Friday, July 29, 2016

Writing Update

I realize there hasn't been much news on the writing front recently. To tell you the truth, that's because I've mostly been writing away. It's also because whenever I stop to talk about something that I begin to slack on it. Not sure why it happens, but it does.

I've been working on a novel for over a year and a half. My editor and I consider it more of a young adult novel, but I don't like to describe it as one. It doesn't have anything in common with what you'll find being pushed by the big publishers.

It isn't so much because of perfectionism that it's taken so long, but because I've been spending a lot of time fleshing out the world and characters and editing accordingly. It is the first in a series, and I want to make sure I don't mess up the first one. For those who have actually read my novella (my condolences), rest assured that this is much better, and different. I have also gotten an editor who is quite amazing and has offered a lot of great advice. More on this project hopefully by the end of the summer. That is when I hope to have the first book finished and out.

On the other hand, I've been working on a couple of short stories in another series that has been gnawing at my brain for the past year. However, most of the magazines or anthologies I'm interested in submitting to don't close (or open) their submissions until at least winter, and I hope to have those done in time.

In other words, there is a lot of activity going on right now.

As for what they're about? Well, if you keep up with this blog, you probably know my tastes pretty well.

I tend to write things that I'd like to read, or would like to have read when I was younger. Whether that is old school anime-influenced fantasy, or a more thoughtful and pulpy superhero piece, I don't tend to write stuff you'd find on the bookshelves of modern book stores.

Of course, this is why I won't be submitting anything to mainstream publishers.

I have no political agenda or nihilistic tale to beat people over the head with. All I have are fun stories that I hope others dig as much as I enjoyed writing them. I also don't find much joy in giving up the majority of my rights in order to get little to no promotion, editing, or control. I can do or pay all of those myself. It's indie for me.

In the end, it might take a bit longer, but I hope you have patience! The stories are on the way.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

A Truth of the Universe

Fairy tales, then, are not responsible for producing in children fear, or any of the shapes of fear; fairy tales do not give the child the idea of the evil or the ugly; that is in the child already, because it is in the world already. Fairy tales do not give the child his first idea of bogey. What fairy tales give the child is his first clear idea of the possible defeat of bogey. The baby has known the dragon intimately ever since he had an imagination. What the fairy tale provides for him is a St. George to kill the dragon. Exactly what the fairy tale does is this: it accustoms him for a series of clear pictures to the idea that these limitless terrors had a limit, that these shapeless enemies have enemies in the knights of God, that there is something in the universe more mystical than darkness, and stronger than strong fear. -- G.K. Chesterton (Tremendous Trifles, 1909)

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Classic Video Games

Nintendo just announced this:

For anyone who played video games in the 1980s and 90s, they can clearly see what this is.

It's a small version of Nintendo's very first console (the one that saved the industry) pre-packaged with 30 games, and with HDMI ports for those who have those newfangled TVs. And, personally, I think it's a great idea.

Just looking at the list of games, you would be hard-pressed to deny any of their importance:
  • Balloon Fight
  • Castlevania
  • Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest
  • Donkey Kong
  • Donkey Kong Jr. 
  • Dr. Mario
  • Excitebike
  • Galaga
  • Ice Climber
  • Kid Icarus
  • Kirby’s Adventure
  • Mario Bros. 
  • MEGA MAN 2
  • Metroid
  • Punch-Out!! Featuring Mr. Dream
  • StarTropics
  • Super Mario Bros.
  • Super Mario Bros.  2
  • Super Mario Bros.  3
  • The Legend of Zelda
  • Zelda II: The Adventure of Link

Now, one could quibble with omissions. The lack of Contra, Crystallis, Adventure Island, Ninja Gaiden II, Castelvania III, or Jackal, is fairly inexcusable. But, the line up is a good summation as to what made that era of gaming so great, and why the system essentially built the whole industry.

Looking out at the current crop of grey and brown military shooters with ham-handed plots and comparing it to what built gaming in the first place, is a real eye-opener.

The list includes puzzle games, adventure games, fighting games, action games, racing games, sports games, and simple arcade style games. That's more variety than you'll find on your average Gamestop shelf these days.

But let's use one example.

It is my opinion that the NES version of Double Dragon II is one of the best, most underrated games of all time. The stylized graphics, music, and overstuffed controls, gives off a sense of wonder and creativity to the setting that I never get tired of.

Also, unlike the mediocre arcade version, this one has an actual ending, which is pretty rocking. Listen to that final boss music and raise your fists in triumph!

In an era that takes itself too seriously, while not taking important things seriously at all, it is a nice reminder that we can still have fun while being lifted up at the same time.

It's more than just nostalgia. Once games entered the 3D realm, it became harder and harder to find games with a sense of wonder or pure fun as the years went on. You can even look at a fairly early 3D adventure game like Thief and compare it to the recent mediocrity of Dishonored to see all the joy sucked out.

So, good luck to Nintendo on this. Hopefully it is enough of a success that the SNES, N64, and Gamecube, and get the same treatment. And hopefully their next system is a reminder to them, as well as us, what made the hobby so much fun in the first place.

Before I go, let's put one more Double Dragon track out there. Because, why not?

Now I'm all pumped up! I hope you're happy.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

On the Sunset Highway

I've been listening to a bit of Retrowave music recently. It has a lot of names, but what it actually consists of is synth instrumental music reminiscent of the '80s. More than nostalgia (I'm more of an early '90s guy as my tastes go) this music hits a groove that modern music has all but abandoned in wub-wubs and a flat, emotionless, sound. This stuff has character.

It is nice to see all these alternatives show up due to the mainstream continuing to lose the plot. There was a time not so long ago that stuff like this would simply have no place. It was either do what the industry wanted, or go broke. Thankfully, that all seems to be changing.

My personal favorite of these groups is Miami Nights 1984, who sound simultaneously like retro video game music, '80s action movie film scores, and driving music, all at once. Their Early Summer album, in particular, is my favorite.

Check them out:

Groove it out. While you're doing that, I'll just be spin-kicking bad guys off catwalks on my way to the final boss. Oh, yeah.

Or maybe I'll just get back to writing. We'll see!

Friday, July 1, 2016

Cirsova Issue 2!

If you have any fondness for old school heroic fantasy and science fiction, then be sure to support the Kickstarter campaign for Issue 2 of Cirsova!

The awesome Issue 2 cover by Jabari Weathers

As anyone who reads this blog knows, I was a huge fan of the first issue. You can see my reviews here, here, and here. To sum up: you should back this if you like your short stories awesome. Issue #1 was great.

There are less than four days left on the kickstarter, so get your pledge in now and help it reach those stretch goals. We need more magazines like this around.

If you want a look at what the future plans entail, check out Cirsova's site. There is a lot of content on the way from them in the future.

So give them a look. You won't be disappointed.

Happy Canada Day, everyone!