Saturday, January 31, 2009

Done!

Finished copy-editing the novel ahead of expectations. I'll go over the corrections again tomorrow or Monday but it looks good.

This one was easy; nice, clean writing and a fantastic story. It makes the work a pleasure!

Things Aren't What they Seem

I just got word that this anthology has passed on my story "Closing Time at Galaxy Video". Rejections are never fun, but two recent acceptances do help take the sting away. Plus I got some good critical comments from the folks at the PIT that should help me improve that one.

I'll probably send it back out in about a week, when I've had a chance to re-work it a bit.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Home Stretch

I'm down to the last 75 pages of the novel I'm copy editing for Permuted Press. It's a story of superheroes vs. zombies in the burned out ruin of Los Angeles. I'll admit that the description sounds kind of lame, and would have been a train wreck in the hands of most authors. But this author has done something remarkable with it.

The supers are fully realized characters with their own weaknesses and virtues. They're a complicated lot and you really feel for them. Likewise the merely human characters trapped in a nightmarish situation. He has neatly side-stepped the clich├ęs of both the zombie story and the superhero story and created something that is relentlessly intelligent, emotionally real, and always intense. (I read the scene where the zombies in this world are explained last night, and it gave me the chills more then anything I've read in a long time).

At this stage in development I'm not sure I can give out the name and title, but I will when I can. I'm seriously looking forward to seeing this one in print.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

This Will Not Be Pretty

I'm playing pick-up basketball with a group of men from my church tonight. It's a good way to help get back into shape, and could even be fun.

Thing is, I'm not much of a player. I'm taller than anyone else in the group, but that's never helped me before. They're all younger and more athletic than I am (two of the others are still in their teens and one may be going to college on a soccer scholarship).

As for my level of skill...have you ever seen a video of >gooney birds landing? I'm providing one as a visual aid. Instead of a big seabird, just imagine the gooney is a big white guy with a basketball and you'll get the idea.

Still, it'll probably be fun. :)

Monday, January 26, 2009

Meeting the World's Giant Scaled Anteater Needs


I heard last night from Richard Crawford that Daikaijuzine would like to publish "Panzersloth" in their June 21, 2009 issue!

In his words:
There are not nearly enough stories that feature giant scaled anteaters, and I'm glad to see you have addressed this critical shortage.


This was a fun one to write, largely because it was a silly send-up of the giant monster movies of the 1950's. Mostly though, it was fun because it was a chance to work with my friend Leah Clarke. It's her second sale, the first having come just a couple of days earlier, and well-deserved. She is a writer to watch and a delight to work with.

And, just in case you were wondering what the giant creature that menaces Chicago in the story looks like. I present Pansy (normal-sized version).

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Writing and Spirituality

I'm not a 'Christian Author' per-se. I actually don't even care for most overtly Christian fiction. So much of it seems shallow, and narrow-minded, as if the author had a committee peering over his or her shoulder inspecting it for doctrinal errors. Fiction that has to pass inspection like that tends to bore me to tears. Worse, it strikes me as something that is so concerned with 'correctness' that it doesn't have any truth in it.

But good fiction? Ah, that's a totally different animal.

I believe that we all have a call; something that God has given us the tools and the opportunities to accomplish. I don't see it as something that God tries to force us to do (though I've certainly had times when it felt like that). No, I think it's more that there is something that each of can do that will give us deeper satisfaction--and be of greater benefit to others--than anything else. I don't remember the source of the quote but I remember hearing a definition of a sacred call that I really like.

"Where your deepest passion intersects with the deepest needs of the world, you find your call from God."

That is different for different people, it can be anything from healing, to teaching, to to art, or writing.

Many writers are non-religious, but I would argue that the best writers tend to be deeply spiritual. I've known a few who fall into both of these categories; they feel uncomfortable with scriptures and traditions, they are skeptical of doctrines and pronouncements, and may feel far from the God of religious devotion.

Yet, I would argue that many of these are deeply rooted in the reality of God, even if they wouldn't call it that. I say that because the essence of God flows through their writing. Without being heavy-handed, their works embody a deep sense of justice and compassion. They flow with wisdom, humanity and and grace. They don't offer anything remotely like doctrinal instruction but they touch the soul and call forth the very best and truest from the reader. When I find a story by one of these writers, I feel like my deepest faith is affirmed.

It is a wonderful gift to be able to do that, and I believe it is a sacred call. It's also the kind of writer I would like to be.

Friday, January 23, 2009

President Obama

No deep thoughts, I just like saying it.

President Obama, President Obama, President Obama!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Things to Do

Got the next chapter of the vampire story from Bobbie, and it looks great. She's brought in a bit of death and gore (which no good vampire story is complete without) and left me with a fantastic cliffhanger to resolve. I haven't worked like this before, but it's a lot of fun, and it's pushing me to be more creative.

I'm finishing up on the Captain Action and Zorro preliminary work. The story-writing part will begin soon, but there's a little finishing work on the CA writer's bible first.

And Jacob's sent me a book to line-edit for Permuted Press. This one is very nicely written, making my job a lot easier than it could be. It's a romp featuring superheroes in the zombie infested ruins of Los Angeles. I'm not really a fan of zombie stories, and zombies + superheroes sounds like a combination that could go so horribly wrong in so many ways. This book rises above all of that, though. it's intelligently thought out and there is a wonderful level of emotional depth in the characters. It's exciting, frightening, and occasionally laugh-out-loud funny! I'm enjoying working on it.

Now I just need to work in some time for my novel :(

Monday, January 19, 2009

Good Omens

More writerly news tomorrow, for now history takes precidence.

I just love the way the timing is working on this. I mean, Obama still has to prove himslef, but the symbolism is amazing. Can it be only coincidence that the inaguration of the first African American president would come one day after Martin Luther King Day?

Though it's a long way from logical analysis, I'm taking this as a good sign. After all, I suspect that the only real difference between a coincidence and a good omen is whether people are looking at things with our usual cynicism, or through the eyes of hope. Right now, there is a lot of hope in the air, and when that is the case, anything is possible.

And THAT'S a good omen.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

External Validation! Yay!

My story, "City of Masks" has been accepted for an anthology with a very long title to be put out by Gryphonwood Press.

You Don't Know What You've Got: Tales of Loss and Dispossession‏ is a collection of stories from many genres focusing on loss and grief. Mine is a futuristic dystopian story with zombies and messed up relationships, bad civic government, and gladiators.

Adding to the coolness, my friend Bobbie also has a story in this one! That's a good neighborhood. :)

I'm excited!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

A Sad Day

I am saddened to hear of the death of actor Patrick McGoohan. He was a unique talent, playing characters whose essential decency was masked by a cool intellect. From what I've heard, that is a good description of the man himself.

He played a spy character named John Drake on the UK series "Danger Man" and refused to let his character become the kind of womanizer that 007 was. He wanted to keep his heroes on a higher moral plane. He brought that kind of integrity to the role of the Dr. Christopher Syn (a favorite of mine) as well. Syn was the compassionate vicar of the 18th century village of Dymchurch by day, and the masked Scarecrow by night. As the Scarecrow, he led the smugglers of the Romney Marsh in thwarting the cruel taxes of the king. It's kind of a Jeckyll/Hyde role, and McGoohan carried off both parts perfectly.

His best known role was as "Number 6" in "The Prisoner", a series he created. He was a spy, stripped of his identity and taken to a mysterious Village where other retired spies were held against their will. The series of often enigmatic, but it an amazing showcase for issues of individualism, community, conscience and integrity.

I've got an autographed photo of McGoohan as Dr. Syn. It was one of the perks for helping Larry Green with interview questions for the DVD release of "The Scarecrow of Romney Marsh". I'm especially going to treasure that now.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Lazy Days

I'd meant to spend some time starting the novel today but other things intervened. I had to finish revisions I was working on for the Captain Action writer's bible I'm working on with Richard. Then there was an 8,000 word story I was sent to look over. Then there I did a first draft of the full outline of "The Fox and the Scorpion" which I'm working on with Micah. Add a few church and other minor emergencies on top of that and the day's gone.

On the other hand, I'm starting with a long short story, so I could say that I'm already 10,000 words in already.

Just 9 more days like this and I'm done!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

The Hulk vs. The Incredible Hulk

Just a quick rundown of the recent movie and the even more recent revised version. I like them both pretty well, but then I've always been a fan of the green guy.

Bruce Banner - Eric Bana vs. Ed Norton - Bana's not a bad actor, but he doesn't compare to Norton, who is outstanding.

Gen. "Thunderbolt" Ross - Sam Elliot vs. William Hurt - I'm torn on this one. Elliot does an outstanding job as the noble soldier as odds with his daughter, but Hurt is a lot closer to the blustering, unreasoning military villain of the comics. I'd have to call it a toss-up.

Betty Ross - Jennifer vs. Liv Tyler - Liv is pretty, and a good actress, but it's no comparison. Connelly is an amazing actress.

Hulk design - I know that CGI is supposed to get better every year, but I did prefer the animation for the first movie.

Hulk vs. Army scenes. These are well-done in both versions, but I thought the battle with the tanks in the desert in Hulk was superior.

Cameos - Both features brief appearances by Stan Lee (who created the Hulk) and Lou Ferrigno (who played the Hulk on TV). In credible Hulk did more with these, and offered a glimpse of late, lamented Bill Bixby as well.

Villains - Nick Nolte (David Banner) vs. Tim Roth (Emil Blonsky). Both were very good, albeit totally different. I'll call this one a toss-up. However...

Climactic fight - The Hulk's fight against the empowered David Banner was hard to follow. The villain's power to absorb the powerof anything he touched (like the Absorbing Man in the comics) was a great idea. Unfortunately, it made the fight visually hard to follow. Hulk often lacked an easily identifyable antagonist. The big fight with Blinsky as the Abomination, by contrast, was exciting and a lot of fun.

Look - While I think that Ang Lee is brilliant, I didn't care for the many dark scenes in his movie, or for the 'panels' he used. I didn't think trying to make the movie look like a comic book worked. It only called attention to the fact that I was watching a movie and broke me out of the story.

Themes - I liked that Lee tried to get into the Jeckyll-Hyde inner struggle. In the end though, the movie seemed too introspective. The abusive father/angry child theme was interesting, but never really came off in an effective way IMO. I thought the newer movie had a better balance of angst and action.

My tally:

Hulk: 3
Incredible Hulk: 5

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

New Year's Resolution

(Insert boiler plate about losing weight, exercise, etc.)

My big resolution is that this is the year of the novel! I'm swearing off short stories (not totally, but mostly) and going without days off, vacations or sleep to accomplish this.

This should work because I'm over the hump with the big projects I'm doing for Moonstone Books and there's no time-pressure on the collaborations I've started with Bobbie and Leah. I've got a couple of other projects on tap too, including a collaborative short story for the next TALES OF THE SHADOWMEN with Micah Harris (fingers crossed on the editor letting us do it), and I need to figure out what I'm doing on project. Thom Brannon's project.

Maybe I don't have as much free time as I thought(!)

Actually, it's not as bad as it sounds and I'm not too worried...not yet any way. My big question is which of three possible stories I should try to develop into a novel. "Yasuke" is an unpublished short story that feels short at 10 K. It's space opera about a shipwrecked smuggler and is kind of a tribute to the late C.L. Moore. "Fox Hunt" is 20 K already and is gothic horror with werewolves and other horrors that was written as an experiment. It turned out better than I expected, and could easily be expanded. Then there are a couple of the Mysterious Dave Mather stories that could be tailored into an extended story.

Then again, there's the novel about the agnostic archangel that's been kicking around in the back of my head for the longest time.

Decisions, decisions...

I think I already know; now it's just a matter of a pile of hard work.

:)

Saturday, January 3, 2009

The joys of the well-cast movie

There's not much that can make a movie better than finding a movie where every actor seems to fit into his/her role perfectly. Bad casting (even of a talented performer) can mar an otherwise fine story. Geed casting--really good casting--can elevate a film from good to amazing. Here are a few of my favorites.

IRON MAN - Robert Downey Jr. as the troubled but charming protagonist was amazing. The rest of the cast, especially Gwennith Paltrow as the Pepper Potts, added tremendously.

DARK KNIGHT - Christian Bale is the best movie Batman ever IMO, but it probably won't surprise anyone that I think Heath Leger's Joker was (much) better. Gary Oldman was perfect as Detective Gordon, and Aaron Eckhart finally gave some life to IMO one of the most interesting villains form the comic books. (See Tommy Lee Jones in Batman Forever for a good example of horrible casting of a good actor.)

THE PRINCESS BRIDE - One of the most perfectly cast movies ever! It's not just the leads who are perfect in this movie, it's every single role down to the bit parts. I love the unorthodox choces, like Wallage Shawn as Vizzini, Billy Cristal and the wonderful Carol Kane as Miracle Max and his wife, but it's the casting of Andre the Giant as Fezzik that really makes the movie.

TOMBSTONE - This is my all time favorite western and features a beautifully cast band of brothers (Kurt Russell, Bill Paxton and Sam Elliot) as Wyatt, Morgan and Virgil Earp. The villains, led by Powers Boothe and Michael Biehn, are just as good. Then there's Val Kilmer as Doc Holliday, who stands out even in a movie full of stand out performances.

CHARADE - Any other actress than Audrey Hepburn would have been annoying in this role, but she makes you fall in love with her. Cary Grant is so perfect as the leading man that you don't even mind the fact that the character's name changes every other scene. George Kennedy, James Coburn, and Ned Glass manage a perfect blend of comic relief and genuine menace. It's another where every performance delivers.

A few others I like for casting would have to include ED WOOD, CASABLANCA, and THE MALTESE FALCON (though I did not like Mary Astor at all in her role).

Others?