Friday, April 1, 2016

Month In Review: March

In like a lion, out like a...lion? I heard thunder this morning and the dull ache in the front of my skull suggests that the air pressure's a-changing again, so the mild weather of the last few days is likely to be answered with some no-so mild weather. March has pretty much been a lion like month for me, so here goes with the recap:

WRITING: I set a goal of 30k and finished the month with 32k...probably more. I decided to do something I haven't done in a while and made an Excel file to track my writing. From March 12th to March 31st I wrote 32k. Who knows how much more before that. I didn't write any words five of the days, so I averaged about 2k a day, which is perfect. I hit a real groove and had three days where I wrote more than 3500 words. I haven't done that in a long, long time.

The best part about it is that the words are good words. Really good words. I sent some pages to a good friend, who raved about how good FALCON is.

FALCON has become a weird project. Their are off hand references to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the Bourne movies and even Kirk fu. If you don't know what Kirk fu, go Google it. It's funny and I'm very happy with what the story is doing. Every surprise that the story has thrown me has been handled with a degree of ease and made sense within the narrative. I think this has a chance to be a great book.

This leaves FALCON at about 57k and is pacing out at about 82k. I'm setting a goal of April 10th to finish this project. Then I'm going to work on a rewrite of LABORS and a new project I've been toying with. It's not the traditional epic fantasy I was talking about but a tween epic fantasy, younger than WINTER or SCION. I'm going to work out the world building and stuff while I'm revising. I'm going to do some research into "younger" epic fantasies to check the tone. I also think that if I stay productive I might be able to work on that prank war idea I've been messing with this summer. Hard to believe that the summer is right around the corner.

READING: Seven books, including two picture books that I read to my son, for the month and some interestingly mixed results.

  • All Fall Down by Ally Carter: A quick read that I really enjoyed. Put me in totally the right place to write the thriller/spy/YA Bourne thing I've been reading. I can't say enough about how good this book was. Good characters, great setting and worldbuilding and terrific hints at what else is to come. I need to longform this over on Goodreads for sure. 
  • Envy of Angels by Matt Wallace: What a shocking and hilarious surprise this novella was. Man, is killing it with these novellas. I'm ordering the next one this weekend, but this was a terrifically weird and brilliant book that I'm "Sharpie-ing" for the end of year best list. It's a Food Network show by way of the SciFi channel. Great characters, terrifying worldbuilding that fits and a completely wacked out plot that I didn't want to put down and thought about when I wasn't reading it. I'll longform this one too.
  • The Dumbest Idea Ever by Jimmy Gownley: I picked this up based on the title and loved it. It's the story of a story and I wished I could've written something like this when I was the MC's age. I should've taken writing more seriously as a youth. Oh well.
  • Sleeping Beauty by Ross MacDonald: A noir tale of Los Angeles in the 1960s, it's a tight, twisting tale of missing persons, murder and family drama. I liked it better than other noir in that it focuses on what these crimes do to the people and how they touch more than just the victim and perpetrator. I want to read more Macdonald but then again, I want to read more period.
  • The Cold Commands by Richard K. Morgan: This grimdark fantasy is kind of a mess. I've never read any of Morgan's other stuff, but spent a bunch of time reading threads about these books and there is a lot of dissenting opinions about the book. I read the first book in the series and I really enjoyed it. That being said, half of this book is filler and I'm wondering if the first book was the same. I feel like Morgan probably could've told this whole trilogy in one book by cutting out the filler (I haven't read book 3 yet but there's a precedent, I suppose). Nothing really happends in the first half of the book and when it does, it feels a little rushed, like Morgan wanted to shock us a little with the first half of the book before actually getting to a story. It reminds me, in a lot of ways, of Greg Keyes's Kingdoms of Bone and Thorn, which I loved, in that it seems like there are long stretches of the story where the author is bored with what they are writing. I'm going to give The Dark Defiles (book 3) a shot this month.
Presently, I'm reading:
  • A World Without Heroes by Brandon Mull: Part of my tween fantasy study. Nothing exceptional so far, but it's not bad either. 
WATCHING: I had a pretty active month of watching things. 

  • The Kingsman: Secret Service: Holy crap. Have you seen this? What a fun, completely batshit crazy movie. It fit some of the stuff I'm doing with THE FALCON AND THE CROW perfectly and was just a joy to watch, which happened on accident. I was going to bed and it came on, hooking me from moment one. 
  • Fletch/Fletch Lives: There are some movies that, when they come on, I put the remote down and watch, every time they are on. Usually they are movies that I have a personal attachment with, remind me of someone or something or they are are something that inspired me to be a writer. The Fletch movies are two of those movies. They are just great. I seriously think there's a YA Fletch story in me somewhere, I just have to find it.
  • Krull: Formative. Holds up pretty well for a 30 year old movie and had loads of potential. One of the few completely original epic fantasy stories created in our lifetimes and I'm glad for it. 
  • Last Knights: Loved this movie. Original epic fantasy. Seriously. Game of Thrones Lite. I would seriously write in this world in a heartbeat. It reminded me so much of my SCION world in the way they structured it and set it up. 
  • The Summer of Sam/Zodiac: I get caught up in decades sometimes. A few summers ago it was the early 80s. Last summer it was the late 80s/early 90s. Right now it's the 70s. I got pulled into the underrated "The Summer of Sam" movie a few weeks ago and stayed up later than I should have watching it. Then last week, I got hooked into the serial killer movie "Zodiac." Both movies are great and between them and "Vinyl," I feel like someone is telling me I need to write something that takes place in the 70s.
  • The People vs. OJ Simpson: I'm working on a longform post on this because my recollection of June 18, 1994 is in question. But I got hooked on this and it is brilliant on so many levels that I can't recommend it enough, especially to anyone my age that lived through it. It's just reinforcing my belief that I need to write the two late 80, early 90s idea I have kicking around.
  • South Park: The Black Friday Trilogy: I actually watched this in January but I'm just getting around to writing about it. There's a point where biting satire can become something on it's own at some point and South Park has well surpassed that point. But this was a revelation of genius story telling heaped on top of satire. I contend that the South Park universe is one of the best examples of worldbuilding out there, surpassing a lot of fantasy works and should be studied by those that engage in any kind of building of worlds. Seriously. The Black Friday Trilogy not only parodies everything that is Game of Thrones mania but rivals it (yes, I believe that) with it's own epic scope and storytelling. Take time to watch this. You will not regret it. 
  • Man of Steel/Winter Soldier: Man of Steel is a mess. It doesn't know what it wants to be and completely fumbles on even the origins of Superman. I have a problem when Supe's first foe is, in canon, Zod, someone that is one of Supe's most dangerous adversaries. Compare it to Winter Soldier, which isn't just a great comic book movie, but a great movie, and Man of Steel looks embarrassingly bad. And for everything that Age of Ultron did wrong for Black Widow, Winter Soldier does right. I am more excited about Civil War then I am about BvS, though I'm sure I'll see both.
  • The Ten Commandments: Live Tweeting this movie when it is shown on ABC has become an Easter tradition to me and I missed the beginning. An epic film at a time when Hollywood made epic films, this movie has everything, including hackneyed writing, ham fisted acting and pretty decent special effects, all things considered. 
  • The NCAA Tournament: LETS GO ORANGE!!!!!!
DID: Not much. Students are finishing up research projects and then we are sliding into dystopia lit circles then short film making. I'm getting back into the gym slowly and starting to set goals in that area as well. 

I'm going to try to blog a little more. I have some book reviews I want to write, some commentaries based on Krull and Last Knights and a few online essays I'd like to tackle. Well, back to FALCON!