Friday, January 05, 2018

Boyle Book Broaches Environmental Issues

When the Killing's DoneWhen the Killing's Done by T.C. Boyle
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Who owns the animals? Is it possible to restore an island to a pre-human state? Such as are a few of the questions raised in this story of Park Services employee Alma Takesue and activist businessman David Lajoy as they battle one another over the eradication of rats and pigs from the Channel Islands off the California coast.

Boyle's work is multi-generational, layered, well-researched. This provides a depth to the narrative that often diminishes the characters' concerns and squabbles in comparison to the unrelenting power of nature dominating the world of the story.

Plenty of twists and turns enliven a rapidly moving plot. Boyle's sense of the absurd lightens the mood at key moments. This is a powerful book, underscoring life and the will to live.

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Unhappy New Year

A Perfect Storm of Maladies Mars 2018 Start

Not that expectations were all that high for me in the coming year, but he who controls the fonts controls blog emotions, or some such matter. In any case, remember that flu I mentioned at the end of my last post? (Probably not.) The bastard virus lingers like distant relatives with no other place to go. Dogging me in non-flu-like ways.

If you've read, They Took My Prostate, you'll know that my sleep apnea requires flowing air through my nostrils for me to sleep. Not so easy when the nose is clogged. Plus I'm coughing up phlegm and need to roll over and spit it out into a styrofoam cup. (Never look inside.) And since I have no prostate, a deep racking cough results in a fun urine squirt. I'm getting hammered top and bottom.

But the worst is no sustained sleep. Who do I lash out against?

If it's not on the upswing by Monday, I'll see the doctor. Until then, it's just me and the Circus Channel in the quiet hours before dawn. 

Sunday, December 31, 2017

New Year's Eve a Decade Ago

Ten Years Back I Wrote:

For the last 48 hours I've been writing a story to submit to a horror anthology. Right now, New Year's Eve, my darling wife is proofing the last draft. Submission deadline closes at midnight. I wrote from noon to 11:00 last night. Eight o'clock to 1:10 today, went to the gym, then wrote from 4:30 to 10:20. MDW assures me I'm getting the rapid proof that will merely nip the worst grammatical offenders.

This story actually started out as something called Behind the Scenes. But over three weeks, it's changed, changed again and finally become Tyto Alba, the tale of a slacker who pays a price for "going with the flow." 

All pressure is self-imposed. I must return to my young adult novel and didn't want this almost-finished story lounging around, up to no good.

And so, as I await changes on my final story for 2007, I say to one and all: 

Back in the day, I still had a prostate.

The story in question was rejected. Basically, it was characters trapped in a Food of the Gods-like farmhouse. No one really changed much and all the action  was contrived to generate gruesome deaths and a clever escape.

In addition, I was writing a YA novel which eventually migrated to the 2008 unfinished pile as I entered the new year coaching with Team in Training, piling up the weekly miles in preparation for the Eugene Marathon, while staging our house for sale, plus seeking a condo to purchase as the housing crisis was in full bloom.

Today I've written five books, returned to running after a long injury-fueled absence and, on December 31, battle the flu. May it pass quickly. (The years certainly do.) In the meantime:

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Kaiju Thriller Falls Short

Island 731Island 731 by Jeremy Robinson
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A storm-tossed ship winds up in the lagoon of an uncharted island. As the characters sift through the damage, crew members go missing. Searching the island for lost shipmates, the protagonist stumbles upon remains of a notorious World War II Japanese dark science outfit known as Unit 731. But park ranger Mark Hawkins soon learns that gruesome experimentations have never stopped.

This seemed like two books: a half horror-thriller and the rest a justification for what came first. The chief antagonist seemed impossibly smart for his age, the scientific justifications thin, the evil agency behind it all opaque. To keep the plot moving in the second half, the author unloaded back story like a man lightening a balloon to stay airborne. And while such a practice justified the narrative, it threw me out of the story.

Which is a shame, since good action scenes combined with a stripped-down writing style made this tale zip along. More foreshadowing may've helped.

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Sunday, December 24, 2017

A Freakazoid Christmas of Some Sort

90's Animation Returns for the Holiday

Thanks to Julian Madison on YouTube, we can enjoy the Guy With Lightning in His Hair shopping for gifts when trouble, as it always seemed to do, arose. Also, Freakazoid confronts the mysterious Cloud, based on the 1958 special effects extravaganza, The Crawling Eye. Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Last Second Gift Idea Round-Up

Clocks ticking. Almost Christmas Eve. There are still unchecked names on your gift list. What will you do? I would fold up on the couch and hope everything turned out Okay. But if you're more proactive than that, click away.

Buzz Feed

215 gift ideas including something for people you hate. Very 21st Century.

New York Magazine

40 Gift Ideas for People You Almost Forgot which includes adjectives for some such as 'foodie' and 'sullen.'



10 Best Last Minute Gift Ideas for Women including a Comfort U Total Body Support Pillow for sleeping eight hours when the bed is simply too far off.

PC Mag

10 Last Second Gift Ideas that consist of lots of subscriptions and a Flickr Pro Account.

Five Golden eBooks

One click and your shopping is over as I sandwich in a plug for my latest book.

1. Ghost Star by Roger Eschbacher - Sci-fi, YA space quest as the survivor of a massacre seeks out his sister, discovering along the way his family's secret past.

2. The Hidden Truth by Hans G. Schantz - A techno-thriller as a young man discovers someone is erasing scientific history.

3. A Place Outside the Wild by Daniel Humphreys - A Dragon-nominated dystopian fiction with survivors battling zombies and the human evil within their own little enclave.

4. Dreadful Outcomes by D.G. Heckman - Dark, sardonic short stories centered around a small town that is home to cannibals, river monsters, and the pesky Wendigo.

5. They Took My Prostate: Cancer Loss Hope (You'll Never Guess) - An autobiographical tale of an unemployed writer diagnosed with prostate cancer as he struggles against vanishing health care, bureaucrats, and the consequences of living without a prostate.

Merry Almost Christmas!

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Top Five Sites for Writer Gifts

To be specific, five web sties from the top page of DuckDuckGo. But all offer writerly gifts for the word smith in your life.

1.  The Creative Pen

Twenty-five gifts for scribes including pens, books, and, of course, a Hobbit-themed blanket.

2 . The Write Life

Twenty-two gifts including an Awesome Trophy for dark loveless days on those drafts that seem to stink from front to back.

Pride and Prejudice Tote Bag
3.  The Write Practice

Twenty gift ideas including Edgar Allen Poe socks.  Keep them warm by walling them into the back of your closet. Mortar included. (Naw.)

4.  Helping Writers Become Authors

Among various sundry notions, there's an Aqua Pen for scribbling plot points in the shower.

5.  Amazon

From the commercial behemoth itself, select from a number of coffee mugs and/or signs threatening to put annoying people into stories and kill them.

On the topic of writing, nothing says 'Christmas' more than prostate cancer. My book, They Took My Prostate: Cancer Loss Hope is now available on Amazon in sturdy ebook format. Learn how I put the 'in' into incontinence, yet survived with carpet and furniture intact to tell the tale.   

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