Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Writer's Block Wednesday

Even famous writers have struggled with writer's block, as evidenced by this short video.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Fiction Friday: What The Night Knows

Dean Koontz revisits the hero with a tragic past theme that he does so well, in this supernatural thriller. The protagonist, John Calvino, is both a family man and police detective, whose path in life was shaped by the brutal murder of his entire family when he was a child.  The sole survivor of that encounter, John killed Alton Turner Blackwood to prevent himself from becoming the final victim of that fateful night.

Now, twenty years after the lives of his family were snuffed out, John sees similar murders cropping up in the neighborhood, causing him to question himself, his beliefs and whether the dead always stay that way.  

I'd recommend this to anyone who has enjoyed Koontz's fiction in the past as well as anyone who likes supernatural suspense or horror fiction.

Here is the book trailer for What the Night Knows

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Writer's Block Wednesday

Unable to write? Feeling distracted?

Well, you could always step away from your project and go for a walk or something.  But that's really just another form of procrastination.  Try writing about what is distracting you.  At the very least, just start writing gobbledygook.  Eventually you'll tire of this and your imagination will take over.  Before you know it, you'll be back on track writing up a storm, or a cool summer breeze, depending upon the nature of your project.

Don't let the quality of your writing concern you too much at this point.  Don't allow yourself to get caught up rewriting.  Produce new content and keep going until you get to the end.  Then go back over it and refine what you've written.  There's time enough for polishing your prose once you've brought the plot to its appropriate completion.

Here's a short film on the subject:

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Writer's Block Wednesday

Still facing writer's block?

Here are a few tips.

If you can, plan out what you're going to write.  You don't have to know the exact wording of the prose, but knowing that your main character needs to travel from point A to point C without going through point B, gives you a goal.  Now you know where your character has to get to, write that scene.

Write someplace without distractions.  Don't write with the TV on.  Don't go to a bar to write, where you may end up ordering more beers than writing paragraphs.  Sit your butt in the chair and write.

You don't want to end up like this guy:

Friday, November 4, 2011

Fiction Friday: The Company

K.J. Parker writes fantasy without the dwarves, elves, dragons and other fantastical creatures that normally populate such novels.  And she does it with style and panache.  Parker's prose is a true pleasure to read.  It's flows and shines like a stream glinting in the sunlight of an August afternoon in the Deep South.  Readers of fantasy are no doubt experienced at reading about great battles and of opposing soldiers in shiny armor wielding blunt and sharp weapons of war.  In The Company Parker explores what happens after the wars are over and there's no more fighting to be done.  She also demonstrates rather well that while you can take the soldier out of the war, taking the war out of the soldier is an entirely other thing.

After the aforementioned wars, Gen. Teuche Kunessin returns to his home village where he rounds up his military buddies, holding them to a promise made during the war to set up their own colony apart from the government, wars and the rest of society.  Kunessin has acquired an island as part of the spoils of war and he intends to set himself, his friends and their wives upon it to do just that.

Naturally, things aren't quite so easy as that.  Once the group manages to reach the island, all sorts of complications ensue resulting from the day to day labor involved in establishing a colony, character traits and nature.

If you haven't read any of Parker's other fiction, then The Company (Orbit Books, 2009)is a great place to start.  And if you have, then you should definitely add this novel to your bookcase if it isn't already there.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Writer's Block Wednesday

For those times when you just can't write. When conveying the thoughts in your head onto the screen before you seems impossible, try drawing a little inspiration from what is around you. Sort of like this writer does when she finds herself in a similar situation.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Fiction Friday: Snow Crash

Neal Stephenson's Snow Crash is science fiction at its best.  The tale follows the adventures of teen skateboard courier Y.T. (Yours Truly) and pizza deliveryman Hiro Protagonist, who coincidentally, bills himself as the world's finest swordsman. Working together they discover someone is attempting to loose a deadly computer virus that might bring about the destruction of humankind as we know it.

This one has it all.  Suitcase nukes, a sociopathic killer who specializes in killing with weapons of plate glass, a nuclear submarine, the Mafia, Japanese rappers, Biblical references and a virtual world (very much like Second Life and other mmorpgs) called the Metaverse.

But don't take my word for it.  Check out this nifty book trailer featuring Legos and the voicework of high school English students.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Writer's Block Wednesday

If you want to beat writer's block, your best tactic is to plan ahead.  Devote a specific amount of time each day to writing.  Once you've done that, devise a writing schedule.  Set goals.  Work on your novel Monday, Wednesday and Friday and maybe on short stories Tuesday and Thursday. Saturday you can work on your blog and maybe freestyle Sunday (write whatever strikes your fancy). Stick to the schedule you design and you should be fine. It also helps to have a target word count (think 1,000 words a day). 

If you have it set in your mind what you are going to write about before you even sit down in front of the computer and start typing, then you are likely to struggle less with the actual writing. 

Here is one writer's take on writer's block.  There are a couple s bombs, but no more than you might find in a PG-13 movie.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Fiction Friday

John Barnes' Directive 51 (ACE, 2010) is a futuristic apocalyptic novel that explores what might happen to the national government (and the rest of the world for that matter) when a major catastrophe strikes, and the president is no longer capable of continuing in his role as commander in chief.

The titular directive refers to one that actually exists today, providing "that in a case of unprecedented disaster a specific Federal official will become temporary dictator, with nearly unlimited power and a mission to restore Constitutional government as quickly as possible."

Barnes explores this in Directive 51, but does not allow the politics to bog down the rest of the book.  The novel is filled with acts of terror, dramatic tension, survivalism and even romance.  The characters, even those secondary to the plot, experience real change throughout the course of the novel. 

Called "the thinking person's techno-thriller," by S.M. Stirling, I'd recommend this to any reader of science fiction.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Writer's Block Wednesday!

Today is the beginning of a new feature on the blog: Writer's Block Wednesday!

Everyone who's done any writing is familiar with the term, though there are those who don't like to admit it. It's that all too familiar state of being in which you just can't write anything.  It's a frustrating feeling, but there are ways to combat it.

Different writers offer differing opinions on how to deal with writer's block.  I'm of the opinion that you have to write your way through it.  Write through writer's block, you ask? Wasn't the problem being unable to write?

That's right.  And the only way to get back on track is to start writing and keep writing until you find yourself back on track.  Do this by writing about how you feel sitting in front of the computer staring at a blank screen.  Write about the frustration you're feeling. 

If that's not substantive enough for you, take it to another level.  Start writing about the room in which you are writing.  Describe the curtains, right down to the thread count if you must.  The important thing is to start writing and keep the flow of words running.  Eventually, you'll find your creative juices are coursing once more and you'll get back to whatever is your current project.

And here's a musical take on writer's block:

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Moving and anthologies

So I'm in the midst of moving the Coaterack from another blogging site, here to Blogger.

Please pardon the dust during construction.

In the meantime, here are a few anthologies I'm looking forward to in the near future that you may find interesting as well:

The Spirit of Poe is an anthology of Edgar Allan Poe inspired short stories and poems produced by Literary Landmark Press.  Every cent earned from the sale of the anthology will go to the Edgar Allan Poe House and Museum in Baltimore, which recently lost $80,000 worth of funding from the city.  The anthology is planned to be released on Halloween of this year.

Dark Tales of Lost Civilizations is what you might expect from the title.  As the editor's site says, the anthology will be filled with "dark tales of horror, speculative fiction, and to a lesser degree science fiction, relating to civilizations that are lost, or have been forgotten, or have been rediscovered, or perhaps merely spoken about in great and fearful whispers. Dark Tales of Lost Civilizations is currently set for Spring 2012 publication.

Mutation Nation from Rainstorm Press is the anthology for the lover of horror, science fiction and all things strange.  This looks to be interesting, with an infinite number of possibilities for stories.  From the publisher's website: "Who are these human oddities? How do these characters and/or the people in their lives deal with the curse-or the blessing-of their mutations? This anthology will contain stories that explain these human mutations-and their consequences." Mutation Nation is set for release Dec. 1.