I already have these books listed on My Book Shelf page, but most of you folks don’t visit that (the numbers don’t lie), so I figured I’d do something I rarely do these days, and actually post a link farm. I apologize for those hoping for a new, proper post from me, but I’m a little out of sorts and not feeling too chatty. Included with these links are the brief summaries I wrote for these books a week or two ago:
THE BACK ROADS OF LIMBO
A series of short stories and novellas about spies, sultans, genies, detectives, bad angels, a man’s best friend, the God of Squirrels, Christmas dinner for two, thieves, sorceresses, lost children, working while you sleep, writer’s block, soul-eating vampires, and a giant squid.
PRINT | KINDLE
TERMINAL MONDAY: a Dream of New York City
A man meets an old girlfriend who convinces him to return to novel writing, but not before his wife leaves him, he gets his old band back together, and suffers a nervous breakdown.
PRINT | KINDLE | KOBO | NOOK | SONY | APPLE | SMASHWORDS
ASHES: Infinite Redress
A scientist becomes infected by a space-borne virus that contains the soul of an alien missionary who bonds with her and draws her into solving the mystery of how the aliens all died.
KOBO | NOOK | SONY | APPLE | SMASHWORDS
The BRIDE of WAR
A knight falls in love with a young woman designated to be sacrificed to a mystical dragon, and undertakes a quest to learn how to defeat the dragon and break the centuries-old pact.
PRINT | KINDLE | KOBO | NOOK | SONY | APPLE | SMASHWORDS
LINKTALES volume one
(excerpts from The Dark Guild) A series of mysterious events lead to the old city of Londonis being invaded by soul-eating vampires.
KINDLE | KOBO | NOOK | SONY | APPLE | SMASHWORDS
You know what I’m asking you to do. Please. Thank you.
I have work to do. A lot of it. My infographic wasn’t good enough. The PB sites are up, but the email hasn’t been written or sent, and the survey hasn’t been composed yet. RETURN TRIP, the second act of THE APPROXIMATE DISTANCE TO LIMBO, is fighting me to the last breath. I have two more abstract paintings to devise and execute. I also have to find an audience for these paintings, which sadly no one wants to buy after all. And there’s the little matter of a concept album I keep saying I’m going to write and record.
So I hope everyone is doing alright. Thank you for reading.
Okay, super short one.
I published a book the other day. You haven’t read it yet. Only one person has, and it’s changed a tiny bit since she did, so belive me, none of you know this one. And I have another act coming in about a month, and I’m hoping to have the third done for Christmas.
I’m starting to noodle with STEEP INCLINATIONS again. Can’t recall if I’ve done a page here or not fo rit. Probably not. Soon.
I’m going to do a major abstract expression piece. I think I’m ready, and I’m thinking it will be sort of the spiritual grandchild of Neo, the little black and white painting I sold last month.
I’m thinking about how I can do it without really falling far short of the glory, and without overdoing it, as well. It was and is an important piece to me, but it’s found a nice new home, and I’m thinking it’s time to see what I can do with the basic concept in 2014. I already have the board selected and prepped. It’s going to be on wood this time; no more art board curling up and needing to be glued down to wood after the fact. I’d do it on canvas, but I think that even relatively tight canvas will have too much bounce for what I’m trying to do. My techniques reward a really stiff surface best.
Okay, I said super short, and I meant it. So have a great weekend, and if you want something interesting to read, go buy my new book. Or, you know, go buy one of my prints. Honest to goodness, this stuff is great work. It’ll be worth something someday. I just hope it happens before I die. That would be depressing.
Thanks for reading.
Okay, so I’m ALMOST done revisions and editing and SUBMITTING my novel to Smashwords AND Createspace. It’s a pretty involved process. Digging up all of the information to get every detail just so before submitting is pretty much impossible, so I’m having to submit first and revise after they tell me what I did wrong. Frustrating, yes, but it’s coming along. I think I’ve pretty much got it licked now, save for the spine of the cover, which will once again have to be edited on their end, because I couldn’t find the table on spine thickness this time around. I really thought I had that bookmarked.
So I had to revise the cover this morning because… get this… I misspelled my last name. Too many ‘ells’. Laughing my balls off right now. It’s not often I miss a detail like that, and especially in my own name, which I’ve been publishing under for a few years now. This, ladies and gentlemen, is why it’s dangerous to do everything yourself, without at least a little bit of oversight.
Anyway, the book is submitted and waiting for review. Could be a day before the thing is approved by both sites. The print version will be HERE, and the ebook version is already more or less up and available HERE.
So that’s what I’ve been doing. What have you been up to?
TWO TONE CRISIS
Not sure I’ve got the words quite right there, but as the title suggests, I’ve been on a bit of an English Beat jag, listening to their entire discography, but in particularly the two polar points of their career, ‘Mirror In The Bathroom’ and ‘Save It For Later’. I have even undertaken the task of learning to play the latter song on acoustic guitar, working out an arrangement I can play that sounds like the right elements of the song for me. I’m trying to learn it properly as well, but I’m not convinced that I can achieve both at once. David Wakeling already does a pretty nice acoustic take of the song on his own, and Pete Townshend and Dave Gilmour did a stellar cover of it using a more Townshend-like arrangement, so I know it can be done, but I’m not enough of a guitar player to really conquer the intricacies of the song, in or out of DADAAD tuning. I did an early demo of me banging away at a rough approximation that doesn’t really sound much like the song, which I posted on Vimeo:
I joked last year about starting a Progressive Ska band. I called it The Rhythm Assassins:
I meant it as a joke, but I tell you, there are days and days when I think this may have been my best off-the-cuff fake band idea of them all. I may have to actually try to put such an act together someday. I still don’t know precisely what it would sound like, but finding out sounds like a fun thing to do. I can be so deadly serious when it comes to music, I have to deliberately devise methods to make it fun for me.
IN OTHER NEWS…
I have SO much stuff to do right now. I have a newsletter to arrange (layout), ‘edit’ and draw (I’m doing my issue as a comic book). I have PB proposals to organize, research and write about. I have to house/dog sit for my uncle and aunt, as a somewhat distant relative died the other day. I have two more chapters of THE APPROXIMATE DISTANCE TO LIMBO to write to get the second act complete. I HAVE started planning the third act, but it’s too soon to tell if I’m going to publish the acts together or separately. I also really want to get back to work on PASSAGE TO BUJAH, which still sounds like a really good commercial/oddball idea, but I have to hurry because the whole dystopian YA thing may be overdone by now. I have almost no time to work on STEEP INCLINATIONS, but I’m still incubating how to resolve my problems with the album concept (mainly, I’m worried that it’s still a bit contrived sounding). And the Tarot painting series and the Stinson mural (which I didn’t get the gig for, but I have plans for it nonetheless) projects are languishing, watercolor paper and canvases piled up by my drawing table/easel. I really want to work on all of these things, but even I am only one man, much to my chagrin.
On the band front, Gary has been moved into the same building complex Derrick and I live in for just over a month now, and we’ve done absolutely no work. He’s already got a new girlfriend, so of course, he has no time for us. Derrick is waiting for us to get things together. I need money to buy a headphone amp for the three of us. I’m probably going to have to buy it myself, if and when i can. I want one that will allow me to tweak mixes for each player, so they can hear exactly what they need to hear to play right. I also want to make sure there is just enough space for perhaps one more musician, as I live in hope that, if we can’t get it together as a power trio, that we might at least find a lead guitarist or keyboard player who can carry some of the slack.
These old riffs I’m planning on reviving and reworking are a lot of fun to listen to once I get them cleaned up, even though they are FAR from polished enough for serious listening. Problem is, I have a workaround method for cleaning them up which takes time to do, and I haven’t had much of that. I particularly enjoy listening to Big Dave’s bass playing. He was such an underappreciated contributor to the band sound. I miss him.
Time to take the meds, get dressed, and choose a job to work on. Probably the news letter. Thank you for reading.
Sorry for the no posty thing. I’m still sick as a dog, and posting requires that I actually be coherent. This next post may fail completely on that score.
So my wife and I were watching the three part mini-rant by Robert J. Sawyer about Star Wars and its failure to address the issues of the day honestly, and I felt that he had deliberately missed the point.
I was a Star Wars geek when I was a kid. I also geeked on Star Trek (and Doctor Who and Space 1999, actually), and I never fell into the trap of feeling bound to choose one over the other. I loved any representations of SciFi in television and movies, as long as they really tried to infect minds with great ideas. Probably why I still love SciFi and Spec Fic more than anything else going.
But I am not a slavish George Lucas fan. I’ve watched several of his movies, and I enjoy him as a filmmaker, but I don’t revere him by any stretch of the imagination, which he rarely does.
But what Robert J. Sawyer does is basically accuses George of dumbing down SF for future audiences, which I think is total bullshit. Oh, sure, there are so-called SF programs out there that do very little to test the boundaries of social commentary OR the old ‘plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose’ concept of compare/contrast throughout history, which, yes, is or can be a form of social commentary in itself, but sometimes can just be a way of helping people distance themselves slightly from the social critique to accept the message behind it without putting up their guard at what might be offensive to them if it were more pointed or direct a message.
See, some filmmakers, and many writers as well, myself included, feel that social commentary can and perhaps should be sly and insidious, teaching us through repetition of simple truths carefully concealed in the subtext of the story, to learn to accept and respect the differences that make up our society. It’s not hat bold statements are invalid; it’s that they often miss the mark through their earnestness and determination to scold and deride. Honey, folks, is a better motivator than vinegar. I will win you over subconsciously, if I can’t see how brute force can achieve the objective more effectively. And fuck all that crap about the nobility of going head on versus gentle persuasion. I am not a coward. I know a losing battle when i see one, and I detect no nobility in a pyrrhic victory. If I’m in it, I’m in it to win.
So what does that say about George Lucas’s ‘Once Upon a Time’ intro, and how it affects the social commentary about Luke being a slaver and Obi Wan being a racist sympathizer? Well, nothing, unless you understand that what George did there was sleight of hand. It’s a double bluff. Of course he says ‘don’t worry, relax, I’m not talking about you, here. If you see anything disturbing in these tropes and images, don’t sweat it. It’s not a story about you; it’s a story about a bunch of aliens from a long, long rime ago. Dont’ worry your pretty little head’ *wink*. And that’s the thing. We don’t ever see the wink. It’s implied. you are meant to infer from the familiarity of it all that, ‘Hey, waitaminute, just what are you actually saying, George?’
I don’t credit George with much, these days. He may have revolutionised and brought sci fi filmmaking out of the ghetto, but he doesn’t get too many points for social commentary, at least from me. but what he did amazingly well was slides fastballs past you by making them look like foul balls. Great curve ball on the guy.
So that’s what I would say to Robert J., if I met him. George doesn’t deserve much in the way of accolades, but he gets points for putting in stuff that you have to challenge yourself to understand properly, before you feel the texture and grasp the bigger picture involved. No, these so-called heroes are not lily white. They are shades of grey, and they may be good folks or bad folks, or somewhere in between, but they still resonate and inspire, even if they’re not the sort of heroes we would celebrate in our modern era.
Over on the other side of the argument, there is the similar debate going on with another George, this time R. R. Martin, whose Game of Thrones TV adaptation is stirring a backlash (at last) over the inherent racism on display in the Khaleesi tale, amongst other things. The point is, yes, there is racism, and what kind of a story would it be if we didn’t deal with issues like that, even in days like these where we like to think we’ve somehow vanquished these old foes. The point is, it’s our assumption that slavery and racism are somehow in check that needs addressing, not GoT’s blatant use of slaves and ‘noble savages’.
I don’t condone or approve of glorifying any of these disgusting institutions or overused and antiquated tropes, but if you think GoT glorifies anything, you haven’t been paying attention. There is nothing glorious in GoT, up to and including the Starks, who just barely hit the bar of anti-hero, let alone Hero. Folks have got to get it into their heads that civil rights issues don’t go away just because no one around you talks about them. GoT, with it’s high ratings and visibility, is the perfect place to reignite discussions about race relations and rampant sexism and rape culture, because we actually think we’re talking about heroes, when in fact, they’re almost all enormously despicable people, depending on whose moral scorecard you subscribe to.
So that’s my post for today. Hope you got nothing painful from it. I’m going to be over here in the corner trying to convert and assemble sound files into plausible compositions without coughing up a lung or two. Thanks for reading.
I’m not exactly sure what it’s really going to be about. I kind of see it as a spiritual descendant of all those Richard Bach books I read in the late 80s and early 90s. You know, the seagull who wanted to master flight and the airplane pilot who didn’t want to be a messiah and the couple who travel to alternate realities to learn how their relationship does or doesn’t work out, stuff like that. Bach was an influence on me back then, and the DNA is probably still in there. So I’m thinking that, since the whole book is a kind of mishmash of alternate worlds anyway, why not wrap it up in a 70K third act that explores the spiritual, philosophical side of Richard Burley.
Anyway, I might start work on it today (no, I’m not kidding; I don’t do April Fools jokes), or I might wait a little bit to meditate on the plot some more, but I think I can imagine some of the details already. For one thing, it should probably have Athena in it. And probably Richard’s ex-wife Kara can come back. There are possibilities here. I just need to get the basics in my head, and then go for it, because that’s how Richard Burley novels work.
I may still polish up and release the first two acts as is. But then, maybe I’ll wait until the third act is complete and in place, in which case, this cover probably won’t be used.
But it’s not a bad one for a bit of dicking around in Illustrator.
I think I’m gonna go lay down for a bit. Been awake since about 3 AM, and I’m feeling slightly winded.
Have a great day. Thanks for reading.
Okay, I know, almost another whole week of no posting. It’s been crazy busy lately.
I just spent the last 24 hours working on SEVEN hand-lettered and inked 14″x22″ posters for a film being prepared by Kathleen Quinn of Operation Maple for Participatory Budgeting Ward 2 – Hamilton Ontario. It’s going to be a cool non-speaking video with groups standing around in carious locations around Hamilton waving these posters like signs. I just wish I’d had time to purchase some boards to mount the posters on, so they’d last longer. I predict they won’t survive the filming, which seems kind of a shame for so much work. Still, should be a very cool video, if you don’t mind rap soundtracks. ;)
EASTER EGG HUNT
I have another kind of poster I’m working on for the Carter Park Annual Easter Egg Hunt. I already finished a version of it, but it didn’t have enough Easter Eggs or an Easter Bunny in it. I don’t really draw holiday mascots very often, so I needed to think about that one. Then my wife decided to draw me a cartoon Easter Bunny, which was very thoughtful of her. Of course, our art styles are nothing alike, but I think it should be usable. Thisis the previous version, which should have more eggs in it by the end of the day:
That just leaves the cartoon staff drawing and the ‘next issue’ cover demo to draw. I have the cartoon drawing half demoed already, but I may have to start over to get the details a little clearer; the size I’m drawing it at is just a bit small for the level of detail I’m getting.
Sorry, no fiction writing this week, so far. I’m starting to forget what I was working on, but I do know that I’ll be making some changes to the last chapter or two that I was writing in THE APPROXIMATE DISTANCE TO LIMBO. I keep thinking I oversexualized that last chapter, even though it was about a swinger’s party. and I haven’t decided if I’m going to add that third act after all, since I’m blowing another deadline anyway. I mean, really, the only person setting writing deadlines here is me, but I like to prove I can meet a deadline when I pick one. But this project just seems to need time. Funny when I remember that it was actually started in late 2012. It seems like I just started it a few months ago. Weird how immediate it feels when it’s really one long aside. Maybe I better reconcile myself to the fact that it’s become a real sequel, despite it not being planned as such.
After that, I’m gonna take a break from Richard, because I’m starting to feel like I’ve burned out on him, and I still have at least two proper full length Richard Burley novels to write. I’ve got plenty of other projects to work on, so it won’t be any kind of hardship, really. Should be nice to focus on something completely fictional for a change. I feel like I’ve been mining my life story for material for the better part of a decade now, which is close to the truth, if you factor in the fact that I started TERMINAL MONDAY in late 2007. It’s been a long time since I started improvising those first few chapters. It’s not a best seller by any rational measure, but it’s still a very special book to me.
Anyway, I also still have to get back to work on STEEP INCLINATIONS (which STILL doesn’t have its own page). I’ve barely picked up an instrument in weeks, and I haven’t recorded a part in months. Should be interesting trying to get back into harness for a whole double-(triple?) concept album. That’s a LOT of playing, and I’ll be doing a fair bit of it from the keyboard, since most of the old music I’m reviving was keyboard-driven. Haven’t played like that in almost twenty years. Gonna be a steep learning curve, that’s for sure. And I’m still wondering how much the boys (Derrick and Gary) are really going to contribute to this one.
And that’s all for now. Hope that was enough of an update for you. I hope to be back tomorrow, but with the way things have been lately, don’t look too surprised if I’m gone for another week.
Thank you for reading, and have a great day.