Monday, November 30, 2009

Strange Sights of the Week

I AM BARREL MAN! Nobody loves him-Now he has his Revenge! Barrel Man!

I call this Dr. Armadillo. It's made with prunes you know.

This was not my fault.

Out of the mouth (or hands) of babes.

When I discovered Youtube I didn't work for like two days.

Visit scenic Arizona.

Is it just me or is there a double standard?

Friday, November 27, 2009

Remembering the Nutty Putty Cave

We had a saddening accident in Utah over the Thanksgiving Holiday, a young father and med student John Jones, died in the local cave known as the Nutty Putty, after becoming trapped in tight space tilted feet over head for nearly 28 hours. It sounds likely now that the cave will be closed and there has even been talk of sealing the entrance.

It's been years since I have been to the Nutty Putty but I used to go often and have been planning on using it in one of my novels for some time now. I have not been able to find a cutaway diagram of the cave so I did one myself to show a little better of what it is like going inside. It is odd that right on top of bald scrubby hill a hole opens into the rock not unlike a chimney. You climb down the 7-8 feet of that and get down on your knees-probably bang your head-as you crawl across another similar distance though this one is wide and shaped in My mind like a pancake. At the opposite end it opens up a bit and you can stand and climb down and cross a slight drop off to go to your left and my favorite part of the cave the Maze. Some good friends, Ryan, Jason and Bob-notice our regulation gear-OK we had none.

My friends and I used to go to the Maze and play hide and go seek. I grew so accustomed to the layering's of the Maze and the darkness that I used to quit using my flashlight and run around in the dark and usually be the last one found. We played that when whomever was it found someone they had to both start looking for the rest-letting it snowball. This was all back in the 90's. Used to meet some interesting people in the cave-Hey Cave Girl who are you?

Part of why I liked the cave was I don't get claustrophobic-if you do you would not like the cave which has quite a number of tight passages-including most especially infamous now The Birth Canal. Back then we didn't think about any dangers and just had fun. The cave maintains a year-round temperature making it comfortable in winter or summer. It was the aspects of the maze that made me think about adapting a cave scene for my action-adventure novels. Now this tragedy has me thinking about the real accidents that can happen when people think they are just going out for a good time.

Still I don't think we ought to seal the cave, accidents can and will happen anywhere and while I do not fret over fate-I don't see us protecting ourselves and our children from anything and everything that can happen. To get into the Nutty Putty anymore took getting permits and such (Not back when I used to go-but it does now). Jones had the permits and experience and still accidents happen-it was the first fatality at Nutty Putty. I feel for Jones family but sealing the cave won't bring him back, instead perhaps by remaining open people may remember him and be more cautious. I am all for it being the John Jones cave in memoriam-IF his family so chooses. If I am an insensitive lout please tell me.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving, Drink deep and feast with gigantic mirth of the bounty's before you this season, be grateful of what you have, more than a lot of others I'm sure- you got the internet don't ya? Lots of people the world over don't have internet so stop you're griping and appreciate what you have ya ingrates! Now enjoy a turkey leg by Crom!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

1-Word Author Wisdoms

Whilst tweeting earlier today I pondered the idea of a single great word of wisdom I have received from authors I admire and how to remember it and apply it to my own writing. So here is that list.

From Steven Pressfield, author of Gates of Fire, Tides of War, Virtues of War, The Afhgan Campaign, and the great motivational book War of Art, the single word would be MOMENTUM-the drive to keep working at your art.

From Robert E. Howard, author of Hour of the Dragon, Solomon Kane, Bran Mak Morn-The Last King, Grim Lands, Crimson Shadows and much much more I think the single word that best captures his guide to me in writing is WONDER-Howard never lets up in his pacing or sense of wonder-the mysterious and magical the terror or heroic.

I first read George R.R. Martin a number
of years ago when his Song of Ice and Fire was getting going and was taken aback at his harsh yet realistic low magic world (Thats a good thing). He was the first to present me with the idea of reading and WRITING everyday. I would say the single word for him would be EPIC. There is no hindrance for having a cast of thousands in his series and it still makes sense.

Louis L'Amour
was someone I read a lot of when I was a kid-just the westerns-pulp and full of action with a mysterious stranger who comes to town and takes care of bizness. But as I got older I found he had a lot more to offer-Haunted Mesa, Last of the Breed, Walking Drum, Off the Mangrove Coast. For Louis I would say RANGE. He wrote stories all across the board and I want to as well.

Researching anything of interest led me to pick up Hells Angels by Hunter S. Thompson. He
delighted me with both insanity and humor-Great Shark Hunt, Where the BuffaloRoam, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. Titles range far and wide in his reporting of various events and I can't read a piece by him and not chuckle at the least-though he wrote non-fiction he still inspires my fiction and the word would be ABSURDITY.

H.P. Lovecraft is a horror writer extraordinaire with an uncanny gift for delicious purple prose-The Call of Cthullu,
Dagon, At the Mountains of Madness. His malevolent genius for monsters (Old Ones)out of space and time reaches into my brain for crawling hulks to inhabit the dark places where Heroes dare to tread. A single word of lesson from him would be DETAIL.

Cormac McCarthy has a brutal simple
style that evokes a bleak world view-but I am not convinced that is entirely the case. Despite the dark worlds his characters inhabit-The Road, No Country for Old Men and especially his best Blood Meridian-I sense something more -THEME.

The author who has held me longer than any other is undoubtedly J.R.R.Tolkien. By blending myth, lan
guage and legend into a cohesive saga spanning millenia-his works have occupied my daydreams since before I could read- I credit him-IMAGINATION.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Seen just around the corner.

Apparently Chuck Norris lives right around the corner from me and has strong opinions.
Good to know he approves of what I'm doing here.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Green Monk

Green Monk, by Brandon Dayton

I love graphic novels/comics and I love Heroic Fantasy and that's what you get with Green Monk. I practically learned to read on comics and I have quite a number in my library. Green Monk is a welcome addition in with the pocket sized variety-which is one of its striking features. It is postcard sized and as such every page is a panel. Dayton's art for the book perfectly gives you the stark resonance of a mythic tale. It is simple black and white and the panel by panel play forces you to take your time with the tale rather than than jumping quickly on the usual 6-8 panel page.

A sword and sorcery tale usually pits a hero against something monstrous and magical-Green Monk has that and like the truly great S&S tales there is always something more underlying too. The Green Monk, Alexey is wandering a mythical Russian countryside after being expelled from his monastery-bound with this is his magical greenblade-which has the power to break all things asunder.

Yes, I've pretty much just given you page one and I hate to tell too much in reviews so back to what I think of the tale. It's excellent, Dayton's yarn-spinning had me captivated. There is always more to the story than it initially looks-Dayton brought some nice twists from both sides of the conflict involved and I eagerly await what he does next with both the Green Monk saga and any other projects.

Here you can order Green Monk for the paltry sum of 5 bucks. A steal in the current comic market. Also check out his other pieces.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

The Idiotic Mighty Hunter

I like to ponder the meaning of words. I am not an educated philologist but I am into orgins and the true meaning of names. I wrote up an extensive glossary of names I use in my historical/speculative novel which alas will not be in Heroes of the Fallen-perhaps its sequel Blood of Our Fathers we shall see.

So I was pondering the use of NIMROD in popular culture, anyone outside of Church uses it as Idiot, Moron, Fool etc, I think it all goes back to Bugs Bunny calling Elmer Fudd-Nimrod as a sarcastic dig because the Bible says Nimrod was a mighty hunter-which Fudd is surely not. So as a gag it has grown until it lost the original meaning from a sarcastic comment.

Any other names or words that have lost their original meanings?

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Burn Me Deadly

Burn Me Deadly, by Alex Bledsoe

This is the second book detailing the adventures of Eddie LaCrosse. The first was The Sword-Edged Blonde which I enjoyed and I would say Bledsoe has topped that one here, I am looking forward to the third in the chronicles Dark Jenny but that is quite a ways away considering Burn Me Deadly was only released last week.

Eddies story told from his perspective is a blending of heroic fantasy and noir detective. I am a fan of both though not so well read in noir as Bledsoe, but I do love Dashiell Hammetts classics-The Maltese Falcon, The Glass Key, etc. Set in a relative backwater town in a renaissance world (I found things too well kept to be medieval fantasy) Eddie literally has a deadly mystery thrust upon him by almost running down a girl fleeing through the woods away from some sinister men.

Fast paced and edgy, Bledsoe delivers some great characters that reflect on things many of us know very well. Regardless of station and time people are the same as they ever were-hopes and fears-doubts and faith. Lots of twists and turns like the good old suspense tales this is a prime book to read first person perspective with because we find things out side by side with Eddie-perhaps even before. I don't want to give away too much about the story at all but I think several of my readers would enjoy this. Dragon worshippers come to town and are up to no good but we all know dragons don't exist right? I also got a kick out of the dragon worshippers mention of the legendary beast's of yore-true dragon fans will recognize them.

All in all it was a great read. I was hardly able to put the book down once I started. You can see Alex's blog and book trailer here.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Teaser Trailers

I have been pondering what works for book trailers and have come away largely unsatisfied with what I have seen thus far-by and large most trailers I have seen have not convinced me that I want to read that book and find out what happens.

I have seen a few very well made trailers but some of them even dropped the ball in telling me too much-why read the book now?

So I am trying to find a balance. To tell you what its about enough to intrigue and entice and yet still not too much so you have to read the book.

This trailer is probably the closest I have found (this week) to what I hope to accomplish. Lets see how much I rip it off in a couple months, eh?

Friday, November 13, 2009

Friday the 13th

October, Friday the 13th, 1307

Not a good day to be a Templar.

I find it interesting that our aversion to Friday the 13th comes from a real event-namely the hunting down and destruction of the Knights Templar Order by the French King Philip IV (who had been denied entry into the Order) and the Pope.

The official end of the Templar's opens up so many wonderful possibilities for historical/action-adventure fiction. I have too many thoughts and inspirations to even go on as yet.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Books Read These Last Couple Weeks

Best Served Cold, by Joe Abercrombie
Thus far this year I would still say Abercrombies Last Argument of Kings is the best book of the year. BSC has many strong points but it doesn't top LAOK.
Because the characters while intriguing are not better characters. Several are side supporters from the First law Trilogy and its cool to see them expanded here but it was not nearly enough to top the earlier series.
Now I must say Abercrombie is still tops for great twists and absolute swashbuckling-that said I must voice warning for you all (Melanie) in the neighborhood of I gave warning for LAOK. BSC is much stronger/worse/graphic etc. More of every vice you can shake a stick at. I thought Abercrombie was upping the ante in LAOK over Before They Are Hanged which was up over The Blade Itself and his stuff has grown exponentially enough to make me worry for the next book and its possible ratings. I do still think him the best new fantasist but I just don't want erotica with it.
Fantastic ending, exactly what I hoped in that I was surprised by numerous twists and turns and great reveals at the end - just gentle readers beware.

Prince of Persia: The Graphic Novel,)
by A.B. Sina (Writer) and LeUyen Pham & Alex Puvilland (Art) I have never played the game, never will-I don't have time for video games anymore-and might have not picked this up but that it was on the discount rack at B & N and thumbing it quickly decided it looked like a good S&S romp and it is. Sina who was born in Iran offers up a decidedly eastern style tale detailing a theme of struggling against destiny and he does it from a variety of viewpoints and times. I was quite taken with it.

The Gunslinger: The Dark Tower Book 1, by Stephen King.
Not counting On Writing, this was the first honest to goodness King book I have ever read. Most of the time I have not cared for his movie adaptations I liked Stand By Me (The Body) a lot and the mini-series The Stand was alright. But by and large I have not cared for the movies and thus had little desire to read the books. Finally decided I might as well begin what he considers his opus though. I am mixed about it-at times I think it brilliant and other parts are WTH? I just didn't flow to me to call it a great book. I came away deciding that it must be a chain of dreams that he pieces together. Why do I think that? Because I dream like this and rarely do I think if I wrote it all down would anyone want to read it. I do keep a book of dreams and nightmares which I record dreams in though-maybe someday.

Blood Money, by Elmore Leonard
This is a collection of short western stories by a very respected author who is often praised for his dialogue. I wasn't seeing it in these. Leonard famously said he leaves out the boring parts of stories that people skip, sorry but I felt like this had a lot of it. I thought the writing was good but I just didn't care a lot of the time-there was nothing to make me feel for these desperadoes-which I can like a desperado* see Best Served Cold.

The Lyric Age of Greece, by A.R. Burn
I have a set of these on Greek History and the Lyric Age is the one chronicling the oldest history of Greece. I was reading to brush up on some rewrites for my Spartan/Mulekite novel Bless The Child and Burns does a great job
in presenting a myriad of details on ancient Greece. Its great for source material on Sappho, Solon and others which will be appearing in the novel.

All in all a good collection as far as reading went just for the sake of my kind of variety and weirdness. My reading has slowed down because of all the side projects I am working on---short stories for a variety of fantasy venues and the book trailer for Heroes of the Fallen: very excited about it - extreme thanks to my sister-in-law Erin West artiste.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Wish Fulfillment? Mary Sue Quiz

Ever since I first heard about the term Mary-Sue in relation to writers and wish fulfillment, I have in the back of my head worried that I might have done that very thing with a main character in Heroes of the Fallen.

In any case even though I know I am going to put that particular character through HELL a part of me still wondered IF I might be Mary-Sueing it. I wonder because so many of my characters whether small or big, good or evil or in between (most everyone) have that aspect of me, their creator or perhaps even better their interpreter inside them. So have I Mary-Sued my favorites?

Here is a quiz to tell you-its pretty dang good, very concise in that there is no getting around a possible favouritism/wish fulfilment. I found most of the questions hilarious-because they're true.

And I am very pleased to say that I scored a lowly 12 on behalf of Amaron. Tell me what ya'll get for your main characters---if you dare.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Lil Cthulhu

Readers here may know that I have often related my fictional intrests to my kids-Conan and such, now here is an easy way to introduce them to H.P. Lovecraft as well.

And yes my kids have at times reminded me of these monsters. My daughter was the crawling chaos for a time.