Monday, October 31, 2011

Bring on November...

So it's almost November... time to think about a plot, right?

The public vote was inconclusive, and left me to ponder four options:
  1. An Old Testament Space Opera. Nice to see my very own sub-sub-genre make a last minute surge through the field, but ultimately, although it's the most ready-to-roll of the four outlines, I'm not finished with the last one yet, so I'll hold off for another year before starting another.
  2. A Comic Fantasy. A sequel to DragonQuest is very much ready to tumble out of my mind, but I decided to leave this for outside NaNo, when fun writing projects like this can help keep my writing muscles going without the crazed NaNo momentum.
  3. A Timey-wimey story with Jesus in it. Another last minute attacker, but unfortunately it needed too much planning, so this is also left on the back-burner.
  4. An Urban Fantasy (with shades of Angel). Yep, I'm going to write a fantasy novel! Well, more a supernatural thriller, I suspect. It's going to be almost 100% winging it this time - here's what I have to go on so far:
Dark Empathy
Mordikai Stone is a man with an unusual talent. Able to experience complete empathy with anyone he touches, and more than that, take the pain and suffering of others on himself. Armed only with his constantly shifting perception of the world, he sets about a self-appointed mission to cure anguish and suffering wherever he finds it. But a chance meeting with a woman he once helped brings Mordikai to a shocking realisation: his attempts to help may be causing more harm than good.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

CSFF Blog Tour: The Bone House by Stephen Lawhead

Just time today for me to point you at a few highlights from the tour...

It seems that a recurring theme has been that of how 'Christian' The Bone House is - you know, being from a Christian publisher and all. Thomas Clayton Booher is on the 'make Christian novels Christian' camp; Becky Miller puts the case that religion is growing in importance in the Bright Empires series.

Noah Arsenault Red Bissell Thomas Clayton Booher Beckie Burnham Morgan L. Busse CSFF Blog Tour Jeff Chapman Carol Bruce Collett Karri Compton D. G. D. Davidson Theresa Dunlap April Erwin Victor Gentile Tori Greene Ryan Heart Bruce Hennigan Timothy Hicks Christopher Hopper Janeen Ippolito Becca Johnson Jason Joyner Julie Carol Keen Krystine Kercher Marzabeth Katie McCurdy Shannon McDermott Rebecca LuElla Miller Joan Nienhuis Chawna Schroeder Kathleen Smith Donna Swanson Rachel Starr Thomson Robert Treskillard Steve Trower Fred Warren Phyllis Wheeler Nicole White Rachel Wyant

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

CSFF Blog Tour vs Tuesday Tunes

It seems like a while since I've done this, so without any further ado, let us celebrate the CSFF Blog Tour for The Bone House with.... the Top Ten Bone songs:

10. Guns n' Roses: Dust n' Bones
And we start with some classic 80s hard rock - contains a swear near the end. (Those naughty rockers eh?)

9. The White Stripes: Bone Broke
A nice loud blues rock number by Jack White and his, er, female relative of some sort.

8. The Raconteurs: Store Bought Bones
A nice loud alt rock number by Jack White and a few musician pals.

7. Elbow: The Bones of You
They should have renamed themselves 'Funny Bone' just for today, in a vague attempt to be humerus...

6. Radiohead: Bones
For some reason, bone themed songs seem to be more popular in the indie/rock genres than elsewhere. So here's some from somewhere near Kit Livingston's home town. Probably.

5. Brian Eno: Bone Jump
Electronic offerings are thin on the ground this week, but here's a practically non-existent ambient piece from the master of the art.

4. Alice in Chains: Them Bones
Heavy metal meets grunge - turn it up to eleven!

3. George Thorogood & The Destroyers: Bad to the Bone
Theme tune to the movie 'Christine'. I had a car called Christine once. Evil it was. And a Mini.

2. The Dead Weather: Bone House
Well, it had to be didn't it? And, hang on, isn't that Jack White again?

1. The Kinks: Skin and Bone
A warning against extreme dieting, in Ray Davies' inimitable style:
She don't eat no mashed potatoes, She don't eat no buttered scones Stay away from carbohydrates You're gonna look like skin and bone.

Almost forgot, which would be a shame now Spotify has reached the colonies: The Playlist!

Don't forget to visit the rest of the CSFF Blog Tour (full list yesterday) as they look at The Bone House by Stephen Lawhead.

Sci-fi song of the week

It was in the Top Ten Bone songs; it was also in Terminator 2 (I need your coat, your bike, and your underpants, that bit). It's George Thorogood and the Destroyers....

Monday, October 24, 2011

CSFF Blog Tour: The Bone House by Stephen Lawhead

In conjunction with the CSFF Blog Tour, I received an ebook copy of The Bone House courtesy of the publisher.

Independently of the CSFF Blog Tour, my laptop chucked a hissy fit and banished said ebook to the more inaccessible reaches of cyberspace, and refused to allow me a re-download in time to read it for the tour.

And so it has transpired that if you want to read my review of the book as part of the official tour, you will have to jump a handy ley-line and try to hit the seventh sphinx on the left. Which, it has to be said, is kind of a shame, because the first volume in the Bright Empires saga, The Skin Map, was actually rather good, and the sequel - at least as much of it as the technology would allow me to read - seemed to be following in the same vein.

The Bone House continues the story of Kit Livingston, following his (at the time) inexplicable rescue from the depths of a pyramid somewhere by his once-useless girlfriend, Mina, who unbeknown to Kit, became a dimension-hopping Lara Croft at some point. That is not a plot-hole, mind; this is a time travel story, and that Mina's transformation from drippy girlfriend to Prague coffee entrepreneur to time travelling heroine is initially unexplained serves only to reinforce the reader's empathy for the bemused Kit, who thought the quest was his to complete.

On his website, Lawhead describes the Bright Empires series as his most ambitious work to date; given the variety of locations, time periods and POV characters the one and a bit books I've read so far cover, I can well believe that. There is certainly a lot going on; sometimes I get bogged down trying to keep track of all the threads and characters in a sweeping epic like this, but so far I think Bright Empires is striking a nice balance for my taste (and attention span).

Of course, it doesn't hurt that the whole timey-wimey nature of the story is just my cup of tea to start with, but suffice to say, I will be leaving The Bone House on my Christmas list (yes, I'm old skool. No kindle here). And I will review it properly, at some point in the future; don't wait for that though, take a nose round the rest of the tour, then get yourself a copy (I recommend the ley-line friendly hardback edition).

Other linky goodness: 

Friday, October 21, 2011

Some NaNoWriMo prep thoughts

It is an important and popular fact that the author of this blog does not do fantasy. I have no frame of reference for orcs and hobbits like I do for spaceships and time travel.

Which of course is why the most popular choices on the 'What the public wants me to write for NaNo' poll are labelled 'urban fantasy' and 'comic fantasy'. Admittedly the comic fantasy option - a sequel to 2009's DragonQuest - owes more to cyberpunk than it does to Lord of the Rings, but still, I think the world is out to get me. As it happens though, those are currently my two favoured options as far as having the story planned out go; none of the shortlist are much more than ideas, but those two are more fully-formed ideas, ready to be built on in the last few days of October.

At the same time, I'm keeping a wary eye on the wildcard option - the 'grab stuff other NaNites didn't want and run with it' option. That could be a lot of fun, especially if I can find a plot I like and mash it up with fairies and aliens, but on the other hand, do I want to spend 30 days writing somebody else's idea at the expense of eight of my own? Well, maybe I do. The reason I do NaNo is to recharge my writing batteries, get back in the mood for novelling, remind myself what great ideas I have on my WIPlist still wanting to be written. Maybe, having got the bug back, knowing I have at least two ideas ready to be worked on and at least half a dozen more to keep thinking about, I'll keep writing more consistently over the next eleven months.

Plus, I just read about the Egyptian mummies buried under our McDonalds.... surely that has to be a story!?

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Tuesday Tunes: Right Here In This Room by Steve Leach

You may not be aware of Steve Leach; he's a DJ from Bournemouth, and his speciality, according to the CD cover, is 'big bass lines, beats and general noisiness, allowing powerful messages to be emphasised musically'. So what we have here is, essentially, a selection of talks by well-known Christian speakers, sampled and remixed over the aforementioned big beats and synth-heavy noisiness.

Right Here In This Room starts out with the fairly low-key 'Free For All', and picks up pace until 'Dry Bones' - Steve Chalke reading from Ezekiel - where the music gets a little more interesting, very much in keeping with the theme of the talk.

Part-way through we get to take a breather with the message-lite, melodic and laid back ‘Do You Remember’, before we're thrown into Cris Rogers' much more excitable, upbeat, talk based from the persepctive of Simon Peter, encouraged to start a revolution by Louie Giglio, and then my current favourite driving track, 'v4'. Verse 4 of what, I still haven't managed to figure out, but it's loud, full of bass and a stirring message: 'What are you gonna pray for? What are you gonna step out of this place to fight for?'

It is the messages that really make this CD. We have Matt Redman telling us that 'He's a good God to have around' (The Way Through), and on 'More?' Louie Giglio's ironic take on asking for God's blessings: 'You don’t even know what to do with what you have!'
If I'm completely honest, Steve Leach is no Fatboy Slim; but obviously you would have heard of him if he was. But in the liner notes he says 'I wanted to lead worship that connected more with the real world in which I live, rather than the Christian bubble in which I spent each Sunday morning plus maybe a week in the summer'. And as someone who would rather spend Sunday morning on a back-lane blast to and from a car show with some bass-heavy beats pumping out of the Mini than singing in church, I'd have to say he connects with my world pretty well too.

Scifi Song of the Week

On a similar electronic tip, but a bit more old skool: it's The Prodigy, taking our brains to another dimension...

Monday, October 17, 2011

Monday Review: Afterlife - The Resurrection Chronicles by Merrie DeStefano

Afterlife is a bit of a schizophrenic book. The cover is all neo-Twilight urban fantasy, but the premise is definitely more psuedo-science than traditional fantasy. To explain: Afterlife is set in New Orleans some time in the future, where science has found a way to instantly transport your dead soul into a cloned body. Up to nine times, which seems somewhat arbitrary, and the whole resurrection process was never really explained to my satisfaction (probably should have left it in the realms of urban fantasy, I think). Cue a philosophical sci-fi thriller dealing with cloning, immortality and religious faith (yes, there are nominally Christian characters in there, puzzling these things over). From the blurb:
Chaz Dominguez is a professional Babysitter in New Orleans, helping to integrate the recently deceased into their new and improved lives. Though Fresh Start has always been the only game in town, resurrection isn't all it's cracked up to be. Nine lives are all a person can get—and a powerful group of desperate, high-level Nine-Timers will stop at nothing to possess the keys to true immortality. Now the only hope for Chaz and his family—and the human race—lies in the secrets locked away in the mind of Angelique, the beautiful, mysterious Newbie he must protect . . .
Afterlife presents (insufficient science notwithstanding) an interesting premise, an undoubtedly interesting world, and what should have been an interesting and action-filled plot, but then, at times I just didn't get it. The multiple POV characters I can cope with, for instance, unless you make one of them a dog. And I'm not sure where the 'Resurrection Chronicles' thing comes from, as it was all wrapped up mighty neatly at the end of this book!

So much for the quibbles though; is it any good? Well, it's actually not bad, unless you were expecting Twilight, in which case you'll likely be baffled by all the science-fictiony stuff that sneaks in. If you ignore the cover and take my word for it that this is actually a dystopian story in which the 'ideal' world, where near immortality is available to all, has gone horribly, terribly wrong, then you might get a kick out of it.

A Christian sci-fi/fantasy reader looking for something thought-provoking but non-threatening to recommend to a friend might find the subjects of immortality, faith and science gone bad as covered in this story will provide good copnversation starters. Afterlife is definitely something different; I'm still not quite sure what it is, but it's different, and that's got to be worth something.

Monday, October 10, 2011

The NaNoWriMo auditions

The middle of October is, without a doubt, the stupidest time to reboot a blog after two months, especially for someone planning to put some pretty intense novel-writing time in in the not too distant future. (Yes, I could say I'll blog about my NaNo expolits, but that's never really washed before, has it?)

So, yes, I'm back for now, but I will be NaNo-ing next month, so in the meantime, why not cast a vote, X-Factor style, for one of the final nine novel ideas all hoping for a place in next months big write-off...
  • Another Old Testament Space Opera. I don’t have another in the works as yet, but it has the clear advantage of having the basic plot pre-packed.
  • Some sort of timey-wimey story, either time travel or alternate history, in which Christ's life on Earth forms a critical point.
  • An alternate history of WW2. I have sort of an idea for this, but I’m not sure I can make it stand out from the squillions of alternate WW2 scenarios already played out in fiction. Unless….
  • An alternate version of Left Behind – in which the rapture occurred during WW2, or the Crimean, or the Cold War, or what the heck, all three….
  • A comic fantasy, probably using some of the characters from the seminal DragonQuest (NaNo 2009). Being silly is always easier at NaNo pace than tackling a weighty subject.
  • A weighty subject novel. Did that last year, still trying to summon up the courage to trawl those 50,000 words for the worthwhile story at its heart.
  • An urban fantasy with just the merest hint of Angel somewhere in its DNA, and possibly some spiritual message in there too.
  • The obligatory sci-fi contender: I fancy something with clones in it this time.
  • Or as a completely off the wall experimental NaNo: just pluck some stuff at random from the adoptables threads, mix them all together and bring them to the boil…
Voting lines are open, and it won't cost you a thing to vote... and who knows, maybe you'll even get to see a snippet from your favourite on these pages during November...