Six Characters in Search of an Author: A Review of Westworld

***
SPOILERS AHEAD!
THIS IS A DEEP DIVE INTO WESTWORLD,
BOTH SEASON ONE AND ITS FINALE.
SPOILERS AHEAD!
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This weekend, HBO’s science fiction epic Westworld wrapped up their inaugural season.

tomhiddleston-silence

Since Sunday night, I have been working through my feelings about that finale, and about this season…but that final episode of Westworld feels best summed up like this…

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rreynolds-confused

One more…

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NaNoWriMo: It Should Be Your First Step, Not Your Excuse

 

18691SD2November is upon us, and with the close of Halloween and the beginning of a new month you might be seeing across various social media platforms “daily word counts” being posted, sudden concerns about productivity, or rants over applications like “Scrivener” or “Write or Die” when they unexpectedly crashes. If this is happening to you, I’d recommend stocking up on coffee for your friends and patience with yourself. November is the month of NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month.

I’ve seen writers react both positively and negatively over the event. The positive sentiment usually constitutes cheerleading, tough love advice, and an overall celebration of hardcore, P90 X-style word-herding. The authors who loathe NaNoWriMo? They hate it with a passion, and don’t get the nay-sayers started on the NaNoWriMo instances that see publication. That’s some prime vitriol there. Continue reading

Five Things I Learned When Writing a Young Adult Book

curseofthesilverpharoah_smallRecently, The Curse of the Silver Pharaoh went live on Amazon, print editions premiering this week at the Maryland Renaissance Festival, provided we get no unforeseen whammies from CreateSpace. (Thanks, Hurricane Matthew!) Silver Pharaoh is not my first novel, nor is it my first foray into steampunk, as many of you know. The thing about this book that has me fidgeting nervously as reviews start to trickle in is that Silver Pharaoh is my first step into the realm of Young Adult fiction.

And that terrifies me. Greatly.

I’ve got a lot of feelings about Y.A. Fiction, one being that those reading Y.A. are not necessarily “young” adults. Think about it—while Harry Potter could be easily dismissed as a “kid’s book” and is found in the Children’s sections of bookstores and libraries everywhere, just as many adults devoured the adventures of the Boy Who Lived just as ravenously as its target audience.

So, yeah, working in the wild and woolly world of Y.A. for the first time, I picked up a few things… Continue reading

Writing Is Not a Solo Sport

aly_drew

photo credit: Arne Parrott

Striking a hero’s pose here is Drew Mierzejewski. I briefly met him two years ago through Alyson Grauer. Now if Aly’s name sounds familiar, it’s because you can find her lending her voice to one of my podcasts here, hear her rock the steampunk here, do it again here, and then giving good panel at DemiCon 25. Aly’s got game. So does Drew. That might be one of many reason these two got married.

Check it out, Chicago. This is an up-and-coming power couple to watch. I’m just sayin’.

Thing about Drew—I wish I knew him better. Something just tells me we’d be talking to the wee small hours in the morning about…stuff. Deep stuff. I especially got that impression when I saw a random Facebook post from him yesterday about the road creatives walk. The entire thread is here, and you really should check it out or even chime in if you like, but this was the part that made me stop and think…

Therefore, I would like to place a hypothetical to each of you. Why do we do walk this road alone? There are many of us! Why do we not band together in a great bonfire of creativity and make art? Is it impractical? It is idealistic? Is it too terrifying? What is stopping us from creating a massive company that makes art year round, in which we pool resources and talent to make the best of what we have to offer? Now, I want to reiterate that I ask this in hypothetical but I do want to hear your thoughts on this. So please take a moment and tell me in the comments what you think. Tell me why.

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Overwatch: A Heartbreaking Adventure of Heroes

A few weeks ago, Blizzard Entertainment released Overwatch, a new game that I’ve been seeing gamer friends repeatedly posting their anticipation over and over again in my social media feeds. The artwork online and preview videos on YouTube promised striking anime inspiration in its character design, a world of wild and wicket combat tactics, and a wide array of maps based on real-life locations. Pretty cool, I thought.

Then I watched this short film…

Now I wanted to play this game.

If you skipped by the animated short, what are you doing?! It’s only six minutes and so worth it! But if you can’t watch the short film, let me bring you up to speed… Continue reading

The Stars Look Very Different Today: A Tribute to David Bowie

IMG_5998Usually when an artist, actor, or celebrity of note dies, the alert gives a quick one line explanation of exactly why you should know this person. “John Q, backup singer for the Flying Wallabees…” or “Adele McManohan, artist of the painting Godzilla in Spring…”—something like that.

This morning, I looked at my phone and read the alert.

David Bowie dies of cancer aged 69.

No preface. No lead-in. No explanation as to what he was famous for. Just—boom.

And not under “Entertainment” but “Top Stories.”

That’s how big Bowie was. The man lived a life in the arts for five decades. He pushed boundaries, lived a life both dangerous and glorious, and he continued to do what he loved right up to his death.

And yet I have not always been a fan of David Bowie. Continue reading

Don’t Make Resolutions. Make Commitments.

 

iStock_000013954253_LargeHere comes the end of 2015. How was it? I’m hoping the year was kind to you. I know that, maybe, there were highs and lows; but I hope the highs were up there and lows not too shallow.

Right now, you’re seeing a lot of blogposts either looking back through 2015 or looking ahead to 2016, and as we close in on the countdown, I wanted to ask you all a favor: Knock it off with the New Year’s Resolutions. Let’s focus on getting shit done. Let’s make commitments for 2016. Continue reading

Remember the Post I Made Two Days Ago?

Things have been moving pretty fast…

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So how am I feeling right now?

Well, after this, ESPN hanging out at my alma mater, and an amazing All Blacks game

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It’s official: The Ghost Rebellion is happening without question, slated for a May 2016 release.

Now, with 22 days remaining, we look ahead to some of those exciting Stretch Goals we talk about in our Kickstarter video, and some killer Add-Ons we weren’t expecting to roll out for another week such as…

  • Leather keychains from Brute Force Studios
  • Autographed prints from Verena Vorsatz
  • Tee-shirts from the Ministry proudly commemorating this incredible Kickstarter
  • …and much more!

With our base goal met, we now look ahead. Let’s make the most of the time remaining and make this a Kickstarter people will talk about. For now, thank you, one and all, for not only taking Pip and me on a wild seven-day roller-coaster ride, but for believing in the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences. The success of this Kickstarter and this award-winning series would have never happened without you!

Now—onward to those stretch goals. Share this Kickstarter on your favorite social media networks and check-in with us on Periscope for the latest news.

The “A-ha!” Moment in Writing

 

You see this?

BrickWall1

If for some reason you don’t, this is a brick wall. I sometimes come across them when I’m writing. Nothing—and I mean, nothing—is more frustrating than knowing the direction you want a story to go, but you are staring at this instead:

BrickWall1

This sucks.

I felt like I’d been staring at one of these with The Ghost Rebellion. Don’t get me wrong. I have an idea of where Pip and I want to head with this next Ministry adventure, but I found myself staring at that wall, thinking “All right, I know where I am at presently. I know the next point I need to reach. How do I get there?” I am working the grey cells, running bullet points from notes, setting up scenes, asking questions I’ve written on the white board again and again… Continue reading

4 Things that Star Wars Fans Should Be More Upset About than Chuck Wendig’s Aftermath

 

chuck-wendig-aftermathSo, if you might have heard, author Chuck Wendig released a book.

Chuck is the author behind Star Wars: Aftermath, the first (of three) books bridging the gap between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens. Since its release, both Jedi and Sith alike are losing their midichlorian-laced shit over this book.

The common threads amongst haters are:

  • Chuck wrote the story in 3rd person present tense. Very different from previous Extended Universe books.

    • In Aftermath, we meet a character that is gay.

    • This is Star Wars done in the style of Wendig. If you have not read some of his other works like Blackbirds or Zeroes, this is a very different approach.

    • There is an unexpected crossover between new Star Wars character Norra Wexley and Marvel favorites, Rocket Raccoon & Groot.

Okay, I might have totally made up that last one, but those other gripes are what a lot of panties twisted in special knots only learnt at Jedi Summer Camps. After reading thinly-veiled attempts at hiding homophobia or anti-Disney sentiments behind various “This is bad writing…” comments, I’m a bit stunned. Star Wars fans are pissed over a gay character and Chuck’s style? Seriously? After everything we’ve dealt with across six movies?

Over the decades, we fans have weathered some serious missteps. And no, I’m not talking about:

  • Midichlorians
  • Jar-Jar Binks
  • The feeble attempts to have Han Solo appear to shoot in self-defense

We’ve talked about those (and continue to talk about them) at length. What I’m talking about is the kind of writing or direction that should have made fans call them out to the center of the octagon, but I’ve rarely seen happen. If you really want to be pissed off about something in the Star Wars universe, have you considered… Continue reading