Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Denver Podcast Network

This has been mentioned a couple of times on the show already, but for those who may not be caught up, Beyond The Trope is now a part of the Denver Podcast Network. This is a big step for us because we're branching out and meeting new people!

More than that, we'll be cross-promoting each other on our shows, building new audiences, and learning how to improve the quality of our episodes. As we build this network together, there will be live events, meet-and-greets, show cross-overs, and most importantly: a growing community of podcasters who all love the city we live in.

There's going to be a lot more to this community some day, too, but for now, that's where we're starting. And even though we have the website up and running already, we'll be kicking off the network with an official launch party soon, too. For info about that, keep an eye out on Facebook and our Patreon feed (you won't need to be a patron to get this news).

Giles is prepping for critique group, the RMFW Colorado Gold conference, and a slew of other projects on behalf of Page 42 Productions, LLC. 

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Thoughts on Blogging and Branding

A few years ago, I stopped blogging on my personal blog. Not because I didn't like it anymore, but because it felt like I'd run out of things to say.

The thing about a brand, like we've developed in Beyond the Trope, is that whatever we do with this project, it needs to be, as often as possible, on-brand. Obviously, because of how we've set up the brand, we're allowed to deviate from it to an extent, and by definition, we'll still be "on-brand" because we're "flipping the trope" of our brand.

That doesn't mean it's always easy to come up with blog topics. It's an odd position to be in. I write almost every day (most weeks, anyway), and I'm even doing research for my day job, possible new opportunities for life, and my workshops at RMFW in a couple weeks. What this means is that I have a lot to think about. But it's hard to make those thoughts turn into something worth writing about in blog form.

But because I'm writing a branding workshop, it's something that I can discuss today, insomuch as I have already done so, and I think there are a couple of other small tips I want to leave you with. First off, all of my branding knowledge comes from the college courses I took back in '15 and from the short process (okay, almost half a year) of preparing to start up a company. Granted, we never started that company, but we learned a LOT. Anyway, my two pieces of advice for anyone who wants to build a personal or professional brand is to figure out what you do that other people also do and focus on how you do that differently than everyone else. Second, focus on that difference, build on it, make it a strength, and then integrate that into an ever-evolving process that will help you stand out from the crowd.

It's not a lot, but if you're looking to build a brand, that's the best place I can think of to start. That's how we branded ourselves after doing this for a year, and that's how I'm building my own brand. It may not be the best way to do it, but you'd have to ask real experts to learn that. Which you should absolutely do.

Giles in NO way makes any claim of expertise in the world of business. If any reader in any way intends to pursue business opportunities, either personal or professional, he STRONGLY recommends seeking the advice of professional consultants.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Epistolary Fiction in the Age of the Geek

I've always been one of those people who enjoys dabbling in different storytelling formats. Epistolary fiction has existed for a long time, but the internet is allowing us to expand and explore it in new and interesting ways.

I recently read a novel-length fanfic told through emails, text messages, images, and GIFs, and it was a really fascinating thing. The authors did a fabulous job of setting up a situation through the emails and texts, then instead of writing out the details of a scene immediately, using a GIF or photo to evoke the feeling and general overview of what the characters are doing. They even got fan artists to help illustrate a portion of the story, and hand-made crafts and food to photograph as part of the details. It was, honestly, an incredible labor of love and was really fascinating as a reader.

My roommate and I just started writing a fanfic of our own with some unusual formatting: we're telling the story mostly through text messages and emails, but we're also writing some full-prose interludes. It's an interesting challenge, getting across a full story (plotline, world building, character development, etc.) via texts with a rare full scene thrown in here and there. Admittedly, it's fanfic, so there's less world building we need to accomplish, but still.

It's also weirdly freeing to dabble in a new (to me) story format. It makes it easier to turn off my critical brain and just focus on the fun of writing the piece. 

Have you tried writing epistolary fiction before? What were your thoughts on it?

Emer has written more fanfic in the last week than she has in her entire life combined so far. And she's not even sorry. It feels great to write again, and immediate feedback and validation from readers is a great way to stoke the creative flames.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Revisiting The Matrix

Not long ago, my wife and I rewatched The Matrix because it was on Netflix. It had been eight years since the last time, and when I watched it back in '09, it was badly written, weighed down with metaphors that beat the viewer over the head with immediate literal representations of said metaphor. The improbable storyline forced its way from one point to the next with highly contrived events that "magically" saved the day in time for the hero to save the world.

Then when my wife and I watched it again a few days ago, it was so good. Not quite as incredible as the first time I saw it, but still awesome. In the same way that classic action flicks from the '80s and early '90s are awesome. Yes, in comparison to today's movies (ignoring the bad writing of many summer blockbusters), the writing in those movies isn't great, but they're still fun. Die Hard is one of the best movies of all time. In my opinion. Compared to Mad Max: Fury Road, the writing is a little lacking. But I still think it holds up.

With some time, and a lot of perspective, I can appreciate The Matrix for what it was when it came out. And now that it's almost 20 years old, I love it for what it is, even if they never released the super-awesome phones everyone carried.

Now if only they'd managed to greenlight a sequel ;).

As sacrilegious as as it sounds, Giles is actually looking forward to the reboot, especially after watching the original. It has a chance of renewing the awesomeness that was The Matrix in the same way that The Force Awakens renewed the awesomeness that is Star Wars.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Do you have comfort media? You know, that book or movie or song you always turn to when you're feeling awful? That short story or TV show or podcast that always makes you feel better?

I do. I have a handful:
  • The Two Princesses of Bamarre by Gail Carson Levine 
  • Odd and the Frost Giants by Neil Gaiman 
  • How to Train Your Dragon (the movie, though the book is also adorable) 
  • Neil Gaiman's "Make Good Art" speech 
  • Song of the Sea 
  • Final Fantasy XV 
  • Yuri on Ice 
  • "Peace and Love" and "Here Comes a Thought" from Steven Universe

Can I explain why these things are comfort media for me? For some of them, sure. The books have nostalgia factor and cute, uplifting messages. "Make Good Art" is just plain inspiring, and the Steven Universe songs are calming and fun. Yuri on Ice is not only an adorable relationship, but also shows a main character dealing with stress and anxiety and failing, so I can watch it and convince myself that if Yuuri can do it, I can, too.

The rest? No clue. There's just something in that media that speaks to me and soothes me when I need it. Back at my previous job, when I had a really awful day, I would come home and play Final Fantasy XV for hours and actually feel like a human again when I went to bed (admittedly, this was just the first half of the game; the second half is pure pain omg). In college, How to Train Your Dragon got me through finals and losing friends (and I can still quote most of the movie). The lullaby from Song of the Sea still makes me smile and calm down almost immediately, and I'll never get tired of watching that stunning animation.

What about you? What's your comfort media?

Emer is currently considering a reread of Odd and the Frost Giants because she misses it. It's been a while since she read it and it's so cute. She also apologizes for the lack of headshot this week, but her computer and Blogger are super not working together.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

All the News That Is News

Ladies and gentlemen! As has been previously discussed, both here and on the show, we have a Patreon up and running. And it's moving along nicely thanks to some amazingly awesome supporters of the show. While we're going to be releasing a lot of exclusive content for our patrons over there, it will also become the home of all upcoming news. Big announcements—like events, conferences, and awesome changes (improvement)—will be made exclusively there (and linked on the socials).

Of course we'll still talk about cool stuff on the blog, especially when amazing personal events occur (can anyone say future agent? or publication???). This is where I'm going to tell the world when I get my first publishing credit, when I get an agent, and if/when I earn any awards.

I can't speak to my co-hosts' plans, but this blog will continue to be where I make personal announcement, and Patreon is where Beyond The Trope will make podcast/company announcements.

Giles is excited for new announcements, and some of them will be coming up very soon.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Back to School

Today I went to my first day at my new job. Professional development days aren't that exciting for teachers–not when you have to hear some of the same material every year for as long as you've been teaching. But so much of it was new information to me that I couldn't help but feel slightly overwhelmed.

The best part of the day, however, was going into a classroom with my mentor, looking around, and realizing that it was ours. As in, partly mine. We staked our claim on corners in the back of the room and started moving student desks and talking about what to put on the bulletin boards. I placed my office chair and sat down, experimenting with how far I could rotate before I smacked into the desk before me or the filing cabinet behind me. Mine.

I don't know anything about the students I'll have in our classes. I'm not even completely sure how to do everything that needs to get done–much less what I want to get done. But for now I'm excited to have that tiny corner of classroom real estate and an endless string of possibilities in front of me. Will I teach Frankenstein or Fahrenheit 451? Persepolis or Maus? I'm not sure yet. Maybe none of them, maybe all of them. The awesome thing is, I get to share my excitement for the written word with people.

Here's to a challenging and (hopefully) successful year of teacher residency!

Michelle has a feeling this year is going to teach her the value of a caffeine addiction.