Howdy there: I have been playing around with GIMP and have found some cool ways to make my own artwork, so I gave the blog a new look. Tell me what you think. I created the new banner just by playing around and trying to create something related to the themes of my books.
To end all questions: yes, I and the family are moving to Colorado in June. I will miss New England and the writing scene here, but I’m looking forward to being close to my extended family and old friends in Colorado. I haven’t been blogging or writing short stories lately because we’re getting our house ready to sell and I have to focus on the novel. This is not an apology. I like writing this blog, and I have plenty of stuff I want to write about and discuss, but it’s a lower priority.
Continue reading “New Look, New Short Story, and Other News”
Should you go see the new adaptation of the classic book? Maybe…
Here is my Goodreads review (follow me on Goodreads), or scroll down for what I thought of the film.
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Why ask me? This book is a classic that goes beyond all internet reviews. School librarians and teachers will forever be recommending this book, and with good reason. If you’re going to read it as an adult, don’t expect too much, but kids will remember it forever. I just read it to my children and we went to see the movie. It’s a cerebral, magical, wonder-filled book that is great for children from 8-12. I highly recommend it for reading aloud or reading solo. The kids loved it. It’s imaginative and adventurous, with plenty of laughs and cries. The thing I liked most about it was reading a children’s book that quotes Shakespeare, Dante, Goethe, and Cervantes in their original languages. That’s the kind of book I want to read to my kids. Continue reading “A Wrinkle in Time”
In which I alienate readers by talking about music… .
I’ve posted a brief video on a new channel, with a few tips on how to tune a 5-string banjo. If you’ve come here via search, enjoy the video and check out my other posts on books, movies, storytelling, and the writing process.
The take-away from the video is that if your banjo is too difficult to tune to itself then it needs to see a professional luthier experienced with banjos.
An exploration of what makes a book readable and hooks readers, in which I alienate beer drinkers… .
Readability is not a joke. Of course, this is how I treated it a few weeks ago when I first noticed the readability of Peter V. Brett’s debut novel The Warded Man. The speed at which I read the first book of Brett’s Demon Cycle series and the way I kept going back to reading it–and actually enjoying it–left me thinking it was just really easy to read. This was funny because a book should be easy to read, and if it’s a pain to read, and you have to drag yourself into reading it, then why are you reading it? It reminded me of a billboard for Bud Light that hung over the entrance to the O’Neill Tunnel in Boston: “Superior Drinkability.” If you’re selling a drink it really ought to be drinkable, or else something is wrong. Continue reading “Superior Readability”
The Song of Shattered Sands continues…
With Blood Upon the Sand is the second novel in the Song of The Shattered Sands series. Two novellas have been published, Of Sand and Malice Made and In the Village Where Brightwine Flows: A Shattered Sands Novella, along with the first novel in the series Twelve Kings in Sharakhai. The third novel of a projected four, A Veil of Spears is due out next month. This is a deeply-characterized series that focuses on Ceda, a very capable young woman wrapped up in an intense drama. The city of Sharakhai in the heart of the Shangazi desert is filled with magic and haunted by its own past. The influences on this world are primarily near-Eastern or Central Asian, and it makes for an interesting mix of magical elements. There is not just one “magic system” there are Continue reading “With Blood Upon the Sand by Bradley P. Beaulieu (Goodreads Review)”
In which I alienate people who hate fun… .
Over the past couple weeks I have watched Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope (hereafter Star Wars) twice, along with bits of other films from the prequel and original trilogy. Also last month, I saw The Last Jedi in a special preview. My kids talk about Star Wars nonstop, have huge amounts of Star Wars Legos, books, lightsabers, droids, and video games. This is different from when I was a kid: we saw Star Wars once a year on TV, and The Empire Strikes Back or Return of the Jedi once every two to three years (seeing the Ewoks was a treat). Star Wars bonus material was hard to come by even in gaming stores and other genre-oriented places. It wasn’t until I had kids who were old enough for Star Wars that I noticed the glut of material now available (including the entire EU, which was around, but not really part of my universe). Soon after that Episode VII was announced and you’re all familiar with the story from there.
Continue reading “Star Wars, Original Recipe: Why Episode IV Is Still The Best”
I have gone into back to basics mode: what does it mean to tell a story? I have been reading a lot of short stories since giving up on A Game of Thrones for what must be the eightieth time. Not just fantasy or science fiction, but authors of all nationalities, genres, and styles. I have been reading Chekhov, Stephen King, Margaret Atwood, Flannery O’Connor, and others who I used to read before I got the idea that I had to give myself assignments and read stuff that was current. I’ve noticed a couple of interesting things: Continue reading “Back to Basics: compelling short stories and character motivations”
I saw The Last Jedi yesterday, and here are my thoughts:
- Plenty of interesting stuff, lots of surprising moments
- I still prefer the swashbuckling pulpy adventure of the first movie to the overstated drama of the newer films
- As much as it was a good movie, I would still rather see a totally new story.
I have three young boys who love Star Wars (thanks to me), and I am getting a little tired of it. “Star Wars” movie is now a phrase that gets used all the time, and it emphasizes the feeling I had while watching The Last Jedi that these films are more like TV shows in the way they tell a never-ending story. Each time the characters face basically the same obstacles and spend their time solving a fairly explicit puzzle. This was understated in the first trilogy, but now it’s almost like watching Law and Order. Continue reading ““Just write””
The Ship of the Dead by Rick Riordan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Short review: this is a fun, funny, and well-written book that is just as good or better than the previous books in the series. It’s a great book to read with your kids, or just by yourself.
Magnus Chase, Alex Fierro, Samirah al-Abbas, Hearth, Blitz, and a cast of einherji race against the launch of Naglfar, the ship of the dead, to once again stop the inevitable tide of Ragnarok. Along the way they pick up the pieces of what they did in the previous book The Hammer of Thor, and discover more about their mysterious parents, their demigod powers, and even find a little romance. This book is a focused thrill ride with more action and less comedy than its predecessor, although it still retains the picaresque quality of other books in the series. Though the heroes are successful, the series ends unresolved and leaves plenty of room for more adventures with these characters. Continue reading “Rick Riordan’s The Ship of the Dead (Goodreads review)”
In which I alienate my fellow NaNoErs.
I signed up for National Novel Writing Month this year for a few reasons, but chief among them was that I had resisted doing it in previous years. NaNoWriMo seems set up for people who have a different set of problems with novel writing than I do, and I used that as a reason to not participate. My problem is not that I don’t add words every day or that I procrastinate or that I have “writer’s block.” My problem is that I have a bunch of animals in my house that will starve or (more likely) eat each other if I don’t stop writing for a few minutes a day. Four thousand words a day would be no problem for me if I didn’t have anything else to do, so NaNoWriMo didn’t seem like something for me. Continue reading “Nah, NoWriMo”