Newsies

I recently took my kids to see Aladdin on Broadway. This was their first show and, like many people, had a blast. I think we all do the same thing when we leave a show, we endlessly play the music to relive the magic. Good times. 

Once I had enough, I decided to introduce my kids to Newsies on Broadway. My oldest was really into the music from Aladdin and, since Alan Menken was a huge contributor to both musicals, I knew this would be a big hit. It was. 

Anyone who knows me knows that I'm a huge Newsies fan. I mean, who else would dedicate an entire post to that show. I'm not talking about the Broadway show either. I'm talking about the twelve-year-old boy who saw the movie. That's right. I was hooked from the moment Christian Bale sang Santa Fe on the big screen. 

It's weird how this movie ended up on my radar, too. One day my mom brings it up. She tells me that some of the dancers at my sister's dance school are going to dance as extras in the movie. As a kid, this was the coolest thing. I loved the movies. I still remember the Christmas where all I asked for was movies. My parents didn't get it. I never said what movies. I just wanted movies. Perplexed, they got me Batman (89) and Who Framed Roger Rabbit. Talk about a giant win for me. Anyway, I digress. People from my area of the world were going to be in a movie. That's freakin awesome. 

Then I saw the coming attractions. To many of my friends that's the turn off. A musical is lame, right? Wrong. You're talking to the kid who could sing all the songs from The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, and Aladdin (it came out later that year but you get my point). I was no stranger to musicals and, although I didn't know it then, the guy putting together the music to all these movies was the same genius. Can't go wrong their. 

I admit, watching the movie today is a poor decision. What do you expect from a movie from the early 90's. It's not bad, but it doesn't hold up. Knowing this, I refused to show the movie to my kids. Instead, I played up the Broadway angle. 

Newsies on Broadway is a masterpiece. The songs are genius. The changes are brilliant to the key songs. The addition songs that are needed to fill out the show are definitely suspect, but they fit. Knowing that the show is on Netflix was a perfect way to introduce this to my oldest. I knew if I played the soundtrack in the car, she would love it. Then we can enjoy the Broadway show on television. 

What I didn't realize was how much this show would impact me. The songs are catchy, but they are inspiring too. I started to get chills when the first chords of Santa Fe roll through the speakers. I feel the power of Kings of New York and the power the Seize the Day invokes in me is surreal. I realized that I looked here for inspiration in my own writing. The music speaks to me and has since I was a kid. 

As a writer, it's hard to say when I began studying film. I wasn't a big reader as a kid. I hated it. Sometime in my early twenties I started picking up novels and shortly after that I began writing. Then I discovered I needed to learn a lot of stuff about writing so I started studying the craft. I'm funny like that. Hey, it's working out for me. Don't judge. 

Here's what I learned when I started learning about story structure and the craft of writing, I've been studying this stuff my whole life. Sure, I wasn't a reader, but structure isn't limited to books. The movies I loved as a kid, the ones I watched religiously happened to follow the same structure. Once I started learning what elements I was looking at I was able to apply that to my writing. 

I'm digressing again. 

Back to Newsies. This is one of those structures. The three act play breaks down perfectly. I learned, later in life, that there was a booklet given out to all Disney writers that laid out a formulaic structure that the writers were pretty much told to follow. Who knew? Much of my writing follows the same format. This is not by chance. 

The thing the format doesn't teach is how to get a story to impact the audience the way Newsies does for me. That's my goal. I want to write a story the will impact one person the way Newsies does for me. One person who can pick up one of my books over thirty years after I publish it and get chills.

That's why I focus my writing on characters. If the format of these stories is the same, the only differentiation is the characters. There's the lesson here folks. When writing aim for compelling characters that your audience can relate to. Jack inspires me as he goes on his adventure. I feel his pain when he loses Crutchy. I want to stand up and high-five him when he wins. I want to be a Newsie working with him. 

After all this time, I don't think I will ever fall out of love with Newsies. For me, it's timeless. Now, it's time I got to work on my next set of compelling characters. 

Till next time. 

Rejection

Last time I wrote about pitching. It's only fitting that I write about rejection this go around. It's a part of the gig. If you're going to pitch in an attempt to write a property that you don't own, prepare for rejection. What you need to remember is that rejection is normal. Expect it. Be shocked when you don't get rejected. One day, you'll get accepted enough times that the rejection letters will slow and you'll be more surprised when you're rejected. 

I recently sent out a pitch. It was rejected within a very short amount of time. Those who are close to me know how much time I spent developing this particular story. They were a little upset. I laughed. I took a few minutes to explain to them that I spent all this time on the pitch knowing that the rejection was coming. I told them that I would be surprised if the pitch was even read. I knew that I didn't have a shot with this particular property, but I wrote the pitch anyway. I made sure I put in the work. Why waste my time? 

That's the rub. It's not a waste of time. The real question is, what did I gain? I spent a few weeks developing a story for a property I had no business writing for. In my humble opinion, it's a damn good story. It's a story I'd be proud to write. I proved to myself that given this opportunity, I would be able to step up to the plate. That's a confidence booster. 

What else did I gain? Well, I found out that I had the ability to draft an idea for a four issue series and sell it in one paragraph. This is a big deal. I told the complete story, cutting out all the bells and whistles. I generated all the exciting moments that would get someone interested in the story and fit the complete synopsis in one paragraph. If you've ever tried to write a pitch, that's tough to do. Since editors don't want to read four, two page summaries for each issue, you need to be good at this. I impressed myself and was proud of this accomplishment. I'm starting to thing there may be a place for me with the big boys. 

I don't think I answered the big question yet. If I knew that the chances were through the roof that this editor wasn't even going to open the pitch, why waste my time? Great question. Forget the practice that I got. Forget the confidence that I have. Let's look at one simple thing, he told me to pitch him last time I saw him. 

Okay. That's an interesting line. Let it sink in. He told me to pitch him. Yet I keep saying that I didn't think he'd actually read it. All this is accurate. He never told me which property to pitch for. He probably doesn't have an opening on any of those titles. Did he want an original property from me? Maybe. These are things I don't know. The logical thing would be to ask, right? WRONG!

Asking is a great way to hear the editor say he doesn't have an opening on any of his titles. That's easy. You're done. Now if you pitch, you know you've wasted your time. You never had a chance. Let me repeat, YOU NEVER HAD A CHANCE. 

See, if you don't ask, you just send in a pitch. He may choose to read it. He may decide that it's worth a quick glance and he may be impressed. He doesn't need to do that, but he could. Drafting a pitch also shows the editor that you are putting in the work. It shows initiative. He doesn't have to read it. That's his choice. A sorry, I don't have any openings response is pretty simple for him to send. No sweat. It probably takes all of a minute. Maybe two. 

Let's look at the positives for a second. He responds. Many editors don't do that. Many will ignore the email. This editor took the one or two minutes to say he didn't have any openings. You may not realize it right now, but how many editors ignore inquiry emails? Some do. Some don't. It depends on the editor and what you're asking. It might also depend on how many times you've talked to him. A response, to me, is a pretty big deal. 

What other positives do we have to talk about? In the email, I included some of my published work. People love free comics. Go to my published work and read some of the stories. It's a wonderful catalogue of my writing growth. Then buy some books. (Cheap. I know) Now, this editor has my writing. Maybe he'll like what he reads. Wait a second. If he likes the comics, is there a slim chance he'll remember I sent a pitch his way? Maybe. Is there a chance he'll ask me to pitch again? Maybe. 

Finally, this email opens a dialogue. It shows I'm serious about working with him. With my work in his inbox, I can email him again asking what he thinks about my writing. I may get some useful critiques. Remember, mom will always hang your work on the fridge. Mr. Editor will rip it off the fridge and tell you why it doesn't belong there. It may be painful, but that's an important thing to hear and learn to accept. 

So there you have it. With my work in hand, this editor may look through this website. He may chance upon this blog and realize a few things. 1. Grammar on these posts is suspect at best. 2. This guy has passion and the ability to understand this industry. 3. Maybe I need to give him another shot. 

Nothing but positives come from rejections. Think about what you can do differently. Realize what you did well. Don't be afraid to take the chance. Above all, when the opportunity is put in front of you, GRAB IT!

Till next time. 

The Pitch

I decided to take a break from the pitch I'm working on to write this little post. So it's only fitting to talk about pitching. 

I've spent many years getting to know various editors and publishers. On occasion, they have given me the opportunity to talk about their books with them. Inevitably, that leads to a short pitch and a fun conversation. I must say, I never expect much to come from that. Personally, I prefer to just write whatever story comes to mind, which I have done for many years. That's been fun and a great way to hone my craft. 

Then there's the written pitch. These can be grueling and stressful, depending on the company I'm pitching for. Before I write the one paragraph pitch, I sit down and write down the story. Not the script. That's silly because you never know what will and won't be accepted. What I mean is I will sit down and detail four issues of the story. Think of this like writing the ideas in a notebook. The only thing is, it's more organized than that. from there, I will figure out the major story beats and theme and all that jazz. To me, it makes the pitch more solid. Unfortunately, then I have to tackle the unenviable task of making that one paragraph that's exciting enough to make an editor say yes to publishing it. At least, if I get the yes, I have all four issues roughly laid out. 

Then there's the pitch that gets created for an original concept. This is by and far the biggest gamble. It's very time consuming. Before I sit down and approach the issues, like I would for a previously existing property, I build a world. I create characters, towns, planets, cults, gods, and whatever else the story requires. Then I'll organize the issues. From there, cut it down into a paragraph pitch. This can take months to build and as I sit there and write, I fall in love with the characters that I create. To me, I'm so attached to the concept that I need to see the story get published. 

Pitching is tough. I send them out expecting a no from the publisher. It's very common. The biggest challenge, you never know what they are looking for. Publishers have plans and small press companies have budgets. It's grueling but you can't get discouraged. It's an old adage, keep writing. Chip away and talk to editors. A pitch might not get picked up. That doesn't mean it's a bad idea or you're a bad writer. It just means that wasn't the write story at that time. 

That's enough mindless rambling for today. Time to get back to the pitch. Wish me luck. 

Divebomb: First Flight

My latest book was released a few weeks back and I just got my copy. Divebomb: First Flight is a spectacular anthology book. Kurt Belcher and Ben Ferrari created a phenomenal, jet pack wearing character.

Clint Tweedy used to be rich. Now, he has to make ends meet by delivering parcels via jetpack. Along with corporate espionage, Clint needs to fend off the world's governments who would literally kill to get their hands on his technology. 

There is such a rich backstory for this character too. I'm a big history guy. When I write, I try my best to root my characters' backstories in history in some way. That history may be tweaked and bent to my whim. I'm a writer after all. It's what we do. But at it's crux, the idea comes from history, or mythology, in some way. I always felt like it added much needed layers to the characters and opened up many possibilities. Alas, I digress. 

When I got a glimpse at Divebomb, I saw the history in the character. He's not the first generation Tweedy to wield a jetpack. That's where my idea came from. Clint has a daughter Haley who stands to inherit the jetpack. I thought it would be cute to look at an adventure from her point of view. Thus, Inheritance was born. 

This 8 page story was drawn by a future industry great, Luis Rivera. You need to see his work. The man's a genius at his craft. The detail that he added from my words made this adventure. This story about a little girl rescuing her goofy father from the clutches of a mysterious man wouldn't be half as good without his illustrious talent. 

I can ramble on and on about this book but I have a script to write and must move on. I need to leave you with a link because you really should buy this book. When I get more time, I'll add a Divebomb tab to the Published work section. For now, click the link below and buy the book. You might have to cut and paste it. Sorry. 

http://www.indyplanet.us/product/155647/ 

Till next time. 

New York Comic Con

And another New York Comic Con is in the books. Many people go to these cons to meet movie stars or pick up hard to find merchandise. I may do this from time-to-time but I mostly go to talk to various editors and artists. It's an interesting story and I've probably made every mistake in the book along the way. 

For years I would find editors and try to get them to hire me. Naturally, when you don't have a credit to your name, they aren't going to hire you. Yet, I made friends and continued talking and chipping away. The thing is, handing unpublished scripts to editors is not going to get you anywhere. 

At one point, I made a ridiculous comic call To Hell and Back. That's when I vowed not to go to a con without something new to hand to editors. I continued to network, but I had a book and wouldn't hand the same book out two years in a row. This lead to my first published work at Grayhaven Comics. 

Once my first published piece was released, I never missed a year without a new book. The quality improved too. That was a big deal. Now I had more professional work to hand to the editors I was slowly getting to know. I still had to introduce myself by name, but they were seeing me generate content. 

Year after year of the same or similar conversations. These editors got to know me. They understood I wanted to write for them. I would email them on occasion throughout the year to see if they had any openings, but I wouldn't go crazy emailing. I think that was a big deal. I was patient. And while I waited for them to reply or offer me work, I continued working on other stories. I never stopped. 

This year things seemed different. These people that I spoke to seemed to know me. I didn't have to introduce myself by name. I didn't need to hand them a business card, or take one of theirs. I simply said, "Hi," and began a conversation. Not a conversation about comics and jobs. That would come up in the conversation, but it wasn't the only reason I was sitting at the table. I spoke about the con, their time in the city, things they had planned, and just life in general. We smiled and laughed. It was a different feel entirely. 

Leaving the con, I felt good. I'll shoot some emails out in a few weeks. Maybe I'll get work. Maybe not. The doors are opening.

There's a lesson to be learned here. Patience. Don't come off desperate. I was that guy long ago. I lost a story because I was that guy. It's hard to understand, but if you go into these shows and show editors you're desperate for work, they may be turned off. If you go in and talk to them like humans, which I've always done (to a fault), they are going to be receptive. Just don't ask them how much they paid for their honeymoon. That ends poorly. 

Understand that this industry is small. It's a long game. Once you get published, it's addicting. Be patient and keep working. Find a way. 

That's it for this week. 

Under Construction

Sorry folks. I'm crazy busy getting ready for my trip to New York Comic Con in the morning. I'll be back next week. 

Star Trek Discovery

Like many of you, I watched the premier of Star Trek Discovery. Like many of you, I have a few opinions on the show that I think would be good to share. 

Let me start by saying that I really liked the show. It was very interesting with at least one, possibly two characters that kept me compelled throughout. I am drawn to quality characters that have memorable arcs. I try to write characters that connect with the audience on an emotional level. It's what I want to see. I saw the potential for that here, which made me happy. 

The adventure that opened the show really set the tone. The Federation is in its infancy and is only learning their limits. The are just as stubborn as they've always been. It's a wonderful fault in all the captains. Why else would the Spock/Kirk relationship work so well. Overall, I would continue watching this show. And that right there is where the problems come in. 

Yup. There were quite a few problems I had with this show that many people would probably brush off. The thing is, if I brushed them off, there would be no real point typing about Star Trek, would there? My problem starts with the timing of this premier. Football is a great lead in. Except when you set your DVR to record it. The game ran long and you had to record two shows to make sure you got the one. I'm sure this didn't bother anyone as much as it did me. Let's not forget that 60 Minutes also took up an hour after the game. Maybe that's a show you enjoy, maybe not. For many people, like myself, it kills the momentum from the football crowd. 

As I said earlier, the episode was really well done. Then it ended. It finished in a way that was not satisfying. I'm not going to spoil it, but it was far from a climax. It was a cliffhanger, sure. But the episode left me wanting. It did not leave me wanting to pay for another subscription though. Personally, I would have had a solid beginning, middle, and end with a quality cliffhanger. Something minor building up throughout the episode that comes to fruition after the climax from the A plot. That's my move. 

I get what they're going for. Subscribe to finish the episode. It makes sense and probably worked wonders. It didn't work for me. I pay for plenty of television streaming services plus cable. Maybe I'm a fool for doing that. Maybe not. The thing is, I can't subscribe to CBS for Star Trek. I need more. CBS doesn't have enough shows that appeal to me. They aren't getting my money here. 

The best part about this show is that I will see it. One day, it will be released on Blu-Ray. That's when I'll pick it up. Maybe I'll even buy a digital copy. One payment and I own all the episodes. That plan works. 

Is the show good? Yes. Did it make me have to subscribe to CBS's streaming service? Nope. Oh well. 

Till next week. 

Boy Meets World

I've been thinking about Boy Meets World lately. I have no real reason why. The thing is, I love that show. To this day, it is a fun, topical show. Let me explain. 

First, if you grew up in the 90's, you probably watch TGIF. If not, I don't know why you're even reading this. Boy Meets World hit with me as I grew up. I really connected with each of the main characters in their own unique way. Cory's nerdy awkwardness screamed me in many situations. At other times I was Shawn, or thought I was. I had an older brother who, like Eric, had better things to do than hang out with his younger, annoying brother. We can't forget about two parents who can't relate to you at all. Hey, at least they're there when you mess up. 

I grew up with these characters and really felt like I was a part of their crew. Their lives mirrored mine in so many way. Yeah, I know, they grew up way too fast, but the adventures still hit home. There were times this show had me laughing one week and practically crying the next. Come on, I was absolutely too cool to actually cry. Until the last episode that is. Watch it now and tell me your eyes don't well up. Go on, I dare you. 

The interesting thing about this show is the magic trick it pulled. I never saw it coming. Today, I'm a teacher by day. I stand in front of my class and teach educate my students while trying to explain various life lessons when they are necessary. Try explaining the dangers of the world after Sandy Hook. It's not easy to say these dangers don't exist. That was the easy answer before reality hit. So there I am, standing in front of my students and I realize, I grew up and became Mr. Feeny. And that right there, that realization made me understand how great this show actually is. That's true magic. 

Not only am I Feeny. I have also become a father. So all those hard lessons that Mr. Matthews had to teach Cory. That's me with my kids. I'm that cool dad. The one who hangs out with his kids and does silly things to make them laugh. Alas, I'm sure my kids won't always see things that way. Once again, the magic of Boy Meets World. A dad does everything for his kids, and they don't realize it until well after it's too late. 

I wish I could have connected with Girl Meets World. I didn't and there's nothing wrong with that. I have my Cory and crew waiting for me on DVD. They'll always be there. Maybe my kids will make that connection. Maybe not. Maybe they'll find Girl Meets World. Maybe not. I'm sure something will connect with them that doesn't involve YouTube. 

Till next week. 

Revisions

I HATE REVISIONS! There, I said it. It's true. I think that goes for many writers. It's probably why I simply type and publish these blogs. If I had to sit down and reread each post, I would probably delete everything I said and not update on a regular basis. I mean I've had this site for approximately two years now and I'm only starting regular blog posts now. (I bet I need a comma in that sentence too.) The thing is, revisions are so important. They are vital to the story and without them, your final piece will most likely be worse than it could be. 

Today, I sat down to revise the dialogue on a one page story. The story, Straight Outta Kipland, was designed for Kip (Indy wrestler) to sell as 11 by 17 prints at his shows. The kids will love it. At least I hope so. With the art complete, a letterer onboard, and an offer to toss it into a wrestling anthology, I thought it would be important to get it done. I sat down and reread the dialogue for about an hour. Every time I changed something. There were parts that didn't flow the way they should and it showed. Now, I've tightened the dialogue up and plan on spending about another few minutes checking it again.

To explain further, this story was written as a rhyming poem inspired by Casey at the Bat. Poems are interesting. If you don't get the beats right, it doesn't flow and takes the reader out of the story. Deciding to tell a story with a beginning, middle, and end on one page left no room for error. A 22 or 48 page book and slip at a point and not ruin everything. One page, that's entirely different. 

So, why do I hate revising. It's a lot of reading, which can be very time consuming. Think about it. How many pages to you have to read through and tighten up. It has to be done, but that doesn't mean writers want to do it. And that's me talking about reading my own work. Imagine how a creator feels when you ask them to read something. The first thing they say is, "Don't send me a script," followed by, "Make sure it's a complete book." I'm sure there's more than one reason for this, but a big one, if we don't want to read our own scripts ... (figure it out). 

Anyway, I will beta read scripts for friends when I have the time. It's fun. Not all the time. I know. I know. Idiot just contradicted himself. Yup. I did. Deal with it. Bottom line ... I still hate revisions. 

Time to get back to it though. Until next week. 

The Next Chapter

Today my son started Kindergarten. This is a little bittersweet. He's my youngest, which means all my kids are in school. That makes for an emotional send off. Fortunately, as the bus pulled up, there was a downpour. I mean, we walked through a river trying to get him on the bus. That did away with the emotional sendoff and made for an emotional day. My wife and I felt guilty that we didn't get to do the pictures, hugs, and all that first day stuff. When he got off the bus, it turned out that everything was fine. He had a great day. 

What does this have to do with today's post? Really nothing. It just got me thinking about the next chapter and how we get there. One of the earliest concepts I developed was called Wildchild. This was an epic. Like many beginning writers, I mapped out over two years worth of stories and built an intricate world with well developed characters. I'm sure more than half of them were knockoffs of my favorite characters in comic lore. Needless to say, this epic never made it to publication. 

The interesting thing about this concept, it never really died. I would constantly pull open the files and look over them. The thing is, I never really read them. I never wanted to see what was in my old notes. I don't know why. Maybe I was too lazy to read the writing. Or maybe I didn't want to figure out that it wasn't that good. One day, I decided to revive the concept and seek out an artist. I worked through some things but never went back to my old notes. The concept didn't take off. I still have no idea why. 

While I was reworking Wildchild, a friend of mine proposed working together. He wanted something similar to this old concept. We discussed what we wanted in the book and I decided to take a risk. That was the day Wildchild died. I killed the concept. 

Instead of forcing that story to fruition, I thought it would be a good idea for me to take what I remembered. What drew me to this concept all these years later? That was what I needed to latch on to. I took those nuggets and put them to use in a new story. This story became Saturn and Orion. The script came together and gelled in a hurry. I did plan for the future, but made sure Book One had a definitive ending just in case. It is one of my more impressive stories, which became my first successful Kickstarter campaigns. Book Two is currently being drawn and it looks fantastic. 

What did I learn from all this? Well, sometimes old concepts are really good. They may not be great, though. There is a reason my mind kept going back to this book. I learned that the things you remember from these stories, the ones that stick with you all those years later, the ones that you never forget ... those are the things you keep. That is what will make a story great. 

In short, killing Wildchild was a great idea. 

Till next week. 

Baywatch

I have to admit, I don't know what I'm going to write about when I sit down to post this blog. I just want to update each week. I think that mindset allows me to just sit down and write whatever is topical at that moment. It's a pretty good system and will allow me to just keep posting. 

Now that that's out of the way, last night I watched Baywatch. Not the television show. I watched that religiously when I was a kid. I'm sure you did too. Just admit it. You just got the urge to hum the theme song. Maybe you even started singing it. Don't be ashamed. We all know it. 

Anyway, the movie came out on the old DVD yesterday. After rewatching the coming attraction, I decided it was funny enough to buy. Oh man, did this movie deliver. Don't get me wrong. It's not a cinematic masterpiece. The cast and crew are aware of that. And that right there is the key. This movie knows exactly what it is. It's a comedy designed to make fun of itself and the original show. Throw in a little story to give the characters something to do and you have a winner. 

I can't say this movie is for everyone. Comedy is very subjective. You have to write what you find funny and hope your audience agrees with you. Check out the Don and Ray stories on this site. As I tell everyone, if you've ever been to a large Comic Con you will find the humor in their. If not, you will not understand much and will not laugh. Does that mean it's not funny? Maybe. 

Baywatch had a solid mix of dirty humor, subtle jabs, call back jokes, and direct jabs at the source material. Slow motion running in the real world takes center stage and it's hysterical. There is a spot where Mitch meets Mitch and it might be the funniest moment I've seen in a movie this year. I can imagine the cast bursting out laughing on a daily basis and it shows on the screen. 

Is this movie a masterpiece like Citizen Kane? No. It's not meant to be. It knows exactly what it is. This movie is not meant to be taken seriously. Go in with an open mind and I don't think you'll be disappointed. 

Shoot me an email and let me know what you think. Till next week. 

Ready Player One

Okay. First off, you probably didn't notice, Wednesday came and went. And with that, I didn't update the site. Part of that is because I don't know what day of the week it is. That tends to happen over the summer. Since I'm gearing up to return to my day job, I believe the Wednesday updates will come more easily. I had to own that one. Deadline missed. On with the show. 

Ready Player One. Like me, many of you may have heard about this through the upcoming movie grapevine. I will say that when I first heard about a story about a gamer living in a virtual reality RPG I didn't care. I'm not a gamer so this concept didn't really interest me. Like many people, I blew it off and thought I would never see the movie. A few updates later and I decided to follow the progress a little. I was still iffy. Then the coming attraction hit. 

I didn't know it at the time, but I heard that particular trailer aggravated fans of the book. For me, it had the Iron Giant. It seems silly but any movie with that adorable robot in it gets my attention and money. I was suddenly on board. And not just the movie. The book was fast tracked on my reading list. 

To digress, I don't get to read many novels during the year. They take a commitment, time, and, generally, it's hard to pick up a book and tell if it's going to be good. There's nothing worse than picking up a book, dedicating a ton of time to it, and discovering that it is a horrible piece of literature. This year I picked up Thrawn and, with all my writing, comic reading, day job commitments, and family, it took me a few months to read. That's why I carefully select novels to read. So when Ready Player One got put on top of the list, that says something. 

It was worth my time. 

From the beginning, the book hooks you. Think about being the solitary owner of Apple. Then think about not having an heir and creating a contest for the world to compete in. The winner becomes the sole owner of the company. That's what this book is except the entire contest exists in a virtual, video game world. Yeah, I know, it sounds like The Matrix. That would be a good comparison. But the real trick is making you believe that this fake world is real. 

While reading this book you get lost. You become so invested in the VR that when you enter the real world, it seems fake. That impressed me. There are times in the book where the characters reference their real identity as the avatar they control and you feel it. It's a pretty intense roller coaster at times. 

Don't get me wrong, there are parts that drag on and feel a little out of place, but that's to be expected. This is Ernest Cline's first novel. And did he ever hit a home run. A part of me wants a sequel, but I don't think I'm smart enough to figure out how to pull that off. I was so invested in the world, I want to rejoin these characters. I don't simply want another book littered with 80's pop culture references. That won't do. I need more. 

Ready Player Two, perhaps. 

That's it for this week. Till next time. 

Batman and Harley Quinn

Monday I decided to go check out a screening of Batman and Harley Quinn. Any time Bruce Timm decides to produce a Batman cartoon, he has my money. When he manages to get the voice actors from Batman the Animated Series back together, that's even better. To top everything off, Timm may have alluded to this movie being in BTAS continuity. That was all I had to hear. 

Now, this was not at all a perfect movie, but it was good. I was sitting in the chair thinking about how awesome it would have been to see the original opening from the old series. I'm sure it was discussed and dismissed. Once Batman spoke, I was all in. I felt like I was sitting on my couch, watching the old series. Twelve year old me was leaning back in a chair waiting for Batman to beat up the bad guy. It couldn't get much better than that. 

Then there's that PG-13 rating. I was drawn out of the movie with a simple thought, Timm must really want these characters to get some loving. We saw this in The Killing Joke. I let that go. It wasn't my taste, but that didn't matter. When Harley looks at a tied up Nightwing, who was checking out her panty-clad bottoms and clearly got aroused, that was entirely different. I wasn't sure how I felt about that. Then she mounts him and says everything under the sun to make sure Nightwing consents ... it was interesting. 

Thankfully, the movie had some lighthearted moments mixed in with plenty of action. Overall it was a blast to watch. The ending may have been a little off, but I'm not going to complain too much. We just got treated to Kevin Conroy voicing a Bruce Timm Batman. Sure, it was aimed at the adult me, not the twelve year old me. It happens. I don't think I'm going to complain about a person giving me new Batman content. In fact, I'm sure I'll buy it once it's released on DVD. 

That's it for this week. Feel free to let me know how many typos you find.

Till next time. 

NEW NUMBER 1

Okay. I've been thinking about how often I update my website. I realized that comics take a while to be released and not every book can go up on the site. I mean, if I give them away for free, I won't make any money. On a side note, I am going to put some teasers up for those specific issues, but that's something to discuss another day. 

But I digress. 

The point of this post is to let you know that from this point on, I'm going to update the blog section on this site every Wednesday. I have no idea what I"m going to discuss or for how long each post will be. I also don't know how many typos will be found. I don't care. I'm doing this as an exercise to meet my own self-imposed deadline, and to give me a break from writing comics. 

I want you to hold me accountable. Reference this post. Let me know when I drop the ball. And by all means, play editor. Call me out on my mistakes and typos. 

So there you have it. This is my new number 1. It's my reboot. 

Till next week ...

From Wildchild comes Saturn

Wow. I just proofread Saturn and Orion Book One. This book is near and dear to my heart and I'm ecstatic that it's finally ready to go to print. Pilot Studios decided to make this their first ever Kickstarter campaign, and I couldn't be more honored. 

It is amazing how a story comes together. Saturn was not always meant to be. At least not in the incarnation she is in now. Ages ago, my friend and I were chatting about a story idea. This book was called Wildchild. It was my first real venture into writing an ongoing series and had all the problems of a new writer trying to learn his craft. But the concept was damn good. I couldn't get it out of my mind. 

Over the years, I would try to get some traction behind this book. The thing is, I never let go of the original concept. The same flaws that were evident years ago were still there. I was too close to the project and was determined to see it work. I couldn't see the flaws. That's when Pilot Studios asked me to write a Daredevil type character. Obviously, I couldn't write Daredevil. That's when Wildchild popped back in my head. 

I decided think about Wildchild. I refused to pull up my old files. I simply went off of my memory. What did I remember? I realized that, after all these years, if it was still in my mind, that was the good stuff. That was the stuff that I needed to keep in the story. Suddenly, I had a new character, Saturn. 

The supporting cast and villain would come rather quickly. Again, what worked for Wildchild? Some of that stayed. Some went into the trash. Before I knew it, I was writing a script. You might say, the script wrote itself. The words flew on the page. Before I knew it, I had an emotional tale pitting technology agains ancient mysticism. I hit the jackpot. 

Now, Saturn and Orion is here for you to support. It will be launching on Kickstarter soon. I'm sure you'll find a link on this site. I would love to have your support. I really think you'll enjoy what you read. Maybe one day I'll even open those old Wildchild files and compare the two characters. Only time will tell. 

 

Another Contest

I have to admit, I dropped the ball on this one. 

I love writing stories based on characters created by someone else. I don't know why. There really isn't a reason for it. I have a blast running these characters through my filter and coming up with a new way to present them. Don't get me wrong, it's fun to build a world of my own. There's just something to seeing another person's world for what it is and making it shine. 

That's one of the reasons I love to enter writing contests. I mean, I would love to win, but let's face it, that's always a long shot. It really doesn't matter how great the script is. It's a matter of subjective taste. As long as I'm happy with the script I send in, I'm a winner. That and it makes for a great talking point when I run into the editors at a comic con. 

Where is this going? Yesterday, I found out about Darby Pop's latest contest. I knew it was coming, but somehow, I missed the start. By an entire month. That's nearly the entire contest. That put me under the gun. I thought for a brief second that I have a pretty decent workload at the moment and probably should skip this year's contest. Then I thought that would be a cheap cop out. I never thought of myself as a person to back away from a challenge. So I decided to go for it. 

Now, I'm practicing writing in crunch time. I have a week to get this story ready. There is no time to waste writing a page a day or to blankly look at the screen with writer's block. This needs to get done and done well. That's my goal. When I meet the deadline, I will be especially proud of the story. It doesn't matter if I win or lose. I just need to be happy with the work. 

Until the next time I have a random idea to type on this blog. 

 

Odd things

I'm really working hard to keep updating this blog on a semi-regular basis. First, I didn't win the Millarworld contest. It really doesn't matter. My script was good and that's really all I can wish for. I'll post that story in the sample script section soon. Enjoy it when it's up. 

I saw Rogue One a few weeks ago. I'm letting it digest before I see it again. I enjoyed it the first time and have no real complaints. It was well done and kept my eight year old's interest. She wants to see it again. That's a win. 

I decided to watch the prequel trilogy with her. This was interesting. Episode 1 is not my thing. It doesn't matter how many times I watch it, I simply don't care about the movie until Darth Maul appears at the end. What surprised me was how much I enjoyed Episodes 2 and 3. Dialogue aside, I like those two movies. The opening sequence in Episode 3 gets me every time. It's a wonderful display of special effects. You really feel like flying. I may also have enjoyed them because I'm in a Star Wars obsession. I can't get enough. 

I'm going to go back to writing a script that should have been done a week ago. My pointless talking is over. It makes little sense and probably shouldn't be published on the site, but I'm going to put it out there anyway. If I don't, I'm already putting off the rambling blog. Anyone who knows me is very well aware of my incoherent thoughts. They pop in my brain all too often. Get used to it. 

Later. 

Mark Millar Had a Contest

Let's see. It's been a while since I've found the time to update this little blog. Sorry folks. The good news is that I've been very productive. The bad news, I haven't updated the blog. 

Tomorrow, Mark Millar will reveal the winners of his second annual talent hunt. I wrote a great script last year and didn't win. This is disappointing in a sense because I loved that script. That's exactly where the disappointment ended. The experience was great. I got to write a short script, which is not exactly easy. I met a deadline. That's huge. And, really, with all those entries, it's a long shot. I was happy with the script and that's all I can do. I think I was really impressed when the winning script was similar to mine. It proved to me that my idea was sound. Check it out in the sample script section of this website. 

I sit here in anticipation because I feel the same way about this script. I'm sitting here waiting for my kids to finish up dance class thinking, "Will I win?" Who knows. This story impressed me and the two or three people who read it. In essence, I'm already a winner. It would be nice to see that story make it into the annual. 

Well, the kids are about to leave their class. Hopefully, the next time I post, you will hear great news about the contest. Or you've already heard the news because you read it online. 

Till then. 

Busy, Busy, Busy

I promise I'll update the blog soon. I have so much on my mind. I've been crazy busy writing, which really isn't a bad thing. 

Consider this under construction for a little while.