Monday, July 29, 2013

"Killer Instinct": Five Things We Want and Five Things We Don't Want From the X-Box One Exclusive

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Here's a list of things we both want and don't want in the new Killer Instinct. Check out the list here.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Interview with Indie Author Land

Check out my interview with Indie Author Land. You can find it here. We talk about my book, The Darkness of the Womb. Thanks for your support, everyone.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

The Sega Dreamcast's Best Launch Titles

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In which I discuss (What else?), the Dreamcast's greatest launch titles. Check it out here.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Review of The Shining [The Book]

The Shining (The Shining, #1)The Shining by Stephen King

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Whenever a movie comes out, pedantic people will always (and I mean always) say, "the book was better". And while 9 times out of 10, the book IS better than the movie, it doesn't always have to be said.

It's just a fact, books are better than their movie adaptations.

Except, some aren't, and The Shining is one of those exceptions. Stephen King, who I adore, has always made a point of stating that he didn't like Stanley Kubrick's version of his story and for good reason. The book and the movie have a lot of major differences, namely in the ending and in the backstory of the characters. I mean, these are major differences, not just small little changes. As a writer myself, I would usually side with the author rather than the director, but in this regard, I actually think Stanley Kubrick did a better job of telling the story of The Shining than even Stephen King. The Shining is just that good of a movie.

Now, that's not to say that the book is bad, as it's not. It's really good. In fact, many of the best scenes in the movie come directly from the book. But Kubrick just took those moments and put them into overdrive. The dead woman in the bath tub is scary in the book, but horrifying in the movie. The bar scene in the book is fascinating, but the movie version is chilling. Even Danny's revelation of REDRUM being MURDER in the book isn't as potent as it is in the film version. Add in the major change in the movie's ending, which has stuck with me since childhood, and you have a movie that is much better than the book. No question.

Now, if I had read the book first, I might have a different opinion, but all throughout reading it, I just kept thinking, this was better in the film, this was better in the film, and I rarely ever say that, even after seeing the movie first.

This book, and Fight Club, are the only instances where I feel the movie is much, much better than the book. It's rare, but it happens, and this is just one such example. Enjoy the book, but love the movie.

View all my reviews

Interview with Author, J. Thomas Powell

Today, I interview the incredibly talented, J. Thomas Powell. If you would like to read some of my other author interviews, click here.

Your book, Vermont Voodoo, features both zombies AND voodoo. What was the reasoning behind combining such distinct supernatural concepts and creatures?

I knew I wanted to write about zombies from the beginning, but with all the TV and movie versions out there I knew I'd have to do something unique. The idea of the zombie originates from stories about voodoo in the New World, and early cinema used this trope often. Since George Romero we really haven't seen much of the voodoo zombie, and it was a lot if fun bringing that monster back to life (heh heh). The problem was that most portrayals of voodoo are laced with racist stereotype, and it was a challenge to work against the stereotypes while keeping a light, campy tone.

Cool. Now let's talk about location. The story takes place in Vermont. Why Vermont? Is there any specific reason why you chose that specific location to tell your story?

I set the story in Vermont for two reasons. First, it was thematically important to s set the story in a dying industrial city, and you see a lot of that in New England. Second, I thought it would be a lot of fun making my heroes flee from the undead in a snowstorm.

Indeed. That does sound pretty fun (and scary). Next question, and it also pertains to location. According to your website, you were born in Upstate New York and studied at Syracuse for a film degree, but now you live in Texas. What's wrong? Were you trying to escape the terrible snow storms here on the east coast?

I'm so happy that I'm living in Texas these days, and yes, a big part of that has to do with the weather. That being said, I've always enjoyed moving around and seeing different parts of the country. I spent every summer as a kid traveling up and down the East Coast, and living in Texas had made it easy to explore the South, especially places like New Orleans. I get a ton of inspiration by travel. This year I had an opportunity to go hiking in Nepal, which, let me tell you, was a trip and a half. Hopefully there will be lots more international travel in my future.

It's interesting that you got a film degree. Do you also dabble in film?

dabble. I worked at a production company in NYC straight out of college where my job was to read and evaluate screenplay submissions. After doing that I got into writing screenplays, and then writing novels. I still do some video editing on the side, and my screenplays are being submitted to festivals, so who knows? Maybe you'll see some of my work on the big screen. My dream job would be to write and produce independent movies, but whatever happens I hope to stay balanced between my film life and my literary life.

Nice. Now, back to your book. Where did you get the inspiration for it?

Vermont Voodoo is the first book I've ever written, and going into it I knew my biggest challenge would be finding the material and the stamina to write something that long. That's why I choose zombies; there's lots of material to explore and I could keep myself entertained with my monsters the whole way through. The fictional city of Frostbite is very similar to Syracuse, where I grew up. But my biggest inspiration may have come from my friend Daniel Cailler and his novel, Waking. Also set in a gritty industrial city, Waking is about a group of vampires and a hunter on a quest for revenge; I had the pleasure of writing a screen adaptation of Dan's book, and Vermont Voodoo has plenty of winks and nudges aimed at Dan. We work pretty well together, and if you like my book you should check his out, too.

Groovy. Now, can you tell us about National Novel Writing Month and how you're connected to it?

National Novel Writing Month, which is more commonly referred to as NaNoWriMo, is organized by the nonprofit Office of Letters and Light. Basically it's a challenge issued every November to write 50,000 words in one month or less, which is a short novel. You log your word count into their web site each day and if you reach the 50k goal by the end of the month you win... Bragging rights! And a novel. Which you wrote. It's wildly popular for writers and writing enthusiasts and a great educational tool, as well as a support system for getting that first draft on the page, as I did with Vermont Voodoo. I love NaNo.

Sounds legit. Okay, two part question. If you could have any super power, what would it be, and with said power, would you be a hero or a villain?

My superpower would be to invent doughnuts without any calories. Wait, that's not a superpower. Okay, my superpower would be hyper intelligence, and I would use that power to invent doughnuts and possibly funnel cake without any calories. That also cures diabetes. The hero part should go without saying.

Best. Power. Ever! Okay, is there anything else you would like to talk about or plug? Another project?

Of course you can buy my book, Vermont Voodoo, on Amazon in paperback or kindle format. But you should also follow me on Twitter @knid44 for updates, giveaways, promos, and general musings. I am working on a new sci-fi novel titled The Geneticist's Son, which should be out next year.

Excellent! Okay, thanks for the interview.

My pleasure. Thank you. 

Friday, July 19, 2013

The Top Ten Coolest Musicians To Ever Walk the Planet

Music is cool, but that doesn't necessarily mean that all musicians are cool. Elvis Costello is woefully uncool (Which, in a way, kind of actually makes him cool), while the King, Elvis Aaron Presley, is pretty much the sheer definition of cool, so what gives? Well, I'll break it down like this. If the artist had a "I don't give a f**k" attitude and sang the way they damn well pleased, then that makes them cool. They didn't necessarily have to be good singers or even have great songs. As long as they performed their music the way they wanted, then that gives them their cool factor. So, without further ado...the top ten coolest musicians to ever walk the planet. Who do you think was the coolest?

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10. Chuck D

When Chuck D told you to fight the power, you believed it. Rapping in front of the militant, dancing, S1W, didn't hurt, either. Chuck D just oozed cool, and fury. That's a pretty badass combination.

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9. Michael Jackson

Okay, I know Michael Jackson spent a lot of his  career as a certified weirdo, but there was a time when nobody was cooler than MJ. His moments of coolness now outweigh his moments of weirdness ever since he died. Oh, and then there's this:

Only MJ could stand on a stage for about a minute and not say a word and still be so cool.

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8. ZZ Top

Kicking tunes, great voices, sunglasses, and those beards, those beautiful, beautiful beards. To be a cool musician, you don't have to be a good looking person, you just have to look good being a person, and all three members of ZZ Top do that, even the beardless drummer (Who is ironically named Frank Beard).

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7. John Coltrane

Coltrane used to be on the junk, and his music sounded like it. Either it was frenetic and explosive, or somber and reflective. More so than Miles Davis who said he was the birth of the cool, John Coltrane actually was cool. And then he got clean.

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6. Exene Cervenka

Exene from the L.A. band, X, is really cool because she knew she couldn't sing, and still decided to be the lead singer of the group anyway. She also married the bassist of the group, got divorced from him, and still sang lead, even discussing her marriage in some of their songs. Now that's badass.

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5. Kurt Cobain

If there was ever a musician who didn't care about being a celebrity, it was Kurt Cobain. In fact, being a celebrity undoubtedly added to his stress, and thus, his drug use, which undoubtedly led to his suicide. He spoke to an entire generation and popularized flannel shirts. And oh yeah, his music was actually really good, too. How could he not be on this list?

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4. Gene Simmons

Gene Simmons without the make-up is a total asshole. But with the make-up, he's a rock god. Pretty much the face of KISS, his tongue is legendary, and you know he's used it on countless females. Even with platform shoes, he's still incredibly awesome. Rock on.

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3. Johnny Cash

Johnny Cash was a country musician who didn't care what you thought.He had a, "If you don't like my music, f**k you" attitude. Johnny Cash was the kind of guy who would say he had Native American blood in him and even record a Native American album (Even though he wasn't Native American), just because he wanted to. Oh, and he also performed for convicts in a prison and released an album of it. If that's not cool, I don't know what is.

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2. Elvis Presley

Elvis Presley was the kind of guy who could "borrow" rock and roll from black people and make it look like he created it. Not only that, but he even looked good doing it. Nobody could shake their hips like Elvis, but it was the man he was outside the music that was the coolest. He befriended the Beatles only to say that he thought they were bad for America to President Nixon. I mean, who does that? :) He also got incredibly fat in his later years, and while many people ridicule Elvis in this period, he didn't care. He still dressed up and sang his heart out, sweating up a storm and all. Elvis was, and will always be, the king of rock and roll, and nobody can take that away from him. Nobody.

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1. James Brown

Hit me! James Brown is the coolest musician of all time. The godfather of soul, James Brown just knew how to bring the house down. His coolest moment ever, and definitely the coolest moment in all of music, is when, drenched in sweat, James Brown would feign being tired and take a knee while his back-up singers would drape a cape over his shoulders. And what James Brown do? He would miraculously got up and continued singing, giving it his all. It's hammy, it's ridiculous, and it's wonderful, making James Brown the coolest musician of all time. Now, who do you think is the coolest?

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Interview With Author, T.J. Loveless

 Here's my interview with the author, T.J. Loveless. If you would like to see some of my previous interviews, click here and here.

Please tell us about The Fortune Cookie Diaries and how you got the idea for them.

The Fortune Cookie Diaries is a series of six novellas, located in New Orleans, and a look at how we would react if something were to put myth into our modern world. Add in a duck that gets out of a padlocked enclosure, various holidays, and let the chaotic hijinks ensue!
I got the idea over a few months. I’d been talking to a hybrid author who self-published all of her novellas. She talked about the way commuters liked the shorter read time, enabling them to get from point A to point B (in real life and in a book) quickly.

My daughter, Teen Extraordinaire, asked when I was going to write about myth coming into our reality. She thought it would be funny to have a pet unicorn.

The idea really formed when a friend, married to a SWAT officer and she’s in a high stress position in the medical field, asked when authors were going to put humor in Urban Fantasy – her favorite genre. Then we proceeded to talk about our, uh, exploits in NOLA during Mardi Gras.
The Fortune Cookie Diaries was formed.

Pretty cool. :) Your blog is called "Writing From the Padded Room” (Nice blog name, by the way). Why did you decide to call it that? And while you're at it, could you tell us about your blog?

My grandmother, Stella, was a huge influence in my life, along with her older sister, Judy. The two women used to say life was like a huge padded room, and the only way to keep your sanity was to be insane. It was their favorite saying when crazy things happened. Considering the size of our family, it happened quite often.

Before my grandmother died, she made me promise to pursue a dream from when I was little, to be a published author. Made me promise to be myself, to quit worrying how others saw me, and doubting my abilities. She said, “Find your padded room, and write. For heaven’s sake, child, write.” My blog is a salute to them both.

For the most part, a lot of my blog has been aimed at other writers, with the odd blog about something off the normal path. But as I’ve grown, and now with fans of Lucky Number Six, I’m pushing more towards readers. I also like spotlighting self-published authors, as I see so many great books that should be read for various reasons.

Can you tell us why you decided to self-publish your work? I did as well, and was just interested to know what led you to the decision.

I wasn’t sure at first, I won’t lie. It’s scary, no matter the route you take towards publication – traditional, indie avenues, self-pubbing.

I have one book, Going Thru Hell, out on query. But The Fortune Cookie Diaries is another monster all together. I knew they weren’t going to be full length novels, making them extremely hard to have published traditionally, or even by small pub houses. Not to mention, Humorous Urban Fantasy is unheard of.

But I wanted people to laugh. Good grief, we’ve forgotten how to laugh with everything happening and it seems like we are getting hit right, left and center all at once. Since that is the point of TFCD – to make people laugh – I really wanted to get it out there. My only option? Self-publishing. Could I take on everything? Was I willing to? Did I really believe in the option?

Yes. I had several friends who’d already ventured into the arena, and were more than willing to talk and answer some of the dumbest questions ever. I researched, researched and researched. Read articles, looked up the numbers, created a game plan. And jumped in.

What's it like being a mother, a wife, and a writer?

In one word: crazy. It helps the family is always willing to help with brainstorming, talk about plot holes, and put up with rapidly procreating dust bunnies. They don’t even look twice when I yell at a character on the computer screen. My daughter thinks it’s funny. Hubby says I’m just plain happier when I have a story brewing. Both are used to me saying, “Oh, I so could turn that into a storyline …” We could be walking through the grocery store … although I recently found out they bet on how long we can be in a new place before I’m tapping a note in my Razr Maxx about a possible story/plotline. Daughter is up $122.

I have to force myself sometimes to put aside the writing. It’s so easy to get lost in other worlds. But my family does come first, as it does for all of us, I think. The juggling act can be pretty hard, whether you’re a mother, father, single, with or without kids. The days of a writer huddling over a keyboard, pulling a Hemingway never really were. Most of us have lives outside of writing. I have one friend who travels the world, several still in school, more with second and third jobs – all while tapping out the stories in their heads. I have great respect for all of them.

Can you please tell us what you do at Cliffhanger Editing?

I’m co-owner with Robin Alexander. I worked for a small publishing house as a copy/content editor, and learned a lot about what publishers want their books to look like. As I began the journey to jump into the self-published arena, I realized, there are a lot of editors with no real world experience, but are dang good at finding plot holes. At the same time, they miss quite a bit, and the author gets hit in reviews. Robin and I are line editors and proofreaders, we are specifically trained to find the overuse of pronouns, redundancies (the BIGGEST issue I’ve seen), grammar, punctuation, rules of writing, etc. We decided to take our knowledge and experience outside of the publishing house.

One of the things we decided to do was partials. I’d volunteered my services for a few auctions, to do the first fifty pages. The feedback I received told us a lot of authors would love a service of just seeing how to start their own editing and revising.
[End Self Plugging Commercial Here]

Two part question. If you could have any super power, what would it be, and with this power, would you be a hero or a villain?

Oh a superpower? Oooh. Only one? Fly? No, I’d likely run into a building. Superstrength? Bad idea being the klutz I am. See the future? Ack no! Take all the fun out of life. Oh, I know –talk to animals. Especially spiders. I could tell them – “Please don’t spook me anymore. It’s just not funny when I run headfirst into a door trying to get away.”

And I’d definitely end up a mischievous hero with villainous tendencies. I think I just scared my family with that thought.

Nice. I'd likely be a villain, too. Is there anything else you would like to talk about or plug?

First - if you need help with navigating your way through self-publishing, I have friends at Black Firefly who can help – with everything. Most are from various publishing houses, and know just how to help. Even Courtney –marketing guru for a popular, mid-sized publishing house - is part of the crew.

Second – don’t give up. Please. So many do. Writing is hard, and that’s the honest truth. But in the end, it’s worth it. To see your book on virtual/real shelves. To see people pick up your words, read them, sometimes nodding in agreement, or thinking in a whole new way. The writing community, for the most part, is more than willing to help you keep going, to reach your next goal. Don’t be afraid of failing. Be more afraid of never trying.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Ranking Every Sonic the Hedgehog Platformer

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If you love Sonic the Hedgehog, check out this list. I rank the worst through best Sonic platformers. Check it out here.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

10 of the Biggest Mistakes Video Game Companies Have Ever Made

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Here's an article I did on massive mistakes made by video game companies. Check it out here.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Interview with M.P. Ness

  • Today, I talk to author and artist, M.P. Ness, who recently wrote his novel, White Leaves. Let's hear what he has to say. (To check out my previous interview with Michael Brookes, click here).

    Please tell us about White Leaves

    Well, Rich, I'd be delighted to. White Leaves originated as a stand-alone, foot-in-the-door novel, designed specifically to adhere to industry standards and allow me to glide into the big publishing house world. Fanciful and dreamy concept, that.
    I started with the raw concept being pitched to urban fantasy authors holding an urban fantasy seminar at the PNWA (Pacific Northwest Writer's Association) summer conference, when I didn't even write urban fantasy.

    Richelle Mead and another young woman whose name escapes me (as many do) both liked the concept very much, and I was inspired to put other works on hold and focused solely on E.L.F.

    I wrote 120k words in the next 30 days flat.

    The story just poured out of me as if I'd been holding it back for years. However, I never really submitted it anywhere until I stumbled across Juke Pop Serials, who was taking submissions for their beta launch. After being accepted, E.L.F. - White Leaves ranked consistently in top 10 and won most-voted Serial for two consecutive months (jan/feb 2013).

    After being pretty successful there as a free, unedited serial(admittedly with its problems), I grew determined to publish it myself.

    And now I'm here today.

    The idea for White Leaves, originally titled just E.L.F. came to me from a newspaper stand in Seattle, where the paper's headline and large image was something to the effect of a housing complex aflame beneath the bold text "ELF burns down housing complex". Naturally, as a fantasy and elf-loving reader/writer...this struck me into buying the paper and reading the article. E.L.F. the novel was born...and in the course of writing it, I developed an entire series out of it. I'm presently writing book two, Blighted Leaves. Thus, there was a need for individual titles. White Leaves' title comes from a set of eight special white leaves grown from the Tree of Life within the story.

    Cool beans. Next question. Your story features the Tree of Life in it. Mine does, too. What are your thoughts on the Tree of Life and how does it play out in your story?

    For me, the Tree of Life is really just a symbol, like a ring is a symbol of marriage.
    For White Leaves, however, the Tree, named Addl'laen (addle-lane) is a very real, and very much sentient life-form. Verily, she is the pool from which all sentient souls are derived. She is our mother, and no gods, save her own, exist for us to worship. She bears a leaf for every living person. And as you could imagine, that makes her incredibly huge. So, how could something so tremendous, especially a singular towering tree, escape mankind's notice for all the time we've been on earth? Well, to answer that, you'll have to read White Leaves.

    Nice. Will do. :) You started a successful Kickstarter campaign for your book. Can you tell us about that?

    Oh yes. Kickstarter was a lot of fun. It was a bit of a challenge as well. Getting everything pulled together was a fair amount of work, but I managed to pull it off. I ran the kickstarter for a very simple reason. I'm publishing a book. I want to celebrate. Who doesn't want to celebrate that sort of a life-long goal, you know? But, I thought, if I can give people books AND a show, and have everyone come together to enjoy a night on the town in Seattle, that's probably the coolest thing I could imagine.

    So, I gathered friends, bands, artists, comedians, and spoken word together for one night. It wasn't just about me accomplishing a goal. And it wasn't just about promoting E.L.F. It was a party to celebrate ART in its many forms. This is something patently Seattle, I must say. The artistic community thrives and breeds an ever-expanding sense of diversity and enriches our culture here at an almost exponential rate, because people like myself and those who came to support my efforts by contributing to it are doing what we did that night.
    We share each other's joy and help one another's work come into the light. Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, Nirvana, Mudhoney...these sorts of bands are world famous, and all of them come out of Seattle and its surround. Why is that?

    Not just because they're phenomenal musicians. No. Its because they became amazing musicians IN this melting pot of support and friendship in the Seattle area.

    The Kickstarter project I ran was set at a very modest goal, the bare minimum I needed to put together the party, just to ensure it was easy to hit, could ensure the event happened, and thus pay it forward, as they say. Kickstarter essentially paid for the venue to hold the party at, and to bring in a pile of books for people to enjoy. The rewards for donating were not as well thought out as I should have considered them, because there are literally so many ways one can reward people for contribution. But it was a learning experience. Next time, it'll be better.

    I bet! How did you go about making the trailer for your book? What was going through your head when you made it (Especially the musical selection)?

    With the White Leaves book trailer, I signed up for temporary free memberships to stock-video clip websites, downloaded all kinds of footage, and found some cinematic scores and the like. I made sure to download as much as I could within the allotted week long free membership, just to ensure I had enough footage to put together a good trailer.

    Now, my original idea was to do as much story-telling with the footage as I could. However, telling a fantasy story with a ton of unreal, impossible-to-film concepts and locations and events and well, impossible. Its not like making a movie trailer where both music and footage are pre-existing for the story you're trying to tell.

    So, after striking out on the footage aspect, I reinvented my initial concept.

    E.L.F. - White Leaves is at its heart, a contemporary fairy tale. Fairy tales all have one thing in common. A moral to the story.

    But, I noticed something else. It was in the vagaries of portrayal that rather defines many fairy tales. Imagery is slim and suggestive, not sharp, clear or defined well.

    Scott McCloud, I believe, wrote a comic book, on how to write comic books, and in it he had a brilliant suggestion as to how people/readers identify with comics on a fundamental level.
    The more detailed and realistic a character is, the less or at least, the harder it is for a reader to identify with that character. This is why simplistic stylized comic strips in your sunday paper are so readily and easily consumed by the public.

    Simple, stylized characters are us. We can put ourselves into them more easily than we can put ourselves into a detailed realistic depiction of say, Superman. Thus, more people can connect with Jon Arbuckle and Garfield than Superman.

    Just an example. but the point here is this. I retooled the concept of the White Leaves trailer for a sheer lack of existing footage that could be of any real use to me. However, in doing so, I created a better, more successful trailer, in my opinion...because its like those fairy tales. Its like those simplistic drawings of Smiley Faces which more people can connect with because it doesn't give you every tiny detail.

    When it came to the music, I decided to go dark and heavy. The E.L.F. world and story are dystopian in nature, and darkness is thick throughout the story and its future releases.
    I knew exactly what I wanted out of the sound-scape from the moment I started. I wanted a selection from one of metal band, Machine Head's, I've been a fan for more years than I can count.

    But I also wanted that otherworldly cinematic quality to it.

    And I had to tell the sheer epic levels of the story itself.

    So, in creating the score for the trailer, I pieced together music that would let the trailer feel as much like an epic movie trailer as I could, whilst also adhering to that vague fairy-tale feeling. The sound was surprisingly easy and quite quick for me (as I've had training in video/audio software) since I knew what I was going for from the beginning.

    Nice. Your story features a Eco-terrorist from Seattle. Being from Seattle yourself, how much of your home city did you put in the story?

    Initially, I put quite a bit of Seattle details into the story. Little things, like the union of Westlake and 5th avenue near the cop-shop headquarters downtown, and how it forms this little triangle at the junction of Belltown and Downtown at the first of the skyscrapers that make the Seattle Skyline unmistakable across the country, if not the world... The Westin Towers was in there. The white arcs that herald the Seattle Science center. The famed Space Needle, of course. But even more so, I went into the surrounding areas and put small towns and details about them into the book as locations the characters pass through. I even hit up the University of Washington campus, the Japanese Arboretum, and hospitals on Capitol Hill. I went so far as to include the bobbing clickety ride of the raised southern portion of Interstate 5 that runs through the city as it USED to be (its since been smoothed out)

    I spared little.

    However, during the editing process, it was decided that not all of the details were that relevant to the tale. Some of them were smoothed down by Mrs. Torgerson (editor), but some of them stayed in.

    Your story E.L.F. is volume 1. Any ideas of where you are going for volume 2?

    Oh yes! Indeed I do.

    I'm already approaching half-way through the rough manuscript for volume 2!

    White Leaves is named for these little white leaves on the tree of life, as I said. Its all pretty and shiny and new. Its book one.

    Now, I did say its dark and dystopian and given the heavy metal I used in the book trailer, it could be said the story is harsh and unforgiving.

    It has bite. But bear in mind its just book one.

    In my mind there is only one way to go from a dark dystopian world...and it is not upward.
    I cannot give away the setting for book two without spoiling the ultimate outcome of White Leaves. It simply impossible. However, I can say it gets darker, harder, and harsher for the characters. I tend to be a bit merciless to my poor fabricated children. The title is, Blighted Leaves, if that's any indication. My editor already despises one character, Moarjin, so much she would probably be happy if I killed him off. But Moarjin is just the tip of the iceberg so to speak. Some of my favorite characters and most devilish creations have started coming to light with the writing of book two. I dare say I've fallen in love with this series that was only supposed to be a single book. But that's how it goes sometimes. Worlds can end up building themselves if you give them enough time to breathe.

    Great! Is the anything else you would like to talk about or plug?

  • Well, I could continue to plug E.L.F. Vol. 1, White Leaves by saying its 25% OFF for the whole of its debut month, this month, July @

    You can get it for less than a cup of famed Seattle coffee.

    Later this summer, I'm planning a local author's meet up at a tavern called AFK (away from keyboard) in Everett, WA. It's a tavern dedicated to gamers and geeks in all their forms.
    That should be a fun time...but its just a rumor as of yet.

    Waiting on hearing back from the venue.

    But I and others should be able to make it happen and bring together a geeky book signing.

    And finally, here are some links to various people and stories on that I'd like to share with your readers:

     C A Sanders' "The Watchmage of Old New York"
    Secrets of the Conclave
    Sixth Seal
    Metal bodyguard

    Thanks so much for the interview.

    It was my pleasure. Good luck with E.L.F.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

25 Things Every Retro Gamer Needs

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Here are 25 things that EVERY retro gamer needs in their life. Find out what they are here.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Interview with author, Michael Brookes

Ever since I put out my book, The Darkness of the Womb, I've met a lot of independent writers, mostly on Goodreads. I thought I'd interview some of them because 1: I like interviewing people (It takes me back to my old journalism days), and 2: I find that independent writers are really fascinating. Today, I'm interviewing writer and game producer, Michael Brookes. Let's see what he has to say.

(Image taken from: Goodreads)

According to your blog, The Cult of Me, you are a game producer by day. What kind of games do you produce?

I work at one of the leading game develops here in the UK - Frontier Developments. I've worked on a number of titles - RCT3, Thrillville, Kinectimals, LostWinds and I'm currently working on Elite: Dangerous, which is pretty cool as this is the sequel to the game that got me into gaming back in the mid-eighties.

You also say that you're a writer by night. What kind of books and stories do you write?

I tend to write horror (ish) stories, generally with a metaphysical flavour. I've recently branched into science fiction with my novel Faust 2.0 and I have just completed the first draft for Sun Dragon, the story about the first manned mission to Mars.

One of your books is actually called "The Cult of Me". You seem to really like that title. What does it mean to you?

When I was coming up with the title for that novel it fitted the idea of the story (about a person who centres everything on himself and is able to mould people around him to the same way of thinking). I also like the sound of it, so I used it for my blog as well.

You have done a lot of author interviews on your blog. Is there any reason why you've chosen to support so many independent writers?

I found the indie author scene to be full of helpful people, so I decided that I want to give something back so I do what I can to help promote other indie authors. It's also a great way to meet new authors.

It is! What is your favorite song, and why do you love it so much?

Always a tricky question to reduce it to one choice! I'll go with the 'Mythhistory' by a band called Sabbat. The reason is mainly for the lyrics which are simply superb:

Mother, sister, virgin, whore
She is all these, and yet still more
That I could to understand,
She takes my heart, I take her hand

And can you blame me?
Is it such a crime?
To crave for one small piece of Heaven.
that I can call mine.

Wonderful lyrics.

One of your favorite things to do is sleep when you have the time (Which seems to be rarely). What's the craziest dream you've ever had?

Another tricky question as I tend to only remember fragments. I like falling dreams though, there's something quite awesome about leaping from asteroid to asteroid or jumping into the Sun.

I see that you like to write horror. Do you also like to read horror? And if so, who are your favorite authors in the medium?

I do enjoy reading horror and have a number of authors I love reading, as well as the classics like Poe and Lovecraft I also like contemporary authors like King and James Herbert. Clive Barker is also my favourite horror writer.

There's also some great indie horror writers, David Haynes and Kit Tinsley stand out for me.

Two part question: If you could have any superpower, what would it be, and with this power, would you be a hero or a villain? Why?

I would be a villian on the face of it, but I would be using my powers to change the world for good. I love the juxtaposition of bad people doing good things for the wrong reasons.

My choice of superpower is a bit trickier, I would probably go for something boring like being able to read people's minds and see the secrets hidden there.

What are you currently working on and where can we find it?

I'm currently working on 'An Odder Quintet' which is the follow up to my previous short story collection:

A quartet of dark short stories (10,000 words total) each with a twist in the tale. The drabble enhanced edition also contains some of my favourite drabbles (100 word stories).
The Yellow Lady
Grave robbing is a dirty business, in more ways than one. When he disturbs the grave from a childhood scary story he discovers it's not always treasure to be found.

This Empty Place
At the heat death of the universe, Death contemplates his existence.

Forced Entry
Terrorists seize an average suburban house. A Special Forces hostage rescue team is sent in and encounter more than they were trained for.

The Reluctant Demon
A young demon prepares to take his possession exam.

Available from:
Amazon (US):
Amazon (UK):
Barnes & Noble:
iTunes (US):

Do you have any last thing that you want to talk about or plug?

I do - thanks. I run a monthly short fiction contest on my blog. There's no entry fee and you could win a £50 Amazon gift card. Find out more at this month's competition page:

Review: A Clash of Kings

A Clash of Kings (A Song of Ice and Fire, #2)A Clash of Kings by George R.R. Martin

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A Clash of Kings bares the unfortunate distinction of not being as good as the first book. The main problem is the fact that so little genuinely happens in this massive title. Sure, there's a war, and plenty of plot progression, but as a whole, it doesn't feel as complete or as enthralling as the first book. And I think that's because some of the characters are less interesting to follow than others in this book. There's Arya's story for one, which,as a whole, was not that appealing to me. I much preferred when she was learning water-dancing with her instructor in the first book. On her own, though, her chapters kind of dragged. Bran's story wasn't that appealing to me, either. And while I looked forward to seeing the lives of each character in the first book, I kind of dreaded when I'd flip a few pages to see a Sansa or an Arya chapter next. This book didn't grip me like the first one, and that's not okay.

That said, George R.R. Martin is such a great writer that it was fairly hard to put the book down as I still wanted to see where the story was going. Even so, the problem of reading this book AFTER the HBO series (Even though I didn't watch the second season at all), is that I know that certain characters still hold the iron throne, which kind of hampered the story for me since I knew certain events would likely not happen. But that's more my fault for not reading these books before the show than anybody else. Overall, if you read the first book, then you have to read this one. I'm told that book 3 is really good, so maybe it's just even-number syndrome (I hear that book 4 is painful to get through, and that 5 is wonderful). We shall see, though. We shall see.

View all my reviews

Friday, July 5, 2013

The Waiting Game (A Poem About Cancer)

(Image taken from:

Here's a poem that I wrote about cancer for some cancer anthology. I didn't get in but I'd thought I'd share this poem all the same. I hope you like it.

            Like Cthulhu, the cancer sleeps and dreams.
It dreams about many things, but mostly about coming back.
It’s itching to,
been meaning to.
But it’s decided to wait and lay dormant among the other cells.
Sleeping quietly, but ready to wake up and
return when the thought of cancer is stronger in the host’s head.
Cancer knows that it’s at its mightiest when its host is most afraid.
Right now, its host isn’t afraid at all.
It’s too soon. He got over cancer two years ago.
He went through Chemo and had his right testicle removed.
No matter, as what’s a testicle to cancer?
It wanted the whole body next time, not just a single nut.
Now, the host has one ball, which he feels regularly in the shower each morning.
His woman checks him, too.
She feels his sack, and he feels her breasts for lumps as they lay in bed together.
His fingers circle her pink areolas.
“I won’t let it come back,” she always told him as she looked into his eyes and
caressed him down there.
“It won’t come back,” he reassured her, not realizing that it wasn’t up to him.
Just like getting it the first time wasn’t up to him. It was in his family history.
A great-aunt had it in her skin, his grandpa in his colon.
Cancer, in that way, was distant and yet, so close. So near.
On a good night, the cancer dreamt about journeying to the host’s pancreas.
Do him in in the worst possible way.
There’s no beating cancer in the panc.
And some other nights, it dreamt about traveling to the host’s brain.
Treatment could make the host slanted and erratic.
Make him say things that he would never say if he didn’t have cancer.
It could also put him in a hospice.
There, he could marvel at the way sunlight hit the windows in the next building over.
The sunlight he won’t see in a few week’s time if the cancer sticks its landing.
But for now, the cancer will bide its time in dreams.
It’ll have to,
because again, the host is not afraid.
Not yet, anyway, while he still has his woman, his hope, and his bumper sticker.
So the cancer will have to wait
And wait.
And dream.
But as everyone knows, nothing alive ever stays asleep forever.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Entertainment Weekly's Top 100 Greatest List is...Underwhelming

(Image taken from:

Have you seen the latest issue of EW? It talks about the 100 greatest movies, TV shows, albums, and novels, and the 50 greatest stage plays. But it doesn't feature the 100 or even the 50 greatest video games of all time, basically saying that video games are not a form of entertainment.

Oh, well. Video games don't feature prominently in their regular issues, either, so what did I expect?

But that's not what even upsets me about the issue. What upsets me is the choices! I'm not going to spoil any of them for you, but let's just say that a majority of the "100 greatest movies of all time" are American films, and the 100 greatest albums feature a Kanye West album over the Beach Boys' Pet Sounds. Seriously. This is almost as bad as a Rolling Stone Magazine top 100 list. Almost, I said. Pick the latest issue up if you want to get angry.