Saturday, February 28, 2015

Sword Saturday, with @Katsuni and Lucy

This has got some great dancing.  Quite elegant. The guy is the stunt man/ coordinator on films like Lucy. The woman is Celine Tran, who is a French actress who specialized in adult content under the name Katsuni ...

Yes, a fancy way of saying she was in porn (retired). I gotta tell you, with swordplay like this, I really don't care. This is some nifty dancing.  Why do I bring it up?  Because if I don't, someone else will in the comments. I just got here first. Now, just watch the video, it's awesome.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Declan Finn on Writing: the Blogs

Wow, it's been a long, long while since I've done this summary. Time to play catchup.

To start with, there was how the book came to be. Including the inspiration, the writing, how to sell a bloody book, as well as the fact that there's a love story in there.

There's another blog on the Mind of the Maker .... better known as "characters are a bastard to control."

There is also, the dreaded question: "Oh, where do you get your ideas from?" This is the answer.

And, I did a two part essay ... one on sex, the other on violence.

I also had one or two issues on other people's writing ... namely Marvel Comics, and their former Editor-in-Chief, Joe Quesada

And, I had one nice little discussion on blowing up public places. ... In novels, of course.

There's one on writing philosophy in a novel, and one on Conspiracy theories around Catholics.

Then I took a hammer on writing cliche's that just flat out annoy me.

And then there's how to be a cynical romantic.  Oh-ho-ho, have I gotten more so.  And Writing a love story.

Then there's Ten Rules I want Writers to follow. Seriously, are these really that hard?

FAQ: Where do you get your ideas? ... the official title, mentioned above.
Plot or Character? Chicken or Egg?  Self explanatory.

Listening to your characters: Dialogue
Plots within Plots: Subplotting 

A villain versus an antagonist  Yes, there is a difference. I wish people would consider it more.

Making a villain.  One I want more talk of.

Writer's Rules For Villains  Every cliche and making fun of it.

Writer's block  This is a weapon, right?

How to create a character the easy way  My Character generation chart.

Don't Panic: a writer's guide to disaster 

A Writing Rant: Cliches you may have never noticed.  Only three of them. There really should be more.

Building Character: Scott "Mossad" Murphy.

“So, you want to be a writer?” (Apologies to Dr. Who.)  No, it's not for the faint of heart.

An Hour with Jim Butcher -- At DragonCon
All Butcher, All Day, a DragonCon report.
Action / Adventure panel at CWCL  I went to a Catholic writer group.  This is what happened.
DragonCon Report #3: Fightin' and Writing with Ringo
Fightin' and Writin' panel @DragonCon 2014, with John Ringo and Mike ResnickCatholic writer's organization workshop in review: Fighting and Writing.
~Yes, there's a theme to this group.  Fighting and conventions.

And then, sex and politics. Sort of. 
Why are sexist books bestsellers?
SFWA? More like STFU -- women in books
Manly men with brains masculinity in writing.
SFCS -- Strong Female Character Syndrome -- and why it's a double-edged sword.
Shattering Dan Brown - I hate narratives. And here's why.

Why Die Hard is the most perfect movie ever: A Writing Blog
Die Hard is perfect, part 2  A two part writing analysis of the best Christmas movie ever.

Christian Lit and Writing.

THE BOOK.  Some thoughts I have here and there about the book series.
Pius Origins: A Pius Legacy.
Writing "A Pius Legacy"
Taking a stand, for the last time.

And then, some comics.
Disasters to Marvel At: A Comic Discussion.
Sex, DC Comics, and ... wtf?
Dear Forbes, you need some nerds.
The Winter Soldier Bigfoots Agents of SHIELD. It Gets Better.
Who the BLEEP is the Winter Soldier?

Monday, February 23, 2015

Listening to your characters: Dialogue

Dialogue is, honestly, one of the hardest parts of writing a novel. I don't mean remembering to label who is saying what (though would it kill some authors to put in dialogue ID tags every four lines?), I mean something far more difficult. You have to make certain that your characters all sound different and distinct from each other. This can be hard if you haven't got a good set of characters.

Like most authors, I hear voices in my head. Sometimes, if I focus, it's literal. I can hear their voices, their complaints, their accents, their emphasis on things. Sometimes I cheat and push through the dialogue, knowing what they're going to say, and how they'd phrase it, but sometimes I miss part of the music.

One of the most important parts of dialogue is making sure you get the music and the lyrics down. Sure, word choice in important, but is also has to match the cadence. This will go a long way to making sure that your Californian mercenary sounds different from your New York Catholic priest. I'm a New Yorker. Like with Henry Higgins, I can pin most people to within at least a general neighborhood, just by the way they speak. But, again, you do have to listen.

Friday, February 20, 2015

A note on the Oscars, and why we don't care

Has anyone seen the Oscar list and gone "Huh" "Who?" and "What?" lately, or is it just me?

The Imitation Game is the second highest box office holder of the current slate of nominees. It's about the World War II experience of Alan Turing ... and is currently ranked 44th out of last year's box office list. The Grand Budapest Hotel, a comedy of sorts, is 55th.

The number one box office holder among the candidates? American Sniper ... which is #3 of the top ten highest grossing movies last year.  And who honestly thinks it has a chance?

What would happen if the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Scientists nominated the six highest-grossing films of 2014 for Best Picture?  Seriously?  You know, instead of a dozen movies no one watched?  Yes, I know it's (probably) not a dozen, but it doesn't matter. The Oscar slate was opened up so it would be more inclusive.  Instead we get ... a lot more of the same.  A lot more.

But imagine if the Academy gave a crap about films that people HAVE SEEN?  The highest-grossing films list would make the field  consist of The Hunger Games: Mockingjay -- Part One; Guardians of the Galaxy; American Sniper; Captain America: The Winter Soldier; The LEGO Movie, and The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies. I haven’t seen anything on that list but The Winter Soldier, but I think most would agree that this is a pretty good list, when you treat each as they were intended to be -- Guardians of the Galaxy (epic space fantasy) or The Lego Movie (funny, fast-paced kids movie with a lot of heart).

But hey, who are we kidding, now?  The Academy hasn't given me a roster I gave a damn about since Return of the King. If it makes money, that means it must be evil, right?  Sigh.

Of late, the Oscars hate space fantasies (Star Wars: A New Hope was nominated for best picture, did you know that?), kids movies, and superhero movies ... And no, Heath Ledger’s posthumous Oscar award for playing the Joker in The Dark Knight was more about Brokeback Mountain, an awards I'm certain they wanted to give him, but didn't want to be too overt about in rewarding for politics.

And let's say screw box office and the top six. Let's make it the top 20 ... but even that opens it up a bit. How about Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar? Gone Girl? Sound familiar?

Create a Best Picture slate nominees that has Mockingjay, Guardians of the Galaxy, American Sniper, The Lego Movie, Interstellar, Gone Girl, and ... I dunno, pick number six. American Sniper? It's grossing out at around number 3 of last years's top twenty. Casual moviegoers would actually care, and viewership for the Oscars would be through the roof. 

But the Academy can’t nominate a bunch of little-seen, heavy art-house dramas and then wonder why nobody’s watching the Oscar ceremony. Birdman seems the most reasonable of the nominations, since it's basically Michael Keaton making fun of his time as Batman ... but did anyone see it?

Then there's The Grand Budapest Hotel ... which is probably nominated because (like every Grand Hotel film since the beginning) everyone is in the damn film.  But while it looks like a quirky little comedy ... did anyone see it?

Don't even get me started on Boyhood. Just don't.
Of the actual list, people I know tell me they like American Sniper. Good luck with that.

Maybe when Hollyweird is done breaking its arm to pat itself on the back, everyone else will care.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Reviews, awards, interviews, and other updates

So, first thing's first, I am apparently a right-wing extremist. Yay!

I'm up for an award from the CLFA.  What's the CLFA?

I'll give you three guesses.

Here's the funny part.

By now, everyone knows that A Pius Man is about defending the Catholic church.

A Pius Legacy is putting Christianity itself on trial. 

A Pius Stand takes the war on God wwwwaaaayyyy too literally.

You could see how these could be taken as conservative. And my message in the second two books are heavy on the "LEAVE ME AND MY CHURCH THE F$%K ALONE," so, maybe libertarian? Great, right? Easy, right? Shoe-in.

So, what gets nominated?

Codename: Winterborn.

I don't get it either.

Maybe killing politicians appeals to libertarians, and killing Frenchmen appeals to conservatives?  I dunno.

Anyway, no matter what, vote early, vote often.

Other people on the list include Jack July, Daniella Bova, Ann Margaret Lewis, and Larry Correia.

Yeah, Larry Correia.  I know, I'm screwed, but might as well give a good show.

Let's see, what else?

Thursday, February 12, 2015

CatholicFiction(.net), and "Dereliction of Duty"

Sometimes, I love my fellow Catholics.

And sometimes, they are brain-dead stupid.

If you look at this article from, you'll see this great example of brain death.
Science fiction has also been derelict in its duty. Who does science fiction serve? Sci-fi is a significant buttress propping up the established church of Scientism. Sci-fi flatters both rightist and leftist elites: square-jarred heroes battle alien savages along the outer space frontier while proclaiming anti-religious and anti-natalist platitudes. As an avid reader of the genre, I have come up with a list of the major shortcomings of the genre.
While I can think of some particular examples of what this nimrod (a creature from the black lagoon named Nito Gnoci), this is just ... "Avid reader?" Really?

Funny, as an avid reader myself, Nito, you're an idiot.

If you've followed the guest posts I've written for Right Fans, or read my reviews of Karina Fabian's work, you'll probably note that this very concept is already starting to get under my skin.  But, sure, there are problems within science fiction -- science fiction fans know that "sci-fi" started as a derogatory term -- so let's play this out some, shall we?

If you compare and contract the article excerpts here with the original article, you'll note that I've cleaned up the lousy formatting.

1) Aliens
Aliens: Sci-fi stories often involve contact with numerous alien civilizations.In 1950 Enrico Fermi, in conversation with his colleagues at the Los Alamos National Laboratory, famously asked “Where is everybody?” (Meaning: If alien civilizations exist why haven’t we heard from them?) I don’t think the question has received a satisfactory answer. It is unlikely other technologically advanced civilizations exist within our galaxy. If they existed they would have already explored the galaxy, a process which takes only some hundreds of thousands of years, which is a mere moment in geologic time.
Ummm ... doesn't this presume that the aliens are more advanced that us?  This is a presumption that Rod Serling never made.  In fact, there are three distinct episodes that immediately come to mind (Third Planet from the Sun being one of them, I forget the titles of the other two).

Also, if there are other life forms out in this galaxy, doesn't that mean that they could be as advanced as we are, or maybe even less so?

This argument basically reads: If there are aliens, therefore they must be more advanced, therefore they don't exist because otherwise we would have heard of them by now?  What idiot thinks like that?

Not to mention that this presumes that any technological advancement is leaps and bounds ahead of us.  In fact, Nito assumes that aliens would advance at ONE EXACT RATE OF SPEED.  Yikes. Nito the nimrod presumes so, so much.

I'm not saying that there are aliens, but there's a lot of space out there. As Douglas Adams noted, space is big. Really big. The idea that we're the only ones in the galaxy is kinda presumptuous, don't you think? Also, the author limits himself to this Galaxy.  There are more galaxies than just ours out there.

2) Bad predictions
Sci-fi often features time travel or routine intergalactic travel. Instead of dubious scenarios that involve debating with Socrates or zooming to the Andromeda Galaxy for the weekend, sci-fi should focus on less speculative but still astonishing advances in medical, communication, and computer technology. Sci-fi readies us for a future that will never come, and too often assumes the future will mirror the past, an assumption both unrealistic and unimaginative. After all, what is the starship Enterprise but a British or American colonial gunboat?
Um, excuse me.  When 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea was written, it was science fiction, and now we have nuclear submarines. Is that not predictive enough?

But Robert Heinlein created mechanical suits of armor for soldiers to fight in, and our modern military is designing it.  Captain Kirk had the first flip phone. Doctor Crusher had the first tablet, and Captain Picard read off the first e-reader. J. Michael Straczynski's Babylon 5 developed a star fighter called Starfuries -- which NASA wants to use a model to design space construction craft. The science fiction show had the most functional design.

Oh, wait, medical technology? You mean the people who've been designing a medical tri-corder from Star Trek and the people who've made an actual Doctor Who sonic screwdriver aren't enough for these people? Are we kidding?

Oh, and these things will never come? Maybe not in our lifetime, some of them, but we've already got scientists who are coming up with variations on warp drive.  Presuming that Einsteinian physics will always be physics is like saying that Newtonian physics is the end all and be all of physics. Hint: it's not.  Considering what quantum physics might end up giving us, we might end up with better technology than warp drive.

Hell, we've already got the early stages of a transporter, dang it. Meaning that Nito the Nimrod not only doesn't know science fiction, HE DOESN'T KNOW SCIENCE!!!!

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Let It Go: Original, Nostalgia Critic, and Dante's Cut, a music blog

I will be on this show in at 1 PM, EST, as part of a panel: Writestream: Shatter the Narrative

But now, music....

The first time you hear "Let it Go" it sounds like this....

After the first MILLION times you hear it on a freaking LOOP, it sounds more like this.


If, at some point, you've decided that listening to anything by Frozen is like going through Dante's Inferno, there's a song for that too.

WARNING: Probably requires that you've READ Dante's Inferno

Monday, February 9, 2015

THIS! IS! 500!!!!! Thanks, and the top ten list

This is the 500th post for this blog.

We've done a LOT since last time.

The Pius Trilogy has finally come to an end.  Each of the books, A Pius ManA Pius Legacy, and A Pius Stand have all had great reviews, with only one prick who decided that I had kicked his puppy or something. Though if he really wants Sad Puppies, go here.  Cedar, Larry Correia and Sarah Hoyt can really make puppies cry. MUAHAHAHAHAHA

I'm sorry, where was I?  I was distracted by crying puppies.

Oh, yes, 500 posts.

I've been trying to sell these books since 2007, and I've been running this blog -- or vice versa -- since 2010.

Because of it, I've made some great friends, like Sarah Hoyt,  Ann Margaret Lewis, Karina Fabian, Daniella Bova, Daria Anne DiGiovanni, Margot St. Aubin, and Matt Bowman, the Novel Ninja.

I've read some awesome books, like Amy Lynn, Ordinance 93, The Watson Chronicles, the Book of Helen, Stealing Jenny, and a whole slough of others. Slew? Slough? Oh, you get the idea.

And these people.  Wow.

Heck, due to Kia Heavey, I have a new model for Manana Shushurin, now that the previous model is far, far too respectable to be associated with the likes of me.  She was before, but I guess she finally figured that out. :)  Kia is an author, and I recommend her books. Heck, I have.

Ann and Karina have been responsible for dragging me into the Catholic Writer's Guild. And if they weren't (it's been so long, they may not have), they're a large chunk of the reason I stay.

There's the CLFA, and that's also a long story.

Margot was largely responsible for the gun shop visit of 2014, and accompanied me to the Catholic Writers Guild conference that I was a guest at.

I've lost some good friends.  One of my first beta readers for A Pius Man died before it was published. The first artist for the site, with whom I was acquaintances since college, and I drifted apart.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Pacing, thrillers, and setting things on fire

[If you've seen this before, well, don't be surprised. I have jury duty today, so my time's a little backed up. Sorry for the rerun, folks.]

The Mad Genius Club is going to force me to actually work. I don't mean they're holding a gun to my head, but they are making me up my game with their most recent posting of their year's topics.

If they're going to up their game, let's see who can out-blog who. Ha!

… Which, sadly, makes me think “Who ha's? Didn't Sarah Hoyt talk about this once?”

If you'd been to Cedar's blog last week, you've already read this one. If you haven't ... why haven't you?


If you're interested in pacing an entire series, you could do much worse than look at the fantasy novels of Terry Goodkind. In his case, the solution to one, world-ending doom leads to the next world ending doom. I did that in one series, the Pius trilogy, where book one ends nice and happy and yay the bad guys are gone … then that lead into book two, where the bad guys had a backup plan, which led into causing problems in what would be book three.

But for pacing an individual novel, the short version is, I like putting pressure on my characters. I have to, otherwise I don't get the best out of them. After all, these are thrillers. Even when I'm going through character moments, the moments have to keep the tension on – on the protagonist or on the reader. It is perfectly and completely fair to have a long conversation about love and emotions, and politics and economics. It can go on for as long as you like … though the reader might find it more interesting if there's a bomb in the room. (For those of you who don't know who I mean, watch the Tommy Lee Jones film Blown Away, and pay particular attention to the kitchen scene. What scene is that? You'll know it when you see it.)

With my Pius trilogyI take the “machinegun through the door” a little too literal at times. The first chapter opens with a gunman picking up tech expert at Rome's airport, and leads into a body being blown out of a window and landing on their car. Then I reveal that it's the head of Papal Security picking up a Secret Service agent. When I'm not dropping bodies out of windows, everyone has just barely enough time to analyze what's going on before they're attacked again. Or they have a nice quiet conversation about their past, their feelings, their character exposition … did I write that out loud? Oh well … and then somebody is mugging them, or shooting at them, or performing strange gymnastic attacks with a halberd. 

 Yes, that last part is a long story. Read A Pius Man for that one.

With my other project, Codename: Winterborn (yes, after the Cruxshadows song), my protagonist, Lt. Kevin R. Anderson has more internal pressures driving him. At the opening of Codename: Winterborn, send Kevin and his team of spies into the Islamic Republic of France (the IRF … or the Irritating, Revolting Frogs).

Then I kill off almost everyone Kevin likes, because some politicians thought that blowing the cover on his SpecOps team would be just a great idea for political points, and their bank accounts.

Except, before he was a spy, Kevin was a Navy SEAL.

So, I get to send Kevin on a fun-filled ride of assassinating fourteen politicians. Yay!

Is that enough for even internal pressure on your protagonist? No. Sorry. If he takes his time, Kevin could spent the next year killing all of them. Revenge-fueled rage only carries someone for so long before he stops, slows down, thinks, and takes his time. Hmm...

Oh, wait. Duh! The IRF mission was to take out a nuclear arsenal. With one team gone, another will have to be sent. So, Kevin has to kill all of these little bastards (the politicians) before even more Americans are murdered. That'll throw him into a pressure cooker. Muahahahaha.

Hmm. Yes, that's nice and all, but after a while, someone's going to catch on and try shooting back at Kevin. In my world of 2093, it's three years after a small nuclear war (only 2.2 billion dead). There aren't quite as many senators as their used to be, mostly because there are a few states that are radioactive wasteland. When wiping out 20% of the senate, SOMEBODY'S bound to notice.

 Thankfully, there's a whole Guild of Mercenaries ready to step up – imagine an umbrella organization for every Private Military Contractor out there. Some are good folks just earning a paycheck, some are folks thrown out of other countries because they were too freaking scary to live there.