Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Rain (Also: World Horror Convention 2016!)

The weather has been cloudy, wet, and dreary in Utah as of late, and I'm loving it. Writing while it's raining outside, and I'm nice and cozy inside, is one of my favorite things.

There's rain in them thar hills.

It's also perfect weather for the WORLD HORROR CONVENTION*! (Cue crash of lightning and Vincent Price-style dramatic musical intro)

It so happens that the 2016 World Horror Convention is right in my backyard this year in Provo, UT--which means, of course, I'll be attending! I'm fortunate enough to have made it onto a few panels as well. I'm pretty excited about the whole experience--I've never been to WHC before, despite the con taking place in Salt Lake City just a few years ago. I think this will be a slightly different experience from the normal Sci-Fi/Fantasy and media cons I usually attend, and I'm looking forward to that.

Here's my official schedule for WHC 2016 (descriptions in quotations marks "" are WHC's descriptions of each panel):

Thursday 28 April at 2:00 PM - "Horrific Fantasy: A Touch of the Macabre"
"Dark fantasy as a sub-genre that often dances across the line between fantasy and horror. Is there a line, and how can you effectively cross it?" I'm very much looking forward to this panel. I usually tell people I write "epic dark fantasy." A large part of why I classify my work as "dark fantasy" is the fact that I like to integrate elements of horror into my writing.

Friday 29 April at 9:00 AM - "Using Social Media Effectively"
"Facebook, Twitter, blogs, Goodreads, etc. are all good places to promote  yourself as a writer, but how do you do so effectively?" This will be an interesting panel, as I'll get to represent the group of writers who maybe have a book deal in the works or a book coming out soon, but have not had much of a social media presence before breaking in to the industry. I've done quite a bit of research on this, and have a solid plan for moving forward on social media before, during, and after the release of my first book.

Sunday 1 May at 9:00 AM - "Graduate School Possibilities for Writers"
"For those who are interested, there are a lot of places you can get an M.A. or M.F.A. that will help you as a writer. Come find out some of the possibilities." Considering I have an MFA in Creative Writing, and that I learned about the process of preparing, choosing, and applying to MFA and MA programs (both through research and trial and error), I think I'm an ideal candidate for this panel, and I'm looking forward to sharing what I've learned.

I'll also be attending other panels and presentations, and generally just stalking the halls of the hotel looking for fun things to do and interesting people to talk to. It'll be a good time.

So if horror, dark fantasy, and awesome authors and artists strike your fancy, you should definitely come check out WHC 2016.

* Notate bene: correct pronunciation is key, here. Don't make the same mistake I did and accidentally tell someone that you're attending the "World Whore Convention."

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

German cover of DUSKFALL!

Okay, have I mentioned that Duskfall is getting a publication run in Germany this fall?

Well, it totally is, by the pub house Dromer-Knaur. And they just revealed the cover:

That is a fantastic cover, amirite? I particularly love the color scheme. Anyway, if any of you folks are from Germany, check out my publisher's website here.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Daredevil Season 2

In case any of you are hiding under rocks, Netflix's flagship Marvel series, Daredevil (hereafter DD), released Season 2 a couple weeks ago.

Folks, this show is phenomenal.

DD's first season was groundbreaking stuff. Phenomenal fight scenes that paid homage to some of the greatest cinematic fights of all time. Profound, multi-faceted characters. Social relevance. Great acting. And, of course, one of the greatest MCU villains of all time. DD also opened the gate for three other Netflix superhero programs (Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, and Iron Fist) that would eventually culminate in a Defenders series tying them all together, Avengers-style.

That's all very exciting (and intimidating, and overwhelming, as the MCU is quickly becoming..but that's a rant for another day). And when Jessica Jones came out last fall, it blew me away--even edging out DD's first season, imho (JJ offered all of the incredible things from DD's first season, but Jessica's arc was even more compelling to me than Matt Murdock's).

Unfortunately, I think DD2 falls short of DD1 and JJ.

[This seems like as good a place as any to say SPOILERS FORTHCOMING, PEOPLE! BE YE WARNED!]

Don't get me wrong--DD2 is still really fantastic television, and has some great stuff in its favor:

  • Pretty much everything involving Jon Bernthal as the Punisher was phenomenal. Bernthal somehow expressed the Punisher's over-the-top violence while still making him seem very human (not a comic-book cut-out), and that's no easy task.
  • Vincent D'Onofrio as Wilson Fisk once again delivers. He's only in a few scenes, but he steals the shit out of those scenes and makes them his own. He's a dominating, compelling, fascinating villain, and I'd venture to say he's the greatest villain the MCU has yet to produce (with Killgrave and Loki coming in at a very close second and third, respectively).
  • The main cast shines once more, and have great chemistry together.

But, of course, I did find some flaws with this season...and they all sort of revolved around Elektra.

I actually really liked Elektra's character, and I totally ship her and "Matthew." Elodie Yung makes Elektra sophisticated, captivating, and edgy. It was pretty much everything involving the Hand that I didn't particularly enjoy. The faceless ninjas. Zzzz. The lack of a solid villain (I was really feeling the gap left by Fisk). The seeming lack of real motivation on the Hand's part. (So you're after a weapon. Fine. That means you want to kill people, I suppose. Fine. BUT WHY DO YOU WANT TO DO THAT?! GIVE ME SOMETHING MORE FOR CRYING OUT LOUD.) The storyline involving the Hand wasn't terrible, but compared to the awesomeness that went into the Punisher's plot, and DD1 and JJ, it really fell short for me. Also, that ending? Elektra dying and then showing up in the regeneration coffin thingy? I totally called that. Like, in episode six I called it. That isn't a good thing.

The other aspect of the season, again tangentially bordering Elektra, was Matt's proposal to her at the end of episode eight. He convinces her to drop Stick and start a life of pious vigilanteism with him instead, and Elektra finally agrees, letting Stick go and fully committing to Matt.

Then, basically at the beginning of episode nine, when Elektra kills a kid that was about to kill Matt, Matt's like "Um...about that spending the rest of our lives fighting crime together thing? Yeah, never mind."




That drove me crazy, in case you can't tell.

I get that she killed someone after basically committing to Matt that she wouldn't. But the dude doesn't have at least one ounce of FORGIVENESS in him? Isn't that what he's trying to instill in her--that people--even people who do bad things--deserve second chances?

That whole sequence was a huge miss for me. If it had happened over much more time, with accompanying character arcs (because that bit not only affects Matt and Elektra, but Karen as well), it'd be fine. If they had just shown me a bit of Matt's motivation behind what went on, I'd at least be able to let it go. But, as is, it does none of those things, and that really bothers me. For a show with such phenomenal writing, I'm very disappointed to have seen something so mishandled.

So that's my take on DD2. I'd like to rewatch DD1 and 2 together in the near future, and I might change my mind once I do that. But (a) it doesn't look like I'll have time to do that anytime soon, and (b) even if I do, I highly doubt I'll change my mind about this.

DD2 is great television, and absolutely worth the watch. I'm nitpicking at it because I've seen the writers do such great things in the past. But, for me, it just wasn't as strong as DD1 or JJ.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Retreat to the House on the Hill II

As some of you may remember, last year I attended a writing retreat here in Utah and it was amazing.

Well, I attended the same retreat two weeks ago, courtesy of the eclectically brilliant, academic-hating, ice-giant-of-a-man Dave Butler, and once again triumphed over my writing foes.

I can't say for sure exactly how much work I got done this time because it was mostly revision, but I revised upwards of 80,000 words, and re-outlined the main story braid of book 2 in the Chaos Queen Quintet for further revision. It was fantastic.

The retreat is a cool thing for a number of reasons. (1) I get a lot of writing done. Writing happens pretty much from the moment everyone wakes up until dinner that evening, with itty-bitty breaks here and there for lunch and shooting the breeze with the other retreaters. (2) I get to hang out with some other awesome writers--we all eat dinner together, and then play board games until the late hours. It is a lot of fun, and this year I got to hang out with Jon Rock, Daniel Braithwaite, Scott Taylor, Aaron Michael Ritchey, Eric Patten, Michael Dalzen, and Marion Jensen. We had a special guest in the form of Nick Dianatkhah, and of course were hosted by Dave Butler.

It was quite an enjoyable week.

Highlights include the Edward M. Kovel Awards:

Remind me to tell you why these awards are so amazing sometime.

A delightful, over-too-soon game of Twilight Imperium:

The greatest board game on the planet (or in the galaxy, for that matter). And this was only a six-player game.

And, of course, making significant progress on version 2.0 of CQQ2. That, my friends, adds up to a very successful week.

Monday, March 28, 2016

ARCs are in!

And they are gorgeous.

The cover looks even better in person.

Thanks to my daughter for being willing to model the book for everyone. They are both chic AF, ya'll.
So, yeah. Life is good.

FanX in Review

The Salt Lake and Utah Valley areas are pretty awesome when it comes to nerdery. There are a lot of great conventions, conferences, symposiums, retreats, and pretty much anything else a budding writer/nerd enthusiast could want.

This past weekend was one of them: Salt Lake Comic Con FanXperience!

FanX is sort of the younger sibling of the giant Comic Con in Salt Lake every fall--I think Comic Con caps out at around 150k memberships, while FanX is somewhere between 50-100K. But it is still quite the Con, and was a lot of fun.

I was on two panels (one on Joss Whedon and his protagonists, the other about Vampires), both of which were great! We had great moderators, great panelists, and of course great audiences. Between the panels and just wandering around the Con, I was able to meet a lot of great authors. That's one of my favorite aspects of these things--meeting awesome people. And did I ever.

So, FanX was definitely a success. It makes me look forward to World Horror (in Provo) and SL Comic Con that much more!

Now, enjoy this picture of me, looking somewhat professional and like I sort of know what I'm talking about: