Thursday, December 31, 2009

Looking Back Best of 2009...

My pointless list of Best Of's ie my faves for 2009, I will attempt to keep it to things from 2009 but on occasion they may simply be things I found in 2009.

Best Personal Triumph:
Signed a two book contract with WiDo Publishing for Heroes of the Fallen and Blood of Our Fathers they also have first rights for the continuing series-which I greatly hope it will be-roughs for the next two are already started.To a lesser degree, won a general fiction contest for Dance the Ghost with Me a weird western I plan on finishing in 2010. And I did finish a Spartan novel Bless the Child which is in revision at the moment.

Best Novel I read this year: Joe Abercrombie's Last Argument of Kings. It wasn't released this year-Best Served Cold was but I liked LAOK better.

Best Non-Fiction read this year: Bruce Porter and Rod Meldrum's Prophecies and Promises. As far as I'm concerned it settles the B of M geography issue.

Best CD I bought this year: Yes, I still bought CD's this year like maybe 4 of them-the least ever since I was a kid and started buying cassette tapes. Morrissey's Years of Refusal has a couple good tracks but I can't say that they measure up to his previous works by any stretch. Lacuna Coil's Shallow Life would have to be my most listened to album of the year and I still like their 2006 Karmacode better.

Best Movie I saw in 2009: This is tough because I honestly can't think of anything that really tops stuff that's older. I may go with Inglorious Bastards. There were lots of movies that could have been great (Wolverine) but stunk. This is what happens when you stray from source material people-it sucks. I don't have high hopes for the next Conan movie either.

Best piece of Art: I bought this year. Dixon Leavitt's Stripling Warriors. Every time I walk past this in my living room I have to look at it. Bear in mind I did buy several paintings this year and also bear in mind what I can afford since I can't afford a Frazetta.

Best Musical: I saw this year: watched Grease 2 with the wife a week or two ago and had a good time doing Mystery Science Theater 3000 to it. I mean whats with Crater Face from Grease 1 still hanging around isn't he like 40 in the continuum by now? That and you see him in a Hawaiian shirt at the Luau right before he suddenly attacks it at the end. Yeah I don't really watch musicals. And could this outfit be MORE gay?

Best Graphic Novel: read this year: Props to Brandon Dayton for his Green Monk it was just too short. Props as well to IDW for re releasing the original G.I.Joe comics from the 80's those are excellent (Again movie that could have been great if it stuck to the source material but Su-Didely-Ucked!!! instead) As far as a 2009 release I am still gonna go with reprinted yet new material (to me) Savage Sword of Conan volume 6. Reprints from the black and white mag of the 70's.

Best Old Book: I discovered in 2009: War Commentaries of Caesar by Julius Caesar. Liked it so much I even had to take a line for the opening quote in my novel. That and I have started my love of the ROME TV series late. Love it though, gripping speculative storytelling set within historical parameters. Got it for Christmas. Guess I can add best TV to this segment too even though the series is older. Other Best TV would have to go to History Channel for my fav shows-Monster Quest, B.C. Battles, Warriors with Terry Schapert, and Ancient Discoveries.

and finally my latest post on twitter. Unbelievable jobs I actually had (however briefly) this year: Insulation/Building Inspector, NaNo tech R&D, Gun-safe assembly line, Novelist.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Ages Undreamed Of vol. 2

I am amazed at the sheer amount of ancient stone effigy pipes that have been found all across America. Most seem to be small simple things yet still would have taken perhaps hundreds of man hours of creation. Like the myriad of arrowheads tossed into mounds I doubt these were merely ceremonial objects given over for rituals.

Yes ritual has a very important place in ancient life but I just can't believe every single object that looks odd to modern man must ipso-facto be a religious artifact. People smoke a lot today and they used smoke a lot anciently.

I thought I would post some of the more interesting pipes I have found and tell you to which characters in my book they belong.
This beauty is Akish-Antum's the Gadianton Grand Master and greatest antagonist of Heroes of the Fallen I like the merging of the tarantula and skull, it is truly the most bizarre of all the pipes I have come across.

This bird of prey reclining pipe is featured in chapter one. It belongs to Hiram a judge in Zarahemla.

This interesting piece belongs to Rezon, a caravan leader and self styled Fabulous prince of merchants. I mention the pipe but never actually tell the reader what it looks like-editor asked a couple times but I didn't divulge-but you faithful blog reader now know, what embarrassed Bethia to see him puffing on.

I know I say someone has a frog pipe. But I can't recall who at this moment.

Apophis the king of Tullan has a snorting dragon pipe.

Ah, I love speculative historical fantasy fiction and the true bizarre things that inspire it.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Ballad of Bilbo Baggins

I came across this years ago but even that was years after the fact, so there are probably some people out there that still have not been subjected to this insanity so here ya go.

What's with those girl's shrugging? Is that what passed for keen dance moves back then?

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

One Horse Open SLAY!!!

One Horse Open Slay!

A Right Jolly Old Elf.

Pressure, thanks a lot Kris.

Back to our roots here.

Not gonna play any Reindeer games.

This was just for shock value so that the next one won't seem so odd.

Santa the Barbarian.

But this might be pushing some people over the edge.

I can't believe someone came up with these Ho-Ho-Ho's, let alone a martial art known as Claus Fu?

Maybe the Glen Campbell album won't sound so bad now.

This just might push me into celebrating Kwanza or Wookie Life Day.

He cost 6 million dollars he better be able to sing.Probably still not as good as when Lee Majors helped Santa out in "The Night the Reindeer Died"

I pity the fool that don't love Christmas.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Colossus of Ink

Sometimes I sit with my muse and let him pour me a drink as I brood over what needs to be done. Rewrites and edits, hack and slash, cuts and slices, but also bandages and poultices, tinctures and medicines, fresh scenes and requests for amputations.

It is never sterile but dirty work that must be prodded with a hot poker and excised with the realization of the pain if it isn't done right. It will infect and fester, laziness growing gangrenous. Fingers racing about the letter board like a fencers duel always jabbing, poking, stabbing to get the words out that will last, that will mean something when you come back to them later or at the least let you remember what it was so you can do it all over again.

If the muse does not serve you well he (or she) must be replaced with another, whether a better host or hostess to ideas or a sparing partner they must forever push you to go farther and improve upon the craft. Each bout must be a little harder to beat, each round produce more muscle, every tournament attain the indomitable, all contests won. The eternal progression forever traveling. All experiences are for your good. Colossus of ink-write on.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Ages Undreamed Of vol 1.

This is the first of a series of post's about ancient sites and ruins-especially those that fire my imagination for the sake of writing. I am not writing a thesis nor will I stick to plain vanilla interpretations when speculation is possible for some answers and so much more fun.
"It makes no difference what men think of war, said the judge. War endures. As well ask men what they think of stone. War was always here. Before man was, war waited for him. The ultimate trade awaiting its ultimate practitioner. That is the way it was and will be....
War is the ultimate game because war is at last a forcing of the unity of existence. War is god."

Blood Meridian

I am posting that quote from my favorite Cormac McCarthy novel because it illustrates my following belief about a certain site. Never mind that I am convinced that particular character speaking is Cain.

It took decades for the established scholars to stop believing and promulgating that
the Mayans were simply peaceful stargazing mathematicians, we now know (and should have from the beginning) that they were perpetually at war and that blood sacrifice was de rigueur. Now we have the same thing just a little further north in Oklahoma.

The Spiro mounds in east Oklahoma in the Arkansas river valley have been a curiosity since the Ok land rush in the late 1800's. The first archaeological inspections declared that great battles had taken place in the area between what appeared to be two distinct peoples-possibly the Mississippian-Hopewell types versus Tultecs from the south. More recent scholarship refutes those original claims testifying that Spiro was more of a spiritual/trading hub.While I think that explanation has merit, it seems that those proponents discount the possibility that war could have come to the area, citing that there is little if any evidence.

That is a weak argument considering the Spiro mounds were thoroughly looted back in the 30's virtually at every opportunity whenever the U of OK had their backs turned. Not to mention everything that was taken before their dig even started. The idea that lack of current evidence (despite old testimony) means no evidence is shallow.

My argument on what we do know and can deduce. The incredible amount of bodies and weapons found around the entire area. The very first researcher a Dr. Edwin Walters declared in the late 1800's that there may be as many as 2,500 to 3,000 skeletons per acre in an area of 30 acres. Over 10,000 arrowheads were pulled from a single mound. Some scholars would argue that these are merely trinkets for burial-good luck charms if you will or pennies we toss into wishing wells.

BAH! None of these guys have taken the time to chip away and make a single painstaking chert arrowhead, let alone 10,000 for one mound. Multitudes of pearls were also found that disintegrated into chalk because they were so ancient. Scores of carved stone pipes too, these people smoked a lot. I will soon do a post on the most amazing looking ancient american pipes.

The weapons found are staggering, spearheads, shields, breastplates, daggers and ax heads made from copper-green with age. And among the coolest looking weapons, brutal mace heads that are graphically depicted in art found all over the area.

These people fought wars, they may have all died in war. There is no concrete explanation on what became of them. Take for example this copper image of what is known as the Birdman.
He holds a mace and whats that in his other hand?

A human head.

Simple ritualistic trading folk?

I don't think so.

Barbarism triumphed over civilization.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Books and Stories Read Just Lately

Ghost Waves: The Pirate Slayers Book one, by W. Everett Prusso
This was a swashbuckling/historical YA tale of 4 youth from New York bound for California that fall overboard a ship in 1846. The book started a little slow for me, building background and setting, once it got going however I enjoyed it. The tale follows primarily 2 teen boys and 2 teen girls Thomas, Matt, Nicole and Elizabeth on their adventure to make it to California and their families.

I enjoyed Prusso's vivid descriptions of sailing and navigation that were woven
seamlessly into the story, so that you learned as the characters learned.
Overall I found myself most captivated and interested in the principal villianess-Vanessa Scrimshaw, she is a pirate captain born of the bitterness between the British and French, who ruthlessly takes whatever she wants-like all good pirates do. While colorful she is not without historical counterparts-she even spins a rather fanciful tale of infamous female pirate Ann Bonny.

I think my biggest complaint with the book is I wanted more of Captain Scrimshaw rather than the main characters (the Pirate Slayers themselves), to me she is a more fully realized character.
I look forward to the sequel Scrimshaw's Revenge.

ORON, by David C. Smith
This book is a heroic fantasy set in the far flung past. Again I had a hard time because of a slow beginning. Smith actually starts this one with a 12 page history of this fantasy continent Ataluma? going through eons. I found myself wondering if he
was hoping to write something similar to Howard's The Hyborian Age. Sorry but he didn't cut it, I nearly put the book down and left it-why didn't I? Because it also had some fantastic interior art by Clyde Caldwell.
While perusing the art I was intrigued enough to keep reading and find out the stories behind the black and whites.
Again once things got going I was interested. Smith comes up with some great ideas for fantasy, the Hero Oron cutting off the hands of the sinister warlord Amrik early and then leaving him was great because you knew it was going to come back and haunt him but how? Smith has a sorcerer come and give Amrik demon hands-excellent-I am glossing over here to get down to the real review.
Oron is as good as most other heroic tales but it drags. Smith seems to be going to the Robert Jordan school of writing in that we get detail on all kinds of things leaving you wondering Is This Important? Guess what? No it wasn't-it was just detailing for details sake. This was written in 1977 the heyday of Sword and Sorcery fiction and yet it's nearly twice as long as anything from that era. I can't help but think that IF this had been edited to the atypical length of most of those books from the 70's this might have been considered really great instead of just alright.

Conan and the Songs of the Dead, by Joe Lansdale and Tim Truman
This is a graphic novel of a 5 issue series. Trumans art is detailed both gruesome and vibrant-that's always a must for me to love comics. I haven't read a lot of Lansdales stuff previous to this but what I have I like a lot-Bubba Ho-Tep is my all time favorite rest home Elvis and JFK versus Mummy movie
ever. Lansdale delivers a rough tale of double dealing and the Cimmerian at his most savage. Somethings I thought were a little over the top but not enough to dampen a good action packed read. Still don't know how Pict's ended up down in Stygia without explanation but the climactic end-the last 2 pages-were classic Conan.

Short Stories I read this week.

The Heroic Fantasy E-zine Flashing Swords is now defunct but I read a couple this last week because the site is still up.
Prayer of the Warrior, by Nathan Meyer
This is a classic example of sword and sorcery, savage and sinister. Vargas escorts a mysterious priestess to a cursed ruined inn. Terrible diabolism and bloody handed mayhem ensues with some great twists. You can read it here.

Homecoming, by Bruce Durham
This is a continuing tale of Dalacroy and Moirya, characters from Durham's excellent Marsh God tale, I'll have to review the graphic for that as soon as can get it. In this short story they return to Moirya's home city and revolution has torn the land apart with invaders in control, crucifying nobles and any that would resist their occupation. One thing I really like about Durhams work that I have read is the light amount of magic involved-don't know why but I prefer magic to have a cost and be a tool that requires more than just saying words aloud. This tale could almost have been set in Renaissance Italy what with all the double-crossings and intrigues. I quite liked it. You can read it here.

Highway Songs, by Angie Lofthouse
This pseudo sci-fi/spiritual tale was just recently posted in the latest issue of Residential Aliens another e-zine. Taking place in the not too distant future a truck driver who just wants to get home, is drawn into a apocalyptic mystery and must help prevent a Native American blood sacrifice ritual looking to bring about the return of Kukulacan. You can read it here
Sacred Places, by Angie Lofthouse
This one isn't contained in any of the previous e-zines but I loved it and you can read it here. How can you go wrong with an archaeological dig in the San Pete Valley for a mysterious Temple of Fire (Jaredites) and unexpected even sympathetic polygamists. I love Angie's writing-when are you going to have a novel available?

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Styles in Craft: Maximum or minimum?

Over at Heim Binas Fiction CKHB posted about minimalism and maximalism in writing styles, this is based off a seminar she went to where it was suggested you try to write in each style to learn the most you can from each way to do a scene, either a richer view of description for a particular piece or perhaps a more targeted approach on narrowing down the true point of the piece. I'll throw down an example of a work in progress now though I sure I am a maximalist at heart.

Madoc’s eyes opened in briny deep and suffocation came with awareness of the depth. The lighted surface above shimmered like sword blades dancing. He kicked up and strained for that ceiling. A great dark hulk of a thing came with a rolling swell behind him. Turning he latched on, holding with the same indomitable grip of the moon upon the sea.

He held to the shattered mainmast as it cascaded down the waves and back up again. Time and again spitting out the salt water that threatened to fill his lungs. The arc of lightning and roll of thunder was primordial and malevolent. He couldn't help but wonder at the sudden storm and its cataclysmic genesis. Did strange foreign gods dice with his fate as the chief of the Choctaw’s had warned before he set sail?

And now my minimalist take.

He was drowning. Tossed under the waves along with the broken sloop. Straining for both the surface and breath, he fought to rise. Bursting forth, he took hold of the broken mainmast. He clung like a barnacle despite the showering waves and cascading rain. The storm was sudden and terrible. Madoc wondered at the warnings he had been given.

UGHH! Just wrote that it's my minimalist take-I can't help but feel like I need to keep adding to that. WHY? because that is my style. The first came quickly and flowed and with the minimalist I had to think about how to keep it short-it wasn't truly my natural flowing voice.

What do you do?

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Frazetta Cover's and Legacy

Frank Frazetta is probably my favorite artist. He has done all kinds of pieces from comics to movie posters, but my favorites (along with most of his fans) are his fantasy and sci-fi book covers.

I found a copy of Red Moon and Black Mountain, by Joy Chant, in hardback with a Frazetta cover so I had to buy it. I already owned a paperback copy with an Ian Millar cover but to have a Frazetta hardback is a treat to me. There aren't enough of those available. It was interesting to me that liner notes call the book a Sword and Sorcery tale, I've only read the first chapter or so but it seems more like a 70's marketing ploy than an accurate genre specific label. But I digress.

Frazetta's work has a disheartening controversy of late. Just a few days ago Frank Jr. was arrested for attempting to break into the Frazetta art museum with a back-hoe! The doors are very strong, so the backhoe was to break them down rather than dig in. He has been charged with attempted robbery worth 20 Million dollars.

That's actually a paltry sum considering that only last month one of Frazetta's original Conan covers-a favorite of mine for Conan the Conqueror (Hour of the Dragon) was sold at auction for a cool million by itself! All of this is odd for those that know Frank has always held onto his work for the museum and has never sold his originals. Rumors abound now that Jr. was trying to save the works from greedy siblings they argue the opposite-either way it's a sad statement for Frank's legacy. I really hope this gets figured out in such a way that benfits the Master's WORK.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Writing Vs. Blogging

I know quite a few of my readers are writers so I want to pose the question to you that you have perhaps heard quite often before. Do you find that writing your novels, short stories, novella's etc; get's in the way of your more important and monumental work of blogging? I know it does for me I couldn't think of a better post at 12:30 a.m. Saturday night.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Faux Interview and Questionaire Tag

I was tagged with these questions by a fellow writer Voidwalker and I'm supposed to tag 2 more people with this and I'll go ahead and up that to 3 Karen, Tamara, and Mary.

1. What's the last thing you wrote? What's the first thing you wrote that you still have?
Last thing I wrote and finished-The Hand of Fate, a fantasy short story-10,900 words for a hopeful inclusion in a action-oriented fantasy anthology. First thing I wrote that I still have? Probably some rough fantasy stories from when I was 9 or 10.

2. Write poetry?
Yep, see earlier posts. But I have written them for years upon years.

3. Angsty poetry?
Yeah, if I'm upset. I may post RUST for the next poetry Saturday.

4. Favorite genre of writing?
Anything I can reasonably have people using swords in.

5. Most annoying character you've ever created?
Gotta think on this for awhile. Ezra, the reformed Gadianton Robber in Heroes of the Fallen might be, but he does work toward redeeming himself.

6. Best Plot you've ever created?
Thus far, probably what begins in Heroes of the Fallen but is fulfilled in Blood of Our Fathers.

7. Coolest Plot twist you've ever created?
Probably events in Blood of Our Fathers, that will just have to wait for 2011.

8. How often do you get writer's block?
I don't really get writers block-too many stories pouring out of my head to even get them all done-BUT-I do get into bouts of laziness and not feeling motivation to write what is there.

9. Write fan fiction?
I did when I was a kid, a lot of G.I.Joe and Transformers stories

10. Do you type or write by hand?
Always wrote by hand as a kid-my typewriter and then computer were too slow-and even then lots of unpublishable stuff by hand in coffee shops. Heroes and Blood were both almost entirely written by hand and then transferred to the PC. Bless the Child was also first written by hand, but I began Dance the Ghost with Me on the PC. All new scenes and rewrites for Heroes were not handwritten.

11. Do you save everything you write?
Everything, more times than I need too.

12. Do you ever go back to an idea after you've abandoned it?
All the time. I keep a notebook full of ideas to save for later-things work later all the time.

13. What's your favorite thing you've ever written?
Scenes that flow naturally are my favorites in the moment-don't know what one scene I could even say.

14. What's everyone else's favorite story that you've written?
Dance the Ghost with Me is what I am still having requests to hurry up and finish/publish.

15. Ever written romance or angsty teen drama?

16. What's your favorite setting for your characters?
Anywhere they can swing a sword.

17. How many writing projects are you working on right now?
1. Bless the Child-novel 2. rewrites Blood of Our Fathers 3. Name of the Game-short story 4 and 5 more short stories.

18. Have you ever won an award for your writing?
First Prize-general fiction category at the LDStorymakers first chapter writing contest for Dance the Ghost with Me
First place in elementary school for Howl and Hunt.

19. What are your five favorite words?
Judging by what had to be edited for excessive use in Heroes of the Fallen Great, Dark, Black, Savage, and Serpentine

20. What character have you created that is most like yourself?
I use aspects or pieces of myself for various characters-usually taking into consideration age and environment and such blending it with life experience, and imagination.

21. Where do you get ideas for your characters?
Its a mix, imagination, people I have known or would like to know. Things I overhear and people I know I overheard incorrectly but still sounds interesting.

22. Do you ever write based on your dreams?
A little. I do keep a journal of my dreams/nightmares for possible stories in the future.

23. Do you favor happy endings?
No. It just has to be real-even if its fantasy.

24. Are you concerned with spelling and grammar as you write?
I am decent with spelling but my proper grammar has always been a struggle.

25. Does music help you write?
Yes, I love having music that acts as an augmentation for the mood of what I am doing.

26. Quote something you've written. Whatever pops into your head.
Here is a snippet from Dance the Ghost with Me a weird western.

He rode down into a steep rock strewn vale, looking for an overhang to shelter under. The pale horse stopped. It did not want to go any farther into the gloom. It was getting dark but Port could still see and smell well enough. There was no bear or cat here. Nothing but the thin aspens and limp pines and a few burnt stumps. Nowhere for anything to hide, yet he could not shake the feeling of being watched. He knew what it felt like to have living eyes stare; these were not those. These glared full of hate, jealousy and avarice. They were there all right, spirits thick as honey.

His skin crawled like spiders swarming over raw flesh. Port felt as if he was about to be engulfed by an invisible ocean, drowned in abysmal malice. He instinctively caressed the Bowie that Brigham had blessed. The tide was at bay just beyond reach, foaming its invisible silent jaws.