Sunday, January 31, 2010

Oh Screw It

I've now spent hours trying to write an instructive post on peer review for writers, and I'm sick of it. So in a nutshell: If you're having trouble getting a good critique of your work and you're in a hurry and you don't mind spending a bit of money, go check out Scribendi. They work quickly, their rates are good (compared to other editing services), and you'll get good feedback. I used them to help with my synopsis and was very satisfied.

In other news... Every writer I follow seems to be blogging about the Macmillan / Amazon debacle - I found Charles Stross's post on the subject to be good reading. My own feeling is that Amazon is shooting itself in the foot with this, and that ultimately Macmillan will get its way... but Amazon is a pretty hefty gorilla, so no promises. I just hope I'll be able to order Trade of Queens when it comes out without feeling like a tool.


Author's Log

Not nearly enough writing, given that I had a snow day to work with yesterday. Unfortunately my attempts to work were derailed when I found out how much I owe in taxes for last year, which is a crippling horror that no one should have to endure once, much less every year. Living in a fortified mountain compound is looking better all the time...

Current Reading

Flipping through the latest books of One Piece at the moment, after finding them at the library. After that, I'll be rereading the first two books in Christopher Paolini's Inheritance cycle in preparation for finally reading the third one.
Image courtesy of:

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Death & Dishonour

Today is a very good day, as the Death & Dishonour anthology from Black Library is now in stores. In addition to some excellent Warhammer fiction featuring recurring characters such as Gotrek and Felix, it features my first-ever published short story, The Assassin's Dilemma!

(I wanted to post this with a picture of me actually holding the book, but due to the vagaries of international mail I haven't yet received my contributor's copies. My true, terrible visage will just have to remain a mystery for now...)

In the grand scheme of publishing, I am still very much small fry, of course. I am not going to make any waves, no one will be nominating the story for an award, and honestly I will be incredibly lucky to end up as a footnote in any review of the book.

But dammit, I'm a published author now and I am going to celebrate. First chance I get I am going to go to Borders, find my book on the shelf, and giggle like a demented clown. Then I will go eat something deliciously ill-advised, maybe with a cocktail on the side, and then I will go out and strut.

And I will ignore the looks of confusion and pity all around me, for I am a published author, and they are not. And if they are, then they will know in their hearts that my actions are right, and secretly they will cheer me on.


Author's Log

And now to stick a pin in my inflated ego. My writing output since my last post consists of nothing more than brief scene notes that fill up about a page. On the other hand, I did complete revision of my novel synopsis and sent it off to editorial. More on that later I think.

Current Reading

Just finished rereading Malekith in order to read Shadow King, both by Gav Thorpe, both recommended for Warhammer fans and people with an interest in evil elves.

I also read Game Change (really, who hasn't?), which I found to be well-written and interesting. The book confirmed some things I already believed, revealed other things I was disappointed (but not terribly surprised) to learn, and paints a good picture of the massive craziness that is a modern-day presidential campaign. Political junkies have already ordered and probably read the book, but I still recommend it to them.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Slightly Delayed Video Game Reviews

This post was intended to be a cutting examination of our political system, but every time I think about it I start vomiting streams of blood all over the house. The last time this happened I put on my Red Lantern tee and went to a doctor. He expressed some concern at first, but once I explained about the Politics thing he just nodded his head and told me not to worry about it. "It's a common reaction," he said. "I recommend laying down a tarp over any carpets you have in the house."

So until I can get to Home Depot I'm forbidden to write about politics. Here, instead, are some quick video game reviews.

New Super Mario Bros. Wii is probably the best Nintendo game out now, which is usually true about any Mario game except for Sunshine. Lots of fun to play with the family, but only if you enjoy domestic strife.

Brutal Legend
is a must-play game for video game fans who are also fans of Metal. The story starts out as Jack Black funny but quickly evolves into something poignant and surprisingly touching. Unfortunately the gameplay suffers a bit from looking like a real-time strategy game but punishing traditional RTS tactics, but you can have a good amount of fun driving around listening to the music and running over gas-powered boars.

Left 4 Dead 2 took everything that was great about the first game and made it Better, except for the AI. Only a fool would play with robots at any difficulty level above Easy. However, once you get some human partners this game moves from Very Good to Excellent.

Dragon Age: Origins looks promising, but I have not yet had time to get any in-depth playing in, which is the same problem I have with every other RPG these days. The coming release of Bioshock 2 will do nothing to help me here.

Bayonetta is so oversexed that your game system may overheat during the opening cinematics. If it survives you will soon tune out the main character's assets in favor of a very nice adventure game in the style of God of War. I am told the game is properly in the style of Devil May Cry but I have not played any of those games.

And I have not played the game yet, but Bioshock 2 is already on my must-have list and I do not expect it to drop off anytime soon.


Author's Log

Currently waiting for review on my synopsis, which will be sent in this week come hell or complete silence from my beta readers. (Which is a term I've just recently come across, but I like it!)

Current Reading

Many books on starting a small business, which have led me to conclude that I should find a good CPA without delay. Also Hey Rube by Hunter S. Thompson, which covers the first four years of the Bush administration and a lot of sports. One wonders what he would have made of the last three years...

...and there goes the blood again. I'm also reading Shadow King by Gav Thorpe, which is a sequel to Malekith. These books together chart the beginning of The Sundering, a civil war between the High and Dark Elves of the Warhammer world. Essential reading for Warhammer fans, and good dark fantasy for everyone else.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Insert Soap in Mouth

Tonight I played a Left 4 Dead 2 campaign with my best friend Colin, and things got a little frustrating towards the end. There's something about being knocked off a bridge by a mutated redneck zombie for the third time in a row that can stretch one's patience. We ended up shouting at each other a bit over the usual L4D2 fun, such as friendly fire incidents and abandonment issues.

Afterward I decided to tweet about the incident, comparing it to a Ron White bit in which he uses the phrase "G" damn it, with "G" standing in for "God".

I don't have any trouble with most swear words: anything scatological or sexual is fair game, although I avoid the "C" word out of deference to Sarah.

But I don't blaspheme if I can help it. I'm not strongly religious, and I'm not afraid of going to hell over it; I just think that one should be careful about invoking a higher power in anger, just in case they decide to answer. It's a weird attitude, but it's mine and I like it.

So when I went to tweet, I had to debate whether to censor the quote. I didn't think it was necessary; if you can use it on the radio, I figure it's fair game on Twitter. And I didn't like the way the tweet looked censored: "G--" damn it lacks the power of the unvarnished blasphemy.

But I still wanted to censor the tweet. It was pure instinct, a gut reaction I couldn't quite shake even while I was hitting the "Send" button. I still have a little voice in my head going "Delete the tweet, delete the tweet" an hour later.

I need to throttle that voice. Lock it in a box and throw away the key. I know what I write, and I know I'm going to be writing a few characters with filthy mouths. And if and when they blaspheme, I'm going to have to let them, or my dialogue is going to stink.

And I'm not interested in writing stinking Goddamn dialogue. So I'll write what I need to write, and eat the soap later.


Author's Log

Wrote some character notes, and got my loose notes filed for future reference. Now revising a ten page synopsis suffering from "fundamental issues", which is not nearly as bad as it sounds on first read.

Current Reading

Working on The Curse of Lono, by Hunter S. Thompson and Ralph Steadman. It's a hard book to read just because of the size of it, something like a foot and a half by two feet. But it's classic Thompson prose combined with excellent Steadman art, and in my mind definitely worth the effort to read (although possibly not worth the cost on Amazon).

Friday, January 1, 2010

Resolved for 2010

Short and sweet. I resolve:
  • To deliver all manuscripts on deadline.
  • To write at least three short stories and one novel.
  • To drop twenty pounds and keep it off.
  • To finish saving up for a house.
  • To do a better job keeping up with friends and family.
  • To pass the CISSP exam without passing out halfway through.
  • To cut down on my political news (and blood pressure).
  • To eat at least two dozen crabs.
  • To post a new entry on this thing at least once a week (on average).
If nothing else, I should be able to manage the crabs...


Author's Log

Completed a short essay for the Writer's Digest success story contest. Here's hoping it gets the nod!

Current Reading

This Christmas I got just about every book in the Dresden Files, and I've been burning through the series at high speed. After I finish the last two books, I'll be reading American Gods by Neil Gaiman and The Curse of Lono by Hunter S. Thompson.