Thursday, September 29, 2011

Yet Another Reason to Hurry the Hell Up with my Edit

So, I'm just out of the valley of despair that came with no longer reading and trying to get my editing done on my current novel, On Edge. However, I've discovered another wrinkle to this strict diet of no novel reading.

I began working on my outline for the upcoming NaNo and realized that I need to read a 3rd Person POV Thriller to get in the groove. All this time I've been reading 1st Person POV mysteries for On Edge, but because this new novel is in 3rd, I need to hurry up and finish so I can get some reading in, get in the right frame of mind, for NaNo in November.

I know it may not be the most kosher act, reading others books in order to ensure I have an appropriate frame of mind. Kinda works counter to finding ones own voice and all that. But I find it helps me de-clutter my mind and slip into the right focus if I read some novels similar to what I'd want to write.

As that is the case, you'll excuse me while I go whip this book out.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Wow Kindle, Now We Can Confirm You Are 3 Years Behind the Power Curve

Yes I love my Kindle, but I'll be the first to admit that I love it for reasons that are peculiar. I am like the alcoholic who must pour all the alcohol in his house down the sink or he'll use it too much. I'm the weirdo who stored his almost too heavy to lug around TV in the back closet of his apartment so it would be a chore to get out, all in the name of not wanting to watch TV.

So I love the fact that my Kindle is an eReader. It's not a PC, it's not an app device, its not a camera, or a cell phone or anything else. I use that sucker for reading. When I have it in my hands it's for reading and even if I wanted to do something else, I couldn't.

Now we see from this article (here) that it wasn't for those reasons that Kindle didn't become an iPad, it's just that they weren't quite up to the task. Now they've gone and created a whole range of Kindles, some that are knockoff Nooks, some that are Kindles with touchscreen, some just Kindles with no keypad.

I just wish that they'd make these damn Kindles more updateable. It's like my first gen shuffle. Kinda looks sad next to my 5th gen one.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Out of the Valley, but . . .

Well, I'm out of the valley of despair (here) but I'd forgotten what comes after the valley . . . an uphill climb.

I've gotten use to not reading as much. It's been tough, particularly at night and before I go to bed. It's boring just listening to podcasts. I'd much rather be reading.

But, having broken the habit, I'm now hitting the writing hard. For the most part I am actually writing more. The proof will be whether or not I complete my next two chapters by Friday. That's the deadline. I should be done in the next four weeks, following that, onto NaNo.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Uh Oh, A Segue into the Comics

Oh wow!

I had a great post in mind for today, a new post about a potental NaNo novel. I really like writing those posts to, I like dreaming about new story ideas.

I threw it out when I read this blog post (here) by Julian Sanchez. I found the link on a conservative leaning website, but the fact that I'm a recovering comic book weenie ensured that it caught my eye.

What do many of the wealthy heroes like Bruce Wayne, Tony Stark and others have in common? They inherited their position and wealth. What commonality do Lex Luthor, the Kingpin and others of their ilk enjoy ? They are self-made men (or self-made mad men and villains).

It's an interesting thought line. In many cases, other than the ones listed in the article, the hero is striving to become more, starting with nothing, and aspring for greatness; think Peter Parker, Steve Rogers, et al. Now, we see that many of these same colorful heroic individuals are just as likely to lean on inherited wealth, Wayne, and some could argue, particularly in Roger's case, governement largesse.

An interesting concept for further focus.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Unlikely Place for a Great Analogy

The last few days have been all about great analogies. I just read a spectacular, eye-catching analogy in the Opinion pages of the Wall Street Journal from Daniel Henninger's Obama's Tax Morass column (here). Usually I'll do a double take when I read the WSJ Opinion page when they mention a huge sum of money on spending, or the state of the government's deficit. This one came across differently.

"Barack Obama has a remarkable habit of dumping the responsibility for solving massive fiscal and political problems on someone else. After Congress shoveled its way through his original stimulus proposal in 2009, it spent a year erecting a Rube Goldberg apparatus around health care. What emerged from these great off-loadings of work was an even grander mess. The $825 billion stimulus did little for unemployment but jacked up the deficit. ObamaCare is now rumbling toward a terrified health-care industry like Godzilla bouncing off buildings on Main Street."

Thursday, September 22, 2011

The Valley of Despair

One of the characteristics of process changes that my co-worker likes to mention is the "valley of despair." She claims that it is the natural decline in enthusiasm, productivity and adoption that comes after rolling out a new feature, application, or piece of software, but just before those aspects take off. A small, depressing, dip that if not for the new process change, wouldn't be there.

I'm in my own valley of despair. I've sworn off all reading until I finish tightening up my second novel. My goal is to have it finished before this year's NaNo. NaNo, as you faithful blog reader know, is in November. I have one month. I don't know if I'm going to make it.

When I saw the looming deadline I knew I had to do something drastic. What is more drastic in my life than taking away books. Let's hope my valley of despair is short lived and the uptick occurs soon.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

One of My Favorite Sites

One of my very favorite sites for books is the Literature Map (here). For anyone who has not seen this site who likes to read, this is a treasure.

Type in the name of your favorite author and it will automatically tell you other authors similar in style, scope and subject matter. I use it often. So should you.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Along Those Same Lines

As we're discussing analogies, I ran into a couple today.

While reading Jay Nordlinger, I ran across a gem that he quotes:

"A comment by Terry Wogan, in the Daily Telegraph. If the Warren Buffetts of the world want to pay more to their governments, fine, he said. But “in the context of our economy, and the huge American one, the effect will be as a duck farting in thunder.”"

Never heard that before.

While reading a book review on WSJ by Christopher Carothers, I read his quote from David Wise's new book, Tiger Trap.

"Mr. Wise is at his most interesting in passages like that, which help to show how espionage itself is changing at the same time as the main protagonists in the spy wars. In this respect, the Chinese appear to bring a fresh approach. As Mr. Wise writes, "If a beach were an espionage target, the Russians would send in a sub, frogmen would steal ashore in the dark of night and with great secrecy collect several buckets of sand and take them back to Moscow. The U.S. would target the beach with satellites and produce reams of data. The Chinese would send in a thousand tourists, each assigned to collect a single grain of sand. When they returned, they would be asked to shake out their towels. And they would end up knowing more about the sand than anyone else."

Finally, Peter Spiegelman writes a review in the WSJ of Tom Nolan's book Thick as Thieves (which I really, really want to read prior to the next NaNo) and writes the following:

"Whatever the locale, Mr. Spiegelman describes things with flair. Of a rich man's showy courtyard, he notes: "There's a fountain in the center, marble, pale pink, like the inside of a baby's ear." He reports Carr, three beers into an evening, as experiencing "a pleasant foaminess somewhere around his forebrain" and says Carr's melancholy relationships with women have "the feel of a beach in midwinter."

Friday, September 16, 2011

Spectacular Analogies

Blogger Bill Gross has a list of terrific analogies (here) that are definintly worth a read.

My favorite?

"The hailstones leaped from the pavement, just like maggots when you fry
them in hot grease."

There are many others just as good.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Despite the Insipidity of the Questions . . .

Now, I think this question is somewhat insipid, and does a disservice to Journal readers and to this column (here). But it makes me wonder if A) Cynthia Crossen dumbed down the question in order to make a point or B) Miss Crossen doesn't get many questions and the pickings are slim.

Irregardless (a word I love to use if only cause so many find it irksome) my answer would have been, "Get a Kindle."

I know, I know, the Nook is color, the Ipad is sleeker and can do more, but those both prove my point. My Kindle forces me to read when I pick that sucker up. I can't go surf the web as I would on and Ipad (well, I can, but it's a miserable experience on the Kindle). I can't go check out the People Magazine or be diverted by color pictures in periodicals as I would on a Nook (I find Nook users are far bigger subscribers to online mags). Kindle's are all about reading. It's always charged and ready, it syncs to my phone so it's always up to date, and it's convenient. I've read more since I bought that sucker than ever before.

It's almost detrimental to other areas of my life.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Most Recent First Line - Among the Truthers has Among the Best First Line

“At 9:40 on the morning of November 1, 1755, Portugal was rocked by the most deadly earthquake in recorded history of Europe. In Lisbon alone, more than thirty thousand people perished. Many victims were entombed in their churches, which collapsed around them as the celebrated All Saints.”

“The scene that emerged when the earth stopped shaking was one of Last Days. A tsunami swallowed the city’s harbor killing many of the survivors who’d assembled on the shore. A fire at the Royal Hospital roasted hundreds of patients alive. Gallows sprouted up on the city’s hilltops, from which were hanged the desperate looters trying to survive amidst the ruins.”

Among the Truthers by Jonathon Kay

I know that this is a lot more than just the first line, but in truth this set of posts has evolved beyond just the first line. That being said, the first line, much less the rest of the two paragraphs, is incredibly compelling and certainly makes me want to read on. Better stuff than some thrillers I’ve read.

Monday, September 12, 2011

No Wonder I'm Not Published!

An indispensable friend of mine sent me an article on what it takes to be published (here). The article Want to Be a Great Writer? Follow These Three Steps, by Harlan Coben is pretty much run of the mill stuff till you get to point three.

Point one, be inspired. Got that in spades. Seen my NaNo ideas?

Point two, go write. This one I don't always have. My writing time depends on my kiddos, their moods, and how much travel I have to do that month for work. More travel, more writing. Airports I've found are marvelous motivators.

Point three, panic. This is where I fail.

One of my favorite short story writers, Patrick McManus, wrote about how he did a "modified stationary panic" when a rabbit scared him in the brush. He described this state by contrasting it to the "full blown pin-ball panic" that occurred when a bear reared up in front of him. He claimed the "full blown pin-ball panic" only stopped when he rebounded off a tree across the next state line. Sadly, I don't have this particular quality.

I came close to panicking once in the military, but I stopped myself when I realized there were too many other things to do. In the military I was at different times a team leader, an EMT, an RTO then a squad leader. None of these things necessarily allow for panicky individuals. I never panic. I get mad a lot, have even been known to freeze up (which I can't imagine would help with my writing) but I never panic. Coben says panicking is key in that it creates, in short, a desire to finish. Mayhaps that's why I have so many unfinished novels on my shelf.

Friday, September 9, 2011

NaNo Idea Number 2

Leveraging my military experience and my desire to write a thriller, my brother wanted me to write a novel depicting two Special Forces units involved in hostilities in "the Ghan." I believe that some of this idea came about as my brother was watching a show that showed a Spec Ops unit all hepped up on adrenaline refusing to be called off from the objective. The idea would be to have the two units involved in a long range fire fight neither of them knowing that they are actually shooting at one another. Each unit could call in air strikes on the other and continue to escalate the battle without ever realizing who the enemy is. It was my addition to have a native, enemy, unit watching the battle and instigating action when they see it starting to lull.

Some of the themes that might be fun to play with include out running the lines of communication in battle, a la Pat Tillman, the intransigency and stubbornness of Spec Ops operators in regards to mission completion, and the splintered chain of command in the Spec Ops community. This last has always been a bone of contention with me.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Coming Up on Nano, Wonder What I'll Do This Year

For those not NaNoWriMo literate let me explain the title. I have several ideas for books I want to write during this years, National Novel Writing Month. Now that it is a month and a half away I have to decide on one. If you see one you like, let me know.

Soul Food
I've been wanting to write Soul Food for years. It is a Sci-Fi story about an astronaut who bungles a mission in space, falls into a coma, and wakes up twenty years later and sees the changes happening on Earth all around him. Prior to his slipping into this coma he thinks he sees an alien force or being causing the catastrophe.

As an astronaut his projects were all about "off Earth" living, but after his coma he sees that surface dwelling capabilities have exploded, that religiousosity is a new, overwhelming fad, and that there have been great leaps forwad made in ensuring contentment in old age as well as longer living. It is only becasue he has as an alternate perspective due to his coma that he begins to see that all of these advancements are a product of the alien entity and he surmises that the alien is harvesting human souls for food. How the hero discovers that Aliens perfer the taste of old souls in a manner similar to human's like corn fed beef is still a bit of a mystery.

The original title was Soul Ranch. Soul Food is more tongue in cheek but far more catchy. Could be a comedy in the vein of Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, but sadly I have no comedy writing experience. It's a pretty nebulous topic for a novel. Hard to write believably. Plus, what would the ending be?

Would have been fun to explore themes like religiosity keeping the herd docile, the ability to increase population in a manner similar to a cattle ranch being taken over by new ownership and turned around. All fun, but tough stuff to get across easily.

Needless to say, this idea goes back in the cellar for more aging. Not suitable for NaNoWriMo 2010.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Another From the Word Wiz

This one I can't quite figure out. I think it's just miss-hearing the pronounciation, but it could be that my five year old is conjugating the verb "to swim" when he sees what's floating in the lake by our house.

"Hey Dad, there are the Swams."

Again, I think I'm giving him more credit than he is due to think that he thinks there called swams cause the past-participle of their main task is swam.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

First Line I'm Reading Now

"I was born in the Year 1632, in the City of York, of a good Family, tho' not of that Country, my Father being a Foreigner of Bremen, who settled first at Hull; He got a good Estate by Merchandise, and leaving off his Trade, lived afterward atYork, from whence he had married my Mother, whose Relations were named Robinson, a very good Family in that Country, and from whom I was called Robinson Kreutznaer; but by the usual Corruption of Words in England, we are now called, nay we call our selves, and write our Name Crusoe, and so my Companions always call'd me."

It's clear from this first line that it's going to be a slog to get through the book, a fun, adventurous and most likely quite rewarding slog.