Friday, October 30, 2009

In Place

NaNo starts on Sunday 11/1 and I feel like I'm in a really good place to hit the ground running. Got my premise, my characters, and my outline (5 pages/20 chapters) -- and even an anti bad writing gargoyle in my garden (<--see pic). Maybe I should place him closer to my desktop as I'm not quite sure about his range. This year's book is a genre shift from the first two -- going from fantasy to sci fi. It's still middle grade. I feel comfortable working in mg and like the idea of writing books that entertain kids of that age -- probably because that's when the whole "hardcore reader" thing kicked in for me. I still recall my first mind expanding sci fi read, "Time of the Great Freeze" by Robert Silverberg (humans emerge from underground sanctuaries at the end of a future ice age). It was back in the 5th grade and got me hooked on the genre. To this day 99% of my pleasure reading is either sci fi or fantasy. But I digress.
My goal for November is 2k+ words a day which will put me at 50k on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving -- thus allowing me to gorge without guilt. My author page at NaNo is sillyroger. Check it out when you get a chance and feel free to add me as a buddy. I'll report back as I hit the significant milestones (every 10k or so). The NaNo word count widget on this blog should start functioning on Sunday.
I know this is all very book geeky but what can I say? I'm a book geek who really enjoys the challenge of cranking out a manuscript every November. Who knows, someday I might even sell one!

Gentlemen (and ladies), start your word processors!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Saturn's Children - Mini Review

Despite an off-putting cover that appears to have been designed with 14 year old boys in mind, Charlie Stross' "Saturn's Children" is an interesting read with a great premise -- once the human race dies off, what's to become of their androids?

In Stross' clever scenario, they continue on -- struggling to fulfill the aspirations of their extinct creators (space exploration, extraterrestrial colonies) while picking up a few of our less than noble traits too (slavery and murder to name a few).

The story centers on Freya Nakamichi-47, an obsolete pleasurebot (see book cover) who, like her identical sisters, has had to find other duties once human males ceased to exist. Most of her work has been mundane, but when she's hired to make a delivery to Mars things start to get interesting and extremely dangerous.

Hardcore intrigue, brutal assassinations, and heart-breaking betrayals easily place "Saturn's Children" in the category of a sci fi thriller (android noir, if you will) as Freya does her best to navigate through a deadly future where absolutely no one can be trusted -- including herself. Recommended.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Anathem - Mini Review

A richly detailed book coming in at roughly 900 pages (plus an extensive glossary and several "calcas" or lessons), Anathem by Neal Stephenson, is not a lightweight read in either the physical or mental sense of that phrase. This hefty book will challenge you.

Set in an alternate "cosmi" (universe), the world of Arbre is divided between secular powers and a complicated system of "concents" (monasteries) devoted to the study of scientific and philosophical truths. Although borrowing heavily from the milieu of medieval monasticism, the monks here are, for the most part, not religious. They're closer in attitude to the thinkers of ancient Greece than the more familiar devout who worshipped God and (as a bonus) preserved western thought and knowledge during our own dark ages.

I spent the first quarter of Anathem trying to sort out a myriad of monastic orders, exotic names, and philosophies of truth and science. There's a lot to keep track of and I didn't click into the book right away. But once I did, I found that I was in for a stimulating ride.

There is a basic and workable story at the heart of Anathem (visitors from another cosmi wreak social and military havoc on Arbre), but the real meat of the book comes from numerous and lengthy discussions of on the nature of existence.

This may not sound very action-packed (it isn't), but it is quite interesting and stimulating in that it makes you consider topics that you probably haven't thought about since staying up way too late in college.

If you're looking for the SF equivalent of a beach read, move on. If you want to be challenged and get your mental gears turning again, read Anathem.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

R.I.P. Captain Lou

One of my very first writing jobs was as headwriter for the live-action portions of the infamous "Super Mario Brothers Super Show". It was something of a grueling "trial by fire" experience but also a lot of fun. We had great guest stars on each episode (Eve Plumb, Donna Douglas, Maurice LaMarche, and Cyndi Lauper, to name a few) but the real heart of the show, the man who made it fun, was Lou Albano.

Gregarious, lovable, self-deprecating and kind -- he was a hoot to be around and kept the mood up when we were struggling under crushing deadlines. He also (gasp!) actually appreciated the show's writers and that we were doing our best to give him funny things to say. I'll always think well of him for that.

Rest in peace, Captain Lou. You were a good guy and I salute you.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

A Productive Week

Been a busy little robot this week.

Got my Script Frenzy screenplay over to the agent on Thursday. I'm very happy with how it turned out. Hope he likes it. I changed the name from "Timer" to "Nick of Time" for reasons stated earlier. Here's how I pitched it:

"Aimed at a youth audience this is a "flexible" script -- existing comfortably, imo, in a number of niches ranging from a big budget live action/cgi extravaganza through a Nick or D.C. original movie (personally, I'd love to see it as an anime style flick in the vein of Miyazaki's "Howl's Moving Castle", but we can talk about that)."

Agents always ask which niche you see the script falling into -- I'm guessing it helps them decide how they're going to position it. You'll note that I'm not going public with any of the script's content as I'm a little superstitious/paranoid about describing that kind of thing until the agent's had a chance to look at it and it's out on the market.

Got a significant chunk of my outline done for "Caden Brave", my 2009 NaNo effort. All of the main characters are laid out. They're archetypal, but that's how I roll.

Twenty more days until the National Novel Writing Month kicks off. If you're still thinking about joining in, now's the time to sign up and start working on your outline. If you decide to go for it, look me up under the author name of "sillyroger". We can be "buddies" and motivate/annoy each other into action during November.

And finally, got my second Scooby script approved. These are a hoot to write and I hope the kids enjoy watching the show as much as I do writing it.

Friday, October 2, 2009

30 Days and Counting

The craziness that is National Novel Writing Month starts at midnight on November 1st, 2009. If you've ever flapped your lips about "someday writing a novel", then I'm putting you on notice that someday is almost here. Sign up and write the damned thing! Seriously though, it's a lot of fun and a great kick in the pants for those who (like me) thrive on a deadline. I've enjoyed and benefited from it enough that this will be my third year of cranking out middle grade November prose. Check out their site and then ask yourself, "Other than the fact that I'm a lazy mook, why wouldn't I do this?"

In other news --
  • Finished my second draft of "Magic Man" my 2008 NaNo project and have sent it off to trusty beta reader JZ. On balance, I'm quite pleased with it but I sure he'll find plenty of wtf things for me to fix.
  • I should be finished with my 2009 Script Frenzy effort "Timer" by the end of this weekend. I've got to finesse the final scene (to make sure that all the main characters get their due) and will probably change the title as 1) there was a recent indie film by the same name and 2) the original reasons for giving my main character that nickname never really made it into the script. Then it's off to the agent.
That's it for now. Get busy on that novel outline!