Sophomore Slump

Went to see Sin City 2 last night. Enjoyable flick. As most of the critics have said, I really missed that innovative edge the first film had. Not that this one was any less beautiful than its predecessor but, in the 9 years between films, the first film has been aped and mimicked by so many other films either in part or whole that just repeating its feats no longer seems fresh or innovative.

Bands, tech companies, and novelists all struggle with that sophomore slump. How do you “innovate” something new and yet keep your loyal fans happy? Thankfully I’m too small time to really have to worry about it. But it is something that I contemplated in writing Exegesis.

There was a multi-year span between when I finished the first draft of Catharsis and when I published Exegesis. In the interim, I grew and changed both as a person and artist. So the book naturally reflects some of those changes. And the characters themselves have evolved and changed. So that necessarily makes for a different work.

That’s great! But it’s not really innovative. So how do I push the envelope? And once it’s pushed, will anyone who enjoyed the preceding book like a new one?

Admittedly, I didn’t try to reinvent the form with Exegesis. I just let the story continue to expand. Sin City somewhat attempted that, but fell short of impressing through that alone. So what else could it have done? What else could I do?

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Buy It Here!

It’s new book Tuesday, and you know what that means… The sequel to Catharsis is out! That’s right—Exegesis, the sequel to my 2011 novel Catharsis is available via Amazon or through special order through your favorite book retailer. You can even ask your local library to carry a copy! I hope you enjoy this one. Some of the feedback has it as even better than the original! The action ramps up as Kama and Bodhi have to complete a quest to help Djwhal Khul birth the new Caprician Age.

If you do read it, leave me a review on Amazon! The more reviews, the merrier. Even if you hate it.

Calling Adventurous Readers

I’ve finished doing my own read through and mild rewrite of the first draft and I’ve got one critical reader started on going through and finding the plot holes, etc., that I still need to shore up.

I think we can get this book out by the end of the year! But I need some more critical reads. Anyone want to read through the current rough draft of the book and let me know what they think? It’s not been properly copyedited, proofread, etc., as I’m still rewriting pieces, so you’ll have to be ready for typos and what not here and there. But the plot’s there and the book wants some opinions.

Anyone up for it?

The Sequel’s +90k Words Now

The first draft of the Catharsis sequel is essentially done. I’ve got a few transition pieces to write, but the first page, last page, and most everything in between are there on paper. It’s a little longer than the original at the moment with over 320 pages of text and over 90,000 words.

Writing is rewriting, so the book’s not close to ready for even its first readers yet. But I should have it whipped into shape in not that long. At this point, I’m well past the point of no return and have a novel here. That’s the big thing!

This sequel was harder to write than Catharsis. The first book really wanted out of me, and this one was a little more reticent to show itself. But after a good deal of coaxing, it made its way out of my head and onto the page. Hope when I’m fully done with it that those who liked the first book will like this one just as much!

Well that Deus Ex Wasn’t Very Subtle

So I left a bad review on Amazon the other day for a video game I picked up and was ridiculously disappointed by. Don’t stone me for saying this if you’re a video game fan, but Deus Ex: Human Revolution bored me to tears! I list several reasons in the review (http://amzn.to/18Dy4ry), but I thought one reason might be worth discussing over here at the old blog. That reason is the excessively subtle nature of the “cyberpunking” of the Deus Ex world. In playing the game, there was very little to tell me I was in a cyberpunk world. There were just little touches of advanced technology, but they often looked like more familiar objects from the present day world. One example I could point to are the main character’s eye implants that look like fairly normal sunglasses.

What’s that got to do with me or my writing? Well, I’m not a subtle writer. A cathartic baptism by fire is literally that in my novel, Catharsis. The love interest in that book is named after a Hindu goddess of procreation. The sensitive soul that is Bodhi literally ingests the emotions of those around him.

I’m wondering if that’s a bad thing. What do you think? Could Catharsis have stood to be a bit more subtle? The mystery writer Terence Faherty offered me an anecdote with advice once, long ago, pulled from his days as a tech writer for a bank, I believe. His advice was basically that no matter how clearly you write in a tech manual “Press F1,” people will misread it or misinterpret it and come away from it believing that the instructions told them to do something other than press F1. He said something to the effect of “Always state plainly, ‘Press F1,’ even in fiction.” And I’ve really tried to stick to that in the years since.

But Deus Ex: Human Revolution is an insanely popular game. The reviews are mostly positive and there seems to be a real sense that the game immerses its players in a cohesive cyberpunk world. So maybe people are better with subtlety than I give them credit for or am myself.

What do you think? Is Tron: Legacy the right approach with its blaring neon color schemes and saturated style? Or do you prefer the more subtle approach taken by the new Atlas Shrugged movies, where the cyberpunk touches of a near future blend almost unnoticeably into the overall film? Should I tone my own writing down?

What a Card!

Saw a preview for Ender’s Game last night. I have to admit, I’ve never read Ender’s Game. It’s one of the most glaring omissions in my sci-fi reading list–initially mostly by chance. For some reason, I just never read it when I was younger.

Now I’m quite a bit older than the target audience for Ender’s Game. And there’s a problem. I can’t stand Orson Scott Card’s political statements. The man’s neo-conservative claptrap really rubs me the wrong way. Fiscally, I tend to be pretty conservative, but I’m excessively socially liberal bordering on anarchist at times.

Is a difference of political or moral opinion a fair enough reason for not wanting to get into Card’s writing now? It’s a question that comes up in most art. Should art lacking a political or moral agenda be judged by its artist’s political views or morality? For example, if Michael Jackson is guilty of some of the things that he’s been accused of, does that make Thriller a bad song or at least one undeserving of being listened to?

It’s not always an easy question to answer. In the case of Jackson, it’s a little simpler in that his music doesn’t reflect his alleged lifestyle choices. With Card, it’s more difficult because many of his books apparently directly espouse his vitriol. But Ender’s Game is a classic in the genre and, as far as I know, does not champion any homophobic agenda.

What do you think? Heck, do you think Ender’s Game is worth it? Am I wrong about Card?

There are several belief systems I’m sympathetic toward or downright champion myself that are unpopular in many sectors. Should those personal opinions and sympathies be reason enough for a reader to dismiss my writing?