Tuesday, August 18, 2009

New Releases

Just a few quick notes while I take a breath from being buried in work (post-vacation overload...gah)

Mike "Gabriel" Krahulik from Penny Arcade was asked to do a cover for the comic version of The Talisman (King/Straub). This is win on so many levels...it was a great book, it will make a great comic, and Gabe is a great artist. Great, great, and great. Not much else to say. I don't read many comics (Roman Dirge and Jhonen Vasquez are about it), but I think I need to pick this one up, it's been years since I read The Talisman (don't recall that I ever got around to the sequel...Black House? Dark House? Something like that...it was a kind of allusion to the Dark Tower world, I remember)

Also, KC Shaw just released her book Jack of All Trades today. Check out details on her blog...congrats to KC!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

"Happy Sunday!" said the Tickock Man

With the family out of town, it's quiet and kind of boring around here, but I am getting some good writing done. I'm in the honeymoon phase with a new story...if it goes anywhere, I'll share details later.
Watched Dreams with Sharp Teeth last night, a documentary on Unca Harlan Ellison. Crazy old bastard...sadly, my first introduction to Harlan was not his writing, but his very public, very nasty dustup with Gabe and Tycho from Penny Arcade a few years back. If you weren't in that gossip loop, the upshot is that onstage at the Foolscap awards ceremony, Harlan was being Harlan and accused Gabe of being a high school dropout, at which point Gabe, being Gabe, asked Harlan if he was the guy who wrote the Star Wars books. At that point, friendly banter turned to threats, and each camp's ferocious, drooling internet packs joined the fight. It was kind of fun to watch, but a sad misunderstanding--mostly, I think, because Ellison and the singular being that is Gabe/Tycho are really different generations of the same inspired, rebellious spirit (I won't say Maverick, John McCain ruined that word for me).

Anyway, the movie showed that Ellison is, indeed, a crazy man. But, it also showed very clearly that he is probably a really great guy, and a self-tortured psyche to boot. Interesting movie, lots of footage of Neil Gaiman who, apparently, has been friends with Ellison before Gaiman was even a working fiction writer. The movie does have a few good tidbits for writers, but mostly it's an homage.

I am about halfway through reading his Strange Wine collection. Great writing, very poetic, a very careful and conscientious selection of words and sentence structure. On a personal note, I find I relate to Harlan on a few levels, which is endearing and disturbing.

He also has a really, really cool house.
I was cruising and found a reference to this story called "Candle Cove". It's a short story told in the form of a chatroom discussion. I found it on a different site with no reference to the fact that it was fiction and not just a blog discussion, so the intended creepy effect in the story definitely worked on me. The author is, apparently, Kris Straub (relation? not sure).
It always makes me happy when one of my online friends gets something big released. Today the big news is the release of Catherine J Gardner's chapbook The Sour Aftertaste of Olive Lemon. Order one today, it's only $6 including shipping...it's been said many times, but that is the best damn title I've heard in a long time.
And now, Unca Harlan plays us out.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Twitterly We Roll Along

Twitter certainly is an odd little bug, isn't it?

You can follow some arbitrary threads of people's lives, people that you've never met, probably will never meet, and may be in drastically different stations of life than yourself. One of my new hobbies is following people's tweet-threads (tweads? sigh...) and watching their collective discussions unravel and re-connect with other people in their lives, online and off. Do you all remember party lines? How some communities had shared phone lines, and you could pick up the phone and listen to your neighbors chatting, if you picked up the receiver quietly and didn't giggle?

It's like that.

For example, an average celebrity twead chase (following one tweet to a thread to a follower's tweets etc etc):

Amanda Palmer makes kissy-face tweets with her boyfriend Neil Gaiman >> Adam Savage from Mythbusters tweets about hanging out with Penn Jillette at TAM7 >> Trent Reznor complains about scary women who now chase him in his middle age >> Weird Al twitpics Seth Green riding a segway in Al's front room, and then asks his wife where left his shoes, who reminds Al that he left them by the hammock where he napped that morning >> Clive Barker and Peter Straub try to out-story each other with (supposedly...probably) true tales of back-room shows in Amsterdam and Mexican girlie bars...

And so on. Bizarre. Not sure how much longer it can hold my interest, but it certainly is a new thing. Takes the fucking varnish right off of celebrities, which lies in stark contrast to how famous people were "supposed" to behave when I was young. I prefer this way--more natural. They seem human. Celebrity is a weird, artificial shell anyway.

Also, I've seen Clive Barker tweet-up Felicity Dowker a few times, which is very cool.
Here in about ten minutes, the wife and kids are off to visit family on Montana for a week or so, and I (and my Malamute) have the house all to ourselves. I'm taking a few days off next week, and my plan, among other things, is to pretend to be a Professional Writer. Which means, I suppose, writing for the majority of the work day, instead of doing the DayJob™ all day and writing at night. It will be a fun little fiction...see what It would be like, if It paid enough to do It full time.
And now, the new Zombieland Trailer (NSFW, zombie bewbs and all that).

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Toe Pinchers and Story Clippers

Besides writing, I'm still working on Halloween projects (started in January, sadly). I spent a weekend with my oldest daughter building a full-size toe-pincher coffin, which was a stretch for my sub par woodworking skills. But, it held together. My employer recently announced that they are selling my division off, and I will very likely be out of work soon, so I'm doing this thing as cheaply as I can...which means substituting manual labor and bailing wire solutions instead of buying the thing I actually need, which always takes more time. I love Halloween, though, and it's still worth it.

The wife and kids are off to Montana later this week, and, in addition to writing my big pink fanny off, I'm going to try and rig up my automation system: a motion detector in the coffin that lights up red and bangs and squeals when someone gets too close, like there is something not very darn nice in the coffin trying to get out. Should be fun, hopefully I have ten fingers when I'm done.
As a few folks have mentioned, Robert Swartwood is now taking subs for his hint fiction antho, to be published next year. Hint fiction has been around as a discussion topic for much of the year, but I suspect the majority of the folks who have read about it haven't tried it. If you haven't, take a swipe at it...it's different than micro-fiction, in that you really aren't trying to tell a story--you're hinting at a story. The goal, I guess, could be stated as: enough ambiguity so that people can read it and get different meanings (i.e., fill in the blanks and get different stories in their heads), but provides enough info to capture the reader. It's harder than it looks.

Whereas a micro story may say "As they lowered the coffin, I wondered how I would get along without her.", a hint story may say "I wondered if the inside of the coffin smelled like her pillow." or something like that. It's unclear, but makes you wonder what the larger story is, and makes your mind race to fill in the gray areas. If your hint fiction clip is a story by itself, you have failed. I tried once, when Robert had the kickoff contest on his blog--and I failed. I didn't try. Tonight, I started working on some serious entries; and as I do so, it strikes me that hint clips are almost closer to poetry than stories.

Anyway, visit http://www.robertswartwood.com/?page_id=8, and give it a shot. You'll be glad you did.