Sunday, November 1, 2009

NaNo starts tomorrow

NaNoWriMo starts tomorrow. Actually, I just noticed it's after midnight, so it starts today. I've come up with the basic plot I want to write for it this year, although I don't have a lot planned. I mostly know how the story will begin and what its about. The ending...not so much, which is unusual for me.

Since a novel complete at 50k words (the goal of NaNo) isn't really a good length for publication, I've decided to up the word count to 75k. That's an average of 2,500 words per day. I'm pretty sure I can do it.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Vegas report part deux

Friday, the plan for food was to go to either the Wynn or Bellagio buffet for dinner, with the rest of the day very casual. Daryl and several others decided to buy tickets to see Ka by Cirque du Soleil that night, but I declined to join.

For lunch, we went walked next door to New York, New York to go to a place that Jason had been the previous night, Gonzalez y Gonzalez. The diners were Daryl, Katy, Jason, Kurt, Peter, and me, and we ordered several appetizers to share. Fresh guacamole, nachos, and taquitos. The taquitos were awesome. Kurt, Jason, and Peter each got 48oz margaritas. They enjoyed the first ones, but they unanimously agreed the refills weren't a good idea...after the fact.

The chips and salsa at Gonzalez y Gonzalez were excellent, and I ended up full enough from the appetizers that I didn't go with the others to the Bellagio buffet. Instead, Peter, Jason and I went to the cafe at the Monte Carlo. Nothing special there.

On Saturday, we went to Bouchon at the Venetian for brunch. Katy, Ed, and Kurt went there last year, and their descriptions of the food made my mouth water, so I was glad to have the chance to try it this year. From a fancy French restaurant, I ordered chicken and waffles...but not your ordinary chicken and waffles. The waffle was a chive & bacon waffle, and came with Tahitian vanilla butter. Mmmm...vanilla butter...So very good. The chicken was roasted and came with what they called an au jus, but to me seemed more a gravy.

Saturday's dinner was my favorite. We went to Mesa Grill at Ceasar's Palace. I am a huge Food Network fan, and have long wanted to try Bobby Flay's food, so this was what I'd be looking forward to the most. The diners that went were Daryl, Katy, Kurt, Peter, Ed, and me.

Daryl, Katy, Ed, Peter, and I decided to split two appetizers. We ordered:

Tiger shrimp + roasted garlic corn tamale with corn-cilantro sauce.
Blue corn pancake with barbecued duck + habanero chile-star anise sauce.

They were both small, and each of us got about one bite, but that was okay, because I mostly just wanted to try them out. The tamale was excellent, and I say this as somebody that's not a big fan of tamales. The duck and blue corn pancake were also delicious.

For the entree, I ordered the Black Angus New York strip steak with house-made MESA steak sauce, cooked medium. My side was roasted corn with smoked chiles, cotija cheese + lime.

The steak arrived and was a good 1.5-2 inches thick, but to my amazement, it was cooked perfectly medium. It's hard enough to find a place that can cook a steak to order correctly, but to get one that thick and perfectly seared on the outside and a nice medium inside...awesome. And the flavor was out of this world. Bar none, the best steak I've ever had. The corn was excellent, as well...very fresh.

For dessert, Ed and I decided to share fresh made churros. They came with a chocolate and star anise dipping sauce, but since neither of us particularly cares for star anise, we asked if we could get a different one. The waiter suggested the anglaise that normally comes with the bread pudding, and said he'd also bring the chocolate. The churros were clearly made fresh, and very good. I confirmed that I didn't much care for the star anise chocolate, although Ed said he liked it more than the anglaise.

Peter and I walked back to the Monte Carlo from Caesar's Palace, and as we walked past the Bellagio, its water show going, two Jack Sparrow impersonators got out of a car and were immediately mobbed by 15 screaming girls. It was funny to see how crazy they went over the imitations, although to be fair, they were nearly dead ringers.

We left for home on Sunday, and everybody got together at the Monte Carlo cafe for breakfast. Again, it was nothing special...not bad, but not worth reporting on.

All in all, it was a great trip. The food was superb, and thanks to some good luck early, I ended up barely losing any money at blackjack and pai gow poker. Looking forward to next year.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Back from Vegas

I was back on Sunday, actually, but I'm just now getting around to posting about it.

My fellow travelers were:

Daryl (my brother)
Katy (Daryl's girlfriend)
Kurt (friend from World of Warcraft)
Jason (friend from World of Warcraft)
Ed (friend from World of Warcraft)
Suzy (Ed's wife)
Peter (friend from World of Warcraft)

We stayed at the Monte Carlo for a very reasonable rate. It's a nice hotel, and the location is excellent. We were nearly dead center on the strip, which made most of the hotels within walking distance. The use of a car/taxi was only required twice...and actually, one of those times it wasn't needed. The thing I liked most about the Monte Carlo, however, was that it held almost none of the stale smoke smell that permeates so many casinos. Sure, people smoked, but there was no sunk in smell.

I didn't gamble a lot, but I hit up the paigow poker and blackjack tables, as well as a few slot machines (just enough to give myself a shot at a big jackpot). I ended up losing some, but not too much...just what I expected.

The highlight of the trip was the food. We planned out our dining itinerary in advance, and went to some awesome restaurants.

We arrived Wednesday afternoon, and went to the Monte Carlo's buffet for dinner. They had these loaded roasted potatoes that were more cheese, bacon, sour cream, etc. than they were potatoes. The roast beef was nice, especially with au jus.

Thursday for lunch, Daryl, Katy, Kurt, Ed, Suzy, and I went to the Burger Bar in Mandalay Bay. I got a burger with Wagyu beef (America's version of Kobe beef) with peppered bacon. The burger was juicy, tender, and excellent. One of the best burgers I've eaten.

Dinner on Thursday was at Joël Robuchon for me, Katy, Suzy, Ed, and Kurt. It's the only restaurant in Vegas with 3 Michelin stars, and he's considered by many to be the best chef in the world. Needless to say, this was a very expensive dinner, but the experience alone was worth it.

I got the $89 meal. This was described as:


Un Poisson ou une Viande
Seafood or Meat


Moka ou Thé
escorté de mignardises
Coffee or tea served with mignardises

The first thing they brought out was a selection of ~15 breads, all described in detail by one of the waiters. I got a brioche ball with a rosemary leaf in it. The leaf was a little crunchy, but the flavor excellent.

After the bread, they brought out the amuse-bouche. This was a caviar tin with a layer of caviar on top of a lobster and crab puree with fennel. Here's a picture of the course after I took a few bites (forgive the poor quality. These were taken by my iPhone):

I am not much of a fan of seafood, so I was a little hesitant, but I tried it anyway. It wasn't quite as bad as I thought it would be, but the seafood flavor was just too strong for me after another two bites. Suzy didn't like this course either, but Ed loved it and ate hers.

When a waiter came to clear the amuse-bouches, he saw most of mine remaining.

Waiter: You're just letting it breathe, sir?
Me: No, I'm just not big on caviar.
Waiter: You should have told me.
Me: I wanted to try it.
Waiter: Let me get you something else.
Me: That's okay, I don't need a replacement.
Waiter: I insist, sir.
(above is paraphrased)

He took the caviar dish and returned in a few minutes with:

This was an apple dish. It had diced apples seasoned with nutmeg and cinnamon and an apple foam on top. There was also some mint in there. It was much better than the caviar dish for me, although the mint was a bit too strong.

Next they brought out appetizers. Everybody but me ordered one, so I watched them eat. Katy's was exceptionally noteworthy. The menu described it as:

La Tomate
en salade, huile d’olive au basilic, tomate et mozzarella en gelée
Salad of tomato, basil infused olive oil, tomato gelée topped with mozzarella

Sounds simple and tasty. This is what they brought out:

On the left is a roasted tomato with herbs. The right was truly baffling. The waiter described it as tomato water, but tomato gelatin would be a better description. It was actually clear - the black is simply the color of the dish. The "eyes" in the gelatin were bits of fresh mozarella topped with puree of basil and tomato.

The entrees were next.

Joue de Veau
confite, jus Thaï épicé et légumes croquants
Braised veal cheeks with Thai herbs and green curry

Two pieces of braised veal cheeks - the most tender meat I've ever eaten. Baby vegetables on top, and garnished with 3 cubes of pan seared tofu. The tofu surprised me. I didn't expect to like it, but it was quite tasty, especially with the delicious sauce.

The next course was dessert. I ordered:

La Framboise
perle de chou, crème Madame à la vanille de Tahiti
A perle of chou, Tahitian vanilla cream with fresh raspberry

This was exactly what it looked like. Some small pastries with vanilla cream and fresh raspberries, and a raspberry sauce. It was excellent.

Suzy ordered a fresh berries with champagne rosé, but she said the champagne made it bitter, and only took a few bites. The waiter repeated our discussion earlier, insisting on bringing her a replacement dessert.

Around this time, Daryl texted Katy, asking when we'd be done. Our reservation was at 8:30, and we arrived on time. The text came in around 10:30. Since were on the dessert course, Katy replied that we would be done pretty soon.

Not so much.

Next out was a choice of ice cream. They had vanilla, caramel, or raspberry sorbet. I choose the caramel, and it was good, although nothing special, frankly.

After the ice cream, they asked us if we wanted coffee. Everybody declined, and after a bit, the mignardise tray was rolled over. I had to take a picture of this thing, because it was seriously impressive.

The waiter went over in great detail every single item on this cart. He asked Suzy what she wanted, and she choose one. He gestured after picking it up.

Suzy: I can get more than one?
Waiter: Madam, there are 40. Of course you can.

He went around the table, with each person selecting three. The vanilla bean caramel was very popular at our table. I chose three, and the waiter suggested one more, based off the ones I picked. I wasn't going to turn him down, so I ended up with four.

From left to right:

Strawberry cheesecake covered in white chocolate. This one was to die for.
Lemon marshmallow. Yummy.
Chocolate pastry. This was kind of a mini eclair.
White chocolate exterior, lemon cream interior. The lemon was too strong for my taste in this one.

That was, finally, the last course. My bill ended up, tax and tip included, at $120. The bill for the table was $904. We left at midnight on the dot.

I'm not sure I'd go back, but the experience was worth it.

The rest of my report will have to wait for another day. It will be considerably less detailed, as the rest of the food, while good, wasn't quite the works of art as those from Joël Robuchon.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Friday, September 18, 2009

Planning the rest of the year

Now that I've finished Shadows and Dust, or the first draft at least, I find myself with almost too much time on my hands and an odd feeling that I'm forgetting to do something. It's been with me for long enough that I don't feel right not adding to it each day. So I decided to plan the rest of the year in regards to writing.

I'm using September as something of a break. I reactivated myself on Critters now that I have time again, and I just started critiquing a novel from there.

In October, I thinking I'll write a short story or two, just to keep my hand in that game. I've also been told that I should hear back from the magazine that is considering Percy Wallace by mid-October. If it's a rejection, I'll probably make a quick editing pass on it.

November is NaNoWriMo, and I'm going to participate again this year. However, instead of the 50,000 words required to win, I'd like to write a 75,000 word complete novel. That's 2500 words every day, which will be a good way to train myself to stretch my output.

I think that in December, I'll edit Shadows and Dust. Over two months will have passed since I finished the first draft, which hopefully is enough time for its freshness to fade in my mind. Then whenever I complete the editing, it's revision time.

Somewhere in all of this, I also plan to revisit Jack O'Lantern. I recently came up with a subplot that I think will help the novel a great deal, but it'll take almost a complete rewrite to integrate it. I've already written a basic synopsis for the expanded beginning, which should be enough to get it going.

It's going to be a busy autumn and winter.

Thursday, September 10, 2009


The first draft of Shadows and Dust is complete, at 88,554 words! It's a little shorter than I originally intended, and the plot bears little resemblance to what I envisioned at first, but I think the changes make it a hundred times better.

There's a absolute ton of editing that I'll need to do, however. The ending is pure deus ex machina, even though I planned for it for quite some time, and there's plenty of characters that I need to introduce earlier. Several scenes (at least) will suffer bloody deaths. There's tons of crappy writing, but that's okay, because it's a first draft.

It's done!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Halfway there!

Like the Bon Jovi song, I'm halfway there, and in many ways, living on a prayer: a prayer to complete the story. I've never undertaken such an ambitious project. Jack O'Lantern was ~50,000 words, and Shadows and Dust has now matched that total. The story of the first novel in this planned trilogy is nowhere near complete, however, and at times I'm staggered by how much more I have to write. But it's a good feeling, because I know I have plenty of plot and character development let to explore.

I recently looked over the outline that I threw together for S&D, and it's amazing how much it differs from the actual story that's coming out. The overall plot structure isn't changing...much...but the details, the how and why, bear little resemblance to what I originally planned. I can chalk that up to how my characters, especially Kale, the protagonist, has revealed himself--his strengths, flaws, and motivations--to me. Just today he threw me a curve when he added another group of people to his "hitlist," and it'll vastly change the way the rest of the story plays out. It's a good change, however, because it will enhance the first novel a lot, and make it stand on its own a lot better.

50k done, 50k to go.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Shadows and Dust goal

I currently estimate that Shadows and Dust will be around 100,000 words long, and I'm currently at 34,800. On 9/30, I'll be taking a trip to Vegas until 10/4, and I want to use that trip to celebrate the completion of my first draft.

This means that I'll need to average around 1,000 words every day. My current output is around 750-900 on the weekdays, and none on the weeknds. Obviously, I've got to step up my game.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Writing hurts reading

Here's a short list of things I've noticed about writing and reading and how they affect each other:

  • Since I started writing that I can't read nearly as much anymore. Much of the free time I used to spend reading is now used for writing. It's odd, because I miss tearing through book after book.
  • Something else that bugs me is that when I'm reading now, I'll notice things I never did before. I used to read for pure enjoyment, and while I still enjoy it, the writing tips I've picked up affect my reading. I notice "saidisms," overuse of adverbs, and plot contrivances. It's an interesting experience.
  • To keep myself motivated while writing, I have to read. Reading books inspires me, even if they have nothing to do with my current WIP.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Rejected again.

Senility was rejected again. On to the next magazine.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Editing and Submitting Senility

I proofread Senility tonight, using a technique that's been recommended by many: reading it out loud. I closed myself in the bedroom and did it in one setting, making up voices for the characters when I read dialogue.

I had fun doing it, and I'm amazed at how many little things I found that, once corrected, improved the writing. Repetitions of words, sentences that didn't flow, etc. It's a stronger work now. If The Lay of Percy Wallace is rejected (by the magazine's guidelines, I should hear back in less than a week), I'm going to use the same process to polish it.

So, after I revised, edited, and proofread Senility, I proceeded to submit it to another magazine. One of the bonuses that came out of my recent revisions is that the story is now under 4,000 words, making this magazine* available. They respond quickly, usually within 2-3 days. I won't even attempt to deny that their speed puts them near the top of my list of potential publishers. It's a hell of a lot nicer than waiting 3 months, which I have been with Percy (the fast magazine rejected it).

*I'm not going to identify magazines to which I submit unless they accept my story. There's enough in this post for people familiar with the markets to figure it out, if they so desire.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Plot changes

As I mentioned in my previous post, I wrote a synopsis for Guardian - Shadows and Dust (my new title for The Guardians) before I began writing the actual novel. I'm now several days into the novel, things are going nicely, and I decided I want to try to plan this one out more than I did Jack O'Lantern.

Except that's not accurate, because Jack O'Lantern was completely unplanned from day one. But still, the point stands that I wanted to do more planning. In the case of S&D, I have a rough idea of how long I want the first draft to be: about 100,000 words. Since I've already created a structure for this book in my mind, I figured I'd write out an outline for the three main sections, along with word count goals for each section. The sections of the book as planned:

I. Novice
II. Squire
III. Guardian

So I started the outline, and of course, the early stuff is the most fleshed out, because some of it's already written, and what isn't will be soon. Before long, I realized that I needed to add another section to the book:

I. Novice
II. Squire
III. Wanderer
IV. Guardian

I finished my outline for the first two sections, and in doing so changed a good portion of the plot. My synopsis was suddenly outdated, and I realized again that my sections weren't well designed. And hence another revision:

I. Novice
II. Squire
III. Slave
IV. Servant
V. Guardian

That's where I stand now. The first two sections are fairly well outlined, the final three not at all. The plot details have changed dramatically from the synopsis, although the overall plot and theme have not. I still know where the story is going, and the basics of how I want it to get there, but the middle two sections are the least fleshed out. It's not a coincidence, since they're also the newest. But as I looked back at my now old synopsis, I noticed that the parts I changed the most - the middle sections - are what I planned the least. It was at this point in the synopsis where I just wrote down the overall arc of what would happen, rather than the details.

The ending hasn't changed one iota, however. One thing that's been consistent in my writing so far is that I don't start a story without knowing how it will end. Jack O'Lantern is the only exception, and that's because it was for NaNoWriMo, and I had no idea what it had in store for me.

Friday, May 22, 2009

The Oddities of Ideas

Ideas for stories pop into my head all the time. I keep a notebook handy at all times for them (or when I get the urge to start writing one of those stories, NOW). A file on my PC and thumb drive dutifully receives every seed of a story idea. Many of the ideas are just crap, and I know it, but they stay there, because for all I know, they might inspire something else when I peruse the list.

I get most of my ideas in two different ways:

1) Reading. I'll be reading a book, and it will trigger something inside my brain. Suddenly, I have an idea for a new story. It could be based on what I was reading in some way, or it could be completely unrelated.

2) Driving with the radio off. I do this about 50% of the time when driving for work. It's a great time to think and let stuff percolate in my brain.

The ideas are never forced. I never try to come up with something. If I did, I'm pretty sure it would suck. My subconscious has first dibs on all creative endeavors.

Now, what's odd about the ideas that are good is that there's no telling when I'll actually start writing. New ideas that are barely fleshed out may demand to be written well before ones that have developed characters and background. For an example, I direct you to Works In Progress on the side bar. Ignore Jack O'Lantern for now (more on it in another post at some point).

There are three novel ideas in there, and they're pretty vague. I'll go into just a tiny bit of detail here.

1) Untitled (Epic Fantasy) - World building. This is my oldest novel idea. It involves a father and his two sons. I expect it to end up being a trilogy.

2) Untitled (Science Fiction) - Percolating. The idea for this novel came after #1. It's about a colony ship.

3) The Guardians (Working title) - Writing. This is another epic fantasy. I expect it to have one sequel, although there's probably room for more. It follows a boy named Kale as he joins the Guardians, an ancient order that protects the world from Evil.

Now, The Guardians is easily my most recent idea for a novel. Wait, let me correct that. My most recent idea that has grown legs and is now walking around, waiting for me to do something with it. I've been developing the Untitled Epic Fantasy much longer. I've done a lot more work with the characters in it, and the basic synopsis has been complete for months. But it's not yet demanding to be written.

A few days ago, I felt close to The Guardians. I suddenly knew the story, knew where it was going and how to get it there, as if it was already written. So I grabbed my laptop and wrote a synopsis, along with some background and world building. Sure, there are one or two points in there that need to be flushed out. But the storyline just came together and knocked on a door inside my brain. "Hi there! I'm ready!" it said.

So I started writing it. The first few thousand words I wrote ended up being cut, as I discovered I started the story too early. But I think it's starting correctly now, and I'm excited to see how writing it goes. I just find it odd that this story has come so quickly to me, compared to other ideas that are waiting for their time to come.

Monday, May 18, 2009

5/18/09 Flash Fiction - "Shock"

Stephen sat cross-legged, his hands touching the floor to keep his balance. He couldn't see a thing through the blindfold, but he knew that a mob of other blindfolded people were crushed together all around him.

The party was the best yet--three kegs, hard liquor, weed. Hot women all over the place. And yet, he couldn't see any of them, because of the blindfold. But he didn't mind. It was all part of the game.

"Okay, Bernie, your turn." Zack's voice rang out through the crowded room. "Your partner is...Lady B."

Stephen couldn't wait; he was next in line. Zack, the referee, was the only one not blindfolded. He would roll the dice, and determine the player's partner. Then the two would make out, blindfolded. The idea was to get everybody laid. He knew the "ladies" were sluts and street hookers, but he didn't care.

It didn't take Bernie long. What seemed like only a few seconds of lips smacking and tongues exploring passed quickly, then Stephen heard them get up. He knew they were removing their blindfolds and leaving the room, the girl giggling as she stepped around the remaining players.

"Stones, your turn." Stones was Stephen's nickname, bestowed upon him by his fraternity brothers. They gave him the name after he lied to a cop's face after a particularly wild party. He spent the night in jail for it, but Zack claimed it took "stones of steel" to stand up to the police.

"Stones, your partner is...Lady Y."

Stephen kept still until a soft hand brushed his face. A whiff of vanilla perfume, a hand in his crotch, and lips on his. He thrust his tongue into the girl's mouth. Her hand stroked him as they kissed, and he knew this would be the easiest lay ever.

He stood up and ripped off the blindfold, eager to see his partner. His gaze went from her sculpted legs, up past curvy hips and chest to her face. She removed her blindfold and looked at him. They both froze.

No! It couldn't be!


Thursday, May 14, 2009

Senility rejected

Senility suffered its second rejection. I've learned some more about editing since I submitted it, so I'm holding off on sending it in to the next magazine until I work on it some more. Hopefully, it'll come out a stronger manuscript.

Having a story get rejected sucks. I go into the submission process expecting rejection to keep myself sane. But it still hurts when other people don't see my stories the way I do. Still, though, if there's one thing I need to have in order to make it in publishing, it's a thick skin. Rejections come in droves. It only takes one editor to say yes.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

5/3/2009 Flash Fiction - "Guilty Pleasures"

"Bless me, Father, for I have sinned." Mark kneeled in the confessional, smiling. A heavy silence hung in the air after he spoke, one Mark had no intention of breaking.

After several moments, the priest responded. "Go on, my son. You must confess your sins before your penance is determined."

"I'm sorry, Father. This is my first confession."

"How long have you been a believer, my son?"

"Oh, I'd say about twenty years."

Another silence, then the priest spoke again, his voice hardened with disappointment. "Then I imagine you will need a good deal of time to finish confessing."

"Yes, Father, I think I will."

"Begin, my son."

Mark paused a moment, letting his thoughts wander. What was the best way to do this?

"Well, first off, I coveted Bill's--that's my neighbor--wife. I've been doing it for the past fifteen years."

"The failings of our mind often betray us, my son. Go on."

"Then two days ago, the coveting ended. By me having sex with Janice. That's Bill's wife."

The priest started to speak, but Mark cut him off. "I also did Bill's two daughters."

"The failures of the flesh--"

"Oh, and I forgot to say, this wasn't consensual."

"You mean you raped three women?"

"Yes, Father. And then...then I killed them."

A loud thunk echoed through the confessional. Mark guessed the priest had fallen out of his chair. He tried to control himself, but he couldn't--a giggle escaped. He quickly clamped a hand over his mouth and waited for the priest to respond.

It took a minute or so, but the priest said, "My son, you are saying you raped your neighbor's wife and two daughters, then killed them all?"

"Yes, Father. I also killed Bill. With a gun. Their dog too."

The priest's sigh was louder than the thunk, and probably audible from the church's entrance. "Go on, my son."

"Well, then I went home, and I had sex with my wife before I killed her, too." Mark tried but couldn't quite keep the merriness out of his voice.

"My son, confession is sacred, and if you are not truly repentant, it is meaningless."

"I'm sorry, Father. I guess I just have my guilty pleasures."

"You mean that you've raped and killed before?"

"No, Father." Mark could barely speak through the laughter. "I just enjoy shocking the hell out of you priests."

Friday, May 1, 2009

5/1/2009 Flash Fiction - "Chain Reaction"


The following is a piece of flash fiction that contains swearing and is extremely disturbing, even to the author. I don't know where such a vile character came from, and I don't really want to know. Please do not read if you are easily offended.


I killed two girls last night. I had no real reason for it; it was just something to do. I've killed before--ants, roaches, squirrels, birds, even some cats and dogs--but never a human. Until last night.

It was boring. In the end, people die just like animals, just like an insect. Nothing special about the supposedly higher order of intelligence inhabiting this planet. Death is the great equalizer.

I can imagine your disgust with me. Your moral judgments. Your "civilized" manner telling you that murder is wrong. And what do I say to that? Nothing. Why should I defend myself? Did you ever defend me? Did anybody? No.

Why did I do it?

Why not?

I had the ability, and opportunity presented itself. So I answered the knock on the door, and slit their throats. Then I watched their eyes, their horrified eyes, as their blood spurted, as their life force drained from the fragile shells they inhabited.

It was no big deal.

I don't even know their names. Names have never made much of an impression on me. I can't remember my own. What does it matter? It's just an artificial construct dumped on me by the bitch and bastard who created me with lustful rutting.

When it comes right down to it, what's the difference between fucking and killing? They're really two sides of the same coin. Both are base urges that compel us to act. One creates life; one takes it. It's the natural order of the world. I mean, if you really think about it, I'm just a balancing force. With all the fucking going on in the world, somebody needs to step up and kill. Might as well be me.

That must be what I am. Death incarnate; the Grim Reaper. When the bitch and bastard took turns violating me, then sold me off to the highest bidder...they had no clue that they were simply doing nature's will, that they were creating what Earth needed to come back into balance.

For I have killed, and I will kill again. And again. And again. With all the fucking going on, I'm going to be one busy little beaver.

Time for a little sleep. Then I'll get to work.

-Excerpt from the journal of Melanie Simpson.

Case #155563
Evidence ID #621

8/29/2011 - Blood spattered on page confirmed to belong to deceased.
9/2/2011 - Confirmed deaths of girls mentioned to be Poppy Barrington, age 6, and Georgia Barrington, age 8.
9/13/2011 - Charles Barrington arrested for murder of deceased.
5/23/2013 - Charles Barrington acquitted of all charges in trial. Case closed.

Lack of updates

I haven't been able to do much in the way of writing recently, including updating this blog, because I managed to cut two fingers last week, in separate household accidents. One while chopping some potatoes, the other while tying up some cables from my computer. Typing with injured fingertips is not exactly easy. But they're mostly healed now, or, at least, healed enough to type. So hopefully, they'll be some updates soon.

Monday, April 20, 2009

4/20/2009 Flash Fiction - "All's Well that Ends Well"

Over at the Absolute Write forums, there's a weekly challenge to write a piece of Flash Fiction (as I understand it, less than 1,000 words) based off a prompt that's posted at 6:00pm PST every Sunday. The idea is that once you see the prompt, you have 90 minutes to plan, write, and edit the piece. I like the concept of this challenge, as it gets my mind thinking and my fingers typing.

This week's prompt was "All's well that ends well." My story is below. I'll probably try to do this often, although I doubt it'll happen every week.

All's Well that Ends Well

The TV winked out as the pitcher wound up for the 3-2 pitch in the bottom of the 9th inning of Game 7. "No!" Carl screamed as he lunged out of his chair. The Cubs were one pitch from winning their first World Series in 101 long years. He'd waited his entire life, and now the TV died, just as it was about to happen.

Carl hit the television several times, checked the power and cables, but nothing turned it back on. The ceiling light was still on, so the electricity wasn't out. Running to the den, he threw himself into his computer chair and hit the power button on the PC.

"Come on, come on," he muttered as the computer booted into Windows. Once it was ready, he pulled up the Cubs website, only to see the score tied at three. The Royals had tied the game on a solo home run, and had men on second and third, two outs.

Carl couldn't actually watch the game, but the website tracked it well enough that he could follow what was happening. Until the PC turned off. He gaped at the screen for a moment, then punched the power button. Nothing.

Did a breaker blow? Carl looked around, noticed that the light was on. He was sure that he hadn't flicked its switch. And the glow coming from it denied the possibility of a blown breaker.

What was going on? Carl walked through the house. The lights in the bedrooms were on, as was the kitchen's. Every light was lit, but the rest of the electrical components were dead. Clocks, stereo, land-line wireless phone, DVD player...all dead. He walked to the living room, picked up his cell phone from the coffee table, and saw with relief that it was on. Flipping it open, however, revealed no signal, despite the fact that it never had problems at home. Just about everywhere else in the god-forsaken town where he lived, yes, but not home.

Carl rubbed the back of his neck, working on a knot of tension. Something weird was happening, but more importantly, he had no way of knowing if the game was over. He wandered through the rooms, then out the front door. Lights shone from every window in the neighborhood.

He strode to the Stewart's home. Vic was a baseball fan; he probably had the game on. Carl pounded on the front door, but received no response. "Come on!" he yelled. "I know you're in there, Vic. I can see the lights."

Leaning on the doorbell with one hand, he continued to slam his fist against the door. But after a minute or two, gave up. He ran to the next house, pounded on their door. Again, no response.

Walking slowly back home, Carl sighed. He didn't like this electricity business, or his neighbors ignoring him, but those problems could wait. The game, he had to know what happened in the game. Lost in thought, he looked down, and would have fallen on the ground if it were there to catch him. Instead, he saw nothing but the serene blue of a summer sky.

Whipping his head around, Carl tried to figure out where he was. Blue surrounded him on all sides, as far as he could see. Still walking--he could feel the movement in the air--he didn't see to be going anywhere. Of course, with no reference point, how could he tell?

He slowed to a stop, sat down. He couldn't see what he sat on, couldn't even feel it. But his body told him he was sitting, so he chose to believe it. After waiting a few moments, the blue changed, began to darken, until it became the deepest, darkest night.

Wonder if the Cubs are still playing, he thought. For no reason he could determine, he stood up and started walking. First one direction, then another. It was pitch black, yet he could still see his body. No lights anywhere, but somehow, he could see.

After awhile--minutes, hours, days, he had no way of knowing--Carl grew bored and lay down, closed his eyes. He lay there unmoving for what felt like hours, but was probably closer to a few minutes, when a voice boomed out, "Carl Trudeau, you have been judged, and found wanting."

Leaping up, Carl opened his eyes and saw nothing but the eternal darkness. "Who are you?"

"I am Judge. I have found you guilty. Your punishment is upon you."

"Guilty? Of what?"

"Of being a shallow, lonely man with no interests beyond the fate of a few grown men playing a child's game."

"It's baseball! How could I not love it?" His voice echoed in the dark, bouncing on unseen walls and magnifying in volume as he waited for a response.

"You abandoned Melissa for love of the game. For your arrogance and callousness, you are imprisoned for eternity."

Melissa. It came back to her, like everything else. The bitch. "I told her from day one how much I loved baseball. It's not my fault she didn't believe me."

"You put a game before your wife. You have earned your sentence."

Angry tears caused Carl's vision to blur. Odd that perfect darkness blurs, he thought. "Will you at least tell me what happened in Game 7?"

The voice hesitated, then whispered. Carl strained to listen, but couldn't make out what it said. Another voice whispered, but he had no better luck with it. Finally, Judge spoke again. "I have been ordered to give you this much, at least. The Cubs won in the 10th inning."

Carl jumped, adrenaline pumping through his body. "Yes!" he shouted, and danced through the darkness.

"Do not be joyful, mortal. You are still imprisoned for eternity."

"The Cubbies won," Carl replied. "My life is complete. What they say is true. All's well that ends well." With a contented sigh, he strode away, into the darkness.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009


I've just finished reading Self-Editing for Fiction Writers, Second Edition: How to Edit Yourself Into Print, 2nd edition by Renni Browne & Dave King, and wow, is it ever an excellent book. If there are any aspiring writers reading this post, I highly recommend picking up a copy.

I borrowed it from my local library, but I have no doubt that I'll be picking up my own copy very soon. It's full of helpful tips, exercises, and new ways of looking at writing. As I it, I felt decent about most of my writing, as I avoid most of their "don't" lists. Then I got deeper into the book, and several chapters seemed to speak to me personally, pointing out the flaws that plague my writing.

But not only do they show examples of what's done wrong, and what's done right, Browne and King provide explanations, exercises, and tips on how to correct the problems. Perhaps the most useful inclusion is quotes from manuscripts before and after editing, with a discussion about what they fixed, and why.

Most "how to write" books I've read tell what not to do, and maybe provide an example or two. A few will go into a little detail about why to avoid certain pitfalls. None so far had the excellent, practical advice that Browne and King provide.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Happy Easter!

This is the first time Jenny and I made Easter dinner. Normally we go to my grandparent's house. But this year too many people were sick, so it was just the two of us. We made the following:

Cola Basted Ham
Scalloped Potato Gratin
Green Bean Casserole

Everything was delicious. The ham was good, although not as good as the Honey Baked Ham we normally have at Easter. Still, it was an acceptable substitution. The potatoes were creamy, cheesy, and awesome (we added some cheddar cheese and crumbled bacon). And the Green Bean Casserole is a standard at our holiday feasts.

Hope you and yours have a great Easter!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Airleaf Publishing stole from authors, Indiana declines to prosecute

This post at Writer Beware! Blogs is about Airleaf Publishing, a now defunct company run by Carl Lau, and the roughly 2 million dollars it has stolen from authors. Now comes word that the United States Attorney of Indiana, Timothy Morrison, has decided that their actions do not meet the criminal codes of Indiana.

This is ridiculous, as evidenced by the litany of crimes listed in the post. Bonnie Kaye, a writer's activist, is organizing a petition to deliver to Timothy Morrison urging him to prosecute. If you're interested, click here to see the Writer Beware! Blogs post to get Bonnie's email address and let her know you'd like to sign the petition.

Monday, April 6, 2009

First full day of baseball!

What a wonderful day it is. Baseball is back, and oh how I have missed it. I don't follow any other sports, so when baseball's offseason rolls around, I feel deprived.

But it's back, and the Mets won today! A nice 2-1 win in which Johan Santana pitched well, and the bullpen, the key point of failure the last two seasons, put up 3 1/3 shutout innings. Exactly what the Mets needed.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

First revision of Jack O'Lantern complete

Today I finished my first pass of editing on Jack O'Lantern. It's amazing how much lousy writing I found when I read it. But at the same time, I found some real gems in there. Reading through and making the notes about what needed to be corrected was the easy part. Getting in there and actually doing the editing was difficult, and not fun. It got discouraging after awhile. Editing focuses on the bad writing, after all, and then fixing it. And so when I went through page after page, and saw the mistakes pile up, the poor sentences compound, and the just plain "what was I thinking?" moments keep coming, I got discouraged. I'd work on 20-30 pages at a time, and then just shove it aside when I hit a hard part. But the manuscript was always there, always nagging at me to get back to it.

Now I'm done with that first editing pass. And there's still so much more editing and revising to do. There's at least one whole chapter that I need to add, to flesh the story out a little. There are probably a lot of little details I could use to put in, things to make the story and world come alive. But hell, at this point, I'm happy. Another major step in the writing process complete.

Friday, April 3, 2009

All will soon be right with the world

The baseball season starts Monday! I cannot say just how much I hate the offseason. Yes, there are trade rumors and free agent signings to keep up with, not to mention Spring Training, but it's just not the same as regular season baseball. I bought Extra Innings from DirecTV, so I'll get to watch just about every Mets game there is this season.

Tomorrow the Mets play the Red Sox in their final exhibition game. It's only their second game at their new stadium, Citi Field. MLB Network will be broadcasting, and you can be sure I'll be watching. I can't wait to get a look at what their new digs looks like.

Ah, baseball. How do I love thee? Let me count the ways...

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Rock, Radio, and my favorite songs

As I state in my Blogger profile, my favorite genre of music is classic rock, with a spotlight on the 80's. I love the big hair bands, the hair metal, the anthem rock, the power ballads, the over-the-top songs and performances. It's what rock is all about to me. And more than anything else, I love the sound of the guitar that was popular then, especially the solos. The lead guitar was on equal footing as the lead singer in so much of 80's rock, and that's where it belongs. There's not a lot of current rock that I enjoy, and it's mostly because rock now focuses more on beats, rhythms, and repeatable riffs rather than meticulously intricate guitar playing. I also love long rock epics, and there's very little of that anymore. Almost everything now seems to fit neatly into the 3:30-4:30 minute range, to please radio producers, I imagine. And when a song is "too long," parts are cut out - usually the instrumental portions that are just as important to the feel of the song as the chorus and hook.

This is one reason that about the only radio station I listen to (when I'm not listening to my iPod) is 95.5 KLOS in the Greater Los Angeles area. They play tons of classic rock, they'll play 20-minute songs, they'll even play entire albums. It's great, and I discover more awesome songs all the time.

Without further ado, here's what I currently consider my favorite 20 songs.

20) Right Side of Wrong - Bon Jovi

This song has one recurring theme with most of my favorite songs: it tells a story. I love storytelling (as is evidenced by my writing and voracious reading), and doing it to great music is awesome. And I think Jon Bon Jovi has a great voice that's just perfect for it.

19) Shooting Star - Bad Company

Another story. Great vocals, great story, and some beautiful guitar solos. I especially like how the second solo builds, and builds, and builds to the climax.

18) More Than Words - Extreme

I saw Extreme in concert last year in Vegas at the House of Blues at Mandalay Bay. Great show, and this song was incredible. It's very different from most on this list, as it's very stripped down and almost simplistic. The guitar is incredible, and the harmonies and falsettos are beautiful.

17) Turn the Page - Metallica

The Bob Seger version is okay, but Metallica took this song and made it shine. The grittiness that James Hetfield brings to the vocals makes it a more powerful story.

16) You're All I Need - Mötley Crüe

I love power ballads, and this one is a great one, even if the lyrics are twisted and disturbing. It shows a diversity to Mötley Crüe's music that is often overlooked.

15) Paint it Black - The Rolling Stones

I'm not a big Stones fan, as I can generally take 'em or leave 'em. Something about Paint it Black really appeals to me, however. I love the main guitar riff, and the lyrics are fun.

14) Free Bird - Lynyrd Skynyrd

What would a top 20 list of classic rock songs be without Free Bird? It's so iconic, so great, and the guitar solos so could I pass it up?

13) Paradise City - Guns N' Roses

As is typical for GnR, the guitar riffs and solos in this song are nearly beyond belief. Slash is easily my all time favorite guitarist, and he's in fine form in this song.

12) Juke Box Hero - Foreigner

Another story. This one makes it mostly on the power of Lou Gramm's voice. The slow beat of the intro pulsing in the background, he describes the scene and the scream of the guitar, and I can see what he's describing. Awesome.

11) Hotel California - The Eagles

Yep, another story. I love how, similar to Free Bird, the lyrics end relatively early in the song, and the rest is just pure instrumental. I want to write a book using this song as a base, but something tells me I'd never persuade The Eagles to let me do it.

10) The Unforgiven - Metallica

A lot of Metallica fans think that they went "commercial" with the black album. I disagree; I simply think they expanded their abilities and reached new heights. This song is, you guessed it, another story. The song contains everything that defines Metallica to me: great, soft intro leading into powerful vocals and heavy guitar, and a great solo.

9) Cliffs of Dover - Eric Johnson

The only pure instrumental song on this list, this one is all about the beauty of a well-played electric guitar. Great intro, catchy chorus, and awesome solos.

8) Dry County - Bon Jovi

An epic song with a compelling story, sung by Jon Bon Jovi's hauntingly mournful voice. And the band's best solo of all their work.

7) Don't Stop Believing - Journey

One of the greatest karaoke songs of all time, and I don't even like karaoke. But when this song comes on in the car, when I'm alone, I sing as if I was on stage.

6) Foreplay / Long Time - Boston

Boston's Peace of Mind and More Than a Feeling just missed this top 20. I love their very-distinctive sound, and Brad Delp was one of the greatest vocalists in rock history.

5) God Gave Rock and Roll to You II - KISS

I just love this song. Guitar that practically sings the lyrics, good solo, and a great premise.

4) Bohemian Rhapsody - Queen

Freddy Mercury just may have been the best vocalists ever. Simply incredible. And Queen just may be the best band ever. Only their innovative, groundbreaking style could bring about a song such as Bohemian Rhapsody. Who else can merge soft a cappellas, heavy guitar solos, rock and roll, bell chords, and fricking opera?

3) November Rain - Guns N' Roses

Probably the most beautiful guitar solos I've ever heard, and Axl Rose singing beautifully. What more needs to be said?

2) 18 and Life - Skid Row

Sebastian Bach's performance is so guttural, so passionate, that it feels real. He makes you believe Ricky really exists, that his trials and tribulations were actually happening.

1) Sweet Child o' Mine - Guns N' Roses

Sweet Child o' Mine features one of the most famous guitar riffs of all time, one of the first that aspiring guitarists try to learn and play as soon as they get their instrument. It's ironic that Slash had to be convinced by his band mates to include the riff in a song, as he thought it was too simplistic and used it as part of his warm-up routine. Axl Rose was at the top of his game when he sang this song. It's just a shame that Axl is so adamant about never working with the rest of GnR again as long as he lives. He may release new albums using the same band name, but everybody knows it's not really Guns N' Roses.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Senility on submission

Now that Senility has been thoroughly critiqued, I've done a final set of revisions and edits and sent it off to the first magazine. Here's hoping they're wise enough to publish it.

Senility is a cross between Horror and Dark Fantasy. The horror elements are kept fairly light, more intellectual than your typical blood and guts stories. The title tells you at least a little about what it's about: old age. I'm not giving out any information on the plot, however. You'll have to buy the magazine that ends up publishing it.

What's kind of odd about this story, at least for me, is the responses that my test readers and the critiquers gave, compared to my other stories, The Lay of Percy Wallace in particular. I consider Percy the best story I've written, and the one I think is the most artistic, if you will. But it got very mixed reviews. Meanwhile, Senility got pretty much unanimous praise. Even the few critiquers that didn't seem to get the story said they enjoyed it, and nearly all the suggestions were fairly minor.

Don't get me wrong, I like Senility. And after re-reading it for my last revision phase, I enjoyed the hell out of it. But I don't love it like I love Percy. Yet the reactions of those who have read both favor Senility. Just goes to show that I guess I don't know my best writing when I see it.

I hope magazine editors will like it as much as my critique group and test readers did. Keep your fingers crossed!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Reading, wRiting, but no 'Rithmetic

I read a lot. Baseball forums, publishing blogs, video game forums, news stories, and humor sites. Oh, and books. Lots and lots of books. I'd say about 99% of the books I read are fiction, but it's hard to define them past that. There are a few genres I don't read: Romance, Westerns, Women's Literature. But just about everything else is fair game. I am most partial to Epic Fantasy, and speculative fiction in general. For those who might not know, speculative fiction is Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror. This is the genre I write in the most. But I also enjoy a good legal drama, or mystery (sometimes even cozies), or thriller.

People always ask me how many books I read. I really can't say, because I devour them. Just making a WAG, I usually say 3-5 books a week, and I think that's fairly accurate. I love to read, obviously. This love of reading is what led me to writing. In the past 5 years or so, I kept imaging plotlines for books, wishing somebody would write what I was thinking. In the past year, I decided that nobody was going to magically pull these great ideas out of my mind unless it was me, so I took pen to paper and embarked on a journey that has already proven to be strange.

Writing is much more difficult than reading, but far more rewarding, also. The sense of accomplishment when I finished the first draft of Jack O' Lantern was incredible. Ask just about anybody on the street, and I'd wager that at least 75% would say that would like to write a novel, and believe they can do it. How many actually do? Probably something like 1-2%. I've done it, and it's a great feeling.

Of course, maybe 1-2% of those novels that are written actually get published. That's where the balloon pops and the pride goes rushing out. Will I be one of the 1-2%? I certainly hope so! But only time will tell.

Books I've read this year

Inspired by my "What I'm Reading" blurb on the sidebar, this entry will serve as an ongoing log of all books I read this year, starting from a few days ago. You can jump to this post easily as times goes on by clicking on the link in the "What I'm Reading" blurb.

1. The Appeal by John Grisham
2. Paths of Glory by Jeffrey Archer
3. Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card
4. Speaker for the Dead by Orson Scott Card
5. The Associate by John Grisham
6. The Writer's Art by James J. Kilpatrick
7. How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy by Orson Scott Card
8. Dragonquest by Anne McCaffrey
9. Self-Editing for Fiction Writers, Second Edition: How to Edit Yourself Into Print, 2nd edition by Renni Browne & Dave King
10. Magic Street by Orson Scott Card

11. The Elements of Style by Strunk & White
12. How to Write Best-selling Fiction by Dean Koontz
13. Xenocide by Orson Scott Card
14. The First Family by David Baldacci
15. Children of the Mind by Orson Scott Card
16. Ender's Shadow by Orson Scott Card
17. Shadow of the Hegemon by Orson Scott Card
18. Shadow Puppets by Orson Scott Card
19. Shadow of the Giant by Orson Scott Card
20. Ender in Exile by Orson Scott Card

21. The Diamond Throne by David Eddings
22. The Ruby Knight by David Eddings
23. The Sapphire Rose by David Eddings
24. A Game of Inches, Volume 1: The Stories Behind the Innovations That Shaped Baseball: The Game on the Field by Peter Morris
25. Starship Troopers by Robert A. Heinlein
26. The King of Tort by John Grisham
27. Domes of Fire by David Eddings
28. The Shining Ones by David Eddings
29. The Hidden City by David Eddings
30. Slash by Slash and Anthony Bozza

31. The Brass Verdict by Michael Connelly
32. Double Jeopardy by William Bernhardt
33. City of Bones by Michael Connelly
34. Pawn of Prophecy by David Eddings
35. Queen of Sorcery by David Eddings
36. Magician's Gambit by David Eddings
37. Echo Park by Michael Connelly
38. Primary Justice by William Bernhardt
39. The Testament by John Grisham
40. Dark Eye by William Bernhardt

41. Eragon by Christopher Paolini
42. Blind Justice by William Bernhardt
43. Eldest by Christopher Paolini
44. Perfect Justice by William Bernhardt
45. Castle of Wizardry by David Eddings
46. Enchanter's End Game by David Eddings
47. Brisingr by Christopher Paolini
48. Cruel Justice by William Bernhardt
49. Naked Justice by William Bernhardt
50. Extreme Justice by William Bernhardt

51. A Princess of Landover by Terry Brooks
52. Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott
53. Dark Justice by William Bernhardt
54. Silent Justice by William Bernhardt
55. Murder One by William Bernhardt
56. Watch you Bleed: The Saga of Guns N' Roses by Stephen Davis
57. Criminal Intent by William Bernhardt
58. Death Row by William Bernhardt
59. Hate Crime by William Bernhardt
60. Duma Key by Stephen King

61. Capitol Murder by William Bernhardt
62. The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown
63. Capitol Threat by William Bernhardt
64. Capitol Conspiracy by William Bernhardt
65. Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson.
66. Elantris by Brandon Sanderson
67. The Good Guy by Dean Koontz
68. Mistborn: The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson
69. Mistborn: The Well of Ascension by Brandon Sanderson
70. Mistborn: The Hero of Ages by Brandon Sanderson

71. Warbreaker by Brandon Sanderson
72. The Faithful Spy by Alex Berenson
73. The Ghost War by Alex Berenson
74. The Last Wish by Andrzej Sapkowski
75. Blood of Elves by Andrzej Sapkowski

Sunday, March 22, 2009

The Appeal by John Grisham

If you have not read The Appeal and do not want to be spoiled on the ending, do not read further.

I've read just about every published work by John Grisham, from A Time to Kill to A Painted House. While I believe his earlier work is the best, I still enjoyed reading everything of his. Until, that is, I read The Appeal.

The Appeal is about politics, big business, and how they screw the little guy. It is also more a piece of political propaganda than it is a novel. Grisham viciously portrays big business as consummate evil, and conservatives as soulless lemmings who will vote however their church tells them. The liberals, on the other hand, are perfect: selfless and innocent of any wrongdoing. These themes are repeated throughout the book with nearly every character, making for some of the most boring protagonists and antagonists you'll ever find.

Grisham did manage to keep me turning pages, however, as he can still craft a well-turned phrase. The story progresses forward, and as the pages left dwindled, I began to wonder how on Earth he would wrap it all up satisfactorily. Unfortunately, he doesn't. The ending is probably the worst I've ever read in a professionally published novel.

Let me detour a little. There's an implied agreement between readers and writers:

The reader reads through the book, suspends disbelief (the amount needed depends on the author and reader), follows where the book takes him, and cares about the characters.

The author will create a well-written story with characters the reader cares about, and tells an engrossing story. The ending, while it does not need to be happy, satisfies the reader.

Grisham failed on his end of the implied agreement in The Appeal. The characters feel like wooden impersonations of characters from his previous novels, and the ending made me feel like I had wasted my time reading the preceding pages.

The Appeal does not deliver a happy ending. The bad guys win, the good guys lose. In and of itself, that's not enough to make for a bad ending. It's also a very realistic ending. Again, not enough to ruin it. What really killed the ending, for me at least, is this combination of factors:

1) The bad guys win--completely, totally, and without reservation. Nothing, and I do mean nothing, bad happens to them. They pay absolutely no consequences for their deviousness.

2) The good guys lose--completely, totally, and without reservation. Not one good thing happens to them in this story.

3) Too many loose ends are not tied up. Plot points that were introduced earlier are not resolved, and it almost felt like Grisham just threw the ending together because of a deadline.

I don't mind that the protagonists didn't have a happy ending. Most of what I write, in fact, has fairly nasty endings for them. But I balance this out with the antagonists getting what's coming to them, also. This allows the reader to feel that while things didn't work out perfectly, at least the characters they dislike got their comeuppance.

I hope that Grisham's newest novel, The Associate, is a return to his old ways. I have not had a chance to read it yet, but I expect to do so sometime in the next few months. If it is as disappointing as The Appeal, he might lose my attention.

Look ma, I have a blog!

So here's my blog. Not the first I've ever done, but I'm hoping it will be the one that lasts.

I imagine I'm supposed to take this opportunity to introduce myself to you. But really, there's no "you" here, at least not yet. I'm the only one who knows about this blog, and for awhile, at least, I imagine the only people who will see it are friends and family. They already know me, so I don't think I need to bother with an introduction. Besides, what's the point of that "About Me" section I wrote up, if not to serve as an introduction?

I do want to draw attention to one thing I have posted on the left side of this blog: the Works in Progress list. This is the list of short stories and novels I'm currently working on, and what's going on with them at the moment. I'll try to keep this updated as things change, but since writing, editing, and publishing are incredibly slow processes, don't expect changes often.

One final comment to close out my introduction post...this blog isn't going to be exclusively about writing/publishing. There's plenty of those blogs out there already, by people with far more credentials and experience (you can find some of my favorites in the Publishing Info section). I'll blog about whatever is on my mind when I feel like blogging, and I'm guessing my topics will mostly be about baseball, video games, writing, reading, and other such activities that catch my interest.