Thursday, June 28, 2012


I've spent the last couple of days writing a short story I want to enter in the Writers of the Future Contest. The deadline is in two days. Today I finished revising it. (sound of party favor) It's somewhat rough, but I'm feeling better about it. Now, I actually think it's worth an Honorable Mention.

There are four deadlines to the contest. The next one is September 30th, at which time I plan on sending in another entry; I already have a good start on it. My goal is to have one story per quarter from now until the day I win that contest.

Today I also chewed some more on that post on "show, don't tell." Another two days and I'll have that out. Even with what I took out of that, it still is long.

At least this post is short. So, I made the letters bigger.


Sunday, June 24, 2012

Some Definitions

A definition is not a set of sentences found in a dictionary. To define something is to give it boundaries. When you define something that is ineffable it seizes to be ineffable, which is why something that is truly ineffable cannot be grasped by language and sometimes thoughts. Putting thoughts into language defines them. 


Don't mind me musing about these things. What I really wanted to go over was a few definitions. 


I've mentioned already how I'm slaving over that blog post about "show, don't tell." It's getting really lengthy. So, I wanted to get some things out of its way to conserve space. Particularly, I wanted to define the concepts of Preferences, Opinions, and Educated Guesses. 


In the morning, I drink my coffee with sugar and cream, lots of both. You may drink tea instead of coffee. 

These are just preferences. We can both argue that our unique preferences are somehow "better."

Like, you could say that drinking tea has health benefits. Certain teas have properties that help with cancer. And you don't feel as jittery after a cup of tea.

I could say that coffee speeds up my metabolism, has less calories, and gives me the necessary jolt to start my day. That and I enjoy the flavor of a dark roast. 

Who is correct? We both are. Neither side convinces because we each had our reasons for the preferences we have. To suggest that I should share your preferences because you feel they are right is not logical. Of course, certain circumstances may force you to change your preferences; like if you want to quit drinking coffee because of the sensitivity of your teeth.

In writing workshops, I came across a number of preferences in the comments left in the work I issued to the group. Here are some examples:

"Change this phrasing because it sounds better this other way."

"Use only X number of semicolons per page."

"Use language that evokes the senses to make a scene more vivid."

Preferences. All of them. "Sounds better" tells me that the person reading it uses the suggested phrasing often; just because you like similes or certain diction doesn't mean I do, etc. 

There is no law that dictates how many punctuation marks you ought to have per page; just because you hate the semicolon doesn't mean that I do. F. Scott Fitzgerald once said to "cut out all those exclamation marks" because it was like laughing at "your own joke." I respect the man's fiction, but this nonsense about exclamation marks is just a preference!!!! 

As for the third one, well that's the whole point of the "show, don't tell" blog post. Stay tuned!

Preferences force me to ask the question: Why? One of my instructors used to tell us that in the battle of the Preferences, yours should win over. 


Mr. Clifton, my tenth grade English teacher told us often that "opinions are like assholes." We all have them and they sometimes stink. The man was a Vietnam War Veteran, a decorated hero and a brilliant man; they allowed him certain eccentricities like that one. 

There is no logic to opinions. There is pseudo logic, plenty of it. 

I think that people who criticize the preferences of others are insecure. It makes sense. Why attack the fact that I drink coffee unless you are not really sure that drinking tea is so great? Leave me alone with my cup of Joe; that's what I always say. You don't like the potent smell? Go drink your tea outside the coffee house. I don't mind that odd tea smell even though it makes it seem like someone's smoking pot. 

That was all opinion. None of what I just wrote had any sound logical structure. 

In writing workshops, I ran into plenty of opinions too. Here is what some of them looked like:

"Character X is not likable, kill X off."

"The situations are ridiculous."

"The job of the writer is to ______ not to _______"

Opinions. All of them. If you don't like a character, too bad. Someone else might love them. Who is the writer supposed to listen to? The results of a poll that show whether or not your character is likable? Yeah, right. The writer has an opinion too. 

What if I asked you to say why you thought the situations are ridiculous? The answers would be all opinions. This is because the word "ridiculous" is subjective, like "beautiful." If they had said "plausible" instead of "ridiculous" then it would be a different thing.

The third one is also an opinion, one that is troubling. I have come across dozens of internet articles and blog posts where the authors will try to proclaim that not only does the writer have a job, but they know it and if you're not doing it, then you're failing. Some of the most popular answers are: The writer's job is to evoke emotions in the reader; the writer's job is to hide nothing from their readers; the writer's job is to entertain the reader; the writer's job is to challenge the beliefs of the reader...

Opinions. All of them. 

I like to think that if there is a job I'm supposed to be doing as a writer that I can figure it out for myself. When I read something like, "the job of the writer is..." then I suspect that the author meant, "MY job as a writer is..." When you think about it, how would you know that you're doing your job as a writer? Do you poll your readers? Look at the little stars your work earned on Amazon, goodreads, etc. (consider that most readers don't use these or else Harry Potter would have millions of reviews on Amazon)? And how exactly do you gauge the instantaneous emotional response of the reader?

Educated Guesses:

Similar to the opinion, an educated guess wanders into the dark unknowable. To support it is the experience/education of the person who makes it. 

A doctor may make an educated guess about that wart on your body. Testing may reveal the truth about it. A fitness instructor may give you a schedule that may lower your exercise time while increasing stamina; all in hopes of losing weight. Only after months of following the schedule will you know if it's effective. Based on my book purchases, Amazon will offer me others. I won't know if I will like their suggestions until I finish reading them. 

Educated guesses are still guesses. Most of the time I don't pay a second glance at what Amazon offers. Who hasn't had to have a second opinion from another doctor because what their doctor suggested isn't working? Losing weight depends so much on factors unique to you that not all strategies may work. 

Yes! In the writing workshops I keep mentioning, I came across educated guesses too. These are the examples:

"Women don't do that during their periods."

"Character X just doesn't ring true to me as a psychiatrist."

"That type of natural disaster wouldn't kill off that many people."

You have to be careful when you get a comment that may be an educated guess. 

The first one I mentioned above is tricky; it came from a couple of females in the workshop. Their experiences told them one thing, but my research said something else. Namely, the response of a woman to her period is not universal--not all women respond the same way. What is a male writer to do? I chose to play it safe. I'm removing any mention of the menstrual cycle in my story! 

The next educated guess dealt with the person's experiences with a psychiatrist. It could be valuable to listen to what they have to say, maybe even questioning them about the types of statements made and even their advice (if they are willing to share that much). Later, I could take what I learned and mold it so the psychiatrist character seems believable. The problem is, too much reliance of this type of comment may alienate the readers who didn't have similar experiences with their shrinks.  

The third comment could be valuable if the source has the right kind of education. I would listen to this if the person was a seismologist and I had talked about an earthquake. Waiting to experience this is a little morbid! The comment would be worthless if it had come from a philosopher. 


Now I'm a little bit closer to publishing that "show, don't tell" post. 


Pure, a review

I think maybe you've noticed that I'm a little harsh when it comes to the reviews I write for traditionally published novels. It's not because of jealousy or hatred; though it used to be (you should have read this review I wrote for A Dance With Dragons). Whenever I read a self-published book, I now know that there is an enormous weight on the writer's shoulders. A novel like Vaempires: Revolution, for example, only  has Tom Winship to hold accountable for the quality of the text. A novel like Mockingjay has a team of industry professionals and a respectable publishing house backing it, not just Suzanne Collins. That's partly why I was so harsh with the review of Mockingjay. I was tempted to ask Collins, The Hunger Games and Catching Fire were wonderful so what happened to Mockingjay?

Since I'm discussing dystopian novels, let me introduce the last one I read, Pure by Julianna Baggott. With this book I broke one of my rules: I would not review books that I didn't purchase. I borrowed it from the library I work in. HENCEFORTH, let it be known that I will also review books I can find at my library.



Pressia, Patridge, El Capitan, and Bradwell exist in a world ravaged by "Detonations", which is the equivalent of the event many feared would take place during the Cold War: Nuclear Armageddon. Somehow they must come together in this dark world and find the hope within them necessary to rebuild human society.

What Didn't Work For Me:

Infodump: The first 50 pages of this book were the most horrible I have found in any novel of this type, particularly because the author throws so much at you. The action in the first Pressia chapter consisted of Pressia telling her grandfather that she was going to barter for supplies they need. It is four pages long in the edition I read, but it had so much about the world crammed into it that at times I lost sight of the conversation.

It went something like this:

Paragraph, paragraph, paragraph, paragraph of information about the world.
"dialogue that responded to that first line of dialogue"
Paragraph, paragraph, paragraph, paragraph of more information about the world.

It is particularly daunting since all the information in this chapter shows up later, some in action.

Worldbuilding: The world Baggott creates is unrealized. I could not get a grasp on the type of society the characters lived in before the Detonations. At times it felt like they were in Nazi Germany (Bradwell tells the others that those who did not attend church were found and shot in their sleep--church!!!!) and at other times like they were in the middle of a Revolutionary War (one of the characters near the end has memories of a network of people openly revolting and Bradwell also mentions that his parents were part of a resistance). The most jarring part of this is that it was supposed to be the United States of America, this place. So where was the President and Congress? Did this totalitarian/religious sentiment exist in all 50 states (which are some of the most culturally diverse locations on the planet)? 

Hell, where were the local militias? How about the world outside the United States? They mention Japan, but what about the other countries of the world?

It was too fuzzy for me to accept and some of it felt like it was made up on the moment to answer questions raised--like what I mentioned about church absentees being shot. And I couldn't get around why all of these deformed humans didn't band together and take down both the OSR and the Dome since they all share a hatred for the Pures. 

Dystopian or apocalyptic: As dystopian fiction, it doesn't function except to present a set of cliched themes already addressed by dozens of other novels. Too much technology is bad. Genetic engineering is dangerous. Religious zealotry leads to atrocities. Totalitarianism is evil. These are not groundbreaking. In the novel they are more like a recap of everything that made other novels great. But here I'm being too harsh...

What Worked For Me:

After the rocky start, Julianna Baggott, the critically acclaimed author, comes on the stage and presents fiction that is engaging. This happens about halfway through the book, when the author no longer spends sentences giving us world details. It made me feel better since this novel has had some incredible support from well-known authors--the back cover even had a blurb from a Pulitzer Prize winning author! I thought maybe it was just me.

The second half of the novel is noteworthy in that it focuses on the internal and external conflicts of its cast and allows you to delve into the science fiction. 

Science Fiction: Initially, I had this in the "What Didn't Work For Me" column. This novel forced me to look into my own prejudices about what constitutes believable science in science fiction. I kept being cynical and asking questions like, why didn't their underwear fuse to them? If I was going to ask dumb questions like that, then I also had to ask others, like, why is faster-than-light travel possible in most sci-fi? What's the deal with space gravity that ought not to exist? What makes great science fiction isn't that the science is plausible, but that it captures the imagination. 

In Pure, the effects of the bombs captured my imagination. The fusings were very cool, sometimes giving things a surreal coating. And they don't forgive. Even the most beautiful character, Pressia, has scars and odd fusings. Maybe this aspect of the novel isn't perfect, but it opens possibilities. My favorites were El Capitan and Bradwell's fusings. These were done well enough to be a treat. The most disturbing were the fusings of the mothers with their children, doomed to literally carry them everywhere they go and never see them grow up.

Character interactions: It is in that second half of the novel where the characters begin to come to life. Their encounters are enjoyable to read even while some of the characters, like Partridge, aren't exactly enjoyable on their own. Partridge with Bradwell worked great. Partridge with Pressia worked even better. Pressia with Bradwell was done tastefully enough for me not to gag (I won't go into much more detail than that to avoid a spoiler). Pressia with El Capitan worked well too. I think Lyda would have been more enjoyable if she had played a greater part in the story. 

And the very best interactions, in my opinion, were between El Capitan and Helmud. That thing that the immobile Helmud does towards the end was so surprising that I was cheering for him. It just came out of nowhere! 

And thanks to this I began to care for their stories. The weight on Partridge's shoulders... Pressia unsure of who her family is (was)... El Capitan keeping Helmud despite the dark thoughts he sometimes has... Bradwell and his conspiracy theories and prayers... 

It will be for the character interactions that I will return to the world of Pure when the second installment of the trilogy becomes available. 


Pure suffers from comparisons to great works of dystopian fiction, like 1984, Fahrenheit 451, The Giver, and most recently, The Hunger Games; I could not help but to repeatedly compare it to The Hunger Games. Sadly it is not on the same level as any of them. This is just my opinion, but the reading experience was not there in the beginning and I couldn't forgive or ignore this because of the enjoyment I got from the second half of the novel. 

However, on its own it's not half bad. It definitely helps if you have not read any of the titles I just named above. Give Pure a try. Or if you devour this type of fiction, then read it to see another take on our dark future. 


Friday, June 22, 2012

A bag of goodies...

I took some time away from writing today to do a little shopping. There were some books I wanted to pick up and read. Mind you, I already have a load of books I checked out from the library I work in; they are here waiting to be read.

But these new books I got through ibookstore. Yes, I have a Kindle, but since I got this ipad I've read most ebooks through the Kindle app or the ibooks app. Ibooks has this neat feature that tells you how many pages are left in a chapter--this is something I do with paper books. I always look at how many pages are left in a chapter before I start it. This is just a preference, not an argument trying to convince YOU to buy an ipad.

I bought:

Vaempires: A White Christmas by Thomas Winship

Thicker Than Blood by Shalini Boland

Sandpaper Fidelity #1  by Elizabeth Barone (which I got for FREE at Kindle store and sent to the ipad)

I've actually had the pleasure of speaking with the authors of these books (short story in Elizabeth's case). There is always something different about reading a book by an author you've had contact with. I don't know what it is; I just feel better towards the books.


I finished the short story I want to send to the Writers of the Future Contest. This means I have a few days to revise it. Not a great deal of time...

Also, I've been working overtime on a post about "show don't tell." That's right! It's one of the posts I've promised, but just haven't gotten to. Let me tell you, it's a lengthy one too. I'm going to take a few more pokes at it after I post this. I might put it out late next week.


Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Roll Call!

We are now entering the 4th week of the Dark Mind Book Tour I arranged for my novel, Absolution. It has been a fun adventure so far and there are still 2 weeks to go! Allow me to recap for you what's been going on if you haven't kept up:

At Mind Reader, Franny gave me my first review! She had some really nice things to say about the novel.

The next stop was the first of two stops at Shah Wharton's blog, Wordsinsync. The first time was to interview me. This would have been the first interview for me and she taught me a few words in English English, like chuffed.

The day after that, I wandered into the den of Hazel the Witch, otherwise known as Petra! But don't let the title fool you; she's a real nice person, no witch. I did a guest post for her that dealt with a few minor points of fiction, at least the fiction I write. Here was the first of the giveaways. In case I haven't mentioned yet, some of these tour stops have contests where you can win a free ebook copy of my novel! If you hurry, you can still catch Petra's giveaway (it expires about 5 hours from now).

Next I went to Abbey Ann's Bookland for another guest post. This one was about my version of "reading" a book. I don't just pick up the things and go through them. There is so much more involved that I don't think I did a good job capturing it all in that guest post. This means I'll have to post about it later on here, right after my post about the myth of "show don't tell" and that post about the differences between editing, revising, and copyediting, and...well you get the picture. Sadly, the ebook giveaway for that blog is over. The winner has been contacted and he/she already claimed the prize at Smashwords. I hope they like it.

Shalini Boland hosted me next. She is the wonderful author of Hidden (The Marchwood Vampire Series #1), which I reviewed here.  In the guest post I did for her I talked about mystery as a genre and showed the progression of the mystery novel. Again, it was more of an introduction into what I hope will be many more posts on the subject. She too had a giveaway, but alas, it's over and the winner selected. She posted the winner's name here.

I paid a visit to Vix in her blog TToria, where she reviewed the novel! It was such a beautiful review that encompassed many good points, like the world building. It was all in all a good review and I was happy she liked it. I would have liked to have done a guest post for her, but alas, time is short and space is limited!

And next was a return to Shah Wharton's Wordsinsync where she allowed me to guest post about androgyny and the male-female and female-male. This is a subject that is relevant to Absolution and so I felt that I needed to go further into it. Shah was very understanding and gave me room to venture where I needed to venture. There was also a giveaway here and the winner has been notified. Sorry you missed it, but there will be more in the future (including the one in Petra's blog, which I mentioned above).

The Blog Tour continued in Gabby's What's Beyond Forks, which is a reference to that town in the Twilight books (yes, feel free to say "no, duh," at this point). Here I did a guest post about my lack of a sense of humor when writing. Truly, it is the bane of my existence! But Gabby was nice enough to laugh at my jokes. Oh, and she has an ebook giveaway of my novel going on still! Hurry! There are only six days left and the internet might freeze before then.

I won't say that I played favorites during the tour, but I was really curious to see what Bob Milne made of my novel--he has an interesting reading palate. He reviewed it in his website, Beauty in Ruins, and I'm happy to say that he found it an "unusual" read that was worth your nickels! But that's not all. The guest post I wrote for him dealt with the stylistic language in my novel. The main character is a person out of place (he is part of the 1940s) and so speaks in a certain way. I explained the nuts and bolts of it; hopefully not in a dull manner.

The tour did not end there! I visited Vidya's blog, Books Are Magic, during which I discussed the three moments in my life that were less than perfect (as in very awkward and yes, embarrassing). I hope someone had a lot of laughs with that one. Vidya also ran a giveaway of my novel, which is over. But I can tell you  that by the number of entries, it was a fierce battle to get that ebook! Hopefully, the winner will enjoy it.

I did another guest post for Eileen's blog, Singing and Reading in the Rain! I loved the sentiment of the title, but I don't know how you could pull that off without pissing off your library or wallet. What astonished me about Eileen is that she's not even 14 yet! Talk about building your platform early on! The guest post for this blog did teach me a valuable lesson: Find out about your host's blog before writing something that may be inappropriate. I wrote about a subject that may be controversial on any other blog. She asked me to write about the weirdest thing I had to do while writing Absolution. And I didn't hold back... There is a light at the end of this tunnel. The ebook giveaway Eileen is holding is still active. You have several days to put an entry in and maybe win a copy of my book.

Ah, and I couldn't have a blog tour without visiting the Pelican State! Maghon (may-gun) took two big parts in my tour in her blog Happy Tails and Tales (and yes, I love dogs too), a pal like Shah. The first stop consisted of a review and an interview! Maghon enjoyed the book and its characters, particularly Jenn. She even asked me about how I came up with the character; that's how much she cared. I can't tell you how pleased I was that she wanted to know. She also hosted a giveaway and the winner was selected, but she was so nice she promised a copy of the ebook to all who entered! That's how nice a person she is.

The next couple of stops were shorter and consisted only of a posting of a novel excerpt and more ebook giveaways! I'm telling you, I've gone nuts with giveaways! The first was at Understanding Shae's Story and the next was over at Kindle and Me. The giveaway for Shae's story is still going for the next five hours! You have a whole day to enter the one at Kindle and Me (and this one is probably your best bet since very few people have entered it).

I returned to Dark Franny's Mindreader for an interview, which was very probing (but in a good way, not the alien autopsy way). It was enjoyable and a little liberating to answer her questions. I hope you check it out, if only to amuse yourself with me.

The next stop had another review waiting for me. This one was from Niina and her wonderful blog, For the Love of Reading! I was honestly nervous about the review since I didn't think she would dig the novel. But she totally did! I even got a little flame ball that signifies a "warm" sexual content. Made me sweat. The guest post I did for her was one of the most interesting ones I did for this tour. It deals with Noir in film and the Hardboiled detective fiction of the 1930s. I also speak about its current incarnation in Urban Fantasy and, of course, as it pertains to my characters. Go check it out and read Niina's reviews--some of which draw controversy!

And so at last we come to today's guest post and giveaway over at Crayolakim's Mother/Gamer/Writer. If you wanted a good (I mean really, really good) chance to win a free ebook copy of Absolution, you won't find any better (yes, I remember what I said above. Don't call me on this stuff!). So far, no one has entered that giveaway, which means if you are the only one who does, then you are by default the winner! There are still 13 days in the giveaway though. Oh, and I also did a guest post for her that deals with inspiration and how to find it.

What's next for the tour? Another visit to Maghon's page and a guest post to start with! There will also be more ebook giveaways and the grand prize that wins the whole shebang. But don't be shy. If you want to see the whole tour schedule, just click here.

Phew! That took forever to write... But that's the roll call of blog stops. If you want to read more reviews of Absolution, stop by the novel's goodreads page here.


Thursday, June 14, 2012

Boxes, Boxes!

It was a few nights ago, last Friday, that I saw a production of Two Gentlemen of Verona by those lovable bastards from the Shakespeare by the Sea organization. The stage was a park in San Pedro that overlooks the Pacific Ocean--I mean literally it does, there's a cliff and everything. Because it was a night production, the wind had picked up, which made us all love our coats even more. Bartholomew was with me and his wife. She had prepared a picnic box filled with delicious sandwich bites and beer and beer and a few blankets.

It was my first time going and really, I wish I had known about it sooner. There's just something great about watching a play and getting a lung full of salty sea air. Best of all, the admission was free!
I spent most of the day boxing things and moving these boxes to the storage unit I purchased. The thing isn't very big, about 3X10', but it's located about three and a half feet off the ground so that everything you put in it has to fly in there. 

You ever try to load big boxes onto a top shelf? Right. That's how it was. It was a hard day and warm. My body hasn't had one of these days in so long, maybe ten years. Yikes! But I have more things to put away tomorrow and decided to rest. 

What better way to do that than with a good book. I had to write about the boxes though. They were heavy.


Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Fiction and Fictions

On my way out, I pass by a makeshift shrine dedicated to a baby shot by an unknown thug. There are balloons and flowers and stuffed toys and candles; I think I also saw a picture of the child. The story was in the news and it surprised me that it was so close by. There are many such shrines in this part of the world, not all for children; gang violence in South Central Los Angeles is as common as sunburns are during summer. Not far down the street is a wall spray painted by a pseudo-professional. It depicts a picture of the Grim Reaper and a Stop sign close by; the words "Stop the Madness and Increase the Peace" are painted next to them.

It's a sad comedy. The shrines and the wall art are constant reminders that life here is full of these fictions. We remember the dead and the dead love us for it. We love death in Los Angeles and we fear it, always looking over our shoulders. 
I finished the guest posts and the interview questions and once again I'm free to write fiction! One of the projects I want to tackle is Book Two of the Elohim Trilogy, Ascension.The preceding section of this post is an example of the dark subjects covered in the second book. The main theme of the first book in my trilogy dealt with forgiveness. The main theme of the second novel is a fear and love of death. Here is a line of dialogue from the second book that's sticking to my head:

"To love death is to love life, Detective Adams; one begets the other." 

Grim stuff. 

I've also been working on a short story, a Science Fiction Horror tale, and refining a children's short novel titled The Sprite. I'm giddy with titles today! These are for submissions to the regular publishing folks, not self-publishing. My friend Elizabeth Barone inspired me to do these things. I always love reading about a young writer pushing forward with submissions. 

I hope to have the short story done this week to submit before the 30th. It's going to the Writers of the Future Contest. I don't have high expectations for it (I mean I am not giving my mind much time with it before sending it out). 

But it will get me into the groove of revising for submissions. If the short story gets an honorable mention, I will be surprised. 

Enough talking shop. How was your day? Oh, but we're out of time. I'm sure you'll tell me how you're doing in passing. It always works out that way, doesn't it? We wander about, we talk to each other, we gossip and laugh and in the end we go back to sleep. How the sun can cross the threshold to do it all over again is beyond me...


Wednesday, June 6, 2012

The Book Burners

In the paperback I have of The Wizard of Oz, Ray Bradbury wrote an introduction in which he shares his views and love of Baum's series. He contrasts it with Carroll' Wonderland novels and shows a clear preference for Oz. Aside from that, he made one point that stood out: Ignoring a book is like burning it. This is a reference to his work. In his most famous novel, Fahrenheit 451, characters physically burn books.

That novel showed me that there was another way to do genre fiction. To say Fahrenheit 451 is not science fiction is a crime. The man wrote science fiction; there is no shame in that. Of course, science fiction has a tradition of being socially conscious, especially as it pertains to technology.

It saddened me to hear he died. I had hoped to meet him--a boyish dream--and tell him how much his work influenced my own. I don't think I would have included half of what's in my novel if not for his work.

So, who are the book burners I reference in the title of this post? We're all book burners at some point. There is no need to demonize a group. Whenever you decide to Facebook instead of reading, you burn a book. Whenever you pick up a joystick and rev up that videogame, you burn a book. Etc.

But this is not an irreparable condition. Ironically, the technology Bradbury was so suspicious of is the reason why a new generation of readers have discovered his books.

I honor the word weaver, Ray Bradbury, and his unique fictions. His work opened the door for others like myself.


Tuesday, June 5, 2012

My Day Off

I woke up at ten today and spent the whole day indoors watching the first season of Mad Men. It was catchy and the episodes were more engaging than I thought they would be. It also didn't hurt that Lieutenant Don Draper was in the Engineers Corps of the Army--I was an Engineer too. And yes, I now am a fan of Mad Men and of Jon Hamm. Oh, please don't mention this at work, Bartholomew.

Today was unique because I don't get to get up so late that often. The last time I woke up later than 6 AM was six or seven years ago.

While Mad Men played, I answered questions for two upcoming interviews. I still have three guest posts to do for the blog tour of Absolution.The sad thing I haven't done much fiction writing. My obligations come before my need to write. I'm learning this as I go.

Absolution is flowering. It received its first few reviews in the last two weeks. With those reviews and the other exposure it is getting, I've begun to see new faces. Up until now my only audience has been a few co-workers. Reading the comments of people who don't live in the same state or even the same country as I do is a hell of an experience. Hopefully, Absolution will continue to grow.

By all means, check out the stops on my tour. Here is the schedule. I hope you like what I've written so far and promise that what's left of the tour will be along the same lines.


Sunday, June 3, 2012

Vaempires: Revolution, a review

I've been holding off on this one. I smashed my right thumb a few days back. It was a disturbing episode. I slammed my car door shut and took a step away from it and then realized that not all of me was going along for the ride. I looked back and my thumb was there, pinned between the door and the car. After I pried it out, I put it on ice and then spent hours trying to deal with the pain. Must have been luck that I didn't break it. While the thumb itself is okay, the nail is numb. Bartholomew thinks the nail will fall off, which amused him. It's the sort of thing that amuses him.

It makes typing odd, which is why I've been reluctant to approach any lengthy amount of writing. But here goes...

Vaempires: Revolution by Thomas Winship.


In the far future, humans and vampires live in relative peace. But a breed of mutated vampires, vaempires, threatens the harmony of the world by executing a terrible attack on multiple world cities, wiping out  the leadership of both men and vampires. Now it is up to the two remaining symbols of leadership, Daniel, the acting King of vampires and Princess Cassandra, the next in line for the throne to stop the uprising. Both are teenagers who had different plans for this special day, Cassandra's sixteen birthday.

What Didn't Work For Me:

Daniel was a little too good to believe. He's as green as any rookie I've known, but he slaughters vaempires with ease. I thought maybe he would have been a little clumsier since it is his first time killing anything.

The gore. I've witnessed real gore and I now have a lack of tolerance for it. In literature, it has to be presented in a certain way for me to digest it. One example in literature is Cormac McCarthy's Blood Meridian, which is as gory as Vaempires (worse even), but in every scene where body parts come off and babies get smashed against rocks, you feel a sense of pity--it is never glorified. In film, Saving Private Ryan also showed gore, but you had to feel sorry for the soldiers, on either side, being slaughtered.

I really, really, really, really, wanted a before look at Orion and its culture before it was destroyed. I know that Vaempires: White Christmas is supposed to be this view, but I wanted it in this novel. I also would have liked more human involvement. This will probably be addressed in the subsequent chapters of this series, but a little more here wouldn't have hurt.

What Worked For Me:

Princess Cassandra is so realistically cool, that it made me look forward to her chapters; the writing style was a little different in these chapters than in the Daniel chapters. It is an interesting phenomenon.

This novel has more in common with the disaster novel, where a natural or man-made disaster has left others to fend for themselves. Some of the scenes that played out as the story progresses made me wonder if the 9/11/01 terrorist attacks in New York didn't partially inspire Mr. Winship. I mean, is it really a coincidence that Orion is a replica of New York city? It is well done.

The energy of the novel. It does not let up. Daniel plows through vaempires en route to Cassie with the intensity of Uma Thurman in Kill Bill. The princess desperately moves from dire situation, not as a damsel in distress, but as a woman trying to use every tool available to her to break free.

And this is what really made the novel for me. It plays with the idea of the "evolved being." The main characters are at the top of their society and species, an acting king and a princess, but Mr. Winship reduces them to the level of beasts. They sniff and crawl and slash and gut like animals in the jungle, putting away duty and sense to give in to their primal needs. And the vaempire threat is an evolved species with two opposable thumbs and greater strength and speed. But are they superior or are they a genetic joke?

The question this novel asks is what does it mean to be evolved? It doesn't give an answer, only demolishes answers. You may be a king, but you'll still want to satisfy your need for companionship before rising to a throne--that's why Daniel goes after his girlfriend, the princess instead of setting up an area of operations to coordinate the efforts of humans and vampires. You may be a princess who can use rhetoric and diplomacy to end conflict, but you are never above tearing and killing if diplomacy fails and the laws of the jungle dictate that you must surrender sexually to the strongest male. Have we truly evolved?

I wondered if the that word in the title, revolution, isn't a play on the themes involved. "Revolution" is just one letter away from "evolution," which is what provokes the conflict between vampires and vaempires.


There's more than gore in Thomas Winship's vampire novel. If you have a strong stomach and are looking for a fresh take on that tired whore, the vampire, then give it a try. She may please you yet.