Free Comic Book Day This Saturday (May 5)

All of you readers out there, don’t forget this Saturday (May 5th, 2007) is Free Comic Book Day, so get on down to your friendly neighborhood comic book shop and pick up some free comics.  Who knows, you might actually see something you like and become a hopeless addict like me.  Here is a list of some of the comics that they’ll be giving away for free.  Check out this really cool Peanuts comic strip book called Unseen Peanuts they’ll be giving away.

This is the 4th year they have done Free Comic Book Day, and each year they seem to be giving away more and more stuff.  I can’t wait!

I didn’t win

Well, the winners have been announced for the contest at The Clarity of Night, and unfortunately I didn’t win. I have to admit I’m a little disappointed because I actually thought I had a shot at winning. Oh well. The nice thing is that for once I think I told the story exactly how I wanted and upon re-reading it I wouldn’t change a thing. In other words, I did my best and that’s all I can ask of myself.

Oh well, there will be other contests and opportunities. Speaking of which, there will be a writing contest over at The Moon Topples starting tomorrow. Stop on over there and check out the rules.  The writing prompt for the contest will be posted tomorrow.  Make sure to check it out.

Supporting Characters are Important

I’m about half-way through American Gods, and I’m still loving it. Neil Gaiman is such an excellent writer. Anyhow, in the part I was reading last night, Shadow, the novel’s protagonist winds up giving a ride to a hitchhiking girl named Sam. This character, Sam, is only in the book for 5-10 pages, but I found myself really enjoying reading about her and especially her interaction and dialog with Shadow. This is what I want to accomplish with my writing — characters the reader enjoys and pulls for. I haven’t finished the novel, so I’m not sure if Sam appears again. I hope so, though.

I was doing some research about robots and A.I. for my novel yesterday, and of course did some digging about Isaac Asimov. Of particular interest was a part of his wikipedia entry which talks about some criticisms of his writing. From the wikipedia entry on Isaac Asimov:

One of the most common impressions of Asimov’s fiction work is that his writing style is extremely unornamental. In 1980, science fiction scholar James Gunn, professor emeritus of English at the University of Kansas wrote of I, Robot that:

Except for two stories—”Liar!” and “Evidence”—they are not stories in which character plays a significant part. Virtually all plot develops in conversation with little if any action. Nor is there a great deal of local color or description of any kind. The dialogue is, at best, functional and the style is, at best, transparent…. The robot stories—and, as a matter of fact, almost all Asimov fiction—play themselves on a relatively bare stage.

Gunn observes that there are places where Asimov’s style rises to the demands of the situation; he cites the climax of “Liar!” as an example. Sharply-drawn characters occur at key junctures of his storylines: in addition to Susan Calvin in “Liar!” and “Evidence”, we find Arkady Darell in Second Foundation, Elijah Baley in The Caves of Steel and Hari Seldon in the Foundation prequels.

Asimov was also criticised for the lack of sex and aliens in his science fiction.

This is something I have thought about a little bit. I’ve yet to write about sex in any of my fiction, and I don’t know if I’ll start. It’s not that I’m against anybody writing about sex in their works and I surely have nothing against it. I’m a pretty liberal person. That said, I don’t think I’m quite ready for the challenge.

Also, I would describe my own writing as “unornamental”. This is something I’m working on, but am in no hurry to go the other way with. I try to write what I like to read, and I’m not a big fan of pages and pages of description without any dialog or action.

Note that I’m not comparing myself to Asimov in any way. His work speaks for itself, and my work kinda just sits there in the corner whispering to no one in particular.

View a Random Post

Just a quick blog news item here. I have added a link at the top right of the page (underneath the Thinking Blogger Award) called View Random Post From This Site. Click this link and you will be taken to a random post on this blog. It’s pretty neat, though it’s kinda strange to go back and read stuff I wrote a while ago. Enjoy!

Happy and Sad and In-Between

I have to say that my writing life has been going pretty well lately. I’m happy with my entry for the Clarity of Night Contest (we find out who won on Sunday). Twelve people thus far have commented on my story, all positive, and it seems that people at least I made everyone laugh, which is nice. Today I also received a really nice comment on one of my Ficlets (titled The Gift). Here is the comment (I swear it isn’t written by my Mom):

“The first ficlet I’ve read that looks worthy to be in print. I love the idea of a detective with an impeccable hunch. StrugglingWriter, in my mind you’re already a success. Keep writing – I’ll be watching for more!”

Wow! Talk about making my day, that made my week!

Also on the writing front I’ve started my novel. I’m roughly 400 words into Chapter 1 and really enjoying it. Writing a novel really does take a different mindset than the short fiction I have been writing lately. I’m having to actually, you know, describe things in detail. Not one of my strengths, but I welcome the challenge.

On a sad note, my parents recently told me that their Collie, Cinnamon, isn’t doing very well. She’s having trouble standing due to arthritis and is having some kidney problems. She is 15 years old (105 in dog years 🙂 ) and has had a good run, but it still makes me sad. My parents bought Cinnamon when I was in high school, so we had a lot of fun times together. I remember the Sunday after we had just returned from church when she got out of the house and took off up the street after a car. Well, I had no time to react (or put on shoes). I ran out the front door after her in my black, gold toe socks, my Khaki pants dragging on the pavement. I was pretty fast back then, but was no match for a Collie in her prime. She was as fast as a gazelle, and had more moves than Barry Sanders. I eventually caught her when she found an interesting smell on the side of the road and stopped to investigate. As recently as last year, Cinnamon and I played catch with a tennis ball, me throwing the ball, her retrieving it but not quite giving it back without a fight. I guess it was part of the game. Her decline has been rapid, though.

Yesterday my wife, daughter, and I drove the hour to my parent’s house to see Cinnamon just in case things take a turn for the worse. At first, things were about as bad as I expected. She was just laying on her blanket, barely having enough energy to stand up. I walked over to her, patted her on the head, and told her she was a “good girl”.

After dinner, my parents carried Cinnamon upstairs, she is unable to climb the stairs anymore, and we spent a little more time with her. This time, she walked around the room like she used to do and stood for several minutes. This was much more heartening. Still, I’m not sure how long it will last. Anyhow, losing a pet isn’t the same as losing a family member, but there are similar feelings of loss.

Anyhow, overall I’m doing ok. How are you?

Last Day for Clarity of Night Contest

Today is the last day to enter the writing contest at The Clarity of Night. Entries must be sent to Jason by 11:00 PM Eastern. Here are the rules. Right now there are 39 entries. Click here to view the index to read some great short fiction. My entry is entry #1. Check it out. I’ve received some positive feedback about it so far.

Anyhow, if you wanted to enter the contest, today is the last day.

Coming next week is another contest at The Moon Topples Blog. I will post details about that contest once they are available.

I’m Back

Well, I’m back today. Thanks for all of the well wishes. I feel a little better today, and slept slightly better last night. Our daughter (11 months) was up again twice last night, which isn’t too bad except that she isn’t falling back to sleep as fast as she used to. We tried the cry it out method last night, but that didn’t really work. After a few minutes of her crying, I went in to check on her and she was standing in her crib crying. That was probably that of course broke my heart. I felt so bad. Anyhow, we wound up laying her down in our bed until she fell asleep (at first, she was clapping and laughing, but eventually fell asleep after an hour or so). This all happened around 4:00 AM until about 5:30 AM.

The most difficult part about the whole thing is lifting her sleeping body and walking her down the hall to her crib, being careful not to move her too much and waking her. This should definitely be a task on the television show Fear Factor, if that show is still on (I don’t get to watch too much T.V.).

We are currently enjoying some excellent weather in my neck of the planet. We have had 4 consecutive days of 80+ degree weather, and I can actually feel the sun’s energy replenishing my body. On Sunday, my wife, daughter, and I took a walk on a nearby nature trail, which felt like paradise. We brought the stroller along, but my daughter insisted on walking most of the way. She is almost able to walk on her own, but right now she holds our hands and toddles along. The highlight of the trip for her was that we let her hold a couple stones, which for the most part she kept out of her mouth. Amazingly, we were able to part her from the stones without much of a fuss.

I have started a small Word document that I have been appending some novel ideas to for the past few weeks. This morning I was thinking about my idea and I believe I have a pretty good scenario for Chapter 1, and I am extremely excited to begin this project. Who knows, I may even post an excerpt from the first chapter once it is written.

Understatement of the Day

I apologize in advance for the following post. I will have a non-political post soon.

Here is a quote I just saw on Salon that I’m calling the Understatement of the Day:

When asked by Larry King why Jeb Bush shouldn’t run for president in the next election, George H.W. Bush said:
“There might be a little Bush fatigue now.”

Wow, yah think?


Not much of an update for today. I am currently home from work sick. Nothing too major, just a headcold and I baby that had my wife and I up for 3 1/2 hours last night. I will post more tomorrow.

Also, I owe Cavan a post about the hockey playoffs, and will have to add an Ottawa Senators logo to the front page of this blog (they beat my Penguins in the playoffs).

I hope everyone had a nice weekend and I will see you tomorrow.

Stephen King on Violence and Violent Writing

I had a conversation today about the recent violence and how the perpetrator of these acts was said to have written disturbing fiction, with some in my group saying that these writings should have been a red flag to authorities. I took the opposite side of this, arguing basically that although now it does seem obvious that this person was deranged and it showed in his writing, it was hard to point to a person’s writing alone as a reason to, for instance, expel that person from school. My argument was that Stephen King writes some disturbing stuff, but no one would lock him up. Well, today on Mr. King addresses this very issue in a piece called Predicting Violence. Here is a direct quote from the article:

For most creative people, the imagination serves as an excretory channel for violence: We visualize what we will never actually do (James Patterson, for instance, a nice man who has all too often worked the street that my old friend George used to work). Cho doesn’t strike me as in the least creative, however. Dude was crazy. Dude was, in the memorable phrasing of Nikki Giovanni, ”just mean.” Essentially there’s no story here, except for a paranoid a–hole who went DEFCON-1. He may have been inspired by Columbine, but only because he was too dim to think up such a scenario on his own.

On the whole, I don’t think you can pick these guys out based on their work, unless you look for violence unenlivened by any real talent.

Again, what happened is horrible, but I don’t know if it could ever be predicted or unfortunately stopped. Of course, me heart goes out to the families of all those who have been lost in this senseless act of violence.