Corrosive Knights, a 10/27/16 update

Incredibly good news: I’ve just finished my latest complete re-reading/review of book #6 of the Corrosive Knights series aaaaaaannnnnddddd

This will be the very last full book review of it I’ll do.

The novel reads extremely well and the “problems” I found in the latest re-reading amounted to grammatical issues which shouldn’t take much time to clean up on the computer.  Now, there were two chapters (out of 80) that I feel will require a little more than just grammatical clean up and I might give them one more read through before officially finishing, but even these two chapters were well on their way to being finished.

Which means I can say with stone cold certainty that this novel will be released by later November or, at the very worst, very early December.  After doing the corrections on the computer, all that’ll be left to do is format everything on PDF for print and Kindle e-book and we’re off.

So, ladies and gentlemen, thank you for your incredible patience.  My next update will be the last regarding this book and will not only give you this book’s title, but it will tell you the novel is ready to be purchased.

Before I go, I wanted to reprint the following Corrosive Knights FAQ.  It offers insight into the series and the timelines of each novel.  If you haven’t yet read it, do so.  It’ll give you an idea of how this series progresses (I originally posted this here).


Writing these (Corrosive Knights) books has been a blast even as they’ve also been a mighty struggle.  I’m working with a series I feel is unique in many ways.  To begin, the scope of the story is incredibly large, taking place over the course of some 20,000 plus years.  Readers are offered events in different epochs which, when put together, form a much larger story.

While there have been plenty of stories featuring flashbacks and flash-forwards, I think its safe to say no series -at least none that I’m aware of!- features entire novels that take place in sometimes vastly different times, past and the future, while (hopefully!) logically building up the larger tale.

The five Corrosive Knights books plus the one I’m currently working on have been/will be released -and ideally should be read- in this order:

Corrosive Knights Covers

I say “ideally” but I’m not being entirely honest: The first three books of the series, Mechanic, The Last Flight of the Argus, and Chameleon could be read in any order.  They feature unique characters and take place in vastly different times and therefore if one wanted to one could read them in any order they choose.

However, by the time you reach NoxGhost of the Argus, and the so-far unnamed Book #6, the continuity established in these first three novels kicks in and, while I think the later books could be enjoyed on their own, I HIGHLY recommend you read books 1, 2, and 3 before venturing into the ones that follow.

Now, if I were to tell the Corrosive Knights story in chronological order, i.e. each book’s main story occurring “one after the other” and ignore whatever smaller flashback elements are presented within said novels, the story order would go like this:

Corrosive Knights in Chronological Order

That’s right: The book I’m currently working on, #6 of the Corrosive Knights series, actually takes place before the events of The Last Flight of the Argus and Ghost of the Argus.  In fact, they take place a couple hundred years before those books!  Yet I would absolutely NOT recommend anyone read that book when it is released before already reading the rest of the series and, in particular, The Last Flight of the Argus and Ghost of the Argus.


Because the events of those two books in particular fill in story concepts which have a big payoff in Book #6 and propels the reader into the Corrosive Knights series finale, which will be Book #7.

Fear not, thought.  There will be an epilogue to the series, a Book #8, which will wrap certain things up that weren’t/aren’t wrapped up in Book #7.  Book #8 will also offer what I hope is a great long view of the heroes we’ve followed for so long while focusing on one in particular.  To further screw with your head, I’m already finished with the first draft of Book #8 but only have a chapter or so written (along with a general idea of the story) of Book #7.

Not only is my series presented in a quirky temporal way, so too it would appear is my creative output!


For years people have put down Microsoft.  The company was a lumbering giant, it created Windows updates that were, at times, considered a serious step back from previous versions.

Something changed a few years ago.

That something was the Surface.

Image result for microsoft surface

The original Surface, which I very happily bought back in the day, was a great computer for its time.  It was a stepping stone between a tablet and a laptop computer and was lightweight and very useful.

But it wasn’t a computer Nirvana and did have certain failings.  New versions of the Surface rapidly came out along with the well regarded Windows 10 (I love it, though the updates have been a great bother as they simply “appear” and I then spent over an hour or so waiting for the computer to be ready instead of, you know, doing something I wanted to do).

Yesterday this commercial, for the Surface Studio, dropped…

Pardon the vulgarity, but holy shit.

There’s been a building “general” consensus, though one I don’t agree with, that the desktop computer is dead.  I’ve written about this before, noting that the drop in desktop sales may be more a function of how good the latest desktop computers are and therefore people simply don’t need to replace them as often as they did before.

With the arrival of the Microsoft Surface Studio, I have to admit my mouth is watering.  I don’t do graphic material as much as I used to, instead using my desktop for writing, but if I should find an extra $2999 under my sofa or bed, I’d be lying if I weren’t tempted to use it on this.

The bottom line is this: I’m glad Microsoft is developing instruments like this.  I’ll be very curious to see what Apple does in return.

Competition between mega-companies is a great thing…for consumers.

The Accountant (2016) a (right on time!) review

Let me state the following up front: The Accountant is an incredibly silly film.  Even stupid, if you think about it.

Yet it’s also a very effective throwback of the meaty thrillers of yesteryear and is presented in a clear and concise manner, an incredible accomplishment considering all the characters and story points addressed, all the while being entertaining as hell.

First, let’s talk negatives: The movie expects you to accept there is this “super” accountant out there who works for all kinds of super-evil groups (think big time terrorists, drug dealers, etc.) and also happens to be a super efficient killing machine…who happens to be a high functioning autistic man…who…

I don’t want to get into spoilers (there’s plenty more about the character revealed in the course of the movie) but, come on.  None of this is even remotely possible.

So if you’re going to scrutinize all the plot elements laid out in the film, you may not like what you see.

However, if you roll with the film and accept it for what it is, as I did, you’re in for a damn good time.

Ben Affleck is good in the central role, playing the mysterious “Christian Wolff” (a pseudonym), the super-Accountant who’s worked for some very shady characters.  When the movie begins, we’re not entirely certain of his morality, though his first actions presented involve helping a elder, simple farmer couple out from under a heavy tax burden.

Meanwhile, Treasury Agent Ray King (J. K. Simmons offering another very solid character work) essentially blackmails Marybeth Medina (Cynthia Addai-Robinson), a up-and-coming analyst, into investigating this mysterious “Accountant” and. presumably, bring him to justice.

Added to the mix, the Accountant’s mysterious female contact (essentially a “voice” on the phone, not unlike the voice which sends our heroes in motion in every episode of Mission: Impossible), sends him to check on the books of a major robotic company, one which may be hiding very dark secrets.  There, our Accountant meets up with Dana Cummings (Anna Kendrick, another solid turn), that company’s accountant, and eventually all hell breaks loose.

While watching The Accountant I couldn’t help but feel it fit in with some of the better thrillers of yesteryear, either the breathless pulp fiction works you used to find on those bookstore (remember them?) racks or in films such as Three Days of the Condor.

We are presented with a strong cast of characters and a meaty story which, as I stated above, is very well presented.  This is not a small thing, either.  The Accountant gives us a lot of plot and a lot of characters yet manages bring all of these elements together in a clear, exciting manner, something any number of big films have botched.

So yes, The Accountant’s premise borders on, and gleefully slips on over, into preposterous but if you can get around that, you’re in for a surprisingly entertaining thriller which pleasantly evokes the better thrillers, both literary and film, of yesteryear.


Politics, again…


For those still here:

One of the more interesting animal myths is that of the lemming.  You know the concept, if nothing else…

Image result for lemming following each other off the cliff

Those who “know” about lemmings and the fact that they follow each other, even off a cliff, should also know this: It is a myth.  This myth first appeared in, of all things, the Walt Disney Studios “White Wilderness” episode of the True Life Adventure series, released in 1958 (you can read about this here).

While the myth is just that, there is something, obviously, that resonated with this myth.  The idea that a group of animals could, en mass, blindly follow their leader to their death(s) was something that’s grabbed the human imagination.

Today, as we approach the 2016 Presidential Election, people have noted that as opposed to days past, there are fewer and fewer “cross party” voters.  In other words, if you vote Republican or Democratic, you tend to do so for the rest of the ticket.  Thus, your vote for your Republican/Democratic candidate for Presidency -the biggest vote- tends to mean you’re more likely than ever to then vote for subsequent Republican/Democratic candidates for Senate, the House, etc. etc.

This does not mean, however, there isn’t a breaking point, a point where you can no longer stomach “your” candidate and begin the sometimes painful mental process of realizing you cannot follow what your party is offering.

It appears that to many, this happened with the Repulican candidacy of Donald Trump.  While there remain those who support him, there have been many prominent conservative minds who rejected his candidacy and refuse to vote for him.

Now, in this fascinating article by Michelle Goldberg and presented on Slate magazine, another large group, self-described conservative women, also appear to have had enough:

The Anguish of Being A GOP Woman In The Age of Trump

As of today, Monday the 24th of October, indications are that Donald Trump will not only lose the Presidency, but do so in a rather historic fashion.

Until the day of the election, this is obviously not something written in stone.

However, articles like the above show why Donald Trump, with his abrasive style and even more abrasive message, has a tough -perhaps impossible- path toward winning this election.

If self-described conservative women are finding it difficult to vote for Mr. Trump, one huge piece of the Republican electorate, then what chances does he have?

On Writing…Henry James and the Organic Form

Way back in February of this year I offered an update of my latest Corrosive Knights novel and the then hope I would have the novel ready by May (obviously, I was being waaaay too optimistic).  Toward the end of that particular update, I wrote the following and felt it worth cutting and pasting here:

Back when I was in College I took a Literature course and while I don’t remember much about it, there was one particular lesson regarding author Henry James’ view of a novel that really, really stuck with me.  I’ll let Mr. James’ words speak for themselves:

A novel is a living thing, all one and continuous, like any other organism, and in proportion as it lives will it be found, that in each of the parts there is something of each of the other parts.

Mr. James’ ideas, often referred to as the view that a good/great novel presents an “organic whole”, urges authors to not waste a single word or create any scene(s) within their work that is superfluous and doesn’t contribute to the entirety of the work/story you are telling.

Thus in the “perfect” novel a reader is given a work wherein not even one single word is wasted.  Each and every one of the words and sentences and paragraphs and chapters, etc. move the story forward until it reaches its end.

I took this lesson very much to heart.

So whether you like, hate, or are indifferent to any/all of my works, it is my intention to never waste your time as a reader.  I try my best to make sure every element I insert into a novel has a reason for being there and ties into the larger story I’m telling.

And it is indeed a large story and one I couldn’t be prouder of.

I present this because this morning, as I’m going over the 12th draft of my most recent novel, Henry James’ theory on the nuts and bolts of what makes a novel remains one of the best bits of instruction about writing I can think of.  (For the record, Elmore Leonard offered what I consider my second favorite bit of advice but I can’t find the actual quote.  It went something along the lines of “When revising a novel, get rid of all the boring stuff and leave in the good stuff”.  As simple as this sounds, it is a truly profound comment on writing).

Which brings us to this, Danielle Dutton offering…

Terrible Writing Advice From Famous Writers

I wish there was more!  Oh, wait…Emily Temple offers us some more…

Bad Writing Advice From Famous Authors

One of my favorite “bad” pieces of writing advice is presented in this later link and comes from Ray Bradbury:

Quantity produces quality.  If you only write a few things, you are doomed.

On the surface, this bit of advice is something that tempts you into thinking its true.  If you release a number of books/stories, there is a good chance that some of them will touch a nerve and be viewed as “great” works.


This may work for some, but I feel there is a double edged sword here: If you are focused entirely on releasing work after work, is there not a danger you will start repeating yourself?  Is there not a danger that you will come to view your works as a commodity instead of something you aspire to make “great”?

My latest Corrosive Knights novel has taken to date 2 years to make.  It runs roughly 100,000 words and, when it is finally released (soon!), I suspect a speedy reader could read it in a day or two.

Why did it take me 2 years to make the novel?  Because that’s the length of time I needed to make it.

It sounds silly when put that way but this is the reality: This novel features an intricate plot that is not unlike the delicate machinery in a Swiss watch.  All the elements in this novel have to come together to work as a whole and, when dealing with the intricacies I’m trying to put forward, this is not an easy thing to achieve.

I don’t want to give readers something they’ve seen before.  I want to release something that surprises and, hopefully, delights them because it is unique in its own way and unique when compared to my other works.

Understand, I don’t want to sound obnoxious. Just as I know there are those who like my works I also know there are others who don’t care for them.

This is the way things go.

I could literally “bust my ass” while scaling back my ambitions and write one novel after the other and release them every few months.

I could do that but I know the quality of the works will be inferior…at least to my eyes.

Writing, for me, is not an easy thing to do.  I love doing so dearly and know I will do so until the day I die.  At times the process is incredibly frustrating.  Even infuriating.

Yet I will continue to do so.

There’s nothing as beautiful as finishing your latest novel and realizing you’ve created something you can be proud of.  Something that will live long past your days on this planet and will, hopefully, give joy to others.

I’ve babbled enough.  Back to the 12th draft of my novel!


Run away, I’m about to get political!

Still there?

For those who were living under a rock the past year or so, last night presented (lucky us!) the last of the three Presidential debates.  It was also the only one I watched start to end.  For the record, I caught large chunks of the other two but was in and out of the room during each.

My opinion, for what its worth: Donald Trump proved yet again, as if he hadn’t done so 21,987,450,289,145 times before, that he simply isn’t qualified, tempermentally or intellecutally, to be President of the United States.

Having said that, I’m not surprised he made it this far in the electoral process.  In the first phase of the election and when he was in the primaries facing a large group of other Republican candidates, Mr. Trump was brilliant at cutting them to the quick.  The Republican front runner going into this race, Jeb Bush, was slaughtered by Mr. Trump…and rather quickly.  After knocking out the Republican “favorite”, the others he faced were revealed to be weak sisters and Mr. Trump had a target rich environment to knock down.

However, things fell apart rather quickly when it was just Trump v Clinton: Dawn of Justice.

When facing one rival candidate and with the press scrutinizing his actions more (no others to scrutinize but these two), the seams showed.  Mr. Trump’s sharp wit turned into thin-skinned shrillness and his petty statements against Mexicans or Muslims or Judges or Gold Star Family members or, incredibly, a previous Miss Universe (!) winner, wound up grating.

Sure, there were many who even now admire this talk and I have little doubt he’ll garner a fair number of votes.  Having said that, I suspect there are few people out there, “professional” political observers or not, who feel the number of votes Mr. Trump ultimately receives will give him any sort of chance of winning this election.

Over at, which offers a “poll of the polls”, they peg the chances of Hillary Clinton winning the election at nearly 90%.  Notably, this has been the case since roughly October the 5th.  If you look around that page, you’ll find Mr. Trump’s downfall began shortly after his poor performance in the first Presidential Debate on September 26th and reached that high point and has remained there these past 15 days, which of course does not bode well for the remaining 18.

Could things change?

Of course they could.  As I said, there’s still 18 days to go before the election but early voting has already begun in several states.  In Florida, you can request a mail-in ballot and we’ve already gotten ours.  Early indications are that there will be many people voting this time around and, in general, the more people vote, the better it appears to be for the Democratic candidate(s).

The bottom line?  Brace yourselves.

By the way, the high (actually low) light of the debate for me?  While many were shocked that Mr. Trump hinted he wouldn’t accept the results of the election, I wasn’t.  He’s been doing this for weeks now, why was it such a shock he’d do so now?

This, to me, is Mr. Trump’s very worst moment and it proved, as if we needed even more proof, how thin-skinned he is:

Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame…

Each year is like the movie Groundhog Day, at least with regard to the nominees for the Rock And Roll Hall of Fame.

You get a bunch of artists nominated and the inevitable backlash begins.  Why was X nominated and not Y?  How could they keep ignoring band/artist Z?

This year is proves to be no exception.  For those interested, from Rolling Stone,

The 2016 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Nominees

Among the artists to be nominated you have Yes, Journey, The Cars, and Pearl Jam.

The later group was arguable one part of the three most important, IMHO, rock artists of the 1990’s.  The other two are Nirvana, which has already made it to the Hall of Fame, and an artist that author Kevin Craft for offers a fascinating defense of and wonders why it is as time goes by the cultural imprint of this band seems to progressively fade.  I’m referring, of course, to The Smashing Pumpkins, who are now eligible to the R&R Hall of Fame yet were not even nominated…

The World Is Still A Vampire: The Smashing Pumpkins Can’t Get The Respect They Deserve

I discovered The Smashing Pumpkins sometime around 1995-96 and shortly after the release of what might be the band’s crowning achievement, the incredibly ambitious Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness.  Perhaps two of the biggest hits from that album include the song that is quoted in the above article…

…and this one, which even those who can’t handle Billy Corgan’s voice (I’m a HUGE Smashing Pumpkins fan yet I can understand those who find it difficult to take) like…

Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness, to my mind, is one of the absolute best albums to come out of the 1990’s yet it followed The Smashing Pumpkin’s Gish (1991) and Siamese Dream (1993) two incredible albums which others may consider even better than I consider Mellon Collie.

After those three albums and a bunch of extra-song releases, including a mind-boggling amount of outtake material from Mellon Collie collected along with the singles released from that album and called The Aeroplane Flies High.

It was during these two years, 1995-96, that The Smashing Pumpkins arguably reached the heights of their popularity.  Sadly, things went downhill, at least from a popularity standpoint, from there.

Their next album, Adore, was released in 1998 and audiences were divided by it.  I personally loved the album but could understand how fans of the band to that point might have found the material a little too different from what came before.

Just as Adore divided fans, the follow up to that album, Machina/The Machines of God further divided them.  The album failed to chart and it appeared the band was on the rocks.  Me?  I loved the album…

The group broke up soon after the release of this album and its internet released sequel, Machina II/The Friends & Enemies of Modern Music.

After forming and releasing an album with his new group Zwan, Billy Corgan would release a solo album before re-forming The Smashing Pumpkins with 2007’s Zeitgeist.  The album was…ok…in my opinion.  Not as good as the previous SP albums and, sadly, not as good as the Zwan album.  Curiously, my favorite song from that album wound up being one that was presented as a bonus track and not on the album itself…

Since that point, The Smashing Pumpkins have gone through lineup changes (at one point, Billy Corgan was the only original member of the band).  There is supposedly an effort underway to reform the band as it originally was but, as with all things, we’ll see.

Anyway, I went through all this to say the following: The Smashing Pumpkins was, to me, one of the absolute best rock bands of the 1990’s.  They released, up to their original breakup, one great album after another yet I agree with Mr. Craft’s article linked to above.  There appears to be a fading away of The Smashing Pumpkin’s influence and success from the public mind.


There are those who gleefully point out this is deserved, that singer/songwriter/band leader Billy Corgan is a jerk and the problems that befell his band are a karmic comeuppance.

Personally, I believe The Smashing Pumpkins, like many other bands and artists, suffered from their early success.  You can climb a mountain only so high before inevitably going downhill.  Or, to put it another way, not every work is going to be a home run.  The first three albums released by The Smashing Pumpkins were arguably one great work after the other.  While the next two albums -and internet released album- weren’t as big hits, I felt they were also damn good.

For that alone the band deserves consideration for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Even if it won’t happen this time around, I can’t help but think their time will eventually come.

Corrosive Knights, a 10/18/16 update

We’re in the final stretch.

Before heading out for my mini-vacation, I went over those three chapters of my latest Corrosive Knights novel that I felt needed particular attention.

I had just enough time to go over those three chapters twice, both times reading, revising, then fixing them on the computer.  Quite literally as I was about to go to sleep that final night before leaving, I printed the entire novel out and had it ready for when I returned.

Starting today, I intend to give the entire novel one more/final read-through and revision (draft #12, for those counting).  I anticipate adding one more little bit to the novel’s conclusion but otherwise what I’m hoping to find this go around are nothing more than grammatical errors and a finished book.

Deciding a novel is finished and therefore making it available to readers is, to me, something I take very seriously.  The reason this novel took me two years and to date 12 drafts to complete is because I refuse to put any of my works out there for people to spend their hard earned money on without feeling those works are the very best I could make them.

Luckily, I don’t have any publisher or accountant or investor behind me forcing me to get my latest work out there quick, quick, quick.

For better or ill, when book #6 of the Corrosive Knights series is released, it will be the very best novel I could do at this particular time.

And I think it’s terrific.  I can’t wait to allow you guys out there read it.

Stay tuned!

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So the previous four days have been quiet around here because …ta da!… I took a vacation.

First one since last year.

I couldn’t go very far away from home and it was a part of a “family” event at my younger daughter’s University yet we wound up not doing much there and instead headed to Orlando for a couple of days at the parks there.  The first date was at Epcot and my wife in particular wanted to go there as they are doing their annual Food and Wine Fest and you get a chance to try out all kinds of world-wide fair.

One has to be careful, however, to not binge too much!

The next, and last day, was spent at the Magic Kingdom and…

…damn were there a lot of people there.

Used to be we Floridians knew there were certain dates you could go to the Parks (any/all of them) and there would be scant crowds to deal with and, therefore, very manageable lines to the various rides.

Used to be October was part of that time period as most people were knee-deep into their jobs/school/etc.

Apparently, that’s changed.

At one point, the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, one of the Magic Kingdom’s newer and more popular rides, was listed as having a wait time of 180 minutes.

In other words, you had to wait in line three hours to go through what amounts to maybe a 1-2 minute long ride.


Anyway, if you’re hoping to sneak into the area and not face big crowds, at least with regard to Magic Kingdom, you won’t have any luck.