Monday, December 29, 2008
I do feel bad, because about a week before Christmas I started reading Philip K. Dick's A Scanner Darkly, and she ended up getting that for me for Christmas. I've been reading a library book, so it'll be nice to have a copy for myself. There are so many awesome things about this book, but just as one point let me praise Dick's characterization. each character in this book has such a distinct voice. You really could cover up all the tag lines and still know who is speaking. It's great.
Speaking of distinct voices, that's the area of my screenplay that I'm currently working on, and probably the part that needs the most work. A lot of times, my characters all tend to sound like me. But I've read some good tips on characterization this weekend, though, so hopefully it goes well. One of my writing goals to complete before the end of the year (as established a week or so ago) was to get one more edit done on the screenplay, and I just may make it.
In other writing news, I got a rejection back from Shroud over the weekend. Not too big of a surprise, although I was hoping for good news. This was my story "This Devil's Song" which has gotten back some of the best rejections I've ever read. On the other hand, I guess they are still all rejections...
Not really working on any other writing right now. I'm trying to submit previously written material and work on the screenplay. I do have story that I wrote a year or so ago that would fit with the Dead Bait anthology, but it's probably 500 words shy of the 2000 word minimum, so I may try to work on that one here shortly.
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
The bummer part of this is that I have been working on a similar project. I've been writing haiku that take place in a post-apocalyptic era, and if read all together, they tell the story of one man trying to survive. I'm also trying to make mine readable as individual haiku, because, otherwise, they're not really haiku. A haiku is more than just 17 syllables divided up the right way.
I'm a little bummed that my project has been done. Mine is nowhere near complete--I only have about 10 haiku in the storyline so far. I've realized it would be nearly impossible to write a whole book where each haiku could stand alone and yet also be part of the story, so there will be some when I finish that cannot be read alone. But hopefully the majority of them will be quality haiku. We'll see. I have already sold one of them a month or so ago to Scifaikuest, to be published next year.
I don't intend to do as much as Mecum, either. I'm hoping for 40-50 haiku, enough for a small chapbook. While it's a downer the idea has been done (although mine doesn't have zombies, but other post-nuclear creatures), I still intend to finish, as I feel the project still has worth.
Haven't written anything lately on any front. I've edited another draft of my screenplay--I've changed the title again. Now I'm stealing the title of a great Twilight Zone episode: "Time Enough At Last." It really fits the theme. I will be sticking with this one, for a while at least. I'm hoping to get another edit done by the end of the year.
I've still got a superhuman story cooking, the one called "Sickle." As it reads in my head, it's actually got some literary merit. But that's not necessarily how it'll come out on paper. The idea still needs some fine tuning, but I think I'll be ready to start before long.
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
I got the list from Aaron Polson's blog. Apparently, these are the 50 most influential Science Fictiona nd Fantasy books from 1953-2002, according to the Science Fiction Book Club. Take a look and bold the ones you've read, underline the ones you hated, italicize the ones you couldn't get through, asterisks for the ones you loved.
*1. The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
2. The Foundation Trilogy by Isaac Asimov
*3. Dune by Frank Herbert
4. Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert A. Heinlein
5. A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. LeGuin
6. Neuromancer by William Gibson
7. Childhood's End by Arthur C. Clarke
8. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep by Philip K. Dick
9. The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley
10. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
11. The Book of the New Sun by Gene Wolfe
12. A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter M. Miller, Jr.
*13. The Caves of Steel by Isaac Asimov
14. Children of the Atom by Wilmar Shiras
15. Cities in Flight by James Blish
*16. The Colour of Magic by Terry Pratchett
17. Dangerous Visions edited by Harlan Ellison
18. Deathbird Stories by Harlan Ellison
19. The Demolished Man by Alfred Bester
20. Dhalgren by Samuel R. Delany
21. Dragonflight by Anne McCaffrey
22. Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card
23. The First Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever by Stephen R. Donaldson
24. The Forever War by Joe Haldeman
25. Gateway by Frederik Pohl
26. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone by J.K. Rowling
*27. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
28. I Am Legend by Richard Matheson
29. Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice
30. The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin
31. Little, Big by John Crowley
32. Lord of Light by Roger Zelazny
33. The Man in the High Castle by Philip K. Dick
34. Mission of Gravity by Hal Clement
35. More Than Human by Theodore Sturgeon
36. The Rediscovery of Man by Cordwainer Smith
37. On the Beach by Nevil Shute
38. Rendezvous with Rama by Arthur C. Clarke
39. Ringworld by Larry Niven
40. Rogue Moon by Algis Budrys
41. The Silmarillion by J.R.R. Tolkien
42. Slaughterhouse-5 by Kurt Vonnegut
43. Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson
44. Stand on Zanzibar by John Brunner
45. The Stars My Destination by Alfred Bester
*46. Starship Troopers by Robert A. Heinlein
47. Stormbringer by Michael Moorcock
48. The Sword of Shannara by Terry Brooks
49. Timescape by Gregory Benford
50. To Your Scattered Bodies Go by Philip Jose Farmer
I'd like to give a word of commentary on a few of the ones I've read. Dune (#2) is an amazing book, but it took me three tries over a period of years to get past page 40. Once I did, I was shocked by the beauty and perfectness of it. I haven't read any of the others in teh series yet, although I own all the ones Frank Herbert wrote, because I'm afraid they may spoil how good the first one was.
Robert A. Heinlein...Some of his stuff I love, others I don't care about at all. Half of Stranger in a Strange Land (#4) was good, but the second half bored me. But Starship Troopers (#46) was great, the whole way through. And nothing like the movie. The book is more political.
Terry Pratchett rocks. I couldn't tell you which book The Colour of Magic (#16) is in his Discworld series, or even what it's about, but they are all (mostly) good. They are hilarious, and have inspired most of the humorous writing that I have attempted. They are also the only fantasy books I've ever read and liked.
And of course, Philip K. Dick is the man. I've only read one of his books mentioned above, but I have another (A Scanner Darkly) on reserve from the library right now. The movie was phenomenal, in my opinion, and I can't wait to see how the book compares.
That's my 2 cents worth. I do hope to read some of the others in the coming year, but we'll see.
- FOSSILIZED BRAAAINS by William A. Veselik
- THE PLAGUE OF GENTLEMEN by Matthew Fryer
- TONGS AND THE ROACH by David T. Wilbanks
- BLESS THE BEASTLY CHILDREN by Laura Cooney
- WOLF PLUGS by Jerrod Balzer
- HACKS by Sam Battrick
- PAPA'S GOT A BRAND NEW BAG by Robert Guffey
- CURSE OF THE BLIND EEL by James Roy Daley
- RETIREMENT by Rob Brooks
- DEADNECK WOMAN by Mark Justice
With any luck, they'll let me re-title my story.
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
I also just got 4 free tickets to go to an Indiana Ice hockey game on New Year's Eve. I think this'll be a fun family event--I love hockey, and I took my wife to one game last year, which she was surprised to find she enjoyed. I hope the boys like it, too. I wish we had an NHL team here, but I'll take whatever brand of hockey I can get.
I need to go now. I've got work piling up, I need to get a nap before my other job tonight, and my son wants me to draw Batman for him.
Monday, December 15, 2008
I have gotten some editing done on my screenplay--new working title: "Village of Idiots." I'm reading a book right now called Your Screenplay Sucks, and finding lots of great ideas for improvement in my screenplay.
I won't get much writing done till after the holidays, I'm afraid. I've got car repairs tonight and maybe tomorrow, then I'll be busy all around with festivities and family. I hope to get somewhere on my screenplay, and finish a short story or two.
Sunday, December 14, 2008
Our dear family and friends,
Looking back over the state of the Brooks family, we see that this has been a year of change—a change of diapers, change for the horsey rides at the grocery store, and a change from diapers to underpants for Elder Son. At this juncture, we thought it would be prudent to reflect on some of the issues we’ve faced in the last twelve months.
Healthcare is always an important topic. This year, Elder Son and Younger Son have both been healthy, with no extra trips to the doctor’s office. Rob has been healthy, and has even managed to exercise this year. Wife's health continued to improve through alternative medicine (which, we propose, should be completely covered by insurance).
Economically, the Brooks family is using a formula that has never proven successful in the past—half of the members work to support all of the members. Even so, the boys keep asking us for a bailout to rescue them from their bad business ventures (such as their two-man rendition of A Christmas Story).
The subject of energy has caused some heated debate. Wife supports tapping all of Rob’s reserves, while Rob proposes using the boys’ energy for everything from raking leaves to picking up toys—tasks that never seem complete. The boys have their own energy ideas involving gas. You figure it out.
Our judicial system has frozen to a standstill. As Elder Son's vocabulary expands, and Younger Son becomes more articulate, they have both grown incredibly persuasive, to the point that we find ourselves constantly changing what the definition of “is” is.
We would be remiss if we didn’t examine the war. At the start of the year, Elder Son easily won all confrontations. But as Younger Son continues to grow bigger, quicker, and stronger, the tide has turned. Analysts predict the occurrence of a major confrontation should the little anarchists decide to join forces against their parents.
And so, we come to the end of another year. The Brooks’ are a strong, resilient and happy people. As Psalm 33:21 says, “For our heart shall rejoice in Him, because we have trusted in His holy name.” We trust in God for our happiness, and are excited to see what the new year will bring. We wish you all a Merry Christmas.
We are the Brooks family,
and we endorse this Christmas card.
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
It's not really much of a day off, though. I work at home, and both of my boys (ages 2 and 3) are home with me all day. I get up when they do and start working. So even if I'm not working, I get up when they do. They don't really let me write--even now as I type, they're sitting behind me at the foot of the stairs playing loudly in a pile of stuffed animals that they threw down from their room. But at least I'm not trying to do the day job, too.
I do have some writing plans for the day. My mom is coming over so I can sleep a bit, then I'm going somewhere for lunch by myself, and I'm taking a paper copy of my screenplay "The System" with me to edit.
I've also been mulling over an idea for the Potter's Field 3 anthology from Sam's Dot Publishing. I'm not set yet on an idea--every time I start brainstorming, I go in a different direction. But I'm getting closer. With any luck, I'll have a finished draft by the end of the week.
Sunday, December 7, 2008
I was a Commercial Writing major, and part of our senior project, or whatever it may have been called, was to put together a book, one collecting pieces we'd written throughout college, and any others. I wrote this piece, "The Boy Who Almost Got Eaten By a Book," as my introduction, although I didn't come up with the title until several years later. It's not particularly good, but it does talk my early writing career.
(For the record, as far as the meme goes, I'm 29, I have a completed late stage draft of one novel, unsold. I sold several poems prior to this year, but my first money fiction sales didn't start until this past summer.)
I didn't read a book all the way through until I was nine years old, when I got hooked on the Hardy Boys for the next four years of my life. I began to be very suspicious about spy rings around me, but I could never bring myself to break into the scary house at the end of our street--I knew something was going on there. But I eventually found some help, learned to ignore all the espionage, became addicted to Louis L'Amour Westerns, and have been fine ever since, pardner.
Friday, December 5, 2008
I realized yesterday just how much time I waste during my day. I work at home, but I usually think, "I'm taking care of two toddler boys, and doing my full-time job. I should be happy to do just those two things." But I still manage to watch a few TV episodes over at Hulu every day. I'm a TV junkie, but it's time to quit.
I wrote one flash fiction piece this week, after spending three or four days thinking about how I wanted it to go. I submitted it to 52 Stitches that night, and just a few minutes ago I got my response. I'm pleased to say that 52 Stitches will be publishing my story "Rocked the Hell Out of It," as well as my previously accepted selection, "Baited."
I think I may have been one of the last stories in, because the contracts went out for the publication shortly after. Glad I got it in on time.
Wednesday, December 3, 2008
I'm 2/3 of the way through the book, and there has been a steady, eerie build up. There have only been one or two dramatic events, it's mostly the tone that is conveying a deeper and deeper sense of dread. Let me read you a passage. Actually, let me give you the scene first--it's a funeral in a church, and Heather is watching her sister speak. The sister has paused.
"For a moment Heather took her pause to mean she was keeping a memory to herself, and then she heard the interruption, a repeated scratch of something like a fingernail. It came from the direction of the coffin--from the window beyond it, where a leaf or a large insect was twitching next to Christ's left foot."
I love that the sound is not actually coming from the coffin, but that for one fleeting instant you think that it might be. The book is very creepy, but I'm not sure what I'm supposed to be creeped out by yet. It's great.
That's all I wanted to say. I've been thinking about this since I read that line almost a week ago.