Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Mentors and Teachers in the Heroine's Journey

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This month, Broaduniverse is examining the roles of teachers in fiction. In traditional fiction, the hero is removed from the classroom to take a journey. From Athena to Obi wan, the Hero’s guide along this journey differs from the traditional teacher who stands in front of a class to deliver a lesson.  For this episode of Broadly speaking, we are taking a closer look at the role of the teacher, or the mentor figure in the Heroine’s journey, and how that figure is different from the mentor in the Hero’s journey. The differences may surprise you.

First up, K.A. Laity, author of  Pelzmantel and other tales of Medieval Magic discusses the definition of the mentor in fiction.

Then MeiLin Miranda, author of the serial An Intimate History of the Greater Kingdom talks about mentors when they take on the Teacher role in a classroom setting.

Finally, Valarie Estell Frankel, author of From Girl to Goddess: The Heronie's Journey through Myth and Legend explores the differences between the mentor in the hero's and heroine's journey.

Mentors.mp3 Listen on Posterous

Join us for an enlightening episode of Broadly Speaking, where we hope that, just like your teachers and mentors, we can impart wisdom to you.  



Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Stories You May Never Know

In the thralls of Thanksgiving thankiness, there's one thing that editors and writing group members and critiquers uniquely experience.

Stories that change their lives--that no one else might ever know.

Some of these come in the forms of manuscripts we reject or manuscripts we ask for revisions on that the writer refuses to make.  They could be great stories, great seeds of stories, or great ideas.  They just don't meet our needs, still need a lot of work, or were not allowed to germinate enough before the author spread them on a page. 

Others come in short lived critique groups.  The members who bring in a piece of a novel that they've been working on for a decade and will continue to edit until the day they die; novels and short stories that never see the light of day outside of critique group.  The authors may never get the courage to submit, or may submit and get a single rejection and quit, or may never have intended to submit their work for publication. 

And, for me, another small bunch comes from freelance work that people pay me to edit… that, for some reason or other, never gets published.  The author may give up, the author may never finish, or the author may get distracted with Other Life till the day he or she dies.

These stories, or even germs of stories, still touch me, still affect me.

The written word is still sacred.  It's a piece of someone's heart that they have shared with me, bared to me, and something like that still affects a True Believer in the Power of the Word.

Part of me mourns that no one else, or few others, will get the chance to experience the touch of these particular words.  Another part mourns that the author may not get the recognition she or he deserves.

Yet another part secretly savors the fact that I had the rare honor to be part of the story's journey, to be one of the ones it touched.

Even if you never publish a story, remember it's never a lost cause.  It's touched anyone who has read it, changed their lives.  It definitely changed you for writing it.

So, after the Thanksgiving rush, let those of us with this honor, pause and give thanks for the stories that touched us… that no one else may ever read.

Monday, November 21, 2011

November 2011: Teachers

Teachers by Broad Universe Listen on Posterous

Welcome to the November 2011 episode of the Broad Pod featuring the theme, Teachers.

Larissa Niec, author of Shorn: Book One of the Sky Seekers and professor of psychology at Central Michigan University hosts this month’s episode.

What teachers stand out in your memory?  Was there someone who encouraged you to strive when you might have given up?  Did someone inspire you with their own courage?  Were your favorite teachers larger than life or very human?
Four authors offer us remarkably different visions of teachers and lessons:

Award-winning author, Carol Berg, intrigues us with an excerpt from The Spirit Lens, in which Portier, a failed student of magic, travels with a teacher who might just provide him the confidence he needs to unlock his own strength.

In a piece from the short story, “The Lesson of the Phoenix,” Julia Rios shows us that life lessons may come in many forms, and teachers need not be elder to be wise.

Trisha Wooldridge shares an excerpt from “Photo of a Mermaid,” in which two people in dire circumstances discover they each have things to teach the other.

And Justine Graykin offers the tale of Dietrich, who gets a sharp-tongued lesson in identity and cultural survival.

Sit back and enjoy these tales, and perhaps you will be reminded of a teacher who has been important to you.

Posted via email from The Broad Pod posterous

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Vampires Broadly Speaking Snowed Out

Sadly, this is the first episode that we had to miss for either The Broad Pod or Broadly Speaking.  You'd think weather wouldn't affect the online realm that covers the globe... but, alas, it does. 

In addition to problematic scheduling, most of the guests we had slated to talk Vampires for Broadly Speaking were affected by the freak Halloween snow storm that took out the Northeast in the US and left without power.  We apologize for the inconvenience.

Stay tuned for next month, though!  Tracy S. Morris will be hosting a teacher-based Broadly Speaking.  And before then, we'll have our usual Broad Pod, also on teaching available at

Thank you for listening and being part of The Broad Pod and Broadly Speaking!


Trish Wooldridge
2010-2011 Broad Universe Podcast Producer

On Organic Characters--Listening as Opposed to Engineering

A friend, looking at a synopsis of mine, was horrified to see I killed a particular character in the first 15 pages or so.

"She's such a great character!  You're not using her potential!"

The character did, indeed, have a lot of potential.  So do a lot of people who die "before their time."  While I've come a long way from being entirely a "seat of the pants" writer--shoot, I'm feeling downright nervous that I don't know the endgame for Loki or Coyote in my NaNoWriMo novel!--I still don't engineer a plot or a character.

I see plenty of blog posts about how to incorporate flaws into characters or how to create complications for a plot… and I feel relieved that I can just pass by them.  My characters come to me fully formed, with plenty of flaws intact, and they have their own plans with what will happen with any plot I create.

Not to say I do no engineering.  I compare my writing to gaming because I will create a plot and a series of potential problems and I have some outcome in mind.  I have a complex world that I've engineered in my head that has its own laws.  However, my characters will do what they will.  I can rein them in some by creating (hopefully logical) consequences for their action based on the laws of the world I've created.

Sometimes those consequences are that characters die.  I give my characters free will, just as any human ought to have.

Because they are people.  They - the characters, not the whole novels - are my children.  Each have pieces of me… combined with pieces of other people I've met, or seen, or read about… and given a spark of will.  The character, whether he or she or it be an adult or child, is the summation of many parts, a synthesis and a synergetic being. 

While I create the world and the original problem, most of my writing is listening to my characters and transcribing.  They tell me what they will do in these situations.  They don't always tell me why, but eventually I figure it out (or, I have so far… like I said, these Tricksters have me in a bit of a tizzy).  It's not me moving them around like chess pieces, it's me interacting with them as persons.

I've mentioned a few friends I have who do far more engineering.  Their outlines are huge and detailed… they ask me for my thoughts on something, and my answer is not helpful because I ask what would be the most likely thing the characters involved would do.  They make their characters do stuff; their characters serve their plan.  Plenty of good stories are written like this--just not by me.

My stories are archives of my characters' lives.  Once I discover how things go, I can't change the plot or the motivation.  I can adjust what I include in a story--and what you include or omit can make big differences!--but I know what happened and what will happen.  Not because I created it, but because I'm an omnipresent being in my characters' lives… and it's my job to tell their stories as truly as I can.

Even if they die in the first few pages.  It would dishonor their story to change it just because it's unfair or a waste.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Happy… erm… Day After Halloween/Samhain!

I have the power!  And teh interwebz!

'Cos our Hallowe'en party was SNOWED OUT! by a freak Nor'easter that came in and knocked over a whole bunch more trees (because Irene and the May tornadoes didn't knock over enough).  We were about 36 hours without power… fortunately, AFTER the last of our brave guests left… after we moved the first few trees so poor, brave guests could leave.

So, um… Happy Hallowe'en from me and Scott! 

Zombie Tourist and Fairy Goth-Momma

Oh, and Nylis and I feel about the same about this stupid snow on Hallowe'en.  You can see some of the tree damage out the window behind her.

Not like we generally get trick-or-treaters down our dark, dead-end street… even if most suburban parents haven't been not taking kids out for actual neighborhood trick-or-treating for some years now… but really, with the ice, snow, and slush… we didn't even bother putting our light on. 

You couldn't see it through the snow-covered leaves anyway.

I'll stop bitching now.  Scott is threatening to eat my brains.  He did the gash, I did the make-up; further proof that we make a pretty damned good team.

It's NOVEMBER!  Which means NaNoWriMo!

Why am I writing a blog when my trickster novel could be getting written?

'Cos I love you.

Anyway: work update:

Despite no power or webz for an extended period of time, I still managed to shoot out four submissions for the Broad Universe Mailing Party.  Fingers crossed for acceptances!!

Now… onto novel writing madness.

Happy Hallowe'en, Samhain, All Souls, and All Saints Day!

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