In the ink well

Dog Ear

November 21, 2013

Being an Evil Overlord Part 1 (DOG EAR)

Overlords are a popular villain of movies and literature. They provide the foil against which the hero can play his heroics against. They are important, perhaps necessary to have. But they can be painfully obvious, too. The trick is to not make them too trite and predictable. And when I say that, it’s actually amazing how many ploys, plots and desperate schemes we’ve enjoyed in books and theaters, where thousands of plucky do-gooders defeat thousands of world-enders, power-grabbers, magic-hoarders, land-seizers, and country-invaders.  There really isn’t much new under the sun today when it comes from defeating a madman’s master plans. […]
November 14, 2013

If it ain’t Baroque… (DOG EAR)

The Baroque is a period of artistic style that used exaggerated motion and clear, easily interpreted detail to produce drama, tension, exuberance, and grandeur in sculpture, painting, architecture, literature, dance, and music. The style began around 1600 in Rome, Italy and spread to most of Europe. Yes, literature. This really came to me while writing the review for Pillars of the Earth, a Ken Follett book. I jumped from him to one my my favorite authors, China Miéville, a brilliant writer who makes me curse when I read his books, the wording is so clever. Follett’s writing is very methodical. […]
November 7, 2013

Worst Boss Ever! (DOG EAR)

I‘ve had bad bosses. Like the coke-head years ago in the lumber yard. And the sawed-off titan in that software slavepit. Yeah, had some bad ones. But the one I have now sucks. He bothers me in my free time, often when I’m very tired, making demands and tossing assignments. He’ll remind me that I’ve got pieces to finish, twice-a-week deadlines, and shame me into working (muttering under my breath all the way). He really pisses me off. And that boss, of course, is me. I’m the guy who decided that I need to generate twice-a-week blog postings (because random […]
November 7, 2013

Grace (DOG EAR)

I‘m writing this on the heels of last week’s blog HERE, the one dealing with depression. It’s not better. Just came in from a walk to find my sister telling everyone how I’m anti-social. No, I’m depressed. And that’s what’s making me anti-social, Doc. But that’s okay. Because I just saw something. I needed to get out of the house with its constant Apple talk and distractions. We’re way up here in the North Carolina nowheres, miles from anything, surrounded by deep mountains and gauche McMansions. Clouds were rolling over the ridgelines. Rain was coming in sheets. Didn’t matter. It […]
October 31, 2013

Swap out (DOG EAR)

I have a confession. I like Anime. Japanese Animation goes a lot further in storytelling (sometimes) than Western media. Oftentimes the storylines are unique and different (and sometimes they can be incredibly moribund, too). But there are scenes, as powerful as any book, that I’ll carry with me. Not in this case. Croisee in a Foreign Labyrinth is an incredibly sweet story (just like jamming four tablespoons of sugar into your mouth could be). Sometime near the end of the 19th century, a young 13 year old Japanese girl is brought to Paris with plans to use her uniqueness to […]
October 24, 2013

A word, an idea, a thought… (DOG EAR)

There are two ways to string multiple words to make your point. One is like this… The tornado blew the house apart, throwing boots, a bathtub, books and the sofa all across the fields. And the other is like this… A tornado is a wind, a gust, a breeze, a blow. See the difference? Read it again. Both string a halting series of words behind it, to force the reader though a series of quick-start descriptions (perhaps for reasons of pacing and evidence). However, in the first, we are denoting the wide variety of objects scattered, their unique differences, trying […]
October 17, 2013

Facing the Obvious (DOG EAR)

I‘m reading Pillars of the Earth and, while it’s a good book, the writer is playing a cheap trick on me. His villains are ugly. His heroes are handsome (or at least not blemished). That’s a basic trick. I mentioned seeing it in Trapped, but that’s not the only place I’ve seen it lately. It’s a lazy way win points for your hero with the audience, and make your villains more villainous. Really, come on – you have 400 pages, all sorts of room for development. Why rush to establish characters? There are countless examples where this isn’t true – […]
October 10, 2013

Good Relations (DOG EAR)

A year or so back, my site got hacked. I first found out when GoDaddy (my provider) told me they were getting activity off my site that denoted it had been compromised. Yes, I was being used to launch denial of service attacks. My site had become a zombie. I went to the same site I’d gotten my great book cover, Elance, and put out a job for website security (and backup – what the hell had I been thinking that I didn’t need backups). Looked at the various bids and picked a guy out of Greece, Stergios Kolios, to […]
September 25, 2013

Night Scribe (DOG EAR)

So you’ve just dinnered with your two Canadian couples, watching the setting sun play over German fields from your riverboat, guzzling down glass after glass of wine. And with all that rich food in your belly, with your wife’s hand in yours, you retire to your stateroom, close the door, loosen your tie, and… And..? Write. Or, specifically, blog. I always blog my vacations – you can find the page HERE. Every trip I take, I try to make a blog entry for each day, and run them one per day on my site so fans (all three of you) […]
September 19, 2013

Ramping up (DOG EAR)

I haven’t been too busy over the last half year, outside of writing my twice-a-week blogs (these dog-ears and my book reviews). Really, there were the little things here and there I had to do, helping co-workers’ kids with their homework efforts, reviewing resumes, that sort of stuff. Just low key, low gear stuff. Then it got busy. First off, Jurassic London posted me a entry notice for two collections they are going to produce, two kicky little submissions (one flash fiction, the other a heavier effort) combining the historic and the fantastic. Okay, so I did my research and […]