A Certain Lack of Focus

Tuesday, December 05, 2006


Well Rejected actually, but sometimes life warrants a little bit of Strongbad.
My "Silk Laces" story was rejected by the Magazine of Science Fiction & Fantasy. It's not all that surprising, I don't expect Silk Laces to make it into a consumer magazine but I figure I'll try before I start hitting up the small press. I sent it out to Fantasy Magazine and am waiting for my next rejection letter. :)
In other news I've read McGuire's Son of a Witch. I'd long been awaiting the paperback version and was not disappointed although I found the ending abrupt and somewhat unfinished. I dunno if he's setting himself up for a sequel or just likes ambiguity... I'm hoping for the prior. Also, although I'm always pleased by the time I get to the end of McGuire's stories I was reminded that I'm not quite convinced by his style. He reminds me of Greg Bear, although the plots and construction are always (ok usually) excellent and creative, the writing itself doesn't quite capture me. Certainly doesn't make it universally bad: a few months ago I gave up on Hugo winning Moving Mars... so what do I know?

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Borders Spree

Well I think it's been a while since I last spent much money on books, but I got a super borders shopping day (or something) in November, so I must have gone through more than I remember. I did buy Fledgling by Octavia Butler, a copy of the constitution and I feel like something else I can't remember a while ago, but it seems like longer than October. At any rate, I've got another supershopper day now because I dropped about 70 bucks on books this week. Hey, if you've got to have a habit, there are worse ones to have than books... right? Right?
It's not entirely my fault... at least that's what I'm claiming. There were a couple of books that I've been waiting FOREVER for the paperback version to come out... and they did. I picked up George R. R. Martin's A Feast For Crows and Gregory McGuire's Son of a Witch. Then I continued to wander for a while in the sci-fi fantasy section... now normally I have some measure of discipline in Borders these days because I really don't have much cash to spare... but...
I mean Neil Gaiman. I HAVE to buy anything that's written by him, it's like a rule. So he's got a newish short story collection, Fragile Things, and I didn't even hesitate to pick up the hardback because, well because it's Neil Gaiman.
Then I wandered over to the children's section, my true weakness. I LOVE children's books and I have several authors that I immediately buy anything new I see of their work. The list includes: Diana Wynne Jones, first and foremost, my favorite children's author and possibly my favorite author period; William Sleator, not everything he's written has been amazing or even really good, but he's had a few grand slams like The House of Stairs that make me give anything he writes a try; Monica Hughes, she's been dead since 2003 and most of her work is out of print, but I love everything I've read by her; Tamora Pierce, I've been reading her work since I was eleven I think; Patricia C. Wrede, though mostly I'm just trying to fill in my collection there, and Bruce Coville for nostalgia value and sheer entertainment, though the age group he writes for is a little younger than what I usually read. So the first thing I saw was a book new book by Tamora Pierce called Terrier: Beka Cooper #1. Obviously I had to pick that up as well.
I read that one first, it was pretty good but not her best I think. Trickster's Choice and Trickster's Queen are my favorites, but I guess that's because Aly (Alanna's daughter) is my favorite of Tamora Pierce's main characters. You have to give her credit, she is fantastic at writing strong female protagonists, and Terrier certainly continues that tradition. I like Beka, she's bright and has enough faults to be sympathetic rather than larger than life. Beka doesn't exactly have a speech impediment, but she's so terrified of public speaking she may as well have. She's also just a bit overeager, but that goes away quickly, so I hope her speech problem won't clear up to easily... Beka as a character has a great deal of potential to either become far to perfect or to become Pierce's strongest (deepest) character yet. I think Beka's strength is that she's very nearly ordinary... her most striking or helpful attribute is determination. She does have magic... or the gift as Pierce calls it in Tortall, but it is I think a relatively small gift compared to say Alanna. Her gift is more like George's (appropriately) useful (and painful in Beka's case) but small and unremarkable. True, Beka excels as a trainee cop but with the explanation of her background that's not too difficult to believe. My hope is that she stays in the believable, of course I want to see her succeed, but I'd like her to stay as real a person as possible. So far, Pierce's characters are all a bit TOO strong for their own good. Alanna's only fault is crankiness: She has a huge "gift" and fighting ability so amazing that she becomes a legend before she becomes a knight. Fine, great, the Lioness Quartet is the first series I read by Tamora Pierce (and I think the only ones that existed when I was that age) and they're wonderful. It's a fantastic series teenage and pre-teen girls, and I wouldn't want Alanna to be any different, or less, than she is. Then comes, in some order, the Circle series(es) the Immortals series, Protector of the Small, and the two books in the Trickster series (which I hope will be followed by at least two more...). The Circle books are great fun, they give glances at child-mages at different stages of growth (currently into young adulthood). But all four mages are child prodigies, they harness more power than any of the well known and snobby mages they encounter will believe until they are forced to show them. Again, I wouldn't want it any other way, but it does cause a certain amount of predictability and somewhat shallow characters. Good characters though, Daja especially, though Briar's my favorite. The gay themes are subtle and nicely done as well. The Immortals series is probably my least favorite, I'm not sure why. I think that's just a matter of personal taste rather than a comment on the writing though, but in the continuing trend of ridiculously large characters, Daine is not only the strongest and best mage of her type... she's the only one. Nobody can teach her really, because there are no other ani-mages who change form like she does... it's cute, but a bit much for me. The love interest between her and her teacher is interesting though, and although it's very obvious and easy (once it's accepted) I've got to give her credit for making things complicated situationally. The Protector of the Small series is, I think, her strongest writing to date. Kel is a wonderful character, quiet and even tempered. The situations that she finds herself in are a bit over the top, but then, it wouldn't be an interesting story if they weren't. The issues raised about gender roles and relations are important, if a bit heavy handed, and Kel's love life is the most realistic romance Pierce has written. But although Kel has no "gift" she is in her way a bit too much as well, she's a giant physically, and she's by far the strongest student in nearly every field she tries as page, squire and night. Then there's Aly, in the Trickster books. She's so much fun, but she's just SO clever and even her mistakes work out for the best.
So I want an ordinary character. Leave Beka alone please and let her blunder through her duty like the rest of us do. Please Tamora Pierce, give me a story about a girl who's just an average kid, because it's great that you want to prove that women are just as strong as men... but do they ALWAYS have to be stronger? And when you're done writing about ordinary Beka Cooper, I'd like a story about the next female Tortall page, who's not excellent, who isn't helped along by magic, or strange foreign upbringing, or a mysterious benefactor, but who manages, painfully, to make her way to knighthood anyhow. She can be smart, and strong and stubborn and creative, she'd have to be I think, but does she have to be superhuman?

Friday, November 17, 2006

Silly Quiz

I can't help it. I love these things.

You scored as C.G. Jung. You are more of a spiritualist than would be immediately apparent. Some of your notions are questioned by the cynical, but deep down you know the human consciousness is more than the flesh and tissue can account for. You tend to take a scientific observationist look on matters the average person wouldn't even begin to analyze. You personally are responsible for most of the ideas that are floating around in modern psychologist's/psychic's paltry little skulls. On the down side, you tend to be associated with that asshole Freud.

C.G. Jung


Friedrich Nietzsche


Miyamoto Musashi


Charles Manson


Jesus Christ


Stephen Hawking


Dante Alighieri


Sigmund Freud


Elvis Presley


O.J. Simpson


Steven Morrissey


Adolf Hitler


Mother Teresa


Hugh Hefner


What Pseudo Historical Figure Best Suits You?
created with QuizFarm.com

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Casting the line again

So I sent my "Silk Laces" story out to The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction today. As I said before, I think that's a little out of my league, but I figure it doesn't hurt to try (well actually rejection letters do hurt considerably, but maybe I'll get lucky and they'll include feedback!). On the advice of one of my profs I made several edits to the story which actually make it sound a bit more mature (hey I wrote it when I was like 19) so I think I may be able to get it published somewhere. I had planned to send out my story: "Oh the Rats Get into Everywhere" which is a creepy military sci-fi story I wrote more recently, but I'm entering that into some school related contest so I'll wait on it.
I recently wrote a fairly racy story... and I get to workshop it tomorrow which should be interesting. I have no idea if its any good... I've been staring at it for too long.
Finally finished the rough sketch phase of my stupid comic book, next step is doing the watercolor backgrounds. That should go a little faster at least, but I still don't think it will be done before Christmas. Oh well.

Friday, November 10, 2006

No Future

Well I did finally hear back from the Writers of the Future contest. A while ago admittedly, but I've been putting off posting about it. Needless to say I was not a winner, not a finalist, did not even merit passing comments. Oh well, I'm not as depressed about it as I could be, after all it's a contest and... lots of people enter... I still think the story I sent in is publishable, so now I try doing it the hard way. Time to start sending it to magazines. I'm going to try the consumer magazines first, I don't really think they'll be interested but its worth a try. If that doesn't work I'll start hitting the smaller press mags... I expect to have more luck there. For now though, I'll start with The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction.
In unrelated news, I'll be taking an illustration class (my first) next semester, so that should be a good opportunity to pump my portfolio. I really ought to email that Mark guy from Marvel, if only to get more good pencils to do inking samples from. I'm also going to start illustrating stories in The Vindicator (I'm the Editor of a student magazine). We're working on getting a website up for the Vindi, when we do I'll post a link here. If nothing else comes of that, at least I'll have some good tear sheets.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Sorta like a Review(s)

In the last couple of weeks I have read: Dune by Frank Herbert, Fledgling by Octavia Butler, and The Looking Glass Wars by Frank Beddor.
Now, I'm sure it's astonishing that, as someone who claims to be a fan of Sci-Fi/Fantasy, and furthermore, wants to write in that genre, I have never read Dune. I should explain an oddity of my personality: When someone recommends a book to me, I will avoid it for years and years and years. I'm not entirely sure why this is, but I usually blame it on my mother, who told me I should read Gone with the Wind, and my dismay when I actually followed her advice. Anyway, this explains why I didn't read The Lord of the Rings until college and why I only picked up Dune a couple weeks ago. I don't think Dune really needs my support, but I should say that I was happily surprised.
I have always been intimidated by Sci Fi because of the harder science parts which usually just bore me. In an effort of... I dunno self improvement I guess, I've been trying to get over the fear by reading some of the best books in the field. I've been going through the Nebula and Hugo winners. Now, while I've so far enjoyed every book I've read on the list, I've noticed that sometimes the stories don't seem to be quite as good as I'd expect. Often the endings are unsatisfying... and not in that literary ambiguous way, more in the way that indicates that the author didn't really even notice that he/she had neglected to end the book. I get the feeling that the standards are slightly different for story construction in Sci-Fi. I'm ok with this... the stories ARE still entertaining after all... and I don't have enough of an English background to truly believe that there need be any greater purpose to a story than entertainment.
But on top of this, I'd been warned, several times, about how SLOW Dune is. I am not a patient reader. I want to be hooked right away.
Now, while there are sections in Dune that have a great deal of descriptive detail and political explanation, I'm not sure where it could be called slow. I thought Dune was as well paced as anything I've read. The characters were strong and sympathetic, even when you wanted to slap them (mostly Jessica). Paul, is essentially... what? A god? A superhero? Well Herbert calls him a prophet, but the character does reach supernatural levels, and yet the story never gets unbelievable. I also loved how present the desert was, it was really a separate character.
The only criticism I can offer is that I was often confused by the number of different characters. Mostly, I was trying to figure out who was supposed to be alive, (who was actually alive), who was really dead and who was only supposed to be dead. In all fairness, there is an extensive (and apparently famous) appendix. Unfortunately I have hated appendixes ever since I got to the end of Fellowship of the Ring, with a good 50 pages remaining and turned to page to find: "Maps." I nearly screamed, "you've got to be f*cking kidding me, that's it?" Anyway, I ignore them on principle now. However, in Dune the confusion never reached the point of annoyance, if I wanted to know badly enough who was being spoken of, I'd flip back until I found out. For the most part though, I was able to accept the confusion as part of the story.
I think the best indication of how well written the story was is that when I came to the ending, I really couldn't guess whether Herbert was willing to kill off Paul or not. I always count it as a mark of success when I'm not sure whether the main character will live or die.

So, for what it's worth, that's what I thought of Dune, reading it for the first time at the age of 25. Tomorrow, if I get the chance, I'll review Fledgling and The Looking Glass Wars, both of which are far more recent releases than Dune.

Monday, October 02, 2006

A Little Rant

Who the hell kills Amish people? I mean, school shootings are screwed up to begin with, shooting children (teens whatever) is evil period, whatever religion you belong to. But this isn't just kids, this isn't just the normal suburban defenseless, these are Amish kids. Talk about people who've never done any harm to anyone. Its never justifiable, but I don't understand how the most diseased mind can come up with any reason to do this.
I'm twenty five, so my high school years were during the height of school shootings- by students. I grew up in Eugene, Oregon, twenty minutes from Springfield: the site of the Thurston shooting. One of my classmates was a playmate of Kip Kinkle when they were little kids, and another went to prom with a girl who was shot in the head. I take school shootings personally. But you know, as tragic as Thurston and Columbine were, and those were truly horrible things, I sort of get it. I remember being a teenager, and anyone else who remembers knows the truth of this statement: teenagers are freaking nuts. No, that doesn't justify their actions, by any means, but I find it a lot easier to at least understand what went wrong, when a mixed up, unhappy sixteen year old goes postal, next to a THIRTY TWO YEAR OLD MAN, who shoots a bunch of Amish kids, as REVENGE for something that happened to him twenty years ago.
I mean, obviously, these guys are also nuts. But what really bothers me, is why are all these people crazy? High school angst I get, what's going on, what's in the water? Our society has a lot of problems, but what is it that makes people decide that it's ok to kill other people?

More Waiting

I sent in my entry to the last quarter of Illustrators of the Future on Friday, just barely squeaking in before the September 30th deadline. (Postmarked, not received) I'm still waiting for the results of the third quarter's Writers of the Future contest. Right now I'm sort of working on a novel, but I haven't got much of an attention span so I don't know if I'll ever finish it. So far I do much better with short stories, but the older I get, the more possible a novel seems. We'll see how this one goes. I'm also working on illustrating a comic for my independent study... it's not going as quickly as I'd like, but I've left plenty of space for procrastination (my favorite study habit) so hopefully I can at least get the mandatory first ten pages finished-nice and the rest nicely laid out. Next semester I'm hoping to take an illustration class with the same guy who's doing the independent study with me. It's fairly time consuming compared to what I'm used to right now (I've gotten out of the habit of three hour studio classes) but I think it would be good for me and I'm hoping (hoping) that most work would be completed in class. I'll have to take a look at my other options and see how this might fit in.

Saturday, September 23, 2006


I've decided to give the Illustrator's of the Future contest one more try. It's been twice now that I've tried it, I admit that's not enough to justify being overly discouraged. Both times I received a letter congratulating me on being a semi-finalist. I realize this is a good thing, but in some ways it robs me of being angry- I can't exactly rant about how they wouldn't know talent if it bit them in the ass when they've at least given me a nod. The last letter suggested that they were more interested in an older style, so this time I'm going to send them what I consider to be the three weakest parts of my thesis. I've already sent them the other two pieces, they liked them, and I think the weaker parts are still fairly strong. You can view the pieces I'm talking about at my website: www.hadesarrow.com (another shameless plug). Go to the gallery, the first, second and forth thumbnails (top row) are for the pieces I intend to send. The third thumbnail (top row) and first thumbnail (second row) are the two parts of my thesis that I've already sent out. We'll see, I'm no longer holding out much hope, but I figure it doesn't hurt to try.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

I made Google!

Well my website finally made Google. Google thinks it's of no importance but I can handle that... at this point my website really is of no importance. It's a nice step anyway, and I'm more than a little suspicious that the timing coincides with my first post on blogger. I've had a live journal for a while, and a myspace for a while, but this is the first time my website has shown up on a google search. Anyway I don't really mind. I guess this also means I should find some spare time (ha!) to start updating my site. My site by the way (another shameless plug) is: www.hadesarrow.com.
In other career news, less encouraging, I heard back from the Illustrator's of the Future contest. I had entered in the first quarter and received notification that I was a semi-finalist (in other words hadn't won squat but at least they were interested). So I entered again... this time in the third quarter, and as I had followed the "suggestions" the contest judges included in their letter I had high hopes... so... I was slightly disappointed this time when I was, once again, a semifinalist. Better than nothing I suppose, except, really, a semifinalist IS nothing. No suggestions this time either, just a comment that of the three drawings I sent in they preferred the oldest of the bunch... not a great sign I'd say. I wouldn't take it quite so personally except, well I've SEEN some of the illustrations that make it into publication... and I KNOW I'm better. Ah well, art is all about perspective I suppose, there's nothing I can do about it if their perspective sucks. O:-) I may enter the contest next year (no way I'll be ready by the last deadline of this year) but for now I think I should focus on other things. I'm working on an independent study making a comic out of a story I wrote a little while ago. I'm not even 6 pages in and I'm sick to death of it, but I do think it will look pretty decent when I'm done. If I'm happy with the result I'll send it in to Dark Horse's New Recruits contest. If I don't have any luck there I'll try image... or one of the other companies that deals more in complete stories... but I'm not sure how interested they'd be in a single book story.
Still waiting and hoping to get some samples from the guy from Marvel. I'm going to email him once a week until he sends me some. I'm not in the least offended that he keeps forgetting me... after all... he doesn't need me at all... and I definitely need his help to get into the business (or some one's). So my challenge is to keep bugging him... without sounding impatient, pissy, or like a kiss up. On second hand maybe it would be ok to sound like a kiss up. Hopefully... eventually, it will work. If I can get some pages to ink I'll be one step further than I am now... even if he never takes a look at them when I send them back, at least I'll have some Marvel inks to show next year when I go to Wizard World.

Sunday, September 10, 2006


My name is Meagan Call, I'm a 25 year old woman, trying to start a career as a writer and illustrator. I have a bfa in studio art and am currently working on an mfa in creative writing. I think I'm about the the point where my craft is good enough to be published... I'm just waiting for someone to realize this. And then preferably give me lots of money to do what I love. I went to Wizard World Chicago in August... and met someone from Marvel who said they liked my inking enough that they'd like to see what I can do on Marvel pencils. So now I'm waiting for some pencils so I can give that a try... then I'll get to wait a little bit more to see if they might actually have some work for me. I'm not quite optimistic, but it's still a step further than I was before the Wizard World convention. The other big thing I'm waiting for right now is contest results. I entered a story in The Writers of the Future Contest and illustrations The Illustrators of the Future Contest. They are supposed to notify entrants of results (one way or the other) 6-8 weeks after the contest deadline (which was June 30th), but it's not all that surprising that they're running late. I get the feeling that's sort of the norm. But that does mean that I'm waiting for results that could come tomorrow... or not for months yet, I have no way to tell. So we'll see, I'm more hopeful about the illustration contest, I think I've got a pretty good shot. The story I sent in was so weird that I can't even guess if I have a chance with the writers contest... either they'll think it's brilliant or they'll think it's terrible.