Friday, April 2, 2021

Writing Two Books at Once

 I published my last novel in 2015.  So it has already been nearly six years since I last released a new story, which puts me in the company of writers like Patrick Rothfuss and George R.R. Martin for the slowness of my productivity.

There are many reasons why it is taking me so long. I naturally procrastinate unless something really urges me on. I've been stressed out by so many things, not leastwise by the election of a certain someone to the highest office in the land in 2016. But primarily the reason is that I started working on two different books at the same time.

I hadn't planned to do it. I started working on one of them (I don't even recall which I started first), got stuck on something early on, and then began working on the other while my mind mulled over how to overcome the complications in the first.

I really don't recommend this method of writing. I've never been a fast writer--each of my first novels took four years to produce--but at least by working on only one at a time I did manage to finish them. Now with the six year mark approaching, I just hit the 51,000 word mark in one novel, and I'm only at 21,000 words in the other. Which means I'm perhaps around the halfway mark in the first, and nowhere close to finished in the second.

The stories don't bore me. I haven't lost interest in them. It's just that one of them is extremely complicated and needs lot of thought to overcome the many obstacles. Yet my mind can never just set about working on one of them, because both stories keep jockeying for attention in my brain. Each time I think I have stopped working on one to focus solely on the other, some new idea pops up that makes me go back to the other manuscript.

I so badly want to finish at least one of them, so I've pushed harder this year than I have in quite some time, but the finish line feels so far away still, which is discouraging. If I could just finish one then the other might be easier to complete as well.

I wonder how many of you have had this same frustrating experience?

Friday, January 1, 2021

What I Read in 2020

 At the end of each year I do a summary post of what I read throughout the year. I find it interesting to see my reading habits, and to make note of what the best books were each year. I managed only 31 books this year, though to be fair some of them were very long ones. I use a standard five star rating method with five stars meaning I loved the book so much I intend to re-read it throughout my life, so there are rarely any five star books. But with how crazy this year was, I purposely re-read a lot of my old favorites, which is why you'll see so many this time.

1. Fortune's Favorites by Colleen McCullough *****

2. Caesar's Women by Colleen McCullough *****

3. Dispel Illusion by Mark Lawrence *** and a half

4. Caesar by Colleen McCullough *****

5. The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker ****

6. Agent to the Stars by John Scalzi ***

7. The October Horse by Colleen McCullough *****

8. Antony and Cleopatra by Colleen McCullough ****

9. Rosewater by Tade Thompson **

10 Tiamat's Wrath by James S.A. Corey *****

11 The Mirror Empire by Kameron Hurley **

12. The Outsider by Stephen King ****

13 The Dragon Keeper by Robin Hobb ****

14. The Bazaar of Bad Dreams by Stephen King *** and a half

15. The Light Brigade by Kameron Hurley **** and a half

16. The Forgetting Moon by Brian Lee Durfey ****

17. Dragon Haven by Robin Hobb ****

18. City of Dragons by Robin Hobb ****

19. Blood of Dragons by Robin Hobb *** and a half

20. Delta-v by Daniel Suarez ****

21. The Blackest Heart by Brian Lee Durfey ****

22. Beneath a Scarlet Sky by Mark T. Sullivan ***

23. Thieves' World edited by Robert Asprin *****

24. Tales from the Vulgar Unicorn edited by Robert Asprin *****

25. Shadows of Sanctuary edited by Robert Asprin *****

26. Writing the Blockbuster Novel by Albert Zuckerman **

27. Storm Season edited by Robert Asprin *****

28. The Face of Chaos edited by Robert Asprin *****

29. The Firm by John Grisham *****

30. Full Dark, No Stars by Stephen King ***

31. Wings of Omen edited by Robert Asprin *****

Friday, October 30, 2020

Sample From My Work in Progress

 I'm been struggling so much with writing over the past few years. I'm not a fast writer in any case--my first two novels took me four years each to complete.  But it has been nearly seven years now since I last finished a book. To be fair, I have been working on two at the same time, which is probably a bad idea, but I haven't been able to help myself.  Both stories have been compelling to me.

I've started to have fun again, though, which is nice. Wrote this bit this morning, and it gave me a good chuckle.


            Villem hacked and gagged on the earth choking him.  Something warm and wet rasped across his face again and again.  He spat dirt from his mouth and breathed in air sweeter than any dessert.  Gasping and panting, he tried to open his eyes, but it was too painful from the grit that filled them.  He was confused by whatever it was cleansing his face, until he heard a whine.

The dog!  She has saved my life once again.  Despite his utter misery, Villem’s heart filled with a warm glow for the poor, starving mongrel that refused to let him die.  He recalled the ridged line across the dog’s haunch from where the crossbow bolt had left its mark.  Scar!  She deserves a name.  I’ll name her Scar.

He spat and spat until his mouth was free of dirt.  Scar began licking him about the eyes, and soon Villem was able to try opening them again.  The grit was painful and filled his eyes with tears, but he could see Scar standing over him, continuing to lick away the dirt from around his face.

Villem was grateful that the lord’s men hadn’t bothered to do more than toss a thin layer of earth over his face, else he’d surely be dead now.  They had done better with his lower extremities, though—he couldn’t move them much.  He began wiggling his arms and legs the best he could, trying to gain more room.

Scar’s head jerked up and looked away, and she barked twice.  In the distance, Villem heard a voice, perhaps that of a child.  It was coming closer!

“H-help!” he cried.  “Help me!”  He heard a startled cry, then silence for a few moments.

“Back dog!” someone yelled, sounding like a young boy.

“It must belong to the witch,” came a voice from a different boy.

“No!” Villem cried.  “It’s me.  Help me!”

“Run!” yelped one of the boys, and Villem heard them scampering away.

Villem wept and laughed at the same time, while Scar began to lick his face again.  “They thought it was you, girl.  Good girl.  Good, Scar.”  He wished he had an arm free so he could pet her.  He began to wiggle his arms and legs again.

Just when he began to feel he was making some headway, he heard voices again, and Scar again looked up and barked.

“There it is, see?  Don’t get too close,” came the voice of one of the boys.

A man’s voice responded, “It’s just a mutt.  Are you daft?”

“It talked, I swear!”

“It the witch’s, I tell you.”  So the other boy was there as well.

Villem gathered his breath and called out, “It’s not the dog.  It’s me!  Help me!”

Silence reined for some time before Villem heard scuffling sounds.  Scar barked again.

“Easy, dog,” came the raspy voice of the man.  “I’ll poke you if I have to.”

“Don’t hurt her!” Villem called out.  “She’s a good dog.  The best!”

“Show yourself, whoever you are.”

“I’m here, in the ground.”

A man’s face appeared, eyes widening as he saw Villem.  The man was old, but he wore a conical steel helm on his head, so Villem assumed he must be a guard from the keep.

“What’s this then?” the man said.  “What are you doing in the ground?”

“Just help me, please!”

The man looked behind him.  “You boys, come here.  Nothing t’be affrighted of.  Just some demon digging his way out from the bowels of the earth.”  The man chuckled.

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Audiobook Release for Epic Fantasy The Shard

My very first audiobook was released in Audible yesterday. It is narrated by the talented Rosa B. Watkinson. It's a whole new realm of learning for me, trying to figure out how to be successful in the audiobook realm. I imagine getting reviews for audiobooks isn't easy. I've Googled for audiobook reviewers and there don't appear to be very many.

For those who enjoy audiobooks and think they might try this one, I think having a map may be useful. I have a link on the right side of my blog to the map for The Shard. If you click on the picture of the map, it will enlarge and you can do CTRL + P to print it out.

Click here to visit the Audible page for this book.

I am looking for lovers of epic fantasy to do reviews of the audiobook of The Shard. I can provide a free code for Audible US or UK. I don't expect anyone to do dishonest reviews. If you truly dislike the book, then it would be better for me if you didn't post a review, but any honest reviews are appreciated. Note that a review on Audible is great, but please also consider posting a review on other great sites, such as Reddit's r/fantasy or in various Facebook groups that love fantasy or audiobooks. Thanks for your consideration!

Friday, March 27, 2020

Pandemic Diary Rome

I don't write that much on this blog anymore, mostly because I use Facebook for the bulk of my thoughts these days, but every so often it's good to put something up here if for no other reason than to serve as a sort of diary entry for myself. Everyone is going through this Covid-19 global pandemic these days, though here in Italy it was one of the early epicenters of the virus. The entire country was shut down about two weeks ago.
Empty street in center of Rome
 While most of my colleagues stay home, I'm unfortunately considered to be an 'essential' employee, so I continue to have to go to work. It's an eerie experience walking through the heart of historic Rome and seeing how empty everything is.
Piazza del Popolo with no people
I couldn't take photos in some spots, like the Trevi Fountain, because there was a cordon of police officers and I didn't want a confrontation with them.
The Spanish Steps
Walking down the Spanish Steps, the two lady police officers that you see in the picture stopped me to make me show my paperwork that allows me to be outside.

Sadly, the past couple days I have started to see more and more cars and people out, which tells me that people are starting to lose patience with staying indoors. But this will only help the virus to start spreading again.

I feel a tad prescient, since my novel The Immortality Game has a Dark Times from the middle of this century until the start of the next, and the Dark Times was caused by a mixture of the effects of global climate change and a terrible pandemic, much worse than our current one.

I hope that our scientists find a vaccine sooner rather than later, so we can save many more lives.

Friday, January 31, 2020

Russian Names in The Immortality Game

I only have one review in Amazon France, and it's a bad one. Two stars. That's fine; it's what that person felt when they read the book, and I appreciate that they read it. I just don't like one thing that was central to their dislike--the reader complained that the Russians in my book use diminutive names, suggesting that they would only be using the formal of first name and patronymic. He seemed to be suggesting that I didn't know enough about Russia and Russians.

I have lived in Russia and other Soviet-sphere countries for 13 years. I had a lot of experience with Russians, speaking not just to me but with each other. Yes, I saw the situations where they used the formal first name with patronymic. I've seen the occasions where my Russian wife of 24 years will use the formal. I do understand when it is generally used. It wasn't the case of the situations set in my story.

I am sure there are work places where colleagues use the formal addresses. Probably in such places as the police force, hospitals perhaps, etc. In the places that I witnessed, even at the embassy, everyone was closer to one another and they used the diminutives, not the formal. That was what I was expressing in my story. These scientists had been working closely with one another for decades. They were beyond the point of using the formal names with each other.

I'm sorry this reader felt the way he did about my book, but I disagree with him that I used the language of names wrong.

Monday, December 30, 2019

What I Read in 2019

At the end of each year I do a summary post of what I read throughout the year. I find it interesting to see my reading habits, and to make note of what the best books were each year. I managed only 28 books this year, though to be fair some of them were very long ones. I use a standard five star rating method with five stars meaning I loved the book so much I intend to re-read it throughout my life, so there are rarely any five star books.

1. The Girl With All the Gifts by M.R. Carey ****
2. Langue[dot]doc 1305 by Gilian Polack ***
3. The Songs of Distant Earth by Arthur C. Clarke ****
4. Silent Hall by N.S. Dolkart **
5. God's War by Kameron Hurley **** and a half
6. Infidel by Kameron Hurley **** and a half
7. Rapture by Kameron Hurley **** and a half
8. Somebody to Love: The Life, Death, and Legacy of Freddie Mercury by Matt Richards ****
9. The Wolves of Winter by Matt Johnson ***
10. Cyteen by C.J. Cherryh ****
11. Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer ***
12. Downbelow Station by C.J. Cherryh **** and a half
13. One Word Kill by Mark Lawrence *** and a half
14. The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon *****

15. The Traitor Baru Cormorant by Seth Dickinson ** and a half
16. Fall of Giants by Ken Follett **** and a half
17. Low Town by Daniel Polansky ****
18. Lucifer's Hammer (reread) by Larry Niven ****
19. Embassytown by China Mieville *** and a half
20. Winter of the World by Ken Follett **** and a half
21. The City of Mirrors by Justin Cronin *** and a half
22. With the Old Breed by Eugene Sledge ****
23. Alliance Space by C.J. Cherryh ****
24. Edge of Eternity by Ken Follett **** and a half
25. The Water Knife by Paolo Bacigalupi **** and a half
26. Great North Road by Peter F. Hamilton ****
27. The First Man in Rome (reread) by Colleen McCullough *****
28. Limited Wish by Mark Lawrence *** and a half