Fun Brainstorming Game

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On the drive back from a recent weekend adventure, my husband and I invented a new game.

We took turns challenging each other with random elements from fantasy or sci-fi. The object was to come up with a new and interesting way to use it in a story.

Some of the prompts we played with were Werewolves, Tree Spirits, People Living in Caves, and Music as Magic.

When one of us collected a few thoughts on how to use the element in a non-cliché way, we talked it out. Together, we developed it a little further, asking more questions, coming up with possible plots and sources of conflict. When we ran out of ideas for that prompt, we moved on.

We actually invented some pretty awesome stuff that I jotted down for possible use later.

Like, “Werewolves: They’re not human and never were. They’re a race of shapeshifters, wolf-like in appearance, whose power is tied to the sun and moon. So when the moon is near the sun and “new” they can shift into anything. As the moon gets fuller and farther from the sun, they have a harder time maintaining anything but their own shape.”

I don’t know if anyone has done werewolves that way before, but I’d read it.

I highly recommend this as a way to flex creative muscles and just play with stories.

Happy Yarning!

Book Report: Agatha H. and the Airship City by Phil and Kaja Foglio

IMG_4131I love the Foglios’ Girl Genius series and have avidly followed the comic online for nearly ten years. This novelization is a great companion to the first three volumes. It includes interesting new backstory for some of the characters and the setting!

Unfortunately, I do have to say that the backstory often came at the expense of the novel’s pacing. Stopping the action for two pages to give the personal histories of everyone who just walked into the room is…an inelegant method of exposition. I don’t think it is unfair of me to say that so far the Foglios are better graphic novelists than novelists.

I do recommend this book to fans of Girl Genius. And I recommend Girl Genius to every sci-fi and fantasy reader ages 11 and up. If you have never heard of it, head on over to girlgenius.net for some awesome Adventure! Romance! and Mad Science!

Happy Yarning.

Writing and Motherhood: Are We There Yet?

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I recently re-read Ursula K. Le Guin’s 1988 essay on mother writers, titled “The Fisherwoman’s Daughter.” It’s been a few years since I read it in a college literary criticism class, but I never forgot it.

Le Guin writes about how society has long preached that women writers are unnatural, and mother writers even more so. Society’s reasoning being that either the children or the books would suffer if a woman attempted to fulfill both callings. Le Guin argues that it can be done, without anyone putting anyone’s head in the oven (a la Sylvia Plath). Exhibit A: Le Guin herself has written books and raised children, quite successfully. The essay a very encouraging read.

As a woman who hopes to both have kids and get published, I started wondering: are we there yet?

As a society, have we stopped marginalizing mother writers?

I think of J. K. Rowling, Stephanie Meyer, Suzanne Collins, and Shannon Hale right off the top of my head. I think of all the women I know personally who are mothers (or plan to be mothers) and who are writing books. I haven’t heard anyone tell them they can’t do it, or they’re not suited for it. I haven’t been told any such thing myself. The only bar I can see today to being both a mother and a writer is the one that has always existed: that pesky limit of only 24 hours in a day.

If anything, society now says it is unnatural to be a mother without some other profession, or for women to hamper (pun intended) their potential by being mothers at all.

I think we can safely say the pendulum has swung. Thanks to Le Guin and others, mothers and other women writers have stepped out of the margins and onto the page where they were always meant to be.

The only downside is that the pendulum may have gone a bit far. Now the fight is for motherhood itself to be an acceptable occupation for women.

Moms, women, writers–your thoughts?