I recently saw this article: “65 Immortal Brian Eno Quotes for His 65th Birthday.” Usually I avoid Internet lists with so many elements (one great advantage of print is that editors cut lists like this down to the essentials), but Eno has always been an interesting guy, so I skimmed this one, and found this quote:
“One of my mottoes is that if you want to get unusual results, work fast and work cheap, because there’s more of a chance that you’ll get somewhere that nobody else did.”
Well, “cheap” doesn’t mean much in writing, but “fast” certainly does. And this is how I wrote my two novels, working fast and without much of a plan. I won’t say I got somewhere that nobody else did, but I did get to some places that were not heavily populated.
I’ve been thinking about starting a new story, but I didn’t want to begin until the Jan Sleet mysteries were done. But now they are, so it’s time.
I don’t have a title for the whole thing, but the first part is called “Arrival.” It begins with Jan Sleet’s father, who we haven’t seen since A Sane Woman (before she was even born).
And her mother will appear also (that much I do know).
Oh, and yes, the title of this post is a line from Les Miserables. How did you know?
May 18th, 2013
My first experience with tablets was when I bought a Kindle Fire. That didn’t go well.
Then I bought a Nook Color, but I found the range of apps to be too limited. There wasn’t even a replacement for the default (lousy) Android keyboard. So, I got a card from the N2A Card people and booted the Nook Color into regular Android. That worked a lot better.
But it was still not completely satisfactory. For example. playing audio files didn’t work very well (they’d skip occasionally, maybe because of the booting-from-a-card thing).
But then three things happened in pretty rapid succession:
1. Barnes & Noble announced that their newer Nooks would have access to the entire Android app store (not just the Nook store).
2. B&N announced that they were dropping the prices on the Nook tablets quite a bit (the cheapest would be $149).
3. Press reports started saying that Microsoft was going to buy the entire Nook operation (they own a piece of it already). The details of that aren’t known (partly because it hasn’t happened yet), but it would seem to indicate that Nooks which run Android would probably not be long for this world.
Well, in between #2 and #3, I bought me a Nook HD (did I mention the part about it being $149?). When #3 happened, I still had time to return it, but I’m keeping it.
I confess this is somewhat of a gut decision. I like the Nook. It’s well designed and feels good in my hand. Which is also true of the Kindle, but not of the Kindle Fire, which always felt clunky and awkward in my hand, even apart from the interface and screen problems.
Also (and I know I’m not the only one to do this), I downloaded the Kindle app, so now I have my Kindle books on my Nook .
The music-playing is fine, and it’s good for watching videos, too (I bought Les Miserables natch).
So, so far, so good.
(And now there are reports that the Microsoft deal isn’t happening anyway.)
May 17th, 2013
Lots of things to write about tonight.
1) I’m nearly ready to start a new story. Some time this week, I would guess. I’ll let you know, of course.
2) Hey, The Pyramid Waltz has a sequel, called For Want of a Fiend. I’ve just started it, but it’s good so far. I wrote about The Pyramid Waltz here. You can read about the new book here.
3) The comic book store I’ve patronized for the last three+ years has closed, but two of the employees from there have started their own store, Carmine Street Comics, located (of all places) on Carmine Street in Manhattan. It sounds like they’re going to be more indie-oriented than the old store, including an emphasis on mini-comics.
I was involved with the mini-comics scene some 20+ years ago, and in fact A Sane Woman was originally published in monthly chapbooks (an idea I originally got from the mini-comics people I was working with at that time).
Carmine Street Comics even has a place in their window where they will have artists creating comics on the spot. I met one of them, a very interesting artist named Ellen Stedfeld. And one of her books reminded me of this, one of my favorite webcomics, “Josh & Imp.’
4) I’ve got to say that, based on this and this, the new Iron Man movie sounds more and more like a must-see.
5) And, yes, I’m going to talk more about Les Miserables.
I saw this article, which contained this summary of the plot of the movie:
Gin and tonic. Man in prison for 19 years for stealing bread gets parole. Bloke in charge marks his card. Man steals from kind bishop. Bishop takes pity. Man’s life is changed. Ten years on. Man is mayor and factory owner. Factory lady exposed as having illegitimate child. Lady sacked and becomes prostitute. Lady dies. Man’s life is changed. Man buys lady’s daughter from comedy bar owners. 10 years on. Boy falls in love with daughter. Revolution in air. Girl dressed as boy brings letter from first boy professing undying love for daughter. Man reads it. Man’s life is changed. Interval. Revolution. Many die. Boy marries daughter. Man leaves. Comedy bar owners return. Make boy realise man saved his life. Man led to heaven by factory lady and girl who was dressed as boy. Finale.
See, plotting isn’t the most important thing. It’s what you do with it that counts.
And, yes, the Cinema Sins people have taken on Les Miz:
And, fond as I am of the movie, they make some very good points.
- Movie only waits three minutes to start in with the Jesus imagery.
- No one helps the mayor lift this fucking cart off this poor bastard?
- And, yes, to Marius: Forget the super hot brunette, this random blonde girl is way hotter.
- And re: Cosette: This dude still wants her even after hearing her sing(!)
- Plus the fact that both Fantine and Valjean die without (apparently) dying from anything specific.
- And, of course, “itinery”?
May 13th, 2013
I was going to write a blog post yesterday, but then more and more things came up that I wanted to write about. So, I’m going to whittle it down to the essential thing. More is coming soon.
The original reason for the midweek post was that the final mystery in the current series, “The Mystery of the Quiet People,” is posted.
This concludes the beta reading and re-editing process on the Jan Sleet mystery stories.
The process began on January 1st, 2012 and has produced some excellent results. Not that the stories are necessarily excellent, but the process has made all of them stronger than they were.
Two stories were dropped (not even because they were bad, but because they didn’t help the overall story), two stories got combined, and two new diagrams were created (I always like it when mystery stories have floor plans and maps). At some point there will be an e-book, but very soon there will be a unified HTML file of the whole book, designed for printing and e-readers.
So, thanks again to all the beta readers (even the ones who only got partway through or never did anything at all).
And for everybody else, I hope you like the stories.
May 2nd, 2013
Last time I described my reaction to finding out that Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) will engage in some superheroics of her own in the new Iron Man movie. As I said, “This puts a smile on my face.”
I’ve been thinking about this. Why does this please me so much? I was surprised at my own enthusiasm.
Is it because I’m really interested in the character? Not really. I read Iron Man comic books decades ago (back when the character was in a book called Tales of Suspense, before he got his own title), but he was never a favorite character, and I didn’t even know about Rescue until I read about her on Wikipedia.
Is it because I’m really into the earlier movies in the series? Definitely not. The first was sort of okay, the second less so (the main things I remember about #2 were some first-class Tony/Pepper bickering and some rather icky leering at Scarlett Johansson).
Is it because I think all female characters should kick ass? No, though I’m fond of a lot of movies where they do. But even in the Resident Evil movies, for example, there are always a variety of female characters who don’t kick ass (in addition to the ones who do). I talked about that here.
(Emerald Barnes wrote a very good post on the yaindie.com site called, “Why your Female Protagonist Doesn’t Have to Kick-Butt to be Liked,” which I referred in my post “I Like a Girl Hero,” but YAIndie seems to have gone away. Too bad.)
And while I certainly do have female characters who do kick ass to a greater or lesser extent, it’s also true that I’ve devoted over 40 years of my life (so far ) to writing about a certain very well dressed amateur detective who couldn’t fight her way out of a very thin paper bag.
I think that big grin on my face was partly because the current crop of Marvel movies are such a boys club. Joss Whedon did his best to make Black Widow equal to the guys in The Avengers, and she does have one great scene (the interrogation of Loki), but it’s a boy movie. And it was a boy movie where my favorite two minutes was Tony and Pepper doing their version of The Thin Man.
But in these sorts of movies, if you’re not kicking ass you’re a minor character, no matter how witty your dialog is. There are already rumors that Rescue will be in the second Avengers movie (which I’m sure reflects fan enthusiasm rather than any inside information — though it’s easy to imagine Whedon wanting to go in that direction).
So, it will be interesting to see how this is all handled. The new Iron Man movie could easily be as mediocre as the first two, but this will be enough to get me into the theater.
April 29th, 2013
1) Last week I talked about Robert Altman's movie A Wedding. Well, I stumbled on a review of a stage version which as done a while back. As an opera, of all things. Directed by Altman himself.
Well, he did spend his last decades trying to do things he'd never done before.
2) Stephen Watkins had a post called "2013: Movies of Interest," and we discussed our various qualms about the upcoming Iron Man movie. Here's my comment on that: "For one thing, is it actually possible to do the Mandarin in some way that isn’t offensive? Certainly in the comics he was very stereotypical. But my bigger qualm is that, based on the trailer, it’s going to be 'Tony the hero has to man up and toughen up to rescue his beloved Pepper, who’s been tied to the railroad tracks and maybe tortured by the evil Asian guy.' Ish. On the other hand, there is another way they could go. In the comics, Pepper has been known to suit up, too. Which nobody would expect from Gwyneth Paltrow… Could be we’ll be seeing Rescue. That would be cool."
Well, as far as the second point goes, that question has been answered. This puts a smile on my face.
As for the other qualm, I've read enough online to say that it seems this reaction was anticipated and dealt with also. (No spoilers here.)
So, I've got to see this one when it comes out.
3) Tech tip for today;
AKLB. Always Keep Local Backups.
I read this: "Can You Live Without Google?" It shows what can happen when you trust Google with all your vital files, without keeping local copies (always a bad idea), and they suddenly decide to lock you out. One easy "backup" is to email files to yourself, but that doesn't help if you use Gmail.
The cloud is all well and good, but AKLB.
April 25th, 2013