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Time for a new weekly writer’s roundup of my works-in-progress and those ready to read!

As I mentioned last update, I started writing a short story for the upcoming FantasyWriters challenge near the end of the month. Although I began Cretaceous Queen on a whim and as a gift for a friend, it became an effective means to get me back into gear writing-wise after my June hiatus.

Being self-contained and small, it’s easier to just sit and write on a short story rather than returning straight to a novel in the middle of rewrites and edits. As I discovered last weekend, tacking a ton of threads, tying them together and forging new ones in an ongoing novel is a tall task made even taller if you’re out of your grove.

I’ve noticed a pattern with Viv’s that, when things get bogged-down, if I write a short story and come back to the novel afterwards I’m refreshed and things go a lot better thereafter. This happened with The Boy in the Jar in November and Ounta in December, so after six months I think now is a good time for another recharge and return.

It helps that Cretaceous Queen has been a fun story to write so far. It’s got humor and action, and I’m venturing into new territory with it which is always good to get the rust off. The new territory is that it’s a modern superhero story, a genre I enjoy but haven’t written a lot in.

My long-on-the-back-burner story Allied Section Alpha definitely has superhero gravitas, but it also takes place in a (very) alternate history World War II setting which is far from contemporary. In addition, the protagonists are all women who are historical personalities drawn from all over time and rewritten to fit the world of this setting. So the overall feel is something more akin to The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen than fare for a younger audience… Even if a key charter is only twelve.

It’s a project I want to get back to, but that story is going to be a novel. Before I even pick it up again I want Vivian’s Last Cigarette done and released.

Queen is different not only in setting, but also in tone. It’s got a Young Adult fiction feel, which is pretty easy to maintain given that my two protagonists are both fifteen. I’ve taken inspiration from American superhero comics focused on teens such as Teen Titans. However, I’ve also incorporated and adapted many elements of the Japanese Magical Girl and –to a lesser extent– Tokusatsu genres.

The mix is interesting, particularly as I put my own spin on Magical Girl tropes. Some of these are story touches, such as the young-love-but-I-don’t-know-what-to-do romantic subplot between protagonists Max (A.K.A. The Purple Phantom) and Sue. Others are tributes, such as Sue needing a magical widget to transform into her superheroic self.

Finally, I subvert a major Magical Girl trope with Sue’s superhuman persona. Although she is certainly empowered, she doesn’t become a glorified, glamorous version of herself in highly feminine attire… as is so often the case for that genre.

She becomes a Tyrannosaurus.

A full-on, full sized, oh-my-god-it’s-a-dinosaur, Tyrannosaurus.

She doesn’t even get a T-rex sized frilly dress to wear. Or anything, actually… given that her change in scale is too much even for my comic-book logic to apply something like The Hulk’s stretchy purple pants.

But the metaphor is that she embodies something majestic, primal and powerful that both compliments and transcends a fearsome exterior. Sue is discovering her hero’s heart in this story, placing her life and gifts on the line to protect others. She puts aside her insecurities and embarrassment, because people and the world they live in need a Cretaceous Queen to save them.

And that is as beautiful as any dainty magical girl.

I’ll probably end up spending another weekend on Cretaceous Queen before it enters a first draft. It’s a tight-paced story so far that has hit 2,800 words —at least half-done— since I started it last Thursday. Yesterday I reached the point where it’s just about to start a wild climactic battle that I’ve been looking forward to writing since I started it.

Once it’s in edits, I’ll be touching it up to share here and elsewhere… but the dive back into Viv’s will probably take place before I’m even done with that. :-)

Alright, time for me to stop blogging and get back to writing some more fiction! Take care!

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