roh morgon

~with a little help from my friends…

Fresno SciFi & Fantasy WritersWow…

We did it.

:)

Who are ‘we’, you ask?

‘We’ are the:

Fresno SciFi & Fantasy Writers

(cool logo, huh?!)

FSFW is a face-to-face critique group that was founded in April 2008 by Christopher Wood (aka töff). I joined last year, and it was one of the best things I could have done for my career as a writer. The grammar lessons and feedback I’ve received from the group have been priceless. In addition, several members are webgurus, and without them (especially töff and Chris Fontes), I wouldn’t have such an awesome-looking blog and website.

So what did we do that’s so cool?

We made a commitment, wrote and polished some great stories, and self-published our very own anthology. It’s called:

Doesn’t it look great?! The talent in our group is amazing. One of the anthology contributors, Melanie Smith (who is also one of the editors), painted the cover. The cover design, along with the typesetting of the book itself, was done by the other editor, töff.  His 20 years in the printing industry has really come in handy, especially since there are so many different book formats in publishing.

And one of the formats it’s now available in (worldwide!) is Amazon’s Kindle. Check it out on Amazon here!

(wow – to actually see something we’ve worked on for so long listed in Amazon is beyond cool!)

You can also buy the ebook from the FSFW website. The hardcover and trade paperback editions should be available from the site in the next couple weeks – just in time for Christmas.

Here’s a listing of the stories:

The Station by E.A.J. Smith – Isolated aboard a space station during a massive solar flare, a man fights to stay alive and to destroy the thing that keeps him trapped.

Making of a Monster by Melanie Smith – Who can say which choice it is that sets an unassuming boy onto the path that leads to evil?

The Forbidden Chamber by Sarah A. Peterson – Young Sandy and her baby brother take two different approaches to dealing with the ghost of someone else’s past.

Endangered Species by Jim D. Geiser – Vampires now live openly with humans. Can one vampire girl now end the hatred between vampires and their hunters?

The Alley by Earl Scialabba – A boy in a post-apocalyptic Los Angeles is torn between his struggling family and the protective camaraderie of his friends.

Into the Grey: The Revelation of Caius Solomon by C. Michael Fontes - A half-angel battles his past, faith, leader, and personal demons when tasked to assassinate an innocent human in 1800s Europe.

Q Flux by Christopher Wood – A mathematician holds his finger on the button that will connect mankind to an alien civilization of unknown power and intent.

The Swordsman by P.D. Wright – A young monk chooses to fight to protect his village, his family, and the girl he loves from foreign invaders.

The Bakkra Encounter by R. Garrett Wilson – Three college students find themselves guests—and prisoners—in an alien world that becomes more hostile the longer they stay.

Fur Before Feathers by Roh Morgon – The choices between right and wrong take on a few extra twists in this coming-of-age tale about a young shapeshifter.

So anyhow, I just wanted to share my excitement and thank the nine other contributors, along with our editors and designers, for all the time and effort spend on making this project happen. And last, but not least, I’d like to thank Ryan Wilson, whose idea for the anthology got us started on this new adventure in publishing.

Thanks, FSFWers, for being such a great group! You’re awesome!

And thank you, töff, for your tireless efforts to make this book a reality.

And yeah, that’s a lot of thanks. But, hey – I’m grateful!

roh morgon @ Saturday, 20 November 2010 2:27 pm
Comments (4)

~contests and welcome to a new blogger!

First of all, I want to mention a couple of contests that are going on right now.

Today is the last day for the 100 Followers Contest over at  Critique This WIP. Prizes are chapter critiques by the gang over there – click on the link now to enter!

Roni, of Fiction Groupie, and Julie, of  Diary of an Unpublished Wanna-Be Writer, are hosting Roni and Julie’s Totally Epic Summer Contest.  They’ve been interviewing authors and agents all week, and are offering a variety of fabulous prizes, including books, critiques, and query opportunities. Hurry on over there to enter – contest deadline is Sunday, August 8.

And now, to introduce you to a new blogger!

Melanie Smith is a member of the Fresno Sci-Fi & Fantasy Writers and a dear friend of mine. She’s also an editor and a word-crafter par excellence!

Mellie’ new blog is called Thursday-ish. Why? In her words:

“Why Thursday, you ask? Monday and Tuesday are very busy for me.  Wednesday is too finely balanced in the middle of the week, and Friday is busy again, with my mind on other things. Thursday, though, is like an eddy of time in my busy life.  It’s the day I’m most likely to spend with a friend, or painting a watercolor, or writing.  I’m not all that good at deadlines, however, so I’m only promising Thursday-ISH.  It might be later, or I may feel perfectly balanced and write something brilliant on Wednesday.  One never knows…”

So join me in welcoming her, and hop on over to see what she says about her love affair…with words.

roh morgon @ Friday, 6 August 2010 8:11 pm
Comments (4)

~comments and how they can make – or ruin – a blogger’s day

Before I begin, I just need to point out that today is a NINE day. Nine days are always good days for me.

One of the things I enjoy about other bloggers’ posts is reading the comments. The commenter may confirm the relevancy of the topic, offer their own interpretation/experience, or suggest further sources. Sometimes the comment is just an attagirl (or boy) for a great post, or, rarely I hope, a negative remark from some disgruntled reader. I haven’t experienced any bad ones myself yet (of course, I haven’t had all that many comments on my posts, either), but hope I can handle it with grace if/when it does happen.

But I have received some comments that made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. And today, I received one of the most memorable ever. It was from a longtime friend, a writer I knew from before I started writing, and one whose support encourages me to keep pursuing this craft. His name is töff, and he is the creator and driving force behind the Fresno Sci-Fi and Fantasy Writers.

Here is his comment about my novel Watcher that made my day:

“I hereby claim the honor and privilege of being the first person ever to read /Watcher/ while giving blood. The dream scene about Marie is dramatic enough in its own right , but try reading about the loss of a lifespark while your own blood is pumping out through a 16-gauge needle.”

Now that’s a dedicated reader and a devoted fan – willing to give up his lifeblood in order to immerse himself more fully in the story.

Thank you, töff — for everything.

roh morgon @ Sunday, 27 June 2010 1:17 am
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~characters who impact and Roh’s Character Contest #1

Don’t you love it when a special character in a story refuses to leave your thoughts, even after the story is done?

I recently met one named Weyland in a short story titled “Unicorn Tapestry” by Suzy McKee Charnas.

We get to know Weyland through his therapist, Floria as she begins treatment on who she assumes is a delusional patient. A staid, aging college-professor, he maintains his distance from Floria with a cold formality. But as this spare and intense man reveals the chilling details of his life, Floria begins to question her initial diagnosis. She becomes more and more unsettled by her mysterious patient as he nimbly lays waste to her attempts to unravel his delusions. Their dance with words eventually leads to a dance with death in a spine-tingling conclusion. The end is not quite what we anticipate and leaves the reader (at least this one) thinking about it long after it’s over.

Weyland and his ‘outsider’ existence haunted me enough that I read the story twice. I visited the website of author Suzy McKee Charnas, then wrote to her to tell her of Weyland’s impact on me, and how I have a similar character (Nicolas from Watcher) who haunts me as well. She was kind enough to answer and discuss Weyland, and encouraged me with my writing.

Characters are what keep us reading. There are millions of readers out there who fell in love with Edward and Bella and went on to devour the rest of Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight Saga. There are millions of others who couldn’t wait to for the next J.K.Rowling to learn what was going to happen to Harry Potter and his friends.

Well-developed characters are what I love, and what I strive for in my writing. Character development is an ongoing topic among writers and lately has been a subject of discussion on several blogs by friends in the Fresno SciFi and Fantasy Writers (FSFW) group.

Something else my friends have been doing in the blogosphere is holding contests in which the winner receives a copy of a recommended book.

I’ve been thinking about this.

And here’s what I’ve decided to do:

I’m going to hold a series of contests based on characters. Each contest will be slightly different, but they’ll all revolve around characters. I’ll be holding them every 3-4 weeks, so stay tuned to this blog.

Here’s the guidelines for Roh’s Character Contest #1:

Most readers have a list of favorite characters from stories they love. I know who mine are — I want to hear about yours.

Comment about one or more of your favorite characters and what books they are from. Each person commenting will receive one entry. The winner will be determined by a random drawing.

There’s a SECOND chance to win as well! It’s also an opportunity to stretch your literary muscles.

Describe your favorite character in your own words and what impact this character has had on your writing, or even on your life. You must include the title of the story, book, or series, along with the author’s name.

Word limit: 198 words or less (1+9+8=18, 1+8=9. I’m a nine freak, remember?).

Check out my three paragraphs above on Weyland for an example (and yes, they total exactly 198 words).

Your entry will be judged on both word craft and strength of argument. In other words, CONVINCE me. Tell me what it is about this character and its effect on you in a way that will compel me (and others) to go buy the book and read it.

Bonus points: If your word count total is a ‘nine’ (the digits add up to nine or a mulitple of nine), you will receive a second entry into the random drawing.

PRIZES:

For the random drawing, the prize will be a gift certificate from Fictionwise for an e-book of the Nebula award-winning Unicorn Tapestry by Suzy McKee Charnas.

For the character description, the prize is a brand-new softcover copy of Suzy McKee Charnas’ book, The Vampire Tapestries AND a $10 gift card for Borders or Barnes & Noble (winner’s choice). The prizes for this portion of the contest are restricted to residents of the continental U.S. only.

CONTEST ENDS:

This contest has been extended. The last day to enter is June 27, 2010 Saturday, July 17 (a nine-day, of course). The random winner will be drawn the following day and notified via email. The character descriptions will be judged during the remainder of the week. The winner will be selected and notified via email by July 6, July 26, 2010.

roh morgon @ Monday, 31 May 2010 3:12 pm
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~The “Let’s Talk” Blogfest and dialog excerpt from Watcher

Fiction Groupie is holding an event called the “Let’s Talk” Blogfest. Participants sign up on her blog, then post a dialog excerpt from their WIP on their own blog.

I heard about this from Chris (one of my friends from FSFW) and immediately thought, “I have the perfect scene. I was just working on it.”

Thanks, Chris, for the heads up!

And without further ado, here is a scene from Watcher (oh, and today is a nine-day, BTW!):

~~~~~~~~~

The first thing I become conscious of is that whatever I’m lying on is not hard.  I cautiously reach out, expecting to feel air, but instead touch softness and fabric.

I open my eyes open and lift my head to look around.  A bed, my bed.  Not a tree branch.

Or maybe it is still a dream, I realize, as I turn and see Nicolas stretched out next to me, leaning on his elbow with his head propped up on his hand.

“Good morning,” he says in a low musical voice, his emerald eyes shining.

As before, words stick in my throat, unable to escape. So this must be a dream after all.

He reaches out and brushes back the hair from my face, then softly strokes my lips.

But that felt pretty real.

He shifts, then leans over and kisses me on the mouth.

Oh, this is definitely real.

I feel my body respond, and then he is crushing me to him.  He holds me tight for a long moment, then slowly releases me and leans back.  He reaches out again and starts working the tangles from my hair with his fingers.

“I was unable to comb all of these out earlier, as you were sleeping on this side.”

“You carried me off the mountain,” I croak, my voice finally breaking free.

“I did,” he says quietly as he continues to pick at my hair.

“You are here.”

“I am.”

“How long have you been here?”

“Since the night you left.  A month ago.”  The pain beneath his words is unmistakeable.

“A month? I’ve been gone a month?”

It’s all a blur of mountains and forests, lakes and meadows, blood and more blood.

He purses his lips, but does not answer. His green eyes watch my face as I feel the wilderness sing in my soul.  He touches my cheek, jarring me back to the present.

“You waited here,” I whisper. “All that time. For me.”

“Yes. I could do…nothing else.” Again I hear the pain, accompanied by loneliness, and wonder how he survived.

Because the only way I did was to give myself to the blood and to the wild.

Once more it calls, and I shut my eyes and remember the colors and smells that caressed my senses, and the wind that softly brushed my skin. Life is so simple out there.  Hunt and run and swim and sleep.  No complicated emotions to manage, no one to argue with, or be disappointed in, or be embraced by, or be loved by.

My eyes grow damp as tears begin to well up beneath their closed lids.

“Sunny.”  His voice is calm and soothing. Feather-light fingers again touch my face.

Startled, my eyes fly open. Yes, he is still here. This is not a dream.

But I need to move, to stretch, to run. My body’s not used to being so still for so long. Slipping out of the bed, I back across the room, watching him. He gets up as well, and part of me starts to panic. I turn to the closet, take out a pair of  jeans and a sweater, and slip them on.  I don’t need shoes–quit wearing them weeks ago.

“I need to go,” I whisper to the floor on my way out.

“Will you come back?” he asks, his voice strained.

“I don’t know. Maybe.” I take a long, slow breath. “Yes. I just need…a little more time.”

Turning, I head for the back door. As I open it, I hear him in the doorway behind me.

“I’ll be here,” he says.

I breathe deeply and step outside, inhaling the pine and other scents that make up the forest, and take off up the mountain at a dead run.

roh morgon @ Wednesday, 19 May 2010 8:28 am
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~how ‘real’ are your characters?

There has been discussion recently among several of my friends from the Fresno SciFi and Fantasy Writers (FSFW) about characters – character development, character-driven vs. plot-driven stories, etc.

Characters are what inspire me to write. Each of my stories started when I woke up one morning with the image or words of a character in my head. Were they the result, or aftermath, of dreams? I don’t know, because I rarely remember my dreams.

The beings I’ve written about each began as a blurry presence that solidified as I turned my attention to them. And once I opened the door in my mind to their existence, they came through, bringing their personalities, fears, needs, and quirks with them. Physical appearances came later, generally not until I actually began writing their stories.

The stories they’ve shown me played as movies in my head, revealed one scene at a time. Often I got glimpses of future scenes, but I was never quite sure where they would fall until they hit the page.  The endings were a little different. Once the story was rolling – once the character felt confident that I was telling it the way they wanted – only then they would show me the ending.

Watcher, my first story, was interesting to write. As Sunny showed me her life and I began to get a sense of her loneliness, she guided me to one of the most important scenes in her story – the first time she saw Nicolas. It wasn’t until he stepped into the story that I knew the ending.  And that was also when I realized there would be a sequel as well.

The sequel, Runner, is a work-in-progress and is only half-complete. The ending for it is fuzzy – I know the general direction the story is heading, but these two characters have a habit of throwing surprises at me as I write.  The beginning of Runner is proof – I had no warning that Sandy was about to step into the story, let alone be such a pivotal character, until she literally stepped in front of Sunny’s car.

Some of you may be rolling your eyes at how I refer to my characters – as though they are living, breathing, real beings with opinions and a say-so in the matter. But that is how I see them. To me, the only way a writer can make the reader believe a character is real, to bond with a character and care about them, is if the writer accepts them as real.

Their reality is just on another plane of existence. Whether that plane of existence is entirely in my mind, or is indeed another dimension full of cracks that its inhabitants slip through, is not something I care to dwell on. As long as my characters keep showing me their stories, I’ll keep writing them down.

And I’m betting that I’m not the first writer who halfway expects one of their characters to someday step around a corner – in this plane of existence – and say, “Hello.”

roh morgon @ Tuesday, 11 May 2010 10:43 am
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blogging vs. writing

Okay. I promised myself that I would make a better effort to post more regularly on my blog, yet here it is nearly a month since my last entry.

Fail.

But is it? Yes, as far as my PR plan goes.

However, I’ve been doing exactly what writers are supposed to be doing–writing. And not only did I start a new short story for the Fresno Sci-Fi & Fantasy Writers anthology, I finished it. It’s been uploaded to the FSFW forum for critique by the group and I’m supposed to be done with it until the group has reviewed it.

Well, as usual, I’ve already made minor changes to it here and there. A few word swaps, a couple additions, a little rearranging. Oh, and a title change. Guess that last one isn’t so minor.

It’s funny how a sentence that’s been absolutely fine for weeks will suddenly shout out its need for attention. It amazes me how much better a paragraph can sound with one or two word substitutions, or doing something to it as simple as trading ’s’ for ing.’ Then suddenly a passage that seemed pretty good comes alive and sparks images that dance before the eyes.

I love editing almost as much as writing. But they are very different. Writing is like creating a painting, starting with broad brush strokes and placing key elements on the canvas. As the piece evolves, the scene takes shape, the characters emerge, the conversations and events become clear.

Editing is placing the final details on the work. Faces become expressive and voices carry meaning in their tones that either emphasize or belie the words of the speaker. Situations and action draw the reader in deeper with one synonym or a single italicized word. The painting that may have started out as a blurred abstract becomes as sharp as a photograph.

And what started out as a series of prints becomes the movie that was playing in my head when I first put word to page.

At least, I hope that’s what happens. For the writer can never be sure what the reader sees or feels. And each reader perceives the work differently.

Ultimately, a writer can only hope the reader gains something from the story, whether it’s just to step out of reality for a short while or spend several moments celebrating or commiserating with a character they care about.

So as I congratulate myself on completing a story, I invite you to take a peek at a little sample. It’s called Fur Before Feathers and is part of my new young adult series, Forbidden Doorways. And hopefully you’ll be able to read the entire story by the end of the year when it’s published in the FSFW anthology, along with stories from all our other members.

roh morgon @ Sunday, 21 March 2010 5:40 pm
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more thanks!

I just want to add thanks to töff and Ryan, also of FSFW, for pitching in to help with some of the fine-tuning that makes this site uniquely mine. You guys rock!

roh morgon @ Sunday, 7 February 2010 8:36 am
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new home

Wow! A new home!

I think I can stretch my wings and do a little writing here.

But before I begin, I want to give a BIG THANK YOU to CHRIS of the Fresno SciFi & Fantasy Writers for setting this up for me. His countless hours helping me build an online presence are greatly appreciated.

Chris, you are definitely The Man. <bows down>

This format, besides looking pretty cool, will allow me to update my blog on a more regular basis.  Hopefully I can find a way to archive my older posts from my first and rather limited blog ( I did – check the archives).

But for now, I have a little rewriting to do in preparation for a 6-hr workshop with DONALD MAASS, accomplished author AND literary agent. I’m sooo excited…

roh morgon @ Saturday, 6 February 2010 11:05 am
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