Jan
29

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Basement Duty

As my wife makes a final editorial pass of all my recent changes, I’m sort of on hold, story wise, so I’m working on house stuff. The long-planned for basement renovation is slotted for this year, so I’m doing my best to organize it.

Writing wise I’m going to revise that new Dabir and Asim story I wrote in December here pretty soon, and maybe take a crack at writing another one, and then it ought to be time to review any editorial suggestions and turn book 1 back over to agent and editor and get to revising book 2.

At the end of last week I finished another Marvin Albert book. I’ve read his series westerns, I’ve read three of his hardboiled detective novels, two of his four mercenary adventure novels, and one standalone western and I have YET to read one that wasn’t good. Maybe none are outright masterpieces, but he is so dependably good I have developed a profound respect for the man. I have one of his later novels, one of a series about a detective in France, and I’ll get to it soon. And I bet it’s good, too, because it has a reputation for excellence.

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Jan
25

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Lock ‘n Load Tactical

Sunday I spent an hour and a half with Lock ‘n Load Tactical: Heroes of Normandy. When I’m away from the game I worry that the play might grow stale, but all my fears are allayed the moment I start on a scenario. Now that I know the rules it plays so very fast, and I have a blast every single time. I’ve been saying it’s ONE of my favorite wargames, but I may just have to break down and declare the Lock ‘n Load Tactical system my absolute favorite.

Every scenario can be played multiple times, because every scenario is a little different, and multiple decisions and die rolls vary the outcome. Keep in mind that every game box comes with a ton of scenarios (I think that there are more than 30 in Heroes of Normandy) and then there are additional scenarios in the Compendiums, so you’re really getting your money’s worth when you buy into the system. Add in the solitaire cards and the results are even more surprising, and re-playable. Each box is a game full of multiple games.
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Jan
22

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Celebration

Robert E. Howard

I’ve written of the power of Robert E. Howard’s prose any number of times, and I’m sure that there’s more that could be said, and that will be said. Today on his birthday, though, I’ll merely reflect again on what I’ve written in the past, and this evening hoist a drink to one of my favorite writers while reading one of my favorite stories by him.

Over the weekend I finished the last of the Marvel collections that assembled all of the Roy Thomas Conan run. I’m not sure I’d recommend running out and buying that particular collection, unless you’re a completist. On the whole, the earlier phase of Thomas on Conan was better. Let me provide another shout out for the Thomas 12 issue arc for Dark Horse, collected in two graphic novels. (Those are volumes 11 and 12, The Road of Kings and Throne of Aquilonia, and they are two of only three volumes from the Dark Horse run that I’ve bothered to keep hold of.)

I’ve been told that story arc really isn’t very popular and I can’t for the life of me figure out why that is. The storytelling was top notch and Conan sounded and behaved like Conan… and the world felt right, too, which is something that doesn’t seem to be appreciated enough by some readers, who only care about whether or not Conan’s muscles are the size they think appropriate. In issues written by other hands there’s too much of the supernatural, so that it almost feels common place, or the plotting is off, or, worst of all, Conan isn’t right.

Roy Thomas gets Conan and what his world is like more than nearly any other pastiche writer, and consistently got him better than any other comic pastiche writer, period. That’s not to say that there weren’t some great issues and arcs written by others, but Thomas usually got it right. Even in a lesser story, Conan still acted like himself. And that’s a lot more complicated that it seems, or there’d be a lot more good pastiche out there.

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Jan
16

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Hammerhead

I exchanged gifts with my old friends Brad and Bruce this weekend, and one of the goodies I came home with was Hammerhead, a James Bond graphic novel from Dynamite.

I’d never heard of the publisher Dynamite before the two James Bond collections I’ve read, but I’m really impressed. The issues of the comic collected in this book were written by Andrew Diggle and illustrated by Luca Casalanguida, and they sure delivered the goods. Casalanguida has a striking, cinematic style that really helps evoke the sense you’re watching a film. And Diggle’s script was aces: Bond was clever, ruthless, and observant. Much like the first James Bond graphic novel I read last year, Vargr, I actually enjoyed the comic better than I have any number of Bond movies. So far the scripts are simply smarter.

Highly recommended. I look forward to reading more. As an added bonus, unlike a lot of the stuff I write about, this one’s in print!

Jan
12

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Agent Aid

Sometimes writing can be a real slog. You know what needs to be done because you have the outline, but you’re feeling your way along or think there’s something missing, or what have you. Sometimes you’re wrong and your test readers tell you you’ve just revised it too many times and lost touch with it.

But sometimes you learn that maybe that one astute beta reader was right about something not quite working in a scene or chapter. Recently my editor was looking over book 1 and discovered some issues in the third act that left me scratching my head. I got to thinking he was right and wondering why didn’t I pay attention to the observations of that clever lady I live with.

There were two or three problems that really left me feeling stuck in a box. And then I spoke to my agent, Bob Mecoy, and he improvised the way out of every single one of them. Brilliantly.

I read people giving advice about agents. Some write that they don’t need them, saying that they can negotiate their own contracts and handle their own business. Maybe they’re skilled enough, or have taught themselves enough, that they’re right. I don’t want to learn the business side anymore than necessary to understand my contracts, though, and I’m lucky enough to have someone who’s had years of experience not with that aspect of it, but other business matters as well.

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Writing

The Grand Finale

Monday, October 30, 2017

Usually when my wife heads off to one of her work conferences I get a lot of work done in the hotel room but I also explore a…

You Can’t Live Forever

Thursday, October 26, 2017

I’m still on assignment, writing today from a lounge in a fabulous haunted mansion. The Beatles once stayed in this very location, and it’s easy to imagine them…

Undisclosed Location

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

I’m writing from an undisclosed location, in the midst of a secret mission. Most of the assignment involves writing copiously every day, but I must also infiltrate fine…

Writing Tests

Monday, September 18, 2017

A while back I talked about one of the questions I ask myself to make sure I’m on the right track, and that’s the Doctor McCoy test.  Sometimes…

Appendix N and Fantasy Exploration

Friday, August 25, 2017

While I’d been introduced to fantasy fiction when my mom read me The Hobbit, it was Dungeons & Dragons that sent me exploring for more of it. Appendix…