Debate Continues on Amazon
And for the most part it's been quite respectful and helpful: The Professor and Mary Ann!And if the bump in the Amazon numbers (from around 28k up to 13k) is because of it, then bring it on! I'll post every day, if you want.
New Review on Amazon
And it's an interesting combination of perception, and misperception:http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/customer-reviews/097897073X/sr=1-1/qid=1174448258/ref=cm_cr_dp_synop/105-6399312-0295610?ie=UTF8&m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&n=283155&s=books&customer-reviews.start=1&qid=1174448258&sr=1-1#R2U1NVI6ZQES05So let's lay out the points: Jonah's thoughts on his family (or lack of them) are a real weakness in the book. I would do it differently if I had to do it over. Although they don't figure in the narrative, it would definitely have helped his characterization to have more about them. I don't think the dialogue is poorly written. There's just way too much of it. It should've been cut way back, and info introduced more seamlessly. BUT (you knew there was one, didn't you?) - God is not mentioned on every page. (Fifty times in 200 pages, to be precise - I checked.) But, if you don't like the name of God, then I guess that must be a burdensome amount. And you live on a different planet if you think that people would not be mentioning God constantly when corpses get up and start walking around. Sex is mentioned like Mr. Rogers would? (A funny dig, I admit.) There's a nice little love scene in the middle. Lots of kissing and vulnerability and stuff. I like that. I have been amused and shocked at how adolescently phallocentric so much horror writing is, even stuff that I think has some talent and literary merit. I've read several books now, good ones, where the protagonist wakes up with an erection, gets another one when he sees his significant other, another one when he sees an attractive woman (just sees her, mind you, and boing!), and then the villain gets one when he's beating a woman up. Okay, okay, enough, we get the point - the protagonist is virile beyond belief, and the villain is a sadist. As I say, it's just juvenile.
Death, taxes, the zombie Apocalypse. And, if you're a horror author who posts on message boards or has a blog, an attack from a certain someone: http://nickolauspacione.blogspot.com/2007/08/someones-bullshit-cover.htmlHis attack on me was really very tame by his standards, so I will say that I appreciate that much restraint and thank him for that. I have never quoted him, or criticized his work, and I will say nothing further about this subject. I will allow comments, though I have now switched on the comment moderation option, and I'll delete any that are obscene.
A New Review by Count Agranoff
Dare We Hope?
That this administration can no longer do whatever it feels like?http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/20459457/That it actually has to tell the truth? Or obey the Constitution? It'd be such a novel concept, after 6+ years, but probably not.
New Free Horror Magazine
Noctem Aeturnus is a new, online horror magazine. It will be free to all subscribers, so stop on by http://www.michaelknost.com and sign up.
Great Post on Literary Style
It is - http://mssrcrankypants.livejournal.com/72847.html?view=591503#t591503And it gets at a lot of the problems with people who fancy themselves writers. They can't describe something well, they don't have the patience or background to build up a theme that runs through their story, they can't set a mood, or build suspense, or even do something as simple as foreshadowing. And what do they do? Do they go out and try to learn to do those things? Or read people who do those things very well? No, they declare they have a new, pithy, no-nonsense style and you're just trying to inhibit their creativity. Philistines of the lowest order, I say. Must be those darned college professors not teaching them right.
Well, more like a huge tease, since I can't tell you what it is, just that there will be a huge announcement regarding D2L (the original) soon.
Benny Hinn and Metal
I've never know what to make of him. Benn Hinn and Drowning PoolI'm not being facetious. Other than the obvious observation that such antics aren't my cup of tea, but so what? I can just not go to his things. He baptizes like 100,000 people at a pop. And almost none of those ever go to church again or have what I would consider a "real" relationship with Christ, but if even a few do, maybe he's doing a good thing?But - faith healing plus heavy metal moshing, well, what's not to like about that?! LMAO.
Hint: If you don't know how to do something, then trying to learn while doing it for the first time isn't a good idea. IKEA furniture is about as far as I will venture into such projects. But my wife brought home a sink and vanity yesterday. Neither she nor I have any experience with such things. I said so. She insisted it was easy. Why? Because the guy at Lowe's said it was. Uh-huh. I'll be sure to tell him next time I see him how easy it is to write zombie novels, and he should quit his job and go do that. She got as far as turning the water off at the main valve, and disassembling the old sink. And now we have the water off, and no way to turn it back on, since I can't get the fitting for the new sink to thread on to the old pipe. No water. No coffee. I pissed on the bushes late last night when it was dark, but now that the sun is up, that's not looking like such a good option.
That's right, gentle readers: D2L2 - Life Sentence is DONE! Finished! Wrapped up! Loose ends tied! And wow, what an emotional roller coaster to write. I keep telling you - not the bloodbath of the first, but some great characters doing some great things with a lot of emotion. I'm very proud of it. It's pretty much exactly the kind of story I envisioned myself writing, when I went back to writing fiction last year - a poignant, humane story of regular people in bizarre, violent circumstances. Now, it is your responsibility to clamor for it. Clamor, I say, CLAMOR!!
Brian Keene's Ghoul
Besides being just about the nicest guy you'll ever meet, Brian is a great and, most of all, a sensitive and complex writer. His allusions slip seamlessly between comics and classics, and that keeps the voice believable and interesting, and he genuinely cares about his characters and makes the reader care as well. This story, despite the title or lurid cover, is a coming of age story (if you came of age in 1984 and had a flesh eating ghoul living in your backyard). And, as it turns out, the "monster" is really not that much of a threat (most of the time he's rather sympathetic), compared to what else the boys have to deal with, and both the supernatural and "regular" horrors are described deftly and terrifyingly. Not all the minor characters seem integrated well (especially Katie and any of the boys' mothers), and the ending seemed to me gratuitously nihilistic, as though the author felt a horror novel "has" to end with the evil continuing and not being snuffed out, but that may be an individual choice or judgment, and for others the ending may "feel" right and necessary.
Can't hide the fact: D2L has been all over the place on Amazon this week, but mostly down in the 16,000th-20,000th range. So I can't claim that it's still in the top 10,000 anymore. But, at the moment, it's at 15,000th. There are plenty of gift-giving holidays left in 2007!
I was just craving some good, bloggish snark and flames, and the Keenester and the Nickster are both doing real work, and everyone on Shocklines seems to be on downers and not even having their daily political flame war, so I looked up this classic: http://hailsaten.blogspot.com/2007_03_01_archive.html(Sorry I can't seem to zero in on the one entry, so scroll down to "Scorched Earth.")
Sarah Langan's The Keeper
I just finished fellow NY writer Sarah Langan's debut novel, The Keeper (HarperTorch, 2006), and it's a nice one. Sarah's voice is so lyrical throughout this tale, that I would recommend it based on the quality of its writing, not just for its chills. It truly is not "just" a horror novel. Nor is it in any way "just" a good first novel. The level of mastery, skill and artistry are astonishing. The deep, dark secrets are perhaps a little easy to guess early on, but the characters are so clearly and compellingly drawn that you cannot help caring about them, needing to know what happens to them.
Back from Horrorfind!
And what a great place! Pretty much like the Land of Oz! Where else could I find so many nice people, who constantly told me how great I was, and so much free booze?! Not any place I usually inhabit in that inconveniently reality-based world out there! And, Gentle Reader, let me tell you - your favorite blogger and zombie author spent last night in the VIP room! A burly, hairy security man checked to make sure I had the yellow armband and not just the regular blue one! And then there was an endless parade of mini egg rolls and Coors Light. (Ahem, someone does need to tell Marriott, Mormons or not, to upgrade the VIP beer.) Never mind that I hung out with the same, lowly authors that I had the previous night, and no, I didn't go up and chat to Malcolm Macdowell (who, by being reduced to playing the same thankless role that a has-been Donald Pleasence had been reduced to 30 years previous, could surely do worse than chat to me). Nonetheless, I still had arrived!!! And for the TODPers I met - what a great group! I look forward to many more! And let me single out WithanI - you rock!
Off to Horrorfind!
Leaving for Horrorfind Weekend. It's my first time reading my fiction in public. I'm nervous!
Twenty weeks on Amazon, between 2,000th and 12,000th, and now kind of high at 3,800th. Still plugging away.
Three-quarters of the way through the sequel. It's hot, by my standards of what I want to say and accomplish with a story. I think I'd like this tagline for it: "Not a zombie novel. A people novel."Too kitschy? Maybe.
Nineteen Weeks and Two New Reviews
To be honest, there were a few hours last week when D2L had slipped down to 20,000th, but it's back around 5,000th, so I think we can count the streak as continuing.Also there are two new reviews on the Amazon site, including one by the inestimable, incomparable Dr. Pus, the "other" Dr. P of the zombie world!
Incredible CGI action sequences, especially good at integrating live action into them. Some of the usual criticisms: Scenes drag on endlessly and senselessly (look how bad that marred Jackson's King Kong). You can make no sense, tactically, of what is supposed to be going on in the last action sequence, which must last 40+ minutes, and which is crosscut with a useless fight between another completely superfluous group and the little bug Decepticon. Contrast how effective is the first fight with the scorpion-like Decepticon, which only involves one robot and must last 10 minutes. The GMC product placement was a little over the top, the way Dodge used to be on Walker, Texas Ranger. Powers come and go as necessary. Prime has a sword that can kill with one blow at one point. And the reason he only uses it once? And the cube can suddenly shoot a death ray of some kind, when it needs to?I checked - the two lead kids are played by 21 year olds, which isn't that far beyond the 16 year olds that they're supposed to be, but boy, do they look old. I don't mean old like me, or old in a bad way, but the girl looks like a very voluptuous woman in her late 20s, not "training bra girl" as the dialogue at one point labels her. I never understand where the teen actors are for movies like this.
Writing Action Sequences
The hardest part of writing for me. Grueling. Writing dialogues comes naturally - I just think back to conversations I've had. Inner dialogue and musings - just as easy, for I've often found myself sitting and thinking about stuff, and I just let my mind wander in similar ways to what my characters are experiencing at the moment. Descriptions of static scenery - no problem, just think what would strike your notice in a similar situation, and keep an eye out for the details that are going to have narrative payoff later on in the story. But an action sequence - so many details, and things that I don't normally think of ever. I just did one that seemed fairly straightforward. Man threatens a woman with a gun. Should just take a few minutes to write up, right? Took me hours. The gun had just been fired. So how hot was it going to be, when he pressed it against her skin? A gun is obviously phallic and the scene is not just a threat of shooting, but of rape - but how graphic do I want that to be, before it's beyond what I want in my story? And equally problematic for the level of violence actually perpetrated against her - should he smack her with his free hand? Pistol whip her? Kick her in the stomach? All those have different nuances, and are also blocked differently, and they're going to cause different wounds, which will have to appear on her in subsequent scenes and could mess up the actions of those. So wow, it was complicated. My hats off to authors who pull them off seamlessly and convincingly. And now, be sure to look for that scene in D2L2 and see if it worked!
I've steadfastly avoided anything vaguely political, lest it alientate a prospective customer, but let's stop whoring around finally, as though I'm trying to turn a trick for royalties off a $12.95 purchase (which equals, by the way, $1.04). Katrina. One major city gone. A war we can't even vaguely, remotely pretend to win, against a bunch of people who have rudimentary technology. Crumbling infrastructre, so people die on their way home from work for no reason other than they were taking the public byways home from work, and they therefore fell into the Mississippi River. We are so far down the road to becoming a Third World nation that I guess it's not even worth discussing or debating, but when, exactly, will we even lament the fact? And I tried to maintain the cynical line that "Oh, the Democrats are as bad as the Republicans!" as long as I could, but now it's over. We have cancer. It's time to cut out the tumor. Or our kids will be living much worse than we have, trying to sneak over the border to Canada or Mexico, where there's still a dream of freedom and opportunity. Sorry. It'll be back to zombies tomorrow.
Still no zombies, though in this dream, I was a little zombie-like - I couldn't talk or walk right. But I think that was because in this dream there were taps that ran free beer everywhere! I mean everywhere. Every couple feet on the sidewalk there'd be a tap and you'd just walk up and get some. Wow.