Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The Lost Genre Guild

The Lost Genre Guild was formed to promote and talk about Christian
fantasy, science fiction, and horror.

I belong to the LGG Yahoo! email group. It has a lot of authors,
aspiring and published, and frequent conversations regarding the
publishing industry and different ways to write as a Christian, whether
that be stories where you mention God and scripture, or stories that in
every respect are secular, yet have a strong, moral core.

It turns out there are lots of Christian writers out there, and lots of
ways for Christians to write.

Below is a message from Frank Creed, founder:

"In promoting the Guild, I like to describe us as a tiny little cell in
the Body of Christ, where we all plug into the community and contribute
with our gifts. For those considering membership, I advise that they
Google Lost Genre Guild. If they like what they see, simply read our home
page, and send a brief note through the contact us link at the top of the

Here's a link to the (published) books written by members:

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The Critical Reader

Writers are perhaps the most critical of readers. I suspect if they
weren't they would never have started writing in the first place.

We can also be some of the most intensely devoted fans. Perhaps because
we know how hard it can be to write well.

For enjoyment, I read more mystery than science fiction. Yet science
fiction is generally the genre I write.

As far as science fiction goes, the good short stories I've read far
outnumber the good novels I've read. The good short stories have also
been more memorable, for the most part, than the good novels.

Short stories have punch.

I easily can get impatient with an author who lards his 100,000+ story
with unnecessary words, needless pandering, and coarse language or sex.

When I get fed up with a story, I can pick up another book. Or I can go
write one of my own. As writers, we don't have to put up with any
writing we don't want to read. Because we know we can write something
we'll like better. And maybe that other people will like, too.

Would writers enjoy reading more if they didn't write? I doubt it.
It's not bad to be opinionated, as long as you don't go overboard with it
and act obnoxious.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Gender Writing Thoughts

What I want to know is how Alexander McCall Smith can write about women so well. He writes his Isabel Dalhousie stories and his Number One Ladies Detective Agency mysteries each from a female point of view. And it's spot on.

Some men write women and they seem to me like nothing but bosoms and naked ambition -- men inside women's bodies. How do some men get it so wrong and others get it so right?

Of course, the opposite problem is just as prevalent, if not more so: women writing about men, and not getting it right at all. (Think of most romance novels.)

Ultimately, when I write a male character, I want him to be neither a woman in a man's body, nor a stereotype of some ideal of maleness. I want to write about individual, people who can seem real.

I suspect it is a lifelong learning process, to write as another person realistically, no matter their gender.

Monday, October 13, 2008

"Blood and Brothers" in "Residential Aliens," October 2008

I have a short story on Residential Aliens, I would consider it science fiction, even though it's got a dragon in it. :) It's labeled under fantasy, though, so you can look at it either way.

~ Blood and Brothers by Alice M. Roelke (2950 words)

+ Young Trell yearned for his brother Axon's love - or at least acknowledgment. Would the dragon hunt bring them together...or tear them apart?


Trell eyed the weapons the men shared out. Some were tranquilizer guns, the rest, old-fashioned, one-shot harpoons. Axon saw him looking, and nodded to the men. They gave him a harpoon gun half his height. "Don't use that unless you have to. We want to leave it alive," instructed Axon.

direct link:

I wrote this story for an anthology last year. When it didn't make the cut, I sent it out to other places. The idea for the story had been germinating for a couple of months, but the impetus of an anthology deadline helped me sit down and write and revise it.

I sometimes like to write stories with an element of young adult, coming-of-age, and family themes. This is one story with those elements in it.

I recognize not everyone likes that sort of story, but to me, writing about growing up, and family, is very important. To young people, life can be so much more intense. Everything is important. Everything is happening 'now.' To those of us who are older, it is easy to get inured, to feel that the important things happened in the past, to just get sarcastic and blase, and think that everything is 'old hat.'

I read once that you should write about the most important thing that happens in your character's life, the most important decision, etc. Especially in a short story. Sometimes that is easier to do with young people, who are still finding themselves. I tried to do that with this story.

~Alice M. Roelke~

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Marcher Lord Press

Marcher Lord Press is a new publisher of Christian fiction founded by Jeff Gerke.  Gerke, a publishing pro and a writer himself, also runs Where the Map Ends, a site to help writers, especially Christian writers of speculative fiction.

Marcher Lord Press will published Christian fantasy and science fiction.  The first books roll off the presses in October 2008 -- just around the corner, really.

The three books ( which are coming out in October have good cover art.  They sound like they will appeal to secular readers as well as religious readers -- a case when interesting writing transcends readership.  I hope they're good -- for all our sakes.  Many times, Christian fiction disappoints me.  I hope MLP will help raise the bar.  (I also they retain strong Christian elements.  I do believe both are possible.)

This publishing company is something of an experiment.  It will make use of print-on-demand technology, to keep down wasteful print runs, and make profits more quickly than traditional publishing, with lower initial costs, etc.   Jeff also wants to reach readers who may not often be reached by this genre, through internet marketing, word of mouth, etc.  

I, for one, am interested to see how this experiment will work out.  I sent a query to Jeff, too.  But whether they decide to publish me or not, I wish them the best of luck with this venture.  I believe it's something worth doing, and I hope it takes off in a huge way.  (This is a niche genre that, I suspect, is not nearly as "niche" as current thought dictates.)

~Alice M. Roelke~

Writing the Breakout Novel, by Donald Maass

I've been reading Writing the Breakout Novel, by Donald Maass, and he says you need to ask yourself why you are writing this novel.  If the answer is something like "for the money" -- not a personal, internal reason -- then you're writing for the wrong reason, and it won't be the best book you could write.  It will lack something important -- conviction. 

He also says you should write about what you believe in, what you care about.  I think that's a good point.  Your beliefs will come through no matter what, so why not encorporate something in from the beginning?

That said, I don't like to write "issue" novels.  And I don't believe he's advocating that, either.  

But I do like to include things I can really care about in my writing.  And when I don't, there is a different, as Maass says.  

Anyway, what I've read of this book so far is excellent.  You should consider checking it out if you're a writer.

~Alice M. Roelke~

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Honor As A Downfall?

I'm working on a fantasy where the heroine's major moral feature is her honor. I would like this to be both her heroic characteristic and her Achilles heel.

I am working on a way for the villain -- or possibly more than one villain -- to have her in his debt, honor-wise, and therefore have to accomplish a task for him, which will, if she fails, end her life, and if she succeeds, get him something he wants even more than her death.

I'm close to something, but it needs a little more time. We will see how things work out in the end.

I think honor can be a downfall, if other people are not honorable. But in the end, of course, it will be her best weapon, too. At least I hope so.

~Alice M. Roelke~

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

the concert... writist?

I've been working heavily on editing lately. I need to remember to make time for writing, too. My dad says writers needs practice the same way concert pianists do -- and concert pianists practice for eight hours a day.

I think he has a point. I know when I don't write for awhile, my skills tend to get rusty. So even though editing is an important part of my writing life right now -- perhaps the most important part -- I still need to write.

I'm working on a couple of writing projects, on and off. The ones I seem to enjoy most are the ones I'm not planning to do anything with. I'm not planning to even let anyone see them. It takes the pressure off. I don't have to wonder what others will think of the characters, plot, or writing.

~ Alice M. Roelke ~

Friday, September 12, 2008

typewriter writing

Today, or rather, yesterday, since it is now after midnight, I worked on my "Sherlock" story. I am now using an electric typewriter in my bedroom. It is a quieter place to write, and, although there are more typos with it, I think it will work well for my first draft.

On the computer, when I wrote it there, I could go back and fix everything before printing it out. But, perhaps sometimes it is better to just write. This will help me with that.

This story is pretty much plotted out. I even have some ideas for the sequel, if I write that. I think it's a good story, with possibilities towards publication someday. But that does undeniably add pressure when I'm writing it. It makes me feel like I have to 'get it right,' instead of that I'm just writing a story wild and fun, to please my muse.

~ Alice M. Roelke ~

"Message to Mars" in Ray Gun Revival, issue 46

My science fiction short story, "Message to Mars," is in the current issue of Ray Gun Revival. It's approximately 4500 words in length.

It's in Ray Gun Revival Issue 46. For anyone interested, here is the direct link to the PDF file of the magazine:

Tease: "With Earth and Mars on the brink of war, one man gets a message through. "

This is space opera, centering around the Mars Revolution-era. Bill Salle, the hero, is a messenger hired to bring a message to Mars. The journey and the message affect him strongly, bringing his past roiling to the surface.

I enjoyed writing my 'bio' at the end of the story, where I claim to have been 'a war correspondent during the Lunar War for Independence.' My brother would call that Breaking The Third Wall. I call it sheer fun. :)

Overall, however, this was actually a very difficult story for me to write. The only times I worked on it with much success were when my life was harder to live than this story was to write or edit. Mostly after my cats had died. I lost two cats within about a year. It also took me about a year since starting this story to seeing it accepted. I couldn't cry. I just worked on this story, sobbing the words out.

To me, this story is about grief and guilt.

Why do guilt and grief so often seem to mix? I felt guilty about my animals dying, even though I don't think I had reason to feel that way. My main character, Bill Salle, he feels guilt and grief, too. I think perhaps he had better reason than I, but only the reader can determine that for himself or herself.

And the theme songs for this story, while I was writing it, at least, were two. "You'll Never Walk Alone," as sung by Elvis, especially the refrain "Walk on..." I picture Bill walking across the Mars soil when I hear that song. Closer to the beginning of the story, "The Sound of Silence" was the theme. It involves grief, too, and I pictured Bill in the rain when I heard it.

I don't know if I'll write more about Mr. Salle or not. I packed a lot into this story. In a way, his whole life.

Well, I wanted to share my thoughts about this story, even though very likely they only will interest me.

Turn my collar to the cold and damp...

~Alice M. Roelke~