Archive for November, 2008

30
Nov
08

NaNoWriMo 2008: The End?

nano_08_winner_largeWell, friends, it’s been a solid month now that I’ve been working on Cross-Purposes, my 2008 National Novel Writing Month project. And did I finish the book?

In a word… no.

BUT — the story in-progress currently stands at a handsome 51,683 words long, which means that I have officially crossed the 50,000-word mark and can consider myself a winner in NaNoWriMo 2008.

So what happens next? Well, first of all, I’m going to finish the first draft of Cross-Purposes. I’m not finished, but I am very close to the end, working on the climactic battle scene, in fact. After that, I’ve got several “epilogue” sequences to write (if you’ll recall, the point of this book was to follow several intertwined plots at once), and then the first draft will be done. After that, I’ll let it sit a while, because I am a firm believer that you should let some time pass (three months MINIMUM) after finishing a first draft before you start revising. That distance gives you a much clearer perspective than you would have if you started right away.

In the interim, what will I work on? Well, Project Rebirth will continue to be my main creative outlet. Except for Erin, it’s probably the single most important thing in my life right now, and it needs the attention. I’ve also started work on my annual Christmas short story, which (this year) will be entitled Return to Sender. I hope you guys enjoy that.

And what about Summer Love? As you guys have no doubt noticed, it’s sort of gone off the rails in the last couple of months. I deeply apologize for that to the three or four of you whom i know were reading it on a regular basis. I’m going to try to use December to build a new stockpile, then I’ll bring it back in January with the intent of resuming a regular schedule. I don’t know if it’s the ideal solution, but I think it’s the best I can do.

At any rate, thanks to everyone who offered words of support during NaNoWriMo, and please come back tomorrow as we begin our Christmas Party in earnest.

29
Nov
08

Home again, Home again…

After spending most of the day on assorted airplanes, I got home this afternoon a little after six o’clock. I miss Erin terribly already.

As I always do, I’ll be posting a sort of recap of our visit in the next couple of days. Although oddly enough, this time neither of us took very many photographs, which is unusual. I guess it’s because we didn’t really do as many “touristy” things (i.e., things that lend themselves to picture taking) as we’ve done in the past. Movies, shopping, family dinners, babysitting, and generally enjoying being with each other. Here’s one of the few pictures of the two of us together — Erin decided to be silly and try to take a picture of us waiting for Quantum of Solace to begin. I then quickly put my camera away as I realized it has video capabilities and I didn’t want to get shaken down and beaten by those guys in the anti-piracy commercials they keep showing.

Anyway, the point is, I’m home. And I guess it’s time to get back to normal. Or as normal as I get.

28
Nov
08

A Long November: A Tale of Christmas Come Too Early

Hey, everyone! I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving, ate entirely too much food, and had a lot of fun. Today, in my mind, is the first full day of the Christmas season, my absolute favorite time of the year. And because of that, I thought I’d kick off my Christmas Party by sharing with you something a lot of you may have missed last year.

All month, I’ve been talking to you guys about my NaNoWriMo project, Cross-Purposes. The book has been going well, and in fact, last night I crossed the 50,000-word mark, making me a NaNoWriMo winner yet again. I’m not quite done writing, but I should finish the story in the next few days. But this is not the first time I wrote a book for National Novel Writing Month. My first NaNoNovel was a Christmas tale I composed back in 2005. Last year, I recorded myself reading the book and produced it as a podcast novel through Podiobooks.com. A podcast novel is pretty much the same as a book on tape or CD, but released one chapter at a time. I’d hoped to release the book right after Thanksgiving, but with one thing or another, it was delayed and the first chapter didn’t actually come out until Christmas Eve. Because of that, the majority of the book didn’t come out until the holidays were over and any potential interest was severely reduced.

But it’s a new year, and I’m sending the book out to the universe again. A Long November is the story of Duncan Marks, a father and husband who is sick and tired of all the Christmas stuff his wife and son deluge him with every year. On the day after Halloween, Duncan meets an elf named Lou who has been assigned to turn his holiday spirit around. Duncan’s stubborn nature makes Lou’s job harder than he expected, and before the Thanksgiving, it becomes clear that there is far more at stake than Duncan’s holiday cheer. I really am proud of this story, and I hope you will enjoy it too. The book is available — for free — in nine downloadable chapters. If you didn’t listen to it last year, here’s your chance. If you did read it, go ahead and listen again. After all, what good is a Christmas classic you can’t enjoy year after year?

Go to Podiobooks.com to subscribe to the podcast or download the episodes!

27
Nov
08

Happy Thanksgiving!

Hey, everyone! Depending on when you read this post, I hope you’re about to have, currently having, or have already had a wonderful Thanksgiving. I’m here with Erin, and we’re going to meet up with her family later for a get-together at her sister-in-law’s church, followed by dinner.

My family will be having their usual Thanksgiving feast, and I’ll give them a call later to talk to everyone, even though my sister steadfastly refused my request to save me a piece of her chocolate raspberry rum cake.

A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving

A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving

Since I reviewed the deluxe edition of It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown during the Halloween Party, and since I have every intention of reviewing the deluxe edition of A Charlie Brown Christmas during the Christmas Party, I thought I’d give you my thoughts today on the deluxe edition of A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving. Like the other DVDs in the series, the cartoon has been digitally remastered and cleaned up, so it looks wonderful. I’ve always thought this was kind of underappreciated in the canon of Peanuts holiday specials. True, it’s not as great as the Christmas or Halloween specials, but it’s still a sweet little cartoon, about Peppermint Patty inviting herself and several others over to Charlie Brown’s house for Thanksgiving dinner, despite the fact that he can’t cook and he’s already got plans to visit his grandmother.

Snoopy takes on the chef duties, resulting in a most unique dinner. When Peppermint Patty is less than pleased, leave it to ol’ Linus to step up and remind them all what Thanksgiving is really about.

I was a little disappointed that the back-up cartoon on this one is The Mayflower Voyagers, the same cartoon as the original DVD release. (When you add the fact that this is also available on the This is America, Charlie Brown DVD, that means that I now own that particular cartoon three times). Again, the presentation is superior to any previous release, but it’s the same thing.

The real selling point of the DVD, as with most of these Deluxe Editions, is the short making-of documentary Popcorn and Jellybeans, which got a little into the production of the cartoon. There’s a lot of intriguing information here — the fact that Peppermint Patty was actually voiced by a boy, that they had to use an adult’s voice instead of the traditional children for Charlie Brown’s “AAAAAAAUGH!,” and the fact that at least one of the producers of the cartoon was just as creeped out as I was by the fact that Woodstock was sitting there gobbling up turkey at the end.

Without a new bonus cartoon, my recommendation for this is going to have to be split. If you don’t have the original DVD release, you have to get this one. If you do have it, though, then it’s really only necessary for the hardcore Peanuts fans.

Like me.

Happy Thanksgiving, friends! And come back tomorrow for the first entry in the 2008 Evertime Realms Christmas Party!

26
Nov
08

Everything But Imaginary #286: What I’m Thankful For

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving, friends, so what else could this week’s Everything But Imaginary be but a look at what I’m thankful for this year? Have a great Thanksgiving, and be ready for the Christmas Party to begin on Friday!

Everything But Imaginary #286: What I’m Thankful For
Inside This Column:

26
Nov
08

Week in Geek #2: Twilight Movie Review

twilightpostertIt’s time for the new 2 in 1 Showcase Week in Geek feature! This week, Blake and Erin sit down to discuss and review the new smash hit movie Twilight. Is it the next Harry Potter? Why has every ninth-grade girl Blake teaches insisted he rush out and read the book? And is the movie really just “Anne Rice for the TRL crowd” or is it “the second-greatest movie of all time, after The Wizard of Oz” (both actual quotes)? Take a listen and find out!

And don’t forget to come back later in the week. On Friday, Blake and Chase will announce their nominees for the best in comics for 2008, then in our next regular episode, the boys will discuss Frank Castle, Marvel Comics’ Punisher!

Week in Geek #2: Twlight Movie Review

25
Nov
08

James Bond attacks & NaNoWriMo Day 25

Erin and I just finished watching Casino Royale, which she’d never seen before. Tonight I believe we’re going to take in Quantum of Solace. In the meantime, I’m less than 5,000 words away from the NaNoWriMo finish line. The actual story will probably go past that 5,000 words, but not much. I’m estimating the novel, as a whole, will be somewhere between 55,000 and 60,000 when I’m finished. And trust me, I’ll keep you abreast of when I finish.

Here’s another excerpt for you. Incidentally, all the excerpts I’ve been giving you so far have come in order, with nothing taken out, and totally raw and unedited. Take that information as you will.

SPEEDBURN

Sure enough, Chris was on the ground now. No matter how many times she tried warning him off, tried reminding him that he had no super-strength, no super-speed, and that even with his reinforced costume his exposed head still had the same allergy to bullets as anybody else’s, he still insisted on trying to jump into the thick of battles like this one. Chris was a good partner, and a great friend, but at times like this one, she remembered how stupid he could be.

Speedburn had to slow herself down again when the laundry collapsed behind her. Her natural state was one of incredible speed. She moved so fast the entire world seemed to stand still around her. While that could come in handy sometimes, at other times it could be incredibly tedious, even in the thick of battle. With all her speed, no matter how many times she pounded on this creature she couldn’t make a dent in his hide. She might have been able to take him out during those few seconds he’d switched back to his human form, but she had been distracted at that point by Chris shouting in her ear that he’d spotted two kids trapped in the laundromat, and that it wouldn’t be standing much longer. Now, as the building fell apart, chunks of brick and machine parts were flying through the air. She went a bit slower, getting the kids to safety, then snapped back to full speed.

The pieces of the dying building filled the air around her. They looked like they were suspended, frozen in mid-flight, but Speedburn knew better. She was moving at such an accelerated rate that it merely appeared like things were frozen. She started to walk around, deflecting chunks of flying debris away from people they were about to hit, aiming them at Doomsayre when practical. She could turn the chunks away, she could point them in another direction, but there was nothing she could do about the momentum they would regain when she slowed herself back down again.

There was a big chunk floating through the air – a piece of what looked like a washing machine motor – drifting leisurely towards Chris. She shook her head. That Sleuth costume of his snappy, all right, but it wasn’t going to provide the slightest bit of protection. She considered for a moment, as she often did, simply allowing the debris to strike him. Maybe that would be enough, maybe that would teach him a lesson. Then she shook her head. If there was one thing she knew about her partner, it was that he was too damn stubborn to learn anything from something so pedestrian as a brain injury. The chunk was too large to deflect effectively, so she instead grabbed Chris and pulled him to the side. When she slowed down and caught up to the world, he would feel something yanking him hard to the right, followed by the whizzing sound and burst of wind that would tell him she’d saved him yet again from something that could have taken his head off. It was just her lot in life, she supposed.

Turning her attention back to the battle in front of them, to the monster attacking her friends, to the thing that had brought Catalyst down – by her reckoning – several hours ago, she jumped back into the battle, and started to slow down.

 

STAT

The torrent of energy flowing from the battle was taking its toll on more than just Catalyst. STAT, the medical marvel, watched from afar when the bolts of eye-fire tore through Pendragon’s armor, nearly incinerating his arm. Before the monster could open fire again, Speedburn rejoined the battle, distracting him (if not really hurting him) with a torrent of flailing fists, hundreds of thousands every second. STAT jumped to his feet, red cape flapping behind him, and controlled his flight into the battle with steady bursts of bioelectric energy. STAT’s powers were the result of a long-ago experiment that was intended to control the growth of cells in an effort to thwart cancerous growths. Unfortunately for the world, the experiment was a failure. Fortunately for Pendragon, when Dr. Mike Edison fell into the machine, he not only survived, but gained the ability to greatly accelerate the healing process.

With insulated gloves, he pulled aside the slagged remains of Pendragon’s gauntlet. The would-be king was still conscious, and somehow, still cognizant. As STAT grabbed his arm, Pendragon cheerfully said, “Well done, lad. I knew I could count on you.”

“Of course, your highness,” STAT said, and if Pendragon noticed the trace of sarcasm in his voice, he didn’t notice it. STAT’s power flowed down into the blackened arm, and before his eyes, it began to fill out. Charred, burnt chunks of flesh fell away, revealing healthy new growth underneath. Within seconds, Pendragon practically had a brand-new arm, strong and smooth, without any hair upon it. That’s how the power worked – STAT could regrow tissue, but things like hair and nails would have to grow back on their own. A small price to pay, he thought, considering that if he weren’t there Pendragon would be known as the one-armed monarch.

“What about the others?” Pengradon asked, flexing his new arm. “Helen? Catalyst?”

“I’ll see what I can do for Helen of Troy,” STAT agreed. “I’m afraid to touch Catalyst. His body chemistry is so bizarre there’s no telling what will happen if I use my powers on him. The last time he temporarily grew a second head.”

Pendragon nodded. “I understand, son. Well, do what you can for the rest of us, and leave the task of taking down this beast to us.” He saluted the medic and rushed back into battle, even with his right arm exposed and unarmed. STAT wondered how many times he would be called upon to re-grow that arm before the day was out.

“Sure, sure, I’ll do what I can,” he muttered. “I always do what I can.”

Helen of Troy was lying in the rubble of the appliance store, her body conforming perfectly to the dent in the side of the washing machine she lay against. STAT walked through the remains of several refrigerators to get to her, then looked her over. She was a beautiful woman, there was no way to deny that, but STAT barely noticed. He hadn’t had a date in three years, hadn’t had many friends in almost two. With a power like his, he was the most in-demand superhero in the city.

He was lucky he had time to put his cape on in the morning.

Helen was barely scraped, and her head was lolling against the machine. Probably a concussion, STAT decided. She was a pretty resilient woman, she’d probably be fine in a little while without his help. The explosion of a pickup truck being hurled at Pendragon, then destroyed in midair, reminded STAT that he didn’t really have time to let Helen heal on her own. These super-resilient heroes were always tough on him. It was hard to hurt them, but healing them was no neat trick either, their tissues were naturally resistant to outside energies. STAT touched Helen’s forehead and began to work. It was almost like he had to convince her body to accept his energy, to allow him to do his work. STAT healed dozens of people every day, and healing one Helen of Troy was almost enough to take him out of it.

He fell back, breaking the connection and settling down on his haunches. Her eyes were opening and she was sitting up. Blinking, she looked at her rescuer. “STAT?” she said. “Was that you?”

He nodded, gasping for breath. “Yeah… it was me, Helen.”

“I love how you’re always here for us,” she said, pulling herself to her feet. “You’re our own little guardian angel. Really, what would we do without you?”

She kissed him on the forehead, her bottom lip instead leaving a thin layer of lipstick on his white mask, and rushed out of the broken remains of the store to rejoin the fray.

STAT stayed where he was for a moment, breathing deeply, trying to catch his breath. Yeah, what would you do? he thought to himself. How did he wind up on the sidelines, patching up these careless a-list heroes, running himself ragged for no more reward that a forehead kiss? It’s not like he didn’t have offensive powers too. Okay, so his bioelectric shocks weren’t really strong enough to stop Doomsayre. They seemed to do the trick against your basic purse-snatcher, but these monsters were out of his league and he knew it.

Still… you’d think he could do something else…

“STAT!”

Sleuth was in the doorway to the store, banging on the wall, snapping him out of his reverie. “STAT, come quick, we need you! Speedburn is hurt!”

STAT couldn’t help but release a low, deep sigh. “Oh my way,” he said.




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