Well, I have to admit that the lure of the Summertime has kept me away from the computer. Honestly, who can think about writing blog posts when the sun is shining, the birds are singing and there is ice cream on offer just up the street? I know I can’t.
Unfortunately writing of any kind has slowed to a crawl, which, as I have blogged about before, is not good news for a writer. I’m still plotting the sequel to DEBT’S PLEDGE although I have not formally written anything down yet. It’s all up here, though (taps forehead) It’s all up here.
“O God, I could be bounded in a nutshell and count myself a king of infinite space…”
Hamlet, Act 2, Scene 2
It’s not a Cell Phone, it’s a “SelfPhone”.
I had a very interesting conversation with my wife a couple of weeks back about cell phone use. I thought that a better name for the cell phone should be the “SelfPhone” because experientially one is really only interacting with oneself on most devices. Unless you are actually talking to someone, if you are just texting or playing Angry Birds, then experientially you are not interacting with anyone at all, just the device. As the software is programmed the cell phone becomes a reflection of the user. Thus, when you are interacting with your cell phone what you are really doing is carrying on a conversation with yourself. Even if you are texting with someone who is sending replies, experientially the entire interaction happens inside one’s own head.
I don’t have a problem with that. After all, as a writer much of my own activity happens within my own head. It is a not uncommon state of being for a writer to spend the majority of his or her time inside one’s own brain. There’s nothing wrong with that. I just think we should acknowledge that much of the experience of the cell phone happens inside the user’s head and not inside the device. Despite movies like Spike Jones’ HER and the SIRI commercials, the device is a cold, emotionless chunk of metal and plastic.
It does not drive the experience. You do.
Here’s an idea that I have shamelessly swiped my friend and fellow writer Derrick Ferguson. Ferguson id the author of the Dillon novels and this is a feature that he does for the characters in his books.(Visit his blog here and while you’re at it do yourself a favour and buy one or all of his fabulous Dillon adventures)
If I were casting a movie of my novel DEBT’S PLEDGE who would I cast?
Well, while I was writing the book the main character, Jefferson Odett was played by a young Sean Bean in my head. Bean is a great actor but he’s too old to play Odett now who in the first book is in his 30’s.
If I had to choose an actor to play him in a movie today I have a few candidates and one of them is Sean Bean’s costar from GAME OF THRONES, Nicolas Coster-Waldau. He would look kind of like how I pictured the character, particularly as he appeared in the fourth season of the show, with his close cropped hair.
Alternatively I could see Charlie Hunnam from PACIFIC RIM and SONS OF ANARCHY playing the part.
Mind you I could also see Anson Mount from HELL ON WHEELS playing the part even though he’s a little older than the character is (in the first book anyway)
Another important character from the book is Carlysle and I saw an actor who looked vey much like I imagined him to look; Rufus Sewell as Autolycus in the recent HERCULES movie. Of course he would have to completely shave is head, his beard and his eyebrows, but that’s basically the character. Sewell could also successfully portray Carlysle’s ambiguous nature.
Speaking of Brett Rattner’s 3D HERCULES movie starring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson…
…don’t. Just… don’t.
Actually that’s a bit unfair. It’s not a bad movie it’s just… go see GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY. That’s all I’m saying’.
Well, sales of DEBT’S PLEDGE have dropped considerably since the beginning of July and I suppose that is because it is the summertime.
Summertime used to be a good time for book sales. There are a very large number of books that have been described as good “beach reads”. The traditional image is of someone, usually a woman, perhaps the mother of a family on vacation, lounging on a deck chair, sunblock covering her nose, and engaging with a book. While the kids frolic in the waves and Dad guzzles beer, Mom takes time to lose herself in a good read.
Well, that’s a cliche, of course, and my little scenario is outdated and more than a little sexist. People read books in the summer in many different ways. Men, women and children find time for books in between BBQ’s and the beach in many different ways.
But since my book is primarily available on Kindle (and for Nook and Kobo too) how do people engage with books using their e-readers?
I am an e-book author but I am shockingly ignorant when it comes to engaging with a reading device. Do people take their Kindles to the beach? How do people feel about their e-readers? Do they have the same passion for it as I have for a beloved paperback or hardcover?
For me the whole experience of the book at the beach is, I imagine, different from the experience of the e-reader at the beach. Can you read the screen in the bright sunshine? Battery life is obviously a concern, as is the ever present dangers of sand and seawater.
Sand is of little consequence to a paper book and seawater, although terribly inconvenient, does not render a paper book unreadable. Either one of these hazards in the wrong place could render an e-reader and , consequently, its entire contents, in some cases a whole library’s worth of books, completely inaccessible.
So this is my question: What place does your e-reader have at the 4th of July picnic, or at your summer vacation at the cottage or the lake or on the beach at Cancun?
I’m genuinely interested to hear from e-reader owners. What are your feelings about your e-reader on vacation and what are your concerns, if any, for its safety?
Leave a comment or email me. (You can find my email at the right of the screen underneath my picture). Let me know.
And enjoy the summer!
My latest science fiction novel, Debt’s Pledge has been a long time coming.
I started this book many years ago. I wanted to write a military science fiction novel about a soldier who is down and out.
At the time I had been doing research on Ancient Rome and the conditions faced by soldiers in the years before Julius Caesar crossed the Rubicon with his army. There was opportunity for reward and glory for Roman soldiers, but there was also much deprivation and hardship. I wanted to translate this situation to a traditional military science fiction milieu.
I also wanted to examine the idea of debt. Not just monetary debt, or the debt that a society exacts upon its citizens, I wanted to try to separate what individuals owe to society separate from what is mandated by taxation.
What I discovered, as I wrote, is that we, as individuals owed the existence we have in the present to those who came before us. This seems obvious, though sometimes we forget how much of what we have today we owe to those who came before us. Not just fathers and mothers, but “founding” fathers are owed a debt by all of us in the present. A simple experience like going out for a meal represents an immense societal effort over many years to create the situations where today restaurants and fast food outlets are commonplace and affordable.
Even the simple act of flushing a toilet is the result of decades, even centuries of hard work and building of complicated infrastructure. For that hard work and ingenuity, we owe a debt.
What I also discovered was that the debt goes both ways.
It’s fashionable now to talk about leaving a better world for our children (as if our ancestors didn’t want the same things for us) but do we really appreciate what that means. Parents will sacrifice and work hard for their own children and I am no exception, but what about the many children who are unborn today and who may never be born. What debt do we owe to them?
The concept of debt becomes more nebulous and contention at this point but while I was writing I wanted to explore a situation where that concept suddenly became clear. I think that I was successful in doing that in Debt’s Pledge.
I wrote the first draft of this novel and most of the second well before the global economic crisis happened. World events have borne out much of what I had been thinking at the time and, I hope, have made this story even more relevant and timely now than when I started.
Certainly you can read the book and enjoy it as an exciting, military, space opera adventure. The book contains spaceships, space travellers, future soldiers, aliens (and some really badass aliens) enough to content the lovers of science fiction, military SF and Space Opera.
But there is also a human story mixed into all that, and some thoughts on the relationship between individuals and society and what each owes the other. That is what Harlan Ellison refers to as the “fibre” hidden within the story. I’m quite pleased at the way it made it into the narrative.
I am also happy with the characters that developed and grew along the way. Some were created consciously and others just kind of showed up during the writing. This is their story and I am pleased with the way that it has been told. I believe I was able to stay out of their way sufficiently to allow them to tell the tale as it needed to be. That, for a writer, is the best feeling. It’s like some sort of magic has been invoked and it has infused itself into the text.
Debt’s Pledge is available now at Amazon.com for the kindle. It will soon be available in other e-formats as well as a print edition soon afterwards. Personally I think you owe it to yourself to check it out, maybe even buy a copy. If you have already purchased a copy, then sincerely, thank you.
I am in your debt.
So last night I started watching DaVinci’s Demons, a British-American series which presents a highly fantastical representation of Leonardo Davinci’s early adult life as an artist, inventor, idealist and intellect and Florence under the Medici’s. The series is conceived and written by David S. Goyer.
Described as a historical fantasy, the series explores the untold story of DaVinci “inventing” the future at the age of 25, at a time in history when “thought and faith are controlled…as one man fights to set knowledge free.” The young DaVinci struggles with his inner darkness “tortured by a gift of superhuman genius. He is a heretic intent on exposing the lies of religion. An insurgent seeking to subvert an elitist society. A bastard son who yearns for legitimacy with his father.”
I was not expecting much with this show so I was pleasantly surprised at how good it is. It strikes the right balance of history and fantasy. DaVinci is presented as a sort of Florentine Sherlock, his unique vision and insights highlighted by moments of slow-motion and animated DaVinci drawings.
In fact, if you’re waiting impatiently for the new season of SHERLOCK in October (and, let’s face it, who isn’t?) then this just might be the series to tide you over. Visually it is very lush with beautiful scenery and costumes and, as this is Starz, there are enough expletives, boobs, bums and dicks on display to satisfy the GAME OF THRONES/SPARTACUS crowd. There is also enough action, sword fights, spurting blood, clever chases and explosions to satisfy attention deficit viewers.
Tom Riley does his best Benedict Cumberbatch/Johnny Lee Miller as Leonardo. He is difficult, a womanizer, a drunkard as well as a man of frenetic action and tortured genius. The rest of the cast is good and mostly British. DEEP SPACE NINE fans will recognize Julian Bashir — Alexander Siddig as Al-Rahim and SHERLOCK aficionados will recognize Irene Adler — Lara Pulver as Clarice Orsini.
I’m only two episodes in but I’m enjoying it enormously and I would recommend it based on the opening two. There are only eight episodes in the first season but it has been renewed for a second. It’s certainly worth a look.
Okay, I’m just gonna put it out there; Why are we crowdfunding novels?
If you don’t know, crowdfunding is a method of finding financial backers for a project that requires startup funds. Instead of finding a few wealthy investors, the projects hits the internet in search of a whole lot of backers who are willing to kick in a smaller amount. Kickstarter is a website that specializes in these campaigns. Another is Indiegogo.
I have no problem with finding investors for a project that needs startup cash if there is a chance the investors will get a return on their investments. But what exactly are we funding when we crowdfund an author writing a novel? Are we kicking in to support the author while he dedicates all his time to writing?
I’m sorry, but the idea just sits wrong with me. I wrote four novels in my spare time while I was working to support a family. If something is important to you, you find the time. Writing these novels was important so I found the time. I woke up an hour earlier than my usual time and spent that first hour of the day working solidly, every morning, until I finished. It’s a habit I still have to this day.
Look, I sympathize with any writer who is struggling — trying to make ends meet is tough if you are a writer only. But sometimes you have to do what you have to do. Jobs are tough to find in this economy, I know, but to resort to what amounts to electronic panhandling… something about that just gets in my craw.
Maybe I’m wrong about this. Maybe I’m sounding like a member of the Tea Party, but honestly I’m not against welfare. I wrote part of a novel while I was on EI here in Canada (I didn’t get on to EI just to write the novel, but since I was on it I took advantage of the time). J. K. Rowling wrote her first Harry Potter novel while she was on the dole in Great Britain. Lots of novels get written that way. I don’t have a problem with that.
But this crowdfunding, I have a problem with it.
Maybe I’ve got the wrong end of the stick and, honestly, I would welcome discussion about this. I’m open minded enough to listen to counter arguments and I probably can be persuaded by a strong enough argument. If I’m missing something, please let me know.
Until then, I’ll be up at the crack of dawn each morning to get in as many words as I can before heading off to my day job.
If you haven’t read any Joel Jenkins… what’s wrong with you?
If a tree falls in the woods and there is no one around to hear it, does it make any sound?
If a writer isn’t writing is he still a writer?
Those are stupid questions. The point I’m trying to get to is that Jack Mackenzie has not done a whole lot of writing lately. The problem with Jack is that he is only one half of the person otherwise known as M. D. Jackson, who is trying to convince the world that he is an artist.
M.D. Jackson has been writing for the AMAZING STORIES website. He writes an article every week. He should be writing one right now, but Jack has taken over just for now.
I have a lot of stories floating around in my head. Most writers do. Some stories are vague, half-formed ideas. Some are just images. But some are becoming very fully developed. Like the one about Roman occupied Briton, a captured Roman soldier named Maximus Decius and a Briton whom he befriends named Donal Donaleigh and a tribe of warriors who may or may not be supernatural entities called up from the earth by a deranged and vengeful druid.
Or the one about an investigator for Whitehall in the late Victorian Era named Emory Beech who finds himself trying to end a clandestine war between rival wizards and finds an unexpected ally in a strange and mysterious woman who calls herself Saffron but whose real name is Sandra Frene. Or is it?
Or the one about Bradik, a wily sword for hire who has taken a job to retrieve some property for a wealthy client — said property being a half-blind seeress who can read the future.
And there are the abandoned projects which must be finished. I have five decent chapters of a sixty-thousand word New Pulp novel which is screaming to be finished. And, as anyone who has bothered to read this blog knows, there is the unfinished prequel to my novel The Mask of Eternity. The Price of Redemption is here on this blog, unfinished — cut off in mid-stream. Honestly, there ain’t no more of it. It just fizzled out. I need to relight the fire under that one for sure.
There’s lots of others and there’s not a lot of time to write them all down. Actually, that’s not true. There’s time… there’s always time if you know where to look for it… but the inclination is not there. Being M. D. Jackson takes different mental “muscles” than being Jack Mackenzie. My writing muscles — my fiction writing muscles — are weak and flabby and need to be worked out.
So, M.D. Jackson, I think you’ve had control of the muscles for too long. I think Jack will be taking over.
Watch this space.
My characters, Ka Sirtago and Poet are featured in three sword and sorcery tales in this collection.
Three tales about the strangest duo in Fantasy fiction, Ka Sirtago, the heir-apparent to the Trigassan Empire and his sensitive friend Poet. In “Heralded By Blood” we see how the two met in childhood. In “Mark of Gennesh” they are on a desperate mission to save Sirtago’s sister from a demon-marked sorcerer. “The Sound of the Deep” takes them on the ocean waves where more sorcery is afoot. Sword & Sorcery tales to please the new fan or the old.
Pick this us at Amazon.com. While you are there check out my other works featuring this sword and sorcery duo: