Sunday, October 23, 2016

Fist fights with God

Hey cats & kittens. So I actually promised I'd post Sunday and here I am. This is also the last amount of prepared chapter rewrites I have to share with you. I'm currently working on chapter 20 of To Slice The Sky, and I'm about halfway done. I thankfully don't have much in the way of work getting in my way.

To preface tonight's selection, it's the official meeting of the novel's, "Big Bad," that's made some physical appearances in The Raw prior to this meeting. It so far has not been popular in regard to content, and I definitely kinda slacked in tying things together well. I more wanted to be done and get over with the chapter, and I feel it suffered for it. I'll have to go back over this and give it a little smoother transition and more of an ominous tone. I feel I breezed over this important moment, and I've been wanting it to really pop and shine. I mostly wanted to just get it over with because this chapter has been what's hung me up 2 years in a row from completing this project and it just needs to be done. I'm planning on one more pass before it goes off to the editor anyway, so I'll tighten it up then.

I'm just excited that the end is finally in sight, and the look of it is way different than how it started. You've been enjoying yourselves, right? For my beta readers that know what the rough draft looks like, I imagine it's a vast improvement.

In other writing project ideas, my NaNoWriMo book, Suicide Queen, has been coming together in my notes. I've got a good idea of the direction I want to go, but it seems very subdued for the genre it's going to be. It'll come out differently in the mix, and I'll have to work not to impede myself. It's weird that writing a story really is helping to create a living, breathing, thing, and watching it outgrow your own weak aspirations.

I've never gotten the people so timid to get started writing because they don't have a good enough idea. It's not about having a super original idea, it's about just having an idea. There's so many different forms of storytelling out there that as long as you tell it in your voice, that's all that matters. To quote Neil Gaiman's Sandman, "Trust the story, not the teller." The story is always going to be there at the core, but the changes are with the person that tells it.

I've always loved sitting around a table, trading stories, especially ones that involve more than one person in the circle. Tag teaming stories, trading off different perspectives all Rashomon style, the inevitable, "You're telling it wrong." I live for that stuff. Humans share stories and that's how we pass on the wisdom we've gained.

Well, enough beating myself off about writing stuff, here's a completed chapter that needs more work but has still been hit with the rewrite train.


Thursday, October 20, 2016

Sic Semper Tyrannis

Dude, I would have like three times as many posts on this blog if I posted consistently.

So, what's up neglected yet faithful readers? I have a couple chapters that I want to share still, and I really want to hold myself accountable to post on Sunday again. It's not like I'm doing anything with my time on Sunday anyway. Well, nothing that requires me to not be at a computer.

I've been unenthused to write just out of being exhausted for no reason whatsoever. It's not like I have kids to sap my energy, but working in an office and doing classwork has been leaving me with a strong desire to just switch off my mind, relax, and float down stream.

The downside is that it doesn't afford me much creative juice to forge on ahead in the novel this close to the end. But I'm still determined to have Version 2.0 complete by the end of the year. NaNoWriMo is going to be a serious obstacle, and I'm also feeling worried going into the challenge if I'm going to be successful at it.

So, I'm just going to dive right in. I believe we're on chapter 18 now. Beginning Act 3. The heroes are returning home to cross the final thresholds into manhood. And threshold they meet.

This hasn't won many upvotes, so the chapter probably still needs some work. It was largely unchanged from its original version, and still seems contextually relevant, even though it was inspired by Occupy Wall Street and the suppression of the movement. Especially since the movement is looked at as a failure, opposed to the silencing of the voice of the people, and the turning of the American people against each other again.The heavy handed metaphor of a corporate sponsored rebellion of the slave class that permeates the novel? That's what it was inspired by.

That's another reason why I've been silent for the week. I'm so burnt out on people talking politics everywhere I turn. Especially the partisan answers and how fucking smug everyone's been about it. I worry and fret over the results of this election, because seriously, the damage is going to be great. We're going to be stuck with a tepid fraud or a delusional megalomaniac. I mean, that's not really that different than any other nation's choice, but America has done a pretty decent job of not electing tyrants up to this point. Your feelings on the subject may change depending on if you believe Johnny Booth or Spielberg.

Whatever, we're far beyond the point of voting. A definite line has been crossed in American history at some point, and unfortunately it's as crass as the gang wars of the '90s, all about Red vs. Blue. Once again our eyes are off the real enemies. The slaves fight among themselves to their master's delight. Because at the end of this fight, unless we look at who benefits from everyone salivating at the mouth to lash out at someone who is out of line with their groupthink, we'll end up back in the same old rut.

See, this is why I didn't want to blog.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Just glossing right over it

So here's my dilemma. I finished rewrites on two chapters for To Slice The Sky, and now that I have a moment in between school sessions, I want to blog at least more than a week in a row. So, do I milk out content in a cheap manner over multiple weeks, or do I shove it all down your throat and make it so I have something new for next week?

Well, since you really have no say in this, outside of whether or not you're going to continue reading this blog again, I think I'm going to go for option 1. And hey, what's up gang? Haven't seen you in a while. What has it been, like 28 days? A lunar cycle? Really? Wonderful news!

I just finished session A for my fall semester. Session B is going to run halfway through November, and into NaNoWriMo. I'm all ripped and raring to get started, working on my crime/heist/noir deconstruction, Suicide Queen. It'll be fun writing a story about a trio of outlaws in a Sin City-esque manner. I haven't done an extended Noir piece, but I've always been a disciple of Chandler.

The only thing really on my mind has been politics, but such is life during an election year. This isn't a place for me to indoctrinate you into the reason why anarchy works as a sustainable method, but like any other form of governance runs afoul because of its mitigation through humans. But let's just say, if you're a red or blue, we should be uniting over the fact we're pissed this country is fucked up, and the sides we're yelling at aren't to blame. And that's the most political I'm going to get.

I did a lotta stuff in the last month, and going over it would take a long time, soooo... DOG PICTURE AND STORY TIME!

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Ladder to Heaven

Oh shi... waddup?

Taking a break from my 9/11 festivities of playing Civilization and watching Amazing Race reruns on Hulu.

This week blew by but was a whirlwind of stress, frustration, and a heavy workload. Regardless, I still managed to get started on chapter 18 for To Slice The Sky. Nothing substantial, but at least I can cut out the parts I know I don't need, or have changed too much to work as is. It seems to always take me about a year to get up to this point, and all I've done this year is work on the novel in my free time, the small bit that it is.

For class, I'm currently reading Philip K Dick's Martian Time-Slip. I've gotten a little over halfway through it so far and have been enjoying it immensely. It's another mind-bending study on psychology and humanity's future, as well as the ripples death causes through people's lives. It's a very fast read as well,

Last night I watched Kathryn Bigelow's 1991 action masterpiece, Point Break. It was awesome as per usual. I'm fairly certain that Point Break is the greatest action movie ever. For real. Die Hard and Commando aside, Point Break is top to bottom a well put together, gripping thrill ride. And it was most likely the last time Gary Busy acted like a human on film.

Well, I don't have anything to offer for this week. Unless you want to see a bunch of pictures of me taking back America on 9/11.
Coming across the waters
The invasion begins
Splitting the atom
Irradiated wasteland blues.

See ya next week.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Excuses to day drink and start fires

What is up my D-O-G-E's? How does you this Labor Dabor?

Blah blah, sorry missed last week, and this is a day late, blah.

Trust me, not much was missed by me not checking in. Just busy days at work, and busier times at night, learning Español and finishing up The Martian Chronicles. I also finished writing the next chapter for To Slice The Sky. It seems like Act II has mostly been revisions and full on rewrites to accommodate a slumping mid-section that didn't really rise action, and sort of meandered about without much direction.

It's been a pretty mixed bag of emotions doing rewrites for this draft of the novel. Here we are staring down at the last quarter of the year, and I'm 1 chapter away from closing up Act II. Granted, everything for the novel flows considerably better, and should just need a proofreading and slight tune-up around the newer additions to get everything uniform. So I'm sort of exasperated with myself for not being further along in the process, and that I've done such huge sweeping changes on things that weren't working. But on the bright side, I'm also realizing that since I began the outline back in Summer of 2011 that I've thankfully become a better writer during that period and can discern that what I had at first was crap, and now I'm able to craft much more coherent narratives. At least I think I can. You're more of a judge of that than I am.

I've also decided that for the omnibus version release of The Lilim Chronicles wave 1, I'm going to have to go back and do one last retouch on By Starlight as well as Urban Legends of the Future. For the release, not only will I be editing the two collections, but also making some needed changes to make the world more cohesive. They'll be getting new--unifying--covers, and I'll be rebranding myself as well.

I've been working on a writing assignment for my Spanish class, and my original topic was going to focus on Latino/a science fiction authors. I came across two major problems, 1) I needed articles in Spanish, and everything I found on the topic was in English. & 2) Every article was pretty much a repeat of, "Where are all the Latino/a science fiction authors?" A quick look at the name at the top of this website, or the name above the link you clicked to get here, probably has you wondering, "What the hell does that have to do with you, gringo?" Well, my father's European surname and Western naming conventions aside, I'm Mexican from my mother's side. I specifically made my character Decker Mexican-American because pretty much the only Latina character I've had to look up to in Science Fiction is Vasquez from Aliens, and while externally I'm a blue-eyed, lightly tanned, whiteboy I grew up with my mom's family in Los Angeles.

In my writing, I've wanted to express a lot of my frustration with being trapped between two worlds as a mixed race person in America, and try to write a lot about conflicting dichotomies, and while it's all well and good, I don't feel that my voice does anyone anywhere much justice coming from another white guy trying to tell everyone how to live. That, and my current pen name is clunky as hell, and being called, "Chris-py" my whole life is pretty old after thirty+ years. So after two paragraphs of justification, with the re-release of my wave one books, I'm going to be changing my pen name across the internet, borrowing my mother's maiden name. So, my book making moniker will be Christopher Fernandez going forth. Doesn't that just flow so much better? Say it out loud with an accent: Christopher Fernandez. ¡Muy picante!

Reconnecting to a culture that got lost in pre-civil rights era American white washing has been a thing in my adult life that I've tried to achieve, and along with learning Spanish like my aunts/uncles/mom never did, this is just one more link in that chain. Not like I'm planning on changing my actual name, but as far as pen names go, Bollweg just ain't sexy. Which is probably one of many reasons I've never heard it used during intimacy.

Aside from moral queries into what is and isn't cultural appropriation, I finished reading Ray Bradbury's The Martian Chronicles. Man, what a fantastic read. It definitely is a collection that builds upon itself and got way better with each passing story. In particular, I really loved the chapters Usher II (where a former English professor builds Poe's House of Usher on Mars, inviting all the moral watchdogs from Earth on a deadly tour through it), the highly reprinted, "There Will Come Soft Rains," (a story of an automated house when there's no more humans to automate for) and the final story, "The Million-Year Picnic". For being such a fan of poetry, I'm really surprised I wasn't ever as enthralled with the lyric delivery of Bradbury's prose back in high school. It's so flowing and evocative that pages disappeared before my eyes before I realized, "Oh, shit. I was so wrapped up in the flow, I don't know what I'm reading about." And going back, realizing all these beautiful words I'd read were about such bleak and alienating topics.

Even if the science has harshly shown everything about The Martian Chronicles to be a Space Opera fever dream from 1950, the biting satire on Cold War American life, and the destructive tendencies of well meaning Americans when faced with the consequences of our cultural lifestyle, is as fresh as it was 66 years ago. Yeah, sixty-six damn years, and we still haven't learned a damn thing, and are possibly on the verge of making all the same mistakes we've been warned about for over half a century. It's things like that that make me wonder if everything I wrote about representing the Latino-American science fiction writing population is a waste since clearly humanity has learned jack and shit from reading SciFi over the years.

But at least we have smart phones now.

Well, without further ado, here's chapter 16 from To Slice The Sky. Dog:

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Take Meta Mars

I almost didn't blog this week. You know, like last week. But I have a lot of good reasons that don't involve wasting my time playing Civilization. Well, I did that, but I finally finished my chapter, did a ton of school work, fought with financial aid, had a busy work week, and am now sitting here with my dog, ready for the attack of the blog.

So yeah, in a nut shell, I went to work and got prepped for the starting of the fall semester. I'm currently halfway through Bradbury's The Martian Chronicles. I first read it half-assed when everyone else was reading along to Huck Finn in English class. I didn't really enjoy it the first time around, but I also didn't really understand McCarthyism, nor did I really pay it much attention since I had to periodically pretend that I was paying attention. Now that I'm reading it with a contemporary mind aged about 18 years, I'm noticing more to it. Also, I've never really been too stoked on Bradbury from any of the other books I've read from him (Something Wicked This Way Comes, The Illustrated Man, & Dandelion Wine) but something about this book this time around, I'm enjoying the poetry of Ray's prose. While it seems dated in some regards, particularly the romantic Mars of H.G. Wells and E.R. Burroughs, and the pre-space race knowledge of what it was like traveling to outer space, the novel has a certain charm, mingled with a 1950's paranoia and sense of blind optimism.

I don't care who you are, that's a sweet cover.
A Princess of Mars was quite a pulpy and overly dated adventure. Not like I could expect more from Edgar Rice Burroughs in 1912, but despite its shortcomings by contemporary standards, it still has plenty of things that awoke that boyhood spirit of adventure in me. Even if at it's heart it's a story about a Mary Sue former Confederate officer that basically wins everything on Mars by fortune and force of will. He teaches savage warlords how to love, he rises to the top of the civilized and technologically advanced army in one battle, he ends a bloody civil war, and beds the most beautiful and beloved princess on the red planet. All in a days work for our hero, John Carter. It's one of those stories about the white man's burden that really could be about anyone else, but because it comes from a time of social bigotry and backwards thinking, it's unfortunately really a book about systematic racism and power fantasies. However, it's also just a bad ass, ultra-violent, kinda ridiculous, tell not show, sword and sorcery romp on a dying planet, so it's technically science fiction. The main saving grace is the world building Burroughs does. The world of Barsoom and all it's rich inhabitants are just as much racial space opera expys as all the ones from Mass Effect, but I'll be damaged if they're not both dear to my heart. Speaking of Mass Effect, the Krogan are totally just shorter Tarks missing a set of arms. They even keep Caldor's, aka Varrens. Still, choice read if you don't want to think to hard and just get wrapped up in a dumb adventure story that's fun to read.

Besides my playing Civ (I managed to pull off a culture victory as Gandhi after having to eliminate Kamehameha since I didn't have enough time to wait for Polynesia to come under my influence) and reading Mars fiction, I've been overloaded with work from Spanish class. I wish I had a group of six other ethnically diverse people to form a study group and have wacky online adventures with. Maybe we'd even have a catchy theme song sung by some Alt Rock band. I would type something funny for you to toss into Google translate, but I'm sick of halbar Español for today, or however you conjugate hablar in Spanglish. I spent most of my time setting up all the ridiculous hoops one has to jump through when learning a language online for credit. The online third party site, with proprietary useless book that's a vessel for the $150 access code so you can participate in the class.

BTW, if you've been under a rock for the last few decades, higher education is a damn grift.

So, book reviews, life update, oh, right... novel chapter. So I just wrote today's chapter. This is essentially a first draft. Not really a rough draft, but definitely all new material that hasn't had much editing. This actually got an upvote on /r/cyberpunk_stories (which is standard), so I've got that going for me. We say it's not about the internet points, but how else am I supposed to gauge if I'm on the right track with the limited fanbase I'm shilling to?

So let's kick some tires and light some fires. Dog:

Monday, August 8, 2016

I'm writing the report.

Clearly my blog is less important than whatever videogame I'm playing all day.

Instead of writing yesterday, I polished off Resident Evil: Revelations 2 last night. So on the plus side, I get to mention it further down the page for your enjoyment. I spent most of last week at work and being really lazy. I tapped away at the chapter a little more, but deleted everything I added, which is something I rarely do. I at least have an outline for the action sequence coming up, but writing it is the eternal hard part. I keep prodding myself and convincing myself my deadline is a real deadline, but producing work with self prodding is left in the wake of fancy flights. And my flights of fancy? Watching TV shows and playing RTS games.

I'll rip out your heart with love!
Speaking of RTS games, I spent a better part of this week and last trying to gain access to my copies of StarCraft and WarCraft III.
 It was me going back and forth with Blizzard's lackluster ticket system to try and get my old account info tied to my new account. All so I could use my already registered CD keys from the discs I had when people still used CD-ROM's. So after constant pestering my request was granted, and I've been beating Orcs with a 2h Warhammer, "For Honor," ever since. It's a good thing Blizzard makes incredible games, because otherwise, I wouldn't have bothered being stonewalled and just called it quits on them forever. But they make games I really really like playing, so here I am, after wasting hours and energy from my day, playing a 13 year old computer game.

In other bouts of unexpected frustration from life, apparently the TAP cards for LA Metro fares have expiration dates. Didn't know that until Friday, when I found out my card I'd been putting money on for--apparently--three years, was no longer active with a freshly loaded balance stuck on it. Of course there's no easy way of knowing this. I didn't find out until it happened and did multiple searches (after checking the not at all helpful website on the back of the card) and read an LA Weekly article. The article also confirmed my suspicion that the city of Los Angeles has no intention of me seeing the remaining balance ever again.

But you know what, I'm glad those are the most remarkable hardships I had this week. Writer's block, sloth, persuading corporate employees to do what I want for videogames, and being cheated out of bus fare by an uncaring Department of Transportation. At least I'm no longer feeling the soul crushing weight of existential worthlessness laced around every moment of my day. I could be living in one of those villages where a warlord comes and chops off body parts from people and eats them to gain their strength.

My story has built empires.
Who knows, maybe we'll all be under police state martial law this time next year and I won't even be able to write this blog without heavy [REDACTED] sections. Who knows what kind of patriotism we'll be faced with in this dystopic future scenario? Dare we hazard guesses lest we speak them into being?

Many lulz were lost in The Meme Wars.

And speaking of nightmare scenarios, I I watched the first half of Buffy season 2. Basically up to the first two parter, What's My Line. I'm not sure if I want to do another review write up of it halfway through the season. I was planning on doing a two part season review, but it's been weeks since I watched What's My Line, and the analysis would be surface level at best.

That and I've been watching other TV shows in full/finishing up shows I've been hanging on. I finished watching Aqua Teen Hunger Force in all its iterations. Analysis: It is the most consistent show at being inconsistent. Basically after the movie came out till episode 100, the show isn't even playing hit or miss anymore. Some episodes are forgettable as hell, other's are clearly violence for violence sake, and the show is always that [adult swim] brand of over the top and avant garde humor/animation. It was an experience, and I'm glad I finally finished the show. Aqua Teen Forever.

I'm now watching Invader Zim on Hulu, because Jhonen Vasquez is awesome and hilarious. I'm exactly halfway through the show (and I love that Hulu has the episodes remaining counter now) having just finished the Halloween episode before I typed this sentence. Concurrently, I'm taking advantage of Animaniacs being on Netflix. It truly is zany to the max.

So, since I'm wasting my brain watching cartoons I used to watch as a child (well, Invader Zim didn't come out until I was already a legal adult), my ability to add any intelligent discourse to the topic of popular culture is wasted on the focus of Buffy at the moment. And when I do write my Season 2 review, it will give due diligence to a slice of culture. Like anyone cares about what I have to say about Buffy the Vampire Slayer season 2 anyway. Am I going to crack open some secret gem that will make everything in the world make sense? Will I unearth some kind of metaphoric overlaying that is a reoccurring theme through all of human storytelling? Who knows, probably not. I guess we'll find out when we get there.

Oh, I kinda forgot to talk about REvelations 2.
Well, I definitely haven't cursed at the television like that in a while. The game's concept of difficulty fluctuates between overloading you with too much ammo that you can never conceivably carry with no enemies, and then waves of shooting gallery style moments where you have no resources whatsoever. While it encourages one to use resources available to you in the area, it leads more to headbanging do-overs because of bad misses at critical moments, or the trademark weak controls that has plagued the series since the original. Well, to be fair, Resident Evil: Revelations 2 has really smooth combat controls for a resident evil game (which is needed since combat is intense and plentiful) but the contextual controls are wretched. Particularly near ledges, and any time you have to manipulate boxes for simple puzzles. Apparently the Revelations series is supposed to bring back the feel of  classic Survival Horror Resident Evil gameplay, and it has that in some regards. But both the first one, and the sequel still lack the atmospheric tension of the original that the REmakes hold onto. It relies more on the, "How the hell am I going to get out of this?" style gameplay, which has its fun and merits, but when I'm just trying to breeze through a game to see the convoluted story arc play out, dying a lot just keeps the ending away from me.

Anyway, here's a dog picture.
I get the feeling we've been here before.