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 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 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. 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.