Archives, Part Three (July 31, 2008 to August 13, 2008)

Hm. (Tor+27, Asimov's+15) (July 31, 2008)

It seems as though I may have hit a general impasse, at least for a few section of the story. Though I can generally write character interactions rather easily - since my last update, I've written approximately 15 pages during my lunch breaks and about a half hour last night - there is much about my chosen topic that I do not know about.

Hoping to solve that problem, rather than waiting until I go to New York and hope/pray that someone would be available to actually answer my questions, I looked online and found what appeared to be a rather helpful book: Practical Homicide Investigations, Fourth Edition by Vernon J. Geberth. From what I read on the title, it is considered the "Bible" of homicide investigations, and will certainly be rather helpful not just with my current title but in any future endeavors.

First checking to see whether my local library had a copy - photo copies are, after all, much cheaper at 5-10 cents a spread - not one copy came up in the catalog. Apparently, some of the photos contained within the book can be deemed rather "disturbing."

The books sells for $79.96 on, my personal favorite website for ordering books - through several comparisons with other websites such as Barnes & Noble, Borders, Books-A-Million, and Wal-Mart [Wal-Mart did not carry this book, but the link is amusing], Amazon has been the cheapest overall - as a new copy. I did manage to acquire a used copy noted as being in "Good" condition for $37.46, with another $3.99 for shipping. A savings of 48% or so. Lucky for me, since the next cheapest is $71.97 without shipping.

So, that is on its way through standard shipping with an estimated shipping date of Aug. 1-4. Several chapters of my story will have to wait until that arrives and I read it - something that shouldn't take long with my avg. of a book a week - but until then, I will continue writing sections that do not need such research, and will continue to conduct other research besides.

In other news, after finally getting a second opinion - second and a half? Either way, thanks to Shavon and Chris for their insights (read their blogs through the links to the right) - on my short story The Hand, and having made a few alterations for realism's sake, I will be submitting the piece to Cemetary Dance sometime tomorrow. I am still debating whether or not I should make the copy disposable or not, but I believe I am leaning more toward no. If anyone can offer a solid reason as to how including an SASE at about $2 is cheaper than simply reprinting a 14 page document, I would love to hear it.

At the next update, I'll add three new counters to the post: Cemetary+X in the heading, Pages Written This Week (Second Novel): XX, and Pages Written So Far (Second Novel): XXX. The latter two will appear in the body of the post, either at the beginning or end. I haven't decided yet.

Before I go, I would also like to thank Tim for his research suggestions, several of which will undoubtedly be taken upon at some future date.

Back to writing. Until next time, good luck getting published!

Writing a Sex Scene (Tor+30, Asimov's+18, Cemetary+2) (August 3, 2008)

Believing Asimov's response time to be approximately two weeks, I began to freak out a little recently. Looking back, however, at my previous post, their average response time ranges from five weeks to three months. No need to worry. Yet.

I saw The Dark Knight again today. For those of you who haven't seen it, I highly recommend you do so. Heath Ledger and Aaron Eckhart capture Joker and Two-Face flawlessly, and though there are a few flaws to the movie - mostly for editing reasons, possibly related to keeping the PG-13 rating - there has yet to be another comic-based movie anywhere near the phenomenon seen within this film.

I can only cross my fingers that The Dark Knight does, actually, break Titanic's incredibly $600 million box office record. Will the fan boys and nerds outspend weeping teenage girls? It could be possible.

What Titanic had, of course, that The Dark Knight did not (besides a cute guy, as my girlfriend just reminded me) was a steamy - literally - love scene. What could possibly top the first time Rose's hand scraped across the car's window, wiping away their persperation and demonstrating the full breadth of their lovemaking? Nothing. Especially not anything found within a film aimed at focusing upon a scarred man's insanity (either Joker or Batman).

A love scene, though, is difficult. I recently wrote a first draft of one in my story, and before even writing the short scene, several questions had to be answered:

1. What do I want the scene to demonstrate?

Is the love scene meant to show a deep love between two people, or is it simply a random hook up? Is the scene supposed to convey some type of emotion, or is it meant for a diversion more than anything else? For instance, does Bill love Jane and want to show her that love? Or does Bill want to screw Jane and leave her at her doorstep before going out to get a beer? Such questions must be answered with extreme seriousness - with a good laugh thrown in for fun.

2. Is the scene going to be realistic or surrealistic?

Sex is sex. Love is love. Sometimes love can be sex and vice versa, but when writing a scene about sex, it can usually be denoted as pertaining to one or the other. Is the sex supposed to be romantic, with the man wooing the woman and showing her every ounce of pleasure possible? Or is the sex the type of sex where both partners need to smoke a cigarette afterward? Of course, it can be both - everyone loves both, especially in the age of rampant erotica taking the place of romance. The scene could, of course, simply be that in between: the scheduled, exhausted sex of the married couple.

3. What about the length?

I'm using this last question to suggest several more: should the partners - there could always be more than two partners, but for writing sake, I'll continue to stick with only two - speak during or after the intercourse? Should there be foreplay? What type of sex should they partake in? Things like these vary the scenes drastically: if they are speaking, why are they speaking? Are they talking about positions or what they like, or are they relaxing in the moments after? If there is foreplay, what kind of foreplay? Are they both pleasuring each other? Or is one person pleased while the other is simply pleased to be pleasing? Are they engaging in vaginal, anal, or oral sex as the major moment? Each one, as most know, may vary in length.

So, going into my own sex scene, and asking these questions of myself before hand, the scene played out relatively... realistic. Romance does not necessarily belong in this particular book, but realism does. And this scene played out quite nicely.

I do realize, however, that the love scenes I have planned for other books - particularly the several for a latter novel each of these is helping to eventually build up to - are dramatically different than this one. I've actually found that I've had to change my writing style throughout this novel in order to convey the meaning I actually want. Though I have only written 18 pages so far, I couldn't help but find it as a drastic departure from my other pieces. However, in the end, with the novel as a complete piece, I hope my style continues to pervade the general narrative. Each book is its own monster, and each has its own literary device.

Until next time, good luck getting published!

Now, for a bit of research. (Tor+34, Asimov's+22, Cemetary+6) (August 7, 2008)

On a role during my Monday lunch break I wrote six pages for my new book. I had a great deal of fun with them, as it contained the first real sense of anger written thus far in the novel, and anger can produce some strong verbalization. Needless to say, should I have to edit some swears out at a later date, this section will fail to carry the same weight.

Other than those six pages, though, I haven't written anything further this week. That's because Monday also happened to be the day the book I discussed a few posts ago arrived, and let me tell you, it is a hell of a book. Full of extraordinarily mundane details, though I have yet to read very much, I have already learned a great deal. There is also extreme shock value to the many pictures, which are of high quality with a majority being in color. Needless to say I could barely stop thinking about some of the image after first glimpsing them.

A coworker of mine has also lent me a few books he believed could be helpful, but I have yet to examine these too closely. They include: Handbook of Domestic Violence Intervention Strategies: Policies, Programs, and Legal Remedies, edited by Albert R. Roberts; Correctional Administration: Integration: Integrating Theory and Practice by Richard P. Seiter; Police & Society, 2nd Ed. by Roy Roberg, et al.; and New Perspectives in Criminology, edited by John E. Conklin.

It's hard to judge their quality based on the reviews on - if there even are any - so I will simply have to look through them all and figure it out myself. I think I'll start with the last, purusing that while I read the Practical Homicide book in its entirety (or there abouts).

So, the next few weeks should be rather slow ones in regard to writing. These will be mostly devoted to research, especially since I am also headed to New York on Saturday to clarify a few things. I need to make a list for that, and after going and fulfilling what I can, I will detail precisely how that went.

So, until next time... good luck getting published!

Pages written this week: 6

Pages written so far: 21

A Writing Exercise (Tor+38, Asimov's+26, Cemetary+10) (August 11, 2008)

Though I'm not currently working on my novel due to researching the required data further, I feel that it is rather important to continue writing, no matter what the content. In regard to this, I've decided to review the books I've read over the past year or so in order to A) Tell why I've read what I've read, B) Offer my opinions on the readings, and C) Say how they may have affected my writing in some regard. To also continue writing, I'm going to be writing another article for the Free Press, which I had planned to do today but will have to write tomorrow. Though I'm not certain to what extent the paper will actually exist in the next year, I feel that I must offer what I can to the uncensored publication.

So, on to the reviews.

Legends of Dune trilogy by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson (7/10)

Credited as the second prequel trilogy by the pair, this trilogy is chronologically placed first in the 14 book series. It highlights the events of the Butlerian Jihad mentioned thoroughly throughout the Dune chronicles and also serves as highlighting what will eventually affect the ending of the novels. Though not as effective as their first trilogy - the next to be discussed - the books nicely detail events and effectively establish history and the Atreides/Harkonnen dispute that prevails throughout the remainder of the books.

Prelude to Dune trilogy by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson (7.5/10)

Although written better than their second trilogy, the main detriment to this trilogy was its continued advertising of the next one, that already discussed. Throughout the text there are multiple mentions of the Butlerian Jihad and thinking machines, something barely referred to in Frank Herbert's series. They did have the advantage of playing with already established characters, though in their efforts they did manipulate origin stories for the Baron Harkonnen and Paul Atreides among others. Later, in the Dune 7 duet, the events in this are established as canon, a move that seems less of an homage to Frank Herbert and more of an insult.

Dune series by Frank Herbert (9.5/10)

Considered a classic science fiction series, the Dune universe is truly epic. Following events over five thousand years and specifically the actions of the Atreides family and their descendents, there is no equivalent that I can think of off the top of my head. Like many other authors of his age, Frank Herbert toyed around with the concept of government, freedom of choice, destiny, and especially sexual preference. The first three books in the six novel series, Dune, Dune: Messiah, and Children of Dune have been made into films, with the first book made into a feature film in 1984 and again as a mini-series in 2000. I personally prefer the latter, and the sequel, Frank Herbert's Children of Dune (2003) is simply phenomenal, though it does take literary merits. A petition is currently in progress to the Sci-Fi Channel (though I no longer get it as part of my cable plan... the bastards) to make God Emperor of Dune into a follow-up mini-series. I'm not sure it could be done properly, so I'm not holding my breath. (As a side note, my favorite of the series is Children of Dune.)

Dune 7 duo by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson (4/10)

A failure compared to their previous works, these two novels should have been coupled into one if to do nothing else but avoid repitition. Whereas Frank Herbert simply hinted at something and seemingly brought readers to his level of intelligence, these writers dumb down the series and feel the need to explain everything over and over again in the simplest terms possible. The authors also feel the need, like in their earlier trilogy, to advertise their next book, Paul of Dune, by referencing an event never before discussed. The event - the stabbing of Paul Atreides by Count Fenring during Paul's Jihad - is actually referred to several times throughout the two books in a failed attempt at advertising. Overall, the books are terrible and should only be read to get an ending we missed when Frank Herbert passed away. If only we could have seen what he would have written... or, if only Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson never attempted to write these.

This nonfiction book seemed so expertly researched and written that it read as if simply a novelization. It is fluid and all encompassing and a definite read for anyone interested in medieval times or religious clashes. My only problem with the book is that it seems too short. Though it details the events well, as a nonfiction book it seems comparatively short to similar titles. Nonetheless, I have already purchased his second book, Empires of the Sea: The Siege of Malta, the Battle of Lepanto, and the Contest for the Center of the World.

After reading this I feel that it was quite proper for the author/publisher to highlight the fact that this was a history in the title. Much of the book feels like a personal memoir and there is heavy opinionation (that is not a word but it should be) throughout the text. There are many "dry spells" throughout the book, but the book does manage to highlight facets of history seemingly ignored by other, more modern historians. One fact that I did not know: the Pope commanded that a Jewish ghetto be built and maintained well into the end of the 19th Century, when it was taken down by an invading force and never replaced. Also, the Christian church, specifically the Catholic church, at one point or another supported the Third Reich. Read the book to find out how.

I love Bruce Campbell. I do. I've watched Army of Darkness many, many times and loved all of his series, including Brisco County Jr. as well as Jack of All Trades. His newest show, Burn Notice, is equally entertaining, though much different, especially considering he is not the star. The novel mainly details the creation if The Evil Dead and then follows through to after the conclusion of Hercules and his small cameos in Sam Raimi's Spider-Man trilogy. The paperback edition, which I happened to purchase a signed first copy of, also includes an expanded section about his book tour, which was equally fascinating. The pictures were a nice touch, but the writing, as expected, was not up to par with other authors, and the narrative lacked the humor I expected, but I did buy his other book, Make Love the Bruce Campbell Way.

The first seventy pages or so of this book are incredibly slow. Following events occurring before Vlad's birth, they are rather mundane and tiresome. Once he is born, however, events quickly pick up and the remaining pages are eye-opening. There were several points where the sheer viciousness of the Impaler impressed me beyond belief and I actually exclaimed such while reading on the train to work. Quite humorous, I assure you (imagine me sitting next to you saying, "Holy shit, he impaled ALL of them?").

The Poet by Michael Connelly (8.5/10)

Like the Dune series, I had previously read this book several years ago when it was first published in paperback form. Though good and informative for my current novel, and though I did read it already, the ending managed to surprise me again. I didn't care for the novel as much as I did the first time, but I did really enjoy it through the four days it took me to finish it. I did, however, note that a sequel was written by Connelly and I will be reading that some time in the future.

None of the more recent books have affected my writing in anyway I believe, other than The Poet, which was read specifically because it related to my current novel. The Dune series, however, greatly affected how I wished to write and managed to positively alter my writing while composing The Nobodies. The series also gave me the idea to follow a general theme/universe/family through the novels, and though the novels are very... not connected... they all, in essence, are. Not willing to give much away now, I will do so in time when I feel it is time to do so. Needless to say, there is no publication as of now - disregarding the Free Press articles - that is not related to the others. That is how Frank Herbert, as well as Robert A. Heinlein, another science fiction author, affected my skills and I appreciate everything they have done.

Until next time... good luck getting published!

Page written this week: 3

Pages written so far: 24

Problem (Tor+40, Asimov's+28, Cemetary+12) (August 13, 2008)

I'm having difficulty now with this book. Not the book I'm writing, the book I'm reading. It's discernably affesting my emotions and behavior now, especially on the train where I typically read it. Looking at what I'm looking at... I wasn't meant to view these types of things, I wasn't meant to absorb it like I am. I'm skimming through these pages and these pictures like it's a simple textbook and trying desperately to avoid humanizing what I see. But I'm not a cop. I'm only a person. And though I have to go through these facts and write what I have to write, there's no way I can't avoid looking and reading these things and just thinking about them and letting them pervade my thoughts and my dreams. How to do it? How to avoid becoming emotionally involved in something you are creating, something you yourself are sacrificing a part of in order to give birth to?

I will finish reading this. I will gather the facts and in the end I will write what I need to write. But this is going to be one hell of a ride.