Saturday, October 31, 2009

Day Thirty One- Sturges Wins!


Took a few days off from the accounting since the horse race is over. Watched DEXTER Season 3 which was fabulous. Watched THE INVISIBLES which never quite gelled.

Will Dixon has a nice post about twists and turns and reversals in storytelling and it puts it in context with a look at the first act of the very first episode of the BUFFY TV series.

Most of the work this month was on the OGN which is about half done unless I get a few more good ideas along the way.

Final total for October- 33645 words.

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It turns out I did know the way to...

I'm in mostly sunny San Jose at the World Fantasy Convention, along with fellow Clockworkers Daryl Gregory, Chris Roberson and Matthew Sturges. About two to three hundred other writers, publishers and editors of genre fiction are here as well, making for days of interesting conversation and inspirational idea generation (including more than a healthy dose of "I wish I'd thought of that").

I notice the other five Clockwork men and women are disturbingly quiet in our absence, owing I'm quite certain to a knuckling down on various deadlines, due to a profound work ethic (which is a hallmark of your average Ticky Tocker), and having nothing whatsoever to do with a secret coup in the making.

When I return, festooned with a vasty supply of new books and enough Beowulf brand mead (guaranteed to unleash your inner viking) to see me through my year of not traveling, I intend to talk about a few things here, including why perhaps you should be able to tell a book from its cover, even though the old adage promises you can't, the myth of cultural appropriation, the imaginary credentialed, the lure of multi volume epic fantasy, and other things of interest (to me at least).

And, as Marc Andreyko and I embark on our super secret funnybook project, maybe it would be fun to keep a journal on the process and base mechanics of co-writing the thing, as it's done, all the while revealing next to nothing about the story's actual content.

See you in a few days.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Never (Ever) After

"My songs are my children, and I expect them to support me when I'm old."
-- Dolly Parton

That was quick. I have a new release today: NEVER AFTER, an anthology with authors Laurell K. Hamilton, Yasmine Galenorn, and Sharon Shinn. "Feminist Fairytales" are the theme of the book; feminist, in the sense that the princesses are the ones who save the day and take charge of their destinies. My contribution is called The Tangleroot Palace, and it's about a girl named Sally who escapes betrothal to a warlord by seeking out a magical forest, and the queen who sleeps within. Of course, nothing goes exactly as planned.

I wrote that story while in Shanghai, sitting at a Starbucks, displaced from my favorite seat by the window because I needed to plug in my laptop and the only place to do that was beside the condiment island -- you know, the one with the napkins and sugar, and plastic utensils, and people splashing coffee on themselves and then looking at you like it's your fault. Not exactly a fortress of solitude. But I've written a lot of books -- or partials of those books -- in that particular Starbucks. Some places just make the brain spark.

In other news, if you'd like to see me a little more animated (ha, ha) check out this interview over at Second Life. I talk writing.

A Jealous Man


My name is Daryl (hi, Daryl), and I'm a jealous man.

This week I'm jealous of full-time writers, including most of these clockwork people. Like Paul Cornell, who just talked about how he's home in a room getting insane amounts of work done, though perhaps while going quietly insane (that's how the British do it, I'm told). And Chris, writer and publisher, has got more irons in the fire than, well, some metaphor involving irons and fire. Bill Willingham's announced that he's not going to travel anymore this year after World Fantasy because he needs to get even more work done than he's already pumped out.

And this month, Matt Sturges wrote 100,000 words. That's insane. (Matt, if you're not full-time, you have some explaining to do.)

All these people are in multiple media -- comics, games, prose, television, and for all I know, puppet shows. I don't think that's accidental. In fact, it may be required for full-time-hood.

Me, I write short stories, and I recently broke into novels. But even sticking to old fashioned prose, I'm slow. I could no more write 100K in a month than grow an extra hand from my stomach. Though that might help me type. It could at least hold my coffee cup.

Worse, I spend most of my day at my day job. (That's why they call it that.) It's a white collar job, not one of those awful yet colorful endeavors that manly old-time writers used to put on their resume. You know, like stevedore, or pig strangler. The point is (and I have a point), is that even though that job pays our mortgage and will help our children go to college, I still resent it when I'm aching to get more writing done.

I know that most writers are part-timers. And most of the ones I know who are full-time have a spouse who's bringing home the health insurance. Probably every clockworker had to work out deals with friends and family to get by.

But they're full-time now, and I'm not. So maybe that's my purpose here at Clockwork Storybook. The new guy who will represent the jealous and the discontent, the writers struggling to get enough time behind the keyboard after the hours at work, the kids' band concerts, and the dog's vet appointments. I'll be asking them how they got to where they are, and what the hell I can do to get there. (Unfortunately, I suspect I already know the answer: Dude, keep writing. Then write some more.)

And Marjorie? Who's a lawyer as well as a hugely productive writer? You've got some explaining to do too.

Monday, October 26, 2009

My but she's been in bed a long time.

I'm off to the World Fantasy Convention in sunny San Jose (yes, I know the way), along with about half of the Clockworkers. While we're gone there are finally enough other Tick Tock types to keep the conversation going here in our absence. Basically I see this as one long cool convention panel, on a variety of subjects, with some really interesting panelists. Sure, we're mostly speaking to each other, which is the point of this site, but in public and on the record, and you get to follow along and ask questions as they occur to you.

And another thing you can do while some of us are gone is to take a look at this far too cool Joao Ruas cover for the upcoming 94th issue of Fables.

94 issues! Wow. I'm beginning to think this series might have legs. And this is by far my favorite of Joao's covers so far. It's Rose Red of course, for the first issue of the five issue story arc titled Rose Red. I suspect you can figure out from the cover and from the title which Fables character this arc centers around.

In other news, this is my last convention commitment of the year, before taking an entire year off from travel and appearances to concentrate on getting more writing done. Following this, I have one store signing, in Boulder Colorado, in early November, and then nada until 2011. Don't get me wrong. I love traveling and meeting the readers of my various stories. I basically do what I do in a room all by myself, so it's good to be reminded from time to time that these things are reaching an audience. But I'm too far behind right now on every deadline, and have not one but two novels in the works that need tending. So, one year of reclusion.

And if I really dig my heels in and stick to my guns, I may be able to keep my year of reclusion down to two or three trips.

On the Lack of Flying Cars in Modern Times, an open response to Bill's open letter

Yesterday, Bill posted a lament about the lack of flying cars and jetpacks in modern times over on Big Hollywood, in the form of an open letter to me. I complain about not having a flying car and a jetpack all the time (I also complain about not having a functioning lightsaber, but that's another matter entirely. I appended the following response in the comments, which I'll quote here in full.

*******
Since Bill addressed his flying car lament to me, I figured I owed him a response.

(For those who don't know me personally--which would likely be just about everyone--a quick note about where to place me on the political spectrum. I am what was termed by my father's generation a "pinko." Worse yet, I'm a secular humanist pinko. But I'm also a huge geek, and got every one of Bill's references at the beginning of the piece.)

Oh, how I wish I had a flying car and a jetpack. And I share a lot of Bill's concerns about the "nanny state" aspects of modern culture, but I'm not as quick to dismiss it entirely as pernicious. (As a parent of a five year old daughter, the question of how much danger to allow her to put herself in is a constant struggle for me. I don't want to see her hurt unnecessarily, but at the same time I don't want her to grow up cossetted and cushioned against *all* of life's ill. Check out Michael Chabon's excellent essay "Manhood for Amateurs" for some thoughts on this: http://www.nybooks.com/articles/22891)

The problem with flying cars as I see it, though, isn't so much the danger it poses to the driver, but the danger it poses to everyone *else*.

If an idiot kid gets behind the wheel of a car and barrels down my street at far above the posted speed limit, it might have disastrous, even tragic, effects. He could hit another car, he could hit a pedestrian, could get in a wreck and kill and injure not only himself but other innocents. Sure, he has to be licensed to drive, but there is still risk to the rest of us, but as a society it's a risk that we've come to accept as a trade-off for the convenience and luxury of the single-passenger car.

The problem with the flying car is that the danger posed by unsafe and inexperienced operators is magnified many times over. A thoughtless kid behind the wheel of a ground car could hit a pedestrian, or rear-end a school bus, or any number of other ills, but he's not likely to destroy my house and everyone in it. An inexperienced "driver" of a flying car? A heavy projectile filled with inflammable propellant hitting my roof at high speeds might just do that. Until flying cars can be made safe (there's that pernicious word again) not only to the people onboard but to all of the people on the *ground*, I'm content to live without them.

Jet packs, now, are another matter, or at least pose a less significant threat to all of us on the ground. I think the problem *there* is that the physics just don't seem to work. Like everyone in my generation, I grew up with images of the Rocket Belt, and figured that I'd be able to soar through the air in one *long* before I reached my current age. But the problem with things like the Rocket Belt is that that are (a) prohibitively expensive to operate, and (b) extremely limited in application. I could buy one now, if I had the means, and go out in the desert and fly in a small circle for a minute or two before the tiny fuel tank was exhausted, but that doesn't put me any closer to strapping on a jetpack and flying from here down to the corner store. Even if I could make it there, I wouldn't have the fuel to make it *back*.

Who knows? Maybe some genius will come along and figure out how to rewrite the gravitational constant on the fly, and we all can float safely through the clouds with flight rings like the Legion of Super-Heroes used to hand out to its members. (Heck, they even gave the *rejects* flying belts.) And if we should happen to collide with the ground, we'd do no more damage than a mylar helium balloon blown over from the birthday part of the kid next door. But in the meantime, while still worrying about the possibly pernicious ills of the nanny state, I'm happy that there's someone out there keeping big hunks of flaming metal death from plummeting out of the skies onto my head.

Babel Clash: Things Midwinter Taught Me

My final post over at Babel Clash is in response to the moderator's question about what aspiring writers can learn from my novel Midwinter.

I pondered this question all weekend. What lessons could Midwinter teach aspiring writers? The self-flagellating artist in me immediately responds, “Nothing. It’s a mediocre book at best; derivative, not descriptive enough, goes off on a far-too-wide tangent about 2/3 through. If aspiring writers were to learn anything from it, it would only be from the massive pile of mistakes I made in it.”

Of course, this is hyperbole. Sure there are things I could have done better, but all in all, I think Midwinter works just fine. Great literature? Probably not. A solid fantasy read? Sure. Certainly a journeyman first novel. Even downright clever in places.

Maybe this is what it can teach you. Unless you are one of those supremely confident individuals who never second-guesses him/herself, and also happens to be brilliant, you are very likely to have misgivings about any story you embark upon. The bigger the story, the more moving parts, the more trepidation you are likely to experience. You will probably spend some time in the midst of writing it (somewhere just past the halfway point seems to be my personal favorite spot) thinking that it is the worst novel ever written, and any smart person would abandon it now. Other days (maybe the next day), you might find yourself thinking that you are a genius who can do no wrong.

Continue reading.

Hello


I'm Paul Cornell, I write stuff. I'm currently adjusting to the fact that my wife is commuting to theological college (where she's training to be a vicar), so I see her for a few minutes in the very early morning ('gah,' I say to her as she hands me a cup of tea) and for long enough to watch one telefantasy show over dinner every evening. But the Jedi powers she's learning make up for my writerly loneliness. A mate popped over to fix my computer the other day, and he was a little freaked out by how attentive to him I was. 'You're people!' I said. 'Living, breathing, people!' 'Yes,' he replied, backing towards the door. 'I *am* people.'

So we're trying to sell the house to move nearer the college. It's a brilliant place, a home we've really loved, but nobody's buying. Which may be because we painted the lounge red and orange. (It really works in autumn. But only then. As we discovered in our first Spring.) I'm also waiting to hear about a rather lovely game-changing thing (and waiting, and waiting, until, this being the life of a freelancer, someone will say 'Oh, what, that thing? Not going to happen, we heard months ago. You should have said'). And about another thing, which has been in a horribly stressful sort of limbo for a while now. And there are several more things in a holding pattern, any of which could either make or break my life and career.

Basically, the only way things could get more pressurised is if we tried for a baby. 'What the hell,' I said to my wife. But she just shook her head. She does the wisdom for the both of us.

So in the face of all that, I've reacted in two different ways: I've getting insane amounts of work done. Neurotically. Because that will shore me up against all horror. And indeed, you know, actually does pay off. And I've also opted to support a stress-related skin disease which needed a home. (No, it's just on my forearms, I'm not turning into... some sort of... monster.)

Yes, I probably do need a holiday, but we just had one of those, and came home early because we were sitting there feeling that we should be doing stuff. And I kept falling out of boats.

So, anyway, what I meant to say was: I'm really glad to be part of this gang. I'm glad the name of the group has nothing to do with Steampunk. That was the deal breaker for me. And my future posts won't be as whiny.

What do we owe, as writers, to an audience? To open these curtains behind me, and show them something, and then close them again. And that's what I've just done. And that's it.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Day Twenty Five- What Was I Drinking?


Struggled with a case of Newcastle poisoning from an excellent Halloween party last night. Camera-phone photos here. Managed to write a few comic pages with football on in the background once my head returned to its normal (giant) size.

Watched a couple of episodes of The Invisibles. Fun premise, but I can see why it was cancelled.

After playing the Washington Generals from the beginning of the month on, I have decided to run out the game and try to get the OGN a little farther along.

11 comic pages--> 5500 words. Running total 29,145 words.

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Hi, there.

Small confession, right off the bat: I'm not a joiner. If there was a herd, I'd be the stray little pony wandering up the mountain, accidentally (on purpose) getting away from everyone else. Sure, there are wolves (as well as cliffs and Bigfoot), but there are slaughterhouses, too. Ain't no safety in numbers.

But I do make exceptions, most humbly, and with great appreciation; such as when I received the surprising invitation to join this lovely crew of writers. I don't know what kind of craziness inspired putting my name in the hat, but I'm glad to be here.

So, with that said, Bill Willingham has asked what we, as writers, owe our readers.

My readers and I have got a trust thing going on between us. No one's ever said that, of course, but when folks read your work, they're taking a leap of faith. Someone's out there, opening a book, saying, "Do right by me. Take me somewhere else."

And I try. I don't always succeed, but I try.

I owe readers to be true to myself, to write the stories I want to write, and to tell the best stories I possibly can. I owe my readers respect, because I appreciate it more than I can say when people take the time to read something I've written (whether they like the tale or not).

But, as much as I love my readers, I owe them nothing else.

I'm a hypocrite, of course. As a reader, who has lived in agony for the next book of my favorite author, who drools over excerpts that end too soon and joins newsletters and reads blogs for updates, and who daydreams about worlds that exist only on paper (or, now, those various e-reader devices), I demand satisfaction. I want adventure, and thrills, and just the right outcome. I want, at the end of a book, to feel bigger than my body (even out of body), ten feet tall and ready to take on the world. I want, simply, to have an experience. A good time. A great time.

That's what I search for. And I can only hope that's what I give. Not every time, but sometimes, for someone.

Anyway, that's it for now. This little pony is going to gallop her way up a mountain of deadlines and battle those wolves for words.

Thanks for having me here.

Stuff I Said

Recently I was a Guest of Honor at Tel Aviv's Icon (as in Israel Convention, natch') where, among other things, I was interviewed by some nice and thoughtful people. The results of that interview, excised of all of my "uhs" and other verbal tics, making me seem much more cogent than I really am, is now posted and available.

You can find it here.

Also, in the spirit of properly welcoming our new members, I'll throw out a general question which each of them (of us, new and old) can tackle in a post of their very own. This is something I'd been meaning to address for some time, and now seems just the right time. So, what is it you owe your readers? What, if anything, do you absolutely not owe your readers?

Update: Okay, so I'm looking over the posted interview and I see that the language barrier was in fine form over there. Some things got spelled oddly, due to imperfect pronunciation on my part, and some things seemed to just get lost in the kerfuffle. I do know that Laura is Rob's wife's name in The Dick Van Dyke Show. I have no idea how they heard that as Barbara. Reforger, the yearly war games during the Cold War, should be capitalized. Civic Comics was actually Pacific Comics. And so on. Most folks in Israel speak English. In fact I didn't meet a one who didn't have some English, but it wasn't always their first tongue. And sometimes I do tend to talk faster than my mouth can keep up. And some things are clearly just transcription typos.

It was pretty cool though being sponsored in part by the US Embassy in Tel Aviv. They wouldn't provide me Marine Guards though -- cheapskates.

Yet another update: I have an open letter to fellow Clockworkian Chris Roberson posted on the wonderfully cranky right wing Big Hollywood site, which you can find here. You may need to scroll down a bit, depending on when you read this. It's about the future, but not the one we think we were promised.


hello!

so, i am one of the newbie members of CS and couldn't be happier (or more honored). my name is Marc Andreyko, author of stuff - including the critically-acclaimed and oft-cancelled Manhunter, Torso (w/ some guy named Bendis), The Lost, Casefiles: Sam and Twitch, Streets of Gotham, Blade, Wolverine, Dr. Strange, blah, blah, blah... and the usual TV/movie nonsense (i'm an Angelino). Oh, and how could i forget?, an upcoming book for Dynamite co-authored by me and Bill Willingham!!!!!

likes: dirty jokes, blu-rays, john waters, john irving, sushi, and Chris Evans sans shirt.

dislikes: overhyping, avocados, blood sausage, "my super sweet sixteen", and bipolar stalkers.

thanks for having me!

I've Offically Stopped Counting

Yesterday I topped 100,000 words for the month of October. That's more than I really hoped for, and a nice conversation piece. I'll probably keep track of the final total just for my own amusement, but I won't continue to bore anyone with the daily details. I'll be finishing the manuscript of the novel today, mission accomplished, thanks for playing along!

Now I yield this silliness to the ongoing discussion of writerly things, in which hopefully our new members will soon join.

Onward!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

More Minutes on the Clock

We're about to start expanding the conversation by expanding the ranks of Clockwork Storybook. The five of us recently put our noggins together and selected four new professional writers to invite into our group. So far two of them have accepted and you'll be meeting them a bit later on in the week. Until then we're going to keep mum on the new Tick Tockers, except to mention that this is no longer an all boys club.

With these new perspectives wading in, the conversation about all things writing can only get better. Being an egotistical bunch, we hope that in the not too distant future Clockwork Storybook will be the premiere writing group of our generation, in our chosen genres. Once upon a time The Inklings gave us both JRR Tolkien and CS Lewis. That's a pretty high bar they've set. Won't it be fun trying to reach similar heights?

Update: Now all four candidates have accepted membership in Clockwork Storybook, and we are absolutely tickled to have them in. You should be seeing some "Let me introduce myself" posts from them soon.

Friday, October 23, 2009

I'm ALIVE! ALIVE! HA HA HA HA HA HAAAAA!!


Folks, I apologize for my lengthy absence here, but I've got a couple of really good, credible excuses. However, the "hardware-ethernet-DSL line" excuse isn't really interesting, nor particularly zippy, so we'll just go to the other RGCE: I've been researching.


Part of the fun of being in a writer's group with Chris Roberson is getting to watch him start a new project by building a veritable igloo out of reference books, and then watch him walk out of that igloo to go construct a yurt instead. And even as we mock him for knowing, for example, far more about the Soviet Space Program than was ever necessary, one cannot help but mirror his efforts when dipping into a historical context for story background. At least, I can't.


Having sent out several Sailor Tom Sharkey stories to a variety of publishers and outlets, only to have them come back with some really flattering rejections, I am instead turning the whole concept into a speculative historical novel. Think Robert E. Howard's Steve Costigan stories as if they were written by George MacDonald Fraser.


So, I've been building my own tree-fort out of books as I chase down various anecdotes about Tom Sharkey (yeah, he was a real person), the twilight of Vaudeville, circus life in the theater, Tammany Hall, Jim Jeffries, Wyatt Earp, Dundalk, Ireland, and a half dozen other subjects. Now, all of this won't go into the same book. But because I'm telling the series backwards, I need to tip these tidbits in for later.


This is probably the most ambitious thing I've ever attempted. Well, in non-fiction, anyway. I've been writing some small pieces to help me anchor story points in place. I'll post some of them later.

Days 20-22

Time lost to sickness, other work, apathy, and ninjas. Lots of busy work and revising and other foofaraw, plus one day, Wednesday, where I accomplished nothing whatsoever.

Day 20: ZERO WORDS
Day 21: ZERO WORDS
Day 22: 10 comic book pages -> 5,000 words.

Total so far: 97,315.

Wouldn't you like to be a Hero too? (sung to the tune of...)

For those of you familiar with, and perhaps playing the City of Heroes online game, you might be interested in this. The boys and girls who make the game hired me to create an adventure for it, as part of their new Guest Author program.

My adventure is called Quest for Magic and you can find it by going into one of the city's Architect centers -- where you get to build and play in your own adventures. Find the list where you get to shop for possible adventures you might want to play and the Guest Authors adventures will be at the top. I'm the second one down, just after the merely amazing Scott Kurtz of PVP fame.

And watch for other interesting adventures to come, from some of the best of the fantasy and science fiction and comic book creators, including the other members of Clockwork Storybook. In the coming month look for new adventures from Mark Finn, Bill Williams, Chris Roberson, and maybe even Matt Sturges, if he learns to mind.

I'll be introducing some of the City of Heroes guys to some of the writing folks out at the World Fantasy Convention next week, and who knows what famous author might create some lovely and interesting characters you can pound the living crap out of for your entertainment and enjoyment?

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Day Twenty Two- Buffy-tastic


I missed Buffy-mania the first time around and I've been watching the series as part of the ongoing work for IDW. Tonight I finally finished Season 4 which I think started strong and fizzled a bit in the end. The highlight of the season is of course Spike. He should have gotten his own show.

I'm doing a webcomic creators weekend for a local comic shop with Scott Kurtz and a few others in December and I was encouraged to bring merchandise to sell. So far, SideChicks essentially exists as a series of zeroes and ones. Think I'm going to make T-shirts. After two years, seems like a good idea. Saw some of Thom's art for the shirts and that man is a genius.

Saw a rough cut of the music video I worked on and it looks amazing. Looking forward to the Premier Party next month.


1 comic page--> 500 words.

Daily total 500 words. Running total 23,645 words.

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Six Words to Immortality

Go to this place right now. You'll thank me later.

For those of you still with us, who need more coaxing before leaving the safety and comfort of the Clockwork Blog, let me tell you what you'll find there. Wired Online Magazine took an inspiration from Hemingway's shortest story -- "For sale: baby shoes. Never worn." -- to invite 33 other known luminaries in our current literary firmament to do likewise and write their perfect six-word story.

The results are at least interesting, mostly good, and in some cases both wonderful and diabolical. My favorites are the contributions from Joss Whedon, Alan Moore, Eileen Gunn, and Orson Scott Card.

But best of all is that most of them are indeed complete short stories. When Matt and I did our hundred-word stories, to introduce the new Jack of Fables funnybook series, I thought that was a nearly impossible exercise in concision. What a luxury of abundance we had!

A six word story allows no room at all to waste one. Every word must carry more weight than Atlas in all of his tribulations could never have imagined. How cool is that?

Most of us here at the Clockwork Blog are crushed under deadlines and then taking off to San Jose next week for the World Fantasy Con. But once we return, each of us, along with a carefully selected list of invited authors, are going to present our best take on the six word story right here. It's too glorious (and painful) an idea to pass up.

In the meantime go see what 33 other writers came up with.

Which are your favorites?

Babel Clash: Lunatics Running the Asylum

Today's post over at Babel Clash is a love poem to the Venture Brothers, and the new high-octane storytelling that pop culture has given us:
I think that we are living in a Golden Age of popular culture.
At least, for the me and the other members of my generation, we are. I imagine that older generations must think us insane. All of the things that allured us as children, the onslaught of trash culture and science fiction and fantasy and horror have all come home to roost in the current generation of writers; the obsessive quirks of very smart people reeling in a torrent of inputs both sublime and ridiculous, sacred and profane. And now the ones who were raised on all that stuff–everything from H.R. Puff-n-Stuff to Stanley Kubrick to Kurt Vonnegut to Spielberg to Star Wars to Star Trek:whatever to Conan the Barbarian to Raiders of the Lost Ark–are now the ones producing it. We grew up imbibing the distiled essence of twentieth-century pop culture, created by people who themselves had been nursed on Burroughs and Lovecraft and Poe and Superman comics and Tex Avery and Universal monster movies. The things that our generation has assembled as a result are the purest distillation yet, managing to cram a pressure-cooker of allusive play and substance together in a bright mishmash that defies tradition and genre while embracing and celebrating it at the same time.


Full post here.

Filling in the Gaps

I've been swamped with reading this week, and haven't had time to get back to Arthur Conan Doyle and the Power Rangers yet, but hopefully I'll have a chance in the next few days.

In the meantime, a quick note. Once I get the Conan Doyle-Power Rangers thing out of the way, I plan to talk a bit about my thoughts on the use of "types" in fiction. Not archetypes or stereotypes, but recognizable character types. The Victorian Consulting Detective, the Grim Pulp Avenger, the Suave Cold War Superspy. That kind of thing. It's something I'm a little obsessed with, and something about which I've thought a lot.

This morning, I came across something that resonated quite a bit with my thinking about types. One of the illustration blogs I follow is that of Annie Wu, an illustrator/writer and student. She's working on a big senior thesis at the moment, and posted a little tease from it to her flickr stream last night. She describes the project as being "a series of 18x24 posters for films that don't exist." She appears to be drawing inspiration (and imagery) from things like Kevin Dart's Yuki 7 (which I've raved about before), the "Escape to the House of Mummies Part II" episode of The Venture Bros (which opened with a recap to a Part I that never existed), and the Grindhouse trailers.

It was how Wu summed up her reasons for the project that really struck me.
Basically, it's all just an excuse for me to design ridiculous characters and make up as many crazy standalone scenes as I want without consequences. The stories only live and breathe within these posters, and the viewer fills in the (massive) gaps with their own imagination.
I just want to put a metaphorical pin in that, to come back to later. "The stories only live and breathe within these posters, and the viewer fills in the (massive) gaps with their own imagination." Make a note of it for later reference.

Okay, that's it for now. I'm back to reading. You nice people go check out the art of Annie Wu, why don't you?

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Day Twenty One- Story Splinters in my Eye


I made the weekly trip to the comic shop and today when asked, I explained the problem I have with certain titles in a 'family' of books. I read some comics because I like the character and some because I like the writer or artist or whatever. SuperGirl has been the only one of the Superman Family titles that I have stuck with for reasons that are leaving me rapidly. The last three issues are a perfect example of a way to lose readers. SuperGirl #44 is part 3 of a story concluded in another title. SuperGirl #45 is part of a story started in another title and SuperGirl #46 is the conclusion of that same story. By tying every title in to the current meta-story arc, the work discriminates against casual readers and makes the comic maddeningly insular even to long time readers like me.

Reading a title like SuperGirl is like reading every fourth chapter of a novel. It is an unsatisfying experience and it does not bear repeating.

Did some more inking today, finishing a page and even managed a little writing work on the OGN. The inking is for the next SideChicks story and I am far enough ahead to consider releasing a digital version of the work ahead of its release as a webcomic. But that just feels wrong, like the release of the Spider-Woman motion comics on Hulu before the release of the print comics.

If I can take a minute, Matt Sturges' new novel Office of Shadow is excellent and you should all rush out and pre-order it here. It is a great read.

3 comic page--> 1500 words.

Daily total 1500 words. Running total 23,145 words.

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Some might claim it was the Wampa Ice Creature who saved the day, but I dispute that.


While I was recently the Guest of Honor at Icon (Israeli Con) in Tel Aviv I had to spend a considerable amount of time on a stage in front of audience -- not one of my favorite places to be. On one of those nights I took questions from the audience, which included a few from my host on stage (Hi, Ziv) about the time I saved Superman.

Yes, once I saved Superman and it's a modestly funny story. Intrepid Israeli fantasy and science fiction publisher Rani Graff provided a recording of the "How I saved Superman" story. You can listen to it here, if you like.

It's a better story if you have your Wampa Ice Creature Star Wars action figure handy.



Babel Clash: Mainstream Space Squids

Today's Babel Clash post, more rumination on the "mainstream acceptance" question, even though Gene Wolfe already said what needed saying.

Over at SF Signal, there’s a “Mind Meld” discussion about the perennial bugaboo of “mainstream approval” for literary science fiction and fantasy. Does literary genre fiction have the respect of the mainstream? Does it need such respect?

The predominant response seems to be “no.” And whenever this topic comes up, the response invariably seems to be “no.” No, we don’t need it, don’t care, doesn’t matter, and here’s a list of a thousand reasons why (my favorite of all the responses is Gene Wolfe’s, who sums it up more eloquently than I could). I can’t think of an instance where a genre writer has responded, “I sure do crave the respect and admiration of the mainstream! Without such respect, all is for nought!”

Read the full post here.

Cooling My Feet in the Sidestream


There is a very good discussion about mainstream respectability for the fantasy and science fiction genres, over at SF Signal, which you can find here.

There's a lot there to absorb, but I agree that the mainstream doesn't actually exist anymore. Bookstores don't treat our genres as mainstream, keeping them in the so called SF and Fantasy Ghetto. But I seem to notice, from the perspective of far too many years, that the ghetto has grown considerably. Those SF and Fantasy shelves are generally much larger than they used to be, and often placed better in the stores.

At the same time, fantasy and science fiction books such as Harry Potter, Twilight, and a host of others continue to be racked in other sections, perhaps so that they won't get the 'taint' of SF and Fantasy on them. But that taint is dying, my friends. It's barely noticeable any more.

And that's all beside the point, since I don't yield the power and authority to bookstores to make that decision. They may be clinging to an outdated idea of what constitutes the mainstream, while SF and Fantasy stories dominate all other media.

Is there a mainstream, and if so, does SF and Fantasy finally, at long last, occupy a respected place in it? Who cares? Figuring out such things is what the fussy fiddlers do to occupy their time, the same way they worry about what is Art and what the themes of any given book might be. It doesn't matter. Whether we occupy a metaphorical sidestream or the metaphorical mainstream, telling good stories to a readership matters, and though I can't say we're doing as well as we can in that regard, we aren't doing so bad either.

At least I'm not doing so bad. I've made a living (sometimes a good one, sometimes not as good) telling stories for 25 plus years. A majority of my closest friends do the same. To quote Snoopy (from the musical, don't you know): Not bad. Not bad at all.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Day Twenty- glamourpuss


I worked on the inks for a SideChicks page that is way too busy. Who wrote that nonsense anyway? Colored the page for Wednesday and am pretty happy with the results. I may figure out how to do that well eventually, but the page took forever to finish. It was cool and breezy this morning and I found out that the 'usually outside' cat snores.

Still waiting on the big checks. Spent some time reading Glamourpuss by Dave Sim. I love the look at the Juliet Jones strip and the examination of the photo-realist style of Stan Drake and the research Sim does, but the swipe at the fashion mags he creates makes me want to wait for the trade that just examines the art. But at ten pages every two months, it's too long to wait. Still, half of the comic is totally lost to me.

City of Heroes is having a Halloween event, so I'm blasting zombies and fiends in my down time.

1 comic page--> 500 words.

Daily total 500 words. Running total 21,645 words.

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The Conversation Continues

Both Matt and I have new postings over on Borders Books' fantasy and science fiction blog Babel Clash, which you can find here.

I talk about Heinlein a bit, then try to change the subject by talking about the vital writer/reader collaboration that is part of every story.

Matt talks about using reality as the most essential building blocks of a good fantasy story.

Hie yourselves over there and take part in our continuing conversation about writing. Or don't. It's still America for a little while longer and you can do what you want.

Days 18 & 19: Winding Down


So I sprinted to within spitting distance of the finish line on ye olde novel, and am now limping across, what with the hours upon hours of revisions over the past couple days. Which means that what with the adding and subtracting of stuff it's hard to know exactly how much I actually wrote during that time (the current word count is about 600 words less than it was when I started yesterday. I'm a firm believer in the "write a lot, cut a lot" school of writing).

A safe (but incomplete) estimate, counting only big discrete chunks written over the last two days, is:

Day 18: 1,223 words
Day 19: 2,262 words

For a grand total of: 92,315. The final two chapters should kick me up over 100K, and then I can collapse, spent but proud.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Day Nineteen- Jack of at Least Three Trades


Realized that I would not bust out 100K words this month and more or less took the weekend off.

I managed to get a little prose pecked out today. And I inked a SideChicks page for the next story and did a little color work on the one scheduled to run on Wednesday. Usually, I start on the Wednesday strip on Tuesday night. A Monday start is crazy early for me.

Watched Big Bang Theory and Castle which were good, not great. Fillion makes the show and the humor work. Plus there is typically at least one clever 'detective' thing per episode. Tempted to get the book by 'Castle'.

Feeling pretty productive for not getting much done today. Maybe it is the early start on the next color page.

1 comic page--> 500 words. 1010 Prose wordyness.

Daily total 1510 words. Running total 21,145 words.

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Swiping Styles

Jim Rugg pointed out this interesting piece on the Next Issue blog, in which R. Sikoryak's Masterpiece Comics, Matt Madden's Exercises in Style, and Jim Rugg and Brian Maruca's Afrodisiac.

It struck me that there is significant overlap between what I enjoy about all three listed works, and what I enjoy about mashups and crossbred fiction. A kind of friction between disparate elements, and interesting sparks sent flying by unlikely elements sent colliding into one another.

Some interesting thoughts in Mutch's piece, worth checking out. (And if you haven't read any of referenced works, what the heck are you waiting for?!)

Sunday, October 18, 2009

The Heinlein Method


Today's post over the the Babel Clash blog, in which I gently poke Bill Willingham with a sharp stick and, incidentally, talk about Robert Heinlein, and why I love Heinlein's work despite myself.

Read the post here.

Four Good Rules

Massively talented writer of various Marvel comic books and urban fantasy novels, Marjorie Liu, recently posted this short litany of writing advice she finds helpful to remind herself from time to time: Get to the point. Get back to basics. Do it with a little pizazz. Don't lose your edge.
It's pretty much self explanatory, but why should I let that stop me from explaining it? Okay, not really explaining it, but I thought it would be fun to break it down to its four component parts and examine what I have been able to glean from it so far.
Let's proceed, shall we?

1) Get to the point.

In other words, quit dicking around by showing off your stellar wit and finely crafted prose and get the story told, with expedience, clarity and honesty. I'm sure we're as impressed as you are with your artistic turn of phrase and your intricate and poetic word constructions, but those don't mean a thing if you don't get the story told.
Orson Scott Card, one of the finest writers in our field, takes writing advice questions on his blog, fielding one from a fellow who was worried about his writing style, and complained his inability to refine his own style was causing serious blockages to getting his novel written. I deeply paraphrased the question and now I'll do the same with the answer. Card replied that it was a silly distraction to worry about style. Just tell the story as simply as possible. Do that and your style will be whatever comes out of just telling the story.
I mentioned that exchange because, whether it helped that fellow or not, it was a Damascus Road experience for me. The scales fell off of my eyes at the simplicity and obviousness of the advice. I had been struggling to learn prose writing, was finding it difficult, next to impossible, and was about ready to pack it in and stick with comic book writing for the rest of my career. And then Card said that, and it made sense. It was actually a freeing moment, in which a ton of metaphorical weights seemed to drop right off of me.
Don't worry about theme, or style, or any other extraneous nonsense, and just tell a clear story. Let your readers eventually decide those other matters. And, if you run into trouble between two wonderfully crafted scenes that need to be connected, just write the minimum material you need to do that, almost like notes to yourself on what needs to happen, and that should remove the blockage. Later on you may find that it's the simple terse connecting material that is the better stuff and those two artfully constructed passages are what needs to go, or at least be slimmed down.

2) Get back to basics.

I see this as, "don't try to reinvent the wheel." The stuff of good story isn't going to change. Trying to do something that's never been done before, such as writing a novel that's simply one run-on sentence, or purposely constructing indecipherable passages to "challenge" the reader, or any of a vast number of so-called new literary conventions, are all hooey. At best they're stunts. At worst they're purposely malicious. My job is to communicate an interesting story to my readers, and communication can only occur when the reader knows what the hell I'm saying.

3) Do it with a little pizazz.

When Marjorie first posted this, fellow Clockworkian Chris Roberson mistook it as: "Do it with a little pizza," and said as much, which put pizza in the minds of many of those of us who read the small exchange. I wonder how much pizza was ordered that night as a result of the misunderstanding? I know they got me, and my editor at IDW.
But tastiness aside, pizza is not required to write well. In fact it may be an impediment, if you like to keep a clean keyboard.
Here's how I think Marjorie's third rule applies to me. It's not a repudiation of what I just wrote above about ignoring style. We still ought not to worry about our writing style, because that can only grow organically from our actual writing. I think it has something to do with confidence -- as in we should have some. Do it with a bit of a swagger.
Humility is all well and good, and a character trait much to be admired. But it has limited use to a writer. If I don't have enough ego and confidence to believe I have an interesting story to tell, then why am I wasting everyone's time by jumping up on the metaphorical stage and shouting, "Give me your money, your time and your attention for as long as I want it, because I have a great story to tell you!" That is an act of bravado bordering on arrogance.
This business isn't for the timid. Writing is an act of leadership, and no one follows an overly timid leader. When you write, bring your swagger. Bring your confidence. Bring your pizazz.

4) Don't lose your edge.

I've lost my edge before. Hell, I've lost the whole damned blade. I think the only way to keep your edge is to keep honing it. Keep writing or your tools get dull and useless. If I go a few days without writing it's like I'm starting all over again when I start up again. Ultimately writing means sitting alone in a room getting hours of work done one day, and then repeating it the next day and so on, for far too many days in a row. If you can't stand to be alone with yourself in a room for protracted lengths of time, then you can't do this. You will all too quickly lose your edge.

That's what I take, so far, from Marjorie's four admonitions. I know as I ponder further I'll get other wisdoms from them. That's the nature of good advice. I wonder what the other Clockwork boys take from the same four rules. Maybe they'll share as much in their own posts.

For those who want to go to the source, or maybe find out for yourselves why we're Marjorie Liu fans here at the Clockworks, you can find her and her books here.

Days 16 and 17: Light at the End of the Tunnel

On Friday I did some gearing up, and on Saturday I wrote like some kind of possessed grizzly bear (a bear that's able to cogitate and type). I think I wrote more on Saturday than I've ever written, in a month where I've already written quite a bit. It seems like if I could keep up this pace, I could write a novel a month and then take a few days off at the end. But I don't think it's sustainable. I think. It might be worth trying. Probably not.

Anyway, for those keeping count (which includes me and my mom, maybe):

Friday: 3,753 words
Saturday: 12,083 words.

Total: 88,830

Saturday, October 17, 2009

When they talk about an artist's need to learn storytelling, this is what they mean.

If you want a good, no nonsense tutorial about comic book storytelling, then take a look at this Saturday Evening Post cover from three years before I was born. Three panels that tell a complete and engaging story, all without the intrusion of any text or dialogue.
I think this shows more compellingly than just about any other example I could imagine how it is the artist's job (and burden, and glory) to tell the bulk of the story in any given comic book.
Just starting out drawing comic books, or trying to break in to the business? Then study these three panels. Click on the image to enlarge it and give it a good and proper going over. It won't take a long time to plumb the depths of these three panels. It's all there with remarkable clarity and simplicity.
Drawing ability and storytelling ability are the two pillars on which a comic artist's career are constructed -- period (unless we are talking about work ethic, but that is a whole 'nother discussion). Drawing ability is a difficult skill set to master. Storytelling ability is more about how you see things and can imagine translating them to the page. This one example (from an artist I sadly cannot identify) pictured here is a master class in that subject. Enjoy.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Day Sixteen- Chop, Chop, Chop


Frankenscript is finished. And my darlings are dead. But the vouchers are turned in. This image was stolen from Wrightson.

The UT vs. OU game is tomorrow. I may spend the day hammered.

Thinking about what to do next. It looks like more on the OGN and a Cannonball Read.

1 comic page--> 500 words.

Daily total 500 words. Running total 19,635 words.

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The Practical Man(ifesto)

Not always being one to sit on the sideline of an interesting discussion, I have joined it, more or less with permission.

Now I also have an essay on the Babel Crash site, which you can find here.

Here's a wee sampling of it:

This isn’t a Zelazny line, but it could have been: “Then the volcano erupted, blasting its full compliment of ghost dragons into the sky, burning the sky first and then the seven god cities adrift in it. As the cities began to list, founder and then fall, trailing black ash and fire, I sat on the next slope over to smoke a cigarette, finish my coffee and ponder my next move.”

Crossbreeding Genres

(I wanted to title this post "Matt, you ignorant slut," but was afraid that was taking things too far...)

Yesterday, our own Matt Sturges posted his most recent salvo in his ongoing tete-a-tete with James Enge over at the Borders blog, title "Zombie Ninjas on the Moon." Some might have seen that title and assumed that they were in for a bit of fun, but I knew better. See, Matt and I have been having this particular disagreement for a while. A friendly disagreement, please bear in mind, but a long-running one.

See, Matt's tired of what he's calling "mashup fiction," which he defines as "stories whose genesis is the intentional combination of unrelated tropes, historical figures, or characters from previously published works." I know just what he's talking about. That's not just my bread-and-butter as a writer, it's the primary staple I consume as a reader. That's the stuff I live for.

Naturally, as one might expect, I disagree a bit with Matt's assertion that such stuff is getting stale, and past its sell-by-date. And not just because "mashup-fiction" includes the vast majority of all of my favorite books, comics, music, and movies. "Mashup-fiction" isn't simply a viable approach to entertainment.

Entertainment needs "mashups" in order to survive.

That may sound like a stretch, but work with me for a moment. Perhaps it would help to think of it not as "mashup-fiction," a term of relatively recent coinage suggestive of splicing together the songs of one musician with those of another. Think of it, instead, as "crossbreeding."

(A note on terminology: Back when Matt and I were in college we called this kind of stuff "intertextuality," a term we picked up in a postmodernism seminar, but I think we had the definition wrong, as we meant something entirely different than semioticians and postmodern scholars mean when they use the word. I've also tried "metafictional," but that carries connotations beyond my intended meaning. More recently, Willingham has referred to such things as "Wold Newtonry," a reference to the playful intermingling of genre fiction and history that Philip José Farmer pioneered in Tarzan Alive and elsewhere [you think it's mere chance that Matt has included an image of my own personal Bible, Doc Savage: His Apocalyptic Life, in his essay lambasting mashups?], but Wold-Newton has a very specific meaning for Farmer fans, and the use of the term for more general metafictional play tends to raise their ire. I'm using "crossbreeding" at the moment, but I'm not entirely happy with it as a solution.)

I tend to look at genre as functioning like gene pools. Remaining within the confines of one genre for too long leads to the serious risk of inbreeding, and producing anemic works with all sorts of congenital problems, barely fit to survive. (Does this make a tenth-generation xerox of Tolkien on par with hemophiliac European royals? You might say it does, and I wouldn’t argue with you if you did.)

Crossing genre boundaries expands that gene pool, producing fit fiction with all sorts of interesting new traits. In time, the hybrids most fit to survive might even emerge as full-blown genres in their own right.

The “mash-up” that Sturges decries, the PRIDE AND PREJUDICE AND ZOMBIES and such like, are just the most obvious types of crossbreeding, and like the offspring of a horse and a donkey are mules fit for one generation, but not healthy enough to sustain offspring of their own. Which isn’t to say that mules don’t have their uses, from time to time, but you wouldn’t want them to be the only members of your breeding pool.

The preceding represents only my initial thoughts. I'll stop here, and continue in another post in a few days. Maybe my next salvo will cover the ways in which crossbreeding genres will save us all, and to illustrate I'll explain the little known fact that Arthur Conan Doyle was directly responsible for the creation of the Power Rangers...

Day 15: Clashing toward Babel


Somehow I managed to complete 10,332 words of the novel yesterday. It was a second-wind kind of a burst which I hope will now cushion the remainder of the book, which is just a meager 19,000 words from the finish line, which leaves me plenty of time for revisions and twiddling and so forth before the deadline. I am a happy, happy man, with sore fingers.

This brings my monthly total to a preposterous 72,994 words.

More About Mashups, and a Bit About Punks

The indomitable, and far too well spoken, James Enge has responded to Matt's ill considered tirade against the genre mashup, in their continuing discussion about writing, over at Babel Clash (terrible name).

You can find it here. Read it. It's (mostly) good. Tastes like chicken.

I do object to Enge's attempt to reclassify Roger Zelazny's unique and always quirky work as (long babel of something)punk. I thoroughly dislike any name for a literary movement with the word 'punk' appended to it. Punk is a word that belittles by its nature. And in that regard it was used perfectly for the cyberpunk movement, as that dismal sub-genre was purposely replete with punks. But (with the possible exception of the lead character from Damnation Alley -- and I'm not sure even he qualifies) Zelazny didn't write punks, who are silly, swaggering and unimportant by definition.

Unfortunately any label that ends with punk is far too easily embraced by the unimaginative masses that comprise the bulk of Geekland. I hope the damage isn't already done. For that only, in an otherwise wonderfully crafted essay that rightly takes Sturges to task, shame on you, Mr. Enge.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Day Fifteen- Redux


Spent most of the day doing little rewrites. Shade a line of dialog here and add a flashback there. I had to destroy a couple of pages that I really liked. In their place, I wrote two more. I had to tear apart a whole issue only to stitch it back together. I like to think I get it right the first time. Today was a little painful.

Another day of this and I should be back at work on the OGN.

Just how did Napoleon Solo get captured by these well-armed kids?

2 comic pages--> 1000 words.

Daily total 1000 words. Running total 19,135 words.

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Zombie Ninjas on the Moon?


Today's Babel Clash essay...

This talk about genres reminds me of a current persistent trend in genre fiction of which I am growing painfully weary. It’s certain to irritate some of my writers friends when I bring it up, so I hope some of them will jump up attempt to tell me how wrong I am.

I’m speaking of what I’ll call “mashup fiction.” The This sort of thing has been around for some time, but in the last few years there’s been a flowering of it in comics, fiction and cinema and I am frankly sick of it. By “mashup fiction” I mean stories whose genesis is the intentional combination of unrelated tropes, historical figures, or characters from previously published works. What some call “crossover fiction” I’ll relegate to a subcategory of this.

Read the full post at Babel Clash.

Day 14: The End Is Near


I looked up today and realized I'd passed the 100K mark on the novel, which was the inspiration I needed to actually finish it without resorting to drastic measures. How addictive is crystal meth, really? Is sleep actually essential? I saw that episode of The Dick Van Dyke Show where Rob stayed up for like five days, and he was still mostly able to speak in coherent sentences...

Anyway: 5,004 words for the 14th, bringing me up to 62,662 for the month of October. Eat that, Roberson!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Day Fourteen- Dept. of Corrections


So, I am getting crushed here. I'm the stable pony for Sturges to run circles around in this writing exhibition. I make him look better and I am fine with that. But looking around, I'm wondering if this is a two-man writing group now. Willingham gets a pass as he was over in Israel trying to catch shrapnel. Roberson? Finn? Where is your committment to humoring Sturges?

Got the new comics and pecked away at the corrections on the new four-issue mini-series. The studio has fewer notes than the editor. What if anything does that mean? Anyway, I finished the easy issue and nibbled at the edges of the others. And went to Sturges signing at Dragon's Lair which went pretty well.

And knocked out a boring talking-head page of the OGN.

1 comic page--> 500 words.

Daily total 500 words. Running total 18,135 words.

(Only 45,000 behind.)

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Trees and Bolts

Orson Scott Card once wrestled (as a teaching exercise I seem to recall) with the entire definition of what constitutes Fantasy and what is Science Fiction, raising many of the arguments Matt mentions in his essay. Finally, almost in frustration it seemed to me, he pared it down to its most basic structure: Fantasy has elves and trees, while Science Fiction has bolts and metal.

That's it. Everything else is fodder for academic debate, which has nothing to do with actual writers telling stories.

And yes, I agree that the Dune books are a lovely mix of Science Fiction and Fantasy. Such fine books. Too bad they're being spoiled by those wretched pre-Dune novels, which now outnumber the originals, if I recall correctly.

I can't say that the Dune books inspired me to write. More they inspired me to give up all such hopes. How could I ever hope to compete in a field that had these treasures in them? The trick though, at least for me, was in not trying to write like Frank Herbert. I can see his influence all over in Matt's writing though -- at least when he's really on his game.

Above and to the left you can see that my new Fables prose novel, Peter and Max, is getting some nice, front-of-store, placement. This pic was taken by Chris Ryall (he who wields mucho power at IDW publishers) while on a trip to Seattle.

Babel Clash: Influence and Labels


In today's post on the Borders Babel Clash site, I talk about my biggest writing influence by far: Frank Herbert's Dune novels. And then I go on to bloviate about how I mistrust the labeling of genre fiction, and how it leads to talk of what counts as "real" sf.

Thinking back over influences got me thinking about how the things we like don’t just influence our style; they also influence how we define what it is that we do and what its place in the overall culture is.

I don’t think there’s been any greater influence on my writing that Frank Herbert’s Dune novels. I love every single one of them and make a point of re-reading them every few years. They never fail to entertain and inspire me, and like all the best literature, I find new things to love about them with every subsequent run at them.

Read the full post over at Babel Clash.

Babel Clash: Sturges + Elves


I'm doing a guest-stint over at the Borders Books sf blog, Babel Clash, along with my Pyr labelmate James Enge.

My first post is called Sturges + Elves, and it talks about Tolkien, and how elves can be your friends or your enemies.

Influences certainly seem a good place to start. I read all of Lord of the Rings during a long dull summer in college. (It seems like college is the time to read the thing.) I remember finding it somewhat ponderous and vaguely annoying; it was good, but I wished Tolkien would get to the damn point already. If there was one thing I felt like I had to “correct” in my own fantasy series, it was the seeming inability of high-fantasy authors to get to the damn point already. (Robert Jordan, I’m lookin’ at you, pal. I’ve really enjoyed the Wheel of Time books, but if I have to read one more description of a woman’s bodice in these last books, there will be a reckoning.)

Despite all that annoyed me about Tolkien, I was still mightily attracted to the stunningly realized world that he’d created. You just knew that any question at all you might have about Middle Earth, Tolkien would have an answer for it. Who was the Elf-King eleventy-six years ago? Not only did Tolkien know, but he probably had eighty pages of notes on the guy. Just in case.

Read the full post over that the Babel Clash blog.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Day Thirteen- Color Commentary


Again with the rain and the fog. I spent a large chunk of the day coloring the SideChicks page for tomorrow. And having the ribs at Hoovers and a short nap. Then got a little time at the keyboard. The first major combat in the new book is done. This may be a hero/ horror book, but the pacing feels like a manga book.

Gonna spend time doing the final edits on the video presentation tomorrow and bothering Sturges at Dragon's Lair at his signing. Looks like its hard for me to get focused unless there is a check dangling somewhere out there.

Speaking of that, I got my long-awaited notes tonight, so it looks like I'll be working on stuff that is unquantifiable in terms of the writing exhibition we're in here. The notes from the editor are pretty significant, so it looks like I'll be rewriting an entire issue of the mini-series tomorrow.

This illo is Eddie Hope from the back-up series written by me and starting in ANGEL #28 by back-up series artist David Messina. Order Now.

11 comic pages--> 5500 words.

Daily total 5500 words. Running total 17,635 words.

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Day 13: Isn't this Book Over Yet?


I am starting to get the sneaking suspicion that this novel is never, ever, ever going to end. No matter how long I write, the story just keeps stretching into the horizon. Hmph. It's fun, though.

Day 13: 5,353 words! For a running total of 57,658 words to date for October. Whoa.

Day 12: Write Yourself into a Corner


I think it's a good idea to write yourself into a corner sometimes. It's a great way to get around a mental block, especially if you feel like your story is getting too predictable. Put your character in an impossible position and see how he gets out of it. If nothing else, it'll force you to consider other avenues your story might go down. Or it'll force you to scrap that entire section of the story and rewrite it the way you intended. There's really no telling.

Day 12: 5,353 words. It seems like I'm getting closer to the end of the novel, until I realize how much more story need to go in it. I keep revising the target word count upward and upward. I should have killed that fucking political maneuvering subplot but now I like it too much and the ending won't work without it. Well, serves me right for caring, doesn't it????

Today's photo of me, by the way, is actually not a photo at all, but a picture my daughter drew (unsolicited) of me as a Jedi knight.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Day Twelve- Nap-Time


Got some sleep and did some writing. The rain has been falling here without cease.

Having a hard time with the lack of productivity now. Just finished Page 22 of the new OGN. Now stuff starts blowing up. Maybe pacing it like a novel makes it a harder read. The lazy entry to the story is a treat though.

For some reason, I've been looking for vintage suit images and came across this one of a Dirty Harry era Clint Eastwood. Dig that giant hair like a lion's mane.

2 comic pages--> 1000 words.

Daily total 1000 words. Running total 12,135 words.

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Days 10 and 11: Circling Back


Day 10 was a bit frustrating, what with all the "spending time with my kids" and "being a husband" I had to do. Don't these people have lives? They just don't get that I'm in a meaningless writing competition and that this must take precedence over nonessentials like cooking dinner and reading to them. These kids can both mostly read anyway; I don't know what they need me for.

So Day 10: 2,822 words of le novel.

Day 11 was all about revisions. For a time there I was about 500 words in the hole, as I chopped a lot of deadwood out of part one. But then all the little tidbits and odds and ends that I'd been slipping in along the way started to add up, and I ended up with a net of 846 for the day.

Day 11: 846 words.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Day Eleven- I Attack...



My occasional D&D group got together for the day. Not much writing done before the game. Much dice rolling. Then much proofing.

I seem to have cut Sturges' lead to a mere 31,000 words. Take that. Hah!

Good God I just saw a note that NBC has bought the rights to do an American version of PRIME SUSPECT. That fact makes me want to burn something down.

3 comic pages--> 1500 words.

Daily total 1500 words. Running total 11,135 words.

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Saturday, October 10, 2009

Day Ten- Foo'ball



Finished a spot illustration that I have been avoiding. Sent out a package to an artist that wants me to script a fantasy series for him. And watched loads of football. Go Horns.

And a couple of episodes from DEXTER Season Three with Kate. Why do people taunt the serial killer? How can that end well?

3 comic pages--> 1500 words.

Daily total 1500 words. Running total 9635 words.

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Friday, October 9, 2009

Day Nine- Noche del Sandwich


Have been paralized since dinner which was an enormous Texadelphia sandwich. And chips. And queso.

Pecked away at the new thing which looks like it is going to be an Original Graphic Novel released on the web and maybe broken up into chunks for other digital delivery. Settled on 11 page chapters and inspired in part by the BBC series Jekyll.


CRIMINAL is the best comic that I have read this week so far.

1 comic page--> 500 words.

Daily total 500 words. Running total 8135 words.

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Day 9: Novel, novel, novel

5,847 words. Fingers numb. Good night!