Critiques today: Zhou Wen (sci-fi/horror with melting people and an alien language decrypted by physics), Kate Thomas (sci-fi with bunny-ear aliens and missing house), Kent Bridgeman (“AI gone wrong” story with destroyer goddess motif), and Mark Bailen (old west supernatural fantasy). A scene in Kent’s story featured a Peruvian restaurant and a belly dancer. I was amazed that none of us brought it up as a funny remark during critique, though I wrote on the margins of his manuscript “this place sounds very familiar!” Nancy and Walter gave a sobering talk on the ups and downs (especially downs) of their writing careers. They didn’t sugarcoat anything. If you want a stable career, full-time writing is the wrong choice. Writing really is a labor of love.

Spoiler alerts that are illegible and subjective to change.

When we split up after class, I stayed behind in the critique/lecture room to plot out SEAL Splintered: a new sci-fi novel about Splinters: superbeings born from death by dismemberment. I’m eager to write this out after revising August And Counting for the querying stage. When I conceived SEAL Splintered, I thought about only writing from the close 3rd person POV of Aubrey: a female Navy SEAL who must adjust to a new world and life after being blown up by a grenade turns her into a Splinter. Using the flash card method really helped me map out the 2nd POV character: Aubrey’s husband Isaac, which I hadn’t considered and introduced until that plotting session. Making an anti-hero the 2nd POV gives me more flexibility and freedom. I can now show how the villain, Yunru, is manipulating and exploiting Isaac when he isn’t interacting with Aubrey. Now I got two POV Asperger syndrome characters to handle. It’ll be a challenge, but I’m up for it. I had to stop after I ran out of cards. Toward the end of my plotting session, the Baranowskis dropped by to help me run through what I’ve laid out in cards. I really appreciate them coming into help, since Laura hadn’t been feeling well.

Left to right: Laura, Mark B, Brian H, Scott
Left to right: Scott, Kent, Mark P, Kate, Rob

After dinner plus lots of chips & and salsa to go around at El Jefe with the peeps above, it’s beer and hot tub time with Walter, Emily F and W, Suzanne, Scott, Brian H, and Mark P until 10 PM. Scuba diving and fanfiction were just a few of many topics in our conversation. Lesson learned that night: don’t jump into the hot tub right after a big meal. Then up until midnight, Emily F and I had plotting sessions for our new novels. Mark P, Suzanne, and Scott helped us out.

Emily F mapping out the setting of her city-in-the-sky novel to me, Suzanne, Mark P, and Scott (not pictured)

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