Tag Archives: Jim Butcher

Story Time: Blue Beetles and Jim Butcher

Have a bit of time to throw up a post, but not enough time to write a review.  That means it’s story time.

This is the Tale of How I Once Met Jim Butcher….in what approximates to a real world Blue Beetle.

Back in my….Sophomore year of college (I think it was Sophomore…yeah, it had the blue bumper by that point, but hadn’t died on a freeway onramp yet). Back in that year of college, some friends and I heard that Mr. Butcher was going to FINALLY be having a book signing in the Chicago area.  Now, only being an hour and a half ride from Chicago, myself and two others decided it would be a grand plan to go visit him.

Never mind that we had classes the next day at OH MY GOD EARLY O’clock.

Being the only one with a car, it, of course, fell to me to drive this almost two hours to Oak Brook, IL from Kenosha, WI.   In my car.  Which..well…

To give you some idea on what my car was like…

1993 Ford Escort Station Wagon.  Stickshift. When you stepped on the brakes, the speakers on the front passenger side would go out. The clock didn’t tell time, the CD player occasionally ate CDs and I had to pry them out, and that CD player was likely worth more than the Blue Book value of my car.  The front bumper was bright blue from the one and only accident I have ever had (a story for another time), while the rest of it was a lovely beige and the back passenger door didn’t open.

In short, it was my first car and I loved it.

The night we left, it was hitting 5pm. And it was drizzing, as it had been on and off mostly all day. This is my first time on IL toll roads as a driver, and they are under construction as an added bonus. If I stick my arm out the window at a bad moment, the passing Semi could easily just rip that right off.

And then my windows start to fog up ON THE INSIDE and the defroster won’t work.  I put my friends on Napkin Patrol, and the start wiping down the windows when I need to see out of them.

W make it (somehow) alive to the Borders, grabs some floor space and enjoy a wonderful time listening to the Q&A from one of our favorite authors. And then signing starts.  Fast forward about two hours, and it’s finally our time up there.  The conversation at my turn to get my copy of Storm Front signed goes something along these lines…

Butcher: So where are you from?
Me: Kenosha, Wisconsin.
B: *looks up* Sounds like quite a ride.
m: *nods*  But fun.  I have the real world version of the Blue Beetle though. So I’m just glad we made it alive.
B: O.o
m: Is there time I could get a picture?
*picture is snapped*
m: Thank you.
B: You’re welcome.  Thanks for coming and um…drive home carefully.  I don’t want to wake up tomorrow morning and read about a firey crash of a car and college kids in the paper!

The ride home (once we manage to make it on the freeway going the right way) starts at about midnight. And it has been downpouring most of the time we were at the signing, so there are a few places where the roads on the Freeway are FLOODED.

And I’m navigating with a print out from google maps, so it’s not like we can just go around.  Praying to any and all gods listening, we make it through, and back to college by around 2:30 am.

And then I get up for an 8am class.

And that is my story of how I drove the Blue Beetle to meet Jim Butcher.

And somewhere…there are pictures.  I’m going on a hunt tomorrow to find these….

ETA: Found them!










Roadtripping and Books

Thursday through yesterday was spent Road tripping with S. as we went to his grandfather’s 90th birthday party.  I ended up meeting all of his family at once (at least on his dad’s side), which quickly got a little overwhelming.

But there were also wonderful conversations about books and writing, and how it seems now we, as readers, are more interested in the “instant-gratification” of books and story, and hate to sit through those that have too much detail and setting creation.

It got me thinking about what books are still out there today, being written today, that are written like that: poetry in the prose.  As much as I want to be able to, I can’t think of any off the top of my head (though that could be lack of sleep), and that is something that saddens me.  A lot of books in times past truly were able to take you away, and we as readers could almost hear and smell the world around us after getting sucked into that world for hours at a time.

Are there any books out there that still do that to you?

In other news, Borders is closing.  As sad as that is, it also means great deals on books.  A quick trip with S over to the local one landed me three new books for under $3 each.  Now on my reading list is Demon Bound by Caitlin Kittredge–I fell in love with the first one and lept at this one when I saw it–Mercedes Lackey’s old book The Fire Rose, which is a retelling of Beauty and the Beast in San Fransisco in the 1800s, and finally, upon much squeeage from Jim Butcher and his Gnome Priscilla, I also picked up Harry Connolly’s Child of Fire.

There’s also a surprise that I am currently working on for next week, but it involves me finishing another book first, and writing up a weeks worth of material.  For next week, my friends, is Dexter Week here on Inkblabber!

Now to get ready for work and then recover from this road trip.  See everyone later!

How to Make a Villain

A man far better at writing than I am shared this article on magicalwords.net.  Everyone, please meet Jim Butcher, and his article on “How to build a Villain”:  http://www.magicalwords.net/really-i-mean-it/how-to-build-a-villain-by-jim-butcher/

To those of us who are really just getting into the writing game and want advice on how to create characters that you can love and hate, I highly suggest this read.

Butcher also then spend the rest of the afternoon answering questions other readers had on the writing-craft.  So more than just making a villain, there are answers to all sorts of questions we as authors will found interesting and helpful.

Book Review Four: Storm Front by Jim Butcher

Storm Front is the first of the Dresden Files series by Jim Butcher and remains one of my favorites.  It starts off with a quick introduction of Harry Dresden via the eyes of a new mailman.  Dresden is the only openly practicing wizard in the country and often does work for the Chicago Police when they have a crime they can’t solve.

Part wizard, part detective, Harry is called on by the Special Investigations Unit of the Chicago PD when they come across two bodies who have had their hearts torn out of their chests and no one is sure what could have done it. 

Though, for Harry, black magic comes to mind.

Meanwhile, Dresden gets a job to look for a woman’s missing husband.  as he follows the clues that get him closer and closer to where Victor Sells might be, Harry finds himself tangling with vampires, the Fae, demons, even the local Mob boss, Gentleman Johnny Marcone.

Not to mention the other wizards who just don’t seem to trust Harry for one mistake he made in killing someone with magic when he was a kid.

As it turns out though, Victor Sells’ disappearance, the newest “hip” drug called Three-Eye and hearts being torn out of chests are all interconnected and the tangled web they each weave around Harry ends with him face to face with giant deadly scorpions, an insane warlock using black magic and a spell that will end his life if he can’t stop it in time.

The first book in the Dresden Files series, Storm Front is the work of a first time author.  Some of the dialogue seems stilted or forced and the attempt at humorous dialogue is sometimes contrived.  It takes the basic plot of a “urban fantasy” novel and flips it around enough so that it is doesn’t look like anything else.  With the 13th book coming out next week though, Butcher’s writing style has clearly improved and been perfected.  Plots are more original, and even off-hand comments in the earlier books begin to hold great significance in Dresden’s life.

The characters, on the other hand, are well fleshed out from day one.  They are lovable, hate-able, and there are times you just want to scream at them to stop being morons and run before the monsters get them. 

While the other books do improve, this first book isn’t the best in the series, something even Butcher admits to.  I give it four of five stars for character creation and the fact that the books get a lot better as the series rolls on.

If urban fantasy with non-stereotypical vampires, shape-shifting werewolves, faeries, magic and even zombies is your thing, then I highly suggest buying it here.

Cover photo from:  http://www.jim-butcher.com/store?cat=1