Stats and Gaiman

Well, I’ve had a pretty successful day as far as Blog Stats goes, at least on the surface. I’ve already had 150+ visits today, which is about 3 times my normal. I wish it was due to something brilliant I wrote or something like that. Instead, it’s due to 114 views for the post I made a few years ago about the “Death of Garfield“. This post has been a constant hit source for me, which I find amusing. Posts like this usually don’t translate into return visitors. 150+ visits today and 1 comment. Oh well.

I have added some links to my writing on the “Death of Garfield” post, just in case someone gets curious.

Oh, make sure to stop by Neil Gaiman’s Journal, as he has been linking to a bunch of Stardust movie related stuff. Also on his site is the first chapter of the audio version of Stardust, read by Gaiman himself: link to mp3 of chapter 1 of Stardust.

A while back he said that his tagline for the movie would’ve been “Stardust. It’s not a sequel to anything.” I like that.

Finished Stardust

I finished reading the graphic novel version of Stardust Wednesday night and I have to say I really enjoyed the book. If I had any gripe with the book it would be that the final confrontation in the book wasn’t as “big” as I thought it would be. Would I read this book again? Oh yeah. I’m also looking forward to seeing the movie in the theater next week. Stardust will only be my second movie I have watched this summer, as I’ve been able to avoid the countless sequels, and no-brainer blockbusters. I’ll wait to see those on DVD (rented of course) 🙂 .

At the back of the novel, Neil Gaiman mentions that he would like to eventually revisit the town of Wall. I look forward to that. Actually, Susanna Clarke (of Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell fame) has a story on her site that takes place in the Village of Wall. I had read this before, but I’m going to give it a second look.

One small note regarding the building collapse tragedy that has been in the news the past few days. One of the recurring nightmares I had as a child dealt with bridges and me careening off the bridge or the bridge collapsing. I can even remember one of these dreams from over twenty years ago and it still makes me shiver. This is rare for me as I rarely remember any of my dreams. I have faced this fear and have gotten over it, but I wonder if I might think twice the next time I’m on a bridge.

Thanks and The Future of This Blog

Thanks you all for the feedback. I really appreciate the time you took out of your lives to add a comment to this blog.  I really do cherish the friendships I have made here.  Remember, every time you comment it lets me know someone is reading this stuff, and that is what keeps me going.

As for the future of this blog, I will continue to write about my life and my family (I wasn’t sure if you all liked that stuff, but it seems you do), about writing, and yes I will still post the writing contests, even if that only helps me remember to enter them.  Also, you will even see posts here on weekends from time to time, as I’ve been working on posts ahead of time lately and scheduling them to appear at times I’m not available to post. In fact, I have a quick little post scheduled to run here this Saturday. Enjoy!

As a follow-up to something I wrote last week, I’m really getting into Stardust by Neil Gaiman.  I’m so glad now that I bought the graphic novel version.  It is just an excellent book. In fact, I have become so enamored with Mr. Gaiman I’m thinking about changing my name to Neil Neil.  The guy just owns me right now.

Neil Gaiman’s Stardust

I went to my favorite place in the world over the weekend, the bookstore, and picked up a copy of Neil Gaiman’s Stardust. Rather than me try to explain what the novel is about, I’m just going to paste the description from wikipedia here:

“One fateful night, Tristran Thorn promises the most beautiful girl in the rural, English village of Wall, Victoria Forester, that he will retrieve a fallen star for her from beyond the wall that borders their village and separates it from the Faerie realm. Tristran bravely sets out to fetch the fallen star and therefore win the hand of his love, along the way encountering witches, faeries, and unimaginable creatures.”

Ok, me here again. Sounds pretty good, right? Basically, it’s a fairy tale for adults. Turns out there is a movie based on the novel, which is coming out in August, and features Claire Danes, Michelle Pheiffer, and Robert Dinero. I figured I would read the book before seeing the movie (which might make a nice dinner and movie date with my wife for our anniversary).

The version I picked up is the graphic novel version, which is the size (height) of a comic book and contains illustrations onstardust.jpg each page along with the text of the novel. When I was purchasing the book I went back and forth on whether to buy the graphic novel or the paperback novel which didn’t have any of the illustrations. My fear was that it would be harder to get into the graphic novel than it would be the novel. I didn’t want to miss out on the illustrations, though.

So far, I have had a little trouble getting into the book. I have enjoyed the story so far, but I’m having a hard time telling my brain “this is a novel”. My brain keeps thinking it is reading a comic book. I almost think I should’ve bought both the graphic novel and the paperback. If I wasn’t so cheap I might have done that.

Have any of you read Stardust yet? Which version did you read? Did you have the same problem I had. I’m curious to hear if I’m the only one who had a hard time thinking of the book as a novel.

American Gods Novel

Mike wrote this in the comments of one of my posts:

“I love Shadow but I loved his wife and the crazy God that one the bet to kill Shadow. Those two cracked me up. I can’t remember another book that I loved all the secondary characters as much as this book.”

Well, now I have the novel in my head again. What a great book. Anyhow, several of you have mentioned you also read American Gods, so I thought I would share some information with you. I was cruising around on Neil Gaiman’s site the other day and found a link to a website that describes most of the gods from the novel. This helps to explain a lot in the book.

Also, did you know that Gaiman also wrote about the character Shadow in his latest collection of stories Fragile Things? The story is called The Monarch of the Glen. Has anyone read that yet?

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.

Neil Gaiman’s Notebook

For those of you who enjoyed pictures of my writing notebook during NaNoWriMo will surely enjoy Neil Gaiman’s blog post today dedicated to his notebook (with pictures too!) He goes into detail about roughly how many words he fits on a page and how he numbers the pages before he writes in the notebook. Anyhow, it was a pretty enjoyable post.

I also found on his site that he has posted his Hugo Nominated short story How to Talk to Girls at Parties. I haven’t read it yet. Hopefully this afternoon. He also has a link to the audio version of the story. Check it out.

Neil Gaiman on Writing and Revisions

Neil Gaiman today answered a question from a reader regarding the amount of revisions one should make to a story. As always, his response was interesting and I think helpful for us writers. I don’t think we should take these professional writer’s opinions as gospel, but I always enjoy reading their take on things. Here is an excerpt from his post:

“Personally, I think you learn more from finishing things, from seeing them in print, wincing, and then figuring out what you did wrong, than you could ever do from eternally rewriting the same thing. But that’s me, and I came from comics where I simply didn’t have the liberty of rewriting a story until I was happy with it, because it needed to be out that month, so I needed to get it more or less right first time. Once I disliked a Sandman story on proofreading it so much that I asked if it could be pulled and buried and was told no, it couldn’t, which is why the world got to read the Emperor Norton story, “Three Septembers and a January”, although I no longer have any idea why I thought it was a bad story, and I’m pleased that Tom Peyer ignored my yelps.”

Anyhow, I encourage you to check out the entire blog entry.

What I’m Up To

I haven’t seen any new writing contests or advice today, so I guess I will just give you a little update about myself.

  • I think I’m developing some tendinitis in my right arm stemming from shoveling snow (thanks for plowing me in Mr. Plow), picking up 20 pound babies, and playing hockey. It’s one of those things that will improve with rest, something I will not get any time soon.
  • My daughter is doing great (now 9 months old), though she still isn’t sleeping much. Her favorite activity is walking around the house, supported by us holding her under her arms, as evidenced by the developing holes in the knees of my pants. She can also stand for a few seconds on her own, though she gets brave and lunges back, causing her to lose her balance. We are there for her, though.
  • I just finished Good Omens, and the ending did not disappoint. This has become one of my new, all-time favorite books and a rare one that I will surely read over and over again. A bonus of the copy I have is that there is a section called “Gaiman on Pratchett” and “Pratchett on Gaiman” in which each author talks about the other. Cool stuff. Gaiman describes how when Pratchett was first starting out, he had a full-time job and wrote 400 words every night no matter what. When he completed his first novel he still had 100 words remaining, so he started his second novel.
  • I have three writing projects I am currently working on or am thinking about. First, I am taking part in a local short story competition with my local newspaper. They start the story, then the readers finish. I have been won this a few times in the past, and have a lot of fun with there. Secondly, I need to finish my pirate story for Shimmer and submit it inner critic be damned. Lastly, I have been brainstorming and jotting down ideas for my submission for The Machine of Death. That one I am really excited about.

Anyhow, that is me. What are you up to?