Corrosive Knights: Terminus Island…!

Ladies and gentlemen, its been a long journey but we’re just about there now.

Without further ado, here is the cover to the latest book in the Corrosive Knights series, Terminus Island!

She lies hidden in the frozen northern seas, a dark island with even darker secrets.

For seven survivors of an ill fated cruise ship, the island at first offers hope, then horror.

These seven survivors will meet forces they couldn’t possibly understand even as some in their group prove they are not who they seem.

The fight for survival begins and before their stay is done, they will learn the terrifying secrets of Terminus Island.

******

Terminus Island will be available via Kindle (ie, digital) by this week. I’ll give you the exact date when it is released but it should be in the next couple of days.

The paperback will be available a week to two weeks later, as soon as I get my proof and feel everything is ok.

Feels nice to finally update the eight cover picture…

Terry Goodkind (1948-2020)

Just read of the passing of author Terry Goodkind and wanted to share some thoughts about his novels, for what they’re worth.

Years ago I found, purchased, and read this book by him:

The Pillars of Creation (Sword of Truth Series #7) by Terry Goodkind,  Paperback | Barnes & Noble®

Don’t know how I stumbled upon this particular book, the 7th in the “Sword of Truth” series, but I enjoyed it quite a bit even if I was unfamiliar with the cast of characters.

But it did intrigue me and later on, I bought and read the first books in the series, starting with…

Amazon.com: Wizard's First Rule (Sword of Truth Book 1) eBook: Goodkind,  Terry: Kindle Store

This book, the first in the series, I felt was damn good, a wonderful fantasy epic that, while quite long (it’s listed as running nearly 600 pages in paperback form!) it really was an incredibly beautiful and immersive book.

I bought the next book and the one after that, Stone of Tears and Blood of the Fold and…

…they were good but it seemed with each new book I got the feeling Goodkind was either becoming repetitious or, frankly, just filling in pages.

Then came book #4 in the series, Temple of The Winds

Temple of the Winds | Sword of Truth Wiki | Fandom

Sadly, that was the book that wound up being the first to end my interest in Mr. Goodkind’s novels, in spite of the enormous good will I had toward them at the beginning. I believe I tried to read the next book in the series, Soul of the Fire, but by that point I was done.

Temple of The Winds was an excruciatingly long, padded, and ultimately pointless, IMHO, book which tried my patience like no other. Somewhere around the half-way point of reading it (and, like his other books, it ran some 600-800 plus pages… I don’t recall exactly) I began scanning through paragraphs rather than reading them, focusing on dialogue to try to move things along and get to the story’s point.

I say this not to insult Mr. Goodkind or his works, but to express my sadness at discovering what I thought was a damn good author who for a time really grabbed my interest but who I ultimately had to leave.

I still love Wizard’s First Rule and Pillars of Creation and do not hesitate recommending them to anyone who wants to read some really good fantasy works.

But, I’d be lying if I said my interest in Mr. Goodkind’s works continued much longer beyond that point.

According to the Tor website, which I’ve linked to in the first sentence above, 21 books in The Sword of Truth series have been created and I will absolutely give him this much: He was very dedicated to his craft and published an incredible amount of works.

For Mr. Goodkind’s family and friends and those who were fans of his series, who kept reading his works long past the point I gave up on them, my sympathies.

While I wish I could have continued enjoying his works beyond the initial two I read and the subsequent 2 which weren’t bad but not quite as good, Mr. Goodkind nonetheless provided me with many hours of enjoyment.

As an author, I view that as one of the best compliments one could receive.

On Writing… Wear & Tear

The other day my daughter was on my desktop computer and complained it was hard to use it because the letters were rubbed off in places.

I have two main computers I use for my writings, and both of them have K350 wireless Logitech ergonomic keyboards like this one…

Logitech K350 Wireless Wave Ergonomic Keyboard w/Unifying Receiver | eBay

I like ergonomic keypads and have used different types. I think my favorite is the Microsoft version but the one I like is a wired keyboard versus wireless and I prefer the wireless version, as I like to sometimes kick up my legs and type while its on my lap. To do so, I need a full, robust keyboard like the one above, one that can -natch- fit comfortably on my lap. With the wired version, I can only pull it so far!

Anyway, this is what my daughter was complaining about, the current state of that keyboard on my desktop computer:

As you can see, the letters S, D, F, C, L, and N are pretty much obliterated because of my heavy typing.

As I said, I have a second computer, a laptop, which I’ve also paired up with a K350 keyboard. I use the laptop in another room, away from everyone, so that I can concentrate on my work and not distract/be distracted by my family. Here is it:

I know the photos look about the same and the same letters are essentially missing: S, D, C, N, and L. Unlike the desktop’s keyboard, though, the F key is still visible and, showing the laptop’s keyboard has seen less use, you can still see a little of the S, C, and L buttons, though not enough to actually read ’em.

Worth noting, too, is that if you look closely at the pictures, you see that the letters M and V, while still visible, are also showing signs of heavy use. In the desktop picture at the top, both letters are quite chipped away while for my laptop the M is going but the V is still relatively intact.

I point this out not to denigrate the Logitech keyboard, though I would say that maybe the letters should last a little bit more, but it is intriguing that those letters, S, D, C, F, L, and N seems to get the most wear… at least when I’m typing, with the M and V being the next level of most used letters.

Because you had to know!

😉

On Writing… some thoughts

It’s Tuesday the 15th, the middle of September 2020 and I’m sitting here before my computer feeling pretty exhausted.

It’s a good kind of exhaustion, but an exhaustion nonetheless.

I’ve spent an awful lot of time of late working on my latest novel and, now that its nearing its end, I’m beat by all the intense work but happy because its coming to its end.

If you frequent this board, usually I’m much more active about posting, and of late it seems I’ve only been able to do on average one every week or so… Well, it seems that way, anyway. Further, because of my focus on this novel, many of the posts have involved Book #8 in my Corrosive Knights series.

I tend to write about what’s going on in my life and/or my current interests and at least for the last couple of months I’ve been focused like a proverbial laser on this novel and getting it done.

Which brings me to something I’ve mentioned it before and I’ll note again: I’m always amused by the way authors are depicted on TV or in the movies. I often have these visions of Angela Lansbury as the fussy Agatha Christie-type mystery writer who seems to write in her spare time while solving mysteries in her other spare time.

Or there’s the Hemingway-type author, the great outdoors explorer/great white hunter who also seems to have so much free time to engage in his manly activities while also seemingly writing books and stories in his spare time.

Then there’s the intellectual type, with a pipe in hand and thick glasses on their face, who at least seem like the type that would spend hours before a typewriter/computer creating their works.

There’s also the crazed/weird author, perhaps exemplified by the likes of Edgar Allan Poe (though tragic) or H. P. Lovecraft. People who are misfits yet brilliant when they set pen to paper but are otherwise looked upon as oddballs by society in general.

The other day I saw the opening to a Colombo episode that featured author Mickey Spillane (of Mike Hammer fame) being offed in the show’s opening minutes. Spillane is presented as a famous author who has the time to go to bars and have himself a good time, then record his fiction so that his secretary can transcribe it later.

The bottom line is the act of writing is often presented as something done on the fly, quickly and without much effort by the authors themselves or the focus goes toward the personalities rather than their actual writing.

I’ve noted before that for me writing can be excruciating. I’ve noted the quote one author -whose name sadly eludes me- that they “don’t like writing, but love having written.”

In other words, when it all comes together and you hold the completed novel or see your story in a magazine/online, you’re proud of your work, immensely so, but the actual process of getting there can be very hard.

Mind you, I’m not asking for some sympathy here or saying “poor me”.

The fact is that while I don’t love the actual process of writing, its in my blood and I couldn’t imagine spending those hours doing anything else.

But it is hard stuff.

Just as an athlete spends countless hours practicing before reaching the big game (and I can imagine many athletes love the game but aren’t quite as enamored of the training involved to play it), authors like me -because I’m sure there are others with different techniques- spend countless hours working on our stories and moving pieces this way and that, cutting out sections or realizing we have to do something completely different… and throwing away what may turn out to be months of work in favor of going into a different direction.

With Book #8 in the Corrosive Knights series, I wound up doing just that. The novel began as one thing but after months –months!– of toying around with different ideas, I slowly came to the realization that I needed to go in a different direction and that’s what I did. I had some 20,000+ words written by that point and most of it was now useless.

I very much doubt, too, that any of it can be used in the future and for some other work!

So that’s the way it goes with writing. It’s not this casual thing that I do then solve mysteries on the side with my beautiful sidekick, who we make eyes with and might get involved with.

Neither am I always out in the wilds, canoeing or mountain climbing or (heaven forbid) hunting. Nor am I a weirdo (at least I hope not!) who society looks upon as an oddball.

What I am is a guy who spends a lot of time before the computer or before printed pages, near constantly thinking about what I’ve written and where it is I want to go. Looking for rough edges and softening them, looking for bad grammar/descriptions and fixing them.

In time, the work goes for this amorphous with some ideas in it, say a beginning and an end, maybe some idea of a middle section and certainly vague ideas of what the characters are and what they’re doing, then slowly I mold those disparate ideas until they start to make sense and, once they do, work them more and more, cutting out the fat and focusing like that proverbial laser on what needs to be in the story and what does not.

If I’m successful, I hope my novels -which sometimes can take as many as 2 years to complete- can nonetheless be read in one longish sitting.

In fact, I consider this a great success: That I’ve written something which has drawn a reader in so well and so quickly that they are willing to spend their precious hours breathlessly working their way through the book, whether it takes them one prolonged sitting or a couple of days.

Regardless, I don’t want to waste any readers’ time. I want to present, with each new novel, the very best I’m capable of. I know that my works may have flaws and hopefully they’re nothing more serious than a silly typo here or there.

I want to entertain you, and I truly, sincerely, don’t want to waste your time.

Corrosive Knights, a 9/14/20 Update

Big update today about Book #8 in the Corrosive Knights series…

So last week, September 11th, I offered an update and here we are, only three days later and things have moved along quite a bit.

To begin with, I’ve finished the read-through/pen & ink revisions of Draft #8 of Book #8 in the Corrosive Knights series.

Yay!

Further, this morning I began to pass those revisions into the novel’s Word file and, in what amounted to perhaps a little over 1 hour of work before I had to leave, I nonetheless managed to get roughly 1/4th of the revisions done…!

Whoa!

What this means is not that I’ve suddenly become a revision speed demon but rather that those pages required so little work that I could move through them as fast as I did.

Thing is, the rest of the novel is looking very similar and most pages -though not all- require only light revision and not much more. Even the ones that require a little bit more revision, I feel, don’t require all that much to be fine and certainly no where near the amount needed in previous drafts.

So, in other words, its looking like once I’m done putting all this stuff into the Word file, the book should for all intents and purposes be done… and its looking like I can do this by perhaps Wednesday or, if I somehow don’t find the time, by Thursday at the latest.

This morning I also got in touch with the company that has handled the Corrosive Knights covers and initiated the process of hiring them to get the cover to this book done. In general they take between a week and 14 days to deliver such things so, hopefully, we’re looking at having the entire book done, at the very latest, by the end of next week.

Which means that as soon as I have all this stuff together, I’m going to release the book…!

Because I’m so very close now, I’ll leave any future updates for the time when I get the cover and can reveal it, along with (obviously) the book’s title.

Hang in there folks, we’re about to debut Book #8!

Corrosive Knights, a 9/11/20 Update…!

Only been three days since my last update, but as of yesterday, I finished up Draft #7 of Book #8 in the Corrosive Knights series…

I went ahead and printed the revised Draft and, starting today, begin the process of reading the whole thing once more while marking my pen & ink revision. As of this moment, I’m quite confident this will wind up being the last full draft I need to do of the book.

By that I mean that while doing Draft #7 I found most of the book required only very light fix ups. There were a few pages, no more than 20 out of 200, that required a bit more work but now that I’ve revised them, I suspect even those pages are very close to good-to-go.

What I plan to do is read through the entire book yet again, make my pen & ink revisions, and once I put them into the computer, that will be the last time I need to go over the book from start to end. If I find any pages that required more than a “little” work, I’ll go over them but no longer feel like I’ll need to go over the entire book.

It’s simply no longer necessary.

I’m hopeful that Book #8 will be done by no later than one week from today, next Friday the 18th. By done, I mean just that: Completely done.

So, from today through next week, there are several things still needed to be done:

First, of course, is to get through the entire novel once more, then take on pages -if any- that require one more look.

Second is to get the cover and back cover commissioned and made (this should take maybe a week or, if progress is slow, two), which means I should have everything done by not much later than the last full week of September.

Once all that’s done, I will make the novel available for purchase ASAP.

I’m beyond excited this novel is almost ready for its release, and I can’t wait to get it out to everyone!

September 11, 2001 and Today

A solemn day, today, given the 9/11 anniversary.

I vividly recall being at home that morning, turning on the TV, and seeing the flaming tower, singular. I witnessed live the second plane hit, then watched in horror as the first building fell, then the second.

Horrible, horrible stuff, and sadly what followed wasn’t all that much better. We invaded Afghanistan, which made sense as Osama Bin Ladin was, the intelligence said, there. But it was also used, sadly, as an excuse to stage the Iraq invasion. Saddam Hussein, Iraq’s leader, had nothing to do with 9/11 but President George W. Bush and, I suspect especially, Vice President Cheney were eager to go after him. Hussein had, after all, tried to assassinate his father.

The world we live in today, sadly, still carries echoes of 9/11. We still have troops in Afghanistan and Iraq -and much of the Middle East- remains a mess. The current President doesn’t inspire much hope for any sort of resolution.

Incredibly, 19 years have passed since that attack.

One hopes we’re in a far better place 19 years from now.

Corrosive Knights, A 9/7/20 Update

Last week Tuesday (you can read it here) I posted an entry noting that I was done with the 6th Draft of Book #8 in the Corrosive Knights series…

At that time, I was feeling wonderfully optimistic about how things were going with Book #8, and that further the fact that it took me a grand total of two weeks to go from reading/pen & ink revision to putting those revisions into the book’s Word file suggested I was winding down things pretty quickly.

Welp, it seems like that is indeed the case.

Last week Thursday, the 3rd, I started the process of reading/pen & ink revision of the book. I worked on it that day, Friday, skipped Saturday (a whole bunch of crap was going on and I simply didn’t have the time), worked on Sunday, and this morning I spent a little less than two hours to finish up that part of the revision process.

So, in sum, its taken me roughly 3 days and a few hours to read through the book and do those pen & ink revisions, which means starting either today but more likely tomorrow I’ll sit before the computer and begin to put those revisions into the Word file.

The process should be pretty quick. The first 50 some pages of the book (when printed out on 8 1/2 x 11 paper and at 10 point size, single spaced, it runs 197 pages long, so we’re talking the first 1/4th of the book) came out wonderfully well. I had very little to clean up on them.

As for the rest of the book, I’d say there are no more than 20 pages which require some deeper “cleaning up”. I found a couple of instances of the dreaded “I’m repeating myself” issue which almost always seems to pop up, but overall the book is incredibly close to being all ready.

I’m guessing putting the revisions in the Word file will take me no more than the remainder of this week, provided I have the time and won’t find myself forced to do other things.

So that means that, theoretically, by Friday the 11th of September I should be on my way to doing what will likely be the last revision of this book, Draft #8.

And it it takes me even less time than Draft #7 did, I should have the book completed before the end of the month.

Whoa.

When I was working on past books in the series, I noted that Book #8 was originally slated to be an “Epilogue” to the Corrosive Knights story and that, further, I had already written that Epilogue. I noted many times before that I still intend to use it, but that it is rather short (only some 20,000 words long versus my usual novels which go 85,000-110,000 words) and while trying to clean it up, I stumbled into this new story which is the one I’m presenting in Book #8.

When I was getting to the final pages of this draft, a curious realization came to me. I was effectively offering another, alternate Epilogue story to the Corrosive Knights series.

I suppose that was bound to happen, given Book #7, Legacy of the Argus, wraps up so many plot threads.

Yet it was a startling realization, especially given the fact that I’m so near the end of the book’s creation and its release.

I’ll also note, in concluding, that I remain totally blown away by this story. It’s really good, IMHO, and sits proudly among the other works.

The big question remains: When will the book be released?

I’m shooting for the end of September/very beginning of October at this point.

So, yes folks, this book will be available in not all that much more than 3-4 weeks or so time.

Soon, my friends. Very, very soon.

Music Flashback Friday…

Sometimes when you’ve got music in the background while working, you note recommendations appear and, the other day, a 1982 album by Kim Carnes showed up: Voyeur.

For those unfamiliar with the name, Kim Carnes is probably most famous for this song, which was pretty damn popular in its day:

When I saw the recommended album, I figured it must be the one that had Bette Davis Eyes on it. I was wrong, but as it turned out, I was familiar with at least two of the songs on the album.

I can honestly say I haven’t heard either of those songs in a very long time, likely in/around the time they were originally released nearly (gulp) forty years ago.

The first was the song the album was named after, Voyeur

Man, do I love the song… a beautiful distillation of 80’s synth new wave…!

But, man (redux), pretty depressing video concept, no? Abusive boyfriend, an implied murdered woman (with Kim Carnes herself being the next victim?)… huh. I wonder if the downbeat nature of this video might have harmed the song in the long run. Who knows.

The second song I recognized was Looker, though the version I was more familiar with I’ll get to in a moment:

The original version of the song was by Sue Saad and was the theme of the film of the same name, the Michael Crichton written/directed Looker (the video below shows sequences from that movie, in case you’re wondering. The film was about supermodels who are being killed for… reasons. The film didn’t make a whole lot of sense, even if some of the women presented were quite gorgeous!)…

Weird that the film would be released with the song in 1981 and then Kim Carnes would do her version only a year later in Voyeur!

Finally, there was an extended version of the song Voyeur. It runs nearly two minutes longer than the original version of the song…

This has been your 1980’s synth/new wave flashback for the day!

😉

Annihilation (2018) A (Mildly) Belated Review

I know, I know…

I should be working on my latest draft of my latest Corrosive Knights novel but I was feeling a bit fried and wanted to let my head cool off a little before taking the plunge.

I checked out my voluminous DVR list (as opposed to my voluminous Digital Movie list… another day!) and found the 2018 film Annihilation there.

I’ve been curious to see the movie since hearing it was like a modern version of an H. P. Lovecraft story (I think more specifically The Colour Out of Space, which was made into a film with Nicolas Cage in 2019 and is another of those films on my list to see… when I get the chance!).

Annihilation has plenty of stars, the biggest names of which are Natalie Portman, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Oscar Isaac, and Tessa Thompson. However, I recall it was released and didn’t do all that well in theaters and was gone pretty quick. Afterwards, though, when the movie reached home video it seemed to find some love and now and again I stumble upon people who offer good words about the film, which is the principle reason I recorded it and decided to give it a shot.

Here’s the movie’s trailer:

Based on a novel by Jeff VanderMeer, Annihilation is indeed similar, IMHO to other works, not least of which is Lovecraft’s The Colour Out of Space but also thematically very similar to the wonderful (and, if we’re going to go there, far better) 1979 Andrei Tarkovsky film Stalker.

Just for the hell of it, here’s the trailer to Stalker

Natalie Portman plays university biologist/ex-soldier Lena, a woman whose husband has disappeared a year ago after being sent on some top secret mission and who, we come to find out, tried cheated on her husband with a fellow professor but that went to hell (I have to be upfront here and say: This romantic subplot, IMHO, was totally unnecessary, at least in the context of the film proper. Maybe it meant more in the book).

So her husband’s disappeared and she feels guilty because maybe her husband knew she was cheating on him (this part is rather vague) and then one day, out of the blue, her husband re-appears.

However, he is… strange. He doesn’t seem to know where he was or how he got back home. Worse, he says he doesn’t feel well and spits up blood. An ambulance is called but en-route to the hospital some dark SUVs surround the ambulance and drug Lena.

She awakens at some army outpost and is told her husband is dying. Turns out a year or so ago a meteor fell by a lighthouse (we see this in the movie’s opening seconds) and since then a weird color field has been expanding out of it. Turns out Lena’s husband and a group of soldiers entered that field and didn’t come out… so how did the husband show up?

Further to that, Lena learns a new group of women are going into the field. She asks to join them and is allowed to.

What follows is a journey into some serious weirdness, tragedy, and death…

By and large I enjoyed Annihilation. While it shares the “group goes into the weird zone to explore it” plot found in Stalker, Annihilation presents a far more grounded and simple story when all is said and done.

That doesn’t mean its a bad film, not by a long shot.

There are some brilliant moments in the film, including a couple of truly eerie and horrifying ones, and the mystery of what is going on -which, again, when resolved proves rather simple- is nonetheless intriguing enough to keep you interested during the film’s runtime.

The problem, for me, is that when it ends -indeed how it ends, too- seemed so very… blah. I don’t want to spoil things, but when all was said and done I felt as I said above: This film, while eerie and at times haunting, simply wasn’t all that deep in its conception and resolution.

In other words, it kinda ended like I thought it would.

Still, I can’t fault the producers/director/writers/actors for this film. They obviously put in a great effort and, again, there are some very startling scenes.

The film is certainly worth a look but if you want to try something really head-spinning which features a similar concept, you’re better off checking out Stalker.