Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Books I'm Looking Forward to in 2012

SFGate.com has already posted my list of the Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of 2011. So, what books  am I eagerly awaiting in the coming year? Here's a short list, a mix of crime and sff/horror:

1. Liminal People by Ayize Jama-Everett (January)
Small Beer Press seems to be pushing this one hard, and Jama-Everett is currently local to the Bay Area, so I'm intrigued. A mix of thriller, science fiction and superhero saga, the novel doesn't seem to lend itself to easy description.

2. The Chalk Girl by Carol O'Connell (January)
O'Connell's feral cop Mallory was kicking ass and taking names long before that girl with the dragon tattoo arrived. Glad she's coming back for further adventures after a brief hiatus in the series.

3. The Mirage by Matt Ruff (February)
Ruff's "Set This House in Order" is one of my favorite novels of psychological dissociation, and I like his "Bad Monkeys" quite a lot. His latest sounds mightily ambitious and is set in an alternate Middle East after Christian fundamentalists have flown jetliners into the Tigris & Euphrates World Trade Towers in Baghdad. Yikes.

4. The Troupe by Robert Jackson Bennett (February)
Bennett's "The Company Man" was my most pleasant surprise of 2011. I've described it as similar to an "X-Files" episode written by Clifford Odets. I can't wait to see what he's up to next.

5. Hide Me Among the Graves by Tim Powers (March)
Powers never fails to surprise and amuse. Details are unclear, but this new novel seems to be about vampires and painters in the mid-1800s. We'll see.

6. Angelmaker by Nick Harkaway (March)
Harkaway's first novel, "The Gone-Away World," was smart and ambitious, but didn't seem to take off in the U.S. as I thought it might. Now he's back with a book about clockmakers, doomsday devices and superspies.

7. Point and Shoot by Duane Swierczynski (March)
The conclusion of Swierczynski's paperback-original Hollywood trilogy. Should be a blast.

8. Poison Flower by Thomas Perry (March)
Perrry is one of the most consistent crime writers in the business, and his Jane Whitefield novels are always good to great.

9. The Wind through the Keyhole by Stephen King (April)
Another chapter in the Dark Tower sequence, this time featuring a tale-within-a-tale. 

10. The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Century 2009 by Alan Moore and Kevin O'Neill (June-ish)
It's been a long time coming, but the concluding installment of the third series promises to be suitably apocalyptic. 

Monday, December 05, 2011

What I Learned from NaNoWriMo 2011

The big take-away: I SUCK at this.

That may sound unduly harsh, but it's the truth, so I might as well put it out there. And it's nothing to be ashamed of, I guess. It's just that I now have empirical data proving that I'm not the kind of writer who can extrude 50,000 words of fiction in a 30-day period. Especially not a 30-day period that includes: a cross-country family vacation; the preparation of college applications by a stressed-out offspring; a national holiday that encourages, nay, demands time away from the keyboard; three-and-a-half  work weeks filled with International Auto Show goodness; multiple freelance deadlines; a suddenly unpredictable water heater that mocked my limited do-it-yourself skills (it's fixed now); and assorted annoyances and distractions too penny-ante to mention here.

Not to mention the pre-Yuletide funk that arrives with the realization that another year is ending and that, no, you're not going to write that 50,000-word piece of fiction.

Ah, well. It was worth a shot. I did accomplish some useful outlining, fleshed out some characters in my mind, got a handle on the setting. And I did post some nifty writing-related and/or inspirational links that I and others found interesting. Here are most of them, all in one place.

Write a novel in three days, the Michael Moorcock way
Write a novel in two months
Paradigm shifts in publishing
Practical writing tips from 23 "brilliant" authors
Brutal tips for breaking into comics
How to be a sideshow talker
Carny Dog
The Cult of Done Manifesto
Cut your word-count by 10%
Try something new for 30 days
Adventures in self-publishing
Why should anybody care about your novel?
Kurt Vonnegut is told "No, thanks" for early Dresden article
Research a novel the Greg Rucka Way