I stumbled upon this cool little blog: http://blogoficeandfire.blogspot.com. It's the record of someone reading the novel(s) for the first time. The blogger, a certain Jason, has a nice down-to-earth style and tone that is quite funny when contrasted to the deadly seriousness of much of George RR Martin's writing... Enjoy.

In a delightfully phrased response to a reader e-mail, Neil Gaiman writes up a powerful reply to any fanboy who is outraged at the fact that the authors of their favorite series spend their time doing anything other than writing the next sequel.
You're complaining about George doing other things than writing the
books you want to read as if your buying the first book in the series
was a contract with him:..
Good point there. It's not because we fork over a puny fifteen dollars to buy volume one of a series, that we get any sort of claim on the author's time. Gaiman also puts it a little more strongly, with his characteristic direct verbiage.

In other news, I saw a powerful documentary on the landing at Omaha beach yesterday night - in between baby feedings. Amazing to hear the veterans talk about the build-up towards the landing, and how they were unaware of the danger that waited. They said "they were just going to do it" and they "did not think much of what was ahead".
Sadly for them, the Germans had fortified the beach in the months after the Allied decision to land there had been taken, and the artillery and aerial bombardments missed their targets completely, turning the beach into a desperate killing zone. I don't have anything useful to add about this, other than express my wonder at how those young people ever were able to jump out of the landing craft and press on, despite the carnage that surely they must have known (or did they really not see it coming?) must follow.

The internetz giveth, the internetz taketh. Just wanted to mention that while the net saps away a lot of time, as I am wont to spend far too much time browsing to my favorite author blogs, agent blogs, message boards and whatnot; but on the other hand, at some points the people you interact with there do stimulate you to get back to it.
A fairly chance conversation with someone on the sffchronicles Publishing board, followed up by some private messages, while not completely writing-related, has brought back the urge to write. And to write right now, tonight, as soon as possible. Strange how some little things do that to you.

After the long period of inactivity I plan to get back on track with my blogging service - and here's some more stuff to keep my visitors surf-satisfied:

Jay Lake is back in Cancerland and writes about with his usual openhearted candor >> I really feel for him and hope he gets better soon. He writes wonderful short stories and cool novels, is a blogging voice I have come to rely on, and has worked so hard this year to drive off the Fear that this is just utter unfairness exemplified. But there it is.

British SF author Ian Sales lists his personal SF Film Top 50 in response to Time Out's flawed list >> His list includes many of my own favorites and hints at some interesting films I will have to dig up. And yes, Blade Runner, Alien and Metropolis are on his list...

From the Guide to Literary Agents blog, a list of the top 10 things that make a Literary Agent *stop* reading your manuscript. They're the obvious things, really, but it's nice to have them all together. Useful for framing purposes. That blog entry should come with a downloadable picture frame and wall-mounting instructions.

Well, not my commercial success, obviously, because no one seems to want to read my scribblings so far, but about Dan Brown's. I spotted a thread on the SFFChronicles board where someone mentioned that his new novel, The Lost Symbol, has an initial print run of 6.5 million copies. That's a lot of paper.

On the board, a whole debate ensued in which some claimed Dan Brown is unable to write decent prose - and the undertone there is clearly that he does not deserve this success because of this perceived lack of skill - whereas some others claimed his prose is simply not "up to literary standards" but because it is so successful, you cannot uphold that it is "bad prose".
I tend to agree with the latter opinion. If he sells so incredibly well, he must be doing something right. For the masses at least. For a novel to become so popular, it must touch a large section of our population in a shared psychological soft spot, and the writing must at least be good enough not to detract from the story.

I feel that to malign people like Dan Brown, Ian Rankin and others who were mentioned on the board as "bad writers" is a little sad - especially when the comments come from unpublished or relatively unsuccessful (commercially speaking) writers. It always sounds a little like "I'm not enjoying this huge success but that's because I don't want to stoop so low, I'm a much better writer but the masses don't get, and the agents don't get it because they're all so focused on bestsellers...".

What do you think?

Just wanted to point out this link to Futurismic, where you can find some interesting news on the US-Mexico border protection strategy. It sounds eerily similar to what I describe in my first short story... I guess I better get it sold somewhere before it becomes completely outdated!

Expect normal blogging service to resume gradually, starting today. Our baby boy has finally come home yesterday evening, after six weeks in the neonatal intensive care unit. He's still only 36 weeks, so he should not have been born for another three or four, but thankfully he has grown strong enough to come home.

Forty-four days. It was long enough.