The other day I mentioned a great solitaire war game I’d tried out from Victory Point Games , Empires in America. I ended up blogging about that over at Black Gate, so I thought I’d mention another fine Victory Point Games title, Trenches of Valor , which I picked up with its expansion while my son was studying World War I.
In the next few weeks I’ll be receiving my copies of The Bones of the Old Ones. It’s one thing to hold the advanced reader’s copy. It’s another completely to be holding the actual book with the final cover, the corrected text, the corrected cover copy with blurbs and a few reviews that came in immediately before the book went to press, and I’m looking forward to that.
I wish that the covers didn’t head off for printing quite so early, because it would have been nice to have the starred review from Publisher’s Weekly on the cover, but if I could make things come true by snapping my fingers I guess that would be a little further down the list than, say, world peace or honest politicians.
I’ve held various career plans over the years, beginning with my ambition to be a double-nought spy, a starship captain, or another Beatle. I also wanted to be a writer from an early age, a goal that seemed just about as superheroically awesome as the others.
By the time I was in college I was still gigging around in local rock bands and writing, and I had it in my head I might be able to make a go of it as a composer. There’s only so much time in every day, and every life, though, and eventually writing won out over music, just as getting a film degree won out over a degree in music theory. These days I only sit down at the piano occasionally to amuse myself, but I do keep my hand in composing by drafting themes for my characters.Sometimes I sit down and play a character theme song before I start my writing day.
I’ve thought about subjecting the wider world to a recording of the Dabir and Asim theme song, but I think it would sound a lot better with all the orchestration I hear in my head rather than just having me pound it out on the piano, and besides, I’m busy, so it’s never been recorded.
But enough about me! Today I wanted to share the CD I listen to while driving around town and thinking about the ancient Middle-East.
Last week, while my wife and daughter were out of town for seven days, my son and I sat down with a pile of movies I was pretty sure my wife would never be interested in. I already reported on the greatest number of them. After the weekend, our viewing slowed down quite a lot due to my son’s homework load. We just didn’t have time to watch all of those on my list, let alone all of those I managed to find at the library or via Netflix or Amazon Prime.
By the end of Friday night we’d managed five more, and some of them were very impressive.
I spent so much time writing that gargantuan overanalysis yesterday of what manly movies I’d been watching with my son I’m going to keep things really short this morning so I can get back to writing books. But I logged on to point everyone to a pretty cool post over at my writer friend Violette Malan’s site. She spends some time thinking about why she writes sword-and-sorcery. I particularly enjoyed the strengths she finds in the genre, her discussion of how it’s one of the only places you can present heroism without irony, and her discussion of models she found in some of the work by genre founders.
Later in the week I’ll finally post about that great Arabianesque music I thought I’d lost, and, if I didn’t put everyone to sleep with my manly movie post, I’ll catch people up on the rest of our views and our reactions.
Right, back to work now.
With my mother now in a rehab facility following her heart attack, I was less than comfortable with the idea of taking off on the scheduled family vacation. I encouraged my wife to go ahead and leave (she REALLY needed some time off from her stressful job) and take my daughter. Our tickets were non-refundable. My son had become increasingly reluctant to go because of the heavy homework load at his high school, so we two remained behind. Thus, early Saturday morning, my wife, my daughter, and my mother-in-law (who took my ticket) flew off to Orlando.
Ever since, my son and I have been watching manly movies. My wife, you see, has almost no patience for westerns (apart from The Magnificent Seven and Silverado). She is even less interested in WWII movies than westerns, and doesn’t much care for Clint Eastwood as well. As a result, on movie nights over the years there are a lot of manly movies my children haven’t seen.
I know my way around westerns fairly well, and I’ve shown both of my kids some of the greats over the years, including Sergio Leone’s/Eastwood’s “The Man with No Name” trilogy (you know, The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, etc.) but neither of them have seen any of the great WWII movies.
I have fond memories of watching some WWII movies with my father, but it’s been 30 or so years since then, so my actual memory of them is a little dim. I consulted with my friends Eric Knight and John Chris Hocking, both WWII history and movie buffs. I combined their suggestions with my memories of movies I’d seen with my own dad, what was available via the public library or Netflix instant streaming, and wasn’t in common circulation on television any more, and put a list together, leaning a little toward movies with Clint Eastwood. And here’s what we’ve seen so far.
I wanted to point all of my regular readers over to the site of James Enge today. He took an interesting post live about our assumptions on the proper settings for heroic fantasy, and how so many of them are a little bit wrong, jabbing particularly at our assumptions about The Dark Ages.
This week, as with last, I’ve not been around the homestead very much because I’m spending a lot of time at the hospital keeping my mom and sisters company. As my mom continues to improve I’ll have more and more posts coming up, because more reviews and blog posts will be going live about The Bones of the Old Ones.
I finally put hands on one of my favorite CDs, the one I always listen to while driving around plotting tales of ancient Arabia, and I’m looking forward to pointing some of the rest of you to the excellent music recorded on it.
I woke up yesterday to discover I’d gotten a starred review at Publisher’s Weekly. Well, not me, but my next book, The Bones of the Old Ones!
Here’s a nice quote from the opening paragraph: “This rousing sequel to The Desert of Souls offers a mélange of ancient adventure myths populated by convincing, endearing characters.”
And here’s another one: “… fills the pages with gallantry and glamour to provide a thrilling spectacle. ”
So this is all quite nice. It in no way changes the fact I’m sitting in the intensive care unit of a hospital wishing there was something more I could to to help my mom recover, but it means that a smile occasionally crosses my face as I mostly worry. And she smiled when I told her about all this. Even when she’s feeling rotten, she’s happy for me.
The Bones of the Old Ones can be pre-ordered (it’s not out until December 11). But you probably knew that. Just click on the link to get to the order page on my own site, or visit Amazon, B&N, BAM,Indie book stores, Powell‘s, or many other locations.
It’s been seven days of unpleasant surprises in the real world, which has meant the writing world has slowed to a crawl. One of my favorite professors passed away last week. I hadn’t seen Jim in person for years, but I spoke to him this spring. He was a wonderful man, talented and generous, and a real mentor to me. Still, I was surprised by the depth of my grief.
And then we discovered that the reason my mom was so weak was that she’d experienced a heart attack. The family and I have been keeping company in the hospital for most of this week. As I write this, I have just learned that she has survived the bypass surgery. There are still many more hurdles and risks.
One of my dearest friends has been slowly dying of cancer for a long time, then battling it back, though still dying. She’s afraid this newest onset may be the last.
With all of this, it has just been difficult to retreat into the fantastic for a while, even though I have a great review in from Sf Signal for The Bones of the Old Ones. And I got a nice callout from Pyr’s Lou Anders as one of the new heirs to the mantle of sword-and-sorcery, which I’ve wanted to be for a long, long while.
That’s all wonderful, and provides some bright spots in a bleak span of days.
My online presence may be a little sporadic for another week or so.