Friday, January 29, 2016

Is Arrow about to use Andy to kill off John Diggle? Is that who's in the grave?

By far the biggest tease of this season's Arrow has been the cut scene where we see Oliver Queen standing over a fresh grave and then Barry, a.k.a, the Flash shows up to chat with him a bit. Oliver looks angry, and I was pretty sure that it might have been Felicity in that hole. But recent events are making me think that it might be Diggle, as in John and not Andy.

For one, John's younger brother was brainwashed by Damien Darhk, who has powerful magic on his side (the kind that makes even Constantine wary to tango with him). For many of the episodes this season, Andy has been imprisoned in the Arrow cave being not only a very petulant little brat, but a complete supporter of all that is evil. His older brother, John, eventually seemed to win him over bit by bit, but I think this is all an act. And last night's episode ended with the heroes basically winning (with the exception of a major character death in the leader of ARGUS), and Andy was pretty instrumental in that so now everything's forgiven, and it's all "high fives" and "fist bumps" on the way back to the Arrow cave. Only that's not how any of this works.

My Spidey sense is tingling (I know, wrong universe). I guess George R.R. Martin said it best when he told writers to "kill your darlings," and I'm thinking that's what the show is about to give us. I mean, John Diggle doesn't really serve a purpose anymore and having his own brother kill him is like another season of storylines. John used to be the "voice of reason" for the show, but that's more or less been co-opted by Felicity who was the star of Wednesday night's episode where she had to deal with all the fear and depression she incurred by not being able to walk again. In a way, Felicity and Arrow proved why they are perfect for each other and there really isn't room for John's character in the show anymore. To be honest, the cutaways to anything that have to do with John's storyline are kind of boring when compared to the greater storyline of Damien Dahrk and what's going on with Malcolm Merlyn and his army of assassins.

Of course, it could also be Felicity's mom that's in the grave, or Laurel's dad, but John Diggle being in that grave makes the most sense to me. I don't think Arrow would ever be the same after that death, kind of like the Batman was when Jason Todd (a.k.a. Robin) got killed by the Joker in the comic book four part series "A Death in the Family." That was the breaking point for the Batman, and he became "the Dark Knight" for so many years after that. And believe me, I was consuming them all because the stories were SOO dark.

So who do you think is in the grave? Are you with me or against me?

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Gal Godot's Wonder Woman has stirred up five different controversies and a movie isn't even out yet.

I'm really excited for Batman vs. Superman this March (March 25th to be exact), and I think most of that stems from the fact that I'm really looking forward to Wonder Woman. But do you know the controversies?

1) People have complained that the actress playing Wonder Woman (Gal Godot) is too thin and that her arms don't have muscle. Hmm. I beg to differ on this one as artists over the years have shown that she's not really this super-built, muscular woman. I mean, this is how she looks like in the comic books:
And then compare/contrast this with Gal Godot as Wonder Woman...
I think she looks pretty accurate to the one pictured in the comic. Although Linda Carter made an amazing Wonder Woman, she may (in fact) have been a little more curvy than the Wonder Woman in the comic books.

2)  When Wonder Woman gets her own movie, it will be set in World War I and not World War II. Everyone knows Wonder Woman rescues Steve Trevor and fights the Nazis! Eh, I think exploring World War I affords many opportunities not fully explored in film (especially given that the bulk of Wonder Woman seen on tv was from a seventies series, part of which explored World War 2 and then part of which continued in modern times with Wonder Woman driving a Mercedes). World War I was born out of intolerance, greed, and colonial expansion. It will just be a world of men being awful to each other in general, instead of the Axis fighting the Allies in a contest of pretty much "clear cut" good and evil. And World War 2 has been done to death. World War 1 just sounds so much fresher in context with good storytelling.

3) Wonder Woman may have a pet tiger than she can talk to (and can communicate like a person).  When this rumor broke, so many people were outraged by it. But honestly, what's wrong with having an animal on screen that can talk? This is a movie with superheroes? She's a comic book character that has a major villain called Cheetah. Why is a talking cat such a big deal as long as it looks great on film? People are so silly.

4) Wonder Woman's costume. Apparently people are kinda/sorta torn over the whole sword thing and they're also upset over the wedge heels. In other words, wedge heels are inappropriate for a person to fight crime while wearing. I dunno, they look okay to me. And let's not forget that she's got gifts from the Greek gods.
5) Wonder Woman is 5,000 years old, basically retired, and very jaded about mankind. So yeah, this broke this weekend, and I'm not sure how I feel about this latest revelation. But really old characters can be a lot of fun because they know so much. It also will make it so that she's not some innocent lass when it comes to dealing with the patriarchies in the world. I think it is a fresh take on the mythology of the character and enriches her for future stories.

So what do you think? Do people just like to bitch about Wonder Woman, or is this whole thing going to be a disaster?

Monday, January 25, 2016

The Undead Road by David Powers King is the most awesome kind of buzz that's kinda like honey for the mind.

This is the cover for David Powers King's new book, The Undead Road. It looks incredible, right? I love how there's so much yellow, because yellow isn't really used on a lot of books (to this extent). And the color choice is perfect. How do I know? Because I read the book and my review of it is below. But before I get to that, I want to inform you of all the pertinent details:

Title: The Undead Road: My Zombie Summer: Part One
Publisher: Dashboard Books / CreateSpace
Ebook Release: January 2nd, 2016
Paperback: January 26th, 2016
Cover art by Steven Novak
Edited by Reece Hanzon

I know you were waiting for the blurb so here it is:

Nothing brings the family together like a zombie apocalypse…

Fifteen-year-old Jeremy Barnes would rather watch a zombie movie than shoot a real one, but he has no choice if his family wants to survive the end of the world. Their plan? Drive across the infected United States to a cabin in the Colorado Rockies without a scratch, but their trip takes a complicated detour in the middle of Nebraska when they find Kaylynn, a girl who can handle a baseball bat better than Jeremy can hold a .45 Berretta. And when they stumble into a sanctuary, Jeremy soon learns that Kaylynn is stronger than she looks—a deadly secret lies inside her.

After the radio picks up a distress call from Kansas City about a possible cure, Jeremy’s parents go with a team to investigate. They never return. The only way to find their parents is for Jeremy and his sister Jewel to rely on a dangerous girl who might just turn on them at any moment.

Kindle Store

And then there's this "genius" quote that makes its appearance on The Undead Road:
Oh and there's a contest! Here are the details:
Visit and leave and comment and/or tweet about The Undead Road (at least once) for a chance to win a free ebook. One out of every 10 comments and tweets is a winner! Use the Twitter Button below to ensure the author will see your tweet. Thank you!

If the button doesn't work for you, please post this text:

"Nothing brings the family together like a #zombie #apocalypse..." #scifi #horror .99 cent #kindle! @DavidPowersKing

Now, the ebook version of The Undead Road is on sale Jan 25th-29th (that's this week) for .99 cents in the Kindle store

Oh and there's a Blog Tour! The hosts are:

About the Author: 
David Powers King was born in beautiful downtown Burbank, California where his love for film inspired him to be a writer. He is the co-author of the YA fantasy novel WOVEN, published by Scholastic. An avid fan of science fiction and fantasy, David also has a soft spot for zombies and the paranormal. He currently lives deep in the mountain West with his wife and three children.

You can click on the below links to be taken to:

And now, without further ado, here is my review:

There may be some light spoilers so please proceed at your own peril.

I think "The Undead Road" is a story that shows Mr. David Powers King has got the chops to be a world-class writer (as if that weren't already apparent with "Woven," the book that's being published by Scholastic). His take on zom"bees" is something I've never heard of in any zombie fiction (and I'm familiar with quite a lot of it). It almost reminds me of a cross between "The Walking Dead" and "The Borg" from Star Trek, only Kaylynn is ever so different from the Borg Queen. And it's really clever!

To be clear, I never saw any of that coming either. The whole buildup and reveal at the climax was also great. I loved the way Mr. King controlled the pacing and the tension. One example is using shorter and shorter chapters to heighten the action that's coming full force at the reader so that you don't even notice you're plowing through page after page. Fantastic! This book deserves to be made into a movie. Seriously. My take on the perfect director for this is Guillermo del Toro, but I may be biased just a wee bit.

I will never look at an apiary in the same way again. The Undead Road is the most awesome kind of buzz that's like honey for the mind.

Friday, January 22, 2016

The world's richest people are meeting at Davos again and they're talking about the hyperloop

I think I've said this before, but Elon Musk (the C.E.O. of Tesla) is Iron Man. I say that because 1) he's super rich, 2) he's a genius, and 3) he basically brings into reality whatever he wants to envision. A few years ago, it was this thing called the hyperloop. Imagine a space age glass tube that runs from Los Angeles to San Francisco and can transport passengers inside it back and forth in 30 minutes. Well CNBC (source of all things stock market and well...Davos...) has said that this thing is going to become a reality within two years.

According to the news release on CNBC, the hyperloop works by "transporting a number of passengers in capsules that would be propelled by magnets up to a speed of 750 miles per hour." Basically, Hyperloop Transportation Technologies has filed for the first building permit for an eight mile long test track that will be completed within two years at the cost of about $100 million. Elon probably carries that around in his wallet.

I love that so many of the things that I saw in early science fiction films is becoming a reality. Those tablets that people typed on in Star Trek: the Next Generation got realized with the iPad. The smartphone is basically better than any communicator we've seen in James Bond films. And now the Logan's Run hyperloops that we saw ferrying people back and forth to domed cities is totally coming true. When will we be getting androids that look like humans via Blade Runner? I'm sure it's in the works.

To learn more, just watch the video below:

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

When we get upset that a film adaptation strays from the source does the outrage stem from being told to color inside the lines?

Why do we get so upset when a film adaptation of something written fails to follow the events that we're used to? When I seek to answer this question in my head, I think of all those times when (as a kindergartner) I used to color outside of the lines. I would happily plop down crayons of whatever color looked good at the time and envision my own lines. Sometimes I would draw them in using black crayon and then color. I made the creation my own. But this kind of inventiveness was deeply discouraged by my peers (usually led by a girl with more aesthetics than my own) who would insist that a picture just didn't look good if you strayed outside of the lines.

You actually can see this kind of herd mentality at play in other areas of life too. For example, some people buy only white and silver cars because it enhances the resale value (those being very popular colors that other people will find attractive). Hence, don't stray outside the circle designated as "aesthetically pleasing." What about house decorating? It's the same there too with neutral colors for walls and wooden floors because they are "in" right now. So it's natural that it spills over into other creative areas like book to film adaptations.

Just to be clear, I discovered long ago that straying from a book's plot really doesn't bother me. When Lost World had a T-Rex stomping all over a modern day city I didn't flinch. I thought it was cool and took it for what it was worth: entertainment. When the Hobbit took liberties with the script I didn't care at all. Hey, it was a story with this amazing dragon in it and some pretty impressive looking battles. Oh and it all blends itself so well with the Lord of the Rings trilogy now (with all that backstory). Great stuff. And now we come to "The Shannara Chronicles," which has Terry Brooks's blessing but my friend's Jake, Justin, and Sasha just railed about it this weekend.

"I'm horrified with what's going on with the Shannara chronicles," Jake said. I asked him "why" and then showed him my review that I wrote last week. His immediate comeback was, "You just like it because it features half-naked gorgeous guys in every scene." I was It's still a good story. There's this scary demon and the characters are visceral and real to me. The effects look dang cool...what's there not to like?

He started listing off his complaints: they screwed up Eretria, the trolls don't look like that in the book, and what's with all the decaying remnants of old Earth? None of that stuff was in those early books. It all came later. That's when you found out how the world collapsed. Also, he says that the elves are not descended from people. They are descended from fairy. In short, they've screwed up everything.

I just shook my head. I think he's wrong (of course) but I'm someone that can easily argue for why stories need to be changed and freshened up from their stale source material baked in an oven sometime in the eighties. Audiences today want young adult stories, and the Shannara chronicles is exactly that making its female protagonists front and center.

Do you think the outrage goes back to kindergarten when most of us were taught to color within the lines?

Friday, January 15, 2016

The temporarily embarrassed millionaires of America got fleeced again by the people behind PowerBall

I've spent the last couple of days thinking about the phenomenon that is PowerBall, and how the people who play it (particularly in my own circle) do not follow their own logic. For the record, when I was asked if I bought a PowerBall ticket my response was, "I won $10,000 in the PowerBall lottery. Since a ticket costs $2 and a drawing is held twice a week, if I consider that I may live to be 90 then I've won $10,000. I'm a winner by never playing." This of course gets a response like "Haters gonna hate" or "Somebody's got to win so it might as well be me." And how does one argue with that? So, I just encouraged the people who were playing (rather than be an asshole) and said, "Chances are good you'll win! I'm rooting for you!"

And the thing is, playing the PowerBall lotto makes absolutely no sense to me because of the astronomical odds of winning. To clarify, gambling in a casino gives much better odds (craps for example). Yet whenever I've been in a casino (which are a lot of fun by the way) with some of the friends who play PowerBall, they won't gamble their money. They say that money is too precious and that they just can't see gambling when the house has the advantage. So I end up playing in Texas Holdem tournaments all by myself. However, these same people will drop $100 on a $1.5 billion dollar lottery. What the hell?

There's also a strange phenomenon that happens in Utah because we are one of the states where lotto tickets cannot be bought. People here drive to the border and purchase them in Idaho or Wyoming. But they only do it when the jackpot gets BIG. A hundred million (in other words) is totally not worth the three hour drive but a billion somehow is? It makes no sense. A paltry $100 million would be life-changing. So why aren't these people making that three hour drive twice a week? Silly, silly, silly.

Maybe John Steinbeck can give us a clue as to the phenomenon going on here. He's attributed with a quote, which is a paraphrase of bigger ideas that come from one of his writings. That quote is this: "Socialism never took root in America because the poor see themselves not as an exploited proletariat but as temporarily embarrassed millionaires."

First off, I know no rich people. So if I think about what this is saying, all of my "poor" friends that race to play the Lotto are (in fact) just trying to claim a little of the money that they all feel entitled to that has just never shown up. The "I'm just down and out right now but you just wait until my money shows up" syndrome...never-mind that I point out they've been saying this for twenty years and that they are now 40 and still broke as a joke. "You just wait, Mike. Things are gonna change..." Uh-huh. I've been waiting....

And maybe...just maybe...the secret power that protects me from the PowerBall scam is that I'm very "in touch" with my own mediocrity. I accept who I am in totality and have no delusions of grandeur. And for that very reason, I feel no compulsion to play Lotto and become the next "billionaire" so that I can lord it over others and make a change in the world. In that respect, Lotto is probably the perfect thing for America. It preys on our idea of innate exceptionalism and rings the register with every sale.

It takes a particularly courageous individual (I think) to exist in our society and say truthfully "I'm not a special snowflake but just a normal and somewhat unremarkable person." And it shouldn't be because nearly everyone out there fits this category. Most people are of average looks, average intelligence, and average income. You aren't famous and probably never will be. Thousands of people won't cry for you when you die (like David Bowie or Alan Rickman). But at the same time, your mediocrity is armor. You should embrace it because it's a path to freedom. For one, you'll never suffer from "Fear Of Missing Out" or FOMO because you know there are no better options (when one presents itself) and there probably won't be anytime soon. It also keeps you humble (don't religious people preach that "Pride" is one of the seven deadly sins)? I'm sure there are any number of other examples and parables I could add to this list, but the message is all the same: don't play the Lotto people. It's a bad financial decision.

Don't be a temporarily embarrassed millionaire to set yourself up for a shearing when the truth is, you should be thankful for the wool you've got and should avoid giving it away for nothing. If you follow that advice, you will always be a winner (just one that no one cares about except you). Just maybe that's the whole point of life anyway.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

This is how Kylo Ren's lightsaber works from the Force Awakens Visual Dictionary

Yes, I bought the Visual Dictionary for the Force Awakens because I'm really nerdy and you all should know that. The freakin' illustrations are really cool, and they answer a lot of questions. But the big one that I had (and I know you probably have too) is why does Kylo Ren's lightsaber look so rough and jagged?

Well it turns out that he's using a cracked kyber crystal. It's also an ancient design that (according to the visual dictionary) "dates back thousands of years to the Great Scourge of Malachor. The crossguard blades, or quillions, are tributaries of the primary central blade."
Pretty cool, right? You can thank me in the comments. Oh and I will be posting more cool stuff from the visual dictionary. I love how detailed the Star Wars universe is. But I guess you can afford it when you are the movie with the highest gross money grab in history.

Monday, January 11, 2016

I actually finished Caledfwlch this weekend and it feels pretty good.

So I've been working on the sequel to my book Oculus for about three years now, and it pretty much stayed at the 95% done mark for about 9 months. However, I just got this bug to finish it off and cranked out 24,000 words last week and it's done. First drafts are hard, amirite? I still can't believe I actually finished it. It's like I did almost an entire month of nanowrimo in like a week's time. Once it gets published, I'll only have two books left to write in the series. That's still giving me a double-take because when I first started this thing, five books seemed like SO MUCH.

I started editing it on Sunday, and I've already got some notes on things I should think about changing from an enthusiastic beta-reader who excitedly emailed me about this project in late December. Yeah, that email was totally a muse. And my friend Patrick Dilloway said he'd take a stab at editing it before I send it off to Double Dragon Publishing in the near future (I haven't sent Pat the manuscript yet because I don't want it to be a total mess with spelling errors and punctuation all over the place). I think I would like another beta reader though. I know most of my blog readers are not familiar with the story (and that's totally fine because we are blog buddies and not novel buddies and what I write is understandably "the cup of choice" for a very small minority of readers), but there might be one out there that's read the first two and legitimately liked them (and weren't just saying nice things don't stab blog buddies in the back).

So, if you are one of those people who legitimately wants to immerse yourself back into the series with the next installment and see what craziness I managed to dream up in three years, please either leave me a comment or a message, and I'll send you a copy of my first draft in pdf format. Obviously, I'd like comment back on what's working, what isn't working, etc.

Please don't feel obligated to read my book because I've been supportive to you in the past. As this is the third novel, I really only want people who like the story to give me advice on what I should or should not change (if that makes sense).

And if you want to just leave a comment so you can move to your next blog, tell me about what you did this weekend. Did you do any writing or finish any projects?

Friday, January 8, 2016

The Shannara Chronicles has a beautiful cast and setting and is probably the best thing on television this January

Even though the Shannara chronicles is a clear departure from the eighties fantasy book, The Elfstones of Shannara, it comes across as being very fresh and engaging. This week, I managed to catch the premiere (which had episodes one and two in one long episode with limited commercial interruption), and then I watched the next two episodes "On Demand." As usual John Rhys-Davies turns in a solid performance (this time playing the elven king Eventine instead of some dwarf named Gimli), but what took me a little by surprise was how good-looking this cast is (should I have expected anything less of MTV?) The fact that they can all seemingly act really well (I'm not just saying that because I like skin) is just icing on the cake. Add to that the huge budget MTV clearly threw at this thing to make it "Lord of the Rings" quality, and you get a recipe for something that is easily the best thing on television right now.

Here I'll just tick off the cast for you so you don't have to do any of the work yourself. First off there's Austin Butler who plays Wil Ohmsford (I just gotta say that Wil has a real hard time keeping his clothes on). I also don't remember Wil being this smokin' hot when I first read the books. I mean...he wanted to be a healer...which in any MMORPG is the position usually referred to as "the girlfriend class." Just sayin'.  And, here's the best screen cap of Wil on the shores of the Silver River (although there's another in the bath tub with Eretria much earlier in this same episode)...
And then there's Ivana Baquero who plays the sultry Eretria (a roguish character that has a mean streak in her, yet is a scene-stealer in just about every situation where she is featured). And yeah, right off the get go she was practically naked in the bathtub with Wil before she stole his elfstones (okay I'm suddenly realizing how odd that phrase sounds given that Wil is a half-elf and was naked at the time)...
And not to be outdone, Eretria's opposite in the show is played by Poppy Drayton, and her name is Amberlee and she's the king's daughter. She's the bit of class that the story needs to kind of contrast with Eretria's rover personality. She doesn't get naked but you see her in a lot of tight, soiled outfits with her mouth hanging open (a lot).
Anyway, what to say about this fantasy epic other than it's really great? Seriously it is great and you should be watching it. But I like the effects (especially the demons because the Changeling is truly horrifying), I like the characters, and I think the story (though different from the books) has enough of its own flavor that I don't mind any of the changes. It's understandable that you'd have to make some changes in any adaptation. I'm just really excited to see how the whole thing plays out, and whether or not some of the most memorable parts of the book make it to the screen. If you want to watch it (and don't get MTV), you may download the free MTV app and watch all four episodes for free right now. That's great, isn't it?

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

I think my new year's resolution is to be a more productive writer and finish projects that I've started.

Happy New Year. For those of you who didn't have a good 2015, I hope that 2016 brings you fulfillment. As for me, I hope that 2016 is the year in which I successfully resolve to be a more productive writer and finish projects that I've started.

I'm kicking off the New Year with a post for the Insecure Writer's Support Group. It seemed like a good place to start for several reasons. First, the Admin for IWSG is announcing the winners of the IWSG anthology contest and you can find that here.  Second, I think I more productive on Wednesdays than I ever am on Mondays.

Recently, I got a fan mail in my inbox that reminded me of why I write. I hope that you guys get fan mails like this because it was a little kick in the pants since I'd kind of lapsed on working on my sequel to Oculus, preferring instead to work on my Dungeons & Dragons game that I run every other week. My latest project for that was to do a map of my world in Photoshop using a Wacom tablet. It's really quite fun, and I've spent hours drawing on my map while watching television on my new 4K ultra-high definition 55-inch OLED (it's beyond fantastic). The fan mail was really one of the shorter ones I've gotten, and its message very simple:

"I've been reading Slipstream and Oculus the past couple weeks and now am desperate to finish the story. Loved the 1st chapter of Caledfwlch and wondered when a possible release date could be."

I read that and was like..."uh..." hmm.  So I started corresponding with this fan and told him that I was about 95% done, and if he'd like, I could send him the rough draft so he could read it and then get back to me on what he thought. And he agreed to it! So yeah...I got myself a beta-reader. In addition, because I felt embarrassed for having not worked on it since May, I actually started working on it again by re-reading and editing what I'd gotten done. And now I'm all caught up, the story is refreshed in my head, and I feel like I can finish this thing by the end of this month. I guess I've been guilty of being one of those people that get on George R.R. Martin's case about taking so long between sequels (you may recently have heard that the Winds of Winter is not going to come out before season 6 airs on HBO). George is (of course) in a different league when it comes to writing, but I think I get it. I think I understand how time can just "go by" in a blink and before you know it, it's been years between sequels.

I admire writers like my friend Patrick Dilloway who are so incredibly disciplined that they can churn out forty books in just a few years. I think that kind of discipline is pretty rare, a gift really, and is a wonderful thing if you got it. And I know fans have gotta love that kind of discipline in their favorite author. It's something I need to work on for sure.

Anyway, this has been my Insecure Writer's Support Group post.  The co-hosts for January are: