Leigh Brackett

20140216_115418_1Here’s another in my sporadic series on the authors of Appendix N. Today’s feature: Leigh Brackett.

You can check out her screenwriting credits if you like, it is an impressive body of work. But her admission to the ranks of Appendix N luminaries is due to her Sword and Planet novels, stories owing a lot, I think, to Edgar Rice Burroughs’ “John Carter of Mars” and “Carson of Venus” stories, and sharing the same branch of the literary family tree as C.L. Moore’s “Northwest Smith.”

Debut Novel Ruminations

20140126_155047_2My first novel, “Reunion,”  is out. Here’s a link, let me get that marketing thing out of the way so I can ramble without worrying where to shoehorn it in later. http://twilighttimesbooks.com/Reunion_ch1.html

I’m trying to get a handle on how I feel about it. I’m pleased, obviously. But my enjoyment is incomplete. I think that’s partly because – until May – the novel is only available as an eBook.  I’m not what you might call an early adopter. I have a tablet and I have the Kindle application loaded on it. But I don’t read from it. I’ve got three or four items on it, nothing longer than a novella. I suppose I still prefer the feel of a physical book.

Edgar Rice Burroughs’ "The Mucker"

20140202_124632_1Continuing here the sporadic series discussing the works of Appendix N. Well, sort of. The entry for Edgar Rice Burroughs lists Tarzan, the John Carter books, the Carson of Venus books, and the Pelucidar books. I’m not going to discuss those. I doubt they need much more digital ink spilled on them. Instead I’m going to discuss one of ERB’s lesser known books, “The Mucker.”

“The Mucker” features a bona fide anti-hero. The main character is utterly unlike the standard ERB lead: a  virtuously noble paladin. Instead we have Billy Byrne, the eponymous Mucker, a term apparently describing a certain class of criminal lowlife with no redeeming characteristics. And ERB writes Billy Byrne as living up  – or down – to that label. He’s a thief, a drunk, and an overall bounder. For the first third or so of the novel. It’s kind of refreshing.

Proof Reading

20140126_155047_2I am reading the proof copy of my novel, loose pages stacked within the almost complete cover – (still lacking ISBN and bar code.) Tangible proof that I do indeed have a book on the cusp of publication. Cool. Feels good, but I am getting my fill of reading it. I’ve lost count of the number of drafts, revisions, edits, and proof-readings I’ve gone through. This, however, is the last pass. I do hope I manage to catch every misplaced apostrophe, dropped article, or missing comma.

It requires a lot of effort to ensure the prose looks effortless. I take full responsibility for anything that slips by.

Absorbing Reading

Victoria Valentina listening to Daddy read his latest story.

Victoria Valentina listening to Daddy read his latest story.

How deeply do you become involved in a story? Are you an outcome based reader? That is, do you read a story only to find out what happens, whodunit, how the plot resolves? Or do you plunge completely into the fictional world? Do you laugh aloud at the jokes and unexpected twists? Do characters become so real to you that you mourn if they die or suffer loss? Do you set the book down and stare blankly at the wall as you absorb the news of a tragedy that’s befallen, imagining the reactions of the characters and the repercussions on the society?

Ever thrown the book across the room?

Writer and Child

 

Snapshot of the part-time writer with a newborn: Wife, exhausted, hits the sheets shortly after eight. The time varies dependent upon the baby’s needs/whims, of course. The almost equally exhausted part-time writer feeds the baby. Then begins the drama – suspense builds as the part-time writer watches anxiously to see if the baby will drift off to sleep. Or will she instead remain stubbornly alert until the wee hours? If the latter, the writer will consider himself lucky to get in a hundred words, pecking one-handed at the keyboard while supporting the baby in his other arm.

The Hobbit part II – what was that?

I’m going to grouse about “The Hobbit: the Desolation of Smaug.” Sorry, but I have to vent a bit after dropping twenty-four bucks for a couple of tickets to see this bloated zeppelin-wreck of a film.

Before I begin kvetching, praise where praise is due. The sets are gorgeous. In small doses the fight scenes are well staged and fun to watch. And Benedict Cumberbatch voices a truly menacing Smaug.

2013 in Review

And there goes 2013. So, yeah. Can you believe it, we’re well into the second decade of the twenty-first century. Hardly proceeding as scripted, but that’s another post.

Interesting year, 2013. Personally a rather extraordinary year. As I type I can see my daughter sleeping in her bassinet. Ken procreating: many have considered that one of the signs of the impending apocalypse. But you can’t hang the end of the world on me, whether it’s via asteroid, zombies, super-flu, nuclear holocaust, or Vogon destructor fleets.

Yuletide Greetings, Christmas Cards from the Multiverse

There’s a festive air in Bag End. Bilbo has broken out a couple bottles of the Old Winyard and is mulling them in a pot hung over the fire. Gandalf is carefully igniting tiny candles placed on branches of the tiny fir tree in the parlor, applying the tip of his staff and muttering a spell to spark each one. Sam is wiring together a wreath, while Frodo attempts to keep Merry and Pippin from opening all the presents.

In a harborside tavern, Conan, with great mirth, employs the heavy bone of a joint of beef to club an insolent potboy who is imposing bawdy lyrics on the tunes of old Cimmerian carols. This he does without spilling a drop from his tankard or the saucy tavern wench from his knee.

The Sleepless Writer

This may not come as a shock to anyone, but the care and feeding of a newborn tends to cut into one’s free time, the time one might normally spend – say – writing. That’s not a complaint mind you. The frequent rising in the middle of the night to feed or comfort, dealing with the maddening refusal to just go back to sleep already, do you have any idea what time it is is all worthwhile. In the light of day, jaw cracking with yawns, dragging myself to the gym and to work, the previous nights frustrations fade.

So, yeah.

But I’m still finding time to write. A matter of desire, I suppose. If you want to do something, you’ll make the time.