This review appeared in the October 2015 issue of the Diablo Gazette:
A month or so ago, when reviewing Mira Grant’s entertaining new novella Rolling in the Deep, I shared how much I love a good sea monster story.
Now I must confess to finding things to enjoy in bad sea monster stories, as well. If the author keeps the story moving fast enough, and delivers enough monster action, I’m a happy reader.
Which is why I snapped up Ryan Lockwood’s new novel, What Lurks Beneath, the very moment I noticed it on the shelf at my local Barns & Noble, despite my being less than impressed with Lockwood’s debut novel, Below (which I reviewed in October of 2013).
After cracking open the book, I was surprised, and a bit dismayed, to find that Lockwood’s sophomore novel was an unnecessary sequel to Below.
Like every other unnecessary sequel, What Lurks Beneath offers more of the same, only bigger. A lot bigger.
Instead of a shoal of Humboldt squid attacking Southern California, the threat this time is an “undiscovered" (i.e. completely fictitious) species of giant octopus. One that attacks the Bahamian island of Andros.
There is a reason for why I used quotations on the word undiscovered. The species of giant octopus in What Lurks Beneath is revealed to be the source of the region’s infamous sea monster. A half-shark, half-octopus monstrosity known as the Lusca.
Readers of a certain age might recall the silly, but dreadfully dull, 1977 exploitation movie Tentacles. They also might be familiar with Jaws 3-D, the silly, but dreadfully dull, 1983 sequel to the 1975 classic.
In What Lurks Beneath, Ryan Lockwood combines the “best” elements of those two cinematic turkeys, offering the reader a heady, and unapologetically over-the-top, mix of cat-and-mouse stealth attacks on unsuspecting victims, as well as ample giant monster destruction and carnage.
And yes, Lockwood even makes a good-natured nod to Syfy channel’s 2010 B-movie monstrosity, Sharktopus. (Which recently returned in 2015’s sanity threatening Sharktopus Vs. Whalewolf.)
Although the story does not require all of its 454 pages, this unnecessary sequel delivered enough to have me hoping for yet another another unnecessary sequel. One that would bring back the giant octopus for more of the same, only bigger.
I have decided to knock my weekly writing updates from Saturday over to Monday, because it just feels right.
Monday: 1,061 words. Tuesday: 822 words. I also finished the outline for my Big Project. Doing this gave me a sense of accomplishment and a creative high. The major story and character beats have been worked out. Next up, writing the first draft. So exciting!
The rest of the week was taken by revising my short story Play and finishing the books I am reviewing for the November issue of the Diablo Gazette.
On Friday, Tanya and I drove out to the lovely Cavallo Point (aka the Lodge at the Golden Gate). She had a work retreat, which gave me a picturesque location to read, write, and relax.
Saturday I finished my review for the Diablo Gazette: 399 words.
Sunday I wrote this post: 865 words.
Because we were only a five minute walk from the Golden Gate bridge, I thought this weekend would be an excellent time for me to start Touring the Movies.
What is this? (You might be asking.) Touring the Movies will be me blogging about going to various locations where memorable or iconic scenes were filmed for movies I have enjoyed over the course of my life.
Today's movie: Magnum Force.
Being a child in the seventies, a teenager in the eighties, and having grown up living in the San Francisco Bay Area; the city of San Francisco was synonymous (for me, at least) with the hyper-violent adventures of one Inspector 71, "Dirty" Harry Callahan.
Sure, Bullit, The Towering Inferno, High Anxiety, the (first) remake of Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Time After Time, Escape from Alcatraz, and countless other movies. But the Dirty Harry movies were my favorites, and Magnum Force was my favorite Dirty Harry movie (until The Dead Pool).
Yes, the first Dirty Harry is a hard-hitting classic of lean, mean tough guy cinema. Yes, Magnum Force is a conventional and even pedestrian sequel. One that suffers when compared to the artistry and energy on display in the first film. But I still love the hell out of it. Why? Because it was the first Dirty Harry movie I ever saw. It had an impact (a sudden impact, if you will) on me that no other Dirty Harry movie can, or has, had.
Now, on to the scene.
Around the midpoint of the film, a member of the Magnum Force (a group of traffic cops acting as judge, jury, and executioner to the criminal element plaguing San Francisco) pulls over a killer pimp (wonderfully played by late character actor, and Dirty Harry series regular, Albert Popwell) and shoots him dead... repeatedly.
This scene begins with the soon to be dead pimp driving across the Golden Gate bridge.
He's heading north, toward Sausalito, when his assassin pulls him over for supposed traffic violation.
For some strange reason (let's call it "Movie Logic") the soon to be dead pimp chooses not take the Vista Point exit.
Instead he drives past the Vista Point exit and takes the one for Alexander Avenue.
For some equally strange reason (Movie Logic, again) our soon to be dead pimp drives down past Fort Baker and underneath the bridge itself. Thus giving the assassin a visually isolated location to do his dirty work.
What's difficult to impossible to tell from the stills I have posted, is how, thanks to the miracle of movie editing, the pimp takes an exit off the eastern (northbound) side of the bridge, only to drive down the winding road that is only accessible from the western (southbound) side.
I approached this location from Fort Baker, where the high end Cavallo Point resort is housed. This should have been the direction the soon to be dead pimp would have driven. Walking underneath the bridge, I regretted my spur of the moment decision. It would have been helpful to watch the scene/movie before taking my hike.
Here are the two pictures I took of the location.
This picture was taken from the curve the pimp's car is going around in the last film still. I was probably twenty or thirty feet from where most of the scene was filmed.
Because I did not watch the Pimp's Assassination prior to our arrival at Cavallo Point, I could only eyeball the location from memory. I would have much preferred an attempt at recreating the scene's establishing shot. This is something I will attempt to do in future Touring the Movies posts.
My second (and last) photo of the location was taken a little further up the hill. While it does not have the scope of the scene's establishing shot, it is still easy to see that, even with the seismic upgrading currently going on, the location has not changed all that much from how it looked in 1973.
The only clip of the Pimp's Assassination I could find, unfortunately, does not feature very much, if any, of the scenic lead in to the big moment.
However, if you look through the pimp mobile's windows, as the assassin starts back up the incline. You will see the road I walked and took my photos from.
This one is a tad late. But what better way to start a new writing week than by writing about last week's writing?
Because of family schedules and such, I usually take the weekends off. But Tanya had some work to do, so, on Sunday, I knocked around a story concept that had clicked in my head the previous evening.
Monday I wrote the damn thing: 1,044 words.
Tuesday: 510 words.
Then... BAM! A creative wall.
Feeling directionless, but needing to feel that I was doing something writing related, I spent Wednesday filing old drafts, transcribing some notes (from a talk I had with comic book artist-writer Mike Wolfer, way back in 2012 - shit, it's been that long!?!), and organizing all my "big project" false starts.
The reason it took all of Wednesday is that I have been putting off filing old drafts and such for too long.
But doing that very thing helped get my head around some lose ends and dangling threads. I kicked off Thursday reinvigorated. By the end of Friday I had the major issues with the big project ironed out.
At this moment I need to give generous and heart-filled thanks to both Dan Wells and Daniel Jose Older. Their lectures, and the one-on-one breakout session I had with Dan, at the Out of Excuses Retreat gave me the tools to look at the big project from perspectives (i.e. character desire and conflict driving narrative, etc.) that allowed me to work out the biggest of the pesky knots I had made. It also reconciled the core conflicting concepts that kept tripping me up.
Friday ended on a creative high. I had created strong, followable narrative lines I could follow from beginning to end. I may not know what is going to happen, but I understand why it needs to happen.
It's the difference between blazing a new path to the waterfall blind and blazing a new path to the waterfall using a compass and the stars in the night sky as a map. Whenever I get stuck at what seems like a dead end, I will be able to figure the best way around, over, or under that obstacle.
There was no writing update last week because I was on a boat, attending the awesome Writing Excuses: Out of Excuses Workshop and Retreat 2015.
I was there! It really happened, and it was awesome!
The thing of it is, I didn't get all that much writing done. My wonderful wife kept pulling me off the ship and into her vacation.
If I were so inclined, I could try and make a big sarcastic stink about how I wanted to stay in our stateroom, or just on the ship in general, and tap-tap-tap away at the keyboard. But I'm not, so I won't.
After a day at sea, which I spent attending lectures on Description (in the morning) and World Building (in the afternoon), watching the Writing Excuses team record several episodes (attached pic), and having a fifteen minute "breakout session" (with Writing Excuses host Dan Wells) that helped work out some plotting issues with my "Big Project" outline, the lady love and I disembarked for day in Labadee, Haiti. (How's that for a run-on sentence?)
What neither of us knew was that Royal Caribbean, the cruise line our retreat was using, had leased a long stretch of land from the Haitian government. One that was not connected to the actual town of Labadee, at all.
While we did see the town of Labadee, Haiti from a distance, during an enjoyable boat tour, we were never able to make it over to the town itself. It seems the locals have refused a direct road connection with the resort location, as doing so would take away income earning jobs from the town's water taxi drivers. With Haiti plagued by 80% unemployment, no one wishes to deprive anyone of a much needed income source.
The evening retreat lecture was on Revision (Spinning Straw into Gold). That night I also got in on a game of Eldritch Horror and was the first to die. That kept me from staying up to the wee hours of the morning.
Day three we docked at Falmouth, Jamaica, where we did a great deal of shopping. We also went on an excursion that had us walking up the Dunn's River Falls. That was certainly a unique experience. One everyone in our group knew would be impossible to do in the United States.
The evening retreat presentation was supposed to be another Writing Excuses recording session, but technical difficulties, time zone mishaps, and assorted personal issues turned it into a fun question and answer panel.
Day four we docked at Georgetown, Grand Cayman. There we visited the small town of Hell, got to see a turtle breeding farm, and, most awesome of all, waded with sting rays in the crystal clear waters off of Grand Cayman.
That was my favorite outing of the trip.
The evening retreat functions were small group breakout sessions, mine focused on characterization, and, because it was the second "formal night" of the cruise, a cos-play cocktail party.
For some strange reason, call it a mixture of fatigue and my Brain Mouth becoming overstuffed with lobster tales*, I was not in the mood to snap pictures of the costumed attendees. Good thing a group photo was taken of the attendees and instructors that night.
Our last docking was Cozumel, Mexico. There we went out to the Mayan ruins of Tullum. I don't know what was more breathtaking. The oceanside vistas, or the oppressive heat and humidity. (Let me also say that this was our third or fourth excursion exertion in oppressive heat and humidity, we were getting overheated and overtired.)
The evening retreat presentation was a recording of the Writing Excuses podcast. Later that night, after dinner, I enjoyed several raucous games of The Werewolves of Miller's Hollow. Great fun, big laughs, late night. (Well, late for an aging fart like me. The younglings have a bit more stamina.)
Saturday was a sea day. Battling exhaustion, from the combination of active excursions and staying up late playing games, I attended two and a half lectures. The first focused on structuring story, the second was on how to best juggle multiple character viewpoints, and the half lecture was on dialogue. How was it a half lecture? Well, it was just after lunch and, getting blindsided by a dose of food coma, I dozed off during the lecture.
As much as I would have enjoyed attending the giant question and answer with the cast of Writing Excuses, I needed a nap. We did make it to the Farewell Party that night, though.
And then it was pretty much over. We returned to Fort Lauderdale the next morning, where we spent the day with a retreat attendee we had become friendly with, before catching our evening flight home.
Because the Writing Excuses hosts warned us all that writing could/would prove difficult in the coming days/weeks, I spent time on the flight, and on Monday, organizing and transcribing all of my notes from the various lectures. It was a great way for my Brain Mouth to chew up all the intellectual lobster tails it had been stuffed with during the retreat.
What little writing I did during the retreat consisted of tinkering with my "Big Project" outline.
After running out of notes to organize and transcribe I spent a few hours trying to reshape the jumbled mess of ideas my outline had become. Tired of it all, I threw my hands up and just started writing the damned thing.
Tuesday: 208 words. Wednesday: 300 words. Thursday: 415 words (not including the 875 word first draft of this post). Friday: 608 words (not including the additional 85 or so words added to this post during rewrites and polishing).
This review appeared in the September issue of the Diablo Gazette.
Being a longtime fan of Edgar Allen Poe, I had a desire to crack open Jill Dawson’s new novel, The Tell-Tale Heart, the moment I read its title.
Adding fuel to my desire was a cover blurb describing the book as “uncanny and atmospheric.” Spooky sounding praise that made me all the more eager to dive into the interconnected tales of Patrick Robson, heart recipient, Drew Beamish, heart donor, and Willie Beamiss, an ancestor of Drew’s.
After suffering a massive heart attack, Patrick Robson is diagnosed with heart failure. If the fifty year old serial philanderer, and soon to be former Professor of American History, does not get a new heart, he will not be alive in six months time.
Then Drew Beamish, a troubled teenager, dies in a tragic motorcycle accident and Robson gets a brand new used heart. While recovering from surgery, Robson has strange dreams and begins noticing minor personality changes that surprise him.
Because Dawson’s novel is a literary one, the changes Robson, and those who know him well, notice are in no way whatsoever ominous, or the slightest bit unsettling. They are quite welcome, in fact. It seems that the once cold and uncaring Robson also got a bit of an empathy transplant.
Or did he?
There are a few lighthearted, and a few heated, discussions about whether or not post transplant personality changes are the result of a small piece of the organ donor living on in the organ recipient, or if it only exists in the recipient’s mind. Robson might be a firm disbeliever in supernatural hokum, but Dawson wisely holds back from giving readers anything that resembles concrete proof, one way or the other.
By this point you can no doubt tell that Dawson’s Tell-Tale Heart is no nightmare of soul transference via organ transplant. It also has nothing whatsoever in common with the macabre Poe story it shares a title with, save for Robson, once or twice, describing the beating of his heart as sounding like a “watch wrapped in cotton.”
What The Tell-Tale Heart is is a moderately interesting story of how three very different, yet very similar, men struggle with the human desires for love, connection, and something more than they have.
While Dawson’s tale is certainly atmospheric, it is not the least bit uncanny.
The day this post goes live, it is our fifth wedding anniversary.
As much as I would like to refrain from romantic hyperbole, I must say these have been some of the happiest years of my life. Even the hard parts were lightened by your warm, supportive love. I am so lucky to have met you six years ago.
Happy Anniversary, honey.
Now, to the writing up date.
Only Monday and Tuesday are worth mentioning. I wrote 983 words on Monday. On Tuesday I wrote some 1,077 words, all of it pre-writing (outlines and such) on a writing project and 204 words on the project itself, for a total of 1,281 words. The rest of the week was spent avoiding the diving board that would have me jumping into the thick of the project.
Maybe I should try getting into the shallow end.
Monday also saw my September story, Love, sent out to market. As with Querida, I am still waiting to hear back.
What I find most interesting about Wes Craven's Deadly Blessing are how both the film's bathtub scene and its (nonsensical) jump scare ending were recreated (to much better effect) three years later, in A Nightmare on Elm Street:
This review appeared in the August 2015 issue of the Diablo Gazette.
If there is one kind of monster story I enjoy more than any other, it is one with a good sea monster in it.
Rolling in the Deep, a recent novella from Mira Grant, has some excellent, and scary, sea monsters in it.
Published in early 2015, as a limited edition hardcover, but now available in convenient ebook formats, Rolling in the Deep is the terrifying story of the Atargatis and how it came to lose all hands at sea.
The Imagine Network (a fictional stand-in for the Syfy Channel) wants to both capitalize on and diversify the creature feature programming that helped make it such a huge financial success.
To do this, the network rents the pleasure cruiser Atargatis and sends a group of scientists, with film crew, out to the most isolated section of the Marinas Trench. There they will create a documentary about the scientists “searching” for real life mermaids.
Accompanying them are some professional mermaids, so an occasional glimpse or two of something “unnatural” swimming about in the open ocean is certain to be captured on film.
What no one expected them to discover was that mermaids are quite real. They also learn that mermaids are not the least bit friendly. They are ruthless and efficient predators, in fact. And terrifying.
Even though Grant (a pseudonym for Clayton based writer Seanan McGuire) lets the reader know from the start all aboard the Atargatis are missing and presumed dead. This knowledge does not lessen the tale’s ever tightening suspense, or lighten its ever heavier feelings of dread and doom.
The large cast of colorful characters almost seemed a bit too large for such a compact tale, at first. But Grant never lost her narrative focus. Each primary doomed character, and more than a few of the supporting ones, is given one or two moments to step forward and endear themselves to the reader.
She did such a wonderful job that, when the mermaids make their final, fatal assault on the Atargatis, it feels like people you know and like (well, save for one or two heavies) are meeting very undeserved bad ends.
At a mere 128 pages, Rolling in the Deep is fast, lean, and more than a little bit mean.
It is also the scariest creature feature the Syfy Channel will probably never make.
Craven was an intelligent, soft spoken man with a fierce vision. Even if you can't stomach horror movies, this Charlie Rose style interview (conducted by Mick Garris) is rewarding and enlightening viewing.
I learned of Wes Craven's death from brain cancer last night, while celebrating the birthday of a friend. When I returned home, I went to my desk, got on the internet, and attempted to do a quick post acknowledging the beloved genre filmmaker's unfortunate passing.
Couldn't do it.
Posting the usual photo and R.I.P. title card just did not feel right.
Because Wes Craven, like the late Christopher Lee, was an important, admired, and influential figure in the horror genre. Doing a mere blurb link and photo would not do justice to the man and his cinematic legacy.
I first noticed Wes Craven's work in 1977, when the newspaper ads for The Hills Have Eyes gave me the willies. This was during a period of time when my parents would take my brother and I to the drive-in. One evening, while whatever film we were supposed to be watching was unspooling on the giant outdoor screen, I watched The Hills Have Eyes unfold silently on the other side of the huge, multi-screen lot.
Four years later, somewhere in 1981, Craven's Deadly Blessing was released. The memorably creepy advertisement this time around was a TV spot featuring a spider dropping into a woman's open mouth. (Something that did not go over well with my arachnophobic mother, at all.)
Although I didn't see the film until it debuted on HBO, Deadly Blessing would be the first of Wes Craven's films that I saw with sound. 1981 was also the year that found me becoming a regular reader of both Fangoria and Rod Serling's The Twilight Zone magazines. It was the year that my obsession with all things monstrous and nightmarish truly flowered. When I became as interested in the who, what, and how of the things that regularly robbed me of sleep were created, as I was in the things themselves. (It was also the period of time that I realized my own imagination did a better job of freaking me out than some of the products I was so fascinated by did.)
Despite knowing who Wes Craven was, and having a monstrous crush on Adrienne Barbeau, I did not see Craven's 1982 comic book adaptation Swamp Thing until it came out on the video. (I do not recall it ever playing at a theater near me.) It was a fun and goofy piece of good-natured dreck, nothing more. But I enjoyed it enough that I became something of a fan of Craven's output. He was no Romero or Carpenter, I thought, but his stuff was entertaining.
Those feelings of good will had me sitting through the (I thought) unimpressive TV movie Invitation to Hell and the shockingly banal The Hill Have Eyes Part 2. (I had seen the first film, with sound, by this time.)
Because I was living overseas at the time of its theatrical release, I did not see A Nightmare on Elm Street until it was on home video. Sitting in the safety of my Aunt and Uncle's living did not the lessen the stark terror that movie invoked. Freddy Krueger's nightmare exploits scared the daylights out of me and, for the first time in years, robbed me of a good night of sleep. It would takes decades before another film would have a similar kind of effect on me.
Around this time I finally saw Craven's harrowing, and legendary, first film, The Last House on the Left. It was one of the few times that a film actually lived up to its "shocking and disturbing" hype. While I can acknowledge the film's ruthless power to disturb and disgust, rape/revenge tales are not a cup of tea I enjoy partaking. I much prefer my monsters to have a fantastical element to them. I'll always prefer Freddy Kruger over Krug and company.
I find it astonishing that 1986's Deadly Friend turned out to the first Wes Craven film I would actually see in a movie theater. A less than impressive effort, it nonetheless had an entertaining silliness to it that made it fun to watch. Craven rebounded with his 1988 smash, The Serpent and the Rainbow. But he again stumbled, I felt, with 1989's amusingly over-the-top Shocker. A blatant attempt to recreate the unique lightening in the bottle that was the iconic A Nightmare on Elm Street.
Next came one of my favorite Craven offerings, The People Under the Stairs. Filled with odd humor and sly winks at the fairy tale structure its narrative hangs from, The People Under the Stairs marks the point where Craven, a former professor of humanities, first showed interest in exploring meta-fiction style narratives in his more "personal" work (i.e. movies that were clearly not director-for-hire jobs).
This interest would lead to his last two significant contributions to horror cinema. First came the cinematic Mobius strip that was Wes Craven's New Nightmare, which struggled to find a receptive audience. Second came the smash hit Scream, which did not struggle to find an audience. Scream would turn out to be the last Wes Craven movie I would see on the big screen.
The resounding financial success of Scream allowed Craven the leverage to make his most personal project, the touching drama Music of the Heart. His last substantive non-Scream box office hit was the Hitchcock style suspense thriller Red Eye.
I am not as comfortable labeling Craven as an auteur as I was in the past. But the core group of film's that he both wrote and directed, The Last House on the Left, The Hills Have Eyes, A Nightmare on Elm Street, Shocker, The People Under the Stairs, and New Nightmare, had reoccurring themes of familial conflict, familial secrets, and familial abuse (intentional or not) that are difficult to miss and impossible to dismiss. Also impossible to dismiss are the permanent cultural impact made by both A Nightmare on Elm Street and Scream.
A true giant has been been felled. He will be missed.
The wife and I were at an evening showing of Straight Outta Compton* last night, so I was unable to watch the Hugo Awards unfold live. But I did watch the live twitter stream for #HugoAwards after we got home, just to see how the reactions were unfolding.
Reactions from the followers/fans of the Sad Puppies can be summed up in one second:
I found their unending outpouring of hypocritical anger, non-sensical complaints of ballot stuffing, and false accusations of book burning to be more saddening than humorous.
The reaction/response from organized fandom can be summed up in six seconds:
Since this was a reaction I had become used to seeing online, and it seemed to be the overall consensus of popular opinion when I attended BayCon 2015 last May, I wasn't overly surprised at the drubbing Sad Puppies 3 and Rabid Puppies 1 got.
I doubt very much that I will be overly surprised next year, either. When the Sad Puppies 4 and Rabid Puppies 2 slates are created and this whole sorry mess happens yet again.
*Straight Outta Compton is very good, by the way. Highly recommended.
Remember last week, how I boasted about having whipped my short story Querida into submission shape? That was then, this is now.
On Monday I started what I thought would be my final "polish" read of Querida. Instead I wound up tinkering with the story all day, smoothing out narrative wrinkles I had somehow overlooked.
The actual final "polish" read through happened on Tuesday and, yet again, it took far more time than I thought it should/would. No doubt because I took an elongated lunch break, to organize my trading card collection and fine tune my soundtrack shopping list.
Yeah. That happened.
But the "polish" read eventually got done and Querida was promptly sent out on its first submission.
Unfortunately my frazzled brain was incapable of understanding June comes BEFORE August and I submitted to something that had already been published. Ugh. That was embarrassing.
After wallowing in self-disgust for several minutes, I sent the story out again. After making certain it was an OPEN market this time.
Tuesday also saw the start of my review of Jill Dawson's The Tell-Tale Heart, for the September issue of Diablo Gazette. Wednesday say me procrastinate at writing said review. This a frequent issue for me, whenever I am writing a review for something that didn't do much for me. Stretch "meh" to fit 400 words can be daunting, if you let it.
I let it, and did not. finish the stupid thing until Thursday afternoon. Taking an unforeseen break to figure out just how fast San Francisco would be absorbed in an Invasion of the Body Snatchers scenario did me no favors, as well. Ugh.
Oh, and it would two to three weeks, tops. I also did not include commuters or tourists in that scenario.
The review was sent out Friday morning. Friday afternoon I did a little tinker with a short story.
Very little tinkering. Have to be honest about it.
Because the Hugo Awards will be handed out this evening, there is no more perfect time for me to post how I voted for my first ever Hugo. I think it's a tad premature to post any of my thoughts and opinions about my voting choices. That will be done after the winners have been announced.
1. The Three Body Problem - by Cixin Liu (Ken Liu, translator)
2. The Goblin Emperor - by Katherine Addison (Sarah Monette)
3. Ancillary Sword - by Ann Leckie
4. No Award
Best Novelette, Best Novella, Best Short Story, and Best Related Work:
1. No Award
Best Graphic Story:
1. Rat Queens Volume 1: Sass and Sorcery, written by Kurtis J. Weibe, art by Roc Upchurch
2. Ms. Marvel Volume 1: No Normal, written by G. Willow Wilson, illustrated by Adrian Alphona and Jake Wyatt
3. No Award
4. Sex Criminals Volume 1: One Weird Trick, written by Matt Fraction, art by Chip Zdarsky
Best Dramatic Presentation (Long Form):
1. Captain America: The Winter Soldier
2. Guardians of the Galaxy
3. Edge of Tomorrow
4. No Award
Best Dramatic Presentation (Short Form):
1. Doctor Who: "Listen"
Best Editor (Long & Sort):
1. No Award
Best Fan Writer:
1. Laura J. Mixon
2. No Award
I abstained from voting in the Best Pro Artist, Best Fan Artist, Best Semiprozine, Best Fanzine, and Best Fancast categories.
Yup, I am still alive. For the moment. Things can change, you know.
My Nanny Pearl (grandmother, father's side) had a saying. One that I have grown quite fond of.
"An excuse ain't nothin' but the skin of a reason stuffed with a lie."
There are countless excuses I can give for "falling of the writing wagon" (i.e. STOPPING WRITING), but the real reason(s): I became lazy, depressed, and distracted.
That is why I have started up this writing journal again, both online and off. I believe doing so keeps me accountable on both a private and public level. If I do not have something to share come Friday afternoon/Saturday morning, I had better have a damn good reason, not some tired excuse.
How did I do this week?
Well, I didn't write anything fresh, but I did do a massive, top-to-bottom overhaul of an erotic story that has been giving me all kinds of trouble. The overhauling was entirely character related, because the scenario just never played right. The working title for it had been The Session, but has changed to Play. I think the story might be a draft or two away from being submission ready. Only time and another read through will tell.
That rewrite took three days. It's a 2,379 word (10 page) story. Not good.
After I finished work on Play, and set it aside to cool, I turned my attention to a goofy dark fantasy yarn I have been working on, title: Querida. I had tinkered with it enough, felt I was close, but still needed help, so I ran it through my SFF writing critique group. Taking a great deal of their wonderful criticism to heart, I worked it over on Thursday and, at the end of the day, felt I had whipped it into submission form.
I think it was Raymond Carver who said he could only tell when a story was finished when all he was doing was moving commas and periods around. When I finished this most recent draft, I new the story had reached that point.
I'm letting Querida cool over the weekend. On Monday I plan to print it and read it out loud, to see if any grammar is in need of fixing, or polishing. Then it starts going out. After that, who knows?
The Swarm B-Movie Review My second (and last) review for Bad Movies [dot] Org. I get tired just thinking about how much work I put into writing this review. Who would have thought that watching a badly made movie and then making a list of "some" of its more obvious mistakes would turn out to be so much work?
Scifilm Review: JAWS 3 (1983) I was pleasantly surprised to discover that this particular review for Scifilm.org was used as a reference on Wikipedia! I impress easy, I guess. :)
B-Movies Quarterly Magazine Issue 5 (which was the final one, sad to say) contains my article "Kingdom Builders: The Making of Kingdom of the Spiders."