Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Article Publication

I just approved the proof of my article 'Rights and the Writer' for publication in The Sword Review and it should show up on their website shortly. This was informative for me to write and I'm glad it was accepted. It's not really a paying publishing credit but it's still kinda cool.

I also picked up another Gemmell book The Hawk Eternal which is a sequel to Ironhand's Daughter. I'm sure I'll review that one as I go along but first I have to finish A Fortress of Grey Ice by J. V. Jones. More on that later.

In other news, 'Faith' is nearly finished. I'm probably going to submit that one to Dragon's, Knights & Angels.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

How to Waste Time With 'Research'

It's pretty sad but so far Son Number Two has written more than me this weekend. I've been reading a lot at Faith in Fiction and while that has provided a lot of motivation to focus on my novel it has not provided much in the way of words on figurative paper.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Writing Lessons From Number Two

Son Number Two likes to write stories and this morning he has kicked me off my laptop so he can compose his latest masterpiece. If you haven't played hours and hours of Sonic DX on a Nintendo Gamecube then you wouldn't understand the plot and characterization. In any event, he has created a couple of paragraphs that are loosely coordinated and seems to be interested in doing more. He's peppering me with questions about spelling and punctuation while I type this and some are kind of enlightening. A few minutes ago he asked me how to punctuate dialogue when someone is both yelling and asking a question. He wanted to end the sentence with two exclamation points and two question marks. His question to me was whether or not to switch them around like this: !?!? or keep them grouped together like this: !!??. This caused me to think a moment. How would one use those punctuation marks? When I suggested that he end the question with one question mark and then put in the attribution 'he shouted' I could see him thinking about it. It was a thrill to watch several synapses suddenly make new connections in his brain. With his permission I will likely post his story here.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Bond James Bond

Just saw the new Bond movie, Casino Royale. It is excellent. Daniel Craig plays a tough guy Bond, raw and edgy. He shows emotion, laughs several times, regrets some deaths caused by his actions, and even falls in love. However, the pacing was a little wierd and the villain was set up well but didn't deliver (mainly because it turned out that he wasn't the main villain.) By pacing, I mean that the movie seemed to drag through most of what I thought was the third act but turned out to be an extended second act. In fact, now that I think about it, the third act was actually like a second 40 minute movie tacked on. I'll see it again and come to a final conclusion but this new direction for everyone's favorite British spy is a definite must see. Three Stars.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

New Link to Announce

I've added Writer Unboxed as a link on my sidebar. This is a great blog with lots of depth and wisdom. Highly recommended.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

More Faith

This morning 'Faith' crossed the 3K mark. It's a bit of a struggle to get the dialogue to a) sound natural and b) lead me to where I have to go. I don't have the leeway of letting characters come alive and set the tone, pace, and direction of the story. I have a specific place I need to get to. I'm not complaining, I'm just laying out the challenge ahead of me. I've also found that I'm having trouble with names. My thinking before starting this was that Jews of old had old sounding Jewish names. But when I started scanning through the Bible to pluck a few names out I discovered several of them named John, James, Peter, etc. Hmmm... Not very exotic. I also need some Roman names. The research isn't as easy as I thought.

Friday, November 17, 2006

It's Hard to Be A Cubs Fan

Since I like baseball so much I just had to steal this from another blog. More writing stuff will come later, probably tomorrow after I run into some kind of difficulty.

Twenty major events that have occurred since the Chicago Cubs last laid claim to a World Series championship:
1. Radio was invented; Cubs fans got to hear their team lose.
2. TV was invented; Cubs fans got to see their team lose.
3. Baseball added 14 teams; Cubs fans get to see and hear their team lose to more clubs.
4. George Burns celebrated his 10th, 20th, 30th, 40th, 50th, 60th, 70th, 80th, 90th and 100th birthdays.
5. Haley's comet passed Earth twice.
6. Harry Caray was born....and died. Incredible, but true.
7. The NBA, NHL and NFL were formed, and Chicago teams won championships in each league.
8. Man landed on the moon, as have several home runs given up by Cubs pitchers.
9. Sixteen U.S. presidents were elected.
10. There were 11 amendments added to the Constitution.
11. Prohibition was created and repealed.
12. The Titanic was built, set sail, sank, was discovered and became the subject of major motion pictures, the latest giving Cubs fans hope that something that finishes on the bottom can come out on top.
13. Wrigley Field was built and becomes the oldest park in the National League.
14. Flag poles were erected on Wrigley Field roof to hold all of the team's future World Series pennants. Those flag poles have since rusted and been taken down.
15. A combination of 40 Summer and Winter Olympics have been held.
16. Thirteen baseball players have won the Triple Crown; several thanked Cubs pitchers.
17. Bell-bottoms came in style, went out of style and came back in.
18. The Chicago White Sox, Cleveland Indians, Boston Red Sox and the Florida Marlins have all won the World Series.
19. The Cubs played 14,153 regular-season games; they lost the majority of them.
20. Alaska, Arizona, Hawaii, Oklahoma and New Mexico were added to the Union.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Slushkiller

Writers struggling to get into the business should read this.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Writing Lessons From a Boring Dinner

The company I work for belongs to an industry association and we have dinner meetings every month. There's usually some sort of safety report and news from our legislative committee and then a featured speaker who talks about something regarding our industry. Tonight's speaker helped me formulate the topic for this issue of writing lessons. Don't bore your audience. The way we writers most often do that is to describe things to a level of detail that no one cares about. I found myself editing this speaker's presentation the whole way through. He was an engineer; that should have been our first warning right there. He went into minutia that was really not important for all us operations type guys that just want to move dirt. Second part of tonight's lesson: Don't clutter your slideshow. He put way to much stuff in his Power Point presentation and no one could read the slides or get any usuful information out of them. Instead of giving us lots of info, we zoned out and lost what he was trying to convey in all the clutter. Don't do that to your readers.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Faith Crosses 2K

This morning saw another burst of writing that carried 'Faith' to 2300 words. I'm at the part where Jesus agrees to come heal the servant. This is some of the tricky writing I knew I was in for. How exactly do you write Jesus? I kept the POV from the chief priest that makes the initial request so I could describe Jesus and show His reactions. I also added a few lines not in the Scriptures. Right now I'm thinking this is ok. The Bible often states that He taught or explained things without going into detail about His actual words. Therefore there had to be things He said that were not included in scripture. So while I will not be taking license with the Lord and having him announce new doctrine, I imagine he would exchange greetings and other pleasantries with people he meets. Plus I'm constructing a premise that seems plausible to me: the priests are actually not concerned with the centurion's servant as much as they want to see if Jesus will defile Himself by entering the Gentile centurion's house. That way they hope to blunt some of his popularity. This later becomes the main focus of the Jewish religious leadership so I figure it's not much of a leap to say it started in Capernaum.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Technorati

This service seems to be the Illuminati of the blogosphere. Therefore I've started a profile there.

Technorati Profile

Join the conspiracy!

Writing Lessons From Iraq

I spent half of my writing time this Saturday morning composing an email to a friend regarding the current state of Civilization's War Against Evil. (I think I like that title better than the Global War on Terror even though it would have taken up more space on the medal I got.) Anyway, I started thinking that disagreements in parts of Iraq are a lot like writing. Things tend to go along just fine for most of the day until the car bomb goes off.

Most of us write with some kind of plan in mind. It may be a detailed outline or it may be just the feeling we got when we started typing. That plan flows along just fine until something unforseen crops up. We throw in a line that we didn't intend because it sounded cool but later we find out that it takes the story in a slightly different direction and gums up the plan. Like a car bomb, it can make a mess of things. Also like a car bomb, first aid will be rendered and an investigation will be started. (Unlike a car bomb, no one is literally dead but since I like to live in a figurative world [just ask the friend I emailed this morning] that's not much of a concern.) After all that a new bus stop will be put in place and everything will be hunky dory again. Your writing will be stronger with a few car bombs thrown in.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

More Writing

More writing got done yesterday and that is always a good thing. I put a few more words down in my story about the centurion who's servant was healed. I also did a quick outline for a series of stories with more of a combat flavor and sketched out a scene for my novel. Here's a quick update on the stories currently in progress.

'Skyman'
Finished but missing the spark that will make it complete for me. It's about the dangers of messing with the status quo between two cultures, one that lives high in the atmosphere and one that lives on the ground.

'Right of Replacement'
Also finished but the end does not have the emotional punch that I felt when I dreamed it up. This is a Christ allegory about a newly victorious rebel leader sacrificing himself for one of his men.

'The Battle of Raven Kill'
This is mostly conceptual at this stage with a couple of possible sequels. It will be heavy with combat and the inherent internal struggles that that provides.

'Broken'
My novel that began as a story for a friend. This has a lot of potential but is tricky to plot because I've failed before at novels that fell apart late in the storyline. I'm trying to get a coherent plotline to go with the character arc that has firmed itself up nicely. It's a high fantasy story with heroic elements.

'Faith'
This is the working title for the story of the centurion of Capernaum in Luke 7 and Matthew 8. I'm telling the story from his point of view because he has always fascinated me, us both being in the military. Jesus will show up soon and say his lines. I hope to capture what the centurion must have been feeling based on the many clues sprinkled throughout those passages.

Monday, November 06, 2006

It's All In the Delivery

Tonight at dinner Daughter #1 came up with something hilarious. Unfortunately, it won't translate to the written word. We had pork loin for dinner (along with some stir fry veggies and egg noodles; we're trying to clear the pantry before the move) and I was trying to tell the kids how wonderful it was and that they should eat it. Now, I have a habit of calling food what it really is. I call beef 'dead cow' and pork products 'dead pig'. Maybe it's because I was raised on a farm, maybe it's just because I'm sick and twisted. I made a comment at the beginning of the meal that this pig had attained its highest calling in life: to be marinated, roasted, and spread about on our plates. Later, when Son #2 didn't want to eat it, my 5 year old daughter said in perfect deadpan, "It's pig butt."

Now I ask you, who could refuse a meal with such delicious description?

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Clickety Clackety

I finally sat down and powered through a scene that's been rolling around in my head for quite some time. I think all the talk about NaNoWriMo has revved me up a bit. 1500 words in a few hours. It also helped to have a few hours of uninterrupted time with no internet connection. The scene lacks a lot of description, it takes place on the muster fields of a medieval castle early on a cold damp morning, but that can easily be slipped in later. The important thing was to get the right character interaction. I think I've gotten it right and I also came up with another minor character that might prove useful down the line. As Uncle Jim says, writing is like playing positional chess. Get your pieces into strong positions and interesting things will develop.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

The Lovely Bones

Today I actually made time to go over the novel I'm currently kicking around and came up with some new ideas that helped to put it together, structure wise. I've had separate body parts and fleshy bits in both note and first draft form for quite some time now but I wasn't really sure about the skeleton to hang all that on. Despite yeoman work by my trusted beta reader to organize my thoughts, I hadn't gotten very far in the last year. One of my problems was too many ideas. Another was a lack of an antagonist in human form. I've come up with an idea for a rival who will work into my existing idea of an ancient spirit as the chief antagonistic force. Good times.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

What if Sauron Hired Dr. Evil?

A few posts back I mentioned the Evil Overlord Plot Generator. Here it is. This is must reading for anyone who seriously wants to write genre fiction.

Ironhand's Daughter

I finished reading Ironhand's Daughter and I have to say that the diversion to the alien world was barely worth it. The problem was why bother with sending the heroine after an object that was through a magical gateway in a totally different world. It seemed like a long detour to take so in my opinion it needed to be brought back into the story's end in a very important way.

Sigarni travels to the other world and finds that her blood has powerful magic there. Her bleeding hand holds her bow and the bow begins to grow back into a tree when she steps through the gate. Her friend and sidekick, Ballistar, is what we would call a little person today. He has some of her blood on him from her hand and he grows into a whole and complete man. She also has a bit of bone from her long dead ancestor, King Ironhand. When she takes that out he reforms form it and thanks her for bringing him back to life.

They have adventures and regain Ironhand's old crown. This is supposed to be the reason they went through, the crown is needed to forge an alliance. But that alliance could have been achieved by any old plot device. It didn't need to have this alien world all of a sudden pop into the story. Sigarni does realize after seeing how this new world's endless war has destroyed the land that she no longer hates her enemies enough to do that to her world. So you have two Important Things happen but my point still remains that the side trip wasn't necessary.

The biggest thing that bothered me with this is that the Crown is hardly mentioned after she gets it. Also, she goes ahead and engages in a battle that saves her people for the time being but that she knows will only bring more Bad Guys along. So both objectives for sending her there turn out to be irrelevant.

The only good thing that comes of it is Ballistar's choice to return to the other world even though all its food and water are poisonous to him. He chooses to die as a whole man rather than continue living as a dwarf. Poignant, but I'm sure the politically correct crowd would criticize Gemmel for that.

Ironhand's Daughter gets two and a half stars.