Thursday, November 29, 2012

Book Reviews

I've posted 2 new book reviews on Goodreads if you feel the great urge to read them.  The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien and The Emperor's Soul by Brandon Sanderson.

Both very good books that you should check out if you haven't yet.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

I Am Nobody Chapter 4 Draft 2

And so I'm done with another chapter of the second draft of I Am Nobody, and you can find it at the bottom of this page.  This one took quite a while to get done for several reasons, mostly that this one needed a lot more work than the previous four, mostly in the character development area, and because the week leading up to Thanksgiving at the Post Office is HORRIBLE!!!  The ads... dear God, the Black Friday ads... 

Mostly what I needed to do with this chapter was show how strained Mia's relationship with her mom is.  In the first draft I basically just told you that the relationship is bad, and never really showed you any of that.  In this draft I really wanted that to come out more, and I think I've done a much better job of it in this chapter than I originally did.  This is the chapter where Mia's relationship with her mom and her relationship with Steve are both established, and since that is very important to how these characters will interact with one another throughout the rest of the story, this is a very important chapter, and everything in it needed to be a lot more than what it was originally.  Plus, I needed to introduce some of Steve's personality quirks right off, and I failed to do that in the first draft.  On top of all of that, I wanted to show more deeply how Mia sees and feels about herself.  She's meant to be lacking confidence in herself, and that did not come across very well in the first draft.  And the way she sees herself ties in greatly with the trouble she's having with her mom.  It's a really convoluted relationship.  Mia thinks she's ugly so she doesn't even try to look pretty anymore.  Her mom feels guilty for how Mia looks, blames herself for it because she couldn't stop smoking while pregnant, and thinks Mia blames her for it too.  So she wants to dress Mia up all pretty to prove to herself that her daughter isn't suffering any ill effects from her smoking during pregnancy, and it makes her super angry when Mia refuses to let her.  And Mia herself gets super angry when her mom tries to do it because she sees it as having her nose rubbed in how ugly she thinks she is.  And with the tension of all of that, with the addition of Mia growing up and becoming her own person now rather than a child that does everything her mom says, causes them to strike sparks against each other at every opportunity.

And literally NONE of that was really evident in the first draft.  So there's a lot of work that needs to be done in incorporating it into the second draft, and since this chapter is the one that sets those subplots in motion, it needed lots of extra special care, which is why it took me so long to get it done.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

CG vs. Sets/models/etc... Which is more cost effective?

Sooooo, the first Hobbit movie is coming out in a few weeks, and so I figured I'd have a Lord of the Rings marathon on my day off.  As I was watching, seeing how beautiful these movies are, and how realistic the sets and models that they used are, I started thinking that these movies must have cost a frickton of money to make.  So I did a little research, and yes, they cost quite a bit of money to make, but nowhere near as much as I was expecting.  You see, I have been hearing that it costs so much less these days to just CG things as opposed to building sets, using practical effects wherever possible, outfitting people with costumes, building models and doing some trick camera work with miniatures and so on.

So, I then did some looking into the three biggest CG abominations in the history of film.  The Star Wars prequels.  It just so happens that these movies were being made at the same time, and in the same part of the world, so production costs would be relatively the same for each.  And you know what?  The Lord of the Rings movies, the movies where they spent all that time and money building sets, getting actual actors outfitted with real armor and weapons, making all of those models of Helm's Deep and Minas Tirith, Minas Morgol, Moria, Osgiliath, Orthanc, etc and filming on location rather than in a completely green room with setting to be added later cost SIGNIFICANTLY less money than all of the CG garbage that went into the Star Wars prequels.  Nearly twenty million dollars less per movie.  That also takes into account that the Lord of the Rings had a far more expensive cast of actors than Star Wars did on top of it.  And they took quite a bit less time to make as well.  Five years for all three Lord of the Rings movies as opposed to nine years for all three Star Wars movies.

Each Lord of the Rings movie is, on average an hour and fifteen minutes longer than its Star Wars counterpart.  Where the Lord of the Rings movies were filmed mostly on location, in sets of entire cities that were actually built out in the middle of nowhere for the movies, Star Wars was filmed almost entirely on studios in completely blue and green rooms.  Where the Lord of the Rings movies employed hundreds of extras, and put them in actual makeup and prosthetics to turn them into monsters, spening all of the money to build armor and weapons for them to carry, the vast majority of the characters that you see in the Star Wars prequels are either a.) CG or b.) Wearing the exact same generic clothing, which appears no better tailored than Jedi Halloween costumes bought off the rack at Wal-Mart for less than 20 bucks.  Where the Lord of the Rings movies used props and practical effects at every possible opportunity, only relying on CG effects when there was no other possible way to accomplish what was needed, nearly everything but the actors in the Star Wars movies is CG.

On top of all of that, there is the realism factor. CG backgrounds and characters have a fake, cartoony, two dimensional quality to them.  It's easy to tell that they're fake, because they don't belong.  The human eye can spot the fakeness pretty easily.  Something about it just doesn't look right.  It's too clean, sterile, and oftentimes the lighting isn't quite right.  You can obviously tell that the background is just being projected on a blue wall two feet behind the actors.  Additionally, the actors do not give as good a performance when they're in a completely blue room with nothing to see and react to, acting against CG characters that will be added in later.  This puts a whole lot of strain on them, and leads to some very, very horrible performances unless the director is truly epic at his job (something George Lucas has never been).  When the actors are in REAL places, with REAL people all around them, YOU CAN TELL.  It LOOKS real.  It FEELS real.  The actors have things to interact with.  They can see what's supposed to be going on all around them, and they have characters that are real and right in front of them in the flesh to act opposite to.  Even when there were CG characters in Lord of the Rings there was an actual actor standing in for them in a motion capture suit so that the actors had something to see and interact with.

So, if building sets, hiring actors, employing ever metalcrafter in New Zealand to build weapons and armor, using makeup and prosthetics to create the majority of the non-human monsters rather than CG, making models for wide, sweeping city shots, and filming on location costs SO MUCH LESS, and makes the movie look and feel SO MUCH MORE REAL... WHY IN THE HELL DO WE KEEP GETTING MOVIES THAT ARE MADE ALMOST COMPLETELY IN CG!?!?!?!?

It's because Filmmakers these days are getting lazy.  They would rather sit on a couch and watch dozens of computer animators put together their movie instead of doing the work that it takes to make a REAL movie.  They would rather let animators do their thing, horrible as it looks in the finished product, because they are too lazy to use their own imaginations to try and figure out how to do things without the CG like back in the old days.  CG is the easy way of doing things.  Without it, filmmakers actually have to get off their expanding asses and actually do their jobs.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Book Review: Dune Messiah by Frank Herbert

So, I've posted the next part of my Dune Retrospective on Goodreads with a Review of Dune Messiah by Frank Herbert.

The biggest question I get when talking about books that come after Dune from most people is "Wait, there's more books after Dune?"  And there are.  In fact many of the further volumes in the series are far better written, far less confusing, and a lot more entertaining.  Dune Messiah, the second volume in the series, is one of those.  Where Dune was basically one gigantic action scene and coming of age story, Dune Messiah is a character study on Paul, going in depth into the philosophy behind the Holy War that he inadvertently started by taking the throne for himself, and what all of it does to him as a person.  It's a very different kind of book than the first in the series, and in my opinion, it's a much better book too.  If you enjoyed Dune but never knew about or picked up any of the sequels, I'm pretty sure you'll really enjoy this one.  It's the shortest volume of the series, but it's also probably the best in my opinion.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

I Am Nobody Chapter 3 draft 2

Another chapter of the second draft of I Am Nobody is done and can be found at the bottom of this page.

This chapter may seem a little mundane.  It basically sets out what Mia's normal morning routine is.  There is a reason that I included such a detailed description of what she normally does in the morning before school.  Because near the end that routine is interrupted.  So, having what goes on normally established early on is important for that scene later on to have any impact.  Additionally there is a huge amount of development for her character and a few holes in the back story are filled in.  More so in this second draft.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

I Am Nobody Chapters 1&2 Draft 2

I've got two more chapters of the second draft of I Am Nobody finished up.  If you feel the great urge to check out the new and improved versions of chapters 1 and 2 you can find them on This Page.

Mostly what I'm doing is removing contractions, and finding better, clearer ways of wording things with these.  I've also added a few lines of description that was lacking, a few lines of dialog to clear things up, and a few other things.  Most of the dialog was pretty good, and only needed some mild tweaking.  A lot of the changes that are being made are in the other sections of the writing.  And again, this may seem like not much editing work completed, but it took me a good nine hours today to get it done.  I want each and every sentence to be perfect, and it takes a lot of time and a lot of messing around with the wording, countless times rereading it, tweaking a few words here and there to make it flow more smoothly, and reading it aloud to see how it sounds.  This is NOT easy work.  It takes a lot of time and patience, and requires a great love of the story and characters not to go insane while doing it.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

I Am Nobody Prologue Draft 2

After writing the entire first draft of I Am Nobody in 11 days, I seem to have forgotten what I do with my time when I'm not writing I Am Nobody.  So I figured I'd start work on the second draft.  You can find the new and improved version of this chapter at the bottom of this page if you feel so inclined.  I left the first draft up because I'm lazy, the second draft is the one labeled "Draft 2".

Believe it or not, looking at these two versions side by side.  It took me a good eight hours today to make the changes that I made.  I have to say that it's impressively better than before though.  The long and hard work made a huge difference.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Book Review: Towers of Midnight

Welp, now that I've finished my project for NaNo, I can get back to what's important.  The writing people actually pay me for.  I've posted a Review of Towers of Midnight by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson on if you feel the great urge to check it out.

In preparation for the final book of the Wheel of Time series, which comes out at the beginning of January, I took the time to reread all 14 books that come before it this year, writing a review on each of them for my publishers in a Wheel of Time Retrospective, which has gotten quite a few positive comments from readers, I'm happy to say.  I even got fan mail over it.  Weird, eh?  Me.  Getting fan mail.  It's taken me about a year to read and review all the books in the series, and I read a lot of others between them because you can only read so much Wheel of Time at a time, sadly, but this is the last one.  Woohoo, it's done, now I can work on my new Retrospective: Dune.

Sunday, November 11, 2012


WOOHOO!!! DONE AT LAST!!!  Holy crap was that a harsh 11 days. 

So, yeah, I've finished the entire first draft of I Am Nobody now.  The first draft ended up at 86,696 words which is pretty respectable for a young adult novel.  I'll probably add and subtract a few thousand words throughout in later drafts, but the final word count will probably end up about the same.

So yeah, I just wrote the entire first draft of an entire freaking novel in 11 days.  My brain is completely fried and my hands hurt from all the typing. I'm thinking I'm not going to be doing this again anytime soon, hahaha.

If you'd like to read the first draft of I Am Nobody, you can find it either broken up by chapters or as one big file on my I Am Nobody Homepage

For a first draft, I think this one turned out pretty well.  I really enjoyed writing it, even through I did stray from my outline a bit in parts while writing it.  It's turned out awesomely, but for now, I'm taking a big, big break to recover from it before I head back to edit and start the process of getting it ready to try and sell to a publisher.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

NaNo Day 10

Uhg.  So some douchebag at work decided he just didn't want to come to work anymore rather than giving his two weeks, or even bothering to tell anyone.  So today, a day with a ridiculous amount of mail, I had to deliver two entire routes.  My own, and that douchewaffle's.  As a result I was out to about 7-ish, delivering mail in the dark, and the snow, and generally cursing my miserable existence.

Soooooo, yeah, didn't get much writing done today because of it.

I'm now at 78,454/50,000 words, and I have 4 chapters remaining to write.  If you feel the great urge to read what I've written so far, take a look at my I Am Nobody Homepage.

Friday, November 9, 2012

NaNo Day 9

Instead of writing a crapton today, as I have for the previous 8 days, I felt the great urge to take a nap after work.  Ah, it was glorious.  I slept for 4 whole hours.  Spending all day at work out in the snow really wore me out.

But I did get around 5k words written on my story after I woke up, which is pretty good, I suppose, just a lot less than I've been doing thus far.

So, as day 9 of NaNo comes to a close, I find myself at 74,744/50,000 words and I have completed 27 out of a projected 32 chapters.  Only 5 chapters left to go, but I can't write anymore tonight, unfortunately.  My brain is fried from work, and as this is the climax of the story that I'm working on, I'd rather wait until I'm more refreshed to work on it.  This scene is the first one I thought of, the one that the entire story came together around.  I'd hate to suck it up because I was too wasted from a hard day of work to think clearly.  You have NO idea how many typos I just went back and fixed in this post alone.

Anyway, if you'd like to read what I've written so far you can find all completed chapters on the I Am Nobody Homepage.  Enjoy =)

Thursday, November 8, 2012

NaNo Day 8

So, NaNo Day 8 has come and gone, and I'm now at 70,871/50,000 words.  All that's left is my climax and resolution, which will take another 10-15k.  Right now I've completed 25/32 projected chapters, and am totally on track to finish the entire first draft of this book before the second week of the competition is over. 

If you would like to read what I've written so far, check out my I Am Nobody Homepage

NaNo Day 7

So Day 7 of NaNo has come and gone, and the competition has been running for one week.  I'm currently at 60,782/50,000 words.  I've completed 22 of a projected 32 chapters, so I'm about 2/3 of the way done.  If you feel the great urge to read what I've written so far, you can find it at my I Am Nobody homepage.  If I can get 2/3 of the first draft done in a week,I can definitely finish the final 1/3 before the end of the month.

It IS possible to die of boredom

So, I read a news story the other day about a guy who worked in a call center somewhere back east.  This man died at his desk at work, halfway through a tech support call, causes unknown.  When they did an autopsy they discovered that a combination of him guzzling energy drinks to remain alert at work, a disorder wherein the electrical impulses in his brain were a little whacky, the flickering of his monitor, and his sheer boredom were the cause of his death.  These things all came together, causing his brain to literally shut itself down, and once that happened, all of his organs ceased functioning and he died.

So, it is quite possible, under the right circumstances, to actually DIE of boredom while working in a call center.

Why I don't use Facebook...

People keep asking me why I don't use Facebook.  Indeed, they seem rather shocked when I tell them I don't have a page at all.  Well, there are several reasons.  I don't have the time or patience to update yet another social medium.  I just don't care about connecting with people that I GLADLY left behind in High School.  I have enough demands on my attention as it is and don't need another sucking up my life.  But mostly, I see it as a shallow, hollow mockery of human society and a perfect example of everything that is wrong with our current day and age.  So, I set out to prove to myself, and to others, what a load of garbage it was.

First, I made up a completely fictional person.  I wanted this person to be almost the complete opposite of me, so, naturally I made her a girl.  A girl my age, who went to my high school at the same time I did, and then I made up a bunch of other crap about her.  Things she liked to do, clubs she was in in school, where she went to college, where she was born, where she lives now, what she does for a living, etc.  I took this fictional girl and I made a facebook page for her.

Within two weeks I had over three hundred friend requests.  THREE HUNDRED!!!  I had messages from people saying that we used to date.  I had messages from people who remembered me in school and how beautiful they always thought I was.  I had messages from people who claimed to be high school buddies of mine.  I got TWO, yes TWO men who seemed to be under the mistaken impression that they had once asked me to marry them and wanted to see if the relationships had any chance of picking up where it left off. I got messages from people who claimed to be my high school teachers wanting to hook up with some of the students that they remember.  I EVEN GOT MESSAGES FROM PEOPLE WHO CLAIMED TO FREAKING WORK WITH ME NOW!!!

Does anyone else see a problem with this?  Anyone at all?

This is why I think facebook is garbage.  And this is why I will never be on it.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

NaNo Day 6

Achievement Unlocked: No Life. (Write 50,000 words of a story in less than a week)

So yeah, I have now reached and surpassed the 50,000 words needed to finish the NaNoWriMo writing competition with 54,866/50,000.  I am now counting the prologue, which I did not write during the competition, in the word count as I have surpassed the 50k goal of the competition without it and have no need to hold it back now.  I am about 2/3 of the way done with the story, and project that I finish up at about 80,000 words, which is dead on for a young adult novel.  I actually think I can finish the first draft of this book within the next seven days.

If you would like to read what I have written on this story thus far, check out my I Am Nobody Homepage.

I've never written a murder mystery type thing before.  So far I think I'm doing relatively well, especially considering how fast I'm plowing through it.

NaNo Day 5

I'm currently at 44,182/50,000 words for the NaNoWriMo competition thingy, and maybe a little over halfway done with the first draft of I Am Nobody.  At this rate, I 'm definitely going to finish it well before the end of the month.  I've been piecing this story together for nearly two years now, and prepping to write it.  I'm about as ready to write something as is possible to be, I think, and so I'm just flying through it.

If you feel the great urge to read what I've written so far, check out the I Am Nobody Homepage that I've set up.  All 17 chapters that I've completed since the beginning of the month are posted there, along with the prologue that I wrote last year.

Monday, November 5, 2012

NaNo Day 4

NaNo Day 4 has come and gone and I have now reached 36,778/50,000 words for the competition goal.  It is likely that I will reach that goal within the next couple of days, depending on how bad the election mail is at work.  Again, it is my goal not only to reach and surpass the 50,000 words for the competition this month, but to complete my entire first draft, and at this time, it seems very likely that I will be able too.  I'm somewhere between a third and halfway done with it at this time.  Assuming I don't run out of steam, I'm pretty confident that I will easily finish well before the month is out.

I've now finished 14 chapters in addition to the prologue that I wrote last year.  If you care to read these chapters, and any further chapters that I complete, please feel free to check them out on my I Am Nobody Homepage.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

NaNo Day 3

NaNo Day 3 has come and gone and I am at 25,815/50,000 words for the competition.  Three days into the month and I'm over halfway to the competition's goal.  I'm pretty confident in my ability to finish the entire first draft within the month, assuming I don't run out of steam *knocks on wood*

If you care to read what I've written so far take a look at the I Am Nobody Homepage.  I've currently got the prologue and first ten chapters posted.

Friday, November 2, 2012

NaNo Day 2

Day 2 of NaNo has rolled around, and I'm WAY ahead of where I need to be to hit 50,000 words by the end of the month.  I've got the prologue and seven chapters now finished up and posted on my I Am Nobody Homepage, and I'm up to 17735 words.  The goal for the competition is 50,000 words, but MY goal is to completely finish the entire first draft in this month.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

And so it begins...

Captain's Log, Stardate 11011.2

The 2012 NaNoWriMo has begun, and I have entered myself in the competition with my young adult thriller by the name of I Am Nobody.  I have purposely left this story alone, only completing the Prologue, for the purpose of using it for this year's NaNo.

Captain's Log, Supplemental


So, anyway, I'm participating in this year's NaNoWriMo with my story I Am Nobody, which I've been saving for this purpose because it's a lot simpler and hopefully easier to write than the other stuff I've been working on lately.  The concept behind NaNo is simple.  Writers the world over will take this month and write a book in it, to push themselves into getting something started, with the ultimate goal of getting it published.  50,000 words in a single month.  Those that complete their 50,000 words are entered in a drawing for prizes, etc, things such as a featured ad on the amazon kindle page and other such things.  Winning is a good way to draw the attention of literary agents and publishers, as well as giving a chance to get it out to the public.

Sooooo, this month I'm going to be writing as quickly as I can, hoping to finish the entire first draft of I Am Nobody before December.  You can follow my progress here on my blog, or on the I Am Nobody homepage and read the chapters that I have completed there as well.

Current progress: 6910 words, 3 chapters.

I am not counting the prologue, which I wrote last year and does not count because it wasn't written during the time of the competition.