Thursday, February 25, 2010

Progress Report

Though I have doubts that such entries as these are engrossing, I like to make them for the purposes of my own

1) The Ifing River in the Prose Edda is supposed to separate Asgard and Jotunheim. That would put Asgard and Jotunheim on the same plane. But in the Poetic Edda, generally considered to be the older source (and the one I'm relying on), Jotunheim is on the same plane as Midgard—a plane clearly below that of Asgard. Grrr. I want rivers in my Asgard but (thus far) the named rivers I've found don't match up with the cosmology I'm using. So yeah, you know. Fiddlesticks. Darn it. Gaahh!

2) I'm at 10K words now in Hammered. It's going a bit slower than Hexed because, well, there's this whole world-building thing to do. The first two books were set in the East Valley and I've been there. Anyway, I'm feeling a bit more free, the frozen pack ice of my brain is breaking up and I'm seeing clear sailing through the floes...

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

This blog is Snake-Free!

Follow your fancy, says the New Belgium Brewing Company's slogan. Normally I do not do what brewing companies tell me to, but this once I suppose I'll succumb because it amuses me.

Right now my fancy is the hyphenated compound modifier "snake-free." I have been chuckling over it for a couple of days now, and if I'm honest I've even chortled once or twice. It has sunk its fangs into my brain like a vampiric mind cobra and it won't let go.

One of my friends used it innocently while soliciting suggestions for hikes. She wanted her hike to be snake-free and beautiful, and I just started laughing. Words do that to me sometimes.

I just began to imagine what it would be like to advertise products that way. If I saw three different packages of coffee, for example, and one of them had the words "NOW SNAKE-FREE! COMPARE WITH OTHER BRANDS!" in a little yellow starburst, I think I'd have to buy it. The other brands would seem less savory to me somehow, because they did not loudly proclaim their freedom from snakes.

This blog, by the way, is totally snake-free! Compare with other blogs!

This is not a snake-free sentence, unfortunately. Many of my other sentences are, however, including this one.

I have discovered that adding "snake-free" to everyday objects can rescue our daily routine from mundanity and add a whiff of adventure where normally none is expected. To wit: She put on her pajamas and curled up on the couch with a mug of cocoa and a snake-free blanket.

See? Whoever she is, she lives in a world where snakes sometimes occupy blankets. That's edgy. Anything can happen in a world like that. In fact, it sounds like something that movie trailer guy would say to pitch an apocalyptic blockbuster. He'd say in that deep, gravelly growl, "In a world where snakes sometimes occupy blankets," you'd see a python slithering up this woman's thigh, and then everyone in the theater would go "Oh, snap!" and cram a handful of popcorn down their throats before they lost their minds and screamed.

I'm having chili with onions for dinner tonight, so I'll have to brush my teeth immediately afterward with snake-free toothpaste. That's right. It's the best toothpaste you can possibly buy. EVERY dentist recommends it.

I hope you work and live in a snake-free environment. Next time you think your job sucks, think of all the people out there who have to deal with all the stuff you do, plus snakes.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Games as a gateway to cultural literacy?

There's a new video game out called Dante's Inferno. It's based on Dante's epic vision o' hell, changing a couple of plot elements but sticking with the nine levels and all the monsters, plus many of the shades mentioned in the poem. And check it out: my students seem mildly interested in actually reading it now.


I'm not the sorta dude who scoffs or sneers at anything that makes a kid pick up a classic, so I applaud EA for doing this and I'm actually somewhat tempted to try out the game; what I'm loving, though, is the fact that students were interested in a classic that's not precisely easy reading. It's COOL reading, no doubt, but neither is it simple stuff.

Here's what happened: my spiffy Asst. Editor at Del Rey, Mike Braff, sent me a copy of the companion book, Dante's Inferno (the complete text of the Longfellow translation) with screen shots of the game and how they developed it, etc. Here's a link to the book. He signed it and I offered it to the kids as a giveaway in a drawing. I asked 'em to write their names on a scrap o' paper if they wanted to go for it, and over half of them did. Think about it: teenagers interested in reading a classic on their own initiative? That's...amazing! Hopeful! A new dawn, perhaps?

Now, if only they'd make games for other classics! How about The Great Gatsby? You have to save Gatsby and make Tom and Daisy pay for their carelessness! You can't let the rich people get away with everything! Stop them! Run over Daisy with Gatsby's car!

I think Robert E. Howard's stories would adapt well to the video game milieu. You're Conan the Barbarian, master thief and master, uh, barbarian. You try to steal stuff, and if you fail, just kill everything until you escape! Yeah! That's entertainment!

Seriously, I'm grateful to EA for the Neato Idea. I hope it works out well for them, and I hope many young'uns will discover Dante as a result.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Down with the Smug Florist Cartel!

In days of yore (which is what people said before they said back in the day) I would try to buy something nice for my wife like a blouse or a dress or something else that is sold in a department store by exquisitely coiffed salespeople, and I would find myself befuddled. What size dress did she wear? Heck, what size jeans or shoes or anything? These things are mysteries to most men because women's sizes are nothing like men's. Completely flummoxed, I'd be reduced to buying flowers or something plain like that...and now, I realize, I was supposed to feel that way, and react precisely the way I did. The confusing conventions of women's fashion are undoubtedly a conspiracy crafted by smug florists and saucy chocolatiers! They want clothiers to be intimidating to men so that they order giant bouquets and boxes of calories out of sheer embarrassment!

O, the ignominy! I see now how I've been manipulated all my life! How many times have I walked by a store, seen a mannequin modeling something I thought would look nice on my wife, and squashed the impulse to buy it for her because I was too embarrassed to take a guess at the right size?

You hear that, clothing retailers? Your bewildering sizing practices are stifling impulse buys. You've been steering us to smug florists for centuries. It's all part of their master plan.

But now there's this neato doohickey that frees men from the tyranny of flowers and chocolate and shiny rocks! It's called the Guy's Guide to the Right Size and it's cheap! I got myself one and I'm kinda giddy with all the possibilities before me. I can now walk in anywhere—even the lingerie section (gasp!)—and buy some stuff that I'm sure will fit my wife and I'm also reasonably sure she'll like, because her preferences are marked down in the guide. They have a guide for girls, too, so they can walk into the (far simpler) world of men's fashion and get stuff their guys like. (The shadow conspiracy against men's fashion is run by Home Depot. Girls who don't know what to get their guys just buy them tools.)

Disclaimer: The amount of money/fame/swag I get for this is Diddly Squat. Diddly Squat has been proven to equal less than zero in clinical laboratory tests. I cannot tell you where those clinical labs are, because I know Diddly Squat about their names or locations.

Right. I'm off to begin the revolution against the Smug Florist Cartel. Join me!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Kinda Sorta Firm Publishing Dates!

Today I got the word on when my books will be coming out! I've known for a long time that they'd be out sometime in 2011, and I've known that they'd be published back-to-back-to-back (that's b2b2b if you wanna use publishin' jargon), but I didn't know any more than that. Now I can give you a clearer picture:

HOUNDED in May 2011
HEXED in June 2011
HAMMERED in July 2011

Hopefully everyone will have enough time to save up $7.99 plus tax by then. :) Once I get firm dates I'll post that too, but it will probably be a few more months. I can, however, practically guarantee that it'll be a Tuesday!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Spock and Kirk Shoulder Buddies

Instead of an angel and a demon whispering advice in either ear, I want a mini-Spock talking to my left brain and a mini-Kirk talking to my right. Spock will give me the logical argument; Kirk will give me the emotional one. While they fight, I will most likely be destroyed by Klingons.

I'm into chapter three of Hammered now, expecting editorial notes on Hexed soon. I'm preoccupied with the magical nature of cold iron vs. regular iron, and drawing sketches of Asgard.

Oh, plus Hemingway and Modernist poetry. :)