Friday, November 29, 2013

Gobble Gobble vLog

Got my second vid up where I talk a little about Thanksgiving, Black Friday, love, killing...zombies.

Friday, November 22, 2013

APG #1 Hello YouTube

Hey, folks. Just posting a link to my first vLog here. I'll probably continue blogging at some point, but right now making videos is more fun...and entertaining, for everyone.

Just looking for that face time with folks.


Friday, July 26, 2013

ROUGH MAGIC: Nik & Nika's Relationship

I realized my last post about writing ROUGH MAGIC may have been a bit boorish. Stuff you've already heard. Here's the author lamenting about the process of writing...blah, blah, blah...which, to be honest, is as easy or hard to perfect as any other craft.

What I wanted to talk about today was the relationship between the two main protagonists, Niksabella, and her brother, Nikselpik--without giving any spoilers, of course--and how that relationship mirrors the relationship I had with my brother growing up. I wrote the skeleton of ROUGH MAGIC almost a decade ago. These two characters have been in my head for quite some time, so it amazes me I didn't come to this conclusion sooner.

My brother and I. We went to the same schools, played sports, and were relatively well-liked. Just normal kids, really. But I was the eldest by four years, and I remember giving my brother quite a hard time all the way up until my freshman year in high school.

I'll be honest here, I was a bit of a bully. A dickhead, is probably more accurate.

Notwithstanding the fact that I felt my brother was a mama's boy, over-coddled, and genuinely a little shit. Looking back, nothing could have been further from the truth. We were just different kids. He was crankier (back then) and I was always the self-sufficient, leave-me-alone type kid. Yet, he cried a lot, complained a lot, had a huge temper. He got on my damn nerves!

Let me give you an example. One time, I was talking to a girl on the phone--I was probably thirteen--and my brother got on the second phone, making those weird perverted noises only a little brother wanting to spoil your potential first date can make. I was furious. I hung up, chased him through the house, and shoved him into edge of an open door, where he busted his nose wide open; He may have broken it, I can't remember. I know there was a lot of blood.

Fights like that happened a lot. Him getting on my nerves, me blasting him, and mom coming to pull us apart. A similar incident happened at the zoo where he got on my nerves so bad I tackled him in the grass and pummeled him until he was, again, rescued by mom. Of course, I always loved my brother, and aside from the occasional fight, we were actually good friends. He snubbed my bullying, and usually gave back pretty good. We were often on the same teams for neighborhood pickup games. We played RISK, D&D, and Titan together.

Over time, those incidents waned and disappeared as I went off to college and my brother made his own way through life. I still can't remember why I got so mad at him back then, or what prompted me to bully him. I was generally a good kid and didn't pick on anyone else, nor did I have any disciplinary problems.

Yet, our past resurfaced, subconsciously, while dreaming up ROUGH MAGIC, manifesting in the two main protagonists, Nik and Nika. Why? I believe it was because I felt horrible about what I'd done, and I wanted to find someway to apologize as well as allow my brother to have a chance to confront me about it (in a fictional setting). Although we've never talked about our past in that sense--I still don't know if he remembers things the same way I do--creating Nik and Nika allowed me to work out that situation, to take a look inside the head of someone being bullied, and to see how that could have affected them negatively. Probably to punish myself as well.

That's what drew me (and continues to draw me) into the Nik/Nika relationship. They still have a lot of shit to work out. It gets deep, much deeper than anything me and my brother went through. It is, at times, intense...and I have to step away from the keyboard.

Anyway, that's the story. That became my motivation for this brother and sister duo. I hope you take the time to read about them in ROUGH MAGIC (GnomeSaga #1) and continue in book #2, THE TINKERMAGE.

Friday, July 19, 2013


With ROUGH MAGIC out for four months now, I have a little time to reflect upon its writing. I did a lot of great interviews and enjoyed a HUGE amount of support from folks in the writing community, as well as gained a few fans. I suspect I'll realize some things down the road, some introspective thoughts about my growth as a writer, at which point I might have another update. But for now, I will tell you two things.

Writing a novel sucks. Writing a novel is wonderful.

Of course, I'm leaning toward the "it's wonderful" direction. The bad can be summed up as a feeling of never-ending mental slogging. It's like doing homework every day for months, even if you are having some fun doing it. If you work a day job or have kids, the mental stress doubles and you must struggle just to find time to write. It will test the hell out of your patience, and make you question yourself every day. Surely, there are better things to do? Things that provide more immediate rewards.  
Then again, I'm the kind of guy who puts a lot of pressure on themselves. Just how I am. 

And then you hit one of those days where things seem to be sailing along nicely: the words are effortless, your goal is within sight, and there's big, fat snowflakes falling quietly outside your window. 

If someone were to ask me what other lesson I learned in writing this book (and what lesson I would take moving forward), it would be that a better use of my time and less "fiddling around" would help. Once you start a novel, and if you are serious about it, the novel doesn't go away. It sits there in the back of your mind while you play video games or hit the pub, telling you what a shitty person you are for leaving it unattended. I stretched the writing of ROUGH MAGIC out over a year or more, with some months doing no writing at all. I would have been better served hunkering down for three or four months and getting it done. I could have done better, and I will from now on.

But I suppose, if it were that easy, anyone could do it. 

One thing I would like to express to the world is my gratitude. I've met so many great writers (via the interwebz) because of this book, enough to make my head spin. And I suppose this is what my first year in the "biz" is all about. Absorbing everything, enjoying the successes as they come. Learning from all the great reviews (and some not so great)...

Getting older and having slight health issues (as well as watching some good people die around me) has led me to never take life for granted. As much as I'm a proactive, I realize this existence can end at any time. I'm so grateful to have had a good life, with good friends, and ended up in a great spot in life. I've found my true calling, and I'm excelling at it. I have only one book out...but WOW, does it feel good.

Well, that's all I have for now. THE TINKERMAGE and THE TEN THOUSAND THINGS (Dead West II) are up next.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Now What?

I just finished up a short story that turned into a novella. I'm not sure how that happened, but it did. Actually, it is just short of a novella, but I'm not counting. It was a monster to me. I reckon the best thing to do is let this simmer on the back burner for a few days and then approach the second draft. I hope it isn't like my other short stories where a near complete re-write seems eminent.

What else is going on? Well, I have one short story in at BCS (Beneath Ceaseless Skies) and I'm trying to figure out what to write next. I envision self-publishing a couple of projects which I would make available for free on Kindle and Nook. I'd also like to produce trade paperback versions for both projects available at a very small cost to cover printing, etc.

The first project would be a set of fantasy short stories introducing folks to my fiction. Just need one more good story to complete that set. Next would be this quasi-novella I just finished.

This past year has been a major wake-up call regarding book marketing. Writing is hard enough, but marketing is even harder. There's no real formula except for the the one you create based on your style and experience. It can be frustrating and time-consuming, but if you are passionate about your product then you will have fun doing it. If you aren't having fun marketing your product, then you may have lost your passion about that product.

Now to place my chin in my hand and contemplate what to write next.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Black Characters in Horror Movies: Do They Survive?

Last night at a Halloween party, I made many new friends, two of which were a couple of African American gentlemen. One was dressed as an undead Tupac and the other as the leader of a white power movement. Strangely, that made me a little uncomfortable but in a fun way...I think. I, on the other hand, went as a hillbilly, which wasn't too far of a stretch for me.

Our obvious affinity for Halloween was just the icebreaker we needed, and so we all started to share Halloween stories. Eventually, we ended up discussing black characters in horror movies and how they never survived the movie. A couple of us disagreed, and so they challenged us to name five horror movies where the black actor makes it to the end.

Talk about fun! As a fanatical horror movie buff, this is just the thing I love to talk about.

I rattled off three pretty quickly.

(1) The Thing
(original) : Childs (Keith David) survives.

(2) Dawn of the Dead (original) : Peter (Ken Foree) indeed escapes. Note, they wouldn't let us use the remake where Kenneth (Ving Rhames) makes it.
(3) 28 Days Later : Selena (the stunning Naomie Harris) not only makes it but kicks serious ass.

We tried Candyman, played by Tony Todd, but were not allowed that one because he was a villain. We got a good chuckle when Vampire in Brooklyn with Eddie Murphy was brought up, but we couldn't really count that one either.

BAM, (4) Blade with Wesley Snipes. And then, sadly, we got stuck for awhile. Keep in mind, the actor needed to survive the movie. I pulled out my trusty iPhone and discovered the website which gave us some ideas.

We chose (5) Gothika with Halle Berry.

Notable mentions should include Queen of the Damned where actress Aaliyah played Akasha. Although she dies at the end, it was a great role. Danny Glover in Predator II, Scatman Crothers in The Shining (although he didn't survive the movie, he does survive in the book) and Charles S. Dutton in Cat's Eye.

While still not as represented as they should be, it does appear that black actors are getting an increasing number of great roles in horror movies. I hope this is a sign that we can continue to embrace the horror genre as a way to bring people together.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

My car is a sword.

It occurred to me that writing in the traditional fantasy genre is the best vehicle for expressing my thoughts and feelings about the world. Or, at least it should be. After all, I am well-read in the genre, and I enjoy taking the simple idea of swords and sorcery and broadening it, filling it up with robust characters and new takes on magic and action sequences. It seems comfortable to me.

I imagine a lot of writers come to this realization about their genre sooner or later, but it actually dawned on me just a few days ago.

The reason I thought about this (I suspect) was because a friend recently told me they missed my "goth" stuff, which usually reflected my dry, pretentious sense of humor. When I was in "goth" mode, my characters could afford to hate the world for no apparent reason. I could develop cute, nerdy, pretentious goth girl characters. Not that I didn't write with feeling, but my writing supported the genre's stereotypes a little too much. In a sense, it was a bit like mental masturbation. Like the drum solo that never ends or the guitar player who overplays.

I've written more in the traditional fantasy genre this past year than in all the previous years put together, and I wasn't sure what drove me to it until now. When I write traditional fantasy, I worry less about the technologies involved, less about how to get my characters from here to there. Life is simpler.

Ironically, this leaves the door open for me to make things as complicated as I'd like. To me, fantasy is a more comfortable place to develop atmosphere and motivation, plot and pace. In fantasy, I seem to be able to create characters that pop and stories with layers. It all goes back to writing what you know and being comfortable expressing a full range of emotions and feelings within that realm.

Are you in the right genre?

Swords and sorcery. I'm happy to be back.