I discuss Monster Pulse this week on Wednesday’s webcomic! It’s a young adult supernatural horror and adventure story; a take on the Kids-and-monsters genre.
This week, I talked about Bucko by Jeff Parker and Erika Moen, A Comedic Murder Mystery. The Comedy, the murder, and the mystery are entirely unrelated.
It occurs to me I should be sharing the articles I’ve been writing over at GonnaWeek.com with WordPress here. This week, I talk about the first webcomic to really get me hooked, Dylan Meconis’s Bite Me! a hilarious trek through the French Revolution with vampires. Vampires and guillotines really don’t mix, by the way.
I’ve recorded an audio version of my essay about Mary Sues and it has been published with a few others in the Nerdologues: Your Stories podcast. Give it a listen!
As a diehard Reader user, i was nigh frantic when I learned that Reader was being shut down. I don’t know if Word Press will be as good, but I’m willing to try.
The big news on the internet the last couple of days has been that seminal RSS reader Google Reader will be shutting down on July 1, 2013. Google Reader had lots of fans, including many of us here at Automattic, but it’s time to move on.
Speaking of moving on from Google Reader, did you know that you can import your subscriptions directly from Google Reader into the WordPress.com Reader? We launched the Reader about 18 months ago; it’s responsive to fit any size screen, you can like and reblog WordPress.com content without leaving the news stream, and if you run out of new posts to read, you can discover new content in the Recommended Blogs section.
To import your subscriptions, just visit the WordPress.com Reader import page; you’ll be reading your feeds in the WordPress.com Reader in three clicks or less, or your money back.
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A lot of beginner writers, especially those of us that started very young, began building their stories around author avatars; or as those of us who wrote fanfiction call them, the dreaded “Mary Sues.” We’ve all encountered a Mary Sue. While the most glaring examples are in fanfiction, they are certainly present in film, TV, and mainstream literature. In the worst examples, they are the writer’s proxy wiped completely clean of their flaws. The Mary Sue, or Martin Stu, may be perfection personified or not even anywhere close to it. I think it’s used as an insult far too much since these characters do so much teaching. I like to define a Mary Sue by their relationship to the story’s plot and how it hinges on their every breath. Every character loves them, or despises them because of their perfection. It is the character created for the author’s own wish fulfillment and their own pleasure. There are as many kinds of Mary Sues as there are colors of the spectrum, and I probably wrote every single one of them. I’m certain I owe almost everything I have and love today to my Mary-Sue.
I was always an extroverted, gregarious, and downright annoying child. I was never afraid to go up to another kid on the playground and ask them to play. I voiced my opinions to adults at the top of my lungs. I was known to repeat everything I heard. In my opinion, it was pretty stupid of adults to assume I wasn’t listening. If you cracked a dirty joke, and I heard a laugh, you could bet I was going to repeat it. But by the time I was thirteen or fourteen I was a shadow of the exuberant child I was. My classmates constant harassment and bullying, my home life, and a sudden dramatic weight gain from medications had changed me into someone unrecognizable. I had suddenly become this introvert who had no idea how to relate to anyone around her. Thankfully that was about the time I discovered fanfiction, archives, and message boards.
I had always loved to tell stories, and I had been so deprived of an audience I immediately dove into writing fanfiction. I was always my harshest critic, so much of it never even hit the Internet, but it was still very cathartic. Looking back, it’s probably a good thing I didn’t learn what exactly a Mary Sue was until later in my fanfiction career. I may have become so afraid of that terrible label I wouldn’t have even written anything down. I frequently created original characters who were impossibly beautiful, who were popular with their peers, who had these incredible powers, and who were cherished by their lovers. But all these characters were essentially the same person— deep down, in their heart, they were still me. They may occasionally have had silver eyes or red hair or a seven foot wingspan or could turn into a giant bear, but they were still me. Over time they became a consistent and constant voice in my head, commenting and encouraging me in my daily life. She was so relentlessly positive she became an internal life coach, and the more I took her advice the happier I was.
My Mary Sue had many names over the years, but at the moment I call her Muse. Muse was so good at making friends, she coached me through introductions and she showed me how important listening to people was. She showed me I should never be afraid to talk about my geeky interests, since anyone who would call them lame or dumb probably lived a very boring and unfulfilled life. Muse never cared about anyone’s opinion of her unless they had proved to her first that they were worth the effort. She was constantly telling me to introduce myself to cool new people as friends or even the cute boy in the crowd, when she wasn’t fighting off alien invasions or winning the heart of the hero.
Muse looks more like me physically now. She’s a little more toned in the waist because she works out and has whiter teeth because she never smoked, but she has brown hair and a big butt. She likes her butt more than I do most days, and she’s constantly telling me how fabulous mine is, since they are in fact the same butt. Muse has an amazing singing voice, which I know I don’t have, but she’s always telling me I should sing anyway since it makes me happy. Anyone who tells me to shut up can just jump off a cliff. When I mess up a knitting or sewing project Muse always reminds me that I just need practice and I have to try again. Muse is always reminding me to make time to read for fun and that I should write everyday.
I wonder if I ever would have knocked down the walls built around me by the world if it weren’t for Muse and her predecessors. She quickly became a standard I held myself too. I was constantly saying, “Well, if she can do it, why can’t I?” Within the laws of physics, at least. As far as I know, I can’t fly or turn into a bear. I’ll never discourage a young writer from using their self to build a character, since I learned so much from my so-called “ideal” self. She’s become such a treasured friend and mentor that I can’t imagine my life without her.
I’ve started writing for GonnaGeek.com on matters geeky and crafty! I’ll be writing a weekly column on Wednesdays about favorite webcomics. Please follow and comment your thoughts and suggestions!
I will also be writing pieces about crafters celebrating their geekiness with their art. Stay tuned for more!
In a fiction writing class about seven years ago I had an assignment was to parody a classic short story. The choices were “The Nose” by Gogol, I think a “A Dream” by Kafka, and “Bartleby the Scrivener” by Herman Melville. By parody, they wanted a sentence by sentence imitation of the plot; so a science fiction version of an early 19th century short story feels pretty… odd. It’s pretty rough, but I’ve always been proud of this.
Evangeline the Cloner
It’s not easy being a small business owner and a single mother. Not only do you have a man’s concerns of bookkeeping, advertising, and dealing with big chain clinics, but you have menopause and teenage brats to deal with. And being in the walk-in clinic business? You’re always dealing with the new Big Chain Place that’s opening down the road. But they don’t last long. Everyone knows Tia’s Body Shop is the only place to go when bleeding from your carotid artery. Fast, friendly, and efficient service is our promise and we stick to it. There is also a bonus cup of hot cocoa with marshmallows for all walk-ins. Says so right on our door.
The only hard part about that job is dealing with cloners. It’s part of the job requirement, I think, to be completely wacko. You could probably write a detailed biography of any cloner and you’d have a page-turner worthy of the President Winfrey Memorial Book Club. You wouldn’t have to exaggerate, there’d be enough sordid details and eye-opening anecdotes in their lives to keep even the most jaded reader entertained. But Evangeline….
- Get a cup of coffee.
- Make a list of all the things you want to blog about. (i.e. Knitting, Geekery, Sewing, books, recipes, writing.)
- Make a list of all the things you don’t want to blog about (i.e. politics, work, dating, children.)
- Throw the second list away.
- Separate each items on the first list onto it’s own spreadsheet or piece of notebook paper, and begin your list of pros and cons for each one. (i.e. number of blogs out there, actual dedication and knowledge of each topic.
- Refill your coffee
- Sharpen pencil, or clean keyboard.
- Take a thoughtful sip of coffee.
- Begin highlighting powerful pros and cons in red with your highlighter and/or highlighter fill tool.
- Highlight secondary and tertiary concerns and pros in orange and yellow.
- Eliminate all but the top three blog subjects.
- Make a ham and cheddar sandwich.
- Eat sandwich in a pensive manner.
- Return to your top three blog subjects. Contemplate them.
- Head over to youtube to watch some pandas playing in the pool, or something equally adorable.
- Begin a new spreadsheet, listing story ideas for each section.
- Stare at blank spreadsheets.
- Catch up on your webcomics.
- Outline some articles.
- Run the articles by your cat.
- Feed the cat.
- Organize your work space, alphebitize files, sort paperclips by size, and test all your pens.
- Refill your coffee.
- Toss out coffee and make a new pot.
- Refill your coffee.
- Decompress by playing a soothing puzzle game.
- Look up a good puzzle game tutorial blog.
- Check the clock and realize you’ve spent most of the day playing a puzzle game.
- Brush your teeth.
- Go to bed.
Yes, I’m going to try blogging again. Am I optimistic. Yes. Am I delusional? Probably.