• Analyzing the Marvel Cinematic Universe Villains: Colonel William Stryker (X2: X-Men United)

    Col. William Stryker X2: X-Men United (2002) This villain represents an amalgamation of several characters from the X-Men comics/cartoon, but they’re all basically the same guy–a bigot. And the scary thing is he exists in real life. This isn’t Mephisto or Stegron. This is your next-door neighbor. This is a congressman working right now and he’s in charge of a hell of a lot of tanks and missiles. Characteristics and Powers: None. He’s just a human. But that gives him an advantage–being human (and a decorated military scientist) he can borrow the ears of politicians and influencers, especially with his background in mutant research. And from that research he’s developed…

  • Star Wars Fans Will Never Be Satisfied

    I’m starting to think Star Wars fans will never be happy, no matter what. Anything after the original trilogy has been met with scorn. They didn’t like the Holiday Special because it was cheesy, poorly written, insane, and most definitely not Star Wars. They didn’t like Droids or Ewoks because they were cheaply-made cartoons meant to sell toys. They didn’t like the Ewok Adventure movies because they were low-budget, childish, and too simple. They didn’t like the re-release of the special editions because it monkeyed with the original by adding CG stuff. They didn’t like The Phantom Menace because it was full of non-essential scenes, poor acting, “explained” things that…

  • Stories Have Fates Too

    And then sometimes God just doesn’t want a story to be written… I’m working on a Han Solo-pastiche short story and twice I’ve lost my previous day’s progress. Once I lost my entire collection of story notes, and at first I thought “Well, that’s it — everything I thought of is gone.” But somehow I recreated it. Then the second time, in my draft, which is very drafty, I accidentally hit “Don’t Save” instead of “Save” and lost all that with no backup. Sometimes I feel that fate is doing something to prevent me from being a writer because it will screw up his plans or invoke something devastating on…

  • Things I Like: American Fiction

    It’s hard to make a movie about writers. There’s “The Man Who Invented Christmas” about Charles Dickens. And “Best Sellers” which has Aubrey Plaza trying to get Michael Caine–a J.D. Salinger style curmudgeonly shut-in–to promote his new book. Neither of these were particularly exciting because writing just isn’t exciting. But American Fiction is very good, especially if you’re a writer. In the same way I was charmed by Chants of Sennar, I was intrigued by American Fiction. It’s about an affluent African-American professor (his sister’s a doctor and his brother’s a plastic surgeon). He writes normal literary books, but they aren’t selling because publishers only want stories about Black people…

  • The Quality of Short Stories (is impressive)

    Men want a lady in the streets but a vixen in the sheets. Readers want a poet in the short stories but trash in the novels. Case in point: In my research and experience on short stories, it feels like you can get away with “bad writing” in novels. Case in point: E.L. James, Twilight, and this from Colleen Hoover. But for short stories, you need to curlicue and detail every sentence until it shines like an insane piece of art made by an autistic person. I guess people who write short stories (or maybe those who edit them) demand higher quality. This is what they mean when these agents…

  • Two Short Stories Sold

    Well, I must be doing something right because in the past two weeks I’ve sold two short stories to themed anthologies. One was Fairyland, which will be going into an anthology of fairy stories. Fairyland is an old story I wrote way back before I wrote my first novel. (or maybe during?) It was part of my effort to follow Stephen King’s advice for getting published — get a few short stories under your belt, fill out your resume, then submit to agents so they can see you’ve got some publications to back you up. Personally, I really liked its concept but I was an amateur writer so it got…

  • bookshelf books

    The Books I Read: March – April 2024

    The Best American Short Stories 2022 edited by Andrew Sean Greer So when I first started this “year of short stories” I asked Reddit how to write one, because I don’t know how. I write novels. I do long form. What they said was “read short stories”. So this is my first foray into sampling what others are doing in the space. All I know is I was glad when it was done. Did I learn anything? Well, I learned that I am way out of my league when it comes to reaching the kind of quality and skill needed to express an idea in a fancy literary way. But…

  • Foreshadowing: Some Post-Midsommar Thoughts

    Foreshadowing is one of those things you learn about in English class that really smart authors put in so they can tell the world how smart and clever they are. But what does it mean? What does it do? What is the purpose of foreshadowing? I just saw Midsommar, a movie with a lot of foreshadowing. I will keep my opinions about the film to myself as they are not relevant to this discussion, but I want to talk about how the movie uses foreshadowing and how it demonstrates that there’s a good way and a bad way to do it. In the beginning, the main character sleeps under a…

  • Short Stories: How It’s Going So Far (Quarterly Check-In)

    Well, I’m still having some trouble making myself write. And when I start a story, it’s a slow ramp-up–like a heavy truck accelerating. Some sessions, all I get down is the first line. Next time, maybe the first paragraph or two. Next time, half a page. Then I can cruise and get five to six hundred words out, which is my standard half-hour session (I’m using the other half for walking to lose weight before a trip to England.) Last month, I drafted, revised, and submitted two fresh short stories to various contests. I found this website that posts opportunities for magazine or contest submissions, and I thought it would…