Friday, December 14, 2012

Oculus book tour and a $50 Amazon gift card

a Rafflecopter giveaway I shall return to regular postings on this blog on Monday, January 2nd, 2013 with the Insecure Writer's Support Group. In the meantime have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
This Contest ends Sunday, January 6th at midnight.
From now until Monday, January 7th, I would like to dangle this $50 gift card in front of you as a kind of prize for doing something very simple for me (and I promise it will only take about a minute of your time a day).

Each day of my book tour up until January 7th, I will update/edit this posting with a "TWEET OF THE DAY." This "Tweet" will appear below the embedded twitter graphic. All you have to do is copy and paste that tweet into twitter and hit send. Then comment here and say "tweet sent." Only one comment per day please on this post!  Also if you are super lazy, you can just retweet me when I tweet the book tour stop of the day. But be sure to comment here so it counts as an entry by saying "I retweeted you."

IF YOU DON'T HAVE TWITTER but would like participating in the drawing, then visit the blog on which I'm appearing and comment once and then comment here that you visited. The twitter option is much simpler though because you don't even have to go read what I wrote. Only one comment per day please on this post!

On January 7th, I will do a of all the comments here. Obviously the more comments you have, the better chance you have that you will be the one chosen by to win the $50 Amazon gift card.

Anyone in the world may enter as often as they want including book tour hosts.

And that's it.

Easy Peasy.
TWEET FOR JANUARY 3rd:  PLS RT- In #Oculus there's a strong allegorical element. Who knew? #amreading

BONUS TWEET: Pls RT - A #giveaway of $50 for just sending ONE tweet and commenting. Way easier than the #fiscalcliff. Details here:

BLOG I'M AT:  I'm at Indie Book Blog.

Thank you for all the support.

If you want to see who I've scheduled, please check the Oculus Book Tour tab above. I will update this post to let people know where I'm at that day, and a link to send you there if you wish to read it.

At each step of my book tour, I'll be giving away stuff. There's a free bookmark, signed paperback books, and electronic books to be had. So feel free to enter those if you want. Have a great holiday.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

A Christmas week with Michael Whelan day four

2010: A Space Odyssey courtesy of Michael Whelan. Click to EMBIGGEN
By today's standards, this cover for Arthur C. Clarke's iconic 2010: A Space Odyssey is nothing special because we have PhotoShop. But in 1982 when Michael painted it, it was the thing that really made me notice the power of an acrylics air brush. I still think it's beautiful.

Michael did 10 separate proofs for the publisher before selecting this one. The spaceship Discovery is positioned to kind of seem like a baby's rattle. It's more of the symbolism that Whelan always includes in his paintings. And of course, showing the baby against the backdrop of our solar system's largest planet, Jupiter, is a hint that Jupiter will become the origin of life for its own solar system when the monolith causes the gas giant to experience nuclear fusion and ignite.

FACT: Michael doesn't like using an airbrush. But he does do a lot of painting on masonite. I asked Stephen Hayes about masonite and he gave me the rundown on it which was QUITE extensive.

Well folks, that's my last post in this mini-series. I hope I got you to be a fan of Michael Whelan and will check out his website to see his other works. Not so much because you could ever get him to do your books or anything like that. But because he's gotten old, and I want you to feel sad one day when he dies. I want you to know INSTANTLY that someone great has left the human race.

Oh and his signature is on this painting. It's embedded in the details of the Discovery spaceship. I searched forever to find it.

Tomorrow is my last post for the year. My book tour for Oculus starts on Monday, so I'll be posting on other blogs. I have a giveaway announcement tomorrow for a $50 Amazon gift card to encourage you to support me on my book tour (and it's super easy). Just one tweet a day and a comment on tomorrow's post to let me know you tweeted. Sounds great, right? You don't even need to visit my book tour posts (yeah you heard that right)! That's like one minute of your time per day.

More details to come tomorrow. Have a great Thursday.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

A Christmas week with Michael Whelan Day Three

"Z-World" courtesy of Michael Whelan. CLICK TO EMBIGGEN
In yesterday's post, I spoke of how Roger Zelazny died never realizing his dream of having a Whelan cover. Well he got his wish posthumously. This is the art piece that Michael got commissioned and finished for Zelazny and it has elements of all his stories (you can see Amber in the distance!). To save money, the publishing companies will have Michael do one painting and divide it up into several books. That's what they did with H.P. Lovecraft, paying Michael for only two huge paintings which I'm sure cost them probably several hundred thousand dollars a few decades ago.  I remember hearing at the time that DAW books blew all of their cover budget and could barely afford the two paintings for all six books. Even back then, Michael was a big deal, and he promised DAW that he'd make some incredible pieces of art that they could then divide up to accomplish their goal.

I have no idea what Michael charges now, but it's probably ten years of my current salary. If St. Martins can afford to pay Amanda Hocking $2 million to write some mermaid books, then to get someone like Whelan to do a cover is probably going to cost equally as much if not more. My guess is probably a couple million, minimum, per painting. Especially since he can just shrug and say, "I don't need you...I have as much money as I'll ever need to take care of my family and send my kids to school, etc." That's what I meant yesterday by the phrase "F U Money." It's a term I coined with my friend James to describe a turning point in a person's career where you choose your own destiny and could care less about outside forces (like the need to eat and have a place to sleep).

Consequently, I heard that these covers on the six books when arranged in order on the shelf, create the entire image that you see using the spines. That would be a cool effect. Be sure to embiggen and check out the details on all the pillars. That's why I chose this particular piece as a favorite. It showcases Michael's obsession with detail. Nothing is too small to be overlooked.

FACT: The only contemporary that Michael has been compared to is the artist H.R. Giger and vice-versa. They are completely different artists, but equally as great. I prefer Whelan to Giger myself. Giger scares me.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

A Christmas Week with Michael Whelan Day Two

"The Astrophysicist" courtesy of Michael Whelan
One of the things I love about Michael Whelan is that he uses his family in many of his portraits. This is his son staring at the night sky in a parking lot (he now majors in physics at a distinguished university). Everything in Michael's paintings have symbolism. The two balls are exactly ten paces apart which refers to something Neil deGrasse Tyson said about how far apart the Earth is to the moon. Michael's lifelong dream was to see a human land on Mars.

FACTOID: Michael's signature is in every single painting. He disguises it like a "Where's Waldo" painting. Sometimes it's a coin on the ground, sometimes a shadow, but it's always there and never in the same place. It can even be the design on a scabbard (for a fantasy painting) or the detail on a shoe.

Yesterday in the comments, Cindy Borgne said, "I wonder how much he charges for a book cover. I need one." I have to chuckle. Roger Zelazny on his deathbed said his one wish was to have a Whelan cover. That's how prized this guy is by people who understand the industry of publishing. Consequently, Blizzard paid a fortune to have Whelan do a picture of Deathwing the Dragon for the launch of World of Warcraft: Cataclysm that reached some 14 million regular subscribers. Also Whelan is officially retired and has been for years. He only takes on personal projects that appeal to him (he has "F you money" at this point), and he only does covers for books that he has personally read. So factor that artist who reads your entire book cover to cover before they begin to paint so that the feeling and symbolism are perfect.

It makes me wonder if Brandon Sanderson (who has had two Whelan covers at this point) even knows (or is humbled) by the fact that someone so great has painted his last two Robert Jordan books.

Monday, December 10, 2012

A Christmas week with Michael Whelan day one

"The Island" courtesy of Michael Whelan. This is all acrylics, no photoshop.
I've followed Michael Whelan for 30 years, and the man never ceases to amaze me. This week I'm going to post four of my favorite paintings he has done. This is one I think I might purchase (a print of) once I buy a house. I'd get it framed and display it proudly.

FACT: The amount of Hugos Michael Whelan has won could fill two shopping carts.

The man is bar none, in my opinion, the greatest living artist of our time. His vision captures my imagination.

If you are not too busy, please stop by and say hello to Shelly who is a book blogger located HERE. She gave me a great review of my book, and I appreciate that. To hold a banana in front of you, if Shelly took the time to read my book, she sure as hell will probably read yours, dear author (and she posts the reviews everywhere). I know I're saying, "But Mike, reviewers are already beating down my doors to read my books so why the hell would I want to befriend a book blogger?" I just think it may be worth your time, so please comment there :)

Friday, December 7, 2012

Interview with Laura Diamond author of YA paranormal sensation Shifting Pride

Housekeeping first: my drawing for the free ebook of your choice had 14 entries out of 70 views: In order, they were E.J., Denise, Alex, Em, Tonja, Andrew, Joy, David, Elise, Cherie, L.G., Morgan, Susan, and Danette. And that's for any ebook which should have a broad appeal to most people. What do I get from this? Well, I think about 20% of the people who read my blog have electronic readers (or prefer reading ebooks). That's interesting, and I caveat that the percentage could probably move up by 5% if you factored in repeat visits (or those who are just swamped by books). Does 25% of blog readers owning e-readers or reading e-books jive with the national average? I have no idea, but it's food for thought.

Anyway, the winner of the great ebook giveaway is number 7. That person is Joy Campbell.

So Joy, when you read this, just leave a comment below as to what free ebook in the whole wide world (under 10 bucks) you want emailed to you from Amazon (that's Mobi format for the kindle, and I'll send it to your email as a gift). I'm sure I'll get around to pestering you on your blog about it. Alternately, you can choose just a $10 Amazon gift card if you want to say, buy a book that costs more than ten bucks.



Now, to my interview with Laura Diamond author of YA paranormal sensation Shifting Pride (I'm putting this up a day early as I don't blog on the weekend). My commentary/responses/questions are written in bold black print.
Blurb for Shifting Pride: Sixteen-year-old Nickie Leone has proof that
her missing (presumed dead) father is still alive. Receiving his watch in
the mail is the first in a line of clues bringing her closer to discovering his
whereabouts. But clues aren’t the only new thing in Nickie’s life. There’s the
Memorial Banquet her mother insists she help prepare for, there’s the new
kid/hottie, Xavian, and…well, the growth of whiskers and a tail!

Filled with secrets and a new love of tuna fish, Nickie must partner
up with Xavian (don’t you know he’s a shape-shifter also?) to rescue
her dad before she loses him forever. Oh, and she needs to figure
out how to be a cat, too. This guy on the cover is really good looking LOL-
stares at it some more. *Facepalms

Hi Michael! Thanks so much for hosting me today. I had a lot of fun answering your questions, and hey, you gave me some ideas for the sequel! ;) You're welcome, Laura. I'm good for a few ideas here and there.

Q: How did you hear about Etopia Press? One of the editors, Rachel Firasek, held a pitch contest on her blog. I’d heard of Etopia through Twitter, but didn’t know they accepted YA submissions until the pitch contest. I submitted my pitch, and Rachel asked for the first chapter that day. Then she asked for the full manuscript!

Q: Just to verify, are you a cat person or a dog person 'cause you seem like a cat person O.o? LOL! I’m probably more of a cat person. I have four: a ragdoll and 3 rescues, but I also adopted a Corgi last spring. She’s adorable and brought me much joy.

Q: If you were the MPAA, what rating would you give your book and why (I asked this question because I have Mormon friends who are 40 and have never seen an R-rated movie)? You know, at first I was going to say PG…then I remembered the scenes where the characters shape-shifted  When they have the time, they prefer to undress first so that a majority of their income doesn’t go to wardrobe replacement. Therefore, because of their, ahem, nakedness, I’d rate it at PG-13.

Q: Does the whole "cats have nine lives" thing come into play in your book? I'm curious because I don't think I could write a werecat book without doing the nine lives thing. Seems almost necessary. Hmm, that’s a good idea! It may come up in the sequel! ;) No, my shape-shifters don’t have nine lives, but they have extraordinarily long ones—like centuries. They tend to keep their teenage countenance until they find a mate, then they mature. Even then, the aging process is slow. They’re more likely to be killed in a battle than to die from old age, though. They like to fight too much.

Q: How would the cats in your book view the whole domestication of cats, cat shows, and cat groomers of the world? LOL! I’m not sure. I’ll have to ask. Actually, they’d probably say that they like pets. Nickie tried to help a stray kitty, but got into trouble. Also, some of the shifters in the book may be insulted if someone equated them to domesticated animals.

Q: Are you drawing any connection back to a cat goddess in your book? No cat goddess in the first book, Shifting Pride, or in the prequel, New Pride. However, I’m still developing a sequel and there may be something to that goddess thing. Stay tuned!

Q: What's your favorite book not written by you featuring cats? I like Rachel Vincent’s Shifting series. Her MC is in college in the first book, so it’s more new adult or adult urban fantasy, but the cat hierarchy is there…and so is the action! In Nine Lives of Chloe King, Chloe dies and then develops her feline qualities…kind of harkens back to your earlier question about nine lives. Such a great concept!

Thanks for answering all of my quirky questions, Laura!

For those of you who do not know Laura, here's a little about her:

Laura Diamond is a board certified psychiatrist and author of all things young adult paranormal, dystopian, horror, and middle grade. Her short story, "City of Lights and Stone", is in the Day of Demons anthology by Anachron Press (April 2012). Another short story, "Begging Death", is in the Carnage: After the End anthology volume one by Sirens Call Publications. Her Young Adult Paranormal Romance novelette New Pride and novel Shifting Pride debuted late 2012 from Etopia Press. She has just signed with Pugalicious Press to publish another Young Adult novel, Zodiac Collector. When she's not writing, she is working at the hospital, blogging at Author Laura Diamond--Lucid Dreamer, and renovating her 225+ year old fixer-upper mansion. She is also full-time staff member for her four cats and a Pembroke corgi named Katie. live in a 225 year old mansion! I want to know about that!

Where to find Laura Diamond on the web:

Her Blog is HERE
Her twitter is HERE
Facebook is HERE
Facebook Author Page is HERE
Website is HERE

Amazon author page is HERE
Author’s Den page is HERE
Goodreads author page is HERE

DRAWING: I will be gifting one lucky person who comments on this post with Laura's ebook (it's in Adobe pdf format) New Pride, which is the jumping off point for this series.

As of this blog writing, Laura's book has six five-star ratings on Goodreads with an average of 4.86 % (that's frickin high). Have a great weekend!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

IWSG December 2012 Edition

Boy, the fact that this blog fest by Alex rolls around so often makes me realize just how fast I'm aging. Before I know it, I'll be receiving the AARP magazine in the mail.

One of the weird insecurities that I experience when writing or getting involved in creative projects is that I kind of lose myself within them and become (for a short time) unhealthily obsessed. I don't know why this happens. And I think it's a state of mind that I enjoy while I'm in it, but when I look up from the computer or from whatever project I'm working on and realize, hey it's dark outside, that maybe this is not a good thing.

So I guess I'm insecure about losing myself or losing touch with the real world as I immerse myself in these fantasies that I create. The psychology of why I do this is probably even more disturbing, and I really don't want to be psychoanalyzed (yeah I'm gonna hide from the truth). But I'll at least have the guts to admit that maybe I am a little mentally ill. If I am, then maybe there are a lot of authors out there who are also mentally ill, and I'm in good company. If you're one of those writers...have you ever looked at yourself in the mirror and thought: am I insane?

Just to be clear. I don't want to be mentally ill. But it's a distinct possibility that I am. I think that some of the activities in which I engage are not what normal people do. But my life has never been normal. So I guess with all things being equal, I'll plug away at what I'm doing because (at least) I'm pretty decent at it.

And just maybe (and this is where I branch off into my own theories) this is why validation from other people is so important to writers. It's because we all think (deep inside) that we may be insane. And by having someone validate us, those fears are then put to rest. We become authors.

We're not crazy, we're just working.

That makes sense, right?

Have a great Wednesday.

Monday, December 3, 2012

What kink will the Hivemind accept or ridicule?

Dear reader,

I know you (like me) MUST be confused at what is proper to mock with abandon when it comes to kinks, fetishes, and sex. So I propose we develop a chart or list together that tells us what "The Hivemind" will accept.  That way we are on the right side of the line.  No one wants to be outside "The Hivemind", especially myself.

Imagine the embarrassment of making fun of light bondage when Fifty Shades of Grey is selling so well.  Who wants to be that person? You know...the only one to laugh at a joke while everyone else thinks you're an idiot.

I suggest we begin with the chart above. In the comments, please let us know which of these we can mock openly, ridicule, and say awful things about AND which ones are definitely reserved for respectful treatment.  

Have a great Monday.

P.S. I intend to submit our research to the Harry Potter fan fiction sites of the world. If you read Harry Potter fan fiction YOU KNOW EXACTLY what I'm talking about.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Pacific Rim just in time for Christmas

I'm so excited! This week Guillermo del Toro started releasing viral videos to help in the marketing of the kaiju fest that is Pacific Rim! OMG you must watch now. And check out the frickin' cool blueprints below. This movie just begs to be made into the greatest roleplaying game ever.
Below you will also find blueprints taken from Screenrant. These are Jaegers. A Jaeger is a gargantuan robot that has two human pilots in the head with one controlling the left hand side and the other controlling the right. The Jaegers are what humans use to fight off the Kaiju in the movie Pacific Rim. And if you don't know what kaiju are, the word means "strange beast" in Japanese and is basically Godzilla, Mothra, and Gamera. You get the picture? You will find my analysis of each Jaeger design in the captions.
ABOVE: The Russian Cherno Alpha. I love the way the head looks. It's
kind of a cross between a cylon helmet and that of a knight's jousting helm
from the Middle Ages, only with huge cannons on the shoulders.
ABOVE: The Japanese Coyote Tango. This looks like a smaller, swifter Jaeger.
My guess is that it is highly maneuverable and we can expect to see some
karate-style moves in this particular robot.
ABOVE: The Chinese Crimson Typhoon. Note the multiple arms. My guess is that this
thing will break loose with some really awesome multiple arm spinning action
and probably flame throwers of some kind. I'm sure Kaiju will not like fire.
ABOVE: The Australian Striker Eureka. This thing is gonna be a massive slice
and dice warrior Jaeger. Just look at those blades on its forearms. Plus the huge
reinforced chest makes me think we'll see some real pro wrestling moves from
this baby.
ABOVE: Finally we have the American Gypsy Danger. It almost looks like the head
can recede into the body. The arms look like they have some kind of missiles in
them. But most of all, my eyes are drawn to that huge dish in the center. I bet
some kind of Death Star super laser comes out of that to totally melt faces.
It's Pacific Rim just in time for Christmas. I hope you are looking forward to this movie as much as me. It's quite possible I may be more excited about this show than I was about Prometheus.

Have a great weekend. 

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Breaking Dawn concept art looks really damn cool

Okay, I haven't seen Breaking Dawn Part 2 yet in the theater. But it is on my "to do" list along with "Lincoln." I was perusing io9 (one of my favorite websites) and came across this concept art. Those of you who follow and read my blog regularly already know that I like to dabble with art and that I own some art books. So naturally, I clicked on the concept art for the movie, and it looks pretty damn cool.
I tried to read the original "Twilight" book in 2008. I went to the book store across the street and picked up a copy, and I remember really looking forward to it because it had to be an excellent book if so many people loved it. I remember feeling disappointed by it, and I stopped about a third of the way through. But I did go and see the first two movies. One of the things that I liked about Meyer's vampires are their strange powers. I hadn't seen that in other vampire books (aside from what I consider to be normal vampire powers). You do get some of that in Anita Blake but it's more or less reserved for ancient vampires. In Meyer's books, the vampires are more like super heroes, and I think that's just really cool.

My friend went to Twilight with his wife. He tweeted: @MichaelOffutt OMG. I paid for the whole seat #breakingdawn2 but only used the edge!

So have you seen Breaking Dawn 2? What do you think of this concept art? Did you like the way Meyer's vampires have super powers?

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

In America we are about to have our zen moment

Oh America, as we all head toward the fiscal cliff...the last week or so has left me with a lot to think about regarding the results of the election. Let's see, we have whiners who are signing online secession papers for their state, and the rhetoric from the right that is bent on saying democrats are creating an indebted nation for our young without so much as a nod to the fact that as George W. Bush (Republican President extraordinaire) left office in 2008 with an extraordinary legacy:
  1. A downward financial spiral backed by predatory lending, legally sanctioned greed and pyramid schemes, and an economic policy to comfort the 1%.
  2. An America that was losing 750,000 jobs a month.
  3. An America with a GDP shrinking at 9%.
  4. A stock market collapsing and with it the retirement prospects of millions of people.
  5. An America ripe with Foreclosures and evictions and with whole neighborhoods emptied.
  6. An America caught in a grinding and unnecessary war in Iraq, which killed a hundred thousand Iraquis and 4000 Americans and further plunged us into debt.
  7. An America with Osama Bin Laden still at large.
  8. An America where banks as large as Lehman Brothers flat out died.

Ah but let's just blame all that on Obama, right? Well with the election over and Romney the Plutocrat buried under a landslide of electoral votes that did not go his way, I guess it's time to look at where the money is going to come from to repair some of this damage. Don't mind the dude that got elected campaigning on the fact that he was indeed going to raise taxes on the 2%. It's not like your used to listening to anyone with a different opinion.

However, you should.

Because dear republican, us democrats will keep you grounded in reality. Let's take a look at some of the latest talking points that have occurred this month:

Conservative: Raising taxes on the job creators will destroy America and hurt the economy.

Liberal: This is just a scare tactic. America for 80 years before the Bush era tax cuts had much higher taxes on the rich (capital gains) and a social safety net for the middle class (you can look this up). The Bush era tax cuts treat CEO's like Warren Buffett as if they were an endangered species like the bald eagle. Truth: job creation is never going away. If you have an idea that will make you a million dollars, and you know it for a fact, you will do anything to make that idea a reality because greed is that much of a motivator. If you aren't doing this, you're stupid or you don't have an idea that would pass on Shark Tank. It's okay to not have ideas. Just don't use that as an excuse. Most of America is filled with empty heads when it comes to business anyway. Most of us live mediocre lives. If you are 50 and still dream of making your first million, statistics are against you. Most millionaires do so before the age of 30. Sorry, but that's just how it is. Math hurts sometimes.

Conservative: Papa Johns founder and CEO will lay off workers because Obama has been re-elected because The Affordable Care Act will cost him too much money. 

Liberal: Another scare tactic. The math on what it costs the founder of Papa Johns to cover his workers with health insurance amounts to a million more pizza sales or raising the price a small margin on the cost of the pizzas. And he's giving away 2 million free pizzas in a commercial advertisement with Peyton Manning, anyway. The truth of this "claim" is that if the "job creator" of Papa Johns could outsource ALL of the pizza jobs to China, he would have already done so, and it would be called "Papa Sans."

Conservative: Hostess was killed by the greedy unions who are now besieging Wal-Mart, the great institution of American capitalism. Unions have a clear socialist agenda.

Liberal: Socialist? No. Unions are comprised of people who are tired of living on food stamps and eating Top Ramen and being forced to work on Thanksgiving, which is a nationally recognized holiday. Also, let's not forget the recent factory fire in Bangledesh that killed 150 people making garments for Wal-Mart. Maybe they could have used a union, and children who are now orphaned would still have parents. And when we look at Hostess, let's examine what really happened. Hostess had eight CEO's in the past ten years (bad management perhaps?). Hostess faced a continuous and significant decline as moms (yes you women out there) made a healthy choice to stop stuffing Twinkies in your kids lunch box and to opt for food fare that didn't include ingredients used in rocket fuel (yes Twinkies have this in them). Additionally, the last CEO of Hostess took a 300% increase to his wage after getting the union to accept a wage cut, dropping most of their workers to only $35,000 a year (which in my opinion is unacceptable). And then they wanted to cut even more out of the equation. Really? I suppose if that had gone through and the company didn't tank, the CEO would have wanted another raise.

My point (yes I do have one): I hope that there will be improved discourse between conservatives and liberals during Obama's second term. And stop with the secessionist talks. You lost. I didn't speak secession when my candidate Al Gore got defeated by yours in 2000 (even with all the fishy poll results in Ohio). Nope, I said he's my president even if I didn't vote for him. And then sat back and watched him proceed to financially rape our country.

Both parties need each other, even though we may hate what the other person is saying. Through open communication across the aisle, we may even find the best course to direct our country. But none of that can happen if people continue to be angry and shut their ears to what the other person is saying. Republicans and democrats are yin and yang, forever circling each other, and I think that is how it is supposed to be. In America, we are about to have our zen moment.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

My prediction regarding the Iron Throne of Westeros

With the calendar about to turn to a new year in just a few short weeks, season 3 of "A Game of Thrones" really isn't all that far off. Recently io9 ran an article on the characters least likely to sit on the Iron Throne by the time Martin pens the last page of A Whisper of Spring which is tentatively the title for the last book (following The Winds of Winter due to hit shelves in 2015). So I'm taking my argument to you, dear readers, who are also fans of Martin's epic fantasy saga.
Daenerys Targaryen
My prediction: Daenerys Targaryen and Jon Snow.

Why? Daenerys is the last of the Targaryens, she is the blood of the dragon, and I think the coming of the dragons is going to be instrumental in the war against the Others (the White Walkers). And I think Jon Snow is a Targaryen. I think there's plenty of evidence written subtly into the narrative penned by Martin to suggest that Lord Eddard Stark could never be unfaithful to his wife. He was just too much of a goodie two-shoes that the whole "I'm a cheater" thing is really bothering me. I think that Jon's mother could possibly be Lyanna (who Robert Baratheon loved very much) and who was kidnapped by Rhaegar (called the mad king). What if the mad king raped her, and she bore a child, Jon, and then forced her brother, Eddard, to raise the child as his own upon her death bed and to protect him so that no one would know he was a Targaryen?
Jon "You know nothing" Snow
Why it would be the greatest kept secret in Westeros. And that, I think, is brilliant.

So this is what I see happening. The kingdoms softened up by warring with each other no longer have the strength to withstand the White Walkers. The White Walkers march all over them with an army of wights at their back and keep heading south. The North falls. Then Daenerys shows up with her dragons and arms the men with dragon glass weapons and the might of old Valyria. And because Targaryens are known to intermarry, Daenerys and Jon Snow hook up and take the Iron Throne as king and queen.

And that is my prediction regarding the Iron Throne of Westeros. Thoughts anyone?

It kind of gives me goosebumps thinking that this may be what Martin is doing.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Analysis of The Walking Dead Season 3 Thus Far

"The Walking Dead" continuously surprises me. I used to think that any story in a zombie apocalypse could never be extended into a series because the monsters are one-dimensional. Boy was I wrong. The way in which Kirkman and his team of writers have developed this world for AMC is nothing short of genius. With the mid-season finale looming just a week away, season 3 has made me understand through subtlety so many things about a zombie apocalypse that truly make it an "end of the world" scenario.  Here's my analysis of high points we have witnessed thus far and what they mean to me:
In "When The Dead Come Knocking", Michonne finally meets Rick because she walks
up to the chain link gate carrying baby formula in a shopping basket in the midst of a
herd of zombies who can't see her because she is dressed in zombie blood and gore. It's
a chilling scene to see a woman so calmly approach the gate and to be so comfortable
around the reanimated dead. Verdict: Michonne may be the most insane person the zombie
apocalypse has ever produced and thus, the most suited to survive.
1) The introduction of Michonne and the Governor, Rick losing his mind, the psychopath Merle, and the sociopath in Carl (Rick's son). My analysis: If you are normal like you and me, you cannot survive the apocalypse. Only people who are insane survive the end of the world, because insanity is the only psychological trait that is capable of dealing with legions of the undead. If you live for any length of time...if you are not insane, you will become insane. You can't escape it.

2) The death of Lori in childbirth. This was more  horrific than T-Dog's death, and it showed how far society has fallen. Women have not had to worry about death from childbirth for nearly a century. But throughout human history, it was a problem. Well with the episode that featured Lori's death, it's back and it's here to stay. Welcome to the stone ages again. The message to all women in the zombie apocalypse: getting pregnant just may be a death sentence.
In season one, this group didn't handle zombies well at all. There was lots
of panicking, screaming, and running. Now they don't even kill zombies if
the zombies are moving too slow. They don't even bother. They're treated
with the same indifference as a fly buzzing around. The ability to see such
things as merely a part of the scenery is disturbing because it's like they
no longer care or are shocked by anything.
3) The reanimation. In season one, the CDC showed us through sophisticated computer technology that the reanimation occurred shortly after death, and that nothing of the former person remained. Yet, we also saw in season one that Morgan's wife turned the knob to their door as if she remembered her home even though she was one of the walking dead. Then in last night's episode, a scientist was trying to discover if a newly reanimated zombie would remember either its name or recall a picture of his family. These kinds of questions, though unanswered to this point, seem to beg of a greater existential one: why is this happening and what exactly is a zombie? Is it a new form of life? Or is it truly an undead creation with no memory of its past life? I also think it may have to do with religion. More humans have souls? And if they do and something is left behind, then what does that say about an afterlife? Maybe it says there is no afterlife at all for any of us and that a person's soul could remain earthbound in a rotting corpse forever.

It's been a fascinating series. I'll be sorry to see it go on hiatus for a few weeks until it starts up again in either January or February 2013.

In other news, did you purchase your PowerBall ticket? I happened to be in Idaho over Thanksgiving weekend and since they (unlike Utah) sell PowerBall, I bought a ticket. Biggest jackpot ever. May the best ticket win. Boy, would $425 million be a real life changer or what!

Have a great Monday.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Giving thanks from a serial narcissist

I made this turkey for you.

"Really?" you might say. "It's wonderful. I'll pin it on my fridge or display it on my door."

Even though I'm only eight, it makes me smile because it's the right thing to do. But in reality, I expect it, because let's face it, I cut colored paper up like no one's business. And my turkey is better than anyone else's turkey.

Here's a news flash for you. Nothing has changed between those days and now. I see right through you so don't even hide.

If you're a're like me. You started by making perfect cut-out turkeys in your grade school class. That's how it starts. That's how you get indoctrinated into the system and told you're special. It's the other kids that ride the short bus.

Now that you're older, you drink chai or chocolate because either is the moniker of a sophisticated snob. But saying "chai" just makes you sound sophisticated. "Chocolate" doesn't have that effect.  You can thank Halloween for that because people give it away free to kids who dress up as a cow. There's no prestige in cows. Gateway has it all wrong.

You should thank a billion people in India for that. There's no sophistication to drinking chai in India as people consume it while wearing rags and riding on top of the train instead of inside it. But here in America, Starbucks can charge you $4.00 for a 20 ounce cup. Did you ever bother to ask yourself what $4 could buy you in India?
Liquid validation of your greatness.

No. Because you're a sophisticated snob like me. A morning for you, dear writer, upon the expectation of someone reading your words and leaving a comment may cause you to 'dirty' yourself. The brisk winds of winter usher in that crucial moment where you stare at the sign and say, "Not the usual chai today. I'm getting the chai charger (code for dirty chai)." All because the fifteen minutes you spent primping your hair is now ruined. COULD THIS DAY GET ANY WORSE?!

"Really?" asks the helpful coffee barrista (I like that word. It sounds so much better than clerk). "That's so...daring."

"I'm enslaved by nanowrimo and still have to stuff my turkey. I need 'daring.' It's a no holds barred day."

"What's a nanowrimo?"


Wait. Calm yourself. This person doesn't get you. If the wind hadn't ruined your perfectly-coifed hair, you'd answer. "I'm writing a novel," you smile and say.  And then you go to the restroom to fix your hair while annoying person makes your chai charger.

But maybe it's not as simple as a wonderful blend of cardamom, cinnamon, and cloves. Maybe what you really want is Tazo because (and let's be honest) it's the best and you only deserve the best. That's why you own an iPhone. Because Apple tells you it's the best with their commercials and commercials never lie. And as for that clerk! They'd better not skimp on the espresso or you'll mooch even more off their WiFi access!

Revenge is a chai best served cold and on ice cubes and in a cup made from recycled plastic. I think Shakespeare said that.

But, and God forbid, what if it's a peppermint mocha day. The combination of refreshing mint and sweet chocolate in a red cup that tells you, "Yes, it is indeed Christmas. Ho Ho Ho and all that, lass." Because let's face it. You're a narcissist and you wouldn't know the season unless your publicist told you what season it was. And you don't need to be rich to have a publicist. If you know where to slum, you can get one for thirty bucks who can spell your last name right half the time. But you get what you pay for, and that's America!

So from one writer to you (who I expect to read everything I write, who I expect to purchase my books and shower praise upon me with five stars) have a great Thanksgiving!

I'll be back on Monday. Until then, frequent your Starbucks, down your chai and chocolate, conquer your nanowrimo, and remember the mantra of every writer: "My colored paper turkey is better than yours, and you better post it on your sidebar, dammit!"

And maybe think of a blogfest or two that nobody needs.

Adieu :)

Monday, November 19, 2012

Another picture of Jordan from Oculus and my first Oculus review

This weekend I didn't feel like writing so I drew another picture of Jordan from Oculus. I have no idea what kind of background to use, and I absolutely suck at backgrounds so it may stay this way for a while. If you look at my other art, it's usually a wall or some trees (because trees are easy). I just didn't want to draw trees. I really need to try and expand my absolute hatred of all things scenery. It's just...I HATE DRAWING SCENERY. It's soooo boring. But I know I anchors the picture.

I sooo need a partnership with someone like Rusty Webb who can whip up the most amazing landscapes and backgrounds.

Anyway, this picture came of me desiring two things. I wanted to put slight freckles on Jordan's skin. I thought they turned out great. I also wanted to satisfy my leather jacket fetish. I loved doing the leather jacket! It was so much fun. And note, I even colored his teeth and put texture on the cuff of his right arm from the dress shirt he's wearing under the jacket.

I don't know why I can spend hours drawing a guy and all of his clothes, but I absolutely dread the background. It's another reason why I'll never be a real artist.

If you think of a background that might be cool to try, you should let me know. I just...don't want to do trees. He should be indoors, because he's barefoot.

This drawing was done using coloring pencil on illustration board. You may pin it, or use it if you like. Just give me credit.

Oculus also got reviewed. You can read it for yourself HERE.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Dear Munk Davis Oh How I Miss You

Today is the Oh, How I Miss You blogfest hosted by Andrew Leon, Alex J. Cavanaugh, and Matthew MacNish.

The bloggers we really miss…
and the ones we would really miss!
Do you have a couple blogger buddies who aren’t posting as often? Those who’ve pulled back and seem absent from the blogging world? Do you have blogger buddies you are grateful they are still around and would miss if they vanished? Now is your chance to show your appreciation and spotlight them!
On November 16, list one to three bloggers you really miss and one to three bloggers you would miss if they stopped blogging. Then go leave a comment on those blogs.
Our blogger friends are special – time to let them know! 
Okay then! With that in mind, I want to say that I miss Munk Davis. You can find his blog HERE. I don't remember how I found Munk, but I instantly liked his avatar with the cooky hat that he wore and the fact that he was a chemical engineer. I took three years of chemical engineering before I went into something else. I feel like I have a kinship with this Oregonian, even though we've never met.

And he has an astounding sense of humor. It really shines through in his writing (which I got to beta-read). I hope he gets busy and publishes the thing. "Booker" is such an unusual name.

As for bloggers I would miss, there are so many. So I'm just going to say all of you. I would miss all of And I hope you continue to be a part of the online community.

Cheers to the three men above who came up with this blogfest.

Have a great weekend.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Blog Fests Still Looking for More People

First up, I wanted to talk about the "Merry Christmas to All" blog fest that my friend, Briane Pagel, is trying to put together.

You can find the sign up for this blog fest/ original post HERE.

In a nutshell (because Briane is incredibly long winded about anything he writes), authors who sign up for his blog fest agree to:

1) Choose one week day (Monday thru Friday) either on November 23rd or any day following (up to and including Christmas Eve).

2) On your chosen day, you write a post that has something to do with the holidays. You also give away one free ebook to someone who comments or is chosen through some other means. You can do the giveaway through a rafflecopter thing or whatever.

3) Do your best to spread the word about the other books being given away, either in your post, or on days when you are not posting.

I would never consider Briane's rules to be super strict as he's a big squishy soft guy that is a lawyer who tries to legalese everything. The important thing is to try and participate, which I hope you do because you all write such great books and people need to hear about them :).
Please remember that tomorrow is the "Oh How I Miss You" blogfest. This one is hosted by Andrew Leon, Alex J. Cavanaugh, and Matthew MacNish. They don't need nearly as much help as poor Briane's fest does. Briane's only has four people which means the "blog fest" is gonna be really short, especially since we all just read each other's books anyway. Sign up for the "Oh, How I Miss You" blogfest on Alex's blog HERE.

Have a great Thursday.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

If I channel David Sedaris maybe I can understand

If I channel David Sedaris, maybe I can understand why some people do the things that they do. I can finally understand why we have sales opening on Thanksgiving or why people get mad at saying Xmas when the entire notion of punching someone in the face under a banner that reads "Christmas" to get an LED television that's 70% off, isn't any better.

Or any more in the spirit of "Christmas."

Maybe I can understand why a critic would choose to "criticize" when they haven't actually read the thing their critiquing. People say all kinds of things about the Affordable Care Act. But when I ask them if they've visited to read it, they say no. They don't have the time. But they critique it nonetheless.

Maybe I could understand why, even if I put on an elf hat and a green suit and stood next to a candy cane in a shopping mall, I wouldn't be an elf. I'd just be a creepy fat guy in a green suit. And I'd understand Christmas even less. Elves don't get Christmas. Elves were invented by department stores to sell stuff. That's the only reason they exist.

People will say, "that's not Christmas, that's just people being nasty." But you're wrong. You can stick your head in the sand if you want to.  It is Christmas. The holiday is totally that, and it gets worse every year. Democrats have been called socialists. I always wondered what a socialist looked like.  So what does a capitalist look like? Well, capitalists look like the day after Thanksgiving in a Wal-Mart store. That's Christmas, and you can hear the cash register bell ringing like a sleigh bell with a ho ho ho. Half the people will buy things that come with instructions. They won't read them. Instead they'll leave bad reviews on Amazon.

"I write and don't read," one of them might say.

"Oh really?" I ask. "What are you writing?"

"A critique of your book. I give it 2 stars because I just can't bring myself to give it 1.5."

"How generous of you.  Is there more?  I'm curious what you didn't like?"

"I don't like your character, Jason."

"You mean Jordan.  It's Jordan Pendragon," I say. "His name is in there hundreds of times."

"And I didn't like how you pulled off the time travel parts," expert critic adds.

"There's no time travel in my book. There's no time travel on the blurb or the synopsis."

"Actually this is the worst time travel book I've ever read. And why do you refer to hockey as ice hockey?" opinioned person asks.

"Because in America we have field hockey. I want to make sure people who aren't Canadian know the difference. And there's no time travel in my book."

*Snorts. "Why did you market this book as time travel? Jason Pendragon uses too many drugs. Kids don't use drugs. You should write that instead. And they don't have sex either.  What an unbelievable book."

"His name is Jordan. It's not Jason. You didn't read the book, did you?"

"I can't say I'll read any more. Saga of Jason Pendragon doesn't interest me. Lucky it was a free book. 1.5 stars. Too many other books to read."

Yeah, so maybe I could understand if I channeled David Sedaris. Or maybe not. Or maybe some people are just jerks who don't read anymore because they're too busy writing.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

A day late to the Renaissance Fair, but who's counting

I'm one day late to the party, but better late than never I say.

The Renaissance of Hetty Locklear by M. Pax definitely seems to be heading in a different direction from Mary's usual offerings. I've read one of her books, a pretty hard hitting science-fiction, and I really liked it. Here's what it's about:

A New Adult Urban Fantasy, The Renaissance of Hetty Locklear is the first book in a new series. And it’s out now! The main character, Hetty, is a 22-year-old stumbling about in an effort to become a full-fledged adult. She struggles with self-esteem, weight, relationships, and making the transition between college and the real world.

Graduation from community college isn’t the magic elixir Hetty Locklear counts on for becoming an adult. Her parents, who work the Renaissance fair circuit, insist she spend part of the summer with them. Hetty doubts pretending to live in the Middle Ages will help her find her way.
To make it worse, an entity haunts her at her dead-end job, warning her of a dangerous man she doesn’t know. The ghost leads her to a lover who has a lot of secrets. He pulls her farther into peril and into a strange, hidden world of genetic experimentation.

New Adult Urban Fantasy with a contemporary sci-fi twist. Mature content.

Available as an ebook at Amazon / Amazon UK / Smashwords / iTunes / Kobo
Visit for more links.

M. Pax is celebrating her latest release with a jousting tournament and contest at Cheer for the knights to help them win the grand prize, and you’ll be put in a drawing to win an ebook copy of The Renaissance of Hetty Locklear. Five will be given away. Huzzah!
Have a great Tuesday and stop by to wish Mary a happy release day :)

Monday, November 12, 2012

I'm drawing characters. This time it's Andy.

Because it was so snowy outside my window this weekend here in Utah, I decided to finish a pencil drawing I started a month or so ago of Andy Callahan who makes his appearance in "Oculus." So this is what I think he looks like. In the last third of the book, there's a part where Jordan spends Thanksgiving with Andy at his parent's home in the Hamptons, which is surrounded by woods. It snows and interesting things happen. And yes, I really like writing about the children of the 1% (because let's face it peeps...the 1% live a lifestyle I will never know).

Thanks for all the support regarding the "Oculus" cover reveal. For those of you who indicated interest in being part of my blog tour, I sent all your contact information to my publicist, Roxanne Rhoades, who is helping me set it up. I just got overwhelmed with individual emails, the book getting plopped in my lap, and planning my business trip to the Consumer Electronics Show on January 5th.

Between that and trying to figure out what to do, I just realized I could use some assistance. Roxanne previously helped Ciara Knight which made me think, if Ciara got help from this lady that's good enough for me. Plus she was uber affordable. I was like, "OMG, I spend that kind of money on one meal out with friends. So totally worth it."

So if you get an email from Roxanne about scheduling, please don't toss it. She's just helping me. Things are super busy at work too. And look at it this way, with her helping me, my visiting to your blogs shouldn't diminish because I'll have time to do so now. :)

Thanks everyone. Have a great Monday.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Oculus is here

So this is my cover. It's full of creepy crawlies. And seeing that you've probably already viewed it by now on my sidebar or through the tab above, I wanted to offer a little explanation of what's going on here. The cover does fit the book. Even if you may be scratching your head and thinking...can Mike really write about spiders
this much? Yes, yes I can. So here's the scene that this cover actually reflects (although it is a symbolic cover and not an actual scene as taken from the book):

(Kolin and Kathy in front of a computer terminal,
and Kolin tells Kathy to start a video they both can watch)

Kathy did as instructed.  A video started up, showing an individual approaching the front of the building.  He wore a long cloak, but his face was unmistakable.  Charon possessed skin as transparent as glass.  He had silver eyes and deep red hair that flowed down from his scalp and swept over his shoulders to fall in the darkness behind his hood.  As he walked forward, he parted his cloak, and Kolin saw the redness of Charon’s heart, beating under all that transparent skin, supplying blood to the demigod’s limbs so that he may live.
From inside the flap of his coat, millions of glass spiders emerged and washed across the black asphalt like a glittering flash flood.  Charon directed them like Poseidon must command the waves of the ocean.  They blazed with their own silver light and swarmed over cars, benches, and lampposts, scurrying toward the front of the building.  Guards at the doors pulled out pistols and shot off a few rounds but were quickly overwhelmed by the spiders.  These tiny arachnids with gears visible on the inside of their glass skin spun silver thread about the struggling humans, encasing them, and then proceeded to drill into their heads, lacing their brains with microfilament fiber optic wire.
The video had no sound so Kolin couldn’t hear the screaming.  But he could see the men and women shrieking.  He watched.  His skin got clammy under his armor; his mouth dried of spit.  Despite the fact that the wounds inflicted by the spiders were small, blood flowed over the floor as thick and sticky as syrup.
The spiders continued their march and entered the building, cocooning anyone they came across.  The millions of tiny creatures were unstoppable, like a deadly tide, and they crawled over everything, leaving threads of blinking light that flowed into Charon’s body.  People fell in the lobby and became enshrouded in webs.  They collapsed in doorways or in the chairs in which they sat.  Meanwhile, Charon just continued to cackle and smile with glee.
So what's going on with the cover. Well, the color red is very important to the book. The team that Jordan plays on is called "The Big Red" and its colors are red and white.  Jordan plays ice hockey so the spiders are walking on what could be construed as glass or ice. Blood on the ice is an important theme in this book, hence the blood droplets underneath the spiders. So in a way, the cover is perfect for the story and they definitely look like a part of the same series. I wasn't sure if I quite liked it, but it's growing on me. What do you think?

The book did go on sale today. Go HERE for purchasing options.

A FAVOR ==> If you are looking for an idea for a post (I'm not asking for any special treatment), could you just mention the cover in a snippet either today or tomorrow?

I'm not blogging tomorrow so I'll see you Monday.