Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Movie Night: The Adventures of Tintin

Girlfriend loved the film. I enjoyed it, but was also disappointed.

There was a lot of good stuff here. The action scenes were fast-paced and awesome, with a car and motorcycle chase through the streets of a terraced middle eastern city being the highlight. The CGI work is unparalleled. There's not a trace of uncanny valley, despite the cartoony style. And the animators threw in all these amusing background events, so that half the fun of the film is trying to catch them all.

But when I walked out of the theater, I was miffed because, for all that, the film cheated me out of the payoff. Twice.


The trailers mentioned "a weapon that could have changed the course of history." That's bullshit. The Unicorn's secret cargo is your bog-standard piles of pirate's gold. But an even bigger cheat is that they don't find the treasure. Instead they find a small portion of the gold, a nice hat, and a sequel hook. If you read my other blog, you know that I hate it when books do this. Translating the story from paper to the big screen does not improve my opinion.


There are other storytelling issues, too. Most seriously, the movie isn't quite sure whether Tintin or Haddock is the hero. When Haddock first shows up, he seems to be a comical sidekick. But from the plane crash onwards, he gets nearly all of the character development and focus, to the point that the villain fights Haddock in the final battle while Tintin just kinda runs around trying not to die. The film also isn't 100% certain if it's supposed to be a serious adventure, a tongue-in-cheek adventure, or a straight-up parody. And there are some frankly amateurish mistakes: Tintin is a cipher with little personality, the whole pickpocket subplot is a waste of time, and the ending is rather blatantly obvious.

I did like the film and would watch the sequel willingly, but this is a B- effort. They could have done better.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Movie Night: Shelock Holmes: A Game of Shadows

Disclaimer #1: I never saw the first movie.

Disclaimer #2: I'm biased by means of being a huge fan of the Grenada TV Holmes adaptations (the ones with Jeremy Brett as Holmes that still play on PBS sometimes).

Disclaimers aside, I was somewhat less than impressed.

It's an okay movie, but it was repeatedly failing to live up to my expectations. Robert Downey Jr. plays Holmes as brilliant but comically batshit, with the script and cinematography emphasizing his photographic memory and ability to MacGyver together insane plans on the fly. Jude Law's Watson is the grounded one who tags along despite an ever-present sense of being Fed Up With This Loony. I prefer an eccentric but dignified Holmes, which this movie certainly doesn't give us. I do credit the script with not falling into the common trap of making Watson an idiot. Instead, he's intelligent and competent, a fairly good investigator on his own.

The big problem is, the best Holmes stories are intellectual puzzles with only a smattering of action. But Guy Ritchie, true to his roots, throws in one setpiece after another. Of them, only the Cossack fight and the train sequence are truly memorable, and both are fairly early in the film. Meanwhile, the actual case to be solved fades into the background. We know Moriarity's planning something, and we eventually find out what, but it's more a matter of following the trail until his hideout is found then any test of deductive reasoning.

Also, do not make your entire mystery revolve around a MacGuffin which isn't even mentioned before the climactic revelation. That's just cheating, and it's especially annoying because one or two shots of the book earlier would have been all we needed.

Also also, Stephen Fry's fat ass in a birthday suit is not funny. It's traumatizing.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Movie Night: The Muppets

There's something amusingly circuitous about this film. It's a tribute to The Muppet Show, which was itself a tribute to the variety show, which was in turn a tribute to/reinvention of vaudeville. So The Muppets is an act of nostalgia for a time when we were nostalgic for nostalgia. It shows, too, in the outlandishly 50's intro and the old-school show-stopping musical numbers. All carried off in a very tongue-in-cheek manner. For example, after the first song and dance routine -- involving an entire sitcom small-town -- the main characters head off-screen on their adventure and the rest of the populace collapses in exhaustion.

I was going to complain that the human characters were irrelevant to the plot, but then I realized: DUH! This is old-school muppetry. The plot itself is irrelevant. The point is simply to string together as many gags, song and dance numbers, and celebrity cameos as they can. And in this respect, Jason Segal and Amy Adams are exemplary, as is Chris Cooper. His character is probably the most disposable of all, but he hams it up just enough and has the funniest song in the movie to boot.

This could have gone wrong in a lot of ways: too "edgier", too much focus on the plot, too self-indulgent. But they dodged all the bullets and hit most of their marks with expertise. Top-notch work. I hear it's been a huge success critically, and done rather well financially too. Sequel coming, methinks...

Fringe benefit: an awesome batch of trailers, especially for animation fans. Brave looks interesting, if cliche, The Lorax is surprisingly appealing, and Mirror, Mirror looks like it could be a good time. But the one that really got me amped was Tintin:


Friday, November 18, 2011

Blog Hopping 11/18/2011

Welcome, fellow bloghoppers! You're looking at my personal blog, home to the rants and ramblings of an aspiring author. I also do reviews of werewolf books, which are here. No new review this week, I'm afraid, but by Monday my thoughts on Rachel Vincent's Pride should be up. Have fun hopping!

This week's ice-breaker for TGIF @ GReads:

"Which books are you most thankful for receiving from other bloggers, friends, family members, or publishers?"
This is a tough choice, certainly. But I'm going to go with Allison Moon's Lunatic Fringe, which I received straight from the author:

It's an unusual book, and, as my review noted, far from perfect. But I'm glad to have received it, because it shows great potential, and I probably wouldn't have tried it otherwise. One thing a reviewer should do -- and which most bloggers prefer not to -- is to explore new stories, and it's always a joy to discover a rising talent.

And that's all until next week! Have a look around, and happy hopping!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Board Game Night: Elder Sign

At our last board gaming night, we played Elder Sign. I'm not a real big fan of cooperative games, but this one I liked quite a bit. The basic premise is that the players work together to stop a Lovecraftian abomination from awakening. To do this, you take turns attempting to complete quests, which you do by essentially rolling dice to get specific results, and playing cards as necessary to improve your chances. Victory gets you more cards, new quests, and occasionally Elder Signs. To win, you have to get enough Elder Signs before the abomination awakens. Fail in this, you can still win by beating the abomination in battle, although the manual implies this is an incredible longshot.

I liked it because it was not too complicated, and since noone had played it before there wasn't a lot of vets ordering newbs around, something that annoys me about co-op games. The gamers who were into deeper mechanics were not so impressed. In fact, the host called it the weakest game of the night. While a game about risk management is fine, a game that's pure luck is lame.  I thought Elder Sign hit the right balance, but I can certainly see where the others are coming from. We would attempt hard quests with cards and then win them without needing the cards boosts, then attempt easy quests and fail. Still in all, I had fun and would definitely play it again.

The final battle when the abomination awakes is really anticlimactic: little strategy, surviving characters just roll dice for ten minutes straight until he dies or we do. We played against Yig, and made critical mistakes by wasting our resources early and switching strategies twice later in the game, leading to Yig awakening and promptly killing everyone but my girlfriend. She then faced Yig alone with no cards and no helpful abilities. She had 80 rounds of rolling 2-6 dice each and had to get, essentially, a pair of sixes in any 8 of them to win the game for us all. She got 7 before she ran out of rolls. So close.

It's a good idea, being able to fight the abomination, but I can't say it really works right. It's like The Game of Life, where if you're losing at the end you have that 1 in 10 chance to win anyway and make the entire preceding game irrelevant.

Still, if we had won that way, it would have been hilarious.

"With all our hearts and minds, we strove to seal off the gate, to prevent the dread beast from entering this world. But alas, we failed, and could only watch in helpless despair as he burst forth to enslave and devour all humanity. So my beloved young apprentice, who was having none of that, beat him to death with a stick. As his soul fell back into the ethereal void from whence he came, I thought I heard him cry out 'WTF HAX!!' Truly, Yog-Sothoth hath no fury..."

Friday, November 11, 2011

Blog Hopping 11/11/2011

Welcome, fellow bloghoppers! You're looking at my personal blog, home to the rants and ramblings of an aspiring author. I also do reviews of werewolf books, which are here. New this week is Wolf Mark, a book that you probably hadn't heard of, but should definitely check out. Due to illness (just a bad cold, don't worry) there will be no new review this coming week, but tune in next week to hear what I have to say about Rachel Vincent's Pride. Have fun hopping!

This week's ice-breaker for TGIF @ GReads:

"Which characters from a book do you love to hate?"

Well, being in the midst of Pride right now, I can answer confidently: The entire cast of the werecats books. I'm serious. On one side you have Pride cats, with their hopelessly backwards attitudes on gender roles, draconian laws, and constricting caste and social structures. On the other, you have the South American cats, with their sadistic brutality, forced breeding programs, and willingness to take slaves for personal gain. Everyone who isn't actively enforcing the f'ed state of affairs is just sitting back and letting it continue. That includes Marc, whom the author bends over backwards to make excuses for. It includes Faythe, who talks big about her personal freedom but then runs to Marc or Greg for help whenever she's in a bind. It even includes Greg. Despite his being the most reasonable person in the cast, Greg continuously undermines his credibility with standard authority-figure dick moves like not telling his people what's going on or using harsh punishments to enforce discipline. I love the books, but it's a grim world, and there's hardly a single sympathetic character among the lot.

And that's all until next week! Have a look around, and happy hopping!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Jesus Saves and his followers withdraw.

Coming out of evening mass this past Sunday, I was surprised to find a folded piece of paper sticking out of my car door. A quick glance around the parking lot indicates most of the cars have them stuck in the drivers-side doors. Some new Chinese Restaurant, trying to drum up business? If only. The following is a direct transcription, names redacted to protect the innocent:

And now in New York State they are also THE SAME SEX MARRIAGE PARTY, voting very heavily this year to pass this disastrous ANTI-FAMILY ungodly law.

How can church going, God fearing Americans vote for Democrats?
The following candidates running in Nassau County submitted questionnaires to the "Long Island Coalition for Life" indicating they agree 100% with those groups views [sic] which we to [sic] share...

[XXX] - (incumbent) republican, conservative --- [XXX] - (incumbent) republican, conservative --- [XXX] - (challenger) republican, conservative --- [XXX] - (incumbent) republican, conservative --- [XXX] - (challenger) republican, conservative.

My first reaction was ire. My second, amusement. You see, our pastor has a major beef against the politicization of religion. Every other year, when the national elections are held, he adds to the announcements a reminder that absolutely noone has the church's permission to campaign on behalf of any candidates, parties, or what-have-you on church grounds. The church is there for everyone, regardless of politics, and does not take sides in petty partisan squabbling. Since we have only local elections this year, I guess he didn't deem it important. By now I have no doubt he has heard how these Knights for Life snuck into the parking lot under cover of darkness to spam parishioners with these fliers while they were busy at Sunday services. I snicker at the thought of the telephone shouting match that awaits them.

And really, someone needs to give them a good talking-to if this is how they make their case. Even if you ignore the obvious lack of proofreading, they're WAY off-message, bringing in the same-sex marriage issue that bears no relation to abortion. The only way to connect them is to argue that they're both results of the sexual revolution, and that's an incredibly retarded tactic since no one -- left or right -- is going to vote against their right to orgasm. And the tone and the tactics these Knights are employing are not going to win them any votes they already have. Hell, they're likely to lose votes from shit like this. There's one guy on every block that disagrees with the rest of the neighborhood on everything. Sure, maybe you don't like the guy, but if some random schmo from out of town drops by and rails about how your neighbor is "pro-death", are you going to agree with the outsider? Or are you going to take a look at it and think about who the real asshole is here?


You know, a while back I took a course on biblical literature. Fun class, very informative. One story that especially stayed with me is from the first book of Samuel, right at the beginning. There's a priest named Eli, a good priest, who is Samuel's mentor. Eli has two sons, who are also priests. But they're corrupt priests, embezzling the offerings and abusing their authority for personal gain. This is a problem for several reasons, but the big one is that it drives the people away from their religion. People aren't dumb, after all. They know bullshit when they see it. And they know wrong when they see it, too. God gave us conscience precisely so that we'd be able to see the path of righteousness even when there's no one around to hold up a torch. So when people claiming God's authority go around making asses of themselves, they make an ass out of God too. God's gotten a bad name thanks to imbeciles like this, and now I have to keep my religion secret because I don't want to be associated with screaming idiots.

I hope the pastor sorts them out right. Someone's got to make it clear that inflammatory rhetoric and judgmental attitudes aren't the Christian way.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Blog Hopping 11/04/2011

Welcome, fellow bloghoppers! You're looking at my personal blog, home to the rants and ramblings of an aspiring author. I also do reviews of werewolf books, which are here. New this week is a review of Cynthia Leitich Smith's Eternal, and the under-the-radar Wolf Mark will follow shortly. Have fun hopping!

This week's ice-breaker for TGIF @ GReads:

"Which particular books opened you up to a new genre?"

Tough one, but I'm going to go with Kitty and the Midnight Hour, without which I wouldn't have this blog, or the other one, or a manuscript to sell. The book showed me how werewolves are done: external strife representing internal conflict. More than that, it reminded me that all the monsters we make from our imaginations are ultimately human, just humans with certain attributes exaggerated.

And that's all until next week! Have a look around, and happy hopping!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Movie Night: In Time

Since I'm already ripping off Carrie Vaughn's writing, I might as well rip off her blogging, too.

In the opening moments, a brief narration tells us -- essentially -- "Suspend your disbelief and just go with it." A few problems aside, I was able to do so. Viewers inclined to nit-pick will have more trouble. In terms of story, there seemed to be a lot of wasted potential. The rich guy giving the impoverished hero 100 years at the beginning felt like it should have been significant, but it's just a means to get the plot rolling. Likewise, the issue of why the hero's father died is dropped abruptly. And the premise, in general, wasn't explored as well or as deeply as I would have liked. But it was an adequate film with good performances and structure. Sci-fi that favors ideas over special effects is rare enough to be praiseworthy despite its shortcomings.

You could argue that this film is a socialist or communist fable. Maybe. It depends on whether or not you consider Robin Hood a socialist fable, since it's basically the same idea. Here before us is a corrupt society where the privileged are few and the peasants are many. In comes this heroic criminal, robbing from the rich and giving to the poor in the name of social justice. With his hot girlfriend, which I suppose gives it a bit of Bonnie and Clyde too.

Regardless of that, people who want to get some perspective on the rage over class divides in America would do well to understand the underlying metaphor here. If you, like me, grew up middle-class in the suburbs, in a family that was living the American dream, you might never get your head around the idea that on a fundamental level, money is life. Those people in Zuccotti Park railing about their poor employment prospects and huge student loans aren't really afraid of someone being more comfortable or successful than them. They're afraid of one day dying in the gutter because they can't afford a meal, or freezing to death in the cold because they couldn't pay the rent. Writers are told: show, don't tell. A thousand men and women with placards talking about their problems can get the message across, but how much more powerful is the image of a woman dropping dead in the street because she went broke?

In Time is a crappy title, BTW. I suspect the whole reason for it is because they hope to make a sequel called Out of Time. I'd watch it.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Blog Hopping 10/28/2011

Welcome, fellow bloghoppers! You're looking at my personal blog, home to the rants and ramblings of an aspiring author. I also do reviews of werewolf books, which are here. New this week is a review of Brush of Darkness!  Come this Monday, we'll have a review of Eternal as well. Have fun hopping!

This weeks ice-breaker for the Book Blogger Hop:

“What is your favorite Halloween costume? Even if you don’t celebrate, what kinds of costumes do you like?”

Eh, not really a fan of Halloween. But, when I was a kid, I was a huge fan of the Ranklin-Bass animated film version of The Hobbit. So my mother, who at the time was still a stay-at-home mom, made me a Bard the Hunter costume, complete with bow and everything. We went out trick-or-treating, and everyone commented on what a great Robin Hood I made.

People have no appreciation of good literature.

This week's ice-breaker for TGIF @ GReads:

"Spooktacular Reads: Which books do you consider festive Halloween reads? Which stories have chilled you to the bone?"

Umm, didn't we get this exact same question a few weeks ago? Well, in any case, I'm not really into scary stories. I've only read one real thriller for my blog, but it's a good one: David Wellington's Frostbite. A page-turning suspense read about the evil done in the Canadian Arctic by werewolves and ordinary men both. Fun times. ^_^

Also, while I have the opportunity, I'd like to apologize for my conduct on the hop last week. The "question" offended me and seemed uncreative, that is true. But the right thing to do would have been to skip the hop that week, not create drama. Sorry.

And that's all until next week! Have a look around, and happy hopping!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Mission Report

Hate doing this kind of thing on Sundays, but it is what it is. Check my watch: 4:50 P.M.. Library closes at five, same time as the appointment I have cross-town. Simple job: make the drop, infiltrate the complex, find the package, get to the church on time. No time to lose.

Get out of the car, wishing I had cool shades to whip off dramatically. Do a fast swagger across the parking lot,  paperback in hand. Whip past the book drop, and in it goes, clang-clang. Objective one complete.

Without breaking stride, I head to the door. Security guard in a suit tries to stop me. I bluff past him quickly, the old "I belong here and I'm in a hurry" routine.

"We're closing in ten minu..."

"I don't need that long."

No need to check the catalog, I know exactly where I'm headed. Right at the circ. desk, up the stairs, down the hall to the Young Adult room. I stand out here, being way too big, but no big deal. Just act like I belong here.

At the stacks, I hit problem #1: the book's not where it should be. I curse under my breath. This wasn't unexpected: the author's name is common, and the library doesn't bother shelving series together. I scan the shelves book by book, wasting valuable time. It's not here. Damn! All this way for nothing. I'm about to give up when I realize: this is the end of the row. I wheel around, eyes scanning the stacks behind me. No company, but there on the shelf is objective two. Double-checking for possible interference, I pocket it.

I slip out of the stacks, unnoticed. Head back the way I came. But I make a classic amateur mistake: let my guard down. I spot something out of the corner of my eye a second before it grabs me by my attention, wanting to know where I think I'm going. I size him up quick: Short, but stocky and serious. Built like steel. (Probably because he is steel, or at least very shiny aluminum.) The usual array of books laid out on his midsection... classic New Books Cart. Hanging off his left side I notice an unidentified tome: Black with a red wolf silhouette on the spine. We've just had a complication.

I go for it before him. Getting more than he bargained for, he struggles to hold onto it. Taking care of the trump card is always priority one. Is this what I think it is? Check cover, cover quotes, looks pretty legit. quick scan of a random page. No doubt, this guy's part of The Pack. I wrest it away from him. Once I've got the red wolf book, Mr. Cart has no skills. I match a flurry of titles and spine with practiced disdain, and within he's against the wall, unmoving. For the second time, I wish I could punctuate the moment with some cool shades. Then I remember I'm not Jason Bourne, and the fast-tempo fight music is only playing in my head. I'm a guy who just picked a book off the new books cart. Squaring my shoulders, I pull that same saunter back to the door.

Girl at the check-out station gives me no trouble. I pass the same security drone on the way out, target and bonus in hand, and toss off my one-liner:

"Told you."

Despite my confidence, time is running short. I don't bother checking my watch, I know I'm running short. I start the car and gun it through the parking lot at a safe and respectable pace, then make a not-really-hard right turn with no squealing wheels onto the road. I pass a major intersection, tearing through a green light as cars swirl around me. At a corner, I take another soft right, screaming down the cross-street at a full five miles per hour. Noone follows. Going to stealth mode, I swing into the parking lot, nestle the car lightly between two others.

Miracle of miracles, I'm on time. Good thing too. Mr. Big doesn't like to be kept waiting. I stroll nonchalantly into the building, take up my seat in the pew just as 5:00 mass starts. I smile, light an imaginary cigarette, and toss off a random one-liner.

"Always on time, baby."

With the right attitude, ordinary life is an adventure.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Blog Hopping 10/21/2011

Welcome, fellow bloghoppers! You're looking at my personal blog, home to the rants and ramblings of an aspiring author. I also do reviews of werewolf books, which are here, on a separate blog. Feel free to visit and follow both. Since last time, I've talked about broken-down cars, pimped-out cars, e-book pricing, and self-control. Come this Monday, we'll have a review of Brush of Darnkess on the other blog. Have fun hopping!

Book Blogger Hop

This weeks ice-breaker for the Book Blogger Hop:

“What is your favorite type of candy?”

Ah, a Halloween question. Well, I don't eat a lot of hardcore candy, favoring softer stuff like cookies and Pop-Tarts, but when I go decadent, I get Resses Pieces. They're like M&Ms, only peanut-buttery. What's not to like?

This week's ice-breaker for TGIF @ GReads:

"Pick 5 book blogs you visit often & think others should, too."

No. And I'll tell you why: because you just turned your blog hop into an annoying blog award meme. Most book bloggers, myself included, no longer accept those because they're annoying and useless. You have to put a lot of work into them, and noone ever clicks the links. They just see the little thumbnail, think "Oh, jeeze, another award?" and pass on. Think about it. I mean, we've already got a lot of visiting and following to do just for the hop. You want to increase our blog workload by a factor of six over the weekend. For shame, Ginger, you should know better. Anyone who really wants to know what I read, I have a blogroll.

And that's all until next week! Have a look around, and happy hopping!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

On Junkers

As much as I grouse about my day job, not having money is even worse. For example, a week or so before day job came along, some moron rear-ended me. My car is tough -- many cars wouldn't even be running at age 15 -- but not that tough. So into the shop it went, for about $600 in tow and repair costs. It's still got a crumpled rear end that I don't bother fixing because it's purely cosmetic. Fortunately, I get day job and slowly start paying off that credit card bill, until last week I finally zeroed it out. w00t. I figure to put away some money  in savings with my next paycheck, but before that I want to take my girlfriend out to dinner. Nowhere fancy-expensive, nowhere you need reservations, just a nice Italian place with good food. You know, a date.

So I get in my car, start it up, and immediately it starts whine-squealing unhealthily. Uh-oh.

I try to get to work anyway, but after about ten minutes on Sunrise Highway, "Uh-oh" becomes "Oh no" when the engine starts smoking. I manage to get the car to my mechanic before it breaks down, but my family doesn't have any available cars for me to borrow. By an apparent stroke of luck, my brother's car is at the same mechanic, and ready to be picked up. A quick phone call secures me use of it for the day... only for me to realize that the registration is expired. Not wanting to get my brother into that kind of trouble, I instead drive home and call my job to tell them I won't be in.

My mechanic has the car fixed up by the end of the day, so that's good. Cost? $600. That's right, I'm now right back where I started. It's times like these I wonder if God doesn't just like screwing with me for his own amusement.

On the plus side, the unplanned day off gave me time to catch up on my querying, so that hopefully I can get a car that isn't a freakin' money pit someday. I'll take the silver linings where I find them.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

On Self-discipline

I have this problem: I stay up way too late on the compy. Internet, games, writing, all sorts of things that keep me up until deep in the A.M. hours. That's how it is. The cool kids go out and get wasted, the geeks stay home and binge on World of Warcraft. When I was unemployed, this didn't matter, because who gives a crap if I wake up around noon? But the day job requires that I get up at 7 A.M., so clearly an all-night-long TVTropes wiki-walk won't do.

I try, I really do. But I get a good game, or an intriguing Cracked list, or what-have-you, and the next thing you know it's 3 A.M. and I'm cursing myself for lack of restraint. Then comes the next morning, and oh what a trial it is. Day job is dull as hell on the worst of days, so staying awake when you're already short on sleep is nearly impossible I'm dozing off at my desk, editing records in my sleep (and then cursing and backtracking through them to make sure I didn't fuck something up), and even when I do stay awake I can't focus enough to do the work fast or right. And every night, the same fearkin' thing again. I tell myself to go to bed early, but the fact is, bed means the next time I'm conscious I'm headed back to work for more dreary drudgery. Who wants to do this when your leisure hours are so precious.

This has happened to me once or twice before, and the last straw is always the same: yawning on the morning commute. Because that's where this humorous story gains the potential to take a very, very dark turn: Falling asleep at the wheel. This has happened to me twice. Neither time resulted in an accident, but it was a big scare.  It's not reached that point yet this time, but I have been yawning, and the memory of past near-misses is troubling.

So, no more excuses. Out come the big guns:

That, in case you don't recognize it, is a lamp timer. $20 or so at any hardware store. It's meant to turn the lights in your house on in the evening, and off after you go to bed, without you having to worry about it. How it works is: You plug the timer in to an electrical outlet, then you plug the lamp into the timer. The colored green and red thingamajigs can be placed at any time you want, and the big wheel turns as time passes. When the time hits a red marker, the timer cuts off power to the lamp. When it hits a green, power resumes. And it doesn't just work for lamps, you can hook up anything you need to go off at a given time to it. Like my compy.

So now, I don't have the choice to stay up later then 1. (I may move it back to midnight or 11 if that doesn't solve the problem.) I shut down by then and get some sleep, or compy shuts down for me. Yes, I know data loss and Stupid Windows Shit are probable results of a sudden power loss, but y'know what? My own damn fault for not having any restraint. A guy's gotta do what a guy's gotta do, even if it has to be shoved in his face.

Socrates once said, "Know thyself." LupLun would add: "Especially know when you need a good bitch-slapping."

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

When Money Feels Like No Money

While I can't say I consider myself an indie author -- I am, after all, still trying to go the traditional route -- I keep an ear to the ground regarding what's going on. I am also a fan of the indie gaming scene, and I think young e-pubbing writers could learn a lot from them. After all, what e-publishing does is to leverage the internet as a delivery platform for content, something which indie game developers having been doing for years. So when I chanced upon this post from Jeff Vogel, a prominent indie game dev, I thought what he had to say might be relevant. I quote:

"There are two sorts of prices we developers figure can charge for a game: You can charge an amount of money that feels like money, or an amount of money that doesn’t. In other words, you can charge an amount of money that is so low that most people will feel like they aren’t spending anything, or an amount of money that makes you go, “Hmmm. Do I want to spend this?”
Where is the line? How much money feels like money? Well, in my own mind, I use what I call the Frappuccino Rule. A frappuccino is one of those super-sweet caffeinated milkshakes they sell at the many Starbucks that have infected our Earth. The rule is that the price for a large frappuccino is the maximum amount you can charge and have your customers not think twice about it. This means that, once your game is around five bucks, it feels like spending money. Three or less, than it doesn’t.
Within these two ranges (cheap and expensive), there isn’t a huge amount of difference. Your game will make pretty close to the same amount if you charge a dollar or two dollars. (At $2, you only need to sell half of the copies to make the same amount of money as if you charge $1. Not difficult.) Similarly, the difference between a game selling for $10 and $15 isn’t huge. But the thinking process that goes into deciding to spend $1 on a game versus spending $10 on a game is entirely different. Before people spend $10, they will think about it. At $1, they won’t."

This is an important point, I think. A lot of self-pub authors try to increase sales by lowering the price, or increase profit per unit by increasing the price. But if you think about your own buying patterns, you probably have threshold values. For $0.99, you'll buy anything that looks mildly interesting. But as price goes up, you eventually hit the point where you have to think a bit before laying out the cash. Below that point, though, lower price just means less money. Which means e-pubbers are well served if they can get their hands on the statistics to determine those threshold values and price with them in mind.


Monday, October 17, 2011

Zuccotti Park Spirit Hits Home

So, Saturday. I'm driving. I roll casually down Sunrise Highway, through a mainly residential area with some strip malls. I got the windows down, the radio on, and I'm feelin' okay about my weekend. At a corner, something rolling down the sidestreet catches my eye and yanks it straight out of the damn socket. It's an SUV.

Not just any SUV, mind you.

It has the width and height of an SUV, but has been expanded to the size of a freakin' stretch limo. As in, I count seven sets of windows on the side. All tinted black, of course. And the paint job?


Not just any pink, either. Bright pink. Hot pink. Pink pink. We're talking about the single most penis-like vehicle you could possibly imagine.

Here I am, ambling merrily along in a tough, reliable, salt-of-the-earth Grey '94 Ford Taurus that keeps on keepin' on despite muffler trouble and crushed rear-end that I don't have the money to fix. And here's this rich-as-fuck whoever-he-is waving his dick-mobile around on a public street. I grip the steering wheel with the full force of my underemployed starving-artist rage. I have half a mind to swerve and nail that sucker right in front of the rear doors, but who am I kidding? Wang-on-wheels probably has a frickin' titanium frame for extra hardness. My proud silver bull would wind up looking like an accordion. That, or I'd tear straight through the damn thing and realize "WTF? This is paper mache!"

Hey, luxury car manufacturers have to cut costs too.

So I just drive on, settling for a finger-gun drive-by as I pass him. In retrospect, I'm not really thinking "rich fuck", or even "rich fuck's spoiled brat." I'm thinking "rap star needing a sweet car for a video shoot". Dude? Your music sucks and is not relevant to today's youth. Have a dose of real 99% music:

Friday, October 14, 2011

Blog Hops (10/14/2011)

Welcome, fellow bloghoppers! You're looking at my personal blog, home to the rants and ramblings of an author. My book reviews on here, on a separate blog. Feel free to visit and follow both. Since last time, we've posted a review Gena Showalter's Twisted. Have fun hopping!

Book Blogger Hop

This weeks ice-breaker for the Book Blogger Hop:

“What is your favorite spooky book (i.e. mystery/suspense, thriller, ghost story, etc.)?”

Hmm. Well, that's a tough one, given that I generally don't read scary books. But, given the opportunity to broaden fellow bloggers' horizons, I can speak a little about scary video games. In this respect, I have a name for you: Jonathan Boakes. He's the U.K. indie developer behind Dark Fall, and was also involved in Barrow Hill and Scratches, both also creepy-as-hell games. Barrow Hill, in particular, kept me up all night scared out of my mind at... nah, won't spoil it. Give them a play, they were available on Steam last I checked.

This week's ice-breaker for TGIF @ GReads:

"Where do you grab a book and get lost in it? Show us your favorite spot you like to read at."

The bed in my bedroom. Which you can't see, as it's a mess. Actually, now that I think of it, I've been reading on that bed for all my life. It started with Mom reading me bedtime stories when I was 3 or so, and I've just kept up the habit on my own. I suppose you could say it's kind of a continuity with my childhood.

And that's all until next week! Have a look around, and happy hopping!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

On Somnatic Hallucinations

I prefer thoughtful posts to pointless ones, but having decided pointless posts are better than dead air, a few words on dreams:

I barely remember most of my dreams, but when I do they're really freaky ones. For years, whenever I had a really bad cold, I would have a recurring dream that I was trapped in a series of tight tunnels beneath a rocket, and had to escape before blast-off or the flames from the rocket would incinerate me. A few months ago I had a really nasty one about being crushed to death in a trash compactor. And, on a more humorous note, I dreamed more recently that I was in a stare-down with a U.S. military helicopter that tried to shoot me with a missile. I ducked and the missile tore across the room and blew up my dresser instead.

Last night was especially weird, though. I was having a lot of trouble sleeping last night, you see. One of those nights when you lie in bed, knowing you need sleep before getting up for work tomorrow, and unable to drift off. It got so bad that when I finally fell asleep, I dreamed I was still trying to fall asleep. I thought to myself "You know, I should take off this shirt." And I did, only to find another shirt underneath it. Then I wondered what I was doing with a shirt on, since I don't normally sleep with one. Then I woke up, still in bed and thinking, "What the hell?"

I started looking around for Rod Serling, as that would at least explain some stuff.

Meanwhile, my girlfriend has a dream that she beat the hell out of some asswipe who tried to pick her up, stuck a condom up his butt for the humiliation factor, and then found me and sexed me up.

She always gets the good dreams.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Blog Hopping 10/07/2011

Welcome, fellow bloghoppers! This is my personal blog, my reviews blog is here. Feel free to visit and follow both. Since last time, we've posted a review of Allison Moon's Lunatic Fringe, and Gena Showalter's Twisted  will be up soon. Have fun hopping!

Book Blogger Hop

This weeks ice-breaker for the Book Blogger Hop:

“It’s time to spread some love beyond the borders of the Book Blogger Hop! This week, we aren’t answering a question. We are spotlighting our fellow bloggers. Find your favorite(s) author interview(s), guest post(s), book review(s), or bookish article(s) that ANOTHER BOOK BLOGGER featured on their site recently and tell us why you love it/them! As an additional challenge, find your favorite one of EACH of the categories above and spotlight all 4 (interview, guest post, review, article).”

Well, I don't have four, but I will spotlight three: on the review front, Spellbound over at You're Killing Me, a blog which gets far less press than it should. On the misc. articles, Rabid Reads New Releases post, an occasional feature which is excellent for keeping your TBR lists up-to-date. And in a tie for misc., DJL's recap of the Austin Teen Book Festival.

This week's ice-breaker for TGIF @ GReads:

"To-Be-Read's: How big is your pile? Which book keeps getting pushed down the stack, but you keep meaning to read it?"

Well, the recent summer rush had me pushing a lot of books down, but one I've been putting off especially is Rachel Vincent's Pride. I like the series and it's one of my favorites, but it's difficult to get behind the main characters. With their brutal enforcers and primitive attitudes to women, the werecat prides are the lesser of evils at best, and Faythe and Marc's relationship, though not as awful as the dysfunctional mess that was Bitten, hits all the wrong buttons. Basically, it's a great series, but rooting for the good guys is difficult.

And that's all until next week! Have a look around, and happy hopping!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Bowing Out of Banned Books Week.

I hate banned books week. It's so masturbatory.

Let me explain. Politically speaking, I'm a cynic. I've got opinions, and I vote on them, but when asked to discuss them with someone, I'll usually beg off, on the excuse that it just makes me angry. And it does, because it always feels like I'm wasting my breath. There are three possible outcomes of a political discussion: me trying to bring someone else around to my point of view, them trying to bring me around to theirs, or the two of us agreeing on something and talking about how everyone else has it wrong. All three are wastes of time, for different reasons. The first two are useless because words alone don't change people's opinions. They can, but most people fail to understand that anything they tell someone is filtered through the hearers life experience. If it matches what they've experienced of the world and its people, then you can persuade them. Usually, however, it won't. So you're left arguing in circles with someone who doesn't understand your point of view.

Then there's the third kind of discussion: preaching to the choir. Book bloggers love books. It's part of the job description. So we go immediately into combat mode at the suggestion that anyone would take our books away from us. Banned books week is a combination of a month-early Halloween and a pep rally: we sit around the campfire telling each other scary stories of the EEEEEVIL monsters of censorship and ignorance, and then we march on Washington with our allegedly-witty signage and our rants. This is supposed to "raise awareness", which from what I gather is code for "get the people who are already aware of this stuff amped up." In essence, we're practicing for the real fights we'll have to face in the coming year, when someone challenges a book for real.

The problem is, these fights will be political discussions of the first type, which as pointed out previously are f'in useless because you're talking to people who don't understand you. Instead these conflicts boil down to a political version of tug-o-war: the two sides of the argument pull as hard as they can trying to pull the others off their feet. Whoever has the most people on their side (the most votes, in other words) wins. Loser whines to the mass media.

And where does the internet fit into all this? It doesn't. They're the peanut gallery, offering cheers and support but not actually doing diddly-squat. Those bloggers that have a vote in the matter don't blog about it, they act. And action is very effective: I have never heard a single instance of a book being challenged that actually succeeded. So banned books week in the blogosphere is, at best, a bunch of speechmakers practicing for a future political endeavor where their speeches won't matter. At worst, it's a bunch of bloggers yakking for no other reason than demonstrating how enlightened and socially aware they are.

You may wonder why I'm getting my shorts in a bunch over this. Well, but also because I planned to be blog-hopping this weekend. I didn't, because every hop I found had a question about banned books, which I couldn't answer because A) I don't have anything to say that hasn't been said a dozen times before, and B) I don't choose to read books based on whether or not someone may have objected to them. I read books if I think I'll like them.

In short, I've got better things to do with my time. Like reading. You guys have fun, though.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Follow Friday (9/23/2011)

Welcome, fellow bloghoppers! My review blog is actually over here, but I like to keep it reviews-only. So, the hop post goes here, on my personal blog. Feel free to visit and follow both, though! ^_^

This week's question is:

Q. Do you have a favorite series that you read over and over again? Tell us a bit about it and why you keep on revisiting it.

Truthfully, I don't re-read a lot. There are always more stories out there, and I always want to be on to the next. One series I do go back to occasionally is The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, because it works on multiple levels: Light and breezy comedy and existential meditation on the chaos of life and man's place in the universe. Also, it's just plain fun.

And now, a question for you, fellow bloghoppers: Do you know of any blog hops specifically for author blogs? because I've been trying to find one better suited to publicizing this personal blog, and they've been somewhat elusive.

Thanks for hopping by! Hope to see you next week. ^_^

Thursday, September 22, 2011

On Speaking Up and Speaking Out

I'm late to the party here, sorry. I blame the day job.

About a week ago, an article in Publisher's Weekly made waves in the blogosphere. A pair of writers with a novel, Stranger, were told by an unnamed agent that they had to either remove or "straighten" a gay character before he would represent them. They blew the whistle on PW, cited a few other instances to make the point that this is not an isolated incident, and then argued that this indicates that YA is too white-bread.

If you follow stories like this, by now you've heard a dozen or so bloggers crying out about what a horrible thing this is, an offense against tolerance, free speech, an author's right to write whatever they want, etc.. I don't necessarily disagree, but rather than repeat what they've all said already, I'm going to play devil's advocate.

First of all, note the sequence of events recounted: after the agent proposes the change, the response from the authors is an emphatic "no way", saying that the matter is "a moral issue." After some further attempts at discussion, the authors curtly thank the agent for his time and hang up the phone. You can read whatever motives you want to into the agent's argument. In fact, any motives you have to be read into him by you, because the authors never though to ask why this was such an issue.

But who cares, it's a matter of principle, right? Well, maybe. Consider that perhaps the agent was giving them a kind of Old Hermit's Test. Maybe what he really wanted to know is "how will you react when someone takes issue with your work?" When the editor asks for changes, will you be amenable to discussion, or turn up your nose at anyone else trying to tell you how to write? When some Amazon reader gives you a poor review, how likely are you to make like Anne Rice and chew them out publicly? Are you going to be a brilliant and cooperative client, or a client who is brilliant but very difficult to work with? This could have been an opportunity for the authors to demonstrate grace under fire. Instead, they give a rather confrontational answer, refuse to discuss the issue, and hang up. And the agent probably thinks, "Well, I dodged a bullet there."

A bit too fairy-tale for reality, perhaps. But regardless of the agent's motives, it's clear that both sides of this little spat are better off without each other. Politics or morals has nothing to do with it. Communication does. The agent/author relationship is just that, a relationship, and they have to be able to talk to one another. The authors in this story demonstrated a stark unwillingness to listen, immediately going on the defensive when changes were proposed. They decided it was a moral issue, put their feet down, and made no effort to understand their agent's point of view. That is not the sign of a healthy author-agent relationship.

But even disregarding a Trickster-Mentor act, there are a number of reasons the agent could have wanted a gay character removed or made straight, some of which would boil down to good writing practice. Maybe, for example, there's no readily-apparent reason for the character to be gay. For example, take Andrea Cremer's Nightshade: Calla's friend Mason is revealed to be gay early on, and in a clandestine relationship with another character, Neville. They met in a support group, which at least one other character also attended. All of this is woven into the plot and very important to the story. It informs the attitudes, priorities, and relationships of all three characters throughout the rest of the novel.

On the other hand, in the sequel Wolfsbane, we're introduced to a lesbian couple, and their sexuality hardly matters. Their relationship becomes apparent when we see them kiss and wave off some teasing from mutual friends. Twenty pages later, with little further development for either, one is dead and the other spends the rest of the book in mourning off-page. Both characters are irrelevant to the story.

When you put a minority character in your story, there's a right way and a wrong way to do it. The former example is the right way. The latter is the wrong way. Putting a character in the story for the purposes of diversity only to have her accomplish nothing can send the unseemly message that they don't matter at all, even when present. Like the metaphorical black dude who dies right at the start of the movie, as savvy audience members groan. And yet, if you've read the Nightshade books, you know exactly why it happened. While an excellent writer, Andrea Cremer overstuffs her stories. Both books present the readers with piles upon piles of characters, backstory, history, and so forth. There's simply not enough pagespace to properly develop everything, so the less important stuff gets pushed aside or cut entirely.

The saying among authors is "murder your darlings." You may be absolutely in love with that scene, that plot twist, that character, but if it's not contributing to the story, it has to go. Keeping a character around just to make them an irrelevant token minority serves no purpose whatsoever. Whether or not this is the case with Stranger, I can't say. I haven't read it. But the authors mention that a number of agents have recommended cutting the gay character with no explanation, and that the story itself has five viewpoint characters. A number of book bloggers I follow have trouble dealing with just two viewpoint characters in a book. Perhaps the real problem here is that there's too much going on and the gay character's story just happens to be the weakest?

Finally, consider another reason that the agent might have had problems: the character in question may be a flaming stereotype. This happens a lot with minority characters, sometimes not by intent. Often an attempt to bring diversity to the cast will backfire when the author instead falls back on cliches and shortcuts, revealing his true ignorance. I'm currently reading a book called Lunatic Fringe, which was pitched to me as a lesbian werewolf story. Early on, the main character gets involved with a sorority of lesbians who are strongly feminist, openly flirtatious with each other, and live, essentially, as a polyamorus commune. In other words, they represent every obnoxious porn cliche about lesbians. In this case, it seems intentional -- I haven't finished the book, but the author is clearly setting them up as hypocrites with delusions of their own importance -- but I can easily see a reader who doesn't get that throwing the book across the room and cursing the author's name. If an attempt to show a group respect winds up being disrespectful, it's not working and better to cut.

So, what was on this agent's mind? I don't know, and neither do these two authors, because they never asked. And there's some irony for you: They throw about accusations of ignorance when they themselves jumped to conclusions and hopped up on their soapbox to talk about under-representation and author's rights. The author does have the right to write whatever he wants, but that right is tempered by a responsibility: to make it the best story he can. Criticism can be hard to take sometimes, but it is far better to listen to your critics then to stamp your foot and declare something a moral issue on which you will not budge. After all, if you don't find your critic's argument convincing, you can always discard it after hearing it. But to off-handedly dismiss ideas you find disagreeable as the fruit of ignorance is evidence of your own ignorance. A writer is much better served by an opportunity to understand what he is doing wrong, thereby learning how to write better. And for this, we need a question, "Why?", rather than an answer, "No." Speak up before you speak out.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Making Time

This is harder then I thought.

Last night I was supposed to wrap up Nocturne for the review blog, then dive back into the agent search, unwind for an hour or two, and then bed. Instead, my girlfriend called me with a minor personal crisis on her hands. Priorities changed, and I was off to hold her, and listen to her vent, and then put on Bubba Ho-Tep to uplift her spirits. She's important to me, and I'd do it again in a second, but the work didn't get done.

Today I planned to get up early, take care of laundry, deal with some obligations midday, and then wrap up what I was supposed to do yesterday and get on this blog post. It being Saturday, I overslept, and once I got up I was dealing with mother griping at me to clean the bathroom today. So, I took an hour to work on my review, went to that thing, got back, scrubbed the bathroom, and then postponed dinner to sit down and write this. After I'm done with dinner, then it's on to laundry, and... the rest will have to wait for tomorrow. Where I'll also have church and a date later in the day to attend to.

I was unemployed for a while before I got my current job, and I forgot just how much strain it puts on your schedule. In the 5-6 hours between dinner and bedtime each day I have to deal with a lot of stuff, including but not limited to writing, reading, blogging, agent-hunting, and keeping myself sane. Then get up the next day and do it all over again. Wait for the weekends to get a break... and then spend that break doing crap you couldn't get done over the week, because shit happens and stuff came up.

So you prioritize. Work first, queries second, everything else when possible. Increasingly, "everything else" includes blogging and "when possible" means "never". You may think this isn't a problem, but it is. My blogs are not recreation, they're career building. Making intelligent posts and promoting the blog itself is supposed to get my name out there, which will help me to sell my book. Especially if I decide to self-pub after all, because then I won't be able to share the workload with a publisher's marketing division. But the time crunch means I'm unable to promote my blogs the way I'd like to, which holds back my writing career, such as it is. But I keep at it as best I can, because there's nothing else I can do.

I have a feeling there are a lot of very good writers which we'll never know about, because writing is a B.S. career to start. You need to put in full-time hours to make it work, and at the beginning you're doing it for nothing. Hand the average individual a job where entry level pays a big goose-egg and advancement to a better salary requires beating out 1,000 other aspirants, and he'll flip you the bird and become an accountant instead. But the ones that a truly devoted to it hang on, and eventually get there.

... which I suppose means I'm being a whiny bitch. Spending an entire post griping about having to pay the same dues as any published author.

Don't get me wrong, I'll pay them. But there's nothing that says I have to be happy about the situation. Working for free is B.S. by any standard.

And now, I've put off dinner for too long...

Friday, September 9, 2011

Follow Friday 9/9/2011

Been a while since I've participated in these, but a new blog is a great excuse to get back in the habit. Hi to all new followers! ^_^ 

This week's question:

Have you ever wanted a villain to win at the end of a story? If so, which one??

Not really, but two books came close: Kelley Armstrong's Bitten and Rachel Vincent's Stray. You can learn how I feel at my review blog, but basically, these books depict oppressive societies as the good guys. The lead character of Stray is a woman stuck in a chauvinistic world where she's treated like little more than a sex object, while the wolves in Bitten are oppressive to wolves outside the pack and prone to keeping their secrets through murder. The authors are both savvy enough to recognize the problem and make the bad guys worse, but it's very hard to root in favor of such an uncivilized bunch.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Step one

Step one of any venture is always preparation. Hence, I get this:

Accept no substitutions. I actually have the 2011 edition already, but times change and you always want to have the most up-to-date info. The 2012 edition just out on the 6th, so that's pretty damn bleeding-edge. Finding it was annoying, in large part due to the rain LI got this past week. Barnes & Noble had ordered one copy, which was snapped up before I got there. The closest available copy was in the city, and no way I could go that far, so I just think "F it", and grab it off their online store.

For my trouble, I wind up getting home from the day job at 7, cranky from all that driving in the rain. And now I've got to wait three days for it to come in the mail. Totally the worst of both worlds.

But I've got it, and hopefully I have a somewhat better idea of how to use it than last time. During my initial agent search, I browsed through the whole 2011 edition, picking out about 40 or 50 agents that looked promising. I copied down names, agencies, and URLs, putting them in a spreadsheet. Then I ran what I had past Preditors and Editors, because a few scammers always slip by the screening process. After that, I started to overdo it. I looked them up on Publisher's Marketplace, and rated each of them on how many books they'd sold recently, how much money they brought in, and how in synch they were with my subject matter. That turned out to be a lot of wasted effort because, realistically, you're going to query them all anyway.

Querying is not like applying for college. I was treating it that way the first time, applying to inferior "safety schools" that I could fall back on if I got rejected from the big agents. However, an incompetent or dishonest agent is worse than no agent at all, because your book will sit with them and never get sold. And once you've weeded out the incompetents, prioritizing the remainder is pointless. You don't know what kind of offer you'll get from them until they present it to you, and you're a fool if you just assume you'll have more than one offer to consider. You won't. The market so glutted with manuscripts seeking representation that you're lucky if you can attract the attention of even one legitimate agent.

Fortunately, all you need is one good one. Getting her to notice you is the problem...

Monday, September 5, 2011

On Blogging the Journey

My name is LupLun, and I'm a starving artist.

For the record, noone sets out to be a starving artist. Well, some unbearably pretentious types might, but they're probably more interested in sponging off gainfully-employed parents and smoking pot. The first thing any artist wants to do is make at least enough from his art to keep food on the table. No, you become a starving artist either because you're not very good, you can't connect with your audience, or you can't connect with the people that are supposed to get you to your audience.

About six months ago, I finished my first novel, Bonds of Fenris. It's about a pack of werewolves desperately trying to control their bestial urges and keep hold of their humanity. I then set out to find an agent, a task which continues to this day and which I have utterly and completely failed at. I've queried about 30 different agencies. If that seems low for a six-month agent search, it's because I wasn't querying constantly. The whole "starving" part means a day job, which means not a lot of time. And when you're out of work, it means job hunting, which is even worse. But it's also low because about three months into this quest, I got demoralized. I would send out a batch of queries, and about a third of them never came back. The remainder were rejected: sometimes the same day, sometimes after months. I got two requests for the full manuscript, both of which eventually led to rejections as well. This causes a sense of hopelessness to build up, the idea that you're not getting anywhere and never will.

I don't know what the problem is. I have a number of theories, but no way to determine which is correct. When an agent rejects you, they tend not to give a lot of feedback. I don't blame the agents. They've got large workloads, and don't have time to compose letters detailing why the books they're asked to represent don't work. Especially when the rejected author will most likely be an egotistical, entitled prat who will then start an argument over how you Don't Understand His Masterpiece. But nevertheless, the problem remains: I don't know what's going wrong, and try as I might I can't figure it out. I believe that I am a decent writer at the very least, and that I could make a career out of it. But I can't seem to convince the people I need on my side that this is the case.

It's occurred to me that maybe I should stop trying. Maybe I should forget the runaround and dive bravely into the uncharted wilderness of self-publishing. I'm fully aware, though, that this approach has problems all its own. You're playing without a net, taking all the responsibilities on yourself and taking sole blame if it fails. It could make me a career, or it could prove I'll never have one.

I am a storyteller, and this blog is a story that is still being written. In the end it will be one of three stories. It will be the story of a man who took one last shot at his dream, and finally made it. Or it will be the story of a man who, frustrated with an industry that stymied his attempts at success, struck out on his own and proved to a skeptical world that he had what it took. Or it will be the story of a man who tried his best to succeed both inside and outside the system, failed on both counts, and finally abandoned his dream in disillusionment. I don't know which it will be, but all of them start the same way: with that last grab for the brass ring.

Today is the 5th of September, 2011. Labor Day. The end of summer, and the time to get back to work. For the next three months, I'll be querying. If I haven't succeeded by Thanskgiving, then it's time to go independent. And what happens then, I don't know.

Let's you and I find out together.