Monday, August 31, 2015

The Attack of the Literary Reviewer

      So the Guardian's Jonathan Jones has just thrown down the gauntlet. I must assume this was done to make a statement as to how amazingly special he is. He has never read Terry Pratchett, but he feels perfectly fine calling the man's life works useless and referring his work (and I assume genre works in general) as "ordinary potboilers." Actually, I believe he claims he did once, "flick through a book by him in a shop, to see what the fuss was about." Apparently the words he randomly scanned on a few pages did not immediately transport him to the very gates of Literary Heaven or send through him orgasmic waves of Prose Ecstasy.

      I'm sure I can experience the same lack of enjoyment if I lazily view a few pages of Shakespeare at his finest. 

      Allow me to disagree, sir. 

     The problem here seems to be that, for you, the only worthy works are written by people who manage two or three novels in their entire lives that are designed solely to wrench endless sobs from their readers while plumbing the depths of the human condition. The problem, as I see it, is that you are far too busy looking for Literature to even consider enjoying a good book. The vast majority of the literary greats were considered little more than the pulp writers of their time. Charles Dickens would likely have been far too popular for you to give him a chance. The aforementioned Shakespeare would likely have been contemptuous for you, as his humor was often a bit on the ribald side, and he wrote of the fantastic and didn't solely concern himself with "the complex real social world of regency England." Put simply: multiple thousands or millions of copies sold is not a guarantee that a book is unworthy. Rather, it is an indication that the writer just might have some merit. Not always, granted, but I find it a better indicator than a lack of sales. One might buy a book once for a pretty cover, sir, but after that one returns only to those writers who manage to satisfy with their words and their tales. 

      You claim, sir, that "Great books become part of your experience." And I do not disagree, but I will still counter that ALL books become a part of your experience. Some have a narrower impact, to be sure, but all of them add flavor to an otherwise often mundane existence. I would never deign to decide before I have even read a novel or a writer, whether or not the words that writer has used will move or affect me. You claim that you are not "a complacent book snob," and I agree. You, sir, are a pretentious book snob. For you, if the wine has not been aged in the very finest of casks and labeled with a name that requires a pedigree, there is no possibility that the wine is worthy. You will not even give it a proper taste, but will, instead, wrinkle your nose in disgust and set the wine (no doubt with a properly dramatic flourish) upon the tray of the closest server with instructions not to bother you with such ilk a second time. At the end of the day all wine is grapes. All books are words. The ability to craft a story is more than just the words, my dear fellow. It is more than a pretty sentence (though I do love a perfectly constructed phrase.). It is the culmination of months if not years of consideration and examination. A novel is a tale told in a unique way. Terry Pratchett and Ray Bradbury may not have been "titans of the novel" in your eyes, but they moved and touched untold millions with their prose. 


      How many books have you written, sir? I don't claim to know. But if the words you employed in your article are any indication, I suspect any novel you wrote would have all the literary merit of a mildewed Big Mac with a side of soggy fries. You could call it art all day, but I suspect said work of art would still remain unpalatable. 

lest you think I am alone in my derision, sir, allow me to point out a brilliant and properly scintillating article regarding your fine publication.  




Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Dear Journalists, Wherever You Are....



Hi. First, let me say, sincerely, that I am sorry for your loss. There is (or should be) a sense of community that makes the loss of one a loss for all. The notion of losing TWO, however, is worse. 

WDBJ 7, Virginia, lost two employees today. Adam Ward, a cameraman, was twenty-seven years old. Alison Parker, the reporter he was filming, was twenty-four. Both of them were in long term relationships with other people working for the company.

Good Christ.

Allegedly it was a disgruntled ex-employee of the station who came up while they were working and murdered them both. Shot them dead on a live feed. He also shot and injured Vicki Gardener, who, happily, is recovering in the hospital.

Vester Lee Flanagan II, a man who was “distraught,” had time to rent a get away car. He sent a twenty-three page fax to ABC News, posted footage of the shootings on Facebook, under a pseudonym. Those recordings, happily, were taken down.

There are people who will claim (possibly with justification) that Flanagan was acting out of anger. He had been fired from the news agency. He was let go in February 2013. Two and a half years ago. I could be wrong about that, Heaven knows, but I only have the Internet to find out the details.

Flanagan was apparently frustrated by his job situation. He was dismissed from at least two jobs as a reporter for anger issues. Flanagan also claimed in his fax (again, allegedly) that he was harassed for being African American and for being homosexual. Sadly, I can see both of those elements causing problems, because, sadly, while this country has improved markedly along those lines in the last 50 years, there is still a tremendous amount of room for improvement.

One co-worker from the past claimed she did not know why he was dismissed from the company they worked for together. She simply knew that he had moved on to another Florida station. She was also shocked to hear about the incident because Flanagan was always such a nice, quiet guy with a good sense of humor.

In a show of absolutely no surprise, some candidates running for the chance to be the next President of the United States were asked how they felt about the shooting. Hilary Clinton said we needed to do something about the rampant shootings in this country. Her competition for the other side said it was a tragedy, repeatedly, but said nothing more, save that prayers were being offered for the dead and those left devastated by the actions of one rogue shooter. I am paraphrasing in all cases.  Finding their actual words is easy. You can Google them, though, of course, every news station will be reporting their words with far greater accuracy through the course of the next few days and possibly all the way to the election.

In a fit of the sort of bravery we see from most impassioned killers out to make a statement (and here I must digress for a moment. Our poor, troubled shooter took the time to A) buy a gun legally, B) rent a getaway car (which was taking him in the direction of the local airport) C) set up a false Facebook and Twitter accounts under his pseudonym, Bryce Williams, so that he could post the footage of his shooting on the internet and D) First compose and then fax a 23 page rambling credo of what had gone wrong with his life and why he was now seeking to become famous.) Vester Lee Flanagan II, one assumes when he realized the police were serious about apprehending him, ended his own life with a bullet.

We will hear about this for days. That’s hardly surprising.

What bothers me, is that, if things continue on the way they have in this nation, we will hear about it for days, or possibly weeks or months, and NOTHING WILL CHANGE.

The NRA has a stranglehold on the purses of virtually every politician in the government. They are, I believe one of the largest contributors to most every campaign that isn’t actively anti-gun and they might well contribute to the other side, too. Why not hedge those bets, kids? Right?

Every time there is a shooting of any national note some testosterone fueled outrage goes out about not taking our guns away.

I’m going to say it again. Keep the guns. I support the Second Amendment just as surely as I support the First Amendment (Though, of course, some of those folks up on the Hill keep trying to muck that one up and stop certain groups, like I dunno, Scientists and the EPA from getting in the way of the money trails. Oh, sorry, I digress.). Know what else I support? Accountability.

If I leave my car unlocked with the engine running and some 12-year-old gets in my car and drives down the street and runs somebody down (God forbid) I’m betting that somebody, somewhere is going to come after me. I’m also betting that unless someone realizes I write novels where that sort of stuff happens, I’d be a footnote on the local news. In the event that they DID find out I am a novelist who writes that sort of stuff, I’d say there’s a damned good chance that I would suddenly be in the spotlight, especially if (again, God forbid) that adolescent I mentioned earlier had actually read one of my books.

There could be a feeding frenzy on that one. I mean. On the positive side, I’d certainly sell a few more books, but because of the way the laws are set up (and I like this one) any possible profit I could make from the commission of a crime would not reach me. (I kid. I’d still make the money from the books already in print. I just couldn’t make money off any books written about the crime as the one found guilty of the crime.—and again, I could be wrong. I’m going off old memories and I’m not about to research it.)

Think about it: a HORROR WRITER’s works influenced a KID who then caused a VEHICULAR HOMICIDE. There would probably be shows about my past, about why I write the things I do, about the fact that I write THAT stuff and read it, too. There would be shows about that poor lad (corrupted by my writings? Maybe, just maybe….) and the trauma that he’s been  through. There would be tales of John/Jane Doe, who died horribly pinned under that Horror Writer’s Car. Members of my family (no matter how estranged) would be interviewed, and a few of my associates in the field might well get TV air time, too. (That’s potentially a silver lining, but I’m not that generous, so, no.)

Nothing, or an amazing plethora of juicy stories. It depends on the whims of the media.

Unless, of course, someone remembered to focus on the real issues.

Why was junior stealing my car? Where were his parents? What absolute madness made me leave my keys in the car with the motor running? If I’m responsible in any way, legally, will my insurance company have to pay or is that all on me?

Here’s a few more to consider: Why do we need special training to drive a car, but not to own a gun? Why do we need insurance for a car, but not a gun? Why is it that when some disgruntled fourteen-year-old takes dad’s (or mom’s, let’s be fair) pistol to school and shoots fourteen people no one looks to the parents and asks why the blue hell their kid had access? Why is there absolutely no accountability? Why aren’t background checks mandatory across the nation? Why aren’t the fingerprints of every single gun owner registered the same way that the fingerprints of car drivers are (Okay, to be fair that might not be in EVERY state, but it should be)?

And listen, Journalists, I love you guys. Sometimes. But why aren’t you screaming in outrage instead of reporting about the tragedy? I hope I’m wrong. I hope that you are, but if you aren’t why not?

This week alone we had this latest tragedy, a shooting in France that was, thankfully, cut short by several very brave men, and two douche bags who posted on Facebook their plans to go postal on a Pokemon tournament (On supposes they expected to lose) and were stopped by the Boston Police before they could actually commit what was, no doubt, meant to be a massive Thrill Kill that would have made them famous for fifteen minutes.

I get it. You report the news. It’s your job. But how about doing it the right way? Actually report the news and save the editorial spaces. Stop sensationalizing the juicy bits and actually tell the news the way it used to be told. Some stories are bigger, I get that, some stories need a little extra space. But how often are stories brushed aside because these days the whole damned thing is a ratings game?

We’re going to hear about the latest thrill killing spree. We’re going to hear the names of the people responsible and  they’re going to gain a certain level of (God help us all) celebrity. They are also going to be idolized by enough people that others, (and, again, God help us) will decide to follow in their footsteps.

What? Is that a protest? Hang on a second. In his twenty-three page, premeditated ramble, Vester Lee Flanagan II, and I’m quoting NBC News here, “expressed admiration for Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, the killers from Columbine High School 1999, and Seung-Hui Cho, who killed 32 people at Virginia Tech in 2007.”

Yeah. I did a little research.

We, the people, need to know. We appreciate knowledge, though, of course, there are exceptions. What about the rest of the news? Why do we virtually never hear about the pedophiles who get caught? Why aren’t we aware of their sentences? Why doesn’t every news site post the new locations of those wretches when they move? Why aren’t the news stations pointing out, loudly and proudly, the horrid state of the bridges in this country? According to Congress the reason those bridges haven’t been fixed is because “it’s not sexy enough.” I’m not even sure what that means, but I suspect it’s because they can’t get a loud enough voice going to make it matter. I’m guessing that’s why we don’t hear about the pedophiles. It’s the sort of news that makes people uncomfortable. You know, like the statistics for Gun Violence while under the influence of alcohol versus Gun Violence while under the influence of marijuana. Not sexy. Kind of dry. Why don’t we ever talk about the sad state of mental health care in this country? Or the fact that insurance companies have deliberately separated out Dental and Vision Care from regular insurance so they can a) charge more and b) change the rates of compensation? Not sexy.

How about this: Why don’t you lean the field in the favor of stopping Thrill Killers? Maybe if you just hide that crap under the rug with the pedophiles and the non-celebrity DUIs we can stop the next generation from looking for a chance to go out in a blaze of glory while shooting the bejesus out of a movie theater or, or trying to kill any more reporters on live TV. I know that sounds crass, but I genuinely believe that Vester Lee Flanagan did willfully and deliberately decided to make certain his murders were televised in an effort to increase his notoriety.

How about, instead of worrying about the latest fashions, you actively find out and report which members of Congress have kept their word to their constituents and which ones have lied repeatedly.  Make public how much they have received from every corporation or lobbyist group that has offered them bribes (Naturally, I mean donations) to think their way? How about you actually ask questions of the people who want to run this country and then make them fear not being truthful? How about NOT making Donald trump the flavor of the week? Instead, tell us what ALL of the candidates are doing, and call them to the carpet when you catch them lying and backtracking.

How about the next time some poor girl goes down to spring break in Mexico, if she disappears, you look into how many other disappearances have occurred and give us a list? I know they aren’t all model quality in the looks department, but they should still be mentioned.

How about, once a week, you mention the cost of the United States’ war efforts on behalf of the entire world? Or the possible repercussions of Prisons For Profit?

You know, like how it was before it became a ratings game.

I am sorry for your loss. You are not alone in mourning. Unfortunately there are preposterous numbers of gun crimes every day in this country. They are disproportionate the rest of the world. We have seen that the politicians simply want nothing to do with the subject. Maybe you could help them see the error of their ways, and make it something that is less “sexy” and more something they need to focus on if they’d like to get reelected or even elected the first time.

James A. Moore

PS, having just written this rant I see that I have mentioned the gunman's name repeatedly. I can see the dilemma when reporting the news. But maybe after day two you just let it go, okay?

PPS, Not my first RANT ON THIS SUBJECT.



Monday, August 10, 2015

THE CITY OF WONDERS

So I have finished the first draft of CITY OF WONDERS and already received and attended to the changes requested for the second draft. That means we've reached the dreaded Line Edits, where so sadist with red pen slashes away and shows me how horrible my grammar is in an effort to make a better book.

Up above you'll find a hyperlink where you can go crazy and look at the various ordering options from Amazon.com.

In the meantime here's the back cover text and a pretty cover illustration. 

Old Canhoon, the City of Wonders, is having a population explosion as refugees from Tyrne and Roathes alike try to escape the Sa'ba Taalor. All along the border between the Blasted Lands and the Fellein Empire armies clash and the most powerful empire in the world is pushed back toward the old Capital. From the far east the Pilgrim gathers an army of the faithful, heading for Old Canhoon.

In Old Canhoon itself the imperial family struggles against enemies old and new as the spies of their enemies begin removing threats to the gods of the Seven Forges and prepare the way for the invading armies of the Seven Kings. In the distant Taalor valley Andover Lashk continues his quest and must make a final decision, while at the Mounds, something inhuman is awakened and set free. 

War is Here. Blood will flow and bodies will burn.





Saturday, August 1, 2015

THE LAST SACRIFICE and TIDES OF WAR announced!

So now I can announce this formally. Instead of rewriting what has already been written, I'll ask you to follow this LINK. Yes, I know I'm annoying.

Since time began the Grakhul have taken sacrifices in the name of their gods, seeking to keep the world in balance and the gods appeased. When they take the family of Brogan McTyre everything changes. The savage warrior declares a war on the gods themselves and begins changing the rules everyone has played by. Unfortunately, the gods do not play on a level field and the odds are pitted heavily against Brogan especially when he accidentally triggers Armageddon. What starts as a minor skirmish grows into a war and then into a quest to stop vengeful gods from destroying everything in their path. In order to save the world, Brogan McTyre must fight the gods themselves.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Three Guys With Beards

So as you may or may not have already noticed, I'm doing a podcast these days, every week, with Jonathan Maberry and Christopher Golden. Why? Good Lord, why wouldn't I? A chance to sit and shoot the breeze with two of my favorite people every week, and as an added bonus, we have guest stars.

The latest of the guest stars is the lovely Sherrilyn Kenyon
Previous guests have included Amber Benson, Thomas Sneigoski, and Chuck Wendig.

We'll have more as time goes on, with a plan to do about one show a week for the present time. You can join in on the questions by posting them here: Three Guys With Beards.

And this would be the logo:




And here's the link where you can get to all of the episodes so far.

More news as warranted.




Thursday, April 9, 2015

The David Gemmell Awards: The LEGEND AWARD

David Gemmell was one of those writers you just sort of had to fall in love with, on a literary sense, of course. He wrote mighty fine fiction. I had basically quit reading fantasy when he came on the scene and only started reading it again after he had passed away. My friend Charles R. Rutledge pointed him out to me and handed me a copy of LEGEND to read for myself when I decided to try my luck with a fantasy novel As is often the case, Charles knows h is stuff. I read LEGEND and loved it. I went on to buy several of Gemmell's other novels and loved them, too.
What I did not expect was to be nominated for the David Gemmell Legend Award. The full list of nominees is below. I am beyond flattered to even be considered in the same company. 




Legend Award
The Legend Award, named after David Gemmell’s first and most popular novel, is presented to the fantasy title judged the year’s best by open vote.
The trophy, pictured here, is a scale model of Snaga, the axe wielded by Gemmell’s iconic hero Druss, and is created specially each year by Simon Fearnhamm of Raven Armoury.




Voting on 2015’s Legend longlist closes at midnight on Friday 15th May.
Voting on the shortlist opens on Monday 1st June and closes at midnight on Friday 17thJuly.
The presentation takes place at 8pm on Saturday 8th August at Nine Worlds Geekfest.

NOMINATIONS:
Half a King by Joe Abercrombie (HarperCollins)

The Widow’s House by Daniel Abraham (Orbit)

Son of the Morning by Mark Alder (Gollancz)

Oath of the Vayuputras by Amish (Jo Fletcher Books)

City of Stairs by Robert Jackson Bennett (Jo Fletcher Books)

A Natural History of Dragons by Marie Brennan (Titan)

The High Druid’s Blade by Terry Brooks (Orbit)

Thief’s Magic by Trudi Canavan (Orbit)

Traitor’s Blade by Sebastien de Castell (Jo Fletcher Books)

The Relic Guild by Edward Cox (Gollancz)

A Dance of Ghosts by David Dalglish (Orbit)

Assail by Ian C Esslemont (Transworld)

Gleam by Tom Fletcher (Jo Fletcher Books)

Valour by John Gwynne (Pan Macmillan/Tor UK)

Unholy War by David Hair (Jo Fletcher Books)

The Gospel of Loki by Joanne Harris (Gollancz)

Spira Mirabilis by Aidan Harte (Jo Fletcher Books)

Righteous Fury by Markus Heitz (Jo Fletcher Books)

The Fool’s Assassin by Robin Hobb (HarperCollins)

Sworn in Steel by Douglas Hulick (Pan Macmillan/Tor UK)

In Dark Service by Stephen Hunt (Gollancz)

Justice by Ian Irvine (Orbit)

The Incorruptibles by John Hornor Jacobs (Gollancz)

The Fourth Gwenevere by John James (with John & Caitlin Matthews) (Jo Fletcher Books)

Blood Will Follow by Snorri Kristjansson (Jo Fletcher Books)

The Lascar’s Dagger by Glenda Larke (Orbit)

Prince of Fools by Mark Lawrence (HarperCollins)

Smiler’s Fair by Rebecca Levene (Hodder & Stoughton)

The Crimson Campaign by Brian McClellan (Orbit)

Reign of Ash by Gail Z Martin (Orbit)

The Falcon Throne by Karen Miller (Orbit)

Crown of Renewal by Elizabeth Moon (Orbit)

The Blasted Lands by James A. Moore (Angry Robot)

Arcanum by Simon Morden (Orbit)

The Dark Defiles by Richard Morgan (Gollancz)

Retribution by Mark Charan Newton (Pan Macmillan/Tor UK)

Lagoon by Nnedi Okorafor (Hodder & Stoughton)

The Boy with the Porcelain Blade by Den Patrick (Gollancz)

The Free by Brian Ruckley (Orbit)

Tower Lord by Anthony Ryan (Orbit)

Words of Radiance by Brandon Sanderson (Gollancz)

Baptism of Fire by Andrzej Sapkowski (Gollancz)

The Seal of the Worm by Adrian Tchaikovsky (Pan Macmillan/Tor UK)


The Broken Eye by Brent Weeks (Orbit)



Needless to say, again, I am delighted. I have exactly no chance in hell of winning, but I am delighted just the same. Congratulations to all the nominees!