Monday, January 26, 2015

Guest blog: Cedar Sanderson's "I Got Politics in my Fiction"

What's this, Declan? Exploiting the image of a hot redhead to garner hits? Not today.

This blog post is brought to you by the awesome Cedar Sanderson, author of nineteen novels in science fiction / fantasy.

Yes. I feel I now need to step up my game. The best I can do is a guest blog over on her site.

Like me, Cedar is also not someone who likes .... gah ...politics. But, again, like I did, she tried to get away, but they reel her back in. Even when she's designing kittens with butterfly wings from scratch. 

No, I'm not kidding.  Though I may be getting ahead of myself. She's obviously a metric ton smarter than I am, as she is currently going after a dual degree in forensic science and microbiology.

I better let her explain.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Midseason review, 2015

This has been one hell of a season thus far, and it's barely begun. There's been a lot of great TV, and some disappointing WTF moments.

WARNING: SPOILERS: Walk with me through my television viewing.
Arrow:

At least they all LOOK different! Every time I think I can sum up the awesomeness of this show, it keeps getting better.  The writing is still great on the character level, the episode level, the season level and the series level (we're in season 3, and every time they have a new season, you can see the seeds laid down in the previous season.).  The superhero show based around a comic book character who was the uber-Leftist Batman who was bitten by a radioactive Robin Hood, and has turned into a collection of awesome geek love.

Brandon Roush has been a fantastic addition as Ray Palmer, the Atom, and it makes me wonder why he wasn't allowed do to this good a job as Superman.   They continue to give supporting characters and guest star some great character moments all over the damn place. They even gave Captain Boomerang character, and interesting motivation.  Captain Boomerang.  How do you make a villain with a name like that cool?

Then there was that moment where they shanked Oliver Queen with a sword and tossed him off of a cliff, leaving him to die.

Oh, yeah, and did I mention that we're not even up to episode 10 yet?

Did I mention I HATE cliffhangers?

And then there's....

Agents of SHIELD:
Can I at least have a diverse WARDROBE?

It has finally STOPPED being Agents of Boredom. In fact, if you've read my gripes about this show, most of them no longer apply.  They've figured out that, if you're using a Marvel comic book universe as a base,  USE THE DAMN UNIVERSE. Also, if there's a spy show .... DO SPY STUFF, DAMN YOU.  If only took an entire season for it to get anywhere, but then, there's no Marvel film that was going to big foot them into next Tuesday.

Though my biggest problem is that they're still trying to make the character of Skye interesting, which will never happen.

Anyway, they have at least remembered that they're a comic book spy show ... by bringing in comics and spies. Shocking.


Monday, January 19, 2015

MLK Day: Music Blog



Youtube showed me Within Temptation because I looked at Nightwish.

Pay close attention.  The opening visual may turn you off, but there's a punchline. Honest.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Recommended Reading; Larry Correia

Up until I embraced my inner politicians (which I gotta tell, you, is draining as all heck), I had never heard of Larry Correia.  He's published through Baen books, and I read their top authors already -- David Weber, John Ringo and Timothy Zahn -- and yet I had only been vaguely aware of him from my visits to Barnes and Noble.

After hearing his name bandied about on a political fiction group on Facebook, I shrugged and said "Oh, what the hell? Why not?"

And, being a bit of a cheap bugger, I figured "Screw it, I'll get the 3-in-1 of his biggest series, Monster Hunter International."

My reaction?





Yes, I have, at long last, resorted to gifs.

I promptly went out and bought ... well ... everything else Correia has written, including the rest of MHI, his three Grimnoir and his Dead Six novels.

Seriously, these books are kinda awesome.  I finished all of them in a matter of days.

One thing at a time, though

The really, really, really short version about Larry Correia is that he is an unstoppable writing machine who pumps out books the size of Tom Clancy doorstoppers at least once a year, in addition to maintaining an almost daily blog, is almost omnipresent online, and has a BS tolerance threshold lower than mine.  Which tells you something, if you've been here a while.

Correia is, personally ... Libertarian? I think? His politics show up very little in his books.  Any anti-government feeling here could be summed up by the same feeling in 24, or Harry Potter (see: the Cassandra Effect. Honest). He prefers his heroes to be smaller, private groups, rather than sprawling government bureaucracies, though even the bureaucracies get a fair shake in his books (one of them at the very least).  He also owns a gun range, so he likes his weaponry. Big deal.

I'd say he has an ongoing grudge match against John Scalzi and the SFWA, especially over the Hugo awards, but it seems more like Scalzi and SFWA has an ongoing war against everybody I find remotely interesting. There's a lot of ranting against Correia because he's "a straight white man," even though his background is Portuguese -- don't even ask me how that works.

If you care about personal politics and online grudges, I'm sure you can find a few links.  From what I read on his blog, a lot of Correia is just plain common sense. But me and common sense have very little to do with each other.

But, on to the important part: BOOKS.  And I highlight books because I haven't gotten to any of his short stories. If I've missed a few, don't shoot. I've had a lot of books to dig through lately, but I'll add them as I find them.

Monday, January 12, 2015

NEW Age of Ultron Trailer



There’s a new trailer for Avengers: Age of Ultron.

“Everyone creates the thing they dread,” says robotic villian Ultron in one of the opening shots of the trailer.

“I’m going to tear you apart…from the inside,” he growls amid scenes of destruction and havoc as the heroes of the Avengers turn against each other.

Creepiest rendition of "I have no strings" ever.

I have a few thoughts on the future of the Marvel series, and an analysis of what we've seen already.

But crap that's creepy.

Plot or Character? Chicken or Egg?

So, here's a question I came across in one of my writing groups: Where do you start? With a plot or with a character?

Chicken or egg?

Heh.  The answer to this depends on if I already have a series. But that's cheating for the purposes of this particular question.

However, if you have a brand spanking new idea?

Step 1: "What's my story?"  EG I have a functional dystopia where people inconvenient people are dumped from the real world into this makeshift hell on Earth.

Step 2: "What do I need?" EG: I need a cross between MacGyver and Chuck Norris.

Step 3: Make character. EG: Kevin Anderson.

For me, story has always come first, especially if you're making a new story.

Heck, for The Pius Trilogy, Sean AP Ryan intruded. Literally. The little bugger wasn't even supposed to be in THAT novel, and decided to just show up.

Step 1: "What's my story?"  EG I'm doing an anti-Da Vinci Code in Rome.

Step 2: "What do I need?" EG: I need the head of Vatican security involved

Step 3: Make character. EG: Giovanni Figlia.

And then Sean steps in out of It was Only On Stun! and takes over.

For me, story has always come first, especially if you're making a new story.

For my short Fear No Evil, I wanted someone who could handle herself. She developed as we went along.

Sometimes, I just take the voices in my head and run with them.

Sometimes, they run with me.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

NEW REVIEW, Guest Posts, and PR for A Pius Stand

I have a new review on Codename Winterborn from the guy who wrote Amy Lynn, Jack July.  He liked it.

Yes!

While I'm at it, I have posted about "Strong Female Characters" over at the Mad Genius Club ... it was posted last year. Apparently, I'm slow. Yes, it does look like another post I've made about it here.

While I'm at it, I should mention that I'm posting over at Right-Fans, mostly talking about how I got into writing, and how B5 has warped me as a writer.

Also, I started on a press release for A Pius Stand. What think ye?


 DATE: 14 December 2014

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Declan Finn. #***-***-****

A Pius Stand: A Global ThrillerTaking a Final Stand.

A Pius Legacy asked the question: What happens when someone kidnaps the Pope? When you're Sean A.P. Ryan, security consultant, the answer is easy: get him back. And that rescue pissed off…everyone…and the entire United Nations declared war on the hundred-acre Vatican City. When the Pope is threatened by the international community, with no help in sight, what's a Pontiff to do? Run and hide? With offers coming from all over the world, it seems like the best course of action. With fifteen-thousand men from armies all over the world coming to end the Catholic Church, it's a threat not even the Pope's bodyguards could handle. But it's not just about Vatican City. With the Church all over the world in peril, things are not as clear cut for Pope Pius XIII as one might think. With the forces of darkness closing in, Pius, Sean, and the people they love must make a decision that will affect the lives of billions, and threaten all they hold dear. Do they leave the Vatican to their enemies, or stay, and face certain death? Once more, this epic conclusion to The Pius Trilogy continues to mix real history with wholehearted adventure. With everything on the line, and no good outcome, the Pope and his champions must decide to either cut and run, or to make a final stand.


A Pius Stand: A Global Thriller is the final chapter of The Pius Trilogy. What had started as Declan Finn's attempt to counter the lies about the Catholic Church in popular media has culminated in a final battle of Tom Clancy-like proportions.


Unlike the previous books, A Pius Stand is more sprawling and global in character. Finn goes out of his way to show the full ramifications of the book's events, and how they effect everyone in every part of the world. Finn also goes out of his way to show how the world affects the plot. But like the previous novels in the trilogy, Finn uses modern footnotes to show just how possible the events of the book actually are.

A Pius Stand is the last novel in a trilogy that has taken ten years to write, and the final battle will leave readers speechless.


ISBN 1500487376


For review copies, appearances or interviews with the author, contact #***-***-**** or DeclanFinnInc@aol.com.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

NEW REVIEW, and Press Release: A Pius Legacy

Anyway....

If you follow the Facebook page, you'll know that I got this really awesome review from Midwest Book Review

A truly riveting read from first page to last, A Pius Man offers a suspense thriller replete with unexpected twists and surprising turns. A deftly crafted novel from beginning to end, A Pius Man certifies author Declan Finn as a master storyteller of immense talent and imagination.
Damn, that makes me sound bad ass.

However, notice ... it's for A Pius Man. Book 1. Which came out in 2013....

Anyway, just for them, I started tinkering with an old press release for A Pius Legacy.  What think ye?




DATE: 2 February 2014

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Declan Finn. #***-***-****

APius Legacy: A Political ThrillerTheology, Geopolitics and Explosions.

In A Pius Man, seven strangers uncovered the truth about the World War II Pope, Pius XII, and lived to tell it. But it was not the only legacy Pius XII left behind. When the church's enemies strike back, the Vatican is under siege, the current Pope is indicted for war crimes, and no one is going to save them. Those who stood against the darkness must join forces once more to make certain that the final legacy of Pius XII does not come to a bloody end.

A Pius Legacy: A Political Thriller picks up where A Pius Man left off. This time, author Declan Finn delves into the modern politics around the Catholic Church. He discusses the lies, the “narratives,” how they were crafted, and how they've been used to slander an inconvenient world religion. Finn attacks everything from myths about the crusades, to Galileo, and even dispelling several myths about Renaissance art.
Again, like with A Pius Man, every historical reference in A Pius Legacy can be footnoted (literally, the first draft had footnotes in it). This time, as Catholicism is put on trial, each piece of history referenced is used as it would be as evidence in a Perry Mason courtroom.


At the end of the day, despite the history-heavy elements of the story, A Pius Legacy reads like a standard political techno-thriller, with courtroom segments out of Earl Stanley Gardner.



ISBN 1483964639

For review copies, appearances or interviews with the author, contact #***-***-****, or DeclanFinnInc@aol.com.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Shattering Dan Brown

A while back, I was on a radio show where the topic was "shattering the narrative." It was political in nature, but it basically took stories that "everyone" knows to be true, and then rips them to shreds.

I hate narratives. Odd, I know, for an author of fiction, but I hate narrative in everyday life. There's a difference between "tell me a story" -- be it fiction or not -- and "this MUST BE TRUE because it sounds right." It's like Dan Brown. His works are fill with such historical inaccuracies and patent lies that the historian inside me has a banner moment ... a Bruce Banner moment.

But Brown's work ticks off all the right boxes -- devout Catholics are evil. Religion hates science. Religion is backwards and stupid and The Truth Will Defeat Religion. And somehow, the truth looks like a twisted version of Wiccan that even my ex the Wiccan wanted to kill Dan Brown for.

Let's ignore that Da Vinci worked for the church an awful lot. Let's ignore that most scientific advancements were backed by churches. Let's ignore that nuns were the first CEOs of large corporations. Let's ignore that the Catholic church couldn't have excommunicated Newton for his theory of gravity, because Newton was British and Anglican, not Catholic. In fact, let's ignore every last minute of recorded history, because hey, Dan Brown fits the narrative.

Sigh.

Here's a funny fact for you: Tom Clancy murdered Dan Brown before Brown was popular. Don't believe me? In Tom Clancy's book Rainbow 6, his heroes went up against a ban of eco-terrorists who wanted to wipe out all human life on Earth in order to save the planet, and the adorable widdle animals, etc. By the end of the book, well, things end badly for them.

In Dan Brown's latest schlock fest, Inferno, SPOILERS, the "good ending" is to wipe out one third of the planet. Because that's what's best for everyone. Because of overpopulation and the environment, don't you know?

If one looks at my pet issue, Pope Pius XII, you see much the same thing. Pius XII has been known as "Hitler's Pope" ever since the book of the same name came out in the late 90s. The story was simple: Pope Pius XII, the Pope of World War II, either did nothing to save Jews from the Holocaust / inspired the Holocaust / was responsible for the Holocaust. The version depends on how deeply psychotic you wish to go. The depressing part about it is that there is so much of a preponderance of evidence to the contrary, I made three books out of it.

But this ... all of this ... is what ideology does, and what makes it different from a philosophy.

A good philosophy takes data, and will mold around the data, incorporating it into the philosophical system. It's like Thomas Aquinas, where philosophers like Peter Kreeft and the late Ralph McInerny used current science and effortlessly plugged it into natural law.

Ideology will take the facts, then warp, twist, and shape them so that they fit the ideology. It's like the New York Times: All the News that fits the tint. Truth doesn't matter, just the story. And it doesn't matter who it hurts.

But narratives are allowed to exist because the people who spout them are accepted by a certain class of people, who have largely existed within their own echo chambers.

It's a sad day when I can find more truth in a John Ringo science fiction novel about cannibalistic alien mongol hordes than I can in a news article some days.