Friday, 27 October 2017

Unoriginal.

Last year, my wife and I went to the movies twice, it is a record low for us as we were always keen to go out and see something entertaining. This year looks to be a repeat of the last, as we have only seen two movies on the big screen and it is October as I write this. But why? I dwelled upon this a couple of times throughout the year but I eventually forgot about it, getting Praxis released became my priority. The editor of Praxis, Brian Niemeier, had written about his thoughts on audiobooks before, I responded with a respectful counter view and he appreciated it. As I was thinking about movies the other night, he posted a piece on his blog where he talked about this year's movie releases not performing so well, and it got me thinking about the topic again. Towards the end of the article, Brian writes the following:

"At this point it's hard to say whether Hollywood's woes are due to changing media consumption trends like cord cutting and streaming, the general decline in storytelling afflicting more and more films, or a preference cascade away from Tinseltown as normal people make the healthy decision not to give any more money to people who openly hate them."

Now that really got me thinking. This article is written as either a companion piece, or as an extension, you can decide which.


Storytelling in Hollywood, and its decline, are certainly big factors as far as I'm concerned. I saw Alien Covenant earlier this month (I borrowed it) and was so glad I never put any of my own money towards that film. The story of that, especially walking around an alien planet with no protective head gear (which is how they get infected), and some the stupidity of some of the characters in the movie (aimlessly shooting at an alien and hitting a fuel tank) was just so aggravating to watch. It was even harder to believe that Ridley Scott directed this movie, someone who's previous works I have long admired.
A.C also continues another Hollywood trend, prequels.
From a personal point of view, I do not see why entire movies need to be made to tell a backstory, mainly because the audience will know how it will end, who will live and who will die. To be fair, A.C was a financial success and the critics liked it. But the audience? Not so much.

Remakes/reboots are also another factor. I talked about the remake of IT last year with some friends, and I predicted it would fail. It turns out that I was quite wrong, the movie was well received by both critics and audiences, and pulled in a large profit, $654 million at the time of writing this. However, there was also the release of The Mummy, staring Tom Cruise. Why we needed this series being rebooted, I'll never know, but it happened all the same. To be fair to the movie, it was a financial success, having pulled in $409 at the time of writing, but critics and audiences both hated it.

Then there are sequels, and god damn we have had plenty of them. Ironically, both the movies my wife and I have seen this year have been sequels, Logan and John Wick 2. Both were entertaining, financially successful, and well written movies, and on the day of writing this, I purchased the Logan Blu-Ray. It comes with a bonus version where it is presented in black and white, a brilliant idea that I cannot wait to watch.


Then there is Transformers: The Last Knight.
Wonderful, another one.
I grew up with the Transformers, I have always loved them since my childhood, but the live action movies left a lot to be desired. The writing in them was either questionable, or just really bad. Most would agree that Revenge of the Fallen was the worst of them all, Age of Extinction was pretty bad, but it was also unneeded. Michael Bay should really have ended it with Dark of the Moon, but he appeared to not know when to stop. Again, I point out in fairness that the movie did financially well, pulling in $605 million at the time of writing, but again, the response from critics and fans was something else.

Brian also pointed out that people were also not in a hurry to give money to people in the movie business who hated them. This was a really good point, there are a couple of examples that really back this up.


Ah yes, Who could forget Jennifer Lawrence and the stories surrounding her this year? After it was reported that she had said Hurricanes Irma and Jose were "Mother Nature's wrath" at America for electing Donald Trump, some folks did not take to kindly to that. To be fair, she did not actually say that, but her comments, as far as some were concerned, did hint as such. Her movie, Mother, was apparently boycotted by Trump supporters who had felt she attacked them. It only just made back its budget at the box office and was not very well received by critics and viewers. This obviously stuck in the minds of those higher up in the movie world. When promoting his latest movie, writer Aaron Sorkin, who had gone after Trump quite a bit during his election campaign, pointed out that he had been gently reminded that Trump supporters buy movie tickets too. "In other words, try not to insult half the people," he said. Moments like that serve as a gentle reminder that you must really remember who pays to see those movies, so best not to insult them. It also reminded me of when Simon Pegg said about the main villain of the Star Trek Beyond movie, that "he's very much a Trump or one of the Brexiters". I remember seeing that and thinking that I would give that movie a pass, I guessing others did as well, the movie ended up taking the least of the three at the box office.

I'm not going to lecture people on how they should spend their money, absolutely not. These days, I find myself watching a lot of the older movies, simply because they are more entertaining and it looks like the film makers really tried to put out something good. My approach to modern movies, and if I should see them, has come down to this: is this really worth my money? So far this year, when I have looked at the movie releases, I have come up with the same answer. I have I missed out on a lot? Sure. But from this, I take two things. First off, my money did not go towards some of these movies, and secondly, this approach really has saved me a lot. Of. Money.






 


Sunday, 15 October 2017

Thank You, A Hundred Times Over.

I had a goal in mind when I released Praxis on Amazon, a small one I suppose. I wanted to sell more than Nomads did, which was around ten copies I think. I remember looking at when the first few sales came in, three, that maybe I wasn't going to do so well and that it would be a failure I would learn from.

Then, my friends in America woke up.

Three orders jumped to twenty-one, and they kept climbing on a daily basis. I kept checking the sales figures when ever I had a free moment, unable to process that there were people out there who actually wanted to read my work. At the time of writing this, Praxis has sold one hundred and two copies and is rated at four and a half stars on Amazon. I'm still blown away by the support shown to me by readers out there, I struggle to find the right words to articulate my gratitude to you wonderful people, but here it goes.

Thank you.

Thank you for giving an independent author like me, someone totally unknown to any of you, a chance to show you what I can do. For those interested, the paperback version of Praxis will be sorted soon and will hopefully be out by the end of the month. The audio book I also intend to arrange as well, and am taking auditions for it through ACX, I will post updates as I have them on my Twitter page. I do, however, have something else to ask those of you who purchased Praxis.

Please leave a review.

Reviews will help me to learn, such as what stories are liked and what ones are not, characters, dialogue, and so much else. They will also hopefully attract other potential readers to my work, and that is always a good thing.

This final part, you can think of as my mission statement I guess.

I want to entertain with my stories, to give readers something they can enjoy without the unwelcome intrusion of politics, ridiculous story elements, or condemnation of the audience themselves.
Yes, Marvel, I am looking in your direction.

I will tell stories of regular folks, men or women, in extraordinary situations. I will tell them in the style of either books, comics, and movies, from the eighties and nineties, because for me, that is when story telling was at it's best. I will not be one of these authors who does not appreciate his own audience, because I would not be in such a position without you. I will not be one of these authors who bitches that he cannot write because of a current political climate etc, or an author who becomes a political activist, because quite frankly, that is just stupid. I want to be an author who entertains people, to hopefully one day to earn a reputation that has readers looking forward to my next release. The coming days, weeks, months, and years, will see how that goes.

Justin Knight, independent author, at your service.

Wednesday, 4 October 2017

What is Next?

At the time of writing this blog entry, Praxis has acquired twenty-five pre-orders, a number I had only dreamed of hitting. As detailed in my previous blog entry, it was a long road but totally worth it, because I made some mistakes and learned from them. As I await the book's proper launch, I am nervous and hopeful that people like it enough to give it good reviews. I am also hoping that there are people out there who are wondering what is next for me. Well, do read on.


I wrote a short story whilst the book was being edited, intending it to be for a short story magazine but it was rejected. I took a look at it and decided there was still some potential in the material, so I added to it, edited it some more, and made it as a tribute to my favourite Marvel comics character from my childhood, Death's Head. I had always wanted to do a series based on the adventures of a carefree and nomadic character, Furman Simms and the Problem Princess is basically a blue print for it. If enough people like it, I shall go ahead with it. If not, I shall leave it to one side for the time being. However, part of me knew that, when I looked over what I had written, I still had a lot of room to improve my craft. The problem was, I simply did not know how to do it. But then, something wonderful happened, thanks to a couple of friends of mine.


Two friends of mine, Scott and Mark, were running a podcast at the time, called Big and Robot. The show has long since finished now but it was a fun listen. They would occasionally have on special guests, the conversations would vary in length but they were a mixture of fun, amusing, and informative. One of those episodes featured Canadian author Blake Northcott, who was writing the latest series of the sadly missed Michael Turner's Fathom. She is also the author of the Arena Mode Saga and the Vs Reality series, the latter being developed to be a movie. I was listening to the show as I was making some notes in one of my notebooks, listening to her talk how she slowly got into writing. At one point, she talked about putting herself through something called the James Patterson Masterclass in Writing, and I literally stopped what I was doing and listened intently as she spoke about it. I looked up the course on Google and was pleased to find that it available to those of us in the UK and I decided I had to do it.

 
I made myself do the extra hours where I worked so that I could afford the course and have since started it. At the time of writing this, I am half way through lesson two, and I am intent on learning as much as I can throughout. I am grateful to Blake, as well as Scott and Mark, for putting me onto the course, and I have told myself that I will not write anymore books until I have finished it. Working through the course is going to take a me a while, a couple of months to be precise, so whilst I will still promote Praxis and blog from time to time, I will not be doing much else. With regards to my old work, Darkest Before Dawn has been properly formatted for Kindle and given a different cover. Nomads, I am currently going through and cleaning up because it was put out in a bad state, as far as I am concerned. If anyone is considering buying it, please don't, because I will also be dropping the price of it once it looks better.

Fun times are ahead for me. I want to learn how to be a better writer so that I can entertain people with good material, and that I can hopefully build a career out of it. The road ahead of me is a dark and mysterious one, but that's not a bad thing. Thanks to the people I have interacted with online, and become friends with, I've got a great light to lead the way for me.



Monday, 2 October 2017

The Journey to Praxis.

Its hard to know where to start with how Praxis came to be. One of the earliest memories I have is someone I worked with at the time, telling me that "I could write a book" about what went on where we worked. I thought the idea a joke at the time, but then, as I thought of more and more things I had seen and heard over the years, an idea began to form. I had said once that a story involving a blue collar workers was more engaging to me, because they could go anywhere. Superhero stories have become boring, predictable, and stuffed with unwanted politics, look at almost any Marvel comic on offer; a shadow of their former selves. I've been a blue collar worker all my life, its how I was raised. I decided I wanted to tell stories that myself and those like me would want to read, Praxis is the end result of that, but getting there was a hell of a journey.

I loved the original Alien movie, because it was basically truckers in space. With Praxis, I wanted to do a warehouse in space. Since I had worked in warehousing a lot growing up, I had plenty of knowledge to assist me. Outlining and writing was fun, I really felt alive at times and loved crafting the story as it fell onto the screen, one word at a time. When I eventually finished, I thought I had written a masterpiece and that my farts would smell of roses, especially as it finished at one hundred and six thousand words long. Brian Niemeier had agreed to edit the book, so I passed it over to him and patiently waited. Eventually, Brian got back to me, and told me a few things I was not expecting to hear.

A long time ago, I had written Nomads, my first proper novel. I still do not look back on it kindly because part of me believes I could have done better with it. I felt that, among other things, I could have built the characters better, fleshed them out more I guess. With Praxis, I went overboard with what I thought was development and unneeded scenes. Brian pointed this out, informing me that a lot of the scenes were not needed, they slowed the plot down too much. In short: a lot of fat needed to be cut from the book. I look back on that moment as when it dawned on me that the hardest part was now to come: deciding what needed to be cut out.

Certain scenes, whole chapters, characters, and a massive subplot were cut from Praxis, one hundred thousand and six words fell down to eighty-one thousand, the script was much tighter. I had received feedback from various beta readers which had helped the story up to this point, which included changes to the ending and some minor scenes leading up to it. but it was one person's advice that helped lead to the final draft. My friend Bre had pointed something out after she had finished the first draft and admittedly, I had forgotten about it at first. I was looking at the current draft, still thinking something was missing, and then I remembered what she had said. Additions where made to the book and I had my final draft, it was something I was pleased with. I realised also, that because I had removed a major subplot, the book's original name did not suit it anymore. So, Penance became Praxis, and the changes were complete.

I had some help in other places from some wonderful people too, Nick Cole, Jon Del Arroz, Jon Mollison, and Bre herself gave blurbs for the book, Robert Kroese and Ellie Douglas helped promote it. The cover artist for Nomads, and my friend, Peta, provided a wonderful cover, and I'm hoping to get an audio version done soon, as the original recording artist has a lot on his plate at the moment to do it.

I look forward to the feedback and reviews on Praxis, nervously, but I really do. I know that I still have a long way to go before I am at a standard I am happy with and I aim to work on that. In the mean time, I wish to thank all who helped plug the book, all who supported it, all my beta readers, and the eventual readers themselves.
I do hope you enjoy.


Sunday, 3 September 2017

So I'm Starting a Podcast.


I enjoy writing this blog, it gives me the chance to occasionally get things off of my chest and more. I have written reviews of either comics, movies, and audiobooks, and they get a pretty good viewing count. I have streamed here and there in the past, talking about writing with fellow indie authors, and talk about games, comics, TV, and movies with some great friends. I had this desire to do something else though, something maybe a little different. I love a good podcast, there are ones on iTunes etc that have been well made and are a damn good listen. Some of these, such as the Write Now Podcast, GeekGab (which I have been a guest on), Final Level (Ice T's podcast), have served as an inspiration to me to do my own thing. I had thought about doing it on YouTube as some have done, but I decided against it in the end. But why?

I have seen numerous people who use YouTube and have their videos monetized or even had people unsubscribed from their channel. People such as Jill Colton, Diamond and Silk, and even Dave Rubin, have noticed YouTube messing them around in one form or another. I have a small channel and don't get me wrong, I do not consider myself anything big on that platform. As much as I have enjoyed doing my live streams, I decided that if I were to do something a bit bigger, YouTube really wasn't the place for it.

So after a bit of thought and discussion with a friend of mine, Wombat and the Wordsmith was born. My friend Andy (Wombat) will be joining me as a co host. My cover artist and his wife, Peta, has provided the artwork, which you can see above. Our aim is to do two a month, discussing movies, comics, games, and even writing and books. We also intend on having a special guest on the show once in a while to talk about them and what they are doing. We are going to do our first episode at the beginning of December as a tester, and so I can figure out the recording software a bit better, I'm still a newbie with that kind of thing.

I'm looking forward to it, me and Wombat always have a laugh when we talk so he was always the best choice for a co host. I do hope you'll tune in when we launch it. The only general rule that I will enforce on the podcast is: no politics. It is something both of us are sick of hearing about and this podcast will be to entertain, not to bore. I hope people will listen in.

Tuesday, 22 August 2017

The Male Feminist Domino Rally.


Usually, I don't like to gloat at the sufferings or failings of others, I really don't. However, there are times when I allow myself to do that if I think the individual involved really deserves it. Today, it is one of those times.

Joss Whedon was portraying himself as the king of the male feminists. He spoke up for equality and his support of women numerous times, despite various suspicions about him, especially with the reception of Age of Ultron and the angry tweets fired his way. This week though, a knock out blow was sent his way by his ex-wife, Kai Cole (pictured with him, above), after she wrote a guest blog for The Wrap. To say that the blog piece was explosive would be, to put it mildly. Kai could almost be accused of playing "the bitter ex" but, again, the blog's contents certainly justify her writing it.

Cole claims that he used his relationship with her as a shield, so that nobody would scrutinize his relationships with other women, and also not scrutinize his writing as anything other than feminist. She also claims that over the fifteen years they were together, he had numerous affair with actresses, co workers, fans, and even friends. Rumours are circulating as to who he screwed but I'll cover my ass here and not name names, just in case. Cole points out in the blog, that she is a very private person and writing the blog was very antithetical of who she was, but it was obviously something she had to get off of her chest. I can't say as I blame her, to have been betrayed in that way must be so hurtful. Whedon gave a weak response, which you can see at the bottom of the blog, in which he claimed errors and inaccuracies, but claimed not to comment any further due to his kids and respect for his ex-wife.
The response to this piece was, for lack of a better phrase, downright funny.


Of course, Full McIntosh himself couldn't help but make it about masculinity, as you can see. At this point, the guy is nothing short of the gift that keeps on giving. However, it was noticable that Sarkessian has so far stayed quiet about it, I can only wonder why. The fansite for Whedon's work, Whedonesque, announced it was shutting down on the 21st of the month. According to the linked article, the owners did not give an exact reason for the closure, they did not deny the revelation played a part in the decision either. Examples like Whedon show that the best way to deal with someone like him is to simply give them enough rope and wait. They will eventually take themselves down, it is just a question of time.


So why do I write this? Because it has become more than noticable now that it is always the male feminists who are caught out in this sort of situation. Jamie Kilstein (above), was forced to leave his job after disturbing allegations were made against him by a group of women who had worked with him. Christopher Goldberg was arrested after being found in possession of fucking child porn, another male feminist who claimed he "hated sexists", Trump supporters, and supported the women's march. They join the ranks of Devin Faraci, Matt Hickey, and Sunil Patel, other male feminists who have been outed as sex pests in one form or another. Professor Jordan Peterson appeared on Joe Rogan's podcast and talked about male feminists, and he called them sneaky and creepy. After events like above, it is an acurate description.

The worst part about this is that I know these discoveries will not end here. I have no doubt there will be others and I have even placed a bet with myself as to who some of them could be. Obviously I am not going to say for fear of getting my ass sued, I shall wait and see. As for Whedon, the fans of the Wonder Woman movie sure did dodge a bullet when his script was rejected. The only remaining problem is that he is directing the Batgirl movie, god only knows how that will turn out.


Wednesday, 16 August 2017

So I Watched... Castlevania


So my daughter got me into anime a little while back, I have been watching shows like Attack On Titan whilst introducing her to the classic that was Akira. I became aware of the Castlevania series a couple of weeks ago but had too much on my plate in order to get around to it. Well, I finally got around to it and I am glad that I did.

Dracula falls in love with a woman and they marry. He teaches her how to become a doctor but whilst he is away, the church burn her at the stake because they believe she is a witch. Dracula returns, is royally pissed, and gives the land a year before he rains hell on them. A year later, he delivers and it is not pretty.


The series is a good one. It is dark, gory, tragic, but really compelling viewing and I watched the episodes all in one go. The animation is heavily influenced by the classic animes out there, the characters never bored me and Trevor Belmont is a great combination of sarcastic, reluctant and heroic. The main thing about this show that annoyed me though, was its length.

The series is only four episodes long, each episode only twenty-five minutes long. To be fair to the series though, the story (based on Castlevania 3) never felt to me like it had been rushed or compacted. A second series is due out in 2018 and I cannot wait for it because even though the series ended, it did not finish on a cliffhanger ending but an engaging one instead.

I highly recommend that you check this out. The series can be watched in one go if you want, binge watching seems to be a trend these days and Castlevania is certainly suited to that.

Tuesday, 27 June 2017

So I Read.... Dark Knight 3: The Master Race


BE WARNED: Spoilers ahead but with good reason.

Frank Miller's original Dark Knight Returns story is, and always will be, a classic in my mind and many others out there. It has many standout moments, such as the final fight with the Joker and even with Superman himself. The Dark Knight 2 was a good follow up, but not as good as the original, such is the case with most sequels. Its best moment was introducing Lara, the daughter of Superman and Wonder Woman, and laying the foundations for an interesting character.

Now we have Dark Knight 3. Earth is invaded by a large group of Kryptonians intent on world domination. Batman and Robin emerge to help defend the planet with the eventual aid of Superman and Wonder Woman, but Lara is turned against the heroes, leaving the odds stacks against them.

I really wanted to give this series a glowing review, I really did, but I found myself more annoyed with it than anything else. First off, the lateness of this series was stupid, it started way back in November of 2015, and the final issue (9) has not long been released. Granted that the issues are bigger than normal comics, and have a minicomic in the middle, but I found myself having to reread previous issues to remind myself what happened. Wonder Woman felt like nothing more than a reserve character until she and the Amazonians joined the fight near the end, Lara felt like nothing more than a spoilt brat with her conclusion in the story feeling pointless, and there was even a damn Trump reference.

Then there was a number of variants.
Jesus Christ, I still have a job to believe the amount of them that were actually released. At the time of this blog piece, there is 164 of them, not counting the regular versions. The values of some of them are beyond stupid and, to save time I will not go through all of them, but a variant of issue 9 is currently valued at $650.
Why?

I might bring myself to reread the whole thing from start to finish and maybe I'll have a better opinion of it, but right now I'm disappointed. When a series such as this suffers from being as late as it was, with a stupid amount of variants as it has, it does leave a bad taste in my mouth. Am I being too harsh? Maybe. But with a number of people that were working on it, they could have at least got it out on time.

Tuesday, 13 June 2017

So I Listened to.... Denied a Chance.


I don't think I would have ever come across this lady and her story had it not been for a random retweet that appeared in my timeline one day. I follow a few people who believe in the right to carry arms in the USA, one has even shown me her guns via Skype, and one retweeted a tweet from Nicole Goeser which caught my attention. She had tweeted about the loss of her husband, shot dead in front of her by a stalker, in a gun free zone. I saw that she had her book coming out at the time and tweeted that I was sorry for her loss and that I hoped the book did well. Later, I saw that she had liked the tweet and said to myself that I should buy the book.

I remembered about it a while later and decided to check on Audible to see if the book was on there. Sure enough, it was,  I purchased it and sat down to listen. The book covers her last day with her husband, his brutal murder, and what she went through afterward before the eventual trial of his murderer. I found myself really feeling for her throughout the listen and even after the audiobook had finished, she went through something nobody should but took a strong stance against it.

Gun control is obviously a part of this story as well is the ridiculousness of "gun free zones". I believe in the right to carry firearms and would if I could, but here in the UK, it is a totally different ball game. Goeser herself has given talks about this a few times now and I hope she continues because a bad person will always find a way to get a gun; a gun free zone really won't stop them. One thing that certainly should be taken away from this is that Goeser complied with the law by locking her gun away on that fateful night, because of that the law failed both her and husband.

The audiobook is narrated by Ann M. Thompson and she does a good job of it. At first, I was going to criticize the fact that her tone rarely shifted but then I realized that perhaps it was intentional. This really is not a story that could or should be dramatized and her approach to it is a respectable one. The run time for the audiobook is just over three hours, short but this really isn't a tale that can be dragged out at all. Goeser makes her points with no beating around the bush and does not waste time on filler of any kind. It is one of the best arguments for carrying a gun that I have heard yet.

Check this one out. It is not only a strong lesson in firearms and the weakness of the US law, but it also makes another point that recent events in the UK can back up.
Guns do not kill people. People kill people.

Monday, 12 June 2017

Ol' Painless is Waitin'.

Saturday was a good day for me.
My editor, Brian Niemeier, returned my corrections for my book and I began to have at it with them. I thought it was going to be a painful process, where there were errors or corrections needed, Brian had highlighted them and placed an icon for me to click on. Once I did, the icon would explain what the problem was and offer a correcting suggestion. I began to get worried when more icons appeared in the following pages and I thought to myself "This many mistakes? Oh man, I stink at this," quite often. To my delight though, a lot of these were compliments on what I had written and believe me, they were not only a confidence boost but they added a drive to keep going. Even better, other icons were for comical jokes or reactions to something I had written that struck a chord with Brian, such as:

When a character cannot find the energy to read a complicated document, Brian wrote: "Like a Scalzi novel".

When I wrote about food or drink he liked, "Oh man, you are really making me hungry/thirsty".

When my main character insulted someone, "sick burn!"

When one of my characters said "oh boy", Brian made a Quantum Leap joke.

These little moments gave me a kick to keep going and I cannot tell you how much it helped through this process. However, like a laser blast through my midsection that knocked me down, the real problem presented itself later.

Brian pointed out that some of the scenes or chapters in the book were ones I needed to either edit down or take out completely. It was a hard thing for me to hear but his reasons were solid, they slowed the book down too much. In my efforts to learn from the mistakes I had made with Nomads, I had overcompensated with Penance and it was showing. I decided that as I was half done with the corrections, I would finish them and then put myself through the task of cutting out what was not needed as it seemed the right thing to do.

That night, I did not sleep very well as it played on my mind a lot. I had become really attached to the story and really couldn't see where I could make these cuts. The next day (the day of writing this) I found myself coming at it more critically and the scenes that I could cut became a little clearer to me. I know it will still be hard, but I promised myself that I would get this as right as I could. Thankfully, Brian's style of editing has been a real helping hand here and I will always remember that.

Thanks, Brian.

Sunday, 28 May 2017

Wonder Woman, I'll Pass.


There is a minor storm surrounding this film at the moment, mostly down to the fact that a certain movie theatre only offering women only screenings. Radical feminists are celebrating this and the "male tears" at the apparent reaction to it (not as much as made out either, I have seen more mockery than anything) and the fact that the film is being lead by a "strong female character". I've watched this film develop slowly for a while and at first I'll be honest, it looked good, but then I started to change my mind.

First off, I should point out that Wonder Woman was the best of Batman Vs Superman in my opinion. Her entrance into the film is its highlight and I was sold in terms of her being an awesome character on screen. I was one of the many who doubted Gal Gadot's casting as the character but was happy to have been proven wrong when I saw her in action. When I heard of her approaching film, I thought it would be interesting. However, when the story of the film became clear, I suddenly found myself being turned off to the point where I am no longer interested.

First off, it is set in the first world war and that is an overused setting for any story by now. Then there is the fact that the main villains are Nazis.
Give me a break.
Be it video games or films, Nazis have quite frankly been done to death now and for them to fall back on them once again was quite frankly lazy to me. I know that some people will point out this was her origin story in the comics and fair enough, it was the same with Captain America. The problem is that DC has revamped her origin story time and time again and it seems that using the world war origin was again, lazy. Such a big deal has been made over the movie of this character, it is not unreasonable to suggest a better origin story or villain could have been used here.

It bugs me that it is an origin story as I can't stand those things. I do not see the point in seeing a movie where we pretty much know how the story ends, who will live and who will die, and most importantly, that the main character comes out alright in the end. That makes this movie nothing more than a simple popcorn flick to me, and that made me lose interest.

Hollywood has long been on the path of making movies that they know will make money, whilst giving little effort to the content. For those who are going to see this movie and will enjoy it, I hope you really do. Sadly for me, this one goes into the same section as Rogue One; all style and no apparent substance.
I'll pass.


Saturday, 27 May 2017

So I Read... X O Manowar.


Valiant Comics.
Wow, I have not thought about any comics from that company for a very long time.
I was in my local comic shop, talking to the owner, and I wondered out loud what was new. One of his employees recommended the new X O series to me, a character I had briefly been aware of back in my youth. I humored him and picked up the first two issues and then the third the other day. To say the least, I was blown away by what I read.

The main character, Aric or "Urth", lives a peaceful life farming on the planet of Gorin. He has left behind his life of fighting, abandoned the powerful armor that made him what he was and lives with Schon, a woman of the Azure race whom he loves. Sadly, war comes to the planet and he is recruited to fight against his will to fight with Schon helplessly watching as he is taken away.

It is a great story. I always loved the theme of a hero who walked away from the fighting to live a peaceful life and Matt Kindt does a great job telling it. I found myself rooting for Aric as he was pulled away from his home to fight in a war where he was basically going to be canon fodder. The artwork by Tomas Giorello is nothing short of beautiful, I would usually point to a specific example but with this comic, I really can't because his efforts showed beautifully on every page. Be it either a scene where Aric is working the fields of his farm, in bed with Schon, or in the middle of the battle, it is great to look at. Diego Rodriguez's coloring enhances the artwork ten-fold, my favorite scenes are the ones in the night, especially in issue two. The production value is clearly seen with the covers too as so far, the issues have been glossy cardboard and I really liked that.


Sadly though, the series does suffer from the usual problem, of which I am about to complain about here. There are three issues in the series at the time of writing this, but there are twenty different variants. eleven for issue one, five for issue two and four for issue three. The pricing for some of them is pretty ridiculous too, one is valued at $100, another at $65, but the worst of all is the brushed metal variant for issue one that is valued at $1000. I can only look at that and shake my head as I cannot figure out how someone could come up with that kind of a price, so what if there are only five hundred copies available? I do wish that companies could price comics like this a little more sensibly because believe it or not, not all of us can afford something like that.

Forgetting that though, this comic series is really worth picking up because it tells a great story. Do yourself a favor and take a look, you won't regret it, just ignore the variants unless you have deep pockets.

So I Read... Rose.


These days I am always on the lookout for any new stuff from the independent publishers. As I have said before, it is where the better stuff can be found and Rose is a great example of this. I became aware of it after it was mentioned by the Image Comics Twitter account a little while ago and I am glad I did.

After her village is burned down by the forces of an evil queen, the titular heroine of the story flees for her life and meets up with a band of rebels who know the queen's evil. Rose wants revenge, and the rebels want to help her.

Granted, the story is only two issues in at the time of writing this, but I really enjoyed what I have read so far. The first issue started with a note of thanks from the writer, Meredith Finch, something I don't see that often. To me, when a writer puts a thank you note like that in their comic, it says that they really care about the product they have produced. I like that, I really do, because that is a writer who's work I want to follow. When it comes to the artwork, IG Guara does a brilliant job, either with the queen's evil looks or the look on Rose's face when her home burns around her. It is a far cry from the cartoony crap being peddled by Marvel comics these days.

Variant covers will always be a gripe of mine because some companies really overdo it. With Rose, there has been sensible with the amount done with only three for each issue so far. It must be noted that one for the first issue was a second print so that does not count. First off, two variants for issues one and two have been done by Dave Finch, the writer's husband. I have been a massive fan of his work since the days of CyberForce and Ascension, so I was really pleased to see that. One of the other variants for issue one was a gold logo edition, something we really don't get enough of these days and I find that a shame.

I will be collecting this series because it has started with a strong opening. It has a great writer and a great artist to keep it going, I will certainly be in it for the long haul. Want a good reason why the independent companies are doing it better than the big ones? Rose is a good place to start.

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

So I Listened to... Hatred Day.


This story summary is a hard one to write, as it is a story I really don't want to give any spoilers on. What I can say about it, is that it pulls you in easily and does not let go until the end. The characters are varied and engaging, the setting is both familiar and futuristic, and the writing is fantastic. That is all I will say out about the story. The purpose of this piece is to talk about the audiobook, something I will take great pleasure with.

T.S. Pettibone (the identical twin sisters of Brittany and Nicole Pettibone) certainly made a brilliant choice when they had Joe Calarco narrate their story. I would go as far as to say that it is one of the best audiobooks I have ever heard; hands down. There are voice effects for certain characters, musical pieces between the chapters, awesome sound effects, and a nice finishing note from Calarco himself. The narration of this story is awesome, each voice Calarco plays is wonderfully convincing and not once was I thrown by any of them as I have been with previous audiobooks.

The length of the audiobook is fourteen and a half hours long, one that you will take great pleasure indulging yourself into. I look forward to the next installment of this series and hope they bring Calarco back to work his magic again. Check this one out, I highly recommend it.

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Audiobooks: A Counter View.


My friend and fellow indie author, Mr. Brian Niemeier wrote an article for his blog in which he talked about his views on audiobooks. I agreed with what he said in the article, people want audio versions of books but do not seem to realise the cost involved in making them. Due to the costs involved and the ACX profit sharing scheme, it can be off-putting for indie authors like him and I to make them. I had the dream a long time ago of recording my own versions of my works but I had certain factors working against me. First off is that there is nowhere in my home that I can go to record properly in where no unwanted sounds can leak in. It would be either the sounds of my children playing, cars going by outside, the TV downstairs, or the sound of my neighbors screwing rather loudly; thanks to the thin walls. Another reason was that I did not have any of the equipment needed to make this happen. It is pricey and so is hiring a studio for the day.

When it comes to audiobooks and indeed Audible, I am appreciative of the market and the demand for these versions of author's material. As I have written before, my brother is a truck driver and does not have time to read so he makes great use of audiobooks; especially when driving. I like to read after I have finished writing but there are times I find it difficult to go from the screen of my laptop to that of my Kindle, so I go with an audiobook so I can relax and just listen. Brian also mentions in the article that narrators overcharge by a lot. He has a good point there.

I have seen authors have to turn to Kickstarter in the past to get audiobooks done and have a certain narrator perform them due to such a high cost. It is very disheartening because as Brian breaks down in his piece, it would cost him twice as much as it did for him to write a book for someone to perform it. He also raises objections by having to share the profits of his work with a narrator via the ACX scheme, I can see his point here totally but I do have some differing views on the whole thing of which I will now go into.

I have heard some great narrators do their thing with someone else's material. Adam Baldwin did a fantastic job with Larry Correia's Tom Stranger, Mare Trevathan also did a fantastic job with Nick Cole's CTRL ALT Revolt!. But sadly, I have also come across a couple of bad ones too. I won't name them but with the first, I had a job to finish the audiobook, and with the second... I couldn't finish it and deleted it half way through. These amazing narrators, especially the likes of Trevathan, I would consider it a compliment, even an honor, to have them read my material. When it comes to the ACX profit sharing scheme, if I were making just as much, if not more than a sale of the ebook of my work, then I would be happy with the whole thing. This view can be criticized or debated, sure, but it comes from the place that I do not rely on my writing to earn a living wage, I work full time and often write when I have gotten home but I understand Brian's dislike of it as he is a full-time writer; every penny counts.

This, to me, comes down to a case of each to their own. It can certainly be suggested I am coming at this from a biased position but I guess it is a debate that can rumble on for a little while. I respect Brian's opinion on the whole thing and I know he and I can have a healthy debate about it. Either way, Brian and I share the most important point and that is that our readers matter to us and if they have chosen to spend their money on our works, we will certainly listen to them.


Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Crash for Controversy

These days I like to think of myself as someone who will support writers that are struggling to make a name for themselves. It is not a competition as far as I am concerned because if there are more of us out there, with good stories to tell, then it will be the reader who benefits. However, I am always wary of when someone publishes a book based on a scandal of some kind as it comes across as an attempt to make money from the whole thing. This year we have had two examples of this and it still boggles my mind that someone thought it was a good idea to publish them.


The first is Rachel Dolezal's book, In Full Color: Finding My Place in a Black and White World. I still cannot believe that somebody thought was a good idea to publish. For the handful of people out there who don't know the now famous story, Dolezal was a woman who was born white but then decided she wanted to be black and set about changing herself to achieve this. The whole thing came crashing down after she pissed off the wrong person and he hired a private investigator to dig for dirt. The PI knocked on the door of her biological parents, saw the family photos, and the game was up. Today, she cannot get a job anywhere and is one step away from being homeless. She has managed to write this book (with help) in an attempt to "set the record straight" but it doesn't look like many people are convinced by this. The bulk of the reviews on Amazon are one star, 61% of them at the time of writing this. What is more disgusting is the price, roughly four or five times that of a regular ebook, leaving me to hope some of those who brought the book in the hardcover format have found a better use for it, such as to prop up a bed, table, or hold open a door somewhere.


The second example is none other than the queen of professional victims herself, Zoe Quinn. She has a book due out in September, Crash Override: How Gamergate Nearly Destroyed My Life. It is available for preorder and only in hardcover so far, even Anita Sarkeesian advertised it in a tweet a little while ago. Quinn was held up in high regard by the media as the best example of the damsel in distress after her ex-boyfriend published his blog post about her. She used the whole thing to build a career for herself as an advocate for fighting online abuse with her company, the Crash Override Network and has been seen as a hero by many out there.

However, hardly anybody in the media really tried to get both sides of the whole thing, Eron Gjoni has had various nasty things written about him whilst living under a gag order he had to crowd fund to fight, the only fair interview he sat down for was with Cathy Young for HEATSTREET (disclosure: I know Cathy over social media) and it was a well-conducted interview. It was later revealed (in the smaller press outlets) that the Crash Override Network (or CON) had actually been compiling dossiers on people it disagreed with as a way to take them down, one of her employees, Robert Marmolejo, was exposed to have been using his position in the company to harass over twenty different women and admitted to this before disappearing from Twitter. A series of chat logs from CON were leaked in which members discussed how to take down people they didn't like, either with police reports or doxing. Most notable were some of the members of that group, such as Katherine Cross, Sarkeesian's secretary, and Randi Harper, creator of the now infamous blocking programs Twitter uses. Notice though that the links I provide here are of the smaller online sites and not the more mainstream media out there? That's because not one of them covered it, not one of them, and that speaks volumes to me.

With regards to Quinn's book? Time will tell if it sells well or not, but due to the reporting of her being so one-sided in the past; I have a pretty good idea. This video sums the whole thing up quite well, check it out.

I support any writer out there who has a good story to tell, but these examples are ones that I will criticize and stay well clear of. There are writers out there who are struggling to build a platform for themselves, to put content out and be recognized for it whilst holding down a full-time job. I will respect them far more than a couple of con artists who use their name to make money when their five minutes of fame ended a long. Time. Ago.

Monday, 24 April 2017

Progress From a Better Process.

It has been a while since I sat down to write a blog post as I have been so busy with applying various edits and so on to my manuscript. Well, I am pleased to say that after going through it, as well as applying feedback from a couple of the beta readers (more will be applied later), the manuscript got to as good a place as I can get it right now. So, yesterday, I sent it off to be edited before posting it to Amazon.

I have been lucky this time around. Mr. Brian Niemeier, the Dragon Award-winning author of the novel SoulDancer, has undertaken editing duties for me, something I consider a real honor as his work speaks for itself. As I have mentioned before, a mistake I made in the past with my first book, Nomads, was that I did not have it properly edited and pretty much rushed it onto Amazon. I look back on it and still cringe to myself, but with this book, I think I have managed to avoid that mistake. I took more time editing it myself and asking beta readers to pick it apart, two things alone that I never did before and that has been an interesting ride. In that regard, special thanks must go to Michael Fisher, a friend of mine from work who gave me his spare time to beta read, Bre Faucheux, who gave me some amusing feedback when she had picked up on some of the English slang I had used, Angela Night, who provided some in-depth feedback for me, especially with the characters and some of the more technical aspects, and also Brian Hall, who pointed out an overuse of exposition in places that I could cut down on.

But it doesn't end there.

One aspect I really wanted to focus on was audiobooks, but sadly I lacked both the talent and the equipment in order to record my own. One day, Brian (Niemeier) tweeted about a man whom he had spoken to about audiobooks for his own work, JimFear138, and vouched for the quality of his services. Jim and I had a number of conversations, the result was him agreeing to record the audiobook version of my book. Jim had performed the prologue of my short story, Darkest Before Dawn, to show me what he could do and I was blown away by it. Once the manuscript has been edited, it will be sent to him to work his magic with and I cannot wait for the results.

I will keep those interested in my work updated because this time I have worked with some absolute professionals to make this book, titled Penance, a much better product than before. I can look at this and say I am more than proud of it. In the mean time, I shall present you with the finished cover, by the wonderful Peta-Lynn Fraser and ask that you watch this space.


Thursday, 6 April 2017

Righting a Wrong.


Back when I was a child and read comics heavily, there were some individual issues, series, and stories that will always stay with me. Yes, I know many of you have read about me washing my hands of Marvel as of late but there will always be some of the classic stories that will always be close to my heart. A lot of those stories were written by one man, Peter David, and thanks to him among a few others, I will always have something to smile about when I think back on what, to me, were the golden days of Marvel.


Peter David is not doing so well these days. He wrote in his blog a few days ago that he was in serious financial trouble. His ex wife had withdrew a large chunk of his money from their account to divorce him a while back, he had to use the rest to pay for his own lawyer. After a period of repaying the IRS and running out of money, they seemed to forget about it, but then they came calling for the rest.
With a penalty.
And added interest.
I felt so bad reading what the poor guy was going through that I decided to write this piece in support of this great writer. I will be donating at the end of the month when I get paid, he has offered to sign anything sent to him when donating, and part of me wants to take him up on that offer, but it feels a little like I am taking advantage if I were to take him up on that.


I rarely, if at all, promote crowd funding schemes because I have little faith or trust in them anymore. There are some that would laugh at David for this fate and maybe call him a tax cheat. This is something not caused by himself, but a greedy ex wife who saw an opportunity to take advantage of him and did so without a second thought. It is not the first time I have known something like this to happen to a man and my heart goes out to him. At the time of writing this, his campaign is doing well and is almost at the half way point.
Even if you cannot donate, spread the word, as writers like this man deserve all the help they can get.

Monday, 3 April 2017

Beating a Dead Horse.


I decided that I would have to write one more thing about Marvel comics and its continuing circling of the drain. I thought I could leave it alone after the last piece that I had written but sure enough, something came along that I couldn't ignore with regards to the whole thing.

Bleeding Cool, a website that I don't hold in high regard, published a story featuring an interview with David Gabriel, Marvel's VP of sales, and his views on the company's position. When asked why the company's sales fell so much, he commented that readers were "nose turning" at the things they had been doing "successfully for the past three years". He followed this up with the almost breathtaking line of "what we heard was that people didn't want any more diversity. They didn't want female characters out there."

The comments went viral and there was quite a response, my own included, and Gabriel was forced to provide an update to Bleeding Cool as to what he meant. I will give Bleeding Cool their dues, they have covered this thing quite well and even explored that part of Marvel's fall was a lack of superstar artists to drive those sales. I can think of no major artist that works for Marvel, not one, they all left to do work for independent companies. Image comics was created after several of the top artists walked out after the way they had been treated, paving the way for the likes of The Savage Dragon, Spawn, and of course, The Walking Dead.

What bugged me about Gabriel's response was that he totally missed the point of it all. Nobody out there in their right mind gives a toss about the race or gender of the characters as long as you get a good story out of it. Saga, the Image comic by Brian K Vaughn and Fiona Staples, is a perfect example of this. Marvel, however, seemed to be doing its best to shove various politics down the reader's throats, jokes at their expense, and of course, changing long established characters to suit a different audience. How did that do? Well, here are a couple of examples:

All-New Wolverine 1 sold 119,786 copies
The latest issue sold 29,255 copies.

Captain America Steve Rogers 1 sold 99,768 copies
The latest issue sold 36,610 copies

Thor 1 sold 150,862 copies
The latest issue (now Mighty Thor) sold 40,175 copies

Angela Queen of Hel 1 sold 39,271 copies
The last issue (canceled) sold 14,091 copies

I could go on and on about this, but the point is clear. In more ways than one, customers simply were not buying what Marvel was selling them. But in the company's mind, it was us the consumer who were to blame for this.
Ok then.

The writers of some of these comics have pretty resistant attitudes to the whole thing on Twitter. In part, I do not blame them because I'm guessing they have taken some abuse over all this (please don't do that) but their defiance in defending their material is just as forlorn. Jon Del Arroz, an author friend of mine on Twitter, took a look at some of the Marvel staff and the way they behave on social media in a blog piece, they are almost identical in their attitudes and dislikes, no real diverse opinions among them. Jon would later update this more in another piece, it helped show to me that these writers have helped chase off readers with their attitudes. Even G Willow Wilson's response in her blog about the whole affair was quite telling, especially when she mentioned social justice.

As I read into this whole thing, I came to realize that I was basically beating a dead horse by continuing to talk about it. I simply will not waste my time anymore with the company as it appears they are not going to change anytime soon. Readers like me have been made to feel like they are unwanted, that they are old news. Fair enough, our money will happily be spent elsewhere without regret. Indie comics, like indie authors, are more worthy of your purchases because they respect their readership and feedback.

Without fans who appreciate your work, the work itself becomes flat, flavorless and avoidable. It looks like Marvel forgot that along time ago.







Tuesday, 21 March 2017

So I Listened to... CTRL ALT Revolt!


I came across Nick Cole after hearing about CRTL ALT Revolt winning the Dragon Award for Best Apocalyptic Novel for 2016. I became curious as to what this book was like but was hesitant because I had quite a backlog (and still do) on my Kindle. I saw that an audiobook of it was available and took that route because I am able to get through these quicker, it turned out to be a great choice for reasons I am about to go into shortly. Nick was kind enough to join me on a live stream after I had finished it (and given it a five-star review) and we have become buddies online. Can it be argued that this piece is biased? Sure but I won't be bothered by that, I will always write about a good story or a bad one and give my thoughts. This story is not just a good one, but a great one as far as I am concerned.

An artificial intelligence has been slowly evolving inside the internet, watching humanity and considering it a threat. It begins with an assault by drones on the high-tech campus grounds of the Wondersoft Technologies company, it intensifies from there. Several characters stories are at first separate but as the threat increases and the story reaches its climax, they come together brilliantly.

A sign that can be considered a good one for me, whenever I listen to an audiobook, is how long I listen to one for in one go. With this I found myself listening to it in two-hour chunks on occasions just so I could see what was going to happen next. It was one of those stories where I could feel the tension slowly tightening and even felt shocked when a certain character met their end. It certainly deserved the Dragon award many times over as far as I am concerned.

The story behind what happened to Nick with this is well worth a read, especially for anyone considering going to a publisher. It is an example that freedom of speech will always prevail over censorship of any kind, especially the feelings of triggered little snowflakes in positions they don't deserve.

If anything, the icing on top of this wonderful cake is the voice of Mare Trevathan who narrates this audiobook. She reads with an easy going tone which ramps up when the tense scenes arrive, manages different accents with ease and takes on a delicate tone with the final scenes. Audiobooks live or die on their narrators and Trevathan gives a great performance in this ten-hour story, another reason I gave it five stars on Audible.

I recommended this to a few people now and will continue to do so. One day I hope to have Mare Trevathan read something of mine, based on her performance of this story alone and I remain hopeful that will happen. Give this a listen, it is another example that the best work can be found independently.





Wednesday, 15 March 2017

So I Listened to... Elite: Mostly Harmless.


I had the pleasure of meeting Kate Russell when I attended Shemfest last year, she was an absolutely lovely lady and I hope to shake her hand once again sometime. After that day and after the two-day hangover I managed to get over, I decided to look up her book and see what it was like. I checked out Audible to see if an audio version was available of it and sure enough it was, a bonus was that it was read by Russell herself. I certainly don't mind if an author uses a hired narrator to read their work but sometimes it is nice when the author does it themselves, I found out soon enough that Russell did a great job of it.

Commander Angel Rose is a down-on-her-luck pilot who is frowned upon by her parents, things couldn't get much worse before she is forced into a life of crime and on the run before going on a mission that could well be the end of her. Mixed in with this are a bunch of interesting characters who ever want to help her, probably kill her, and even screw her in more ways than one.

What jumps out at the listener is the effort that has gone into the recording of this audiobook: there are different sound effects thrown in, one voice in particular which is most likely done with some computer help, a little music and even a cameo from David Braben himself near the end. The story, as well as Russell's performance, were motivation enough for me to back her Kickstarter for her next audiobook, and I look forward to its eventual release.

The story is just over eight hours long and was a fun listen, I certainly recommend it to anyone who is interested. I understand Russell not narrating her next work as I've read it can be a draining task, but I hope she does it again sometime; she was bloody good at it and deserves recognition for it.

Thursday, 9 March 2017

Harassment Part 3.

I have the feeling that this is a topic I will never really finish talking about. However, I felt this third part of my writing about it needed to be put out there for reasons that will soon become clear.

I have a couple of friends, they are together and a really nice couple too.They are both on Twitter and use it for either fun, serious discussion, or just some banter. They both attracted the attention of a stalker, a rather nasty individual who went after them on various occasions and attempted to get one of them fired from his job by attempting to contact his employer. This stalker, appearing to use two different accounts on Twitter, also went after her for her appearance in photos of her that she had posted on the site. Despite numerous reports filed against the accounts in question, they are still tweeting abuse and harassment at the time of writing this.

I found out about the whole thing by accident and offered whatever support I could once I did, but realistically there was little I could do except be there for them. Twitter's Safety Council had obviously failed them so last I had heard, they had involved the police in the matter and are hopeful that they track this low life down.

So, why did I write this piece?

I chose to write this because I admired the way the two of them chose to deal with the whole situation. Neither of them screamed from the rooftops that they were being harassed, they did not plaster it over Twitter like many of the modern feminists do, they did not open a Patreon and appeal for donations. Did they even blame it on Trump or Brexit? No, they dealt with it quietly and privately as possible. Brad Wardell once said that "Trolls adjust their flames to burn you accordingly" and that appears to be what this little shit is doing, but I have an idea that the police knocking on the door will change their mind.

I admire that neither of them played victims in this because it certainly is the trend these days. I can only hope that this situation ends soon for them but I know I can do no more than to offer my support and be there if either of them needs to talk. Harassment is an ugly thing but when it is tackled properly and not by adding fuel to the fire, it could become a minor itch in life and not the problem it is now.

Names were purposely withheld from this article for protection and respect of those involved.

Tuesday, 7 March 2017

So I Watched... Logan.

       
This was a film I had been looking forward to seeing for some time. Those who have read what I've written before know that I am a massive Wolverine fan, but really am not a fan of his replacement. Part of me was wary going into this because of X23 being in the film but since as this was Hugh Jackman's last turn as Logan, I was willing to deal with it.

To sum up the story without any spoilers, Logan is now an old man and not in the best shape, he is aging and his healing factor is not working as well anymore. He cares for Professor X, even older and suffering from a neurodegenerative disease and cannot control his powers without the aid of drugs, with the help of another mutant named Caliban. He is introduced to X23, who turns out to be his clone, whom he has to protect from a group called the Reavers, and get her to a safe place.

That is all I'll say about the story, but the film itself is amazing and in my mind, serves as a template of how to do a superhero movie properly. I can only guess that director James Mangold sat down with the studio and said that he wanted blood, gore, and swearing in his movie; they obviously agreed. It is a more satisfying movie as a result, anyone that comes into contact with either Logan or Laura's claws doesn't come away well and its a nice change from the kiddy friendly efforts of before. I can honestly say that had this not happened in the film, it would not have been such a good end result in my mind.

                        
As for X23? I am happy to say that she was brilliant in the film, especially when she starts fighting. The writers of this film did a better job with the character than has been done in her current comic, but then again that was probably not too difficult. Dafne Keen does an amazing job as Laura Kinney and I could find no place in the movie to criticize her, my only hope is that perhaps the writer of All New Wolverine could take some notes from the performance. I say that because I'm pretty sure the only reason that series is still going is because of its name as when X23 had been in a series of her own before, it had been canceled due to low sales.

Knowing Hollywood, they will probably reboot Wolverine with a different actor but I doubt I will watch it; Jackman's performance cannot be beaten in my mind. I can only hope that if X23 gets her own movie that they will not soften the character for a younger audience but the cynic in me thinks otherwise. I will not watch another X-Men related film as I think they have squeezed too much out of the franchise at this point. I will happily sign off with this one, just like Hugh Jackman did so well and will certainly buy it when it comes out on Blu-Ray.

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

So I listened to... The Adventures of Tom Stranger, Interdimensional Insurance Agent.


This audiobook was my first taste of Larry Correia, a recording of one of his novellas, and one hell of a fun and humorous story. I will always remember this with a chuckle as I was listening to this whilst on the rowing machine at my gym and I kept laughing and losing count of what I was doing.

The story is a funny one. Tom Stranger, the hero of the story, hops between dimensions dealing insurance with various races and acquires himself a new assistant along the way; but it turns out to be the wrong one. His proper assistant has been stuck behind a desk somewhere, this one has a... gender studies degree and occupied a street once. To tell any more would spoil the story but it is one of the funniest things I've heard in a long time.

The best part? It is narrated by the one and only Adam Baldwin himself, and his effort is nothing but perfect. The humor in this story is given a wonderful layer of icing on top of it by some of the tones he uses, especially when talking about the previously mentioned gender studies degree. To repeat what I said earlier: it really is one of the funniest things I have heard in a long time.

The audiobook is just over two hours long but this is reflected in the price, but if you are using Audible's monthly credit system then that really isn't a worry. Pick this one up, it's a great listen.

Saturday, 25 February 2017

Marvel Coming Back?


I'm a little late to the table with my take on this story but I have been busy writing my book but none the less; here I am. I've written numerous times about my feelings about what has happened to Marvel comics and thought I was done with the subject and superheroes in general. A story popped up in Bleeding Cool News by Rich Johnston, a man I and others find quite loathsome, regarding the direction Marvel would be taking under new lead writer, Marc Guggenheim. He suggested that a lot of the politics that had been shoved into the various comics series would be "tabled for the time being."

I looked at that line and had my hopes raised for a moment as it appeared that finally, someone saw that the company's sales had gone downhill quite badly and that they needed saving. DC obviously saw this and have avoided it after the Rebirth storyline, Marvel managed to get the number one spot in last month's sales but only because it was a new title, previous months had not been so kind to them. Plenty of Marvel's titles have been canceled and will probably be canceled as a result of their poor sales, the most recent one being Patsy Walker Aka Hellcat. Kate Leth, the series writer, tweeted about this with what appeared to be a hint of arrogance, which I would have linked here but she has me blocked and we've never spoken before. She claimed the series would be finishing on "our terms", something I struggled to believe as her series sales numbers had dropped lower than that of Angela Queen of Hel.

In the past, Marvel has dealt with some politics in their stories, such as drugs and 9/11, and do so with some good writing and subtlety, but it got so heavy-handed with all the left-leaning crap that its audience went somewhere else and took their money with them. I was one of those people and although I think this news of a reform is great I still cannot bring myself to buy any of their stuff again. Why? Because I simply do not trust them anymore.

Their story telling became lazy, the artwork too cartoony and they either changed their characters' race or gender to appeal to the PC crowd. However, they didn't realize one important detail: a lot of that crowd may complain for more women characters etc in comics but they certainly do not buy them. This has been reflected in the sales and I am pleased to see someone doing something about it, but for me it is too late. I will not give them my money anymore for fear of being burned again and especially with the recent bizarre news of some Hulk and Wolverine hybrid.... Really?


The thing is that I can look back on this and tell myself that I tried, I tried to get onboard with this when I was buying All-New Wolverine but in the end, I just could not do it. For those who read their comics and enjoy them, I will not knock them as at least someone out there is. For me and a lot of other people out there it seems, Marvel died a quiet death a long time ago and I doubt it is a death that they will come back from.


Tuesday, 21 February 2017

So I Listened to... The Ables.


Audiobooks are something I think fondly of these days. I listen to them quite often as once I have finished writing, there are some days I do not feel like going from the screen of my laptop to that of my Kindle; so listening to something from Audible is much more appealing. As I have previously written, my brother enjoys audiobooks and listens to them in bulk due to his job as a truck driver. I hope one day that my own work will be available in audio format so that he and others have the choice of either them or the written book.

One of the first audiobooks I ever listened to was The Ables, written and narrated by Jeremy Scott, one of the men behind the Cinemasins Youtube channel. I think back on this story with great affection as it was a story that picked up its pace gradually as a group of disabled children, who find out that they have super powers and live in a town full of superheroes, are pulled into a threatening situation which could well kill them and everyone they know.

Scott has obviously paid attention to the films he has given sins to over the years of his popular channel and it shows in his story. Tremendous thought has obviously gone into the plot and I was caught off guard several times during the course of the story. I loved it, especially the two huge revelations towards the end. Scott has tweeted that he is writing the sequel and for me, it is a guaranteed sale.

One thing that does let a lot of audiobooks down is the narrator but with this one, it is obviously not an issue. Scott narrates it himself and his performance is brilliant and again, his narration has obviously been perfected thanks to his channel. He does so with a relaxed voice and when the more tense scenes come along, the shift of tone in his voice is gently done and comes across really well.

The audiobook is just shy of ten hours long, a good length in my opinion and certainly worth either the purchase or the token Audible gives out once a month, depending on your membership. If you like a superhero story with plenty of twists, where the characters are under genuine threat and nothing is guaranteed, I advise you to check this one out. One could only hope Marvel could listen to this story and learn something from it, but I guess that would be hoping too much.