Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The Last Stand

I have read a few books about Custer...ok, more than a few. Why would I read about George Armstrong Custer? I don't know. I guess one of the reasons is because of all of the American icons of the past, so many of them have been almost deified by history so that they are infallible paragons. Custer is not that way at all. He strides through history warts and all.
He did not drink and he did not curse. He did have several lovers, he was brutal to his men, he desecrated Native American burial grounds. He was also brave, dashing, charismatic and an ass kicker in a fight. Of course he was brash, reckless, a climber and very, very vengeful. Lots of real characteristics here. Custer is just a great character. He was already a national hero before The Little Big Horn.
Of course the epic Last Stand always looms large in history and I'm sure that adds a lot to it.
I know more than I should about Custer, but I can still learn things that fascinate me.
I just read "The Last Stand" by Nathanial Philbrick. It was amazing. He presented facts that I had not read before. He wove together his sources into a fantastic narrative and I learned a whole host of new facts about Custer, the 7th Cavalry and the battle at The Little Big Horn. I also learned a lot about the Sioux people, Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse.
I have been a bit pensive after reading the book because of how well he makes you feel what these people felt. Like characters in a great novel, I wish the ending could have been different for all of them.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Bob Lefsetz

I don't know if you subscribe to Bob Lefsetz or not. He writes about the music industry and MAN does he know the music industry!
Sometimes, he writes about something that crosses more than just the music industry though. Sometimes  he writes  about stuff that just makes damn good sense. He did that today in his newsletter about the magic "10,000 hours".
I don't know what you may know about the 10,000 hours, but the thought is that if you spend 10,000 hours at something then you should have it mastered. So, the corollary is "overnight success" takes 10,000 hours...but sometimes it  takes more! Or sometimes, you are in the wrong gig...Bob says it better than I can. I could not link to the newsletter so I am just re-posting it below, but I highly suggest it as a subscription.
Here's what Bob says about "10,000 hours"

"I'm sick and fucking tired of people telling me they've put in their 10,000 hours, so they should be rich and famous.

It's 10,000 hours of HARD PRACTICE!

Let me put it to you this way... If you spend 10,000 hours on the bunny slope, you're never going to win the World Cup. You've got to challenge yourself, ski the double blacks, go out when it's blowin' and snowin' as well as when it's sunny and smooth.

So you can play the riffs on the record, good for you. But can you play the riffs on the records you don't like, that aren't in your genre? Mutt Lange, the best record producer in the world, honed his chops, learned his craft by making soundalike records in South Africa. Speak to anybody who's worked with him, Mutt can make the records himself, can you?

Can you play the drums as well as the guitar? Jeff Beck plays without a pick, have you mastered his technique? It's only when you've got all the basics down that you can fly.

Have you written a thousand songs?

No, let me refocus this so you get it. Have you worked on your craft to the point of frustration? Instead of telling everybody how fucking great you are have you gone to bed thinking you're dog shit, that you just can't get it right?

If you haven't had this feeling, you're never going to make it.

Get off your self-satisfied soapbox and realize that all the masters slogged through shit to get to where they are. Don't look at Justin Bieber and the TV wonders, they're flashes in the pan, celebrities du jour barely different from the kids in the "Real World" house.

Do you want a doctor with no education to cut you open?

Better yet, if you've got cancer do you want to see the guy you play golf with or the world class surgeon who went to the best schools, had the best residency, killing himself to be number one in the class to get such opportunities?

You don't want the second-class M.D., why do you think people want the second-class musician?

Anybody can write a book, anybody can record a record, that doesn't mean the rest of the public should care.

But you keep telling them they should, like you're entitled.

You're entitled to work at McDonald's, as an unskilled laborer.

If you want to make it in music, you've got to be incredibly skilled. Better than all the rest. Ever play sports? Do they allow the lame-o to pitch just because he showed up for all the practices, wears his uniform right?

Better yet, is the most productive President the one who campaigns best? Sure, campaigning is crucial to winning, but that has little impact on your ability to analyze problems and govern.

So you're a whiz at Facebook, you've got a ton of followers on Twitter. Congratufuckinglations, you've done what any middle schooler can do. It's like thinking the roadie can sing, can step in and play lead guitar because he's slept on the bus and been close to the equipment.

Then again, the lead singer probably can't rig the stage.

But that's not the point. The point is you want to be a successful musician, you want everybody to pay attention. If that's so, then you've got to believe you suck before you'll ever be great. You have to be willing to work where no one pays attention. Sweating hours in your bedroom, practicing leads until your fingers bleed.

I'm not saying this younger generation with a trophy for everything can't make quality music, I'm just saying that too many of these so-called winners think they can be successful, when what's always been true is still true, just a thin layer of incredibly dedicated artists will ever make it, will ever be known, will ever be able to make a living.

And being able to play is not enough. To truly make it in music, you've got to write. And that's a whole 'nother skill. You don't see the wannabes performing their own compositions on "American Idol", ratings would sink to zero, it'd be godawful.

There are only a couple of hundred professional basketball players. Even the stars from the Final Four often don't make it to the pros.

But you sat in your bedroom and decided the world needed your music. Your mom and your significant other agreed with you. And you spam the universe believing if you just get enough attention, people will realize how great you are.

But it don't really happen that way at all. Especially in today's world.

Today, grazers find you and then spread the word on you if you're great. And with so much at their fingertips, listeners only have time for the great, mediocre, even really good, won't do.

So stop complaining. Stop fighting to win a Grammy no one cares about. Forget about getting into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

Play to the public. They know what's good.

And if you haven't made it, chances are you suck.

Or you're just not good enough yet.

Instead of complaining, go back into your bedroom and PRACTICE!"

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Some gift ideas from GGE and ThinkGeek

Check out these Plush Zombie slippers from Think Geek.
Just one item on the GGE Christmas Wish list.

Here's another cool one. "He's Undead, Jim."

Since we are talking Star Trek (and loungewear) here is a snazzy Trekkie robe (Make mine Yellow please). Will I get action like Kirk if I wear one?

Okay, so you have to be a true geek to know the the "Bag of Holding" reference but for anyone who has ever wanted one...here it is.

I thought they smelled bad...on the outside!

Must have this Minecraft pixelated axe

Sunday, December 11, 2011

GGE Publishing

For my 400th post, I should probably make an announcement. This sounds a little lukewarm I realize, but that is because the plans are still crystallizing, but I can say with a high degree of assurance that 2012 looks like the year GGE will move into publishing it's own stuff.
I have a couple of titles identified so we'll see how this goes. Why would we do this and not just continue selling our stories to others?
Here are my reasons:

  1. I am not always satisfied with what others put out. In fact, while I like a lot of stuff a little bit, there are only a few things that I like a lot. I would like to publish stuff I like a lot.
  2. Having sold a couple of books now, I cannot believe how long it takes from sale to publication. I'm not judging publishers for this, I just feel like it can be done quicker. Maybe companies bite off more than they can chew? GGE is not built to have to make a fortune, just to generate art, so I don't need to sign 100 artists hoping to generate profit from 5 of them. I can just sign the 5 I think are great. I can then focus my promotional efforts. Maybe the public will agree with my assessment of what "great" looks like. If not then we can keep trying.
So, stay tuned for more on this. Of course, this represents a higher degree of financial investment and the first step will be a much needed revamp of the GGE website. 

I am really thrilled by this notion. It's daunting, of course, if not downright terrifying, but most things worth doing are.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

More news!

So, "The Forsaken" is finally into the editing phase with Wild Child Publishing...that is incredibly exciting!

Meanwhile, I am well into the author proofread of "The Pendragon Chronicles" from Double Dragon Press.

And, "Return To Glory" is being edited right now as the potential first offering from GGE publishing!

A lot going on right now. A good time to be GGE. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Its about time

I love Batman and I have for a long time. I love that there have been changes and advancements. Dick Grayson became Nightwing. Jason Todd showed up and died.
Tim Drake showed up and became the best Robin ever before leaving to be Red Robin and lead the Teen Titans and now Damon Wayne, Bruce's son has shown up and is a different Robin all together.
Batgirl had her back broken and become Oracle. It's all so poignant.
For awhile even, Batman was lost in time and Dick Grayson took on the cape and cowl (as the heir apparent).
We know in the future, Batman retires and a new Batman takes over (Batman Beyond)
I think the fact that such major changes have occurred over time and have not been "undone" by reboots and things like that have been one of the reason that Batman is such an enduring and well-loved character.
Spider man has seen similar changes, but not like the Bat.
There is probably a lesson here for writers. Your characters have to change, grow and evolve if they are to endure.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Superhuman effort

I am reading a very promising metahuman novel right now and I consider myself a bit picky when it comes to metahuman stories.
What makes this novel even more exciting is that it is self published.
I love when I come across self published work that is really good. There is a lot of self published stuff that is less than ideal so when one rises above the others, it makes me happy because it means that the self pub movement can survive because there are diamonds in the rough.

So...two things to take from this short and enigmatic post:

  1. Stay tuned for a full review of this promising self published metahuman novel
  2. If you are considering self publishing then GGE says "go for it!" but if you do, make sure you have an excellent website, cover design and your editing is top notch.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Conan The Barbarian

So I took a break from writing and editing today to watch "Conan The Barbarian" (the 2011 version).
I should recap my history with The Cimmerian before going much farther...
My first exposure to Conan was "The Savage Sword of Conan" when I was a kid. Then, I discovered the comic book, THEN I discovered it was a series of novels. Then a movie came out and I LOVED it! Then The Destroyer came out and I love that one too! Then Red Sonja came out and...it sucked.
For years, we heard Ahnold may return for a "Conan The King" movie and I was thrilled about that notion. It didn't happen...yet (fingers crossed), but you can imagine my excitement when I saw that a new version would be released. It would star Jason Momoa...who  had never heard of, but who rocked as Khal Drogo in Game of Thrones on HBO (I didn't know it was the same guy for awhile).
So, I consider myself a bit of a Conan expert. I owned the short-lived roleplaying game. I played the Xbox game. I read a ton of the books. I read the originals as well as the scores of others that were published later.
I just like the whole Hyborian age.
The new movie though...it left me a little flat. Having said that, however, let me say this (and I cannot believe I am saying this), I like Jason better than Arnold. I never thought there would be another Conan, but I like this guy.
I thought this story was pretty good. It reminded me of a Robert E. Howard story, but I guess there was not enough wenching, drinking and slaying.
Stephen Lang was not that great to me either and I LOVE Stephen Lang. He was just not that memorable. Rose McGowen was a much better baddie than Stephen.
So, I would say that it is worth checking out, but temper your expectations. As Sword and Sorcery goes, it's not too bad, but as far as a Conan movie, which set the gold standard for Sword and Sorcery, it leaves a bit to be desired.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Random Game Updates

  • Uncharted 3 looks very cool!
  • Modern Warfare 3 is cool, but seems like more of the same as far as MW goes
  • Skyrim is really cool and I don't even like The Elder Scrolls series
  • DC Online just went free 
  • World of Warcraft is still fun at the holidays
  • Skylanders is an awesome game! Great Christmas idea. The figure are cool too!
  • Halo 4 is coming out! We are geeked about that!
  • Wild Star looks like a cool MMORPG
  • Star Trek's MMORPG may not be great, but I will play it just because it is Trek
  • Minecraft is really cool. Everything is so blocky (the beta is finishing up and the full game is being released soon on Xbox)

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Return To Glory

So years ago, I was a published author for about 12 minutes. It was a little longer than that, but the book was "Return To Glory". It was my first book and I did the convention circuit and some readings and a few signings. It was all very fun.

I let life get in the way and I lost momentum though.

I have seriously felt like I have been getting my momentum back though. I got the edited copy of "The Pendragon Chronicles" back from Double Dragon Press today. I will be doing the read through and the book should be released in 2012.

All of this has inspired me though to have Return to Glory re-edited for a re-release. I am having an awesome artists I know (Danny Kelly) do some potential cover art.

To date, GGE has only sold stories. "Return to Glory" might mark our entry into publishing. It's a thought at this point, but we'll see. In the meantime, I am having a blast exploring the world of Istmyr again and interacting with characters that, to me, are like old friends.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

The Dwarves are back in town!

Very exciting news! D.A. Adams, the author of "The Brotherhood of the Dwarves" and "Red Sky at Dawn" has announced the third book in the series will soon be released from Seventh Star Press. "The Fall of Dorkhun" (pictured) is now available for pre-order! Having read the first two books in the series, I heartily recommend the series to any fan of fantasy, dwarves or just well-written action stories.

D.A.was nice enough to sit down with me and discuss the book at length. We also discussed life, the writing craft and the future of the Dwarves.

Heres the full interview:
First of all D.A, congratulations on joining Seventh Star Press. It’s really exciting to see the third book in the Brotherhood of the Dwarves series.

1.     Does this mean the end of Third Axe Media

Honestly, I’m not sure.  I have a couple of projects that I’ve considered pursuing on the side, like maybe a collection of my favorite blog entries, but at this point, nothing is concrete.  For now, all of my energy is focused on promoting the new book and getting more exposure for the series.  Launching and running Third Axe is one of the best experiences of my life, but at this point, I’m not sure what its future will be.

2.     How did the partnership with Seventh Star come about?

I felt like I had gone as far as I could as an independent, so I started  shopping for a publisher.  I know several of the folks at SSP from the con circuit, so I sent them a query letter.  They were familiar with my work, so we negotiated a deal over a month or so.  It’s one of the best decisions of my career, and I hope one day, they’ll look back and say it was one of their best, too.

3.     What inspired you to write your first book?

This might be a long-winded answer, but back around 2002, I had pretty much given up on writing.  Then, watching The Two Towers, I realized that I really wanted to write fantasy.  It had been the reason why I’d gotten into writing to begin with.  But my confidence was fairly fragile, so I didn’t immediately start writing.  At first, I just thought about what kind of story I would want to write.  Then, I started jotting down notes.  Pages and pages of notes.  I built the world, considered the characters, thought about the races I would use.  I probably did that for close to a year, still with no plan to write anything.

Then, I saw my first son’s heartbeat on an ultrasound.  As I watched that little speck fluttering away on the grainy screen, something came alive in me that had been dormant for many years.  I knew I was a writer and that if I was going to be a good father, I had to be true to myself.  That meant writing this story, so I went to work and haven’t looked back.

4.     What do you consider to be the strengths of your writing?

Primarily, narrative voice.  The flow of the voice as it carries the reader through the story.  Secondly, probably pacing and tension.  I try to create a fast-paced plot that keeps readers turning pages and needing to know what happens next.  Thirdly, character development.  I want my characters to come across as real people, regardless of race or gender.

5.     Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

That materialism and thirst for power are empty vessels.  Relationships and people are what make life meaningful and fulfilling.

6.     The characters in your books are very well established. Are they based on someone you know?

I do draw on real life as part of my creative process, but these characters are individuals, as real to me as you are.  They speak to me while I’m writing and guide the story where it’s supposed to go.  That may sound odd to non-writers, but I believe most writers know what I mean.

7.     What books have most influenced your life most? I see the ones on your website. Any others?

Anything by Harry Crews had a profound effect on me in my early 20’s.  Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison.  Hemingway’s short stories.  V. S. Pritchett’s, too.  I devoured those works and strove to learn how they crafted their stories so perfectly.

8.     What book are you reading now?

Unfortunately, I don’t get to read nearly as much as I’d like.  I’m pretty well limited to the works I teach for my composition classes and student essays.  I hope when I can leave education I can get back to reading things I love because I miss it dearly.

9.     Any future plans for the Dwarves? Other projects?

After books four and five, I’ll probably retire this franchise.  I have the story in my head, and it’s complete, so I don’t see myself writing any more about these characters beyond that.  But one never knows.  They may surprise me later.

10.  Have you ever considered writing in another genre in addition to your fantasy work?

Absolutely.  I have a tentative outline for a futuristic/trans-human/urban fantasy after this series.  It’s still early, but the main character is tugging at my coat and getting impatient waiting his turn.

11.  Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?

I always loved reading and language, as far back as I can remember.  I first became conscious of my penchant for writing in high school while working on the school paper.  Then, like everyone, I started writing crappy poetry.  As I learned more about the craft, I realized fiction is my bailiwick, and really, novels are all I’m truly geared for.  Anything less than 60,000 words, and I’m just lost.

12.  What do you find particularly challenging in your writing?

Time.  The unfortunate reality of work prohibits me from devoting myself full-time to writing.  I envy the folks who get to write all the time, and again, when I am able to leave education, I hope to become much more productive as a novelist.

13.  Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?

Harry Crews.  We grew up in similar circumstances, although his childhood was much tougher than mine, but there’s a grittiness and verisimilitude to his work that speaks to me on a very personal level.

14.  Who designed the cover for Fall of Dorkuhn? It is really engaging.

Bonnie Wasson.  She’s fantastic, isn’t she?  SSP hired her specifically for this series, and I’m so grateful for her efforts.  Just wait until you see the new cover for book one.  It’s gorgeous.

15.   What have you learned from writing a series versus writing a single novel?

From day one, I saw this as a five book series, so I never really looked at it as one novel, but having now created the first three books, I can say that each book is its own challenge.  Keeping the story fresh and avoiding too much repetition are the hardest, and then remembering minute details over long periods is challenging.  I find myself referring back to the earlier books often to make sure I get the details right.  On top of that, each book has to have its own arc that fits into the overall plot.  That’s difficult to create, at least for me.

16.   Do you have any advice for other writers?

First and foremost, listen to your inner voice.  Trust your instincts and believe in your own creative energy.  Then, and while this may sound contradictory, find an editor you trust and listen to their advice.  Don’t be so arrogant as to believe everything you write is golden.  Good editors turn good novels into great ones.  So listen to yourself, but listen to advice, too.

17.   Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

Please forgive me for the slow process of bringing these books to market.  Life has thrown many obstacles in my path, and I’ve had to fight through a lot of difficulties to finish the first three books.  I hope you’ll find the story worth the wait.

18.   What were some challenges (research, literary, psychological, and logistical) in bringing the book to life?

Where do I begin?  The research is not too tedious because I enjoy learning, and I like to research along the way, kind of like the Just-In-Time model in manufacturing.  The literary side has been the focus of my personal education for my entire life, so it’s really just a part of who I am as an individual.  The psychological has been the most difficult.  As an independent, I faced a lot of criticism and outright snobbery from many in the field.  Many, many, many times, I have felt like a complete failure because of sluggish sales or no sales.  I have honestly contemplated giving up more than I care to admit.  But then, a reader will tell me that they enjoyed the books and can’t wait for the next, and that reaffirms my faith.  It’s hard to press on through the rough patches, but I’m a stubborn Scots-Irish hillbilly, and we don’t quit easily.

Logistically, I’ll only refer to book three for time and simplicity’s sake.  I started the manuscript four years ago, and about a chapter and a half in, my ex-wife told me on Christmas Day that she wanted a divorce.  It was a cruel blow.  In my heart, I knew our relationship was dead, but I love my children with all my soul.  Losing my boys nearly broke me.  For a year and a half, the book sat untouched while I crawled up from those depths.  When I finally got to a point emotionally where I could focus on writing again, my teaching load hindered getting to focus for extended stretches.  Finally, about a year and a half ago, I met an amazing woman, someone who saw beyond the battered outer shell and believed in me not just as a writer but as a man.  Her love and support and encouragement are what gave me the strength to finish the book and polish it into something that I’m quite proud of.  I hope she knows just how much I love her and am indebted to her for that.

Education is very important, and you have a high degree of education (Masters in Writing) and you teach college level English. How critical has your education been to your writing? Could writers with less education still be successful if they use the right editors?

Most importantly, let me say that the biggest regret of my life is going to graduate school for writing.  It killed my creative spirit.  It’s why in 2002 I had given up on writing.  I don’t believe writers need graduate level education to become professionals.  What they need more importantly are a thirst for knowledge, a creative drive, and the work ethic to practice their craft.  I believe in education, but formal schooling is not always the best path to becoming educated.  I’ve learned far more about the craft of writing from reading on my own, practicing with my prose, and talking to other writers than I did in graduate school.  I realize that many of my colleagues at the college may bristle at that answer, but it’s the truth.  Creativity and ingenuity are not cultivated in formal academic settings.

Thank you for the excellent questions.  I hope everyone enjoys reading the answers as much as I enjoyed answering them.

Thanks to D.A. for answering all of our questions, and more importantly for bringing these Dwarves to life.

In addition to his writing, D.A. keeps a really engaging blog where he posts on various topics. Check out the blog and join the conversation!

Go pre-order "Fall of Dorkuhn" and get a limited edition hardover! If you are new to the series, then there's no reason to wait. You can get started with "Brotherhood of the Dwarves."

Thursday, November 10, 2011


So, I spent the last few days at a Convention for Pharmaceutical Engineers. I'm not an Engineer, but in my other job, I sell drugs...legal drugs. I'm in the much-maligned pharmaceutical industry, but that's a debate for another day.
Here's my point though. I am sitting in the convention listening to the speeches and I was reminded of all of the fantasy and science fiction conventions I have gone to and I was committed more than ever to spending more time in the speculative fiction world.
At a conference of Engineers I feel like the Goose in a duck-duck-goose game. I am just not like the others. At a Fantasy Convention, I feel like I am at home. Sure there are some folks at the fantasy cons that are a little "out there" but for the most part, it feels like these are my people.
I think there was a good lesson for me in all of this. I think it is extremely important for us who have a foot in two worlds to ensure that we spend time in both.
I need my pharmaceutical job, but I don't have to BE that job. I can be good at it and use it to finance te dream (GGE).

Thoughts? Are you in two worlds? How do you juggle them both?

Monday, November 7, 2011

Anything You Want

Posting from Dallas, Texas. Started a great book last night. "Anything You Want" by Derek Sivers, the founder of CD Baby. Sure, it's a bit of a dotcom legend now. He started CD Baby for $500 dollars and sold it for $22 million. There are still some good thoughts in this book to anyone starting their own thing.

"If you're not saying HELL YEAH about something, then say no."
"Ideas are worth nothing unless executed"

Like I said, lots of good thoughts. One of the most inspirational is that, in his opinion, starting with no funding is an advantage AND one should not use lack of funding as an excuse not to move forward. I am assuming most of us could use more funding, so it's a valuable lesson.

As for me, after the most tumultuous year I have had in a long time, I am back to doing what I love. I think the main thing I have learned, after being within reach of my dream back in 2002, is to just keep up momentum. It may only be a little momentum, but keep it up. If you find your momentum has died...picking up this short one-hour-read might be a good way to get it back.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

City of Heroes

I haven't been playing a ton of games lately, but I did return for awhile to City of Heroes and run around some. Still a fun game and one of my favorite in the MMORPG family.

Fast Five

Finally watched "Fast Five" this weekend. I love that series. Not because it is great storytelling or anything like that. It's just unapologetically a guy's movie. It's fast cars, hot women and lots of action. Oh yeah...and usually some pretty cool soundtracks.
If you like any of the other moves, you will like this one. Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson is as cool as ever. This was my favorite since the first. Big surprise at the end that hints at an interesting possibility for a sixth film.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Hunter Prey

I wandered across "Hunter Prey" a few months back and added it to my Netflix Instant Queue. I finally got around to watching it.
I was absolutely stricken by the cool look of the movie, though the armor was a bit Mandalorian (for you Star Wars Geeks out there).
Still, the tech and the FX were really cool.
So, I looked up the director. Sandy Collora is his name. I had not heard his name, but I was familiar with his work. I don't know if any of you guys and gals remember "Batman: Dead End"...it is just the coolest fan film I have ever seen. It's just a few minutes long, but it features a cool Batman beating the crap out of a cool Joker, only to be interrupted by an Alien and a Predator. It is just darn cool. Sandy followed it up with a Batman/Superman meetup called "Worlds Finest".
So, this movie was also really cool. Pretty short, but an interesting storyline and a film I really enjoyed. If you have 88 minutes, like good sci-fi action and an interesting storyline, check it out.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Learning the Ropes

I am reading a life-changing book. “The Ropes to Skip and the Ropes to Know”. I have been amazed at how eye opening this book has been. I have also been a bit disappointed as it has confirmed some deeply held suspicions I have had for a long time. I think I can literally feel my brain learning a whole new paradigm from this book.

Having said that, is it only fascinating to me because it confirms some of my preconceived notions? People do tend to find facts that meet their perspectives, regardless of what the “truth” is. Oddly enough, this very subject is what this book discusses.

“The Ropes…” is a simple book. It is a series of stories about a handful of characters at various stages in their corporate careers. A hapless newcomer named Stanley learns the ropes through his introduction to the corporate culture.

The book make its clear that a corporation is a culture. A highly ritualized and symbolic culture just like a church, a motorcycle gang or a cult. The uniforms are different, the rituals are different and the taboos are different, but they are just as real and just as symbolic so we ignore them at our own (career’s) peril.

An example, a rain dance is a ritual. It doesn’t make it rain, but it gives people the comforting feeling that they are doing something to ward off drought. It lets them move forward with the important work of preparing for harvest. The rain maker dresses and acts a certain way.

In my last company, I had a nemesis. He was my nemesis because he constantly talked about how few hours I worked. It is true that I was “at work” less hours than he was, but I worked far more hours. I would be in the office 8 hours. I worked hard and got a ton of results. I could demonstrate my results through objective metrics. My nemesis was at work 11-12 hours a day. He drank coffee, talked to people and surfed the web. He was much more successful than me in achieving promotions, praise and raises.

Why was this so? I had the results? Results should be all that matters. It is true that results should be the only thing that mattered, but they are not. My nemesis understood that in my last company’s culture, the ritual that got you moved up to higher ranks in the tribe was long hours, not lots of results. The tribe didn’t recognize metrics. They recognized long hours. In addition, this guy was an engineer. He dressed like an engineer. I am a biologist and I dress like one. I think engineers dress a little on the geeky side. At my last job, the uniform of success was the engineer’s dress, not the biologists. From a tribal sense, I didn’t wear the right ornamentation and I ignored the tribal rituals.

These are the things I am learning from this book. Things that should not matter actually do. Perception matters and it is not always about knowing the most, doing the most or getting the most results. I understand how certain people have gotten promoted and demoted now. Like I said, it’s always been a suspicion, it’s only now being confirmed. I wish I had read the book ten years ago. I have always played a bit of an outsider and wondered why my success has not been as great as I would have liked.

Time to be an insider. The question is…which tribe?

Sunday, October 2, 2011


I watched "Priest" this weekend. It's been out awhile and it's been on my "to watch" list. I would say it is "okay". Don't get me wrong...I LOVED it, but I don't think everyone will.
What did I like about it? It was a fantasy, sci-fi, western, horror. How cool is that? Priests have jedi-like superpowers, the baddies are vampires, the world is post-apocalyptic so the cities are high-tech/sci-fi, but the outskirts are all Old West. Really cool.
It's a total guy flick. Karl Urban is an AWESOME bad guy. I love Urban in everything he has done.
So, if you share my tastes, then I highly recommend this movie. If you are more the Nicholas Sparks crowd, then you might not dig it.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

My favorite throwdowns

So, I love epic fights. Here is a list of my favorites:

  1. Yoda vs. Count Dooku - "Much to learn, you still have."
  2. Anakin vs. Obi Wan Kenobi
  3. Obi Wan Kenobi and Qui Gon Jinn vs. Darth Maul - "We'll handle this."
  4. Leonardo vs. Raphael in the TMNT movie from 2007.  - Leonardo, "I'm better than you." Raphael, "I'm gonna hafta disagree with you on that one."
  5. Neo vs. Agent Smith. - "He's beginning to believe."
  6. Aragorn vs. a billion Orcs while Frodo escapes. - "Run, Frodo!"
  7. Superman vs. Darkseid in the final episode of "Justice League Unlimited." - Superman. "You don't know how long I've waited for this. A chance to finally cut loose." 
  8. Achilles vs. Hector in Troy
What are some of your favorites?

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Crimson Alliance update

I posted on Saturday ago that I was cranking up Crimson Alliance on Xbox live. My boys and I tackled it as a trio and we hit Endgame on Sunday, mid afternoon.
So, some thoughts:
  • Buy and play Crimson Alliance
  • We need a sequel to the game
  • We need some more character classes
    • I am thinking apprentice wizard, duellist, cleric/monk, and archer
  • The story is great...we need more great story
  • Characters should be able to sell old weapons
  • I would not mind seeing some temporary buffs (potions, etc)
  • Wizard should be able to teleport through walls (right now he runs into them)


So I am reminded once again how much work school can be. Each semester I tell myself I will not let school interfere with work, family, exercise, writing and GGE. Each semester I crash and burn in at least one of those categories. Work and family usually make it through okay. The others suffer a bit.
Yesterday I worked, went home and napped (I have a cold) got up to study, skipped my workout to study, caught one episode of Star Trek with my sons before crawling into bed.
Maybe if I move the work out to early morning? It's so easy to stay in bed.
Thoughts on scheduling? Anyone else juggling a hundred things? Let's share some tips.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

MFA Creative Writing

I recently looked at a program for a Masters in Fine Arts with a focus in Creative Writing. Sounds perfect. When I read the course descriptions and the bios of the professors, I felt an old familiar pain.

"They would never take me seriously"
"They would discourage me"
"They would laugh at the stuff I write"

Why did I feel that way? I suppose because these professors wrote things like you would see in Oprah's book list or in a Poetry collection. Impressive stuff. No wizards, trolls or superheroes.

I felt bad about this for a few minutes, like I write drivel compared to these great literary works.
I remembered Mark Twain's words, "Some writers work is like fine wine. Mine is like water. But everybody drinks water."

Of course not everyone enjoys the stuff I do...speculative fiction, science fiction, fantasy, horror are all by definition niche genres. When you talk cross genre, it is even more so.

Then again, I don't need to be Ernest Hemingway. I just need to write what I like and gather a tribe of people who like the same thing.

Of course JK Rowling, Stephen King and George RR Martin all also write in the same niche genre.

I am, in no way, even targeting that level of financial success. I think I am just point out that the old saying is very true,

"We don't see things as they are. We see them as we are."

Oh yeah, I still intend to look into the creative writing program. After a brief few moments of introspection, I'm back to not giving a damn what anyone who tries to hurt me thinks.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Crimson Alliance

So I wandered across Crimson Alliance on the Xbox Video Marketplace last night on Xbox Live while planning to download a movie.
The game said it was a free RPG so I thought I would try it out. I have been a longtime fan of fantasy RPGs and have played quite a few.
When I downloaded it and cranked it up, I notice instant similarities to Gauntlet, Diablo and Diablo II.
Possibly my bestest gaming memory ever was playing through Diablo online with my two best chums all the way from start to end-game.
Crimson Alliance has the same feel. I only played a single level and didn't get much into character development. It looks like there are a few add-ons for purchase.
It seems to have a pretty decent storyline but I didn't get too much of that in the short time I played. I liked the backstory. A combination of "Nimue and Merlin" meets "Countess Bathory".
So, I will be playing a bit more today. My gamertag is Biothrax. If you are on, look me up!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Malaria must die!

So, you basically have to go read this:


And then do what your heart compels.


Thursday, September 8, 2011


As I mentioned on Facebook (and Twitter for that matter), I have been watching all three seasons of Sons of Anarchy over the last couple of weeks.
S.O.A may not seem like my normal fare since it involves no zombies, wizards, dragons, knights, etc. but I find that I love the show.
The reason? That's easy. It is majorly cross genre, in my opinion.
The show is ostensibly about a motorcycle gang in California, but to me, the show is a first class western.
There are outlaws, lawmen, gunfights, horses (harleys in this case), a ranch (the clubhouse) and lots of leather.
It's like Gunsmoke, meets Bonanza, meets Have Gun Will Travel only edgier and with a bit more grey around the notion of good and bad. Of course, ever since Shane, we have been entranced with the bad guy as the hero when it comes to our westerns.
Season 4 just cranked up on FX. I'm stil finishing season 3, but this show rocks!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Your Highness

"Your Highness" is available on DVD. I haven't seen it yet, but I want to. I also want to see "Knights of Badassdom". Both are comedies that poke fun at fantasy epics, roleplayers, etc.
Is it a good thing to see these genres/hobbies subjected to lampooning? Personally, I think it is. I think having fantasy/sci-fi/roleplaying (even LARPers like in Knights of Badassdom) put in front of mainstream audiences only gives us the opportunity to see more of the movies, stories, games that we love.
What are your thoughts? does satire marginalize sci-fi/fantasy geekdom? Or make it more "available"?

Monday, September 5, 2011

Picking your genre

I have been told a few times to try and write something that I think people want to read. For example, gothic romance or whatever you call books where sparkly vampires chase star crossed loves who seem to perpetually hate something about their life.
I love so many genres, but there are only a few that call to me.
In my opinion, your genre pretty much picks you. That's not to say you can't step outside the boundaries if inspiration strikes, but I would resist the urge to try and force it.
I like Sci-fi, fantasy, horror, westerns, steampunk, superheroes and historical fiction. I can't imagine, right now, writing much else. I have considered, a few times, writing a football fiction story using all imaginary players, a different league, etc. Pretty much "Blitz: The League" in a fiction format...or "Playmakers" in written form. "Playing for Pizza" was good. So was "Ruffians."
I would write short stories each season so readers could see the league change over time. Players would retire, teams would rebuild, there would be scandals, suspensions and career ending injuries...but I digress.

A bit more about letting your genre choose you. I think you write what you feel led to write. Anything else will seem inauthentic, and rightfully so.

Oh...on the football idea, I haven't done anything with it yet. If you like it, feel free to run with it.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

The 25 most anticipated movies!!!

Check out this list of IMDB's 25 most anticipated movies. I can't say I agree with all of these (Die Hard 5? The Expendables 2? Bourne Legacy?)
Some though have me seriously geeked - Bond, Indiana Jones (I had no idea this was possible), The Hobbit, Halo and many more.
Check 'em out! What are your top 5? Mine are:

  • Hobbit
  • Avengers
  • Wolverine
  • Superman (and The Dark Knight Rises)...okay, that is technically 2 movies
  • Star Trek
I am excited about more that just those five, but those five leave me all tingly inside.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

House Artreides

Started reading "House Atreides" today. Of course it came out in 1999 and I have been meaning to read it ever since.
I loved the Dune series back in the day. I have heard it called "The Sci-Fi Tolkien". I never thought of it that way, but I guess I get the comparison...actually, I'm not sure I do.
Tolkien standardized many fantasy elements. Frank Herbert did not...at least  I don't think so...but maybe? Any thoughts?

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

What's the story about?

I've been watching some of the original Star Trek series with my kids lately. My sons love it and my daughter enjoys some aspects as well. For example, she likes that girls can run starships too.
Anyway, I think one of the great things about The Original Series (TOS) was how each story was metaphorical or based on some social commentary. Some of these themes were even timeless, but we loved seeing Kirk, Spock and McCoy tackle them each week.
What are some good themes to base stories on?
  • Racism is bad and dangerous.
  • Unregulated Medical experimentation is bad
  • There is no shortcut to beauty
  • Beauty is only skin deep
  • Bad guys are often misunderstood
  • Power corrupts
  • Even a luxurious prison is still a prison
  • Lands can be conquered by force, but ideas cannot
  • People need other people
  • Even a well-intentioned corrupt government is not a good thing
  • Immortality is unachievable and sometimes dangerous to chase
  • Exploration and travel is a good way to learn how to accept others
  • People should be given a second chance, but sometimes not a third
  • Sometimes people change
  • Sometimes people give the appearance of change, but are still just as rotten
  • Vengeance is not healthy
  • Sometimes we define ourselves by who our enemies are and we'll do anything to make sure they stay enemies
Just some ideas to start a story. Most of the great ones, if you boiled them down to "what is it about" can be summarized in a quick sentence like this.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Come on Irene!

So, we spent today hosting a small hurricane party (one of the great things we learned living in North Carolina) and waiting or Hurricane Irene. Irene showed up weakened, bedraggled and exhausted and sporting the title of "Tropical Storm" rather than hurricane, but the party must go on. Thought I would update the blogosphere with some random goings on...

Back to school tomorrow! I am still slogging through my Master's degree. It is not easy going back after having left college some decade or two before.
One thing I am looking forward to is fall/winter. I LOVE summer and all of the fun it brings, but fall and winter brings snow and cold weather and early darkness so I am not tempted outside by the sand, sun, surf and scantily clad denizens of summer.
Of course, for now, it also means significant studying, but it also forces me to spend the keyboard time that is necessary to create.
On a TOTALLY separate note, I spent the last couple of weekends touring the Boston/Salem area. I am blown away by the history of the area, but also the creative people who have lived here. Poe, Hawthorne, Alcott, Emerson, Thoreau. I hope I am able to glean a fraction of their creative energies and channel it into my own writing. I can definitely see why New England fuels creativity. Such a historic and picturesque region.

OK...back to my "Not a Hurricane" party.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Captain America

So my two sons and I went out on a beautiful summer day to see "Captain America: First Avenger" and I have to say that I absolutely loved it!
So did my boys. It was really well done and a really cool origin story. The action scenes were fantastic and it had great characters. It had just the right mix of tragic and it led us right up to the upcoming "Avengers" movie.
I can't wait to see Cap at the head of the Avengers now and I am really anxious to see the interplay between he and Tony Stark.
I was so happy with this movie. It gives me a lot of hope for SuperHero movies. We went straight from the movie to Newbury Comics in downtown Boston and spent a fortune on comic book knick knacks.
Great day. Great movie.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

I need someone to make this game

So as many of you will not be surprised, I am a trekkie from WAY back. I am also a big fan of Mass Effect (the video game series). I love the story, look, mechanics, cut scenes, everything about Mass Effect. I love the way you have a main character, but tons of peripheral supporting characters who are really cool.
I loved the JJ Abrams reboot of Star Trek, but as I was watching some TOS (The Original Series) the other day, it occured to me how cool it would be to make a Star Trek Video Game using the Mass Effect Engine.
Players would play, for the most part, Kirk, but Away missions would allow Kirk to select Spock, Scotty, Sulu, Chekov, Uhuru, Lt. Leslie (there's a piece of trivia for you other trekkies).
We could even see Kelso and Gary Mitchell before they were killed.
It would be so much fun to explore the Enterprise the way I have explored The Normandy in Mass Effect and I would love to see Kirk kicking butt in the cut scenes.
I have no way to make this happen other than wishing...but I thought I would launch my wish out into the ether and see what happens!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Madden Franchise wish list

So I have been known to play some Madden on my Xbox.
In fact, it's probably the game I play most, with the possible exception of The Mass Effect series. I don't think I play like other people do though. I basically play Franchise mode all the time. I think I use it as a sort of football role-playing game. I think other people might like to do the same thing. Having said that, here is my Madden Franchise wish list:
1. The ability to carry my team from Madden 2011 to Madden 2011
2. More pictures for the computer generated dudes. After awhile, they all look related
3. For computer generated players only, some off-the-field headlines like drugs, suspensions, opening hospitals, getting married so you would have team "bad boys" and league paragons
4. The ability to quickly edit computer player's appearance and numbers
5. Tattoos on players and other customization
6. Some cut scenes like Blitz: The League
7. Occasional career ending injuries
8. Post retirement updates on players. Some go into coaching. Someone commercials.
9. Endorsements for computer players. You could have player commercials during loading scenes (using real sponsors like Snickers)
10. Better advancement for players who are used a lot. I want to take a player ranked at like a 31 and develop him into a Tom Brady.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Summer selections

So, this month during my relocation, I read:
  • The Eye of the World - Robert Jordan (Such a great series)
  • Knight Errant - Anthony Reynolds (A great Warhammer series about Knights in the Old World. Very inspirational for my Arthurian saga)
  • True Grit - Charles Portis (I love this book SO much. The dialogue is unbelievable)

I watched:
  • The Eagle (I liked it, but most of my friends did not)
  • Just Go With It (I thought this just sucked)
  • Horrible Bosses (Hilarious)
  • True Grit (2011) (I love both versions of this movie)

Friday, August 5, 2011


A lot has happened since my last post! Relocated to New England. Now, happily living in Boston surrounded by history and the spirits of quite a few successful writers (I am less than 5 miles from Walden Pond right now). I saw the house where Louisa May Alcott wrote "Little Women". Just a great environment. Of course, the winter snows are on there way, but nothing like grabbing a seat in a Boston pub and watching the Pats play.
So, my online presence is back (it took awhile to get all the logistics worked out) and life returns to normal, which sees me at the kyboard again only instead of an ocean out the window, I see a century old hospital-turned apartment complex, and just a ten minute drive to Boston harbor!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Keep on Trucking

Got another rejection letter today for one of GGE's stories. That makes two rejections this month! (Three if you count the Pendragon Short story that also got rejected).
Ouch. It always stings. I should be used to it by now. I have submitted lots of works. Been rejected A LOT. Been accepted A LITTLE.
I don't know why it hurts. I think because hope springs eternal, so each time you send one off, you think "They'll love it!" and then they don't.
One rejection letter was great. Great in that it provided some very specific reasons for the rejection. The other was the standard "We aren't interested right now".
So, I was discouraged for a few minutes, but I am getting over it. I'll just keep doing what I do. There is a "Yes" or two out there for me still. Just have to wade through the "No"s until I find them.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Mass Effect

I first played Mass Effect a few years ago and I was totally hooked! I am not a huge gamer these days, but this game is like playing through a really good sci-fi movie. Maybe more like playing through a really good sci-fi novel. Anyway, the story is great and very immersive.
When Mass Effect 2 came out, I vowed that I had to play it. One thing I loved about it was that your choices in the first game were imported into the second so it was like a mega roleplaying experience.
I finally moved on to Mass Effect 2 and I must say that so far it is even better than the first! You know a game is immersive when you "miss" the characters who haven't shown up for awhile.
So, more on Mass Effect 2 as I play through it, but for now, I will just say that if you haven't played through the Mass Effect universe, and you like immersive storylines in games, then get started! I love how the coices matter so much in this game! Reminds me of the first time I played "Knights of the Old Republic". In Mass Effect 2, the endgame can see your character die, all the characters die or none of the characters die. So choose wisely. I personally, hope to keep everyone alive! (Mass Effect 3 will be coming out soon and I think I will need them!)

Monday, June 27, 2011

Writing Style (Yours)

Read a great post on writing style from Seth Godin today. You can read it here.
I love posts on writing style. It's important to say things the right way, even when writing in fiction and even when writing in "your" voice. Seth isn't a fiction writer, but he is very creative and I think he writes with a great conversational voice.
I had the most uplifting rejection letter this week that I have ever received. First of all, the reviewer took the time to give me a detailed critique of why my submission was being rejected.
Just some background, I wanted to try my hand at submitting a short story, so I cut a section out of one of our Pendragon Chronicles and polsihed it into a short story. Most of the Pendragon Chronicles are short stories or novellas pasted into a broader tapestry so they work in short bites or in long feasts.
Anyway, the meat of the rejection was that the suibject was Arthurian, but the language was far too modern so it lacked the anachronistic language of the "legend".
I felt this rejection was perfect! Why? Because the intention of GGE's "Pendragon Chronicles" was to make the legend accessible to the modern fantasy reader. So, we have stripped out the more archaic language used in past volumes.
We have written it so fans of George RR. Martin or Joe Abercrombie or Robert Jordan would enjoy it. I was so glad to receive a letter letting me know I had hit the target squarely.
Sometimes rejection can be a good thing. The reviewer said if I reworked the writing, then the story would work well with their magazine. I had too politely decline, not because I am above rework. Far from it. But in this case, to know we were right on track, was a priceless bit of feedback.
I guess it is important to know your audience and write for them a bit. This is the way I would like to read King Arthur stories and so that's the way we write them. No hard feelings over the rejection. We had a first date and decided we weren't right for one another. It happens.

(NOTE: Double Dragon Publishing liked them enough to offer a contract on three books, so I'm not too broken up by the rejection.)

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Carpe Diem

Today won't come again. Whatever it is you are putting off, now would be a good time to start. Don't let excuses stop you. You're to busy? Me too. Just take one step now, but do something.
  • Write one sentence
  • Work out for 15 minutes
  • Write a one page business outline
  • Read a few pages of a books
  • Look for a class to take
  • Tune up the guitar
  • Play one song on the piano (play it three times)
  • Pick out a diet plan. Start tomorrow. Livestrong.com is free.
  • If your work is written, then edit
  • If it is editted, then polish
  • If it is editted, polished and not selling, then rewrite (or start another)
  • Write the opening scene of a script
  • Write an idea for a TV show
  • Look into small business financing
  • Submit your work somewhere
  • Sketch
Just some ideas. Do something. Today. Then tomorrow...guess what...another small step

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Excuses, excuses

Unfortunately, my writing and creativity has been down for a couple of weeks. I, like many creatives, have a day job as well that pays the bills (for now?) and I recently switched that day job to a new locale. New job is going great. New locale is even better as I now reside in a beach town in NC which is something I have always wanted. Been moving gradually closer my whole life. To get any closer now, I will have to get on a boat!
So, with all of the upheaval, my writing has taken a nose dive. Temporary, to be sure, but it is frustrating me nonetheless. When my blog posting is down, that is indicative that all creative endeavors are temporarily suspended. I don't like that, but it has been tough lately.
So, last night, I felt the creative beast stirring a bit so I know we will be rocking and rolling again soon. I have managed to creep forward with some blog posts, some FB and tweets and a couple of submissions (one of which got rejected today...boo, hiss!).
So now, I am hoping to press the metaphorical foot back to the metaphorical accelerator and get back up to speed. I need to stop using "life" as an excuse. If I get in that habit, then I am sure I will always find a convenient excuse readily available.

Oh...on a side note, I recently began re-reading "The Eye of the World" by Robert Jordan (The Kindle is great for reading giant books). I originally read the series as they were released up through book 5, but never finished the series. It seems like it might be a lifelong commitment to try and get through that magnum opus, but it is a very inspiring read and full of great characters, images and lands. People always knock his writing as crrrrrrap (scottish brogue) but personally, I like it a lot. It has been really fun to return to Emond's Field and find the charaters waiting like old friends.