Friday, January 29, 2010

The iPad eReader Feature

The new iPad launched this week and it's been all over the news. It's 1.5 pounds, half an inch thick, and boasts a 9.7-inch display. The base model with 16GB is $499.
While some features are lacking (no camera or Flash capability) it does do everything that the iTouch does and more - video, music, games, Internet, a word processing program... and an eReader!
Apple has launched the iBook store and it is similar to iTunes. The iBook program uses the ePub format, which is the most popular in the world. Pages can be changed with the press of a button or by touching the screen and turning pages naturally. One can also adjust the font size. Of the big publishing houses, only Random House has yet to sign a deal, and they are currently in talks with Apple.
For those of us with an iPhone or iTouch, unless we just gotta have one, it presents nothing revolutionary. However, for anyone who is debating whether to buy a Kindle (the eBook store's prime competition), a Sony, or a Nook, this deal is a no-brainer. For only $200 more, you not only get a really awesome eReader - you get to watch movies, play games, listen to music, and surf the web. How cool is that?

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Writing Rules - A Paradox

There's some writing rules out there that perplex me. Maybe someone can help me understand. Many of these I've seen posted online within the last month. Others are just grammar rules.

Sample rules:

Don't use incomplete sentences.

Don't use adjectives that end in "ly."

Show don't tell.

Don't end a sentence with a preposition. (Although the Chicago Manual of Style says that's a superstition. Odd word choice!)

Eyes that drop or roll.

Don't use a passive voice.

And it's not the rules themselves that perplex me - it's the fact that I can take any book off my shelf and within the first few pages, find that several of those rules have been broken! So what gives? Are these issues important to some editors but not others? Is it that writers and new authors should strive not to break these rules until they are established and then they can write all the bad grammar their heart desires? Or is it something else altogether? Anyone help me here?

Or is this just one of life's great mysteries?

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Odds & Ends & an Award

I already had yesterday's post ready, so some of this is a day late!

First, I'm looking forward to a great Super Bowl between the Saints and the Colts. So I won't be online the evening of the Super Bowl, but I will be at a party somewhere!

Just wrapped up final edits requested by my publisher. Now to see what the editor thinks of my efforts!

And Helen Ginger at Straight From Hel was nice enough to give me my first ever blog award.
Ironically, all those I thought of passing it along to had already received it. Guess that's what I get for coming in late.
So I'll just select one person and pass it on to my buddy John Anealio.
I want to do a plug for his blog Sci Fi Songs as he's been posting segments of a video commentary about his song, “Cylon #6” It's interesting how it all came about - catchy tune, too. Maybe John will post a video of him performing it for us.
Thanks again, Helen!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Pages to Movies - Cameron's Next Projects

I've combined my book and movie posts for today's!

Avatar is sitting around $1.67 billion dollars and will soon overtake Titanic as the highest grossing film ever. (And I'm pleased Marvin at The Old Silly FINALLY went to see Avatar!)

So what does James Cameron do for an encore?
He's got several projects in the works, but let me cover the most likely first.

Battle Angel

This graphic novel is a gem among Japanese comics and graphic novels. Written by Yukito Kishiro, Battle Angel's post-apocalyptic storyline remains fresh even to this day. It has already seen the big screen once as an animated 1993 film, Battle Angel Alita.

Right now, this film is "in production" and slated for a 2011 release. Cameron is both directing and writing, although no other names are attached. Considering his track record, we'll want to keep an eye on this film as it develops!

Heavy Metal

Yes, you read that correctly! A 3D CG animated movie based on the magazine is also in the works. With a $50 million dollar budget, this movie will follow the pattern of the 1981 version in that it will feature several different segments. (Rather than the awful 2000 version's one storyline.)

Some of the directors tapped for this project:
Cameron, David Fincher, Gore Verbinski, and tentatively Guillermo del Toro and Rob Zombie. Cameron is also listed as executive producer.

The title's tentative, as are the movie posters - but they were too kick-butt not to include!

Cameron has a lot of other projects in the works. Right now, he can probably do whatever he wants!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

A Day of Conan

Last night was Conan O'Brien's last time to host The Tonight Show.
After ripping NBC all week, his parting words were honorable. I was just amazed. He took the high road and said nice things about his 20 years with NBC.
If you want to read what he said, go to the CNN article. Or watch it on Hulu!
However, I am NOT Conan - so NBC and Jay Leno? You suck!!!
No reason to watch The Tonight Show now...
In happier news...
Jason Momoa of Stargate: Atlantis fame has been crowned the new Conan the Barbarian! He's perfect for the part - can't believe they were even considering the kid from Twilight!
Filming begins March 15th!

Friday, January 22, 2010

My Favorite Tech Show!

G4TV's Attack of the Show

Yes, I'm an addicted geek when it comes to this show. Hosts Kevin & Olivia cover it all - new gadgets, the Internet, movies, games, and all the weird techie stuff in between. It's entertaining, informative, and Olivia is very easy on the eyes! (Hey, they do know their audience.)

Some of the stuff they cover -

Playstation 3’s motion controller, coming this fall

The Conan O’Brien rally video (Go Conan! NBC and Leno - you suck!)

17 billion hours have been logged on Xbox Live (that’s a lot!)

And Around the Net features hot sites, dumb people, and of course, exploding wine:

Personally I think that's alcohol abuse!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Writing - Inspired by Music

I'm a big music buff, so I'm usually listening to one band or another. I've found this really helps me with writing as well.

Several bands inspired me while writing Cassastar.

In Flames is great for the action and fight scenes. "System" and "Could Connected" possess so much energy! The band's aggression really helps, too. Guilt Machine's "Green and Cream" fits well with the space battles. I can really see the characters in their fighters, blasting away!

Redemption and Dream Theater are great for scenes where the characters interact. Really sets the mood for more dramatic moments.

I've heard other authors and writers say music inspires them. So tell me! What music inspires YOU?

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Movie News Tuesday

News & rumors...

Avatar has now amassed $1.6 billion world wide in just five weeks. It also won Golden Globes Sunday night for Best Picture-Drama and Best Director.

J.J. Abrams says the Star Trek sequel will involve the Gorn from the original series. (He also mentioned a sequel to Cloverfield.)

Green Lantern rumors - in addition to Ryan Reynolds (as the Green Lantern) and Blake Lively & Peter Sarsgaard, Warner Bros. is looking at Jackie Earle Haley to play Sinestro. (That would be awesome! Caught him in the TV series Human Shield the other nite and he was great.)

Pandorum - staring Dennis Quaid and Ben Foster - comes out today on DVD.

Recommended site...

And if you’re ever looking for a good laugh, visit Riff Trax
Riff Trax is the brainchild of those Mystery Science Theater 3000 guys, Mike, Kevin, and Bill.From bad movies to blockbusters, Riff Trax has them all!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Books That Flow

What makes a book great for you?

For me, it's the flow of the writing. Each sentence must carry seamlessly into the next, without a sudden halt of forward progress. If I'm reading and I stumble over a sentence, that lessens the effect for me. Usually it's not the use of big or difficult words so much as just an awkward sentence. One that is written poorly will jolt me right out of the story. That is why I enjoy Preston & Childs so much as authors. Their sentences flow without effort.
(And this is something I'm working SO hard on in my own writing!)

What authors do you feel 'flow' with their writing? Have you encountered those with stumbling sentences?

Friday, January 15, 2010

A Tech Suggestion for Late Night Talk Shows

The NBC drama continues. They want to bump The Tonight Show back thirty minutes to give Leno a segment. Conan has said NO - he will not violate the integrity of the show by allowing the move.

NBC claims it needs to do something with Leno after cancelling his show and that The Tonight Show ratings are too low. However, what the ratings can't take into account is the amount of people (like me) who watch the show online the next day.

Hulu, NetFlix, and the others track the amount of times a show is viewed - why can't stations factor this into the ratings? I'm sure the popularity of some show would drastically change if they did so. Consider how the music industry charts changed when they went from estimated sales (how many albums were pressed) to actual sales. I think TV is in need of this kind of system.

Come to think of it, the book industry needs it as well...

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Synopsis for Cassastar

Just received the updated version of the back cover synopsis for my first book, Cassastar!

I'm sure they will revise it again before its release, but I like this version:


To pilot the fleet’s finest ship…

Labeled a problem youth with a poor attitude, few options exist for Byron. His only chance for success resides in an opportunity to train as a Cosbolt fighter pilot. Enlisting in the fleet, he sets off for the moon base of Guaard to begin a new life and prove his worth.

To his chagrin, Byron catches the eye of Bassa, the toughest instructor in the fleet. Troubled by the memory of a fallen pilot, Bassa at first sees only a talented but insolent young man in need of an attitude adjustment. When a secret talent is revealed during training, Bassa feels compelled to help Byron achieve his full potential.

However, time is running short. War brews on the edge of space and Byron will require a talented navigator to survive. The shadows of the past loom large and Bassa must make a decision that could well decide the fate of both men. Does he feel strongly enough to follow the young man on a mission that may stretch their abilities to the limit?

Feels more and more real everyday!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Movie Trailer Disappointment

I caught Daybreakers on Sunday. Interesting concept for a vampire flick. Lots of gore - always a plus - but the ending did sag a bit.

What was really disappointing were the movie trailers accompanying this flick. Daybreakers is a horror film, so I expected to see horror movie trailers. But there wasn't a single one! The three trailers were all for thrillers. And the sad thing - I couldn't even tell you what they were! That's not a good sign.

Do you ever feel sometimes the movie industry just doesn't understand its audience?

In other news...
Avatar was #1 at the box office yet again, taking in over $50 million dollars this past weekend. It now sits at $1.3 billion dollars worldwide. That is just mind-blowing!

Monday, January 11, 2010

The Art of Martiniere

Thanks to Stainless Steel Droppings for his excellent post on sci-fi cover art!
He featured several works by Stephan Martiniere, whose art is just stunning.

But Martiniere does more than just covers - he does illustration & concept art for movies, video games, and theme parks. He worked on such projects such as Myst 5, The Fifth Element, Knowing, Titan AE, Unoversal's Jurassic Park ride, and even directed several animated series. That's quite impressive!

His book, Quantum Dreams: The Art of Stephan Martiniere, contains 130 illustrations from book covers to video game designs to early sketches.

Visit his site at Stephan Martiniere for more information about this amazing artist.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Late Night TV Rant

Bit of a rant, but this annoys me.

They've announced that Jay Leno's 10pm will be cancelled due to poor ratings. But they haven't decided if they will just pay him the remainder of his contract or move him back to the late night slot.

What a prima donna! That is SO unfair to Conan O'Brien. He left his successful show to do The Tonight Show. Moved his family and everything. Yes. ratings for The Tonight Show fell when he took over, but they fell when Leno took over for Johnny. Conan is THE funniest talk show host out there right now. (Sorry, Dave.) He has a huge fan base. I never watched The Tonight Show when Leno was on it, but I catch Conan every day on Hulu.

We'll see how this all plays out for Conan, but it doesn't look good.

Playoffs start today - maybe a couple good football game will cheer me up!

Friday, January 8, 2010

Tech News - 3D TV

On the wake of Avatar's success, yes, 3D TV is coming.

ESPN announced this week that it will launch a 3D channel on June 11 and begin with coverage of the World Cup games. It will also cover the Summer X Games, certain college football and basketball games, and the BCS National Championship Game. The channel will not be 24/7 though - it will only broadcast during 3D events.

Discovery Communications Inc. and DirecTV Group are also planning 3D channels.

Right now, they are looking to broadcast 3D signals into existing digital boxes. There's also talk of 3D TVs, but I'm not sure people are ready to ditch their brand new high-def TVs for yet another one. So we'll have to wait and see on that one. No mention yet if glasses will be required, either.

I'm excited for these changes! I still remember viewing my first football game in high-def and marvelling at the details. How wild will it be to see it in 3D as well?

In other TV news, a South Korean company unveiled a new LG flat-screen that is only 7 millimeters thick. It looks like a thin piece of cardboard! Read about it here on CNN

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Writing - Dialogue and Details

My first book goes to the main editor soon.

At the moment, I'm still doing some work on the dialogue. A test reader has been helping with the dialogue, trying to punch it up some. Also trying to work some more humorous sarcasm into the main character. I believe the term is "snarky!" I don't want to make him too obnoxious though, which is why I'm working on the humor, too.

I had to do some research, too. Difficult to research space battles, so I'd turned to a friend who knew a lot about fighter jets and training. I wanted to be sure I was using the right terms. My story is set in a fictional universe, but I wanted familiar terms and accuracy. If it's too alien, no one will relate! I see that sometimes in sci-fi books. Technology and concepts SO out there, it's hard to follow the story. I even tried to keep the names simple...

Anyone else read a book that was just so detailed, so complicated, so "out there" it was tough to read?

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Movie News

Avatar continues to dominate...

As of Monday morning January 4, it had grossed $1.02 BILLION dollars worldwide. It took just seventeen days for this movie to cross a billion, and it is currently #4 highest grossing of all time. Titanic still holds the title with $1.83 billion dollars - but wouldn't it be ironic if Cameron beat his own movie?

Upcoming release dates-

The vampire flick Daybreakers, which is receiving good reviews so far, comes out this Friday, January 8.

The Book of Eli with Denzel Washington comes out January 15.

And on DVD, the movie with all the Oscar buzz, The Hurt Locker, comes out on January 12.

BTW - Have you seen photos of director Kathryn Bigelow? Kinda hot for a woman who's almost sixty!

Movie Trailers -

Inception has me intrigued! Any movie directed by Christopher Nolan is worth its weight in gold. Comes out this summer.
Visit Apple's site to check out the TRAILER

Monday, January 4, 2010

Review - Cemetary Dance

Cemetary Dance

by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child

Available in Hardback 448 pages and MP3 Audio
Released May 12, 2009

During this reflective time of year, I thought I'd look back on a book series that has been like an old friend. I'm a huge fan of mystery tinged with the supernatural and the best example of this is the Pendergast series by
Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child. They released the ninth book of the series in 2009 titled "Cemetery Dance".

Without giving too much away (not a big fan of spoilers), the novel deals with the death of a reoccurring character, zombies and a cult that lives in a mysterious fortress nicknamed "The Ville". Preston and Child have a keen sense of pacing. The novel reads like a great popcorn film. It's fast paced, engaging and humorous. The main character of Special Agent Pendergast of the FBI is one of the best characters ever put to print. Mysterious and clever, he is a modern day Sherlock Holmes. His deductive powers are unrivaled and his droll southern wit and charm are the icing on the cake.

If you are unfamiliar with the series, I would start off with the initial Pendergast novel "The Relic". Moviephiles may remember that this book was turned into a film, but the powers that be made the asinine decision to remove the main character of Pendergast and turn his able-bodied NYPD assistant Sgt D'Agosta into the star of the film. At the time, I could have imagined Val Kilmer (Tombstone) or Dennis Quaid (The Big Easy) as a perfect Pendergast for the big screen. From what I understand (and this is the internet - so don't take it to the bank) Paramount Studios own the right to the character of Pendergast but have yet to make a movie with this great character.

If you are a fan of great mystery and have not had the pleasure of reading this great series, I highly encourage you to try it out and enjoy the ride!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Posting Schedule

As I stated yesterday, one of my goals is to post on a schedule here.

So I came up with the following:

Mondays focus on books - reviews, upcoming titles, and cool cover art of sci-fi, fantasy, & horror titles.

Tuesdays will be movies - reviews, updates, movie grosses, etc. Will also cover thrillers and action flicks.

Thursdays will cover writing - mine and other cool stuff on the web, plus tips. (Probably NOT mine, as I'm just starting out!)

Fridays will focus on tech stuff - gadgets, electronics, innovations, etc. All areas.

Saturday or Sunday - my day to muse about stuff. Whatever hits me!

And there you have it!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Some Resolutions

Okay, I'm not really one for New Year's resolutions. But since this will be a big year for me, and after a day of lazy overindulgence, thought I should set some.

First, I need to spend my computer time a little more productively. Less computer games, more time online. Still working on this blogging thing, but I think a set schedule of five times a week might help me out.

Since my first book is tentatively scheduled for October, I need to work on a second one!

More time for reading. I picked up several new books last month and there's several series I want to start.

And a fun personal goal - I want to become proficient on the guitar. Been playing for three years now and I practice every day. But I'd like to get through a whole song without a mistake!

There's my goals and resolutions for this coming year. Going to dive right into the blogging one tomorrow, too. Anyone else starting the new year with a resolution?