I'm James Maxey, the author of numerous novels of fantasy and science fiction. I use this site to discuss a wide range of topics, with a heavy emphasis on cranky, uninformed rants about politics and religion and other topics that polite people attempt to avoid. For anyone just wanting to read about my books, I maintain a second blog, The Prophet and the Dragon, where I keep the focus solely on my fiction. I also have a webpage where both blogs stream, with more information about all my books, at jamesmaxey.net.


Friday, December 15, 2006

Bitterwood news

Solaris has started promoting Bitterwood on its website and has a preliminary cover posted here. Of course, while you're there, check out the other upcoming Solaris releases. They certainly look prepared to be an important force in the world of fantastic fiction.

I like the concept of the preliminary cover, and the teaser line "the legend lives." Solaris certainly seems to have their act together when it comes to putting together an attractive package.

In a related note, Bitterwood is now available for pre-order on Amazon. I've known about this for a few days now but was keeping quiet until I felt more prepared to promote the book. I've been told I'll be getting copy edits the first week in January. Hopefully it won't be long after that before I start posting some teaser scenes here.

I haven't felt up to the task of promoting Bitterwood til now. I've had my writing brain turned off for the last few months. After I finished the last draft of Bitterwood back in August and cranked out my Halloween story "Silent As Dust," I immersed myself in house renovation, then moving. Now I suddenly find myself working on several projects at once. I'm writing outlines for two different novels, and trying to decide on a Bitterwood related short story to write for an upcoming Solaris anthology. I'd like to do something with a tatterwing... a dragon who's had his wings slashed in punishment for some crime. But, I'm also attracted to the idea of writing a story about the the dragon king Albekizan, Bitterwood's chief antagonist, in which he's unquestionably the hero of the tale. Albekizan thinks he's the hero of the novel and that Bitterwood is the antagonist. It might be fun to play around with this notion further. Then again, written right into the novel there's a story that is told about how the wizard dragon Vendevorex came to raise a human child. In the book, the story is told through overheard dialogue. It's a fairly dramatic story, though, and could probably stand well on it's own, though it might be a spoiler if people read it before they read the novel.

I'll figure something out. For now, though, it's nice to feel like a writer again. Two months ago, I felt more like a drywall hanger... which isn't a terrible feeling, but, trust me, writing is much easier on the back.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

God Smites My Scanner

I was reading the paper yesterday when an ad caught my eye. The headline of the ad read "Which of the Following Sins Would Most Likely Send a Person to Hell?" The four choices were 1) Murder, 2) Stealing, 3) Adultery, and 4) Homosexuality. You were then invited to engage in free Bible correspondence to discover the answer. The bottom lines of the ad read, "No time limit. Certificate upon completion."

The reason the ad caught my attention was that beside the words "Send a Person to Hell" there was a drawing of a bearded man in a robe that I'm guessing is meant to be God. God in medieval art is frequently portrayed with a stern, serious expression, but this God is drawn with a broad smile. The juxtaposition of words and image implies, to me at least, that God is gleeful at the thought of sending a person to Hell for one of the above sins. He looks like he's laughing at his own joke. "You want to get into Heaven? Well of course, come on... NOT! You're going to Hell! HAHAHAHA!"

It's not so much God as an authority figure as God as a supervillian. Which, I'm doubting was the intent of the ad.

I tore the ad out of the paper and brought it home. I intended to scan it and post it on my blog. I launched my scanner and got the preview image. I hit the scan button... and my scanner died. It's kaput. My computer doesn't even recognize that it's plugged in any more. It seems to have no power to it at all.

When I took the ad off the scanner, I kind of expected a FIFTH ANSWER:

5) Scanning God's image with the intent of mocking him on the internet.

Oh well, when it comes to Hell, in for a penny, in for a pound, I guess. Because, if I understand the Christian theology of my youth, the answer to the checklist in the ad is both "All of the above" and "None of the above." "None of the above" in the two ways. First, you can do all these sins, and worse, then repent and accept Jesus and get your get out of Hell free card. Second, if you don't do any of these sins, but still don't repent and accept Jesus, you're going to Hell anyway. You are born, after all, with original sin. You could slip and hit your head as a toddler and live 80 years in a coma and ZOOP, off to Hell with you when you die. Going to Hell is the default position... it requires an active decision to change that fate.

This all or nothing element of damnation is one reason I'm mystified by conservative Christian stands against certain sins in particular. Homosexuality, for instance. If you talk to conservative Christians who oppose homosexuality, they will tell you that they are just trying to save the fags from Hell. Homosexuality is listed as a sin, after all. But, of course, so is eating pork, and you don't see them running through McDonald's smacking bacon cheeseburgers out of people's hands. And don't get me started about coveting. Coveting is right there on the big ten list of no-no's. Unfortunately, it seems to me, especially during the holidays, that the entire American economy is built on coveting. People want the hottest toys and gadgets so much they get into fist fights in the parking lot. Why aren't conservative Christian's standing in front of Walmart warning people that excessive desire for a material thing is a sin?

I should probably write in and ask the free Bible correspondence people. I'm thinking that certificate would look nice on the wall.

Monday, December 04, 2006

A banjo quilted

I've been playing around with altvista.com's babelfish translator and just tried translating the opening lines of my story Silent as Dust. I randomly chose Portuguese as the language to translate to and from. The results were interesting:

The Company That I remain myself. I am judging a sample of talent in the attic of seven chimneys. We are close to the chimney master, we enter one maze of the boxes, gray with grime. Moonlight through the round window serves as spotlight for ours contestants. First above of it is Dan, a fulled hart dirige with five antlers of the point and startled the look in its glass eyes. Dan sings of the "a rock jailhouse" as if one was ballad blue of the gram, folloied for Binky, a monkey of sock with a banjo quilted. It comes after that the professor To blink, a bear of teddy 65-year-old with an eye and half of its original skin. The professor To blink is to juggler, keeping in high a rammer of crochet, a light bulb broken of washes, and ceramic manger of the decorations of christmas. When all the three articles are in air, grasp an old sphere of bowling and launch it in the cool mixture with one grace that points gain it.

The original, for comparison:

The Company I Keep. I'm judging a talent show in the attic of Seven Chimneys. We're near the master chimney, amidst a maze of boxes, gray with grime. The moonlight through the round window serves as the spotlight for our contestants.
First up is Dan, a stuffed deer head with five point antlers and a startled look in his glass eyes. Dan sings "Jailhouse Rock" as if it were a blue grass ballad, accompanied by Binky, a sock monkey with a quilted banjo.
Next comes Professor Wink, a 65-year-old teddy bear with one eye and half his original fur. Professor Wink is a juggler, keeping aloft a crochet mallet, a broken lava lamp, and the ceramic manger from the Christmas decorations. When all three items are in the air, he grabs an old bowling ball and tosses it into the mix with a cool grace that earns him points.

How did I ever waste the precious hours of my life before the internet?