Archive for November, 2011

A fine and pleasant meeting

Going to bed very soon, but my meeting with my writer’s group about the last 25k or so words of my latest opus (Wings of the Fallen, if anyone cares) went quite well, with the group helping me to identify some issues that I had had a hard time putting my finger on. Specifically (and this is something that I need to do a better job of anyway) creating a good connection between characters’ internal and external conflicts/journeys. I’m fine with the external journey — the monsters, the threats, the explosions, blood, gunfire, sex and all that rot — but the internal parallels — fear, self-doubt, sadness, loneliness, old age, weariness — sometimes fall by the wayside. In this case, I fortunately know what most of the characters’ internal conflicts actually are, so bringing them out and establishing causality should be relatively easy. I’m actually looking forward to a rewrite now.

Heavy Lies the Head

Thursday was a very pleasant Thanksgiving with just me, my mom, my daughter and the cat. I don’t follow the conventional wisdom of overeating on Thanksgiving, but I do enjoy the turkey and stuff I normally don’t eat like mashed potatoes. I had one helping and noshed on turkey for most of the evening, as we engaged in what is probably now a new family tradition, a showing of The Big Lebowski.

Friday I spent working on various projects including my upcoming Realms of Cthulhu game, tentatively titled “Up From the Depths,” set on a lonely oil rig in the Gulf of Alaska (I don’t know if there are really any oil rigs there — who cares? This is roleplaying!).  Pleasant, calm, unexciting, and nice new improved low, low blood sugar (I’m diabetic, and back on the wagon after some issues over the past few months). And oh, yes, playing a little SkyrimIn the evening I went over to my friend Dale’s house where I renewed acquaintances with my old friend Carl, his wife Hui and their adorable daughter, none of whom I’d seen in years. Pleasant, and also probably not the most thrilling blog content, but what the hell…

Today I intended to clean up the house in anticipation of my party next Saturday, and also work a little bit on a new fantasy novel idea that I had while playing Pathfinder this week, which I did a bit of before Beth called and I went over to her house to play what turned out to be an epic 10 hour game of Shogun, the old Milton-Bradley Strategy series game of feudal Japan. We did not actually play to conclusion (had we done so we’d have been at it until well past midnight), but by the time we stumbled to a conclusion I won more or less by default, though my situation was far from comfortable, with the surviving daimyos all gunning for me.

I got home fairly late (I’m writing this past 11 p.m.) and sent a long commentary to a friend who had asked me to look at a novel manuscript. This may well be a topic for future discussion, particularly once we start having some more animated discussions on this site, but for now I’ll mention that it’s damned hard to deliver bad news to a friend, especially when you’re talking about a manuscript that was worked on very hard, and that your friend has a lot of faith in. A writer’s group is a different kettle of fish, as everyone knows the risks and the pitfalls, and it’s easier to be honest there, even when the members are also friends. In this case, however, as a beta reader of a friend’s new work, it’s harder to have my own comments right out there big as life and twice as ugly, and doubly hard when I feel as if I’m critiquing a piece that still needs a lot of labor. In the end one has to settle for honesty, and saying straight out what you think works and doesn’t work. When I receive a critique I’m more interested in the latter, especially since I want to know what needs to be fixed, but it’s very hard to delivery good, honest constructive criticism to someone you know primarily as a friend.

On that note, writer’s group tomorrow, and comments on my latest 120,000 word epic, second in what will hopefully be an urban fantasy series. I’m painfully aware of its shortcomings, and I’m simply hoping that my fellow group members don’t discover any new or especially glaring ones to boot.

More later. Stay tuned…

Back from the Dead (again)

Okay, after another long hiatus I’m back, with the design of the site finalized at last (my problem was that many of the themes that I tried didn’t support my Captcha, thus flooding me with blog spam of the more obnoxious variety). I’m going back to my original plan to blog at least once a week and keep it interesting. I probably don’t have too many people reading this blog right now due to my inconsistency and its relative newness, but I hope to change that.

So just some quick updates on life in general. I attended the HP Lovecraft mini-film festival in October, presented by the fest’s new keepers, (I figure they deserve a link). It was a decent selection of shorter films, as well as two excellent features, “The Whisperer in Darkness” from the HPL Historical Society, the folks who brought us the silent “Call of Cthulhu” and “Die Farbe”, an excellent German take on “The Colour Out of Space.” The full Portland festival returns in May, exact date TBD.

Our local 33-year-old Orycon proved more enjoyable for me this year, possibly because of reduced expectations. The last few years have frankly been a bit dull, owing in some cases to a less-than-ideal location and my own flagging interest. As I said, I showed up without a lot of preconceived notions of what I was going to do and as a consequence had a fine time. I was on four panels, Megatherium performed on Friday night (I’m telling everyone we “opened” for the Doubleclicks), I bought some cool stuff at dealers, and enjoyed Tempest’s show on Saturday night. Personally I think their lead guitarist looks kind of like Paul Kantner, but I’m weird that way.

The con wasn’t without its low points — while I was on a panel on Hollywood firearm myths (shooting without reloading, silly handgun carry positions, firing automatics sideways, racking the slide when you don’t have to, etc.) I picked up a fake gun cast in red plastic and instantly violated all four rules of firearm safety. I was trying to be funny (I do that sometimes) and ended up looking like a complete idiot. I’m good at that, btw.

But overall it was fun. The folks who attended Megatherium’s show (a small but hardy band of diehards, I must say) said it was our best public performance ever and I’m starting to think we might be almost ready for prime time. We performed  “The Dead Don’t Care” (funny zombies), “Lies the Heart Can Tell” (tragic romance), and “Eel Girl” (ill-fated interspecies love) — music by Rhiannon, lyrics by yours truly — as well as “Sing for Me” (darkly metallic conversation between Galadriel and Celeborn), “Sound of Wings” (a song inspired by my unpublished novel of sadness, kinky sex and body swapping), and “Black Pony” (Rhia says its about an evil Pookha, but I assert is actually about a mean black pony, hence the title). I hope to one day actually have a functional recording studio of some sort so we can actually post decent versions of these songs. I think they kick ass.

My Little Evil Pony

It's the Black Pony. Scaaaary...

On the writing front, I’m still waiting on Maass Agency to let me know if they want to see more. They’ve had the MS of “The Shepherd” since June and I’ve written a polite email asking for an update, but without success so far. I’m sure it’s just that they’re currently overloaded, as literary agencies are wont to be, but I’d still like to know what’s going on. Also at Orycon I met a local publisher who’s interested in seeing “Sound of Wings” (see above). I’ve sent it out, but I’m not going to go into particulars because it’s not even close to being a done deal and I don’t want to get too excited about it until the process is further along. If he likes it, cool. If he doesn’t, that’s cool too — this novel is definitely not to everyone’s taste.

In the interim while waiting on Maass, I wrote a sequel to “The Shepherd” titled “Wings of the Fallen” (yes, I seem to have a thing for wings), bulking out at about 125,000 words, needing some editing and rewriting, and currently in the gentle hands of my writer’s group. So far they’ve liked it, though it is missing a couple of things that made the first book fun — specifically internal conflict by the hero and a more plausible relationship. That will get addressed when I start the rewrite, but in the meanwhile I had a cool idea for another book while playing D&D (well, Pathfinder… I’m one of those guys who feels that Paizo is carrying the D&D torch that WotC dropped down a well called 4E), and I might start working on that. I’m considering making my hot female necromancer from Guild Wars one of the characters.

Tara Vol, sexy necromancer

Okay, I guess that’s about it for now. I’m taking today off work to clean and work on my web pages. I’m probably going to come up with some basic Wulf Archives page so I can finally get the Wulfster back online. I will go into my travails regarding the e-book market later, but suffice to say I’m unhappy with Amazon for banning me (for some unspecified content violation — I’m not sure whether they’re aware of the whole “erotica” thing or not) and I think I want to return to my old ways of giving my Wulf stuff away for free to anyone who wants it. God knows, Tara might show up in a Wulf story too, and you know what THAT means…