Authorguy's Blog

Archive for the ‘Rant’ Category

I don’t know about you, but the aspect of this whole published author thing that I find most daunting is keeping track of all the little pieces that go into it.

I just spent a good part of my day updating my website, putting all sorts of material up there about my upcoming release, St. Martin’s Moon. (Which, I will probably find to my shock and horror, was probably half wasted effort, as–surprise!–I have a short story also in production called ‘Ex Libris’, which will probably come out first and I’ll have to redo the whole thing.) As part of my overhaul I added the new cover to the book, as well as created two new pages with the first chapter and some FAQ, not that anyone’s asked me too many questions about it as of yet.  Then I added a couple of review comments, and some of this and some of that, only to find that I’d messed up something else and OMG. And my back hurts. Please swing on by and tell what you think, what you’d like to see, all that good stuff. I’m even pretty sure the email links work.

At least this time I have plenty of time to go about asking for reviews of the book before it comes out. Which means I have to find reviewers and ask them, and then keep track of the fact that I asked them and keep track of who I sent the ARCs to, and who I got reviews from. (2 so far, thank you for asking.) BTW, I would like to thank both Paul Jessup and Curtis Jobling for having published werewolf novels recently, and mentioning their own reviewers, so I know who to ask myself.

Fortunately we have some folks at Echelon who are constantly finding and mentioning any little treasure trove they come across, so I don’t have to do it all myself. Occasionally I also troll the web, googling my own name to see if anyone’s mentioned me that I don’t about. I found a number of very nice comments about Unbinding the Stone that way.

At some point I have to get around to taking the cover art and getting posters made from it (and bookmarks and postcards), nice large prints that will be visible to everyone as they walk past my booth at all the events I’ll be doing this year. Once I get them set up, that is. I’m set up for a few, have find my calendar and figure out which ones they are, and when, so I don’t double-book myself. O Crap, I just realized I did that already. My library is doing an author event and it’s opposite Icon, the biggest SF/F event in the northeast. And here I am with a new paranormal! Can’t exactly miss that. Now I have to call the library and see if they can reschedule, otherwise I’ll have to miss it.

Poop.

I once asked my boss about all the time off days I took here and there about the year, mostly Fridays and Mondays so I could travel to the SF/F cons andbook festivals around the country. To be honest I think these are much better vacations for me that a trip to the beach, it forces me to focus on something non-work related and I make money doing it! But I felt kind of bad for taking so many little days, rather than one big vacation interval, but he said it was fine, at least I knew well in advance when I would be out so he could plan ahead!

What is this thing you call ‘planning ahead’? We do not know of it on my planet.

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I finally finished watching all the episodes of Dead Like Me, a TV series that aired some years back.  It was about a girl, Georgia Lass, who gets killed by a falling toilet seat (falling from Earth orbit, that is, and going a good clip at the time), and is inducted into the ranks of the grim reapers, recently dead people who make the whole ‘death’ thing work by collecting souls and sending them on. Poor George didn’t have much of a life, though, so she didn’t have an ‘on’ to move to. Like Kfir Luzzatto’s book Crossing the Meadow, the show is an exploration, an examination and discovery of the meaning of life on the part of those who are no longer burdened by the business of living.

Unfortunately the show was cancelled after only 2 seasons, 2 very good seasons, but they decided to make a movie about it a few years later. So now I want to get the movie follow-up, which seems to be causing my son some trouble. He can’t seem to understand why I want to see the whole story. I understand the show didn’t have the same number of threads going as, say, Firefly, but I really don’t like it when shows are cancelled incomplete. I was very happy with Wonderfalls when they managed to wrap up most of the story threads with a mini-arc at the end. I was very unhappy with Tru Calling when they cancelled it in mid-season and there has been no follow-up or wrap up in any way. In some respects I’m even a little unhappy with the Dead Like Me follow-up, based on the plot synopsis I found, but I’ve seen a lot of synopses for the show that were dead wrong so I’m hoping for the best.

Don’t you pine for closure? I do. In fact, I’ve even refused to read books that disrupt the closure of previous books. Jack Chalker’s Wellworld books were brilliant, so much so that when he decided to write more books in that series I had no desire to touch them. Dave Duncan’s Seventh Sword books are perfect as they are, and I would hate to see him go back there. Fortunately he did a fairly definitive wrap-up that should make that impossible.

On another note…

My publisher sent me the cover art for my newest Echelon short story release, Ex Libris.

And…

I just received a review for my next novel, St. Martin’s Moon!

All sorts of good things happening today.

Lately I’ve been watching a lot of TV on DVD, mostly new shows that I’ve discovered after they’ve been cancelled, because all the good shows get cancelled while all the mediocre dross lives on forever. Well, not exactly, Chuck and Burn Notice are both still on the air, although Chuck keeps having to struggle for renewal every season, it seems.

I recently got a hold of Castle, a TV comedy/mystery series about a mystery writer who gets involved in a murder case that uses murders from his books, and uses his connections with people in high places to get attached to the detective in the case as an observer. Of course his insights are brilliant and his position is very helpful to them in resolving all the cases. Of course he’s romantically interested in the lead detective but at least the show has the good sense not to let that proceed too quickly. And he’s got a brilliant daughter and a vivacious mother and the dialog is sparkling.

Can you hear the “But…” here?

I seem to have lost my taste for standalone stories, and each episode of Castle is a standalone. I like them, but there’s no sense of progression, not even in the relationship. A witness in one episode asks if they’re together, and she says Absolutely Not while he says Not Yet, which is pretty much where the show started. It’s also the way Chuck went for years, and lots of people got kind of annoyed that Chuck and Sarah kept getting separated. But Chuck and Sarah obviously wanted to be together, while Beckett hasn’t shown a great deal of interest in Castle except as a writer. Which is understandable, he’s had his own way with everything pretty much his whole life and she doesn’t want to become yet another success story.

Maybe Castle (the show) should add a new, unknown mystery writer, whose analyses are much better or at least as good, and in whom the detective is much more interested. Give Castle (the character) a run for his money, and he seems to have a lot of money. (Which is another problem, him starting at the top and all, but not one that matters to this post.) In other words, a story arc. This is pretty much what happened in the show Wonderfalls, which got concelled while still filming the last several episodes of its first and only season. The writers were able to turn those episodes into a long story arc that resolved a number of plot threads, much like the Serenity movie resolved the hanging plot threads of the series Firefly. And these episodes are in my opinion the best and most enjoyable of the show. I got really annoyed when they interrupted this plot arc with an apparently irrelevant episode set on a reservation, just as I got really annoyed when season 2 of Buffy had a fabulous plot arc going about Angelus and they interrupted the arc with the worst show of the series, about the swim team turning into sea monsters. WTF?

The point being that standalones have very little story flow (remember my post about story flow?), while the longer arcs have a great deal of scope. On the other hand I’m not terribly thrilled by stories that get spread out over the course of many episodes/books, either. They make you watch all those episodes, read a lot of stuff, to get to the big payoff at the end, which is OK if the payoff is big enough. Taking out Sauron and his forces is certainly big. Shonsu restructuring nearly every aspect of his world is pretty big also. Restarting the Universe when the Wellworld got damaged is right up there. But I’m mostly interested in characters, and epics usually aren’t. The Shonsu books are, and there are parts of LOTR and the Wellworld series that make them worth reading to me.

The usual compromise is a series of standalones, plenty of scope for character development and story flow, no need for big payoffs at the end. No possibility of a sudden cancelation preventing us from ever getting that big payoff. But even this has its problems. The seasonal arcs in Buffy worked, but the payoff at the end of the show was a bit lacking.

What’s your favorite scope?

I just came across yet another promo tweet for yet another vampire novel. This novel was described as having vampires that actually kill when they feed, and find their nocturnal existence less than an immortal romp. Yes, vampires like they used to be, back when they were vampires.  I’m something of a purist when it comes to monsters out of legend. I say ‘something’ because, let’s face it, these are legends. Hard to be a purist about something imaginary, but there are certain core beliefs that we may cling to.

There was a philosophical paper that came out way back when about how, if someone were to discover a skeleton of a horselike creature with a horn growing out of its forehead, we still wouldn’t be able to say we’d discovered a unicorn, since the description of a unicorn is incomplete and ‘real’ unicorns may have three-chambered hearts or something. I wasn’t entirely thrilled with this view, my take on language is more prescriptive. A word means what I say it means, so if I call this item the skeleton of a unicorn that’s what it is. If we later find a sample with a four-chambered heart, that’s a unicorn too. I’m not about to get all angsty over it. But the horn matters a bit. The virginity and the purity matter more.

What I do get annoyed by is when an author whips up some new ‘take’ on a legendary being just for the sake of originality, completely sacrificing whatever it was that made the creature legendary in the first place. Looked at as a metaphor, vampires are people who are so conceited, arrogant, and/or strong-willed that they not only refuse to die, they feed off the lives of others to maintain themselves. Werewolves are people who willingly act like beasts rather than men, etc. Other humans can be ‘cursed’ by those who willingly exist this way (at least, the Universal werewolf can transmit the curse). The physical characteristics are all part of this legend.

I consider it a sign of mediocrity that an author has to come up with something “new” and then try to apply the well-known label to it. I have written a few vampires myself. The villain in A Warrior Made becomes a proto-vampire, and of course ‘Bite Deep’ is all about them. But they are vampires in the classic mode, with some slight liberties taken.  ‘Bite Deep’ recasts them as mythological, not merely legendary, and the story is about the salvation of the vampires from the perceived Evil of their nature, but there is nothing in it that contradicts the standard lore. And I have several other fragments, as well. In fact, I have only one story that treats vamps as anything other than blood-sucking monsters, and even in that one the only type that matters is the bloodsucking monster variety. It’s not hard to write stories within the classic limits.

So it kind of irks me when an author creates a creature that has only the slightest passing physical resemblance to one of these legendary beings and calls it vampire or werewolf anyway. While the clearest examples are Meyers’ sparklers, or Ward’s Brotherhood, neither of which are vampires but simply creatures that live a long time and drink blood, so also are vampires that have sex, or make babies. Vampires have traded all that makes life enjoyable simply to prolong it. Barbara Hambly created a techno-vampire when she had a magician who transferred his soul into a computer, using a magic life-sucking crystal to power it. As Dracula says in the movie Van Helsing, “I am hollow! And I will live forever.” If you can call that living.

There are lots who don’t agree with me, given the popularity of the vampire-smut school of paranormal fiction. Where do you stand?


Unbinding the Stone

A Warrior Made

A Warrior Made

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St. Martin’s Moon

St. Martin's Moon

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Ghostkiller

Chasing His Own Tale

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Struck By Inspiration

Struck By Inspiration

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Steampunk Santa

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Bite Deep

Christmas among the vampires!

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Cyber-pirates. Sort of.

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Off the Map

Reality TV...without the Reality!

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