On Hiatus

Aug. 26th, 2010 12:09 am
sinanju: The Shadow (Default)
I'm taking a few days off from writing. I've been spinning my wheels for the last month or more, and I'm just...tired. I should be most of the way through my third novel for the year at this point, but I haven't even started one. If I end up writing only three this year, I'll still have done damn well--but I still hope to finish four. But I'm not going to work on it for a few days. I'm taking time away from writing to recharge my creative battery.

I finished Blue Diablo, the first Corine Solomon novel by Ann Aguirre. I read Hell Fire, the sequel, first, since I didn't know when I started it that it was the second in the series. I really, really like this series. It's urban fantasy, but with nary a vampire or werewolf to be seen. Instead, we have sorcerors, wizards, witches, and people with more limited and specific Gifts, as well as the occasional ghost or demon. It's a nice change from the overabundance of bloodsuckers and shapeshifters.

Our heroine (yes, a female protagonist written in first person) has a Gift, but it comes at a price. She can touch objects and read their history (and possibly their future, and those of the people they're connected to), but it results in painful burns to her hands whenever she does so. (There are reasons why.) Our heroine also has two gorgeous men in her life, one an ex-lover and one a recent acquaintance with whom she shares a mutual attraction. But unlike many such set-ups in other urban fantasy novels, our heroine has very good--very good--reasons for not succumbing to their charms. Yes, her ex is incredbly attractive and she wants him...but her better judgment tells her it would be a very bad idea to renew their relationship, and (in a refreshing change of pace for such scenarios), she actually exercises her common sense.

There is a third book in the series due out next April, and Publisher's Marketplace reports that she just sold two more books in the series, the first of which will be coming out in April 2012. I want them now!

I've been watching episodes of Stargate: SG-1 via Netflix streaming on the X-Box the last few days. The show holds up pretty well, all things considered. But--we've been watching a lot of stuff in HD on the flatscreen television since we got it and I have to say I didn't really see what all the fuss was about. Well, now I do. SG-1 was not filmed in high definition format, and it really shows when you blow the images up to fill the screen. There's a considerable amount of pixelation; it's not obvious most of the time, and mostly ignorable even it is--but I see the difference now.

Stories in Circulation: 12 <--another rejection came in the other day, I haven't sent the story back out yet.
Rejections: 56 <--ditto
Stories Accepted: SEVEN
Stories to Resubmit: 0

Novel Queries
Strange Attractors (urban fantasy): 4 queries out, 9 rejections
Repossessor (science fiction): 5 queries out, no responses

sinanju: The Shadow (Default)
I haven't posted in a while, as my lovely and talented wife pointed out to me today on the phone. So, here's a post.

I haven't posted in a while because I haven't written anything of consequence in a while. What with illness in June, and then editing my novel and getting it out the door, I haven't done much writing. But today I jumped back on the horse, working on what I hope will be the first of two stories I hope to write and get into the mail this week.

I got about 3,000 words written today. Not all of them usable--it required a little pump-priming before I started producing, but hey. It's still in the right ball park.

I received a rejection the other day (for "In Adversity"), so I need to get that story back in the mail. I've already picked out the next market, I just need to print it out, assemble the submission (story, cover letter, SASE) and take it to the post office. I also need to resubmit a story I'd sent to the Writers of the Future contest; the new quarterly contest has started, so that story is available again.

No word on my new novel submissions yet, but I don't expect any news for a while.

In other words, my lovely and talented wife had a lovely birthday. We (and Twoson) went out to lunch, then out to a movie (Inception), then out to dinner, then out to a second movie (Eclipse). She also received some nice presents, including a Nook e-reader. I actually bought that for her last month as an early birthday present, and she's been enjoying it quite a lot.

My thumbnail review of Inception: for a movie all about going into peoples' dream worlds and monkeying around, there's nowhere near enough reality-bending to suit me. In that respect, The Matrix was more my cup of tea. This was "Mission: Impossible" played out in dreamscapes. It wasn't a bad movie, by any means. It was very well crafted. But it wasn't what I'd been led to expect, and so I was disappointed. Your mileage may vary.

Stories in Circulation: 10
Rejections: 46
Stories Accepted: SEVEN
Stories to Resubmit: 2

Novel Queries: 2 Novels in circulation, 8 queries out
Novel Rejections: 7
sinanju: The Shadow (Default)
Happy Independence Day Weekend to everyone!

I didn't write a damn thing today. I did chores (and wrestled with what project to tackle for my next novel). I ran out to the bank, opened up the house and aired it out a bit, dusted and vacuumed the bedroom, changed the bedsheets, ran the comforters through the dryer, and a few other things. Oh, and went running this morning--in the rain, no less--with Twoson. (We've embarked on the Couch to 5K program together, him for the first time, me for the mumble-tieth time. Just finished our first week.)

I also got a rejection on my story "Reunion". So I sent it out again. (Wow, after not hearing anything on any of my circulating stories, or the novel, for weeks on end, all of a sudden they're all getting responses. Odd.) My lovely and talented wife finished reading my second novel and had some useful observations. I'll be taking them into account as I fine tune it a little before sending it out.

On the non-writing front, I've been watching a new show today. My lovely and talented wife discovered it this morning, and set up a season pass on the Tivo. So we got six episodes today--they were doing a marathon, I guess. Anyhow, she discovered--after watching a couple of episodes this evening that she didn't care for it after all. But I've been enjoying it.

MANTRACKER, it's called. It's a Canadian reality show that's been airing since 2006 (according to the wiki article about it). The MANTRACKER (he has a name, but that's all they ever call him) is, well, a tracker (and a cowboy, but for entertainment purposes, his tracking skill is the real draw).

So the gag is: Each episode we watch as two contestants (generally but not always outdoorsman types) try to elude the MANTRACKER while they travel cross-country on foot to reach their destination within 36 hours while not being caught. It's got the typically overwrought narration and oh-so-dramatic editing common to all reality shows (and frankly, I'd like it better if it was more matter of fact--which is also why my lovely and talented wife lost interest). But it's still entertaining enough for me.

Alas, they don't really tell you much in any given show. They drop bits and pieces in different episodes, but I had to read the wiki to get a lot of this.

The MANTRACKER and his guide (the show is filmed in different areas each week, so he has a local guide) are mounted. The MANTRACKER rides a horse provided for him at each location, not his own. The two "prey" are on foot, navigating with compass and map. The distance they have to cover varies depending on the terrain (and probably their experience level). They get a two kilometer head start; a flare is fired from their starting position to give the MANTRACKER some idea of where to start looking, and they're off! There's no prize involved for the "prey" other than bragging rights if they manage to elude the MANTRACKER and reach the finish line.

Cameramen follow both the "prey" and the MANTRACKER. I thought upon initially seeing the show that the cameramen would be a problem. But apparently not. The cameramen employed are experienced woodsmen, and pretty good at going unseen. Plus, they also send decoy runners and cameramen into the area sometimes so the MANTRACKER can't just look for the camera crew.... And some of the shots on the show are recreations, so what looked initially like shots that would give the game away aren't.

Anyhow, it's been interesting. Avoiding capture boils down to basically two approaches. You try to leave as little sign of your passing as possible, or you simply try to go where the mounted MANTRACKER can't follow, even if he can see you. Aside from very occasionally dismounting to lead the horse or to examine the ground, he apparently must remain mounted while in pursuit of the "prey". Which means: heavy brush, cliffs or steep inclines, anywhere they can't take the horses. Since catching the runners consists basically of maneuvering the horses to cut off their escape, being seen--even being close enough to taunt one another (as sometimes happens)--doesn't count.

I'm no tracker, but I know some of the theory and he seems to be pretty good. He's quite adept at finding and following the tracks, and working out what they're doing. Oh--he doesn't meet the "prey" prior to the hunt, so he has no idea who he's tracking until he gets a glimpse of them. Nor does he know their destination; he can get some idea of the direction they're traveling when he tracks them, but that's it. I've watched three episodes now, and the MANTRACKER has caught four out of six "prey" (which is about average, according to the wiki).

It's not great tv, but I'm finding it entertaining enough.

Stories in Circulation: 11
Rejections: 45
Stories Accepted: SEVEN
Stories to Resubmit: 0

Novel Queries: 1 Novel, 3 queries out
Novel Rejections: 7

Iron Man 2

May. 9th, 2010 02:57 pm
sinanju: The Shadow (Default)
We went to the 11:30 a.m. showing of Iron Man 2 today, to avoid the crowds. And we succeeded admirably. There were other people in the theatre, though not a lot of people. Whether we avoided the crowds because they were either at church, or doing Mother's Day stuff, or because business is still really slow (the theatre has been nearly empty the last few times we've been there over the last months), I can't say. Anyhow, here's my take on the movie.
Clicky, clicky if you want to read my review... )


Sep. 11th, 2009 05:47 pm
sinanju: The Shadow (Default)
So I'm watching Glee! this season. They ran the pilot last spring, then again last week. The first new episode aired this week. I enjoyed it all very much.

I didn't think I would. When I first heard about the show and its premise I figured, "Pass!"

But then I stumbled into the first episode last spring and it was...surreal. Crazy obsessed people, music and dancing, weird relationships, high school as hell redux. It was fascinating.

And the second episode gives me confidence that it will continue to be a fascinating, slightly surreal world peopled with oddballs. And as the spouse and I discussed on our drive to the coast today, almost everyone on the show is Crazy!

Our hero, Will, teacher and glee club facilitator? Crazy.
Will's wife, self-absorbed housewife and crafter? Crazy!
The cash-flow obsessed Principal? Seriously crazy!
OCD Guidance Counselor in love with Will? Crazy.
Football Coach pining for OCD Girl? Crazy.
Butch Nazi-esque Cheerios Coach? Dangerous Crazy.
Cheerios? Run-of-the-mill celibacy club Crazy.
Rachel, would-be superstar? Crazy.
About the only character who isn't clearly crazy is the football quarterback Will had to mousetrap into joining Glee...until he admitted to himself that he liked it and chose to stay.

The first episode introduced us to everyone and sketched out the relationships. This second episode dug a little deeper--and there's been movement on some storyline fronts already, a very good sign.

Football Coach's speech to OCD Girl was heartfelt and made some valid points. I was pleased when she changed her mind to accept his date and backed off a little from her daydreamy pursuit of (the married) Will.

Cheerio Coach was simply growling at Will in the first episode. She was protective of her turf but didn't feel seriously threateneed. Now that she's had her funds reduced slightly--and lost face in a couple of showdowns with Will in front of the Principal--she's definitely out for blood. Will, of course, is clueless about this. He really doesn't grok--yet--just how seriously she takes this threat to the Cheerios' supremacy in school. But he'll learn...the hard way, probably.

There was lots of good stuff in this episode. The only real flaw, in my view, was when Will's wife learned that she wasn't really pregnant...but didn't admit it to him. Yes, she's self-absorbed. She's materialistic. She's a social climber. She shamelessly manipulates him emotionally. But I was really hoping she'd come clean--that we'd see that there was some line she wouldn't cross.

Alas, they went for the easy--and predictable--plot point of having her lie to him. Instead of telling Will she'd learned she wasn't pregnant after all, she told him she'd learned that it was a boy at her appointment that day. Sigh. So far there is nothing to suggest what Will ever saw in her besides her looks. I was hoping for better.

She did back off on the new house, agreeing that they could stay in the apartment they've got. Which, as my spouse pointed out to me, was some growth for her. But not much--and giving her some much needed humanity would strength the love triangle subplot. At this point, Will's choice is between his (self-absorbed, greedy, materialistic, manipulative and now deceitful) wife and OCD girl, who clearly has her own problems but at least sees him as something more than a meal ticket and fashion accessory. Were she more sympathetic, Will might have a genuine dilemma...if he ever sees the truth.

Will is almost painfully naive. He doesn't see his wife's flaws. He's the ONLY person in the entire school (including the students) who doesn't see OCD Girl pining for him, and he has no clue the Cheerios Coach has him in her mostly-metaphorical gunsights.

But overall I'm really enjoying this show a lot. I recommend it!
sinanju: The Shadow (Default)
My lovely and talented wife and I deleted our Tivo season pass for Jericho tonight, after watching the most recent episode.  As she explained in her own livejournal recently ([livejournal.com profile] snippy ), she started watching the series hoping for Alas Babylon but what she got was Nuclear War Survival for Dummies

Or, actually, more like Nuclear War Survival BY Dummies.  We knew it was a bad sign when we realized we were rooting for the survivalists (who I'm pretty sure are going to recurring antagonists) as the only people on the show who deserve to survive.  Why?

Because they're not morons!  They seem to be one step ahead of the townsfolk at every turn, but that's not because they're superhumanly capable.  They're simply normal, intelligent human beings.  Which, you know, puts them head and shoulders above everyone else.

Farmer Guy has acres and acres of corn.  Quite possibly hundreds of acres of corn.  Corn that, ordinarily, he'd sell after he harvested it with his insanely expensive combine harvester.  Only the EMP two weeks earlier put the kibosh all things electronic, which I'm pretty sure includes $300,000 - $500,000 combine harvesters.  But more to the point, he's growing corn and only corn.

He's very posessive of his corn (which, to be fair, everyone seems to want a piece of), but realistically, he can't possibly harvest it all even with the help of the townsfolk.  Given that it was presumably being grown for sale, he probably doesn't even have on-site storage for it.  Plus, say he successfuly prevents anyone from taking it from him.  Then what?  Man cannot live by corn alone.  He's gonna look pretty silly trying to eat all that corn with no teeth after they've all fallen out due to scurvy (I don't think corn has Vitamn C in it).

He ought to be trading access to some of his many, many acres of corn for other foodstuffs and other things he and his family will need.

And that assumes the corn is safe to eat.  Given that Magical Negro Guy told the townsfolk earlier that they'd have to scrape away the top 18 inches of topsoil to eliminate radioactive fallout particles (once it was safe to come out of the shelters), I'm pretty sure the corn wouldn't be safe anyhow.  But anyway....

The cops in this town are useless.  Nobody (except possibly Magical Negro) seems to grasp that The Rules Have Changed.  FedRepGal is cruising for a broken neck or a knife in the kidney if she continues to think that the world (or at least the town) owes her a living as the Living Embodiment of the Federal Gummit.

The survivalists seemed to be the only people who grokked that in the absence of working motor vehicles, horses are the only form of transportation (or heavy labor) other than human muscles.  They're also smart enough to grab a barnful of undefended foodstuffs.

And...and....it could have been such a good show.  But the characters are idiots.
sinanju: The Shadow (Futurama Midnite Space Cowboy)
Spoiler tagged for those who may not have seen them yet.

Heroes musings )

Studio 60 musings (short) )
sinanju: The Shadow (Default)
No spoiler spaces. The subject line is all the warning you get.

"Oh my God--you killed Lilah! You bitch!"

So--Cordelia is evil. Or something that looks and sounds but only sort of acts like Cordelia is evil. Or it's really Cordelia but she's possessed or enchanted or...something.

I am unimpressed, and I've finally figured out why.

Cordelia ascended to the higher realms last season. That may or may not have been a scam on her by Skip. But she disappeared. Then we got the amusing "God, I am _so_ bored" cameo at the end of an episode. Then we got the "What are you, mental? Get me out of here!" episode. And the ep where she watched Angel and company's adventure in Vegas. With the exception of the Vegas ep (where she _may_ have acted to aid Angel), her appearances were camoes unrelated to the events of the episode in question--just little teasers to let us know that she wasn't happy with her new gig.

Then the gang gets back from Vegas to find AmnesiaCordy standing in the hotel lobby. Only it turns out not to be our Cordy. it's an evil Cordy, or possessed Cordy or something. But the cameos of the _real_ Cordelia cease, helping to present the illusion that Cordelia is no longer in the Higher Realms (tm). But since those scenes existed solely for us, the viewers, and had no effect on anyone or anything else in the show, it feels like a cheat when we later discover that the Cordy who returned to Angel isn't really her.

It could have been worse, of course. We could have seen Cordelia stab Lilah to death and mutter her "That's why I let him out, you stupid bitch" line...then had the camera that pull-back-to-orbit trick and show us RealCordy (tm) in the clouds looking shocked and appalled. They didn't go quite that far, but almost.

I think this is part and parcel of a trend (first mentioned on the Television Without Pity website) at ME of writing for Great Moments! instead of writing great stories. The glacial pace of action on Buffy (not so much on Angel, but there are hints of it there too) comes down to structuring episodes so that we get a ShockingMoment! or a HorrifyingMoment! at the end of the episode. Of course, this means that they have to vamp til the end of the episode, lest the shocking moment come too soon.

If they wrote the "Angelus kills Jenny Calender" scene today, she would undoubtedly die at the very end of the episode, leaving us with a cliffhanger. When they wrote it then, she died much earlier in the episode, still giving time for Giles to have a horrible experience upon finding her body in his bed, _and_ for him to go after Angel in a fit of grief and rage, _and_ for Buffy to figure out what he was going to do and go save him. Does anyone here think they could do that in less than three episodes nowadays?

I would have very much preferred to see Cordelia continue her end-of-ep commentaries if (and it's an important if) they counterpointed the actions of EvilCordy (tm) back in L.A. When Faith went bad, they didn't keep it a secret from the viewers--we _knew_ she was working for the Mayor even while she continued to pretend to work with the Scooby Gang.

That set up dramatic tension...as opposed to setting up endless debate and confusion as to what the hell was wrong with Cordelia that we've had with the current story. Is she behaving out-of-character because of brain damage? Does she have ulterior motives? Is it just lousy continuity and bad writing? If we'd _known_ that Cordelia wasn't Cordelia, we would at least have had some clue that ME knew what the hell they were doing and that it wasn't just a major brain cramp on the part of the writers and producers. We'd have been on pins and needles waiting for her to do something awful.

Instead of "Why the hell did she sleep with Connor?" we'd have known why, and speculated about her evil purpose instead of about whether the character and/or the writers were idiots. Talking Angel into becoming Angelus becomes a clever ploy, not an ill-considered attempt at just the opposite. Instead of "did she _mean_ to do that?" we wonder "WHY did she want him to become Angelus?" Her actions become meaningful rather than a source of constant discontent with seemingly pointless and out-of-character behaviors.

As it stands now, we've had a Big Revelation (tm) that Cordelia is eeeevil, which might be shocking to some but doesn't begin to make up for months of wondering if the IQs at ME had just dropped sharply over the last couple of years.


sinanju: The Shadow (Default)

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