Friday, August 31, 2007


I just watched this movie, and unfortunately, I thought it unraveled into something completely incomprehensible in the last half hour or so ... it was much more entertaining before they took the mystical element too far, let's just say. Up to the point, while I had some quibbles, the pacing of the suspense and foreshadowing, the historical detail, and the fascinating information about the invention of perfumes, was pitch-perfect. In particular ...

It's a risky idea, making a movie focused on scent in a medium that cannot directly convey the sense of smell, but Perfume makes the concept meaningful with close cameras angles, enhanced visuals and sounds, and a frame narration that prepares the viewer to be launched into a world where scent is all.

This is helped along by the initial use of elements where smell is closely connected to the "idea" of the item: grass and coffee beans are two that stand out as I think back. Maybe, as well, by the fact that the main character doesn't speak at all for the first forty minutes of the movie - his world is not an auditory one, and "shutting down" that sense makes room for others.

Perfume continues to build on the element of scent and its vital essence. If it doesn't quite achieve synesthesia, it comes almost as close as I can imagine film ever doing. Alas, the creepiness that is also built slowly throughout the film is destroyed by the ... plain weird of aforementioned last thirty minutes.

Still, there's an interesting assumption underneath it all ... do people really have scents of their own, or are they merely a combination of what they encounter?


Watch out, authors: it's *my* turn now.

I've decided the next short story collection I read - which will be either "Fantasy Gone Wrong," "Places To Go, People To Kill," or "Powers of Detection" (more likely one of the latter two) - I'm going to review the stories as I go, and post my impressions overall when I've finished. This seems to be good practice, and of late when I've been reading shorts I tend to analyze them in my head anyhow ... this will just take it a step further.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Okay, when I said I wanted to know where everyone was ... I didn't mean I wanted a rejection letter on one of my favorite stories.

Someone is going to take Scylla and Charybdis, I swear it. Actually, it'll be the first scifi story I ever have published if it does get accepted ... maybe this is telling me I shouldn't be writing SF. *eyes*

Sunday, August 26, 2007

That Stuff I Do ...

Been very quiet on the submissions front again. Haven't received any responses in August yet, I think. Makes me wonder if things are going astray ... I've already written one check-query letter and have another two or three that will go out at the end of the month. Is no news good news? My experience has been ... well, not exactly. No news just means that the editors are swamped.

Apologies for the pessimism, but it's been too long since my last acceptance - and a long time before that. Is it simply this batch of stories? A run of the wrong places / long response times? (By this I mean, of course, not that there's anything wrong with where I'm submitting, but that what I sent doesn't happen to match their image - which can happen even when I think I understand what they're looking for.) I am almost "catching up" to my list of forthcomings.

Where is everyone?

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Staffs & Starships

My story "The Oracle Unlocked" is reviewed, with only one slightly negative comment:

Tuesday, August 21, 2007


I've acquired an unfortunate habit of late: I like doing edit-throughs for my short stories on paper. Somehow, seeing them in print increases my awareness of what doesn't read right, what can be cut, and where (less often than the rest) things need to be added. Me being in penny-pinch mode lately, I cringe to think of how much ink that is, but this visual-tactile interaction seems to help, and I can't argue with that.

The urge to start a short story with no planning and no certain goal has been whirring about in my head. I must be mad.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Book Signing

There was no particular rhyme or reason to the long lapse in posting, I just didn't feel like I had much to say ... now I do.

Today, I attended my very first book-signing at GenCon Indianapolis, for two of the anthologies I'm in - Bash Down The Door and Slice Open The Badguy, and Sails & Sorcery (just released). This is a massive gaming convention, and part of the angle was that some of the authors have also written gaming novels. Obviously I was not one of them. There were five of us authors, plus the publisher and editor - it was great to have my first face to face meeting with someone crazy enough to publish me, as well as fellow authors. Turns out I was the only one present who had a BASH story, so my frantic mental meandering as to trying to memorize who'd written what in said anthology ... luckily unnecessary.

It was a surreal experience, and the table wasn't jumping, but we signed a fair number of copies. I think some people just took pity on the five vaguely nervous people hovering at that table trying to look cute and writerly, but it was a blast nonetheless. I can't even remember who I signed to first - I wish I could, because there will be no other firsts. My own contributor's copy of Sails is, of course, fully signed ...

Can't thank William Horner enough for bringing his company out this way and getting us the slot at the Author's Avenue. The experience has ironically made me want to write a story for the Asian-inspired fantasy anthology forthcoming, which is totally not my thing ... pondering a Vlisa-and-Calais story set in Tandura, but I'd have to find a lazy way to get enough background on eastern mythos and a single fantastic element for an idea ...

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Essay Clip

Here's a segment from an essay in which I try to convince the world that not only detective novels (the topic of the essay), but novels in general, can be said to follow the scientific method ...

These steps (of the scientific method) are not unfamiliar in stories outside of the detective field, although the steps may not be instantly recognizable and sometimes lead to a goal different from knowledge: getting the girl, saving the world, or just staying alive. Characters gather information or resources towards solving their problems, determine (hypothesize) what intermediary steps must be followed to reach that goal, test that plan of action, and then find out whether their choice was right. This result is not dissimilar to either a disproved hypothesis, which requires one to go back to the drawing board, or an upheld hypothesis, which allows one to continue with the next step in the investigation or journey.

To take an iconic fantasy epic, The Lord of the Rings, the main story begins with an identifiable problem: the One Ring must be destroyed. After gathering information on how this can be accomplished, the companions must form a plan of action (a hypothesis), in one case traveling through the Mines of Moria. The Fellowship "tests" their hypothesis, traveling through the mines, and in the end uphold their suspicions that it was not the correct course when they (apparently) lose Gandalf to the Balrog. Their next plan of action takes them to Lothlorien, where these steps repeat through the long arc of the epic to the eventual destruction of the ring. Even this problem cannot be entirely resolved, however, as the final chapters of The Lord of the Rings display the evil that remains in the form of Saruman’s transformation of the Shire. Neither a theory nor the core problem in many novels can be solved in an unequivocal manner – some potential for doubt or a loose thread usually remains.

(A few paragraphs cut for discussion of what the essay was actually about. ;-))

With such close ties to detective fiction, why does the scientific method appear to be relevant more broadly? In stories closer to the modern era – The Lord of the Rings is a product of the mid-twentieth century – the scientific method has become such an intrinsic part of culture that it can be said to influence writers in an unconscious manner. In a broader sense, the scientific method is a codified process of thinking derived from the most effective ways of solving problems and answering questions. These underlying strategies – to identify an adversary before one can face it; to break an immense problem down into smaller pieces – have influenced linear plots long before the scientific method and detective fiction met and mingled.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Sometimes ...

Every now and again, a story just doesn't gel. Sometimes, I don't really know the reason for it: the plot is working but I just can't push myself through it. With Smaller Deaths, which I am trying to finish now, I realize that the issues are two-fold: one, I left a big hole somewhere in the plot, and two, it is way too long. The story I had projected at no more than six thousand words, seven if it had to be, is running into the eight ranges now ...

Darnit, Jim, I'm a novelist not a short story writer.

Friday, August 03, 2007


For some reason, this quote amuses me more than it ought to:

"Dumb is just not knowing. Ditzy is having the courage to ask!" -- Jessica Simpson