Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Juggling Priorities

As mentioned previously, I’ve started a new novel.  It’s progressing better than hoped, mostly because I’ve stayed ahead on blog posts and am not stressed about meeting that schedule.  I’ve also carved out ten to fifteen minutes each day to devote to writing.

That doesn’t mean I’m not still preparing to publish.  I reviewed/edited Homecoming recently, and I’ve begun the process of bringing that to market.  It is currently planned as my last novel for publishing unless I can make a few bucks to sustain myself, but we’ll see how long that lasts.  After all, I have several more in reserve(that still need rewrites), as well as a sequel to Salvation Day demanding to be written.  That sequel is my next task after the current sci-fi/fantasy novel, but that could mean starting in a year or five years.  We’ll find out.

Speaking of my rewrites, I’ve gotta find time for those at some point.  Akeldama’s sequel needs major overhauling, and that’ll probably be the easiest project.  My apocalyptic novel about a group of psychokinetic overlords needs a total rewrite(like, from scratch), and my novel about Armageddon needs to be rethought in order for it to be coherent.

So I’ve got some work.  The key is to focus on one at a time, and my new novel will be that piece.

Sunday, October 18, 2020

Engaging With Writing Forums

I’ve joined writersforum.com, both to connect with other writers and get the word out about my own writing.  I’m not spamming folks with talk about every blog post I make or how they just have to buy my book, for that would quickly grow tiresome.  One of the main complaints about authors on writing forums is that they do nothing but plug their book(s), and it fades into background noise.  People ignore those folks after a while, making the whole enterprise pointless.

I see marketing my work as part of what to do on a writing forum, but not the end-all-be-all.  I’ve engaged on what I think makes good characters, how I develop plot points, and how outlining versus spontaneous writing works.  It allows others to know who you are and let’s you get to know others.  That makes it so much easier for them to not only accept but celebrate your writing when you release.

Unfortunately, it’s also time consuming.  I started off posting and replying several times in my first weekend, but the weekend is easy, especially when excitement is fresh.  I still work a full time job, so getting on during the week is challenging.  The weekends are challenging when my family is competing for my time(and they’re my priority).  I guess this whining is to say I’m still trying to find the right balance to get my work out there.  I get how this could be a full time job, and I ain’t there yet(because I like to eat and own a home, and my other job pays for those wacky things).  If y’all could just buy my books, I could focus more on selling them. 

Thursday, October 15, 2020

Worst Superhero Movies

Okay, last time I did worst science fiction movies.  Now it’s time to do worst superhero movies.

Superhero movies are supposed to be a little bit beyond the normal realm of suspension of disbelief.  After all, we’re talking about people flying through the air and shooting laser beams from their eyes.  But there still has to be some depth.  People have to be willing to see something that says “Hey, this could happen under the right circumstances.”  Even our favorites can’t just show up and start being super campy.  That’s little more than an attempt to capitalize on childhood nostalgia.  Well, you know who pays for movie tickets?  It’s not usually children.

1.   Batman & Robin – Wow, starting off the list with a bang.  While nothing can match Christopher Nolan’s BatmanBegins trilogy, the original Batman movie with Michael Keaton was at least somewhat fun.  We hadn’t had a real Batman movie, and Keaton made it interesting, along with Jack Nicholson’s portrayal of the Joker(only surpassed decades later Heath Ledger).  Sure, it was a bit campy, but it was fun and in line with most Batman comics.  Batman & Robin was not.  It took the gritty Gotham look and gave us gangsters that wore fluorescent face paint, as well as Arnold being, well, super-Arnold.  Let’s leave aside a bat suit with nipples, or the way they denigrated Bane - someone asked Joel Schumacher if he’d ever read the Batman comics.  When he said he didn’t read comic books, most folks knew that was why this movie sucked.

2.   BatmanVersus Superman – Sticking in the Batman universe, the newest reboot was awful.  Great potential that was utterly wasted.  It didn’t help that they put Ben Affleck as Batman(I once posted a list of people who would’ve made better Batman actors, and I think I included Verne Troyer and Drew Barrymore on that list), but the conflict itself made no sense.  And did they really need to try and stuff every single DC superhero into the movie?  It was pretty obvious that they felt they had to catch up to the MCU overnight, and it came off as forced.  I watch it if it’s on TV now solely for comedic value.

3.   SupermanIV: The Quest For Peace – Let me first cop to my undying view that Christopher Reeves will always be Superman.  His portrayal in the early 80s was what seared into my mind.  That said, he should’ve been kept as far as possible away from story input.  From what I’ve read, Reeves was instrumental in developing the plot for this hippie-snoozefest about Superman ridding the world of nuclear weapons and fighting a villain that got his juice from the sun.  No, Christopher…just no.  It not only made Superman Global Cop #1, it also would’ve justified Batman’s later attempt to off him by pointing out there’s a super-powered alien who thinks he knows best for humanity, and he’ll impose his version of peace on us whenever it suits him.  I have no idea who had enough blackmail material on Gene Hackman to make him appear in this farce, but it must’ve been a doozy.

4.   CaptainAmerica(from the 1970s) – no, this isn’t about the MCU.  In the late 1970s(1979), Rod Holcomb made this terrible film about a Captain America wearing a motorcycle helmet and riding a rocket powered bike with a detachable glider.  It was so cheesy that I can’t even recall who the villain was.  I watched this on a Saturday afternoon in the 1970s, and even my six year old self knew it was bad.  Maybe there was some kind of contractual obligation to make this and they threw it together at the last minute.  Zero real special effects and a plot that was basically, “HERE’S CAPTAIN AMERICA!” made for a boring Saturday afternoon.

5.   JusticeLeague – okay, okay, so there’s another recent DC installment here, but did anyone feel any tension in this movie?  Like…at all?  I have no idea why the bad guy was doing what he was doing except that he was bad and hated good.  The special effects gave an eerie red glow to things, and no one cared about the heroes.  Also, the outcome was never in doubt.  In Infinity War, the MCU shocked us by following through on the finger snap, and while we knew that the Avengers would eventually make things right, there was some tension as we figured a few of our favorites wouldn’t make it.  In Justice League, I never had that doubt.  Steppenwolfe’s army was so weak that the JLA made it through to the main boss with no trouble whatsoever, and once Superman was involved, it was mostly a combination of bad dialogue and heat ray vision.  I think DC comics has better characters than Marvel, but DC makes horrible movies.  This was among them.

So, what have I missed?

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Worst Science Fiction Movies

I think I’ve said in the past that science fiction tends to be either awesome or horrible – there is very little in between.  Unfortunately, the horrible tends to outnumber the awesome.  For every TheEmpire Strikes Back, we get three or four Battlefield Earths.  That’s why it’s easier to put together a list of terrible sci-fi movies than to put together a list of great sci-fi movies.  Maybe one day I’ll give that other thing a try, but for the moment, let’s look at the worst science-fiction movies of all time(in my opinion).

1.   BattlefieldEarth – this one set the standard for horrible science fiction.  Basically a Scientology advert in movie form, this monstrosity’s terribleness depended on who watched it.  Having read the book when I was 19, I understood that whoever made this movie not only read, but loved the book.  There was far too much content and context taken for granted, and the over-the-top acting by John Travolta made me wince.  The concept – Earth overrun, humanity on the verge of extinction, clawing back against an arrogant alien race – all had potential.  Unfortunately, the movie had all of the arrogance of the Psychlos and none of the humility of Johnny Goodboy Tyler.

2.   Star Wars: The Last Jedi – I’ve detailed this one previously.  Not only is it one of the most convoluted, hammy movies of all time, but piling it into the Star Wars saga makes a bad movie truly atrocious.  From casting off fan favorites(Admiral Ackbar was just a throwaway) to turning our beloved Luke Skywalker into an asshole to trying to make so many uber-woke statements as possible(did we really need an animal rights narrative in this thing?), I was actually pissed off leaving the theater.  I don’t particularly care for The Force Awakens(I think it’s essentially a remake of A New Hope), but I’ve still seen it several times, if out of nostalgia than anything else.  I’ve seen The Last Jedi exactly once, and I promise I’ll never watch that horror-show of my own volition ever again.

3.   WingCommander – Talk about a disappointment.  The Wing Commander books are among some of the most riveting science fiction out there.  Humanity, outgunned and outclassed in straight up fights against the Kilrathi, finds a way to use its cunning to make it a great fight, even while trying to keep the enemy from irradiating our worlds.  Sounds like a great movie, right?  WRONG!  It took an action movie and turned it into some perverse love story(like a commander several grades above her subordinate is going to be so submissive) with terrible special effects and overwrought plot points about bigotry.  I came within a hair’s breadth of walking out of this one, and cheap as I am, that’s saying something.

4.   Final Fantasy VII: The Spirits Within – Speaking of walking out, this is one of the half dozen movies I actually have walked out of.  One of the top three worst movies of all time, it was a Gaia worshiping bunch of new age bullshit.  I couldn’t have made a movie so cliched if I’d wanted to.  From how evil the military was(you know…just because the military must be evil or something) to the lone scientist finding out how it’s all about Mother Earth interconnecting all of us, I couldn’t make it through this abomination.  When a sci-fi fan goes to Hell, this movie is on a loop for all of eternity.

5.   StarTrek V: The Final Frontier – Let’s face it, the first Star Trek movie was pretty terrible.  However, the series found its legs with The Wrath of Khan.  Star Trek 3 was so-so, but number four gave us all a light-hearted laugh.  Yet for some reason, the producers thought they could slap Star Trek onto any piece of claptrap and it’d be a winner.  Uh, not so much.  Plot points that makes no sense, a villain who isn’t a villain, random Klingons(you know…just because), and a trip to the center of the galaxy(that has never been repeated and seems to fly in the face of all space exploration in Star Trek up to now) make for one of the worst Star Trek movies.  I found myself hoping the Enterprise would blow up again, this time from stupidity.

6.   StarTrek Nemesis – Going back to claptrap stupidity, Star Trek Nemesis was the worst of The Next Generation movies, and that’s quite an accomplishment given Generations and Insurrection.  It was the first time I saw Tom Hardy, proving that a decent enough actor can overcome bad movies.  Hardy plays a cloned version of Jean Luc Picard, and then promptly proceeds to emasculate the Romulan Empire with a kiddy-clown version of Data and a space battle so unrealistic I’m surprised he didn’t shoot flying monkeys from the cannons.  It’s the only Star Trek movie I’ve only seen once and will not watch a second time.  Just awful.

7.   TheMatrix 3: Revolutions – The Matrix movies had such potential.  The first one was awesome.  It made us think, and the special effects were groundbreaking.  Even The Matrix 2: Reloaded had some decent parts, with us wondering whether or not Neo being able to affect “the real world” meant that the real world as we knew it was possibly just another part of the Matrix.  But Revolutions was so over the top that it lacked depth.  Agent Smith’s maniacal laugh as he absorbed the Oracle made me wonder if I was watching an old 1950s Flash Gordon movie.  The story, rather than having substance, seemed made solely to showcase special effects.  Special effects are great, but they should enhance rather than be the story…something a lot of sci-fi movies miss.

8.   Terminator:Dark Fate – Let’s face facts that no Terminator movie has been good since Terminator 2.  This one flipped the entire story on its head by killing John Connor at the very beginning and going into woke territory by pushing someone we’ve never heard of before as the new savior.  Sorry, but if “next man up” is a thing in the Terminator universe, then why the hell was it so important to save Sarah Connor in the first place?  And you can’t just slap a machine gun onto Arnold Schwarzenegger’s chest, give him a cheesy line or two, and think that makes it a good movie people will pay for.  Like most uber-woke things out of Hollywood, it destroyed the original storyline to make people who wear ribbons in Hollywood feel better about themselves.  Fans like new and exciting, but they tend to get pissed when you shit all over their favorites.

And that’s my list for now.  I know I’ve probably left off some bad movies, so let me know what you’d have included.

Sunday, October 11, 2020

Ideal Publishing Schedule

I’m hoping to bring out Homecoming by the end of March.  To be honest, that’s going to depend on my ability to manage my money to get a good cover, the right formatting, and make sure I have the right ISBNs.  After that…well…who knows?

Once Homecoming is out, I have to decide whether to write more or revise what I have.  There’s still the sequel to Akeldama that needs to be polished, but my sci-fi/fantasy mashup is also calling my name.  I also have to start considering cost impacts since I am not made of money, and I’ve not sold well enough to self-sustain at this point.  Do I continue to publish?  If so, do I limit to a set number?  That is the quandary of my writing life.

Thursday, October 8, 2020

Re-read Homecoming

As I said previously, I’ve started the process of bringing Homecoming to market.  As part of that process, I had to re-read it and become more familiar with the story and what needed to be done.  Overall, I’m pretty happy with it, and there are few errors.  It flowed a little better than I remembered, but I have a few holes to fill(mostly in dealing with how humanity interacts with an alien offshoot of itself).

This fall, I’ll give the story to an editor, and I hope to get it back by Christmas.  I’m targeting next Spring for release of my true science-fiction novel – an irony given that that’s what I wrote exclusively when I was younger.  A different market and audience, so we’ll find out if I can impact it more than I have other genre markets.

Tuesday, October 6, 2020

Staying Ahead...And Why

I think I’ve said in the past that it’s challenging to stay ahead on this blog.  I want to be able to give three new posts a week, but life gets in the way, and if I don’t stay ahead, I’ll bump up against a deadline and either forgo a post or write a shitty one.  As an aside, I wrote this particular post more than a month in advance and scheduled it(along with a lot of other posts).

That said, I did this originally so that not only could I not miss posts(or have real shitty ones), but so that I could write.  I mean actually write, as in novels in my head.  Unfortunately, I’m not really doing that.

I haven’t written an original novel since I started publishing.  I wrote five that are essentially “finished” enough to edit and publish, as well as another four that require rewrites to be ready, but I haven’t done anything new.  I want to overcome that.  For example, I have an idea for a sci-fi/fantasy mashup, and I even wrote a whole page, but I haven’t done anything beyond that.  No outlining, no plot development…nothing.

So this post is basically a long rant that I need to get off my ass and write.  I should be ahead enough to write on my new idea now.  But I still wonder if writing a novel is more important, or trying to stay connected to the folks who buy my books is more important.  I’d appreciate any insight you may have.

Sunday, October 4, 2020

Starting Over...

I’m trying to remember how to groove.  What I mean by that is that I’ve finally started a new novel.

I haven’t written anything new in years.  I have lots of stuff ready to go or be edited, but I haven’t started an entirely new project since 2015, so I’m trying to remember what to do.  It’s thrilling to remember having so many ideas about a story that I just want to get them down, and frustrating to remember the need for patience so that I plot properly and outline what I need so that the story flows rather than moves in stops and starts.

The new novel is a sci-fi/fantasy mashup where far in the future(millions of years), humanity finally discovers how to create wormholes and move to other stars in a realistic timeframe.  Until this point, mankind terraformed other planets in the solar system and used gravity tractors to move Earth, and others, out of the sun’s expanding orbit so that life can survive.  However, the limited space means that strict population controls are in place.  By being able to expand to other worlds, we can finally loosen those.

However, humanity requires pretty specific conditions to live, and there are less than 500 planets in our galaxy that are true candidates for colonization.  The first mission is headed to the first candidate – a similarly sized world orbiting a K-type star about 100 light years away.  We monitored this and other stars for centuries and never found any signs of life(as evidenced by technological activity).  We assume we’re the sole humanoid-type lifeform that is around, although we continue to look for other life.

Unfortunately, we find surprises on the new world.

It appears a human civilization is alive and well on the world we found.  Unlike ourselves and our civilization, this one uses magic and other fantasy elements, demonstrated by the first probe sent being destroyed by dragons.  Exploring further, we find dwarves, elves, goblins, and other races sharing this world in various empires.  They compete against each other, even occasionally going to war, but there’s one piece of land they cooperate on – a small island where wizards and warriors watch over several pits leading to the underworld.  Our technological adventurers decide to explore this, and they upset a delicate balance.

I hope to have the first draft done by next summer, but we’ll see how fastidious I can be.  I’ve got a group of beta-readers, and I’m hoping that by the time you read this, they have the first chapter…

Thursday, October 1, 2020

Soldiers

One of the reviewers for Schism wrote about a quirk I failed to notice while writing, but which is part of my life – that I capitalized the S in Soldier.  This isn’t something normally done since S is usually lower-case for soldiers for most people.  However, I’m not most people.

Until August of last year, I was a Soldier for 24 years.  General Eric Shinseki sent out guidance long ago, when he was the Army Chief of Staff, that soldier should be capitalized as Soldier.  It’s an Army thing rather than a “regular writing” thing,  Just a quirk of my former career, and it was second nature to me.

Any other quirks of writing that affect you?  What do you do differently than the so-called “right” way of doing things?

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

On To Homecoming!

Now that Schism has been published, it’s time to start moving forward on my next(last?) published novel, HomecomingHomecoming is my first real sci-fi novel to be published, which is weird for me because when I was a kid, that’s all I read for enjoyment.  In fact, one of the main reasons I started writing in the first place was to write science fiction.

I’m still a ways off from publishing(2021?).  I’m not even to finding a cover yet.  First, I have to rebuild my cash reserves since publishing can be expensive unless sales exceed expenses(hint, hint – buy my books and reduce that for me 😊 ).  I also need to conduct a final edit myself before looking for an outside editor(truth be told, I’ll likely seek out the same editor I used for Wrongful Death).  There are a few mistakes in Schism that have to be corrected and resubmitted – a genuine pain in the ass – but since it’s a more conventional novel, I need a more conventional editor.

Of course, when I say “conventional,” I mean conventional from a grammar and spelling standpoint.  Homecoming itself is anything but convention – I wrote it in a journal format.  It tells the story of humanity returning to Earth several thousand years after being forced off by a genocidal alien race, and it does so from the point of view of a historian chronicling events for the record.  It’s not something I’ve ever tried before, but I’ve seen it in action and wanted to give it a go.  I think it makes a more run-of-the-mill story stand out a bit more.

I’ll keep folks updated as I move ahead.  I don’t have a definitive publication date yet, and I’m wondering how to handle that.  Regardless, it may be my last publication unless I can earn more money.  No, I won’t stop writing, but I’ve got to have enough money to do wacky things like pay my mortgage.

But that’s for later.  For now, the next novel publication awaits!