Posted on 06 June 2012 by DM
Posted on 30 April 2012 by DM
While, in a digital age, I find myself having less time for thought, I do find that my avenues for introduction to various artists is much more open. Such was the case when Jennifer Cross’ Gabriel was suggested to me. I knew little about it, neglecting to pursue my usual leads such as reviews or blatant spoilers. I knew it was in a supernatural vein, which I love, and that it was free that weekend (also a positive on the lowly comic book store workers income).
From what I can tell, this is Jennifer Cross’ debut novel and with that in mind I think it was a rousing success. I’m the kind of person who likes to hear the bad stuff first though so well go into that first. To start with, the typos were my worst foe in this novel. While they were not on every page, I found them often enough that they could quickly remove me from the moment, which in this novel was very much a tragedy. The characters that Cross crafts (OK that is enough of an awesome tongue twister that I am unwilling to edit it out) are very real, almost too much so at times. The are real people with real foibles, weaknesses, attitudes. As such, I found it difficult to like some of them as much as I was probably supposed to. They were, however, a perfect fit for the story she wove.
The pacing of the novel was a bit strange to me. I’m not going to say it was a bad thing per se, but it was a bit jarring when the story kicked into high gear, somewhere around half to two-thirds of the way through the book. Up until then, the auther had been willing to skip weeks or longer to set the tone and develop the characters. Once the climactic shift had started, it was every minute for itself. Honestly, it reminded me a lot of Koontz, who has written some of my favorite supernatural/suspense fiction. So take from that what you will.
The world presented to the reader was genuine. The author’s passion came through strongly here as she wove together this little Colorado town with all of its idiosyncratic tendencies. Such was the detail of the environment and characters that Cross either pulled strongly from her own experiences or did a significant amount of research to present the reader with a world that could be accepted without question.
The story itself was well-woven. Cross makes a playful game throughout the book of doling out clues regarding what kind of supernatural mystery we have that often led me to shout out to whomever was nearby at the time I was reading what I though was going on at that moment. It says something that people began to ask me if i was right about my theories instead of avoiding my presence entirely. Wanting to keep the suspense alive for future readers, I will spare you those guesses and what the mystery of Gabriel truly was. After all, the joy for me was in the journey.
Jennifer Cross has proven to me that independent publishing in this increasingly digital age is not only possible but should be encouraged. Gabriel was a well written story that lacked the sex and sensationalism that so often dominates this genre. Don’t believe me? Go and try it for yourself. At $1.99 it definitely worth finding out.
Posted on 03 November 2011 by DM
Its November again and you know what that means! It’s time for Vincenzo to start quoting Jimmy Stewart, Turkeys and Tofurkys to quaver in fear, and you to tell yourself that you are going to write that novel you’ve been mulling over since third period English your freshman year.
National Novel Writing Month has been going on since 1999 and has become something of a sensation for creative writing geeks all over the place. The challenge is to write a 50,000-word novel over the course of the month of November. This means that every day you are expected to get somewhere around 1600 words down that will go towards a final draft. To say it is challenging is a big understatement depending on how much experience one has. For newbs to NaNoWriMo, it can be downright impossible.
Then again, I am not so sure that matters. It certainly does not seem to matter to its sponsors or even its veteran participants. The state on their site that over 200000 individuals participated in NaNoWriMo in 2010 and more than 30000 crossed the 50000-word count on time. Not bad considering that all kinds of individuals sign up to participate in this endeavor. Certainly, the participants I have talked to and heard about do not put the 50000-word goal as the point but more a side effect to the actual endeavor. To those people it seems to be about fostering your creative urges and developing self-discipline towards doing something worthwhile. My impression is that it’s a supportive community geared towards self-efficacy. What is not to love about that?
Go by their website and check it out. Sign up even if you think you have the time and the will. All kidding in the title of this article aside, it could be one of the most important things you do for yourself this year. Also, try to remember that hitting 50000 words is almost a bonus. The real prize is actually taking the time to sit down and create something.
All Geeks Considered
Posted on 06 September 2011 by VinnieAve
In what might be the longest post based on a few words, I will be talking about NASA’s new initiative. They have teamed up with a publisher to start publishing hard sci-fi works. The reason for this is quite possibly the best reason I’ve heard for starting this initiative, to get students and other younger kids interested in science and technology. In this short podcast, two names are invoked, that of Isaac Asimov and Ray Bradbury. These are both authors that I have enjoyed greatly and I personally consider a major influencing force in works that I enjoy.
With many things I write about, I have some reservations. I do not particularly keep up with too many sci-fi writers that are active today. Also, in much of the hard sci-fi I’ve read it can be really boring. Too often it gets bogged down in the tech and doesn’t really tell a story. It just tells you about the world and how a few things work. I know there are people who really love this stuff but I do not really enjoy them. Asimov and Bradbury wrote works that were grounded in reality but there were things that went more or less unexplained. In the early robot books how the positronic brain worked never was really discussed, it was just the technobabble that kept things moving. As similar thing that can applied to Bradbury.
What makes the greatest of sci-fi works great is not that there is technology but its the people that makes things great. Having a lush and full setting and improve a story but first and foremost there needs to be a story. Sci-fi has influenced the real world in so many ways, every few months on History or Discovery there is a special about this, they can be fun but these things that have shifted into our world were not plot points. You don’t want Star Trek to hear Scotty talky about dilithium crystals but to see Kirk be a badass. I fear that the way this is talked about it could end poorly for the line. I hope for the best with this line and I may pick up the first of these books to see if this is going to be a successful project. If this fails though Seth McFarlane and Neil Degrasse Tyson are remaking Cosmos for Fox (NYT citation).
For additional reading about how science influences Sci-fi check out this New Scientist article about Bradbury and how his works were influenced by the goings on in his day.