On My Shelves: Calvin and Hobbes

     "Spiff coolly draws his deathray blaster…"   For ten years – starting in late 1985 and going through the end of 1995 – readers of the comic pages were treated to the (mis)adventures of grade-schooler Calvin, his (usually) walking and talking stuffed tiger Hobbes, his long-suffering mother and sometimes clueless father, next-door girl Susie, schoolyard bully Moe, and a host of other chracters in Calvin and Hobbes. Someone growing up after that era – especially today – probably has a hard time understanding the way things worked [ Continue reading... ]

On My Shelves: Grand Theft Auto 5 (a partial review)

I was given this game for Christmas (2016) and I suspect that was partially intended as a joke. Nonetheless, I did install and play the game to an extent. This will be a "partial" review because it's extremely unlikely I'll ever play the whole game through, mainly because its basic premise doesn't appeal. Of the two characters I've unlocked and played a bit of so far, one is a basically decent, but apparently kinda weak-willed, young man named Franklin – he seems to know that a lot of the things his friends/acquaintances get up to are Just [ Continue reading... ]

On My Shelves (the Net): The Arithmancer/Lady Archimedes

As those who know me can attest, I rarely read fanfiction. I've written an awful lot of it (a million words or so with Kathleen in our Saint Seiya/Samurai Troopers/DBZ universe, and more elsewhere), but it's really very infrequent that I find a fanfiction story that is worth my time to read, and most of it is deep in the past, such as Ryan Matthew's Dirty Pair fics or Bishoujo Senshi Sailor Ranma (multiple authors). Harry Potter fandom, by its sheer volume, could be expected to produce a few real gems. Naked Quidditch [ Continue reading... ]

On My Shelves: Rogue One

I was at first unsure as to whether I would see this movie, as I am – in general – unenthusiastic about prequels, and I knew this one would be dark (at least for a Star Wars movie). But for the last day of winter vacation I took the whole family to the movies, and this is the one we chose. Capsule Summary: Rogue One tells the story of the events that lead up to the original Star Wars – the people and actions that eventually put the Death Star plans in the hands of Princess Leia Organa. This is a classic war story set in the Star Wars [ Continue reading... ]

Just For Fun: Deleted Chapters of Phoenix Rising, Chapter 50

Now we jump far, far ahead to near the end of the book. This chapter was deleted because the book ended very, very differently. Not only did Xavier only show up for a couple of chapters (being sent off to Idinus of Scimitar rather than the Wanderer, and thus not traveling with Tobimar and not showing up for the final battle), but also there was no "screw you" trap following Thornfalcon's death, and after their meet-and-greet, the three companions did, in fact, burn Thornfalcon's mansion to the ground and didn't confront the remaining Justiciars [ Continue reading... ]

Just For Fun: Deleted Chapters of Phoenix Rising: Chapter 12

This chapter followed the introduction of Tobimar and Poplock, and implied some time passed. As you can see, the timeline got shifted some -- in the final draft, of course, it's implied that the first events for Tobimar and Poplock happen after Rion becomes a Justiciar.     Chapter 12.      Lighter blade parried greatsword with a chiming impact that diverted the larger weapon but also drove back the smaller with near enough force to disarm. Rion cursed mildly as he backpedaled, his fingers clearly stinging. Kyri laughed [ Continue reading... ]

Just For Fun: Deleted Chapters of Phoenix Rising, Chapter 4

So, Toron had begun an investigation last time...   Chapter 4. "I am sorry, Victoria." The huge draconic creature's voice was soft. Kyri couldn't believe it. "But… nothing?" "Nothing, little Vantage." Toron's clawed talons slashed the air in his own anger. "I have used all my senses. I have spoken with all of note in this part of Evanwyl, from the Watchland and the Justiciars down to every living servant of the neighboring houses. I have meditated in prayer in the center of the wreckage, tasted the ashes for their [ Continue reading... ]

Just For Fun: Deleted Chapters from Phoenix Rising, Chapter 3

Seeing these deleted chapters gives a feel for how much can be cut from a book without it being immediately noticeable. I'd basically written out the investigation of the Vantages' murder and deleted the whole thing!   Chapter 3.      "No, Milady." Thornfalcon's face seemed even longer and sadder than usual beneath the silver-beaked helm. The poet and would-be swashbuckler of the Justiciars of Myrionar, Thornfalcon's lugubrious exterior usually masked a playful romantic, ready with a compliment for a lady or a quip to set a room [ Continue reading... ]

Just For Fun: Deleted Chapters from Phoenix Rising, Chapter 2

These chapters were mostly cut because they kept us from getting to the core action. There's still a fair amount of information in them that might interest readers, though the crucial parts I tried to stuff into the remaining chapters.     Chapter 2.      Kyri stared numbly down at the remains of the front door; with cruel irony, the fire-charm on the door had remained intact, so the huge portals were unscorched, smeared only with water and soot from the rest of the mansion but otherwise marred only by the deep [ Continue reading... ]

Just For Fun: Deleted Chapters from _Phoenix Rising_: Chapter 1

Depending on the story and the editor, some of my books have had significant rewrites and changes over the years. In the case of Phoenix Rising, I originally detailed a lot of material which was only mentioned as backstory in the novel. I think the decision to cut the stuff out was right, overall, but it did deprive readers of event and character detail that might well have been worth reading in its own right. So I'm going to post some of those chapters for my readers' amusement -- and maybe comment on each. Here is what used to be Chapter [ Continue reading... ]