Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Before you insult a man, take a moment to reflect on his life experiences and try to see things from his perspective. It will probably give you more material to work with for the insults.

typewriterSo I was hanging out with the Drunken Comic Book Monkeys (aka Brian Koscienski, Chris Pisano and Christine Czachur) at the York Emporium’s Science Fiction Saturday event last weekend.

I was there to sell copies of my friend Scott Pruden’s science fiction book “Immaculate Deception,” from Codorus Press. My own book from Codorus Press isn’t due out until next month and it isn’t really science fiction. But since I was planning to go to the event anyway, the York Emporium’s owner Jim Lewin generously gave me some table space to sell Scott’s book.

Anyway, the subject of money came up. And I mentioned to Chris, Brian, and Christine something that a friend of mine recently said when he learned I had a book coming out. That when I got rich off it, I could buy the beers from then on.

Brian, Chris and Christine all laughed, as did several other writers within earshot. Why? Because the idea of fiction writers — especially writers with small, independent publishers — getting rich these days is so absurd that it’s actually comic.

I didn’t realize that when I first got into this a couple of years ago. (more…)

I recently reviewed Dope Thief by Dennis Tafoya, which I regard as a prime example of a classic setup played off right. As such, it’s an illustration of what I like about genre fiction in general.

Note the term “classic setup.”

The plot of Dope Thief revolves around a small-time thief who pulls what’s supposed to be a routine job, and unexpectedly finds himself in possession of a huge wad of cash. He realizes too late that he’s stolen organized crime money, and that some very dangerous characters will be coming after him to collect.

Variations on that setup have been done plenty of different times. But Tafoya throws in plenty of overt and covert references to classic crime fiction, communicating he’s well aware of this.

Sometimes, I hear people complain about genre fiction, saying that it’s essentially the same thing being done over and over.

To me, this is tantamount to complaining that the the classic song structure of verse-chorus-verse is inherently hackneyed. And yeah, there’s plenty of derivative crap on the radio. But plenty of vital, innovative music follows the verse-chorus-verse structure is still getting released, which means that isn’t the quality that makes a song derivative crap.

The classic song structure remains viable because:

1) It works, and

2) Part of the appeal is seeing what new variations songwriters get out of that configuration.

So let’s look at, say, the classic hard-boiled detective story. (more…)

Remember the Drunken Comic Book Monkeys? Now they have a blog. Hide your daughters.

http://the-imbloglio.livejournal.com/

hi-hats Since you’re doing me the courtesy of reading this blog, I might as well be straight with you. I’ve done some things in my past that I’m not too proud of. In short, I have a criminal history.

Remember the 1979 Walter Hill film “The Warriors?” The one about all the street gangs? Yeah. Well, in my misspent youth, I was a member of the Hi Hats. The street gang that dressed up like mimes. If you watch this trailer, you can catch us at the 34-second mark.

Look, I know what you’re thinking. Whenever anybody finds out about this element of my past, they ask the same questions. “Mimes? You were trying to come up with a concept for your street gang and you went with freakin MIMES? Was, like, every other conceivable possibility in the entire world already taken or something?” (more…)

Jon Gibbs - author pic 2I’m a member of several different writers groups, including Garden State Speculative Fiction Writers, for whom I edit the quarterly newsletter.

Writer Jon Gibbs recently contributed a piece that I think is worth reading for any aspiring writer. He gave me permission to repost it here. And once you finish reading this post, be sure to check out his Website and his blog, both of which have a lot of informative and entertaining stuff.

So take it away Jon …

Give Yourself Permission to Fail

by Jon Gibbs

For many writers, rejections are a bit like a trips to the dentist. We’ll do almost anything to avoid them, rather than risk getting bad news.

You can understand someone being afraid of dentists (I know I am), but why fear rejection? What’s so terrible about someone passing up the chance to publish your work?

I think it’s partly because, no matter how much we like to pretend we don’t care, it hurts to have a story turned down.

And so it should. If you don’t care if your story gets accepted, why submit it there in the first place?

But I believe there’s more to it than worrying about the sting of being told ‘No thank you’ by someone you’ve probably never met.

Jon Gibbs - Barnums Revenge - cover pic - compressedA rejection, especially when we’re starting out, is a hammer blow to our self-confidence. The bad news for would-be writers is that you’re going to get rejected, probably quite a lot. If getting published is important to you, those rejections are going to hurt.

The good news is that it gets easier. The more knocks you take, the tougher you’ll get, and if you make the effort to improve your craft, if you’re willing to recognize your mistakes and learn from them there’s a good chance that you will get published.

So go on, give yourself permission to fail. Take a deep breath and pitch that story.
One day, your dream will thank you.

Born in England, Jon Gibbs now lives in New Jersey, where he is the founder of The New Jersey Authors’ Network (www.njauthorsnetwork.com) and FindAWritingGroup.com, Jon’s middle grade fantasy, “Fur-Face” (Echelon Press), was nominated for a Crystal Kite Award. The sequel, “Barnum’s Revenge,” is scheduled for release in February, 2013.

Jon Gibbs - Fur-Face cover pic - compressedJon has a website: www.acatofninetales.com and a blog: http://jongibbs.livejournal.com. When he’s not chasing around after his three children, he can usually be found hunched over the computer in his basement office. One day he hopes to figure out how to switch it on.

Halflings CourtWhen I was a kid, I successfully campaigned for my Boy Scout patrol to change its name from the “Owl Patrol” to the “Vampire Patrol.”

See, this was about 1979, and vampires were still pretty freakin awesome. Animated corpses with diabolical powers clawing their way out of their graves, hell-bent on tearing open some throats? Come on. What’s in that scenario for a 12-year-old boy not to love?

Little did I know that pop culture vampires had already begun their steady decline into wussification (which I’ve previously touched on here).

Anne Rice — a guilty pleasure of mine, I must admit — painted them as a bunch of preening pretty-boys in “Interview With the Vampire,” published three years earlier. In subsequent decades, they would increasingly become the domain of black-lipstick-wearing goth types.

Then the “Twilight” series came along. And in retrospect, we might as well have dubbed ourselves the “Twinkly Happy Prancing Little Unicorn Patrol.”

But vampires aren’t the only folkloric creatures to make a pop culture transformation from scary and dangerous to twee and sparkly. In a previous generation, the same thing happened to fairies.

Yes, fairies. As in Tinker Bell. As in the gay slur referencing the (offensive, ignorant and untrue) stereotype of gay men as a bunch of mincing weaklings. As in the benign, childlike beings that have graced countless pieces of eye-searingly tacky home décor. Those things.

They used to be badass. (more…)

Oops.

Posted: March 15, 2013 in Uncategorized

I misspoke this morning at McDonald’s, and accidentally ordered an “Egg McGuffin.” It came in a black briefcase. Then Nazi spies stole it, and I had to get it back.

As I’ve mentioned before, I love horror movies. But my friend Rob Schlotz REALLY loves them. Every week, he scours the local Redbox for horror films and checks out every one of them. And for the record, yes, he does have a life. More so than I do. Although that’s not setting the bar very high.

As far as I’m concerned, that makes him eminently qualified to review horror movies. See, he and I don’t always agree on movies. In fact, we frequently disagree — leading to bitter arguments, slammed doors, tearful recriminations and, not infrequently, fisticuffs.

But I want to provide reviews on this blog that will be valuable to horror fans. And I figure that since Rob’s such a horror fan, that’s precisely what qualifies him to write reviews. If he likes something, and you’re as big a horror buff as he is, you may like it too.

Another advantage is that Rob checks out the “Grade B” offerings in addition to the mainstream Hollywood stuff. And as I’ve written about before here, Grade B horror films have historically produced some hidden gems. Maybe Rob will stumble across a few of them.

We’ll see how this goes, but I’d kind of like to make this a regular feature. Feel free to chime in if you have any comments, or if you just want to welcome Rob aboard.

Well, enough of my gum-flapping. Take it away, Horror Maven! (more…)

DaveGroff

David Groff is an American expatriate living in Japan, where he studies martial arts and translates classic samurai texts.

Wow. I feel like just typing that sentence made me cooler.

Anyway, I recently reviewed his translation of Miyamoto Musashi’s 17th Century work, The Five Rings. You can see that review here.

David agreed to a follow-up interview where he discusses his martial arts training, the challenges of translating a work like The Five Rings, and the always contentious issue of samurai vs. ninjas.

How did you end up in Japan, and handling this translation?

I came to Japan in 1997 as an English teacher. I’d been kicking around doing a variety of jobs since college, and did a brief stint teaching Italian at Penn State, where I realized I really enjoyed teaching. I thought about doing graduate study in Italian and pursuing teaching that, but then I thought, “Hey, my Italian is decent, but my English is really good. I bet I could teach that somewhere…” I’ve always had a bit of wanderlust, anyway, so I got an English-teaching certification and started looking for places to go, and I’d been interested in Japan for a long time… there were a lot of jobs here, and they paid well (I had a bit of debt at the time, and with the exchange rate a salary in Colombian pesos was just not going to make a dent in that); I had an interview in New York, and a few months later I was on a plane. (more…)