Category Archives: Books/Literature

Corrosive Knight… A Big Thank You, Part Deux

A while back (you can read it here) I thanked everyone who, to that point, had taken the time to not only read my Corrosive Knights novels, but also taken the time to either write reviews or give the novels a “star” rating which pops up on Goodreads.com.

Since that first posting, I’m beyond honored that my novels seem to continue being both read (almost all the Corrosive Knights novels are available to be read through Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited program) and purchased and positive reviews of them keep coming in.

In the first posting, we had 77 ratings for a total score of 4.18 out of 5 stars. Since that point, we’ve moved to 93 ratings and our score remains remarkably consistent, now at 4.17 out of 5 stars.

Hopefully, I’ll soon get to see my books reach 100 ratings… and beyond!

This year has easily been the best I’ve had with regard to people reading and purchasing my novels. Since releasing the seventh book in the series, Legacy of the Argus, back in November of 2018 and redoing all the covers to the books, every day -save for maybe a handful since January- has movement on the books.

As a small time, independent writer, it pleases me to see so many people checking out my works and, of course, enjoying them enough to offer positive feedback. While I’m not so obnoxious to think that my books appeal to everyone, I’m pleased because the impression I’m getting is that those who have tried the books have plunged in deep, reading multiple novels and/or the full run.

To be clear: I can’t “see” who exactly reads the books or the amount of pages each individual reads, but I can, from day to day, see the number of pages of each novel that is read through Kindle Unlimited. And when I see one particular novel suddenly getting, say, 500+ pages read in a single day, I think its a safe assumption whomever is reading the particular novel is enjoying it enough to blow through it.

In my case, if I do so with a novel it means I’m really enjoying it and am eager to get to the end.

I hope the same applies to my works with other readers!

Regardless, once again a BIG thank you to everyone who’s given me their time and read my novels.

I hope to keep surprising and entertaining you guys with my future works!

Corrosive Knights Book #8… a little more

Funny how things go.

Friday I posted an entry and offered for the first time in quite some time an update on Book #8 of the Corrosive Knights series (you can read it here).

I noted the following:

I’d say I’m a little more than halfway -roughly- through writing it

I think its a little more than that!

Over the weekend, a major breakthrough: I finally figured out how to end the book.

I know, I know: Didn’t you already have some clear idea of the story you were presenting, including the ending?

Yes… and no.

Each book I write tends to follow certain paths but they are almost never identical. For many of my books, believe it or not, I have a relatively clear beginning and/or ending but have to figure out the middle and the hard work comes with this connective tissue.

Often it is the middle part of the book that gives me the biggest fits and, when I finally work my way through it, the biggest sense of triumph when the proverbial plan “comes together”.

Then there are cases like Book #8, which started one way and then went into a whole ‘nuther direction…

As I mentioned in that previous post, my original idea was to have Book #8 in the Corrosive Knights series be an Epilogue. It was meant to be a finale that ends the series properly, and truth to tell, I’ve already written a strong first draft of that Epilogue.

Thing is, its really short and I realized it needed to be longer to be a proper book rather than a very thin novella. The previous Corrosive Knights books run roughly 90,000 to 110.000 or so words long. This book, as it stands now, runs something like 20,000 words long.

When I first tackled it, I figured what was needed was more “meat” and that’s what I started to work on. I wanted the Epilogue to be a finale that stands up with the rest of series and helped “close the book” on the series which began with Mechanic and concluded with Legacy of the Argus .

Here’s the thing, though: As I started working on doing this Epilogue Book #8, and I started to think about how I would expand this slight story, the proverbial wheels started to turn in my head and I realized there was another story, not an Epilogue, worth telling.

And with that realization came a second realization: There was no need to so hastily “end” the Corrosive Knights series. For the Epilogue would certainly do that and I realized I wasn’t quite ready to end the series yet.

Thing is, and as mentioned before, Legacy of the Argus sure does offer a very strong conclusion to the storylines written to this point, so if I create another novel that takes place in this Corrosive Knights universe, I felt the need to offer something that didn’t feel like “just” another story, but something which would add to the series in a meaningful way.

Which is why the breakthrough I had this weekend, the conclusion of this story, was so important and why it took me so long to figure out.

I’ve been writing this story for a while now, since shortly after finishing/publishing Legacy of the Argus, and because of the initial nature of the book and its transformation into something else its taken me much longer to get a clear idea of where I’m going with all this.

I soldiered through, writing first an introduction to the Epilogue version, then a new introduction to what would wind up being the new non-Epilogue version of Book #8, then coming up with a whole new -and far better- introduction and scuttling the previous one.

Then, I moved along, on and on, building up scenarios but never quite getting a feel for the book being something worthy of standing on its own and adding to the series in that meaningful way. Mind you, the story was intriguing, even if it felt like it needed that extra something.

I worked hard on it, forcing myself to power through page after page despite worries by the end it might not come together. This is a fear authors have, that their hard work, when all is said and done, will amount to a wiff, a good, but perhaps not great story not worth all that spent effort.

On the other hand, and not to sound too obnoxious, I have confidence in my skills. It takes me a while, sometimes a very long while, to figure out what I’m doing, but with concentration and effort, I usually get to where I want to go.

This past weekend’s break through, my coming up with an ending that puts the novel into a good context within the series itself, did the trick.

Now we have an exciting, suspenseful/thrilling story that anyone coming into this book wondering “Where is he going after Legacy of the Argus?” will feel it adds to the overall story of the series.

Of course, I won’t get into any details as I’m sure the book will go through many permutations as I revise/revisit it and fix it up on its way to being published. I’m still not quite finished with the first full rough draft but getting this conclusion in place sure goes a long way.

Onward!

Ah… Friday… and Corrosive Knights #8 Update…!

It feels like I haven’t stopped moving these past few months… maybe years… and when the weekend is in view, as it is this Friday morning, I can’t help but feel relief and look forward to unwinding.

I suspect I’m not alone in this!

I haven’t offered much information of what I’m doing, writing-wise of late, but suffice to say I’m neck deep into what will be the 8th book in the Corrosive Knights series.

A while back I was offering the following image to give a hint as to what this 8th book was going to be…

Note the “Epilogue” statement.

Welp… it no longer applies.

There is indeed an 8th book in the works and I’d say I’m a little more than halfway -roughly- through writing it and it most certainly will not be the promised Epilogue to the series.

Why?

Because the Epilogue, which as I’ve stated before is pretty much written already (and has been for a while) kinda ends the whole Corrosive Knights series and I’m not feeling like the series should end just yet.

In fact, the ideas I’ve come up with in Book #8 are fascinating to me, a sure sign that the book is “working”. If I didn’t feel excited about what I was writing, I’d have given it up a while ago.

Yet the same things always rear their head when writing: I try my best to deliver a story that will zig when readers think it will zag. A story that will hopefully surprise them with the many turns and, likewise, give them compelling characters along with a compelling story with a strong beginning, middle, and end.

Any hints as to when the story takes place?

Here’s the thing: With the Corrosive Knights series, I have this broad timeline where I can fit in stories. The story could theoretically take place in pre-historic times. It could take place in the 20th Century and from there, five thousand plus years into the future.

So it could take place the very day after the final events of Legacy of the Argus or before the events of Chameleon (those who have read the books know what I’m talking about).

I’ll offer more updates soon enough…!

Suffice to say I’ve found a good subject/plot and am pushing forward as quickly as I can. Once that first good rough draft is done, things will start coming together more quickly, even if I do require considerable polishing before I feel a book of mine is ready to be released.

I’m working really hard on this one and I want it to be ready perhaps by the middle of next year, if I can manage this.

I’ll give it my all!

In the meantime, have a great weekend!

Sad… and yet expected

Yesterday came news that the venerable Mad Magazine, the satirical/smart-assed magazine published since 1952, was for all intents and purposes being cancelled.

Sure, there are a few “ifs” and “buts” to this news, but essentially the Magazine will be producing more and more “best of” editions and stopping the original stuff.

You can read more about this in this article by James Whitbrook and presented over on i09.com:

Mad Magazine is basically dead

To me, and as I wrote on the header above, this is sad but expected news. It’s been many, many years since I’ve read Mad Magazine, and likely well over twenty plus years since I’ve held an original newstand issue release.

But there was a time, back in the 1970’s and into the 1980’s, when Mad Magazine was one of my favorite publications. I loved it so much that I even had a subscription to them and got issues over the mail. Not before and not since had I ever done that, and I still recall the first issue I received in the mail…

Image result for mad magazine king kong

From 1977 and not one of their “best” issues, nonetheless I loved the parody of King Kong (the first remake film, which featured a very young Jeff Bridges and Jessica Lange).

I was fascinated with Mad and eager to pick up their earlier issues. Luckily, they would release “Best of” editions which often allowed me to get peeks at the long history of Mad Magazine parodies.

Many years later and at the dawn of the “digital” age, a beautiful CD Rom compilation was released which featured all the issues of the magazine up to that point. Even better, it included odds and ends found in the various “Best of” compilations, including songs and other silliness…

Image result for mad magazine cd rom

Loved it!

A few years after this release they released another up to the moment CD Rom set, but this one didn’t feature all those wonderful bonuses.

When I got the CD Rom edition, I tried to read some of the more recent magazines included in the set but found the humor… just wasn’t as good as before.

Worse, many of my favorite artists and writers were no longer there. Don Martin left the book amid a squabble over royalties with publisher William Gaines and eventually went to work for Cracked, did his own series, and passed away. Sadly, in reading the incidentals regarding Mr. Martin’s situation, I couldn’t help but feel that Mr. Gaines had taken advantage of not only him but many of the other artists he hired from the early EC days through Mad Magazine. Mr. Gaines made plenty of money reprinting older strips and, at least according to Mr. Martin, didn’t offer royalties to the talent who made the works.

Similarly, other artists and writers, such as Antonio Prohias, who created and wrote/drew Spy vs Spy, had also either left the book and/or passed away. What I saw with those later issues were works by people I neither knew nor found all that interesting.

Ah well.

Still, it’s incredibly sad to read that Mad may finally be shutting down. It had a good, long run, but today it competes with memes and comedians who are on TV nightly. The humor it brought forward is readily available in so many media and a magazine coming out bi-monthly simply didn’t have as much of a chance.

Good things, as they say, eventually come to their end, and so too it appears to have happened to Mad.

The dangers of buying digital things…

First, I have to be honest: I LOVE buying things “digitally”.

I LOVE not having the clutter of so many books and movies and the ease by which I can enjoy both through either my cellphone, tablet, or through my “smart” TV.

I LOVE IT!

…however…

Stories like these make me mighty uncomfortable. From Matt Novak and presented on gizmodo.com:

Ebooks purchased from Microsoft will be deleted this month because you don’t really own anything anymore

The title is self-explanatory: Microsoft sold eBooks starting in/around 2017. The service appears to have not done very well and the company decided they were going to stop selling books and, further, delete those that people bought.

Money will be returned by Microsoft to the people who bought these eBooks, just to be clear, and the service seems to have been a flop pretty much from the beginning so not that many people were affected.

However, this does present a sobering thought: What if this should happen with Apple or Amazon? How about VUDU? All my books/graphic novels -and I have a BUNCH of them- are on Amazon. Pretty much all my film purchases are currently being done through VUDU.

What if these services have a problem? What if suddenly all these many thousands of dollars I’ve spent will *poof!* be gone?

Again, I love the digital services. I love the fact that my home isn’t getting filled up with more books and movie boxes.

I love this!

But, seriously, there needs to be some kind of permanence created for these bought items yet I wonder if such a thing could be accomplished, other than downloading your stuff and saving it to increasingly full Hard Drives.

it’s been a blur so far…

…at least for me.

I’m referring to the summer. Truly since the start of May, perhaps even the end of April, things have been on a whirl.

I mentioned a few of the things that have affected me already: The plumbing problems, followed by the AC problems, followed by moving my daughter, followed by getting the bathroom fixed up.

We’re still in the process of the later, but at least all the major stuff is done. There’s still painting to do and a shower door and cabinets to be made/installed but the dust is settling and my poor sinus is starting, at least a little, to relax.

Most importantly, in the last few days I’ve been able to devote more and more time -my regular time, stolen by the above- to writing.

The book I’m currently writing hasn’t quite gelled yet, though each day I can get to it (far too little since late April/early May), has proven a wonderful new adventure.

I’m adding in fascinating details and the overall plot, at least in general, is solid. But I’m a fussy guy and solid isn’t nearly strong enough for my taste.

I’ve mentioned it before but I’ve always tried to make every book I’ve written be as original as I can make it, with as intricate -but not overly complicated- story which will hopefuly shock as much as it entertains. I want people to feel the time they’ve given me was worth it, and I will not accept a work/plot that follows too many familiar or well-worn paths.

I’m not quite there yet but its coming along.

Stay tuned.

A writing update, of sorts…

This is a difficult one for me. I’ve faced incredible frustration with the time available for my writing, to the point where in the past month or so I’ve done very, very little.

If you’ve been reading these posts, you know that a large part of this is due to the catastrophes I’ve faced at my house. First, the plumbing problems which led to having to virtually change all the water exit lines on the east side of my house. This resulted in completely tearing up the yard on that side (they had to bring in a digger to create the trench for the new pipes), then, a grand total of two days after the pipes were laid in, my central AC went down and I had to spend even more money on getting that replaced.

Then, my daughter moved and I spent a week with the wife driving to her home, helping pack up her stuff, then spent two days on the road moving her stuff to her new home. Then, another two-three days unloading and unpacking then flying back home…

…and now I’m knee deep in fixing the bathroom that initiated the whole fiasco. See, that bathroom, our guest bathroom, had trouble getting the water out, whether when flushing the toilet or using the shower/bath. We brought in some people, they used a snake, but no result. Then they brought in cameras and determined that the old exit lines, which were metal (a popular choice when our house was built in 1959), had corroded and plugged themselves up to the point they had to be replaced.

Ah well.

Anyway, the original plumbers had to break the ground under the toilet and, since then, the bathroom was unusable. Realizing that simply fixing the floor would be, at best, a patch up job, we decided it was best to refresh the entire bathroom and that’s where we are now.

We’re on day three of this process and I anticipate we’ve got another three days -at least!- to go before being done.

At that point, I very much hope –and pray!– all these time sucking calamities will be done and I’ll be able to finally get back to writing my latest book, which I’ve found an intriguing work to this point.

What is it about?

Well, my intention is to create a good suspense/horror novel which is set in the Corrosive Knights “universe”.

While before I stated my next novel would be an “Epilogue” to the Corrosive Knights series, I’ve reconsidered that thought.

It boils down to this: There are more areas I want to explore in this universe and if I finish off the Epilogue book (the first draft is pretty much done), I fear that it may serve as closure to the Corrosive Knights series and I’m not quite ready to do that yet.

So stay tuned. I’m very, very eager to pounce on the current novel and finish it up as quickly as possible… provided all these other problems are finished up and my focus can return to my work.

Soon.

Hopefully!

Game Of Thrones… Finale

DISCLAIMER: I have yet to see a single full episode of the Game of Thrones TV series and I have not read any of the G. R. R. Martin books on which the series is based.

And yet… I’m fascinated by the HBO series. Have been almost from the beginning. As each episode has appeared, I’ve read the mostly positive reactions to the show and I know most of what’s gone on in it: The surprise/shock deaths and the evil machinations of the various characters.

I’m sure I’m missing quite a bit, having not seen show or read the novels, but I’m familiar enough with some of the main characters and know that many fans have found the final season and conclusion of the HBO show a bitter disappointment.

Going back in time, I recall people thinking/hoping the final two books in Mr. Martin’s series would be released just as the show reached its end. Soon these same fans realized it was very likely the second to the last novel might be released by the time the show ended, but it became increasingly doubtful the final novel would see the light of day before then. Then, more time passed and suddenly it was clear neither of the two last books would be released before the show ended.

And so it’s come to pass.

In fact, readers still don’t know when the last two books will be released, if ever, and they’re certain the decline in quality of the series and, especially what they witnessed in this last season, was due to the fact that the show’s runners no longer had Mr. Martin’s books to guide them.

In that, they’re likely quite right.

I’m sure you’ve been wondering: If I haven’t seen the damn series nor read any of the books, what in the world could I possibly add to the conversation regarding Game of Thrones and its TV end?

Welp, if you’ve been reading my posts, you know I have my own little series of novels which I’ve recently concluded. The series, titled Corrosive Knights, consisted of seven novels…

When I heard a few years back that it was likely Mr. Martin would have neither of the last two novels of the series done before the TV show finished, I knew the show might be in trouble and feared exactly what’s happened for many, that the show ended in disappointment.

Understand, I’m no psychic. I based this on the experiences I had writing my own novels.

You see, when I was knee deep in writing Ghost of the Argus, the fifth book in the Corrosive Knights series, I had absolutely no idea the series would go on for two more novels. At that point, believe it or not, I had absolutely no idea how the series would end, if ever. I was enjoying writing each novel and seeing where my imagination would take me.

Granted, I knew I had to eventually wrap the series up and create some kind of conclusion, but there was method to my madness. By focusing on each novel as I wrote it, I was determined to make each book stand out on its own and build upon what came before.

By the time I was on the last couple of drafts of Ghost of the Argus, I had this wild, sudden vision of where the next two books would go. Suddenly, I knew the next two books would offer a conclusion to the series and, just like that, I had a general framework for where I was going.

But it was only a framework.

What followed were four years of very hard work, of trial and error, of new/surprising directions. You see, while I had a general idea of where I was going, I still had to get there. I had to take this framework and build organs and musculature, flesh and blood, around it.

Had HBO been working on a Corrosive Knights TV adaptation of my works and were getting along on the series and wanted to know how I was going to end it, had they asked me before I had my vision I would have had no answer for them. After my vision, I could have provided them with the framework but that’s all they would have had. What I created in four years after was very much different from that initial set of ideas.

I can’t help but think that the Game of Throne showrunners were in a similar position, given general ideas from Mr. Martin. They were the ones who had to come up with all the organs, flesh, blood, and outer skin… and if we’re going by many of the negative reactions, they simply weren’t up to the task.

Frankly, I feel for them.

I’m certain they did the best they could but the fact is they aren’t Mr. Martin and they haven’t gone through the trial and error and actual writing that Mr. Martin has.

Maybe one day the books will finally appear and all those fans of the series will get their better ending.

Until then, they’ve got what they have.

Voynich Manuscript… Deciphered?

Heard about the mysterious Voynich Manuscript? No?

Then check out the Wikipedia entry concerning it:

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Voynich_manuscript

In essence, the Voynich Manuscript is a book consisting of strange writings and illustrations purchased by Wilfred Voynich in 1912. Since that time, scholars as well as the curious have tried -and failed- to decipher the writings within the manuscript.

In the past few days, however, Gerard Cheshire, a University of Bristol academic, announced he has deciphered the famous manuscript. If you’re curious, you can read the article explaining how he did it here…

https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/02639904.2019.1599566

Sounds good, no?

Finally, finally, we get to find out what mysterious things were written in this very mysterious book, right?

Well, hold your horses because Jennifer Aullettee points out the fact that many people have claimed over the years to have deciphered the Voynich Manuscript and, so far, none have proven correct. She also offers in her article reasons to doubt Mr. Cheshire’s claims, as well:

https://arstechnica.com/science/2019/05/no-someone-hasnt-cracked-the-code-of-the-mysterious-voynich-manuscript/

I have to say, when I heard of Mr. Cheshire’s claims, I was excited. Hell, I’m fascinated by things like this, essentially unsolved mysteries from the past.

However, it seems to me Ms. Aullettee has effectively thrown cold water on Mr. Cheshire’s claims and… well… until I read otherwise I’m thinking this might be one of a long line of claims that don’t quite hold.

Funny thing is, I suspect when/if the manuscript is deciphered the end result will be a lot of stuff that, to modern readers, will appear to be nothing more than old nonsensical ideas/notions/stories. I strongly suspect we’re not about to find a lost classic of literature.

My basis for this is in some of the illustrations presented in the manuscript, such as…

Or…

Or…

There are many other pages from the book one can find online. Many deal with flora, like the second piece presented above, while others show oddities like pictures 1 and 3. What has so many curious is the writing alongside these pieces. This is, obviously, what so many are trying to decipher.

Until we have final proof -and assuming this latest decryption turns out to be not quite what it is being billed as- I’ll keep hoping for a day when the manuscript is indeed completely deciphered, though I feel whatever writings there are will prove to be, perhaps, quite nonsensical.

We’ll see!

5/17/19 POSTSCRIPT:

We’ll see indeed!

Not even 24 hours later I find this article by Ryan F. Manbelbaum and presented on Gizmodo.com which states:

Sorry, it looks like a Researcher didn’t just crack the Voynich Manuscript after all

The upshot is that the university in which the above mentioned individual who claimed to have cracked the Manuscript… well… I’ll let the University Speak for itself (you can read their full statement here):

Following media coverage, concerns have been raised about the validity of this research from academics in the fields of linguistics and medieval studies. We take such concerns very seriously and have therefore removed the story regarding this research from our website to seek further validation and allow further discussions both internally and with the journal concerned.

Yeah, sounds like they feel just maybe the whole “I deciphered the thing” statement previously released might have been… well… premature, to say the least.

News of the weird…

Growing up in the 1970’s and early 80’s was an odd experience. There was incredible intrigue around the notion of “unexplained” mysteries. You had popular books like…

Chariots Of The Gods.jpg

Which theorized aliens visited Earth in ancient times and built all kinds of things those primitive humans simply could not.

There were plenty of other mysteries out there to explore. How about…

Related image

…or perhaps UFOs? How about Bigfoot? Or the very mysterious fate of hijacker D.B. Cooper?

Image result for d.b. cooper

Yes indeed, a weird, entertaining time to be an armchair detective, sorting through the half-truths presented in various books/magazines and, yes, even TV shows hosted by… Leonard Nimoy?!

Yeah, a fun time to be around, even if many of these purported mysteries were likely far less mysterious than the presenters would have us know.

Welp, now and again certain “mysteries” bubble up. Some are relatively new (the chupacabra!).

With great amusement I found this article by Julia Hollingsworth and found on CNN.com concerning…

“Yeti” footprints sighted claims Indian Army tweet

I can see the upcoming documentary now…

😉