This is the home page for my writing work. My blogs are featured over there on your right, with links to the newest ones under RECENT POSTS and earlier work accessible via the Blog Archives. The earlier stuff was transferred over from my old Blogger blog, “The Mig Spot,” so if you followed that blog and want to revisit some of those posts, they’re all there.
If you float your cursor over the “Writing” button in the masthead above, you’ll see links to pages about KINGLET and FISKUR, the first and second books in my fantasy series The Gemeta Stone, as well as a News page similar to the one for my acting work. More links to more stuff may appear (and disappear) at times, so feel free to explore.
I enjoy writing from prompts; I use the prompts at WritersWrite on a fairly regular basis and recently discovered a neat little site called oneword that gives you a single word prompt and sixty seconds to write about it. It’s a great way to get your brain firing in the morning.
I write the occasional book review on Goodreads.
Summer of Night by Dan Simmons
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
I was urged to read this book by a friend after I panned Simmons’ “Drood,” a book vaster than empires and more slow. Six hundred pages into it and with another 300 to go, I tossed it aside, but said friend assured me that “Summer of Night” was more typical Simmons. My response, after completing the book,” is a resounding “Yes, and..?”
Simmons’ horror novel is less ponderous than his historical fiction, but only marginally so. The story is this: somewhere in the midwest, a bunch of tweenage boys go toe-to-toe with a horrible beastie-thingie out of mythology which has gained control over many of the adult authority figures in their little town. It’s the kind of thing Stephen King would go all slam-bang-splatter over, and Neil Gaiman would infuse with wit and charm, but Simmon’s storytelling style is so leisurely and his characters so underdeveloped that I was bored before I ever got to the Big Confrontation.
Part of the problem is that Simmons has multiple main characters. There’s Duane (stocky stolid bookworm), Michael (dedicated altar boy who has a special bond with his disabled grandma), Harlan (who resents his promiscuous mother), Kevin (whose father drives a milk tanker – honest, that’s all I can remember about him), as well as Dale and and his little brother Lawrence, who are…well, brothers. Lots of main characters usually translates to lots of backstory, and Simmons has an irritating habit of leaving one of his boys at a crucial moment to switch to another, build that kid’s story to a climax and then leave us hanging while he moves to yet another boy. This plate-spinning style of narration makes it hard to remember what Duane was up to, for example, when we finally get back to him after going through the Harlan/Kevin/Michael/Dale and Lawrence cycle, and meanwhile the forward movement of the main plot slows to a crawl. (Female characters are strictly peripheral in this book, although Cordie, a stereotypical girl from the wrong side of town, is more memorable than some of the major boy characters.)
Perhaps it’s a consequence of Simmons’ focus on keeping up with so many subplots, but the development/explanation of the demonic forces seemed flabby and underdeveloped. And (SPOILER AHEAD) isn’t it a rather lame literary cliché to have the town’s resident Wealthy Folks to blame for the Bad Stuff That’s Happening?
I now feel that I’ve given Simmons enough of my time. I know he has his fans, and I don’t think he’s a bad writer – but there are other authors out there waiting to be discovered. So long, Dan.
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
The last several books I’ve read have taken me an inordinate amount of time to finish (or not finish, in one instance) and left me feeling all grumpy and dissatisfied upon completion. When that happens, a dose of Neil Gaiman will usually put me right.
I roared through “Stardust,” a fantasy which lacks the philosophical weight of later Gaiman books like “American Gods” and “Anansi Boys” but still has the sly charm I’ve come to expect from Gaiman’s work. Gaiman’s one flaw is that he can be a little precious on occasion, and “Stardust” sometimes teeters on the edge of twee, but Gaiman’s wit and often staggeringly beautiful descriptive passages snatch the story back from the precipice again and again. A delightful read.