Last night, I was watching The Musketeers, the new BBC series featuring Peter Capaldi rocking the Van Dyke and redefining diabolical as Cardinal Richelieu. He’s pretty badass in The Musketeers, but not chewing the scenery or twirling his mustache (which I would imagine is hard to resist because dat stache!) kind of way. Capaldi is working the dialogue like a boss and creating a foil against our heroes that makes you sit up and take notice. There’s a mind and a motivation you connect with on a visceral level, and sometimes it’s difficult to take a side against Richelieu as he makes villainy look really, really good.
That and the wardrobe. And did I mention DAT STACHE?
Watching Capaldi in this role has me of late considering villains, what makes them compelling versus comical characters, and why they are so important in writing.
Your villains—or antagonists, if you want to use the fancier term for “bad guys”— are as high a priority to develop as your heroes. They need to resonate with you, lest they reduce themselves to nothing more than set dressing hell bent on destroying said set along with any major players that happen to be in the vicinity. Continue reading →
Four days of Photoshop. Eight lessons with a few bonus skills added into the mix. I have to work a bit on Day One of Level 2; but once I took a lesson from Kacy Catanzaro and took a steadier pace, Day Two more than made up for my stumble.
Did you see this woman rock the American Ninja course? #MightyKacy indeed.
I’m digging Photoshop CC a lot. Good program. Now I need to take a serious look at Lightroom. I’d like to see if we (that’s Mike Witherall and I) can turn it into a class. I don’t see why not.
So the people behind Snowpiercer‘s Facebook page put that image online this morning. It’s a stitch, especially when you consider the film. Lot of “in” jokes here, so kudos to the fan who created it. Inspired works like that just remind me of how incredibly talented people are everywhere, and I’m lucky enough to get to share my stories. I’m gearing up to do it again, too. The edits for The Diamond Conspiracy arrived today, so it’s time to level up and work on the next adventure of Books & Braun. We are dealing with a lot in this one, so I look forward to returning to that world…
First, I need a nap. A really big one. Photoshop is a demanding mistress.
No, I don’t like to brag. Not my thing. Too many times when I’ve been kicked in the teeth by those in Corporate America, but today I’m shouting it from the rainy rooftops: The kid’s still got it!
It’s been a long time since I’ve taught Photoshop and this time it was CC. New territory, but damn, I love Photoshop. Still, I needed to bone up on my Photography Fu. I don’t know when I’ll be asked to teach it again, but I had a blast. I even did PJ Schnyder and Kreg Steppe proud and gave a talk about shooting in RAW.
Not the same as shooting in THE RAW. Totally different thing.
Glowing reviews, and one student even got approval to stick around for Level 2. So one down, one to go. I think I got enough to teach an intermediate level PS CC course. If not, I’ll make something happen. Giving them the “Oh, cool!” moment makes the commute worth it.
Got caught in the bad weather on the way to the train. Not much else to do but sing “A Little Fall of Rain” and keep walking. It wasn’t too bad of a stroll, not like the rain could hurt me now. Beside — the rain will make the flowers grow….
“I run into a lot of people that really don’t like Obama at all. If he’s into the environment, if he’s into this or that, we’re not. I hear a lot of that. To get a single stack on my truck—that’s my way of giving them the finger. You want clean air and a tiny carbon footprint? Well, screw you.”
Modifying your truck to protest clean air initiatives? That’s about as smart as staging a protest of “I don’t like khakis, so I’m going to wear my blue jeans and fart in your face because khakis.” Such is this the latest protest against our President and environmentalists.
Well, it’s not really a petition as a petition is defined as “a formal written request, typically one signed by many people, appealing to authority with respect to a particular cause.” This it is more of an open letter to Amazon saying “You are a winner, bro! Keep that up!” with an appeal to independent authors everywhere to sign this, acknowledging why Amazon is so star-spangled awesome.
“It is fitting that Independence Day is upon us. Amazon has done more to liberate readers and writers than any other entity since Johannes Gutenberg refined the movable type printing press. With the advent of e-books and the ability to ship paper books to your doorstep in record time and at affordable prices, Amazon is growing overall readership while liberating the voices of countless writers, adding to the diversity of literature. A large percentage of the e-books sold on Amazon are from independent authors. You have validated our decision to write and to publish. Don’t let the wealthiest of writers convince you to turn away.
We urge you to support the company that supports readers and authors. Amazon didn’t ask us to write this letter, or sign it. Amazon isn’t aware that we’re doing this. Because in the end, this isn’t about Amazon. It’s about you, the reader, and the changes you’ve helped bring about with your reading decisions. You are changing the world of books, and you are changing our lives as a result.”
“Many of us supported Amazon from when it was a struggling start-up. Our books started Amazon on the road to selling everything and becoming one of the world’s largest corporations. We have made Amazon many millions of dollars and over the years have contributed so much, free of charge, to the company by way of cooperation, joint promotions, reviews and blogs. This is no way to treat a business partner. Nor is it the right way to treat your friends. Without taking sides on the contractual dispute between Hachette and Amazon, we encourage Amazon in the strongest possible terms to stop harming the livelihood of the authors on whom it has built its business. None of us, neither readers nor authors, benefit when books are taken hostage. (We’re not alone in our plea: the opinion pages of both the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal, which rarely agree on anything, have roundly condemned Amazon’s corporate behavior.)”
Last Thursday, Pip and I went to see Edge of Tomorrow, currently playing in theatres. This is the latest summer blockbuster featuring Tom Cruise in what may are calling a sci-fi spin on Groundhog Day. One look at the trailer might make you think that, but there’s also some influences of Starship Troopers, Aliens, and even a nod to D-Day.
Yes, the Allies’ Invasion of Normandy. In a Tom Cruise summer science fiction blockbuster.
Edge of Tomorrow, based off the novel and manga, All You Need Is Kill by Hiroshi Sakurazaka, follows Public Relations officer Major William Cage. Tom Cruise’s Cage is the Tom Cruise we know very well—very polished, brilliant smile, and slick in his approach and handling of situations thrown at him. He’s the “face” of the war against Mimics, alien invaders who seem to have an uncanny ability to predict exactly what the United European Forces unleash on the battlefield. This Tom Cruise graces the movie with its presence…
…for about ten minutes.
Much like Cary Grant in North by Northwest, Cruise’s Major Cage is suddenly thrown a curve that lands him in the middle of battle, something his Public Relations job allows him to avoid. After finding himself on the wrong end of a taser, he wakes up at Heathrow Airport, the training camp for the United European Armed Forces. Strapped into an exo-suit, Cage joins J Company in a massive amphibious landing happening on the western coast of France. Led by the inspiring “Full Metal Bitch” Rita Vrataski (played by Emily Blunt), Cage stumbles through the battle only to find himself out of ammo and facing a Mimic up close and personal. The monster leaps on top of him, but (more out of futility and desperation than heroism) Cage takes the alien (and himself) out of commission with a landmine sandwiched between them… Continue reading →
In this post I want to talk about both. In particular I want to talk about that amazing cookout you may have heard Balticon talk about on Friday night, and what we all can take away from it. Continue reading →
Back in March, Pip and I pulled into the Omni Hotel of Richmond, Virginia for 48 hours of awesome with the James River Writers. I had no doubt we were going to get star treatment from the writing group, and also from the hotel. We have stayed at the Omni of Richmond before and it is a terrific hotel. What happened after I handed over Sterling’s fob, though, made the Omni my favorite hotel in Richmond:
Valet: “I see, Mr. Morris, that you drive a Volt. Would you care to have us plug it in to our charger for you?”
Me: “Why, yes, yes I would!”
Unbeknownst to me, the Omni Hotel had a Level 2 (240v) charger on the property and were offering it to me as a guest. It was a delight to get offered that little perk. An unexpected reward for driving green. Continue reading →
If you remember back in 2012, Pip and I were engaging in an experiment. We never really mentioned what that experiment was all about, and that was on purpose. We wanted to step deeper into the waters of self-publishing and write outside our genres, see how works way out of our known expertise would perform in the wild frontier of digital do-it-yourself storytelling. I created for myself the pen name of “Jonathan Carter” and set out to write stories that—I hoped—would keep people up a night, make readers afraid of the dark, and check the house to make sure they were truly safe.
I’ve never been one for pen names but after two years and little-to-no activity, I went on and said to Pip “I think we’re done with the experiment. How about we go ahead and just kill Jonathan Carter, and I claim those short stories.”
So, I sat down with Photoshop, edited the eCovers, and re-released them into the wild. Within the first twelve hours of being live, one sold.
I’m thinking the loss of the pen name was a good idea.
How would I categorize my horror? I don’t think of myself as a horror writer heavy on the “squick” factor (if you are curious of what the “squick” factor is, think of the works from Clive Barker or film like the Saw series, or Hostel); but I would say the element of a setting or a situation slowly unraveling, and watching what the players do to try and solve or salvage it but wind up making the bad even worse, makes for good horror. It’s a feeling of helplessness, that wild tailspin of trying to make a situation right while knowing there is nothing that can be done, that I believe horror derives from.