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.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Books in 2008, #3

#3. A Feast for Crows by George R.R. Martin

Phew. Nearly 1,000 pages long, brimming with battles and betrayals and bloody stumps, A Feast for Crows sort of reminds me of the second movie in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, The Two Towers. A lot is happening the entire time, building and building up to something big yet unknown, everybody is off separated and whatnot and then...the credits roll.

Which is understandable, I guess, considering the book is really only half of what it should be. A Dance with Dragons will cover everything happening in the North, at the Wall, and with Dany.

Yet, the experience is undeniably amazing. I'm not going to try to sum up the story so far, or even just the events in A Feast for Crows, because by this point Martin has made the series impossible to describe in just a few sentences. With a cast of thousands, epic isn't even a word I'd use here. Maybe uber-epic?

As usual, there are POVs that I like and ones that bore me for most of the time. Favorites this round were Samwell, Cersei Lannister, Brienne of Tarth, and Arya Stark. I found the Greyjoy chapters to be less gripping despite the kingsmoot. And well, I can't say that Arianne Martell's part in the book felt needed. We'll see.

One character's death really upset me. In a good way. I think. I'm holding out some hope that nothing in Martin's world is final, and that some things are misleading or often falsely reported. We shall see, I guess. Or maybe we won't...

Anyways, there isn't much for me to talk about here. Doing so would involve a lot of spoilers and I just don't feel up to that. Let me conclude that I'm officially joining the droves of fanboys and fangirls eager for A Dance with Dragons to be released.

And now I can return to books that aren't the size of three or four normal ones.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Done and done, said the doctor

"The Brazen Bug-blesser"

New Words: 1,318
Total Words: 3,359
Deadline: February 29, 2008
Reason for stopping: DONE!
Stimulants: Two cups of coffee, plus a cup of yogurt
Songs played loudly: "Nobody Puts Baby in the Corner" by Fall Out Boy, "Hold Me Down" by Motion City Soundtrack, "Samson" by Regina Spektor
Exercise: Nothing, been sick all morning, might go for a quick walk soonish
Mail: 60-day rejection from Interzone with some nice comments and a market suggestion. Oh, and I subscribed to Shimmer as well!
Darling du Jour: "Feeling grand, m'lady!" The termite emitted a colorful puff of steam.
Mean Things: Josephine got bit again, and well...betrayed
Research is for Writers: Victorian names are cool though they do, on occasion, have their stinkers. Maude? Uck.
Words that Microsoft Word argues with: grizzling
Other writing-related work: Nada
The Internet is full of Things: For those that don't have the luxury to play Flash Focus every day, practice focusing on these double vision photos. I promise they will make you squint.

Phew, glad to have reached a draft with only a few words to spare for the submission limit. Going to let it sit overnight and will give it a fresh read tomorrow night. I know there's one spot in particular that could use some tweaking. By that, I mean cutting erroneous crap.

And then once this is all out of my headspace I can return to the Novel.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Becoming less of an addict

I went to the bookstore tonight and did not buy a single thing.

:: beams with pride ::

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

I've got your voice on tape

"The Brazen Bug-blesser"

New Words: 541
Total Words: 2,040
Deadline: February 29, 2008
Reason for stopping: End of scene, a scene brimming with exposition so yeah, that needs some work
Stimulants: Four cups of coffee in total for the day, y'ouch
Songs played loudly: "Fewer Moving Parts" by David Bazan, "The Feelings Show" by Colbie Caillat, "Voice on Tape" by Jenny Owen Youngs
Exercise: A walk, some sit-ups after I post this
Mail: Nothing (grumble, grumble)
Darling du Jour: Finding herself homeless and without a family, Josephine searched for any that shared Blanchard blood.
Mean Things: Drowned a man, stole a house, steered a young girl wrongly
Research is for Writers: Looked up stuff about England, found some cool county names
Words that Microsoft Word argues with: sideroom
Other writing-related work: Looked over edits for "She's a Hearth," which is scheduled to appear in Kaleidotrope #4 (April 2008)
The Internet is full of Things: Traffic in India is, quite possibly, the scariest thing known to the world of Men. Don't believe me? Check it out:

So, the story should make it under the word limit of 3,500. I just need to wrap things up with the bugs, make it a bit more like a fable, and tightening up a few loose threads. Didn't write too much tonight because I had to draw the remainder of the week's comics.

Some days I feel like I have half a dozen jobs.

I wish The Office was back on TV.

Animal Crossing: Wild World, a second look

Back in July, I did a sort of roundup of my Nintendo DS collection and said this of a game titled Animal Crossing: Wild World:

I can't even figure out why I bought this. I think, possibly, maybe, who really knows, that I thought I was buying a Harvest Moon game. You know, the farming simulation thingy. Instead, I got the Sims with all the fun ripped out of it only to be replaced by animals with enormous heads, a town more dry than a patch of sand, and tasks that would bore a dead guy.

Time I owned up.

I was wrong about game. Complete and utterly wrong. You see, while preparing for my Christmas vacation and trip to Arizona, I looked through my stack of DS games trying to decide which ones would be most excellent to bring along. Certainly Zelda (of which I played very little) New Super Mario Bros, and Puzzle Quest were immediate duhs. Spying the box for Animal Crossing: Wild World, I paused. This was an impulse purchase that I had played maybe once or twice, didn't really get (by that I mean understand), and abandoned for nearly six months or so.

I popped the game back in, found my town infested with weeds, and that just about every villager hated me and suspected I'd been in jail since we last talked. Ugh. So I got to work, caught up on my letters, sent out presents, paid off some of my loan, and slowly--and I guess inevitably--understood what I was to do. Anything I cared to.

Animal Crossing: Wild World is unique in that really, truthfully, do what you want. Unlike the Sims where if you do not feed your person they will die an agonizingly slow yet assumable death, here you never have to worry one minute about your little dude's tummy, bladder, or heart. You can spend your time fishing and selling said fish to make money. You can dig all day long, looking for bugs or dinosaur bones. Not your thing? Plant a garden. Chop down some trees. Write letters and form friendships.

Simply put, the game gives you a ton of things to do, and every new day is just another great reason to turn it on, whether you are looking for that magical money-giving rock or interested in what new pieces of furniture can be bought at Tom Nook's place. The tasks are not boring, especially when you realize that there's a present at the end. I will complete all the catalogs and museum exhibits though some things won't be possible till I can visit Bitsy's town.

But really, I hope this is a lesson for me. I generally do give everything a sporting chance, but some times I'm quicker to give up than others.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Homage is where the heart is

About a week ago when I announced that Aoife's Kiss was buying my short story "After Effects" I made a side reference that the piece contained "a teeny homage to the Robot Man." Since nobody asked me what that meant, I figured I'd talk a bit about what I like to do with my short stories. Namely, I like to put in little bits of adulation for writers, musicians, artists, and a thousand of others whose work I've come to respect over time.

This is why I absolutely lurve the show LOST. Details, details, and details, along with the quick a-ha moments where they show you something obvious yet make it so transparent that you don't realize what you are seeing. LOST absolutely bounces in delight when it showcases books (Carrie, Catch-22, Heart of Darkness, Rainbow Six, and Stranger in a Strange Land to name a few), makes light of philosophers (John Locke, Jean-Jacques Rousseau), and lets slip those seductively damning numbers (4, 8, 15, 16, 23, and 42, in case you forgot). It cares about these things, making it important that they are mentioned, that they are carefully revealed with respect and attitude.

Sure, the producers must like it when a fan picks up on a reference...but whether they do or don't, it truly doesn't matter. The deed is done, and its meaning is out there for whoever to take it in. I like that. I like looking for those sorts of things, linking one and two to make three, understanding the why and how of a creator's intent.

Now where was I? Oh right. Homages. I suspect I'm not the only one.

I won't reveal all of my secrets now (I'll wait until I'm insanely famous for that, of course).

So, who is the Robot Man then? To me, that'd be Isaac Asimov.

And how did I bend my knee? I named the spaceship that the story's events transpire on The Foundation. Plus, there's some robots on board (though they do not adhere to the Three Laws of Robotics). There ya go.

Books in 2008, #2

#2. Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert A. Heinlein

So, this was pretty good...up to a point. Meaning once I realized the novel wasn't really going to about Valentine Michael Smith, but rather how others around him used his stature and fame to further themselves onward I began growing restless. I wasn't interested in politics, in religion, in deep thoughts. Aliens and First Contact moments, please. I wanted more of Mike and how he interacted with new surroundings. I wanted him to make more bad people to disappear. Less grokking, too, though I now see just how pivotal that term, on a whole, is to the novel's structure. No grok, no God.

The first half of the book deals mainly with the Martian's trip home to Earth where he is "imprisoned" at Bethesda Naval Hospital. There, a somewhat man-disliking nurse by the name of Gillian Boardman finds herself attracted to the mystery that is the Man from Mars and, by the guiding hand of journalist Ben Caxton, steals him away from the scientists that plague him with test after test after test. This was good stuff because it was dramatic. Lots of tension and uncertainty, and then when men come to chase after them the real powers of Mike reveal themselves and people disappear. After that though...there's basically a mountain full of talking.

Not that talking can't be interesting. Jubal Harshaw clearly holds his own, making any scene involving him more readable than not. But heavens above do they go on and on and on about the most minuscule of things. Details are over analyzed. Everything slows down once Jubal realizes he can't keep the Martian forever.

Mike moves away from Jubal with Jill. He gives the traveling circus a shot, trying to pass off as a magician. Once bored with being unsuccessful, Mike aims a little higher: becoming ordained. His church is one that follows the rules of group sex and cannibalism. A good time for all. This is what everything has been leading up to, and truthfully, it doesn't disappoint. Again, there could've been more tension, more action and less gabbing and reiterating of things the reader already knew. But alas, all good things must come to an end, and the Man from Mars goes out with a bang. A messianic bang, that is.

The beginning and ending are Stranger in a Strange Land's strong points. The middle is, well, a middle, muddling about as characters go off on their own. I felt a bit cheated in that we never really got to go into Mike's head and see what he was seeing--and how he was seeing it--but I guess that would've made for an entirely different read. Lots of cool SF aspects too, namely Fair Witnesses and stereo TVs. Things that bothered me were the blatant misogyny that downplayed characters such as Jill and Patricia Paiwonski.

I guess I've read the Cut version. The Uncut version is, not surprising, much longer. I can only imagine myself disliking it because I already feel like the book is lengthier than it needs to be.

This now marks being the seventh Hugo-winning novel I've read so far.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Be my lovebug

"The Brazen Bug-blesser"

New Words: 529
Total Words: 1,499
Deadline: February 29, 2008
Reason for stopping: Need to figure out exactly how to distract our dear Josephine long enough for a termite to bite her hand. No, really. I mean that.
Stimulants: A diet snapple, w00t
Songs played loudly: "Nth Degree" by Morningwood
Exercise: Going for a quick walk, right now!
Mail: No snail mail on Sundays, and no e-mail yet but I should be hearing back soonish from some markets
Darling du Jour: Josephine studied the sheet of paper. A list of design features and technically advantageous modifications covered the paper's length, prices printed small next to each item. Mood organs, phosphorous ticklers, eagle eye lenses, voice mockers, rainbow-swirl skins. She could afford none of them, certainly not yet.
Mean Things: Breaking a woman's heart, evil bugs lurking in corners, liars
Words that Microsoft Word argues with: lovebug
Other writing-related work: Nothing, though my mind is slowly drifting back to the Novel
The Internet is full of Things: NO TIME PEOPLE!

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Don't rain on my movies

Just got back from spending my Best Buy gift card. I purchased three movies I've never, ever seen before: Blade Runner (The Final Cut), The Thing, and 28 Days Later. Hooray for catching up with the world! Also, it has just started to rain. The sounds outside are marvelously mesmerizing.

But they shall not stop me from spending the night in a geekified haze.

Checking in

"The Brazen Bug-blesser"

New Words: 521
Total Words: 969
Deadline: February 29, 2008
Reason for stopping: End of the first scene, pondering the look and opening of a skittish, evil bug-blesser's pad
Stimulants: Two cups of coffee
Songs played loudly: "Bad News" by Owen, "Clouds" by The Morning Light, "So Much Love" by The Rocket Summer
Exercise: None yet, but tis early. Will walk later today.
Mail: A nice, 1-day rejection from Lone Star Stories. I also received Before They Are Hanged by Joe Abercrombie for review
Darling du Jour: Josephine cradled Lawr and left the park, allowing Path to steer her to salvation.
Words that Microsoft Word argues with: voicebox, gruebulb
Other writing-related work: Nada, woo-hoo!
The Internet is full of Things: Curious as to how punishment was dished out in China back in the day? Check out scans here.

This story is weird. I mean weird. Which, seeing what I normally write, is kind of funny. It's being aimed at the Clockwork Jungle Book themed issue of Shimmer, with the word count definitely below 3,500 words...but it might go longer than that. In which case it'll just be a new story. So far, I have both aspects of the theme down. Just need to make it more like a fable.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Books in 2008, #1

#1. Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, Vol. 1 by Hayao Miyazaki

Meh. Not a great start to the new year. This was actually my third or fourth time trying to finish this thing. I'd bought it a few years ago when I sought to get to know manga a bit better and well...I always gave up reading after fifty or so pages.

Nausicaä is the story of a girl of the same namesake, a princess in truth, who has the ability to bond telepathically with animals and the dangerous inhabitants of the forest. She lives in the Valley of the Wind, riding amongst the clouds, and doing everything she can to sneak past the ever-encroaching Sea of Corruption that threatens to cover all the land in order to study plants and bugs. Ultimately, she will play a pivotal part in the war over essential resources that is tearing kingdoms apart.

I think one of the biggest walls that Nausicaä builds in deterring me from the get-go is the artwork. I just don't like it. Miyazaki's work is too loose, too hard to navigate (especially when the action is turned up). The black-and-white pictures are often hard to look at for too long, and a few characters even resembled one another, making it even more difficult to know when scenes were being shifted elsewhere. Granted, some sections looks amazing. The mind-fucked Ohmu charging out of the forest to stop those that are hurting their young, the reveal of Nausicaä's secret stash of spore plants, the airborne battles high over the polluted land.

But a graphic novel is a mixed bag, one where every cut needs to be its own while simultaneously working well with others. Here, the writing and art do not mix well. If anything, the writing is a bit...cliché. The world Miyazaki has created is beautifully done, what with all the spores falling down like puffs of snow and the imaginative critters (fox-squirrels!!!) bounding about every corner. Yet, it is a Chosen One story. We've all read them before. They are formulaic no matter how different the surroundings are. And Chosen Ones need to be liked. Nausicaä is a rash, quick-thinking, and compassionate girl. Not terrible, not terribly compelling. I just never warmed to her (or anyone in the book, for that matter).

I wonder how the film version compares to the manga. Considering how much I love Spirited Away, it can't be any worse. Yah? Guess I'll just add it to my list of movies I want to see, but probably never will. Huzzah.

So, in short, I will not be reading Volumes 2 through 7 any time soon. Nor ever, probably.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

My latest to-read pile

73-day rejection from Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine, personal and with some comments that the ending felt too abrupt. I have a feeling that January is going to be the month where editors everywhere return to handle any and all submissions in their inboxes. Bring on the responses, I say!

And now, my to-read pile:

I'll list them in their appropriate groups since I seem to not understand that using a flash on glossy books means bad business.

For pure, bibliophilish enjoyment
A Feast For Crows by George R.R. Martin
Cast in Courtlight by Michelle Sagara
Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult
The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman (a re-read after seeing the film)
The Beach by Alex Garland (interest sparked after seeing the film)
The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror 2007 edited by Ellen Datlow, Kelly Link, and Gavin Grant (I'm taking many, many notes on this one)
Isaac Asimov's Halloween edited by Gardner Dozois and Sheila Williams (still reading even though I started back in October, gah)

For the Hugo list
Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert A. Heinlein

For review
The Servant of the Manthycore by Michael Ehart
Lace and Blade edited by Deborah J. Ross
Killswitch by Joel Shepard

Hmm, that should keep me busy for a bit. Once this stack is done I think I'll go through my shelves and find other unread books and make a new pile. But I will not make that pile now! No! I must wait! WAIT!

Rejectomancy shtuff

20-day rejection from Fantasy Magazine that reads, "No on this one, I'm afraid. For me the most effective part of the story were the roommates - they managed to be funny and weird and interesting in a really nice way."

I think tonight I'll take some time to send out the stories that have come back to me or the ones that are just sitting around collecting dust because I'm too hard on myself and reject my own work before they can even go out the door. That's a no-no. Must stop, must stop.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Oh look, I'm writing

"The Brazen Bug-blesser"

New Words: 448
Total Words: 448
Deadline: February 29, 2008
Reason for stopping: I want to upload photos from my camera while simultaneously set up my new iPod alarm clock thingy
Stimulants: Cup of coffee
Songs played loudly: "Cuts Marked in the March of Men" by Coheed and Cambria, "Givin' It Up" by Josh Rouse, "Something Isn't Right Here" by The Juliana Theory
Exercise: Grocery shopping, short walk, and a dozen and a half trips to and from my car unloading everything
Mail: Lots and lots of mail! Being away from my apartment for nearly two weeks really allows the shtuff to pile up. Nothing terribly writing-related, but I got a few books in the mail for review.
Darling du Jour: The twittering bug started showing signs of juice failure in the morning, leaking yellow-green headguts and smelling atrocious.
Words that Microsoft Word argues with: headguts, m'lady, gawkers
Other writing-related work: Organizing books and updating my submissions spreadsheet
The Internet is full of Things: But I have no time to look for a single one!

So, this is the last short story I'm going to work on before returning to the Novel (with hopes of finishing it once I get back into it). Strangely, writing about bugs is fun. Steam-powered ones are even doubly so...

Ugh, I have a thousand things that need doing. I think I will just tackle them one at a time and see how that goes. Yah? Yah.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

New year yo

Happy New Year, everybody! 2008 is in the house...

"After Effects," a somewhat dark outerspace drama with a teeny homage to the Robot Man, has sold to Aoife's Kiss #24, March 2008 issue. ::throws confetti::