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2009-05-01 01:26 pm


Hello.... is anybody out there?
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2007-10-08 05:04 pm
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Viable Paradise Friending


FYI, I friended a few of you. Now I have to get back to work now because I still haven't found a way to make these stories write themselves.

BTW, welcome to the tribe.

Erin VPX
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2007-10-03 08:35 am

(no subject)

I was reading a few LJ posts this morning and came across Kate Elliott's advice for new writers (pt 1). What she says smacks of common sense through and through. However, it's so easy to forget that if you want to be a good writer, you need to keep writing in order to improve.

Kate's post has started the wheeling turning in my head (which is always a scary things!), and I decided to write down a few of the biggest challenges that I have faced as a new writer.

Below continues a few of my biggest obstacles as a new writer. )
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2007-09-26 08:53 am

Weird Dreams....

So, I'm thinking that I must be slowly going mad. Last night I had a dream that I was dying. It was the final seconds of my life and I was lying on the ground looking up at an unpainted beadboard ceiling. That's all I could see no matter where I looked. In the background, playing through some unseen speakers was the song "Time Warp".

I'm lying there, knowing this is my final moment of life. The end isn't only near, it has come! And the last song I hear is "Time Warp"? What the heck!@!*#&#(@!

Now I have the song booming through my head:

It's just a jump to the left
And then a step to the right
With your hands on your hips
You bring your knees in tight
But it's the pelvic thrust that really drives you insane,
Let's do the Time Warp again!

I want a do-over on my dream!
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2007-09-25 10:36 am

Stonecoast Update and Other Items

My first semester at Stonecoast is about halfway over. The last few months have been pretty difficult, but I wouldn't trade them for anything. I have read more books than ever because I've switched to commuting to work by train. What a difference that has made on my study time!

I've also submitted several annotations and two stories to my mentor, and I've just received his comments on my September packet. Clearly, I still have things to work on (which is why I'm here), but I see a shift in his comments. He's no longer focusing on the predictability of my characters and the flatness of my stories. There is improvement! Yeah!

The feedback that I received this month was much more engaging than what I received on my previous stories. My mentor was able to comment on the complexity of the characters and layers of the plot rather than just focusing on story mechanics. As a result of his evolving feedback, I'm struck by the notion that the best way to see your improvement is through the criticism that you receive, and I'm definitely starting to see a change in the type of comments that I receive on my work. This is very exciting stuff! This is exactly why I enrolled in the Stonecoast MFA program.

The month of October is going to be a killer with 3 stories due in early November. I'm really going to have to kick into high gear to get my pieces ready, but I have this nagging fear that I'm going to be submitting 1st or 2nd draft work for the January workshop.

This raises the question of how polished do you make your work before sending it to a workshop? If you polish a story to the point of gleaming, is it worth workshopping? Is it better to workshop a story that has problems so that you get some new perspectives on potential fixes? I'm not sure what the best solution is on this front. Does it really matter as long as the prose is readable and your critiquers won't be distracted by annoying line editing issues. What do you think?
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2007-09-16 02:37 pm
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My Doctor Who Fan Video - Check it out!

So, instead of writing like I should have today (please don't tell Jim Kelly), I spent the day making my first ever fan video for the tv show Doctor Who. Here's the URL if you want to check it out.

Not only is this my first ever fan video, it's also my first ever video. I put it together with some clips from the
Doctor Who TV show, and set it to the music of Doctor My Eyes by Jackson Brown. It's a little rough in spots and I think I could have done something different with the compression of the video to make it runs a little
smoother. But hey! I'm just learning, right?

I hope you enjoy it even if you don't know who Doctor Who.
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2007-09-13 10:25 am

BookTour.com - A Site that brings Authors & Readers Together

There's a fairly new site on the Web called BookTour.com. I've just spent some time checking out the site, and it looks like a really great tool for bringing authors and readers together.

Basically, this site serves as a central warehouse of dates and times for author appearances and book tours. It uses a simple to navigate interface for people to find your events anywhere in the US, UK, Australia, and Canada. If you're doing a national tour, this could be a useful site for promotional purposes.

The only caveat is that you actually need to go to the site and input your travel schedule manually. However, in the big scheme of things, it's only a little extra work that could payoff by bringing people to your appearances.

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2007-09-13 08:50 am

This frightens me....

During the Miss Teen USA contest, Miss Teen South Carolina was asked why 1/5 of Americans weren't able to identify the US on a world map. Granted the question itself is pretty damned scary, but the answer is worse. In fact, I think her response really says all that needs saying on the matter. Check out Miss Teen South Carolina's response and let me know what you think.

I've never been a strong supporter of beauty pageants since many people look at these women as ideals for us to follow. Now, I know that's not true of everyone, but these women are role models and there should be standards that span from beauty to intelligence (and more) to get into these pageants. Is this really the best that South Carolina has to offer? Is this really the best the US has to offer?

It's been clear for many years that the US isn't investing well enough into our educational system. Sadly, Miss Teen South Carolina has been made a very public example of the educational deficiencies without our country and she's going to have to bear the very public scars caused by her lacking education.

------- update -------

Here's a video follow up from the Today Show. I think it helps to explain what she was going through up on that stage.
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2007-09-12 03:43 pm
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Doctor Who Skit

I liked this Doctor Who skit so much that I had to share it with you. It's a skit with David Tennant and Catherine Tate.

Doctor Who Skit

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2007-09-10 12:33 pm

(no subject)

In the spirit of using Sherwood's idea of using LJ to network, I thought I'd put this request out for everyone's review......

For my 3rd Semester Project at Stonecoast I am going to be adapting a screenplay from an 18th Century lyric poem (which I don't want to name here). In addition to writing a full-length screenplay, I'll also be writing a paper on the adaptation process. As part of my research paper, my program director also wants me to do research on other screenplays that have been adapted from poems.

As part of my research, I would love to interview a couple of writers who have adapted screenplays from poems, short stories, and novels. I'd also like to interview authors who have had their work adapted into a screenplay by someone else. If you have done this and would like to be interviewed by me or if you know of another writer who would like to be interviewed, please send me an email at: erin_underwood at hotmail dot com

I'm still in the developmental phase of my research, but I'd like to get a few interviews lined up for the near future. Realistically, I'll want to start interviewing people between November 2007 and March 2008. I'm happy to work with your schedule and to do it in the most convenient way possible for you, including email or phone.

..... Ok here's the crazy part of the request .....

I would really value being able to interview Neil Gaiman since he has not only adapted screenplays from novels, but he's also adapted the new Beowulf film from the poem. Since I don't know Mr. Gaiman, I thought I'd throw this request to the wind and see if there really is magic in the world.


Thank you for your time and consideration. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me.

Erin M. Underwood
Stonecoast MFA Program, Popular Fiction S'09
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2007-09-10 04:50 am

Word of the Day: Productive

Last night I sent off my Second Packet of the semester to Jim .... who is on vacation in Paris! .... Lucky guy! I don't think that I've been on a real vacation in a couple of years. In any case, I hope Jim has a great time.

So far, I've gotten so much out of my Stonecoast experience. Stonecoast has forced me to reorder my time so that I always put reading and writing time into my day. This is one of the things I've always had trouble doing and that's probably the #1 reason that I never really managed to get much done. Plus, the amount of reading that I’ve been doing has improved my writing exponentially – especially in cases where I’ve had to write annotations.

I've also gotten quite a bit out of the annotations that I've done so far. I just finished one on "Alice in Wonderland". I really had no idea how much philosophical and psychological depth this book had until I read it. I highly doubt that a child would pick up on the sophisticated nuances of the novel, but an adult reading it can easily see Alice struggling with issues of personal identity and social integration with the world around her.

The other annotation I wrote was a compare/contrast piece that examined the film adaptations of "The Postman" and "Jurassic Park" to the novels. I wanted to see some examples of films that were adapted from books so that I could get a better appreciation for how to do a successful adaptation. What struck me most was that a film could be "successful" (like The Postman) and not truly capture the essence of the book from which it was adapted. Both films took huge liberties with the stories. They cut away large sections, rewrote other sections, condensed multiple characters into single characters, and reordered events as necessary.

Given the proven structure of the Hollywood script, it's really important to fit the story into this form if you want to make a blockbuster. However, if you have a screenwriter who doesn't preserve the themes and feel of the novel, you're going to end up with something like The Postman. If you have a screenwriter that really knows the novel and who cares about making the movie match the book as closely as possible, you'll end up with something like Jurassic Park.

All right, it's time to get back to my revision. Have a great day everyone!!
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2007-09-04 01:57 pm

Poetry to Screenplay

I need your help with this.....

I'm starting to plan one of my big projects for Stonecoast in which I will adapt a poem into a screenplay. My professor asked me to also include research on other poems that have been adapted into screenplays.

As I'm just starting this research, I thought I'd ask you if you know of any poems that have been adapted into screenplays.

This project is going to be so fun!

Thanks for your help!
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2007-08-31 08:38 am

A Beautiful Expression in Prose

Joy Marchand just posted a beautiful post that expresses her sentiments on Cormac McCarthy's The Road and Nevil Shute's On The Beach. Both books deal with post apocalyptic worlds and the choices made by people who managed to survive the initial blow.

When we are faced with the knowledge of our impending destruction, both physically and morally, what choices will we make? What choices would you make?

I recently finished reading The Postman by David Brin and found myself wondering these same questions. I look forward to reading The Road and On the Beach since these novels deal with a similar situation, but the outcomes are quite a bit different that the hopeful (if not grim) future portrayed by Brin.

I've just added The Road and On the Beach to my reading list.
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2007-08-23 08:23 am
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I've been Who'd

Well, I suppose it had to happen sometime, and I knew it would. Last weekend during a weak moment, I let myself watch an episode of Dr. Who. Now, mind you, I've been staying away from the good doctor because I simply don't have the time to add another TV show to my schedule and I knew that if I watched it I'd be hooked.... and I was.

I watched a mini Dr Who marathon over the weekend, and now I've got the first 3 discs for season 1 from Netflix. I am so hooked. I never had a chance. What a fabulous show!
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2007-08-17 08:37 am


How did this happen? I'm utterly exhausted. I think I could sleep a week away and I'd still be tired. Argh! I need more time in the day, which means I can't waste what I have sleeping, but that's exactly what I've been doing all week.

In any case, I've just finished my final revision of "Give and Take" and sent it off to F&SF. We'll see how that goes. It's a bit darker than their usual fare, but it seems like it would still be a good fit if they like it. This is one of the stories that I workshopped at Stonecoast and I received some great feedback. Learning how to incorporate workshop feedback is an interesting process. You can't take it all. So what do you take? This is a difficult question, especially when the feedback you receive is from someone you highly respect.

I think the only solution is to find what resonates most with what you're trying to do with the story. So, I took their advice and ruthlessly cut some of my favorite stuff, added in some new prose, and left a few items that I felt needed to remain. I'm really curious to see how others react to the story. Hopefully, this story is an improvement. I feel like it's better, but sometimes it's just too difficult to judge "level of improvement" for myself.

On the reading front, I've just finished Jurassic Park, which was a heck of a lot of fun to read! Now, I'm starting on Alice in Wonderland. I've got the Penguin edition, which has an introduction by Hugh Haughton. The introduction has blown my mind. I wish I could say more, but I won't until after I've read the book completely. I love good books with scholarly introductions!

Yikes! It's 9:05! I better get to work. Have a great day everyone.
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2007-08-13 04:26 pm

There goes August!

Stonecoast Update

I haven't blogged much lately. I've been out of sorts to say the least with all of my extra energy going into writing, reading, and revising. The month since the July Stonecoast residency has zoomed by so quickly that it nearly ran me over on its way out. August 10 was my due date to send in my package of work to Jim Kelly and off right it went. People all around town could hear my massive sigh of relief as I hit the send button. And now the September clock begins its countdown to the 10th!

I'm pretty excited about this month's work. I'm reading Alice in Wonderland as one of my books and I'm really looking forward to it. Although it sounds utterly impossible, this will be my first time of reading this book! There are several classic books like Alice in Wonderland that I have never read because I saw so many different versions of the movie when I was a child. It's far too easy for children nowadays to get trapped into the pattern of seeing the movie, but not reading the book. This is a pattern that I hope to break in myself as I dive into Alice's fantastical tale. It should be fun!


VPX Update

Last weekend, after sending off my Stonecoast package to my mentor, I jumped in the car and headed to CT for the East Coast VPX reunion. I was fortunate to have the lovely and talented Jen P. as my co-pilot, and she kept us from getting off course more than once. Thanks Jen!

We arrived at Terri's house around 1:00 pm and had a wonderful afternoon of visiting with a bunch of our VPXers. We had some bbq burgers and dogs, a host of tasty salads, and buckets of chips! The pool was a cool spot to gather for those braver than I who actually decided to go swimming. Although I did stick my toes in the water. :-)

It was so great to see everyone who was able to show up. Also, it was fabulous to see Jim McD, Debra Doyle, Pippin, and Patrick & Teresa NH. It was so good to see you guys! And Jim, thanks again for the tasty pancakes and Teresa you've got an amazing talent with the beaded necklaces.


Life in general update

I'm off to see Stardust tomorrow night and that is the highlight of my social calendar for the week. :-)
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2007-08-07 03:09 pm

World Fantasy 2007

I've recently added World Fantasy 2007 to my schedule. It looks like a great con, but I have to tell you it looks a little daunting. Check out how many people have already registered and the con isn't until Nov 1-4. The size of the con is huge. HUGE!

The theme for the con is "GHOSTS AND REVENANTS: Memory, History, and Folklore". Here is the official blurb from the site:

    GHOSTS AND REVENANTS, MEMORY, HISTORY, AND FOLKLORE -- An exploration of the tradition of the ghost in literature as a harbinger, as a manifestation of guilt, conscience, memory, or the past; and as manifested in the folklore and history of the northeastern United States and Canada. This covers everything from Native American folklore and storytelling through "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" to Straub's Ghost Story and Jackson's The Haunting of Hill House. We will explore the tradition and the uses of the ghost story, and how it continues in contemporary fantastic fiction and mutates in a 21st century environment. While we expect to have panels on such topics as "M.R. James and His Successors" and "The Legacy of Shirley Jackson" we might also have something as up-to-the-minute as "Ghosts in the Machine: The Supernatural and Computers."

If you are planning to go to World Fantasy 2007, you better sign up soon. It looks like the hotels within walking distance are nearly gone! Also, be sure to let me know if you're planning to go. :-)
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2007-08-06 12:31 pm

Showing and Telling in Writing

Madeleine Robbins made a terrific post on Deep Genre's website about Showing and Telling.

When is there too much showing? When do you need to tell? When do you simply need to imply?

Check out the discussion on Show Don’t Tell But Don’t Show Too Much. There is some great info there for writers who are struggling to answer these questions in their own writing.
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2007-07-28 05:03 am

Heading to San Francisco Today

2 hours and I'm off to California to help my stepmom with my dad's things and to do some family visits. I usually look forward to going back to California, but I'm feeling a little stressed this time.

Tonight we'll be heading to Sausalito for dinner at Angelino's, which is a fantastic restaraunt, and then walking down to the No Name Bar and say hello to a few of my dad's friends. He was a great guy.

John B. Slack you will be missed.
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2007-07-27 10:56 am
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The Cat Strikes Back

Cats are clever creatures and mine takes the cake. Oliver has taken to sitting on my alarm clock and last night at some point, he managed to set the clock ahead by one hour. Since I started my MFA program, I've been getting up earlier in order to write in the mornings. My usual rising time is around 4:30 am, but this morning I decided to get up at 4:00.

So, at 4:00 am I drag my groggy butt out of bed and stumble upstairs to my office. I spend an hour writing and finishing the last section of my newest story. Once done, because I don't like to look at the time while I write, I looked at the clock to see how long I had before having to get ready for work. Funny thing, it was STILL 4:00 AM!

That's when I figured out that my cat pranked me and set the alarm clock ahead by an hour. Some cats predict death. Some cats predict earthquakes. But my cat, my cat, he controls time!