Like Me. Really Like Me.

I was listening to a podcast about authorial brand the other day and it got me thinking about myself and my own work. I suppose there’s a throughline of themes and ideas in a lot of my fiction — actually that’s what’s sparked the new and shiny novel I’m almost about ready to start outlining — but more than that, it got me thinking about myself and this blog.

For the most part, I write about my work and writing life, but what about me? What do I think is cool? I was always a little hesitant to just throw stuff out there because what if you, dear reader, are a movie buff but then I go off the deep end gushing about a video game and you decide, nah, video games are dumb. Shame on you! Or maybe you’re a gamer who doesn’t like my taste in television shows. I don’t know. So rather than keep all that out, I realized I can only be me.

Unless, it’s a critical deep dive into a work, I don’t like writing about entertainment pieces I don’t like. I don’t mind admitting when I didn’t care for something, but I don’t like bashing on stuff because I know how long and how hard it is to make said stuff! With all this in mind, I’ve updated my About Me page with my top favorite books and movies. I’ll put them below too …

Favorite Books:

(In no particular order …)

  • Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers, Return of the King by J.R.R. Tolkien … (see below …)
  • Embassytown by China Mieville
  • Shogun by James Clavell
  • The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
  • The Sandman comics by Neil Gaiman
  • The Stormlight Archive series by Brandon Sanderson


Favorite Movies:

  1. Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers, Return of the King (all extended editions of course) – Let’s be honest, they’re all really one movie right …
  2. Jurassic Park
  3. Spirited Away
  4. Ghostbusters
  5. The Last Samurai and Little Shop of Horrors (1986) – two way tie

Maybe we’re a fan of the same things. Oh come on, of course we are!

I also thought I’d update you on what I’m reading and what I’m watching.

What I’m reading:

The Jennifer Morgue by Charles Stross. This book is awesome. Book 2 of The Laundry Files. While the government bureaucracy is so real its painful, it still doesn’t overshadow the eldritch horror crammed into these books. Anyone looking for a modern take on Lovecraft, this series is for you. I enjoy the plots and occult techno-babble as much as the next guy, but speaking of crammed, the amount of references (Lovecraftian, historical, and real world technology) stuffed into each book is amazing. You honestly don’t need to know what any of them mean, because anything important is always explained for the plot, but for someone like myself, it’s riddled with Easter eggs so I feel like each one is some inside joke only I’m privy to. When they say write what you know, this is totally what they mean. It just goes to show you that you don’t need one thing. If you’ve got a couple of passions, smush them all together and the beautiful mess you’ve made is going to be one great, original story.

What I’m watching:

I just wrapped up watching Altered Carbon on Netflix. I’m a little late to the party on this one, but oh man was that good! I thought they did a great job with the jargon. It felt like a real place and wasn’t just replacing current words with future words. Also the setup and payoff was really well done. You know it’s good when you have multiple actors playing the same character and I don’t even bat an eye. I’m looking at you episode 7. It’s mainly flashback, so it’s not the primary actor, but the guy I’m watching still always feels like Tak to me. It’s great and so well done.

From a production design, I can marvel at the nuts and bolts too. They clearly had money to build sets and render things in CGI, but they were super careful with their locations. The places feel big, but when I stop and think about it, there really aren’t that many places the characters go to. Even when they’re outside, it’s a section of a street or a storefront of something. There are plenty of extras and things in the background, but the show doesn’t blow its budget on needless filler.

I’m definitely excited for season 2.

So there you have it. A little bit more about me and what I like. Writing up the what I’m reading and watching was pretty fun. I don’t get a chance to gush about stuff so much anymore, but I think that’s going to be changing. I’ve a feeling that feature is definitely coming back.

It’s the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man

I got some pretty solid writing in today. I’m happy with the results. It almost didn’t happen too. Well, I had the time for once … but I was driving and brainstorming my prewriting stuff like I usually do and it was just pouring out of me. My muse or whatever was riding shotgun grinning the whole time as some great stuff came bubbling out  while I was talking to myself. I typically use my phone for quick notes, the voice to text equivalent of a jot down but this was the real deal. I showed up to the test in my underwear. Looking to my muse, helpless, all I got in return was “It sucks to suck.” Thanks. Now you show up.

I raced to work and by work, more accurately, I mean a computer. I knew exactly where I wanted to start and then … it was pulling teeth. I had seen the promise land, but the doors were shut. Knowing that I’d done better off the cuff … in my car, made everything I wrote feel stilted and junky. Well, the hell with that. If the promised land slammed it’s doors shut, I’d rip ’em the hell open!

I soldiered on, gradually finding my pace and rhythm and then another funny thing happened. Whole sections just popped in there. Like Ray Stanz, they just popped in there. It must have been what every writing instructor ever has ever said about “developing your voice.” Normally, I write how I write and don’t try and alter it in any way. I mean, I want it to sound good and be creative and whatnot, but the words that came pouring out of me belonged to some other guy this morning. And I gotta say, I like that guy. I hope he comes back. I’ll be waiting around in the trees for him. Plenty of bananas to spare.

So today went great. Monday and Wednesday, though, they were a wash. Too much job-work got in the way and after 10 hour days of something else, my brain wasn’t exactly up for any more thinking. Before the muse played its little trick on me – I’m going with it. I know the muses were female in myth, but who am I to judge where my inspiration comes from. – I was thinking about two days gone when I could have been writing and it got me thinking about where the expression “That’s a wash” comes from. What’s being washed? I’m sure I could Google it and find out in a manner of seconds because we live in the 21st century, but where’s the fun in that? I’ve always been fascinated why we say and do the things we do. Like how in every post-apocalyptic setting there’s something they do because Reasons but really it’s just a misconstrued holdover from a previous era. I live for that shit!

Thinking about the wash expression and why we say it reminded me of my dad and his own idiosyncrasies. For as long as I can remember, he’s always used the expression, “six one half does the other.” Just like that. I intuited that it meant two choices being the same thing. I remember asking repeatedly what it means anyway in the hope that he’d explain it better, but he pretty much just reiterated what I already knew. Only years later – and I’m talking maybe high school or even college – did I come across the expression “six of one, half a dozen of the other.”

Suddenly it all made sense. He knew what he was talking about. He was just lazy. Don’t even get me started on his usage of “Murphy’s law.” So here’s an expression that had meaning to him and he wasn’t even saying it correctly. Didn’t matter though. Signifier and signs my friends.

And just as quickly as all of this came to mind on my drive in, I began thinking about my writing for the day and my muse appeared. I shoved all of the intellectual stuff aside to make headroom for the creative stuff. I may not have the most robust vocabulary or even be a good speller – spoiler alert: I suck at spelling – but I do love language. The entire concept is simply fascinating.