Sunday, August 31, 2008

What time and age are you?

Which time and place do you belong in?

Paleolithic Ages

You belong at the dawn of man, you are strong and innovative, and love the outdoors (Possibly enjoy spelunking as well)

Personality Test Results

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No. 23 - Swords Against Darkness III

edited by Andrew J. Offutt

Started: August 31
Finished: September 7

Notes: I was delighted to find this 1978 collection of Sword and Sorcery stories recently. The editor is quite probably my favorite S&S author, and I'm familiar with a good number of the writers who have short stories in this one. This should be a fun read. Another great thing about this book is it contain's Poul Anderson's article on S&S writing, "On Thud and Blunder," a great read any aspiring fantasy author should look at.

Mini review: This was a fun read! In fact, this might be the most fun reading I've had all year. Sword and Sorcery tales from the 1970s and early '80s are often my favorite because there is often a non-serious side to them; I don't mean by this that the stories or characters themselves are comical (though sometimes they are) but that the heroes tend not to take themselves quite so serious as in earlier S&S tales and even the more modern stories. There's almost a feeling of comedy, but not quite, and there's definitely a sense that one's own life is worth giving up for the paltriest of purposes when the time is right. I don't know. It's hard to explain. Still, I loved this book. I'll have to find me some more Sword and Sorcery stories!

Friday, August 29, 2008

Book store fire news worsens

The fire that slammed Book World in Chillicothe, Ohio, was possibly arson. After the blaze was put out, one of the owners or managers found the cash register and it had been broken into and emptied. So, the thinking goes that some idiot broke into the place, busted up and cleaned out the register, then either intentionally or accidentally started the fire.

The fire that destroyed at least 10,000 books.

That's right. 10,000 books.

Now, you might be thinking ... "this is just a used book store. It was probably full of junk." But this is not true. Book World did have plenty of used books, but they also had new books. And either way you cut it, 10,000 books is a huge loss. How many favorite novels, forgotten treasures or just downright entertaining reads were destroyed? Thousands.

I curse the name and spit on the grave of the idiot who caused this fire.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Book store fire has got me thinking

Book World, an independent bookstore in the small town of Chillicothe, Ohio, has been damaged by fire, possibly quite extensively. I only know this because I used to work in Chillicothe, for seven years, and I keep up with the local news there through the town's newspaper's Web site.

Check out that Web site for the most recent story on the fire.

As a writer, this bothers me. I haven't been to Book World in nearly a decade, but when I lived in Chillicothe it was the only real bookstore in town. The only other places to buy books (that I remember) were K-Mart, Wal-Mart and a couple of comic book shops. Book World had new books, but they also had a pretty good selection of used books.

Small towns need their bookstores. Often it is the only way for local readers to peruse and/or purchase new books, and sometimes even older books. It's also a great way for writers to spread their audience.

All too often, because of sheer numbers and marketing, writers and publishers (and all other businesses, for that matter) focus only on urban areas; that's where the most people are, that's where the readers are, so that's where the money must be.

But across the great big country that is the United States, there are thousands upon thousands of small towns with bookstores. Maybe we need to be paying more attention to them, not only for monetary reasons, but to help spread the joys of reading.

There was a time not so long ago, maybe forty years, when reading was available to all, but in the last half century reading has gotten a reputation as being a sort of snobby passtime, as if it's above or beyond the average jane or joe. There was a time when blue-collar workers carried around a beat-up paperback in their back pocket, but that doesn't seem to be the case today (for a variety of reasons, including the rise of electronic forms of entertainment and the fact your average paperback today costs a bundle of money when it used to be less than a dollar). Steinbeck, Hemingway and O'Henry weren't necessarily writing for the intelligentsia, and neither were Robert E. Howard, Fritz Leiber and Andrew Offutt.

I say it's time to change this way of thinking. Reading isn't something for just one type of person, or one so-called class of people. Reading can open doors and bring entertainment to all. If I think about it, I'm a white-collar worker, but I've worked blue-collar and red-necked jobs long ago and that's my early background.

Let's give reading back to the every-day person.

And I can think of one way to help, just a little. Keep abreast of what's going on with Book World through the Chillicothe Gazette site, or elsewhere on the Web. When this small-town bookstore begins rebuilding, and they will, maybe mail them a package of used books. Find a handful of old paperbacks you no longer need, and find out where to mail them.

Being a business, maybe Book World won't want or need our books. But I'm guessing they will need all the help they can get. Insurance money only goes so far.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Getting back in the saddle

I got back to work on my trilogy today, the first time in nearly a year (according to my computer files) that I have done serious work on the project. No, I haven't been lazy. The first book has been under consideration at a handful of places, as now too is the second book, while I've been writing short stories and dealing with life in general.

But now, today, I delved back into the third book of the trilogy. I've a handful of chapters that need some tweaking and a few scenes I want to add to help clarify a few things.

Most importantly, though, was I had a lot of fun. Yep, it was good times getting back into my fantasy world. I've at least a week or two's worth of work yet to do on the trilogy, then, hopefully, it will be finished (outside of any editor's wanted changes, of course).

I've been feeling the need to get back to writing a novel, and I'm moving toward that again. I've a few smaller projects to finish first, as I've mentioned elsewhere on this blog, but then I'm getting back to novel writing.

I think the next novel is going to be mainstream, not speculative at all, and will stand alone, without being part of a trilogy. I'm not set on this yet, but there's a novel I've been wanting to write for my father, and I think it's time I get to work on it. He's no longer young, and I want him to experience this novel before he might pass on some day or his health turns bad and precludes him from reading.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Sharp pointy things

If you are interested in weaponry, specifically bladed weaponry and unusual bladed weaponry, check out this blog:

The Realm of the Dark Blade

The author of this blog does a pretty good job of telling you what would work, what won't and what's complete garbage. And, regardless of whether a particular bladed weapon is practical or not, there are plenty of pictures of some cool looking knives, swords, etc. One of the things I like best about the blog is that it focuses upon the reality of bladed-weapon use, not video games or movies or fiction of any sort. One of my pet peeves in fantasy fiction is swords, and to some extent sword fighters, who manage to do the impossible or implausible, especially multiple times; I give some leeway for magical blades, and magical fighters, but sometimes things get ridiculous.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

No. 22 - Alexander of Macedon

by Harold Lamb

Started: August 23
Finished: August 31

Notes: This is a historical novel first published in 1946 by an author who comes highly praised in some fantastic fiction circles. I've read one or two of Lamb's shorter pieces, but never one of his novels. Here goes.

Mini review: Quite enjoyably, this turned out to be more partially-fictionalized biography than historical novel (if you don't realize the difference, that's fine, because I do). This was an informative read, despite my already being fairly knowledgable of the time period, and there's enough action to keep the interest level high. The author keeps his focus on the charecter of Alexander, and Alexander's possible goals, and doesn't focus so much on the many cultures Alexander ran into. I always enjoy books that give me a new way of looking at something, and this book did it for me; I came away with more of an appreciation of Alexander the Great as an explorer, and not just as a conquering figure, which is how he is usually portrayed.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

No. 21 - Sorceress of the Witch World

by Andre Norton

Started: August 19
Finished: August 23

Notes: Continuing my delving back into the fantasy genre, I figured it was time I got around to this series and this author, both of which I've not read before. Plus, after the very long book I just finished, I thought it would be nice to get into something fairly short.

Mini review: An interesting story, one of a young witch who has lost her powers and goes on a journey to retrieve them once more, but I did not care much for the writing style. It was all telling and no showing. I can't say I'd jump at the chance to read more of Norton's works, but I also wouldn't completely shy away from it.

My schedule

This is for me, here at the top of my blog as a reminder. Anyone else reading this is more than welcome, but I want this online so I can't just set it aside so easily. Anyway, I've several writing projects going on right now, and I wanted to prioritize them.

Here goes:

1.) RoTB short story finished, edited and sent off
2.) Re-editing three chapters for third book in trilogy
3.) Editing Shannon's novel
4.) Starting the new novel

Sounds easy, doesn't it? Hah! That's not even including the dozen or so ideas for John Dee short stories I have at the moment, but I'm pushing them off to get this work done. Other than some rewriting and editing for my trilogy, I've been working on short stories for about a year now, and feel it's time to get back into a novel.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Quoting myself

After a really long, tedious day of dealing with idiots, shopping (which I hate) and spending hours and hours washing my damn car, I had planned to write a rather lengthy post on the worthlessness of humanity in general.

But, instead, I thought I'd keep it short and sweet.

So, I'm quoting myself. Something I said to someone today.

"Jesus wept. I write horror."

You figure it out.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Steven Erikson quotes

Well, since I've got a quotes label on this blog, figured I might as well use it. Here are a couple from a Steven Erikson "The Bonehunters" I'm reading ...

"When wealth extends to a point where the majority of the poor finally comprehend that it is, for each of them, unattainable, then all civility collapses, and anarchy prevails."

"A civilization at war chooses only the most obvious enemy, and often also the one perceived, at first, to be the most easily defeatable. But that enemy is not the true enemy, nor is it the gravest threat to that civilization. Thus, a civilization at war often chooses the wrong enemy."

Friday, August 08, 2008

Ruger Vaquero

I owned one of these Ruger revolvers in .357 magnum, making it a powerful shooting iron and fine for target practice when I switched to .38 ammo.

This was a pretty good gun. I won't say it's one of the best I ever had, but I enjoyed it. I was a decent shot with it, but the relatively short barrel (something a little less than five inches, if memory serves) didn't allow for much range, but you can't expect great range with most handguns anyway.

Overall, the quality of this weapon was pretty good, but I wouldn't quite call it top-notch, though it didn't strike me as chincy. It had a good weight and feel in my hands, and was fun to do handling tricks (like twirling the gun around by the trigger guard, but only when unloaded).

A lot of fun for Old West collectors and shooters. This single-action revolver is the only revolver I've ever owned that had the firing pin not attached directly to the hammer, instead, the firing pin floating on a small block of metal which was struck by the hammer; regardless, this did not cause any problems, though it struck me as something that might break off (though mine never did even after hundreds and hundreds of rounds being fired).

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Glock 26

Okay, I might tick off a few firearms enthusiasts with this one, but ... I hate Glocks. Yes, I realize they are made well and they shoot pretty good (even in my hands), but I can't stand them for many, many reasons, a few of which I'll cover below.

The Glock 26 was my first Glock. It's a compact, 9mm semi-automatic handgun mainly meant for concealed carry. Despite its small size, it fit well into my big hands. And, as I said above, I could should well with it.

There. I have nothing else good to say about this gun. Or Glocks in general.

Glocks, especially the 26, felt good in my hands only when I was NOT firing it. The second I got off a round, my hand started hurting from the recoil, especially in the area where my thumb connects with the rest of my hand/wrist. I mean, it was a LOT of pain. I've never experienced anything like this with any other firearm, ever.

And multiple shots was out of the question. I tried several times, but by the fourth round I'd have to quit firing or scream in pain.

This is not a good gun for me, obviously. But, I'll admit, it's probably just me. Enough people rave about Glocks.

Another reason I don't like Glocks is the ejection lever is painful to me. Call me a wuss if you like, but when I'm firing and reloading a semi-auto handgun it should NOT hurt my hands.

Yet another reason I don't care for Glocks is the external safety on the trigger. I'm sorry, but that's no safety. I don't care what the company says, or how many tests have been done, that little piece of plastic built into the trigger is no safety. I don't, and never will, feel comfortable with the external safety mechanism on Glocks.

So there. I've griped enough about Glocks. But let me add again, they are well-made firearms and plenty of shooters like them, including many members of law enforcement. Glocks just aren't for me.

And let me add, this isn't a weapon I would want to have to depend upon in a deadly situation.