Tagged: George R. R. Martin

Mindy Newell: Are You Typing?

Bradbury Snoopy

“If you have any young friends who aspire to become writers, the second greatest favor you can do them is to present them with copies of The Elements of Style. The first greatest, of course, is to shoot them now, while they’re happy.” • Dorothy Parker

“I think there are two types of writers, the architects and the gardeners. The architects plan everything ahead of time, like an architect building a house. They know how many rooms are going to be in the house, what kind of roof they’re going to have, where the wires are going to run, what kind of plumbing there’s going to be. They have the whole thing designed and blueprinted out before they even nail the first board up. The gardeners dig a hole, drop in a seed and water it. They kind of know what seed it is, they know if planted a fantasy seed or mystery seed or whatever. But as the plant comes up and they water it, they don’t know how many branches it’s going to have, they find out as it grows. And I’m much more a gardener than an architect.” • George R. R. Martin

“Swoopers write a story quickly, higgledy-piggledy, crinkum-crankum, any which way. Then they go over it again painstakingly, fixing everything that is just plain awful or doesn’t work. Bashers go one sentence at a time, getting it exactly right before they go on to the next one. When they’re done, they’re done.” • Kurt Vonnegut

“Are you typing?” • My mom, when she would call me up in the middle of the day when I was writing for DC and other comics companies.

Who are the people who tell us our stories?

And how do they do it?

Some like to plot everything out, down to the last word, using what I call the “shuffling cards” method in which important plot developments or character moments are written out on index cards, and then mixed and jumbled and rearranged until the writer holds a royal flush. Some writers start at the end of the story and then figure out how it got there. Others get a scene or situation in their head; it could be the middle, it could be the end, it could be the opening paragraph, or somewhere in between. Then that scene or situation plays over and over again, like a needle skipping on a vinyl record in the middle of a song, and. like that skip, doesn’t stop until the writer does something about it.

There are writers who get up in the morning and eat a proper breakfast and take a proper shower and get dressed as if they are going to the office or meeting up with friends and walk to their study or their den and work a proper eight-hour day, writing. There are other writers who get up and squeeze their story-telling in the hours between the time the kids go off to school and the spouse leaves the house to join the 9-to-5 rat race to when it’s time to pick the kids up to take them to their play dates or swim team practice or religious school – not to mention cleaning the house and going grocery shopping and doing the laundry and making dinner for the husband or wife who will soon be home.

Then there are the writers whose beds never get made, their carpet never gets vacuumed, and everyone is picking their clothes out of the laundry hamper because mom or dad is “in the zone.” Or, perhaps, the only time the beds get made and the carpets get vacuumed and the laundry gets done is when the writer is having a particularly bad day and everything that works so beautifully in the brain comes out on paper or the computer screen reads like it was written by some ignorant schmuck of a troll in a Twitter feed.

There are writers who live in their bathrobes and there are writers who can only work in the middle of the night when everyone else in the house is fast asleep. There are writers who live alone but have the TV on as “white noise” as they write. There are writers who play classical orchestral symphonies while they are “at it,” and writers who play specific music that matches rhythms of their words, their characters’ lives, their plot, their story. And there are writers who must shut out all the sounds of the outside world, who must listen only to the noise, the racket, the voice of their individual muse demanding to be heard.

There are other writers who demand feedback, who meet a trusted friend or editor and over lunch or long walks or over a beer or a Guinness or a Scotch, and work out the voices in his or her head, like a neurotic going to see his or her shrink.

There are writers who are incredibly prolific, churning out story after story after story, as if they are not individuals, but simply shells of flesh occupied by hundreds, if not thousands, of “others” who wait on a line that stretches out into infinity until at last they reach the front of the line and it is their turn to tell their yarn. There are writers who have but one tale to tell, and when “the end” is reached, they are no longer writers; they are finished, they are done.

There are writers who drink too much wine and smoke too much tobacco. There are writers who need a doobie or a blunt to get the juices roiling. There are writers who can only write on deadline and writers who are masters of procrastination.

There are writers who get to the gym every day; there are writers who think walking to the stoop to pick up the daily newspaper is exercise. There are writers who withdraw from the world, and there are writers who are at every A-list party and every movie premiere. There are writers who are constantly on the phone to their agents or their publishers’ marketing departments demanding more publicity, there are writers who let their words speak for themselves.

There are writers who would never option their story to Hollywood. There are writers who tell their agents that they won’t finish the story until it is optioned by Hollywood.

There are writers who are braggarts; there are writers who are shy. There are writers who are savvy with the Internet; there are writers who still use pencil and yellow legal pads.

There are writers who write instant classics, there are writers who never see success until long after their bodies have rotted away and the maggots have eaten what’s left.

Those are the people who tell us our stories.

And that’s how they do it.

Editor’s Note: The graphic atop this column is of Ray Bradbury and Snoopy. Yes, we know you knew that, but that person sitting over there did not. It was cribbed from The Atlantic from about three years ago, and it is damned brilliant.


What Do You Do To Rabid Puppies? (Answer Below.)

You may have  heard about how the 2015 Hugo Awards nominations have been disrupted this year by two separate slates of nominees and their respective voting blocks.

There’s a lot of coverage on the matter, with some of the best from io9,  the Daily Dot, and George R.R. Martin (yes, Game Of Thrones fans, these people compelled GRRM to take valuable time away from writing to respond to the situation. Add that to their list of offenses.) If you don’t want to click through on everything or read our previous post, here’s what you need to know for this column:

There was a slate released by the Sad Puppies on February 1 that included a varied list of authors, many of a conservative bent, including authors that have been previously nominated for Hugo and Campbell awards.

And then, one day later, there was a slate released by Theodore Beale that he called the Rabid Puppies slate, which heavily copied the Sad Puppies list and added many items that he published through his publishing house, Castalia House, which was founded just last year.

Theodore Beale is… an interesting fellow. He came to prominence writing for WorldNetDaily, a website partially funded by his father, a convicted tax evader. Theodore Beale, who often goes by the presumptuous pseudonym Vox Day, happens to believe that marital rape is impossible, that autism causes atheism, that vaccines cause autism, that Obama’s birth certificate is forged, that there is no global warming, that feminism is failure, and on and on and on.

He is the only person to be expelled from the Science Fiction Writers of America for using an official SFWA Twitter account to link to a blog post that called SFWA member and African-American author N. K. Jemisin “an educated, but ignorant half-savage.”

And he boosted his Rapid Puppies slate by reaching out to the #Gamergate community, a group of people (the word “class” seems inappropriate here) that he has long supported, and who clearly tipped the balance in many of the Hugo categories.

In short, we find Mr. Beale to be a racist, sexist, homophobic, inflammatory, self-aggrandizing troll who who has no compunctions about burning down an entire community to exact revenge and gain his own personal amusement. His choice of the name “Rabid Puppies” is spot on, along with his logo choice that blows up the Hugo Award.

But what to do about it? More to the point, since the Hugo Awards won’t be given out until WorldCon in August, what can we do about it right now?

Ironically, Beale has given us the answer himself.

Of the unique items on the Rabid Puppies slate, nine are works that Mr. Beale had a hand in, either as a writer, editor, or publisher through his house, Castalia House, or where he previously blogged at Black Gate. (Hat tip to Mike Glyer for compiling the list.) Replying to a commenter about the quality of his works, Beale said:

No problem. I can objectively prove their superiority. Average Amazon ratings out of 5.

4.64 Sad Puppy Best Novel recommendations
4.60 Rabid Puppy Best Novel recommendations
4.46 2015 Hugo shortlist 4.46
3.90 2010-2013 Hugo shortlists

In short fiction, Amazon ratings and number of reviews

4.6 (63) One Bright Star to Guide Them (2015 finalist)
4.3 (121) Big Boys Don’t Cry (2015 finalist)
4.4 (48) Lady Astronaut of Mars (2014 winner)
4.3 (152) Equoid (2014 winner)

The Sad Puppy nominees are objectively superior as rated by Amazon.

We’d like to thank Mr. Beale for reminding us that Hugo Award nominations aren’t the only things that can be gamed…

You can game Amazon ratings as well.

Here’s a list of all of Mr. Beale’s nominees, complete with handy links to Amazon. It might be a good idea to take a look at the reviews and see which ones are helpful. If you’ve read the works, you should add your own review.




  • “Yes, Virginia, There is a Santa Claus” by John C. Wright, The Book of Feasts & Seasons, Castalia House
    UPDATE 4/14: “Yes, Virginia, There is a Santa Claus” by John C. Wright was previously published on a web site in 2013 prior to its inclusion in The Book of Feasts & Seasons in 2014, so it is not eligible for the 2015 Novelette Hugo and has been removed from the ballot.


BEST EDITOR (Short Form)



If you’d like to look at the reviews for the other nominees from Castalia House:

Oh, and to answer the title question: what do you do to rabid puppies?

You put them down.

Mindy Newell Discovers “Books”

Captain AmericaI discovered the All Souls trilogy by historian and fiction writer Deborah Harkness – I’m currently reading the final book, The Book Of Life (the first being A Discovery Of Witches and the second titled Shadow Of Night) and loving it, unable to stop, eager to discover how it all ends and yet not at all eager for it to end – quite by accident, which is usually the way I discover books.

I was browsing at Word, a terrific independent book store at 123 Newark Avenue in downtown Jersey City, New Jersey, and which deserves all the support in the world, as being an independent book store in these days of Amazon taking over the world is not only risky, but incredibly brave. BTW, I’ve never been in Word when it wasn’t crowded with bibliophiles. All of you, who love b-o-o-k-s know what I mean. There’s nothing like browsing in a bookstore, is there? Taking your time, picking up books, enjoying the heft and weight of them, feeling and enjoying the überzeist of shared love of the printed word that permeates the atmosphere.

According to the Encyclopedia Britannica website, “How soon after the invention of writing men began to make books is uncertain because the books themselves have not survived. The oldest surviving examples of writing are on clay or stone. The more fragile materials used for writing at various times have generally perished. The earliest known books are the clay tablets of Mesopotamia (that part of Asia fed by the Tigris and Euphrates rivers and their tributaries, and which we know today as Iraq, Kuwait, northeastern Syria, and part of southeastern Turkey and southwestern Iran) and the papyrus (a thin, paper-like material made from the papyrus plant, which still grows along the Nile delta) rolls of Egypt. There are examples of both dating from the early 3rd millennium B.C. The Chinese … were the third people to produce books on an extensive scale. Although few surviving examples antedate the Christian Era, literary and archaeological evidence indicates that the Chinese had writing and probably books at least as early as 1300 B.C. Those primitive books were made of wood or bamboo strips bound together with cords.”

The Greeks and Romans also used papyrus, binding them by using leaves at the type and bottom of the papyrus to form rolls (as seen in movies such as Gladiator and Ben-Hur). It was the Romans who expanded bibliography; they had a healthy book publishing trade which spread into Western Europe and Britain as the empire expanded. All straits of society during this period had access to these books, even the poor, while owning a private library was a mark of distinction among the upper classes.

During the early Christian era, the codex replaced the papyrus roll. By binding the papyrus leaves (the origin of our use of the word “leaf” when referring to book pages) this early book could be opened instantly to the exact text being searched for, eliminating the need to roll the papyrus until the text being searched for was found – not to mention having to reroll it. Also, both sides of the papyrus could be used.

By 2500 B.C. into the middle of the second century, vellum and leather, both made from calfskin, had replaced papyrus – the Dead Sea Scrolls, the first of which were discovered in 1946 in what is the West Bank of the disputed Palestinian territories, and which are the earliest known manuscripts of the Old Testament, along with other biblical era writings, are written on vellum and leather. Then, during the Dark Ages it was the monasteries that kept book writing alive. (A Canticle For Leibowitz, the 1961 Hugo Award winner for science fiction, by Walter M. Miller, Jr., tells the tale of Catholic monks in a post-apocalyptic United States as they strive to preserve the remnants of knowledge against the day that humanity rises from the nuclear ruins to rebuild civilization.)

The books of the 15th century resembled our modern book except that they were not yet printed, although paper, which had come to Europe and Britain from China through the middleman Arab trader, was rapidly replacing vellum and leather. Authors were writing in the language of their people, whose literacy was increasing, and the production and sale of books were boosts to Renaissance economies, which were increasingly reliant on the rise of the middle-class guilds.

And then came Johannes Guttenberg.

Guttenberg, who was originally a blacksmith and goldsmith before he became a printer and publisher, was born about 1398 and died in 1468. He was the first European to use movable type printing (invented in China around 1040 A.D.) and also created oil-based ink. Of course, as most of you know, he also invented the printing press. By figuring out how to combine these individual components into one practical system, Gutenberg enabled the mass production of printed books, which subsequently led to mass communication, a critical turning point in the rise of the civilization in which we live today.

Skip ahead 500 years to the birth of the comics industry in the mid-20th century, so beautifully captured by Michael Chabon’s brilliant and Pulitzer Prize-winning 2001 novel, The Amazing Adventures Of Kavalier And Clay – and anyone who claims to be a comics fan and has not read this book must have his or her Merry Marvel Marching Society membership immediately revoked. Think about what the comics industry, if it existed, would like – each story of Superman, Batman, Spider-Man, or the X-Men individually created, one of a kind, and probably locked up in the libraries of rich individuals and those of museums and universities dedicated to collecting rare art forms, to be taken out and displayed in occasional exhibitions.

The “man on the street” would perhaps, once in a while, buy a “black-market” version of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby’s Fantastic Four, smeared with mimeograph ink or supposedly “hand-copied” by some dubious “artist” who claimed to have seen the original. There would be no fandom to create the first comics convention in New York City in July, 1964 at a union meeting hall on 14th and Broadway, which was attended by 100 people, one case of soda, and George R.R. Martin (A Song Of Fire And Ice, i.e., Game Of Thrones) who was the first ticket purchaser. And there sure wouldn’t be a San Diego Comic-Con.

So the next time you browse Amazon or download a book on to your Kindle or iPad, or read a comic book on the web, stop and think about it. Think about the hundreds of centuries that it took to create that mass-produced copy of The Book Of Life or whatever novel you’re currently reading. Think about the thousands of years it took for you to hold that staple-bound, printing pressed copy Captain America #23 in your hands.

Think about it.

And don’t let real books, or real comics, become as dead as … Well, as dead as that first manor woman to “Fred Flintstone” a message into a tablet of clay.


Mindy Newell: War Is Not Healthy…But It Makes For Great Movies

“There is a savage beast in every man, and when you hand that man a sword or spear and send him forth to war, the beast stirs.”

George R.R. Martin, A Storm of Swords

So today is Memorial Day, which is the wind-up of Memorial Day weekend, which is the unofficial start of summer. Which means that if, like me, you’re from the part of New Jersey that’s north of Exit 11 on the Garden State Parkway, you “go down the shore.” For those of you not from the Garden State, the translation of “down the shore” is “to the beach.”

This also means spending most of the weekend stuck in traffic on the aforementioned Parkway before you get to Belmar or Seaside Heights or Long Beach Island or Wildwood and places in-between, but The Boss’s Born To Run will be rocking out through your car’s speakers, so it’s cool and anyway it’s all just part of the Weekend. Capiche?

Memorial Day is also the day we as a country are supposed to remember and honor the men and women who have died while serving their country in wartime. It was started as a way to honor Union soldiers who died during the Civil War – the North “borrowed” the South’s custom of decorating the graves of dead soldiers with flowers, ribbons, and flags, and so was called Decoration Day. It was held on May 30th, regardless of which day of the week it fell. It wasn’t until after World War II that Decoration Day became Memorial Day, and it wasn’t until the Uniform Holidays Bill was passed in 1968 that it became attached to the Monday of the last weekend in May as part of the government’s desire to create three-day federal holiday weekends. However, it took another three years (1971) for all the states to universally recognize it.

War movies are a conundrum – War is hell, as General William Tecumseh Sherman said, but in telling stories of war the writers, the actors, the directors and the producers can portray great tragedy, great comedy, great conflict, and great drama. Some war movies are outright jingoistic, others are totally anti-war, but all say something about armed conflict.

Here’s a short list of some of my favorites, with dialogue and/or quotes that have stuck with me through the years:

Stalag 17 (1953): Directed by Billy Wilder. Starring William Holden, Otto Preminger, Peter Graves, Don Taylor, Harvey Lembeck, Robert Strauss, and Neville Brand. Based on the Broadway play, it is the story of American POWs in World War II Germany who start to realize that there is an informant planted within their bunk.

Memorable dialogue:

Duke: (referring to Sefton’s safe escape with Dunbar) Whadda ya know? The crud

did it.

Shapiro: I’d like to know what made him do it.

Animal: Maybe he just wanted to steal our wire cutters. You ever think of that?

The Bridge On The River Kwai (1957): Directed by David Lean. Starring William Holden, Alec Guinness, Jack Hawkins, and Sessue Hayakawa. From the book by Pierre Boulle, it is loosely based on historical fact. British prisoners of war in a Japanese prison camp in 1943 Burma are sent to work building a bridge for the Burma-Siam railroad. The British Colonel is horrified to discover that his men are sabotaging the construction, and persuades them that bridge should be built properly as a testament to British honor, morale, and dignity under the most brutal of circumstances. Meanwhile a team of Allied commandos is planning the destruction of the bridge.

Memorable quote:

Colonel Saito: Be happy in your work.

Major Clipton: Madness! Ma, madness!

Apocalypse Now (1979): Directed by Francis Ford Coppola. Starring Martin Sheen, Marlon Brando, and Robert Duvall with a young Laurence Fishburne and a cameo by Harrison Ford. During the Vietnam War a special operations officer is sent on a mission to find and terminate, without prejudice, another special operations officer who has gone renegade.

Memorable quote:

Willard (voice-over): “Never get out of the boat.” Absolutely goddamn right! Unless you were goin’ all the way… Kurtz got off the boat. He split from the whole fuckin’ program.

The Great Escape (1963): Directed by John Sturges. Starring Richard Attenborough, Steve McQueen, James Garner, Donald Pleasance, James Coburn, Charles Bronson, David McCallum, Gordon Jackson, Angus Lennie, and others. Based on the true story of the mass escape of Allied POW’s from Stalag Luft III in Germany, and adapted from Paul Brickhill’s first-hand account. All the characters are either real or composites of several POWs.

Memorable quote:

Hilts: How many you taking out?

Bartlett: Two hundred and fifty.

Hilts: Two hundred and fifty?

Bartlett: Yeh.

Hilts: You’re crazy. You oughta be locked up. You, too. Two hundred and fifty guys just walkin’ down the road, just like that?

Sands Of Iwo Jima (1949): Directed by Alan Dwan. Starring John Wayne, John Agar, Forrest Tucker, and Adele Mara. The film follows a group of Marines from basic training to the Battle of Iwo Jima.

Memorable quote:

Sergeant Stryker: Saddle up.

Coming Home (1978): Directed by Hal Ashby. Starring Jane Fonda, Jon Voight, and Bruce Dern. The story of three people affected by the Vietnam War – a wife, her Marine career officer husband who is serving in Vietnam, and a paralyzed veteran of that war whom she meets while volunteering in a VA hospital.

Memorable quote:

Captain Bob Hyde: (Yelling at Sally after discovering her infidelity) What I’m saying is! I don’t belong in this house, and they say I don’t belong over there!

Catch-22 (1970): Directed by Mike Nichols. Starring Alan Arkin, Jon Voight, Martin Balsam, Bob Newhart, Charles Grodin, Art Garfunkel, Anthony Perkins, Paul Prentiss, Martin Sheen, and Orson Welles. Based on the book by Joseph Heller, Catch-22 is the satirical anti-war story of Captain John Yossarian, a B-25 bombardier stationed in the Mediterranean during World War II who is expecting to be sent home after completing his required number of missions until he discovers that the commanding officer is continually raising that number. Desperate to go home, Yossarian tries to get out by claiming to have gone nuts, but there’s a catch was sane and had to.”

Memorable dialogue:

Yossarian: Is Orr crazy?

Dr. “Doc” Daneeka: Of course he is. He has to be crazy to keep flying after all the close calls he’s had.

Yossarian: Why can’t you ground him?

Dr. “Doc” Daneeka: I can, but first he has to ask me.

Yossarian: That’s all he’s gotta do to be grounded?

Dr. “Doc” Daneeka: That’s all.

Yossarian: Then you can ground him?

Dr. “Doc” Daneeka: No. Then I cannot ground him.

Yossarian: Aah!

Dr. “Doc” Daneeka: There’s a catch.

Yossarian: A catch?

Dr. “Doc” Daneeka: Sure. Catch-22. Anyone who wants to get out of combat isn’t really crazy, so I can’t ground him.

Yossarian: OK, let me see if I’ve got this straight. In order to be grounded, I’ve got to be crazy. And I must be crazy to keep flying. But if I ask to be grounded, that means I’m not crazy anymore, and I have to keep flying.

Dr. “Doc” Daneeka: You got it, that’s Catch-22.

Yossarian: Whoo… That’s some catch, that Catch-22.

Dr. “Doc” Daneeka: It’s the best there is.

Tora! Tora! Tora! (1970): The story of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. Directed by Richard Fleisher. Featuring an ensemble cast including Martin Balsam, James Whitmore, So Yamamura, Joseph Cotton, E. G. Marshall, Takahiro Tamura, Tatsuya Mihashi, Jason Robards, Richard Anderson, and others.

Memorable quote:

Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto: I fear all we have done is to awaken a sleeping giant and fill him with a terrible resolve.

Saving Private Ryan (1998): Directed by Steven Spielberg. Starring Tom Hanks, Matt Damon, Tom Sizemore, Jeremy Davies, Adam Goldberg, Barry Pepper, Vin Diesel, Edward Burns, and Giovanni Ribisi, with a cameo by Ted Dansen. After landing in Normandy on D-Day in 1944, an army squad is ordered to find and bring back the last survivor of four brothers.

Memorable dialogue:

Old James Ryan: (addressing Capt. Miller’s grave) My family is with me today. They wanted to come with me. To be honest with you, I wasn’t sure how I’d feel coming back here. Every day I think about what you said to me that day on the bridge. I tried to live my life the best that I could. I hope that was enough. I hope that, at least in your eyes, I’ve earned what all of you have done for me.

Ryan’s Wife: James?…

(looking at headstone]

Ryan’s Wife (looking at headstone): Captain John H Miller.

Old James Ryan: Tell me I have led a good life.

Ryan’s Wife: What?

Old James Ryan: Tell me I’m a good man.

Ryan’s Wife: You are.

(walks away)

Old James Ryan: (stands back and salutes)

So while you’re lazing on the beach this weekend, or in the park or in your backyard grilling up some dogs and burgers, or at a ball game or just hanging around the house, try to remember, if even for a moment, those who never returned home from those bloody fields of glory.

For the dead and the living, we must bear witness.”

Elie Wiesel

Monday Mix-Up: Grandpa reads a different story…

Monday Mix-Up: Grandpa reads a different story…


Guess we got lucky that Grandpa liked S. Morgenstern instead of George R.R. Martin, eh?

Only a few more days left until Peter Falk wrecks Ben Savage’s childhood even more…


This week, New Pulp Author Van Allen Plexico is joined by John Ringer (co-host of the “Wishbone Podcast“) to discuss George RR Martin’s “A Song of Ice and Fire” novel series, and the “Game of Thrones” series on HBO that came from it.

Spoiler warning!  They talk about the entire show (to date) and all of the books, as well as speculate on where it may be going.

Episode 11 of The White Rocket Podcast: Game of Thrones/Song of Ice & Fire is now available on Podbean, iTunes, via the Podcast app on iPhone/iPad, or you can use the mini-player at the White Rocket site.

The White Rocket Podcast is part of the Earth Station One Network.

Spoilers for “Game Of Thrones” Seasons 2 and beyond!

Season 2 of Game Of Thrones premieres tonight on HBO, and people have been chomping at the bit to find out what will happen this year after the events of last year. Never fear! We here at ComicMix have acquired detailed and extensive information on what will happen in the next seasons of the Emmy-award winning drama, directly from George R.R. Martin himself.

Click here for Game Of Thrones Season 2 spoilers, Game Of Thrones Season 3 spoilers, Game Of Thrones Season 4 spoilers, and Game Of Thrones Season 5 spoilers!

Ryan Dunlavey's Uncle Scrooge

Weekend Window Closing Wrap-Up: April 29, 2011

Ryan Dunlavey's Uncle ScroogeOnce again, caught up in too many stories. Here’s some of what’s open in my browser:

Anything else? Consider this an open thread.

Heavenly Heroes - Supergirl, Mary Marvel, Dark Supergirl

Weekend Window Closing Wrap Up: April 22, 2010

Heavenly Heroes - Supergirl, Mary Marvel, Dark SupergirlClosing windows on my computer so you can open them on yours:

Ugh– and I still have dozens of tabs open. But this should do for a start.