Review of 2016 Writing Goals

Meant to have this posted earlier, but life keeps getting in the way, as done sickness which I am just now recovering from. Anyway, let’s see how we did with those writing goals for 2016. Red text below goal indicates how I did.

Olague: My novel Olague is going to be my main writing focus for the year. I’d like to throw out something like “get half the book written” or even a third, but I know this is neither likely nor feasible with my current work and life schedule (of course, if the above thing happens that was hinted at that will change things a little). So I’m just going to say: get more writing done with Olague. Even if it’s just another chapter, at least something; though I hope it’ll be a lot more than one additional chapter.

So Olague did not become the main focus of the year, a little thing called Ostium did (see below). I did however get three hefty chapters done. And with the main work on Ostium looking to be completed in the next week or two, I am planning to return to this novel full force at that point.

Stories: I’ve got two short story ideas kicking around in the noggin that I jotted down a few notes for in case they disappear entirely from my head. I’d like to get those two stories written in some form this year.

The stories didn’t get written because of that little thing called Ostium again (see below), however I did get some ideas for new stories and fortunately jotted down what notes I had.

Submit Stories: Continue submitting stories for publication each month, including editing and getting the long story that was written in 2015 submitted to at least one publication by the end of the year.

I did do this and the high point of the year was I got an “Honorable Mention” for Writers of the Future, meaning I need to get back to submitting that story this year along with it’s “almost publication” tag.

Ostium: This is my podcast series I’m working on with a friend. The first episode script is written and ready and now it’s just a case of getting it recorded. For 2016, I’d like to get the first episode recorded and ready, and the scripts for the second and third episodes written.

So this project this year took off big time and ended up being the focus for the year. I ended up writing ten episodes and a bunch of mini episodes amounting to around 50,000 words, so that’s where all my work and energy went. We got a good chunk of the episodes recorded in the fall and winter and the last few in January. The first episode was released January and you can find out all about it on the Ostium website.

BONUS: So here’s a bonus goal, should I need something extra to work on. My novel White Horse is completed in first draft and has been waiting for some editing for a few years now, but I’ve never quite found the time to get around to it. I think the reason for this is because I felt it wasn’t quite right as the novel that it is. It’s taken me a while to figure out what this means and I think I finally have. I originally started the book as a novella, but then it grew into a novel. Now thinking on it for the last few years, while it was fun and interesting writing the whole book, I believe it still wants to be a novella, and needs to get edited down to that. So that can be the extra credit project for the year.

Hahah. Nope. Who knows when this will ever happen. But I always have it as a backup should I need something to work on.

OSTIUM EPISODE 4 – FIRST CONTACT

In Episode 4 – First Contact, Jake learns about some big changes in his life and the world, before he travels to Ostium. He now knows he’s not alone in this special town, and as he passes through Door 4 he wonders if he’ll have any company. Also what world will he be taken to this time?

Written by Alex C. Telander
Performed by Chris Fletcher, who also composed the interstitial music pieces.
Background music by 2Kutup courtesy of the Free Music Archive.

Warning, this episode contains explicit language.

Please help and support Team Ostium by rating and reviewing on iTunes, as well as checking out our Patreon page at www.patreon.com/ostiumpodcast. Perks include mini episodes on the Enigmatic Mysteries of the Unknown, all the music to Season 1, transcripts featuring full-color covers and illustrations, and much more.

And don’t forget to subscribe and tell your friends.

And finally from Team Ostium to you: Thanks for listening.

Bookbanter’s Best Books of 2016

#1

Not Dead Yet by Phil Collins: Phil Collins has been kind of quiet for the last five or so years. He said it’s because he wanted to semi-retire and actually spend time raising a family for once, having never had this experience with his previous three families during his multiple decade-spanning superstar career. Continue . . .

#2

Dark Matter by Blake Crouch: From the author of the Wayward Pines trilogy (now a TV series) comes Blake Crouch’s follow up novel which is in every way as addictive and compelling as his previous works. “Are you happy with your life?” Continue . . .

#3

It’s been a few years since fans enjoyed the last Newsflesh novel, and in that time the dark and twisted Mira Grant has written a number of novellas for various anthologies, which fans may have missed along the way. Thankfully, the wonderful people at Orbit have helped collect all these separate stories together in this mighty and magnificent tome, Rise. Continue . . .

#4

It is likely that you have heard in some way, shape or form of the podcast Welcome to Night Vale that has grown to incredible popularity over the last few years. In addition to putting up new episodes every couple weeks, the team continues to go on live tours not just across the United States, but also across the globe. Continue . . .

#5

Mary Roach has wowed her addictive readers with corpses (Stiff), sex (Bonk), and life in space (Packing for Mars). In Grunt she delves into a new arena with the world of the military and the science behind it that protects them in every way possible. Continue . . .

#6

It’s been many years since readers got the first bloody taste of the terrifying vampires in Justin Cronin’s The Passage. Since that time the second volume of the trilogy, The Twelve, came out with a lesser bang than the first. And now the final volume, The City of Mirrors, is finally here much to everyone’s hope and excitement, and it does not disappoint. Continue . . .

#7

Seanan McGuire has a number of books under her belt, with both the October Daye and Incryptid series. Then there are the many books she’s written under Mira Grant. So with the publication of her new novel,with a new publisher – Tor, readers might be expecting something similar to what they’ve read before. Every Heart a Doorway is completely different to anything she has written before, and it may be (at least in my opinion) the best piece of fiction she’s written so far. Continue . . .

#8

If you’re any sort of epic fantasy fan, then by now you know full well who bestselling author Brandon Sanderson is. You may know him as the author who finished the long-spanning Wheel of Time series by the late Robert Jordan; or the creator of the fantastic Mistborn series; or perhaps you know him as the great mind behind his ongoing epic Stormlight Archive series. Continue . . .

#9

Bestselling science fiction author Allen Steele’s latest novel, Arkwright, is the science fiction equivalent of Colleen McCullough’s The Thorn Birds. Readers get to experience the saga of the family Arkwright and its friends through the centuries and across the distant reaches of space. Continue . . .

#10

Bestselling author Guy Gavriel Kay’s previous two books were fantasy-tinged sweeping works of historical fiction set within the Tang dynasty of 8th century China. In his latest novel, Children of Earth and Sky, he returns to his alternate quasi-medieval Europe that readers have come to know in his Sarantine Mosaic duology and The Lions of Al-Rassan. Continue . . .

#11

The long-awaited (whether it’s published two weeks after the last one or two years, it will always be long-awaited) fifth installment of the Old Kingdom is out! Goldenhand is the one fans have been waiting for, featuring many old friends we’ve cared for and wondered about for some time: Sabriel, the Abhorsen; King Touchstone; Lirael, Abhorsen-in-waiting; and Nicholas Sayre; and yes maybe Chlorr of the Mask is involved somehow too. Continue . . .

#12

It’s been a few years since Robert J. Sawyer published a novel, his last being Red Planet Blues in 2013. With the passing of his brother, Sawyer needed to take some time off. Now he’s back with a new novel, Quantum Night, and if readers and fans might be wondering if the new book might be lacking in some classic Sawyer way with the time off, they will not be disappointed in the slightest! Continue . . .

#13

The second book in The Change quartet, after Stranger, does a lot of things the second book in the series should: opening the world further, adding some new and interesting characters, and raising the stakes to a whole new level that keeps the reader on the edge of their seat. Continue . . .

#14

Charlie Jane Anders is someone who has been very much a mainstay of the science fiction and fantasy world, is a co-editor of the science fiction blog iO9, and Emcees a monthly reading series Writers with Drinks in San Francisco. So it’s not surprising that she should write an interesting novel the blends the worlds of fantasy and science fiction in a delicious way. Continue . . .

#15

There is a Peruvian legend that Andres Ruzo once heard his father tell him, of a mysterious river deep within the Amazon jungle that consists of rushing boiling water so hot that anything living that falls into it is immediately boiled alive. It seems like little more than an entertaining folk tale that can’t possibly be true, but now a geoscientist, Andres Ruzo intends to find out whether there is any truth to this “boiling river” story. Continue . . .

Ostium Episode 3 – 38°20’N, 17°15’W

Jake travels back to Ostium, this time with some specific goals in mind: to find out what is exactly behind those doors in the clock tower, and to discover what might be behind Door #3.

Written by Alex C. Telander
Performed by Chris Fletcher, who also composed the interstitial music pieces.
Background music by 2Kutup courtesy of the Free Music Archive.

Warning, this episode contains explicit language.

Please help and support Team Ostium by rating and reviewing on iTunes, as well as checking out our Patreon page at www.patreon.com/ostiumpodcast. Perks include mini episodes on the Enigmatic Mysteries of the Unknown, all the music to Season 1, transcripts featuring full-color covers and illustrations, and much more.

And don’t forget to subscribe and tell your friends.

And finally from Team Ostium to you: Thanks for listening.

“Not Dead Yet” by Phil Collins (Crown, 2016)


Phil Collins has been kind of quiet for the last five or so years. He said it’s because he wanted to semi-retire and actually spend time raising a family for once, having never had this experience with his previous three families during his multiple decade-spanning superstar career. He also spent it working on this autobiography. And he also spent it as an alcoholic and addicted to intense pain medications, a deadly cocktail that almost killed him multiple times. The last five years have been pretty busy for Phil, much like the previous four decades. Not Dead Yet is his story in his very own words from birth to the present.

Unlike the four founding members of Genesis, Philip David Charles Collins didn’t go to a fancy private school but lived in a poor household and had to earn everything in life from the very beginning. With a mother who loved and supported him greatly, and a father who was distant and indifferent and never seemed to believe in him, Phil knew from a young age he wanted to be a drummer. It was either that or an actor. But when his voice dropped and he had trouble getting roles that paid anything, he dedicated himself to drumming. A lesson or two was all he ever bothered with, and self-taught everything else. During the late sixties he went to every gig he could and got the chance to see acts like Eric Clapton with Cream and Led Zeppelin before they were Led Zeppelin. From a young age he had his heroes and knew where he wanted his life to go, fostered with a foundation in the growingly-popular Motown scene.

A succession of bands led to occasional gigs but nothing really stable and longterm, until he saw an ad for a drummer and went to an audition in front of Peter Gabriel, Tony Banks and Mike Rutherford. He got to cool off in the pool on the private estate while waiting his turn, and was able to hear the other drummers’ auditions and learn from their mistakes. It was 1971, and that was the start of his career with Genesis.

In 1975 Peter Gabriel left the band, but Genesis would keep going on. They recorded an album with Phil doing some vocals while auditioning over a hundred singers for the lead singing role. None of them fit and at the end with touring and commitments to be made, Phil said, “Well, why don’t I have a go?” and thus the new front man for Genesis was decided. In 1980 after his marriage fell apart, Phil spent some time alone recording and eventually the result was his first solo album, Face Value, with the iconic hit and opening track that will never leave him, “In the Air Tonight.”

From then on when he wasn’t recording a Genesis album, he was recording a solo album. If he wasn’t doing that he was producing albums for Eric Clapton or Robert Plant, or going on tour with them as their drummer, or performing at both Live Aids in London and Philadelphia with the aid of a Concord, or he was becoming very close with British royalty as an important member of the Prince’s Trust. And then there was his acting career. The man was everywhere, his music was on every radio station, and the awards started pouring in. But as Mr. Collins recounts in the book, he never asked to do all these once in lifetime opportunities, but when Eric Clapton or Robert Plant asks you to work with them, how can you say no?

Not Dead Yet is both a fascinating and sobering read. Phil Collins is a millionaire many times over, and readers see how with the insane workaholic he was for over thirty years, but at the same time there are those who have suffered, who have loss, mainly family, and Phil himself has had a lot of hardship and pain himself. But he makes no excuses, admitting to his faults and failings as a father and a husband, and goes into excruciating detail when he hit rock bottom as a drug addict in his late fifties and having to go into rehab.

Not Dead Yet is a very moving book, as readers enjoy the many highs of Phil’s life and career, as well as suffering through the many painful lows. If fans want to go that extra yard, they may want to listen to the audiobook as it is read by the great man himself, with his still very prevalent London accent.

Originally written on January 4 ©Alex C. Telander.

To purchase a copy of Not Dead Yet from Amazon, and help support BookBanter, click HERE.

“The Flame Bearer” by Bernard Cornwell (HarperCollins, 2016)


The Flame Bearer is the tenth installment of the Saxon Tales from bestselling historical fiction master, Bernard Cornwell. Is it the final tale in the series? No one knows except Mr. Cornwell himself, and I suppose in a year or so readers will find out. But this volume may be the most important of the series, even over King Alfred’s reign and death, as our fearless and now aged hero, Uhtred, returns to his beloved Bebbanburg.

Uhtred is not a young warrior anymore, and may not be able to perform some of the feats he used to, but he is still perhaps the smartest and most cunning man in all of the lands that King Alfred one day hoped to unite as a single Englaland. For now the land remains divided, with Sigtryggr, a Viking, ruling in Northumbria, and the Saxon Queen Aethelflaed ruling from Mercia. However, they are at a truce; so for the first time in many a year, Uhtred has some free time and he knows just what he wishes to do.

Bringing together his people and those who will fight for him, he heads to Bebbanburg, his home, the land of his father, and the land that rightfully belongs to him, even though he hasn’t set foot on it since he was a child. But this is a Bernard Cornwell novel after all, so nothing will ever go as planned. This is also the Middle Ages also, meaning there are many out there wishing to take lands and make them their own. Such is the way of things, and as Uhtred likes to keep reminding us in the Old English, “Wyrd bið ful aræd,” or “Fate is inexorable.”

Originally written on January 4, 2017 ©Alex C. Telander.

To purchase a copy of The Flame Bearer from Amazon, and help support BookBanter, click HERE.