Monday, June 30, 2014

Music blog: Amaranth, by Nightwish

The Fury Clock, by Christopher Bunn

The Fury Clock, by Christopher Bunn

...Yeah, I'm not sure what I was expecting when I started this one, but I'm fairly certain it wasn't this.

The flap copy:
Malix Shandy, the best-looking scoundrel in the kingdom, sets off on a hopeless quest to find the dreaded Fury Clock. If he doesn’t find it in seven days, he’ll suffer a fate worse than death. Teamed up with an enormous ogre and a psychotic dwarf, Shandy starts to think maybe death would be restful after a week in such company. But he doesn't have time to die, not with all the necromancers, vampires, and dragons out to get him.

Brimming with romance, monsters, magic, and deceptive wenches, The Fury Clock is a humorous and rollicking adventure in the tradition of Terry Pratchett and Terry Brooks.

I made the mistake of not seeing the book's full title before I read it, and that probably threw me for the beginning.  What's the full title? The Fury Clock (The Infinite Wheel of Endless Chronicles Book 1).  I think someone might -- just might, mind you -- be making fun of Robert Jordan.  Just a little.

Bunn's style for this book feels like a little of column A, a little of column B, and a pinch of What The Hell Is This?  The vast majority of the book *does* feel like Terry Pratchett writing The Princess Bride, and in the middle, we wander into the Xanth books of Piers Anthony .... sometimes, not in a good way, but, overall, the book works.

I'll unpack that statement for those who aren't complete and total nerds.  We've got our hero, Malix, described as a "man in black" (at least he wasn't a dread pirate) on trial for treason, set free to do the work of a shadowy figure who runs the country from behind the scenes (at least the malevolent shadow was not a tyrant who asked him about angels, a la Pratchett's Going Postal).

Along the way, instead of footnotes, we get little treatises on various and sundry subjects, much like Prachett's novels, or perhaps the The Hitchhiker's Guide. As one of the major scenes in the books take place in the Tavern at the center of the Earth instead of the restaurant at the other end of the galaxy, you can see why it might come to mind.

There are some conversations, like with Anthony, that drag on, and makes you wonder "Where is this going?"  However, unlike Anthony, never, not once, is a page or chapter merely a buildup to one bad pun. For that alone, Bunn should be given tons of awards and dollars.

The casual use of soul gems and describing a princess as "a peach" makes me think "Hmm, a gamer wrote this," but I could be reading into things.

After the 20% mark, the book tends to wander a bit (see: Piers Anthony, cited above). Our hero picks up some companions for some odd reasons, but they do make the journey interesting. By 30%, we're solidly back on track and full speed ahead. So if you get stuck around that point, and can get past it, you're golden.

Did I like the book? Sure. It was fun.  The ease of casual lines like dwarves hankering for a good GLT (goat lettuce and tomato) and platform shoes.  The hippie Charon was fun. There was a dragon that should have been voiced by Stephen Fry. And how can one forget the outlaws with bylaws .... oh, sorry, they were "redistributionists," can't forget that.

However, if you're looking for deep character studies, richly drawn characters with their own personal biography, or Lord of the Rings, then do not approach. This is pure entertainment, and somewhat deranged entertainment at that -- this is a compliment, coming from me.  If you're looking for a rock-solid, fun ride that's Piers Anthony without the terrible, terrible puns, or an American Terry Pratchett, then The Fury Clock is for you.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Music Blog: Immortal

Just because I like the sound of this one. I tripped over it in my wanderings for new music. Enjoy.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Scenes from Codename: Unsub.

This is the first time I've done something like this, assuming you don't count those short stories that became extras in A Pius Man.  This is actually from my current novel in progress, entitled Codename: Unsub.  It will probably come out after A Pius Stand, especially since A Pius Stand is damn near done.

If you don't know the plot of Codename: Winterborn, you shouldn't have anything to worry about.

However, that being said, please read the book already.

Anyway, the prologue to the next Finn and Yoskowitz novel, Codename: Unsub, is below the break. Let me know what you think. While I have no problem with you pointing out errors (crowdsource editing ... works for me), and if you decide to lynch me for a few errors, well, I'm writing three books at the same time, doing most of the copy editing, line editing, proofing, while also being the primary marketer, and maintaining a blog that posts once if not three times a week. When you do the same, let me know.

Editing help, good. Heckling? Bad.

More below the break.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Review: Night Wolves.

Last year, I was asked to review something at the Catholic Writer's Guild. The story was called Night Wolves, part of a collection called Continuum: Fables of the Fallen.

The premise?

Fables of the Fallen is the first installment of the Continuum Series. Published by a college writer's group, these six Fantasy/ Sci-fi stories explore the depth of true fallen heroes. Join a Legend Slayer, Mind Reader, Ghostwalker, Mage, and a Medieval Soldier with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in these truly fantastical tales. There is no triumph without the fall.
Let's start at the beginning. The beginning is that I hate short story collections. Never could get into them. Most of the time they're written by authors who can't leave their own universe long enough to create an original character -- so that means unless you've read everything else the author has written, you're SOL.

And then there was Night Wolves.

Night Wolves, by Kathleen Gulo, starts as a rather painless coming of age tale (COAT), with what appears to be werewolves thrown in (when the word "silver" is used to describe teeth and eyes, I think "werewolf").

And then Aragorn showed up. Long story... okay, a short story, but you get the idea.

Keep in mind, "painless" coming of age tale is a compliment. Most COAT trend to 90s Disney movies, and I can't stand them. This was far superior, and makes you keep reading.

This is apparently the prequel to another novel. And I'm glad, because I do want more, and I look forward to it, when it arrives. And it better be soon, because I want to see what happens next. This is the best story of its kind I've read since Peter David.

I look forward to Gulo's next story. Preferably the next novel, because I'd rather not just have one potato chip.

Prominent Catholic Writers to Speak at Catholic Writers Conference in Chicago Area

Dang it, this was supposed to post earlier today. Instead, it went to "Draft."

Maybe Chicago doesn't suck quite as bad as one might think. The Catholic Writers Conference is going to be there this year. July, in fact.

However, while it's not mentioned, there's going to be one more person there.

Me.  I'm going to be on an action/adventure panel with Ann Margaret Lewis, John Desjarlais and Gene Wolfe. 

See, they have no taste at all.

Prominent Catholic Writers to Speak at Catholic Writers Conference in Chicago Area
SCHAUMBURG, Ill., June 2, 2014 /Christian Newswire/ -- Several prominent Catholic writers will speak at the sixth annual Catholic Writers' Conference LIVE taking place July 30-August 1, 2014, at the Renaissance Schaumburg Convention Center and Hotel in Schaumburg, IL. Sponsored by the Catholic Writer's Guild and the Catholic Marketing Network (CMN), and held in conjunction with CMN's annual retailer trade show, the Catholic Writers Conference LIVE provides Catholic writers with a prime opportunity to meet and share their faith with editors, publishers, fellow writers, and bookstore owners from across the globe. The theme of this year's conference is "Perseverance."

Speakers at this year's conference include authors Lisa Hendey (BOOK OF SAINTS FOR CATHOLIC MOMS), award-winning science fiction/fantasy author Gene Wolfe (THE NEW BOOK OF THE SUN), Inspirational Speaker Lizzie Velasquez, Gary Zimak (FROM FEAR TO FAITH), Claudia Volkman (Editor, Servant Books), Donna-Marie Cooper O'Boyle (EWTN, CATHOLIC PRAYER BOOK FOR MOTHERS), Ellen Gable Hrkach (STEALING JENNY), author Declan Finn (A PIUS MAN: A HOLY THRILLER) and many others.

The conference will give authors an opportunity to meet personally with publishing professionals and pitch their writing projects. Some participating publishers are Ignatius Press, Ave Maria Press, and Servant Books. In addition, attendees have the opportunity to sign up for fiction critique workshop with award-wining short fiction writer Arthur Powers, a non-fiction critique group with Nancy Cook Ward and attend a writing workshop with novelist John Desjarlais. Information for these events can be found on the conference website.

The Catholic Writers Guild, a religious non-profit organization affiliated with the Archdiocese of Indianapolis, sponsors this conference in July, an online conference in March, and a writers' retreat in October to further its mission of promoting Catholic literature. "With members all over North America, these events bring our diverse membership together for fellowship and networking to promote our mission of creating a rebirth of Catholic arts and letters," says CWG President and award-winning novelist Ellen Gable Hrkach.
Registration costs $80 for CWG members, $85 for non-members and $45 for students. There's also a discounted combined membership. To register or for more information, go to
The contact information for this event is Ann Lewis, at 317-755-2693.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

E3 2014 Day 1, part 2

Yeah, you didn't think that yesterday's post was EVERYTHING at E3 that looked cool, did you?

No such luck.

First, a few things.  One, there's a new Call of Duty game that I commented on over at The American Journal.  Then there's the Year of Being the Villain, as well as another look at yet another postmortem Tom Clancy property (I swear, his postmortem career is almost as bad as Ludlum's. Maybe worse.)

Oh, and Halo is back.

And then there's this. I want this game. I want it now.... and I'm still playing the first one. Dang it.

Then there's a book-inspired video game that makes me want to read the books and  play the game.

And there's another Assassin's Creed game, if you care.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

E3 2014, Day 1

I hate E3. It makes me want to buy systems and games I probably can't afford. Damn them.

Far Cry 4 looks like a lot of fun. In fact, I'm going to link to the two videos and the commentary I have over at American Journal.  Enjoy.

There's also a look at the new Battlefield, Cops and Robbers. That's not the title, but it should be, darn it.

As for the games here, first....

Because he's BATMAN.

Bayonetta 2 ...... I loved the first one. It was just plain FUN.

Uncharted 4

Oh, and.... oooo, shiny.

E3 Meets its Destiny.

This was just hilarious. Zombies go into self parody.

Updates, and E3

So, you're wondering....

John, Declan, whatever alias you're using this week, what the hell has been going on with you? You don't really deliver on blogs, and you're mostly just slapping together a post filled with links to other things you're doing. What the hell?  What happened to A Pius Stand? What happened to that thing with the vampires? What's going on?

Well, a few things. A Pius Stand should be done by July. Yes. July.  The beta readers are going through it now, including the lovely Ann Margaret Lewis. Yes, a real, honest-to-God author is reading my stuff. I've already gotten one good review from a beta reader.  The comment, well...
"durn you. now i had to go and buy the 1st two. Liked it that much."
And he did, I saw the sale numbers.

So, that's good.

Right now, Honor At Stake, "that vampire novel" is with the publisher. Haven't heard back from them ... well, that's not true. I've heard back from the owner of the company, and I've heard from the art department. I got the impression my book was a few down in the stack. I have time ... and I'm already working on the sequels. All three of them.

While I'm doing that, I'm working on the sequel to Codename: Winterborn, and I'm waiting for my coauthor to do something.

By the way, E3 is out, and I'm covering it for American Journal. Enjoy.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Music, Lists, Arrow, and Agents of SHIELD

I've been doing a lot of writing lately, though not here.  I've got Codename: Unsub to work on (the sequel to Codename: Winterborn), A Pius Stand to finish when the beta readers get back, and I'm working on Murphy's Law of Vampires, while I'm waiting for Damnation to get back to me on Honor At Stakes.

To start with, there is the list of Arrow vs. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.  And, damn, there were a lot of reasons.

There is also what we're not going to miss from the Star Wars expanded universe, courtesy of The Mouse.

You can check out any of my articles on The American Journal, if you feel like looking at me being cranky with the news, politics, politicians, life, that sort of thing, as I do my impersonation of a right-wing fringe lunatic.... or maybe just a lunatic.

If that's not enough, I've got a fun bit of music for you today.

Now, pardon me, I have to keep working. I hear that DC did something else stupid over the weekend that I have to rant and rage against.