Tuesday, 31 August 2010
Warhammer 40K: Sabbat Worlds – Dan Abnett & Christian Dunn, Ed.
Knot Gneiss – Piers Anthony
Surface Detail – Iain Banks
Passion Play – Beth Bernobich
Cryoburn – Lois McMaster Bujold
Side Jobs – Jim Butcher
The Haunting of Charles Dickens – Lewis Buzbee
Bones of Empire – William Dietz
Against All Things Ending – Stephen Donaldson
1635: The Eastern Front – Eric Flint
The Half-Made World – Felix Gilman
Weight of Stone – Laura Anne Gilman
The Coffin: 10th Anniversary Edition – Phil Hester
Trio of Sorcery – Mercedes Lackey
Betrayer of Worlds – Edward Lerner
Forgotten Realms: Gauntigrym – R. A. Salvatore
There and Back Again – Brian Sibley
The Ultimate Egoist: Volume 1, the Complete Stories of Theodore Sturgeon – Theodore Sturgeon
Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II – Sean Williams
All Clear – Connie Willis
The Horns of Ruins – Tim Akers
The Power of Illusion – Christopher Anvil, Ed.
MYTH-Interpretations: the Worlds of Robert Asprin – Robert Asprin
Neil Gwynne's Scarlet Spy – Kage Baker
Elfsorrow – James Barclay (US release)
Elves Once Walked With Gods – James Barclay
Suddenly Something Happened – Jimmy Beaulieu
Forgotten Realms: The Year of Rogue Dragons – Richard lee Byers
Stories of Your Life – Ted Chiang
Star's End – Glen Cook
The Thief-Taker's Apprentice – Stephen Deas
Pock's World – Dave Duncan
The Stranger – Max Frei
Pax Britannia: Blood Royal – Jonathan Green
The Best Paranormal Crime Stories Ever Told – Martin Greenberg, Ed.
Vampire Empire – Clay Griffith
The Year's Best Dark Fantasy & Horror 2010 – Paula Guran, Ed.
Zombies: The Recent Dead – Paula Guran, Ed.
Never After – Laurell Hamilton
Memories of Envy – Barb Hendee
The Rebel Prince – Celine Kiernan
Legends of the Dragonrealm II – Richard Knaak
The Ragged Man – Tom Lloyd
Gardens of the Sun – Paul McAuley
Autumn – David Moody
Mysteries of the Diogenes Club – Kim Newman
Version 43 – Philip Palmer
Chasing the Dragon – Justina Robson
Twilight of Kerberos: Legacy's Price – Matthew Sprange
Tome of the Undergates – Samuel Sykes
In the Mean Time – Paul Tremblay
Shadowrise – Tad Williams
Mass Market Paperbacks:
The Spirit Thief – Rachel Aaron
Written in Time – Jerry Ahern
Eberron: The Fading Dream – Keith Baker
Geist – Philippa Ballantine
Elegy Beach – Stephen Boyett
Runescape: Betrayal at Falador – T. Church
Servant of the Underworld – Aliette de Bodard
Light of Burning Shadows – Chris Evans
Damage Time – Colin Harvey
Hunting Memories – Barb Hendee
Warhammer: Warrior Priest – Darius Hinks
Darkship Thieves – Sarah Hoyt
The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms – N. K. Jemisin
Corvus – Paul Kearney
The Clone Empire – Steven Kent
Desperation – Stephen King
The Silent Army – James Knapp
Warhammer 40K: Firedrake – Nick Kyme
Echo City – Tim Lebbon
Blood Heat – Maria Lima
Star Trek: Zero Sum Game – David Mack
Heart's Blood – Juliet Marillier
Dungeons & Dragons – City Under the Sand - Jeff Mariotte
Time Travelers Never Die – Jack McDevitt
Highborn – Yvonne Navarro
Grave Witch – Kalayna Price
Bitten to Death – Jennifer Rardin
Soul Stealers – Andy Remic
Live Free or Die – John Ringo
Star Wars: Death Troopers – Joe Schreiber
Kris Longknife: Redoubtable – Mike Shepherd
Starfist: Double Jeopardy – David Sherman
Shotgun Sorceress – Lucy Snyder
Planeswalker: A Test of Metal – Matthew Stover
Secret of the Dragon – Margaret Weis
City of Dreams & Nightmares – Ian Whates
Crown of Crystal Flame – C. L. Wilson
* I noticed my auto correct has done some interesting things to certain authors names. If you spot an error that I missed, please mention it in the comment field.
Monday, 30 August 2010
Posting 50+ photos on blogger would be too time consuming to be worth it, so I've set up an album on my Picasa account for Fan Expo here. You should be able to see the photos, download them and - if you choose - print from Picasa. I uploaded the best quality they allow so if you like a photo, feel free to download it. If you post one of my photos to your site, please mention my site and give credit. Thanks!
Sunday, 29 August 2010
It's basically a Where's Waldo, complete with Waldo. Can you find him?
(Click on the photo for a larger version.)
There will be more Fan Expo photos and stories posted the coming week, so check back often!
Which is where we encountered the lines. Yes, lines. One for people with wrist bands (who'd been at the expo the day before and who got in relatively quickly as a result) and one for those without. Communication wasn't that clear so there was confusion about the lines, and the non-band line split later into pre-paid and need tickets.
I'd expected to be in line 2+ hours, so the 1 1/2 was fairly good. Once we got inside we couldn't believe how crowded the floor was. The pictures I too don't do it justice because there were times raising a camera to take a photo wasn't practical.
There were a few things off the trade floor I was interested in, the Tron Legacy presentation being foremost among them, but when we saw the crowd on the first floor waiting to come up the elevator (they couldn't because the trade floor was at capacity), I decided it wasn't worth leaving.
We had a great time looking around the various booths, bought several items and took tons of pictures. I'll be doing dedicated posts over the next week or so, for the gaming demonstrations, artists in the alley and more.
Friday, 27 August 2010
The story follows the betrayal of the Jedi on an outpost mining colony and as it's only 20 minutes, head on over and give it a watch.
Not convinced? Here's the trailer.
Pros: interesting world examined in more detail (we learn more about the supernatural council and get out of London), engaging writing
Cons: heavy handed characterization made some people feel like caricatures rather than characters (this lessened as the story progressed), Alexia seemed a little dense at times, cliffhanger ending that can be considered distasteful
I try not to be overly influenced by other reviews when choosing my books. Unfortunately, sometimes a negative review can overshadow your own thoughts and feelings on a particular work, whether it be a book, movie or art.
That was the case with reading Changeless for me. I'd read the 2 star review given it by RT (Romantic Times) and a friend who loved Soulless (the first book in the series) as much as I did had difficulty with the ending.
Every time someone was introduced or something happened I wondered, 'is X going to happen at the end?' It meant that the ending didn't bother me as much as it did others because the "what if's" I'd considered were much worse than what Carriger ultimately did.
But I'm getting ahead of myself. In Changeless, soulless Alexia Maccon has been married for 3 months and at odds with her werewolf husband on a number of issues. The plot starts quickly with a report that supernaturals within a specific area of London have suddenly become human - temporarily.
News from his former pack in Scotland prompts Lord Maccon to head home. Alexia's investigations into the supernatural affair cause her to soon follow after.
This book wasn't as much fun as Soulless. The opening had heavy handed characterization to the point that everyone came across as caricatures. I was surprised that, though she had council meetings twice a week, Alexia lived at Woolsey Castle, 2 hours from London - each way - rather than at their home in town. The number of surprise visitors they hosted was also high considering the commute.
Had I not spent the first 3rd of the book trying to figure out what the 'bad ending' was going to be, I'd have enjoyed the story a lot more. The plot was quick moving and interesting - though I figured some things out well before Alexia did, which is surprising as she's usually quite intelligent.
Still, it was fun and the ending, rather than turn me off, has me hoping for a good resolution in the forthcoming Blameless.
*** SPOILERS ***
For those of you whose curiosity is peaked and who don't intend to read this book, here's the 'twist ending' and why I was ok with it.
Alexia's husband is technically dead. Werewolves are killed by the bite that turns them. They die and if they have excess 'soul' they become werewolves. If they don't, the bite is the end for them.
Now, as a soulless, Alexia's touch 'humanizes' the supernatural. But apparently, though they look human and lose their supernatural powers under her touch, they're still dead. In other words, Lord Maccon can have all the sex he wants, but he can't father a child.
Which causes Alexia problems as she discovers, at the end of Changeless, that she's pregnant. She's also never slept with anyone but her husband. Unfortunately, he no longer believes that and so casts her out.
After wondering if she'd have an affair with Major Channing, have an affair with Madam Lefoux, get raped, see Ivy murdered, etc. this sounded like the lesser of many evils. In fact, it rather explains the title Blameless for the next book. But it's entirely possible that had I not spent the first part of the book so occupied with guessing the ending I would have found Lord Maccon kicking out his pregnant wife more objectionable.
The other reason it perhaps didn't bother me was that despite being a cliffhanger I'm expecting everything to be sorted out in the next book. Most romance novels have something like this in them (a feature I usually dislike) but I can see the use here. It certainly had me devouring the excerpt from the next book that's at the back. And seeing quick witted and even quicker tongued Alexia deal with the accusations of scandal should be fun. It took me a while to read this book because I was afraid I would hate the ending and not want to read the next book (which has happened before). As it is, Blameless will trump my reading pile when it comes out because I REALLY want to see how things will resolve themselves.
(I was directed to this post via Speculative Horizon's Friday links.)
Thursday, 26 August 2010
Wednesday, 25 August 2010
Skip ahead through university and I realized I not only had to explain how my protagonist became the only black elf in my fantasy world (as I decided not to do a race), but also modify the look so it wouldn't be considered plagiarism. I'd never considered using the name 'Drow', but the look for a dark elf is pretty obviously their own. The first was easy - I split my humans into light and dark skinned, depending on where they lived. As for my dark elf, I made his colouration due to a potion gone wrong, and modified the look enough that it's now my own idea. Problem solved.
Recently while shelving I came across this book: Demons Not Included by Cheyenne McCray. Apparently she also liked the idea of the Drow as she made her character a half-drow. I checked the wikipedia listing for drow to find out if Dungeons & Dragons (the basis for Forgotten Realms) had cribbed it from history and therefore it is fare game to anyone wanting to use it (like dragons, elves, etc.). Turns out the word 'drow' is of Scots origin and more commonly written 'trow' or 'troll'. It referred to 'dark spirits' or a race of elves that lived underground and were good at working metal.
Everything about them, from their look to their society, was created by Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson, who co-created Dungeons & Dragons, and later writers for the game and books.
So my question is, is it right for another author to crib off of someone else's work in a situation like this, where the creature has become part of the public consciousness for the genre? Could an author use Thestrals in their novel, which unlike many of the creatures Rowling used in Harry Potter, were original creations of hers? Or should Drow be considered intellectual property of WotC and unusable by other authors until the death +70 years rule has passed? I'd lean towards the latter myself. I think it would be annoying to spend a lot of time and effort creating something and then find others using my work as background so they don't have to do the same.
I'm interested in hearing your thoughts on this matter.
Tuesday, 24 August 2010
Pros: amazing visuals (not special effects mind you, but the puppets and sets are amazing), attention to detail, strong female characters
Cons: simplistic plot, Jen's not that bright
The Dark Crystal is one of those movies I vaguely remember loving from my childhood. So I watched it with trepidation, wondering how it would hold up as an adult and afraid I'd hate it.
I didn't hate it, which was good. But I didn't love it either. It had great visuals - a well realized world with attention to detail (insects, critters, unique and interesting fantasy creatures) - but was a bit shy on the plot department.
The plot is simple. The evil Skeksis (creepy looking) and the good Mystics (also creepy looking) both appeared 1000 years ago when the dark crystal fractured and a shard fell out. Now, the last remaining Gelfling, Jen, must find and return the shard when the 3 suns align or the Skeksis will rule forever.
The movie's a traditional quest, with a rather naive and unworldly Jen trying to figure out what to do with the shard once he finds it.
The voiceover that narrates at certain points in the story could probably have been toned down as the characters themselves mention similar points. The quest itself quickly goes off course as Jen isn't given the information he needs to properly complete it. It's bizarre that the Mystics, who raised him, wouldn't train him in what would be required considering their future depends on his completing this mission.
On the whole, it's a worthwhile film to rewatch, though seeing it with kids might make you feel less guilty about the time spent.
Thursday, 19 August 2010
Pros: lyrical writing, intricate and complex plot, exotic setting, Can's bitbots are cool
Cons: have to pay close attention (sudden flashbacks/memories, lots of minute details), minor character & place names are unusual and similar enough that they're easily confused when jumping between so many storylines (Ogun Saltuk, Selma Ozgun, Oguz, Ozer)
The novel is set in the Istanbul of 2027. Turkey is part of the EU. Nanotech is used to give people a mental edge, especially in businesses like trading and finance. And the lives of the people from the Dervish House at Adem Dede Square are about to change.
It all starts with a tram bomb. Necdet's on his way to work and is horrified when a woman blows her own head off. Traumatized by the event, he doesn't realize how badly he was affected by it until he starts seeing djinn everywhere.
Can Durukan, a 9 year boy, sends his computerized bitbot robots to the site of the bombing to see what he can see. Another robot attacks his and he's thrust into a mystery he's determined to solve.
Meanwhile, Ayse, an art dealer is offered a million Euro to find a legend, a Mellified Man.
Her husband has a deal of his own, a deal that could make him millions, or land him in jail.
Their stories and more intertwine to form a dazzling mosaic through 5 days in Istanbul. It's a sensory explosion, of names, places and actions. The plot becomes intricate fast, so pay attention when reading.
My only complaint was that so many names were similar enough between places and people, that when they were mentioned again I often couldn't remember who they were.
If you liked the lyricism of Guy Gavriel Kay's Under Heaven, you'll love The Dervish House.
Wednesday, 18 August 2010
A Wild Light, by Marjorie M. Liu
The morning after her birthday celebration, Maxine Kiss wakes up lying on the floor and covered in blood. A few feet away from her is her grandfather, Jack Meddle—dead—with one of her knives lying beside his body. Maxine does not remember attacking her grandfather or the events leading up to the act. She does not even remember the man who discovers her leaning over the body, a man who looks at her with intimate knowledge, a man whom she loved—just not anymore.
Maxine embarks on a journey to reclaim her lost memories, a journey that will reveal more about the powerful ancestor she takes after and the demons that are bound to her body and to her bloodline. A journey that will include going beyond the walls of the dimensional prison she is charged to guard and into the realm where demons dwell…
This newest installment in the Hunter Kiss series takes a major departure from the other two books, in that Maxine Kiss has no memories of the man she loves. Some may like this new development; others may not and that is why I cannot firmly put this in the pro category or the con. However, not to worry: Liu does not leave this situation unresolved.
This leads me to my first con. Although Liu restores all of Maxine’s memories of Grant, I felt that not much focus was put on how she did so in the story. It was slightly disappointing for me because I would have liked more than what I got.
In the pro column for this book is the background information Liu reveals about major characters. We find out more about Grant—about his people and his powers, about Jack Meddle, about Maxine’s ancestor that she takes after, and about the demons that have been bound to her bloodline. Let’s face it: I love those five demons and having them appear more in the book makes me happy.
A Wild Light is as smart and engaging as the other books in Marjorie Liu’s Hunter Kiss series. Her writing is such that I am actually able to read every word in the book without having to skip to the end so I can finish it for the sake of finishing it. However, at the end of the novel, I was not left with that particular excitement I sometimes get after reading a really good story and I was not left with a desire of wanting more. I blame this on the fact that I love Maxine’s little demons more than I actually like Maxine herself. So, take what you will of this review. A Wild Light and the Hunter Kiss series is a good read, but for me, it is not a book that will live on my bookshelf.
Tuesday, 17 August 2010
Now on Moviefone, enter for a chance to win a trip to the I AM NUMBER FOUR Movie Premiere!
One Grand Prize winner will receive a three-day / two-night trip to the 'I Am Number Four' movie premiere next year. The prize package will include two tickets to the premiere event, roundtrip airfare for two and hotel accommodations.
Check it out at: http://insidemovies.moviefone.com/2010/08/16/i-am-number-four-movie-premiere-sweepstakes/
The book is the thrilling launch of a series about an exceptional group of teens as they struggle to outrun their past, discover their future—and live a normal life on Earth. It is currently #7 on the New York Times Best Sellers List.
A co-worker of mine has finished the book and thought it was a great read - light on the SF elements but a lot of fun. If you know a teenage boy who isn't a great fan of picking up books, maybe this will change his mind.
Zombies have infested a fallen America. A young girl named Temple is on the run. Haunted by her past and pursued by a killer, Temple is surrounded by death and danger, hoping to be set free.
For twenty-five years, civilization has survived in meager enclaves, guarded against a plague of the dead. Temple wanders this blighted landscape, keeping to herself and keeping her demons inside her heart. She can't remember a time before the zombies, but she does remember an old man who took her in and the younger brother she cared for until the tragedy that set her on a personal journey toward redemption. Moving back and forth between the insulated remnants of society and the brutal frontier beyond, Temple must decide where ultimately to make a home and find the salvation she seeks.
The site also has an excerpt, audio clip and kudos from various sources.
Friday, 13 August 2010
As with my other reading lists, this isn't comprehensive. I've picked books from several genres, as categorized by my store (so Bitten is in horror despite being urban fantasy). If you'd like to add books I've missed in comments, please do so.
Bitten – Kelley Armstrong
Wolf's Gambit – W. D. Gagliani
Shapeshifter – J. F. Gonzalez
Mammoth Book of Wofl Men – Stephen Jones, Ed.
Cycle of the Werewolf – Stephen King
Wolfman – Jonathan Maberry
Wolfman – Nicholas Pekearo
Full Moon City – Karrell Schweitzer & Martin Greenberg, Ed.
Frostbite – David Wellington
Silver Wolf – Alice Borchardt
Mooncalled – Patricia Briggs
Loupsgarous – Natsuhiko Kyogoku
Wolfsangel – M. D. Lachlan
Running With the Pack – Ekaterina Sedia, Ed.
Wolfbreed – S. A. Swann
Moonshine – Rob Thurman
Kitty & the Midnight Hour – Carrie Vaughn
Benighted – Kit Whitfield
Werewolves of Montpellier - Jason
Hunter's Moon – C. T. Adams
Full oon Risint – Keri Arthur
Hidden Moon – Lori Handeland
Master of Wolves – Angela Knight
Marked by Moonlight – Sharie Kohler
Come the Night – Susan Krinard
Howling at the Moon – Karen MacInerney
Claimed by the Wolf – Charlene Teglia
Confessions of a Werewolf Supermodel – Ronda Thompson
Werewolf's Guide To Life – Ritch Duncan
When Werewolves Attack – Del Howison
Thursday, 12 August 2010
(Please note that the pros and cons are from my point of view. I recognize that for a certain demographic the cons will be pros.)
Pros: surprisingly intelligent ending, enough honestly funny parts to be worth watching, makes fun of some movie/sf stereotypes
Cons: lots of bad jokes, toilet and body humour, irritatingly stupid main characters
This isn't a movie I'd generally watch (let alone like) but sometimes you need a change of pace, and expanding your horizons (up and down) can produce surprising results. Despite the cons (I can't stand toilet humour and the main characters REALLY got on my nerves) there were enough good scenes in the film that I found myself liking it overall.
Jesse (Ashton Kutcher) and Chester (Seann William Scott) wake up one morning, hungover and with no memory of the previous night, to find Jesse's car missing. The quest to find the car has them meeting a transvestite stripper looking for the suitcase of money he gave them, two buff alien men, five sexy alien women and a cadre of alien seeking fanatics all looking for the 'continuum transfunctioner', which was left in their car.
The ending is surprisingly good, tying up all the various plot elements in an intelligent way. If you wan't something different (with the emphasis on different) look this up.
Wednesday, 11 August 2010
Contrast this with the iPad, which allows for easy scrolling, bookmarking, etc. it's a much more pleasant reading experience when it comes to PDFs.
Tuesday, 10 August 2010
I'm glad I did. The exhibit was definitely worth the money. In the lobby are signs and the flying car from book 2, suspended in the air. They even turned on the headlights in the evening.
When you get to the exhibit (6th floor here), they let you in in 7 minute intervals. You have the option of renting the guided tour headset, which my co-worker said mentioned some great information. I decided to do the tour solo and found that fine.
The tour begins with a costumed guide sorting part of the group into Hogwarts houses. I made Ravenclaw. :) Then there's the Hogwart's express. It's a foggy exhibit, with the train and piles of luggage. There's even a wanted sign for Sirius Black (but not one that moves).
For the moving pictures you need to head to the next room. Here are some of the paintings from the school of witchcraft and wizardry. A few of them move, while others are stationary. The Fat Lady sits in the doorway trying to, unsuccessfully, break a glass with her voice.
This is where the displays start. There are props and costumes from the films, character wands (it's amazing how each one is different, and so intricate) and more. The bottles of spell ingredients from the potions class are there, as are Ron and Harry's beds (did you know the bed curtains are solid red on the outside and patterned with gold stars, etc. on the inside? Madam Hooch's flight robes were my favourite of the costumes, though Lockhart's dueling robes were a close second.
There were a few interactive exhibits, pulling mandrakes, throwing quaffles through hoops and trying out Hagrid's chair. A gentleman at Hagrid's hut explained how they made Robbie Coltrane look half-giant sized. Also by the hut was buckbeak the hippogriff, which was amazing. There was a baby thestral too.
But the best exhibit, was the one dedicated to the dark arts. There we got to see the angel of death statue that hung over Voldemort's family tomb. There we saw dementors and death eaters. And ministry of magic decrees. Read the last line of the decrees and know someone working on the film had a sense of humour.
Finally, there was the great hall. Here candles hung from the ceiling and formal robes lined the walls. It's amazing the amount of detail put into the costumes and props. The triwizard cup was spectacular. It makes you wish they'd focused in on more of these details in the films so you could really see what things looked like.
The gift shop was designed with Diagon Alley in mind. Several of those shops are represented here, names printed in gold over the goods most likely to be sold there. It wasn't perfect, of course, but it was fun. I only wish the prices were more reasonable ($4 for a chocolate frog, $9 for Berty Botts Every Flavour Beans, upwards of $50 for a decent replica wand).
Anyway, it was a great experience and if the exhibit comes your way I highly recommend it.
Monday, 9 August 2010
When the goddess of magic was murdered, Elminster’s world shattered. Once the most powerful wizard in the world, immortal, beloved of the goddess of magic, and the bane of villainy, he is now a tired old man. He is powerful but mortal, and with all the enemies a man who makes a habit of saving the world tends to accumulate.
To make matters worse, Elminster has needs—feeding powerful magic items to the Simbul, his lover, is the only thing that keeps her sane—but their increasingly risky collection leads his enemies right to him.
Questions and Answers with Ed Greenwood.
What is the easiest/hardest thing about writing in a shared world?
The hardest thing about writing in a shared world is getting everything just right. Not forgetting someone’s aunt’s name, or that a particular baron was actually killed off in someone else’s book two years ago, or that Prince Roragryn’s underwear is always red. Not just the facts, but the tone. Your angry old Au
nt Wrothindra should look, act, and sound like angry old Aunt Wrothindra as handled by all the other writers who’ve written scenes with her, in a dozen other books. She shouldn’t change to make your plot work more easily, and in fact any changes are wrenching if sudden (and usually disliked by the fans) or must be slow and very carefully accounted for; a shared world is like a huge ocean liner: turning her is a slow process involving a lot of pushing, and hopefully some very careful piloting, for very good reasons.
Aunt Wrothindra and all the other established facts about the world can be straitjackets, hemming in storytelling and forcing it in particular directions.
Conversely, that’s also the easiest thing about writing in a shared world: there’s so much established detail that a writer/designer doesn’t have to invent on the spot, and fans/readers “know” and understand characters and places and the implications of events or threats or possibilities without the author having to always stop and announce them. A story can gain a lot of importance, weight, and excitement because readers already understand what hangs in the balance, and are looking ahead. “The King is FINALLY going to fall in love with Aunt Wrothindra? I KNEW it! Oooh, this’ll be good!”
With regards to the previous question, how is writing on your own different? Which do you prefer?
Writing outside the Realms, Middle-Earth, Amber, and the other shared settings I’ve written in (yes, I’ve published writings set in all three of those) gives me more freedom to tell tales; I can tailor characters and settings to more clearly set forth a short story, for example. At the same time, I have to do what the vast majority of writers have to do: explain EVERYTHING I put into the story, because I can’t depend on the reader knowing anything about this new place that I’m setting before them for the first time.
If you could, would you change places with any of your characters?
When I was young, fit, and hungry for adventure, maybe. Now, not so much. My characters tend to dwell in dangerous medieval-era fantasy settings where the monsters and villains are many, medicine is poor, and . . . hey, wait, magic WORKS.
And I’ve always wanted to be the best swordsman in several kingdoms, have beautiful princesses swoon before my manly handsomeness, and reduce sneering barons to cringing, groveling apologists. However, I suspect “making that so” in writing is a lot easier than actually DOING it.
Well, maybe if I was the head cook in the royal castle of a rich and powerful kingdom, threatened by no rival and with no shortage of food coming in. A warm safe bed, lots of minions to do all the real work, all the food and drink I wanted . . .
No. It’s tempting, but I like being me. Even without the minions.
How do you discipline yourself to write?
I hurry to get bills paid and other “things that MUST be done soon” done, and firmly squash myself from procrastinating (I can’t write Book X until I find that baseball short story I read once, and I know it’s somewhere in THAT stack of books, and I really should put them all in order and tidy them up while I’m looking for the baseball story, and hey look, another week went past somehow, and I still haven’t started Book X).
I don’t force myself to write a certain number of words a day, or even to write every day, because real life happens. To us all. Weddings, funerals, dirty laundry, and grocery shopping. But I do TRY to sit down and write something every day, and follow two tricks: it’s always easier to edit or rewrite something you’ve already written than it is to start putting something on a blank page, and it’s always easier to sit down again to write and get back into the writing if you left something unfinished last time, instead of neatly ending a chapter or a book or a short story.
When you finish something, save it, back it up, print it out, dance with joy, AND THEN START RIGHT IN on the next project, even if it’s just opening a computer file, typing in a working title, and then hammering out a few sentences of vague nonsense. It’s a beginning, and it gives you something to go back to, fix, and move on from.
In another sense, I don’t have to discipline myself to write, because I’m ALWAYS writing. At least in my head (and yes, I keep a notepad and pencil in my pocket to jot down ideas that my mind spews up into my face when it’s ready to). Why not a PDA? Or magicthingummyphone? Or laptop? Because pencils and paper never run out of battery power or start to roam, never die when they get dropped or wet, and never distract me from just getting the idea down.
Any advice for hopeful writers?
Sure. Read, read, read, and write, write, write.
No, I’m not being flippant. I mean just that: read voraciously, in fields you want to write in and genres you don’t think you’ll ever want to go near. See how writers handle death scenes, revelations, starting a story, weaving plots and subplots together, and pacing. (Just to name a few things . . .) Don’t copy what they do, but see what works and what doesn’t. What authorial “voices” do you like reading the most? Can you pull off that voice, or that one? And so on.
Which leads me to the writing. A fortunate few get to be bestselling “authors” because they slept with the right president, happened to be standing beside someone famous when something important (and usually dreadful) happened, and so on. The rest of us actually have to write the books, and writing is like everything else: some of it is inspiration and luck of timing or location, but most of it is craft and work, hard work. Those last two things improve with practice, practice, practice, so put your behind on some sort of seat, your fingers on a keyboard attached to something, and write. A lot. Often. Taking breaks to breathe and exercise and see enough of the real world to have something to write about (your hero is going to leap on a horse and gallop away, vividly and excitingly described by you? Great, so have you ever gone near a horse?). Keep at it, don’t get discouraged (everyone does, but don’t let it get to you; don’t stop). Maybe you’re not cut out to be a writer, but you’ll never know if you never get around to actually writing AND FINISHING a book and getting it to publishers. I’m living proof that it can be done. I started out as one of the most shy people in the world, and 130-some books later, I’m . . . not (very) shy anymore.
Be sure to check out the rest of Ed Greenwood's Blog Tour:
Friday, 6 August 2010
If you want to follow along, here's his schedule:
Friday, August 6
Monday, August 9 here! www.scififanletter.blogspot.com
Tuesday, August 10
Wednesday, August 11
Pros: action, thought provoking story (especially the ending), psychological subplot (or main plot, depending on your interpretation of events), using dreams as a stage of espionage is unique
Cons: some may find the middle of the film (when Cobb's building up his team) boring, a lot of people dislike the ending though I thought it was great
Dom Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio) faces arrest and imprisonment should he return to the US where his 2 kids live with their grandmother. In order to return to them, he accepts a job offer by an influential business man. The job? To infiltrate the mind of a competitor, not to extract information, but to leave a suggestion. Most people believe this action, inception, to be impossible. Cobb however, has done it before.
The first part of the film is set-up, introducing the dream invasion concept and technology and compiling the team for this job. The second part is the job itself. For some people the time between the job offer and the job will be boring. For me, the explanation of the technology and the introduction of the psychological effects of dream invasion was fascinating.
The job itself was amazing. You think you understand how complex dreams can be - anything is possible - but when they're in there, going from level to level, you start to understand how complex the mind is, allowing several layers of dreams to exist and interact simultaneously. There are some great action sequences and thought provoking moments.
I loved the ending. A film that has me considering and reconsidering what I believe about it is one I'll buy and watch again.
Wednesday, 4 August 2010
Here's a quick summary:
1. there's now a light indicator when charging
2. the log in screen defaults to the 'my books' page, even if you were reading a book (it used to log in to the page you were reading)
3. there's a 15 minute sleep function, after which the machine turns off (this means you can't leave the Kobo on indefinitely, so you always have to log back in and choose your book to continue reading)
4. the sleep screen shows the book cover and gets you back to your page if you click the power button before the 15 minutes are up
5. the 'off' screen no longer displays the book cover, just a 'powered off' message.
6. you can hide the preloaded books by choosing to view only your books in the display menu of the 'books' screen
7. you can now resize fonts in ePub files uploaded from sources other than the Kobo store (I show a PDF in the video, but it's the same idea)
Tuesday, 3 August 2010
Publishing date: August 3
Pros: fast paced, good dialogue, a fair bit of action
Cons: last 30 pages rely more heavily on previous books for climax and denouement and contain spoilers for the earlier books (only a problem if you haven't read those books)
Savannah Levine's running her guardian's P.I. agency while they're on vacation. When another P.I., Jesse Aanes, drops a murder case that has hints of occult activity in her lap, she's ready to prove she can solve a case solo. So off she goes to Columbus, a small town that now boasts 3 murders. With two obvious suspects and several people offering help (including the brother of one of the victims, an out of town detective), it seems like an easy case. But nothing's as it seems and when someone else dies Savannah realizes that going solo isn't as fun as she thought it would be.
Savannah's an interesting character. She's got a lot of streetsmarts and a no nonsense attitude. She's not quite the kick ass character urban fantasy is known for, but not far off either. Magic is her first line of offense, though she knows some martial arts too. She avoids being a Mary Sue by asking for help from a senior member of the P.I. agency and by occasionally making potentially stupid decisions (like meeting a possible suspect alone without telling anyone where she's going).
This is the first Otherworld book by Armstrong that I've read. I assumed Savannah was a minor character in the other books so the first book dedicated to her would be a good place to jump into the series. There were occasional references to her past throughout the book that were easy to understand until 30 pages to the end. Suddenly someone from her past who was never mentioned in this book shows up. The climax's 'ah ha' moment was more of a 'what?' moment for me. Since I didn't know who this character was I had no idea what was coming. The ending wasn't ruined by this. Armstrong explained enough about who the character was that a new reader could follow along. But I knew I'd missed the real surprise of the scene.
Still, it was a fun, quick read. And, from what Armstrong tells about Savannah's past, those who have followed the series will likely enjoy seeing Savannah grown up.
Sunday, 1 August 2010
What Distant Deeps – David Drake
Empire of Light – Gary Gibson
Zero History – William Gibson
Will Power – A. J. Hartley
Wish Upon a Time – Nabila Jamshed
Intrigues – Mercedes Lackey
Esperanza – Trish MacGregor
Antiphon – Ken Scholes
The High King of Montival – S. M. Stirling
Out of the Dark – David Weber
Hellfire: Plague of Demons – Robert Weinberg
The Forest Laird – Jack Whyte
Pirate Freedom – Gene Wolfe
Siren Song – Cat Adams
The High Crusade – Poul Anderson
The Technician – Neal Asher
The Currents of Space – Isaac Asimov
The Secret History of Fantasy – Peter Beagle, Ed.
The House on Durrow Street – Galen Beckett
Hawk of May – Gillian Bradshaw
The Plucker: And Illustrated Novel – Brom
Cold Magic – Kate Elliott
The Wolf Age – James Enge
The First Collected Tales of Bauchelain and Korbal Broach: Three Short Novels of the Malazan Empire – Steven Erikson
Pax Britannia: Gods of Manhattan – Al Ewing
The Stranger – Max Frei
Flesh and Fire – Laura Anne Gilman
Mob Rules – Cameron Haley
Warhammer 40K: The Hunt for Voldorius – Andy Hoare
Hell Can Wait – Theodore Judson
Afterblight Chronicles: Arrowland – Paul Kane
One – David Karp
ParaSpheres 2: Extending Beyond the Spheres of Literary & Genre Fictin – Ken Keegan, Ed.
Our Lady of Darkness – Fritz Leiber
Fire: Tales of Elemental Spirits – Robin McKinley & Peter Dickinson, Ed.
Twilight Forever Rising – Lena Meydan
The Flying Saucer – Bernard Newman
Dragons of the Valley – Donita Paul
The Cardinal's Blade – Pierre Pevel (US release)
Dreadnought – Cherie Priest
The Bloodlight Chronicles: Reconciliation – Steve Stanton
The Scarab Path – Adrian Tchaikovsky
Ragnarok – Patrick Vanner
Limbo – Bernard Wolfe
Mass Market Paperback:
Bayou Moon – Ilona Andrews
Jumper Cable – Piers Anthony
Left for Undead – L. A. Banks
Edge – Thomas Blackthorne
Masques – Patricia Briggs
Engineman – Eric Brown
Dungeons & Dragons: Key of Stars – Bruce Cordell
Monster Hunter Vendetta – Larry Correia
The Dragon Book – Jack Dann & Gardner Dozois, Ed.
At Empire's Edge – William Dietz
Venom – Jennifer Estep
Fangs for the Mammaries – Esther Freisner
Angel Souls and Devil Hearts – Christopher Golden
Must Love Hellhounds – Charlaine Harris, Nalini Singh, Illonga Andrews & Meljean Brook
The Gathering Storm – Robert Jordan & Brandon Sanderson
Star Wars: Dynasty of Evil – Drew Karpyshyn
Revamped – J. F. Lewis
Warhammer: Zombieslayer – Nathan Long
The Storm Witch – Violette Malan
Uprising – Scott Marian
The Stars Blue Yonder – Sandra McDonald
An Artificial Night – Seanan McGuire
Imager's Challenge – L. E. Modesitt, Jr.
Married With Zombies – Jesse Petersen
Flight of the Renshai – Mickey Reichert
Questing Knight – Anthony Reynolds
Of Berserkers, Swords and Vampires: A Saberhagen Retrospective – Fred Saberhagen
Quatrain – Sharon Shinn
The Sword of the Lady – S. M. Stirling
The Crown of the Blood – Gav Thorpe
The Grimrose Path – Rob Thurman
The Bookman – Lavie Tidhar