Friday, September 12, 2008

Still on hiatus here, but...

...I'm assuming some people are still finding me through here first. If so, here's some links of interest for you if you care to continue stalking me for my body:

MyLifeComics: This is where I post my daily journal comic, which details the minute and mundane moments of my life, as well as the crazyfuntimes. Yes, that's one word.

Words and stuff: This is my now public LiveJournal, where I do most of my writing about writing (even though I still say I hate writing about writing and get no warm, fuzzy feelings out of doing it).

Fortuitous Twist: My relationship drama webcomic set in New Jersey and revolving around sushi antics and kitty cats. It is slowgoing, but still going. I have big plans for it; I just need to find the time to sit down and work on it.

DeviantART Paulwise: Here's my DeviantART page, where I'm meticulously adding artwork to my gallery, as well as sketches and silly things.

Twitter Pabba: I'm on Twitter now. Woo? Woo.

I'm sure you can find me on a bajillion other websites, but those are the big ones for now. Enjoy...

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

On hiatus

Five hundred and twenty-six posts later...I'm putting Wistful Writings on official hiatus.

I've come to discover that I really and wholly do not enjoy writing about writing. It always felt like a chore or that I was just being a writerly sheep, baa baa baa-ing along with everybody else. So I'm stopping for now. Well, I'm not gonna stop writing, but you get what I'm saying. Right?

Anyways, thanks for those that did read me here and took the time to comment. Much appreciated.

I will be continuing to post my journal comic at MyLifeComics five days a week, and if there is any new writing news (e.g., a story sold or was just published or I secretly discovered that every editor in the world hates me) you'll learn about it there for sure. Plus, maybe some book reviews now and then. No promises, but you never know with me...

So, until later! Or maybe never again!

EDIT: Frak you, Blogger! What is this "scheduled post" crap? It's taking me forever to get this thing live. Ugh, glad I'm leaving...

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Blawg

Hi, blog!

I kind of hate you at the moment. And blogging. It is draining me. Blog blog blog blogblgobgoblgoblgbogbgoblgoblog. So I'm taking a break.

See you on the flipside, blog.

Peace, love, and naps,
Paul

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Some updatery

My review of City Slab #12 is now live at The Fix Online. Go on, check it out.

I worked on artsy stuff for most of the weekend. Got some comics done for the ones for The Stars Down Under, as well as MyLifeComics. I even doodled! It's been ages since I just sat and...doodled!

Today I went to the park for the first time in many months. To say it was divine would not even come close to describing the experience.

I still plan on submitting a story to the new open submissions period for Sword and Sorceress, but I started another piece for the time being. Sci-fi and about food. Everyone knows I'm a foodwhore. So, yeah, I'm working on this one for a bit.

And lastly, Battlestar Galactica has been great so far. I only wish it was back on Sunday nights.

There you go. Five random things makes an entry.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Books in 2008, #13


#13. The Situation by Jeff VanderMeer

This is, in short, weirdly fascinating. It's also not really a book, but rather a novelette packaged like one so for the sake of my sanity I'm just going to count it here among the others. The Situation is the story of an office's innards and its quirky employees, an account of a place both strikingly different than what we might know and yet all-too-familiar to those that have spent time in a gray-walled cube slaving over market reports and the like. It is the journey of an unnamed protagonist who has just been put in charge of a new project--to create a ginormous fish, from scratch, big enough that it can swallow a child whole. But of course.

Can I admit something here? Yes? Okay, I will then. All of this reminded me somewhat fondly of that scene in Beetlejuice where Adam and Barbara end up finding out that the afterlife is merely a convoluted office setting, brimming with paperwork and monotony. Of course, the characters there were monstrous, sure, but also comical. Here, where our leading worker's fellow employees are shapeshifters, things are less laughable. In fact, they are very much subverted, making them both unclear and interesting. My favorite would have to the Mord, once simply known as Mord, a bird lover who quickly mutates into something more quietly menacing, and all within an office's walls.

Which is really why I think I liked this the most. It's the mix of normalcy and surrealism, the juxtaposition of paperwork and info-seeking beetles, the horror of a manager made completely of ignitable paper, the way isolation creeps in just as hauntingly as it would in any situation. There's a sense of loss, a sense of confusion, an understanding that everyone hates you, and finally for our working friend a chance to break away. It's not exactly how he'd have liked to go (it involves a slug, and for those paying attention earlier on they know exactly what this means--serious business), but it is an end fit for a nobody worker bee.

The Situation is available as a free download from Wired. Click here to check it out.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

I'm a cover whore

Just saw that the cover for Kaleidotrope #4, which contains my short story "She's a Hearth", is now up:



As a fan of pipes and robots, I must say that I approve. What do you think?

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Books in 2008, #12

#12. A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson

Feeling the urge to get better in touch with nature, Bill Bryson, after spending some twenty plus years in Great Britain, decides to walk what many see as not walkable: the Appalachian Trail. It is a stretch of path that goes on for 2,100 miles, from Maine to Georgia, and is brimming with trees, bears, and history. Joining him on the trek is his pal Katz, a man who at first seems incapable of walking the length of a shopping mall. The two of them quickly discover that the AT is not what they were expecting. It has its ups and downs, its quirks and faults, and its Mary Ellens.

While some of the minute details of A Walk in the Woods had my eyes glazing over, the wit and charm of Bryson and his observations were more than enough to keep me turning the pages. Now, he most certainly does not walk from Maine to Georgia, but he is more than successful in getting himself back to man's roots. And small victories, in the grand scheme of Mother Nature, are much more acceptable.

Parts of the narrative hit home, especially since I have some strangely fond memories of a walk I once took with my parents, father at the ship's wheel, where Sunfish Pond was "only a little further" away. It's easy to see how Bryson and Katz grew quiet or agitated on the AT, how in all that beauty a little madness can still grow.

So yeah, a fun read, though sometimes thick on the details. Especially enjoyable for fans of the outdoors. A final warning: the cover is misleading.

Kaleidotrope #4 TOC

Well, here's the TOC for the fourth issue of Kaleidotrope, which looks like it'll be coming out shortly:

Fiction
"Molting" by Andrew Howard
"Word Count: Negative 1" by Ashley Arnold
"The Three Wishes of Miles Vander" by Bill Ward
"Premature" by Mark Rich
"Paradise" by Adam Lowe
"White Sheets" by Mike Driver
"Rome (a Metrophilia)" by Brendan Connell
"Half-Sneeze Johnny" by Kurt Kirchmeier
"My Cthulhu Story" (a comic) by G.W. Thomas
"Furrier" by Flavian Mark Lupinetti
"She’s a Hearth" by Paul Abbamondi
"The Life and Times of a Hungry World, Told Briefly" by Alex Dally MacFarlane
"The Transparency" by Michael Obilade

Poetry
"Househunting on Mars" by Bonita Kale
"Praise for What I Don’t Know" by Thomas Zimmerman
"Cracked Shells" by Beth Langford
"Spring in the Lab" by Alyce Wilson
"Farm School" by Marcie Lynn Tentchoff
"A Manual For Good Housekeeping in the Age of Global Warming" by Miranda Gaw
"Ivanikha" by Dana Koster
Two Poems by Franz K. Baskett
"Worldviews on a Desert Trail" by Jason Huskey
"Towards the Afterlife" by Aurelio Rico Lopez III

Bonus Shtuff
"Who Goes There," Betty Ragan's interview with Marc Schuster and Tom Powers
"The Rise of the Fembots: A Brief Introduction to Female Android Sexuality in Film" by Eric Borer

I recognize some names up there. Do you?

Friday, April 04, 2008

Seven weird superheroes

Here's seven weird superheroes that will, unfortunately, or maybe rather fortunately, never make it to big screen. I think I used to room with #4 in college...

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Look, ma, progress notes

Ah, so I couldn't not start a new story. I'm telling you, it's an addiction at times...

Progress notes for 03 April 2008


"The Surviving Skalds"

New words: 223
Total wordage: 223
Deadline: May 16
Reason for stopping: Just plain ol' tired, folks.

Actually, I need to figure out how the surviving skalds actually play a part in this thing. See, I originally wrote about 500 words from the title itself, my muse, and then scrapped them. I was starting in the wrong place. But I still really like the title and now have to figure out where they are and what they are going to do once Luann and company stumble upon them.

Must think, think, think...

Darling du jour: The dockside inns of Anlaegar welcomed Luann and her brother's men by locking all their doors. (First sentence, too!)
Tyop du jour: ...as if fleeing from the plaque.
Number of curse words so far: Just one. I must be growing up or something.
Character quirks: Someone can't count too well. Mathematics, it seems, is not a necessity for a mercenary that can swing a sword, I suppose.
Words Microsoft Word squirms at: sellsword, skalds
Words Microsoft Word loves, but should probably have a problem with: NA
Sustenance: Coffee with hazelnut creamer, some fat free Rocky Road ice cream coming up next...
Mean Things: The horror that is sleeping outside on a cobblestone street. Also, some shoving.
Other writing-related work: Signed the contract from Farrago's Wainscot for "Pigment" and sent it back, woo. Somehow, contracts are fun to read. I think I like all the technical jargon.
Other work not related to writing: I colored in tomorrow's comic for MyLifeComics, as well as wrote down notes for next week's batch.
Mail: Just a bill, yawn.
Animal Crossing: Wild World update: This section here is for Bitsy. I know she's dying to know. Today, I spoke with Pascal and he hooked me up with a ship's compass. Kind of neat. Also, if you need it, I got an ivory piano in my house. Finally.
The Internet is Full of Things: Oh, don't you know it! Too bad I'm eating ice cream and don't have time to search it for neat thingies.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Not an imaginary sale

Well, here's some Hump Day news:

79-day SALE of my short story "Imaginary Puissance" to Fictitious Force.

Editor Jonathan Laden has asked for a light rewrite, which will be no problem at all. His eyes caught some parts of my story's world that could be strengthened and I'm glad to have the chance to touch it up. I also just found a Word file that I saved where I defined over a dozen of terms used in the story. Yeah, I'm kind of crazy ADD like that...

So I have that to do. I finished the civilized cannibals story last week and it has already gone out to its market. I'd really like to try and write a new story for the next open submission period for Sword & Sorceress 23. Let's see, I know there's something else short fiction-wise I want to be doing. Oh right, review the newest issue of City Slab for the Fix Online.

So, I feel pretty productive. Also, if I keep selling stories at this rate I might actually begin to think of myself as a Writer, capital w and all.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Waiting for the world to change

No letter of suck yet from Polyphony 7. I'll take that as a sign that I've maybe, perhaps, who in all of mighty Arda knows, survived the first round of readings. I could be totally jinxing myself here.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

And now...

...further proof that the world is out to get me.

The Discovery Channel has been running a marathon of kickass Mythbusters episodes all day long, on the day I planned to get lots of worky work done.

Ugh.

I am weak to Jamie Hyneman's walrus moustache. As well as fun science.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Sailing away in March

I was going to post about something else, probably book-related because gee I don't talk about books enough y'know, but this is cooler...

40-day SALE of my melting animals short story "Pigment" to Farrago's Wainscot.

Yay! Don't know the exact issue it'll be in, but when I do I shall most certainly let y'all know. Between the sale to Black Gate, finishing a few new short stories, and getting a bunch of free stuff in the mail, March has turned out to be a pretty good month. Who would've guessed?

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Books in 2008, #11

#11. The Beach by Alex Garland

A very impressive first novel that mixes Lord of the Flies with Heart of Darkness and one seriously bad acid trip. While vacationing in Bangkok, Richard learns of a secret Eden-like island and convinces a French couple to join him in his search of it. Once found he believes he's entered paradise. And he can stay there, forever, that is unless the Thai men with guns on the other side of the island guarding the dope fields decide to exterminate everyone. Or, you know, if that map he left behind becomes problematic.

Mmm I like when characters slowly grow crazy. And Garland does that well to our neurotic leading man. The conversations Richard has with oh-so-dead Daffy (aka Mister Duck) are fascinatingly disturbing. Yet, by the remaining thirty pages, one might guess he was the sanest of the bunch. Observations are nailed perfectly, and the layout of the beach and who is where and when never became too much to absorb. Sure, not everything is exactly clear, but, much like Richard does, you just keep going on until you figure things out for yourself.

I wanted to read this after seeing the movie version starring that blonde kid from Growing Pains, and I have to admit a bit of shock in how different the book turned out. Yet another case for why books are always better than their moving pictures counterpart. But I guess the outright dismembering of dead bodies is frowned upon in a film showcasing sky-blue waters, miles of perfect tan sand, and beautiful people in bathing suits.

Still, good stuff. A lot of tension and suspense kept me turning the pages, and something about the way Garland handled his characters had them standing out very well on the pages. From Bugs to Jed to Sal, they all had jobs and quirks and things that they liked about living on the beach. I myself might never have taken such a journey, but I'm glad that Richard did, just so I now know what to expect if some drunk Scotsman hands me a map and offers me Vietnam. I'll say, "No thanks. What else you got?"

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Another first draft

Ah, just finished the first draft of the civilized cannibals story. Clocks in at 5,500 words. I seem to be writing longer stories lately. It is either flash fiction or longer stories. Can't I get a "in-between" up in here?

Anyways, the ending is complete crap and needs a lot of tightening up, but I love everything up to it (and why shouldn't I? I wrote the dang thing). I wrote this with a target market in mind, which is sort of why I am not saying much of the piece, especially its title. I want to submit it blindly, even if I know that no one reads this blog of mine.

So there, another first draft done. That makes two in March!

Will read through this later on this week over a cup of coffee at B&N. For now, I go to sleep.

More stuff pertaining to the mail

Yes, another grand post about...mail! Settle down, settle down!
  • Received my contributor copy and check (mmm money) for the beach-themed anthology Strange Stories of Sand and Sea, which contains my short story "Birds, Gods, and the Naming of Things"...and boy is it a big book. Over 300 pages. Lots of stories in here and I'm looking forward to sitting down with it and checking the others out. I don't re-read my work. But if I was to I'd probably describe the piece as an in-and-out hallucination trip under the boards of Atlantic City where an angry boy learns a mighty lesson from a talking seagull. Yup.
  • Received my review copy of the latest issue of the urban horror magazine City Slab, #12, which I'll be handling for The Fix Online sometime in the near future.
  • I mailed out my latest entry into the Writers of the Future contest this weekend. Go, little story, go! Shine on you crazy diamond! Er, I'll keep my fingers crossed that it makes it to California safely.
And that's that for now. I suspect I'll be getting a few more interesting items this week, but most of them will be bills. Ah, the bane of my existence! Bills! And CVS ads!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Books in 2008, Not #11

Not #11. Cast in Courtlight by Michelle Sagara

Two hundred pages in and I have to come clean...I'm bored beyond belief. The excitement and intrigue that caught me offguard in Cast in Shadow is so not found in this one. Kaylin is back with her attitude in full swing as she tries to find more answers about things I originally thought were cleared up in her first adventure. She quickly ends up being problematic to a number of courtly people with sooper sekrit names and I guess some characters want to kill her. I don't know. From what I gathered, she mostly spends a good deal of time complaining and being a walking body of angst. I never got what the plot of the book was, and being halfway through it I realized I didn't even care. A shame as I hate not finishing a book I've started, but alas there are others grabbing for my attention.

Sorry, sis. Not a series for me in the long run.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

All work and no play

Having wrapped up my WOTF story, which is ready to go out in the mail this weekend, I'm trying to decide what I want to work on next. I need to be working on something because all work and no play make Paul a dull boy. Hmm, okay wait. That quote doesn't make any sense. I like staying busy. Moving on...

The novel is still on hiatus while I try and wrap my head around why it isn't working for me. I'm toying with the idea to write a short story or two in its world, just to see if it holds up. Or to figure out what the bleep is actually going on in there. But I'm not (mentally) prepared for that move yet.

So I'm currently trying to finish up the civilized cannibals story. After that I need to review my WOTF critique for "The Lady of Jeweled Dreams" and see if I can't whip that piece into a stronger story. John O'Neill from Black Gate did mention he'd like to see more from me and that's the only other piece of high fantasy that I feel is submittable. We'll see what I can do to it when that moment arrives.

Eugie is sending me the latest issue of City Slab to review for The Fix Online. Looking forward to that. I find it so much easier to review print material than to read a large PDF file.

Oh, and I need to do some more work on the comics for Sandra McDonald's The Stars Down Under...

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Black Box has arrived



Click the above image to head over to the Brimstone Press website where you can learn more about the 2-disk Black Box e-anthology edited by Shane Jiraiya Cummings, which features my horror piece "Something" as well as some 99 other stories from a whomping gathering of 80 kickass writers like Lucy Sussex, Mikal Trimm, Jay Caselberg, Lee Battersby, Jason Sizemore, and more! (I feel like a tiny speck in the presence of some of these people, yo.)

This isn't just some run-of-the-mill e-anthology though; it's a complete multimedia experience. There's art galleries provided, and the second CD contains music from the best of Australian alternative, gothic opera, metal, and hip hop artists. The box is selling for $12.95, and all the proceeds will be donated to the Australian Horror Writers Association.

So do yourself a favor...and open up the box. Don't you want to know what's inside?

Monday, March 17, 2008

Hooray, sale time

So, I woke up to good news this morning (and not that it was the greenest day of the year):

469(!)-day SALE of my short story "So Go the Seasons" to an upcoming issue of Black Gate!

Whew. I think I can finally exhale. And yes, I'm a very patient man, and I think, in this business, one really needs to be in order to stay sane. A long wait, but completely worth it. Black Gate is a great magazine, and I love all the articles about SF mags from the past by Rich Horton. The fiction is always great, accompanied by illustrations that reflect back to a more golden age of storytelling. To sum up, I am relieved, excited, and ready to continue waiting.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Books in 2008, #10

#10. The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman

This is actually a re-read. I wanted to revisit the book after seeing the family-friendly film version of Pullman's story, and am glad I did so. As I remembered, the world that Lyra Belacqua lives in is a dark, dark place, filled with violence and gore and wondrous soul-beings called daemons. She eventually finds herself on a mission to deliver the golden compass back to her uncle who has been taken prisoner in the cold, snowy North. A side plot about freeing the children stolen by the Gobblers is also dealt with, and was probably my favorite part of the book. This isn't Harry Potter stuff where adults actually listen to children; Lyra is berated again and again, talked down to, betrayed, you name it. Anyways, a great story with a lot of neat fantastical characters, as well as an elegant mix of science fiction and colleges and gyptians and lions, tigers, and (polar) bears oh my.

I wonder why that heart-eating scene didn't make it into the film. Hmmm...

Second draft done, thunk again

Just finished typing up my line edits for the second draft of the WOTF story, and I'm going to say it is done. That is, of course, unless first readers tell me otherwise. If anyone is interested in offering a critique, please let me know. I'll gladly return the favor.

The only problem is that I'm hoping to mail the story out by this upcoming Saturday to meet the March 31 deadline. So you'd kind of have to be speedy about it. Story is 5,600 words, science fiction, and does not contain a single curse word (I'm impressed about that!).

Let me know.

Okay, I'm going to go finish reading The Golden Compass now. 'Bout time.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

First draft done, thunk

First draft done for the WOTF story.

5,400 words. I crawled through the final thousand or so, scrapping my elbows up and getting a bit dirty, but it was worth it. Definitely needs a second read through, with a bunch of things cleared up and hopefully a few too many details dropped. But I'll worry about that later.

For now, I go sleep.

I gots mail

Look at what arrived in the mail today:



What's that? You can't read that really long Italian name on the cover? Oh, here let me help:



::pets::

::looks at some more::

::keeps on petting it::

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

A small update

The WOTF story that's been kicking my ass lately is finally shaping up to be something whole. I figured out how it'll tie up in the end last night, and now just need to pump out about another 2,000 to 3,000 words to bring it to a close. Unfortunately, the March 31 deadline approaches, but I have high hopes that I'll finish it in time. The editing-as-I-go plan is, not surprisingly, very counterproductive. I think after this story I'll stop doing it and just wait until the end to clean everything up.

Yup, maybe more later...

Monday, March 10, 2008

This is a writing question, I promise

If you were to hide porn on your computer, what would you name the folder they'd go under so as not to warrant suspicion?

Again, check the subject line. This is a pertinent plot point here for the work-in-progress.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Round 'em on up

Here's some thingies that I should post about before I forget:

My review of Black Static #3 is now live over at The Fix Online. A very stylized magazine that focuses on horror fiction. I really liked a few stories, and others did absolutely nothing for me. Or the genre, if you want to look at it that way.

This week, I pushed past my 300th comic for MyLifeComics. Kinda neat.

I, um, also beat Final Fantasy XII. Was easier than I expected, but then again I put a good 100+ hours into my characters, making them beefier than a field of cattle. I probably could've finished the game a long time ago, but my OCD kicked in and I needed to beat every hunt, find every magic spell, get the best armor and weapons, and so on. Anyways, I loved this game. The story is strong, the world is spanning, and its details are plentiful. My only complaint is that they make Vaan out to be the main character when, in all truths, Lady Ashe is the focal point of the story. But that's minor stuff. The battle system has even gotten me interested in MMOs. Not that I'd ever play one, but it has sparked my gamer's heart.

Hmm, movie-wise I've seen the following:
  • No Country for Old Men (2007) - A quiet, slow-moving piece about violence out West. A bag of money is stolen from a deal gone bad, and a crazy, psychotic killer is tracking it down. What ensues is a methodical cat-and-mouse game that ends as it should, both depressingly and inexcusably real. Quite disturbing and quite beautiful, if that makes any sense. Definitely a film worth watching.
  • I Am Legend (2007) - Vampire flick that really, honestly, was a big letdown. CGI monsters? Come on. This would've been so much more successful if they stuck with live-action actors. Will Smith is fine though, carries the film well enough, but I don't know. This just didn't scare me like I had hoped it would.
  • The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (1994) - This is the story of two drag queens and one transsexual woman trekking across the Australian outback on a mission to perform at a casino in Alice Springs. Hugo Weaving stars in this one, and thank the heavens above I saw this before The Matrix or Lord of the Rings because seeing him all donned up in makeup and groovin' to Abba has forever changed his appearance to me.
And I think that's all for now.

Monday, March 03, 2008

A bit tyred

Reading the latest issue of Black Static has taught me one thing...

I do not like the British spelling of tire as tyre. I cannot explain why. It just bothers me. Bring on the colours, centres, and bloody blokes. Just no more screeching tyres.

That is all.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

An authorly post

Hmm, I don't get to make too many of these so I'll revel in them while I can.

Let's see...Strange Stories of Sand & Sea, which has my short story "Birds, Gods, and the Naming of Things" in it, is almost out. The ISBN is 978-0-9794770-5-8. The book will be distributed exclusively by Ingram to bookstores, both online and brick and board. It will be available online at www.amazon.com and Barnes & Noble's www.bn.com by the end of March. It will be searchable there by the title and the editor's name (Esther Schrader).

Here's the final cover, I believe:



Also, as it is March that means the latest issue of Aoife's Kiss is available. The March issue has my story "After Effects" in it, and I'm very eager to see the printed product. You can order an issue here, and the TOC looks like so:

Josh English: The Simple Life
Lee Clark Zumpe: Babel
David C. Kopaska-Merkel & Kendall Evans: Serial Salvage
Michael A. Pignatella: The Book of Sherman
Sheri Fresonke Harper: Knees
Matthew Keville: Killing Time
Howard Cincotta: Eat the Flow
P. E. Vogel: The Fox and the Wizard
JA Howe: A Tale that Tells Songs
Kajsa Wiberg: The Cali Roll
Paul Abbamondi: After Effects
Lawrence R. Dagstine: A Soul to the Stars
Ron Savage: That Tabloid Life
Gordon A. Graves: Witness
John Bowker: Apron Strings
poems
Dorine Ratulangie: 0559
Andrea Fakete: Fireworks
Marcie Lynn Tentchoff: The Changeling's Song
Andrea Fakete: Outside
L. A. Story Houry: Secret Love
Jennifer Jerome: Telling
Linda Herring: When Things Go Wrong
Phillip A. Ellis: The Immortal
Terrie Leigh Relf & Marcie Lynn Tentchoff: Sea Ball
Melissa Sihan Mütlu: Scarlet Walls
Kyle Heger: Message to a Guard Dog
L. N. Allen: Merwoman
Melissa Sihan Mütlu: Butterfly Forest
E. P. Fisher: Countdown Begins at Ten
Jennifer Crow: Forsaken
William R. Ford Jr.: Land of the Broken Cities, Land of the Nuclear Sun
Julie Shiel: Visions
Kathy Kubik: Android Blue
Aurelio Rico Lopez III: Wizard's Betrayal

Okay, that's all from me for now. Back to writing the next WOTF story...

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Weird weather

Last night it was cold. Then it snowed and stuck. I've woken up to sunshine and no snow on the grass anymore. How odd.

I need nicer weather as soon as possible. Not the blistering dry heat of the summer, but nice park weather. I want to go sit on the grass and finish all these books I have piled up here. Staying inside all this time is making me cranky.

Friday, February 29, 2008

Books in 2008, #9



#9. The Fart Party by Julia Wertz

Similar to Jeffrey Brown's work, The Fart Party is a slightly skewed autobiographical account of a young woman living in San Fran at the time and dealing with issues of self-doubt, the monotony of daily life, and, of course, love. The artwork is simple, but the heart of the book lies in the way Wertz does not shy away from being vulgar, rude, crude, and in-your-face-offensive. It's here that she charms the reader, making herself look like a fool and allowing us to enjoy that experience with her. The book also comes packed with sketches, comics not presented online, some interviews, and guest work from her brother.

The only problem that I found was that a lot of the comics, strangely, read differently on paper than via the website/blog. Where her blog entries and comments are often angry and dismissive, here in the book she is presented much more easygoing. The first two-thirds of the book deal with a range of subjects, the best being flashbacks to childhood memories, and the last bit then takes on a relationship and its impending end. Good stuff, and definitely recommended to anyone that enjoys reading autobiographical comics, as well of fans of random spouts of violence.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Just received

...my 300th rejection. Didn't even sting.

Onwards we go...

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Books in 2008, #8



#8. Clumsy by Jeffrey Brown

Read this in one sitting. Brown has a way of just sucking a reader in, despite the loose artwork and constant self-obsession, and the story he tells touches on a myriad of relationshippy things. Clumsy is the story of a doomed love, of a deep look into sex, intimacy, and heartache. It is an autobiographical account of Brown's...er, involvement...with a girl named Theresa. Sometimes the narrative is a bit unfollowable, which is to blame for the lack of a solid voice throughout. The back page of the book explains the timeline, but it still can be very unclear. One strip has them in bed together, the next they are miles away talking on the phone.

And boy are they in bed a lot. Brown doesn't shy away from detailing sex, during-sex, and after-sex moments. But I think that's what makes this book more special than any other graphic telling of young love. It doesn't dance around the most intimate of moments; instead, rather bluntly, it shows the world them, and for that Clumsy is a well-recommended read that I'm sure I'll pick up again at some point and immerse myself in fully.

One game beat, 7,938 to go

Holy spinach dip, I just finally beat Rogue Galaxy.

Whew. When I say finally, I mean finally. Hours logged: over 75. I became too OCD with this game, having to complete nearly every aspect before taking on the last boss. That meant making every item in the factory, forging every weapon I could, and finding the nine rare artifacts spanning the galaxy. Plus, the last time I took on the end boss it kicked my ass and I was so frustrated over losing that I never went back until I finished up some other things.

Hmm...watching the ending right now. Most overly dramatic part of the game, for sure. Kisala decides she wants to be the queen of Mariglenn. Jaster's response? "Oh, you're totally not queen material!" Ha!

Dang. Seems the game isn't technically over. There's a Ghost Ship to explore.

Feck.

Black Box

Friday, February 22, 2008

Akira gets real


Looks like Akira is being made into a live-action film starring Leonardo DiCaprio. Please, Hollywood...just stop. Go read a book or something. Don't do this to one of my favorite mangas, a great anime. Just leave it alone. How about you go do a live-action Pokemon film starring Brad Pitt as Ash? I'd rather see that than this. Please, please, please. I'm begging you. Leave Tetsuo, Kaneda, and the gang alone.

EDIT: Oops. Turns out Leon's producing the movie, not starring in it. My bad. Not as annoyed now, but still somewhat bothered.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Editing as I go

Up to about 1,600 words on the WOTF story. I'm aiming for maybe 5K or 6K, knowing that this contest actually prefers longer stories over shorter ones. Basically, I'm really writing this one specifically for them. Normally, it'd be darker or harsher, and a lot more concise. I prefer brevity over longwindedness. Not that my current writing is longwinded. Eh, you get what I mean.

Anyways, the writing is slow going, if only because I'm actually editing as I go. This is pretty new to me in that I'm studying prose a lot more than I normally do. I sit and think about modifiers, try out a few, read it out loud, try another, read it again, re-read the paragraph above to see if it flows well, edit it, edit the dialog, and so on. I hope this isn't making the piece worse. I like it so far, but then again...I'm my biggest fan.

Here's an oddity. For some reason, I used the verb scanned three times already. No, no, no. I think once will be enough, even for a futuristic SF piece.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Books in 2008, #7

#7. High Fidelity by Nick Hornby

I can't really go into details about this book. I'm too bloody close to it. Or it to me. There really can be no explaining. Hornby channels through Rob Fleming these sad, wistful things about sex, love, relationships, parents, birthdays, music, heartache, childhood, adulthood, life and everything good and bad in it...and I get it. All of it. Each and every word is written as if plucked from my very brain and I can't help but feel like I just got done going through an unsuccessful stint of rehab. Drained, exasperated, all my energy sucked dry. Fuck. I love this book.

Tangent thoughts

This has been bothering me lately, but I'm not sure why, and I'm pretty sure no one else will know why either...

What happened to Tangent Online?

After being diligently run by Eugie Foster, Dave Truesdale came back in mid-September 2007 to reclaim his baby. Dismissed from her editing job, Foster strolled over to head up the revitalized Fix Online, where I now review short fiction and the like. There was no pressure to pick one site over the other or anything. Some said they'd stick with TO, others jumped ship and swam for a better fix (get it?), and a handful found it hard to side and chose to work for both review sites when the materials presented themselves. Fair is fair, but I've never dealt with Truesdale personally and only know what I do of him from online flamewars. So I went with the boss that I knew and trusted.

Within a month and some days, FO went live, downright swimmingly. The site has continued to publish reviews on a steady and excellent schedule, especially when one considers that this is a labor of love for reviewers, that their time and effort is spent because they know they have readers and a respectable place to post such thoughts. The site itself uses a Wordpress theme, looks very shiny, and does what it needs to do: get short fiction in people's faces. I'm fairly sure no one thought, "Gee, let's take five months to make the prettiest most elaborate site ever, that way when we post blocks and blocks of text it'll have a really nice border around it and people will love us dearly so!"

What has TO and company been up to since Truesdale's pillaging?

Nothing.

Not a single peep, unless you count an excuse-heavy post about what might or might not be happening in the future. Which is a shame, really. You ever have a friend that can kill a conversation immediately? That's what this feels like.

Truesdale says:

In all humility, Tangent and now TO changed the face of short sf/f reviewing for the *entire* field when it debuted in July/August 1993. That was almost 15 years ago. Even Locus, and then Locus Online changed demonstrably since Tangent came on the scene. Fact.

Okay, sure. Not arguing facts. But we're not living in the world that existed fifteen years ago. Things do need to be a bit speedier these days, and yes, there's irony there considering this is the publishing business and all, but come on. So long as the site is functional and not littered with Geocities ads then it is fine to continue posting reviews and such.

So much time has been wasted, so many missed opportunities, and for what? A little bit of "Mine! Mine! Mine!"

Thankfully, there is the Fix Online and even IROSF seems to have resurfaced. Sure, took longer than expected and it isn't completely finished, but they aren't worried about that. They want discussion, they want people's attention, they want to give something back. Not take it away.

More DS games

Well, I've gotten a few more Nintendo DS games since my last roundup. Here's what I've been playing (and not playing) over the last few months.

The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass - Mmm, Zelda. This is a very fun game that truly uses the stylus and touch screen to its best capacity. Drawing on the map and making teeny notations is fun, and besides...it's Zelda! ZELDA! Hack-and-slash, baby! Rupees galore! The storyline is connected to the Gamecube game Windwaker, but I never played that one. No matter, really. There's lots to do, such as sailing, deep sea diving, and constructing one kickass boat, among other things. It can be quite challenging at times though, especially when it asks our young protagonist to be sneaky rather than stabby. Haven't got to play the multiplayer WiFi mini-game, but it looks tough. I'd rather slice at grass and buy bombchus, you know?

Flash Focus - There's a whole slew of these "training" games for the Nintendo DS, and from what I've seen they are more or less the same game. This one splits the daily tasks between sports and miscellaneous goals. Personally, I don't turn this on every day and train my brain like they'd like me to. I have my favorites--volleyball, soccer, box tap, boxing--and that's about it. Each time you play you up your stamp count, which eventually opens up more things in the game. There isn't a whole lot here, but for the price and the time it takes to do what one wants to do within it works out just fine. However, I absolutely hate ping pong on the Harder difficulty. It's enough to make me want to jump out my window.

Sim City DS - Okay, yet another impulse buy. Unlike Animal Crossing: Wild World, this one didn't turn out to surprise me in the end. I used to love playing Sim City on my SNES and part of me was hoping to relive those nostalgic moments. But it didn't happen. And won't any time soon. For one thing, the screen is way too small when it comes to mass planning a city. You can only zoom in once, and even then it is very difficult to see what is what and what is where. Just not what I thought/hoped it was going to be, unfortunately...

Drawn to Life - A very standard and linear 2D platformer that offers the unique ability of allowing the player to draw and create many pieces within the game itself. You can create the main character, the gun-like weapon he or she will carry, the clouds, flowers, submarines, rockets, and so on and so on. You are the Creator, an artistic god to the Raposa, a very anime-ish race of people that ask for your help in repopulating their village. And that's basically it. You go level to level, drawing things, jumping on enemies, searching for some items, and then back to see the mayor and learn about the next mission. I'm only halfway done with the game, but the fun, at least for me, and I suspect the reason most people bought the game, is drawing via the stylus. It doesn't make a subpar platformer brilliant, but it does help it shine a bit. The visuals are decent, the music is good, and seeing something you've created implemented (no matter how lightly) in a videogame is a whole lot of fun.

Professor Layton and the Curious Village - My latest purchase. Half a mystery adventure game and half a bottomless pit of puzzles, Curious Village is remarkably well done. The puzzles, the real meat of the game, range from super easy (almost downright silly) to oh-my-goodness-I-need-to-be-mauled-by-rhinos-I'm-so-dumb ones. Yup, they really test one's thinking. I've only gotten up to Chapter Four, which means I've found about 50 puzzles and have solved maybe 35-40 or so. There are a couple of other tasks to do in the game to keep things interesting, but really it is just puzzle after puzzle after puzzle. I suspect, by the end of it all, I'll be sick of the people in the village much like this. Still, the art style, animation, and voice work is all phenomenal, a real triumph for the system. Sometimes that's all that is stopping me from hurling the game against a wall in frustration simply because I can't figure out how to move ten quarts of orange juice into two other beakers so that they all have a specific amount and whatnot. Ugh! Good and frustrating, indeed!

So, there you have it. See you again in a few months? I can't stop buying DS games. They are too much fun.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Rainy morning

It's a cold, rainy morning here in New Jersey. And no work today. Woo! I still got up early because I have lots of things that need working on today. MyLifeComics, the Outback Guide comics, the WOTF story, the review of Black Static #3 for The Fix, and some Nintendo DS-ing. Yes, I have to consider DS-ing work just to make time for it. Oh well. Coffee's made, I'm in my comfy clothes, and ready to get to it...

Saturday, February 16, 2008

New story in the works

I've been thinking about what I want to do about the upcoming quarter for WOTF. I guess I knew all along that I wanted to write a new story since nothing in my collection really called to me. So, a few minutes before Thursday's LOST came on, a first sentence came flying out of nowhere and smacked me across the face. You know how they can be, sometimes.

I didn't get to do much with it until this morning though. So, 678 words done for now and I'm digging the piece already. Modified humans, annoying tourists, and air shows. Woo. I've had to remind myself a few times not to get too vulgar or crude with the piece though, considering the market I'm aiming this piece at. I've also set my word count a little high (5K or 6K, probably) if only because they actually like longer stories than not.

But now I have to pay bills, renew my car insurance, clean, and do other not-fun things like that. Maybe more later though...

Friday, February 15, 2008

Nine unique structures to be built soon


Some of these designs are crazy looking. The future is coming sooner than later...but when are we going to get flying cars? Huh? I'd rather have that than a building shaped like a giant drill.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

An honorable mention

I received a phone call last night from Joni Labaqui of the WOTF contest letting me know my submission was an Honorable Mention for the first quarter of the year. I didn't get to return her call till this evening, but man...it's weird to be talking on the phone about a story. A story that didn't win, let alone, but still...HMs aren't too shabby. I'll keep trying.

My name, along with other winners, should be up at the blog a little later on.

So, here's the stats: 4 submissions total (3 HMs, 1 Semi-Finalist)

I haven't sent in anything yet for the next quarter. Deadline is postmarked by March 31. I don't really feel like anything in my inventory is a good fit currently for WOTF. Too many curse words, too much sex, too much creepy creepiness. I might have to write something new. Me needs to think this one over a bit more...

An important reminder

Remember, couples everywhere, that...



Heh.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Writers' strike over

After 100 days, the writers' strike is over.

Thank goodness.

Not that is matters, considering I watch one or two shows total. But this should hopefully lower the number of dance contests, singing bees, and game shows built to embarrass and ruin lives that I have to flip past before landing on Mythbusters to take me away to a happy place.

Books in 2008, #6

#6. Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult

I've noticed something about Picoult's novels, something that I've absolutely grown to hate. The twist endings. Hate, hate, hate them. This is the third book of hers that I've read, and so far she seems to hang every outcome on something that is both jarring and completely out there that it nearly ruins the book for me. Note: I said nearly, not that it does.

Some spoilers right now. In The Tenth Circle, the twist was Trixie's mother had committed the grueling murder of Jason. In Salem Falls, the novel ends on a shocker with a father making out with his daughter. Here, we're spoonfed a story so contumaciously forceful and unbelievable involving Josie, a second gun, and the boy she loved. I know it is meant to surprise, to shock shock shock, but what it really seems to do is undermine everything Picoult built from page one.

Still, I love her characters, the way they think and react and do ordinary things that are heavy on their consciouses. Strangely, Nineteen Minutes features two characters from the only other books of hers that I've read. It was kind of nice to see them again. Much like in Salem Falls, a lot of personalities don't begin to truly shine until the courtroom scenes begin.

But the book is about a school shooting, and it is tough material to absorb completely. There is no happy ending. There is no happy beginning. There is no true finale where everyone gets why what happened and move on with their lives. The action that troubled Peter takes is horrific, but Picoult manages to dance on the edge of calling him a monster versus calling everyone else monsters. No surprise, the book reminded me very much of high school. It made me think a lot about what I saw then, what I heard, what was done to me and how I reacted. There are extremes in this world, terrible ones, and Nineteen Minutes doesn't aim to answer them. Only console those that lived through them...

GoodReads widget

I've added a Flash widget for my GoodReads profile to the right-sided column of Wistful Writings. Scroll down until you see it. If you're on the site, feel free to add me as a friend! If you're not on the site, er, sign up. It's free, fun, and you get to geek out about books with an entire community that are they themselves geeking out just as hard.

I've been using the site for some time now, but am not even close to finishing up cataloging my books. Currently, it says I have 310. Hmm, not bad, not bad. Though this isn't taking into account that some are books I've read but do not own. I think when I hit 500 the floor of my apartment will give out from all the weight and send me crashing into the creepy basement.

I can't wait.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Dark Sword Miniatures #2 poll

George R.R. Martin is asking his fans to vote on the next set of miniatures featuring the cast from A Song of Ice and Fire.

It was a tough call for me, but I picked the Red Viper of Dorne over Samwell Tarly, simply for the fact that I can't get that momentous battle between him and the Mountain out of my head.

Who are you voting for?

Some changes, perhaps

In comparison to the thousands of other bloggers out in the e-world, I'm pretty terrible. I post sparingly, and generally it is just a long review that I'm mostly positive no more than three people read. And what's worse, I put a lot of time into them, really try and think about what I've read, and then worry what others will do to my feeble thoughts. Why? It doesn't matter, really.

With that said, I'm cutting back on reviews. I will continue with my gig at The Fix Online, but other than that I won't be taking on any more assigned (er, meaning promised) reviews. Just not worth the time and effort in the long run. Of course, I'll comment on stuff I'm reading when I can, but if it isn't some huge dive into the meaning of life and so forth then no biggie.

So, about being a bad blogger. I'd like to change that, post more interesting things, get a wee bit more personal, but there's a problem: I've already separated my personal life from Wistful Writings with my daily journal comic at MyLifeComics. I mean, I save most of the things that happen for over there, leaving this place to be the hot-spot for any and all things pertaining to my writings. Hah, I said hot-spot. As if.

But I'd like to talk more about things here. About music, about animals, about videogames, about food, about anything I feel like I want to.

I'm in a weird mood tonight. Might be the fact that I'm working on a short story about civilized cannibals (aren't they all?) and kidnapped little girl. Odd, creepy stuff. You know, my usual shtick.

Also, song lyrics will re-enter my life, just because...

You're the echoes of my everything,
You're the emptiness the whole world sings at night.
You're the laziness of afternoon,
You're the reason why I burst and why I bloom
You're the leaky sink of sentiment,
You're the failed attempts I never could forget.
You're the metaphors I can't create to comprehend this curse that I call love..
How will I break the news to you?

- "Hold Me Down" by Motion City Soundtrack

Pleading from a cranky old man

Hi World and Everybody In It,

Please stop talking about the rise of the genre ezine. Just let sleeping dogs lie. Also, me thinks, it doesn't matter.

Thank you,
Paul

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Books in 2008, #5

#5. Lace and Blade edited by Deborah J. Ross

"Lace and blade," as per Vera Nazarian in the publisher's note, is a term meant to cover a softer subform of the subgenre of adventurous sword and sorcery that is synonymous with names such as Michael Moorcock, Fritz Leiber, and Robert E. Howard. Aggression and over-the-top violence is left behind in preference for a more romantic look on the form. She also used the phrase "girl cooties," which is both comical and still appropriate. I will say upfront that this is not the sort of fiction I normally read, but was initially intrigued due to the inclusion of Tanith Lee.

In "Virtue and the Archangel" by Madeline E. Robins, Velliaune meCorse risked being banished from her family and its fortune for one night of fun in bed with Col haVandron at the Bronze Manticore. Unfortunately, amidst all the sweat and lustful desires, she loses the Archangel, a necklace that is precious to her parents. She writes to Nyana, a schoolmate from the past, pleading for her help. From there, the story follows Nyana on a short detective-like search for the missing necklace. Along the way she'll meet the mysterious Col himself, deal with an inn's less-than-helpful staff, and find herself in a brazenly bold swordfight. All in all, a good start to Lace and Blade edited by Deborah J. Ross. It's a strong mix of romance and swordplay though two aspects confused me: the reasoning behind everyone's last name (meCorse, haVandron, and meBarso) and the kiss at the end. It felt somewhat tacked on.

"The Crossroads" by Diana L. Paxson shared many similarities to the previous story, namely ending with a swordfight and a confusing introduction of some character named Exu that came, seemingly, out of nowhere. I'm pretty sure it went right over my head. Anyways, Claude DeLorme has sailed to a colonial Brazil to inquire about the status of a family emerald mine. Once there, he meets the seductively pleasant Corquisa and ultimately finds himself in a card game for the deed of his family's mine and the right to keep the cabaret she works for in safe keeping. Paxson has provided all the right ingredients to "The Crossroads" to make it an enjoyable, fast-paced piece of lyrical lace and blade. Despite a minor quibble with the ending, it's a fine story that builds tension well and delivers on the action.

If you were to guess that "Touch of Moonlight" by Robin Wayne Bailey was a werewolf story just off its title, you'd be absolutely correct. Elena Sanchez y Vega is on her way to deliver the ransom for her brother's life to Joaquin Cortez, the dark sorcerer that made her the beast she is under moonlight. Along the way, her carriage is robbed by a man claiming to be Ramon Estrada, a ghost of lore for their whereabouts. The story then takes leaps and bounds with credibility and the task of behooving the reader any sense of "being in the story." How so? At one point or another, both Elena and Ramon are butt-naked and fighting an inviolable werewolf. I kid thee not. The jump from Ramon the thief to Ramon the loverboy made me frown. It might've worked in a longer piece, but I didn't buy it here. Otherwise, the story goes on very much expected with a buildup to a fight before everyone achieves happiness.

Ah, the story that got me interested in reading Lace and Blade. Oddly enough, I couldn't finish her heavily S&S debut The Birthgrave. But this, yes, this was much more enjoyable. "Lace-Maker, Blade-Taker, Grave-Breaker, Priest" by Tanith Lee tells the story of a shipwreck and three of the travelers it was carrying across the sea. They survive, but a previous promise onboard permits that two of them will duel at once. Well, as soon as they can find some new swords. This multilayered tale is classic Lee: action, intrigue, wonderfully colorful characters, a hint of the unexpected, and well-written. I enjoyed it very much, especially the somewhat silly determination between Vendrei and Zephyrin to hate each other so devoutly despite just surviving a nasty shipwreck. Definitely one of the better stories in the anthology.

The titular queen in "The Beheaded Queen" by Dave Smeds is exactly that: beheaded. However, she is bound to her husband's life, as he is bound to the demon that allowed him to keep her still talking. As it turns out, her son Bredden is to marry a girl from another country and begs for his mother's opinion on the matter. I was surprised to find this piece to be so serious, focusing on politics and lovers' betrayal. Sure, the joke itself is there, that we're reading about a talking head, but strangely the queen is quite sympathetic. Strikingly different from a previous Smeds read, "Bearing Shadows," but still just as rewarding.

One small spell completely shatters Tanzi's life in "The Topaz Desert" by Catherine Asaro. She only did it to calm her owners' screaming baby. She is quickly discovered, bemoaned as a town witch, and sent to the Holding House for punishment. Lucky for her, she narrowly escapes but now must live in fear of those that hate her so. And she soon meets men who may or may not be helpful. Asaro does a good job of capturing Tanzi's innocence, as well as giving us some gray characters that keep us guessing. Rocks and gems seem to be a staple in fantasy stories, yet here they are treated a tiny bit differently, which is appreciated. I'd have liked to see more magic, but what can you do?

Highwaymen are the focus of "Night Wind" by Mary Rosenblum. Alvaro's entourage is ambushed, and he soon learns much about the brigands. They don't care to bargain, only take what they demand. When he arrives at the home of His Lordship Salvaria, Alvaro hears of the legendary Night Wind, the very same highwayman that robbed him of his money and horses earlier. Eh, I feel like this sort of story has been done before. Revealing that a mysterious robber or thief or bandit is a woman is not exactly original. Sure, it rounds things out for the anthology so Alvaro can feel like he's met his soulmate, but for plot purposes it just turned me off. No thanks, even though the worldbuilding and talk of horses were quite enjoyable.

"In the Night Street Baths" by Chaz Brenchley takes two side-characters from his novel Bridge of Dreams and shows us what they've been up to. This would probably be more, uh, neat if I'd read his book. But I haven't, and so I must enter a world already realized and try to figure out just what is going on. Set in a world similar to Arabian Nights, the streets are home to many a people: dwarves, eunuchs, and people that Shine. And Teo and Djago mean to unearth a city secret. Or just have an adventure. I don't really know. Maybe it was just me, but this felt rather pointless, almost aimlessly written for more of the author's enjoyment than that of his readers.

In "The Rule of Engagement" by Sherwood Smith, Ren Desvransa and many other prominent ladies are attending the Blue Moon Masque, a ball of celebration before the king of Duen Lesc went home for the winter. His court is divided and it shows. That's why he's implemented Ren and her brother Yvo into his court with hopes of solidifying everyone. The introduction teases us that this is "a story of choice, about honor, about the transforming power of love" and then goes on to blast a boastful rendition of the Huey Lewis pop song. Okay, maybe not true about that last part. Either way, it's a complex story, one that seems to truly define what Lace and Blade is all about. That is, courtly intrigue, brave deeds, and romantic, subtle fantasy. Plus, dueling. Always with the dueling. It's a good ending to a somewhat decent anthology.

While the entries from Tanith Lee and David Smeds were enjoyable, the remainder of the tales felt far too similar to really impress me. No country felt particularly fresh or different from any other medieval/European locale, every plot seemed to rely on a duel fight at the end to close things up, and too much emphasis was placed on soulmates or true loves upon characters just meeting members of the opposite sex for the first time. Not bad, but not great. Then again, as I mentioned earlier, this is not at all what I normally like to read about and could be way off on all accounts.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Some realizations

I don't read as much in the winter, nor do I have the same passion for reading in the winter as I do in the spring, summer, and fall when I can go to the park, curl up on a patch of grass, and immerse myself in a book for hours.

I need to add a third POV to the Novel. It has to be done because, right now, I feel like some stuff is too hard to explain without it and also I'd like to have a more gray set of villains rather than straight up bad people.

I need to lower my expectations...for everything.

I don't miss eating bread as much as I suspected, but I think I need to work some brown rice or something back into my diet because I cannot go without it, unfortunately.

I have to finish things I start, no matter how much I don't want to.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Books in 2008, #4

#4. Isaac Asimov's Halloween edited by Gardner Dozois and Sheila Williams

Okay, the funny thing about this book is that I started to read it early on in October 2007, hoping to publish a review before the titular holiday arrived. Then, uh, I got busy. Doing something. I think writing shtuff. Oh well, I finally finished up the remaining stories so here's what I thought of them a few months later…

This rather misleading anthology of "tricks and treats" opens with "Words and Music" by William Sanders, a story of the ever-so-old battle between man and the Devil. A flat-toned Cherokee Indian medicine man attends a church gathering on the premise that there's evil afoot. Luckily, he brought his magical guitar with him. Not too long after midnight, a band shows up, and the music they play puts almost everyone under a dangerous spell. It's up to our medicine man to put the Devil in his place via a battle of guitar solos. While the story has its charm and authenticity, I couldn't help but grimace as the guitar solos got more and more dramatic. I liked a lot of the language and characters here, but the plot was a bit too much for me to enjoy…and I play guitar. Oi.

I guess Halloween is all about the Devil doin' y'all wrong. In "Beluthahatchie" by Andy Duncan, a man named John is riding a train to Hell, but refuses to get off at the penultimate stop. Instead, he keeps going until he finds himself in the barren town of Beluthahatchie. He first meets the hounds of Hell, which are hilariously non-Hellish, and then along comes…dum, dum, dum…the Devil. There's no real battle here, but John eventually decides he'd like to be some place else despite his songs being praised by the dead. So he plans to steal the Devil's ride.

Though "Renaissance" by Nancy Kress was published almost ten years before the under-acclaimed Gattaca ever saw SF light, I couldn't help but think of them as one in the same. A few key points differ, but it basically boils down to this: the ability to play God and genetically alter babies before they are born. A famous Hollywood couple decide to do just this while also using it as a publicity stunt to further their popularity. The baby's grandmother watches all this, horrified and ashamed, knowing full well the consequences of her daughter's dreams the moment she sees the child's perfectly programmed face. This was all right even though it relied a little too heavily on a surprise ending. However, I did enjoy the mythological griffin that appears in the grandmother's daughter's dreams.

"Dikduk" by Eliot Fintushel is about a young, Jewish boy who tries to invoke the power of Mephistopheles using an ancient, magical book he recently found. This one didn't hold my attention for too long, though the dialogue worked well enough, but I quickly discovered that there'd been an error in the story's printing. It was incomplete. The remaining half of the piece is available online, but I didn't care enough to finish it. Oh wells…

"Pickman's Modem" by Lawrence Watt-Evans is an interesting short story for all the things that it gets right about online transmissions. In it, a man named Pickman disappears for some time from the message board field only to return later on thanks to a newly purchased used modem. George Polushkin, a fan of reading Pickman's oafish retorts, quickly notice that his posts—and writing skills—have changed dramatically. Fearing that Pickman is merely a hacked account, George takes a trip to visit his friend the next day where he discovers that his still oafish-minded friend is not responsible for the online flamewars. This was a quick, wry, and fun story, despite its dark twist being ruined in the introduction from the mere mention of one word: Eldritch. If you have no idea what that's all about, you'll probably enjoy "Pickman's Modem" on the first go.

"Thorri the Poet's Saga" by S. N. Dyer & Lucy Kemnitzer is a murder-mystery set in old Iceland times. The piece is heavy on names, bloated on poetic clues, and slower than the sea on a calm day. The crime-solving duo were nearly interchangeable to me despite one having clairvoyance and the other having lots of attitude, and I think I can really just chalk this one up to being the sort of story I greatly dislike.

The only part of "He-We-Await" by Howard Waldrop that I actually enjoyed reading was the time devoted to the correct process of embalming. The rest of the novelette focuses on an ancient Egyptian king and his legacy, which was lost to the passing of time. Eh, this felt more like alternative history, and that's just never something I got into. The writing is good, even with the occasional wacky moments, but much like the previous story this just isn't the sort of thing that interests me. Others might find it more rewarding.

"The Shunned Trailer" by Esther M. Friesner is hilariously awesome. Friesner never seems to disappoint me. In this one, a Harvard lad partying it up on Spring Break wakes up after a crazy night to discover himself in a trailer park, cared for by frog-like people that worship the Great Cthuhlu. Sure, the premise is very out there, but Friesner manages to keep things interesting because she 1) writes strong prose and 2) seems to effortlessly channel Lovecraft here. What do Elder Gods and the such have to do with Halloween? Not much, but they make for well-imagined stories.

In "The Country Doctor" by Steven Utley, a man returns to his childhood town of Gardner when he learns the place is on the verge of flooding. Once there, he learns the secrets of dead residents. And one exhumed body reveals something more horrific than just losing a graveyard's worth of history. Utley gives us a slow story that is all about building memories and crushing those warm, remember-when feelings at the end. A very quiet piece, but I enjoyed it. I'd say more, but it might ruin the reveal, which I found to be fascinating and creepy.

The last story in Isaac Asimov's Halloween, "The Golden Keeper" by Ian R. MacLeod, is also the longest. In fact, it might just be a bit too long. We are in Ancient Rome with Lucius Fabius Maximus, an accountant that is on the search for lost artifacts. The story unfolds as journal entries, which never really make me want to fall face-first into the words, but it gets interesting once Lucius and a slave of his begin interacting. Otherwise the novelette is a whole lot of history and memories of Grandmother and times when things were much simpler. The piece goes on like this for some time before reaching an actually satisfying conclusion. So, the payoff is worth the read, but I'm worried many might be daunted at the slow—and I mean slow—start. Still, MacLeod writes very well and the bits pertaining to décor and what people ate back then kept my intrigue.

There you have it. Not the greatest gathering of stories, and certainly not even horror stories. Most were merely atmospheric in tone or place, but leaned more strongly towards fantasy than anything else. The only real reason I'd pass this one along is if someone like humorous tales about Lovecraftian mythos.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Review on a slab

Surfacing briefly to let y'all know that my review of City Slab #11 is now live over at the Fix Online. If you like your horror stories subtle, atmospheric, and not there simply for people to bleed and have their intestines ripped out, well you just very well might like this magazine.

Tomorrow I'll probably post a review of a book published in 2001 that no one will be truly interested in. I don't know why I sometimes put so much effort into everything I do. Anyways, stay tuned. It's worth ignoring, really.

(Ignore any snarkiness above; I'm currently sick.)

So there.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Monday, January 28, 2008

My workload, let me show you it

It is time yet again for my current to-do-list. Yes, those with breaths bated may now release them and take in the sweet taste of air. So, I have some things that need doing, and as always a few are more pressing than others. Let's take a look, shall we?

Things To Do Sooner than Later
  • Review City Slab #11 for The Fix
  • Review Lace and Blade edited by Deborah J. Ross
  • The next set of comics for The Outback Guide, these ones based off the first three chapters of Sandra McDonald's The Stars Down Under
  • Catch up on MyLifeComics, because I'm getting behind very fast and I'd like to be either on schedule or ahead (though that last bit is more of a fantasy than ever a reality)
  • Get a haircut
  • Renew my car insurance
Things that, Unfortunately, Must Wait their Turn
  • The Novel, oi
  • Rewriting "The Lady of Jeweled Dreams," as per my WOTF critique
  • Um, basically doing any fiction writing
  • Videogaming, as much as I love it and even just bought a new game for the DS I need to take a break because it does eat up a good chunk of my time at night
I always feel like I'm forgetting something here, but who knows. Do I need to start making a list of things to add to my to-do-list? Ugh.

Sporty Spec reviewed at The Fix

Sporty Spec: Games of the Fantastic edited by Karen A. Romanko has just gotten reviewed over at The Fix. Of my story, reviewer Kimberly Lundstrom says the following:

Sporty Spec opens with Paul Abbamondi's "The Sport of Kings," in which a young man bets against the odds on a natural born horse, untainted by "enhancements or cyber-widgets." This tale is interesting enough, but relies on a deus ex machina that spoiled it for me.


Swing and a miss, if I was to use a sports phrase.

I'm brainstorming my latest to-do-list, which I'll probably post later. It'll have a brand new feature this time around: a not-to-do-just-yet-list. Wow! Aren't you excited?!

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Professor Layton and his puzzles

I'm pretty positive that Professor Layton and the Curious Village will be the next purchase for my Nintendo DS. Need to see why? Watch below:



Oh god. Did you see those puzzles? There's like a thousand of 'em. Yes, yes. And it's like some sort of weird cross between anime and a Victorian tale of mystery. Mmm. Hurry up and be released! I wanna play.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Mail has arrived

So, I've gotten a few things in the mail lately.

The first is from J. Kathleen Cheney, a nice hardback copy of Susanna Clarke's Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell. This one is for my Hugo-awarding winning books project and is much appreciated. But dang. 'Tis a big book. Might save it for summertime, considering everything else I want to get through at the moment.

Next, Paul Jessup sent me the animated version of Nausicaa in exchange for the graphic novel which I did not enjoy. Haven't watched the anime version yet, but I'm looking forward to it. I suspect I'll like it more, only because of my deep love with Spirited Away and the likes.

Lastly, I received K.D. Wentworth's critique of my semi-finalist entry for the fourth quarter 2007 of Writers of the Future contest. Of "The Lady of Jeweled Dreams," Kathy says many nice things and makes a damn good amount of sense. She picked up on some things that need to be clear, offered some suggestions of where sections could be stronger, and even believes there's novel-potential in the worldbuilding. This was my first attempt at writing sword-and-sorcery so I'm pleased at that. I look forward to editing this sucker up into something better.

Thanks, mail. You've been nice lately. Also, no bills yet. So that's good as well.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Not posting

I wanted to post something today. I really did. I have things to talk about, things to work out with words.

But I'm not going to now. Except for this little thing. How's that for cryptic?

Friday, January 18, 2008

Yet another movie roundup

Lately, I've watched some movies. Five, to be exact. Two of them I owe thanks to the awesomeness that is called the Internet. May you always give me free stuff...and may you grow old and have lots of birthdays and cake!

Juno. It's about a high school girl who mistakenly gets preggers and then makes the conscious decision to give it up for adoption to a couple she found in the personal ads. Along the way, problems arise. More strangely, where one might suspect that she'd actually grow fonder of the baby she's carrying as experiences pile on, she begins to fall harder for Paulie Bleeker. The story is about growing up...and possibly being pro-life. I'm not sure. At first, the dialogue in the beginning felt a bit too scripted, as if it was trying too hard to be cool and hip, but as time passed I soon grew to like Juno and her quick-witted attitude. More so, I like a lot of the secondary characters who gave strong performances despite having little to do. Overall, Juno was a good film but not some amazing piece of work that several critics claim it to be.

Zodiac. Some of you may remember that I watched The Zodiac a couple months back, completely expecting it to be this movie. I kept waiting and waiting for Jake Gyllenhaal to show up yet he never did. Eventually I discovered there were two different movies. Where the earlier one dealt with a fictional and obsessive cop, 2007's Zodiac focuses on real-life cartoonist Robert Graysmith and his participation in the Zodiac murders. Long, long, long film. Made me stay up real late for it, but wow. It's good. The set pieces, the characters, the frustration around every corner and clue. It's hard knowing that these events have no answers, and the movie offers hints and suggestions, but otherwise we're just as curious as to solving the case of Graysmith was. Excellent and definitely the better of the two crime flicks.

The Thing. Monster crawl. Alien slurp. I don't know. It was interesting, and probably a whole lot freakier to watch in the early 1980s, but it did little to entice me. The paranoia and fear--rather than the mutating, er, thing--were what made the movie most watchable. Otherwise, meh. Nothing to go nuts over.

28 Days Later. I want to call this a zombie movie, but I don't know if that's accurate. A bunch of scientists in Great Britain create a virus that...well, I don't know exactly. Creates rage? Destroys the mind? Whatever it does, twenty-eight days after being accidentally released (via monkey!) everyone goes apeshit. We follow around a bicycle courier who awakes to find all of London deserted. This part of the film was my favorite. Haunting and cinematic. I have to say, I liked it very much. I'm curious about the sequel, but worry that it is more or less just banking on the first film's success for views. Anyone wanna prove me wrong?

Blade Runner. This would be the Final Cut/25th Anniversary version. I'd heard a lot about this film so was very eager to see it. Slow, methodical plot that follows a man named Deckard around as he hunts for human-like robots. Loved, loved, loved it all. The atmosphere, the rainy city, the envisioning of a masochistic future littered with bad weather and ginormous advertisements. All of it. Well, maybe not Sean Young's acting chops, but otherwise it's probably one of the stronger SF films I've ever seen. Has a sort of future noir to it, and leaves many things open. Was Deckard a replicant too? The pictures on his piano, the unicorn dream, and the tiny piece of origami at the end all point to yes. Either way, this could've gone in a completely different direction (think horrible, like I, Robot), but I'm glad it didn't. The bonus features are pretty cool too, especially the feature-length documentary on the making of Blade Runner.

And there you have it.

One hundred books list

This list has been popping up a bunch of places. I feel like I've done it before, but can't seem to find any confirmation of this. Hmm.

Bold are ones I've read, italicized (and blue!) are ones I want to read, and the rest have just fallen to wayside.

1. The Da Vinci Code (Dan Brown)
2. Pride and Prejudice (Jane Austen)
3. To Kill A Mockingbird (Harper Lee) (high school assignment, but I loved it nonetheless)
4. Gone With The Wind (Margaret Mitchell)
5. The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King (Tolkien)
6. The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring (Tolkien)
7. The Lord of the Rings: Two Towers (Tolkien)
8. Anne of Green Gables (L.M. Montgomery)
9. Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood (Rebecca Wells)
10. A Fine Balance (Rohinton Mistry)
11. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Rowling)
12. Angels and Demons (Dan Brown)
13. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Rowling)
14. A Prayer for Owen Meany (John Irving)
15. Memoirs of a Geisha (Arthur Golden)
16. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (Rowling)
17. Fall on Your Knees (Ann-Marie MacDonald)
18. The Stand (Stephen King)
19. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban(Rowling)
20. Jane Eyre (Charlotte Bronte)
21. The Hobbit (Tolkien)
22. The Catcher in the Rye (J.D. Salinger)
23. Little Women (Louisa May Alcott)
24. The Lovely Bones (Alice Sebold)
25. Life of Pi (Yann Martel)
26. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (Douglas Adams)
27. Wuthering Heights (Emily Bronte)
28. The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe (C. S. Lewis)
29. East of Eden (John Steinbeck)
30. Tuesdays with Morrie (Mitch Albom)
31. Dune (Frank Herbert)
32. The Notebook (Nicholas Sparks)
33. Atlas Shrugged (Ayn Rand)
34. 1984 (Orwell)
35. The Mists of Avalon (Marion Zimmer Bradley)
36. The Pillars of the Earth (Ken Follett)
37. The Power of One (Bryce Courtenay)
38. I Know This Much is True (Wally Lamb)
39. The Red Tent (Anita Diamant)
40. The Alchemist (Paulo Coelho)
41. The Clan of the Cave Bear (Jean M. Auel)
42. The Kite Runner (Khaled Hosseini)
43. Confessions of a Shopaholic (Sophie Kinsella)
44. The Five People You Meet In Heaven (Mitch Albom)
45. [The Bible]
46. Anna Karenina (Tolstoy)
47. The Count of Monte Cristo (Alexandre Dumas)
48. Angela’s Ashes (Frank McCourt)
49. The Grapes of Wrath (John Steinbeck)
50. She’s Come Undone (Wally Lamb)
51. The Poisonwood Bible (Barbara Kingsolver)
52. A Tale of Two Cities (Dickens) (high school assignment, not fun)
53. Ender’s Game (Orson Scott Card)
54. Great Expectations (Dickens) (high school assignment, more fun than the previous one)
55. The Great Gatsby (Fitzgerald)
56. The Stone Angel (Margaret Laurence)
57. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Rowling)
58. The Thorn Birds (Colleen McCullough)
59. The Handmaid’s Tale (Margaret Atwood)
60. The Time Traveller’s Wife (Audrey Niffenegger)
61. Crime and Punishment (Fyodor Dostoyevsky)
62. The Fountainhead (Ayn Rand)
63. War and Peace (Tolstoy)
64. Interview With The Vampire (Anne Rice)
65. Fifth Business (Robertson Davis)
66. One Hundred Years Of Solitude (Gabriel Garcia Marquez)
67. The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants (Ann Brashares)
68. Catch-22 (Joseph Heller)
69. Les Miserables (Hugo)
70. The Little Prince (Antoine de Saint-Exupery)
71. Bridget Jones’ Diary (Fielding)
72. Love in the Time of Cholera (Marquez)
73. Shogun (James Clavell)
74. The English Patient (Michael Ondaatje)
75. The Secret Garden (Frances Hodgson Burnett)
76. The Summer Tree (Guy Gavriel Kay)
77. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (Betty Smith)
78. The World According To Garp (John Irving)
79. The Diviners (Margaret Laurence)
80. Charlotte’s Web (E.B. White)
81. Not Wanted On The Voyage (Timothy Findley)
82. Of Mice And Men (Steinbeck)
83. Rebecca (Daphne DuMaurier)
84. Wizard’s First Rule (Terry Goodkind)
85. Emma (Jane Austen)
86. Watership Down (Richard Adams)
87. Brave New World (Aldous Huxley)
88. The Stone Diaries (Carol Shields)
89. Blindness (Jose Saramago)
90. Kane and Abel (Jeffrey Archer)
91. In The Skin Of A Lion (Ondaatje)
92. Lord of the Flies (Golding) (high school assignment, excellent)
93. The Good Earth (Pearl S. Buck)
94. The Secret Life of Bees (Sue Monk Kidd)
95. The Bourne Identity (Robert Ludlum)
96. The Outsiders (S.E. Hinton)
97. White Oleander (Janet Fitch)
98. A Woman of Substance (Barbara Taylor Bradford)
99. The Celestine Prophecy (James Redfield)
100. Ulysses (James Joyce)

Monday, January 14, 2008

Fourth marker reached

The Waterways Novel

60,084 / 80,000 words. 75% done!

Whew. It's been interesting getting back into the Novel. I took a break from it for all of December, focusing more on short stories and comics. It continued to hover in the back of my mind though, poking at me, reminding me that it was still alive and needed its litterbox changed at some point. Then I went on vacation and thought very little about writing in general. That was both good and kind of scary. I just don't think I can't not write. Yes, double negative there. Eat it up.

Anyways, the point is I forgot a lot of things. Tiny details, character quirks, plot, plot, oh my god the plot is so out of it currently, teetering on sense and no sense, among other things. I reread the first few chapters, resisting the urge to tinker with them and then just said "feck it" (not really) and plowed forward using my notes and whatnot. We're getting closer to the climactic ending where Lots of Things Happen.

The next marker is at 75,000 words. I suspect by then I'll be very close to the end. I can--and oh so will--add more words later in the rewrite.

It's weird. I set these markers (15K, 30K, 45K, 60K, 75K) as a sort of way to avoid overtalking the work-in-progress. I find the less I talk about a big project, the better it goes. I guess when it is only my expectations I have to meet...well, I can handle myself just fine. Been doing it for twenty-plus years. Yet, I'm supposed to talk about the novel at these markers. It is suppose to be, like, a reward. Funny that I still keep everything vague and brief. Wonder what is up with that...

But yay! More progress.