Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Publishing and Professionalism Go Hand in Hand People

Seriously, does this even need to be said?

In case you missed it, check out this, ahem, lovely discussion thread where an author has a freaking meltdown over a bad review.

Read it? Ok, then.

All I can say is wow, who pissed in her Cheerios? I mean, whatever happened to grace and decorum? When did swearing at potential customers and making a complete ass of yourself online become a business strategy? Questions such as these vex me, they do.

No, not really at all. The truth is, a lot of people seem to think that writing is easy and that they'd be a genius at it, and once that happy fantasy is popped like a cheap balloon they have trouble coping and tend to lash out. I'd bet any money that the "author" linked above has never worked a job where she had to smile politely and resist the urge to reach over and strangle someone, as evidence by the complete freakout she has over valid criticism. Instead of taking it as a learning experience she reacted with hostility. I was unlikely to read her book beforehand, now, after seeing this, I won't touch anything she writes with a ten foot pole carried by my personal helper monkey. (Not that I have one yet, as they're on back order.)

Maybe I should send her my rules for getting along with people?

And We're Off

Just a quick note to say, that yes, I have indeed submitted my novel to Angry Robot books. I'm sure it will be praised and hailed as a triumph, bringing both my future publisher and myself critical and commercial success. Indeed.

Yeah.... even I'm having trouble with that one. Don't get me wrong. I'm proud of the book, and proud of myself for writing it, but I am realistic about my chances. This is my first novel, and it's a bit on the short side. My chances of it being picked up are slim, and I'm far from done working on it. So far I've got the prologue and the first four chapters done to a degree I'm happy with. I'm going to have to spend the next few months continuing to revise, on the off chance I do get a request for a full manuscript. Then there are a few more steps that need to be completed over at Angry Robot books before a decision would be made.

If the book does get accepted it would be 2013 before it's published, so not anytime soon. So even if this book turn out to be a home run I've still got plenty of times up at bat before I see any results.

Wish me luck!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

The Dork Review: The Adjustment Bureau

As promised last week, here's my review of The Adjustment Bureau. And no, it's not a movie about an organization of chiropractors who go out offering spinal adjustments, as my one friend was jokingly describing it.

Hmmm... where to start on this movie. I enjoyed it. The pacing was good, it never seemed to drag along and the action and drama were engrossing. I think it does suffer a bit in my mind when compared to Battle: Los Angeles because it's not as intense an experience, but is more thoughtful and emotional. Feelings are what drive the plot in this movie as opposed to bullets.

That being said, I loved the argument put forth about free will versus determinism. The scene with David Norris, the protagonist and senator to be played by Matt Damon, and Thompson, the ultimate antagonist played by the menacing Terrence Stamp, arguing back and forth about it is one of the best in the whole film.

While this movie has definite protagonists and antagonists, there really isn't a villain. Thompson is very, very determined to make sure David goes back on plan, but his tactics rely more upon fear and frustration than actual violence, leading up to a very emotional scene between David and Elise, played by the absolutely gorgeous Emily Blunt.

I had another reason to go and see this movie though. Years ago, while listening to the song Karma Police by Radiohead I had a very similar idea to this movie, where a character discovers the underlying workings of Fate and fights against it. Now, my idea is not exactly the same, but I wanted to see this movie to see how it was done in this case so that when I finally go to write my story I avoid making it the same or too close and people think I'm just ripping off this movie.

I recommend going and seeing The Adjustment Bureau if you're looking for something a bit more thoughtful and emotional before the summer action movies burst out onto movie screens.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Nerd Rage: False Advertising

Ok, to start things off, watch this trailer for Battle Los Angeles:

If you've seen the movie then you know this is a pretty good representation of the movie and its subject matter. It's a nice taste of what you're going to see, and it acts as an enticement to get you to see the movie. Most importantly, it doesn't promise what it can't deliver.

Now take a look at this trailer for Passchendaele:

Alright, so watching that you'd think this was a war movie with some time spent on the home front, right?

If you haven't seen Passchendaele and intend to watch it, then stop reading now as I'm going to give away most of the movie below. Fair warning.

Still here? Okay then. The trailer is full of lies!!!

I'm being over-dramatic of course, but not too much. Based upon that trailer you'd think this was a movie about the Canadian contribution to the first World War, a look at how Canadians proved themselves in the blood and mud and earned the name "storm troopers". It looks as if finally the contribution that was made by our soldiers was finally being taken seriously, and being celebrated while at the same time showing the true horrors of the war.

Yeah, not so much. And to make it worse, this trailer is the most balanced one I've seen, and I remember most of the commercials for this movie at the time it came out highlighting the war aspect. If I could have found the advertising from History Television for a recent broadcast of the move I would have put that up, as it skips the romance/home front aspect altogether.

The movie is book-ended by the brutal war scenes, and then spends most of it's time on the home front and focused on the romance between the two main characters. While I'm more than happy to stare at Caroline Dhavernas onscreen for a couple hours, when I went to see this in the theaters I was looking forward to a war flick, not a romance. To say that I was displeased would be an understatement.

Passchendaele is forever tainted for me because of way it was advertised. To be honest, I wouldn't have seen the movie in theaters if it had been more truthfully portrayed in the trailers and commercials. But then I would have missed seeing two things; trench nookie and Paul Gross's character literally getting crucified. (You'll have to watch the movie to get those references.)

Why am I writing about this? As I said earlier, recently History Television showed the movie and they continued with the false advertising, and the contrast between that and how Battle Los Angeles was portrayed just stuck in my head.

I hate false advertising. I understand that companies want to make money on movies, heck they put the money into making they should get something in return, but portraying a movie falsely doesn't help in the end. For me it means I'm less likely to go a see the next movie that company puts out or the next thing starring Paul Gross.

And in the end I still haven't gotten the war movie I wanted.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

The Dork Review: Battle Los Angeles

Sometimes there's a wealth of choice when you want to go to the movies. There can be so many things you want to see that sometimes it's hard to choose.

Take tonight for instance. A couple of friends and myself planned to go out and see a movie, and it fell to me to decide since I was the one the made the suggestion of going and seeing something in the first place. Three contenders stood out, Rango, The Adjustment Bureau, and Battle Los Angeles.

Now from the title of this review it's obvious which one we went and saw. So, getting to the point, how was the movie?

Very good!

It was no King's Speech. There is no in depth study of character, no probing of the inner mind of a tormented individual. There are a couple of tormented individuals in this movie, but it less probing then dipping our toes into their thoughts that happens. The characterization is brief at best, but in this kind of movie that's alright, and what characterization is in there is handled well and is kept subtle, never overblown or out of place.

To sum it up, this is a military-sf movie, and a good one. Discussing it with my friends afterward we came to the conclusion that it was Independence Day with the majority of the jingoism pulled out. Yes, the main characters are U.S. Marines, and yes they do score a significant victory, but they aren't shown going around the planet pulling everyone else out of the fire. The focus of the movie is on one battle, in one place, with only glimpses of what's going out elsewhere in the world.

The movie showcases the Marines at their best without feeling like a recruiting film. These guys are scared shitless and shown that way, yet the still rise to the occasion. They go through hell and back.

If you're a fan of explosions and such, then go see this. The action is intense and almost non-stop, but it never seems gratuitous. There's always a reason why the bullets are flying, and these men aren't going out of their way looking for glory. They have a mission, and they see that through to the end.

If you want to kick of the summer action movie season a little bit early, then go see this flick. I'm glad I did, as I enjoyed it immensely.

(Edit: Forgot to put this in the original post. There are a couple wall banger moments in this movie, mostly involving the news broadcasts from the scientist. Be prepared for them, but don't let them detract from the mayhem.)

Next week I'm looking to go and see The Adjustment Bureau, so expect my opinion on that movie next week.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Updated Novel Status

Anyone remember that novel I mentioned I was working on? The one I wanted to have completed by the end of March so that I could submit it to Angry Robot Books?

Guess what? The first draft is done!

Total word count at this point is 66,221. I expect that to fluctuate as I start revisions, going up and down as I find parts that require more explanation/showing and other parts that need to be ruthlessly pruned. Yes, the process is far from over.

So what have I learned from this. One, I can actually sustain the writing effort on a single project over a longer period of time than is required for shorter works, or in other words I can actually write freaking novels! Two, I can currently generate an output of 1000 words over two hours per night on average, or at least I can while writing first person narration. I'll need to write a longer work in third-person to see if this is the case. Three, having a general outline helped, but I am able to stray from it and come up with some interesting ideas.

I should probably say a bit more on that last point. During the writing process I actually had a character morph on me. Initially I intended him to be a lazy, no good bum, who's sole purpose was to cause calamity and die horrifically. As the writing progressed this character actually started to take on some heroic qualities, and became more rounded and mature as things went on as the plot demanded he step up and accomplish certain things. I won't mention his ultimate fate, but needless to say I was impressed at how rounded a character he became. I'm still a bit nervous about my characters, as that was one weakness that was pointed out to me by Karl Schroeder when he reviewed the short story I submitted for review while he was writer in residence for the Merrill Collection. I think I've addressed that weakness, but I won't know for sure until someone other than me reads my novel.

So where do I go from here? First, I need to take a short break. Not a long one as I need to get this in to Angry Robot by the end of March, but a few days to rejuvenate my creative juices wouldn't be amiss. I really do want to see a couple movies that have just come out or are about to come out, so this would be the perfect time to go and see those. Even though I'm staying away from the keyboard, my mind is still working on the novel and a plan is forming for revision. I know certain things I want to highlight in the book, and certain characteristics about each character I want to stand out. During the draft I discovered that two of the characters have a tragic flaw, and I want to make sure that's portrayed consistently, and I want to see if I can figure out the tragic flaw for the third character and find a way to make it clear as well, and all of this without clubbing the reader over the head with it.

I know my chances of this getting published are slim, but even if this book never sees the light of day (or ends up as a Kindle self-pub special) I've learned something from the process. Even better, I have numerous ideas ready for the next book I want to write, so even if this one doesn't take off I'm far from done.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

About Freaking Time!

Big news if you're a Song of Ice and Fire fan. The next novel in the series, A Dance with Dragons, is set to drop on shelves this July.

Man am I looking forward to this! It's only been six years since the last book of the series came out. I can understand needing some time between books to get things sorted out, but six freaking years is a long time. I hope with the HBO series coming out and it devoting a season to each book will push Mr. Martin to finish the last two in the series a little bit faster. You know, so there's only a space of say three years between each.

I kid, I kid. The writer half of me understands how hard it can be to get things flowing,  but the fanboy part of me is snarling and saying "more words now!"

Either way, I'm getting a copy in my grubby little hands as soon as possible.