Sunday, January 24, 2010

Vacation Time Inbound

So this upcoming week I'm going to head down to Cuba for vacation. Really looking forward to it. It has been many, many years since I last had a real vacation. I need it.

What this does mean? No writing for the next two weeks, what with the vacation prep and then the vacation itself. So, before I leave I should take stock of where I am so that when I come back I'll be ready to get right back into it.

I have one story still with the Tesseracts people. I have two more stories written to the second draft level that I'm waiting for feedback on. It seems at this point that all the people I rely on to give me feedback are buried under one hardship or another. I'm not complaining at all, for I understand what their going through and my needs in definitely come second. It may be a good idea to start looking for a local writer's group in order to get some feedback. I don't want to start posting them online as I want to try selling to traditional markets first, and if they're available online the chances of a sale drop off to zero very quickly.

Speaking of vacation, I'm thinking I'll hit some of the local sci-fi conventions this year. So far the plan is to go to Ad Astra, Polaris and SF Contario. We'll see what happens.

See ya in two weeks. :)

Monday, January 18, 2010

James Cameron Must Be Stopped

James Cameron, lord of the pretty, king of the world, is looking at turning Avatar into a trilogy. Dear God NO!!!


Sunday, January 17, 2010

The Dork Review #2: Book of Eli

Alright, time for another review, but this time it's going to be of a movie. Hey, we are all affected by what we see in addition to what we read, so I'm going to use these reviews to put forth my opinions on anything and everything nerdish and dorky. Fair warning, there may be spoilers in what follows.

So, on to the movie. Basic premise is gruff butt-kicking loner on a quest across the country. Add in a female sidekick/damsel in distress and an intelligent Gary Oldman villain, as only Gary Oldman can pull off. Of course there are the usual disposable henchmen, quite a few but not as many in most hardcore action films, but like everything in this post-apocalyptic movie they are a resource you need to be careful with. Tie this all together with a sacred object, in this case a King James Bible so for some people this will literally be sacred, and you get quite a good mixture going.

Let me just say it straight out, I really enjoyed this movie. So far I've seen this and Sherlock Holmes this year, and both have been better than expected. Denzel Washington plays Eli as a man of faith without being preachy. This movie isn't trying to convert you. It is however a great testament to the power of words.

The essential conflict in the book is between Eli and Carnegie, Gary Oldman's character, who both are literate and intelligent men who know the power of words. Carnegie has a great line, seen in the commercial for the movie, where he says "It's not a book, it's a weapon!" and there is some truth in that statement. Carnegie wants the book because he knows that the words in it have power, a power that will let him control others through guile and charisma and not the naked force he's been forced to use up till now. He wants to use it to try and build something back up, with him on top of course. I think the scene that best captures Carnegie's character is early in the movie. When we first see him he's reading a book on Mussolini and during the scene we find out that he has been paying illiterate biker thugs to bring him any and all books he can get his hands on. He is as ruthless as he is intelligent.

There is a twist at the end of the movie that I wont reveal, but I will recommend that if you do go and see it watch what Eli does very closely and see if you can figure it out. Because of the twist I mentioned I may actually look at picking up the novelization of this movie to see how the author deals with it, for it would affect the entire structure.

So finally, let me just say I recommend going out and seeing this movie. You don't need to see it on the big screen to get the full effect, but if you've got the time and the coin there's no reason to wait till it's available to rent. I know I'm likely to add this to my movie collection when it does come out for sale.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

The Dork Review #1: Storm From the Shadows

Alright, so we're going to try something a little different now, regular reviews of books that I've read or reading at the moment. I thought I'd start with one of my favorite authors, David Weber and his next to latest entry in the Honorverse series, Storm From the Shadows.

Now I'm going to assume that if you're reading this you're at least a little bit familiar with the Honorverse. If you're not then I recommend hitting Wikipedia and doing a search for Honor Harrington and then hitting the Baen Books website and downloading any of the Honorverse books they have available for free. Short description of the series would be Horatio Hornblower in space, but that fails to totally encapsulate what Weber has done.

So, on to the book itself. This novel picks up threads hanging around from Shadow of Saganami, and some characters too, and runs parallel to a lot of the action in At All Costs, and even though I have yet to read it, Torch of Freedom. One definitely nice thing is the introduction Mr. Weber provides that warns the reader that some of the events in this book are going to be different views on what's already happened and that all three story lines, the Honor Harrington one, the Talbott Cluster line, and the Queen Berry/Torch line, are all going to be interconnected. I sure the publisher is delighted by this, because to get the full picture of events you'll want to buy all the Honorverse books that come out so that you know exactly what's going on.

However, if you're unable to get them all or want to wait, usually Baen does include a CD in the first printing of a new hardcover that includes all of the books to date. Actually, that was my main motivation for picking up At All Costs in hardcover, so that I could finally get all of the books in the series and understand what was going on.

Finally, the introduction does include a warning. Events are going to get even grimmer for the heroes over the next few books, and this is borne out through this novel where we can see more of what's happening in the background, and it doesn't look good. The book ends on a forbidding note and you just know some serious shit is about to go down.

The two main characters I can see emerging in the text are Michelle Henke and Aviars Terekhov. Both assume more responsibility inside the military, and both get some very moving scenes in the book. Not wanting to give anything away, lets just say that Aviars is shown without a doubt that his actions in Shadow of Saganami were approved of and that the powers that be have great confidence in him.

This being an Honorverse book it does have to include at least one of two instances of Honor Harrington popping up and making a comment about current events. The nice part is that this is done with a light touch in most cases, and the only scene really where we see a lot of her is near the end of the book. This scene does involve Honor verbally pimp slapping the Queen of Manticore and is almost a reason in itself to read the book if you're a fan of Honor Harrington. However, this scene does little to drive the events in the rest of the book, being near the end and all, but for all appearances it is setup for the next Honor Harrington book. I have a feeling it will be referenced or copied over into Mission of Honor, which Mr. Weber has identified as being delivered and in the pipeline for publication.

All in all I enjoyed Storm From the Shadows. The best way I can describe it is as a middle book, kind of like The Empire Strikes Back from Star Wars. It has less action that some of the other Weber books, but it's main reason for existence seems to be to get things moving and setup the next few books after it. If you're only interested in Honor and her adventures then you could skip it, but then you'd be missing out.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

I Now Have A Trinity

Of stories that is. Not the mannish looking chic from the Matrix movies in the tight black leather. no, definitely not that.

Just finished the first draft on my third story from the "Great Resumption" and I'm actually very happy with it. I was able to use multiple third-person viewpoints, as in the story is told in the third person but the focus shifts, and I like the way I was able to break them up. I need to give the story a day to sit and kind of percolate, so tomorrow I likely won't be working on anything unless I get some feedback on my second story. It seems that something about 30 pages long takes a bit to be read. The waiting is aggravating but I'm getting feedback for free so I really can't complain.

Speaking of aggravating, I'm still waiting to hear from EDGE on my Tesseracts submission. It is now officially a week after the stated deadline they posted for when they would get back to people. I'm hoping this means they're having a hard time choosing and that I have a good chance of getting published. If not, well then I'll take whatever feedback, if any, they give and either dust off the story and try elsewhere, rework the story and try again, or consign it to the dustbin of history and move on.

Amazingly I have no shortage of ideas right now. There have been at least two nights in the last few weeks where I've woken from a dream and had to write down details right away. Also, I have ideas for novels burning in the back of my brain. Heck, I have ideas for series of novels burning in the back of my brain! A part of me wishes I could quit my job and write full time, but right now that isn't feasible. Aside from the whole starving to death in a back alley thing, I'm close to getting off contract and in full time with benefits. So, stable work with good benefits versus living day to day on what I can bring in on my unproven talent as a writer. Yeah, I'll stick with the job to pay the bills for now.

John Scalzi has a great piece on Whatever about authors and financial issues. The points he makes are something I always trying to keep in mind. Basically it's the same points my parents made years ago anytime I mentioned the idea of becoming a writer, but don't tell John or else he may feel old, and he can't feel old because he's not that much older than me! Article can be found here.

Well, that's all for now. Hopefully I'll have some good news soon. At the very least I should start writing about what I've been reading. Hmmmmm.... I did just finish a book by David Weber. Maybe I should write a review on it this weekend. Not a bad idea.

Friday, January 1, 2010

2009 is Over. Welcome 2010

First day of the new year, and so far so good. Lets see if we can keep this going. :)

Last year was hard for a lot of people I know. Just about everyone lost family, from parents to grandparents. A lot of people didn't know if they'd have jobs from week to week, and we all had to listen to doom and gloom on the economic front.

It almost makes me feel guilty that my year wasn't so bad. We lost my grandma, my last living grandparent, early in the year, but she'd been slowly going for the last few years and we're all glad that she's finally at peace. I have a good job that looks to be secure for the near future, a job that pays all my bills with a bit left over. I finally started getting my weight under control and have lost a lot of extra pounds. Finally, I started writing again, something I haven't done in years.

For years I've said to myself I've wanted to be a writer, to be published and to have people read the things that have knocked around in my brain. So many things kept me from that, but most of all it was fear, fear that I wasn't good enough and never would be. Well, that fear is gone, passed like that last year. Writing is hard work, but I'm getting better with each thing I write and each book I read is another example of what I can do if I try and work at it each day.

As for my first attempt at getting published, well, I still have not heard from the editors of Tesseracts. The Edge site says that submitters should receive a response by December 31, 2009, but that hasn't happened yet. I'm hoping to hear within the next few days, but if I don't hear anything by say Thursday I think I'll email them directly and ask. Hopefully they've just been really busy with the holidays.