Monday, January 31, 2011

Lone Survivor


There have been few books lately that have really had an impact on me, but this one by Marcus Luttrell hit me hard. Over the years I have had uncles in the military, a brother-in-law in Iraq, and most recently one of my son's best friends went to Iraq as well.

The brother-in-law that went to Iraq was tough, because it was during the height of the conflict (second time around) and he was in bomb disposal. So yes, the movie the Hurt Locker was something that also touched me pretty hard. Dave is no longer my brother-in-law, but he did make it back from the war in one piece, though not his entire unit.

When my son's best friend went over, it wasn't quite as close, but I still wondered if he was going to make it back. Luckily by the time he got there, most of the fighting was already behind us.

This book, brings back a lot of those thoughts, but at a much higher level, because Marcus tells it from his own experience. Rather than simply getting the broad brush description from those I know, Marcus described what is was really like to become a Navy SEAL (a major accomplishment in itself), and then what it was like to be sent on missions in the Hindu Kush, where the locals traveled the terrain like mountain goats, hundreds of them ready to open up their AK-47s at you without notice.

There was a surprising turn of events in the story, that really humanized the Afghan people, but I'll let you read the book to find out about that.

You may not have the same connections to the military that I do, but even so, if you are an American that values your freedom, I think you will enjoy this book.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Love Affair

I love writing.

I love it when my main character kisses someone for the first time. The soft lips, the visceral feel of intimacy, the scent of closeness. Does this mean that I'm a hopeless mush? Too much flirting with the baristas?

I love it when my characters make choices. Not choices born of necessity, but choices from the heart. From beyond the gut. A choice so deep that the result, good or bad, is everything. Sometimes it's a choice between very bad and really, really bad with a side of badness. But she made it, and it was real and THINGS HAPPENED because of it.

I love it when I can make the setting come alive. How many words are too many? Too few? If the setting seems like another character in the novel, I love that. That's how many words, that and no more.

I love plotting, I really do. I'm not a pantser, but I keep the outline only in my head. If it can't live there clearly and with distinction, the story isn't speaking to me.

I love creating individual voices for minor characters that are familiar yet not cliched. And this is so very hard. Hard enough that when it happens, I feel like doing a dance.

I love editing. I love taking three pages and making it a single paragraph that actually has more meaning and backstory.

I love how writing makes the day fade. My word processor doesn't care if I got stuck in traffic. The story demands my very best and my very best is what I give it. The novel is like a mistress or a lover that is never really satisfied. More, more, more give me more says the story until it's finally finished. Then it sits over in a corner pouting because I've moved on to someone new. Better looking. Younger, certainly.

I love writing. It's addictive. It's heady and delicious. It's a fulfillment of a craving that only grows the more you feed it.

What do you love about writing?

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Get Delirious


Yes today is the day that you can get your very own copy of Daniel Palmer's new thriller Delirious. I had a chance to finish it on the plane back from the Philippines, and I have to say that it definitely kept me not only awake, but turning the pages at a furious pace. There is one particular scene involving water that was actually so creepy that I had to take a break for a few seconds.

Go and get your copy today. You won't be disappointed.

Monday, January 24, 2011

NY Times Best Selling Author?


I've said in the past that it doesn't bother me when celebrities get million dollar book deals, because as long as the book earns out the advance, and the publisher makes money, it's good for everyone. But a couple of books lately have made me question my thinking.

The first is from the Jersey Shore, umm, "star", uhh, Snooki. Now I have never watched even 30 seconds of the show, or seen any interviews of Snooki, so I'm kind of going by my basic impressions, but a NY Times Best Selling author??? Really?? That just seems to cheapen the list for me somehow. It feels like a sellout by the publisher.

Now, I'd be happy if the publishers make money on the book, because again, money that flows into publishing is good for all writers, but this one feels like the proverbial fingernails on the chalkboard.

The second was written by someone I met at Thrillerfest this year. The author is not a well known celebrity, but it was clear that their status is what allowed them to get a book deal.

So again, as long as the publisher makes money, everybody's happy, right? Not so fast. In this case because the book was less than perfect, in fact it pretty much sucked, I don't think that anybody is going to make money. Well, other than the author, which again, isn't such a bad thing for us authors, but here's the problem. Because the publisher is going to lose money on this book, there is one less slot open for us budding authors to get our book published. Because the publisher took on this book, they won't take on another book, even if they wanted to because they don't have the money. And that's a shame. It just makes it that much harder for one of us to get our work published.

What do you think about celebrity books? Or books that are published purely because the author is well known?

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Random wi-fi

Hey all,

I have been in the Philippines for the last two weeks and not able to get WiFi access. I have been unable to post any updates, but now that I am back, I will try to provide some interesting accounts of my travels. I hope you find them interesting.

The Philippines is a diverse country, and the places that I went were fun and exciting to see. Hopefully I can turn it into an interesting setting for my next novel.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

eBook Thoughts and a Random Bit of Linking

So, um where did 2010 go?

But I digress.

Choices

Nathan Brandsford did a holiday repeat of a post he made in 2007, which was a year before I started following blogs about writing. And boy-howdy (boy-howdy being a technical term), did I love it. Let me link it to you, my friends:

Holiday Repeat: Writing Advice From Some Old Guys At My Gym

Oh, my gosh. If ever there was a point about fiction writing, that is it. Choices. It's all about the choices.

Speculative Goodness

My latest book review is up on my blog, DarkShip Thieves by Sarah A. Hoyt. For the classic science fiction fan in you, check it out. It was fantastical and quite lovely, and any writer dabbling in speculative fiction would find this book worthy of study.

eBooks

Blah blah blah, ebooks blah blah blah, 2011 ebooks blah blah blah.

Just wanted to get the obligatory stuffs out there. All the other kids are doing it!

Anyway, little family get together showed ebooks inroads in a major way. Here's how the reading went down over the family visit:
  • Nana: Reads from new Kindle
  • Papa: Reads from old Kindle
  • Sister in Law: Reads from new Kindle
  • Me: Reads from paperback and Windows Phone
  • Wife Unit: Reads from trade paperback
  • Son: Reads from trade paperback
  • Brother in Law: Hasn't read or seen a Harry Potter movie or book. Totally discounted as a family heretic
  • Niece: Chewed on her electronic book that goes "moo" when you press a button.
Both my son, wife and I are really interested in the Kindle, but none of us are very happy with the current book lending restrictions. For example, a book publisher has to grant you permission to lend the book.

Then, that publisher sets the terns like "lend this book once for 14 days."

Well, Mr. Publisher, that doesn't cut it over here at Chez Pacheco. There are three of us, soon to be four, that could read the same book in our house. We are not going to buy four copies of the same book. EVER. Not even if the hardcover is $18 and the electronic version is $4, for a savings of $2 between the four of us.

What I read on my phone is very limited. Basically, if there is a chance someone else in the house, or one of my friends, will want to read the book... I don't buy an electronic copy of it even though I love reading from my phone.

I can see the future of electronic books from my house. And that future for us is four DRM-free book readers loaded with DRM-free books. There is no other way for my book reading family. And that goes back to choices. Remove my choices, we remove our spending dollars.

God, I love capitalism.