So last week Saturday I posted that I had finished reading through and putting down the red ink revisions for Draft #6 of my latest novel.
I wrote I felt the novel was nearly done and, as if to prove that fact, today and six days later I can announce that I’ve put all those red ink notes into the Word file and the book is ready to be printed out one more time and given a -perhaps last!- red ink-revision before putting those edits into the Word file.
If you’ve been around here you’ll know that as my novels get closer to be finished up, I tend to need less time to do these revisions. The earlier drafts require quite a bit of reworking and revisions and it is not unheard of that a draft can take me several months to finish up. The fact that I was able to put all these revisions into the Word file in less than a week speaks to how close I feel the book is to being finalized.
So perhaps tomorrow (its getting a little late today) I will print this puppy out and give it a read through.
If all goes well, my next announcement should confirm whether we’ve reached the last draft or not!
It’s Saturday the 14th of May and its not quite lunch time and I’ve just finished the read-through and red ink revisions of Draft #6 of my latest novel…
…and I’m freaking ecstatic.
One of the very best feelings in the world for an author is reaching a point where you feel like your novel is just about done. With regard to this book, that’s exactly where I’m at at this point in time.
The revisions happened pretty quick considering I did spend one weekend flying out -and therefore was unable to do any work on the book- so in reality I’ve taken maybe a little over two weeks to go over this books and write my revisions down.
Even better is the fact that, in looking over the revisions, I suspect it won’t take me much more than a week to transfer those revisions into my Word file and print the whole thing out once again.
When I do that, I intend to give the book one more read through but I feel confident in saying this will be the final one.
So, if all goes well and I’m not delayed by anything, maybe another week or so to add those revisions to the Word file, maybe another couple of weeks at the most to read it one final time, then maybe less than a week or so to add whatever final revisions are necessary.
The book will be ready by June, there is no question about this.
Let’s see when exactly I’ll have it available for purchase!
If you’re into comic books at all, the two names I posted in the headline should be well known to you.
For those who aren’t into comic books, it’s fair to say these two were among the titans of the comic book art community and their passing is cause for great sadness.
Neal Adams burst onto the comic book scene in the late 1960’s with a style of artwork which seemed to take the power of the late Jack Kirby but merged it with a more “realistic” style.
His first jobs at DC comics generally involved doing covers, though eventually he gravitated to some supernatural stars, including Deadman…
…as well as The Spectre.
The folks at DC comics got real smart and, together with writer Denny O’Neil, the two would go on to what is perhaps their crowning achievement, taking the character of Batman -who at the time was mired in the more campy, Adam West TV show-esq pattern- and play him far more straight… and scary.
Neal Adams had a knack for mixing his superheroics with gothic and supernatural elements, and this fit the character of Batman incredibly well.
Perhaps the highlight of Neal Adams’ work on Batman, though, did not feature such gothic elements, but was rather his -and writer Denny O’Neil’s- reinterpretation of what is Batman’s nemesis, the Joker.
While Batman had become softened with the Batman TV show, The Joker had also become a far less “dangerous” criminal. As presented on the show, he was a literal clown, laughing and carrying on and never really all that scary. Neal Adams, along with author Denny O’Neil, changed that with the classic Batman #251.
But Neal Adams’ work wasn’t limited to simply making Batman -and his villains- scary again. He, along with Denny O’Neil (again) created the villainous Ra’s Al Gul, who would be featured in the first Christopher Nolan directed Batman film. The character’s daughter, Talia, was also created by the team and she would appear in the third and last of Nolan’s films…
The team of Denny O’Neil and Neal Adams would also collaborate on the Green Lantern/Green Arrow comic, which was one of the very first comic books to deal with societal issues…
Perhaps the most famous sequence from their run in this series is this one, which addresses the issue of racism…
Neal Adams would work for Marvel comics as well. During the time he was working at DC he reinvigorated a moribund Marvel franchise which looked like it would wither on the proverbial vine and be completely forgotten. I’m referring, of course, to The X-Men…
His run on this series would inspire others to follow and enhance his work, including artist/writer John Byrne who, early in his career, very obviously emulated Adams’ style.
In the 1970’s Adams’ comic book work lessened, though in the later 1970’s he co-wrote, plotted, and pencilled what I consider the best Superman story ever created, Superman vs. Muhammad Ali…
To be very clear, the concept of this comic sure did seem, even back then, silly as hell, even for a much younger me. But damn if Neal Adams didn’t deliver the goods, creating a story that drew you in and wowed you with its power and humanity.
During the 1970’s Neal Adams was also a loud voice for artist’s rights, shaming DC comics into giving a stipend to Superman creators Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster -both of whom had been discarded by the industry by that time and who were in financial need- on the eve of the release of the Superman movie and was also instrumental in getting artists their original artwork back, so they might sell it and gain some money for it.
Neal Adams would spend the 1980’s and much of the 1990’s doing less work for the big companies and releasing self-published works. In more recent years, he returned to Batman, Deadman, and Ra’s Al Gul for limited series. While those series to my eyes didn’t quite recapture the glory of prime Neal Adams work, they were welcome additions to my library.
He accomplished so much in his career and he will be missed. Mr. Adams passed away on April 28th, 2022.
Two days ago and on May 6th of 2022 the comic book industry would receive another shock: Artist George Perez passed away.
Mr. Perez became one of the bigger names in comic books in the generation of artists who followed Neal Adams. His first published work would appear in Marvel’s Astonishing Tales #25, in a backup parody of the main feature, which introduced the character of Deathlok…
From such humble beginning Mr. Perez would draw some of Marvel’s greatest heroes, including the Fantastic Four…
…and the Avengers.
What distinguished Mr. Perez from many other artists was his love of shoving as many characters and background as possible (or what seemed impossible!) into his pages. He had such a love of the characters that he would show readers as many as he could fit, all lovingly detailed.
In the early 1980’s he moved from Marvel Comics to DC comics and it was there he arguably had his biggest impact on the field, starting with his work on the Justice League of America.
But it would be his work, alongside writer Marv Wolfman, that would truly set him up as the premiere artist of that decade, starting with their work on The New Teen Titans…
Many fans at the time felt Wolfman and Perez were simply “copying” the success of Marvel’s X-Men but the series became very much its own thing and was successful as such.
Wolfman and Perez, though, had another card up their sleeves…
Crisis On Infinite Earths was an incredibly ambitious twelve-issue series first released in 1985. The goal of the series was to trim down the multiverse aspect of DC Comics (for the record, I feel that proved in the long run to be a mistake, from a storytelling point of view) and try to streamline the DC universe.
While I had my issues with the end result of the series’ story, there was nothing at all wrong with Mr. Perez’s magnificent artwork. The twelve issues of Crisis allowed Mr. Perez to draw virtually every single character in the DC universe, from incredibly minor to very well known, along with creating a few new characters along the way.
I seriously doubt there is any other artist, alive or passed, who could have accomplished what he did in this series without either going completely crazy or taking years of extremely hard work to achieve.
It seemed Mr. Perez had reached his pinnacle. However, there was still one other major accomplishment to come, the Marvel and DC crossover event he longed to do his entire career, Justice League vs the Avengers…
While they were publishing rivals, there were occasions Marvel and DC Comics would allow special event crossovers. They did this twice with Superman meeting up with Spider-Man, Batman with Hulk, and Justice League going up against the Avengers in the limited series published between 2003 and 2004.
George Perez had first been approached, and delivered a few pages for, a JLA/Avengers team up book but it was torpedoed before it was published. He would get his chance to do this again some twenty years later and delivered a magnificent product.
As if he was capable of not doing so!
Sadly, Mr. Perez would suffer from various health issues which limited his ability to continue working on his beloved comic books. A couple of months ago it was announced he was suffering from stage 3 cancer and knew he had a limited time left. Marvel and DC, magnanimously, allowed the JLA/Avengers series, collected in a TPB, to be republished to help Mr. Perez and his family with their medical and other bills, though it seems the limited nature of this reprint allowed speculators to blow up the resale price of the book and… yeah, greed can do bad things to people.
I never got to meet either Neal Adams or George Perez and now, I never will and that’s a real shame.
Two titans of the comic book industry passed away a mere week apart.
Such a sad series of events, even as their works ensure we will enjoy their talents for years to come.
Got into an interesting commentary tangent yesterday with some people online about writing and figured I’d cut and paste it here, if you’re interested…
The first bit is rather brief and involves what I think are two things all authors should keep in mind and/or do:
1) Ingest a lot of fiction, chew on it, see what works and -sometimes even more importantly!- what doesn’t work. The more awful a work and the clearer you can see what makes it “awful”, the better because that teaches you the things you may not want to do.
2) I feel author Elmore Leonard created a fascinating list of 10 writing tips but its the final one that I like the most: Try to leave out the part that readers tend to skip.
Yes, it sounds snarky as hell but there is a startling clarity to this. What he’s saying is don’t run up the page/word count just for the hell of it. Hone your story into a razor sharp book, one where a reader will love every word and won’t find their eyes glazing over at any points.
That led to this longer posting where I elaborate a bit about what I wrote above…
Like many would be writers way back when, I also looked into the “How to” books on writing, up to and including the Stephen King book which I mentioned way upstream.
The bottom line, I’ve found over time, lies in the two things I pointed out. I’ve always been super curious about reading and/or watching stories (whether on TV or Movies, etc.). After a while, I began to detect patterns to stories, some of which were eventually categorized in other works (the “hero’s journey” being one of the biggies, though at the time I didn’t recognize its categorization!).
And I was highly critical about the things I would read and or watch. I would see where the things worked and very much paid attention to what didn’t. If a book, for example, started very well but lost me at some point, I would try to figure out why it did so. Likewise with movies. And if I felt everything worked, I’d also try to understand why as well.
This subsequently becomes applicable to one’s own fiction writing. You develop that understanding of what is in your mind “good” versus what you feel is “bad” and you obviously try to steer your work in the former rather than later direction.
Experience becomes key. My first novel took forever for me to write because not only was it my first attempt at such a beast (I had written shorter stories before that) but also I was just finding what worked for me from a technical standpoint.
Today, as I’m about to finish off my 13th full work, I have an understanding about the techniques I didn’t way back when. As I noted upstream, I tend to want to start a novel with a reasonably clear idea of how it begins and, even more importantly, how it ends. This doesn’t have to be written completely in stone, but the general ideas should be there and should be intriguing enough for me to take the next step.
The biggest struggles I have are in writing the connective middle, getting the reader (and me, the writer!) from Point A to Point Z. Here I fall back on my memory of all the stories I’ve ingested and try my hardest to create something that is as unique as possible. I loathe the idea of retreading a story and strive to make something that is my own. By virtue of the fact that there are so many stories out there, mine cannot be some 100% “new” thing -that’s impossible- but I do strive to give readers a ride and surprise them with whatever it is I’m offering them.
And that’s where the Elmore Leonard quote comes in, especially when I get to the later stages of the revision process. I also loathe the idea of having readers’ eyes glaze over with either paragraph upon paragraph or page upon page worth of stuff that doesn’t in the end make your story any better.
Back when I was in College and had a creative writing class the teacher talked at one point about Henry James’ theory of the “organic form”, ie the idea that a novel or story is like a human body and that every organ, muscle, cell, etc. has a purpose in said story. In some ways this ties in directly to Elmore Leonard’s quote in that you want your story to be razor sharp and not have any extraneous (beware, highly technical literary jargon follows) bullshit muddling the overall work.
When I finish my first draft of a novel, in general it can be at a low of 50,000-60,000 words. As I revise the book in the early stages I’m often adding material into it and the book can bulge up to 100,000 to 130,000 words. But once I have the book “locked down” and know all the elements I’ve wanted to include in the work are there, I start to pare things down, to leave out the part that readers tend to skip. The book will then generally become thinner, word count-wise, and by the end I’ll have a work that usually (but not always) winds up in the 85,000 to 110,000 word range.
Yeah, lots of news going on and haven’t been ’round these parts for a while now.
I suppose the two biggest issues of this day are the continued fighting in the Ukraine against Russia. It’s a horrible situation initiated by a lunatic who seemed to think he could just waltz into Ukraine with his mighty army and everyone would simply give up when faced with their overwhelming might.
The reality, if it weren’t for all the lives lost and cities destroyed, would be the stuff of bitter comedy. The Russian forces have been exposed as under-trained, ignorant of what they are doing (not their fault), and brutal (very much their fault). The fact that Ukraine looks to be about to go on the offensive and is only miles from the Russian border is yet another element that almost makes you want to laugh at the ineptness of the Russian forces… but again, only if we were to ignore the rapes, murders, general war crimes, and savagery this war has created.
Oh, and you gotta love how some Russian media is mulling the use of nuclear weapons as a potentially legitimate thing going forward.
Way to make a bad situation all the worse, eh?
Speaking of which, the leak a few days ago about Supreme Court Judge Alito’s Roe v Wade ruling, effectively gutting it, has also sent out shock waves across the country.
I suppose we once again have one of those “if it weren’t so fucking terrible it would be a comedy” type situations. Love this short video, presented on twitter, from The Daily Show…
Serious shit, truthfully, yet also hilarious because it’s so fucking true as well.
Alito and his ilk, as so clearly presented above, lied their way into their Supreme Court “jobs” and now are in hiding because of the furor of this ruling, something they claimed beforehand to “respect”.
I’ve noticed that some of the more right wing elements out there, for instance, the truck drivers who were creating blockades in Washington DC, were perplexed when people shouted at them and gave them the middle finger.
“How can you be against us when we’re trying to free you?” I recall one such demonstrator stated.
It’s a delusion, truly. A feeling that you know what’s right and everyone else is going to go your way, even though you clearly don’t know what’s right and a majority of people are very much against your actions and ideas.
The anti-choice crowd doesn’t get that but let’s see what happens in the upcoming elections. Their hubris might yet be their undoing.
Finally, there’s the Johnny Depp versus Amber Heard trial.
For those living in a cave, Johnny Depp’s career has really sunk in recent years, partially because he’s been in a string of absolute stinker films and because, he claims in this lawsuit, of an editorial Amber Heard wrote which talked about -without mentioning Johnny Depp by name- being in an abusive relationship.
I can’t seem to wave a dead cat around the internet without smacking into Johnny Depp fanatics who are livid about Amber Heard and demand “justice” for Johnny and damnation for her.
And… I can’t understand it.
I’m not a Amber Heard “fan”. I’m not a Johnny Depp “fan”. I’ve seen a few of the things presented in trail so far and Johnny Depp, IMHO, strikes me as a deeply vindictive man who is trying his absolute best to destroy another person, that being Amber Heard.
His career, from what I’ve read and seen, was already very much on the rocks BEFORE that 2018 editorial came out which he claims so defamed him so already I’m wondering what this whole lawsuit is about.
There were plenty of stories about him allegedly being out of control on movie sets, of allegedly consuming mass quantities of alcohol and drugs and often supposedly arriving late to work without any idea of his lines or what he was even supposed to do. Interestingly, in the trail at one point he was asked about the movies he was recently in (perhaps to get at this point I just mentioned) and he replied he had no idea of the films he had just done and couldn’t name any recent works.
A trail in England brought by him and against a newspaper over reports of him being abusive resulted in a very clear loss for Depp and a finding by the court that he was indeed abusive and therefore the paper he was suing had not defamed him by stating this.
I can’t help but think when all is said here in this trial, we’re going to see much the same result.
Is Amber Heard a “good” person? I truly don’t know. There is some evidence, I have read, for at least one pretty gross thing she is supposed to have done on his bed… but as gross as that is, is it abusive? Depp himself, of the stand, stated that he couldn’t help but “laugh” at that.
Depp claims she cut/slashed his finger, but there are contemporaneous tweets and interviews where Depp himself says he did it to himself. Was he lying then and isn’t now or is he lying now and wasn’t then? What are we supposed to believe in that case?
There are those who say both of them engaged in abusive acts and its certainly possible, but I wasn’t there nor were many of them so its kinda engaging in speculation, no?
One probably should let the trail work itself out and each side present their evidence and what happens will happen, whether Depp be vindicated or not.
Having said that, one thing I already feel works very much against Depp I’ve already mentioned above: The idea that Heard’s 2018 op-ed somehow was solely responsible for his career nosedive and not the many bad movie choices he made from roughly 2012’s Dark Shadows on.
I mean, not counting that film, these are some of the major movies he has been in since 2013:
The Lone Ranger (2013, a pretty big box office flop), Transcendence (2014 another box office flop), Into the Woods (2014 ditto), Mortdecai (2015, does anyone remember this one?), Black Mass (2015), Alice Through the Looking Glass (2016), Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them (2016… I suppose this one was a success, but was it in the league of the Harry Potter films in terms of box office? Also, if memory serves, he only appeared at the very end of this film in exactly one scene, no?), Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales (2017, a definite box office success but also the film where many of the stories of his alleged bad behavior on set and the need to use stand ins to get things done originated. Again, this movie was released a full year before Heard’s editorial), Murder on the Orient Express (2017, I suspect this film did well but it was a very big ensemble cast and Depp’s role was pretty small, though pivotal, as he was the murder victim), and, going into 2018, we had such minor fare as Sherlock Gnomes (a cgi animated film that I doubt many remember now), The Professor (has some decent reviews but does anyone remember this one?), and the more well-known Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald (this is his last foray into the J.K. Rowling series as by this point he was indeed being viewed as toxic).
Anyway, a lesser actor may well have fallen far more quickly based on the string of unsuccessful works he was in along with the reputation -whether true or not- he had developed.
Either way, it’s in the news and a source of curiosity, certainly, if nothing much more.
Yesterday, April the 25th, I finished putting all my notes/revisions into the Word file of my new novel. It’s been almost a month since I finished putting in those inked revisions and now putting them into the actual pages and I have to say…
…I like where I’m at.
One of the most satisfying things about being a writer is when you see the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel, the point where you feel your book is really, really close to being done.
Yesterday, when I finished up putting those revisions into the Word file, and as I was going through those last pages, I was hit with a wave of pride at the work. I felt like I accomplished what I was hoping for and am really close to delivering the story I’ve tried so very hard to deliver.
So Draft #5 is done now and, unfortunately, I’ll have to wait a few days -busy with other stuff!- and let it sit during that time before getting back to it. I strongly suspect the book will need not much more than two more drafts and that Draft #6 will feature mostly edits toward the later pages and where a little more polishing needs to be made.
It’s impossible to give an estimation as to how much longer it will take to get all this done, but I suspect we’re looking at a Summer release of the novel at this point. Perhaps sometime in later June or July if -and that’s a BIG if- I can really get things going in the next few weeks.
It’s something that was unthinkable only a few years ago: I’ve found myself getting tired of seeing all these superhero films being released.
Back when Guardians of the Galaxy and the first Dr. Strange movie were released in close proximity, I saw them and… I didn’t like either.
Something in me broke, to be honest, and while I have caught a Marvel movie here and there, I haven’t been seeking them out as I did before. Further, while I have the final two Avengers films, I haven’t found the time or inclination to see them. The last Marvel film I saw was Spider-Man: Far From Home and… I really didn’t like it much at all.
I’ve seen many of the DC hero films but have a few I have that I haven’t watched either (Shazam! and Wonder Woman 84).
So maybe I’m getting a little burnt out, as I said above, with the genre yet when The Batman was in production and once it was released, I was curious to catch it. Then I heard it was 3… hours… long... and I just couldn’t see myself going into a theater and sitting there for that long, regardless of how much I loved the character (he’s easily my favorite super hero).
Anyway, the film was released to theaters, did very well, then was released to HBO Max and, in the comfort of my house, I finally gave it a go. For those living in a cave, here’s the movie’s trailer:
The Batman features Robert Pattinson as Bruce Wayne/Batman, Andy Serkis as his reliable butler Alfred, Jeffrey Wright as Commissioner Gordon, Zoe Kravitz as Selena Kane/Catwoman, and, in a fascinating turn, Colin Farrell as Oswald Cobblepot/The Penguin.
Given the film’s length, I figured I’d see it over the course of two days, one day for one half, the other for the finale. But as it turned out, the film moves quite well and, despite my fears, never felt drawn out or too damn long.
The story features a mysterious new villain, The Riddler (Paul Dano), who has taken upon himself to kill very high level governmental officials in Gotham while drawing Batman into his mysterious and grim “game”.
Before the movie’s release, director Matt Reeves noted he wanted to show us a Batman who was a “detective” and in this case, I’m pleased to say he gives this to us. In the villain, we have a man who lays out a string of clues as to his future actions and victims and Batman is there, with his “right hand man” Commissioner Gordon trying to figure them out.
It is a very good film, certainly a higher tier comic book film, and the characters and setting are well done. If there is a criticism to level against The Batman it is what I wrote above: We’ve seen much of this before, whether it be in other superhero films -or specifically other recent Batman films- and video games. By virtue of this fact alone, it’s impossible to view The Batman as anything but another interpretation of the familiar character and his world.
Still, it’s a worthy trip to take because the film is so well made and, dare I say it, even if you feel more than a little tired of superhero films in general.
If you’ve followed my writings, you know about my Corrosive Knights series and, well, what its ultimately about (not SPOILERS!).
The idea of an alien race finding out about us, one optimistically hopes, would be a good thing, that we would engage with a more advanced race and together make our way into the stars.
Of course, any race that can make it to Earth would have to be a more advanced race than ours, at least at this point. The furthest we’ve made it to taking humans ”out there” is the Moon, though we have sent automated/robot vessels to other planets within our solar system, including Pluto.
So this theoretical alien race which might get our signal and therefore might come visit us, we hope, is a peaceful one…
What if it isn’t?
I know, I know… it sounds like science fiction and all, but assuming there is a race out there that hears our signal and has the means to visit us, what’s to say it isn’t a warrior race?
What’s to say it isn’t a race with bad intentions toward any other alien races?
The bottom line is… I feel this is a legitimate concern. We want to find other alien races out there. We like the idea that we’re not alone out there. But we simply have no idea what may happen if/when we do get in touch with them.
Not a terribly big shock the Florida Federal judge who issued this ruling was appointed by Donald Trump in 2020.
Here’s the thing, though: The CDC extended the mask mandate to May 3rd, a grand total of two weeks and one day from today.
Did this judge really need to wade into something that, for all we know, may be a moot point in a very short period of time?
From the article:
A Biden administration official familiar with the White House’s decision previously told CNN the goal of the extension was to gather more information and understanding of the BA.2 variant of the coronavirus. Covid-19 cases in the US are on the rise, leading universities and the City of Philadelphia to reimplement indoor mask mandates.
COVID is most dangerous, data would suggest, to those who aren’t vaccinated. Many of those who aren’t vaccinated appear to have bought into the -let me try to be diplomatic here- hot air about lost freedoms and governmental overreach and no doubt will cheer this decision, even though they might become the ones most vulnerable to the ill effects of it.
When I used to live in a very cold climate and in winter, I -and many people around me- wore scarves over their mouths to protect them from the cold.
To my mind, wearing a mask in this time of the pandemic is the same. Only instead of protecting yourself/others from the cold, you’re doing this to protect them/yourself from transmission.
Is that really such a bad thing?
The question, alas, is rhetorical at this point.
Will the Biden administration appeal the decision? I suspect they will.
What if another even worse pandemic should rear its head? Will the CDC be completely powerless to advise travelers to wear some kind of protective masks?