Monday, September 3, 2012

Prolific vs. good

“Hitchcock is the most overrated director of all time,” the boss said one day.

At the bookstore I work at aside from selling lottery tickets, cigarettes, pop, and chips, we also buy and sell used DVDs. What prompted the boss’s comment was a box set he had just bought of Alfred Hitchcock’s early works, the crappy public domain stuff that gets sold on double-sided discs in dollar stores. I love Hitchcock but these bargain-bin collections are pretty shitty. Sure there will be a few diamonds in the rough (The 39 Steps, The Lady Vanishes) but most of it isn’t worth watching.

But I couldn’t let a comment like that stand. Up until that point I’d been having a bad day. I don’t remember why. Maybe I had received another story rejection. Maybe two. Maybe I hadn’t eaten lunch yet. Whatever the reason, I had resigned myself to the fact that it was just going to be a bad day and there was nothing I could do about it. The boss’s comment made me stop and re-examine that. I could take anything the world cared to throw at me, but I wasn’t going to keep quiet when one of my favourite directors was being disparaged.

Monday, August 27, 2012

The Mortal Kombat test

Ugh, I hate my blog. No, I'm sorry, I didn't mean that! It's just, with all I have going on, the blog started to seem like just one more chore. Since I don't want this poor little website to wither and die, I'm trying not to take it so seriously.So please forgive me if the posts over the next little bit are a bit tongue in cheek. There's lots of sites you can go to for actual solid writing advice.

But today we get down to some serious business: pen names.

Pen names are a tricky business. Personally, I find it hard enough to keep a handle on myself just going by one name, so I stick with it no matter what genre I’m in. I’ve had romance, mystery stories, slice-of-life stories, horror, and sci-fi all published under ‘Shannon Fay.’

But there is another reason why I use my real name rather than a myriad collection of alias, and that’s because my name passes a little something I call the ‘Mortal Kombat test.’ I’m sharing this with you now so that you can put your name to the test and see if you need a pen name or not.

Monday, August 13, 2012

In the Future We Will Not Spend Our Money But Our Time

Lately I feel like I’m back in school again. Not that it’s a bad thing, it’s just surreal. This morning I got up early (well, early for me) and headed over to my old university so I could take part in a research programme the psychology department is conducting. Anyone who has ever been a cash-strapped university student is probably familiar with these trials: They run the gamut from sociological experiments to drug testing. Basically, you volunteer to become a human lab rat. 

Monday, August 6, 2012

Creator and destoryer

A story of mine was recently rejected. It was actually a very nice rejection: the story had gotten far along in the submission process and I received feedback on it from the magazine’s editors. I decided to take what they had to say into consideration and tinker with the story a little bit before sending it back out (oh yeah, take that Heinlein!).

I knew what I had to do: I needed to strengthen the bad guy, smooth out the middle, and basically just set it apart from your run-of-the-mill mystery story. But when I sat down to re-write it...the re-written story was already there on my computer. Doo doo doo doo, doo doo doo doo (that’s supposed to be the Twilight Zone theme music, in case you are horribly confused). 

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

First review ever!

Diabolical Plots has reviews up for the April Daily Science Fiction stories, including mine. This is exciting for me because it’s the first time I’ve ever had a story reviewed by an impartial third party. Plus, they have some nice things to say:
“A Special Day” by Shannon Fay (debut 4/18 and reviewed by Frank D). A ski bunny takes a sudden interest in the protagonist and buys him a coffee. The ensuing conversation drifts to an unlikely subject.
The subject matter in “A Special Day” is about the day no one celebrates, the pre-anniversary date of their death. It is a day only the snow bunny can appreciate. The tale has a twist that comes out of nowhere yet isn’t surprising when it is revealed. I found the story to be sound but was one where the protagonist became a third wheel in the tale. Interesting.
 Very cool, and they're right about the main character becoming less relevant as the story goes on (though I kind of like that). But they're wrong about the main character being a guy. This isn't the first time I've seen someone make that assumption. I can see how it could happen. The main character's gender isn't central to the story and since it's a first person narration people are going to project a lot onto the character in order to fill in the gaps. It's understandable that a man reading the story would imagine that the narrator is also a guy (heck, a woman reading the story might think the main character is a guy, seeing how male is still seen as the 'default' gender).

But at the same time, I do include things to show that the narrator is a girl. There's her name for one ('Moria' may not be a popular girl name, but it's still a girl's name) and the fact that another character refers to her indirectly as 'she' ('Even a keener like you would take a break on her birthday').

Like I said, it's not central to the story, but it is there. I really believe that female characters are under represented in fiction and it's important to me to write worlds populated by woman characters. One thing I like about 'A Special Day' is that at it's heart it's just two very different girls talking at a coffee shop. Story-wise it's not a world of difference if, instead, it's a guy and a girl talking in a coffee shop, but while it might not mean a big deal to the story it makes a big difference to me.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

How to Turn Minor Annoyances into EPICS

Growing up my father would sing and play guitar to put me and my brother to sleep. Amidst the classic rock standards (The Stones, The Beatles, Led Zeppelin) he also played a lot of his own material. My dad’s a gifted musician and lyricist and to me, listening to him play as I dropped off to sleep, there was never a drop in quality when he would switch back and forth between McCartney to Lennon to himself to Robert Plant. Even now as an adult I still believe that.

Dad’s songs had great melodies and lyrics but an overwhelming majority of them were about heartache. Think ‘Angie’ by the Rolling Stones, mix in ‘Yesterday’ and you’re getting close to the level of angst my dad imbued his songs with. Remember, he wrote these songs as a teenage boy, long before he fell in love with my mother, and as the saying goes he wrote what he knew. One night after listening him sing one of his more passionate songs about a woman who had cast him aside coldly and cruelly, I had to ask:

 “Jeez dad, what did this girl do to you?”

Friday, July 13, 2012

New Story in Woman's World magazine

Just a quick post to say that a romance story of mine, 'Love is in the Air,' is in this week's (the July 16th) issue of Woman's World magazine.