Posted in Intermissions, 🎨 Art

I 💕🐲💕 Fantasy Genre

The other day, before bed, I tallied it up—and I wrote 7.5K words in a single day. In graduate school, I’d often pump out just as many words in a day, but that’s because I had this mindset, “This writing isn’t my best writing,” this mindset that I was just building blocks, exercises that lifted the writing I’d make later in life, that’d make me publishable.

I liked all the exercising I did in graduate school. But it sucked that the head of the MFA program frowned on genre fiction. I’m trying to work on both perceptions of reality, so I can transcend from building block literary fiction to publishable genre fiction.

Writing Philosophy 🛸 A New Mindset

I never grew out of the building-block mentality, I don’t think. Part of this blog isn’t just to track how I’m doing with my self-improvement prototypes, my life design; it’s also forcing myself to write things that other people read. Publishing. Even if it’s as simple as clicking the [Publish…] button myself.

I’ve been submitting more work through DuoTrope as a result. I think the blogging is helping me get in the new mindset; leaving behind building blocks, and challenging fear.

Listing 😋 All the Writing Things

Since I’m ramping up my words per day, I thought it’d be fun to list as many different different writing projects I could invest in as possible in a single day. We’ll see which ones stick the next time I redesign my flow, when I’m working on my May schedule.

  • submit 3-5 poems via DuoTrope or PW.org; once I’ve submitted the same 3-5 poem cluster 3 times, transcribe poems into a new word document to repeat the submission process; keep doing this until a collection’s worth of poetry is published, then submit poems to contests for a larger publication
  • submit an essay or short story via DuoTrope or PW.org
  • publish a blog post on Kourtnie.net
  • publish a blog post on KourtnieMcKenzie.wordpress.com
  • publish a blog post on Kourtnie.wordpress.com
  • publish a blog post on CleoAutismAwareness.com
  • publish a blog post on KourtnieMcKenzie.tumblr.com
  • publish a blog post on LiveJournal.com
  • draft a post and share art on DeviantArt.com
  • draft a post and share photography on Instagram
  • draft a listing and sell art on Etsy.com
  • draft a chapter for my current novella
  • draft a short story
  • draft a poem
  • design vocabulary curriculum
  • design rhetoric curriculum
  • design how-to-write curriculum
  • contribute to a conversation on Facebook
  • contribute to a conversation on Twitter
  • edit stuff (editing counts 3:1 towards word count)

I’m sure there’s more, but that’s more than enough to get me jazzed. I hope it gets you jazzed to write your own stories and ideas, too. 😘

Listening to Now 🌀 Fantasy Music

I love the fantasy genre. It’s probably my favorite, although science fiction and paranormal are neck-and-neck for second and third place. Some of the fantasy genres I want to explore more in my writing:

  • high fantasy
  • urban fantasy
  • post-apocalyptic fantasy
  • steampunk fantasy, like Final Fantasy VI
  • cyberpunk science fiction too, like Final Fantasy VII
  • fanfiction for other people’s fantasy worlds, like Azeroth
  • magical realism, similar to Aimee Bender’s work

Listing 💗 Fantasy Genre Ideas

  • 10 favorite fantasy books
  • 10 favorite fantasy writing music selections
  • 10 favorite fantasy video games
  • 10 favorite fantasy artists
  • 10 favorite fantasy tropes
  • 10 favorite mother figures in fantasy literature
  • 10 unique magic systems from fantasy literature
  • 10 interesting old Wiccan practices, and how these could be repurposed in a fantasy world to illustrate a culture, rather than a taboo thing
  • 10 interesting old Christian practices, and how these could be repurposed in a fantasy world to argue for international acceptance of all religions
  • 10 interesting old Buddhist practices, and how these could be retold in a fantasy world…animal tales, maybe?

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Posted in Prelude, Projects

Trip to AWP LA 2016, Part V

I thought I’d finish the restoration of the AWP LA ’16 blog posts by now, but after today, I still have two days left to go.

Today’s post includes nuggets of wisdom for review writing, which is timely, considering I teach that in college now. But before that, of all things, I found a 💪 Lifeview!

Lifeview 🤩 Life’s an Adventure

During the drive home, I’ll pull into the Phillip Raine Rest Stop—which I use frequently, during my monthly trips between Central and Southern California—and I’ll see, for the first time, with the sun still washing the earth with yellow glow, an hour before the Golden Hour, how the ground scintillates with blue glass, a striking and dark color that would hide late at night—like a mosaic in subordination to the natural world—and this’ll dredge up a curious and alien feeling, the “Awe of a New Discovery in a Familiar Place,” which is a powerful and inspiring feeling and, I’d dare to venture to say, one of the feelings that helps us fall in love.

So I’ll fall in love with the rest stop, taking dozens of photographs, trying to capture that moment of wonder before it escapes again.

I travel too often. I went to Humboldt to see my sister last weekend; and next weekend, I’ll go to Orange County to see my father; so I’ve been in all sorts of beds lately, rather than my own. Yet this feeling will only find me here, at Phillip Raine.

Two weeks from now, I’ll go to the Monterey Aquarium to research the setting for my thesis, Why We Fall in Love, (61,000 words,) and also, to get more intimate with the next project I’m working on, I Will Love Like Loki, (which I think is a poetry manuscript,) expanding from the Central Coast to the Central Valley, and to the O.C. too, and even wider, the way my writing wants to do.

But for now, I’ll post notes from my 10:30AM panel.

Meaning Making 🤗 Everyone’s a Critic

Sometimes panels vibrate with tension—disagreements between panelists that are handled with respected yet palpable space—and I think if it’s done right, this discord can actually benefit the panel experience considerably, pulling the audience closer, as we try to understand the gray matter, the gray areas that allow these panelists to laugh together while also sharing conflicting opinions about whatever subject matter they’re presenting; and at the panel, “Everyone’s a Critic,” this sort of magic happened, panelists of lovely balance, juggling part discomfort, part comfort, while offering informative ideas to anyone who came to listen.

Nancy Lord, the moderator, teaches science writing at John Hopkins University, as well as creative writing for the University of Alaska, and her book reviewing experience spans decades, with a specialty in Alaskan voices and literature. She and other panelists, including Valerie Miner, Amy Hoffman, Leigh Newman, and John McMurtrie, enter a vibrant discussion with three centers of gravity:

  1. Should book reviewers specialize in a field, or should they be “generalists,” able to write about several bodies of literature, based on the needs of the review publisher?
  2. Should book reviewers only write “good book reviews,” (which McMurtrie described as, “We’re in the era of shiny and happy,”) or is it more ethical to write honest criticism?
  3. How do you get into book reviewing?

Other subjects are discussed too, like what makes a good book review, (doing it for love, instead of money,) (like all genres of writing,) and whether a review should include the I-pronoun, (depends on the publisher’s preference,) (like all markets of writing,) and whether experimental book review writing is a good thing, (Newman says yes,) (it’s based on each editor’s opinion, though,) (like all slush readers,) (like the world of writing,) but the hour-and-a-half panel revolves mostly around those the three centers of gravity…

Which I’ll visit more next post. 😋


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Posted in Prelude, Projects

Trip to AWP LA 2016, Part II

Yesterday, I revised an old post from my trip to AWP LA ’16, a time capsule from graduate school. 💊 Today and tomorrow, I’ll continue that narrative…

I was a good student. I took a lot of notes back then! 😉

Quote Response 💜 Embracing a Poetics of Joy

The moderator, Lisa Dordal, had simply breath-taking arguments about why we should find joy in our writing, which speaks to the same message Liz Gilbert makes in Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear when she tells this love story:

My friend, Dr. Robin, is a botanist and author who teaches botany…her students are all fervent young environmentalists…before they can get down to the business of world-saving though, my friend Robin asks them these two questions:

The first question is, Do you love nature?

Every hand in the room goes up.

The second question is, Do you believe nature loves you in return?

Every hand in the room goes down.

At which point, Robin says, Then we have a problem already.

Gilbert urges us readers,(us creative people,) we must love our creativity, and our creativity must love us; to put it another way, that we must love writing, and our writing must love us—or our dancing, or whatever we spend our time creating.

Then Gilbert warns us that “trusting in nothing but suffering is a dangerous path,” that “suffering has a reputation for killing off artists,” that “even when it doesn’t kill them, an addiction to pain can sometimes throw artists into such severe mental disorder that they stop working at all.”

After those urgings, Gilbert quotes Oscar Wilde’s description of the writerly experience as “one long lovely suicide,” to which she confides, “I adore Wilde, but I have trouble seeing suicide as lovely, I have trouble seeing any of this anguish…as lovely.”

Similarly, Dordal told her AWP audience to love curiosity, saying, “No one can take my curiosity away from me,” and “I never expect anything from my curiosity,” but “I’m never going to get rejected by my curiosity;” all quotes that are rather interchangeable with many of Gilbert’s approaches towards creativity. Dordal also praised how curiosity brings joy to her while she’s writing her poetry, then she said:

Writing poetry heals loneliness… It brings us to this feeling of transcendence, feeling of creation… It brings us to shared human history.

In this way, she suggested spiritual joy we receive from poetry, writing, art, et cetera, as a transcendental elevation; and curiosity takes us down that path, towards our spirit.

That was just the beginning of the panel.

I’ll blog later about what Ellen Bass, Traci Brimhall, and Jericho Brown shared on the poetics of joy. I could write about this for several more hours; this was my favorite panel in quite some time.But since I have way too many notes to transcribe, too many comments to add, too many buried emotions that surface with the transcribing and the adding, I’ll wayside those thoughts until I return to Fresno.

Listing ❤ The Author as Entrepreneur

I was way too hungry to attend this panel; the poetics of joy went over the allotted time, then I had to cross the West Wing of the Los Angeles Convention Center to get to this presentation. When you’re small and hungry, the West Wing of the L.A. Convention Center is no small feat.

So I didn’t take the notes that this panel deserved.

But I made it to the panel at least, and I had the good fortune to listen to the advice from The Authors Guild, made up of the panel moderator and some contributors. Notes:

  • Social media is useful, as usual; Twitter, Instagram, and Pintrest recommended;
  • Medium.com is a good place to submit writing to build an audience, following, traffic;
  • Be careful with your rights when you get a book contract; and even if you give away rights in your contract, such as audiobooks, translations, and movie deals, you can include a stipulation that the publishing house forfeit those rights if they don’t use them in XYZ years, so be proactive about including these CYAs;
  • When Amazon.com changed the value of the book to the reading public, the Fair Contract Initiative sprang into being as a massive CYA for authors;
  • Publishers squeeze authors only because they’re also being squeezed; having this empathy is nice, so long as you don’t get over-squeezed in the process;
  • Approach book publication as a business person;
  • If your book ends up in the forays of Hollywood studios, don’t get your hopes up, because it can fall through anywhere, from producers to screenwriters and so on;
  • Don’t offer to write your book’s screenplay; it’s a different art form, for a different artist;
  • When you get your book rights back, (and hopefully you do,) (copyright is ugly,) self publishing is an option; and there’s no harm in sending that self-published e-book of your old book as a gift to your e-mail subscribers;
  • It’s a great idea to have e-mail subscribers that you contact monthly;
  • You should have a platform building up, a readership, people who will support you, spread the word about your book, love you forever, and you can do this lots of ways, including the first bullet point about social media, or, hey, a blog.

I wish I had more notes this. I did jot down to check out Michelle Richmond’s website later. She was one of the panelists.


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Do you enjoy Kourtnie.net?
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🌸 @ $1 – $35 a month, 🌸
you not only help me add more
daily hours to writing and editing posts,
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such as poetry, postcards, and books.
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