A pre-Christmas Miscellany

Chances are, things will be quiet around here for the next week or more (not that they’re exactly a hive of frenzied activity the rest of the time), while I concentrate on eating, drinking, caressing the many books I’ll no doubt be given on the 25th (people know how to please me), wishing it would snow, and – because you can’t let a little thing like a festive season get in the way – writing.

In the meantime, a little selection of treats and trifles:

For Movie Fans, the newly-arrived Hellboy II trailer:

I was a big fan of the first movie – plain old fun almost from beginning to end, I thought, and that’s something not many movies can claim – and this one looks like it might be a worthy successor.

For Zombie Comic Fans (that’s fans of zombie comics, rather than comic fans who are zombies), a tip: I’m way behind on this, since it’s been going for ages, but this year I discovered The Walking Dead. I’ve only read the first collected volume so far, but it was up there amongst my favourite reading experiences of 2007.

It’s the homely tale of a small group of ordinary people trying to survive in a world over-run by flesh-eating zombies. Good writing, good characters and the occasional gory zombie attack: what more could you ask? Recommended for those with post-Christmas book tokens to spend and an affection for quality comics. Or for zombies.

For Aspiring Writers, this is pretty old stuff, but it’s well worth a read if you haven’t seen it before: from the Australian fantasy author Ian Irvine, who’s sold enough books to know what he’s talking about, Writing Tips, Guide to Success, and easily the best of the lot, The Truth About Publishing. Not everything in there accords perfectly with my own experience, but that’s no surprise as (a) Ian’s writing from an Australian perspective, and (b) these things are bound to vary on a case-by-case basis. The important thing is that in broad terms there’s a huge amount of good advice, truth and common sense in there.

For Anyone who ever wondered what a nuclear detonation at sunset looks like (likely a small subset of the global population, I realise):

Okay, so it’s actually just the Sun going down behind a power station just outside Edinburgh, but it looked a bit like the Apocalypse to me.

For Those Who Care About Such Things, the latest version of the Bloodheir cover. It makes me feel cold just looking at it, which in this case is a good thing.

Last I heard, UK, US and Australian publication remains on schedule for June 2008, by the way.

And since it’s the season for Giving Gifts, go test your vocabulary – and marvel at the plethora of obscurities lurking like unexploded bombs in the dark recesses of the English language – while simultaneously donating (at no cost to you!) rice to those who need it: FreeRice, which I found via Patrick Rothfuss’ blog.

Finally, For Music Fans, especially those who like a bit of acoustic guitar action, what I think is one of the nicest sounds to be found on YouTube:

There’re plenty of other clips of him on YouTube, all equally pleasing, and his website’s here: Andy McKee. Sadly, no signs of any plans to play in Scotland as far as I can see, otherwise I’d probably be busy buying tickets instead of writing this post …

And that’s it. Whatever festivities you’re engaged in over the next week or two, I hope you have an outrageously happy time of it.
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