who can correctly name all the fandoms included. So alter it well. If we can tell you've sent us a Draco/Hermione piece, or your favorite Spike/Angel, it needs rewrites. All orientations and pairings/threesomes/moresomes welcome. Crossovers welcome. No underage characters. Stories must be more than an extended sex scene.

Pairing: Any (M/M, M/F, F/F, Trans* inclusive)
Happy ending not required.

Monstrously Ever After
Deadline: July 15, 2013
​Expected Release: November 2013

Horror Fairy tales. Monsters everywhere, but none of them are boring old vampires or werewolves. Let's have wendigos and rakshasas, popobawas, redcaps and nandi bears. Bring the monsters into a favorite fairy tale, old or new. Let Hansel and Gretel encounter a Wendigo, for example. Werewolf Red Riding Hoods are cliché. No erotica.

Pairing: Any, no erotica.
Happy ending required.

Plays Well With Others
Deadline: August 15, 2013
​Expected Release: December 2013

Whether broadening their horizons or enjoying a long-term plural arrangement, some people just want more. Give us your best poly story, and show us why more is better. This anthology will focus on polyamory rather than open relationships.

Pairing: Any 3 or more (M, F, Trans* inclusive)
Happy ending required.

Dominant Tendencies
Deadline: September 15, 2013
​Expected Release: January 2013

What Master wants, Master gets. Perhaps your boys have decided to try this for the first time. They may have found each other in the lifestyle years ago. Whatever the circumstances, give us your finest examples of sexy men doing terrible things to each other for every good reason.

Pairing: M/M
Happy ending required.

Hungry Hearts
Deadline: October 31, 2013
​Expected Release: February 2013

Erotic horror. Make it sexy, make it scary. Inhuman lovers, kinky revenge, paranormal sexual encounters, bring it on. Explicit sexual situations required.

Pairing: (M/M, M/F, F/F, Trans* and Poly inclusive)
Happy ending not required.

Home from FroliCon

The Inkstained Succubus crew had a wonderful time at FroliCon this year.

Gabriel Belthir, who heads the satellite office, and Angelia Sparrow did a bunch of panels. And ran FroliCon's First Ever LARP!

It was very successful. Murder at the Pleasure Club is set in the Eight Thrones Universe. Everyone has gathered to celebrate Pyotr Touchkoff's 100th birthday. And wackiness ensued.

Angelia had far too much fun as Michelino, Master of the Men's Pleasure Club. That riding crop came into use more than once...

Gabriel ran it excellently, and Kevin, Gabriel's mate, played an awesome Pyotr.

Cat Emerson, our graphic designer and occasional editor, did some fine minion work, staffing the sales booth, and meeting last year's sales' numbers.

But we are home and work will resume as usual. Look for regular posts here.

Ta, Darlings! I'm going back to bed. The convention was QUITE exhausting. So many pretty, pretty people and everyone was amazingly sexy.