Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The GGE Tribe

GreenGates needs to build a tribe. I hope 2010 is the year to start. More than hope, of course, we will have to do things to make this happen. I have several initiatives planned to start doing just that, but firsst let me explain the goal.
We need a tribe. Our tbie needs to be at least 1,000 people. Preferably 2,000 people since there are 2 entities that form GGE. Why do I say 1,000? There is a great post as to why "creatives" need to build  trbie of 1,000. It is the "microcelebrity" phenomenon.
I intend to know all 2,000 of our tribe members. How will I do that? By allowing them access to comment and be heard. Then I will amplify their comments on our websites, blogs, publications, etc.
I want the tribe to have unfettered access so it takes on the closeness and camaraderie that one sees with RPG communities.
What will a tribemember be called? I'm not sure. I hesitate to call them "fans". I'm not sure that's the right description. I need more than fans. People who will buy everything GGE produces, not as an obligation, but because they trust us to tell kick ass stories that will not disappoint. Then they will let themselves be heard. Loved it. Hated it. Whatever. Maybe a tribemember will decide to become a writer based on their interaction with GGE and we can partner with them to promote their work. Sounds like the ultimate team-based, tribal win-win scenario.
Someone will have to be first. Can I build a tribe one person at a time? I hope to.


('DiggThis’)

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Bad Ideas

This is a great post from Seth Godin about bad ideas. I don't even have to give it a huge intro. You need to just go read it. The briefest synopsis would be that one has to be willing to generate lots of bad ideas in order to land on a good one. You should read it from Seth though. He says it so much better than me.
Let's spend a minute making it relevant to writing though. Maby people feel liek failed writers because they write a book and then can't sell it. Maybe it's not the right book for right now. Write another and another and another. Maybe the first one would be a better second or third book. Keep generating stuff and eventually you will hit the right stuff.
Now go read Seth's blog.



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Saturday, December 26, 2009

The 2010 you

Looking towards 2010. We have a few days to plan, but it is a good week to figure out what the 2010 You will look like versus the 2009 You. For me, I hope to keep up my exercising and strike a balance with the family life and writing so that I can progress in all of those areas.
Of course, as I near New Year's Day, I will develop a better and more exact list with deliverables and timelines. I will check how I did against last year's goals. I think I made good progress on some...and others, not so much. Of course I always have some stretch goals out there. Those that, were they to come true right now, would dramatically alter my situation for the better.
So, let's make a pact...spend the next few minutes thinking of some goals. Write them down. We'll revisit them on New Year's Eve, before the partying really starts, and see where we stand.


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Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas Eve

Christmas Eve, 2009. What a great time to reflect on family, the previous year and great things to come. Probably not a lot of writing, creating, etc getting done today. Today is the day for feasting, visiting with friends and family and calling relatives (or connecting via FB, Twitter or whatever your social networking vehicle of choice happens to be).

So, Merry Christmas! To my Warhammer friends, Happy Keg End! Drink hearty and let's look forward to First Quaff!



('DiggThis’)

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The Fright Before Christmas


First off, I have to explain that no one has ever accused Green or Gates of GreenGates as being "normal" people. Gates (me) is an ubergeek fanboy. Fortunately, unlike some ubergeek fanboys, I do engage in some "mainstream" activities like "exercise" and "personal hygiene".
Green on the other hand, while also being an ubergeek, is also deeply into his "horror" phase. I say it is a phase since that is what we all thought when he was thirteen years old and started to get into all things horror-movie related. That was almost thirty years ago, so I guess as "phases" go, this one is a long one.
Still, I wanted to share the little gift that is being delivered to Green's door as we speak. A bit macabre, but believe me, it fits with the decor at his humble abode.
I picked it up from thinkgeek.com, a great shopping site for all things "geeky" (a tauntaun sleeping bag anyone? "It may smell bad, but it'll keep you warm")
So here it is...right out of a classic horror film. Tell me Green won't love this little item.


('DiggThis’)

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Mr. Mom

I try to make some sort of entry everyday. I have spent the last 48 hours being Mr. Mom at the Gates house and I am just too tired to be witty or creative...let's try again tomorrow



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Saturday, December 19, 2009

A Writer's Vacation

So, I am officially on vacation this week. How best to spend a vacation when you are a writer, artist, creator? Of course, relaxation has to be part of it so I will be attempting to detach myself from all of the things that stress me out.
The problem with that is that as a writer, I write to relax so I also have to make time to write, work on the GGE website (construction proceeds - check it out here) and of course, to blog. I would miss my daily chronicle of life in/at GGE.
So, for the rest of you on vacation this holiday season - relax, eat well, drink well (but not too heavily), get some rest, maybe exercise and definitely write, draw, play music and flex whatever creative muscle you like to use the most. It's a magical time of year and it will probably be reflected in your creations this week.


('DiggThis’)

Friday, December 18, 2009

Awesome story

This story is just amazing. I love stuff like this. A guy makes a 4 minutes video for $300.00. Uploads it on Thursday to youtube.com and by Monday, Hollywood is emailing. He ends up with a $30 million deal with Sam Raimi's company.

It's not often that you hear about true overnight success like that. Most of us hone our craft and delve in obscurity, all but begging for attention and when the attention comes, it is rarely to the delight and accolades of all.

Still, it's an inspiring story and a good reminder to keep plugging away and keep producing...then get it in front of people and let them do the rest. If it's truly remarkable and can go "viral" then Hollywood may come calling!




('DiggThis’)

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Sherlock Holmes


I have been a Sherlock Holmes fan for a long time. Not the Basil Rathbone, deerstalker-cap Holmes, though he is a good version. I mean the real deal. The Arthur Conan Doyle one. The chain smoking, drinking, cocaine-snorting, opium-smoking, boxer who could have been a great actor but turned his scientific knowledge into solving crimes. He's an expert marksman, a single-stick fighting expert and a student of observation and deductive reasoning. He was a welterweight boxing champ and when he gets mad, he gets REALLY mad. Kind of reminds me of Batman.
So, when I saw the previews for the upcoming movie with Holmes the way I envisioned him, like an action star. And Watson...Watson was always chasing skirts and married at least twice. He was a former soldier, a heckuva surgeon and no slouch with a revolver.
So, on the 25th, expect to see me in the theater with two of my oldest pals (Holmes and Watson)



('DiggThis’)

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

WETA Rayguns


Have you seen these things by WETA? These replicas of rayguns, swords and all sorts of sci-fi goodness? These aren't toys. They are replicas right out of our collective sci-fi imagination. Here is a link to the "Victorious Mongoose".
These things are just beautiful. I would love to see a room dedicated to these. This whole line is very inspiring to me. I can only imagine how the decision to start this awesome line of collectibles began...

"So they're toys?
"Nope. Not toys. replicas of how a death ray might look if a real mad scientist built it."
"They're for adults"
"Adults. Kids at heart. For display only. They don't do anything."
"And what do they cost?"
"A bunch. They are made from high grade stuff. Again, the goal here is to make a sci-fi weapon that looks real, but like it stepped out of a Flash Gordon serial."
"But death rays aren't real."
"Exactly. But lots of people wish they were real. And if they were, they should look like our designs."
"Look man, no one is going to pay that kind of money for what a "real" imaginary thing would look like. Not unless it is a toy. This is never going anywhere."
"Well, you know what, I believe in this model. I have a passion for these things and I am gong to launch with one gun and we'll see where it goes from there"


...And the rest is history. Check out the website. There is a ton of stuff there as well as tie-in novels and artbooks and all kinds of stuff because whoever envisioned this world has such a great vision and the world is so immersive that we, as fans, want to spend more time there and we are willing to pay big bucks to do it.

Kind of a lesson for all of us about following your passion I think.



('DiggThis’)

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Teen Wolf for TV


Just read that a Teen Wolf series is in development. Apparently it has already cast the star (Tyler Posey). What excites me though is that the TV series is reported as being darker than the original movie (or the sequel). It has me in mind of Buffy The Vampire Slayer where the original movie was pretty campy, but the series was dark, esgy and awesome. Some camp snuck in late in the series, but that seems to be the fate of all good shows eventually.

So, I am looking forward to Teen Wolf. I love reboots, especially when they go from campy to "darker".




('DiggThis’)

Monday, December 14, 2009

Another Seth Godin link

Anyone who has spent much time here has seen their share of Seth Godin links. This one comes with a free ebook. Link to Seth's blog to get the book. It is called "What Matters Now" and it is a book of thoughts by some great thinkers, innovators, commentators and entrepreneurs about what is important now. Definitely a good book to read going into the New Year. Maybe some resolutions in there.

So go check it out. It's only 82 pages so we're not talking about a huge time investment. For anyone thinking about doing business, making more of themselves or just making a difference it's a great book. Go get inspired.


('DiggThis’)

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Failure

Sell any books today? Nah, me neither. I didn't sell any because I don't have any in publication right now. I am working to correct that, and I will get something out there in 2010.

Why am I so sure? Because I have to. I read a quote that reminded me that it is better to have a "failure of ambition" than a "failure of inactivity". I might have been too inactive in 2009. In 2010, if I fail, I want my failure to be that I was too ambitious.


('DiggThis’)

Saturday, December 12, 2009

The 4-Hour Workweek


Just started reading the book "The 4-Hour Workweek" by Timothy Ferriss. I devoured it!

It is tailored a bit to the entreprenuerial type, but it guides you through some ideas for businesses you can start. It also applies really well to employees.

Of course, my first thought was "4-hour work week" seems to good to be true, and if it seems to good to be true, then it probably is.

I am happy to say that the book changed my mind. I could even see a ton of these principles applying to GGE. Say we decided to produce our own books. Pay for PPC (pay-per-click) advertising through google to our niche group of readers. Sell our Ebooks to those readers. And make all of that automatic. Then the actual running of the business would be pretty automatic and I could just write. We could outsource things like marketing, editing and cover design. Sounds like a potential business plan. Would people buy our stuff? Well, that part is up to me I guess.


'DiggThis

Friday, December 11, 2009

Digg is up and running

Well, it looks like I got the Digg button to work. It took me a couple of tries. I am not a complete expert on it yet, but I think it works. Of course, as I found out, people have to have a Digg account to "digg" a story, but if no one else minds if the Digg  button is at the bottom of posts, then I suppose I will leave it for now. As I write more, we'll see.
Right now, I like the idea of people being able to Digg something I write. I try and put informative stuff out here at times that might appeal to other writers, entrpreneurs or "creatives". I would like to be able to share that stuff.
So...if you see something you like...digg it!


('DiggThis’)

another try

Okay. Let's see if I got this right. If I did, then I can dig this.


('DiggThis’)

Trying out Digg

Wanting to add "Digg" to the blog so people can digg things I write (lkeeping my fingers crossed on that one). The way it works is people "digg" an item and then the best of "digg" shows up on their website, but also gets emailed out to people who have opted in to recive Digg updates. It is a way to get just news stories which others have "validated" for you by reading and digging them. So, let's tryi it out!


Digg!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Fitting it all in



How do you fit in writing, blogging, managing your website, studying the craft of writing and of course indulging inreading and watching various forms of entertainment to better hone your craft?

For me, it involves either late nights or early mornings before family and other obligations start wearing away my time. Unfortunately, way to often, my exercise is the first thing I sacrifice to spend time at the keyboard.

Of course, as the picture on the left demonstrates, caffeine is often involved as well.

It is a difficult balance for anyone trying to create as well as earn a living. It requires scheduling and discipline in following your schedule, but then you have to know when to blow it all off and live a little as well.

If someone finds the perfect balance, let me know!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

The Eyes of God



I have picked this book by John Marco up multiple times with the intention of reading it. I always put it back down until I read a review that likened the three main characters to King Arthur, Lancelot and Guinevere.

Well, for an Arthurian fan like myself, that was too tempting to pass up so I dove right in. I have to say that the comparison is a good one, and the book itself is fantastic.

It has a really good mix of fantasy and knights and politics and magic and all that good stuff as well as having some familiar elements from our own world reflected in the cultures described in the book. It is an extremely immersive book and I would compare it to George RR Martin's "Song of Ice and Fire" series, which is my favorite series of all time (even compared to this one, sorry John Marco).

So, GGE says - pick this book up and read it, but after you have read George RR Martin's series and after Joe Abercrombie's series. If you are craving good fantasy action with a dose of an Arthurian type love triangle that is pulled off in a really good way, check this book out!

Monday, December 7, 2009

New stuff

Well, I have been hard at work on the website. Hopefully the work shows. If the website looks less than stellar, that is because we are attempting to develop all of the content "in house". It is part due to cost, but also due to the notion that we want to be at least expert enough to do most of our own work. Makes us less dependent, more marketable. Overhead and all that jazz. If you need the link (it's in the upper right hand corner) here it is!

I promise not all talk will be about the website though. I am just geeked right now with the progress so I am a bit enthusiastic.

I watched "Terminator: Salvation" this past week. If you are a fan of the Terminator series, then you must see this movie. It is a great addition to the canon and the appearance of the T800 is not to be missed. I jumped off the couch. Movie magic at its best.
It is an awesome story with really great characters and if Kyle Reese was not already cool enough, this movie elevates him straight to superhero.

Other than that, this weekend saw lots of Christmas shopping. As my wife points out, I have passed on a good deal of my geek hood to my children, but popular items on the list of GGE kids are

For Dad, the popular items are

Maybe next year, some GGE items will be available for those Christmas lists!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Official GGE Website

GGE's website is finally up! I spent this weekend getting the final touches done on the initial stages of a GGE website...huh? That means it is still pretty rough, but I felt like it was time to put something out there about what we are doing at GGE. We talk a lot on this blog about what other people are doing, but now you can get a preview of what WE are doing right here.

What will you find there? Some info on our four main storylines we are working on (and more as we add them). There is artwork from some of our stories as well as concept sketches and soon there will be fiction available both on the site and as a free .pdf download.

Finally, while you are there, sign up for the newsletter and get the GGE coolness delivered right to your inbox!

Back from hiatus

Hey, been off for a month! It has been a bit refreshing, but also very weird not blogging about this-n-that and sending my opinions out into the ether for all to see.
I haven't been totally on vacation. I have been editing like crazy, working on our current project set in GGE's own world of Grimaul.
Hey, I also submitted a "wondrous item" to the RPG Superstar 2010 contest at Paizo Publishing.
I have been oretty effusive in my praise of Paizo for awhile now and this was a chance for me to at least gt involved by submitting an item for the Pathfinder RPG. We'll see how that goes.
For anyone interested in submitting, check out this link

Paizo Publishing RPG Superstar

Round One in the competition is to submit a "wondrous item" - you experienced RPGers out there probably know what that means, but for those that don't, it is a magic item like Bilbo's Ring or King Arthur's scabbard (that healed him - a gift from Morgan) or the Cauldron that brought people back from the dead in "The Black Cauldron".
It has to be within the rules of the Pathfinder RPG, but don't let that intimidate you, there are plenty of resources on the website to get you going.
I'll pot my item once the first round is done. Hopefully by then, we'll be into the second round! Stiff competition though. Some seriously creative folks on the Paizo site.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Inglorious Basterds

Read a great quote from Quentin Tarantino today about his reasons for making "Inglorious Basterds":

"What made me want to make the film is simply that I like war movies," said Tarantino, who joined Pitt and other cast members at a news conference. "The initial idea sometimes is really as simple as wanting to make a war movie or a car chase movie. The rest goes from there."

It's nice to see a successful producer acknowledging that not all screenplays have to be "Schindler's List" or "The Piano" or something like that. Sometimes it is a simple idea, an event driven screenplay, awesome characters with great dialogue.

It appeals to me because genre/event driven films are what I like to watch. Coincidentally, these are the types of stories I like to write.

Looks like I'm not alone.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

My Halloween Movie List

Here's the list of movies we are screening at GGE between today and Halloween:
  1. Sleepy Hollow
  2. Blade
  3. American Werewolf in Paris
  4. Skinwalkers
  5. Phantom of the Opera
  6. Bram Stoker's Dracula
  7. Mary Shelley's Frankenstein
  8. Underworld
  9. Resident Evil
  10. Van Helsing
  11. The Lost Boys
  12. The Monster Squad
  13. Halloween (the new version)
  14. Friday the 13th (the new version)

So pick some good spooky movies and enjoy. Get in the Halloween spirit!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Robin Williams



I caught Robin Williams' show from the "Weapons of Self Destruction" tour last night at the Durham Performing Arts Center in Durham, NC.

First, let me say, if you don't have tickets for this show - got to Robin's website, see if there is a show near you and go there. It is well worth the ticket price. There were times during the show that I thought I was going to literally injure myself laughing that hard for that long.

I thought a lot about Robin Williams. Here is someone who was a classicly trained actor at Juliard where he was in an advanced class with Christopher Reeve, so he has the acting skills.

He shows up in Hollywood and struggles, like everyone else, got a break as Mork on Happy Days and then Mork and Mindy where he improved a lot of his lines.

He realized improv was a skill, and did some stand up and the next thing you know (after several stand up tours, and a out a million movies), he's basically a household name. Of course, he has had to be careful and keep himself fresh and relevant and make the right choices about money and roles and all of that, but the odds of going from a childhood in Illinois and Michigan to where he is now are just astronomical, but also a great lesson for those of us striving to get somewhere.

So maybe we haven't made the right steps to get there in our 20's and enjoy a lifetime of success, but then again, maybe we weren't meant to. Success at a young age comes with its own price. The point is, it's all out there...keep chasing it.

Another great thing about Robin Williams...he is a big fan of pen and paper roleplaying games as well as online video games and that makes him not totally unlike you and me.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

GGE is "Stoked"





Just got my copy of "Dracula: The Un-Dead". It is the sequel to "Dracula" by Bram Stoker. Of course there have been sequels before (like "Mina" written in 1994) , but this is the first one written by the Stoker family.



This one was written by Dacre Stoker, the great-grand-nephew of Bram Stoker.


I haven't cracked it open yet, but I saw some tantalizing info.


  • Jonathan and Mina have a son they named "Quincey" (fitting I think).
  • Van Helsing is in it again (though suffering a heart condition)
  • Our Psychiatrist friend is in it (the guy who treated Renfield in the first book)

I am "stoked" about reading this one.

Just in time for Halloween!

Monday, October 12, 2009

The Book of Three


Here's an embarassing admission (confession is good for the soul): I have never read Lloyd Alexander's "Chronicles of Prydain".


Why is that such a big deal?


Well, I am a self-proclaimed geek and sci-fi fantasy fanboy and yet I have never read this series.


"The Chronicles of Prydain" - first published in 1964 and in continuous print since then - are listed, by many, in the same list as Tolkien's "Lord of the Rings" and Lewis' "Chronicles of Narnia".


So, for my 37th b-day I decided to treat myself and broke out my 1985 copies of "Chronicles of Prydain".


"The Book of Three" is an easy read - at just over 200 pages, it only takes an afternoon. I find some of the stuff a bit derivative (like the Gwythaints, the Horned King and the Cauldron Born). I'm not sure what they are derivative of though. They could be derivative of Tolkien, but Alexander says they are derived from Welsh mythology, particularly "The Mabinogion". If that's the case, then maybe Tolkien, Lewis and Alexander are all derivative of ancient Welsh and Celtic mythology.


Anyway, the book has familiar elements, but they are pulled off well. It would appeal to kids, especially Gurgi's character, a sort of family dog that can talk. I am enjoying it and will read through the whole series. The bad guys, thus far, seem "evil for evil's sake". I generally consider this a "no-no" in storytelling, but this series is meant to be adolescent fiction and for adolescents and young children, sometimes this works really well. Like Voldemort.


GGE definitely recommends "The Chronicles of Prydain". Get started here.


Oh, and if you are relying on the movie "The Black Cauldron" - don't. It's a good movie, but even Lloyd Alexander himself agrees - it has nothing to do with the books.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Battle For Terra


Just watched Battle For Terra. Great movie! I read a review that described it as "campy" but I have to disagree.
The animation was shockingly gorgeous. The technology for the Terrians and the Humans was vry well done and both sides had really cool gear.
The voice acting was fantastic with some major names (James Garner, Rachel Leigh Wood, Dany Glover, Brian Cox, Luke Wilson).
The bad guy was a bit cardboard, but he was understandable. He wasn't "evil for evil's sake" which is a huge pet peeve of mine. He thought he was doing what was right to save humanity at the expense of the Terrians.
The heroes were great, the battle scenes were awesome. My only complaints were that it was too short. I could have used a few more scenes, especially some more exploration of the Earth Force. We get a very minor glimpse into the Earth Force itself other than as a nameless fighting organization and it would have helped the viewer "feel" Lt. James Stanton's divided loyalties if we had seen more of his Earth Force comrades. The movie does a decent job of embodying all of Stanton's conflict in the character of his little brother, but seeing some peer pressure from his comrades in the 32nd Airborne would have made his angst so much more poignant to the viewer. As it is though, one can imagine how he felt easily enough and the movie is a must-see for any sci-fi fan and an absolute requirement for fans of digital animation.
It also has a great message on war, the environment and negotiation versus conflict and besides all of that, the writers did a great job of world-building, which is no easy task. It's a fun one to do, but is rarely given the attention it deserves. After seeing this movie, one comes away with the idea that Terra could be a real and functioning planet "out there" somewhere.
Check it out!
JG

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Editing

Well, I am deep into editting GGE's latest work, a fantasy novel set in a grim world of peril for our protagonists. No nice Tolkien-ish world for GGE. View Tolkien's world after a Mad Max type apocalypse.
The story was a blast to write. The editting is not terrible because it is like revisiting old friends, but it reminds me of how much work getting a finished product can be.
We wrote it, then went through 2 read-throughs for general comments. Had some other folks read it and now I am doing a more thorough edit. Then we will pay a professional editor to have a go at it. Then we will shop it around and if it gets picked up by a publisher...guess what? More edits are likely. It is fun, but also a lot of hard work.

Why am I posting this paragraph whining about editting? Just as a reminder to write, write, write but then polish, polish, polish!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

GGE vision


Well, it's important to write down your vision for the future. Why? Write it down, review it often, envision it, make it seem real to you and your brain will begin making sure you take the steps to make the future come to pass. Don't believe me? Don't take my word for it. Ask Jack Canfield. (If you haven't read his book, "The Success Principles" - go buy a copy right now)


So, what is GGE's vision? Here we go:


  • We will launch a Yahoo group for us to discuss stuff with interested and like-minded folks (actually this one is done. Click here to check it out)

  • Next year we will launch a website

  • We will also launch an E-zine

  • We will publish a property, or two, with traditional publishers.

  • We will begin publishing our own stuff through a publishing arm. We will also publish a few submissions from other authors

  • We will launch a graphic novel based on a property of ours.

  • We will write our fantasy settings into a Open Gaming License roleplaying game and some modules from the macabre mind of Tim Green.

  • We will launch another website with RPG support and downloadable freebies

  • We will market some action figures based on our properties

  • We will complete some screenplays and either sell them or work with a indie company to produce the films ourselves

  • We will buy "Ghost Town in the Sky" and convert it to a theme park centered around our properties, like Universal Studios or Disney, but on a smaller scale.

  • We will produce a relatively simple video game based on our fantasy property

  • We will finally look into a monthly comic series

So, that's it. Now, let's see if I can bring the future and the present together!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Fanboyz

Do yourself a favor and check out Fanboyz.net!

This is a great site. This is a group of people who launched this site in February 2009. They took their fandom and their love of all things "geekdom" (and I say that lovingly as a self-described geek) and they have elevated their passion to the next level.

Fanboyz.net has news of all sorts that would interest any geek or "fanboy". What is great is they are not just a blog or a news site, but they are starting conversations on their site about what is great about fanboys, speculative fiction and the world of really cool stuff (today's featured article was about the upcoming A-team movie!)

So, do yourself a favor and drop by for a visit. The do yourself a bigger favor and bookmark the site so you can stop by regularly. You will know all the latest news and amaze your pals. (Ghost Rider sequel! X-men: First Class! The Book of Eli!)

I now describe myself not just as a geek. I'm a fanboy!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Superman/Batman Public Enemies



Superman/Batman: Public Enemies is out on DVD as of yesterday. Getting good reviews! Buy it here on Amazon.

For anyone who doesn't know, this one is based on a graphic novel, but it continues some storylines from the animated show that (regretably) ended a few years back.

Lex Luthor is elected President and now has the Justice League at his disposal. Superman and Batman reject this notion and become outlaws. How cool is that?

Another huge bonus is that the voice actors are the ones from the shows. Kevin Conroy is back as Batman! Tim Daly as Superman! Perfect. These guys have come to define the characters for so many people.

As I have said before - Superhero fans out there - go buy or rent this DVD. We want to reward good superhero movies with our cash dollars! Why? Cuz we want more superhero movies to be made!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Need Funding??

Got a project that needs funding? Check out kickstarter.com. This is an awesome concept! GGE is still in a bit of infancy to post specific projects for funding, but it is easy to see how Kickstarter could help find funding for

  • Independent recording artists
  • Independent Comic book artists
  • Authorpreneurs
  • Indie Film Producers
  • Haunt Producers (A subject near and dear to GGE's heart)
  • Lots of stuff I can't think of

Is Free Better?

Should we do this for free? Meaning should we write and produce all of our beloved stories, characters, properties for free?
On the one hand, if we love telling stories you might think..."sure"
On the other hand, we would like to be rewarded for all of the storytelling. Why? Because storytellers are who we are, not just what we do.
When we aren't being rewarded for being writers and artists, we don't stop writing or drawing or painting. We keep doing it. No matter how much we try for it not to be, our passion is a distraction.
How much better would it be if our passion was not a distraction but it was what we did for money, food, clothing, shelter, etc. Then the rest of our life is uncluttered so we get to be people too.
I have no problem with free samples, free chapters, free sneak previews, but just producing for free?
I'm not sure that's the way to go.

Monday, September 28, 2009

100th Post

Hey, it's the 100th post at GreenGates' blog. How will we celebrate? With more of the same! Conversation on speculative fiction, writing, developing properties, building a small publishing empire and general geekhood.
Of course a link to Seth Godin's blog would be a good way to commemorate. He talked today about the future of "our industry" and any industry affected by the interner (hint: the all are)

Here is what the esteemed Seth had to say

Has the internet changed "our" industry? Absolutely. Look at a publishing empire started in 1928. A guy learned the cartoon art world. He drew a little cartoon. It was popular. He drew more and more and eventually produced his own. Finally, it is a worldwide brand and we have Disney.
If Disney started today, how would he have used the internet? I'm not sure, but I'm sure he would use it.
At the very least, it allows us to have this ongoing conversation and for that, I am pretty grateful.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Ruby Falls Haunted Caverns

My good friend and partners latest commercial haunt opened to wide aclaim this weekend. Ruby Falls Haunted Cavern is up and running and ready to scare the pants off of anyone in the Chattanooga, TN area.
I am not a Chattanooga resident these days, but I hope to get down and get haunted at least once before Halloween. I have been to this haunt in previous years and it is kind of spooky and all that, but mainly its just plain cool. It's cool because they pick a theme and make everything focus around that theme. It's an immersive environment from the minute you get there and that makes it so much better than just a spook house with random people in costumes jumping out and saying "Boo" (or some variation on that theme).
You can go to other haunts in the Chattanooga, but don't miss this one. Well worth the admission price.
Even the website is cool. Check it out.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Everyone gets paid on commission by Seth Godin

If you don't read Seth Godin's blog and you are an entrepreneur of any sort, then bookmark it right now.
Today, Seth discussed how everyone works on commission (read it here).
It's a very true statement. I keep our daily conversation going at greengates entertainment because I love attention and I sincerely want to engage in a dialogue with other like-minded folks. But do I check my google analytics everyday? Maybe not everyday, but I keep up with how many hits I get and I show up around the internet involving myself in other discussions for one reason: to become part of people's lives.
I think greengates has some good stories to tell, but people do have to know about them so it behooves me to be available, visible and present.
I don't panic when the number of hits drops a little. It's a long-term thing, but the point is even greengates works on commission. If I just wrote and blogged for myself, then it would just be a journal.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Self Promotion woes

The Behler Blog has a great story about authorpreneurs at the BEA trade show. Self promotion is a grand and wonderful thing, but it can certainly be overdone and become more self-limiting. Self promotion and making a spectacle of one's self are not the same thing and it is hard sometimes for people to know the difference when they are desparate just to be heard.

Trust GGE on this one. Work slowly. Build slowly. Focus on making a great product. If you have a book written and you are shopping it around, don't get desparate. Keep shopping it around, but go ahead and crank up the next book anyway. Maybe the one you are shopping around will be a great second book, or third or just a learning experience.

Don't put all your eggs in one basket and don't trade all your dignity for a little attention. It's probably not the kind of attention you want anyway.

You can read the whole story here.

Geek essentials









Just saw this from Blizzard. You can buy the "Tankard of Terror". How cool is that? I'm not a major player in the mmorpg realm (I don't even have an active WOW account! Yikes!) but this is a cool collectible. I mau have to have one to quaff a frosty brew while playing some Warcraft III (I'm more of a RTS guy myself).



Also saw this. This company takes a screenshot of your WOW character and builds you a little miniature of the character. Looks really detailed. I am geek enough that even though I don't have an active account, I would love to have a little representation of my character to look at and brag about. Relive adventures, that sort of thing.



Not only are both of these awesome geek essentials, but they are also great examples of Blizzard building a game into a brand in-and-of-itself, but also both are great examples of companies who did not invent a property, still managing to make money using someone elses brainchild. Opportunities are out there. Way to go 3Point and figureprints!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Three Companies

Three companies that never cease to inspire me;

Blizzard Entertainment - been around awhile, but after Warcraft: Orcs and Humans put them on the map, they have expanded Warcraft into a mega property. Now it's an immersive world where people spend countless hours (and dollars). The fans get the escape and Blizz gets the coin and everyone is happy. They do this so well. Everthing from their artwork, stories, games, accesories...all is just expertly done.

Games Workshop: These guys make great games, books and miniatures. They have stayed in their lane as well and created a fantasy and science fiction setting with a feel like no other.

Paizo Publishing: They have taken an adventure concept (Pathfinder) coupled it with great art and generated a whole property. Pathfinder is growing well beyond a way to do RPG adventures into an RPG of its own. I predict fiction set in that universe and probably other sorts of media as well.

Michael J. Fox


I have read that when Michael J. Fox auditioned for Family Ties, he was $35,000 in debt and living on macaroni and cheese.


I wonder if he ever thought about giving up acting? I'm sure he did. It turns out he just needed enough motivation, drive and perseverance to get the first domino to fall. After that, the dominos kept falling and falling and falling.


So to all of you struggling writers, artists, actors, producers, directors, entrepreneurs...keep on keeping on. It's a cliche, I know, but get the first domino to fall, maintain your momentum and see what happens.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Double Dragon

Check out Double Dragon Publishing. What's great about this publisher?

A few things:

  1. They were an ebook publisher when it was a fledgling industry. Some people think the ebook industry is still just a murmur in the history of the book publishing industry. Ask any one of the 3 million users if Ebook apps, or the any Amazon Kindle user and they will surely disagree with you
  2. They publish stuff I like (a good sign of excellent taste). Go try one out!
  3. Their books are attractive. I am not saying "judge a book by the cover" but of course we do just that. If you see a book and the cover reminds you of something you read once that sucked, then you are going to assume something about this new book. If the cover is similar to books you have read, then that will at least get you to the description. If the description is compelling enough then that book might just end up on your shelf (or ebook reader)
  4. They have stayed in their lane. Rather than trying to be all things to all people. Double Dragon is simply the best ebook publisher there is. It's what they do and they do it well.
  5. They accept submissions from all authors. I love that you don't have to be established to talk to these guys.

Ready to submit to DDP? They aren't currently accepting submissions, but their horror imprint, Bloodmoon Publishing is. Head on over and submit a story.

Monday, September 21, 2009

The perfect Real Time Strategy game

I don't usually blog about video games since I'm not a huge gamer, but I do enjoy the occasional foray into some fantasy world or another. When I do play video games, if their are not story-drive roleplaying games (Mass Effect is my current favorite) then they are Real Time Strategy (RTS) games. Actually, turn-based strategy is pretty fun as well.
My favorite RTS of all time is Warcraft III. Like most products from Blizzard, the storyline is fantastic. The cut scenes are movie-quality and the setting is just plain cool. I love that they strive for a cartoon-version of reality. It makes the characters look really great.

Warcraft III, however, IS NOT the perfect RTS.

Here is what the perfect RTS game should have.
  1. Great story (Warfraft III has this)
  2. Awesome cut scenes (Warcraft III has this. Some people skip all cut scenes. They are missing out on some cool stuff)
  3. Nice graphics (not the end-all-be-all of a game for me, but Warcraft III does have this)
  4. Every character should have a randomly generated name. (Close Combat from Microsoft had this and I loved it!)
  5. Every character should have some stats that are tracked (Starcraft tracks each unit's "kills". It is so cool to know who the baddest marine in your army is - and it adds some poignancy when a Zerg eats him)
  6. Every unit shoud be able to fight a little (Warcraft III had the Peons that could fight if they were "rallied" but everyone should be able to fight, even if they are ineffectual in doing so)
  7. Elevation should come into play (Warhammer games have done this)
  8. Game should have awesome main characters (Warcraft III does this)
  9. There should be a handful of main characters (Lord of the Rings RTS games have done this)
  10. You should be able to promote highly effective units to "heroes" (Medieval: Total War does this)
  11. Characters should be able to get magic items (Warcraft III has this as do many other games)
  12. Heroes should be of multiple classes like warriors, bards, wizards (Age of Legends did this)
  13. Units should be able to go into and out of structures (Close Combat did this)
  14. The setting should be immersive (Warcraft III has this)

That is a short list that would get a lot of RTS games closer to perfection. Warcraft III, one of the best selling games of all time, has most of my list. Maybe someone will get closer to the full list. If so, I'll be playing (and I think about a 4 million other people would to)

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Paizo Publishing


Here is a company I have been really impressed with. Paizo Publishing.
They have a interesting history, growing out of Wizards of the Coast after Hasbro brought the company. Here's a wiki article about the history of Paizo Publishing.
So what's so cool about Paizo?
The CEO (Lisa Stevens) left WoTC and formed Paizo.
She aquired the licenses for Wizard's magazine Dragon and Dungeon.
Paizo was not just satisfied with licensing mags though. They immediately grew the business by expanding on the storyline adventure idea that had been done successfully in Dungeon magazine.
They launched the Pathfinder series of adventures. Just a word about Pathfinder. They didn't use staid old storylines. The adventures are just damn cool and the artwork is fantastic! (see pic above). If you don't believe selling fantasy adventures and books is not linked to artwork, just ask Larry Elmore. I have spent many a coin over the years just to possess Larry Elmore artwork.
So, after Paizo launched Pathfinder they made sure the brand was superlative in all ways. Not surprisingly, with this attention to being delightful, they grew and grew.
Now, their website collects a huge assortment of awesomeness. Not just their own items, but items from assorted publishers. It is a really good online retail site for all thinks "geeky". For me personally, I can't even go there without browsing their fiction line (and I bought three new Arthurian books while composing this entry).
To me, Paizo is a great example of staying with your passion, expanding within your core interests, building a tribe around your property (Pathfinder), growing by permission-based-marketing, and never failing to delight your readers/customers/community.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Cross Genre

I was having an email discussion about "cross genre" a few days ago and it occurred to me that no everyone may love cross genre like I do...and I promptly decided it was because they didn't know what I meant.
Here are some of the best examples:
  1. Firefly (the show) or Serenity (the movie): the best sci-fi western I have ever seen
  2. Star Wars: full of science fiction, fantasy and western stuff (Han Solo is the coolest gunslinger around)
  3. Alien: Science Fiction/Horror
  4. Predator: Science Fiction/Horror
  5. Ravenous: Western/Horror
  6. Event Horizon: Science Fiction/Horror
  7. The Valley of Gwangi (GREAT MOVIE): Western/Horror
  8. The Matrix: Science Fiction/Superheroes
  9. Green Lantern: Science Fiction/Superheroes
  10. Outlander (the new movie): Science Fiction/Fantasy
  11. Dune: Science Fiction/Fantasy
  12. The League of Extraordinary Gentleman: Crosses a bunch (Fantasy/Western/Science Fiction)
  13. Any of the HArry Dresden books by Jim Butcher: Fantasy/Detective
  14. A little know book "Arthur Warlord" by Dafyd Ab Hugh: Great example of a fantasy/science fiction

A short list there, but some of my favorites. I would love for Greengates to eventually have some stories on that list!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Wolverine on DVD


Wolverine is out on DVD! Go buy it.
I saw the movie in the theater (a rare feat these days with work and family obligations - fortunately this was one I could see with my boys and call it "quality time"). I thought it was great. I like Wolverine a lot. Of course I am old enough to remember when a "superhero" that smoked, drank beer and killed people was "way out there". So to me, he is still a classic anti-hero while heroes like Cyclops (of the X-men), Superman, Mr. Fantastic and Iron Man (of course Iron Man drank heavily - his "fatal flaw") are more in line with the typical hero archetype. Having said that, this is a great take on Wolverine's origin and there are lots of super-powered clashes and it is just too darn cool!
So, beside seeing a cool-as-hell movie, you should also buy it to support the industry we love so much. That being "speculative fiction" whether it is science fiction, fantasy, horror, super heroes or what have you, most of you who visit this blog are "geeks" in the traditional sense and Wolverine represents everything we like in our movies. If we support them with out $$$ then we are likely to see more.
So...go buy Wolverine! You won't be disappointed! If you are...then we aren't as close as I thought!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Joe Abercrombie

Here is a great interview with author Joe Abercrombie of The First Law Trilogy.

I read The First Law Trilogy as it was released and it leapt every other book on my "favorite fantasy series" and went straight to number 1.

Joe is inspirational to me, and could be to any writer. Unlike most, he jumped right into writing a trilogy, got it published and is now a superstar.

I guess sometimes being unconventional works out just fine.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

King Arthur

Are there any really cool King Arthur stories out there? I can name a few, I think, but I still don't find many that are done to my satisfaction. Stephen Lawhead probably got the closest with Bernard Cornwell a close second. After that, I'm not sure how to rank them. There are so many and for me, so few hit the mark.
Let me try and make a list. My criteria is "coolness" not accuracy. It bugs me when people argue accuracy for King Arthur since we can't even prove definitively if he exists AND there are already conflicting stories that are hundreds of years old. It's hard enough to find consistency with today's "Legends" (Star Trek, Star Wars, Superman, Tarzan) let alone on that is 1500 years old.
Anyway, the Green Gates Arthurian fiction list ranked in order of coolness:
  1. Stephen Lawhead's "The Pendragon Cycle"
  2. Bernward Cornwell's "The Arthur Books" Series
  3. Mary Stewart's "Merlin" Series
  4. Dafyd Ab Hugh's "Arthur Warlord" duology
  5. Jack Whyte's "Camulod Chronicles"
  6. Marion Zimmer Bradley's "The Mists of Avalon" (I never loved the rest of the series)
  7. Excalibur (the movie)
  8. King Arthur (the movie)
  9. The Last Legion (movie)
  10. Cherith Bladry's "Exiled from Camelot"
  11. Clemence Housman's "The Life of Sir Aglovale De Galis"
  12. TH White's "Once and Future King"
  13. Douglas Clegg's "Mordred Trilogy"
  14. Vivian Vande Velde's "Book of Mordred"
  15. Howard Pyle's "Story of King Arthur and His Knights"

I haven't read every Arthur book, but I have read these. I may amend the list as I read more.

Monday, September 14, 2009

NaNoWriMo

National Novel Writing Month is coming up soon (November). It is one month to write a novel. I have participated twice and I have 2 novels to show for it. Are they great works? Well, they weren't great at the end of November. I had just slogged through 30 days of writing 1600 words a day to get to the 50,000 word count requirement.
I have since polished and polished on both of them and maybe one day they will grace a bookshelf someday.
So, what's the point? For me, it showed me I could write a novel. What was required? Time. I had to make or steal the time from my otherwise busy schedule.
Now, I have yet to learn whether I can write a good novel or not, but then again, who cares. If you are like me, then you love to write. So go do it. Do the best you can. Get it read. Get critiques. Study writing. Learn to take criticism with a grain of salt and then keep on writing.

Okay...I am ranting. Go to www.nanowrimo.org and check it out. Let's write a novel in November.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Making a Property


As I have mentioned, I am reading the "Song of Ice ad Fire" sage by George RR Martin (currently I am on the second book - "Clash of Kings").
Here is what cmes to mind. George RR Martin wrote the first book n 1996. Did he know it would be a series? I think so. The first one ended in a way that seemed to indicate a sequel or a series.
In any event, the books have grown into card games, miniatures game and now a series on HBO.
I am not sure how one takes the leap from writing a book to having a viable, marketable "property" ripe for movies, tv series and things like that.
One thing I do know though - first he had to write a book, and it had to be a darn good one.

So I guess step 1 is write, write, write
step 2 must be to make sure your telling the absolute best story you can.

Friday, September 11, 2009

New Stuff Coming Out

So, Tim Burton's "9" was released to little fanfare. It looks cool to me though. I will have to see it.

X-men Origins:Wolverine will be released on DVD soon. That one is worth it. Cool movie.

Heroes returns with a 2 hour premiere on the 21st. Can't wait for that!

Diana Gabaldon is released a new volume in her "Outlander" series (an Echo In The Bone) on September 22nd. Great series, great author. Historical, fantasy romance - more for the ladies I suppose.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Game of Thrones



Still reading "Game of Thrones". Great book. This is just fantastic. I am loving this book so much. I read it in 1996 and loved it then, but I got away from the rest of the series. Now I want to read the rest of the series, but I needed to start back on this one to get up to speed.

I cannot say enough about this book. I find myself reading constantly and can't wait to get to the next book!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Gaylord Perry

In 1963 Baseball pitcher Gaylord Perry said, "They'll put a man on the moon before I ever hit a home run".
Gaylord Perry's first and only homerun came 6 years late on JuLy 20th 1969...just hours after Neil Armstrong set foot on the moon.

What's notable about this trivial fact? Sometimes we predict the future, but sometimes we make it happen through what we say and what we think. Could it be that Gaylord "knew" he could not hit a homerun and he "knew" it so well, he kept it from happening until events aligned as he told himself they would?

Can't say for sure, but just in case, I am going to try and be careful about self-limiting thoughts and phrases.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Whining about DragonCon

Well, I missed DragonCon again this year. I had planned to go but schedules just did not permit it to happen.
I am already planning on next year. In fact, I am planning to start going to DragonCon and then not stop at all. It is a mecca for us geek-types.

I saw a quote on CNN. They were covering DragonCon and a girl who was in the “Dawn” costume contest was talking about how geeks from all over come there and everyone is accepted and all that.

She said, “Once you get here, we are just one big family. A creepy, incestuous family, but family nonetheless.”

Amen sister

Best Books for Writing Speculative Fiction

Heck, some of these are great books for writing any fiction, but since I primarily discuss speculative fiction (science fiction, fantasy, horror and a mix of all three), I figured I would toss "speculative" into the title.

Here is the list of finalists:

Best Books on Writing for Speculative Fiction Authors

  1. Sometimes the Magic Works – Terry Brooks
  2. On Writing – Stephen King
  3. How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy – Orson Scott Card
  4. Writing for Comics – Peter David
  5. Bullies, Bastards and Bitches – Jessica Morrell
  6. How to Write a Damn Good Novel – James Frey
  7. Screenplay: The Foundations of Screenwriting – Syd Field
You will notice I have one comic book text in the list and a screenwriting text. Why? Our industry often deals with larger-than-life issues like comic books and it is also a very visual genre, hence the screenwriting book. Not only that, but Syd Field knows a ton about good storytelling.

That's not to say that this is the end of the list. As I read more and more, I reserve the right to add to the list.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Purpose

Saw a sign outside a church this morning that read:

"You have a purpose for being on this Planet. Find it!"


Well, I'm looking!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Brigand Pictures

Check out Brigand Pictures! I love these guys. Small firm, based in Chattanooga (my hometown) and they do all their movies digitally.
They just premiered a film at the Tivoli Theater in Chattanooga (The Tivoli is a beautiful theater that screams of the grandeur of yesteryear).
They have a distribution network where they get their movies screened around the country.
I am impressed. (Maybe they will want a screenplay from GGE?)

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Locus Magazine

Free advice: Subscribe to Locus Magazine.

It's the closest thing to an industry trade journal we have. If you are into comics, then you might want to get Wizard as well.

Financiers get The Wall Street Journal, Firefighters subscribe to Firehouse (and Fire Engineering).

There are a number of fantasy, sci-fi and horror magazines out there, but a good deal of them are primarily for the fan. Locus has features for fans, authors, convention goers.

Check out the website. See if you don't agree with me. I'm not trying to sell Locus. To me, it sells itself. I'm just offering some advice.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Song of Fire and Ice

You've got to love George R.R. Martin. Anyone whose middle name sounds like a pirate laughing (arr, arr) should be a good writer. George is a great one.
I have always loved the Wild Cards series, but he only writes occasionally for it. He mainly edits and compiles the stories (and they rock).
I am reading (for the second time) "A Game of Thrones" from his "Fire and Ice" series and I am reminded just how darn good it is.
It's not just the writing, though his writing style really fits me, it is the storyline, characters everything.
He pulls off some of my favorite stuff.
  1. No character feels safe so you are afraid that, at any moment, your favorite character might bite it
  2. Magic is mysterious and scary, though it follows its own rules so I know the author understands how it works in his world
  3. The good guys have attributes that are despicable and the bad guys are completey understandable so that they make great bad guys. I love it when the heroes are flawed and the bad guys have admirable qualities. Makes the characters seem so vivid.
  4. It reminds me of Arthurian fiction the way it should be written.

So, I will be spending a good portion of my Sunday curled up with "Game of Thrones".

Ciao

Friday, August 28, 2009

How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy

Just finished reading "How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy" by Orson Scott Card. I am not sure what makes him such an expert. He's only written about a million short stories and half a million novels. All are fantastic (at least all that I have read - let me recommend the Ender saga and The Tales of Alvin Maker right now). He has also only accumulated 16,000 awards, including multiple Hugos, Nebulas and Locus Fantasy Awards.
Yes, I realize my numbers are exaggerated. That is hyperbole meant to illustrate that Card is awesome and well suited to give advice.
Now, onto the book.
Anyone wanting to write Science Fiction or Fantasy should absolutely read this book. For the cost of a paperback, you get to spend a few hours with a noted expert in the field.
It raised some great points, gives good advice and certainly provides a lot to think about regarding what separates Science Fiction from Fantasy. The two overlap more than you might think and I find I prefer Card's term "Speculative Fiction" which he uses quite a bit.
What I really like about the book is that despite holding some pretty strong (and dwell publicized) religious and political beliefs, Card does not use the book as a platform for that stuff.
This book is about writing. It is easy to read. it is conversational. It is helpful and insightful.
So go get it.

Star Wars: Legacy of the Force



I think I have blogged about this series before. It is written years and years after the Star Wars movies. Han Solo and Princess Leia are married and have kids. Luke Skywalker has a son. In this series, their kids are all grown up and that is what this series is about. The main characters are still around, but they are not main characters anymore. They are major characters, but not the main ones.

Betrayal (pictured left) is the first book. The whole series goes like this:

  1. Betrayal
  2. Bloodlines
  3. Tempest
  4. Exile
  5. Sacrifice
  6. Inferno
  7. Fury
  8. Revelation
  9. Invincible

Invincible concludes the series. I just finishshed reading Fury (#7). They are all written by either Karen Traviss, Aaron Allston or Troy Denning. So far Karen Traviss is my personal favorite, but they are all very good.

I will say this, the series is cool. It has some universe-shattering consequences and major characters go through major changes (one major long-time character dies - and I still have 2 books to go).

The problem? It is 9 freaking books long! I know that we might be going for a trilogy of trilogies idea like Star Wars sort of did with episode I, II and III and then IV, V and VI all being little trilogies in a bigger story. I guess if that were the case, then Timothy Zahn's trilogy (Heir to the Empire, Dark Force Rising and The Last Command) would close the 3 trilogies. These three books have become known as The Thrawn Trilogy and according to GGE (okay - in this case, I have not vetted this with anyone, it's just my opinio) the Thrawn Trilogy is still the best series of Star Wars books out there.

The problem with Legacy of the Force is there are not three separate trilogies, just a story that takes 9 books to tell and by now I am just ready to be finished with thing! It is enjoyable and I am glad I read it, but it feels like it is a few books too long.

How to Write a Screenplay

I don't actually know the best way to write a screenplay. Fortunately, I don't have to know. They could fill BOOKS with how to write screenplays...and they have.
My favorite are those by Syd Field, and there are a few of them.
The blog title links to the one I am reading right now.
GGE writes all sorts of stuff, screenplays among them and I find this book to be, not only helpful, but inspirational.
So if you are thinking about writing and selling screenplays, check it out.
It can't guarantee you a sale or anything, but it will give you some good insights from someone who has seen lots of success

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Best Made!

I saw an interesting add today for Best Made Axe. It is a company that sells hand made Axes, produced in NJ. They are sold online and exclusively at a single store in NYC. They are made of hickory (from TN) and sell for between $250-$500 dollars. I am guessing, based on price, that they would be very well-made axes. I can’t say if they are the “best” or not as I am not qualified to judge an axe beyond whether it chops or does not chop wood and other items. Perhaps an axe murderer or a lumberjack would be a better endorsement. What interests me though is the business idea itself. Not what many would consider in terms of launching a successful business, but this company reports having done very well since their launch. It’s funny how some businesses toil in obscurity while others hit upon just “the thing” and turn passion into profit and never look back.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Submit!

By "submit" I don't mean submit as in "submit to being ruled by Martians"...what I mean is submit as in "submit to publishers".
GGE has a couple of items out with publishers right now. Like any other author or creative endeavor, rejection letters don't thrill us, but it seems to be the way the game is played. Submit, submit, submit. Collect rejection letters, paper the walls with them, store them up for future reference, but keep on trucking.
One thing we do at GGE is, while we submit, we also move on to the next project. It makes the urgency to get a positive response not seem as urgent. We figure, well if project A doesn't sell, wait till they see Project B.
Having said that, it still sucks getting rejection...

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Captain America's Back!

I know many might expect GGE to be thrilled that Cap is back in action, but instead, his return is greeted with a resounded sense of...ho hum.
Why?
First, did anyone know he died?
Well, the comic book community knew. It made some headlines even. Of course, a few years back Superman died. Batman got his back broken. Heck, Spock died in Wrath of Khan and it was all very poignant. Heck, even Captain Picard was "recovered" from the Borg and it is now official canon that Commander Data, who died in Nemesis, has been uploaded into the body of his idiot-savant "brother" B-4. Of course of all of these, Data is the only one I "buy" very well. He is a robot. I have resurrected my own computer a few times.
The problem? They are all back! It is a falacy of modern sci-fi and fantasy storytelling. Heroes fall, but they come right back in a few episodes. It's a time warp or a clone or an evil twin or something.
It has become a pattern and one that is just...well...boring and predictable.
I can speak for all writers when I say that no one wants their storytelling to be mentioned in the same sentence with boring and predictable!
If characters are always inherently "safe" then where is the drama?

  1. GGE promises that our characters are NEVER safe
  2. We will not keep a character around to make a buck if the storyline demands their untimely demise
  3. Once they are gone, they are gone. The barrior of death should be a bit nmore difficult to overcome than our colleagues in other studios have made it out to be.

Okay...enough griping. Cap is back! Big deal.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Work Sucks!

I am reading "Why Work Sucks and How to Fix it" by Cali Ressler and Jody Thompson.
It puts forth the idea of a "Results Only Work Environment" also known as "ROWE".
I love the whole notion. No meetings, no schedules, using techology as it is intended and paying more attention to results and time at the desk.
As writers and artists, GGE definitely understands the ROWE. I can sit at a desk all day, but if I don't write something then we don't produce.
GGE doesn't operate 8-5. It operates at midnight, 3 am, just before dawn and whenever inspiration strikes.
Check out Cali and Jody's book or their blog at http://caliandjody.com/

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Physics and Superheroes

Just finished reading "The Physics of Superheroes" by James Kakalios. First off, let me say, great book! Funny and well-written and I feel smarter just for having read it.
Having said that, I do have to confess that physics was never my strongest subject, whereas superheroes are more my forte.
My original intention for reading the book was to base my superhero stories in a more believable realm and ensure their powers didn't violate natural laws.
As it turns out, this is pretty hard to do. Some superheroes are more plausible than others, but almost all require some suspension of disbelief.
So, rather than suffer analysis paralysis, I have simply decided to try and limit the number of "miracle exceptions" my superheroes need in order to operate and try to make them as plausible as can be with the understanding that we must play a little with the laws of physics to make our heroes exist.

It's probably a good thing superheroes don't walk the streets anyway...with super heroes come super villains and I don't want to be the victim of a death ray or anything like that. I have enough to worry about as it is!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Star Trek: The Experience

Recently visited Star Trek: The Experience at The Franklin Institute in Philadelphia, PA. If you're a Star Trek fan, then you should definitely get yourself to this exhibit. I think it is a traveling exhibit. It is at The Franklin Institute for a few more weeks.
Gene Roddenberry, I am sure, would be amazed if he saw how far the script for "The Menagerie" took him. He had a vision and it grew far beyond what he initially envisioned, but the point is, he had a vision.
Along with the vision though, he did something about it. He wrote and wrote and wrote. He crafted his skill on detective shows and "Have Gun Will Travel". He had pilot shows made and then they were not picked up. He didn't let this destroy him. He didn't quit. He kept writing. Then, he finally sold Star Trek.
One would think the rest was history, but not so fast...the show had budget trouble and censorship issues and then...it was canceled. Gene never gave up and eventually, years later, it came back and he was ready to roll again. Now, Thirty years after it's comeback, it is a hit movie and a museum exhibit and has about a million books, comic books, toys, etc.
It started with a vision. Then there was a lot of work and then there was a LOT of "stick-to-it-ive-ness"

So there you go:
1) Dream
2) Work (as GGE says, no one can do your pushups for you)
3) Never give up

Friday, August 7, 2009

The real challenge for GI Joe

I loved GI Joe as a kid. I remember the tall guys where one of the dude's name was GI Joe. Later came the cool team of guys named Duke, Stalker, Snake Eyes, Rock-n-Roll, Breaker, Scarlett. I loved them as a kid.
So now, finally, there is a GI Joe movie (not surprisingly since there is a Transformers movie - everything old is new again). I haven't seen it yet, but I will.
Here is the challenge.
Back in the '80s, I remember GI Joe as being so cool when in fact, it had more cheese than a French wine festival. Today's kids are more sophisticated. Couple that with the fact that many of the movie goers at GI Joe will be former fan boys hoping for the same exilirating experience they had as youths.
So, the movie has to satisfy former fan boys who want to be thrilled but will not be thrilled by the same fare they saw when they first fell in love with GI Joe. So, it has to be different, more modern and relevant while still retaining some of the vestiges we all know and love.
The story also has to appeal to the younger generation if we want to get toy sales, spin offs, comic books, roleplaying games, a comic book (there actually is still a comic book that is pretty good).
Can it be done? Heck yeah. Look at Iron Man. So much more than just a comic book filmed in real life and put on the screen.
The right writer and director can do this for GI Joe. Let's hope they pulled it off

Yo Joe!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Story Greatness

What makes a story great?
Is it the technical quality of the writing? Sometimes, if it is particulary grabbing (like Joe Abercrombie) but good writing is like the cherry on top. Bad writing is like bad breath on an otherwise attractive person. It can add or detract, but a story can be great with writing that is "good enough".
Is it the storyline? Definitely important. Good plot twists and well paced drama is critical. This isn't the end-all-be-all either though. Low budget films often have good storylines, but fall short because of poor technical execution.
A good bad guy? A definite requirement!
Good guys we can relate to? Another critical element! We need to feel for them. We need to be able to indentify with them. They need to be changed in some way by the dramatic elements of the story, unless their rigid inflexibility is what the story is about.
A touch of humor now and then? Doesn't hurt.
Good pacing? Makes the reader enjoy the ride more.

What's the point of my musing? There is no single thing to master in order to write a great book and some do certain parts better than others. I don't know if anyone gets all elements perfect.

So, writing is more like cooking. There is a recipe. All of the elements are important in some degree. Improve your understanding and your ability in each element and watch the quality of your stories grow!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Green Lantern: First Flight


Had the chance to check out Green Lantern: First Flight last night. It is a new movie from Warner Bros. I should stress it is an animated movie. Of course, at GGE, we have no problem with animation, anime, comics or whatever media it might take to convey a cool story. Some folks allow themselves to miss out on some excellent stories because they buy into the misconception that if it is "drawn" it must be "for kids".
Anyway...I digress! Green Lantern: First Flight is a must-see (and a must-own for you collectors out there). Of course the art is fantastic, but we expect no less from Warner Brothers, but the story is great!
Why is the story so good? Well, let me tell you...
Green Lantern has never had a great arch nemesis. Sure, everyone would point out Sinestro as GL's polar opposite, but it is with a half-hearted wave. Not the immediate recognition that you get with Lex Luthor (for Superman) or The Joker (for Batman).
Well, First Flight goes a long way towards remedying this. We have long known Sinestro is an ex-Green Lantern himself (more on this later) but this story shows his fall from grace. It is remniscient of "Training Day" with Denzel Washington in which the veteran Green Lantern (Sinestro) trains a rookie (Hal Jordan - our Green Lantern) before eventually ending up on the wrong side of the power ring. Very well done and Sinestro is very well presented and quickly becomes villain that viewers can love to hate.
Another great thing about Green Lantern is, as with many of GGE's top favorites, that Green Lantern is cross genre at its best. Green Lantern is not so much a super hero as he is a member of an elite military unit charged with protecting the galaxy. There are 3600 of them scattered across the galaxy (sort of like Jedi Knight). So, with any Green Lantern story, you get super hero action and a healthy dose of science fiction as well. First Flight pulls this off really well.
So...go watch this movie!

Friday, July 31, 2009

Best Superhero Books ever

It's hard to find good books about superheroes that aren't either a) comic books or b) books based on comic books.
Now, I have nothing against either A or B, but they don't typically represent the coolest examples of superhuman fiction.
Let me offer some examples of the coolest superhero fiction
  1. Wild Cards (the whole series, editted by George RR Martin)
  2. Devil's Cape (by Rob Rogers)
  3. Black and White (by Jackie Kessler and Caitlin Kittredge)
  4. Those Who Walk in Darkness (By John Ridley)
  5. Soon I Will Be Invincible ( by Austin Grossman)
  6. Hero (by Perry Moore)
  7. The Web of Arachnos (Robert Weinberg)
  8. Swan Song (By Frank Fradella)
  9. The Physics of Superheroes (By James Kakalios) - this one is not fiction, but it is very cool

Not a long list. There are a lot I have not read and there is a lot of crap in what I have read. It's a hard genre for some to take seriously, but there is good stuff out there! You just have to look for it...or trust my little list and get to reading.

Of course, the other option is to write some good ones! Let's do that!

Status

Well, no word on publication as of yet. We have a couple of feelers out there, but nothing yet.
So, what do we do? Keep developing and keep sending out submissions.

As always, the key is to write, write, write or if you are an artist it is draw, draw, draw.

Point is...no one can do our push-ups for us (get the metaphor)

So I guess I should go get to work

Monday, July 27, 2009

Merlin on NBC

Well, I have really just discovered this show "Merlin" on NBC. If you have not watched it, then you really should. Is it great Arthurian literature? No. In fact, some of the stuff is a bit switched around from the more "traditional" Arthur stories, but I am always up for a reinterpretation of classic characters. Remember when John Byrne "re-imagined" Superman in the mid 1980's? It turned out to be one of the most beloved Superman comic runs of all time.
So, don't let the re-imagining stop you from checking out Merlin. One thing I love is that unlike recent stories such as "King Arthur" and "The Last Legion" there is actual magic in this story. I am more forgiving of changes in the story than I am stories without magic. King Arthur stories, in my opinion, should have some scraps of magic around.
In any event, here is the REAL reason you should watch it. As a fellow fan of fantasy, science fiction, super heroes and all that jazz (if you weren't you would probably not still be reading) we should support shows that support our habit. We want more shows about Knights and Wizards and Dragons so we should w watch the ones that are out there. If their ratings are good, imitators will surely follow and sometimes imitation can be a wonderful thing!

Besides...next week, The Black Knight shows up! And he is Undead! (I'm geeking about it)

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Leadership

Read a great article in Time magazine entitled: "Why Bosses Tend To Be Blowhards"
The summary is that "A new study shows leadership is often just loudership: big mouths take charge."
The study was led by the University of California: Berkeley. The study found in a group setting, the folks who spoke out the most often and the loudest were viewed as individuals with a high degree of leadership, smarts and creativity. When given basic aptitude tests, these same individuals did not score any better (and often worse) than their quieter counterparts.

It's interesting, but then again, isn't it a quality of leadership that the person has the "courage" (or blind stupidity?) to speak out regardless of the consequences, often not letting oneself be encumbered by facts or truth?

We see it a lot where people take charge just because they are visible and rather than saying the "right thing" they say their version of the right thing and then convince others of it's correctness (Rush Limbaugh comes to mind). No offense Rush. My point is Rush picks a side of an argument and does not attempt to see the other side and then convinces listeners there is only one side. It is his goal and he does it well.

Not a surprising study, but a nice one to read because I tend towards introverted behavior in a large group and often don't get very vocal. It seems like options are to either break that behavior or get used to finishing second (or third or fourth...somewhere other than first).

Alternatively, one could seek out an environment where one felt comfortable being very vocal. For example, if you grew up building boats and building boats was your passion then I would suspect you would feel more comfortable being very vocal in a boat-building situation thus ensuring your promotion and inevitable leadership role.

All the more reason, perhaps, to seek your passion?

Monday, July 20, 2009

The Comic Book Movie Problem

Here is an issue I struggle with routinely. When making a comic book movie, how much should the movie be like the comic book?
Here is an example.
The original "Punisher" movie with Thomas Jane (not the first "original" with Dolph Lundgren...ugh). was made for 33,000,000. Not a bad budget. It grossed, worldwide, 54,600,000. Yay! A profit. The Punisher is a success.

So, they made a sequel.

The Punisher: War Zone, starring "that guy from the HBO Rome show" was made for 33,000,000 - hey, we made it for less! It grossed 8,000,000. A huge loss. I guess in Hollywood, that would be "a flop".

The first movie, however, disappointed fans. It was not exactly true to the original character and made several key departures disappointing hard core fans. It also made a profit.
The Punisher: War Zone was very much in line with the comic book. It was like watching a live action verion of The Punisher comic. Hard core fans loved it. It flopped.

So, you can't float a movie solely on us comic book fan boys. It has to appeal to more people, I assume, because it costs a bunch to make a movie.

It goes back to the axiom that you have to know your audience. Watchmen followed the graphic novel very well, but by all accounts, Watchmen is not a "typical" graphic novel and the movie was even a bit more graphic and was filmed in a style of photography that was nothing short of breathtaking. The 300 was done in a similar fashion.

Know your audience and make your product accordingly. Would Star Wars have been a mega hit if it were a novel first? Would The Simpsons be a household name if it had started as a movie? The right place to launch your project is out there whether it is indie publishing, online comics, finding an agent, selling a script. The only way to find it is to reach for it.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Paranormal Evidence

I don't have any...but I wish I did. It would be cool if I did.
What if some random blogger came across paranormal evidence and posted it.
Of course, he or she would immediately be targeted by the paranormal agents themselves wanting to keep their shadowy existence secret and they would also be targeted by some government agency trying to keep the lid on the news as well.
Meanwhile, our hero tries to stop the paranormal agents from instigating their nefarious plot, which of course the government wants as well, leading to an inevitable team up.

Sound interesting? Write the rest of it!

What is a writer?...a combination of an idea person (which I just posted an example of the idea) and a worker, meaning the person who takes the idea and chops the wood (meaning he or she does the work of writing). When one person has both those qualities, then (in my humble opinion) they have all the makings of a writer. All that is left to do is...write!

Someone want to write about our blogger of the paranormal? Go for it.