Sunday, January 31, 2010

Indy Planet

On this snowy day in NC, I am looking at Indy Planet. Indy Planet is a site for Indie Comic books. All comics there are by independts, and of course there are a lot of them - but let me assure you, there are some high quality books there.
Indy Planet is a great resource for the smaller comic publisher, because they post the comics there, but they are Print-on-Demand meaning that the small publisher doesn't have to buy 5,000 copies of a book and then (Heaven forbid) end up with a bunch left over in the garage!
We, at GGE, have posted some concept images from our upcoming comic at Danger Guild's website. Check 'em out!


Friday, January 29, 2010


Sent some character concepts for "Danger Guild" to some great artists last night. Can't wait to share some sketches with you!
One of the artists, Del Hewitt Jr., has some great stuff right here online.

Looking forward to getting Danger Guild moving.


Thursday, January 28, 2010

Danger Guild

GGE is participating in the first stages of developing a comic book based on our Danger Guild property. It was a project jointly developed by me (Gates) and David Burdett, a writer in Chattanooga, TN. We had developed a script for a Danger Guild miniseries several months ago and then put it on the back burner until the time is right. The time feels more right and it is moving forward again.
I'll be posting concept sketches soon while we seek out an artist for the first few issues.

More news to come


Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Making it as an Independent Publisher

There is no doubt that  person who decides to launch all of their products independently has a tough row to hoe (to use a Southern euphemism - what can I say, I was raised on a farm).

D.A. Adams at Third Axe Press seems to be making it work.

How? A lot of writing and a lot of tireless work marketing and promoting his work.


Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Indie Filmmakers

This link was sent to me by a friend of mine. It reminds us that Indie Filmmakers will find a way to get their stories in front of people.
I love seeing people find other paths to get to their dream. Why? It reminds me that we don't have to be the next Stephen King, JK Rowling, Steven Spielberg or George Lucas. anyone who has read "The Four Hour Work Week" by my good friend Tim Ferriss, knows that your dream life is out there and it probably does not cost millions and millions of dollars.
 Remember this exchange from Office Space:

In reference to the question "What would you do if you had a million dollars" posed by Peter Gibbons to Lawrence;

LAWRENCE: Well what about you now? What would you do?
LAWRENCE: Nothing, huh?
PETER GIBBONS: I would relax...I would sit on my ass all day...I would do nothing.
LAWRENCE: Well, you don't need a million dollars to do nothing, man.

It's good advice from Lawrence. It depends on your goals. People are finding ways to make their passion pay just enough that they can continue to indulge their passion. Every path that is forged, means a new path for someone like you or me. You can forge your own new one, or follow a trailblazer, but either way, what you want is out there.

Go get it.


Sunday, January 24, 2010

Writers Panels at Conventions

As anyone who has published a fantasy book knows, or even people who have thought about publishing one, or people who have read Orson Scott Cards' book about writing science fiction, or even people who have BEEN to fantasy conventions are aware...there are panels where writers give talks. There are classes conducted by writers. There are readings by writers. Writers sign autographs.
All of these things are generally free with your registration for the convention and they are pretty fun to go to. They are even more fun for the writer.
Why do writer's do it? Free convention registration. It's fun to feel like a celebrity. It's cool that someone gives a crap what your opinion is. But the primary reason they do it is to promote their books.
This is true whether the writer is self-published or traditionally published.
Green is doing some panels at the upcoming Con Nooga, but I haven't been prolific enough to do any right now. I'm targeting next year, but I was discussing the panels with the director of Con Nooga and he told me that many traditionally published writers refuse to be on a panel with self published authors.
I'm a bit baffled by this. I've had experience in both realms so I consider myself a fair and balanced representative.
It would seem that both authors are there for the same reason - promote their book. The self-pubs look up to the traditional authors. It would seem it would be fun to be on a panel with a self-pub and help them out a bit. I think this issue will arise more in the future than it has in the past as more and more avenues to publication become available.
Self published authors now might have used a subsidy press, a POD publisher, or they may have published solely online or through Twitter or You Tube.
My take on the whole thing: If you are an author, do some panels. If you are a traditionally published author, stop looking down your nose at people who chose a different path. Write a lot and write often. Go to conventions even if you aren't a guest. Meet your audience.


Friday, January 22, 2010

Horror for your Reading Pleasure

It's just a fact that there are not a lot of publishers who specialize in horror fiction. There are some publishers who do it, but not many that specialize in it. It's not a surprise since horror is a pretty small piece of the pie in terms of publishing.
Having said that though, it is certainly clear that there is a niche out there for people who know horror and know it well. Were someone to come along and specialize in good horror, and make sure they told that story well and stayed in their lane, then eventually fans of the genre would trust that publisher to produce things they like. It would be a "win" for the publisher because people might come to them first for their horror novels. It would certainly be a "win" for the reader since they would now have a place to go where they would be reasonably assured of having their horror-fix satiated.
GGE, of course, writes some horror...and good horror at that. "The Forsaken" is our first novel-length horror and it is currently with some folks for consideration.
If I were submitting it today, or if I were just looking for a good horror book to read, I would certainly consider Snuff Books and Severed Press.
Both tell their story well and the website and titles give the reader assurances that, if you are looking for a horror novel by someone who understands horror, then you have come to the right place.


Thursday, January 21, 2010

Preditors and Editors

Preditors and Editors is a great site for aspiring writers. The whole thing is devoted to investigating publishers, agents, etc. and reporting on those that are reputable versus those that are scammers (and there are a lot of scammers out there).
Some examples - agents who charge reading fees, PublishAmerica, agents who never sell anything, publishers who make most of their money off of books they sell back to the author.
I have relied on Preditors and Editors several times in the past, especially when reading about a publisher or agent that seemed too good to be true. The site doesn't cost anything and it has great information. Enough so that some publishers have cleaned up their act and even gone to great lengths to work with P&E to ensure the site they are legit.
I thought about this recently when I saw a writer on the fantasy convention circuit who had published through Publish America. The name rang a bell so I went to their site and read about them and it sounded too good to be true, so I checked Preditors and Editors. Yikes. Avoid PublishAmerica. But don't avoid Preditors and Editors. In fact, visit often.


Wednesday, January 20, 2010


I don't have a lot to say about Dangersmith other than it is just darn cool. I am really surprised there is not more of a following. If there is something it is "like", maybe it is like Bone, but cooler. Reminds me a little of Scud, The Disposable Assassin. The art is really great.
I will go out on a limb and make a prediction that if DangerSmith's creator keeps plugging away, this one could go far.


Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Fail First, Then Succeed

Just read a really important post on Seth's Blog. Hint: It's about Tim Burton.

Tim Burton has had staggering success by any "creatives" measuring stick. His vision is amazing. His work is awesome. Some don't love it, but it is unique. He has stayed true to his vision and he has an extremely loyal following.

What I did not realize is that he pitches a lot of ideas that don't get picked up. They don't get a green light. He "fails". Every.single.year.

What's the take home message? I guess I assumed, as most would, that Tim Burton would just say "I have an idea" and people would line up to produce it. Not so. In that regard maybe he's not so different from you and I.
How is he different though? He keeps generating ideas. He keeps pitching them and he does this a lot.

Eventually one resonates and takes off. He has to fail a bunch before he can succeed. Of course when he does succeed, the world is thrilled about it.

Why should we be any different?


Monday, January 18, 2010

Geek Girl

It's no secret that I love comics. I especilally love Indie Comics for their "challenge-the-mainstream-and-thus-become-the-mainstream" mentality. In the interests of complete disclosure, I have not read "Geek Girl" but the previews on her site look great!

I am always hoping for the next TMNT (an indie comic launch believe it or not). I don't know if "Geek Girl" is it, but the art is phenomenal and it sounds really interesting.

I'll be checking it out.


Sunday, January 17, 2010


I know I am late to the party, but after reading Gary Vaynerchuk's "Crush It", I have been delving deeper into the world of Facebook, You Tube and Twitter and I am amazed how deep the rabbit hole goes.
Just by looking around a little, I am finding a whole sea of people like me - artists, writers, creators all looking to share their worlds and vision.
It is really invigorating and a bit daunting. If you aren't using Facebook everyday, then you are missing out on some major opportunities to connect!
Check out our facebook site here.


Saturday, January 16, 2010


Just went and saw Avatar in 3D - I know everyone is totally jazzed about it. I enjoyed it a great deal as well. Here are some thoughts though:

  • Stephen Lang was awesome as the Marine Colonel. He was just perfect. Why is that archetype always a bad guy though? Isn't that the same sort of man who defeated the Nazis? (and how can I get muscles like his? Especially when I am at the ripe age of 57?)
  • The story is, admittedly, very predictable. Is the movie only saved by the amazing special effects and the immersive world of Pandora?
  • The fact that the movie is very much "Dances with Wolves" but with a happier ending, reinforces the idea that we don't always have to look for a brand new story. Sometimes a new way of telling a familiar story can still resonate with audiences.
  • 3D is the only way to see this movie in the theaters. I am stll amazed by Tru 3D movies where the actors seem to be in the room with you.
  • I want one of those giant suits of driveable armor (mechs) like the Marines have. So darn cool.
  • The really awesome girl pilot remonds me a little of "Vasquez" from Aliens - also a James Cameron movie.
So - go see the movie. Like Darth Vader, Colonel Quaritch is a GREAT bad guy. Why is he a GREAT bad guy? Because he does not think he's a bad guy. He's just doing his job. Stephen Lang said as much. He played him that way and it ROCKED.


Friday, January 15, 2010

Why Fantasy and Science Fiction

People have asked me why I am still into Fantasy, Science Fiction, Superheroes, Comic Books, Cartoons, etc. Why haven't I grown up? For all appearances I am a normal, well-adjusted adult male so why all this speculative fiction stuff?

Well, here it it! I've been a writer for years, but I have always come back to the zombies, wizards, dragons and stuff that's not real. For those that don't know, I spent ten years as a firefighter. In that time I saw husbands lose wives, and wives lose husbands. I saw children suffer things they should never have to suffer. I saw families displaced from their homes by fire. I saw people maimed by accidents. I saw gruesome things and lots of times it was something one human intentionally did to another.

After those ten years, I realized that I want to spend some time escaping from the bad stuff in the real world. I want to offer people the chance to go with me on that same journey.

Hence why my writing all takes place in something other than the "real" world


Thursday, January 14, 2010

A note on writing dialogue

When you write your dialogue, take a minute and read it out loud to make sure it sounds like something someone would actually say. Few people actually say, "I shall do something" for example. You can get away with a lot in dialogue, like crappy grammar, because people say all sorts of things, but if it doesn't sound natural then your audience will know it. The only caveat I can give you is if the character is known for stilted and archaic speech. Of course that presents the separate problem of having to remember when you write that character, to put it in his or her typical dialogue and only drop it when the character has reason to.

Bottom line - read your dialogue and make sure it is something people would actually say. Trust me on this one - I've screwed this up more times by accident than most of you could ever do on purpose.


Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Sales Presentations

Just had a visit from a vendor selling service. Like all vendor presentations, it was nice and collegial. We traded cards, we drank coffee and they showed me a powerpoint presentationt that was reasonably well done.
There was nothing earth-shattering to commend this vendor over any other, but I may use them for work at some point.
It got me to thinking though that there has to be a better way to get business. Build relaationships before saying "Will you hire me?"
I think this goes for entertainment companies as well, but how to begin building a relationship?
I have always heard that an amateur artist copies, but a mature artist steals. Maybe that's true, but we all have a moral repugnance to imitating someone else's work. Imitiation, of course, is the highest form of flattery.
Flip this around for a moment though - what if, instead of imitation, you think of it as an homage to another artist's work. That makes it more palatable. Why would I say to do this? Well, unless you have a sigbnature style that people are going to seek out, then you have a couple of options. One is to work in a world the people already like (for example - take over drawing X-men or write a Forgotten Realms novel). This is a hard one to break into sometimes. The second option is to write/draw/produce something that feels familiar to people. The way Starcraft was familiar to Warcraft players and a million other RTS games were familiar to the same people. The same way Joe Abercrombie feels familiar to readers of George RR Martin. After the familiarity phase, people begun to trust the Joe Abercombie's to be as entertaining and satisfying as the Geroge RR Martins and the new relationship is good to go!
So don't imitate...homage! Build a relationship - then try and sell, but only sell stuff they want. Sell what they need, not because you need it.


Tuesday, January 12, 2010


Dipping my feet in the proverbial Twitter pool (thanks to Gary Vaynerchuk). So far the link on the right of the page doesn't work, but my user name is greeng8tes so look me up and follow along! As I get better at it, more exciting stuff will be tweeted. Right now, I am like ""

I'll get better. I may be an old dog, but new tricks are my specialty.


Monday, January 11, 2010

Wolverine and the X-men

As somewhat of an expert on heroes and villains, I felt I should comment on this series. Like many of you, I saw this series around. I was slow to pick it up even though I have enjoyed both of the previous two X-men series. This one is now into season 4 so if you haven't picked it up yet, better get moving. It is cheap at $9.95 per DVD and is a darn good series.

I found this one to be really, really well done, with one exception. Charles Xavier, speaking from the future, tells Wolverine that he (Wolvie) has to take over as leader of the X-men or they will not survive.
I can't help it...this just hits me the wrong way. Cyclops is the leader. His skill is leading. Even Wolverine knows it! This, to me, seems a bit too commercial and is just not great story telling. Okay, for just a second, let's assume Cyke did something wrong and led the X-men to ruin. Well, Charles Xavier has trusted Cyclops for years and trained him to take over when Chuck was gone. Would he not just send Cyclops a message to zig when he zagged? Just tell Cyke what he did wrong and you KNOW he would not make the same mistake twice.
I love X-men, Wolverine, Cyclops and Professor X, but let's use them as they are intended. Professor X gets in trouble. Cyclops takes over as the heir apparent and the natural born leader. Wolverine kills stuff and gets the girls.


Sunday, January 10, 2010

Changing of the Guard

On the left is Mark Sanchez of the New York Jets, or "Sanchize" as they have been calling him (since his is their new "Franchise" Quarterback). It's his first year in the league and he just one his first playoff game, which is not common for a rookie QB.
It got me thinking about the playoffs this year (since I am a rabid football fan, that wasn't hard to do). I notice that the QBs, arguably the leader of any team, represent an interesting mixed bag. There are some old classic heroes of the last decade in Peyton Manning, Brett Favre, Kurt Warner, Tom Brady, Carson Palmer and Donovan McNabb. These are the names that were dominant a few years ago (and they are all still really good). But then you have newer names like Tony Romo, Mark Sanchez, Joe Flacco, Aaron Rodgers and Phillip Rivers.

As I look at these names, it occurs to me that in football, just as in any industry, even then one you are in or want to be in, there is a changing of the guard at some point. Old icons fade and new ones take their place. This will happen inevitably whether you are part of it or not, but knowing this void is out there in whatever your chosen industry might be, just imagine that when the void appeared how nice it would be if you were waiting to step into it and pick up where the previous icon left off.

I can't guarantee that you will be the next icon, but I can guarantee this: if you don't even show up, then someone else will take the spot.

So show up! Why not start today! Why not right now? Someone has to be the one.


Saturday, January 9, 2010

"Crush It!" by Gary Vaynerchuk

Just got this book - "Crush It! Why Now is the Time to Cash in on Your Passion" by Gary Vaynerchuck. So far, it is really good. I have been reading all the "live your passion" stuff, which I am totally all about. I haven't gotten to the step-by-step instructions yet that are supposed to guide you to living your passion and using social networking to achieve your dreams, but it is a well-reviewed book and authors I really respect have recommended it (like Timothy Ferriss) so I am definitely giving it a chance. Gary Vaynerchuk is well-respected for being able to leverage social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, etc.
I'll fill in more when I finish it.

Anyone else read it? Thoughts? Opinions?


Wednesday, January 6, 2010

To outline or not outline?

So, even though Green Gates Entertainment is not solely a stable of writers, I am a writer and so I have these sorts of thoughts often.
I am starting a new story so how much should I outline? Versus just write from a vague idea and let the story and characters take a life of their own and lead me where they want me to go?
I read Stephen King's "On Writing" and he said he just writes and lets the stories unfold as they may. Unfortunately, I think this only works for the start of the stories. I love Stephen King's writing, but the endings don't always reverberate with me. When I read his approach to writing though, it sounded so good to me.
Then read Terry Brooks' "Sometimes the Magic Works" and he says that a writer should outline meticulously. He even pointed out Stephen King as an example of what not to do. This confused me.

Of course it also reminded me of the old saw: "There are three rules to writing a great novel. Unforunately, no one knows what they are."

Then I read Peter David's "Writing For Comics". I realize that not all of us want to write for comics, but a lot of the stuff in this book apply to any writing. Peter David says you should know the beginning, middle and end before you start. This is echoed by Syd Field who has written a ton of books on Screenwriting. Syd says you should definitely have an idea where you are going.

So what do I do? A little of both. I get a good idea of who my characters are. I figure out the beginning, the middle and the end, but I leave plenty of space in between where the characters and story can sort of do their own thing and lead me where they want to go naturally. Then during the editting and rewrite phase, these all gets polished into one smooth narrative.

What's your approach? Of course what is most important is to not get too bogged down in details and just writer something. Get it written, then get it right!


Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Con Nooga 2010, Chattanooga TN

Con Nooga is almost upon us. It's February 19th-21st in the scenic city of Chattanooga, TN which is a great town to visit and live in and an even greater town for a convention.
What sort of convention? A multi-fandom type convention of all sorts of sci-fi/fantasy/super hero geek types.

I, personally can't wait and it gets rave reviews every year.
This year I will just be in attendance, but one day soon I hope to be an invited guest based on my prolific list of science fiction and fantasy novels and the roleplaying tie-ins for GGE properties.

That's the future. In the present though, I am looking forward to a weekend in the scenic city and having good times (and good spirits) with friends at Con Nooga 2010. Come get yer fanboy (or girl) on!


Monday, January 4, 2010

start one decade, end another

Hey! Thanks for reading this. I derive a great deal of pleasure and benefit form our almost-daily talks. I'm sure they aren't quite as beneficial for you, but thanks for being here nonetheless.

At the risk of seeming like a disciple, I have another Seth Godin clip. Two Years ago, Seth wrote this entry.

What is notable about this entry is the question it asks. It brings home the question of "What do you wish you had done ten years ago?"
Asked another way - "In Ten Years what will you regret not having started"

For me, if ten years came and went and there was no medium in which a GreenGates property existed, meaning I had not written, drawn, filmed, produced or published something in the decade from 2010-2020.

I hope it seems very unlikely to you that I will miss ten years. I did miss the last five or so, and that was my fault and I do regret it. So I can say from experience not to let fear or anything else stop you. Go be excellent!


Sunday, January 3, 2010

Starting the year off right!

Since it is frigid outside, I have put off my outdoor activities today and instead watched "Paranormal Activity", "Inglorious Basterds" and "District 9"
I didn't love Paranormal Activity - it fell to the age old horror movie cliche where the people afflicted by said "event" are as brain dead as possible in how they deal with the issue until eventually, the horrible events foreshadowed throughout the whole film (which in this case encompasses three weeks of the characters' lives) engulfs them. I can't imagine a less educated way to deal with what was going on than the way these two handled it. It was worse than "The Blair Witch" in that regard.
Conversely, I LOVED "Inglorious Basterds". It was just freaking cool with all the great dialogue one expects from Tarantino.
What I wanted to write about though was "District 9" - what a great imagining of how it might be if extraterrestrials coasted in tomorrow. The look was great, the sci-fi was cool, the action was awesome and it had an extremely "real" feel, which all god sci-fi should have. It should seem like something just around the corner. So, I have high praise for "District 9" as well.

But for pure escapism - a group of G.I.s imagined by Quentin Tarantino with the sole purpose in life of "killin' Nazis" is hard to beat.


Saturday, January 2, 2010

Why write at all?

That's a loaded for question for those "creatives" who have the bug to write. We just can't "not write". Then again, lots feel the urge. They se a movie, get inspiration and think of great ideas inspired by what they have just seen, like a fallow field being rained upon. So what happens?
They buy into all the things "they" say.
For example, "they" might tell you that:
  • You can't write
  • You'll never break into writing
  • It's to competetive
  • You have to now someone
  • You can't self publish and have any success
  • It's for weirdos
  • It's silly
  • Grow up and stop dreaming
Those things that "they" say should just flat out be ignored. Write because you love it. Write because you have a story to tell or an idea to explore or a character you love. It really doesn't matter if others like it, but they probably will. Above all, if you are a writer, and you can't stop the ideas from coming, then you have been given a gift. It's not like the frappucino maker you got from your in-laws. This gift should be used. So...go use it!


Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy New Year!!!

Happy New Year. In between bowl games and well-wishing my friends, I have managed a list of New Years Resolutions. One big one is to get the GGE website (not this blog) truly functional with art, stories and maybe some goodies for people to check out, download or buy.
I am convinced (in large part due to Seth Godin) that a creative endeavor needs a web presence to start generating buzz and start collecting the 1,000 fans that seem to be the magic number.
So, for me, a big 2010 goal is to have a website that I am proud of and that people like to visit and check out.
Some plans are:
  • GGE News
  • Artworks around GGE properties
  • Some short fiction to read/download
  • Maybe a choose-your-own path online adventure
  • Some GGE rpg tie-in sourcebooks (using Pathfinder RPG as the source RPG of course - though by doing so, we could appeal to all of our D20 friends and fans).
Feel free to share some of your resolutions, goals and/or objectives. We can talk about them here and keep each other accountable!