Monday, December 10, 2018

Real Characters

No one character can describe any of us. But I think I found the mixture that best describe me:

George Costanza - Seinfeld
Murray Goldberg - The Goldbergs
Nick Miller - New Girl

The best part about books, TV, and Movies is when we discover amazing characters. And not just characters that do or say what we wish we could. e.g. Tony Stark, Harvey Specter, Walter Longmire. But finding characters that relate to us is the most satisfying thing of all.

The reason I love the above characters is because in certain ways, they are me. And that's the best part of story making. We aren't making up people, we are reflecting 1) who we are, or 2) who we want to be.

And while I want to have the wit of Jerry Seinfeld, I make decisions like George. Though I want to be the wise intelligent Cliff Huxtable, I'm really the grouchy call-your-kids-moron Murray Goldberg. And then there's Nick. If I were a drinker I'd be nick.

That's why these types of characters will always be around, especially when the heroes fade to dust.

Monday, December 3, 2018

The Hero's Objective

Heroes all seem to want the same thing. And while Joseph Campbell has written in The Hero With A Thousand Face, they pretty much all go on the same journey, I think they all fight for, bleed for, and die for . . . Balance.

In almost all stories they never want to completely wipe evil off the face of whatever setting they have imagined. They simply want to go back to the way things were. Now, that is impossible because they change along the way, but they usually succeed in returning balance to other people.

Evil may want complete and utter dominance of everything, and their intentions may be good e.g. Darth Vader wants to get rid of government corruption and make people be good with a dictatorship. But the Hero seeks for people to choose for themselves, e.g. Superman wants Truth, Justice, and The American Way (Individual Freedom).

Even with Superman, the classic Batman v Superman scenario always comes back to if Superman wants to make everyone be good, he could and that sets him up as a dictator shifting his roles from good to bad.

In The Fattest Mormon my hero/heroine look for balance to operate a fitness start up while the antagonist wants to run the fitness market of the small town. Balance vs Domination.

So I contest that though the hero may have a thousand faces, but he/she all have the same goal.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

How To Fix Justice League - Just Watch Infinity Wars!

I know this is about 7 months late in saying this: I hated Avengers Infinity War. I also know it is probably unpopular to say it since everyone loved it. And even though I said comic book movies were dead to me previously, I still had to see it. It was about the time that Thor, Rocket, Groot, and giant Peter Dinklage did a four abreast hero walk that I finally lost interest in the movie.

Real quick about why I hated it.
1) Too many story lines. They should have focused on just Thanos' interaction with everyone or Spirit and Dr. Strange since they were the ones with the last two stones. Thor making new axe/hammer took too long, Tony and Peter father/son thing took too long, never at any point did they show any emotional connection between Thanos and Gamora and then we were just expected to buy that he really did love her? And Finally, just too long, too much.

Once I entered the third act, I felt and thought something odd. A little subconcious voice said, "I'd rather be watching Justice League."

Which was weird because in the previously linked post, I had said that it killed the genre. Last week I bought Justice League and rewatched it and it was MUCH better the second time and after seeing the Infinity War train wreck.

So nothing has changed, Infinity War has just taken the place of Justice League as the genre killer, but at least I watched Batman, Wonder Woman, The Flash, Cyborg, and Superman and was entertained this time.

I call this the Genre Theory Of Relativity. One movie/book may be bad, but when a worse one comes along, things get better for the former, relatively speaking.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

I May Have Killed A Bunch Of People

Image Credit
The last six months have been interesting. And the reason I haven't blogged at all is because, well . . .

I killed a bunch of people.

Or rather I wrote about killing a lot of people. A LOT of people. From poison, to gunshots, to arrows. 

And boy, was it fun.

The first murder began with my second book in The Winnebago Chronicles. Not so much that any one died in it, as much as I made the decision to cease all work on that series (more on that later). With that fresh kill I moved on to a subject I have always wanted to write about, The Superstition Mountains.

It took awhile to get going. 

Flashback: When my Aunt Kris used to babysit me while my teacher parents were working, she would tell me and my cousin, Nick, old legends about the mysterious mountain range on the east side of the Phoenix Valley. And they have always fascinated me.

My blog absence started about seven months ago when my ANWA critique group challenged me to write a middle grade (Chapter book for kids about 9-12). I worked really hard and after a month of it going from middle grade to YA and back to MG, I remembered something kind of important: I don't even like kids. I mean, I like them, but . . .

Now that left me with an identity crisis for my character. I had fleshed out a world for my story that I didn't want to give up on. I was thinking a type of Harry Potter style kids adventure (but without magic) and already started building a mystery for the kids to solve. But since I didn't want to write for kids, it got stuck in a world with out a hero.

And then everything changed. I had always loved the TV show, Longmire. I knew there were books, but I hadn't ever even thought of reading them. Truth be told, I don't even like the mystery genre. But I heard one of Craig Johnson's audiobooks read by George Guidall and everything came together. The voice, the age, the je ne sais quois was what I was missing. 

So I knuckled down and got to work.

Things didn't flow out of me like they had for The Fattest Mormon. But almost every night from when I got home to bedtime I wrote, and at times I forced words out. I acompanied my writing time with hours worth of Dark Country playlists on youtube to reach my daily word count goal. By the beginning of September I had a mystery. For the last couple of months I've been editing (the gaggiest part of writing). The story is out to beta readers, and I've started my own line editing process. That and I've begun researching agents to query with.

And that's where I've been.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Genre Killer

I've recently lost interest in a few genre's altogether. I blame really bad movies. Like really bad, poorly thought out, unimaginably boring movies that I may have anticipated a little too much.

I hadn't really thought of this until recently. Because, yes, I am a recovering Star Wars geek. And, yes, I am one of those people that absolutely despised The Last Jedi.

I'm not going to go into it because everyone else already has voiced the same feeling about how much I hated it. But I will say that immediately following that film I invested half of my 401(k) in a defense based mutual fund just to spite Rose and Finn's excellent adventure. And that has paid off.

To me though, Star Wars killed all SciFi/Fantasy for me. I had to examine what it was I hated about the movie and the realize what an absolute loser I was for getting so excited about it. All the speculation and expanded universe theories I learned all came crashing down on me forcing me to wake up and realize what a waste of time it all was.  

And then I realized it has happened before. Therefore, here are the movies that ruined entire genres for me.

As I previously mentioned

I haven't even wanted to hear the word, Elf, since.

Above and below. DC has ruined all the hard work Marvel did  for me.

True, I may have posted recently about Thor and Black Panther. But going into a comic book movie hasn't been the same since Suicide Squad/Justice League. I had all the hope in the world for both movies . . . and then hated them. I now set a low bar for comic book movies and then hope to be impressed.

Finally, this is what a Genre Killer really does. SciFi/Fantasy doesn't taste good anymore. A month after The Last Jedi I finally watched the most recent Star Trek. Meh. I couldn't look at Capt Kirk the same way. Because Star Wars had already shown me what a pathetic waste of time it all was.

Thank you Warner Brothers and Lucas Films. I've been a man for a long time. But you have now matured my taste in entertainment.

 For your entertainment, I have provided the following hour of dwarfs singing:

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Story Probation

I've been thinking a lot about the invasion of Iraq. One thing in particular stood out now that I'm a story teller. The fact that I'm a really bad story teller.

I was waiting in chow line with two buddies. I don't remember what story I told but they looked at me like I was a complete idiot. That's when one turned to me and said, "Aba, you're on story probation."

That didn't feel good. I really hated it. It was a terrible story, but I had to earn permission again if I was going to share with the group again. And now here I am, years later with a story that I'm trying to sell. This one is a little better. You can thank a good editor for that. But every now and then I'm afraid to find an Amazon review placing me back on story probation.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

IMUO: Black Panther Vs. Thor

Hopefully you've seen Black Panther and Thor: Ragnarok recently (to be abbreviated to BP and TR). TR is available digitally and BP has earned about a billion dollars so I'm assuming you've seen it. If not, SPOILER ALERT!

Unfortunately BP and TR share the exact same plot. Both deal with the death of a father and the ascent to the throne only to be usurped be an unknown family member and then trying to grow into the responsibilities of becoming what they need to balance shirking old traditions and maintaining the spirit of their kingdoms. Thor realizes that he must let Asgard the place be destroyed in order to save Asgard the people and he finds his true powers. T'challa realizes it is time to bring Wakanda out of hiding in order to help his "people" and the rest of humanity. So there's that.

In the end and in my uneducated opinion, BP is the better movie. And it all comes down to Bathos. TR while great, felt like one big joke. And really, it should have been a little serious. Thor loses his dad, his best friends, his home, and is cast into a junk planet. And they joke the whole time. Almost every serious scene is undercut by a trivial joke. As an example:

The first Thor movies shows how Thor is unready and unworthy of the throne. It's here, everything we've wanted, Thor is now king. And it's undercut by a joke about stepping on Meek.

Black Panther is the better movie because while there is humor it doesn't take from the seriousness of the film. And yes, I know what you are thinking, how is a comic book based movie supposed to be taken seriously? Just go with it. T'challa's story has some humor. His sister is the genius/comic relief but at no point does the humor take away from the dramatic moment. By the TR and even Guardians of the Galaxy equation, the moment that T'challa takes his dying cousin to see the Wakanda sunset, someone should have said something to lighten the mood. But I would have lost my mind if that would have happened. Because it wouldn't have needed it. It is BP's drama that makes it the better movie.

The second factor in BP being better than TR is the villains.

TR's villain Hela is bland and one dimensional. Take over the world kind of crap and then move on to other worlds. Blah blah blah.

BP's villain has a similar objective, liberate the oppressed across the globe with the might of Wakandan technology. But there's so much more to Killmonger. While a MIT grad, and lethal SEAL with thousands of kills, he's still the little boy that found his dead father. He has a conviction that his cause is as just as T'challa's.

So with a complex villain and almost no poorly timed humor. I declare Black Panther the greater movie.

Friday, February 9, 2018

The First Time I Wrote

February 9, 2003 will be a date that I'll never forget. That was the date I pulled out my new gas mask filter the moment we settled in Camp Coyote in Kuwait. I'll remember that date because that was what I wrote on a piece of green duct tape.

From there we waited to invade Iraq. We did some training, some classes, and a lot of prep. But for the most part there was a lot of down time. So at some point I thought that maybe I should write a book.

It was dark and I had my red lens "moon beam" pointed down on a notebook. Fire watch in our great big "Haji" tent was literally staying awake and watching for fire. Maybe we prevented anyone from coming in and stealing some gear, but it was primarily to wake everyone up and get them out in case the tent caught on fire.

So to stay awake I wrote.

It was a dumb cliche military thriller about the U.S. and Israel taking on the entire world. The main character was a Recon Marine. An invincible Mary Sue type that was going to change the course of the world.

Eventually, I lost some of the momentum when the actual war got in the way and I had to sit in the back of a dump truck for a few days to wait until it was my squad's turn to lay down a hose line.

 But that was the first time I picked up a pen and went for it.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

My Title Sucks

I don't actually like the title The Fattest Mormon. In a perfect world I would have named the title of my book. The Last Hustle Of Phil Carroll. It sounds pretty epic rolling off the tongue.

But since people do judge books by their cover I went with the more provocative title. The Fattest Mormon was meant to be click bait more or less.

The Fattest Mormon is also supposed to be ironic. You can find out why if you read it.

But with sales where they are I'm starting to think The Last Hustle Of Phil Carroll would have been fine. But as always, The Fattest Mormon is still available in paperback and kindle.

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Everywhere A Writing Prompt!

There are websites that can generate a writing prompt for you. This one here, has a first line generator. And then there is this one that can actually produce a short short story for you. Many writers look for prompts to make their story, novel, TV show, etc. But some of the best prompts are right in front of us.

Now, it will take a wild imagination to find a Dragon Fantasy while walking with your grandmother through her rest home. But hey, Tolkien invented Middle Earth in the carnage and chaos of World War I. So anything is possible.

Websites are the least effective place to find writing prompts, because they are everywhere. Have you ever wondered what the guy at the mall in the corner hat shop thinks of the Israeli woman at the hand lotion kiosk right outside his store? What about they guy driving the huge truck next to you on the highway. Does he really know what's in his cargo? How about that hill that you always drive past? Ever wonder what's ten feet below the surface? What about twenty or fifty feet?

And then there's stuff like this on Amazon.
Some one bought a USB battery charger and then immediately bought a Live Animal Cage Trap. WHY!?! That's a story I want to know. It just proves that there are writing prompts everywhere. You just have to be creative enough, or ADHD enough to find them.

Like my writing prompt for The Fattest Mormon. A simple weight-loss competition.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

IMUO. Harry Potter . . . I Don't Get It

In My Uneducated Opinion. I don't understand Harry Potter.

Warning: I saw the movies. I did not read the books.

Here is what I got from the movies. Harry Potter sucks as a character. He's just, meh. Ron, Hermione, Ron's Family, all the professors, even Draco and his dad are all really strong characters.

But Harry? He's okay.

Rowling is exceptional at building worlds and characters. I'm positive that all of that translated to the films. The reason we can keep watching the movies is because we're excited to see what else might be introduce. Rowling introduces new magic every time that still fits with her original world, except for that stupid time travel thing that Hermione uses to save that one creature. Using that might have saved them a few different times in other books.

But I keep coming back to Harry. He doesn't really do anything. When I think about it, most of his decisions are because he has to. Yes, his friends lives are in danger about 90% of the time. But really, his own life is in danger even more. So he has no choice. All of his supporting characters are never in as much danger as he is, so they show more character when they choose to face evil. Harry just faces evil because no matter what he does, evil is coming for him. I believe that the below link shows what I'm talking about.

Though this is supposed to be the big climax of both the film and his character arc in this movie. It's really just him making a last desperate attempt because he HAS to.

Though the movies sucked, Bilbo Baggins has a clear defining choice. Stay home in peace and comfort, or follow a crazy old guy and disgusting little people. His choice is not induced. And that is what makes him a stronger character.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Indie Publishing: The Control Freak's Nightmare

So I've covered why Indie Publishing is great for control freaks. This is why it's terrible. And it's really very simple


If no one buys it? Your Fault. So yeah it's terrifying once that book goes live because there is no going back.

No Pressure!

And as always, The Fattest Mormon is still available on Amazon.