Saturday, November 24, 2012

A Cosmic Christmas is here

Actually, it has been for a while; I've just forgotten to mention it until now.

In any case, this fine book of awesome SF Christmas stories is now available at your favorite bookseller, physical or online.  As just the list of authors on the cover should tell you, you need this book. 

If you're a Jon and Lobo fan and you don't own Jump Gate Twist, you particularly need this anthology, because it reprints the Lobo Christmas story (yes, you read that right:  a Christmas story starring our own favorite killing machine), "Lobo, Actually."  It's quite a good story, believe it or not, and with apologies for saying so myself. 

Of course, with other tales from Connie Willis, Larry Correia, Mercedes Lackey, and many more writers, even if you do own Jump Gate Twist (and, really, you should), you still need this book. 

What are you waiting for?  Go get it!

Tomorrow, we return to my normal, less-comfortable-at-promoting-himself me.  I rationalize this shameless exercise in hucksterism as being okay because my friend, Hank Davis, edited this book, so it's really his, not mine. 

Friday, November 23, 2012

Red Dawn

Walking out of the theater the other day, having spent almost two hours watching this fine piece of American patriotic theater, we worked together to craft a review that could capture the essence of Red Dawn. In the end, though, we were able to agree only on a few key points:

  • It was a movie.
  • Images indeed moved on the screen. 
  • Shit blew up. 
  • Director Dan Bradley and the various contributing writers are honey badgers when it comes to such minor details as logic, reason, continuity, sensibility, believability, and so on.
  • Josh Peck is so annoying, so very, very annoying, that from here on if we notice a new movie includes him, we'll probably give it a pass.  I was rooting for the North Korean and Russian invaders to kill his character. 
  • The movie utterly wasted Chris Hemsworth's greatest talent by never having him take off his shirt.
We were unable to agree on many other notable issues, including
  • The single stupidest scene in the movie.
  • Whether the filmmakers completely ignored technology and did whatever they wanted whenever they wanted, or if they simply were that ignorant of how tech works.  
  • Whether Adrianne Palicki or Isabel Lucas could show more teeth when she smiled. 
  • Whether there is any movie Chris Hemsworth won't make for a paycheck.
  • The best way to kill Josh Peck. 
Amazingly, we had a pleasant time watching Red Dawn, particularly once we realized it was an unintentional comedy. 

Decide for yourself whether to go, but if you do, leave your brain at the door.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Giving thanks

Today is one of my favorite holidays, because it reminds us of how very much we have to be thankful for. I try hard to remember every day how lucky I am and to thank each person who does something for me, but I know I sometimes fail.  I hate when I do. 

I hope today to thank those who help me, feed me, transport me, house me, and care for me. 

I thank all of you who buy my books and make it possible for me to keep selling them. 

I am forever grateful.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Want to watch me talk about finishing a novel?

A few weeks ago, Todd Frei, a librarian who is also a videographer, asked if I'd be willing to let him video me for a NaNoWriMo series the Wake County Public Libraries are doing.

I said, sure.

They'd scheduled my segment to appear today, November 21, so he asked if I'd be willing to discuss how to finish novel.

I said, sure.

Here's the result.  I can barely stand to see myself on screen, so I've only scanned this video, but Todd did a good job of cutting my talk to the time limit he had to obey.

If you're working on a book, I hope the advice proves to be useful.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

NaNoWriMo at the library

Our local libraries support aspiring writers who participate in NaNoWriMo by setting up sessions in which published writers talk with them.  Last year, I led two of these sessions.  I hadn't planned to do any this year, but when Sue Scott very nicely asked if I'd come to the lovely Cameron Village Public Library for one session, I agreed. 

I showed up five minutes late last night due to traffic being way, way worse than I had anticipated. That's no excuse, though, and I was quite embarrassed, so I began the session by apologizing to the folks there.  We then launched without hesitation into a story-creation game I call "Ask the next question."  (I borrowed the basics from sessions Orson Scott Card described and then customized them a bit.) 

Courtesy of Gina, and only because readers keep bugging me for photos, here I am talking to the group early in the process. 

As always, click on the image to see a larger version.

As you can see from the words on the board, we're starting by creating a character and have only just begun to dig into his background.

I'm never sure how much anyone can help another writer, so I don't know how useful this was for the folks who came, but our time together ran to nearly 90 minutes and passed quickly.  We created characters, from whom a story began to emerge, for about 50 minutes, and then I answered a variety of questions. 

I wish all of them well in their writing. 

Monday, November 19, 2012


Superb. Marvelous. Amazing. Wonderful. Words like these were all our group could say at the end of two and a half hours of watching Lincoln and his world come alive on the screen. I loved every second of this movie. I can't wait to see it again.

Daniel Day-Lewis was everything you've heard and more. If the Best Actor Oscar and Golden Globe awards don't already have his name on them, there's no justice in those awards. No other performance I've seen in recent memory even comes close.

The rest of the cast was also uniformly superb, even Sally Field rising to the challenge of Mary Todd Lincoln in ways I didn't think she could manage.

Tony Kushner's screenplay moved effortlessly between the human and the mythological, giving us a complex man making difficult and sometimes almost (if not definitely) illegal choices in the service of a greater good.

Steven Spielberg delivered his A game as well, making us see both the man and the legend.

I could go on and on, but let me stop with this:  Go see this movie. Take your friends. If you have children, definitely bring them. Do not miss Lincoln.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

UFC 154: How we fared

UFC Welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre claimed he felt ring rust in his first fight in nineteen months. It's been nowhere near that long since Kyle and I picked fight winners, but we were most certainly rusty as we called many fights wrong.  Let's start with the Facebook fights and see how we did.   

Steven Siler vs. Darren Elkins

We began the night with a thud as we both chose Siler in a fight that, from all I've read (I did not get to see it), Eiler dominated.  The judges certainly agreed, as all three scored the fight 30-27 for Elkins.

Ivan Menjivar vs. Azamat Gashimov

At least we nailed this one: Gashimov looked good for a couple of minutes, even being on top of Menjivar.  At that point, though, Menjivar quickly locked on an arm bar, and Gashimov tapped. Another rude welcome to the UFC.

Kyle and I were 1-1 at this point.

Matt Riddle vs. John Maguire

Maguire was game, but Riddle kept doing just a little bit better as he notched all three rounds on the cards of two judges and two rounds with the remaining judge. We move to 2-1 as Riddle wins and are beginning to feel we're back in form. 

Antonio Carvalho vs. Rodrigo Damm

This fight stayed close the entire time. For most of the three rounds, both men stayed very conservative, with Carvalho turning Damm's left leg into hamburger with kick after kick after kick and Damm frequently swinging for the fences.  Near the end of the third round, Damm turned very aggressive, but it proved to be too little, too late.  The judges also saw a close fight, but two of them gave it to Carvalho--as we had predicted.

We were 3-1 and feeling pretty good heading into the fights on FX.

Sam Stout vs. John Makdessi

After Stout's strong victory over Spencer Fisher, both Kyle and I thought he had stepped up his game and would beat Makdessi. Instead, the fight looked the complete opposite, as Makdessi was the smoother, more controlled fighter, his jab a weapon for which Stout had no answer. Makdessi scored the unanimous-decision victory, and we dropped to 3-2 heading into the only fight on which we disagreed.

Mark Bocek vs. Rafael dos Anjos

I figured dos Anjos would win a decision victory in a fight that would go the ground regularly. Kyle chose Bocek due to Bocek's grappling abilities. We were both wrong about how the fight would go, as these two fine BJJ fighters chose to put on what was almost entirely a kickboxing match. When Bocek did try to take down dos Anjos, he almost never succeeded.

dos Anjos fought the best we've ever seen him, looking as fresh at the start of round three as he had at the fight's beginning. He dominated Bocek for all three rounds and earned the unanimous-decision nod from the judges.

I moved to 4-2, while Kyle fell to 3-3.

Cyrille Diabate vs. Chad Griggs

Chad Griggs, whom we both chose to win, spent about two minutes of this fight looking like he didn't belong in the cage with Diabate, and then in the last half minute Diabate beat on him, took his back, and choked him out. I'll be surprised if Griggs has a job with the UFC for another week.

I dropped to 4-3, and Kyle to 3-4.

Patrick Cote vs. Alessio Sakara

We both expected this one to be a slugfest, and it was. We both also called it for Cote, and he won...but in an odd way.  He rocked Sakara, but then Sakara turned the tables and dropped Cote with elbows. At that point, Cote tried for a single-leg take-down, and Sakara rained down hammer fists--most of which were illegal strikes to the back of Cote's head. The ref correctly disqualified Sakara, and Cote won.

Kyle evened his score to 4-4, and I bumped up to 5-3. I was feeling pretty good moving into the main card.

Mark Hominick vs. Pablo Garza

Hominick started pretty strong, and late in the first round he even dropped Garza. That was as close as he got, however, because Garza then hurt Hominick, cut him, and poured on the pressure from there. Garza won by unanimous decision over our pick, Hominick, and we both dropped another one: Kyle 4-5, Mark 5-4.

Francis Carmont vs. Tom Lawlor

Kyle and I saw this one going down a clear path:  Carmont out-muscling Lawlor on the way to a submission victory. Instead, the fight was tight the whole time, Lawlor looked stronger, and no one was sure what the judges would say. In the end, Carmont got the home-boy split-decision nod in a fight I think Lawlor won. Still, it helped my record move to 6-4 and evened up Kyle at 5-5.

Johny Hendricks vs. Martin Kampmann

We expected a war as two superb welterweights faced off. We both figured Hendricks to win via superior wrestling. Instead, Hendricks won by knocking out Kampmann with a short left had a whole 46 seconds into the fight. Wow, can Hendricks hit hard. 
I moved to 7-4 and knew I'd have a winning record, while Kyle climbed over .500 to 6-5.

Georges St-Pierre vs. Carlos Condit

This fight was everything any fan could ask for. GSP won most of the rounds and dominated most of the fight, but Condit was always in it and in the third round dropped GSP and had the champ in trouble. Both men gave it their all, and neither was able to finish the other. After 25 minutes as bloody and full of determination as any Rocky movie, Georges St. Pierre emerged the champion once again and proved that he was indeed back and at top form.

I finished the night 8-4, not great but respectable, and Kyle lagged me only a little at 7-5.

As always, don't rely on us for betting advice!


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