Fireflies & Laserbeams

It’s Book Award Season

Thursday September 2, 2021 | By Hieronymus Hawkes | Awards | Leave Comments

I submitted for maybe half a dozen book awards. I've heard back from three so far and I made the cut in one that is still going. I made finalist in another but didn't win.

And today I found out I won  National Association of Book Entrepreneurs Summer 2021 Best Science Fiction Book!

This is their 39th year doing book awards by category. It's always rewarding to get recognized for the effort.

I have to say I am quite pleased with how Effacement turned out. The reviews have been generally great, and best of all nobody has said I suck at writing and should stop. That was my biggest fear.

Imposter syndrome is real.

If you haven't checked out the novel you can see it here: Effacement

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Hope you are well despite everything!

Thursday August 26, 2021 | By Hieronymus Hawkes | Writer's life | Leave Comments

Just ruminating a bit about where I am in my life. I retired after a 32 year career flying jets for the Air Force and Reserves just over 3 years ago and embarked on a new journey as a simulator instructor and writer.

A little more than a year ago my wife of 28 years passed from a recurrent case of breast cancer that was caught much too late.

In the time since then my life has changed dramatically. I met my soulmate. This takes nothing away from my late wife. We had a wonderful marriage and raised four kids together, but we were very different people. She was very solitary and loved being at home with the family. She loved peace and quiet and working out. She loved our kids and our dogs, but we were getting to place where our kids were grown and we would have been empty nesters. She was a brilliant person and could focus on something without getting bored better than anyone I have ever met, but she struggled with being out in public.

My new life accomplice is an amazing person, and also a widow, that shares so many things in common with me it is almost spooky. We joke that we were married to the same person, one that would rather stay home and do something quiet. But honestly that is not us. We love music and we like it loud. We love to travel and adventure and see live music and we are doing that together, and despite the restrictions that came with COVID, it has been wonderful. Something I didn't think I would have in my life ever again. She even got me to do karaoke for the first time last weekend!

My youngest daughter got married and graduated college and moved away to Florida. Somewhere in there she and her husband both got COVID, but it didn't hinder them too much, thank God, other than the loss of her sense of smell. She is only now starting to recover that.

I published my first novel. I am way behind on what I spent putting it out and marketing it, but I figured I was going to pay for my lessons with this book, and I feel like I have. The next novel release should go a lot smoother and I know what I'm doing (mostly.)

My eldest son started law school, commuting from home for now. My youngest child started his freshman year, after a gap with everything that was going on in our lives.

I feel like I have reached a new stage of my life, and I also feel a little bit like a butterfly that has emerged from a cocoon, with so much to see and experience.

I am discovering just how much I love music. I have for a long time, but the depth of my love for music, especially 70s soft rock, alternative rock and pop punk, is making me regret that I didn't invest in learning an instrument or learned to sing or how to engineer or really anything related to the music scene. We've been rewatching (new for me) Dave Grohl's Sonic Highways, and it hits me in the gut just how much I love everything about the music scene, from song writing to performing, and how artists do it for the love of it, how it drives them and just how much talent they have for creating something. And their drive to do this makes me a little jealous. To know what you wanted to do since you were 12 or 13 years old. God, how I would have loved that.

I find that I am a very balanced person. A big picture guy. I went to college a little too soon, I was 17, and didn't take it seriously. I missed out on a lot of cool things because I simply didn't have the bandwidth. But now I am slowly catching up. I am happy and in love and loving life. I have several guitars that I hope to learn to play someday, but maybe that's not my thing. I do love to sing now and I am a writer, maybe that will be a thing. Who knows. But despite everything, all of the loss and pain and misery of the last year and a half, I still think life is good and only getting better.

I hope it finds you well.

Warmest Regards.

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Who are your 3 dream Music Festival Headliners?

Sunday August 22, 2021 | By Hieronymus Hawkes | music | Leave Comments

I am picking Bread, The Police, and Bee Gees.

None of these are touring anymore, so that makes it kind of special.

If I had pick 3 that still touring I would pick:

Alter Bridge, Foo Fighters, and Wolf Alice.

We are going to RIOT Fest in Chicago in a few weeks and will get to see a huge number of bands. It will be my first one and I'm very excited.

Chime in with your top three!

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Free Guy!

Sunday August 15, 2021 | By Hieronymus Hawkes | TV and Movie Review | Leave Comments

Over the weekend we went to see several movies, including Free Guy starring Ryan Reynolds. I loved this movie so much! Was it original? Not really. I think Disney's Tron was probably the first to do the plot of somebody stole my game code and made a lot of money on it. But there was enough new takes on the genre to keep my interest, and of course Ryan Reynolds was playing himself again, which I never tire of. Seems like fans love it and critics are not enamored. That's why I rarely look for an actual critic's opinion on any movie I want to see.

Millie is trying to find evidence that an ex-partner stole their code to make his game and never paid them. Inside the game, an NPC named Guy, a teller in a bank that gets robs multiple times a day, gets his agency triggered by seeing Millie's ingame character. He starts leveling up like an actual player and go viral outside of the game for doing good deeds instead of bad ones, which the game invites. When Millie runs into a brick wall, she ends up enlisting Guy's help. It is sweet and funny and filled with crazy action sequences.

The thing that really set this one apart was Jodie Comer. Also the surprising romantic nuance. Joe Keery's best role to date as well. But Comer really brings it and stole the show. I walked out of the theater smiling ear-to-ear. Best movie I've seen so far this year. Highly recommended!

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Bird by Bird

Thursday August 12, 2021 | By Hieronymus Hawkes | book review | Leave Comments

Anne Lamott's book with "some instructions on writing and life" was an enjoyable read. This is the twenty-fifth anniversary edition, which came out two years ago. It is quirky and funny and filled with advice that she shared with her writing students when she taught writing.

She has been fairly prolific in the non-fiction category and also has some fiction books, but I was only peripherally aware of her. She is neurotic in the extreme, but it made her a very good camera for taking in the details of life and of people. She has a somewhat skewed view of people but it makes her books interesting. She shared a lot about herself and raising a son, and some of the stories are uproariously hilarious.

She has a wonderful sense of humor and the writing advice she gives is on the money. I enjoyed one tidbit that I am going to try to employ for short story writing.

Highly recommended!

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Glorious Glory Road!

Monday August 9, 2021 | By Hieronymus Hawkes | book review | Leave Comments

I read Heinlein for the first time many moons ago. 1981 I believe, and it was Stranger in a Strange Land. I can't remember anything about it other than the main character having special powers. (I am rereading it now and loving it) I wanted to give it another try as these books were popping up on my feed. I had never even heard of this book before a few weeks ago. Turns out Glory Road was Heinlein's one foray into fantasy and was originally serialized in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction back in 1963, and was then released in Hard Cover later that same year. Glory Road was nominated for the Hugo, losing to Way Station by Clifford Simak.

Heinlein graduated from the US Naval Academy in 1929 with a degree in Engineering and ranked 5th in his class academically. He was a brilliant man and it shows in his writing. I was familiar with a lot of his work and had read several books but I was not well-educated on the craft of writing at the time. Heinlein was the first Science Fiction Writers Grand Master in 1974 and is highly regarded among the elites of the genre. Heinlein is definitely the best writer of his genre from that era. He won four Hugo Awards outright and 7 more Retro-Hugos for works that were published before the Hugo Award existed. Something else I didn't know was that he wrote under multiple pen names: Anson MacDonald, Lyle Monroe, John Riverside, Caleb Saunders, and Simon York.

Glory road is a romp in every sense of the word. It is a portal story where a war veteran is charmed into taking on a job to help a beautiful damsel. Several things set it apart. First and foremost is the writing. He is versatile and gifted with the turn of phrase. He can write poetry as well as create a mouthy swashbuckling hero with equal measure of skill. I was blown away by how good his prose are.

Another thing that sets this particular story apart from other heroic tales is that he keeps going after the journey is over, where most would end with the victory. We find our hero with everything he could possibly want and yet he is bored and unhappy. He determines to find a solution and ends up back on the Glory Road when all is said and done.

This book was written in 1963 and the mores of his generation are very present. He is well known for going against the grain in a lot of subjects. He is big on social responsibility and self-reliance and wrote a lot about politics and religion. I honesty think if he were alive today he would be a progressive, but he was shaped by his military experience, as am I. But his glaring viewpoints on gender stood out. Although he believed in a lot of women's rights, it's pretty clear that the heterosexual paradigm was something ingrained in him. I think it holds up pretty well, simply because his characterizations and prose are so damned good.

I really enjoyed the book and highly recommend it!

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Max Barry does it again!

Friday July 23, 2021 | By Hieronymus Hawkes | book review | Leave Comments

The 22 Murders of Madison May by Max Barry

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Scary start had me wondering. But I'm glad I kept going.
I have every Max Barry book. I love most of his books, but the last one, Providence, was just okay for me. I was hoping for a return to form in this one.
It opens with a difficult and harrowing scene that set the tone for a story that was going to be hard for me to listen to. (I have the audiobook version) I wasn’t sure this was going to work for me, but by the end of the next chapter he had me hooked.
Max wrote some fairly graphic murder scenes in this book, and that is not my normal genre of fiction, but the story turns out was not really centered on the titular character of Madison May, but on Felicity Staples, the reporter that falls into the plot by accident.
It follows her on an adventure to try to save Madison May, repeatedly. I won’t spoil it for you, but suffice to say the story pulled me in and kept me on the edge of my seat all the way through to the ending, which came to a satisfying conclusion.
Helen Laser did a great job narrating and was the perfect Felicity and Maddie. Highly recommended!

View all my reviews

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