Mar 31, 2010

Sci-Fi TV - Caprica, V, Lost, SGU and more

Caprica had its season finale on Friday. Husband was thrilled the robot finally did something. I have to agree. BSG had some of the finest space battles ever. I miss that. I miss the surprise and tension of BSG [even though there was no Dirk Benedict to drool over, but hey, they made up for it in many other ways] A little action with the drama never hurts. I hope this means the story lines are moving forward. Guess we'll find out when it returns.

The premiere of V was last night. Hmmm. Mixed reaction from this household. I have to say I didn't really enjoy the original. So, if they are just rehashing that, I will quickly lose interest. Husband, too. However, the last 15 minutes showed some promise. They finally started to pique my interest. They'll have to keep that up to hold me as I prefer not to watch TV after 10 p.m.

Stargate Universe returns this Friday. I'm looking forward to that. I'm hoping they drop the love-triangle with Lou Diamond Philips and Young's wife. And, I'd prefer to spend less time on Earth. The space ship is interesting. I want to stay on the ship. Looks like Daniel Jackson is either making guest appearances or joining the cast. I do like a hit of RDA now and then. It's probably my favorite new sci-fi show.

Lost moves closer to its conclusion. Despite the lack of man-eating reptiles, it's still a good show. It does need to end though. It was starting to mire. I will miss Sawyer a lot though. Hope to see Josh Holloway elsewhere.

Most shows need a built-in end date so that they don't get draggy, I think.

Season 4 of Torchwood is confirmed. 13 new episodes. Yaay! OK, this is really my most favorite new sci-fi show. Now I can quit bothering my friends in the UK to nudge at the BBC on my behalf. This series rocks.

SyFy announces its summer lineup. Eureka and Warehouse 13 will be coming back. I did enjoy the first season of Warehouse 13. There's a new series, Haven, that will be starting.

Although, if its Friday nights, I'll miss whatever is on. I'll be up at the observatory starting Memorial Day weekend. Yaay! If there are no clouds, it's the best show there is.

What do you have to say about sci-fi TV? Have you seen any of these shows? Heard any juicy tidbits? Sci-fi -centric minds want to know.

Mar 30, 2010

Story Trailers on a Shoestring Budget

They're the new rage ... trailers for novels. I've even done them for my short stories. Why? A video is a more dynamic way to reach folks than a written blurb. A video can add drama to the written pages and get people interested in reading your work. YouTube is another media service out there to get yourself some exposure and notice. The more ways people can discover you, the better.

If you've looked around at all, I'm sure you've seen what the professionals are charging for this service. Ouch! Unless you're consistently on the best seller list, what writer can afford that? You can certainly use that budget for something else. Marketing is entirely upon us these days. So, if we can save some dollars and stretch the promotional budget, yaay.

I've figured out how to do trailers for little to no cost. Yup, free to $50 or less a piece.

How? Well, if you own a computer, the software to create your own masterpiece is sitting right there waiting for you. On PC's, Windows provides 'windows moviemaker' as part of the windows suite of software. If you look in your programs listing, you'll find it. I looked up that Mac provides imovie on its computers.

What else do you need? Images and sound. If you do the research, you can find some free resources on the web for images to license for no money and stock music to license. You can use your own video and photo. Dress your friends up. Get creative. Windows moviemaker lets you type in text. So, you can do without images, or very few. If you'd like some links to free sources, first go to my homepage: add to the discussion and vote in the poll. Then leave a comment here that you did so and would like the links and I'll e-mail them to you.

I recruited a friend of mine, Kimberly Nicole, who loves making music videos as a hobby. I put the bug in her head last fall that she needed to make book trailers and help me create videos for my stories. I am fortunate to have access to her skills as she really knows how to make moviemaker sing. But with a little time, effort and practice, you can make a decent video yourself. She made my short story trailers. I made the commercial for my website and the video poem. It didn't take too long to make something pretty decent and professional looking. Obviously, her videos show more skill than mine, but you can see that it's possible to get to decent in a couple of hours. Just play around until you're happy. Resign yourself from the beginning that the first attempts are just practice. Besides the fact, putting the videos together is fun.

Kimberly Nicole and I make a pretty good team. I write the copy, buy and gather the images and provide the music. I leave the rest up to her. Yup, I give her free rein. There's usually a little tweaking after the first version. Thus far, very little though. If you'd like to see her work, you can view my YouTube channel, my website, or her website where more of her work can be seen: Several of her videos have been winners in contests.

If you'd like her help, you can e-mail her at: 

It can not be overlooked that she has an affinity and gift for putting video and music together. She always picks the music from the block she encouraged me to buy. I was going to go another way, but she was right and in the end I decided to go with her instincts over my own. It was a good decision. So, I asked her to answer some questions on this mysterious art.

She wished me to tell you all, she's not a professional. I beg to differ, however. She's as good as any professional out there. I could not have gotten the quality of videos I ended up with from anybody else at any price. She makes me look good. Really good. I am grateful to have her friendship and her help.

How did you get into video editing?

KN [Kimberly Nicole] - I started watching other videos online and had too many ideas that wouldn't go away. I had to try and make the videos, even if they looked like crap... which they sometimes do.

Any advice for the novice putting together a story trailer?

KN - Try every idea you have, sometimes you just have to see it before you know for sure. I can have a dozen different versions before I decide on one.

Are there common movie maker/ video mistakes?

KN -Save! I always forget to save when I make little changes, then I wonder where they went. Ha!

If someone decides they want your help, may they contact you?

KN -LOL Can't guarantee I can be any help. Of course.

There you have it, how to make story/book trailers on the cheap.

Mar 29, 2010

Mpaxauthorland Stardate 29.03.10

Novel#2 keeps moving along. I finished up the action sequence today I hoped to have done by yesterday. I roughly started the chase scene [that needs some mulling over for inspiration]. There's a confrontation yet to go, the tying up of whatever loose ends remain and then the end. So not much to go. It is possible I could finish this thing this week.

Part of me is really going to miss it. My lead is a blast to write for. Part of me wants it done already, so I can move on to what else needs doing.

I got drafts of my synopses done and e-mailed out. A fellow Guild member, Paty Jager, will be giving me feedback on them. She's conducting the workshop on the 10th.

If I want to filter my half-written flash fiction past my critique group before the next Second Sunday, I have a deadline to get that done by this coming Saturday. So, I will switch to giving that priority on Thursday. It might delay finishing the novel by a few days, but that's OK. The novel will definitely be done by the end of next week. The first draft.

Then it's onto getting at the spit and polish of novel#1. It's the story I will be taking to the workshop on the 10th. So, I should look at polishing up the prologue & chapters 1-3 for that. Then I read it cover to cover, map it out and then begin ripping it apart and knitting it back together. While doing that, I will finish up the edits for "Semper Audacia" and finish writing another short story.

After that, I repeat for novel#2.

After that, novel#3 begins.

That's the plan. For now.

Mar 26, 2010

Monster Rain: Attack of the Puddle People

Noooo! Look out for that ..... munch, munch, munch. Screaming and mayhem ensues.


Last night at the Central Oregon Writers Guild's monthly meeting [someone I know is their blog director :-D] , our guest was a local film maker and screenwriter, Brian Johnson. It was a great presentation. I don't know much about screenwriting. Apparently, it's more of a crapshoot than getting a book published.


Well, you know those hokey movies on the SyFy channel on the weekends? Mega Shark vs. Mega Squid and the like? Well, it's a secret fantasy of mine to write those movies. Honest. I'm not putting you on. I even love watching them.

People say: Are you serious?

Me: Yup.

People: Why?

Me: Because it would be a blast. Just pure fun. I like to get silly now and then.

In that vain, I shall begin installments of my story, Terror in the High Desert. At least every other Friday, I will add to the story.

Terror in the High Desert

Part One - Spelunking on a Wednesday Afternoon

Brit fingered the carved symbols on the wall. She was unfamiliar with the languages of the tribes that had once lived in the area and could not read it. But, the symbols shot like electricity through her fingertips. It seared. Burned. As if the lava had never cooled. She jumped back shaking her hand. "It's a warning."

Paul and Jen looked back at her, the blare from the lights strapped to their foreheads blinding her. "You can't read that stuff," Jen said. "Quit clowning around."

Brit pointed to the painting above the symbols. It was faded, but there was no disputing its intent. "Does it look all warm and fuzzy to you?" Red dots covered better than average stick people lying in pools of red. There was nothing friendly looking about it.

"We've been through," Paul paused as his brain strained with thought. "We've been through dozens of these lava tubes already, Brit. What are you getting all jittery about?"

Just feet into the cave, the brilliant high desert sun had been cut to a faint shadow hidden beyond curtains of darkness. The descending rock also cut the dry heat by at least twenty degrees. The cooler air was still dry, however.

"It's just that … " Brit cautiously touched the symbols again. They were cool and smooth like the surrounding igneous rock tempered by long ago fires that were long burned out. She shivered and shrugged on her jacket. She couldn't shake off a feeling of trepidation, however, as she followed after her friends.

  Hmmm, what will happen? Is it just another lava tube like the hundreds of others? Well, that wouldn't be much of a story now, would it? Stay tuned. Same Gangsta Cow Channel, Same Gangsta Cow Time [Fridays].
  Copyright Spring 2010, M. Pax, all rights reserved 

Mar 24, 2010

Gangsta Cows

Until we moved, I was an East Coast city gal. I was used to being surrounded by crowds and traffic and buildings and noise. I didn't think I could survive if I lived farther than 30 minutes from the nearest mall. So, my husband was as surprised as I was when I agreed to move to Central Oregon. Called a suburb without a city, I am more surprised at how much I love living here. I love the lack of traffic. I don't mind the smaller sized versions of stores. Maybe cause of the internets. I think my husband misses the city more as there is a lack of a decent electronics store here. I remind him of the internets. However, it was one of his joys to take half a day to go wandering through Frye's.

Me, on the other hand, I've come to take on more outdoor activities. Yeah, I'm shocked, too, and somedays I sit and laugh at myself. About a month after moving here, I found Pine Mountain Observatory. They were just gearing up for the season and in need of volunteers. I volunteered. Coming up is my third season as a star guide and I can't wait. I love it. I absolutely love spending my summers freezing on a mountain top saying the same thing over and over to hundreds of people in the span of a few hours. I love sharing what I know. I love teaching the truly interested how to use a telescope and hearing their gasps of delight. I love each discovery I make even though millions have discovered that same object before me. It doesn't matter. I haven't seen it before. It's a major thrill.

There's a ranch at the bottom of the mountain and it's the West. Cows are allowed to graze on public lands. So, they swarm over the mountain in the summer. They seem to have some special affinity for me. I'm not sure if it's because my car is the same color as some of them and about the same size, or if I have some kind of steer charisma.

At any rate, this causes them to stand up and come into the road from the side of the road when they see me coming. Honest, they get up enmass and lumber into the road and just stand there. They won't move. They're in front of me, behind me and on the slope above me.

Then more started coming up behind me. This made me giggle as I felt like I was about to be mugged, shaken down by a group of cows. Thus, the Gangsta Cows of Pine Mountain were born.

I had to get out of the car, lay on the horn and wave my arms hoping I wouldn't get kicked. Hoping they wouldn't come closer.

What was it the cows wanted from me? I have no idea. But, this happened every week until the cows were moved. The rancher came up to the obseratory a couple of times and I told him about his miscreant cattle. He was extremely amused, said something about the cows getting bored. Seems I am good steer entertainment.
Will they torment me this summer? Somehow, I don't doubt it. Who'd have thunk I'd turn into a cow toy?

Mar 23, 2010

Sci Fi on TV

Last week, ABC premiered, Flash Forward. Did any of you see it? What'd you think?

Husband and I watched. The story thread with Dominic Monaghan was gritty and I thought the most promising. Definitely the most interesting story thread.

I didn't think it needed two hours. Could have done with one. The idea of the blackout is interesting, but instead of talking about it I'd like to be shown what it was like. They should have started with that. It would have succored me in more than the flashbacks. Would have been fresher and more creative I think to put me inside the blackout than keep me on the outside.

We'll see how it goes. It didn't wow me as much as the beginning of Lost, but it might turn out all right. They should get other story lines of the caliber of the physicists. The other storylines are not as fresh. At least, not so far.

I'm still disappointed by the lack of man-eating reptiles in Lost, but I realize that's just a personal preference. I think almost any show or movie could be good if they added in a man-eating reptile or two. Just think about it next time you're watching something ho-hum. It would certainly spice things up, wouldn't it?

This week is the season finale of Caprica on SyFy. I'm still trying to get used to the new spelling of their logo.

I liked the start of Caprica. I don't see how it can last much longer though. The storylines are already starting to drag, and one of the problems with prequels is that it's hard to surprise us. And, what's with all the smoking? Are we trying to kill the actors? I often find it distracting as I'm thinking, ewww. I think it's too Earth-centric. Seems the characters have enough foibles without it.

It's just my opinion, though. What's yours?

Mar 22, 2010

Plan of Attack

Every week I assess what I've accomplished and where I need to go. I make a plan with adjustments as needed to keep me going, keep me fired up and make the end goal seem attainable. Like telling myself just because I added chapters again, does not put the end any farther off. I still have to cover the same ground no matter how many chapters I put it in. Or, how few.

Last week, I got back into conentrating mostly on my WIP [novel#2]. I did all right. The final action sequence should begin tomorrow [after polishing up chapter 65, which I knocked out this morning - yaay me.] After that, I know I have a final confrontation between two characters that has to be played out to unearth another piece of drama. Whether I do a chapter tying up some minor plots in additon to a final chapter remains undecided. It will come to me as I'm writing it out what the story needs. It does not change the plan for the plot, it's just a matter of how I decide to execute it.

I sent out a couple of submissions last week. Should have the revised, "Semper Audacia" ready to start going out very shortly. I'm filtering it through a couple more critics before I do.

My critique group met on Saturday. They had some good suggestions to make the piece better and a little stronger. I input those yesterday. Some of their input resulted in me creating a new self-filter when editing. Part of a critique group's beauty is letting you hone your craft. I keep asking for feedback as a reader lately. That's what I'm needing in this equation.

I feel it's another piece of the puzzle in place now. Hard as it is sometimes, as writers we need that steady stream of honesty. My group is very talented. I learn from reading their stuff as well as their comments on my stuff. Everyone has their strengths and things they're really good at. We all write different genres and have different styles. That diversity is actually a good thing.

My biggest strength is description. Perhaps that's why I gravitated toward science fiction and speculative fiction. It requires a certian amount of description that I'd be forced to leave unwritten in other genres. You can't really create an alien world without it. I have noticed I tend to write for aliens on alien worlds a lot. Obviously, I enjoy it.

'Surreal' and '2001' were mentioned Saturday, which thrilled me. 2001 is one of my all-time favorite stories and I strive to capture some of that wonder whenever I write. So, guess I achieved that goal. Woot! Arthur C. Clarke is an idol of mine. He wrote some of my favorites that I read over and over.

The next novel is set in present-day Earth, so that will be quite a change of pace for me. I'm using the mountain the observatory is on as the setting. So, it's also a place I know pretty well. I intend to use some real history with it. Other than that, it will be purely fiction.

At any rate, my plan this week is to get my synopses done and e-mailed. My talented colleague, Paty Jager, agreed to give me feed back for synopses on novel#1 and novel#2. She is giving the workshop on April 10 for getting proposal packets together for novels. I need the help. I know my first query was a disaster. I will do much better this time with her guidance, I'm sure. So, I need to get chapters 1-3 of novel#1 in shape for that, too.

I want to try and complete novel#2 this week. At the latest, next week. That seems reasonable. There's not much left. Then I will take a small break - days or maybe a whole week - from the novels. I have a half-written short to finish up and a partially written flash fiction. Then I shall print out novel#1. Yeah, the whole thing. And, read it from beginning to end, trying to resist the urge to tweak and edit. I need the prespective of reading it from cover to cover before I start hacking at it.

I don't know how long it will take me to revise novel#1, but I estimate anywher from 1-3 months. I give the same time frame to novel#2, which I will go at after I finish polishing up the first. I hope to be done with both of them by early fall and start on the new novel. That's the plan. We'll see how it goes.

In the meantime, I need to find myself more time in the afternoons for the business end of this gig. Some days it's easier than others. I suppose I'm going to have to work with that and formulate something more organized and effective.

There's a lot to know and learn in this business. I need time to devote to that, too. More structured time than I have given it to-date. OK, so I shall try to do that.

How are your plans coming along?

Mar 19, 2010

Techniques of the Selling Writer

Techniques of the Selling Writer by Dwight V. Swain is one of the best purchases I've made in writer's resources. Valuable information on how to self-edit to tighten up your writing is on every page. Not only does it tell what to do, it gives examples and demonstrates how, so that we can learn to apply the advice.

One of my chapters was suffering from a lack of zip. The technique of motivation and reaction laid out in this treatise solved my dilemma.

It took some time for some of the tips to become more ingrained, but it makes my writing stronger, clearer and more powerful. Who doesn't want that?

I've read a number of different books on self-editing and the like, and I think this was the best one by far. It was highly recommended through Amazon reviews, which is why I picked it. I'm not sorry about the choice and I don't feel like it's just laying out one editor's preferences. It seems pretty universal.

His advice on submitting: study your market and keep submitting. A writer acquaintance of mine [published] said on average she got 20 rejections per short. Apparently 100 rejections for agents is the going average for novels. Reminding myself of this makes me feel better. I'm in good company. With that said, I intend to get a few submissions out today. It's a really odd mix in my head of not expecting very much, yet knowing eventually there will be a pay off. I give each submission my best effort.

Do you have a favorite tool of the trade? Besides the book named in this  post, my other go-to's are the Gregg Reference Manual and the thesaurus. I don't know what I'd do without the thesaurus.

Mar 17, 2010

Boldly Go

To maintain motivation in an industry where rejection is more normal than not, can be tough. Like in any endeavor, it requires a tough skin, a whole lot of belief in oneself and a lot of tenacity. Support sure doesn't hurt either.

Sometimes I feel a little less than ... positive about it all. It helps to know other writers have gone through the same thing and I'm not in this boat alone. Being active with a writers group is really helpful. To have people around me who believe so strongly in me helps.

My husband periodically running down the list of positives helps. Then I have to tick them off myself and come to own them again. Over and over until I feel fully armored again. It's a must to keep bold.

Every once in awhile a 'I don't completely suck' day rolls around. Those are sweet.

The most important thing is that I believe. Sometimes it wanes a little, but overall the current is pretty strong. Otherwise, I wouldn't keep submitting and opening myself up for more rejection-love [as I call it]. Sometimes there are bits of love in the rejections. The last few especially. So, I take it as a sign that I'm on the right track.

I learned in a presentation given to my writers group a few months back that there is good rejection and gold star rejection. I was unaware there were categories of rejection prior to that. Apparently, there are though.

I hit the jackpot end of December when one kind editor wrote me a letter with real constructive feedback - that my story had been seriously considered and then what ultimately sunk me. That letter helped me a lot. I went back and rewrote my five completed short stories based on that feedback. It was something I was aware of on a subconscious level, but not fully conscious of. Now I am fully conscious of it and my stories are better because of it. It also helps my husband to give me better feedback. I sent that editor a 'thank you' for that, because what he said makes me better. Constructive feedback is as rare as a 'yes'. So, I was thankful for the gift.

If I don't continue to be bold and continue submitting, I will never reach my goal. My progress is hard to measure, but I keep going. If I hadn't been bold enough to begin reading publicly at open mics, I'd be missing out on some positive reenforcement that is very much needed. It's good practice for me and it turns out people really like my stories. They look at me with interest, like they know I'm going some place. I went from being scared to death of speaking in public to looking forward to my 'fix' of positiveness.

I've learned to focus on the positive, take constructive feedback as a gift when I find it and to just keep going. Mostly, I find the motivation in being exactly where I want to be. I'm producing and submitting. I'm in the game. I used to dream of being here, in the game. So despite the stormy seas, I can keep my nose above water and see my way.  I can find the joy in it.

It is an exciting time. On the brink. So, I remind myself of how exciting it is. Then I feel it. I know my break is coming. Somedays I can actually smell it. So, I get impatient. But, this time of beginning is special. So, I need to savor it, too.

I keep writing. I keep submitting. What other choice is there? I can not stop. I love what I do. I am determined. Perhaps it helps that by nature I am a very stubborn gal.

Wherever you are in your goals, be bold - to borrow from a friend's recent posts [Loretta].  There is no gain without risk. Sure there's a downside to it. But, if you care to really look and examine it, you may find a lot of positives in the negative that you otherwise wouldn't be privy to if you didn't dare to be bold.

Whatever happens, I am about to finish my second novel. I should have it and the first going out to agents this summer. I am submitting five short stories and working on finishing a 6th. I write flash fictions each month for open mic. My website is almost done. I get out there and get seen. I have plans for novel#3 when I'm ready to go at it. I suspect by early fall.

I make adjustments here and there as needed. And I keep going. How do you keep your motivation?

Mar 14, 2010


I did not intentionally link green to my reading on March 14, but on some level I managed a celebration of St. Patrick's day.

I wore a green shirt. Then I realized my story was green. "Plantgirl". Funny ironic how that played out. Supposedly, this new blogger posting thingy should post the link I typed in. We'll see. Computers and I don't always get along, so my brother [website genius] is learning lately. At any rate, the story is up as a 'freebie' on my website. You can click on the icon to the right if the direct link to the story doesn't show up. Take a moment to answer the poll and participate in the discussion on the homepage, if you're so inclined. Official opening of the website will be very, very soon. :D

OK, if you click on the header to this article "Plantgirl" it will take you directly to the story on the website. Ahh. So, that's how that works.

It was my second reading at Second Sunday at the Bend Public Library. It was my third reading overall. One of my Guild buddies showed up, which was really nice. Thank you, Anita! Support is always greatly appreciated in this gig, and hard to come by. I am not a dentist. Plus, my stories are pretty good and I read pretty well.

I was a lot less nervous this time, but still nervous. Husband did a lousy job of video recording. He didn't. So, I made him take some video afterwards as I need some sort of record.

The 'Author of Honor', was great. After I get his permission, I'll blog about it later this week. Seems this new blog was a better idea than I thought. I can see I'm really going to get into this. Thank you wholeheartedly to all of those who came over from the other. Glad you realize I am not a dentist. The support makes me all teary. Ok, smiley.

Novel#2 creeps closer to done. I am going to give it some serious attention over the next few weeks and try to get that done before this month closes out. Five chapters to go. Wooot!

Short story#5 now has a title again, "Semper Audacia". It's a wrap after I get some feedback from my critics. Then that will start going out for its share of rejection-love. Rewrote the copy for its trailer as the title is different and the entire second half of the story is different than it was.

The website is getting real close to done. Ideally, I would love an interior shot of a spaceship for the homepage. The thing is, it can't be too busy as there's already a lot going on. Any way, if you run across any stockarts or such that I can license/purchase of the interior of a space ship or space station or the like, let me know. Until I find the perfect thing, I think the homepage will remain as it is. We found a great metal texture for the columns on the other pages which I love and I love the rivets we made. Maybe I'll end up making my own homepage one of these days. We'll see how that goes.

Other than that, an addition to my 'works' section needs to be made and a few little tweaks, and we're done.

I handed out one of my new snazzy business cards today. They're very sci-fi looking. Next batch, I'll have to add this blog to it. :)

Mar 11, 2010

Reading this Sunday

March 14, 2:00 p.m., Bend Public Library. I will be reading "Plantgirl" at Second Sunday open mic.