Paradise Seekers - 3rd Strike (Edit) is DONE

on Tuesday, August 31, 2010
News comin' right up, dished with a side helping of JUSTICE!*

- Just finished the third Paradise Seekers edit. And just in time, too. Though, truthfully, it isn't completely done (I still have to nit-pick my way through for word repetition), but most sentences have been fixed and a few key plot points edited. Particularly the last two chapters, which suffered a bit of extensive changes to get the final point of the book across.
So yeah. That's done. Hooray!

- "Steelgod September" has now become "Epic Steelgod Heroes of Amar" September, because the rest of Writing Group 1.0 is getting in on this "Write a whole book in a month or else" action (and are writing Epic Heroes and The Ring of Amar). Should prove entertaining. Maybe we should make a competition out of it. Except the last one didn't go anywhere.

- Went to The Way of Kings midnight sale-a-thon, decided to get Jason and Derek's books personalized and my copy of Elantris, and it ended up taking until freaking three in the morning (I had school at 8). It was fun, until the day after (read: right now) when I wanted to pass out. We chatted with Dan Wells a little and Jason got his Kindle signed by both of them. Good times were had by all. I also covet Dan Wells' iPad now.

- Might of the Steelgods isn't nearly as planned out as I'd hoped (I still haven't figured out towns in the main area of the world, where this whole first book takes place) but you know what? Screw it. Discovery writing = the best, so there you go.
Overall, however, I have a general idea, a few weird ideas, and some bad ideas that will all mix together into an interesting story. Plus it'll give me more time away from Effulgent Corruption. Hey, speaking of that book...

- Effulgent Corruption is getting a minor overhaul (whenever I get back to it) in terms of the magic system. Mostly because I think the world, setting, characters, and aftermath of the magic works great, but the magic the people actually use is...well, unoriginal. Actually the only really unique magic system I've made thus far was the blood magic (Stampede) in Harbinger. If I want Effulgent Corruption to excel, all points within need to excel. I'll be considering that whilst I write Might of the Steelgods, which, coincidentally, has a cool magic system. One I should flesh out a bit more (or not, since that's what future books in the series are for).

That's my life. Since I finished Paradise Seekers and I'm totally exhausted, I think I'm going to go play xbox or something now. Ta ta!

*Justice is $0.30 extra.

MOVIE REVIEW - Scott Pilgrim vs. The World

on Friday, August 20, 2010

Blurb Review

A hilarious, visual treat, Scott Pilgrim will find a certain appeal in the 20-something invested in the gaming culture and still struggling to "grow up." Others, however, might not have as much fun with the movie (though they would certainly still find parts of it hilarious).

Full Review

Scott Pilgrim vs The World is freaking fantastic. I've been struggling with this review for about a week now, and I am still having problems figuring out what to say. Here's what I'll say, with bullet-points and stuff.

- It's the first "video game" movie. Remember how shows like Sin City tried to make movies look like comic books. Scott Pilgrim does this, except with video games, and it works perfectly.

- The movie has tons of videogame references. However, they do them smart. In other movies (probably from other directers/writers that aren't the same dude who did Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz) the little side-jokes would be the main attention. Not here. They are just there as bonus content for those who get it. If you don't, the movie is still great.

- My biggest worry about this movie was that I'd go in, get all the jokes, and just cringe. Let's be honest: the video game nerd culture isn't exactly the most...respected on the planet. We are typecast as loser virgins who eat cheetos, drink energy drinks, and bask in the glow of computer screens late into the night. It makes laughing at movies made for us hard. This worry, however, was stupid. The movie never goes too far, ever. And, even in parts where it got close, it knew it was going completely overboard, and made a joke on it. The movie was delightfully self-aware, but still managed to keep that balance. This is hard to explain, just know it works, even though it has every reason in the world that it shouldn't.

- If you don't know much about video games, you might still enjoy the movie. If you know a decent amount, you'll have a great time. If you are a video game nerd, this is like the best movie ever. No joke. If you love games and haven't seen this movie, turn in your nerd card. This is mandatory now, like Firefly.

- As a movie, it was very funny, very bright, had a style that was completely irresistible, and extremely clever. I'd expect no less from Edgar Wright (again, the dude made Shaun of the Dead, one of the funniest and wittiest movies ever made). Even as just a movie, it was head and shoulders above most stuff that comes out.

- I can easily say that, as a movie-going experience, it bests almost anything I've seen in the last several years. I think the last time I enjoyed just watching a movie this much was Thank You For Smoking, back in 2007. Seriously, it's so great.

You don't need to know any more. Go watch this movie. Support filmmaking like this: bold, cutting edge, and completely unique. Do it. It's so good.

Updates: Nathan thinks back about crap he wrote and is writing.

It'll probably be easier if I just do this by book. Helps organize my thoughts, too.

Where Gods and Mortals Dance

I'm considering my (hopefully soon) edit of this, and trying to figure out what needs to be fixed and how. I currently have come to a few conclusions (which I'll try to keep spoiler free):
- The first 1/3 needs to be condensed and fixed. This was because about 2/3rd of the way through the first 1/3 of the book (confused by the fractions yet?) was when I really figured out what was going on with regard to Dire's politics. Now that I have an idea, I can rewrite it to make it less...boring.
- There needs to be a part between the current Part 1 (Condemned) and Part 2 (Voice). Specifically, Part 1 needs to focus on Ailene's distrust of Dratan (a theme never really brought into focus) and then a more detailed evaluation of their plans and how they come into fruition.
- Part 2 works currently, but needs some trimming. Also, Ralf's entire involvement in the scheme needs to be clearer, something that would hopefully be fixed in the yet-unwritten Part "1.5."
- Part 3 is, to me, almost perfect. It could be a bit longer, explaining the two factions that take Dire over after the...*ahem* rather dramatic plot twist at the end of Part 2. Also, the ending reveal could be hinted at more. Or not, because I'm considering doing a sequel (The Truth Behind His Voice) should this ever go anywhere.
- Also considering rewriting the Epilogue from Useless's POV. Or not. As of now, there are two chapters total from the Useless God's POV, the first real chapter and the last real chapter. Actually, I like that. Forget what I just said.
- Fixing the Dratan/Ailene relationship, but I already figured that out.
- Random thought: I'm considering starting the book with Ailene already usurped, or something to that effect. Though, I suppose having her city Condemned is an exciting start, it slow going. We'll see.

Writing this got me pumped to edit it. I'll also have to do something about the 4044 "ly" words in the stupid book. It runs at 186k currently, and I'm afraid even after extensive edits it might end up longer. I seriously think this is the best book I've written (it is certainly my favorite, even over Paradise Seekers), and I'd like to have it in a state I'd feel comfortable sending it to agents/editors.

Paradise Seekers

- Still editing, about half way through my extensive edit. So far, I've not added much to the overall plot, though I have been cutting sentences like crazy. The plan is that, once I finish this edit, I'm going to print it out again (just for me though), grab a red pen, and go through figuring out which parts to just straight up chop out. I need to cut it's length to about 65 or 60k, so I'm gonna do it.
- I have this love/hate thing with the novel. Not with the story, but my prose. Sometimes I feel like I write great, and other days I completely despise it and think I should just quit and get a real job. I have no idea what the deal is with this.
- Despite me dissing it, Paradise Seekers really makes me want to write more YA, specifically some fast-paced YA series. I have an idea of one currently, and with Effulgent Corruption slowly trying to die, maybe I'll do what I did with Paradise Seekers (read: plan the first book in the Might of the Steelgods series while writing Effulgent Corruption, then blast through it with a month as my goal). Here, I'll devote a section to it.

Might of the Steelgods (Book 1)

- This is my YA series that I've been considering. It would probably span any number of books I wanted it too, as the setting and characters make it ripe for multiple adventures. It's a sci-fi/fantasy hybrid, which is cool, and is in first-person.
- As stated above, I'm considering just extensively planning the novel as I did with Paradise Seekers, then taking a month off from Effulgent Corruption to write this entire book. A 70k novel only requires about 2,500 words a day to be finished in a month, which I could totally do if I forced myself. It would be a fun goal, and would give me something else to show agents/editors if they didn't like Paradise Seekers.
- We'll see what happens with this. Maybe September will be "Steelgod September."

Effulgent Corruption

- As you can guess, I haven't gotten anywhere on this novel. Again. What the crap. Even though I've planned the whole thing (and even have some crazy-cool ideas for my main character that I want to implement), I'm stuck. Probably because I'm having issue telling myself "It's a rough draft. Just write it." Especially since the next few chapters involve Drake in prison and prison politics, and as stated above politics are not my strong suite yet (see WGMD). It makes me anxious, so I don't write for fear of screwing it up.
- Despite my stupidity, I had a few plans for this novel. While the first will be a standalone, this is another book I could see easily developing into a 5+ series of novels. The setting and ideas are way too good for just one book, and I think it would be good for me.
- I really like all the ideas in this book, but for some reason I'm sucking at it hardcore. Maybe Steelgod September is a good idea, then I can get back to this in October.


I know right, WTF? My first book? Why is this on here? For a good reason...

- I want to rewrite it, as a YA novel. Really. I'm going to do it. But not for a while, I'm just considering it currently.


Here's the plan, people.

- For the rest of August, I'm not going to write anything new. That way, if I don't, I won't feel guilty about it. Instead, I'm going to focus on finishing all the remaining Paradise Seekers edits, and plan Might of the Steelgods (yes, I'm outlining. Hush now)
- September is now "Steelgod September", aka, I'm going to write the first Might of the Steelgods book in one month. 2.5k a day minimum. Gonna happen, people.
- After that, business as usual. Back to Effulgent Corruption, yada yada.

So there you have it, Nathan's life goals. Plus, school, work, all that other good stuff. Maybe I'll survive this fall. Maybe not. Oh well.

"ly" word Armageddon

on Tuesday, August 17, 2010
The end of days has come to these "ly" words, because I've found that editing them is a task well suited for work (read: it doesn't require much brain-power, but is very productive).
After checking that, I pulled up Where Gods and Mortals Dance. Joy of joys, it has 4044 "ly" words.
Holy balls.
Doing a quick math check, that's 2.25% of total book words. Paradise Seekers was only about 1.7%. "Only."
I'm not going to say Effulgent Corruption's,'s bad. I guess when I get wordier I just add more "ly" words. REDUNDANT DESCRIPTION. SOMEONE DOESN'T NEED TO ANNOUNCE SOMETHING "LOUDLY." COME ON NATHAN.
However, there is a good side to this story. Now that I'm aware of my infatuation with crappy words, I can nip it in the bud here on out. Plus, cutting them from Paradise Seekers is strangely therapeutic, mostly because it makes most sentences loads better.
Needless to say, the day of reckoning for "ly" words is here, and the unrighteous will be purged. All those "loudly," "softly," and "precariously" will be removed. Actually, "precariously" is a pretty cool word. I'll keep those.
Plus, this cuts down on my word count. Slowly. <---"LY" WORD! OMG.
Anyway, nobody care about this, but that's too bad for you.

Something I do because I don't want to edit more tonight.

on Monday, August 16, 2010

- Sam "considers" something 56 times over the course of the book. Word repetition, go! (I considered)
- Sam "think" 55 times over the course of the book. (I thought)
- People "laughed" 40 times.
- People "grinned" 34 times (or used a variation of "grin," not counting "grinding." Stupid search finding words within words)
- People "took a deep breath" 7 times
- I say "God" (as in "oh God") 4 times (and it has gone up after editing. I'm going to hell)
- I use "Hell" as a swear word 30 times.
- Desmond says "Bloody" 6 times.
- "Damnation" is used 11 times. "Damn" itself, used as a swear, happens 19 times, plus 4 for "Dammit."
- I use "crap" 20 times. This is because it was my generic swear replacement after the original edit for all the "God"s. Sadly, most have reverted because only Mormons say "crap" that much.
- I use the letter "i" 21,837 times. This has no relevance to anything ever, because it counts it within other words.
- The phrase "Paradise Seekers" is mentioned 42 times, including the title and chapter titles, etc.
- I use 1324 "ly" words. This is a big one, and very hard for me to catch when I'm reading through and get accidentally caught up in the story. My best bet is, after going through it once, going back word by word and cutting. Keep in mind this one (unlike the previous ones) is from the currently being edited version, which means I'm failing at life. In fact, I might go fix these now.

I fixed most of the considers, grins, thinks, and laughs. I kept thinking the word count would go down, but instead the stupid thing has been going up. What? I think it's because I find these stupid problems and have to fix them. I'm trimming a lot from sentences, but then I had to add things to fix incoherent sections. Trimming words doesn't beat out adding paragraphs.

I am not looking forward to editing WGMD, but I'm gonna do it sometime. I really like how the story ends, it just needs work beginning at this stage in the game. All the Sanderson-ites in Writing Group v. 2.0 got some of the worst parts of the story, ha ha. I guess Andrea finished it, so she knows it gets better (and she said so! The chapter right after Sanderson's class gets a bajillion times better!).

No school = happy Nathan. GOALS: 1k a day on Effulgent Corruption, two chapters a day editing of Paradise Seekers. Gotta get Writing Group v. 1.0 over for another 7 hour editing fest. Hopefully we'll go a little faster this time.

Anyway, editing is done for the day, so I'm going to go write some Effulgent Corruption, which has been neglected this past week. Also, time for agents to start sending my rejection letters back; my bathroom needs wallpapering.

Editing again.

on Sunday, August 15, 2010
Still doing the next Paradise Seekers edit. It's going slowly, which sucks, but it isn't going badly, which doesn't suck.

I'm working again next week, for ~40 hours, which will be good for both money and giving me something to do. The plan is to read a lot, get inspired, maybe write and edit too. Depends on how busy it is (hopefully not too busy, but you never know).

Saw Scott Pilgrim vs The World on Saturday, and it totally rocks. However, there is a sort of a disclaimer: to fully enjoy the movie, you have to be fully immersed in the nerd/video game culture. If you have dabbled in it, you'll probably still have a fun time, but you won't get all the clever winks and nods that pop up nearly every time you turn around. The film had a sort of kinetic energy that has to really be respected; I hope they make more movies like it. Loud, colorful, over-the-top action sequences that aren't depressing or "super serious" like the modern-day trend seems to be.

Effulgent Corruption has been (again) put into the back-burner for my editing. Once I'm done, however, I'll start writing again. I might try writing and editing (heaven forbid!). Now that I'm not in school for two weeks, I should have a lot less stress.

I was going to say something about writing, but I forgot what it was, so I guess it wasn't important. Plus, this marked Alpha copy of Paradise Seekers next to me is screaming for me to get to it, so I'd better obey.

MOVIE REVIEW - Inception

on Friday, August 13, 2010

So in all the blogs I follow (primarily authors/agents/editors), just about EVERYBODY and THEIR DOG reviewed Inception about two weeks ago. It was a total fad between all these authors to sing the praises of this movie (and a few didn't like it). In accordance to this trend (and clearly that last step I have to take before becoming a Real Author), I will now review this movie, which I watched with my wife last Monday. 

Also, everybody on my blog list is now buying iPads. Unfortunately, I can't afford this trend quite yet (and have no idea what I'd use an iPad for besides being trendy and playing Plants vs Zombies). 

So. Inception. It's a movie made by Christopher Nolan, recently made super-star by nerds and non-nerds alike with The Dark Knight. I'm fairly certain the reason this movie got so big was because of the popularity of that one, which is fair because Inception is, truthfully, quite a good movie. 

Most people have been comparing watching this film with one's first viewing of The Matrix. People really like to say that a lot these days, like watching The Matrix is akin to having some great life epiphany or being born again or something. On Inception, I will say this: it did have that "holy crap!" thing The Matrix gave us back in 1999, but instead of happening near the beginning, Inception's happens about an hour and and a half in, when is also about the time you finally freaking understand what is going on.

But I digress. Let me start from the beginning. Also, I'm going to be as completely spoiler-free as possible. Truthfully, this is a movie you can't spoil, because the details are so heavy and interwoven into the watching experience that any attempt I could make to put them to the written word would be inadequate. 

So, now that I've proven my review moot, here it is.

Inception is about dudes entering dreams to steal secrets. Basically, in the future we have some technology that allows us to both make dreams for people, enter their dreams, and interact in them. Multiple people can dream together if they are all plugged into the magic dream machine box. Leonardo DiCaprio is a dream thief, who excels at entering worlds and stealing prized information.

All this, of course, is implied, because we never really see him steal anything from the whole movie. Whoops, spoiler?

Anyway, the plot of Inception is a reversal of the stealing bit; they want him to plant an idea into a person's mind. The problem is, you can't just go into dreams and tell a person what to do. Their mind will know it's not their own though, and they'll brush it away. So, they have to concoct an elaborate scheme to convince the person, through subterfuge and subtle hints, that this idea is really his.

That is really the most clever part of the movie: how they pull this off. Inception is a heist move at its core, with the sci-fi elements simply a stage and sets of rules used to keep the heist going. It's kind of like Mistborn, only replace the metal magic with dream rules.

As a heist movie, it works well, and when you finally see the payoff, it is really really satisfying. The rules are all very intuitive (once you figure them out), quite clever, and the game has a "timebomb" buildup that keeps the tension always at the forefront. As a heist movie, it works. As a sci-fi film, it also works. Overall, the ideas make it a "clever movie."

The movie also has some incredibly clever touches. Take, for example, the soundtrack. For you to get this, I'll have to give you a basic "rule" of dreamland. In the dream world, you can stack dreams. You can go into their dream, make a dream machine inside the dream, and then go into a dream within a dream. The plot revolves around going three dreams deep to plant the memory. The trick is, think about your dreams. You can think hours have passed (and they have, in the dream), but wake up and it has only been five minutes. The same happens in dream stacking. Five minutes is an hour in a level one dream, jump one deeper and you have like a week, jump another deeper and its a year. Time is essentially slowing.

Cool, right? Here's where the nifty trick comes in. The soundtrack literally adjusts according to this. If you watch a trailer, you'll notice the loud, "fog horn" type noises in the soundtrack, and think they are just for dramatic effect. They aren't. When the scenes switch between levels of dreams, the same soundtrack is played slower to represent the time compression. When I found this out, I was blown away. The soundtrack isn't just a soundtrack, it's part of the rules of the film. I wish more filmmakers were this clever.

Point being, it is certainly worth watching. However, the film does have some really major problems that made it just "great" instead of "holy crap best movie ever."

And here they are in no particular order!

- The film is about 30-45 minutes too long. Most of these minutes are spent on shootouts that have no relevance to anything and are way overdrawn, and the horrible, terrible, stupid snowmobile/snow war scene near the end of the movie. Look, I get it, this is a summer movie, and so it has to trade intelligence for guns sometime. But why does it have to? And does it have to do it for dozens of minutes in the most tacked on way possible? My wife's first comment after it ended was, "That movie had way too much shooting." And it did! The movie was smart, dramatic, and suspenseful without all the gunplay. That stuff just was extra. It seemed like a stupid way to force action into a movie that was better than that. The story was smart, why ruin it with stupid Michael Bay fighting?

- The film doesn't really trust the viewer, yet still manages to be completely confusing until about an hour in. This is mostly the fault of the way information is presented. There are two ways things are shown in Inception: scenes that are crazy with no context at all (so you have no idea what is going on: read, the first 45 minutes of the film), or expository blabbing between DiCaprio and Ellen Page. There is no middle ground; you learn very little on your own, which means you don't do much speculation. Either you totally know something for sure, or you are completely in the dark. The exception is the ending, which is perfect (if predictable), but the distribution of information is just...poor. It could have been done a lot better. It at least could have been done in a way that my wife and I had some clue whatsoever what was going on for the first three-four major plot-points of the movie. Seriously, no idea at all until 45 minutes in. We all know about "in late, out early" but don't freaking drop me off this far in without any explanation at all, especially in a movie as complicated as Inception.

- Ellen Page's character is useless, if not detrimental to all character development in this film. Seriously, she exists for one reason: to ask questions for the sake of the audience, and to infer stuff about DiCaprio's character that should have been left ambiguous. DiCaprio, while not my favorite actor, works well at presenting characters who appear one thing and are actually another. This sense of mystery is (I'm assuming) what draws women to him in droves, as well as providing speculation regarding his characters. Luckily, Page is here to ruin everything. The minute you learn something that could be a hint at DiCaprio's character, Page magically guesses what it really means, removing any speculation you might have had to do. Thank goodness, I was afraid I'd have to use my brain! It's almost as if Inception went: "Ok, we have this cool premise that is going to blow people's minds. We want good, deep character, but we are certain audiences will be too dumb to be able to figure out a complex plot, world, and characters! We'd better just explain one of them to death at every possible instance so their poor, dumb brains can handle it." The character is so flat and two-dimensional it is insulting, especially considering the other supporting characters are generally interesting. Or at least have personality.

Wow, that's a lot of gripes. All this aside, I enjoyed the movie a lot, and it had lots of moments where I was like "That is totally cool" or "That's some great writing" or "Wow! Clever!", stuff like that. It's certainly worth watching, mostly because the premise and "magic system" is fantastic. I just wish the characters and presentation could have lived up to this great idea Nolan had.

Editing, editing, submitting.

on Tuesday, August 10, 2010
Been busy editing Paradise Seekers. Actually just finished having Writing Group 1.0 over for a 7 hour revision fest. Yeah. And we only did 75 pages (double spaced).
Good part is it is a lot better now, and I'm going to continue work on the rest of the novel. That's about 1/4-1/3 of the entire book, so hopefully it doesn't take 7 hours next time.
Besides that, I've been submitting, especially with my newly acquired 75 pages of edited content. Granted, I did an edit before; this is with Alpha Reader feedback and going a lot slower. Again, lots of prose improvements.

School is murdering me. I have a final tomorrow and thursday, and a project due as well. I'm hoping I've studied enough, since I'm certain that project is going to take the vast majority of my time. As a perk, however, I got into my capstone program! So I can actually graduate at the end of the year! Party!

Excited about submitting to agents. I already said that, but I'm saying it again. Effulgent Corruption is inching along, mostly because of me editing and school (and work again). Luckily, after Thursday I have two weeks of just work, meaning I'll have free evenings to resume my mad writing.

That's it! I should post some blurb about writing that makes people mad (I'm good at those), but it'll have to wait until after thursday. Any preferences for what you want me to make you angry about?

BOOK REVIEW - Changes by Jim Butcher

on Thursday, August 5, 2010
By Jim Butcher (Official Webpage)
Buy it here: 

Blurb Review

Changes is the reason we read the Dresden files. After 11 books of getting to know Harry Dresden, of suffering, loving, fighting, and joking with him, everything culminates in this book. Unlike many long series that fizzle out in the end, that build up expectations that cannot possibly be met, Changes surpassed all my expectations and gave me more.

The Dresden Files is worth reading every book for Changes alone. It is the capstone on one of the best fantasy series ever written.

Full Review

The reason I first started reading the Dresden books was a simple one. I saw the covers frequently, and was intrigued by them. After reading the first two books, Storm Front and Fool Moon, however, I thought the series had potential but wasn't living up to it. So, I was fully content just leaving it.

About a month after that, Changes came out, and my Facebook was abuzz with how much people loved that book. After a good while of people explaining it to me (and also explaining how the series really didn't start until the third book), I went back. So, in a sense, I gave the series another shot because I heard how completely fabulous Changes was.

Needless to say, you can guess I had HUGE expectations for this book. As the series progressed and I liked it more and more, I felt there was just no way Butcher could deliver what I wanted in Changes. I'd been given blockbuster after blockbuster (Grave Peril, Death Masks, Proven Guilty, and Small Favor all come to mind. Oh, and a zombie t-rex ride), and yet I wanted this final book to be all that and then a lot more. There was no possible way he'd pull it off.

Guess what. He did. Changes is one of the best books I've ever read. Of course, there are reasons for that, which I'll now elaborate on.

Changes, read by itself, would still be a good book. But what elevates it into the "holy crap everyone needs to read this" sphere is the eleven books before it. Because we've had extensive time with Dresden (and in his head, since the books are first person), we know him as a character extremely well. We know what his virtues and vices are. We know what things hurt him the most. We know how, when is back is really to the fire, he might slip up and fail. That possibility is always there. He's human, and he's full of multiple levels of real human qualities and quirks.

It's all the buildup that makes Changes work so perfectly. Needless to say, this is the "Season Finale" of Dresden books, in more ways than you'd think. Nearly every character in the previous series is at least mentioned, with many of them (including a few you wouldn't think would) ally up with Dresden for the final fight. While many plot threads are tied off, lots more are opened, making way for what will be the next "season" of Dresden.

Oh, and about that: Dresden makes some changes (and some very dramatic things happen to him) that will be downright shocking for long-time fans of the series. Butcher isn't afraid to change (pun intended) everything, including ruining things considered sacred and untouchable. It will be very interesting to see where Ghost Story goes, considering the choices Dresden had to make during Changes.

So, here's the most basic, spoiler free version of the plot: Susan calls Harry in the first sentence, saying the Red Court vampires have taken their daughter.

Susan, as you may know from following my reviews, is Harry's almost-vampire girlfriend, who is only spared from becoming a vampire by resisting the urge to drink blood for the first time. She's been gone since Death Masks, which is a good half-dozen years ago, making it fully possible for her and Harry to have a child.

And, if you know anything about Harry, there are a few things that rub him the wrong way. 1. Anyone attempting to hurt his family. 2. Women in distress. 3. People who hurt kids.

Yeah. Harry is going to go Man On Fire on this one.

In preparation for this review, I actually went back and re-read the last 6ish chapters (which is essentially the climax of the novel, and the series) just to make sure they were as good as I remembered when I read them at 3 in the morning.

Good news: They are. Great news: They are actually better the second time.

Butcher is a freaking genius with regards to how well he pulls everything together. As stated, I had expectations that were sky high, and he completely surpassed them. Changes makes me want to go back and start the entire series over again, just to better understand Harry in hopes of gleaning even more from the finale.

While it was already pretty damn high up, Changes pretty much puts The Dresden Files as my #1 favorite fantasy series ever. It really doesn't get much better than this.

Now the hard part: Surviving until 2011 without a new, full Dresden novel.

Bonus: Expect a full series review sometime eventually!

Starcraft 2

on Monday, August 2, 2010
I also want to point out that the fact I haven't bought Starcraft 2 yet is a reason why everybody should say what an amazing person with strong will I am in the comments.

I freaking loved Starcraft 1. Every time I even think about Starcraft 2, I want to go on amazon with my prime membership and get that mother shipped here by the end of the week. But for some reason, I am restraining myself.

So yeah, Starcraft 2 came out. I didn't buy it*. Shower me with praise, please.


Daily Updates: For the Win

Because I love harassing people, I'm going to now try and update this daily with something interesting each day. Also I will say that I wrote (which I did today, despite a lot of work and a huge school project and trying to tweak the internet to work) at least my 1k.

So yep, I wrote today. It was a magical delight. I'm getting into the book. I just wish it wasn't 11:30 so I could keep going.

I have a Changes (last book in the Dresden Files) review that I need to write. I'm also going to write a review of the whole series (since this first "season" is officially done), since I seem to not have convinced some of you to drop whatever crap you are currently reading and read this.

I had an interesting conversation with someone at work today. He is reading WGMD, and he kept pointing out whenever I used creative, world-related ways for curses or what not (example: "By the Eight," or "Gods!"). We also had a fight over whether or not the "god" in "Useless god" should be capitalized. I convinced him it shouldn't be, thanks to yahoo answers and other sources. This is because I'm always right, which some people have yet to fully acknowledge.

At any rate, he kept saying he thought the swears were dorky. He also would circle "Voice" (a title, which was used at the beginning but not explained until later) and say he didn't get why it was capitalized. It was interesting to me to see someone who doesn't frequently read fantasy's perspective on that. When I capitalize seemingly random words, I hope they are serving a purpose: to drive the reader to keep going and find out why the crap i capitalized seemingly random words. For me, that sense of mystery in the world building is really compelling; I love being thrown in, fully immersed.

Granted, I usually wouldn't mind some of those little floaty things if I'm chucked in. Servant of a Dark God, as well as any Erik Erickson novel is a good example of a learning curve I find a bit steep for my tastes. I can see the appeal, I'm just too dumb to take a lot of it on a grain of salt.

Anyway, the point is that while I thought I was writing something compelling, he thought I was just being, and I quote, "nerdy." Which is fair, I suppose. But I also feel that sort of dangling that carrot in front of the reader is a good way to get them to keep on going.

I also have a tendency to flesh out those randomly capitalized words soon enough (or keep their original meaning close enough to their "new" meaning that it is easy to infer) so that frustration is offset. Wow, I used lots of cool words in that sentence. I felt smart writing it. I just wanted you to know that.

I don't know what the point of this is. When I said I was going to blog every day, I didn't say it would be any good. But since people like points, here is one: WGMD is awesome, and more people should read it.

Glad that's over with. Here's your bit from the crap I wrote today.

The Yawning Maw was hardly spoken of amongst the Kian, at least from those of Drake’s position. Drake knew of Marked well; in the various battles he’d been assigned to command, Marked often consisted of the majority of his rank. The advent of the Gangrene had meant that no unmarked person would ever have to serve again; it was a law, written by the Kian, and enforced on nearly every level. Zahed’s abhorrence of becoming enlisted made sense in that context; he was being asked to serve in a position reserved only for those infected with the crystal’s taint.
It was ironic, then, Drake almost smiled, that his defiance resulted in him becoming that which he despised. 
- Effulgent Corruption, The Maw

On a writing note...

on Sunday, August 1, 2010
I'm not freaking letting Effulgent Corruption die.

This happened last year about this same time. I finished a book (Lacrymosa) for Sanderson's class. I wrote another one super fast over the summer (Harbinger). I was pumped so I started a third (Ringforger). And then it died.

History is repeating itself (Replace Lacrymosa with Where Gods and Mortals Dance and Harbinger with Paradise Seekers). Ringforger is so low on the list now it doesn't even have its own folder in dropbox. It's just, "Misc ideas" now. I got about 5k words in and dropped it. Just couldn't get into it.

I'm having the same problem with EC. THIS IS BAD. 

The weird part is both Ringforger and Effulgent Corruption are plotted out enough that I could easily write them if I took the time. There's just some brain roadblock keeping me from wanting to write like a freak maniac and put out 5-10k a day on these puppies.

I'm fairly certain this is what writers block is.

However, I am the kind of person to learn from my mistakes, because I'm a discovery writer and that makes me a superior life-form. So, unlike the poorly dismantled Ringforger, Effulgent Corruption will live on and I will write it even if it kills me.

Especially since it's probably the coolest book I've written. If we are gauging it in 100% raw cool quantities. Yes, that exists. I'm an author. I'm allowed to do crap like that.

I'm going to write every day until this book is done. Commitment, set, match. 1,000 word daily minimum. It'll happen.

(...please work) :P

Updates: Maybe Writing Related, Maybe Not

Since I don't have a real blog (or I do, I just never update it), you get random spouting of crap here!

Here's what I did this week!

- Read three Dresden books. I read Changes in one day, starting at about 3:00 pm and going until 3:00 am the next morning. I had church the next day at 9:00 am. Needless to say, I was tired. But holy crap was that a finale. I'm having problems coping with the fact there won't be a full Dresden book until 2011, though. I might die.

- Next book up: The Name of the Wind. I know Chuck wasn't a huge fan, but I'm gonna try anyway.

- Did some editing and some writing, but not as much as I should have. I did, however, submit to something like ten agents. Two have gotten back so far (rejections, obviously), and I have some more lined up once I do more editing.

- On that subject; I wonder how much a person judges from a query letter? All these agencies that just want that letter...wouldn't it be hard to determine an author based just on that? I can think of many books that have sold well that probably wouldn't have sounded great summed up into one paragraph; it was the writing style and the storytelling that made the book captivating and sell so well. I dunno, if I was an agent, I'd always ask for a sample chapter, and maybe even their best chapter. You can gauge a lot from a writer based on just one chapter, I think, even out of context. Point being, while I enjoy having to only send my query (it's easier), I don't think it helps my odds. Doesn't matter too much, just a thought.

- Back on subject of writing; going to try and edit more, at least two chapters a day until Paradise Seekers is done. I also have my final project for a class, as well as two finals next week. Urgh.

- I go back to work tomorrow. Summer is officially over for me. I'm both excited and miffed. I like money, though.

- I reformatted and reinstalled OSX on my laptop. Yes, I reformatted a mac. At least it lasted about two years this time. It was booting up really slowly and the fan was having weird issues; all of these things were probably my fault for putting tons of TOTALLY LEGAL NOT PIRATED crap on it, so it's good to have a clean slate. I put everything I care about on dropbox anyway (hint: if you are a writer, you need this. Instant backups everytime you save? Heck yes.)

- Going to try and put 1k a day in Effulgent Corruption. This is on top of editing. We will see.

- Fixed the internet, sort of. I found if I run the cord from the upstairs router/modem into a router down here, it works at a decent pace (and the writing room finally has freaking internet). The problem is, if I run a cord from that router to the xbox, my ping (response time) gets blasted through the roof, making the xbox unplayable online. So, the only real solution seems to be stringing another 40 foot cord down through the ceiling (luckily we already have a hole) and plugging the Xbox directly into that one. Yeah, it'll be fun. At least it'll work.

- Watching Invader Zim and Darkwing Duck with the wife. We are both sharing favorite cartoons (you can probably guess which one's mine...hint: it's the weirder one). Fun times.

- I have been feeling weird, have a terrible headache, and have been failing at writing. However, I'm going to keep pushing on. I don't know what brought about this lack of motivation, but I'll beat it eventually.

That's it. Back to life as usual tomorrow. It's been a decent summer. I wrote two books in it (well, finished one and wrote another), so it wasn't all bad.

BOOK REVIEW - Turn Coat by Jim Butcher

By Jim Butcher (Official Webpage)
Buy it here: Turn Coat

Blurb Review

With a great premise and a series foundation to back him, Butcher's Turn Coat is both a step forward and a step back, and seems more like set-up for his final novel, Changes, rather than a true book in the series. That being said, it still works on the most basic level as a Dresden files novel, but as the penultimate novel in this series, I'd hope for better.

Full Review

I'm really torn on Turn Coat. The premise is fantastic. Morgan, who has hated Dresden for the most absurd of reasons and is generally considered his biggest enemy on the White Council, shows up on Dresden's door begging for protection. Dresden, being the good person he is, takes him in even if Morgan still is a total jerk to him the entire novel. The Wardens are out for Morgan, Dresden thinks he was framed, and he tries to figure out who is guilty.

Add on one of the creepiest enemies in the series (though I never really figured out why the monster, a Skinwalker from Native American folklore, wants Morgan), a huge conflict in the White Council, and some weird romantic conflict, and you'd think you'd have a great Dresden book.

Hence my conflict. Everything is set up great. What goes wrong?

First off, it just seems formulaic. Dresden's stories have often followed their characters, which have grown throughout the series. Instead, we just learn more about the character, but changes are a slow burn (except maybe Molly, who grows up fast). So, it boils down to us reading these books because we care about the characters, and the conflict gets put into the back-burner of our minds (which is how these book should be).

All that aside, the plot just doesn't seem unique. It follows the same up and down of every other Dresden book ever, and while you can't call the final twists, you very much can predict when it will happen, when all the twists will be revealed, and that Dresden has another plan up his sleeve at exactly the precise moment. You don't worry about the characters (despite one suffering life-changing injuries in Small Favor), because its so formula. You've read Turn Coat before; it was every Dresden book (after the first two) before it.

The other problem is the ending, which is, frankly, terrible. Here's a minor spoiler warning. I'll try and keep it as minor as possible, but just to be safe skip the rest of the paragraph if you want. Ok, during all these previous books, with the White Council fighting the Red Court, Dresden and others have known for sure there was a traitor on the White Council. This is a huge buildup, one that has been mentioned in nearly every of the books. The problem is, when it is at last revealed in this one, it is just stupid. Really, just plain stupid. A huge letdown, and it doesn't even make much sense.

The twist is so underwhelming, it makes what the bad-guy has been doing seem even stupider. Basically, Butcher hit a huge "reset" button on all his characters involved in the White Council. It was meant to be a "holy crap, really?" moment, where you'd go back and read the past few books and try to find the hints. But it isn't, because it isn't really hinted at in the other books.

Which is a huge disappointment, considering how good Butcher is at hinting everything else. Most of the underlying subplots develop over many books, and they often work really well. This one, however, is stupid and doesn't work.

Which is why this book feels like a prologue to Changes. It should have done so much for the mythos and sub-plot of the treachery in the White Council, but instead it just fizzles and dies.

Luckily, Butcher redeems himself in the next book, Changes. Still, sad.

Now, all this aside, anybody who likes Dresden will probably still like most of this book. I still stayed up until 3 in the morning reading it (again, I've done that every night this week), the pacing is very good, and the bad-guys are cool. It just is...underrealized, truthfully. There was so much great stuff to work with, and Butcher faltered.

Plus, having Morgan around Harry should have been way more interesting then it was. Bah.

However, as stated, this book is worth it for Changes. Here's a teaser for that review, which'll probably be up later today:


That is all.

BOOK REVIEW - Small Favor by Jim Butcher

By Jim Butcher (Official Webpage)

Buy it here: Small Favor

Blurb Review

Almost a direct sequel to the events in Death Masks, Small Favor brings back all the favorite characters from that book and a few more, and adds a much-needed emotional twist: people close to Harry aren't so lucky this time around in terms of consequences. Probably the strongest book yet, Small Favor is a perfectly paced, non-stop thrill ride.

Full Review

I was actually stuck on this book for quite some time, though it was no fault of Jim Butcher's. See, this book (as well as Turn Coat and Changes) I could only find in hardcover, and hardcovers are harder to take from place to place (such as school). So, while before I'd go Dresden happy at every possible instance, with Small Favor I had to slow down the pace.

Another reason is this book starts a little slower than the others. While most start with a crazy bang, Small Favor eases you into it. This meant it had lots of stopping places, which I would take to play Xbox, write, or do whatever. Once I got about 1/3-1/2 way through, however, I didn't stop for anything, staying up until 3 in the morning trying to finish it (a trend that continued for the next two books; more on that later).

The beginning premise (or the "Small Favor") is that Mab, Winter Queen of the Fairies who may or may not be going crazy, still has Dresden in her debt until he does two more favors for her. As is expected, this story is about Mab calling on Dresden to perform a task, a task that involves rescuing somebody Dresden really doesn't want to rescue. Add that the Summer court keeps sending these demon gruff goatbeasts at Dresden, and he's in for a ride.

Got that? Good. Because that takes a backseat, no, it is hardly even existant once the real plot kicks in.

Nicodemus, the sinister fallen angel from Death Masks is back, and with his group. They tried to taint Harry by throwing one of the thirty pieces of silver at him before (and he touched it, which has caused a considerable amount of inner conflict for Harry the books since), and now they want to do it with some of Harry's friends instead. Add that they are extremely powerful and pure evil (in books that so push the idea of "gray" rather than "black and white," Butcher makes no qualms in saying the fallen angels are the literal definition of "evil" in the truest sense), and you have one hell of a fight.

Luckily, old allies return. The Knights of the Cross, now down to Michael and Sanya, go out to kick some major demon butt. Cue the return of the Archive, her crazy bodyguard Kincaid, Murphy, Molly, and the whole band, and you have quite the story.

As stated, it feels like a sequel to Death Masks directly, because nearly every character (minus Susan) from that book makes a return. As I said before, this causes Dresden's favor to Mab to fall into the back, but since the goals are interconnected it works out for him. I, as a reader, just totally forgot that he was on that job, anyway, as he seemed to be stuck doing his own thing.

I really liked this book, especially for the ending. In some of the earlier books, as it got near the end the chaos was overwhelming. I was never completely blown away to the point of confusion, but it would often take a few times for me to exactly know what was going on. Small Favor, despite being as grandiose as any of the previous books (it is one of the "Dresden saves the world" ones), doesn't fall into the confusion trap. The ending is well explained and well paced, and all the twists work.

There is one thing that bothered me (minor spoiler, maybe). At the end, one of the main characters suffers an extremely serious injury. This is probably the first time in the series we've seen someone this close to Harry get hurt this badly. However, while it is generally stated "yeah, s/he'll be ok," it is never actually said until Changes, which is the book after the next one. I was on freaking pins and needles wondering what happened to this guy/gal, and Butcher left me hanging for a whole freaking book! Come on, dude! This is killing me!

Either way, this was a fantastic novel. I think I'm dividing my favoritism of the Dresden Books into two groups (because, truthfully, there are two types of Dresden novels). The first is the "Dresden saves the world and all hell breaks loose" variety. Then we have the "Dresden is fighting to save somebody important" version. Because both book types are so different (the first runs like a Michael Bay film, only with actual plot; while the former tends to be calmer but have a stronger emotional punch), it is hard to judge between the two.

Anyway, Butcher is only getting better, and because of my investment in this series I enjoyed this book a lot more, yadda yadda. If you haven't read these books yet, you'd better get to your library right now, or I will personally hurt you.