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A Casual Day of Writing and “Field Trip”

Well, I’m sad to say that today’s writing process has been pretty slow. I guess it’s just one of those days when the inspiration only comes in small doses. Then again, I was able to write four paragraphs that did fill a gap that needed to be taken care of. There was sill some progress that was made, so the day was not all in vain. Reading the first chapter of the story out loud in Writer’s Chair the other day was quite the experience. I had never read something I had written out loud before, let alone in front of a live audience. Witnessing an immediate reaction was extremely helpful in confirming or dispelling certain aspects. The overall positive reaction was also very encouraging. Now that I have another chapter fully complete, with all the gaps filled, I might take another crack at it should the opportunity presents itself before the course ends.

The little “field trip” that we had by the end of the day was simply amazing. I had a chance to see the house from outside beforehand but I had never been able to go inside. This was a great opportunity to witness a true “relic” of the past. The house had way too many things to examine up close but due to the limited amount of time, I only managed to take a few pictures to look at for later. Apparently, we’ll be visiting the house again next week. So, I’m looking forward to it, especially getting a chance to look at the library. Being immersed in writing process in a unique setting was also quite interesting and oddly motivating.

A Task Becoming a Puzzle

I do not know if I will keep referring to each day of the Writer’s Retreat at the beginning of every blog post (i.e. “It’s the third day!”), but for a change of pace I’ll attempt to avoid it this time around… Oh, wait. I think I just did refer to it.

So far, the overall progress is on track. It’s actually better than what I had expected. I tend to anticipate derailment at any possibility, so I wouldn’t have been surprised at all if I had fallen behind. Thankfully, that is not the case (at least for now). The organizational mini chart that I posted in my previous blog post allowed me to create the transitional pieces that tied portions of the story, which I already had written down. It was certainly helpful for placing that structure/foundation in place, as I had probably mentioned before. However, as the story progresses further, the simplicity of that mini chart seems to be alternating into a limitation. I definitely need to revise it in order to make it fit with the (now) expanded storyline.

My concern at the moment is the story becoming a bit overwhelming, at least for the opening act. Since the plan is having three distinct timeliness within the story, I’d like to introduce the setting and the atmosphere of each of those timelines within the first act. In order to do so, however, I need to extend the scope of the opening portion of the story (I won’t go into details in order to avoid “spoilers”). I guess, as Dr. Zamora had suggested, I simply need to lay it all on the (digital) paper and observe how it all comes together. Some revisions may certainly need to be made, once it’s all written down, in order to reduce the complexity of it all. We shall see.

Another Step Closer

It’s the second day!

As I had expected, today’s class was much more productive. During yesterday’s class, I feel the unintentional time constraint served as a bit of a hindrance in getting to that goal. Since most of the introductions are out of the way, there was more time available to develop ideas and concepts to further the story.

My plan for the day was going back to the transitional parts that I had previously mentioned (see the “professional” diagram below), which were missing from the story and were essential in establishing a coherent structure within it. I was hoping to create and finish at least one of these parts by the end of the day, and luckily I managed to that. I now have an organized and consistent two-chapter opening. The remaining days of Writer’s Retreat are going to be dedicated to connecting the rest of the pieces to this foundation. By the end, I should have the entirety of Act 1 in an easy-to-follow (near coherent) state.

(This would make total sense if you knew the story, but just go along for now.)

As far as what I specifically wrote down today, I can tell you that it involved very dialogue-heavy scenes, which are honestly my favorite parts of any story that I work on. I guess being a former ESL/EFL teacher, the communication aspect is extremely appealing to me. Since I have not yet utilized the Creative Commons app(?) on this blog, I do not intend on sharing any portions of the said writing process. If I may be honest, I’m not quite sure that I actually intend on sharing any of the writing process (unless absolutely required) even after utilizing that app. I tend to be paranoid sometimes. Well, we’ll see.

A Pursuit of Relief and Encouragement

The first day of Writer’s Retreat course!

Although it felt more of a settling-in type of class today, it was a productive start nonetheless. One of my biggest issues when it comes to writing is the amount of distractions that derail my overall progress. The time is truly an essence. My expectation for this course, above all else, was finding a setting in which I could not only be able further my project but also feel inspired by those around me. I can safely say that my expectation has been met. The serene atmosphere, disturbed only by the clicks of keyboards or scratching of pens on paper, was the perfect environment that made me feel motivated.

The little bit of progress that I managed to make could be summed up by “taking a first step” at best. I tend to write in a haphazard manner, which is basically write whatever comes to mind even though that particular part or section of the story might not necessarily follow the previous one in a coherent manner. I need transitions to carryout the story in a way that someone else who has an interest in reading it understands. This certain aspect, at times, feels as a mere work rather than a creative process. Hence, I tend to ignore it when I manage to get free time. Being immersed in this particular type of environment actually allowed me to discover what I needed. I managed to create my first transitional part. As I’ve said, it was brief but still productive.

My main objective in Writer’s Retreat course is establishing a proper groundwork for my upcoming thesis project. I believe that this particular course will indeed be a beneficial and efficient way to lay that groundwork down. I’m looking forward to the rest of the course, for sure.

Spring Symposium Tomorrow! (Well Today)

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Just a little humor before I get started! The Spring Symposium is tomorrow! I am excited, nervous, shakin’ in my boots, all of that. Mostly excited though. I left last week’s class feeling more confident about presenting my work to an audience (including my family) for the first time. I finished my presentation and I also successfully made my surprise handouts for everyone. Here is what everyone will receive:

Thesis Handout

This is going to be a “Quilt Card” that everyone will be able to take home. By now, everyone knows the format of my thesis will eventually be this multimodal quilt that consists of all types of media and text. My topic is not just sensitive, but it’s very important. It’s not only for people who have careers in the academic setting, but it’s important to know in general. I wanted to make sure that the people who heard my presentation learned something new and remember what I said. Of course, there was so much more I wanted to put on this quilt, but I picked what I think people would remember the most.

After finishing the Quilt Card, I worked on my presentation. I must say, after editing it for hours, it turned out nice! Here are some screenshots:

To wrap things up, I am excited to present the work I have done so far. I apologize for the short post! It’s 1 am, and I am T I R E D want to be prepared for tomorrow. (Really today). Anyway…

Thank you and goodnight!

Closing Time, Part 1

Well, looks like I just about made it to the finish line. I still have a few more pages to write before everything is all said and done, and what better way to begin by explaining my presentation for the Spring Symposium?

My project is divided into two major points: explaining Godreign, the novel that came as a result of my research and discovery, and explaining my research, which explains my thought process in greater detail.

Since I know that the people at the symposium were probably educated, but likely not as well-read in the same areas that I had covered for my thesis project, I wanted to keep things as straightforward and understandable for the average person. This included (against my own judgement) the usage of Marvel and DC character images to further push my explanation forward. It feels awkward a little, essentially promoting a book that hasn’t been published yet. But it’s my project darn it, and I’m gonna consider it a practice in marketing, if anything.

I tried to take an approach that was less focused on the “how” behind my thesis; save that stuff for the actual written paper. Instead, I wanted to use a lot of time explaining the “why”. Why I feel this needed to exist, why I felt this was a worthwhile endeavor. I never, ever thought I’d be writing a book as part of my academic process, so I think it’s important to explain things to the average person with that in mind.

I’ll be trying to present the promotional materials with the website that is serving as a portfolio for my work. There is a bunch of materials related to both my research and my novel that I would like to share on it, and so I’ll be putting a decent amount of time on the website as well, which should have its own domain name by next week.

I always admired Apple keynotes for their layers of presenting a new product or service, so I studied some of their keynotes as a basis for my own presentation. In particular, the way they set a background for the product or service before they reveal it. While I am not selling anything here, I do want to introduce my story in the same method, using the research to set a background for my actual story, and then proceeding to explain the story that resulted from my research. Public speaking is no stranger to me, but I will be timed to an extent, so I will be keeping that in mind when I present everything next week.

I don’t plan on having any sort of script to stick to however. Nothing ever goes as planned in life, but I feel this is one of those times where staying off the script is going to result in a more organic, more honest presentation. Hopefully those 5-10 minutes will be spent on speaking on what I know best, which is my thesis project, and the novel that came from it as a result.

 

Almost That Time!

 

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A Different World

 

Let’s Get Started!

Hello everyone! Well, I have been quite busy this week. Before I get started, just a huge “Congratulations” to my fellow classmate, scholar, and colleague Kelli for the amazing showcase of her Thesis during Kean University’s Research Days 2019. I was able to express, create, and learn. I applaud you. I also had the honor of participating in Kean’s Research Days along with my Writing and Theory Practice class from last semester. Integrating various ideas, articles, research, images, blog posts, ideas, and videos, we collectively created a website that touched upon various important topics concerning the up-and-coming issues in the classroom. We called it “Small Bites of Knowledge,” so I’ll be sure to add the link to the site after this blog!

Click to view slideshow.

Anyway! So besides all of that fun, I had to get down to business. I took a break from writing the next section of my thesis to focus on the Spring Symposium next week! (Can’t believe it’s here already.) I had a hard time creating a formal proposal and a short idea of what I am going to present next week. Of course, it’s in the first draft phase, and tomorrow I will do some cleanup. I wanted to make sure I get my point across and emphasize the problem I am focusing on. And then, of course, I talked about my chapters. I’m not sure if what I have so much is specific enough, but I am hoping it’s a good start to completing my presentation. I do want to show the idea that I had for possibly making a website that looks like this:

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Then I would also like to show the two sections that I have completed so much. It’s too much information to go through every “puzzle piece” of the document, but I would just scroll through it just to show everyone the work that is going into this thesis. What I don’t want to happen is it becomes a “boring” presentation and not something that will get their attention. Nevertheless, I tried my best. (Did not mean for that to rhyme). 

Before I sign off, I want to discuss something one of my classmates sent to me. Here is the image. Two sections are circled. There was a job posting for a teaching job at a university. The job posted the “Essential Duties and Responsibilities” that are required. The very first bullet point says, “Teach students writing in standard academic English through one-on-one, asynchronous online paper review appointments…”. Now, on the third bullet point, it says, “Commit to treating students, staff, and faculty in our community with empathy and respect, recognizing and valuing diverse backgrounds, perspectives, and experiences.” So then my classmate and I started talking, and she pointed out the fact that this job posting is contradictory. The school wants to make sure the students learn “standard academic English” but then also needs to recognize diversity. It’s challenging to tackle both responsibilities without canceling one of them out.

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I realized that in the academic space, it’s acceptable to have diversity in the classroom as long as the students are taught to speak and write [like this] to pass the class and be considered a “good student” or sound professional. Part of my thesis touched upon when it comes to a different dialect of English, in this case, AAVE is only accepted when people want it to be. I was thinking about including this example as part of the Power section of my thesis. Some people have “the upper hand” in society who creates the rules of what is acceptable and what is deemed unacceptable. It happens too often. People in power, such as higher-ups in the university setting, appreciate or merely accept only certain parts of a culture. You can’t love Spanish food but then dismiss their language. You can’t love 90’s R&B but dismiss AAVE. It’s almost as if this job application is saying, “Culture and diversity are good. It’s needed! It’s important! Just not when it comes to academic writing and language in its setting.” Instead, the job posting should have said, “Teach students writing in their best academic sense through one-on-one, asynchronous, online paper review appointments.” By phrasing it like this, the pressure of having to speak [like this] for the student to succeed decreases.

With that being said, I am looking forward to presenting my work for the first time next week. Until next time!

Here is the link to my Spring Symposium Formal Proposal: 

Also, the link to “Small Bites of Knowledge.” 

 

 

 

The Divine Duality

Every once in a while, you get a revolutionary type of presentation in a pre-existing format. Movies have been on the “Part 1 and Part 2” train since Harry Potter first proved it was feasible back in 2010. Most recently, Avengers: Endgame is the “Part 2” to Infinity War’s “Part 1”. But while many stories have told the beginning and end in two parts, what about telling the story simultaneously with two parts?

I have to be careful with this, because it wouldn’t take much to consider it nothing more than a method to cash in on an existing trend. But as I drafted and outlined novels past my first one (Grand Contingency), it soon became clear that I would need to reconsider the way I tell the next story, or I would have an Order of the Phoenix sized doorstop for a book.

Nothing is replacing my Dobby doorstop, anyway.

So, I can’t exactly explain why I feel this would be necessary without elaborating on my story a little bit, so here’s that.

The next story in the Godreign series, set in the modern era 130 years after the events of Grand Contingency. Despite being the second and third installments, these novels take place almost entirely at the same time, chronologically.

Sometime in the 20th century, the Godreign was found, and neither Zach Edwards or Annabelle d’Armientieres were around to prevent the successful summon of the Neutral Weapon, a living being said to rival the Higher Powers in terms of divine energy. This triggered The Fall; an era of calculated attacks that not only left death and destruction in its wake, but left many countries in states of helplessness. This went on for seven years, after which the Neutral Weapon became dormant. Not wanting to waste any time before it returned, the most brilliant minds of the world began planning to rebuild, recover, and prepare a strategy in case the Neutral Weapon ever returned.

Dynatronic Energy Solutions, was at the helm of this recovery effort, and soon became a monopoly on the PowerPotential Energy that proved vital to rebuilding efforts in many countries. When protests of their mistreatment began to grow, a terrorist organization known as the Assembly began staging terorrist acts. Dynatronic formed a private army, known as the Task Force to protect their investments.

Gryphons tells the story of the titicular Gryphons, an international unit of special forces operators who are under contract with the DES Task Force due to unclear circumstances. With their advanced flight suits and mastery of both Tempest and Acquiescent Artes, they lead the fight against the Assembly through various missions that strike at the heart of their operation. But when they are hunted down by the Task Force after discovering the true reason behind The Fall, they set off on a personal campaign to not only prove their innocence, but to ensure a future where the Godreign never returns.

Cairdrys is an android, or at least she thinks she is. She doesn’t remember much of her origins before becoming the latest member of the Gryphons, and the only being ever capable of using both Tempest and Acquiescent Artes. After waking up years after her last mission nearly destroyed her internals, she finds her internal memory being occupied by an unknown set of tasks, leaving her unable to access the set of abilities that defined her. As she slowly recovers her abilities, she also regains memories of the past, and as the Gryphons fight against the Assembly, her past may prove vital to a future without the Neutral Weapon.

Guardians tells the simultaneous story of the Praetorian Guard, a highly disciplined unit of bodyguards who protect the leader of the DES Task Force; the mysterious Imperator Commandalia, and their Praefector second-in-command, Cecelia Silvestre.

When Task Force newcomer “Wolf” Albrecht saves the Praefector’s niece from assassination, he finds himself as the newest member of the Guard. It is a position that he is not interested in accepting, does so to ensure the continued safety of his blind sister Sieglinde, a prodigy in the medical Acquiescent Artes. After accidentally discovering the identity of the Imperator, he becomes thrust into a battle on two fronts; one to stop the terrorist Assembly from activating the Neutral Weapon once more, and to investigate the sudden betrayal of the legendary Gryphon Unit, and if it’s even a defection at all.

So now that I have all of that out of the way, I feel I can explain it a little more.

Gryphons is recommended to be read first by newcomers who have not read Grand Contingency, you’ll learn about the Grand Experiment alongside the Gryphons. I’m writing this story with an action tilt; while both sides have several shares of action as well as exploration into the bigger picture within Grand Contingency, Gryphons focuses on a group of supersoldiers from several different agencies around the world, and therefore will feature a greater emphasis on discovery. The Gryphons are not nearly as well-documented on the Godreign as much as the main characters in Guardians, so they’ll be learning more as they go along. To a potential new reader, I feel this is an organic method of exposing them to the world.

Guardians builds on characters and background story from Grand Contingency, and while it can be read before Gryphons, it is recommended to be read first by those who have read Grand Contingency, in order to fully understand the connections both stories have with the overall lore.

Compared to Gryphons, which introduces the story from the outside looking in, the majority of the characters in Guardians are familiar with both the Godreign and the Grand Experiment. This is to represent the reader who has read Grand Contingency better, and to spend less time on exposition regarding it. It also goes into the history of both the Godreign and the Higher Powers That Be a little more, although that is not the focus for either story…yet.

So what’s the purpose behind this method of storytelling? Why couldn’t I just condense this into a single book, with multiple perspectives? Well, apart from the aforementioned doorstop of a book I’m trying to avoid, I feel like a sequel should only be done if there’s some opportunity to improve on some aspect of the narrative. After all, by the time Grand Contingency is ready to publish, I feel I can would have gone through a lot that had advanced me as a writer. But at the same time, I feel this method is still linear in a sense; both books would end up advancing the plot whether you read only one or both, so there is still a sense of progression despite the extra pages from both.

Most importantly, I’m excited to see the continuity that readers will recognize from reading one book then the other; there will be characters you recognize, references you understood, and reasons for characters doing something that may seem unclear at first, then you read it from their perspective and suddenly it all makes a little more sense. It’s a narrative approach that I wish was explored more, and one I hope to advance in some form with this duality in the storytelling.

How I hope someone feels reading Gryphons /Guardians then reading the other one.

Trust the Process

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Google Search: POET KWYN TOWNSEND RILEY

Well, I must say that this past week did go the way I expected. (But hey, that’s life!) The process for coming up with the different parts for the next chapter, Education, was harder than the History section. I had a difficult time condensing my notes into just a few sections. There is so much to address when it comes to Mainstream/Standard English versus AAVE in a classroom setting. I was able to add videos and images, which were helpful to the creative side of this thesis. Here are some screenshots from the document:

 

I didn’t think about the format of this section or where each box should go yet, I just wrote and put down whatever I thought would fit in the Education section. I do see more of my voice and opinion is shown in this section than the previous section. Also, there is more research present. Education and AAVE is such a big and controversial topic that I wanted to make sure I hit every corner. I wanted to make sure my point was being supported enough. Hopefully, I did that successfully without seeming like my thoughts were all over the place.

I wanted to finish two chapters this past week, but I was not able to. I also did not want to force it. So, for next week, I will be tackling the chapter of Community, which will consist of representation, oppression, embrace, culture, beyond words-gestures, hand motions. (The gestures and hand motions are a small part to this chapter). Once again, one of the significant challenges is not sounding redundant and putting information in the “wrong” chapter. For example, I have to make sure what goes in the Community chapter does not go in other sections.

Although there are challenges, I am enjoying the highs and lows of the still early process of my thesis. “Gotta trust the process,” as my father would say.

Until next time! Below is the document link to the chapter Education.

L: Education

Quitting While You’re Ahead

If you want a happy ending, that depends, of course, on where you stop your story.

-Orson Welles

I always found the concept of long-running TV shows to be fascinating to me. Apart from shows that rely on comedical elements like The Simpsons, these are shows with plots that must accompany the long-running nature of the show. This is more common in anime than anything else; Fairy Tail is in its final season and will finish with 321 episodes. In comparison, the average anime series only has about 26 episodes, or even 12. But even this pales in comparison to One Piece, which currently has roughly 875 episodes and only recently had announced a conclusion in the near future. Sure, these series are immensely popular and therefore can be allowed to last as long as they do…but if popularity wasn’t a factor in the run length….at what point do you decide to stop?
I’ve noticed that over time, a lot of authors either fall out of love with a former project of theirs, or even worse, actively speaking out against the projects. Don’t expect Stephanie Meyer to do another Twilight book, and JK Rowling will change the Harry Potter continuity if it means getting another headline out of it.
I’m having a lot of fun writing this book for my thesis, one that I hope to become a successful series. However, I do recognize that eventually I will have to, and will want to, write something else. Hopefully people will want to see more, and I’d be happy to keep people posted if so. But the last thing I would hope to do, is to write a novel for profit.

It seems to be a trap that even the greatest of authors have found themselves in. Arthur Conan Doyle killed off Sherlock Holmes, only to bring him back in after a publisher threw a copious amount of money his way. Money talks. And solves crimes.

Holmes is dead and damned! I have had such an overdose of him that I feel towards him as I do towards paté de foie gras, of which I once ate too much, so that the name of it gives me a sickly feeling to this day.

-Arthur Conan Doyle on his feelings on Sherlock Holmes, shortly after killing him off (temporarily) in “The Final Problem”.

I’m having a lot of fun writing this book for my thesis, one that I hope to become a successful series. However, I do recognize that eventually I will have to, and will want to, write something else. Hopefully people will want to see more, and I’d be happy to keep people posted if so. But the last thing I would hope to do, is to write a novel for profit. The one book I’m writing now, is the first in a planned series of 5, maybe 6 if I split the final story into two parts (remember when that was a trend with movies?) . However, I fully intend to complete the story at 4. Why is that? I feel that the best projects don’t pack everything conclusive regarding their plot in the very last book, at least in a coherent fashion. A fifth and final book would give a sense of finality and bridge the gap between the two large time gaps in my story (late 19th/early 20th century and the present day), but it would also answer some lingering questions that may have been overlooked in concluding the story with book 4. With this type of presentation, the tension surrounding the main story would be alleviated, but there would be room to introduce some new tension with the plot. It’s the stress that keeps on stressing!

This all isn’t to say that I don’t have plans beyond the planned books. I even have a forbidden high school setting for all my relatively adult characters to be de-aged and then interact in, and oh boy will that probably be a story that will either completely alienate my reader base or bring in an entirely new set of readers to my stories. But I think that I would like to eventually take a step back, and look at all my projects in retrospect, and leave enough time to think “hmm, am I satisfied with this”? It’s a little more flexible with writing I’d imagine than other arts; da Vinci couldn’t exactly tweak the Mona Lisa once it dried, you know? But I don’t want to be left wondering, or even worse, realize something needed work when it is too late to do anything. Douglas Adams was so irate by his fanbase wanting more Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy books, that he with “Mostly Harmless”, he basically tried ending the series on a final, depressing note. When he regretted this and set upon making another book that was way more pleasant, he kinda passed away before he could finish it. Guess life is also mostly harmless too. Mostly.
I’ll go a deeper into my thought process in having multiple books tell a simultaneously story in another blog post, but to sum up my thoughts on this whole thing; authors should always write what they feel like writing. However, if people tend to enjoy a certain book, I feel an author should think twice before burning the bridge on it, or at least consider engaging readers in active conversation if it is brought up. Some authors have thought they were done with a project only to go right back to it sometime later, or at the very least, have regrets about the way it ended. Others (that includes you, JK Rowling) either don’t know when to give it up, and oversaturate their series as a result, losing some potential value it may have with the reader. There’s a fine balance here when it comes to knowing when a series is complete or not, and it’s one that authors have been struggling to balance for ages now.