J.W. Kurtz (writer)…what I’m reading, what I’m watching, what I’m playing, & what I’m writing:
In an attempt to keep my ever busy mind occupied I quench its thirst with a bevy of media entertainments. Recently I watched Whiplash and wow! Wow! Wow! I haven’t watched such an intense film in I don’t know how long. It was absolutely fantastic. I don’t much care for the Academy Awards (Oscars) because they rarely if ever get it right. Well, J.K. Simmons winning for Best Supporting Actor was certainly warranted. I’ve always been a Simmons fan and it’s great to see that not only did he get casted in a role absolutely perfect for him to display his range but that he also received the accolades for his work. “Well done” all way around I must say. There is one thing that indie films and books tend to get right when compared to the massive corporate blockbuster world of media entertainment and that is story and heart. Indie’s time and time again get it right in a more consistent manner than the big fish. If you haven’t seen Whiplash you owe it to yourself to do so. Be prepared…it is rather intense and there is more than a little swearing so if you’re offended by such a thing you’ve been warned. Enjoy!
Currently I’m working my way through viewing The Last Ship. I’m more than half-way through the first season and I must say…it is not very good but I can’t bring myself to stop. I don’t know why. Maybe it’s the absolute absurdity of the whole thing. I feel like I am rubber necking while watching this fiasco. I need to stop but I just can’t! And no, it is not a guilty pleasure. It’s more like masochism.
What got me to watch The Last Ship in the first place? Well, I attempted to read the book once when I was about 14. I made it about 50-pages in and quit. I put it back on the shelf and moved on. Then about 6-7 years later I tried again. I loved the idea of it all but it was just very, very hard to get into. Then I tried about 5-years after that believing that my stronger background in naval history and end-of-the-world scenarios (I studied such fun things in college!) would better prepare me for one more attempt. Nope. Still couldn’t go past page 100 or so. Now here I am having a rough outline of the story (it is very different from the book) delivered to on the TV and I just sit there shaking my head wondering how it became a series. I’m shaking my head even as I write this. Obviously the creators of the series never attempted to read the book the show is based on for if they had they would have gone on to instead make a zombie vampire reality show or something. Oh and there’s a season 2!!! Crazy!
What am I playing??? Yeah I’m a gamer. A gamer that goes back to the Commodore 64 and Atari. Following those up I gamed on the first Nintendo NES and then I moved into the PC world of gaming. I’ve built…many, many systems over the years. Too many to count. I love games of all genres but especially strategy games. FPS and RPG games are fun but to me they don’t compare to the thrill I get from a classic double pincer move on a battlefield. Good times. The other day I found a deal on Steam for a game I’ve heard about for a while but I just haven’t had the time to check it out. The game is called FTL: Faster Than Light. It was on one of Steam’s super discount sales. I think I paid like $2.50 for it. How could you miss for the cost of less than a cup of coffee, right? Well, it was a bullseye. I played that thing for half the night. I’m looking forward to playing it later today when I get all my chores and projects done for the day. It’s my reward. Check it out. If you like strategy and supporting indie works you will not be disappointed!
Now what am I writing? I’m happy to have a great deal of time to work on my writing projects this summer. I hope to have the sequel to my first book, The Bellerophon: Ambush, completed by the end of the season. What has kept me so behind on this project? Well, I wrote about 80-90k words in a side project and then shelved it because work was interfering with my process and a whole bunch of other things were
going on. I don’t see it entirely as wasted time because it will be out at some point but I am really focusing now on Bellerophon Book 2 (just my working title). I do want to thank, again, all the people that have read and taken the time to review Book 1. There is nothing more thrilling to me than to see my book has been downloaded and that it was enjoyed enough to earn a review. Even the critical reviews are appreciated because they push me to do better. Thanks everyone!
Yes…it’s been awhile since I’ve posted. Sorry! Been busy with work and all that fun stuff that fills my days with responsibility and whatnot. Over the last two weeks I did manage to watch Longmire Season 3 and Vikings Season 3 so stay tuned to reviews on those shows. Vikings Season 3 is haunting me. I’m still trying to put it together in my mind. Also, I’m about a third of the way through my current writing project (Book 2 of The Captive Galaxy series) and making good progress that I would be much more thrilled about if I had an extra day or two per week to work on it but when I get home my brain is absolutely fried and watching Longmire, Vikings, or the Mariners lose is pretty much all I can stand. School is out in less than 3-weeks so I hope to get the rest done, edited, and up on Amazon by the end of the summer. I’ve learned a lot this year, between starting and pausing projects and juggling work with much needed downtime, so I hope next year will be much more productive in regards to my writing.
I did come across this and found it quite interesting:
“Teachers’ hefty salaries are driving up taxes, and they only work nine or ten months a year! It’s time we put things in perspective and pay them for what they do — babysit!
We can get that for less than minimum wage.
That’s right. Let’s give them $3.00 an hour and only the hours they worked; not any of that silly planning time, or any time they spend before or after school. That would be $19.50 a day (7:45 to 3:00 PM with 45 min. off for lunch and planning — that equals 6-1/2 hours).
So each parent should pay $19.50 a day for these teachers to baby-sit their children. Now how many students do they teach in a day…maybe 30? So that’s $19.50 x 30 = $585 a day.
However, remember they only work 180 days a year!!! I am not going to pay them for any vacations.
That’s $585 X 180= $105,300 per year. (Hold on! My calculator needs new batteries).
What about those special education teachers and the ones with Master’s degrees? Well, we could pay them minimum wage ($7.75), and just to be fair, round it off to $8.00 an hour. That would be $8 X 6-1/2 hours X 30 children X 180 days = $280,800 per year.
Wait a minute — there’s something wrong here! There sure is!
The average teacher’s salary (nationwide) is $50,000.
$50,000/180 days = $277.77 per day / 30 students = $9.25 / 6.5 hours = $1.42 per hour per student — a very inexpensive baby-sitter and they even EDUCATE your kids!)
WHAT A DEAL!!!!”
Update: NOT talking about Russia, the continued slow death of the Constitution, or UC Irvin. Nope all about Sci-Fi!
An update for those that enjoy my updates. And for those that don’t…well whatever then. This update is about my writing and has nothing to do with the Russian assassination of a critic of dictator Putin or the attack on the US Constitution by those sworn to uphold it nor will I go into detail about my thoughts on the UC Irvin banning of the American Flag (at least until these future leaders of the “free world” realized they’d lose their funding and loans if they followed through with it). I must share that there’s a reason why I write science fiction and I study the past…it’s because the “now” kinda sucks. We are far, far from the Greatest Generation it shames me to say. Oh well I suppose the Earth Abides (my second favorite book of all time – check it out!).
My writing projects have been slowed by work. I wish I could devote more time to them but in teaching 4 of 6 classes that are outside my specialty (or any type of training) I find I’m pretty busy during waking hours. Trust though that I am still working on the sequel to The Bellerophon: Ambush. The first 3 chapters are done and the majority of the book has a very detailed chapter by chapter draft/plan in place. Just need time to do it all! And I’m also busily putting together other outlines as well. I’m good for the next 10 years of writing I think, now if I could spend any of those 10 years actually writing I’d be good to go I think! Don’t worry. I’ll have the sequel done going into the summer. I can tell those of you who have followed my writing that this next book will be far more entertaining than the first. Promise!
P.S. Reviews/rating are welcome!
I’m happy to announce that my book, The Bellerophon: Ambush, has gone live…again, but this time as a heavily updated 2nd edition. I’ve asked Amazon to push the updated version so that readers who previously downloaded a copy will have in their possession a greatly improved version complete with 4-5 thousand additional words of content as well as many (too many!) resolved grammatical issues. Also, the timeline has been moved to the end of the book as a final chapter under the heading “REFERENCE.” Previously the timeline was at the beginning of the book. Some loved it. Too many didn’t. I’ve also included a short excerpt from my upcoming work Sigma Draconis which can be found after the timeline. Thanks for the continued support from my readership and the patience while I prepared this 2nd edition. It’s been a journey to say the least!
J.W. Kurtz update.
I’ve been writing and editing like mad. Recently I pulled my book from Amazon for a short hiatus as I do some heavy re-editing. I hope to have the 2nd edition out by then end of January. I’m about 80% done with this renovation project. I can promise you this…IT WILL BE MUCH BETTER than the 1st edition plus it will have a snippet of my 2nd book. I’ll update, tweet, post like crazy when edition 2 is done. I miss checking the Amazon Authors page daily!
My second book, Sigma Draconis, and just where exactly am I on that? I’m nearly at 80K-words. I would say I’m well over halfway through the first draft. Maybe a little more. Maybe a little less. I hope to have it out by the middle of the spring. I wish writing was my fulltime job but it isn’t…for now. The sequel to my first book will be started in earnest the day after I finish Sigma D.
In the meantime I hope to post some more movie/show reviews soon.
Thanks for reading. Thanks for checking-in.
Okay…so I get up this Black Friday morning thinking that I may browse some of the deals online before I get to work on my daily writing goal. Maybe while “window” shopping I’ll come across an interesting writing prompt to get me warmed up. I come across the new Star Wars trailer so of course I watch it a time-or-ten.
My reaction? ( Note: it is vitally important to remember that my personal reaction weighs oh so heavily on the Internet and its ultimate well-being).
My reaction is “huh…” So it appears JJ Abrams is doing what I expected him to. He’s turned Star Wars into a grittier world much like another movie franchise…now what was that one called again? Oh, yeah, Star Trek! Now just throw in a couple of redshirts (color the white stormtroopers red maybe), warp drive, phasers, and teleporters now because they would not be entirely out of place after seeing and hearing the trailer. Even the voiceover guy, talking about the “awakening force” and whatnot, sounds very much like it could have been recorded for a Star Trek movie trailer.
We did get to see the Millennium Falcon so that was pretty cool. What was completely missing was any other recognizable character – unless of course you consider tie fighters, storm troopers, and x-wings characters, which I suppose they kinda are. Where is Luke, Leia, Han, all the hyped up returning folks? Where is the wookiee roar! For goodness sake? Where are the stars of Star Wars!? Where are the stars for that matter? Everything takes place over sand dunes, a dark forest (I have to admit the bad guys red light saber looks cool – it has to be difficult to imagine a usable bad guy sword for every new Star Wars movie I suppose), and there are even x-wings screaming over what appears to be a lake. Nothing in space. Nothing.
So after viewing the trailer I am neither turned on or turned off (okay…maybe there was a little hair standing up on my arms when the Falcon zipped by – been missing her for more than 30-years!) for the upcoming mega-blockbuster-cashcow-in-waiting. I left more scratching my head trying to swallow the pill that this is Star Trek with the force and guys sweating like crazy under their stormtrooper armor. Just not entirely thrilled with the initial feel (love it for Star Trek but it has been done!) and not super excited about the look at all. Even the stormtrooper blasters look wrong. And what the heck is with the beach ball droid??!! I hope that droid isn’t a major player because I have a feeling he could be a mechanical Jar-Jar or something.
Yes, Disney, I’ll pay to watch it…I’ll pay for the Blu-ray to follow most likely. But I’m not going to say right now that it looks like I’m going to like it.
Just be prepared for the inevitable Star Trek crossover in the future everyone. Seriously.
This will be brief.
I only wanted to share that besides the Sigma Draconis sci-fi project and The Bellerophon: Ambush related novella, I will also begin work on a short novel in honor of my dog Sasha who passed away this past weekend. Upon her departure she left me with a final gift: inspiration. I miss her very, very much (just going through the motions at work right now) and I hope to honor her memory with a story that will be lasting. This will be a YA/Sci-Fi story concerning the loss of a beloved pet.