Friday, December 29, 2006

Hello there, remember me?

Any of you who still have me on your news aggregators and RSS feed readers, thank you. And thank you even more for those who haven't deleted this blog from your bookmarks. It's very easy for a blog to drop off the map when it hasn't had a serious update in more than six months. Thanks for sticking with me.

Anyway, I plan on coming back to blogging with the New Year. I'm now newly married with a new house. I still have many things to do around here, but it's about time I rededicated myself to writing (which has faltered badly in the last three months) and blogging will be part of that. I won't make any commitments to the amount of blogging I'll do -- I'd like to blog every day, but it seems like a little much right now. So this blog will probably be best read from a feed, where you won't get annoyed looking back every day to see if I've finally updated.

Well, to make this post worth something, here's a few links:

Jeffery Ford has posted a short story on his blog that I believe is previously unpublished.

A giant squid was captured alive and caught on film; unfortunately, it died soon after.

Movie trailers: Harry Potter, Fantastic Four and the Silver Surfer, Hot Fuzz, and The Host.

Check out Eddie Campbell's blog, well, just because he's good, but also becaues he discusses photo references and how they were used in making From Hell.

I would also like to highly recommend Chris Roberson's blog, he's got loads of good stuff. He's an interesting guy anyway: He's the author of Paragea and Here, There & Everywhere as well as the brains behind Monkeybrain Books.

What I read in 2006

You can see all of the books I read this year and their publishing information at LibraryThing. But here is the basic list. I've put them in order of enjoyment, though I could easily change around the order of the books in the middle. The list doesn't include short stories unless I read an entire collection (which is unusual for me, I tend to dip in and out of anthologies.)

The Empire of Ice Cream by Jeffrey Ford
Snow Country by Yasunari Kawabata
His Majesty's Dragon by Naomi Novik
The Big Time by Fritz Leiber
Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
Vanitas by Jeffrey Ford
Rashomon and Other Stories by Ryunosuke Akutagawa
The 37th Mandala by Marc Laidlaw
The Limits of Enchantment by Graham Joyce
Byzantium Endures by Michael Moorcock
Lint by Steve Aylett
Homeland by Sam Lipsyte
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
Imaro by Charles Saunders
Shriek: An Afterword by Jeff Vandermeer
The Conqueror Worms by Brian Keene
She by H. Rider Haggard
The Shadow: The Romanoff Jewels by Maxwell Grant
Snakes and Earrings by Hitomi Kanehara
Coyote Kings of the Space Age Bachelor Pad by Minister Faust
Hammered by Elizabeth Bear
The Rising by Brian Keene
The Engines of God by Jack McDevitt
Cowslip by Kirk Sigurdson

Graphic novels
Black Hole by Charles Burns
Bone: One Volume Edition by Jeff Smith
Y: The Last Man, Volume 1 Unmanned by Brian K. Vaughan
Barefoot Gen: The Day After by Keiji Nakazawa
The Nikopol Trilogy by Enki Bilal

Sixpence House: Lost in a town of books by Paul Collins
Haiku Handbook by William Higginson
With Respect to the Japanese by John C. Condon

It's about 32 books. While this was a busy year, I thought I usually read more books than that. I'll track this year, as well, and see how many I read.

Friday, September 01, 2006

New review added

I've just added a review of the new "Gojira" DVD coming out from Classic Media. Go over to my Giant Monster Blog and check it out.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

A short note to say I miss you all

I haven't written since May? Geez, I've really let this thing go. Unfortunately, that's going to continue. Right now, I face an upcoming wedding, a house sale, a house purchase and general chaos besides. Of course, this is no excuse. If I wanted to, I could squeak in a few minutes every day for the blog, but right now, I'm just not feeling up to it. Sorry. Also, I really want to focus on fiction writing and getting myself away from the Internet can only help that.

Expect me to return sometime after the beginning of 2007, I think. I may pop in occasionally before that, but no promises.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Strange, terrible crime case

Do you remember the case of the man who had a bomb strapped around his neck who said he was being forced to rob a bank or it would go off? And then it did? It sounds like a movie plot (and has become episodes of Law & Order and other shows), but it actually happened. What really happened, whether the man set up the whole thing himself to go out with a spectacular suicide or whether he was actually kidnapped and bombstrapped, remains an open question.

Of course, the family knows where they stand and they're pissed. They've posted a Web site,, offering the details of the case and asking for any help. It's a tragic and amazing story. Also check out the Wikipedia entry on the case and this story from CourtTV's Crime Library.

(Link found via Professor Hex.)

"Hallucigenia," by Laird Barron

I just finished this story in the June issue of The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction. It's absolutely terrific. I've enjoyed most of Barron's stories (you can read Bulldozer, and Parallax online, and you should) but the concluding pages of this story knocked me out.

When I started the story, I didn't have such high hopes for it. The story is told from the perspective of a tough guy rich boy who has travelled the world, mastered hunting and faced down many a problem. He is surrounded by other tough guys. This is so much like Barron's other stories -- all of them feature some kind of hard boiled protagonist -- that I figured I was in for a repeat. And to some extent, I was. The story includes many of the same horrific and pulp ideas as his others, and even includes some references to his last F&SF story, "The Imago Sequence."

But this one tops the others.

I'm not sure I can explain why, either. There's a wealth of detail about the horrific background of the story, but you never quite see the whole picture. There's terrific scenes of horror -- including the one illustrated on the magazine's front cover. And in the climax, Barron brings it all together in one spectacular fright scene. Then, he goes one step better with a coda that adds just a touch of humor.

I'm just rambling on here, but I really enjoyed this story and wanted to share that with others. If you aren't already subscribed to F&SF, go out and pick up this issue. This one novella is easily worth the $3.99 cover price.

You can read a review of the issue at Tangent Online. And you can discuss the story at the magazine's message board.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Still out there writing

For a while, I was posting updates on my writing. The last one was in March. Nobody's asked me to post about it again, but despite the silence I venture once again into navel gazing.

I've been busy since March. That story that I was hashing over for weeks and weeks I finally finished. I ended up going to my notebooks and writing it longhand to get it done. It helps me to get away from easy access to the Internet. The next step for that story is typing it into the computer, making a few changes, and sending it out to friends and at least one more objective reader. (If anyone is interested in reading what may be a horrible waste of your time, or possibly my first genius work, feel free to e-mail me.)

So now, where to go from here? I've played with some flash pieces. I'm trying to take Jay Lake's advice (PDF) and write a story of some kind each week. This isn't the way I've worked up to now. I seem to be a slow writer, I work in fits and starts. I'm attempting to do more to see if that's just how I write, or if that's me being lazy.

My big problem at the moment is I've created this great fantasy setting. It's unusual and, with any luck, it's a fun place to read about. But I'm finding that I don't know what story to tell there. I keep starting things and then backing off. These false starts add new information and descriptions to the world, but don't get me any closer to having a story about it. I need a character who springs from this place and has a tale to tell. For now, I'll keep playing with the idea and I will hope to bump into a character along the way.

So, how's your writing going?

Monday, May 08, 2006

S&S and cover art

Paul M. Jessup has expanded on my sword & sorcery post with some additional links. He also has a post full of science fiction and fantasy covers from the '60s and '70s. There's some beautiful artwork there.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Sword & Sorcery linkage

I've had sword & sorcery on the mind lately, so let me clear out a few links.

First off, read Paul Jessup's s&s story The Gods Have Left Us at Flashing Swords e-zine. If you like that, follow it up with the excerpt of a new story in the same setting he posted at his blog.

My post the other day about Fafhrd & the Gray Mouser elicited a little talk about sword & sorcery in comics. Professor Hex posted this link about the Thongor comics. Thongor was the character created by Lin Carter. Like most of Carter's characters, it's a tribute to older writers, in this case Robert E. Howard and Edgar Rice Burroughs. You can buy Carter's books from Wildside Press, if you were so inclined. Here are some other Carter links: In Memoriam, personal data, bibliography, an article on H. Rider Haggard by Carter (unfortunately, I had to find it on a Google cache, the original seeming to have disappeared), and Carter's introduction to The Three Impostors by Arthur Machen. By the way, Carter will be better remembered for his editing, especially the Adult Fantasy series that reprinted fantasy classics.

The Gor series by John Norman is probably one of the most (rightly) derided series in all of sword & sorcery. But that's not to say there weren't good moments. Fortunately for us, Sonya Taaffe gives us a look at Assassin of Gor and what's right about it. LiveJournaler Hans the Bold follows up with more detail on the Gor series and where it all went wrong.

If you'd like to know who some of the famed characters of sword & sorcery are, check out this list called Heroes of Dark Fantasy.

And finally, Night Shade Books has released Imaro by Charles Saunders. Imaro was one of the S&S greats that was little spoken of in recent years. This book reprints the first novel in the Imaro series, and I believe Night Shade will be publishing more Imaro books in the future. My first encounter (and the only one until I can pick up this book) was through Andrew Offutt's Swords Against Darkness series, which are a lot of fun. Sword & Sorcery has reviews of Vol. 1 and Vol. 2. Imaro appeared in Vol. 4.

Hope that fills any sword & sorcery jones you may be feeling.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

The Prisoner remade?

Oh wow, The Prisoner may get a TV remake in Britain starring Christopher Eccleston (recently of Doctor Who.) This is the kind of thing I get all excited about and really worried about at the same time. The original was such a classic, it doesn't need to be remade. On the other hand, a remake (made well) could be really relevant today. Unfortunately, there's no mention whether Patrick McGoohan (the brains behind the original) will be involved. I'd feel much better if he were.
Here's hoping they do a good job.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

We come to praise Ford

The LitBlog Co-op continues Jeffrey Ford week today with a selection of entries by various non-LBC bloggers praising Ford. I can't account for some of the writers up there, but when Jeff Vandermeer, John Klima, Tim Pratt, Meghan McCarron and John Picacio are among the participants, you know it's good.

And if that's too many nice things said about Ford for you, be sure to check out The Mumpsimus where he reveals the dirty secrets of collaborating with the man.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Fafhrd & the Gray Mouser returns to comics

Fascinating article from SciFi Wire about Dark Horse Comics and Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser. Dark Horse will not only be doing a comic book about Fritz Leiber's sword and sorcery heroes, they will also be reprinting all of the novels and short story collections. That's the best part of the whole thing, to me.

The article also mentions they have movie rights. I actually don't want to see a Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser movie. I just know a movie wouldn't find the right balance, it would be either too campy or too serious. It wouldn't have Leiber's great sense of humor and action.

Also mentioned at the end of the article, Dark Horse is looking for the rights to other Robert E. Howard characters. (They already do a Conan comic book, which I thought was OK, but didn't keep me reading.) I must admit, I would like to see Solomon Kane in comic form.

Harlan Ellison interviewed

AZ Central interviews the "Grand master of fabulism" in advance of Saturday's Nebula event when he will be named Grand Master. He has some interesting things to say in the article, so I hope you click the link. But I couldn't help but chuckle over the image this quote provides:

And, of course, I still watch Judge Judy every day. You know, you can watch everything on television night and day and you will not see real people. But Judy, what it is is small-claims court, and you get the cadences of the voices of average people. You can see, sadly, how ignorant most people are these days.

I get a quaint image of the aging Ellison in a comfy chair, eagerly awaiting Judge Judy every afternoon.

I really wish Ellison was writing more these days. I haven't read a new story from him in ages.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Ford at the Litblog Co-op

Take time this week to visit The LitBlog Co-op where Jeffrey Ford's The Girl in the Glass will be the topic of conversation. Gwenda Bond has already posted some initial thoughts on the book. Also, some time this week, Ed Champion will be posting a podcast interview with Ford.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Jeffrey Ford wins an Edgar award

Jeffrey Ford's novel "The Girl in the Glass" won the Edgar for Best Paperback Original. Congratulation Jeff, it's well deserved. The more attention the book gets, the better.

Also, next week, check out the Lit Blog Co-op for more on the Girl in the Glass. Ford will be blogging at the site and there will be a podcast interview with him as well.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Novel features pulp novelists

Professor Hex pointed out something to me recently: "The Chinatown Death Cloud Peril: A Novel." Now, for that name alone, the novel should be interesting. But the fascinating part comes in the description of the novel:

Ravaged by the devastation of the Great Depression, America turned to the pulp novels for relief, for hope, for heroes.

And the pulps delivered in spades.

The science fiction story, the hard-boiled detective, the superhero were all born on these cheap yellow pages, found behind blood-drenched covers dripping with sex and violence. Return now to those thrilling days of yesteryear, enter at your own risk into the dark and dank lair known as The White Horse Tavern, and meet Walter Gibson, the mind behind The Shadow, and Lester Dent, creator of Doc Savage, as they challenge one another to discover what is real and what is pulp.

For Gibson, writing a new novel about The Shadow every month is a way to evade his own dark past. For his rival, Lester Dent, creating Doc Savage is an attempt to bring the light of better days to desperate millions. In their lives and loves Gibson and Dent are as different from one another as the heroes they’ve created. But now the hideous murder of the fringe pulp writer H.P. Lovecraft — victim of a mysterious death that literally makes the skin crawl — will set these two men on a collision course with each other, and face to face with a terrifying and very real evil that could have sprung from the pages of their own pulps.

From the palaces and battlefields of warlord-plagued China to the seedy waterfronts of Providence; from frozen seas and cursed islands to the labyrinthine tunnels and secret temples of New York’s Chinatown, Dent and Gibson will find themselves in a dangerous race to stop a madman destined to create a new empire of pure evil. Together with the young pulp writer L. Ron Hubbard, a mysterious stranger, and a sexy psychic with a chicken, they will finally step out from behind their creations to take part in a heroic journey far greater than any story they have imagined. Their quest will force Gibson to look beyond the shadows and discover the true evil that lurks in the hearts of men, while Dent will learn that the nature of a true hero is not found in a fictional superman, but in the faith of the woman who challenges death itself to love him.

A novel that features pulp writers as heroes. Perfect! This is going on my "to buy soon" list. (The novel comes out in May.) In the meantime, check out, where the author offers a lost chapter (though you'll have to crack a code first) and a nice collection of links about pulps and writers of the time. Also, if you hae a podcast, no matter how small, Malmont would like to be involved. Check out his Web site for details.

This seems to be the latest in a trend that may even become a genre unto itself: Novels featuring authors as characters fighting fictional menaces. Off the top of my head, similar books include Move Underground by Nick Mamatas and The List of 7 by Mark Frost. I know there was also a novel that featured H.P. Lovecraft, Robert E. Howard and Clark Ashton Smith fighting an ancient evil. Can anyone think of any others?

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Writing update

I'm getting back on the horse with my writing. I still haven't rewritten the story I was working on previously. But it's still there waiting to be attacked. In the meantime, I've been writing a spontaneous story in one notebook and putting the pieces of another story together on my computer. I've also been journaling in notebooks and practicing some parts of my writing. So I'm back on track with writing every day, though my output is still not real stories. The writing keeps me happy though, so I'll keep it up.

Fear for 'The Stars My Destination'

Alfred Bester's classic "The Stars My Destination" is headed for film, kicking and screaming no doubt. This is a great novel, one which I will have to reread before the movie is released. It has plenty of amazing visuals that would be amazing on film with today's technology. But this is Hollywood we're talking about, and no doubt they'll screw up the story so much the visuals won't matter. I hope I'm wrong about that.

Found elsewhere

At one time, I wrote much about giant squid here. I've since fallen off that wagon, though I still find them intensely interesting. If you're still looking for news about giant squid, or squid in general, check out Squid, a blog with all the latest news, merchandise and general weirdness about squids. Well worth your time.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Jeffrey Ford's new collection going out

According to Jonathan Strahan, Jeffrey Ford's new collection, The Empire of Ice Cream, has started shipping. He posted the table of contents (also available at the book's site):

Introduction - Jonathan Carroll.

1. The Annals of Eelin-Ok
2. Jupiter’s Skull
3. A Night in the Tropics
4. The Empire of Ice Cream
5. The Beautiful Gelreesh
6. Boatman’s Holiday
7. Botch Town
8. A Man of Light
9. The Green Word
10. Giant Land
11. Coffins on the River
12. Summer Afternoon
13. The Weight of Words
14. The Trentino Kid

I've read all the stories except "Botch Town," which is new to the collection, "Coffins on the River" (from Polyphony #3) and "Summer Afternoon" (apparently from "Say ... Is this a Cat?"). Based on that, I'd say this is a great collection. Getting "Empire of Ice Cream" and "The Weight of Words" alone would be worth the price of the book. So order now! In the meantime, check out Ford's blog at 14theDitch.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006


Sorry for the absence. I just haven't felt like it lately. Plus, I haven't done much with my writing, so I'm pretty ashamed of that. And besides that, March is absolutely the worst month of the year. It's not quite spring yet, but I'm horribly tired of winter (even a warm winter like this one). It teases you with bits of warmth before taking it away again. Then there's the wedding being planned and worries about my house going up for sale. Too much on my mind. (Not that these are good excuses for the writing failures.)

I've been reading lately, despite the unchanging nature of the box to the left. (Blogger was giving me problems changing the template.) After "Engines of God," I read "Snakes and Earrings" by Hitomi Kanehara, "With Respect to the Japanese" by Bill Condon, and am currently reading "Rashomon and other stories" by Ryunosuke Akutagawa. If you're looking for some good reading, check out storySouth's notable short stories of 2005. They've lined up some of the best short fiction found online over the last year. Strange Horizons and SciFiction get special attention for their work. Also, Elizabeth Bear has posted the first chapter of her upcoming book "Blood and Iron" online.

Hopefully, I'll start doing more in the next few days. See you soon.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Write how you need to write

Meg McCarron takes issue with the writing every day edict. What she has to say is smart and gives an alternative for those who don't like writing every day.

Personally, I think each person needs to try out different methods and find out what works for them. That's what I've been doing. I find that I can keep myself to a "write every day" schedule if I'm working on a story. It's between those stories, or weeks like now when I should be revising a story, that I find I skip days and have a hard time concentrating.

Each writer is different and each one needs to explore how they write. What's important is that you are dedicated to it, whether you write once a day, once a week or for a full month at a time nonstop when you've come up with an idea. Whatever works for you, as long as you are serious, that's the only rule.

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Odds and ends

What a lousy weekend. Don Knotts, Darren McGavin and Octavia Butler died. They were all good at their respective crafts and each was important to me in some way. Unfortunately, I've not read much Butler, although I have at least two of her books on my shelves. I guess it's about time I corrected that oversight. (And if you're interested in Butler, be sure to check out the Bat Segundo Show interview.)

In my writing life, I've actually gotten a little bit done. I've pieced together all the parts of my current short story. It doesn't add up to a first draft. There are holes in the narrative, there are parts that I wrote at least three times and there are plenty of parts that just don't work. The worst thing is that the ending is not earned, either for the character interaction or the supernatural aspect. I need to add foreshadowing and character work. So writing and revisions continue.

This may be the most true truest post on writing ever.

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Thursday, February 23, 2006

Cave chambers of New England

Professor Hex linked to a fascinating article about the Upton Cave:

"The caves -- ranging from Putnam County in New York’s Hudson River Valley to southern Maine -- bear many similarities to "beehive" chambers built in Ireland by ancient Celtic tribes, said Barbara Toomey, the Massachusetts coordinator for the New England Antiquities Research Association.

Here's another site about "America's Stonehenge." According to that site, there are 62 of these chambers in Connecticut, and yet I've never heard of one of them.
They give the example of the Gungywamp in Groton.
Besides containing beehive chambers and petroglyphs, the Gungywamp site has a double circle of stones near its center, just north of two stone chambers. Two concentric circles of large quarried stonesó21 large slabs laid end to endóare at the center of the site. Extensive fire burning on some of the slabs is apparent which leads many to believe it was an ancient altar. Nearby there are several large pillar stones and one boulder slab that have been carefully positioned along astronomical site lines.

I may have to take a road trip one of these days. Fortunately for me, I can learn more about it through The Gungywamp Society.

iBooks bankrupt

Publisher iBooks has gone bankrupt, according to Johnathan Strahan, among others. The company has apparently been on the skids since the tragic death of founder Byron Preiss. For Strahan, this means his anthologies, Science Fiction: Best of 2005 and Fantasy: Best of 2005, are left in limbo.

I think it's a tragedy. In the last few years, iBooks has reprinted some of the great works of science fiction. On my bookshelf next to me, I can find Roger Zelazny's Damnation Alley and the first two Wild Cards anthologies thanks to iBooks. They are also responsible for republication of Cordwainer Smith's Nostrilia and Robert Silverberg's Nightwings. I'm sorry to see them go.

Masters of Science Fiction

ABC has given the green light to Masters of Science Fiction, according to Sci Fi Wire. The show, produced by the same people who made Masters of Horror (which I've only heard good things about), will adapt classic science fiction stories into TV movies. They've already named Harlan Ellison, Isaac Asimov and Ray Bradbury stories among those they adapt. ABC has agreed to four episodes, but the company plans on doing six.

Now I wonder who they'll get for directors. Masters of Horror combined great horror short stories with famed horror directors. Who are the classic science fiction directors?

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Not much to say

I've been writing, getting closer to a finished draft, but I'm not there yet.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

A Scanner Darkly trailer

A full length trailer for "A Scanner Darkly" is up now. [Link found via SFSignal.] Check it out.

The movie uses a drawing technique first pioneered in Richard Linklater's "Waking Life" in which real actors are drawn over. In some ways, this is perfect for this movie. However, most people are going to be used to seeing this technique in recent commercials. And it looks pretty stupid in those. Every time I see it, I think to myself, why not just film the people? At least, this movie has a purpose behind using it. In the book, by Philip K. Dick, a central idea is that new technology makes it impossible for people to hide their identities with new identities. Also, it's a major plot point that you don't know how much delusion is going on.

I'm still excited about this film, despite the above worry and Keanu Reeves acting. The other actors -- Robert Downey Jr., Winona Ryder and Woody Harrelson -- are all people who I've loved in some films and actively hated in others. They all have certain tics they rely on that bug me, but sometimes they get past it. (Reeves rarely ever does. They can just sometimes make the movie around him, like The Matrix.)

On the plus side, the film looks very faithfult to the book, which is one of Dick's novels I highly recommend.

UPDATE: Fascinating article from Wired on the troubles Linklater faced in making this film happen, particularly concerning the animation. The story also makes me feel better about Reeves, who is a big Dick fan (I crack up just writing that) and worked for scale pay to see this film made. If only he were a better actor.

Friday, February 17, 2006

New writing gadget

I downloaded something new. It's called yWriter and it's a program to help you create writing in a project format. (Link found via Paperback Writer.) It breaks down your stories scene by scene (or chapter by chapter). This was a perfect thing for the work I've been doing on my current story since I approached it exactly that way. Plus, yWriter allows you to add character notes, goals and conflict notes for scenes, and even allows you to keep track of the time elapsed in your narrative.

I must admit, downloading freeware like this is mostly a way for me not to write. I fidget around with the program, get everything sorted in it exactly right. All of which just eats away my writing time. Despite that, the program actually was helpful. I started going through the pieces I've written so far and editing them. They're not as bad as I thought. This will hopefully put me back on track. I've been writing different versions of the same scenes, over and over. And it's not helping. Getting organized with this program helped me get it all in order and figure out what I'm doing. I may even be nearing a finished first draft, just some connective tissue needs to be added. I can hardly believe it.

Actually, maybe that first draft should be amended to say "zeroth draft." When I read writers' blogs, they seem to write a first draft and then send the thing out to their first readers. I don't think my first draft of this story would be ready for anybody. Is this me being too cautious over my drafting? Or is it that writers get better over time and their first drafts are just cleaner and better?

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Wrestling squid and octopus!!

My god I must have this film: The Calamari Wrestler. Read that first link, there is a great description of what this is all about and some pictures. I've added it to my wishlist. I must have it!

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Catching up

I haven't posted anything on my writings in the past week or so. Sorry about that, for those of you who are interested. I haven't stopped writing, however. In fact, I've been writing and writing and writing on this story, though I'm still nowhere near completing a single draft.

I started this story writing out a plot outline, writing character sketches and getting a solid idea behind what happens at the end of it all. And I've found out that those things don't corner you at all. In fact, I've found a million different ways to go with this story and I've already tried hundreds of them. I keep writing the beginning of the story and then start over from a different perspective. I've tried third person omniscient, third person from each character's point of view, first person by one character and first person by the other character. I've also written in different voices, not quite finding the character's voice I'm looking for.

This is both good and bad. The bad is obvious. I've been laboring over the same story for a few weeks now with no real results to show. The good is I'm learning. I'm learning what can be done, I'm learning where I'm weak and I'm learning I don't know all I thought I knew.

That last one is especially important. I've been writing nonfiction for newspapers and blogs for the last 12 years. You'd think that would help me. It doesn't. I'm learning what I've read a million times over the years from writing books and author interviews: You learn to write fiction by writing fiction. That's it. You can study and that will help, you can pick apart other stories. But until you keep at the keyboard and create characters and have them interacting, you don't learn anything.

So I'm struggling. I haven't grown weary of the story. This is a good sign, I think. It means there's something to it, something I'm trying to reach. I have confidence in the rickety plot and ideas I'm working through. I just need to keep working.

I also need to focus. I write every day now. Now I need to spend more time each day. I waste much of my day and only spend about an hour on a day's writing. This is terrible. I get antsy. I'm working on getting control of this.

One day at a time, I'm working to become a better writer.

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Discovering Cordwainer Smith

Chris Roberson is having the profound joy of reading Cordwainer Smith for the first time as an adult. I only read Smith's stories about five years ago and it was truly a mind blowing experience. I read "Scanners Live in Vain" from the Science Fiction Hall of Fame Volume I and was amazed at how good this thing was. So I took a trip to the library and found The Rediscovery of Man, a complete collection of Smith's short stories.

Every science fiction reader should read this book. It's absolutely essential. Smith's stories speak to today, most of them holding up better than the more welll known golden age science fiction. His imagination knows no limits. And most, if not all, of these short stories are tied together in a history of the Instrumentality. Do yourself a favor and read these books. At least check out "Scanners Live in Vain," it is a classic story. (You can read a little bit about the story here.)

Here are some good links about Smith:

Andreas Katsulas, RIP

Andreas Katsulas has died. He was 59. Katsulas was best known (to me anyway) as G'Kar on Babylon 5. Katsulas and Peter Jurasik's Londo were the best reasons to watch that show. Sad to see him go, especially at such a young age.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

"The Bamboo Sword," Shuhei Fujisawa

Late last year, thanks to the magic of Neflix, I saw a Japanese movie called "The Twilight Samurai." It was excellent and I recommend it highly. It's a drama of a working man disguised as a samurai tale. The samurai of the title is burdened by debt from his wife's funeral and does not make enough money as a clerk to pay it off. But his greatest joy is raising his daughters and watching them grow. Secretly, he's also a masterful swordsman, which will complicate his life further.

The film was a wonderful character study. For those wanting samurai action, it's there, but it's very restrained. It was one of my favorite films of last year. The movie was based off the stories of Shuhei Fujisawa, who wrote stories of samurai that reflected the problems of the lives of modern Japanese working people. He was one of Japan's most popular writers.

Thankfully, this March, Kodansha will be publishing "The Bamboo Sword and Other Samurai Tales." Here's the book description from Amazon:


This delightful collection of eight stories evokes life in early seventeenth-century Japan, a time when peace finally reigns after centuries of civil war. Tokugawa Ieyasu has defeated his rivals to become shogun, and is busily establishing the regime that ruled the country for the next two and a half centuries.

It is a period of political upheaval full of intrigue, rivalry, and betrayals. The samurai are still valued for their swordsmanship, and are a cut above the peasants, artisans, and merchants in the social hierarchy. Without battles to fight, however, these career warriors struggle to retain their sense of pride and meaning in life as they attempt to settle into mundane jobs and family life. Occasional flashes of the sword are tempered by the sympathies, conspiracies, kindnesses, and enmities arising between people from across the social spectrum.

Fujisawa brings a distant culture richly to life, with characters that modern audiences the world over can relate to presented against a detailed, realistic historical backdrop.
This is one of the books I'm most looking forward to this year. There's an article here about popular literature in Japan and how it relates to this book.  Apparently, Fujisawa's work is seen as "reassuring," and the article talks about the use of cliches. The book is reviewed positively here.

Happy Valentine's Day

I don't usually bother mentioning the holidays here, but I'm feeling full of love today. I hope all of you have someone you love today, whether that's a lover, spouse, friend or family. Spread the love.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Pieces coming together

So I spent some time listening to Akira Ifukube's fine themes as I wrote. I quickly learned that thundering marches aren't the best listening when writing scenes of two people talking. Too much epic going on in the room. But once I turned it off for a little while, my writing went smoothly.

I now have about seven different pieces of this story in separate Notepad files. I think I need to write a little more before I try to bring them all together. It's almost a certainty now that I will try writing the story from a first person point of view when I get to my first rewrite. It will add a different perspective and might help me get the flow of the story right.

I read a great Ramsey Campbell ghost story in The Dark (for links, see at left under "What I'm reading"), "Feeling Remains." Structurally, it seems to be similar to what I'm working on, except done from the first person perspective. When I started writing, I thought stories like "Canavan's Backyard" by Joseph Payne Brennan and "The Black Gondolier" by Fritz Leiber had similar structures to what I was working on. Those two stories have something supernatural happening to a main character that is viewed from a distance by a second character. That's the way I approached writing this story.

Now, I think the first person perspective, like in Campbell's story, may help me get closer, more emotionally involved in the story. It certainly will bring the fear forward.

Of course, my story isn't going to be half as good as any of those. If you're in the mood for horror, by the way, all three of those stories are great.

But I'm still feeling good about the story and I don't have any urge to back out of it or throw it away. If I can at least continue to tolerate the story through a rewrite or two, I'll have achieved something.

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RIP Akira Ifukube, 1914-2006

I've written a long post on the death of Godzilla composer Akira Ifukube at my Giant Monster Blog. Truly a sad day.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Emerging from inactivity

Today was a day I felt like writing. I wrote a whole section of my short story and I feel the pull to write more. This is good as it comes after four days of inactivity (in writing). Those are always dangerous times for me, when I'm away from a story for that amount of time, the inspiration, the love of the idea, can all float away.

This story though, I have good feelings about it. I intend to finish writing this first draft and then really revise it. This is territory I've not much explored. I'm terrible about a) not finishing stories, b) not doing anything with finished first drafts. So once this story gets past the first draft stage, it will be revised. This may be the first story I feel confident enough in to send out. We'll see.

In the meantime, I have a few more pieces to finish, then I have to assemble them into a semblance of story. I've been writing in the third person. I'm going to read it over when the first draft is finished and see if I think it would be better in first person. I've thought about even just going ahead and doing a second draft in first person.

All that will be decided later though. Right now, I just have to keep my eyes on the prize and get to the end.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Building things out of words

Some good blog entries about writing (or simply "writer's porn" as I've heard others call it.) Elizabeth Bear writes about writing better than almost anyone else. Read her
journal. This entry on thematic and narrative concerns in fiction is
absolutely terrific. I've been listening to Mur Lafferty's podcast I Should be Writing lately and have been enjoying it. As the title puts it:
A podcast by a wanna-be writer for wanna-be writers. Let my stack of rejection letters and battle scars benefit you.
And so far, it has at least helped me feel better about my writing to know others go through similar things. Author Tim Pratt is pretty great too. I've only read a few of his short stories, but I've loved them. He posts about writing his novel and the pit of despair he hit after rereading some of it. That's the way I feel most days I reread my stuff.

But today, I feel pretty good. I reread what I wrote yesterday and I thought it was quite fine -- for me anyway. I started on another section of the story.

I've been taking an unusual approach to writing this story. I first plotted it out, which I've never tried before. Then I wrote a possible beginning for the story (though, now I think it won't be). Yesterday, I wrote the climax of the story. Today, I started writing an incident that happens half way through the story. Each of these sections of the story have been written on seperate Notepad files. When it's all written, I can combine them all and figure out how they should properly be arranged. In the meantime, I can open up any file on any day and pick up on a different part of the story, or edit a different part of the story.

I don't know if there are any benefits to writing this way, however, it does give me a more tactile sense of the structure of the story. I have all these pieces and then I'm going to build my story from them. It's like I'm building a desk, but it's made of words. Or something. I'm not sure I'm describing this well, but I'm enjoying this method. Your mileage may vary.

More writing tomorrow.

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Wednesday, February 01, 2006

A climax and thoughts on genre

Another day's writing is done. Today, taking a cue from yesterday's thoughts, I wrote out of order. I decided to write the climax of the story, when the narrator is confronted with the transformed protagonist. It came out more soft, less scary than I hoped. I'm wondering if maybe I'm writing a fantasy story rather than a horror story? I won't know until I write more of it. Even if it's purely fantasy, it will have some dark moments.

The question about whether this is a fantasy or horror story brings me to something I've been thinking about. In a podcast of The Agony Column's interview with The Rolling Darkness Review (Glen Hirshberg, Dennis Etchison and Peter Atkins), Etchison says that when he sits down to write, he never thinks "I'm going to write a horror story," he just thinks "I'm going to write a story." I've heard this from a lot of professional authors, and with some it shows. (Etchison is one. Many of his stories, always sold as horror, could be published in literary magazines with ease.)

But as a wannabe, new writer, I sit down and actively think "I'm going to write a horror story now, in fact it will be a ghost story and it will be about the transformation of a character." When I'm deciding on a story, that's the starting point. If it strays
off from that genre course, I let it. It doesn't have to end up a
horror story, that's just my initial idea.

John Gardner in his book "The Art of Fiction" tells young writers (I'm trying to remember this off the top of my head) that the easiest way to begin is to pick a genre -- a ghost story, a relationship story, a romance -- then combine it with another genre or an unusual technique.

So, I don't think I'm completely wrongheaded to start out thinking about what genre a story is. I just can't become caged to a genre.

Tomorrow, with some knowledge of what's going to happen, I'm going
to write other sections of the story, whichever parts interest me. I'm
thinking I'll write about the protagonist and his dreams. I'll also go
back and edit what I've written so far. I've been doing a little of
that every day. Maybe I can make better sense of the climax I wrote today.

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The Dark Crystal returns

SciFi Wire says that a sequel to The Dark Crystal is in the works and Genndy Tartakovsky (of Samurai Jack and Clone Wars fame) will be directing.

Set hundreds of years after the first movie, the sequel follows a mysterious girl made of fire who steals a shard of the crystal in hopes of reigniting the dying sun.
Dark Horizons reported a bit about the sequel back in May. They include this important tidbit:

"The Dark Crystal created its own world. We are now going to fully explore this universe through the sequel film, which will be followed up with an animated series as well as interactive games and other media," said Lisa Henson. "Knowing the franchise's worldwide appeal, we're thrilled to leverage Odyssey's expertise in family entertainment within the independent film-sales community."
That report also includes a much longer (and somewhat different) description of the new movie.

This is great news. I absolutely adore the original. And most importantly, Brian Froud is returning to help design the new characters for the film. Froud did a lot of work behind the scenes on the look and history of the Dark Crystal. I have a copy of his book "The World of the Dark Crystal" and it's one of the prettiest books I own.

The only thing that concerns me is that the Henson company will go too far. The original film is great in and of itself. There is the potential that the company will take this chance to drain the "franchise" for all its worth. If all the books, movies and cartoons are good that's not a problem. But there's always a fear they will besmirch the memory of the original. (Although, I still have a copy of the original. It's not going anywhere. So I can always ignore sequels if they turn out to be bad.)

Here is a decent (and almost up to date) Dark Crysal fan site: The Book of Habidad.

UPDATE: Chris Roberson writes about his obsession over the movie's novelization when he was younger. I can relate. I loved that book and still have it around here somewhere. I have no idea how it would hold up today. It was written by A.C.H. Smith, who wrote the novelization for Labyrinth as well as a few other books, but I really don't know anything else about him. This page includes a few small excerpts from the book, mostly dialogue. Also, Smith seems to be a playwright.
I'll also note that the original screenwriter, David Odell, appears to be returning for the new film as well.

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Small update

Not much to say today. I wrote a few hundred more words on the story. It's moving along, but I need to spend more time with it -- which won't happen tomorrow, unfortunately. But I'll fit in what I can. So far, I haven't run into any problems with using an outline for my story. But then, the plot hasn't progressed much yet.
I do think that I may be writing this in the wrong order. Currently, the story follows the chronology of events. But I think the story will have to start in media res in order to attract people's interest in the first page. I don't think it's necessary for me to change the order I'm writing it in now. That will be something I can approach in the rewrite stage.

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Richard Kelly's new film

Richard Kelly, the director of Donnie Darko, appears to have another movie in the works. It's called Southland Tales. From the brief description at the Internet Movie Database, it sounds like a science fiction version of Magnolia.

Southland Tales is an ensemble piece set in the futuristic landscape of
Los Angeles on July 4, 2008, as it stands on the brink of social,
economic and environmental disaster. Boxer Santaros is an action star
who's stricken with amnesia. His life intertwines with Krysta Now, an
adult film star developing her own reality television project, and
David Clark, a Hermosa Beach police officer who holds the key to a vast
If you are looking for information on Kelly, check out, they seem to keep up with all he has and will do.

Monday, January 30, 2006

New story begins

I've been very inactive online today, but this was for a good reason. One, I needed to build a bookshelf and wash some dishes, but two I managed to get some writing done on the story. It's the first section of the short story and I know what I'm leading to tomorrow. I always feel pretty good with all of the story before me, let's hope I keep feeling good as I go along. Again, right now the goal is to finish the story and edit it. The last story I wrote I've put aside with the potential for editing at a later date -- when I don't hate it so much. I want to make this story a complete process, continuing from creating the outline to writing the story, to editing it and then sending it out somewhere.
Anyway, I've got a bunch of things I want to write about on the blogs (especially Giant Monster Blog, I've watched a slew of giant monster movies latey) but it has to come second to the writing. So expect things to remain slow here for the next few days, with the exception of these writing updates. (Hope I don't bore you too much.)

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Friday, January 27, 2006

Background set, story to begin

I didn't do too much writing today, but I think I accomplished something with the background of this story. I have a reason for everything to happen, a history of what's happening to the protagonist. That history won't be revealed, only hinted at in the story.
Starting Monday, I will write the actual first draft of the story. A plot has been built, point by point. The story could veer from that, but it creates a solid skeleton for the story. I also think I have both main characters pretty solidly set in my mind. Now the real work begins!

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Thursday, January 26, 2006

Building character

Well, I wrote again today. Not very much. In fact, most of it was looking over what I did yesterday to try and determine if I'm creating a distinct character, if Jackie (that's her name) would interest me as a reader. So far, I think I could give a tentative yes. She would be a realistic character, though I think I may need to give her more characteristics, some distinctive quirks, something to make her stand out. But for now, the character sketch gave me a better sense of Jackie. I worked a little on the other main character, Bobby, today as well, though no character sketch yet.

Once I've done that, I plan to hammer out the plot summary a little more thoroughly and then, finally, I will begin on actually writing the story. Again, this feels like it's a lot more prep work than the average writer does for a short story. On the other hand, I'm not other writers. I won't know whether this works for me until I've written the story. Always must remember this.

All right, enough. I'm going to go and try to do some more writing today.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Background writing

So I'm still writing in preparation for a short story. I'm probably doing way too much prep work for a short story, but I just want to really go overboard with this method and see how it comes out. So today, I wrote 1,570 words of my narrator out on a date. It's just an attempt to get in the character's head. Next, I'll have to more on the protagonist of the story, the one fantastic things will happen to. He's a little more mysterious, so I'm not going to do quite as much prep work on him. The important thing was I did some writing today and I do feel like I'm moving forward.


All right, I'm interested in this both as a proud Connecticut native and a horror fan. There's a new movie making the rounds at Sundance called "Moonshine." It's a vampire flick directed by a 20-year-old Stafford Springs, Ct. resident that stars local actors. The trailer looks pretty good, at the very least it's pretty. It certainly doesn't look like it cost this little:


Director Roger Ingraham, at 20 years old, shot his first full-length film, Moonshine, for a budget of $9200. His two years prior to the production were spent writing the script and researching how to shoot a quality full-length film with a very limited budget. As a vampire film, one of the essential elements that Moonshine strives for is the feeling of realism: the feeling that it's your town, your home, your family, and that, if something unexpected were to happen, you might react the same way.

At the forum on the site, the director talks a little about the production and the tough things he faced to get the movie made.

Anyway, I hope the movie is good and I'm looking forward to seeing it in theaters.

And while I'm thinking about horror and Connecticut, at Flickr a set of photos from the 1975 World Fantasty Convention (the first one) has been posted. Among the people pictured is Joseph Payne Brennan, one of the last famed Weird Tales writers and a librarian in New Haven.
Lots of other good people there as well, including a fascinating picture of a young Ramsey Campbell with long hair.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Moving on

I took "Airjack!" (formerly "Zeppelin Hijack") out to pasture. I brought it to an ending and I'm putting it away. Once I've forgotten about it, maybe I'll give it another look. Right now I hate it.

Today, I started on another story, and with this one I'm taking a detailed approach to planning it. I've created a summary, an outline and character sketches. I think I'm going to do more work with the character sketches next and then, when I feel like I've got all the pieces planned out, I'll start writing the actual story. It's another attempt on my part to find out what method would work best for me. This way will start out slower, but I'm hoping it keeps me from petering out on it before the end.

This new story is a horror story and concerns two main characters and a terrible transformation. It's a fairly traditional type of horror story, which I hope helps me with the structuring of it. I usually have good luck with horror stories, I think its a form I gravitate towards.

And while I'm thinking about writing, have you checked out Glen Hirshberg's blog yet? Besides being an interesting blog by an interest writer, he offers some good advice for writers. His most recent entry was about dialogue and how it's written. He's also written two entries on his Platitudes (Part 1 and Part 2). And one of his first entries was about getting your writing engine started. It's all good stuff and be sure to check out Hirshberg's fiction if you haven't yet.

Relax, books are here to stay

Some of the arguments for and against ereaders (like the SonyReader, which I originally talked about here) seem to turn on the idea that its either new technology or books, not both. I find that the most frustrating part of the argument. Even if ereaders do mean the end of the book, it's a long way down the line. People will have to be very used to ereaders before that ever happens. And I'm not sure it will ever happen.

Books have proven to be great technology. People still own books going back centuries. As Nick Mamatas once pointed out, how many 5 1/4" floppy disks are you still using? Books will always (at least, as far as I can imagine) have that leg up on other technologies: it doesn't become obsolete. If everyone is using an ereader a hundred years from now, they can still pick up a real book and read it.

As I see it, ereaders will be a choice, something we can use to read with if we so choose. It's for reading on the go. It's for reading things in the public domain that corporations don't want to publish. It's for reading manuals and technical stuff that you need to keep with you. With any luck, it will inspire new ways of reading short stories published on the Internet. (Wouldn't it be great to download the latest issue of The Fortean Bureau, for example, and read it on the road?)

Now, can we stop the hyperbole about the future of books and just talk about the possibilities ereaders can open to those of us who enjoy reading?

Winchester rifles and Gary Lucas

The end of the classic Winchester rifle and the closing of a factory here in Connecticut has sent guitarist Gary Lucas off into a fine reminiscince of his days as a sharp shooter at Yale. Fun post, check it out.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Robert E. Howard, 100 years old (if he weren't dead)

So Sunday was the 100th birthday of Robert E. Howard, famed creator of Conan, Kull, Solomon Kane and Bran Mak Morn among others. Howard was probably my second most important author when I was a child, the first being Tolkien. But my entryway to Howard came through The Savage Sword of Conan comic book magazine (here's one which may even be one of the one's I read back then).
My neighbor, a man in his 30s, gave me a copy of his Savage Sword comics because he thought I'd like them. And I did. They are perfect young male teen reading: lots of strange places, bizarre creatures and tough guys who knew exactly what to do. After a few issues, I started talking about them to my neighbor and he started saying things like, "well, if you liked that you should see what he did in the original story when..." That was it, I was hooked. I grabbed the first two books in the paperback series that was available in those days, the one's with the Frank Frazetta artwork and additional stories by Lin Carter and L. Sprague DeCamp. The stories were second only to "Lord of the Rings" in my world.
I've loved them ever since and have reread many of the stories over the years. My favorite of what I've read was "Red Nails." How could I not love a story that begins with Conan and a woman being chased by a dinosaur and only gets weirder from there?
Over the last few years, I've been buying the new Conan collections as they come out and I look forward to reading the stories I never had a chance to read in the past: "The Hour of the Dragon" and most of the King Conan stuff. The books get the recommendation of Michael Dirda at the Washington Post, which makes me happy. Apparently, there was a big celebration of Howard's birthday in Texas, wish I could have been there.
Here's a few Web sites about the man:
Cross Plains Howard page
The Robert E. Howard United Press Association
Wikipedia entry
Conan official Web site
Robert E. Howard archive
The Cimmerian journal
The Hour of the Dragon online
Howard ebooks

There is also a movie about Robert E. Howard called "The Whole Wide World" starring Vincent D'Onofrio and Renee Zellweger. The packaging of the DVD makes it look like a romance movie (which, I guess it is, a bit) but it's mainly a character study of Howard and Novalyne Price. D'Onofrio does a great job. I recommend it.

Friday, January 20, 2006

I want to read them

I must admit that the pictures of Beauty and the Book are pretty cool, as is this Book Bar. Nevertheless, the whole idea bugs me. Can you pull a book out of these structures to read it? If not, what's the point?

Thursday, January 19, 2006

A fun day

Words came easy and I was happy with today as I followed "Zeppelin Hijack" (or "Airjack!) through its twisty path to nowhere. This pleasant feeling came despite starting writing later than I wanted to. I'm still a terrible procrastinator who avoids writing until the last second. And there's no good reason for it, because I feel so good after I've done it (or at least I feel that way today.)

At the same time, I'm thinking about my next story. I'm really going to do some prep work on this one, have characters and a plot worked out before I put a pen to the page (or fingers to the keyboard). It already appears to have a good structure and the beginnings of characters with real personalities. Now, I need to spend some time in a notebook scribbling down these basics. I do worry that doing that will kill the inspiration for the story, but we'll see.

There's a really thoughtful essay by Paul Graham called How to Do What You Love. It really makes you think about whether you really love what you think you love and what you should do about getting there. It has given me a lot to mull over, and I really think I should take some time and more seriously contemplate the questions. Anyway, it will be well worth your time. (Link found at But Wouldn't It Be Cool?)

Check out "Healing Hands"

Derek Kirk Kim has unleashed the first part of his new comic series, Healing Hands. I read his story Same Difference back when it was coming out as a serial and loved it. (It's now out in book form.) He does great work with characters, his visuals are pretty and, best of all, he can be very funny. I think you'll enjoy Healing Hands, I'm certainly looking forward to more of it.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006


For the story I'm working on, I had no ending in mind when I started it. I just liked the concepts I was playing around with. But now I'm finding the story squirming out of my control. Things keep happening with no sense or purpose to them. There's no larger sense of things. Plus, I'm despairing that all my characters are either uninteresting blobs or parodies of characters.

Again, this is my problem once I start a story, nothing is ever right. Eventually I think the whole thing is crap and I should just give it up. After all, it's just a big waste of my time, right? I've managed to keep pushing through, but now I'm just looking for an ending, somewhere to get off this crazy ship.

Which gets me thinking about future stories. Maybe part of my problem is a lack of advance planning. Maybe I'm the type who needs to write outlines and character sketches and have detailed endings in mind. The reason I've avoided that is it doesn't feel like writing. I feel like I'm wasting time. Or, it just causes my doubts all that much earlier. Nevertheless, I think that's what I'm going to try next.

I also wonder if I'm more suited to writing novel length stories. I've completed Nanowrimo novels. I rarely complete first drafts of short stories (although, I would note that the short stories I do complete are almost always horror stories.) Maybe I'm just better at meandering.

Anyway, I wrote for another hour or so after I posted last night. This morning I wrote another page of story. I've put my characters into deep trouble and have no idea how I'm going to get them out, or how it will all end. We'll see what I can do by tomorrow.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Good times, bad times, you know I've had my share

Pissed away most of a sick day without writing. I settled down about 4 p.m and started writing until 6 p.m. when my fiancee came home. Unlikely I'll get to more of it. I'm amazed how long it takes me to finish a story. How long have I been working on this? Two weeks? Most writers talk about writing a short story in a few hours. Maybe this isn't a short story? It's over 2,500 words in on file right now (and it's spread across several files), so it certainly fits short story length.

Just like after last weekend, I'm now wondering if this story is worth continuing with. I doubt its worth anything. But I keep reminding myself that I just don't know that's the case until I finish it. I also don't know if the words I put down today are worth anything. They advanced the plot, but are they in the same league as stuff I wrote last week. And is that stuff worth anything at all? Self doubt, after lack of discipline, is my worst failing. I just give up on my ideas too soon. I just keep beating away at this trying to get past it.

I came up with a few other story ideas over the weekend. I managed to scribble them down before I forget them. In the meantime, I need to concentrate on one story at a time, not get worried about the ideas I haven't dealt with yet.

Jeff Vandermeer had a great post last week on inspiration and the enjoyment of writing:

I'm not suggesting that what one produces during blind inspiration/infatuation is superior to what you produce during the slow slog, but my god, why do you write if not for that moment when the world opens up before you and yet narrows to that singular point of pen against paper, that sensual drag of fingers across keys? Why do you write if not for that moment when you’re opened up to the point where there’s nothing of you left but the story and the characters and the words? Why?
That is one of the great reasons to write. I absolutely adore those moments when it all feels right, or even when it doesn't feel right, but it feels good. Unfortunately, right now I'm working through the slow slog. I just have to remember those good times though. Remember, remember... remember ...

Eric Red and a horrible accident

There's a fascinating story about screenwriter and director Eric Red at LA Weekly. Red, the writer of "The Hitcher" and "Near Dark" (for the record, I think both those films are great, though I haven't seen "The Hitcher" in ages), was involved in a horrible traffic accident in 2000 that left two people dead. Red tried to cut his own throat after the accident. In the months that followed, Red escaped prosecution. But the families of the victims wouldn't give up and eventually won a civil case against him. Meanwhile, it looks like Red is making a comeback in Hollywood.

The story is very detailed and if Red did all the things implied in this story, he's a pretty awful guy. The only thing that bothers me with the story is the attempt to link Red's films to his accident. It's the idea that if you think up all these awful things, you must be a horrible person. You must want to do this stuff. While Red may indeed be a horrible person, this really has nothing to do with the type of films he makes. You can't look at his career and say, boy there sure are a lot of crashes and slit throats in your films. Look at any screenwriter and you'll find that, not just horror writers.

Meanwhile, the films he is trying to get made now can show something about the guy, I think.

But one script appears
striking in the context of his car wreck and ensuing civil trial. Fenderbent,
written by Eric Red and Meredith Casey, in a draft dated May 1, 2003, is the
story of a group of high school students on their way to a concert who run out
of gas in a small town in central Texas. There, they encounter not just the
anticipated killer trucks and car-related mayhem of Red’s signature oeuvre —
METAL against FLESH and BONE,” as the screenplay imperatively puts it — but
an actual society of miscreants who target and run down pedestrians for fun,
as part of an elaborate sport. Driving souped-up GTOs, dragsters and funny cars,
featuring Ed “Big Daddy” Roth-style cartoon murals and tricked out with chainsaws,
harpoons and razor-sharp rotor blades, these chicken-fried road warriors refer
to themselves as the Fenderbents and collect points for every unsuspecting victim
they can tally.

This is reminiscent of the plot of Death Race 2000, Paul Bartel’s mid-’70s
drive-in opus starring David Carradine and Sylvester Stallone, crossed with
the inbred remoteness of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. It also carries
with it a kind of gallows-humor defiance. Despite its absence from Red’s list
of active properties in the Creative Directory, Scott Penney, his agent, continued
to shop the project through at least 2004. What exactly are we to make of this?

What are we to make of this? That a guy uses the experiences of his life in his films. It doesn't show that he did it, or even takes any glee in what happened, but it does show a remarkable lack of sympathy for the victims.

Anyway, it's a good piece of journalism on an accident and its repercussions.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Awards meme

Found this interesting meme (you know, I'm never comfortable with that word, but it seems to be accepted and I've used it enough) about science fiction/fantasy/horror awards at Notes from the Labyrinth. Looks like fun, so I wanted to play.

Those I have read are in bold. Those I have started but not finished are underlined.

HUGO: Alfred Bester, The Demolished Man

HUGO: Mark Clifton, They'd Rather Be Right

HUGO: Robert Heinlein, Double Star

HUGO: Fritz Leiber, The Big Time

HUGO: James Blish, A Case of Conscience

HUGO: Robert Heinlein, Starship Troopers

HUGO: Walter Miller, Jr., A Canticle for Leibowitz

HUGO: Robert Heinlein, Stranger in a Strange Land

HUGO: Philip K. Dick, The Man in the High Castle

HUGO: Clifford Simak, Way Station

HUGO: Fritz Leiber, The Wanderer
NEBULA: Frank Herbert, Dune

HUGO: Roger Zelazny, ...And Call Me Conrad
HUGO: Frank Herbert, Dune
NEBULA: Daniel Keyes, Flowers for Algernon
(I did read the novella when it was reprinted in F a while back. Does that count?)
NEBULA: Samuel R. Delany, Babel-17

HUGO: Robert Heinlein, The Moon is a Harsh Mistress
NEBULA: Samuel R. Delany, The Einstein Intersection

HUGO: Roger Zelazny, Lord of Light
NEBULA: Alexei Panshin, Rite of Passage

HUGO: John Brunner, Stand on Zanzibar
NEBULA: Ursula K. Le Guin, The Left Hand of Darkness

HUGO: Ursula K. Le Guin, The Left Hand of Darkness
NEBULA: Larry Niven, Ringworld

HUGO: Larry Niven, Ringworld
NEBULA: Robert Silverberg, A Time of Changes

HUGO: Philip Jose Farmer, To Your Scattered Bodies Go
NEBULA: Isaac Asimov, The Gods Themselves

HUGO: Isaac Asimov, The Gods Themselves
NEBULA: Arthur C. Clarke, Rendezvous With Rama

HUGO: Arthur C. Clarke, Rendezvous With Rama
NEBULA: Ursula K. Le Guin, The Dispossessed

HUGO: Ursula K. Le Guin, The Dispossessed
NEBULA: Joe Haldeman, The Forever War
WFA: Patricia McKillip, The Forgotten Beasts of Eld

HUGO: Joe Haldeman, The Forever War
NEBULA: Frederik Pohl, Man Plus
WFA: Richard Matheson, Bid Time Return

HUGO: Kate Wilhelm, Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang
NEBULA: Frederik Pohl, Gateway
WFA: William Kotzwinkle, Doctor Rat

HUGO: Frederik Pohl, Gateway
NEBULA: Vonda N. McIntyre, Dreamsnake
WFA: Fritz Leiber, Our Lady of Darkness

HUGO: Vonda N. McIntyre, Dreamsnake
NEBULA: Arthur C. Clarke, The Fountains of Paradise
WFA: Michael Moorcock, Gloriana

HUGO: Arthur C. Clarke, The Fountains of Paradise
NEBULA: Gregory Benford, Timescape
WFA: Elizabeth A. Lynn, Watchtower

HUGO: Joan D. Vinge, The Snow Queen
NEBULA: Gene Wolfe, The Claw of the Conciliator
WFA: Gene Wolfe, The Shadow of the Torturer

DICK: Rudy Rucker, Software
HUGO: C. J. Cherryh, Downbelow Station
NEBULA: Michael Bishop, No Enemy But Time
WFA: John Crowley, Little Big

DICK: Tim Powers, The Anubis Gates
HUGO: Isaac Asimov, Foundation's Edge
NEBULA: David Brin, Startide Rising
WFA: Michael Shea, Nifft the Lean

DICK: William Gibson, Neuromancer
HUGO: David Brin, Startide Rising
NEBULA: William Gibson, Neuromancer
WFA: John M. Ford, The Dragon Waiting

DICK: Tim Powers, Dinner at Deviant's Palace
HUGO: William Gibson, Neuromancer
NEBULA: Orson Scott Card, Ender's Game
WFA: Barry Hughart, The Bridge of Birds
WFA: Robert Holdstock, Mythago Wood

DICK: James P. Blaylock, Homunculus
HUGO: Orson Scott Card, Ender's Game
NEBULA: Orson Scott Card, Speaker for the Dead
WFA: Dan Simmons, Song of Kali

CLARKE: Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid's Tale
DICK: Patricia Geary, Strange Toys
HUGO: Orson Scott Card, Speaker for the Dead
NEBULA: Pat Murphy, The Falling Woman
STOKER: Stephen King, Misery
STOKER: Robert R. McCammon, Swan Song
WFA: Patrick Suskind, Perfume

CLARKE: George Turner, The Sea and Summer
DICK: Rudy Rucker, Wetware
HUGO: David Brin, The Uplift War
NEBULA: Lois McMaster Bujold, Falling Free
STOKER: Thomas Harris, The Silence of the Lambs
WFA: Ken Grimwood, Replay

CLARKE: Rachel Pollack, Unquenchable Fire
DICK: Richard Paul Russo, Subterranean Gallery
HUGO: C. J. Cherryh, Cyteen
NEBULA: Elizabeth Ann Scarborough, The Healer's War
STOKER: Dan Simmons, Carrion Comfort
WFA: Peter Straub, Koko

CLARKE: Geoff Ryman, The Child Garden
DICK: Pat Murphy, Points of Departure
HUGO: Dan Simmons, Hyperion
NEBULA: Ursula K. Le Guin, Tehanu
STOKER: Robert R. McCammon, Mine
WFA: Jack Vance, Madouc

CLARKE: Colin Greenland, Take Back Plenty
DICK: Ian McDonald, King of Morning, Queen of Day
HUGO: Lois McMaster Bujold, The Vor Game
NEBULA: Michael Swanwick, Stations of the Tide
STOKER: Robert R. McCammon, Boy's Life
TIPTREE: Eleanor Arnason, A Woman of the Iron People
TIPTREE: Gwyneth Jones, The White Queen
WFA: James Morrow, Only Begotten Daughter
WFA: Ellen Kushner, Thomas the Rhymer

CLARKE: Pat Cadigan, Synners
DICK: Richard Grant, Through the Heart
HUGO: Lois McMaster Bujold, Barrayar
NEBULA: Connie Willis, Domesday Book
STOKER: Thomas F. Monteleone, Blood of the Lamb
TIPTREE: Maureen McHugh, China Mountain Zhang
WFA: Robert R. McCammon, Boy's Life

CLARKE: Marge Piercy, Body of Glass
DICK: Jack Womack, Elvissey
DICK: John M. Ford, Growing Up Weightless
HUGO: Connie Willis, Domesday Book
HUGO: Vernor Vinge, A Fire Upon the Deep
NEBULA: Kim Stanley Robinson, Red Mars
STOKER: Peter Straub, The Throat
TIPTREE: Nicola Griffith, Ammonite
WFA: Tim Powers, Last Call

CLARKE: Jeff Noon, Vurt
DICK: Robert Charles Wilson, Mysterium
HUGO: Kim Stanley Robinson, Green Mars
NEBULA: Greg Bear, Moving Mars
STOKER: Nancy Holder, Dead in the Water
TIPTREE: Nancy Springer, Larque on the Wing
WFA: Lewis Shiner, Glimpses

CLARKE: Pat Cadigan, Fools
DICK: Bruce Bethke, Headcrash
HUGO: Lois McMaster Bujold, Mirror Dance
NEBULA: Robert J. Sawyer, The Terminal Experiment
STOKER: Joyce Carol Oates, Zombie
TIPTREE: Elizabeth Hand, Waking the Moon
TIPTREE: Theodore Roszak, The Memoirs of Elizabeth Frankenstein
WFA: James Morrow, Towing Jehovah

CLARKE: Paul J. McAuley, Fairyland
DICK: Stephen Baxter, The Time Ships
HUGO: Neal Stephenson, The Diamond Age
NEBULA: Nicola Griffith, Slow River
STOKER: Stephen King, The Green Mile
TIPTREE: Mary Doria Russell, The Sparrow
WFA: Christopher Priest, The Prestige

CLARKE: Amitav Ghosh, The Calcutta Chromosome
DICK: Stepan Chapman, The Troika
HUGO: Kim Stanley Robinson, Blue Mars
NEBULA: Vonda N. McIntyre, The Moon and the Sun
STOKER: Janet Berliner and George Guthridge, Children of the Dusk
TIPTREE: Candas Jane Dorsey, Black Wine
WFA: Rachel Pollack, Godmother Night

CLARKE: Mary Doria Russell, The Sparrow
DICK: Geoff Ryman, 253: The Print Remix
(I read the original, online.)
HUGO: Joe Haldeman, Forever Peace
NEBULA: Joe Haldeman, Forever Peace
STOKER: Stephen King, Bag of Bones
TIPTREE: [a short story by Raphael Carter]
WFA: Jeffrey Ford, The Physiognomy

CLARKE: Tricia Sullivan, Dreaming in Smoke
DICK: Stephen Baxter, Vacuum Diagrams: Stories of the Xeelee Sequence
HUGO: Connie Willis, To Say Nothing of the Dog
NEBULA: Octavia Butler, Parable of the Talents
STOKER: Peter Straub, Mr. X
TIPTREE: Suzy McKee Charnas, The Conqueror's Child
WFA: Louise Erdrich, The Antelope Wife

CLARKE: Bruce Sterling, Distraction
DICK: Michael Marshall Smith, Only Forward
HUGO: Vernor Vinge, A Deepness in the Sky
NEBULA: Greg Bear, Darwin's Radio
STOKER: Richard Laymon, The Traveling Vampire Show
TIPTREE: Molly Gloss, Wild Life
WFA: Martin Scott, Thraxas

CLARKE: China Miéville, Perdido Street Station
DICK: Richard Paul Russo, Ship of Fools
HUGO: J. K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
NEBULA: Catherine Asaro, The Quantum Rose
STOKER: Neil Gaiman, American Gods
TIPTREE: Hiromi Goto, The Kappa Child
WFA: Tim Powers, Declare
WFA: Sean Stewart, Galveston

CLARKE: Gwyneth Jones, Bold as Love
DICK: Carol Emshwiller, The Mount
HUGO: Neil Gaiman, American Gods
NEBULA: Neil Gaiman, American Gods
STOKER: Thomas Piccirilli, The Night Class
TIPTREE: M. John Harrison, Light
WFA: Ursula K. Le Guin, The Other Wind

CLARKE: Christopher Priest, The Separation
DICK: Richard K. Morgan, Altered Carbon
HUGO: Robert J. Sawyer, Hominids
NEBULA: Elizabeth Moon, Speed of Dark
STOKER: Peter Straub, lost boy lost girl
TIPTREE: Matt Ruff, Set This House in Order
WFA: Graham Joyce, The Facts of Life
WFA: Patricia A. McKillip, Ombria in Shadow

CLARKE: Neal Stephenson, Quicksilver
DICK: Gwyneth Jones, Life
HUGO: Lois McMaster Bujold, Paladin of Souls
NEBULA: Lois McMaster Bujold, Paladin of Souls
STOKER: Peter Straub, In the Night Room
TIPTREE: Joe Haldeman, Camouflage
TIPTREE: Johanna Sinisalo, Not Before Sundown (US title, Troll: A Love Story)
WFA: Jo Walton, Tooth and Claw

CLARKE: China Miéville, Iron Council
HUGO: Susanna Clarke, Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell
WFA: Susanna Clarke, Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell

Wow, I didn't do anywhere near as well as I hoped. There are quite a few here that I own but haven't read yet (I know that doesn't count for anything.) Also, I seem to have read a lot of authors' other books. I read Tim Powers' On Stranger Tides, I've read a few of Vonda McIntyre's short stories from Fireflood, I read the first three books of Asimov's Foundation and I read Samuel Delany's Nova and Neveryon. Ah well, you can't read everything, though I try.

Scary videos

Two fascinating, frightening videos I'd like to pass along. The first is a powerful bit of Greenpeace propaganda. It appears they've taken the Lyndon Johnson approach to fighting nuclear power. As JeremyT says, it takes sheer balls to make a video like this.

The second video is "nonfiction." It's a video of an alien encounter. To me, it clearly seems fake, what with the cut and the horrible film quality. But nonetheless, it's fun stuff. Professor Hex calls it scarier than the scene in Signs. I don't think it's that good. On the other hand, if it was real, it would be scary as all get out. Here's the video. I was able to download it and play it RealPlayer, but I hear it can be played on Quicktime as well. You can read a thread about it here.