Friday, August 5, 2011

CHANGE ALL THE THINGS (Retroactive Continuity)

Retroactive continuity (or Retcon) is, as Wikipedia so eloquently states, the alteration of previously established facts in a fictional work. This can be something added, subtracted, or as the definition states, altered. For reasons that I will go into sooner rather than later, I've been thinking a lot about retroactive continuity the last few days.

To give the first example that comes to mind: Blizzard Entertainment is altering the back story of their Diablo universe with the forthcoming sequel, Diablo III, a series which I'm sure might ring a few bells regardless of your video game prowess.

I'll admit I'm not that familiar with the intricacies of the Diablo story, and I had to do some mild research to write this. I've never felt that Blizzard were at the forefront of video game storytelling. That’s not to say I don’t love the heck out of their games; I just don’t love them for their narrative.

What they’re changing, to put it simply, is that one of the characters you’re able to play in the first game is now the son of an enemy. Nerdy further exposition will follow, so if you’re allergic to such things, best skip ahead a paragraph or two. At the end of Diablo I (1996), this character kills Diablo, and then the Lord of Terror is forced back into his soul stone. The player character then shoves this stone in his forehead to keep the beast at bay, and to induce permanent brain damage. This is what Diablo wanted all along! This nameless character will be a better host to his evilness than his previous embodiment ever was. Now, when Diablo comes back for seconds in Diablo II (2000), this is actually the Dark Wanderer, or the warrior from the first game, who has been fully possessed by Diablo, the Lord of Terror.

Recently, Blizzard announced that this Dark Wanderer is actually the son of King Leroic (some random skeleton boss you kill in the first game), who’s back for revenge in Diablo III! And for some reason establishing that the Dark Wanderer/Warrior is this skeleton’s son is important. Why? Knowing Blizzard, probably no reason what-so-ever. It should be mentioned that this is one of those addition retconning, and not an alteration. I don’t think any of the back story ever stated that this Dark Wanderer was not his son. Now, we just know for sure that he is.

Point being, they're changing little things about the Diablo Universe in order to better accommodate what they're trying to do with this forthcoming sequel. Many people are bothered by the fact changing, like the Diablo lore is some sacred untouchable manuscript. At the end of the day, it’s Blizzard’s intellectual property, which means they can do whatever they want to it. Ultimately, I don't really care. For starters, I really only played the Diablo series to kill stuff and to gather pretty pixels of loot like a crazy raccoon. Secondly, if Blizzard thinks that altering facts will somehow create a better narrative, then more power to them.

But retcon isn't specific to video games. It happens in movies, TV, and of course books. A few decades ago, when the industry was still primarily print based, the direct altercation of a published work was tricky, since older editions are still out there. Now, in the digital age, retconning is as simple as editing a text document and uploading the new version to Amazon, Smashwords, or wherever.
I unabashedly admit that I've done this… a few times.

After finishing my second book, I went back and did a revision of the first, and I found myself changing little things here and there to better connect it with the sequel’s story.

When I first started Not Everything Brainless is Dead, I fully intended for it to be part of a franchise, the first book of many, and I still stand firm to those goals. In twenty years, I want to have one of the most extensive superhero comedy series in existence--and it'll probably be the only one.

The wonderful thing about ebooks is that when I'm finished with each installment of The Absurd Misadventures of Captain Rescue, I am freely able to go back and revise previous books and change things around at will. I will say, however, that I’m conscious of maintaining whatever narrative integrity I have going for me. So I’m going to avoid doing anything overly major. I’ll just try to make the books better.

After finishing the third (which is moving along splendidly, I must say!), I'll probably go back and give the first two books another coat of paint and change things around as I see fit, which is something that would have never been possible in the print day and age. Obviously, this makes getting them proofread and edited a little tricky, but that's a concern for another time. I'm also hesitant to get print versions made through Createspace for similar reasons. It would be annoying having to update the hard copy every time I go on one of my retconning adventures.

Anyway, the point of this is to say that Retroactive Continuity is fun, and I look forward to exploiting it further.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Smashword's Summer Sale is On, on a related Note, so is Steam's

From now until the end of the month, Smashwords is having a huge encompassing sale of awesomeness. I went ahead and made "Not Everything Brainless is Dead" free. I also made the sequel, "Past, Future, & Present Danger" 25% off. To top all of that off, I released a Captain Rescue short story for free. It's got a catchy title, so you know it must be great: "A Mind Not Worth Controlling". I also put the short story on Amazon in the hopes that they price match it to 0.00 sometime before the end of the year.

There are also tons of other books for free and for sale at Smashwords, so stock up ye munchkins.

Work on a still, as of yet, untitled Book 3 in The Absurd Misadventures of Captain Rescue is underway.

Now that I'm finished feeling guilty about promoting my novels in my own blog, let's talk STEAM!

Steam, if don't know, is a digital platform for buying and downloading video games, and Steam likes to have sales. Big, huge, wallet raping sales. Right now their summer sale is underway. And if that wasn't bad enough, Steam is giving 100 people the top 10 games on their wishlist, which could equate to about $500 worth of games (50x10! Math!)

All of this, for some reason, gave me the idea that it would sure be nice if you could sell books on Steam! As absolutely crazy as that sounds, I know that my target audience is are gamers, and that a lot of gamers are also readers. So, I really think there'd be a market for it. BOOKS4GAMERS or something not quite so lame.

Anyway, that's all the nonsensical  rambling I have for you today. Back to working on Book 3, maybe I'll figure out a title for it.

Oh, just for funzies, here is the cover I threw together for that short story I mentioned. Note the cyan coloring instead of the purple of the novels. It's like I color coded the covers! Neat, huh?

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Past, Future, & Present Danger is Now Available, so here's an excerpt!

Click me! Do it, you know you want to.

After a lot of hard work, and frankly enjoyment, Book 2 of The Absurd Misadventures of Captain Rescue is now available.

When Captain Rescue discovers that tyrannical apes are capturing forest-goers, he jumps into action in a valiant attempt to stop them, more or less.

As the hilarious adventure goes everything but according to plan, the hero finds himself transported into the future, where the apes have gone a bit beyond mere abductions. The shock sets in, and Captain Rescue and his time-displaced friends conclude that the only way to prevent a future that has already happened is to go back in time and rewrite it.
Will Captain Rescue somehow be able to set things right, or will these apes make a monkey out of him? 
"Past, Future, & Present Danger" is the hilarious continuation of Captain Rescue’s absurd misadventures, and the sequel to “Not Everything Brainless is Dead”.
Here's the prologue as a means of whetting your whistle! But wait! There's more! Since I know a lot of people still haven't read the first book (Not Everything Brainless is Dead), it's now only 99 cents. But wait! There's EVEN MORE! If you head on over to SMASHWORDS and use the coupon YR36H, you can get it for free!

So, without further ado, the excerpt:

Friday, June 17, 2011

Oh Look at Me, Coming Up for Air

If starting this blog has taught me anything, it's that I'm pretty bad at blogging. I just don't find myself having that much to blog about, but I am a bit more active on Facebook and Twitter, so there you have it. Head over in that direction if you find my nonsensical ramblings entertaining and are rather disappointing that I haven't posted in well over a month. Maybe once I start going outside on a regular basis, I'll have more to blog about, but until that day (probably never happens), life goes on.

But that's not why I decided to post; I decided to post because I am just about done with my 2nd novel. It's been a pretty fun ride, and after copious amounts of polish and editing, I think it's rather sexy

So, here's the cover and below that you will find the blurb, which may still change before I get it published, but it'll definitely be something along those lines.

Any who, without further ado, enjoy:

When Captain Rescue discovers that tyrannical apes are capturing forest-goers, he jumps into action in a valiant attempt to put a stop to it, more or less.

As the hilarious adventure does everything but go according to plan, the hero finds himself transported into the future, where the apes’ have gone a bit beyond mere abduction. To prevent a future that has already happened, Captain Rescue and his time-displaced friends must scramble to find a way back to their own time.

Will Captain Rescue somehow be able to set things right, or will these apes make a monkey out of him?

"Past, Future, & Present Danger" is the hilarious continuation of Captain Rescue’s absurd misadventures, and the sequel to “Not Everything Brainless is Dead”.

74,000 words, or over 300 pages.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

I Think I May Be Just a Little Insane

I haven't posted in a few weeks, but that doesn't mean I haven't been hard at work! Writing, gaming, writing, gaming, writing, gaming, music, etc, etc, etc, etc, etc. The revising/proofing of book two is going smoothly, and I'll probably release it sometime this month, June at the latest, but that's not why I've come to you today.

Simply put, I already have the next two books planned out in my mind, and an idea for the fifth. I haven't written anything down yet, so it's all liable to change at my very fickle will. Without spoiling anything, books three and four will tell separate stories over the course of the same time period. Three will involve Dr. Malevolent and an attempt to take over the world, while four will tell a Captain Rescue story. 

The Dr. Malevolent book will probably be similar to the first two books in style, only it will be sans a certain hero while he is off on his own adventure. That's really all I'll say about book two, since I don't want to give anything away. 

I kind of want to do something a little different for book four, but not too different. I still want it to feel like it fits in the universe. That said, it's going to be a hardboiled/noir parody in which Captain Rescue will be flying (mostly) solo, trying to solve a series of kidnappings to the best of his ability. 

Since I plan for the two books to take place during the same time period, there will be little references to each other and fun little nods. At first I was tempted to co-release them as two "book threes", but I think that might just confuse readers, and, for reasons I will not state here (!), I think it's better if the Dr. Malevolent story is book three and the Captain Rescue one is book four. 

Anyway, the fruition of that multi book dream is probably a ways away. For the time being, I'm going to continue focusing on polishing Past, Future, & Present Danger for release sometime soon. Keep your ears and eyes peeled!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

What's up in MY NECK OF THE WOODS!

This will be one of those, "OMG I haven't posted a blog in over a week, I'm such a terrible human being" kind of posts. Just the other night, I finished the first major revision to my 2nd book, and I am quite proud of how it turned out. Although I'm a little confused as to how a 36,000 word story can magically become 74,000 words without any major plot additions. I guess I'm just that awesome.  I'll start proofing and editing the draft tomorrow probably , but last night (I'm that kind of owl) I spent working on a cover, and here is the end result:

I would hope that this gives some kind of time-travel vibe. But, I guess if it gives a lollipop vibe, I can understand that too. I'll probably tweak it a few more times before I publish the book, to maybe give it a better time-vortex-portaly feeling. Sorry to get all scientific, but sometimes it's necessary.

As for the book itself, I'm super proud of it. I don't really want to hint at anything, spoil anything, or give anything away, but I think it builds nicely on plots that were hinted at in its predecessor.

Any who, that about sums it up for now. I'm not all that busy outside of writing, but I'll probably have a few words to say about Portal 2 once I play it next week, or later this week if all these ARG rumors are true, that Valve might release it early on steam. Either way, I expect to love it.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

The Irritated Deer

This is an excerpt from my forthcoming novel that I think works well as its own little flash fiction/short story. I truncated some extraneous bits that would have only confused readers.


Captain Rescue spun around and there it was, waiting for him. It must have tracked him; it must have been following him. His face went white. He thought he was safe, that he had lost it, but there it stood, trembling close to the ground, legs spread—the irritated deer. He took a step back and the small deer advanced, it could not have been much older than a fawn, but its belligerence knew no quarter. Frothing from the mouth, growling, and with a psychotic look in its eyes, the deer had decided that it would be the end of Captain Rescue, and he had never seen anything so frightening.

He tried his luck waving at the fawn, hoping to curb its rabid heart. It just barked at him, something he felt rather certain normal deer did not do. He took a step back and then another, for every step the hero too, the fawn took three, taunting him—playing with its food.

“Please little guy, I don’t want to have to hurt you,” Captain Rescue begged of the fawn.

The fawn just continued stepping towards the hero, trembling while foam fell from its mouth in globs. Captain Rescue threw up his dukes, expecting to have to do this the hard way. The deer accepted his challenge and began to sprint for the hero, leaving a contrail of frothing saliva hovering in the air. It launched itself into the air; its thin tiny legs spread wide, head shaking intensely with its tongue hanging out of its mouth. Just as the fawn was about to crash head first into Captain Rescue, he dropped to his knees, hands covering his head while screaming like a baby. The small fawn flew through the air, right over him, hit the tree with the force airborne deer, and then just dropped like a rock to the ground.

Captain Rescue gradually uncovered his hands from his head and then looked at the deer motionless upon the ground. He immediately felt deep pity for the creature as the frothing brew in its mouth leaked onto the ground. He crawled over to it and placed his hand gently upon its neck, caressing it softly. The hand traveled upwards and he patted its forehead, looking down at its closed eyes.

“I’m so sorry!” He cried out, tears welling in his eyes, as he pulled the unsanitary creature close to him and embraced it. Captain Rescue rocked back and forth, squeezing the tiny deer. Soon, he could feel a faint pulse within its fragile body. Alleviation filled the hero’s heart with the realization that he had not killed the fawn. His head fell and Captain Rescue noticed the creature’s eyes staring up at him. They interlocked gazes and the deer opened its mouth and almost immediately lunged for the hero’s throat. With his right hand, he shoved the snout to the side and then curled that hand into a fist and proceeded to relentlessly punch the fawn, hoping to render it unconscious, or dead, or anything. He really didn't care, his survival instincts had taken over.

Captain Rescue released the deer and it fell to the ground, motionless. He rose to his feet and headed into the trees, refusing to look back at the deer as it lay there. It was finally over; the beast would trouble him no longer. He could finally be free, but if he had bothered looking back, just once, he would have noticed its eyes staring intently back at him from afar.  It had only begun. 

Friday, March 25, 2011

Thursday, March 17, 2011

I Am a Lousy Writer

Hahaha, just kidding! I am actually an awesome writer, just ask any of the five people who've read my book. It's not that I'm a terrible writer, it's that I seem to have self imposed ADD. I can't write for more for more than ten or fifteen minutes (sometimes a lot less) before I get inevitably distracted by something. Be forums, or Facebok, or Twitter, or Reddit, or chatting, or chewing ice (I should probably knock that off before I ruin my teeth). Then, my productivity goes out the window, and since it's such a long way to the ground, I don't have the cojones to go out after it.

I don't honestly think I have ADD, or if I do it didn't really present itself until I started writing seriously. I did just fine through all of grade school, graduated top 10% of my class! Admittedly, I was a bad college student, but that had nothing to do with my attention span. I just discovered early on that I could make Cs by basically showing up and taking tests and my slacker attitude decided that was just fine. Granted, I always found a way to ace my creative writing classes no matter what.

My, and probably many others, self imposed ADD is probably just a symptom of our highly interconnected internet lifestyles. Thank you to all that shit I mentioned in the first paragraph. I've tried disconnecting my internet adapter (yeah, I'm far too nerdy to just pull the damn plug!), but I always felt compelled to switch it back on after twenty or thirty  minutes just in case I missed anything, and the ironic thing, 99% of the time, everything I see when I return from my brief internet hiatus would have been completely worth missing. This is probably part of the reason I gravitate towards being such a night owl. In the dead of night, The forums, Twitter, Facebook all slow to a crawl.

So, I start writing and the minutes turn into an hour, and then the hours turn into more hours. They roll by and I realize that I've really only gotten about 1000 words done. At which point, I pull out my trusty leather strap I purge myself, I purge myself hard. Okay, I'm not (that) crazy.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Another Sunday, Another Sample

Here's the first two chapters from my debut novel. ENJOY! (They're short!)

Chapter 1: It is a Beautiful Day for a Robbery

            The only thing standing between Dr. Malevolent and her salary was the large brick wall of the bank that held it. This bank, however, went by another name, an ostentatious name: The Bank. Intimidating yes—but it is nothing more than a clever marketing ploy, one that, unremarkably, worked perfectly. Everyone and their mothers flocked to The Bank. Regular Joes put their money in while criminals took it right back out. In retrospect, the founders would have had better luck naming their bank Cletus’s Farm Depot, but then, of course, it would be flocked to by nothing but hillbillies.    
The story of how The Bank got its name was one of adventure and deceit. Before settling on its current and exceedingly successful moniker, much deliberation transpired of possible other names. To settle this deadlock, board members were asked to submit their suggestions so it could be put it to a vote. Dozens upon dozens of names found their way into the top hat, most of which were quite terrible. After a lengthy process, they had their winner. Shortly thereafter, they threw out the winner and The Bank was chosen. The other suggestions, like making the B backwards, or stylizing the name like “Banque” or “Baynk”, were collectively deemed lame, not a term the well-dressed businessmen used lightly.
Bank naming semantics aside, the most pressing concern right now, of course, is who is Dr. Malevolent? She’s not only the most audacious, brilliant criminal mastermind the world has ever known, she’s also the head of her own criminal organization that employs dozens of hardened criminals, liars, cheats, and a few flat out crazy people. Like any good super villain, she is up to her dirty old trick again, refusing to learn any differently.
Right now, her lackeys are now in position to breach The Bank, its succulent benefits ripe for the reaping. This, however, was not just a heist with the sole goal of getting rich. As everyone knows, all major criminals need to eat, pay their employees, take their dog to the vet when he eats those things he shouldn’t, spend all that money trying to figure out how to blow up the world with a doomsday devices, replace all their DVDs with their Blu-ray counterparts, so on and so forth. Since they don’t exactly pay taxes or hold steady jobs, they need to make ends meet somehow, even if it’s from robbing banks or ripping candy from the hands of shrieking babies.

The city’s clock tower rang out, 3:00 in the afternoon, the perfect time for a bank robbery. Dr. Malevolent and her crew had slipped down a dark alley, behind the bank and away from the prying eyes of pedestrians, although she wouldn’t be opposed to one or two eyes, after all, any publicity is nice publicity. With an air of embellished arrogance, the good doctor turned to her lead goon, Boris, and spouted the order, “Place the charges and let’s do this!”
“Sure thing, boss,” he replied through a feigned Russian accent. Boris was, after all, from the great state of Iowa. His parents had given him the birth name of Cecil DeWitt and he, among other things, enjoyed to role-play. On weekends (or weekdays that he felt he just needed to get away from the stresses of super villainy) Boris went by Charlie, a very tall and quite fuzzy blue bunny rabbit on a quest to find his one true love. He was not fussy though, any animal would do; it did not have to be another rabbit. He would have been just as happy with a fox, or a raccoon, or even those cute twins who ran around in a pantomime horse.
Dr. Malevolent glanced over to her second in command; Boris showed all the signs of being lost in one of his furry fantasies, not that it took mastery in the subtleties of the human face to point them out. Among other things, his eyes glazed over and his tongue rolled out of his mouth. She reminded him that there were no furry animals within the bank’s vault (that she knew of) and slapped the back of his head. He had other concerns—like the door frame he had lined with nothing less than a metric shit-ton of C5 (C4’s big brother), an amount fit only for a super villain like Boris, who did enjoy things in excess, from explosives to furry animals. However, this much C5 would not only allow them access to the building, but could possibly level a few square blocks of the city in the process. Of course, the fact that the door was unlocked would not have dissuaded Boris from blowing it up anyway.
With a scamper and a skip (they have a flair for this sort of thing), the small group of criminals darted around the corner of the bank. Once in place, everyone slid their fingers into their ears to shield themselves from the forthcoming blast—a blast that had a high chance of liquefying their brains.
“Hit it!” Dr. Malevolent yelled to Boris, who did not budge. Clearly the old finger-in-the-ear trick worked wonders for noise cancellation in this backwards little universe.
“Hit it!” She repeated.                                                                                                           
“What?” Boris yelled with his fingers still plugged into his ears. Dr. Malevolent yanked at his hand, plucking it from its humble abode.
“Blow up the damn door,” She said with a hushed annoyance.
She and Boris reinserted their fingers into their ears, and then Boris tried as best he could to press the switch using something other than his hands. He was eventually able to devise a way to nudge it with his elbow, and the ensuing shockwave tore through the city, shattering glass and causing babies in every direction to cry. After the ringing in her and Boris’ ears subsided, Dr. Malevolent and her little gang of lackeys scurried out from around the corner and approached the door, only to find it still standing. What was not standing was the wall, which had been completely decimated by the blast. Dr. Malevolent sighed as she watched a section of the wall that had been dangling from the ceiling fall to the floor. The establishment had apparently spent millions to fortify the door, only to leave a paper-mâché wall surrounding it.
Boris did the only thing he could think of as the situation presented itself; he reached to see whether the door was locked. He chuckled at the fact it was not and shoved it forcefully, causing it to spin around on its hinges and collide with one of Dr. Malevolent’s lackeys.
 The evil genius herself glared at Boris and uttered one word in compliment, “Smooth.”
His lips morphed into a wide smirk and they entered the bank.

Chapter 2: The Man of the Hour Approaches

What would a super villain be without her super hero counterpart? The simple answer to that little riddle is obviously: a lot happier. If super villains dreamed of one thing at night, it would be a life without the incessant battling back and forth with their super hero foil, but that would mean that any super villain would have free reign to do as he or she pleased, and no one wanted that. On top of that, without super villains, super heroes would have to get a real job.
Speaking of extraordinary super heroes, the guest of honor appears to be running a little late. This is probably due to traffic, or maybe he got lost. It’s also possible that he has yet to leave because he’s busy watching scrambled programs on cable television, but fear not, for he is sure to appear just when needed the most, just when the fate of mankind seems to hang in the balance—as any hero does.   

In the meantime, a large gaping hole resided rent-free in one of the walls neighboring the bank vault. With work on the doorway completed, masked men poured into the room. Although, because they were masked, there was really no way of telling what they were, and since this was not the time to jump to such blatant conclusions, these masked “men” could have easily been masked girls, or zombies, or werewolves, or aliens, or vampires, or even pantomime people with chimpanzees hiding beneath.
These masked—beings—poured into the vault, bags embroidered with the cliché money symbol upon their face at the ready, but since these bags were round, they did not exactly have faces to begin with. Face just refers to the side with the money symbol. Actually, since round objects do not exactly have sides, this was not correct either. Screw it, the man of the hour has arrived, so this needless rambling can end as abruptly as it began.

Perched on a rooftop’s ledge, a man wearing a black domino mask stood alone with dark mascara around his eyes (this was not normally part of the ensemble, and was probably leftover from lady’s night at the bars). Covering his body was a purple spandex outfit that rode into God-knows-where. The suit came equipped with a pair of glossy black gloves and matching boots, as well as an extremely ornate utility belt that would have made even Batman jealous. It was mainly just for show; the crime-fighting tools contained within were just too much for him to manage on his own. Rest assured, though, he is working diligently to figure it all out, slaving over the foreign language sections of the user’s manual night after night. To complete this look, a simple black cape extended just past his buttocks with his hands rested triumphantly upon his love handles, his head held heroically upwards ever so slightly.
As the beacon of hope stood atop the ledge, the solitary doorway stories below (looking just as heroic), he came to a sudden realization: he was deathly afraid of heights. This ledge may not have been the wisest of decisions for an observation point. Nevertheless, a hero must do what a hero must do, and this hero must flee from the rooftop before he hurls all over the heads of the bank robbers below—an act that, if anything, would rob him of the element of surprise—one of the few elements he had within his super hero repertoire.
What methods or gadgets would an amazing hero such as this have for descending the six stories from here to the ground? Well, aside from the ever-popular face plant, valiant defenders of truth and justice have a multitude of means in which to scale such great heights, realize they’re deathly afraid of them, and then come screaming back down. The one he is going to demonstrate today was easily, and quite secretly, the most popular. With that, he made a beeline for the stairwell, cape billowing in the wind. That’s right, kids, true heroes use the stairs.

Back at the scene of the crime, the coterie of criminals had begun loading their getaway van with everything held inside the bank vault, including money, jewelry, and vials of strange green liquid that were certainly no good for anyone. From atop its roof, Dr. Malevolent oversaw the loading of the van, which had the words “Getaway Van” painted elegantly upon its sides, and yes, the roof was a particularly odd spot to oversee anything.
Dr. Malevolent did have a flare for the dramatic, either that or she just wanted to give her hard working employees a free peep show. After all, there was an ample amount of leather underneath that simple white lab coat, which framed her voluptuous breasts perfectly. To keep her glistening brown hair out of the way while conquering the world, Dr. Malevolent usually kept in tied in a ponytail.
In her hand, she waved about an inanimate carbon rod, her signature and third-in-command next to Boris. Many villains had something to make them unique. Some had weapons like hers, others had disfiguring scars, and yet others were made unique because of their mental dispositions. These villains felt that society had somehow wronged them and were compelled to strike out against it. However, in the case of signature weapons, most villains usually opted for something more intimidating than a simple rod. Needless to say, it was probably time for an upgrade.
Just before the lackeys loaded the van with the last of the stolen goods, a booming voice echoed out, “Well, what have we here!”
The bank robbers instinctively dropped what they were doing and snapped their heads towards the voice. The source of which was none other than the masked man in purple standing on a pile of rubble near the solitary door. A door that stood as a testament to doors everywhere that if they want to succeed and be awesome, all they needed to do was simply believe in themselves (and withstand a metric shit-ton of C5).
Dr. Malevolent snapped back at him, “Why if it isn’t Captain Rescue! What we have here, you two-bit imbecile, is your undoing!”
“We’ll just have to see who undoes who!”
“It’s who undoes ‘whom’, you blabbering idiot.”
“Hey, my job is to save the world, not speak good.”
Dr. Malevolent cringed, “Boys, take care of him.”
The hero cracked his knuckles and then took a single step forward. At precisely that same moment in time, the loose rubble he had been standing on decided to stop cooperating—it was bound to happen eventually. As it slid out from under him, Captain Rescue lost his footing and fell flat on his back. During this tumble, he decided that, in the future, it was best not to make heroic entrances from atop unstable piles of rubble.
Dr. Malevolent’s lackeys swarmed the hero before he had the chance to get back to his feet, leaving him in one dilly of a pickle. Fortunately, the mild-mannered defender was quite a fan of those delightful kosher treats. As six men scrambled to subdue him (a job that could have easily been carried out by just one), his mind drifted to those green wonders and the situation became a little more bearable.
“Look boys, we caught ourselves a little toy!” Dr. Malevolent grinned wickedly at Captain Rescue, and then knelt down to look him in the eyes. She drew her rod back and slapped him across the jaw.
“Your hair smells pretty,” the hero said in a daze, clearly suffering from a sudden onset of Stockholm syndrome as he spat a little blood from his mouth. He leaned in slightly, almost expecting a kiss. What he found was the rod as it made another pass at him.
 “Tie him up! We’re taking him on a little trip,” Dr. Malevolent ordered as she straightened herself, kicking him in the gut with her boots.
“Perfect! Play right into my hands, why don’t you!” Captain Rescue’s white teeth sparkled as he smiled to the various lackeys, who were busy tying his arms behind his back. The lackeys hauled the bound Captain Rescue to the van and tossed him in with the stolen goods. The hero had read somewhere that that whenever faced with a hostage situation to remain pleasant to the captors. He had some serious second thoughts about this idea as his fanny bounced painfully against the cold steel of the van. The back doors closing ominously reinforced these doubts further as he found himself shut in with the crooks. Nevertheless, he continued smiling through the darkness—even if nobody could see.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Dragon Age 2 or Dragon Age Poo? The evolution of Bioware

I'm going to detour from my book ramblings for a moment and discuss Bioware's latest interactive offering. I'll preface this by saying that I've been on these fence about the studio for some time now. That's not to say that I don't believe they still make great games, which they definitely do. But Baldur's Gate 1 & 2, Neverwinter Nights, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic are basically classics. I don't know anyone that doesn't hold these games in the highest esteem. The PC version of the first Mass Effect suffered from some minor polish issues, but was still a decent game, despite its clumsy combat and six hours spent riding in elevators. It was still a Bioware game and it was still great.

Then fast forward to Dragon Age: Origins, which Bioware claimed to be an attempt to recapture the success of their classic RPGs like Baldur's Gate, which, for the most part, it did. The only complaint I can come up with for Dragon Age: Origins, which isn't even a complaint, is that there's just too much to do. It's a game that definitely begs to be played through at least twice to experience most of what it has to offer.

Mass Effect 2 is where things star to veer off course. The game, in its own right, is a great game that fixed most of its predecessor's problems--by stripping them. It was no longer a RPG, but a 3rd person shooter with a handful of RPG elements. Don't get me wrong, I loved Mass Effect 2, and I think that, for the most part, it went in the direction the series needed to go.

And then Bioware (influenced predominately by EA, no doubt) announced the sequel to Dragon Age: Origins, a game set to be released just slightly more than a year after its predecessor. This alone says one thing and one thing only, rush job. I figured early on that there was no way Bioware could put together a game as expansive as Origins, there just wasn't enough time, and that's assuming development started shortly after the release of the first in late 2009, or even sooner.

Now, I'm not one of those crazed Origins fanboys that completely despise the sequel. I think in a lot of ways it improves on the first in the same ways Mass Effect 2 improved on its first, but without stripping all of the RPG elements in the process. But early out of the gate, you can tell how rushed Dragon Age 2 is. I have to admit I haven't actually finished it, but fifteen hours in, and I'm about as sick as I can be of seeing the same cave for every other quest. And Kirkwall, oh Kirkwall. For the first game, you basically had an entire country to roam around in. In Dragon Age 2, you have one city and its surrounding area. I just hope I get to see some new vistas before the end of the game. If not, I may burn Kirkwall to the ground.

Early on, my friends seemed perturbed that you were no longer going to be able to stop in the middle of your adventures and have two hour conversations with your companions, but I think the companion system is much improved in the sequel. Their storylines are told through multiple quests for each companion rather than through conversation trees.

The combat system has gotten a lot of flack for being too action and not enough RPG. I can see both sides of this argument, but I don't mind the combat system at all, even more so once I learned that R, by default, would instantly target and attack the nearest enemy. I seemed to have an issue with right clicking a target to attack, missing, and then clicking to move in that direction. It irked me. I think the ability trees are much improved over the first game. I love the selection of skills and corresponding upgrades for each one, and I love that each Companion gets its own special talent tree.

I don't know the full arc of the story yet. I don't really want to be spoiled, but through the first act of the game, the protagonist, Hawke is basically just some random Joe trying to make ends meet. It isn't until the first jump forward in time that the game begins to actually build on any sort of overall conflict. In the first game, the conflict is there looming over your head the entire game: Darkspawn gonna eat my face! But fifteen hours in, and I still really have no idea where the game is going. This could mean one of two things, either Bioware had no idea where the game was going, or the Hawke storyline is going to span its own trilogy, just like Mass Effect's Shepard.

This has become far more verbose than I originally intended, so I will close saying one last thing. Considering the length of time Dragon Age 2 was in development, it's damn impressive what Bioware was able to accomplish, but just think how good Dragon Age 2 would have been if EA had allowed it more time in the oven.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

What's in a Name?

Six years ago, during a college screenwriting course, I invented a bumbling superhero by the name of Captain Rescue. He and his nemesis were quite successful and over the semester I wrote a series of short little screenplays that the class seemed to really enjoy. The character stuck with me and through the years I've been steadily developing him and his quirky little universe.

When I started penning short stories about the character and his misadventures, I was reminded, thanks to google, that a Captain Amazing already existed from the movie Mystery Men. I decided to err on the side of caution and rename the character to something else, to Captain Rescue. It was a impulsive decision and the name really never sat quite right with me, but people who've read the subsequent adventures seemed to appreciate the name in the end, so I figured "eh, whatever".

Now that I've decided to get serious about expanding the universe and thus, the character, I return to the issue of name. I obviously don't want to change it back to Captain Amazing, but I'm not sure I want to keep Captain Rescue either. This afternoon, with the help of a thesaurus, I toyed around with names, hoping to devise a possible witty/short name. In the end, I came with such winners as The Unerring Knight, Captain Infallible, Mr. Infallible--Captain Unerring just sounds weird. I think The Unerring Knight has a nice ring to it, but I'm not sure if it drawing too many parellels , which the character is honestly a parody for, so maybe it fits.

Ultimately, I'm not sure I like the name Captain Rescue. Is it too late to change it? Am I being too hard on the name? ARE THESE QUESTIONS EVEN WORTH ASKING?

Monday, March 7, 2011

I Don't Know if I Should Be Proud or Ashamed that this Took 12 Hours

Let me preface this by saying that before today I had only ever barely used any Adobe product. With the exception of Flash, which I don't really "use" so much as "abuse" on places like youtube. Anyway, the first cover art I released with my debut novel was, for lack of a better term, terri-fucking-bull. I used MS Paint and drew out something in about 30 minutes. Through the week, I've been improving the art day by day--still none of it any good from a professional  standpoint. But hey, I'm on a limited budget (nothing) so you have to make do with what you have. Anyway, I spent the better part of today, all of today, trying to come up with something halfway decent. I ended up with two very different covers, I won't post the first one here because I think it pales in comparison to what I made the 2nd time around:

I still wouldn't go as far to say it's anything outstanding, but for someone with limited artistic skill, aside from an undeniable urge to spew out loads of crap onto a page, I'm damn proud of it. There are little things I want to to improve. Notably, the zombie's arm is a little too long and set a little too low on its torso, but for a stick figure zombie eating an arm, I think it does the job quite nicely. Not to mention, it fits the content of the novel perfectly: a little gory, a little quirky, and a little comic booky.

Saturday, March 5, 2011


This is an excerpt from my first book, which I am posting in honor of SAMPLE SUNDAY! If this excerpt tickles your fancy, which it should, you can pick up a copy of the book for 50% off using the coupon code RAE50 starting Sunday, March 6th.

A blood-curdling scream echoed through the war-torn halls of the police station like that of a little girl who had unwittingly wandered into the wrong neighborhood and then viciously devoured the souls of everyone around her. The ever-approaching scream commandeered the attention of those cramped inside the small cell. Dr. Malevolent, who had been formulating a plan for her big escape and return to a life of crime, felt strangely overcome by the wails.
Deep within the woman’s body, possibly somewhere to the right of her spleen, or maybe hiding behind her liver, a small switch flipped into  the on position. It caused the only hurdle that could possibly dissuade her lust for world domination to kick in—motherly instinct. Yes, baby fever had grabbed her by the gonads, or not really, since she did not have any. Rather, it grabbed at the spot where her gonads would be, but found only air and disappointment. Baby fever did not have a thorough understanding of human anatomy.
The criminal mastermind began to worry uncontrollably about whatever little girl was out there within the hail of gunfire and screams. What mother had abandoned their poor little daughter in a place like this? What kind of world are we living in where the safety of a child was so audaciously pushed aside? The super villain clenched her fists in rage. The scream continued its journey down the hall until just outside the room. Dr. Malevolent’s jaw dropped as the source of the scream burst into the room and ran around in circles, crying at the top of his lungs.
Yes, Captain Rescue had arrived. Blood speckled his skin and suit and his eyes were as open as can be. The horrors he had just borne witness to had apparently regressed the poor hero. Mentally, he had become that little diva he always pretended to be as a young child, sneaking into his mother’s room late at night and stealing her oversized clothes, then dancing around with a wooden spoon, singing Aretha Franklin songs.
With lungs unperturbed by the continuous screaming, Captain Rescue frantically stumbled for the ring of keys that hung from a nail on the wall. The living scream unlocked the cell door and scrambled into the cage without taking a moment to breathe. He turned his back to the criminals, locked the cell door, and then turned around only to find Boris’ fist connecting with his face. The hero dropped like a rock. Luckily, the jolt had ceased his incorrigible shriek. Boris had actually done the Captain a favor—who knows how much longer he would have been able to cling to consciousness, he had not breathed in well over five minutes.
Captain Rescue sat straight up, “Zombies! They’re everywhere, they’re going to kill us all, we’re going to be eaten alive! Oh God, oh God, oh God!”
Boris sighed and punched him again.
“I’ll keep us safe, though, don’t worry!” The hero said ecstatically as he tossed the keys through the cage. They slid across the floor and stopped just inside the hallway.
Boris sighed and punched him yet again.
“Why do you keep doing that?”
Boris raised his fist to the hero, “’Cause you keep doing stupid things, and from my experience, this is the cure.” His fist connected with Captain Rescue’s face once more.
“Did I really hear you say that there were zombies out there,” Dr. Malevolent spoke slowly to Captain Rescue, as a mother would to a child that had consumed too much sugar and had started to run around frantically like a decapitated chicken. This child, however, was just bat-shit crazy.
“Well, uh, they’re trying to eat the ones that aren’t doing the eating.” Captain Rescue said, tracing his words with his hands, assuring he understood the definition of zombie. A look of utmost horror and confusion appeared on Dr. Malevolent’s face, and then she punched the hero, inciting a round of applause by Boris.
By the time the clapping had ended, an eerie silence had blanketed the police station. The cacophony of screeches, groans, and gunfire that had turned the building into the party of the century had finally died down. Either the police officers had put an end to the zombie uprising, or they had all been eaten. Knowing zombies, they had all been eaten. Thus, with Captain Rescue’s mental handicap more than confirmed, the rag-tag group of survivors sat in silence, waiting for some sign from the outside world that everything was okay.
After a few minutes, a squeaking, sloshing sound broke the silence as heavy footsteps traveled towards them from down the hallway. The sound was reminiscent of a wet grizzly that had been synchronized swimming and now wandered about in search of salmon. However, considering they were nowhere near grizzly or salmon territory, chances were the bear in question was actually a ravenous zombie, and the salmon it wanted so badly—human flesh. The sound grew steadily closer, no one within the jail cell knew whether to ready their anti-bear weapons or their anti-zombie weapons, and then froze in terror at the realization they had neither.
Freight, the large police officer from earlier, stepped through the door. The man was a remarkable sight; a delicious stew of blood and various bits of zombies covered him from head to toe. Judging by the visual evidence, the zombies had simply started to think he was one of them. He certainly looked like it. His unblinking eyes were wide open and he did not seem to notice the blood flowing over them. His hands clutched a smoking shotgun, a red ribbon around the barrel.
He was trembling. Not from fear, but from the sheer excitement of having free reign to blast the heads from zombies. He loved guns and he loved to shoot them, so this zombie apocalypse suited him perfectly. His bloodshot eyes made it apparent that the plethora of drugs he pumped into himself regularly to form his chiseled physique had sent him into overdrive and rendered him practically insane. The steroids, his hardcore mental disposition, and the ramped up testosterone found their way into a blender and this was the outcome. His keyboard of life had its caps-lock key pressed and then torn to pieces. 

Friday, March 4, 2011

My Very First Blog Post EVER! ! ! !!! !!

I'm an avid internet user. In fact, I don't really go outside. I probably should, but I don't. Through the years, through the advent of blogging and twitter, I've resisted jumping onto that bandwagon. I just didn't really think that the world needs to hear my every thought, and a lot of them would probably get me into trouble. But then, I decided to independently publish my first (of many to come!) ebook, and everything I heard from the lovely community of indie writers was that you needed to social network.

To that end, I started a blog. I'm not exactly sure what direction this blog will take. The book is a zombie-ridden superhero adventure. So maybe I'll explore those topics. Zombies, superheroes, comedy. I'm also an avid gamer and geek, so expect those topics to creep up now and then, here and there. Oh, and if you want, go ahead and buy my book. It might even change your life, although it's not guaranteed.