Thursday, December 22, 2011

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Future LovecraftProspero in HellDouble DeadSouthern GodsPoltergeistThe Name of the Wind

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Thursday, December 1, 2011

Review: Double Dead- Chuck Wendig

Ok, here's what a want you to do: Imagine you're a vampire (Not the sparkly and never-seen-a-comb type. If that's your thing, poop on your fist and punch yourself.) Now, imagine you come out of your years-long slumber to find that a zombie apocalypse had started while you were napping, and that it's still going on.

Now I want you to imagine how bad it could be.

You're not trying hard enough. Try harder.

Nope, still not there.

With Double Dead, Chuck Wendig portrays how truly bad it could get, then digs deeper just because he can. The story revolves primarily around Coburn, a vampire who is for the most part very comfortable being what he is. Yes, a by-product of this is that Coburn is a major asshole. You don't so much get the "Antihero" vibe from Coburn as you do the "I Have Absolutely No Good Reason To Ever Want To Meet This Guy" vibe.

The problems start off right away with Coburn trying to find living blood in a post-zombie apocalyptic world. After that, he has to deal with zombies, Uberzombies, Christian fundamentalist militants, and juggalos. I honestly don't know which of those groups would be the worst to have to deal with. Having to deal with all of them makes for one hell of a ride.

Wendig's writing style is fantastic. His wit and descriptive abilities are focused and razor sharp.
If you want to get an idea of what you're in for, check out his blog Terribleminds. Tons of fun to be had there. Rating: Four out of five cracked-out monkeys

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

I'm not going to say that Amtrak's wifi is as slow as molasses...

...But I'm not going to say it's faster either. It's enough to make one believe the internet is made up of tubes.

So, I finished my NaNoWriMoYaMoBeThere writing. 50,009 words. Are you ever going to see it? Definitely, in about seven or eight different pieces probably. I did the math, and in order to complete this to my liking, I'm looking at about 140-150k in word count, and that's getting a bit too War and Peacey for my personal tastes. I'm going to melt it down and reuse the components elewhere. And now....

What I learned from NaNaWriMoBettaBlues

1. It is easier to write two thousand words you want to than is to write five hundred words you don't want to.- Enough said.

2. Vector of approach is everything.- When I looked at what I was doing as a potential novel, I hated it. When I looked at it as ton of writing notes, it became useful.

3. Getting in the habit of writing 1500+ words a day is worth any inconvenience.- This is where I would say "I would do it all over again to learn this." which is totally true, except for the part where I actually do it all over again.

4. Completing your goals is kinda neat.- Once again, enough said.

So now I'm going to take what I learned and apply it to my actual WIP. I let it go for a bit to complete the more challenging bits of the Calliope Project, then did the NaNoWriMoFoPartyPlan, so my baby has been left to percolate for a good couple of months. Looking forward to it.

Pulling into Portland now. Byeeeeee.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

I want to be a writer because math is hard.

Ok, so the NaNoWriMoing is going grand. At over 32k word count, on track for 50k by the end of the month. Story is filling out well, too well.

How can that be a problem, you may ask?

When I first started, I broke my plot line down into thirty chapters. One chapter a day, 1667 words a chapter. I now had a guideline. Now, the chapter didn't have to max out at 1667 words, that was the chapter minimum. If it was more than that, I was fine.

You might see where the problem can occur now.

So I'm barrelling along, tappa tappa tappa tap on my netbook. I look at the date. According to my cunningly planned plot synopsis, I should be at about 32k and on chapter 20 of the outline.

I'm at 32k and just starting chapter 8.

Now you see my problem.

There's a good half of my story that ain't gonna be happening. This is a problem because that half has the end in it.  As I've mentioned before, I'm mostly doing this just to say I did something batshit insane to get 50% off Scrivener. I'm enjoying writing the story, and it's taught me a ton that I will gratefully take with me when I get back to the WIP when this crazy month is through. By my calculations, however, if I'm to continue this story by my current approach. It'll be 90k+ when the whole synopsis is fleshed out. I really am not dedicated to this project enough to follow through with that. Things to see, people to do, you know how it is. Furthermore, let's say for batshit insanity's sake I do want to finish the story one day. This circumvents the big issue of the story as it stands right now. I'm going to have to break it up into two parts. Where do I let this first part leave off? I'm looking through the synopsis that I have and mmmmmmmmaybe have a decent leave off point, a point where this part of the story can be considered reconciled to a degree, but that wasn't the sandwich I ordered. I was aiming for wrapping the whole thing up with a nice pretty bow, and am denied.

So this is the solution as it stands: Remember at the end of Buckaroo Banzai (Of course you do. You've watched it a billion times, just like me.) where the end of the movie flashes a screen that tells you to eagerly "Buckaroo Banzai against the World Crime League"? How long have you been eagerly awaiting that sequel?  Yeah, exactly. I'll write this as if there'll be a stunning sequel that will probably bloody never happen.

But it might, because apparently I like creating problems for myself.

Math is hard. Let's go drinking.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Because it bears mentioning

I have entered the world of published writers. That feels good to say. My short story Tea Cozy of the Black Earth is in Weird Fiction review #2 put out by Centipede Press. I cannot tell you how surreal this is for me. The story itself was inspired by a Twitter link one of my Twitterfreunds made on April 1st of this year. It was a request for submissions for disturbing stories involving tea cozies. I read the post all the way through, for it looked professional for all intents and purposes, and I was (And maybe still am.) too stupid to have noticed the date until the very end where they pulled the "APRIL FOOLS LULZ!" gotcha card. The thing is, I had the think meats going into high gear while reading the proposal to the point where, after the true purpose of the post had been revealed, I said "No, fuck it. I'm doing this anyway." And so I did, as one is wont to do after saying "No, fuck it. I'm doing this anyway."

Best Girlfriend in the World(tm) knows the unparalled S.T. Joshi, the penultimate H.P. Lovecraft scholar. She passed my story on to S.T. because he might enjoy it. I had no problems with this whatsoever. I then receive a forwarded e-mail from him to her, asking if I could change it to .rtf for inclusion in the next edition of Weird Fiction Review.

To paraphrase Bill Murray in Ghostbusters, "When S.T. Joshi asks if you can change your story to .rtf so it can be included in Weird Fiction Review, you say YES."

I'm still pinching myself, but there it is.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Review: Southern Gods by John Hornor Jacobs

This is an excellent first novel. A lean, quick read with a tight, character-driven story. It starts off in the style of a noir detective-style story set in mid 20th-century Arkansas, and quickly turns into a disturbing Lovecraftian story that creates a whole new facet in the Faustian tradition of American Blues. The reader should be warned that Jacobs has no problem with breaking his toys, and it's often in a violent manner. However none of it is done gratuitously, and only in the purpose of expressing absolute horror. I am eagerly looking forward to more from this guy. Rating: Four out of five cracked-out monkeys.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

What I've been doing.

Hello, gentle reader. Haven't just been sitting on my hands since finishing the Calliope Project, have actually been a busy little bee. At least as busy as bees can be during a Pacific Northwest Autumn. Hopefully busier, I think they go inert in cold weather. This line of dialogue has wasted seconds of your life you can never get back.

Anyhoo, I've been taking part in the utterly psychotic yearly clown car pileup known as NaNoWriMo, The Counting of the Words thus far: 26980. Little bit ahead of where I need to be at this point. Used to be far ahead due to getting out 2k words, sometimes more a day, early on in this grand misadventure. Unfortunately Life forces you to do things other than bang away on a netbook in your pajamas, being interrupted frequently by a small cat who decides she's going to be your editor by way of plopping herself between you and said netbook, looking at what you've read intently, then pushing her ass in your face critically. She just did it again as I wrote this sentence.

So far, I guess it's going relatively okay. I've never done NaNoWriMo before and, thus far and not formed out of reget, it'll probably be the only time I do it. I really did this only as an exercise of my mercenary soul; Scrivener offering 50% off the program was enough to get me going. After I'm done with this novel, it'll probably be trunked until a time when I want to do something with it. I'm going back to working on Death Comes Ripping Dec. 1st. September and October were spent focusing on the more challenging prompts of the Calliope Project (Of which I still beam with pride over.), and NaNo has been taking up November. That's provided me with three months away from the WIP that I'll be able to get back to the second draft of with a fresh perspective. I also have to say that getting back into the habit of writing at least 1700 words a day on average is nice. Damn nice. It gives me a better idea of what I can do with Death Comes Ripping and in how much time. I'm thinking I can have it polished and looking pretty by 2012. Now that I've said it, I pretty much have to do it.

Seeing as all work and no play makes Jack die of hypothermia in the snow, I've been getting my reading on as well. Right now I'm reading this:

Southern Gods is a lovely first book from Jacobs combining Southern Blues with Lovecraftian Elder Gods. Yes, you should be reading this. It's like chocolate and peanut butter. Squamous, rugose, waiting-for-the-stars-to-become-right peanut butter. Almost finished with it. Expect a review.

Until next time, my sexy little lawn gnomes.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Review: Ganymede- Cherie Priest

      I don't know if it's fair or not to say that Priest's Clockwork Century series follows a formula (I have not read Clementine yet.), but if it is a formula, it's an awesome one. Serious pioneer mentality characters+ZOMG ZOMBIES!!ONE!1+Badass Steampunk contraption=Your money's worth and then some. While being a quicker, sparser story than Boneshaker or Dreadnought, this is not to say that the story was lacking in any way. Indeed, the story has zero percent body fat. Everything is there for a reason.

      The story revolves around Josephine, the madam of a turn of the century brothel (bow chikka bow bow) in Texas-occupied New Orleans. She has a prototype submarine that the Federal goverment is interested in as a possible weapon in a very protracted Civil War. The problem is getting it out from under the noses of the occupying Texian forces. The problem is further exacerbated by the fact that Ganymede has pretty much drowned everyone who ever set foot in it. Josephine sends a telegraph to Adain Cly, Pacific Northwestern air pirate extraordinaire, requesting his aid in piloting Ganymede out of New Orleans into the hands of the Feds. It all gets fun after that.

        Priest doesn't rely on her zombies much in this story directly. The ramifications of the zombies being there in the first place actually plays a stronger role plot-wise than anything else. The zombie plague and the Sap that creates them is slowly taking a more prominent seat in the ongoing Clockwork Century universe, and I'm personally fascinated to see how this particular subplot fleshes itself out.

        Did I mention hardcore YARRRR!!!!-type pirates and Marie Laveau? Yeah, you want to read this. Five out of five cracked-out monkeys.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Let the batshittery begin!

So, I decided I'm going to do NaNoWriMo this year.

Don't know what NaNoWriMo is? Read here.

I'll wait for you to stop laughing.

The laughter is totally warranted, I won't begrudge you that. I contemplated it briefly, then decided that my schedule was absolutely too bugfuck to even begin to consider it as a rational course of action. There was absolutely no way that that I could do 50k words in 30 days. No effing way.

Then, like a bolt of serendipity from the blue, I'm doing it. You know what changed in my schedule?

Absolutely nothing.

Those rat bastards at Literature and Latte are not only offering free use of Scrivener during NaNoWriMo, but 50% off the price of purchase of Scrivener if you clear the 50k word count. Slap me with the glove and throw it on the ground, why don't you?!? I've monkeyed around with Scrivener, and I like it. I really like it. I reallyreallyreallyreally like it. Offering me half off something I want by having me do something utterly insane is waving a red rag to a bull, as far as I'm concerned. They say you should be doing this for the fun first and foremost. Am I going for fun? In a short view sense, yes. I'm not going to rely on this to be constantly fun because I'm going to have backup plans for when it's not fun but oh so bloody challenging that there is no chance I'm going to abandon it. That's what I'm going to be running on; Fun is nice, but bizarre ideas in the face of barriers win the day.

What am I writing, you may ask? Think the Scarlet Pimpernel meets the Terminator.

I know, right? The damn thing practically writes itself.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Review: Black and Orange-Benjamin Kane Ethridge

     I found this one in one of my Goodreads groups, just in time for Halloween. Black and Orange is Ethridge's first novel, and a very original one at that.

     Black and Orange's basic plot is that every Halloween, the world's destruction as we know it and the staving off of the world's destruction are in the hands of two groups of incredibly damaged people. The ones wearing the white hats in the story are the Nomads, people with links to another dimension. Every Halloween,  The Church of Morning (The black hat wearers) over in that other dimension tries to get things going with the Church of Midnight (More black hat wearers!) on this side to open the dimensional gates by destroying the Heart of the Harvest in one specially chosen individual in order to further weaken the dimensional fields and bring the two worlds together.

This time around, the removal of the Heart of the Harvest has an element that will hit the "EW!EWEWEWEWEW!!!" bone in your body.

Ethridge's character development is excellent. At no point does he take the easy way out with any of his characters, and the story shines even more for it. Barring one character in the book, all the characters are amazingly human, warts and all. This isn't meant to garner sympathy for some, or even any, of them. Hell, I found pretty much everyone in the book unlikable for one reason or another, but dammit if they weren't real.

Ethridge also needs to be commended for creating an underlying mythology for his story that is never fully explained, but only so far as to maintain an atmosphere of mystery and not just to leave a plot point dangling. For a first novel, this is overall an incredibly commendable work. Rating: Four out of five cracked-out monkeys.

Review: Hellbent- Cherie Priest

         Hellbent in the second book in the Cheshire Red series, Cherie Priest's Urban Fantasy series centered around Raylene Pendle, cat burglar and vampire. No sparkling. No hand stapled to forehead melodramatic despair. Sure, there's some neurosis, but overall Raylene is a woman who's playing to her strengths, and having a relatively fun time doing it. 

         The book picks up not long after the first book in the series, Bloodshot. The main plot of the Hellbent is a fairly seamless continuation of one of the major plots from the first book. Raylene has a side job in the story involving the stealing of supernatural dick bones and...

         Yes, you heard me. Supernatural dick bones. I'm not speaking metaphorically or anything. Supernatural dick bones. I'm not going to give any explanation at all, you just need to read it.

          Anyway, the side job provides a subplot that really doesn't intersect the main story much, but it does provide for an interesting new character in Raylene's universe. Without giving too much away, I'm not too sure of the credibility of how Raylene deals with this new character. It just seemed a bit too out of left field and plays a bit fast and easy with her quirky tendency to "pick up strays". All the same, I'm hoping to see how this thread develops, should there be more in the series.

          In terms of the main story, it's fantastic. Priest delivers a tight, action-packed ride that gives some more insight into the freaky vampire world that Raylene exists in. (It also gives you an understanding as to why she tries to avoid vampires whenever possible. Jesus, whatta bunch of whackjobs.) A major plot carryover from the first book is resolved in a very,very creative way, once again providing some great grist for the mill of future books in the series, which I definitely hope that there are. Rating: Three out of four cracked-out monkeys.