Thursday, April 21, 2011

A Little Clarification--Geocaching and Sendek

I want to shed some light on two things that came up this week.

The first is easy. Several of you wanted to know what in the world Geo-caching is. Well, I'm no expert since I've only been once, but it was pretty cool.

My good friend Laura has this nifty little GPS device specifically for geocaching.
We went to a park, she turned it on, and three "treasures" showed up. (We were with 4 year olds) Anyway, anyone can create a cache, upload it to the network and then other people can come find it using the coordinates you entered and any clues you may provide.
The "treasures" are hidden and you try to have them blend into the surroundings as much as possible. See the box under the big rock?
When you find the box, you open it up and there should be a list where you can sign in that you found it and leave the date and maybe your hometown. Some have little nick knacks as well. The idea is you can take something, but you put something back in its place. This is what the 4 year olds LOVED. I thought it was neat to see all the names of those who came before.

The coolest part is you can do this all over the world. Laura is going to Ireland next week (LUCKY!) and she's hoping to do a bit of geocaching while she's there. If she can convince her hubby.

I can't remember if I found this on google, or if I added the stars. I've been playing with photoshop all week.
For some reason, and this keeps coming up with different people, my WIP is confused with YA novels. Critiquers leave comments such as "for a YA book this is...", "I wouldn't use this word in a YA  novel, it's jarring", "even in a YA novel you could..." and so on.

Sendek is NOT a YA novel. I don't even understand how this is happening. My MC is 28 years old and well established in her career. (Don't worry this isn't a rant, and I am looking to see if there's a way I can make this clearer on the first page.) But, I'm writing in first person and she doesn't think like a teenager.

Anyway, the second concern I have from various critiques is the science fiction question. My novel is a science fantasy. I found this term and genre during my months on Nathan Bransford's forums. It simply means I have elements of science/speculative fiction and elements of fantasy.

Several people have said I should think beyond our current technology for a science fiction story. Perhaps the problem is I'm grouping science fiction and speculative fiction together. My understanding of speculative fiction is that the novel idea originates from a question.

What if a logically minded scientist also had mage blood running through her veins?

This doesn't mean her science has to be more advanced than what we currently have on earth. In fact, since the novel isn't specifically about the technology, I don't think it matters what level they have reached.

Remove the rubber bottom and make it fly.
A little about Sendek's technology--I believe science progresses more quickly in the areas of importance for society. For instance, Sendek was more concerned about saving the environment than reaching the stars, so they spent time, energy and resources in developing fast, fuel efficient planetary transportation. They also developed food replicators to cut down on planetary hunger, wide net systems for communications, and the military has developed utility belts equipped with personal cloaking devices (society at large is unaware of this). Because that is what they felt would benefit them the most.

Sky Elevator

Now they are turning to the stars, but starting at the beginning. Trial and error, scrambling for the funds to test theories, etc. They're not ready for sky hooks or elevators, transporters or anything else. However, by the end of book one they find themselves in possession of two interstellar ships ready to be studied. The "jump" in technology approaches.

Perhaps my biggest problem is that I see the big picture. The ebb and flow that I want between science and magic over the course of the four books. In the end it all makes sense, but I need to keep the reader with me until the end so they can see it.

In the end, science and magic will enhance each other in such a way that an entirely new universal order is born. It's way cool. But I guess you'll just have to trust me on that for a while.

Until then, what are your thoughts? Is it hard to fit your novel in accepted genre labels? (I didn't even touch on the strong romance thread in this post) Do you find yourself at odds with the accepted thought and worry if that's going to kill your novel in the end?

On top of all that, I'm terrified I'll never find the right words to translate the vision in my head to the paper. Well, I guess it'll never happen if I keep sitting here. Off to move words around on the page until I find the perfect order. :)


  1. Now you listen here missy. You are not allowed to expand the box in which we firmly entrench you. If it is sci-fi then you must abide by the small 1" x 1" box that we put you in. None of this rubbish about putting fantasy in there or young adult or not young adult or speculative fiction or urban fantasy (God forbid) how could you? You betrayer of words?!

    Just kidding :P I hate genre boxes, categories, and rules in general.

  2. Michael, I agree. Because I read all kinds of different stuff my writing reflects that. It's like saying "you can only be a mom, nothing else." Revolt! Rebel! Pull yourself out of that box!

  3. @Michael *still laughing*

    I love the sci-fantasy genre. Very unique and it describes Sendak to a 'T'.

    I've got a problem with the consarn, blankety-blank differences between Paranormal Romance, Urban Fantasy, and Contemporary Fantasy.

    Since I write fantasy set in the real world but not necessarily in a city setting, I've decided to go with the last term but really, make up your mind People.

    Thankx for the geo-caching explaination. I could have Googled it but having you explain it was way more fun.

  4. Huntress, I can see your problem. I think Contemporary Fantasy fits well with the wip I read. It's hard though. Why do they have to fit us in a box? Yeah, yeah, I know they need to know where to put our books on the "shelf". I want a shelf titled "Something New"

  5. So basically geo-caching is a scavenger hunt with GPS. Treasure hunting for the new millennium!

  6. First, geocaching is so cool. My friends and I are totally trying to set up a double date to go soon =)

    Second, I also really worry about defining my writing into a genre and how that will fly with agents and publishers. I tend to write thrillers with a strong science aspect (or science fiction suspense novels?). I have a hard time since some of my stories are more science fiction and some are more thrillers, but all of them have both elements. Right now I'm hoping to find an agent who represents both and go from there.

  7. Yep, Rogue Mutt, scavenger hunting with GPS. Exactly!

    Sierra, I think looking for an agent that handles both genres is a great idea. If that doesn't work, I think we should stage a revolution! My goal in writing this novel was to convince my friends who don't read sci fi that it could be accessible to them. I think sci fi thrillers would appeal to several of them as well. Good luck!

  8. Sounds like my kind of story.

  9. I get where you're coming from. The genres seem to be changing and I want to know where they are coming from in the first place and who is in charge of changing them. I'm blaming the agents. Not to be mean of course or controversial for that matter, it simply seems logical to change the genre to trick the readers. haha! Seriously though, I write all kinds of genre but have recently been querying a Paranormal Romance. I was reading blogs and following events on WriteOnCon and discovered that my genre was being called several things. I only know this for sure because the examples were obviously paranormal romance but being called other things. And by the way, Steam Punk? Really? Whew! I think you should rant, or I should, haha!

    Now for Geocashing, there is a ton of that going on in my area and I think it's awesome.

    Hang in there, you'll pull your words together. No fear.

  10. That's unfortunate about your genre misunderstanding. It's be worth going back over your posts to find out how that may have happened, since you want it to be absolutely clear when it comes time to market it.

    That Geocaching sounds interesting though. I didn't know that it was a world wide pastime.


  11. Please forgive Rogue Mutt's comments. I've come to understand that he was placed into a box labeled "Do not open after the 1930's". He has no idea who Rihanna is, no idea what Skype is, and I'm sure has never played a game (le gasp) of Angry Birds in his life. Although I admit that I did not know what geocaching is, I bow to your superior knowledge of such nerdy things as if a defeated opponent in Midway's reboot of Mortal Kombat ala Liu Kang with the white lotus sign of respect.


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