How long is my Chapter?

While doing NaNoWriMo this year, I found I have become way more involved in the challenge. I blame Twitter and Facebook. Darned social media. It’s taking over the world, I tell ya. But don’t listen to me, I’m just getting old and technologically inferior. Also, I am easily distracted by the new and the shiny.

So since whenever I am not actively writing my novel or directly interacting with my family I tend to be on one of the social networks having a conversation with someone, I have noticed that one of the biggest concerns this year is: How do I know how long my chapters should be? And how do I know when my chapters end and begin?

Fortunately, this month’s issue of The Writer has a little blurb review of a book that seems specifically designed to help with that problem. “Write Your Book Now!” by Gene Perret has the answers. 😉 In it, he explains how to get writing, how to keep writing, and a bunch of the technical stuff like how exactly do you get your chapters in some kind of logical order. He really gets that no one (unless you have super magical powers, which he does not address) writes a book at one sitting. We are all writing our books in pieces and chunks. With this book, he helps us create it and put it all together.

And isn’t that what creation is all about?

(Now, off I go to try to put some more pieces together in my crazy-pants epic fantasy…)


Chicken Go Cluck-Cluck

Cow go Moo…

I made the judgmental error of letting the boys watch “Kung Pow: Enter the Fist”. Now, my older son walks around the house, randomly spewing bizarre lines from the movie. Hence, the title of this post.

The first time I watched “Kung Pow,” I was not impressed. I couldn’t figure out why my beloved, slightly odd husband found it so incredibly funny. I watched it again, and now I understand. It gains something in the re-watching, but I can’t figure out why. Maybe it’s that I’m expecting the bizarre (a cow that fights with its udders? What?) or that I’ve somewhat immunized myself against the insanity. No idea. But, wow, was it funny the second and third time I watched it.

It was written and directed by Steve Oedekerk. (He of “Barnyard”. Yes, apparently he thinks cow udders are so hilarious that he also put them on BULLS. That almost made my brain bleed a little. Oedekerk also stars in the movie…by CGing himself over the original star. I didn’t think I would ever say this, but this remix/mash-up/whatever actually makes way more sense than the movie it “edited”. That movie was “Tiger & Crane Fist” also known as “The Save Killers.” I don’t know if it was the version I watched or what, but I couldn’t follow “Tiger” at all. 😦 So sad. I love martial arts movies.

“Kung Pow” drives me crazy every time I watch it–and that one girl who just makes crazy noises the whole time, I just want to smack her–but I love watching this movie when I just want to watch something kind of dumb and totally goofy. And I laugh and laugh and laugh.

And now, I have poisoned my children with it. Darn me, anyway. 😉

Review: Locke & Key, Vol. 1-3

Usually, my husband is the comic geek, checking out entire series from the library. Today, it was me. Or at least, I tried. Unfortunately for me, my local library only had the first three volumes of Locke & Key, an awesome graphic novel series by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez. I know. These books have been out forever. I have absolutely no excuse for not having grabbed them before. I kept meaning to pick them up, but something always happened, etc. Foolish, foolish me.

I read the first three volumes in less than three hours. They’re not “easy reads” or anything. They’re just very compelling. All of the characters have complex motivations; no one is evil purely because it’s fun or easy. (Except maybe one guy, but he has other problems.) None of the characters are without fault. Everyone has his or her own problems and strengths. When the Locke children (Tyler, 17; Kinsey, 15ish; and Bode, who doesn’t seem to go to school) are in danger, I worry about them because I LIKE them. Yes, I know they’re fictional. I occasionally have problems with that.

When the story starts, the Locke family experiences a horrific tragedy. The ragged remnants of the family pack up and move back to the childhood home of Rendell (father/husband). Wizard’s First Rule: Class, do not move to a town named Lovecraft. Never. You are better off living in a refrigerator box in the middle of the Serengeti. (Have you read what Lovecraft wrote? Creepy. Brilliant, but you’ll be sleeping with the lights on for days.) Probably not the best place to raise a family. Which leads us to…

…There are some mysterious goings-on at this house, and they seem to feed people’s weaknesses. Depression? Doubled. Feelings of uselessness? Tripled. Weakness for alcohol? Quintupled. Even scarier? Something in the house wants Bode. Badly. You see, Bode can find keys that open special doors–some that lead to incredible places; some that do horrible things. These keys seem to find Bode. It’s like they need him. And something horrible–something that may or may not have had a reason for wanting Bode’s father dead–wants to use Bode to master all the keys.

How did I miss out on this for so long?

Dear Cherie Priest

I don’t think I have ever geeked out harder than when I read Ganymede. From the blurb on the back cover regarding the sunken submersible that had “killed most of the men who’d ever set foot inside of it”, through the Acknowledgments where you send a shout-out to everyone involved in the “retro-futurist niche” (which may be the most awesome term I have read in a long time), to the amazing end of the novel. Wow.

I’m sure I wasn’t the only person to think of the Confederate submarine Hunley when reading the back material. I just watched a special on the History Channel the other week about the mysteries and tragedies surrounding the Hunley–why it should have been in more history books and why all of the people who died in it and because of it should be remembered. The last crew to helm the Hunley were a motley bunch to be sure–Englishmen, Northerners, Southerners, Irish, possibly French. They were all held together by the charisma and personal strength of the Hunley’s final captain, Lieutenant George E. Dixon.

Thank you, Cherie Priest. For all of your Clockwork Century books.

Review: The Last Stormlord

So, I found this book, The Last Stormlord, at the library. I had never heard of Glenda Larke, which is unfortunate, as she has written several other books. I need to get out more often…

The Last Stormlord is the first book in a trilogy. The setting–countries all set in a desert–is fairly novel for a fantasy series. The back of the book promises three main characters. Most of the novel seems to focus on the character Terelle. Terelle is a poor girl, sold into slavery by a heinous father to a brothel (snuggery). Her older half-sister loves working as a ‘companion’, while she fears it. Sound familiar? This character background has been the backstory for many, many characters. Done right, it could be interesting. This book does a fair job with it. However, the other two characters promised on the back do not appear until about 1/3 of the way through. It is difficult to decide how all three main characters intertwine.

There is a lot of heavy foreshadowing in the very early part of the novel, and the ending wasn’t so much an ending as an abrupt halt. (If you’ve seen the movie The Boiler Room, you know how jarring that can be.) As if the printer had lost the last section of the book. I can understand why she would want to leave some loose ends to lead into the next book, but some resolution of some plot threads would be handy. As such, the ending left me lonely.

All of that said, the book is pretty good. The action is fast-paced, the political intrigue is fascinating, and the setting is well-defined. The characters less than three-dimensional, and the antagonists are practically Bond villains, but that doesn’t make Stormlord a bad read. It’s not great literature, but I read it in just a few sittings. At 674 pages, this book is maybe a little long, maybe some lengthy exposition could have been trimmed down, but the world is well-realized and the different ethnic groups are defined.

The Last Stormlord is a book worth checking out if you can find it at your local library.


(PS: There are some fairly gory character deaths. I don’t dig the gorn aspect of speculative fiction–or anything, really–so that turned me off a bit more. But for those who don’t mind, it’s obviously not a big deal.)


Review: Finger Lickin’ Dead

I love to read, and I’ll try to read anything once. That said, gimmicky mysteries don’t usually do it for me. You know the ones: The kinds that involve cats or other critters solving cases. Or ones that use “authentic” recipes to add flavor. (See what I did there…)

However, the other day at the library, I decided to broaden my literary experience. I saw this–and who doesn’t love barbeque, really? Or blues music? What kind of heathens are those? So I picked up this little book.

At first, I liked it more than I thought I would. Then I liked it less. Let me break it down real quick.

First, what I didn’t like.
1. Cardboard characters. None of the characters showed any growth. And the murdered villain was a caricature.
2. By the numbers “eccentric” character. The lady who always wore a helmet should not be considered “quirky”. She should be institutionalized.
3. Deus ex machina ending. No good. It came out of nowhere good, and it went nowhere good. But at least everyone got to eat more.
4. Does anyone hug every three seconds in public? I’m glad I don’t know those people. Seriously. Every three seconds.
5. Way too many suspects–especially some that are obviously not the murderer.

Now, the good.
1. An enjoyable protagonist. Lulu is a sweetheart who seems to get dumped into unpleasant situations. She reacts the way I like to think most people would under those circumstances.
2. A nice little twist in the middle.
3. At least everything ties up fairly neatly.

This is apparently one of a series. It is worth a look – especially if you are interested in non-hard-boiled mysteries. It is a short, quick read, and if it makes you hungry, it leaves the recipes at the end.