About Me

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I write and live with my beautiful wife, Sandra, and sons (Solstice, Finnegan and Brahms) in a little-big house on a dirt road in a valley in the hills. My secret identity struggles through the grind of teaching high school English to the denizens of Vermont's Northeast Kingdom.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Hairy again...

On Monday, I finished editing my fantasy epic, The Jotunheim saga. The first volume, Test of a Prince, should be published during this first half of the year (if all goes well). The second volume, The Vale of Shade, will come out about six months later. The inspiration for this story hit me like a bolt of lightning after a date with my wife-to-be in the spring of 1999. That was almost twelve years ago. Since then I've been married, fathered twin sons, help raise three other children, survived house fires, house searches, renovations, and more living than I had in twice the time before. Well, through this journey I managed to type out this other one. Rewriting the thing made me realize how much of a young man's perspective is woven into the saga.

Now, I am back at writing the great road trip epic of The Hairy Monster Book: a Hirsute Bromance. I am amazed at how I write. I have the destination in mind, but am often surprised by the way the characters manage to get there. I look forward to laughing out loud as I type as the sun continues to melt away this accursed ice and brings about the relative paradise of another Vermont spring and summer.

Review of A New Birth of Freedom: The Visitor by Robert G. Pielke

I haven't read a science fiction book in years. I don't care for alternate history stories. I am definitely not someone who feels like they spent another life fighting the awful war between the states. I only start this review by saying that to emphasize the fact that I thoroughly enjoyed this book!

Pielke's book features the arrival of a time-traveller from the future (historian, Edwin Blair) in the American Civil War on the eve of Gettysburg. He receives an audience with Abraham Lincoln only to struggle to convince him and his advisers that he really does come from the future. He is desperate to do so, as something else is about to arrive from the future. Unless Blair can successfully convince the two sides to work together the results will be apocalyptic.

The most fascinating aspect of this novel is the integration of real researched history which comes to life on the page. I prefer to learn about things through travel and adventure, and as I accompanied Blair in his discussions and walks about the streets of Washington and the fields of Gettysburg, I felt like I was learning about history first hand. The detail Pielke gives, without bogging down the plot, is astounding and convincing.

This novel needs to be optioned for a movie. Many times I thought this as I read, so dramatic were the descriptions of situation and character. The moments before, during and after the arrival of the aliens in this book are so intense I did not want to stop reading.

If you like science fiction, you will like this book. If you like alternate history, you will like this book. If you like stories about time travel, history, or the civil war, you will like this book. If you don't, you will still like this book.

4 out of 5 stars

Monday, February 21, 2011

Review of Carrion Comfort by Dan Simmons

How do people get away with all the horrible things they do? Why do some people seem to have an insane amount of gravity around them, causing others to follow them beyond reason and safety? Why is there so many tragedies where man inexplicably turns himself on his fellow man? Dan Simmons's epic horror novel, Carrion Comfort, provides some disturbing answers to these questions in a suspenseful and twisted fashion.

Set in 1980-81 (and published in 1989), Carrion Comfort features a world where some men (and a couple women) were born with the innate ability to control other people's minds and then feed off the psychic energy released when they kill or commit suicide. If that isn't disturbing enough, they gather together in tense conspiracies and play games with human lives as their chess pieces. Caught in the middle of these games between politicians, billionaires, Hollywood producers and television evangelists (all "mind-vampires") are a holocaust survivor, a southern sheriff and a beautiful young African-American woman.

I was fully enthralled by this masterwork of twisting plot lines, scheming villains and hapless, yet stouthearted heroes, with only one real complaint: the length. I am not saying this book is not worth the read, nor am I saying Dan Simmons doesn't know how to keep his reader's interests (just the opposite), but Carrion Comfort is an 884 page book. Around page 600 the reader begins to feel it, like a track and field runner about to hit his or her "wall". I believe I know why this happens and I believe that it happens because of quite positive and complimentary reasons.

1. Dan Simmons really knows how to create characters that are believable. When it comes to the protagonists, they are flawed, yet plucky folks who are faced with unremitting horror. We begin to feel the bleak existential malaise for them, as they struggle through one horrible situation after another. In this novel, Dan Simmons, did well in choosing a holocaust survivor as a central protagonist. If you have read Dan Simmons's Summer of Night (or just about any other book he has written), then you know just how brutal Mr. Simmons can be to his characters. He is perhaps one of the few real horror writers out there who can deliver no promises to you, the reader that your favorite character will survive even to the second half of the novel. Just warning you...

2. Dan Simmons is a master at shifting perspective, and I for one enjoy this kind of writing: writing that allows you many perspectives on the epic events unfolding before us. In this novel a great deal (perhaps the majority) of the time is spent in the perspective of these mind vampires. We begin to see so clearly from their perspective that we are drawn into their fiendish ambitions and morality begins to fade to gray, when we are carried along in the minds of the most vicious minds imaginable. How often have you wondered, what could be going through the heads of the some of the most powerful and dangerous people on the planet? Dan Simmons answers this question in adept fashion. As the answer begins to settle in, prepare yourself for a twisting ride of terror.

4 star rating out of 5.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

my birthday

Well, today I turn 37 years old. I am almost finished the second volume of the Jotunheim saga, and am looking forward to writing some new material. The other day I was feeling down, and wondering what was wrong. My wife reminded me that I hadn't actually written anything new in two months. This was because the laborious process of practically rewriting a 240,000 words epic. I guess writing is my vice, my drug of choice.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Still Editing...

Well, I'm more than half way done the second volume of the Jotunheim saga: The Vale of Shade.

The process of editing is an interesting one. You go back to a manuscript and see all the mistakes, the awkward structuring, and somewhere in there find the story, the shining gem, that you once dreamed up. I have been dutifully moving along sentence to sentence as the snow and the freezing cold assaults my little study window.

I'm very excited for the prospect of people getting a chance to journey along with my motley crew of heroes. This process is not my least favorite of the writing world, however. The worst is shopping around for places that wants to take a chance with my writing. I am very thankful to Dr. Pus for liking my work enough to publish this fantasy epic.

And when I finish, and the wonderful spring sun begins to shine, I'll go back to writing my funny little road trip book about Barry, the werewolf, and Glen, the sasquatch.

I will keep you updated.