Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Work, Work, Work

Between the 70 days of sweat, a deadline at my day job, and watching the Red Sox in the World Series, posting to this blog hasn't been my highest priority. However, Sven has been a great motivator. I've been getting more and more done each day as I get in the swing of things. Goals you set for yourself, for no one else, can be the strongest of all. After all, you can't lie to yourself. Or can you? I suppose you can. But no lies here, I hope to be sweating buckets once I'm really rolling.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

To Breed, or not to Breed

In romance fiction with paranormal elements, at one time or another, the idea of breed usually enters into the story. With one character being essentially either human/ordinary and the other being paranormal/alien. Continuity of blood lines and breed can also be the major conflict in a story. Having recently read a book where this was the case (a vampire/human story) and in looking at my own manuscripts, I thought I'd take a look at "Breed".

How does it really work? Can a child --theoretically, of course-- inherit every trait from its paranormal parent? Admittedly, in any world-building, a story can be created to defy our current understanding of biology. Anything can go, and does. But if we were to keep to the rules of today, what does "Breed" mean?

Breed is certainly an important element in raising livestock. The Department of Animal Science at Oklahoma State tries to define breed in their article, "What is Breed?": "Animals that, through selection and breeding, have come to resemble one another and pass those traits uniformly to their offspring." The article continues to explore the problems in defining breed, which is in large part, opinion of the breeders.

For a male vamp to pass only vamp DNA and none of the human mother, then this could be termed "true-breeding." In the real world, this is closer to what happens within the plant kingdom. Picture a self-pollinating plant which will produce a plant with all the same characteristics. In this case, though, the vamp would be contributing all of the DNA. Nothing from the mother.

There's also the now common idea of genetic inheritance and dominant traits. You cross a plant with a recessive trait to produce white flowers with another with a dominant trait producing red flowers, you'll always get a plant with red flowers. If anyone is interested in this, check out Mendelian Theory, based on the work of a Austrian Monk, Gregor Mendel, now known as the father of common genetic theory. An easy to follow diagram of genetic inheritance is on the National Biological Information Infrastructure website.

What does all of this mean? You can create a hybrid of your ordinary/paranormal couple, combining dominant and recessive genes, or you could assume your paranormal side of the equation always passes dominant genes. Thus, one vampire parent will always produce a vampire offspring. Vamps breeding true does actually have some real world biological basis. And who couldn't believe an alpha-type male would be dominant, even on the genetic level?

Now I can think about what that means to my own world building.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

The Sweating Begins

And so it begins. Last night I wrote 942 words. It was just shy of the 1,000 goal mark I set for myself in the 70 Days of Sweat Writing Challenge. 69 more to go!

Monday, October 15, 2007

Environment in Literature

Bloggers Unite - Blog Action Day Light bulb moment. I'm struggling with trying to find a topic for my Master's Thesis in Literature. In doing so, I look at my manuscripts. Turns out, all of my work have moments of green. All have environmental issues buried in them. Yes, buried. I'm not one to enjoy an author stepping onto their soap box while I'm reading for enjoyment. That said, some of these issues are almost characters in themselves.

I have a short story with werewolves who are sensitive to the scent of petroleum. I have Phoenix who are worried over the gluttonous use of energy in their futuristic world. I have a faerie goblin who is angered over damage to his river and forest. There's more, but the point is that these issues are deeply important to me, and I was completely unaware that everything I'm writing has these elements in them.

Why should I be surprised? Forget my own personal views, look at the genres I'm drawn toward. SciFi is a perfect fit for environmentalism. Many of the major themes in these works come back to the damage that men can make on their world. Paranormal heroes in Paranormal Romance also tend to be friendly to the environment, if not completely tied to it. A common theme is even a fear of extinction of species.

I know that the environment is one of the most important political issues for me, but I have to wonder if the readers of SciFi, Fantasy, and Paranormal realize they are reading thinly veiled stories promoting conservation, preservation of wilderness, species protection, etc.

I'm doing my part. Recycling, teaching my kids about the environment, and writing from my conscience. I'm also participating in Blog Action Day, which is a day for bloggers to unite. Topic is the environment.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Seventy Days of Sweat Writing Challenge

The Seventy Days of Sweat Writing Challenge is on Round Two. I missed the first one, but I'm looking forward to participating this go around. By signing up for the challenge, I've committed to writing a little over 1,000 words a day for 70 days, starting Oct 15 and finishing by Jan 15.

Another popular writing challenge is National Novel Writing Month. But, I've decided to sweat with Sven instead. Good luck to anyone diving into either of these challenges. The water's deep.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Two RWA Conferences

I haven't been posting because I've busy for the past several weeks both preparing for and attending two conferences. Moonlight & Magnolias in Atlanta and Put your Heart in a Book in New Jersey. Both were great. Informative workshops and lots of good opportunities for editor/agent appointments. I'll attend both of these again next year. Worth the effort.

Everyone gets something different from these events. In Atlanta, the highlight for me was the pitch workshop I attended. The workshop was set up with about ten per table, with a published author at each to run the workshop. I was at Kelley St. John's table. Lots of really good information. She runs a pitch workshop that must be excellent, based on how things went at this event. If you have the opportunity to take her class, you should.

The best part of the NJ conference was meeting many of the members of my crit group. Until this weekend, I knew most of them primarily through email. It was great.

More later...