Sunday, January 1, 2012

My New Home.

Hi! I've moved, so come on by to my new home at Somewhat Epic. Look forward to seeing you there, and I hope that you all had a great Christmas & New Years.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Up for a potential sh*t storm.

It’s 5:45 in the morning, and I’m up. Boo. It didn’t mean to, but Chickerdoodles decided that she would be awake. This doesn’t happen very often, and I suppose that I should be grateful for that, but not at the moment.

Usually, I’d just let her fuss away until she settled herself down, but she has been getting her second-year molars, and she’s been fussy and fevery. Not a big deal, but she’s also been filling her diapers with Gusto! Oh yeah, changing her just won’t do; she’s had to be showered. Last Tuesday, “it” made its way down to her foot. I should really be sharing this story at high schools – “Now do you want to wear condoms?” One morning, she got up and she had been in such a condition for a while, and had a diaper rash that looked like a burn. It was down-graded to ‘red’ by the next day, but it was pretty awful for her.

Mostly though, all is well with her. She’s still too young to understand what’s going on with Christmas, but she’ll be pretty excited to unwrap presents, I think. I’ll keep you posted on that. I think that it’s only going to get better as we get to enjoy Christmas through her eyes. Right now though, we’re just re-decorating the tree as she pulls off the ‘treasures’ to run around the house with, and we repair and re-hang them. We usually put up the tree on the first Saturday of December, but it may change to the Monday before Christmas for a few years, since it’s getting maddening. Oh well, in ten days, it will all just be a fridge full of memories.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Another Triumph!

That’s right; I snatched victory from the jaws of defeat, and got my 50 000 words for NaNoWriMo. On Sunday the 27th, I was already behind, and had had a particularly rough day at work. (It was my own fault – I let my energy get sapped by being pissed off at a co-worker.) I got a modest 1000 words that day. I was nearly ready to throw in the towel.

So, on Monday, I really knuckled-down after work and did a record-breaking 2700 words. Then, I had a couple glasses of wine (a writer’s vice if there ever was one), and thought, ‘I’m going to set-up my next scene,’ and got another 450 words done. It was starting to look like something that could be saved!

Tuesday, I usually have Daddy-Daughter-Day, but through the miracle of wife-taking-the-day-off-for-a-doctors-appointment, I was able to get a solid hour of writing in the morning, plus two-hour space between dinner and Bath/Bed procedure, in addition to nap-time, and after Chickerdoodles went to bed, I got a barn-burning, Rip-Snorting, Record-Breaking 4200 words in a day! By Wednesday the 30th, I only had 660 words, and, well, the story kinda tells itself after that.

I really owe this victory to my wife. Not only was she so understanding about the countless hours I stayed up late and got my word count in. She was also my biggest cheer-leader when I wasn’t keeping up, and kept my spirits up when I was feeling defeated by the size of the task.
I’m looking forward to getting back to Blogging now, and getting re-acquainted with you all. Thanks for your patience in my absence.

Before I finish, I have to share a Proud Papa moment. I was sitting on the couch, watching TV with Chickerdoodles on my lap, and I did something kinda loud and rude, as men are wont to do in their homes. She said “Puba!” (Toddler-ese for ‘Kuma’). That’s right, she blamed the dog! It was one of those moments that I dreamed of when I first learned that I was going to be a dad. I spent the next day at work, telling everyone who would listen, and many who wouldn’t. Then, about a week later, she farted, then blamed the dog. It was just as funny the second time.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Review of Melody Hill, by Jessica Bell

As I mentioned last week, I got Jessica Bell’s album, Melody Hill; On the Other side. I was excited about this project long before I heard the album. Part of my interest was because Jessica is such a delightful & supportive Blogger (find her at The Alliterative Allomorph), but I was especially intrigued that she released an album as a soundtrack to her book. As I said last week: How cool is that!?

One of my pet-peeves is when I ask someone about a band, and they say “They’re good.” Well, The Beatles are good, and Rage Against The Machine are good, so you really haven’t told me anything. I really enjoyed Melody Hill, and I will try to give a more detailed review than “it’s really good.”

Having said that, it’s a really good album, but I am having one problem with this. I enjoy this type of acoustic-based singer/songwriter music with female vocals, but it’s been years since I’ve listened to it, so please forgive me if my comparisons are somewhat dated.

This music could easily be played in the same concert with Jewel or Alanis Morisette (being a little more rock-based than the former). I should think that either would be pleased to open for Jessica Bell. It also reminds me a little of Sinead O’Conner’s first album, The Lion and The Cobra, if anyone remembers that. I believe that I’m also hearing a hint of Portishead in there. Her voice alternates from wine-glass-sweet to a rich purr, with an indefinable accent occasionally teasing its way through.

While the music on Melody Hill seems to have been written with a one-person-with-acoustic-guitar in mind, (see: coffee house), it has been beautifully augmented with keyboards, drums, bass, and tasteful electric guitar. Some songs are more introspective and slow, like “If You Were Me,” or the lullaby-like “Selfish Heartbreak.” Then, we’re treated to the more upbeat and expressive “Don’t Break Me,” or “Love is a Bitch of a Wine (Whine).” “Famous,” featured on her book trailer, is simply haunting, and I’ve had to return to her Blog to hear it again after it ran through my head all day before Melody Hill was available.

Much of the lyrics are filled with longing and conflict, and if I didn’t know that this was a soundtrack, I’d be concerned for the artist’s marriage. There is no shortage of clever lyrics, and it’s clear that Jessica is a diligent student of the craft. I really enjoyed the phrasing of “I wanna wake to see you, pleased to see me” in “Wash Me Away” The pause in the singing gave it a surprising quality that printed word wouldn’t allow.

My only problem with this album is the order of the first two songs. Melody Hill starts with a six-minute introspective that escalates towards the end, and the second is more of an up-beat rock song. Typically, an album starts with the song that the artist would start a concert with; a Here-we-are-let’s-go! song. I haven’t read the book yet, so I don’t know how this song-order serves the soundtrack function, but I would have reversed this order.

I’d really recommend Melody Hill: On the Other Side, and I look forward to listening to it as I write for NaNowriMo (I use the future tense because I’m posting this eight days into NaNo, so I’m writing this on Halloween). Don’t forget about the Amazon Rush on October 11.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Insecure Writer's Support Group

I’ll bet that I’m not the first to use the Insecure Writer’s Support Group Blogfest to write about NaNoWriMo. The obvious concern is that I won’t finish, but if I park my arse in the chair for 25 days out of the thirty, that’s 25 days I haven’t written yet, and thousands of words that aren’t on the page yet. On the other hand, I’ve told several people that I’m doing this, so I certainly don’t want to go back to them with my tail between my legs.
But I also want to use this time to let you know that I won’t be around much. I’m sure that you understand that most of my extra minutes will be spent writing. I’ve been trying to get up early to have Bloffee time before Chickerdoodles gets up. I have a feeling that I won’t be too creative in my first minutes of the day, so NaNo-writing may not work. I may feel that getting inspiration from my Blogging Buddies will serve me better, but no promises. I’ll also be staying up late to write, so I could forfeit that early time.
There will be two exceptions to the November NaNo Blogging Sabbatical. This is the first (that I’m writing on Saturday), and the other is a review of a project that I think is just brilliant.
Many of you know Jessica Bell, of The Alliterative Allomorph fame. On November 11th, she will be releasing her book String Bridge on Amazon. On October 24, she released the album “Melody Hill; On the Other Side” as a soundtrack for the book. How cool is that!? Many artists I know have a “major” and a “minor;” like musicians who write, or sculptors who draw, but I haven’t heard of this before. On Oct 8th, I will be posting a review of this album, now available on ITunes.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

NaNoWriMo, year two.

I’ve been on the fence this year as to whether or not to participate in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). I did it last year; I didn’t finish my story, but I got to 50, 000 words. I had the greatest feeling of triumph as I danced around, listening to Aerosmith’s “Roadrunner,” singing “I finished NaNo, I finished NaNo…” on November 30th.

A couple of days later, it snowed. It occurred to me that if it had of snowed in November, the shoveling would have knocked me out for the night, and making my 1,667 words for the day would not have been possible. And wouldn’t you know it; someone told me that the Farmer’s Almanac had forecast snow for November.

When I shared these sentiments with my beautiful wife, she said “Why not? I mean how much could it snow in November?” By ph’kr, she’s right! It certainly could snow like a mofo, but more likely, we’ll get a couple inches, here and there.

When I decided to throw my hat in the ring, I got excited. Talk about following your gut; mine’s saying “buckle up, brother.” The thought of staying up for an extra few hours, with my music and my Starbucks – my buckle-down brew – it just seems like a great time!

But would it be cheating if I used the opportunity to finish my stalled work? Last NaNo, I wrote a prequel that has occupied the rest of my year. Now the original work has sat neglected for…well,long enough that a fresh approach will hold some surprises for me. I’m OK with it, since it’s a no-prize competition. The point of it being to inspire and build community.

Who else is doing NaNoWriMo this year? You can Buddy me as Will Burke93.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Breakthrough, by Steven Tremp.

Say what you will about Dan Brown, he does give us a nice point-of-reference when describing stories. When I say that a story is a Dan Brown style mix of science and murder-mystery action story, I can give you a pretty good idea of what to expect.

Recently, I had the opportunity and joy to read Steven Tremp’s “Breakthrough,” and it can easily appeal to the same audience.

The protagonist is drawn into a murder-charge of the scientist who discovers how to create a stable wormhole, making him able to get in and out of a place without the inconvenience of vehicles or doors. With this discovery comes the conflict of whether this will be used by benevolent forces, like candy-grams, or by the highest-bidder delivering bombs to crowded stadiums.

Immediately, I was impressed with the action. Mr. Tremp was able to portray a detailed fight without stalling the action. He plainly did some study of martial arts to deliver this really well.

For those of us who have been reading Breakthrough Blogs, the affinity for science is no surprise. This was also included in the story without losing the reader in jargon. Whether or not you have an interest in the science of the time-space continuum, the part of the story that relies on it will be interesting.

The protagonist, Chase Manhattan, has a history of CIA-style missions, but what he’s done and who he worked for isn’t spelled out. While I hope this is revealed in later books, it isn’t necessary to the story, and gives a backstory-texture to the work, without the dreaded ‘info dump.’

Chase also relies on the help of his friends more than the average hero. This added some colorful characters to the story, andI liked the ‘team’ feel.

I highly recommend this book for any fan of a good action-and-intrigue story. It spans audiences, and in the end, it’s a good story, well told. I really look forward to the next installment of the Chase Manhattan series.