Monday, January 26, 2015

Guest blog: Cedar Sanderson's "I Got Politics in my Fiction"

What's this, Declan? Exploiting the image of a hot redhead to garner hits? Not today.

This blog post is brought to you by the awesome Cedar Sanderson, author of nineteen novels in science fiction / fantasy.

Yes. I feel I now need to step up my game. The best I can do is a guest blog over on her site.

Like me, Cedar is also not someone who likes .... gah ...politics. But, again, like I did, she tried to get away, but they reel her back in. Even when she's designing kittens with butterfly wings from scratch. 

No, I'm not kidding.  Though I may be getting ahead of myself. She's obviously a metric ton smarter than I am, as she is currently going after a dual degree in forensic science and microbiology.

I better let her explain.


I Got Politics in my Fiction

I didn't mean to. I’d happily spend the rest of my life ignoring the stinky mess in the corner we call politics. I’m much happier contemplating the consequences of science extrapolated into the future, and not the very far future, either. Did you know that an organism can already be built from codons up? That’s like making an apple pie from scratch, only you wind up with a yeast baking your Mycoplasma genitalium. How much longer until you can get a build-you-own Kiddie Kitten Kit: with bonus butterfly wings? Unfortunately, the life in a lab is a lot smaller and duller than most fiction readers are willing to put up with for very long.

That, and I have this tendency (again, I never meant to do this!) to write fantasy, which involves creating whole new worlds. In order to explain how they work, and the civilization hangs together, I must dabble in politics. It drives me crazy, and every time I have to get into it, I wind up blocked and behind schedule.

It’s taken me a while to figure out what it is that gets me, and why I wind up unable to write politics. I am, on a personal level, determinedly apolitical. I vote, and I won’t vote unless I have some idea who I’m voting for/against (and I won’t get into the voting for lesser weevils most Presidential elections leave me doing). But I’m not at all interested in it other than that. This is why I have trouble with writing it. Politics makes me feel like B’rer Rabbit fighting the Tar Baby. No matter how much you struggle, you just get stucker.

Which leaves me feeling all sticky when I write about politics. In the current series, I’m writing a fantasy world which touches on ours, and which is run by a non-heritable monarchy backed by an aristocratic council. In some ways – they have a Charter – it’s a bit like the American system. I didn't write it intending to be that, I was spinning off threads in Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream, with the king and queen of Faerie. It’s a very old, stagnant society, but it works, and as one character points out, why mess with that?


The only book I have out where I did touch on sort-of-current politics I have been blasted for in reviews as having written it as a commentary on our current leadership. Which makes me chuckle, because I wrote that novel – it is my first – long before this guy was even a blip on the national radar screen. That book has other faults (it is my first, after all) but the depiction of a President happily inviting aliens into the White House is not based on any one person, simply my perception of politics being the art of deception and power.

I think that is the core of it. I see politicking as lying, and I can’t abide deceit and manipulation. Any political-types in my books are likely to be portrayed as shady at best. The Queen of High Court in the current book was given an offer she couldn’t refuse – not and keep her life and freedom. I think I’m looking forward to the next book, set in our mundane world, with a little plot and… darnit. Small town politics.

‘Scuse me. I have a muse to go hunt down and have a conversation with.


Cedar Sanderson was born an Air Force brat in Nebraska and spent her childhood en route to new duty stations. Her formative years after her father left the Air Force were spent being home-schooled on the Alaskan frontier. She removed to the "more urban" climes of New Hampshire at the beginning of high school. She has had the usual eclectic range of jobs for Fantasy/ SF authors, ranging from Comedy Magician to Apprentice Shepherdess. She counts the latter as more useful in controlling her four children and First Reader. Her fascination with science dates to her early childhood spent with her grandmother on the Oregon coast studying the flora and fauna and learning to prepare a meal from what she could glean from a tidal pool. This lead to a lifelong interest in science, cooking, and herbalism.

At present she is attending college in Ohio pursuing a dual STEM major in forensic science and microbiology this. Her first two times in college were for theology and liberal arts. She is maintaining an average of nearly 20 credit hours while running a household, an entertainment business, and writing multiple novels on the side. This has the result of leaving those watching her indefatigable efforts panting in exhaustion.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Midseason review, 2015

This has been one hell of a season thus far, and it's barely begun. There's been a lot of great TV, and some disappointing WTF moments.

WARNING: SPOILERS: Walk with me through my television viewing.
Arrow:

At least they all LOOK different! Every time I think I can sum up the awesomeness of this show, it keeps getting better.  The writing is still great on the character level, the episode level, the season level and the series level (we're in season 3, and every time they have a new season, you can see the seeds laid down in the previous season.).  The superhero show based around a comic book character who was the uber-Leftist Batman who was bitten by a radioactive Robin Hood, and has turned into a collection of awesome geek love.

Brandon Roush has been a fantastic addition as Ray Palmer, the Atom, and it makes me wonder why he wasn't allowed do to this good a job as Superman.   They continue to give supporting characters and guest star some great character moments all over the damn place. They even gave Captain Boomerang character, and interesting motivation.  Captain Boomerang.  How do you make a villain with a name like that cool?

Then there was that moment where they shanked Oliver Queen with a sword and tossed him off of a cliff, leaving him to die.

Oh, yeah, and did I mention that we're not even up to episode 10 yet?

Did I mention I HATE cliffhangers?

And then there's....

Agents of SHIELD:
Can I at least have a diverse WARDROBE?

It has finally STOPPED being Agents of Boredom. In fact, if you've read my gripes about this show, most of them no longer apply.  They've figured out that, if you're using a Marvel comic book universe as a base,  USE THE DAMN UNIVERSE. Also, if there's a spy show .... DO SPY STUFF, DAMN YOU.  If only took an entire season for it to get anywhere, but then, there's no Marvel film that was going to big foot them into next Tuesday.

Though my biggest problem is that they're still trying to make the character of Skye interesting, which will never happen.

Anyway, they have at least remembered that they're a comic book spy show ... by bringing in comics and spies. Shocking.


Monday, January 19, 2015

MLK Day: Music Blog



Youtube showed me Within Temptation because I looked at Nightwish.

Pay close attention.  The opening visual may turn you off, but there's a punchline. Honest.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Recommended Reading; Larry Correia

Up until I embraced my inner politicians (which I gotta tell, you, is draining as all heck), I had never heard of Larry Correia.  He's published through Baen books, and I read their top authors already -- David Weber, John Ringo and Timothy Zahn -- and yet I had only been vaguely aware of him from my visits to Barnes and Noble.

After hearing his name bandied about on a political fiction group on Facebook, I shrugged and said "Oh, what the hell? Why not?"

And, being a bit of a cheap bugger, I figured "Screw it, I'll get the 3-in-1 of his biggest series, Monster Hunter International."

My reaction?





Yes, I have, at long last, resorted to gifs.

I promptly went out and bought ... well ... everything else Correia has written, including the rest of MHI, his three Grimnoir and his Dead Six novels.

Seriously, these books are kinda awesome.  I finished all of them in a matter of days.

One thing at a time, though

The really, really, really short version about Larry Correia is that he is an unstoppable writing machine who pumps out books the size of Tom Clancy doorstoppers at least once a year, in addition to maintaining an almost daily blog, is almost omnipresent online, and has a BS tolerance threshold lower than mine.  Which tells you something, if you've been here a while.

Correia is, personally ... Libertarian? I think? His politics show up very little in his books.  Any anti-government feeling here could be summed up by the same feeling in 24, or Harry Potter (see: the Cassandra Effect. Honest). He prefers his heroes to be smaller, private groups, rather than sprawling government bureaucracies, though even the bureaucracies get a fair shake in his books (one of them at the very least).  He also owns a gun range, so he likes his weaponry. Big deal.

I'd say he has an ongoing grudge match against John Scalzi and the SFWA, especially over the Hugo awards, but it seems more like Scalzi and SFWA has an ongoing war against everybody I find remotely interesting. There's a lot of ranting against Correia because he's "a straight white man," even though his background is Portuguese -- don't even ask me how that works.

If you care about personal politics and online grudges, I'm sure you can find a few links.  From what I read on his blog, a lot of Correia is just plain common sense. But me and common sense have very little to do with each other.

But, on to the important part: BOOKS.  And I highlight books because I haven't gotten to any of his short stories. If I've missed a few, don't shoot. I've had a lot of books to dig through lately, but I'll add them as I find them.

Monday, January 12, 2015

NEW Age of Ultron Trailer



There’s a new trailer for Avengers: Age of Ultron.

“Everyone creates the thing they dread,” says robotic villian Ultron in one of the opening shots of the trailer.

“I’m going to tear you apart…from the inside,” he growls amid scenes of destruction and havoc as the heroes of the Avengers turn against each other.

Creepiest rendition of "I have no strings" ever.

I have a few thoughts on the future of the Marvel series, and an analysis of what we've seen already.

But crap that's creepy.

Plot or Character? Chicken or Egg?

So, here's a question I came across in one of my writing groups: Where do you start? With a plot or with a character?

Chicken or egg?

Heh.  The answer to this depends on if I already have a series. But that's cheating for the purposes of this particular question.

However, if you have a brand spanking new idea?

Step 1: "What's my story?"  EG I have a functional dystopia where people inconvenient people are dumped from the real world into this makeshift hell on Earth.

Step 2: "What do I need?" EG: I need a cross between MacGyver and Chuck Norris.

Step 3: Make character. EG: Kevin Anderson.

For me, story has always come first, especially if you're making a new story.

Heck, for The Pius Trilogy, Sean AP Ryan intruded. Literally. The little bugger wasn't even supposed to be in THAT novel, and decided to just show up.

Step 1: "What's my story?"  EG I'm doing an anti-Da Vinci Code in Rome.

Step 2: "What do I need?" EG: I need the head of Vatican security involved

Step 3: Make character. EG: Giovanni Figlia.

And then Sean steps in out of It was Only On Stun! and takes over.

For me, story has always come first, especially if you're making a new story.

For my short Fear No Evil, I wanted someone who could handle herself. She developed as we went along.

Sometimes, I just take the voices in my head and run with them.

Sometimes, they run with me.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

NEW REVIEW, Guest Posts, and PR for A Pius Stand

I have a new review on Codename Winterborn from the guy who wrote Amy Lynn, Jack July.  He liked it.

Yes!

While I'm at it, I have posted about "Strong Female Characters" over at the Mad Genius Club ... it was posted last year. Apparently, I'm slow. Yes, it does look like another post I've made about it here.

While I'm at it, I should mention that I'm posting over at Right-Fans, mostly talking about how I got into writing, and how B5 has warped me as a writer.

Also, I started on a press release for A Pius Stand. What think ye?


 DATE: 14 December 2014

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: John Konecsni. #***-***-****

A Pius Stand: A Global ThrillerTaking a Final Stand.

A Pius Legacy asked the question: What happens when someone kidnaps the Pope? When you're Sean A.P. Ryan, security consultant, the answer is easy: get him back. And that rescue pissed off…everyone…and the entire United Nations declared war on the hundred-acre Vatican City. When the Pope is threatened by the international community, with no help in sight, what's a Pontiff to do? Run and hide? With offers coming from all over the world, it seems like the best course of action. With fifteen-thousand men from armies all over the world coming to end the Catholic Church, it's a threat not even the Pope's bodyguards could handle. But it's not just about Vatican City. With the Church all over the world in peril, things are not as clear cut for Pope Pius XIII as one might think. With the forces of darkness closing in, Pius, Sean, and the people they love must make a decision that will affect the lives of billions, and threaten all they hold dear. Do they leave the Vatican to their enemies, or stay, and face certain death? Once more, this epic conclusion to The Pius Trilogy continues to mix real history with wholehearted adventure. With everything on the line, and no good outcome, the Pope and his champions must decide to either cut and run, or to make a final stand.


A Pius Stand: A Global Thriller is the final chapter of The Pius Trilogy. What had started as Declan Finn's attempt to counter the lies about the Catholic Church in popular media has culminated in a final battle of Tom Clancy-like proportions.


Unlike the previous books, A Pius Stand is more sprawling and global in character. Finn goes out of his way to show the full ramifications of the book's events, and how they effect everyone in every part of the world. Finn also goes out of his way to show how the world affects the plot. But like the previous novels in the trilogy, Finn uses modern footnotes to show just how possible the events of the book actually are.

A Pius Stand is the last novel in a trilogy that has taken ten years to write, and the final battle will leave readers speechless.


ISBN 1500487376


For review copies, appearances or interviews with the author, contact #***-***-**** or DeclanFinnInc@aol.com.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

NEW REVIEW, and Press Release: A Pius Legacy

Anyway....

If you follow the Facebook page, you'll know that I got this really awesome review from Midwest Book Review

A truly riveting read from first page to last, A Pius Man offers a suspense thriller replete with unexpected twists and surprising turns. A deftly crafted novel from beginning to end, A Pius Man certifies author Declan Finn as a master storyteller of immense talent and imagination.
Damn, that makes me sound bad ass.

However, notice ... it's for A Pius Man. Book 1. Which came out in 2013....

Anyway, just for them, I started tinkering with an old press release for A Pius Legacy.  What think ye?




DATE: 2 February 2014

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: John Konecsni. #***-***-****

APius Legacy: A Political ThrillerTheology, Geopolitics and Explosions.

In A Pius Man, seven strangers uncovered the truth about the World War II Pope, Pius XII, and lived to tell it. But it was not the only legacy Pius XII left behind. When the church's enemies strike back, the Vatican is under siege, the current Pope is indicted for war crimes, and no one is going to save them. Those who stood against the darkness must join forces once more to make certain that the final legacy of Pius XII does not come to a bloody end.

A Pius Legacy: A Political Thriller picks up where A Pius Man left off. This time, author Declan Finn delves into the modern politics around the Catholic Church. He discusses the lies, the “narratives,” how they were crafted, and how they've been used to slander an inconvenient world religion. Finn attacks everything from myths about the crusades, to Galileo, and even dispelling several myths about Renaissance art.
Again, like with A Pius Man, every historical reference in A Pius Legacy can be footnoted (literally, the first draft had footnotes in it). This time, as Catholicism is put on trial, each piece of history referenced is used as it would be as evidence in a Perry Mason courtroom.


At the end of the day, despite the history-heavy elements of the story, A Pius Legacy reads like a standard political techno-thriller, with courtroom segments out of Earl Stanley Gardner.



ISBN 1483964639

For review copies, appearances or interviews with the author, contact #***-***-****, or DeclanFinnInc@aol.com.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Shattering Dan Brown

A while back, I was on a radio show where the topic was "shattering the narrative." It was political in nature, but it basically took stories that "everyone" knows to be true, and then rips them to shreds.

I hate narratives. Odd, I know, for an author of fiction, but I hate narrative in everyday life. There's a difference between "tell me a story" -- be it fiction or not -- and "this MUST BE TRUE because it sounds right." It's like Dan Brown. His works are fill with such historical inaccuracies and patent lies that the historian inside me has a banner moment ... a Bruce Banner moment.

But Brown's work ticks off all the right boxes -- devout Catholics are evil. Religion hates science. Religion is backwards and stupid and The Truth Will Defeat Religion. And somehow, the truth looks like a twisted version of Wiccan that even my ex the Wiccan wanted to kill Dan Brown for.

Let's ignore that Da Vinci worked for the church an awful lot. Let's ignore that most scientific advancements were backed by churches. Let's ignore that nuns were the first CEOs of large corporations. Let's ignore that the Catholic church couldn't have excommunicated Newton for his theory of gravity, because Newton was British and Anglican, not Catholic. In fact, let's ignore every last minute of recorded history, because hey, Dan Brown fits the narrative.

Sigh.

Here's a funny fact for you: Tom Clancy murdered Dan Brown before Brown was popular. Don't believe me? In Tom Clancy's book Rainbow 6, his heroes went up against a ban of eco-terrorists who wanted to wipe out all human life on Earth in order to save the planet, and the adorable widdle animals, etc. By the end of the book, well, things end badly for them.

In Dan Brown's latest schlock fest, Inferno, SPOILERS, the "good ending" is to wipe out one third of the planet. Because that's what's best for everyone. Because of overpopulation and the environment, don't you know?

If one looks at my pet issue, Pope Pius XII, you see much the same thing. Pius XII has been known as "Hitler's Pope" ever since the book of the same name came out in the late 90s. The story was simple: Pope Pius XII, the Pope of World War II, either did nothing to save Jews from the Holocaust / inspired the Holocaust / was responsible for the Holocaust. The version depends on how deeply psychotic you wish to go. The depressing part about it is that there is so much of a preponderance of evidence to the contrary, I made three books out of it.

But this ... all of this ... is what ideology does, and what makes it different from a philosophy.

A good philosophy takes data, and will mold around the data, incorporating it into the philosophical system. It's like Thomas Aquinas, where philosophers like Peter Kreeft and the late Ralph McInerny used current science and effortlessly plugged it into natural law.

Ideology will take the facts, then warp, twist, and shape them so that they fit the ideology. It's like the New York Times: All the News that fits the tint. Truth doesn't matter, just the story. And it doesn't matter who it hurts.

But narratives are allowed to exist because the people who spout them are accepted by a certain class of people, who have largely existed within their own echo chambers.

It's a sad day when I can find more truth in a John Ringo science fiction novel about cannibalistic alien mongol hordes than I can in a news article some days.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Year in review -- 2014



This has been such an odd little year.

I got A Pius Legacy and A Pius Stand published, finishing out the trilogy I began with A Pius Man.

I joined in a few political fistfights, mostly having to do with women in books for some reason.

I've had fun with Marvel, both Captain American and Agents of SHIELD.


I reviewed books all over the place.  Like Amy Lynn, and Night Machines, and a bunch of others here and there.

I've been at the Catholic Writer's Guild, and had some odd times there.

And then there's my job at American Journal.... fun fun fun.

I've looked at tv and video games and a whole bunch of other stuff.

Thankfully, I haven't lost a whole collection of authors, like last year.

I want to thank all of you for making this such an interesting year.

And here's to 2015, and selling a ton more book.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Review: Night Machines

Night MachinesNight Machines by Kia Heavey

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Oh, this was a fun little ride of weird.

Kia Heavey, the author
Kia Heavey, the author
This has three interesting character studies. Maggie is the bored housewife married to the "boring" cop, and her brand new boss is the nerdy kid from high school who grew up to be a billionaire with the looks of a guy on the cover of a romance novel. The new boss, Cambien, is a specialist in medication of dreams (which makes me wonder if his name is supposed to rhyme with Ambien).

It's also three stories of obsession. Maggie's husband is consumed by the case of a dead girl. Cambien has thought of Maggie since high school, and his thoughts start sweet and cute, and something darker starts to take shape. And then there's Maggie herself, who decides to have her "non-affair" with Cambien, and it starts to eat her up inside. I would tell you what it made me think of, but it turns out to be a spoiler.

I always thought the Rod Serling meets Robin Cook equaled F. Paul Wilson. Nope. This is chocked-full with more of the irony found in the Twilight Zone. Especially since it starts with Maggie dreaming, and dreaming about what her life could be or should have been ... and oh, boy, does it go the way of Nightmare on Elm Street. No, it's not terrifying, I'd even suggest it could be given to Young Adults, but beware the fact that there are sexual situations, but nothing graphic.

Along the way, Night Machines explores the concepts of family, of love versus lust, and what happens when you live too much in your head. Because there are some times things in the dark that will eat you.

By the start of "act three" of the book ... well, not to give too much away, but there was the scene with Maggie's priest, where I had fulled expected the line "What part of thou shalt not covet did you not understand?" I did not expect the sudden Catholic turn that the novel made, but it addressed every last point I had considered as I read through the book. That chapter alone made it more deeply philosophical and faithful than some books written by members of the Catholic Writer's Guild. And, as a member of said guild, I say that Madam Heavey needs to apply.

At the end of the day, it's a romance book that can even be read by people who hate romance novels.



View all my reviews

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Babylon 5 and Religion in Scifi


You know, with all the posts yesterday, I can't believe I forgot this one.

I did a guest post over at Steph Souders' page. It's all about Babylon 5.

Enjoy.

Review of Amy Lynn

Amy LynnAmy Lynn by Jack July

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


A lot of Amy Lynn feels like a coming of age story, where we watch Amy Lynn go from 12 to 20 over the course of the novel. Along the way, almost every other character is fleshed out with their own backstories, usually with snippets and inserts that look like they were lifted out of newspaper clippings — though they don’t interrupt the narrative flow.

When the book opens, Amy is practically running the family farm single-handedly — running both the kitchen and chores on the farm. Yes, she’s very much 12 going on 40. Before the book even opens, she has already lost both her older bother and her mother. Usually, this would make set the tone for a depressing, maudlin journey that I’d rather have root canal than read. However, Amy Lynn manages to avoid ever falling into that trap, and dodges the usual cliches. That the book avoids a depression-inducing tone is a cute trick, considering that it covers rape, prostitution, sex slavery, drug use, and two counts of mass murder. Not bad for a coming of age novel, huh? It helps that a lot of this is off-screen, and never delved into with any of the gruesome details.

But, then again, anyone who can write a coming of age novel that I can read without making me desire to take a power tool to my brain already has my support.

In almost any other context, Amy might come off as a bit of a Mary Sue — almost totally perfect in every way. Thankfully, she’s not that perfect (after all, she is a teenager for most of the book). As for the rest of her skill sets, she has a perfectly good reason for it. For anyone who ever saw the original tv show The Avengers (with no relation to Marvel comics), imagine Amy Lynn as the creation of a Southern Emma Peel. Amy is essentially trained by Rambo, and the fight scenes are reminiscent of Lee Child’s Jack Reacher novels.

Amy Lynn has one problem. Well, it has two. The first problem is editing. I know that Jack July had Amy Lynn edited by professionals. I would ask for a partial refund, since there are a lot of strange punctuation errors and capitalization issues here and there. I’ll blame that on the professionals. The second problem? It’s too short.

At the end of the day, Amy Lynn is as promised: thoroughly charming. It’s very much To Kill a Mockingbird for a modern audience.

It's definitely a book for anyone who enjoys characters with deep and abiding faith. It's a book recommended for adults ... and for adults to read before giving it to their kids. Like with much YA fiction, there is dark content and R-rated language. It's a great book, but it depends on the audience



View all my reviews

Monday, December 22, 2014

Deck the Maul, a Christmas story

When Sean AP Ryan is hired for Black Friday security, he figures it's an easy gig. He should have known better.

Die Hard is perfect, part 2

This is a continuation of my post on why Die Hard is such a perfect movie. I suggest starting there.

Dialogue, Character, and Plot

Every line in the movie adds to the film.  Nothing is wasted. And if there is something, I can't see it.  Yes, there's a reason I'm not breaking this up, mainly the dialogue feeds into both the character and the plot ... and because character adds an extra dynamic to this plot.

The first scene alone does so much, it's stupid. Remember, the scene is John McClane talking to the passenger next to him on an airplane.  It gives him a reason to be shoeless during the movie, and establishes his profession, and is already adding to his character by both giving us his CV in a smooth, effortless way. It establishes his anxiety about flying, giving him a cute character trait.  Also, it already shows us just how much of a smartass he can be... McClane's shoeless wardrobe "choice" in the film leads into a brilliant, brilliant moment that deeply hurts him later on.

We've already covered how the Rolex adds to the plot, and that was all covered in three lines of dialogue -- it both underscores Ellis' pursuit of Holly, struts it before John McClane, and dangles this metaphorical gun in front of the audience's face without anyone realizing how integral ANY of it actually is. Ellis, who has few lines in the movie, serves many functions. One, his presence gives a counterpoint to McClane's actions throughout the film -- no matter how many gunman McClane takes out, he's still only one person. Ellis is one of the many realists in this film, but the only one who is among the hostages.

Ellis' strutting egomania, his coke problem, and his focus on Holly all culminates in the pinnacle of his arc. His egomania and his drug problem drive him to try and negotiate with Hans and company -- he thinks he can talk them down, give them what they want, and they can all go home. And while he gives them McClane's name and occupation, Ellis makes it a point to spin the story that he brought McClane to the party, and there is no mention of Holly. For such a minor character, Ellis provides a lot.... even though giving up John's name will eventually lead to Holly.  And his death is one of the few things that hurts McClane.

And that's a secondary character. Maybe even tertiary.



Dialogue establishes a lot in this movie. It establishes Mr. Takagi's character and backstory with Hans' first speech, and adds an emotional blow to Takagi's death.  The offhand lines about needing the FBI, and "it's all part of the plan" feed into the turning point of the film, and a mystery that is on par with any twist by Mission: ImpossibleLeverage, or Jeffery Deaver.  In fact, I would say that Deaver was warped by Die Hard.

A lot of things in the second half of this movie are almost perfect mirrors to stuff from the first half.  The conversation between John and Holly in (what I think is) her private bathroom leads directly to a conversation that is the turning point of the film... which is also in a bathroom.  McClane is at his lowest point. He's been wounded physically and emotionally. It's the flip side of the earlier conversation with Holly, and while it's depressing, it has a point, and also accomplishes much.  McClane's relationship with the LAPD Sgt. Powell, outside of the building comes to a head, and it leads directly to the punchline.

Dialogue, and the Little Touches

And there are aspects that are not major, massive plot points, but are little things. It was Michelangelo, I think, who said that trifles make perfection, and that perfection is no trifle.  In the case of Die Hard, it's the small things that add a surprising amount of character to people who serve some very basic functions.

Heck, just look at the character shown in Hans' merry band of killers, and the LAPD, who are most assuredly the most basic part of this endeavor.

For example, look at "Karl."  He's the Bond Villain sidekick of this film.  But the first time we see him is carrying a chain saw, about to cut the phone cables for the building...and he's competing against another gunman, who's trying to either bypass the alarm for the building, or cut the phone system via a more elegant, less brutal fashion, I could never tell.  But you could tell from that scene alone that the two gunman are brothers, and that the death of the younger brother by McClane (the first gunman he kills), drives Karl throughout the film, giving him solid reasons for actions that are detrimental to Hans and his plans.

Then there's the terrorist who sets up shop in a confection stand, bringing out piles upon piles of gun magazines .... and grabs a candy bar.

Then there's Theo, the Hacker. Who gambles, likes sports and sports analogies, and takes his computer job seriously, yet treats everything else with a sense of levity.  He's dour and serious about breaking into the computer and the building's vault, but cracks jokes as he coordinates the gunmen to shoot and blow up a bunch of cops.

And then there's the chauffeur, Argyle, whose presence in the film is almost comic relief -- whether we're laughing at his obliviousness to the situation, or his line to the stuffed animal to "shut up," and even his little victory over Hans' hacker.

Conclusion

Obviously, I can go on forever about this movie (as though I haven't already), but let's face it, it's a good film with lots of little things thrown in that make it a great movie. Notice, there are a whole bunch of things I didn't mention that are also writing moments.

Such as?

Hans and McClane, face to face, giving the audience a much-needed confrontation between hero and enemy... 

Enough C4 to Orbit Arnold Schwarzenegger..."Heinrich had the detonators"... all feed into the finale...

Why Hans is possibly the most quotable movie villain ever. He's cultured, he's educated, he's well dressed, he reads all the "right" magazines, and he's such a cold-blooded, callous murderer...

How Die Hard also has elements of parody, going after both the media and the FBI.

There's a lot here, but this article is almost two thousand words long already. Though I think there's no denying that Die Hard could be used to teach writing classes.

Why Die Hard is the most perfect movie ever: A Writing Blog

I've been meaning to do this for a while now, but Die Hard is a perfect movie.

Seriously, perfect. From almost every angle.  Writing-wise, it's a textbook marvel of how to write. Cinematically, it's perfectly shot. Acting wise, it's pitch perfect.

Let me show you what I mean.  At least writing-wise.  I'm not sure I'm good enough to do this for cinematography, but I may give it a shot later on.  I started writing this expecting to go over everything I mentioned, but I may not be able to.  There's a LOT to cover in one topic alone.  In fact, I'm going to break up this blog into two parts. Maybe three.  Also, there will be a Christmas short story launching today: Deck the Maul.

And obviously, spoiler alert.

Quotable Quotes

We all know that the dialogue is brilliant. If Die Hard is not the most quoted and quotable film out there, it's probably in the top ten list.  Tell me you can't see the exact moment, or fill in the blanks of all of the following...

In German: "Karl, schieƟ dem Fenster."
".... and father of five."
"Happy Trails _____"
"Boom! Two points!"
"I'm going to count to three. ________ there will not be a four."
"Rumor is that Arafat buys his there."
"What kind of _____ are you?"    "Who said we were ______?"
"No Relation."
"We're going to need some more FBI guys."
"I don't want ______ I want dead."
"HHHHHHHHHHHHAAAAAAAANNNNNNNNNNSSSSSSSSS.  Why'd you have to __________?"
"That man looks ________."  "He's alive. Only John _________"
And, of course, "Yippie Kay Yay, _________"

We all know that.  However, what I mean is how well the Gun in Act One is utilized.  Don't know what I mean? Also called Chekov's Gun.

Monday, December 15, 2014

The Pius Trilogy is over.

It's been ten years, two agents, three friends, and dozens of rewrites. There's nothing more to say.

So, yeah, this won't be a long one.

As of right this minute, A Pius Stand, A Global Thriller, is published, marking the end of The Pius Trilogy. You can pick up a hard copy here on Createspace, the publisher's site, were I can get more money for what you pay ... though the shipping and handling sucks.  You can click here, and find the paperback on Amazon.com-- I won't get as much cash, but it'd be easier on you, the reader, and your wallet.

Those of you who are into Kindle can find it right here, on Amazon.com, and start reading immediately. :)

What's the premise? you ask?

Well, how does this look to you?

A Pius Legacy asked the question: What happens when someone kidnaps the Pope? When you're Sean A.P. Ryan, security consultant, the answer is easy: get him back. And that rescue pissed off...everyone...and the entire United Nations declared war on the hundred-acre Vatican city.
When the Pope is threatened by the international community, with no help in sight, what's a Pontiff to do? Run and hide? With offers coming from all over the world, it seems like the best course of action. With fifteen-thousand men from armies all over the world coming to end the Catholic Church, it's a threat not even the Pope's bodyguards could handle.
But it's not just about Vatican City. With the Church all over the world in peril, things are not as clear cut for Pope Pius XIII as one might think.
With the forces of darkness closing in, Pius, Sean, and the people they love must make a decision that will affect the lives of billions, and threaten all they hold dear. Do they leave the Vatican to their enemies, or stay, and face certain death?
Once more, this epic conclusion to The Pius Trilogy continues to mix real history with wholehearted adventure. With everything on the line, and no good outcome, the Pope and his champions must decide to either cut and run, or to make a final stand.
Just so we're perfectly clear, in case you've been waiting for the whole thing to come out before you read it, the trilogy goes like this

A Pius Man: A Holy Thriller
A Pius Legacy: A Political Thriller
A Pius Stand: A Global Thriller  (links above)

Codename: Winterborn is not part of this set, though. :)

If you're waiting for your copy to arrive, put on your headphones, turn up the volume, and enjoy the trailer below.

Why?  Because this is war.