Tag Archives: sci-fi

Carol’s Homework Assignment Post WIFYR 2

 Cinder: Book 1 of the Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer419rjQNqYhL

First chapter is 16 pages.

The first line: “The screw through Cinder’s ankle had rusted, …” Quite the attention getter. There’s enough information given between the back cover blurb, the inside flap blurb, and the cover itself for us to know that she’s a cyborg. We don’t know how much, but we can safely assume it’s at least the foot.

The first page focuses on her removing her foot. She struggles getting the rusted screw out, then fighting with the other hardware and, finally, just letting her foot dangle from her leg by its wires. We discover not only her foot but one hand as well is artificial.

Second page begins a detailed point of scene. She has a stall filled with used android and other odds and ends electronic and mechanical in nature. We also get a picture of the stall’s position with relation to other stalls in the crowded market square in New Beijing.

Third page, also finishes with her removing the foot completely.

Because of children playing Ring Around the Rosy, a recently revived game originating during ancient plague times, there’s a hint of a plague or some other widespread health issue.

We are introduced to Sacha the baker and her disdain for Cinder because of her differences from “real” humans. There’s inner dialogue from Cinder indicating a few of the vendors in her area are aware of her differences and are somewhat uncomfortable with it.

Prince Kaito arrives with a broken android. (No, not his tablet, but a walking, talking android, or it was before it broke.) Cinder recognizes the Crown Prince, and the handsomest man in all of New Beijing. We deal with her stammering and fan craziness for a page or so.

For the next five pages we are filled with all kinds of things that might be wrong with the android: it’s old, the problem isn’t readily apparent, how was it acting before it stopped completely, etc., etc., etc. Along with the troubleshooting Q&A, we get a glimpse of character development and some insight into Cinder’s abilities. Possible spoiler: There’s more to her cyborg-ness than just her foot.

Cinder’s android assistant shows up with Cinder’s replacement foot. Cinder makes excuses claiming it’s for another client. Her assistant, though android, is smitten with the prince as well.

When all the arrangements are made for Cinder to work on the android and get it ready for the prince to pick up in a few days, the prince departs.

Shortly after his departure a scream is heard across the way. Sacha the baker has the plague… End chapter.

Okay, four characters in eleven pages. There were other people milling about, a group of kids, but nobody with any real presence, they’re there for point of scene. Sacha is removed from the equation fairly fast, so, basically, we have three characters who, from all appearances, will be central to the story.

There was a lot of useful information and character development in the first chapter. Some of it was a little drawn out, but informative nevertheless. Some things I can definitely take and use.



Filed under Carol's Homework, Softcover, Spellbinder

Tips on Tuesday: Something Old Yet New: Mashups

Easy as A, B, C . . . from BB

On 4/17/14, Brian A. Klems, Online Editor for Writer’s Digest, hosted a guest post by Paul Cicchini — a nationally-certified school psychologist, humorist, sports journalist, coach, and specialist in character education. Cicchini was inspired to write while convalescing from being “Godsmacked,” as he said, with kidney stones in the summer of 2009.

Prescription painkillers and exposure to “too many badly-coiffed televangelists on daytime cable TV” fueled his imagination and sense of humor yielding a work of farcical fiction — a humorous vehicle to spread his message of integrity, responsibility, and hope: Godsmacked, described by reviewers as the world’s first Christian mashup novel.

And this is what got my attention: mashups seem to be “one of the hip, ‘in vogue’ things these days, although in actuality the idea is not new at all.”

I was intrigued because I’ve been describing the fairy tale I’m working on as a “mashup” of two different, old-time fairy tales (plus a little splash of Greek mythology and various fairy tale memes). All of my mashup is drawn from one basic genre: ancient fairy tales, but the term indicates a more specific range than I’m using.

Cicchini explained “a ‘mashup’ is when you take two or more established styles of anything and mix them together to make something completely new and unique.” He claims mashups popularity really gained attention in the “American cultural scene a few years ago with the television show Glee [where] it may mix a ‘70’s era rock song with, say, a ‘90’s pop song to come up with a surprisingly fresh sound.

Yet he points out creative artists of all kinds have been doing mashups some time. “Ever hear of fusion cuisine? Fusion Jazz? Yep, they’re mashups. Heck, even my son has been a mashup artist since the age of 8; especially when he’s at the local convenience store soft drink fountain: two splashes of Mountain Dew, three of Orange Fanta, a dash of blue whatever¼voilà, nasty mashup Slurpee.” And what kid wouldn’t beg to do that?

So, in writing, he claims the concept is still fairly new. I rather doubt it. It’s probably just takes on a little different twist than in the past, smooshing two or more different literary genres together and mixing them up “for a fresh, entertaining story.”

Some examples: Seth Grahame-Smith’s Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter, also made into a movie. Even in non-fiction, two intertwined story lines can be in this ‘genre’. He suggested the Devil in the White City by Erik Larson — a favorite of mine as well. The chapters “alternate between the story of how the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair was built, and the true-life story of a sociopathic killer who used the Fair to prey on victims.” Add to that list Cicchini’s own Godsmacked, a combo of Greek mythology characters, Sci-fi fantasy, pop culture and Christianity. Haven’t read any of those mashups?

Well, get cracking, for a real understanding of what “mashup” can mean. You might even want to try writing one yourself!

See you next for Thinkin’ on Thursday!

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Tuesday’s Tutor: What’s Your MDQ?

Easy as A, B, C . . . from BB

At June’s WIFYR conference (Writing and Illustrating for Young Readers), Cheri Pray Earl, my excellent teacher, asked us to identify our current book’s MDQ.

Our what?

Our MDQ—Major Dramatic Question.  I’d never had it put that way to me before.  She pointed out that many genre’s have a rather obvious MDQ: the major dramatic question in a Romance is “Will they get together?”  For a murder mystery—no surprise here—it has to be “Who Dunnit?”  For a Western, “Will Good triumph over Evil?”  (Which will often be the question in fantasy or sci-fi as well: the characters just wear different costumes there.)

So I was writing a fairytale mash-up: kind of a combination of The Princess on the Glass Hill, which I was surprised to learn almost none of my writerly friends were familiar with, and Cinderella with touches on an old Greek legend, three magic tinder boxes, and a possible whiff of East of the Sun and West of the Moon.  I realized, pretty quickly that morning, that it was all about getting the MALE “Cinderella”-type and the Princess together.

Oh, no!  I was writing a Romance!

I don’t normally even read romances.  On the other hand, most of my favorite historical novels contain a good dose of romance, so I guess . . .

Anyway, figuring out my MDQ—will Ashlad and the Princess ever get together—has been very instructive.  The answer—SPOILER ALERT, SPOILER ALERT—is, of course they’ll get together . . . after much travail!

Which brings us to the next questions:


What are their lives like before they get together?

  •  She lives with her wicked King/Father in a glass “castle”
  •  He lives —well, think a mild version of Harry Potter: poor, picked on by brothers, alienated from struggling father


What interrupts their “ordinary” lives?

  • He meets a witchy woman who gives him 3 magic tinder boxes, tells him to follow his heart
  • She refuses the demands of her King/Father to choose a suitor


How will he escape his mundane existence and get to see the world?

How will she escape her imprisonment and avoid marrying a “prince” she doesn’t love?

  • He will have to master . . . hmmnnnn
  • And she will have to . . .

Check with me as I discuss my WIP on July 31 . . . OR . . .

Wait a little longer and read my book: Glass Mountain Princess

And, BTW, what’s your MDQ?

See you day-after-tomorrow for Thursday’s 13!

 Have questions about writing (grammar, punctuation, getting published, etc.)?  Brenda Bensch, M.A., a teacher of multiple decades’ experience in Utah’s university/high school/community ed. classrooms (English, fiction/non-fiction writing, study skills, drama, humanities, debate, etc.), invites you to “Ask The Teacher” at http://BenschWensch.wordpress.com

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Saturday Softcover: Ender’s Game (Better Late than Never)

Easy as A, B, C . . . from HA

endersgameEnder’s Game is an ‘unfilmable’ book, not because there’s too much violence, but because everything takes place in Ender’s head.”Orson Scott Card

The film is scheduled for release November 1, 2013.

Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game was, originally, a short story in 1977 and a full-fledged novel in 1985. The 1985 edition was edited by Card in 1991 to better reflect the worldwide political climate of the time. He’s threatened to edit it once again, but hasn’t done so as of this writing.

With the movie coming out later this year, it seemed time to visit an old friend. It was a grand visit. The story is as good now as it ever was.

For those of you who have never read Ender’s Game: Shame on you! (Just kidding—no, seriously—shame on you.) Get a copy… buy a used edition on eBay, buy a collector’s edition, or borrow one from the library; whatever you have to do. Read it before the movie comes out.

It’s a compelling story: a group of brilliant children hold the fate of the world in their hands against insect-like aliens.

On the chance someone hasn’t read Ender’s Game, I don’t want to give too much away. It’s a good read, full of plot twists and surprises. The biggest complaint I’ve run across over the years is boiled down to “Children don’t talk/act like that. It’s very unrealistic.” Hogwash.

Let me stress the “brilliant children” in my earlier statement. The people who make this complaint, apparently, haven’t had experiences with high-IQ children. They aren’t blank slates waiting to be imprinted, they’re already imprinted. Please hold that thought when you read this book!

Andrew “Ender” Wiggin is drafted into military service at the ripe old age of five. He’s sent to Battle School after proving to those monitoring him that he’s capable of inflicting great pain on an enemy (read school bully) as a warning to other would-be bullies. (You can get away with a lot under the auspices of self-defense.)

The book carries us through five years of his trials and tribulations at Battle School: learning to fight in weightless conditions; strategy and tactics in a three-dimensional arena that has no up or down; and a myriad of other testing procedures, some military, some personality, all designed to break Ender down and build him back up, to make him the “best he can be”… or to completely ruin him.

Once Battle School is completed, he’s whisked off to Command School where more testing is forced on him. Testing, drilling, and testing some more, to make him a Commander, to lead other combatants into Interstellar battle.

The characters are fully developed, the side-stories are interesting, but don’t really help move the story along. They’re there, primarily, to prime the pump for later novels. The military aspects are spot-on. (I say this as a 20-year Navy veteran)

Five-stars…read it.

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