Thursday, December 27, 2012

2012 in Movies!

I have a confession to make… I love lists.

That’s a confession that I think I’ve made before, but it’s also one I haven’t been able to come to grips with. If I’m piddling around the internet and see something like, The 8 Types of Cabbage most similar to Lettuce when eaten raw…. Well, let’s just say that would work a lot better than promises of porn to get me to click a link.

I don’t make lists as often as I want to, but now, with all these year-end lists coming out, I feel like I have permission, at least for the next week or so.

So, right off the bat, here’s a list…

THE 10 BEST SPEC FIC MOVIES OF THE YEAR (That’s the year I saw them, maybe not the year they were released).

10) Chronicle: I honestly almost forgot about this movie when compiling this list. I don’t think it’s much of secret that expectations have a great deal to do with how much anyone enjoys a movie. This flick came out of left-field and stunned me with its story and fx – this was a theatrical release done on a shoestring budget – that’s saying a lot for something so fx heavy.
9) The Dark Knight Rises: This movie disappoints me only in that I would have expected this to be in my top 2 or 3 at the beginning of the year. It was still really good, but I felt it was a bit… I don’t know, it just didn’t move me the way the The Dark Knight did.
8) Seeking a Friend for the End of the World: A giant asteroid is coming to kill us all in a few weeks and there is
nothing to be done except sit and wait for it. Lonely guy Steve Carrell and wacky neighbor team up to avoid being alone. I loved it the dark humor that riddled the movie, as well as the emotional baggage that Carrell didn’t want to have to deal with. Very touching, if a bit sad.
7) Attack the Block: I may have seen this in 2011. As I get older I find that anything I’ve experienced in the past 3 years all feels like the last year to me. I almost put Moon on this list before I checked and saw it came out in 2009… is that right? 2009! Wow. Anyway, this is about some street punks (kids) dealing with an alien invasion. Also, they’re British. Awesome movie.
6) Wreck-it-Ralph: A movie about video game characters that was pretty good until the final act. When it became much better than expected. At first I was turned off because I wanted to see much more game hopping by the main character – but once I realized that wasn’t going to happen I ended up getting swept up by the story.
5) The Hobbit: One of the few movies I actually reviewed, albeit poorly, on the blog. In a word: Awesome. In a few more words: Awesome, but 45 minutes longer than really necessary.
4) The Cabin in the Woods: Another one that kind of hit me out of nowhere. I don’t really watch horror-y movies. But along with Tucker & Dale vs Evil, I thought this brilliantly told a story that toys with our expectations.  
3) The Avengers: This is probably the most fanboyish movie in the history of the world for me. I didn’t even bother dreaming of this movie being made when I was a kid because I knew it would have been impossible. I swear – if I ever get my hands on a time machine I am showing this to the 13 year old version of me. Causality be damned.
2) The Amazing-Spider Man: I was not looking forward to this movie at all. I saw it reluctantly because somebody (whose opinion I respected) said it was really good. I am not one of those people that has a problem with a movie deviating from the source material when the final product is great. Well, that's mostly true, but I did hear some rumblings from some quarters about changes - I'm not too sure what they are though, as Spider-Man has bee retconned so much I don't know what is official and what isn't. All that said, this really made an impression on me.  This was, honestly, maybe my favorite superhero movie of all time. It wasn’t quite perfect, but it was close.
1) Looper: This might be the most logically consistent time travel movie I’ve ever seen. Maybe. Bill and Ted did it pretty well too. Regardless, that means I’m going to have to learn the name of the little kid from Third Rock from the Sun, because he was in several of my favorite movies this year (aside from this and Batman, he starred in the excellent chase movie, Premium Rush – which would be in my top 5 non-spec fic movies of the year, if I created such a list).

THREE MOVIES THAT GOT A LOT OF GRIEF – but I thought were really entertaining:

3) Wrath of the Titans: It did kinda suck, but I was never bored. And that means something to me. That was one movie that felt epic, but just couldn’t quite get the drama part to work as well as the action and fx… I thought it was way better than Clash of the Titans that came out a few years ago. Very watchable.
2) John Carter: Besides being stunned at the production budget (about 20 times than Chronicle – No. 10 on my top 10 of the year), which was twice as high as it should have been (if I were a studio auditor, I’d be peeking my head into the accounting for this flick) I thought it was a pretty fun movie. Working from 100 year old books and trying to make it a modern sci fi movie for the masses was a tough undertaking. It didn’t quite work, but it almost did.
1) Underworld Awakening: I hated the third installment of this series, the straight to video one that took place entirely in the middle ages, but this one I got because the missus wanted to watch a movie and sent me to redbox with the instruction to not come back empty handed. I came back with this, and kept being amazed that I was interested. The series as a whole seems to keep setting up these characters that serve as prophesied messiahs or ultimate creatures, and then once they arrive, they get pushed to the side. The boytoy werewolf/vampire hybrid from the first two movies is the most bizarre example of a super powerful being that keeps getting captured and is always in need of a rescue. This time around it’s the little girl that fills this role. All that said though, this movie was a rollercoaster that I enjoyed.


3) Total Recall: I really wanted to like this movie. It was beautiful to watch - the actors and the scenery - but I had such a hard time sitting through this. I was bored, I didn’t care who lived or died, and I didn’t find anything at all that improved on the Arnold Schwarzenegger version from 20+ years ago.  And I would point out that it was a remake of THAT movie, not the Philip K Dick story. I found that even more bizarre. Who made that decision?
2) Dark Shadows: The most bored I have been watching a movie all year. I found almost nothing about this movie worth watching. Was it really about a 200 year old vampire trying to reopen an old fishing cannery?
1) Battleship: Look, I honestly thought the movie was okay. Really. What makes me get all shaky and angry about this is that somewhere, a studio head decided they had to have a tentpole movie for the summer. It threw a quarter of a billion dollars into a project and swore that they had to make it something amazing. Instead of finding a worthy project (either from the literary world or a something original) the braintrust decided to make something had to have been an SNL skit at one time and turn it into this. I swear, I think we’re on our way to seeing a 300 million dollar ‘Tic Tac Toe: The Movie’ within a decade – hell, maybe before then.


Prometheus: I had pretty high expectations for this, fueled mostly by Michael Offutt’s marketing machine. When it finally arrived I was awed by the beauty of this movie. I was so awed, in fact, that I really loved it while I was in the theater. I did have issues as I watched, like the map maker guy that got lost, along with the biologist that decided to play with the alien thing as soon as he discovered it. My wife is fond of saying that any movie that requires the characters to be morons in order for it to make sense is probably not a very good movie. I tend to disagree, as I like Dumb and Dumber quite a bit, but I’m guessing that this is more the type of thing she was talking about. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that this was one of the most poorly constructed stories I’ve ever seen on film. It’s a mess from very beginning and only gets worse. Very Disappointed.

And there it is. The year in movies.  I think I’ll put another post up soon with another list. Because I’m all about indulgence right now.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

A Christmas Wish! Plus Other Things!

I DIDN'T REALLY THINK THINGS THOUGH when I decided to do my Michael Jordan-esq “I’m Back” announcement recently. It’s Christmas! Also Hanukkah and Kwanza. It’s probably other Holidays too, but I’m the stereotypical American that is blissfully ignorant of things outside his personal experience.

Regardless, I’ve been struggling with what to do with this blog, I’m toying with the idea of doing a theme, or interviewing folks, or whatever. It seems like me continuing to talk about my pets or home improvement projects might not be the best use of everyone’s time.

We’ll see though, that also means more work for me. I’m not a huge fan of actually doing work that I don’t have to. I noticed lots of folks are taking time off of blogging for the holiday. But I may post a few times - even if no one is around. I need the practice.

IN THE WAKE of the horrific school shooting last week – which I hope to never mention again – I did get led down a rabbit hole of statistics. I found some stats (real ones, not made up ones) that made me do a double take: 

Murders in the U.S. in 2011:        12,664

When we factor in the population base, some quick head math tells me that the odds of getting murdered in the US in a year is about 1 in 24,000.

In England – 1 in a million.*

That’s a pretty stunning disparity. What can I say? Wow. I would add that this has nothing to do with all that gun control talk that has been dominating the news since the tragedy - but that is a HUGE difference. I didn't read any details about why that might be the case. I just saw the stats. I have my opinions, but I'll leave it to others to interpret what they want from the data.

IN LESS EXCITING NEWS, I took the missus to see The Hobbit this week. Her review was more or less identical to mine. Except that she turned to me halfway through the movie and mentioned she really wanted to throw up. A comment on the HFR 3D and not the quality of the movie itself.

She did have a complaint, but it’s pretty spoilery, and I figure it’s new enough of a movie that I might unwittingly ruin the experience for others if I blurt it out.

*That's me doing math there. I only mention it because I was pretty generous with rounding. I think I came up with something like 1 in 963,000 - but that's close enough to round up to a cool million in my book.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

An Unexpected Journey - At 48 Frames Per Second

I generally don’t do movie reviews. I don’t think I do reviews very well at all, if I’m being totally honest. Especially for movies. I think part of it is that I get hyper focused on the movie on screen and I either ‘buy in’ and think it’s the greatest thing ever done, or I’m sucked out of the story for some reason and I hate it.

That’s generally how I am with books too, but I’m at least nominally capable of deconstructing a book to find out what I enjoyed and what I didn’t.

Anyway, I took the kids and a nephew and went out to see The Hobbit over the weekend. I shelled out the $100 and made sure we got to see the 3D IMAX HFR edition.

This is me attempting a movie review – I shudder for you all – I’m going to split this into two: The Presentation first, then the actual movie.

Wait, maybe I should make this into three parts. No, that would be too much.

Presentation: The HFR (High Frame Rate) is a reference to the way that this movie was shot. As far as I know, it the first feature film to be shot in 48 fps (frames per second) ever. The promise is that it offers a smoother look, and in 3D – since polarized glasses tend to cut the number of frames each eye sees in half – along with the brightness – it means that the movie experience is much more enjoyable. That’s the intent, at least.

This is supposed to make the movie more engrossing, visually. If you’ve been anywhere on the internet and looked into what other think you’ll have seen that there a lot of people complaining about the experience.

I, for one, certainly found it distracting. But in the end decided I liked it. First, if you’ve ever seen many daytime soap operas, or some of those British shows that pop up on PBS on occasion then you might see some similarities. It’s a bit like watching a movie in fast forward – except that nothing is going fast. It’s a strange thing, and I found myself, especially early in the movie, staring at the screen and watching carefully how things looked. I mean, how can something appear to be moving too quickly, but not be? It’s a mystery.

I think all films shot in the standard film format (24 fps) have kind of tricked us into thinking that is the way things on a giant screen are supposed to look. And the hyper-real 48 fps reminds us of the cheap video productions we’ve all seen on poorly produced shows. It is disconcerting.

It’s funny, as my wife and I have shopped for a television that could also serve as a monitor for my job when I work from home, we’ve ended up having these long, detailed conversations about frame rates on televisions and the typical 24fps standard for movies and how problematic it can be when watching something – like a blu ray disk of a movie. It can cause movements to look unnatural. On a technical level, the sorts of problems that arise can be really difficult for engineers to solve.

Sorry, I digress.

By the time the movie was finished however, I was pretty thrilled with the format. I intend on sneaking out one night this week with the missus and watching it again. This time to see if I can watch the movie without the staring at the screen.

The Movie: For what it’s worth. I thought the movie was fantastic. I feel like it suffers just a bit from ‘Jackson-Bloat’ – a term I made up just now to describe his tendency of stretching a film out longer than its natural length. Some of the early portions of the movie seemed excessively long - but it was charming. I didn't really mind the excessive length. 

I’m reminded a bit of Tolkien who said something like,”…if there is something I regret – it’s that I didn’t make it (LOTR) longer….” I believe Peter Jackson feels the same way about his movies. As this might be an all-time great film if it were just 45 minutes shorter. As it stands, more isn’t better, but it’s still pretty awesome.

If I had a frustration it was that so much of the effort put into foreshadowing al the LOTR stuff makes no sense. I mean, we've all seen LOTR so it's not like we need all that. If some future movie goer watches The Hobbit movies first, then they might get all excited about the LOTR movies, but then get confused because they reintroduce characters that we've already seen. 

For me though, small complaints. I loved the movie. 

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

I'm Not Dead


It’s funny how a few days off quickly ballooned into a few months of sabbatical. Such is the nature of things I suppose. But a few months ago when I was feeling a bit overwhelmed with things I decided to skip a week of blogging. Not just skip writing in my blog, but of visiting others as well.

And then another week passed, and another, and another. Before I knew it people were sending me emails wanting to know if I was okay. I guess I really have been away for a while now.

WHAT HAPPENED while I was out? Disney bought Lucasfilm (will I now see the 1977 theatrical version of Star Wars get released on Blu Ray? Without all the updates).

There was a presidential election – I think somebody won.

NASA KEEPS ANNOUNCING they’ve found evidence of that water once flowed on Mars in the ancient past – At some point, someone needs to talk to them about these sorts of things. This last one was this huge tease about something ‘game changing’ and it turned out to be just repeating what they’ve told us at least 3 other times in the recent past. I’m thinking about starting a conspiracy that they found real aliens there but the govt stepped in and shut them up before they could announce it… thusly changing their story at the last minute and bringing up the water thing yet again.

I FOUND OUT DUOTROPE is going to a subscription model in January. Something that saddened me greatly – it’s a website that many authors use as a resource to track their submissions to various markets. As the real value that the site offers is that so many people use it that you can find out what standard wait times are for markets you’ve submitted to, what their acceptance rate is, and a pretty slick search feature that helps identify the best markets for a story that you may have written, the rest of what they offer is more secondary, at least to me.

I imagine that the number of people that will leave the site after it goes subscription will really devalue the data they collect – and therefore devalue their service. That’s my fear anyway. I’m torn about whether or not I want to invest in moving it forward.

Other than that, I had a lot of free time. What did I do with it all? Well, I watched 5 seasons of 30 rock, I finally got caught up on The Walking Dead. I read a few books, I started and QUIT reading a few more books.

All while doing some soul-searching.

I’m not so sure I’m through with that last part. At least in regards to my writing. But that’s been my time in a nutshell. More later… it’s good to be back. Just baby steps for now.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Insecure Writers... I'm Lost Edition!

It’s time to celebrate all my insecurities with you. Thanks to Alex J Cavanaugh and his brainchild, I now have that opportunity.

I’ve already done this. This post, I mean. I wrote it up and had it ready to go and then I did something strange. I deleted it.

It was dark, and even for me, a bit whiney. So I made an 11thhour decision to axe it and do something else.

I struggled with it because, well, in case you haven't noticed, I’ve not been around much lately. And I don’t only mean in regards to posting. I’ve not really visited anyone else in a while either. I’ve kinda gone incognito.

Why? It isn’t NanoWriMo, I decided not to do that this year (we’ll see, I did change my mind one year and signed up on the 15thand still managed to get it done). It isn’t the giant barn/office we’ve built in the past two months, my work there is more or less done.

Lately, just turning on my computer feels like it’s a burden. I’m burned out. I’ve continued to write, mostly on lunch breaks at my job, so I’ve been doing short pieces and not really working on my big projects that I should be doing. I’ve continued to work on art projects that have deadlines – even if those deadlines whoosh past with fantastic speed.

So, I’m not making an an nouncement, I’m not making a decision to change anything. I’m just giving a state of the blog update. It’s in a “I don’t really feel like it” kind of mode right now.

I need to write more. Not just write in general, butactually write in the projects that I’ve committed to. So, I am committing to this: I’m not starting ANY new stories until I’ve got some of my in-progress stuff complete.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Blood Bound Cover Reveal! Plus, Democracy in Action!

Hey everyone, I haven't done a real post in a while. I've been busy being sick. That's twice in less than a month. It's not as awesome as it sounds. Anyway, the great Vic Caswell has a tough decision to make regarding what cover to choose for her latest work. Check them out and vote!

From here on out, I'll leave it with Vic:

This one's a bit tricksy, because it's a two-fer!
Spencer Hill Press is having trouble deciding which cover they want, so they are giving YOU the power!!!
(MWHAHAHAAAA!!!! Can you feel it going to your head yet?) 

So! Let's hear about the book first!

Blood Bound
   Starting college a year early is hard. Starting fae college and learning to protect the world from the Unseelie is harder.
   Brielle Reed has always been an over-achiever, but this time she may have bitten off more than she can chew. Between her crash course in fae politics, struggles to control her new mind-reading ability, training sessions with the demanding Dr. Schwartz, and discoveries about the father who is still a mystery to her, Brielle finds herself longing for a chance at a normal life.
   But she may not get that chance. Or chance at a life at all, for that matter.

Title: Blood Bound

Author: Keshia Swaim

Publisher: Spencer Hill Press (www.spencerhillpress.comPlease feel free to use any images, text, links, etc. from our website.

ISBN: 978-1-937053-45-1
Release Date: September 10, 2013
Formats: Paper, e-book

Keshia is previously published, but this is her first full-length novel to be unleashed on the world.

Now, the covers:


So which do you prefer? 
Does the hand make you feel like the power could be in yours? 
Or are you intrigued by what secrets the pretty lady is keeping? 
Don't forget to vote!
(you don't even have to register or listen to politicians or anything!)

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

A Hero's Journey, A Blogfest, and an Interview

A TON OF STUFF is going on today. It figures. I don't post more than a few times a month and then, bam! Everything happens at once.

I was interviewed over at the A to Z Challenge blog. It was a ton of fun and it should be up today. Please go check it out, it was really cool. .

Today is more of uber awesome Did I Notice Your Book blogfest. Check out my entry at the end of today's post.

And  I've got a guest poster today. My first ever. PT Dilloway is celebrating the release of his new novel, A Hero's Journey, by doing a blog tour. He's here today to talk about the cover. I'm thrilled he asked me to do this. I've been looking forward to this book for a long time.


First of all, thanks Rusty for having me on your blog today!

We’re all acquainted with the expression not to judge a book by its cover.  Most of us are also probably acquainted with the fact that this advice is hogwash.  Everyone judges a book by its cover!  Think of it this way:  if book covers weren’t important than every book would just have a plain white cover with the title and author name.  So obviously having a good cover is very important.

That’s why I was so glad when I asked Rusty that he agreed to do my cover for me.  For my three self-published books I’d done the covers myself, but that consisted of taking a stock photo (or in the case of my novel Virgin Territory it’s a photo I took myself) and throwing some text on it.  That works fine for literary novels where you don’t really need anything too specialized.  For literary fiction you can generally get away with a picture of some shoes or a sunset or something like that.  If you don’t believe me, go look up literary fiction on Amazon and see for yourself.

The problem with a book like A Hero’s Journey though is that you can’t do that.  You could have a photo of some shoes or a sunset, but it wouldn’t really make sense.  It wouldn’t really convey to the reader that, “Hey this is a superhero book!”  That’s what you really want the cover to do, give the potential reader some idea what the book is before they open it, or in the case of buying online, click on the link.

And as far as stock photos go, there isn’t that much out there that’s helpful.  I mean when you’re creating a specific character like the Scarlet Knight, you can’t really expect a stock photo to look the way you want. The best you can hope for is to find a piece that might fit:  a helmet, a sword, a cape, or maybe boots.  Still, it’s not quite the same as having an original cover.

Unfortunately when it comes to drawing I am completely worthless.  The closest I can come to drawing anything is to make characters on the Sims 2.  Which is why I was happy when Rusty agreed to do the drawing for me.
PT's sketch

The obvious hitch was to decide what exactly to draw.  I finally got an idea, though unfortunately for me it came at about four in the morning.  I got up and spent a couple hours before I had to go to work sketching something very, very crude to give Rusty an idea what I was thinking.

He took that and ran with it big-time.  You can see the finished product.  There was some wrangling with the publisher over the size of the text, which took a few weeks to get to the point where they finally accepted it.

Finished painting
Obviously I’m really happy with how the cover turned out.  It’s a heck of a lot better than some stock photo.  It really gives the prospective reader a good idea of what the story involves.  If you didn’t have a title or description or anything you’d still have a good idea it’s about a woman who’s a superhero in a big city. Maybe you could even figure out her superhero name just from the picture.  I mean she’s got red armor on, right?

I hope you enjoy the cover as much as I do and the rest of the book too.  You can buy the book from theSolstice Publishing website here as well as Amazon, B&N, and other retailers.  To find out more about A Hero’s Journey including character bios, deleted scenes, and a visitor’s guide to Rampart City visit my blog at

Thanks to Rusty for hosting me today and for drawing the book’s awesome cover!

I appreciate PT taking the time to discuss the cover, they can be hard work to do. He is also going to be GIVING AWAY ONE FREE PDF COPY of his new novel to one lucky commenter, so let him know you want it down below.


FINALLY, DID I NOTICE YOUR BOOK? That's right, in a brilliant game of internet scavenger hunt, Alex J Cavanaugh and Ciara Knight have challenged bloggers to find a book, mention it, and see if the author can find it.

Fun game. So Ben S Dobson, author of Scriber, please come find me. You've got until the end of the day today to win.

The blurb:
Disgraced scholar Dennon Lark only wants to be left alone in his self-imposed exile—an exile that ends when a rebel army wielding impossible powers launches a series of brutal attacks on villages across the Kingsland. Forced from his home, Dennon is drawn back into a world he wants nothing to do with. His research into the kingdom's lost past—the very research that sent him into hiding—may hold the answers to a great many questions about the rebels. Questions about their shadowy motives; about their mysterious abilities; and about their ever-increasing numbers, constantly bolstered by those thought killed in their attacks. And only the King's infamous warrior niece Bryndine Errynson and her company of female soldiers trust him enough to help him find the truth before the rebels burn the Kingsland to the ground. Following a trail of historical clues across the kingdom and pursued by forces they don't fully understand, Dennon and Bryndine may be the realm's only hope. But in order to preserve the Kingsland's future, they must first uncover its past.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

I've Been Tagged!

From time to time, the internet winds blow my way and I end up getting tagged. I generally don't do anything about it, but this time I figured I would, as it gives me a chance to talk about myself. Yay!

This one came from PT Dilloway, whose novel, A Hero's Journey was released this week, much to his surprise.

Anyway, I'll get right to it.

Ten Questions for the Next Big Thing

1. What is the title of your Work in Progress?

Total Depravity
The cover I'll probably end up using

2. Where did the idea for the book come from? 

Where they all come from, the ether.

3. What genre does your book fall under? 

Science Fiction, well, is historical Science Fiction a real genre? If it is, then that's what this is.

4. Which actors would you chose to play your characters in a movie rendition? 

Phht, I have no idea. If they make the movie I'll worry about it then. Although, I must say that one character is disturbingly large. 

5. What is a one-sentence synopsis of the book? 

A colonial era Bostonite is tasked with hunting down an escaped slave that is rumored to be a demon.

6. Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency? 

The intent from the very beginning was for this story to be self-published.

7. How long did it take you to write the first draft? 

About a month.

8. What other books would you compare this story to in your genre? 

Well, I have no idea. I don't think I'm especially original, but nothing really comes to mind.

9. Who, or what, inspired you to write this novel? 

I love the idea of secret histories, and on a more philosophical level, of how much difficulty humans have interpreting events that fall outside of their cultural or intellectual framework. Like when the Spaniards first began arriving in their giant ships to to explore the Americas, there are stories that natives didn't recognize the ships offshore as... well... as anything. They made up their own stories about what they were or dismissed them altogether. Interpreting the visitors as gods or prophets. I think it says a lot about how the human mind works.

10. What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest? 

Well, the bottom line about any book is whether or not it's good. My hope is that this is better than anything I've done before. I know I'm excited about it.

That should about cover it all. I'm supposed to pass this along, but I'm not going to. If you want to consider yourself tagged then please, by all means, you were.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Monday! I'm Full of Hate!

SORRY ABOUT THAT TITLE, but man, I really, really, don't like Mondays. I generally just want to put my head down and barge on through until it's all over. But I wanted to post today to say thanks to everyone who gave War Angel a download. It managed to get up to #4 in Amazon's list of free War books over the weekend. That was as good as I could have hoped, so thanks everyone.

If you got it, and liked it, then I wouldn't get mad it you put up a review. And again, the version that went up Friday should be free of typos. If you go one on Wednesday or Thursday, then Yikes!

I FINALLY GOT TO SEE Looper over the weekend. It was one part Terminator, one part Firestarter, and the rest was great. I couldn't help but wonder though, if they screwed around with Joseph Gordon-Levitt's face because in certain scenes it looked like he was wearing a prosthetic nose and something in his mouth, I'd guess to make him look more like Bruce Willis. If they did that, then it was a mistake, because I was distracted by it. Am I the only one to notice? 

Also, after watching the movie I came home and found this:

Old Looper - watch more funny videos
Now that's great stuff.

IN OTHER NEWS, I have now completed the wiring for the barn we bought last month and it has power! It has lights and electrical outlets and it all works. No fuses blew and nothing smoked and nothing caught on fire. I feel like a younger Bob Vila. 

I worked until 10 p.m. on Saturday night and through Sunday afternoon. Once we called it done it was time to see Looper. It was my reward for a rough couple of weeks with this horrid project. 

Anyway, happy day folks.

Friday, October 5, 2012

It's An Update!

On Wednesday, I released for free, War Angel, my WWII tale of love and loss. A few hours after putting it out I started getting reports that there were typos in it. Lot's of typos. Lots and lots of typos. So, it's confession time.

I wrote that story years ago. So long ago that I did not have a digital file of it any longer. All I had was the book it was printed in. No big deal, I thought, I'll just retype the thing. It's already edited, proofread, it's ready to go.

Anyone who picked up a copy on that first day that has bothered to look learned that I'm not a great typist. Sorry folks.

In the two days since, I've made two passes, some with the help of readers, and have tried to clean it up.  Thanks to everyone who passed along specifics. Everyone is great.

If you still haven't downloaded it, it's free through Sunday. A version picked up now is much cleaner than it was on Wednesday or Thursday.

For those of you that already got your copy and still haven't read it, but intend to. I'll try to get Amazon to send you one of those emails that tells you that a new downloadable copy is available.

IN OTHER NEWS... wait, I don't have other news. Happy Friday everyone.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Insecure Writers ... Halloween Edition!

ALEX J CAVANAUGH, in his great wisdom, created the opportunity for any writer who feels like he or she needs a guilt free forum to vent all about their insecurities. Every first Wednesday of the month is the day for all who want to, to let it out. The Insecure Writers Support Group.

So, what’s my deal this month? Well, my plan to be super positive went out the window, as I’m feeling a bit down about everything.

I think I’ve always been looking for ways to gauge how close I am being a pro-level writer. I realized about a year and a half ago that the best way to tell would be to submit to pro markets. So I did, and I have.

And since that time I’ve had zero sales. Nada. I’ve had multiple stories out to all my dream pro short story markets for a while now. They keep not being accepted.

I received a rejection last week for a horror story I’d written. It had several personal notes in the rejection. That’s supposed to be a good sign, right? But then, when I read the notes, they say things like they didn’t care for the name of a secondary character, or, they think my math was wrong when used in the story (it wasn’t, but upon rereading, I can see why they thought that – that really is my problem).

And I’m thinking, WTF? I can change the math, I can change names. Don’t use that as a reason to reject the story. Tell me what’s wrong!

Of course, they rejected the story for other reasons, I know they were being helpful, or trying to be. It’s just that, well, I want someone to say, ‘Hey, this is pretty good, we want to publish it.’

So, I joined an online critique group for some feedback. I submitted a story that I thought was pretty good, but still didn’t seem quite finished to me. And that’s when I started getting feedback. And more feedback, and more, and more. And now I just want it to stop. It’s too much.

One person said it was the best (that’s a paraphrase) thing they’ve read since they’ve joined the group.

Someone else said it was such a mess that they weren’t sure if it was good or bad. It was just too all over the place.

The grammar was awful… no, wait, it’s actually pretty tight.

The aliens at the end were awesome! The aliens at the end was a stupid idea (an FYI, my story had no aliens – that looks like something I need to address, since more than one person thought there were).

And on and on it goes. Crits are pouring in and I want them to stop. I don’t like it. I’m not sure what I can take away, since stuff was all over the board about what was wrong with the story. It did manage to make me feel beat up.  

/End rant

IN OTHER NEWS, I self-pubbed a new novelette this week. I've done my darnedest to make it free on Kindle for the next few days. Please download it now if you're ever going to be interested. Well, unless it's not free, in which case you should wait until it is. 

I don't know if it's a good cover. But it was damn hard to do.

I wrote it several years ago for a charity in town, the book it appeared in sold horribly, but the charity still got something from it. I reread it recently, realized the rights are all mine, and thought it was still a pretty cool tale – even if I had to fight the urge to rewrite every word. Since not that many markets are interested in reprints, I figured I’d put the thing up for the world to see. It isn’t spec fic at all, just a story about a guy discovering his grandma’s secret history.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

I'm a Moron... The Proof (part II)

Remember when I blathered on about all these podcasts I listened to the other day? Well, here’s the thing, I'm still blathering.

See, I was on one of them. And here’s the other thing: I sucked. I sounded like a moron. 

Sigh, really.

Now, for the first time ever, you can hear my perfectly acceptable reason why I came across so poorly.

Way back in the early days of the 2012, I found this brand new podcast called the Roundtable Podcast. I mentioned before (in part 1 of this post) that it invites writers to come on and pitch a story while they, and a guest pro-author, go over the story in some detail and talk about what story points might be a bad idea and what might need to be added in order to make the story stronger.

Funny, I’ve been struggling with my epic fantasy novel now for some time. I’ve been stuck on it and have been looking for someone to bounce my story around with and see if I can hammer  out some things.

So I sent them an email and said I could use some help. The ball was in motion. I was put in the queue and I felt the freedom to work on some other things and wait until we could set a date. Which we eventually did.

Meanwhile, I was told to work on my pitch. My 5-8 minute synopsis of my novel that lays out all the major plot points that we need to discuss. I had something, like, 5 months to get that down.

No problem.  I got to work. I worked, worked, and worked on it. I recorded myself, timed myself, tried it out on people and asked how well they understood. I went back and tried it again, and again. Whittling it down to the perfect segment. I became the master of the synopsis.

The week finally came. I had a Skype call with the regular hosts to go over my synopsis and make sure things were okay. The call went fine, the time and date with the guest pro was verified and we were all set.

Then, through one of those quirks that happens when you have to coordinate the schedules of several people, someone had an emergency at the last minute and we had to reschedule.

I was given a few possible dates for the make-up date. I chose the one I thought would be best. No big deal.

Then my dad came to town.

My father lives on the west coast and comes in when he can. It happens once or maybe twice a year. He has a busy schedule when he comes, as he is responsible for much of the financial decisions regarding his mother (my awesome grandmother, which I wrote a fictionalized story about in an anthology that came out a few years ago…. which is also going up on the Kindle this week), and his week was pretty booked.

I was pretty booked too. I had to go out of town for this work-thing. I Spent a couple of days away for that, I worked some very long hours during my time in town, I only had a few moments to even acknowledge my father during his stay… except for his last night, which happened to be a Friday… the day before my recording session.

We went to my son’s football game, his team won in a blowout under perfect weather. Afterwards, we decided to go to my sister’s house in the next town over to hang out.

So we went, we hung, we had beers and pizza and we talked, it was a great night/morning.

I awoke on my sister’s comfy couch and was a bit fuzzy about what was going on. I know my dad was about to walk out the door to fly back to Cali and I had a recording session coming up in about 2 hours. Then I found out I had to take my step-son somewhere (I forget now, but it was important). So I hugged everyone and grabbed my kids and took off.

I arrived home a few minutes before our scheduled recording session only to find that my wife had brought someone in to help with our never-ending kitchen remodel. Great, I could use the help. Lots of noise and banging though.

I sequestered myself in a room and connected. Just in time.

Part of the format of the show is that the guest pro has an interview before the writer-in-trouble spills all their story telling woes. That interview gets put up as its own podcast a few days before the story discussion happens, but it all gets recorded together. It was about 30 seconds into the interview before I realized that I’d not really slept the previous night - I’d just dropped at some point when I was too tired to continue. I was really sleepy.

So sleepy, in fact, that I fell asleep during the interview – the interview with Hugo award winning author Tim Pratt, who was about to critique my story. Zonked. Then, as Skype is wont to do, it disconnected me. The sudden silence woke me. I frantically fiddled with things until I was reconnected to the call… once on, I immediately went into that synopsis I spent the last 5 months slaving over.

… and forgot every damn thing about it.

Every. Damn. Thing.

I said something about having already written 50,000 pages of text for the story, then went on to start describing unimportant details and stuttering until, mercifully, I just stopped talking.

At that point it became a bit more conversational, and wasn’t as bad.

Sigh. After it was over, the wonderful moderator/host told me that he’s a masterful editor and that he’d do his best to make me sound less than stupid.

That podcast is up by the way… go listen – then tell me how well you think the host did in fixing me.