Monday, December 29, 2008

CSFF December Tour

This month, while swerving to fit ourselves in between the High Holy Days, the CSFF is touring The Lost Genre Guild. They delve deeply into the discussions of Christian speculative fiction, whereas here I only skim the wavetops. Great resources and great conversations take place over there. Check them out.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Writing Lessons by Design

Here's something I realized over the weekend. (No, it's not that Rock Band 2 is equally inane and addicting.) Sometimes I'll listen to these interior design radio shows when driving around on a Saturday. I just noticed that the way they typically talk about color and texture and other design elements can be very helpful in our writing. Not just by noting the words they choose to use but by paying attention to how they think about design. It's all part of the creative process and the more interdisciplinary input you can pull in, the better. Listen to a few shows and see if you don't agree.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

The Inherent Importance of Marriage (Alt Title: Beyoncé Saves America)

Just when you think it's 476 AD, something comes along to prove that the glory of the American Empire has not faded. The new song and video by Beyoncé Knowles restores hope and faith that our country is not listening to the barbarians banging on the gate. (Stick with me on this one.)

According to Yahoo! and Saturday Night Live, "Single Ladies" by Beyoncé is fast becoming a viral craze across this great land. Women are enthralled by it and the song has become an anthem for them to rally around. There are tons of You Tube videos recreating the dance and some cover versions of the song have come out as well. Attached at the end of this post is the best version, by Lelia Broussard. It's also more lyrically understandable than the original. Listen to it, you won't be sorry.

For those who don't like to click on links or You Tube videos, here is a synopsis of the song: A couple has recently broken up and she is now drawing attention from other men. The ex boyfriend is upset. The song is from the woman's point of view and sung to him. The constant refrain throughout it is, "If you liked it then you should have put a ring on it." The message is quite clear: I will not be toyed with. I will not be strung along. I will not be used. Marry me or move along.

This is a message so important it cannot be overstated, and to see people flock to it is the gratifying part of this whole thing. Some of us believe that the foundational building block of society, as ordained by God Almighty, is the family. Without it, you have a society built on nothing but shifting sand. In an age where we constantly hear the vocal minority tell us that the family is antiquated and obsolete and that all it takes is a village, it is comforting to see that Americans instinctively know what is best. We have not yet turned the shining city on a hill into Sodomopolis or Gommorahville. The barbarians will not win the day.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Working Here, Working There

For the last week or so we've had a steady stream of snow coming into the Pacific Northwest and the pace of life has crawled to a halt. The phone doesn't ring at work and the family pretty much stays home without any hustle and bustle. That's turned out to be kind of a good thing. We roll around on the floor and laugh a little more than before and I've been plugging away at both "River of Bones" and "Broken Rocks." (Former is over 12K words now and latter is just over 4K.) The two stories are coming together as ideas cross-pollinate between the two and start forming a cohesive whole. I'm thinking in terms of serialized novel now but I'm cautious enough to leave unhatched chickens uncounted. I think soon the two will transform into first drafts. Hopefully by then, the story that started it all will be on publication track and more can be revealed. Anyhow, I pray for you all and hope you have a Merry and Blessed Christmas and enjoy the times you have been given.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Wise Men Still Seek Him II

"Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him." --Matthew 2:2

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Eragon Reviewed

This review pretty much sums up my feelings about the astounding depth of awfulness that is Eragon.

"Any time spent reading Eragon is time better spent doing almost anything else."

Yes. Yes, it is.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

New Discoveries at Every Turn

The new story, "Broken Rocks" has provided a couple of interesting discoveries. I'm up to 3700 words and the last two scenes are showing me some complications I hadn't considered before. The hero is moving into parts of his world where he cannot simply kill everything and be done with it. The two scenes in question came out about like I intended but as I wrote them I found that they had a lot of work to do. Several concepts and character motivations need to arise from them so the hero can get back on task. As I'm typing away and I get to a place where it feels like the scene should end, I realize that there's more to be done. While I don't mind a rising word count, I want this stuff to be interesting and that means tension and action. I've also got things like a character that I thought I needed just getting in the way so he's probably getting the axe. It's all part of the ongoing creative process that will hopefully pay off somewhere down the line. We have here the constant push and pull of competing ideas that should end up with a controlled output at the end of the day. Either that or a lot of typing exercises.

Friday, December 12, 2008

10 Things That Don't Suck Nearly As Bad As Eragon

1. Complicated dental procedures performed by drunk monkeys who've had their way with an unguarded espresso machine.

2. Chinese water torture.

3. Using a Black & Decker circular saw for a self-lobotomy while waiting for your wife to get out of Grocery Outlet. ("Just three things." Yeah, right.)

4. Spending all afternoon at the DMV.

5. Rachmaninov.

6. Accidentally chugging curdled milk straight from the carton.

7. FOX Reality Channel.

8. Hurrying past the kitchen table in your bare feet on a chilly Saturday morning and kicking your pinkie toe into the table leg at full force.

9. Recording the football game only to have the stupid DVR cut off the last few minutes because the stupid game went past its stupid scheduled time.

10. Windows Vista.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Friends Don't Let Friends Read Eragon

I've been sitting on this post for a while now but I've got to say that Eragon really, really sucked big time. Son Number Two and I have given up on it. He lasted a lot longer than I; by the second chapter I knew this thing was a great big pile of manure. I was reading it to my son for a period of time and I kept finding myself skipping ahead and summarizing things and changing some dialogue so it sounded better but nothing I could do could stop the inevitable. It's just a very poorly written book that meanders around picking up one tired old trope after another. Ach! I can't recommend against it strongly enough. Go get something from Donita K. Paul or Wayne Batson if your twelve year old likes fantasy fiction. If I can stop just one person from reading that dreck then my suffering will all be worth it.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

And Now, For My Next Trick

"River of Bones" got to 10.5K and stopped. Reading it over showed two things. 1) It's a disjointed mess, but I kinda expected that. 2) It's missing a scene that pays off something I set up earlier. Anyhow, as a rough draft goes it's got the arc I'm looking for as well as a rock 'em, sock 'em fight scene.

Because I got one of the characters to a place that both closed this story and began the next, I began the next. I'm 700 words into "Broken Rocks" which continues the overall story like next week's Terminator. While I'm digging the episodic feel to the story I'm hoping that another idea will stand up and beg for attention because I have several vague notions of what to do after this but no real end in sight. As I've said before, we will see what we will see.

Friday, December 05, 2008

The Ten Thousand

No, not Greek mercenaries out to slay as many Persians as they can shake a spear at. I'm talking about 10,000 words for 'River of Bones.' It's been quite a while since I've written anything this long and it's an interesting feeling. I'm really not sure where this is headed; I think I can continue to extend it for a while, essentially writing one connected short story after another. Since I'm still excited by the character and situation and I see a lot more I can do, that's the direction I will continue to follow. Where it stops, nobody knows.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

The Unstoppable Triond Cash Juggernaut

In a few days my total of payments coming from Triond will top $5.36 USD over the last two years. I was worried that we wouldn't be able to afford any presents for the kids this Christmas but now my troubles are over. I even decided to buy something special for Wife Number One and Only. Without the steady, consistent earnings that my Triond articles bring in, we could very well have been homeless and on the streets today. So if you are in need of extra money, this could be a life saver for you. If not, click on Life Lessons From the Marines and give me a penny.