• 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…

  • Things I Like: Chants of Sennar

    I haven’t talked about video games lately, but I’ll talk about this one. These days I find myself gravitating towards smaller indie games rather than Triple AAA big shots like Nier: Automata or Starfield or Dragon’s Dogma. Who the hell wants to play one video game forever? That’s like eating the same thing for dinner over and over and over. I want to be exposed to all kinds of experiences. Unique ones. Artistic ones. But with the glut of games on Steam these days (seriously, just look at their “New and Trending” list) how am I supposed to discern what’s good from bad? The Triple AAA games always get the…

  • Analyzing the Marvel Cinematic Universe Villains: Green Goblin (Spider-Man)

    Green Goblin Spider-Man (2002) There wouldn’t be an MCU without the one-two punch of X-Men and Spider-Man (2002). Green Goblin may not be the best villain. Heck, he may not be the best in the Spider-Man universe. But you remember him. Characteristics and Powers: Green Goblin makes a memorable villain because of an over-the-top performance by Willem Dafoe. But that’s what makes him so scary, because he can go from calm/rational to unhinged in a second. And you believe you are under threat because you don’t know what he’s going to do. Unfortunately, it’s not the greatest costume or powers. I don’t know about his comic book origins, but in…

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    The Books I Read: January – February 2024

    Golden Son (Red Rising #2) by Pierce Brown I don’t know what defines military science fiction, but this is it. And I’m sorry I didn’t recognize it in my review of the first book when I compared it to Hunger Games because I’m an idiot. Hunger Games was about survivalism. This is about strategy, tactics, politics, and war. I’m an idiot not to see it for what it is. But that doesn’t mean it’s bad. In fact, it’s a testament to how good the book is that it disguises it so well. In Red Rising, it was basically setting up pieces — the character creation and then “the war games”…

  • The Best Stephen King Covers

    I talk about Stephen King a fair amount on this blog, and that’s natural. A hundred years from now we’re only going to remember two authors — Stephen King and J.K. Rowling. But one’s had a ton more books, so I thought it would be fun to go through the various covers (at least the ones I read) and find my favorites. For factors, I thought about marketing and being true to the actual content and themes of the book. There are two important things to communicate about Carrie — that this is the story about a girl with telekinesis and its thematically about violent revenge. A lot of covers…

  • Analyzing the Marvel Cinematic Universe Villains: Magento (X-Men)

    MAGNETO X-Men (2000) I’m starting with this movie because this is the real inception point for the MCU. If not for this movie and its compatriot Spider-Man (coming up next!) there would be no Tony Stark or Avengers. So I think it’s important to examine the precursors and their staying power with audiences. I don’t think it was a great movie — the problem with the X-Men is that it’s character soup — but after the chintzy animated series, it was a gourmet meal. Characteristics and Powers: Can bend and shape metal to his will. This includes stopping bullets in midair and some electromagnetism. And since just about everything in…

  • Short Fiction Banes

    I just started writing these short stories and they’re already kicking my ass. The blank page has never been scarier. I feel like I’m not a real writer when I write these and when I do fulfill it, it feels like crap. Well, not crap per se, but unpublishable stuff. Who’s going to read a dwarf detective story? Every day I come to the blank page and do everything I can to avoid writing. And now I’ve got to come to the blank page once a week. I realize I’ve got no plot for any of these concepts. No story. Nothing that’s going to get published anywhere. I don’t know…

  • Analyzing the Marvel Cinematic Universe Villains

    Time for a new feature on my blog. You’ve read my Analyzing the Disney Villains series. Now get ready for the Marvel Cinematic Universe villains. I think villain analysis is important because one of the keys to a really resounding story is the obstacles that the hero has to go through. The harder the obstacles, the harder the hero has to work, and the more glorious their triumph is. We wouldn’t remember Luke Skywalker as anything but another sandy-haired all-loving hero if not for Darth Vader. We wouldn’t remember wide-eyed innocent Dorothy if not for the cackling Wicked Witch of the West. We wouldn’t remember Batman’s noble pursuit of justice…

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    2024: The Year of Short Stories

    I can’t remember who said it, but a writer once said “Try writing a short story a week for a year. You can’t write 52 short stories and have them all be bad.” I think I can prove them wrong. After nine novels and no bites (by “bite” I mean requests for a partial manuscript) I need to re-evaluate what I’m doing. I’m not sure what’s going wrong. (See previous entry about unhelpful rejection letters). But they say only a fool keeps doing the same thing expecting different results. So I need to do something different. I need to get back to basics. Figure out the fundamentals. So this year…

  • bookshelf books

    The Books I Read: November – December 2023

    It by Stephen King(re-read) I can’t remember what inspired me, but one day I just thought “I should re-read It“. It’s a defining book of both an author and a genre. Two two-part movies have been made about it. It’s an intrinsic part of the cultural zeitgeist. It was Halloween time. A good reader re-reads the classics every once in a while. It’s been about twenty years since my first reading, back when I was just starting as a writer (lowercase w). This time I was able to read it with a more critical eye. The eye of an author, knowing what I know about good writing and about Stephen…