Thursday, August 26, 2010

Pirates, arghhhh

I recently finished the penultimate Crichton novel, Pirate Latitudes. His last novel is still in editing and is rumored to be a techno-thriller, for which he is best known. But Dr. Crichton could write a mean historical tale of adventure as well (Eaters of the Dead being the other one I'm thinking of).

As I understand it, an assistant found a copy of this manuscript buried in one of his computers, finished but forgotten. The publishing industry being what it is, they grabbed it up and printed a million copies! I'm not sure why this would have been locked away, but I suspect he wasn't done with it. It was a rougher read. Crichton tells a good story, Jurassic Park, Andromeda Strain. Science gone awry with a small group of people trying to survive. In PL, Crichton tells of a 17th century pirate. Affected voice, more exposition than usual, jumpy narrative. That sort of thing. It was Fine. No Treasure Island or anything, but I enjoyed it alright.

Immediately after, I started in on my next read, the Last Raider by Douglas Reeman, also a tale of Naval Hijinks. Not to take anything from an obviously great man and writer, but there is sure a notable difference between someone writing about something they have experienced (Reeman was a sailor in WW2) and someone writing about something who hasn't.

Saturday, August 21, 2010


The Internet Speculative Fiction Database now has a Rick Farnsworth page...who'd'a thunk?

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Ch,Ch,Ch. Changes...

I read my first Jim Butcher book recently. 'Changes' is the most recent installment of the Harry Dresden Files series. You may have heard of this from the show on the scifi channel a few years ago. Dresden is one of the leading Urban Fantasy series out there written with a male voice. (a large preponderance of Urban Fantasy slips easily into the 'paranormal romance' or 'chicklit')

For the unenlightened among you, Urban Fantasy is a subgenre of fantasy where mythic elements are found in an urban setting. It could be any time period, just set in an urban environment. You usually find elves, dwarves, fairies, magic mixed with the modern world. The second hellboy slipped into an urban fantasy.

I think I should have started at the beginning with Harry though. As with most series the author needs to up the ante as the character goes along, right? Changes is #12, so the events, rather than being the story of a wizard in a modern setting (which sounds clever), turn pretty quickly into epic battles between a vampire army, along with every mythic figure, from norse, to celtic to aztec, that I have ever heard of. Butcher is a competent writer, his first person narrative is believable and he has an interesting premise. I can see why he has a following. I wasn't a fan of the all-in and kitchen sink approach to fantasy though. It felt like a long mixed metaphor, but understandable if all of the characters had been introduced over the past few years.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

My friend Elmore

I recently finished the novel Glitz by Elmore Leonard. I think this is over number 12 for me (of his crime books, I haven't read many of his early westerns, 3:10 to Yuma for instance). It was an early eighties vintage tale of bad guys, doing bad things and the women who watch them do it. Atlantic City, Puerto Rico, and the human psyche. One thing I enjoyed was the seeming randomness of events and the banality of the bad guys. No evil geniuses masterminding the end of the world, just bad people doing bad things for stupid reasons.

Like all 'EL' books, it was a satisfying read. If you read 'how to write better' books, you'll find that he is often singled out as an example for pacing, and snappy dialogue. And it's true. The thing to keep in mind is, there's only one Elmore and trying to ape his style is a bad idea. So go for the flow, be cool, don't plagiarize the actual verbage.

EL was also the person who I think gave the most sublime writing advise.

His ten rules of writing go something like this:

1. Never open with weather.
2. Avoid prologues.
3. Never use a verb other than said to carry a dialogue.
4. Never use an adverb to modify the verb 'said'.
5. Keep your exclamation marks under control.
6. Never use the word 'suddenly'.
7. Use regional dialects and patois sparingly.
8. Avoid detailed descriptions of characters.
9. Ditto, places and things.
10. Try to leave out the part that readers tend to skip.

Clearly number 10 is my favorite, and the one I try hardest to follow.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Amazon Review

My first Amazon review was published today. Hooty Hoo!

Check it out here {Click Here with your mouse cursor}

I think it was pretty good, hope I can be as circumspect when I get one that's less complimentary. But that is part of putting your work out there for others to see, isn't it?

My publisher sent a note that orders through Reliquary Press will be sent out in the next day or so. They are just now getting in from the printer.

*NOTE: orders of the last week shipped Thursday 5 Aug*