Saturday, December 31, 2011

Out With 2011, In With 2012!

I totally meant to write an elaborate blog post last night to wrap up 2011, but then I went out with a friend and came home to SWTOR. Bad blogger, no biscuit! But I will say this much, even though I'm not ending this year on the high note that I did last year, I still accomplished a lot this year:

I moved out of my apartment and into a house. I still have roommates (housemates), but it's a far better living situation than I was in before. I can now rest easy in a place that feels like home with people who don't make my skin crawl, and I feel like I'm one step closer to living on my own at last.

I had a great relationship that didn't last. I'm sad that it ended the way it did, but glad that I was able to share something wonderful with someone while it lasted. She helped me open my life up to things I'd been denying myself over the years, and for that, I'm very grateful. I wish her nothing but peace and joy.

I let my writing take flight in the public domain, first as staff writer for Comic Booked, then as a self-published author. My writing is now up on Kindle and Nook, which was a huge step for me in getting my fictional world out to a wider audience, and I look forward to watching that seed grow in the new year.

Finally, I survived a number of hardships thrown my way this year. Between losing my job, getting into an accident, and going through a break-up, there were times when the old me, the mid-20s me, would have thrown in the towel. But I persevered, and the challenges of this year have fueled my writing in unexpected ways.

2011 wasn't a horrible year. It held great promise, some of which delivered and some of which fell short, and built the foundation for what will surely be a successful 2012. Even so, I'm not sad to see this year pass. If I had to do it all over again, I don't think I'd change a thing. Well, I might have released Everyday Divinities a little earlier, but aside from that...

Now, let's hit the ground running in 2012 and make some magic happen before the world ends in December!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Everyday Divinities Is Available On Nook, Too!

Wow, is it Wednesday already? It seems like just yesterday I'd put my short story anthology up on Kindle, and now I have more wonderful news just in time for the holidays!

Everyday Divinities, a collection of 5 short stories originally released on this very blog, is now a digital book available on BOTH Amazon Kindle and the Barnes & Noble Nook!

YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY!!!!

Everyday Divinities cover


Man, this week has been so draining on me. It's hard maintaining so much excitement for so many days! I've always wanted to present my writing to a much larger audience, and now it's up in the two major e-reader stores. It's crazy!

Aside from all that good news, I also have an author page on Goodreads! And you can add Everyday Divinities to your Goodreads bookshelf! Can you believe it?! It's too awesome, and it makes me very excited every time I log into that site now. I'll be making use of its various features come January, so keep a watch for that in 2012.

I hope all of you have checked out the anthology, or are about to over the holidays. If you like it, recommend it to friends! If you REALLY like it and feel that $2 is not nearly enough for the extraordinary short stories you've read, or you want to see more stories in a second collection, I'd encourage you to vote with your wallet and use that wee little "Donate" button just to the right of The Everyday Divinities Project links. If you didn't like it... well, constructive feedback is always welcome and encouraged, and knowing what doesn't work for you is just as important as knowing what does. Leave your feedback in the comments below and let me know what I could do differently.

Also, if you'd like to see my digital anthology in another e-reader format, leave a comment below and I'll see what I can do. I'm no miracleworker, but I do want to make sure that everyone who wants to read my writing is able to, regardless of the device they use.

I think that about covers it for now. I'll keep you all posted on Everyday Divinities news, as well as my other projects. Enjoy the anthology, and happy holidays!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Everyday Divinities Is Available On Kindle!

It's here! The long awaited arrival of my short stories to the world of digital publishing!

Everyday Divinities, a collection of 5 short stories originally released on this very blog, is now a digital book on Amazon Kindle!

YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY!!!!

Everyday Divinities cover


I can't even begin to tell you the gauntlet of emotions that I've run since clicking that "Save and publish" button last night. This is the first time I've really put my writing out there to see if people are willing to pay money for it. It's new territory for me, which is exciting and scary and awesome and terrifying and joyous and... well, you get the picture. This is a BIG DEAL to me, and you, my loyal followers, are here to witness how crazy it will make me! Isn't that exciting?!

Now, let's talk a bit of business. This is only the tip of the digital iceberg for this mini-anthology. True to my word, I'll be converting this document into file types for use on other devices this weekend, starting with the Nook's "PubIt!" service. If there's a particular file type you'd like to see it in, post it in the comments section below and I'll see what I can do. I can't make any promises, especially if it's an obscure file type that my conversion software doesn't support, but I'll definitely make every effort to give my work the widest audience possible.

Speaking of which, those of you who know about such things will be happy to know that my anthology is completely DRM-free. I hate it when I can't transfer music or books to other devices easily, and as much as I'd appreciate the extra income, I won't make my loyal followers buy more than one copy of my work just so they can have it on multiple devices. Put it on your e-reader, your phone, your computer, even all of the above. If you like it, recommend it to friends! If you REALLY like it and feel that $2 is not nearly enough for the extraordinary stories you've read, or you want to see more stories in a second collection, I'd encourage you to vote with your wallet and use that nifty little "Donate" button up there in the upper right corner of my blog. If you didn't like it... well, I always encourage feedback, and knowing what doesn't work for you is just as important as knowing what does. Drop me a line and let me know what I could do differently.

I think that about covers it for now. I'll keep you all posted on my further plans to bring Everyday Divinities to new devices, as well as my other projects. Enjoy the anthology!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Between the Lines - The Desktop and Laptop Computers

The release of my short story anthology is imminent! To celebrate, I thought I'd give my loyal followers another peek behind the creative curtain with a new Between the Lines post. We'll skip past The Copier for reasons I'll go into at another time and go straight toward the second to last story in the collection...

The Desktop and Laptop Computers

To start, this story was created with a specific purpose: To give expression to my very judgmental feelings regarding a certain chain of eateries. I don't know if they're like this in every city they're in, but this particular bakery is about as trendy as it comes, which of course meant that I had to poke fun at it in writing. It used to be that I'd make fun of people in Starbucks for the collection of laptops occupying every table. Now my mockery has a new target. I can't come right out and give the eatery's name, of course. That would be A Bad Thing, and I'm not about to sabotage my writing career before it starts by getting sued for libel. I can, however, switch around a couple of letters to create a fictional eatery with a similar enough name that astute readers should be able to figure out what it is without me coming out and saying the actual name. If you got it, points to you! If you didn't, don't worry about it, you're not missing much.

Aside from riffing on this eatery and the people who patron the establishment, I've been meaning to delve into gods who are co-workers as well as friends, similar to what I did with the Television and the Remote Control story. I wanted to take them out of the work situation and put them in casual mode, so I set the story in a bit of "downtime" that the two gods might share in the course of their duties. After all, even the most dedicated of gods needs to forge connections to those of like minds to expand their influence. I had my setting and my discussion, now it came down to forging the voice of each god.

It made sense to make the laptop god, who naturally would be ranting about this eatery that his domain is taken into constantly, the younger and hipper of the two computers. Being so mobile, he would be more well-traveled than the desktop computer, so I made him sort of a free-spirited, jet-setting kind of character. His counterpart, the desktop computer, would be older and more reserved. The contrast was a natural one, which I emphasized by putting the desktop computer in a business suit, to reflect the sheer number of desktops used in a corporate setting. While I didn't go into detail in the laptop's attire, I pictured him as much more casual and relaxed in his clothing (despite his energetic rant).

The names came to me easily enough. Since HP and Dell are two of the most widely used computer brands out there, it made sense to adapt them to my naming conventions. HP became the initials for Holland Parcell, and Dell became Dall. Parcell, incidentally, is a variation of a name found in my family, so my thanks go out to my cousin for marrying into a family name that I could use in a story!

Since I'm a big fan of MMOs, I couldn't help but bring them into a discussion between two computer gods. For curious parties, I used to roleplay on Sentinels server in World of Warcraft under the name Cynlan on Horde side, and these days I'll be active in Star Wars: The Old Republic as Jace Colton on the RP server Vrook Lamar. Feel free to say hi to me if you run into me in-game, but don't be too distressed if I don't get back to you right away. I may be in the middle of roleplay, or I could be in a boss fight.

Incidentally, if you have to ask what Dall meant by that comment of the other "good time" people use computers for, you're better off not knowing.

Finally, major props go out to Karuna Tanahashi for giving this story a critical eye and making some very sound editorial suggestions. It really made the difference in comparison to previous stories. Thank you, Karuna!

Got a question you'd like to ask about The Desktop and Laptop Computers story? Feel free to post it in the comments section below, and I'll answer it right on this very page!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Hectic Holidays

My posts typically become less and less frequent around the holidays, and for this I apologize (yet again). But hey, I have some very good reasons for not posting so much this time! In addition to the usual holiday madness, I'm working a new job and giving my anthology one final pass before it goes live on e-readers. I also have a TON of notes to sift through for my trilogy to kick it up to the next level, more behind the scenes stuff to post on the short stories (AKA bonus material for those who come across my anthology without knowing about my blog) and a host of other good things that I don't want to jinx by talking about them just yet. (Two words: Short film!)

With so much on my plate right now, this really is the season of giving! And soon, I'll be giving the world the gift of my imagination. It's coming sooner than you think!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

NaNoWriMo: The End

So, it's December 3rd, and National Novel Writing Month is over. If you made it to 50,000 words before it ended, congrats! There is no feeling greater than having met your word count goal, and hey, you also have a novel to show for it, too! Talk about accomplishment!



If you didn't make it, don't feel bad. You started, and that's what counts. I tried to start so many novels before I did NaNoWriMo, and none of them got past the first page. Starting a creative endeavor can be the hardest thing you'll ever do, so if you got even a couple of pages in, you're still way ahead of the curve.

Of course, every ending is another beginning, and NaNoWriMo is no exception. If you didn't finish your novel, you now have as much time as you like to see it through to the end. If you'd like, make your own deadline and stick to it. You can even ditch the deadline completely and work on it in your spare time. If you finished your novel, let it sit for a bit and then go back through and edit it. Flesh out the parts that weren't as strong because you didn't have time to do the research. Cut out the weak bits that didn't exactly fit but still contributed to your word count. Take that crappy first draft that's now in your position and work it into a strong second draft. Before you know it, you'll have a manuscript that, if you so choose, you can shop around to literary agents and publishers, or self-publish as an e-book.

Whether you decide to forge ahead with your novel (like I did) or let it rest on your mantle as the sign of a job well done, my kudos go out to all of you who participated in this month-long event. Congrats, you're a real writer now!

Monday, November 21, 2011

And Now, For Something Completely Different

I'm not a political person, and this is not a political blog. I like to keep the focus on writing, but I also like to educate and enlighten in this space, and I do occasionally shed some light on other aspects of my writer's journey that are not as obviously connected to me being a writer, but are still important to me.

I come from a nice middle class family. My mom worked as a producer for television while I was growing up, and my dad worked as an announcer for radio and television. (And while my mom has since given up working in the entertainment industry, you've probably heard my dad's voice recently if you listen to the radio or watch TV at all.) My dad's initial foray into creating his own business failed spectacularly, resulting in my family filing for bankruptcy and going through a divorce while I was finishing high school. When I graduated, I went straight into the work force because there was no money for me to go to college and my mom needed my help to make ends meet. I wasn't always the best at helping out on that end, and for many years, I carried with me an entitlement that I gained from having my every financial need met while I was in school. When I moved out, however, I had a job at a bookstore, and for a time I had a second job as a courier to make ends meet. Since then, I've worked hard to cover my own bills, to support myself, to get by as best I could on my meager earnings. It hasn't always worked. I've sometimes needed my parents to bail me out when things got especially bad, but I never stopped trying to make it happen on my own. I've worked at a law office, a doctor's office, and an information technology company. Considering I have no college degree and all of my adult education has been on-the-job training, I've done pretty well for myself.

Then the economy went to hell.

Then the government cut back on funding to companies like the one I worked for.

Then I got laid off from my job.

Now, 15 years after graduating from high school, I'm still struggling to make ends meet. It's harder now. People aren't as willing to hire as they were before, preferring to saddle current employees with the work of three people instead of bringing on additional help. I take temp work as often as I can and submit my resume for everything I'm even remotely qualified for, but I have no steady paycheck and I constantly worry about where money is going to come from so I can eat this week. Meanwhile, my bank continues to gouge me for money I don't have to pay hidden fees so their executives can continue to live the high life, forcing me to borrow money just so I can keep my head above water for five seconds.

I don't believe this is how the world should work, and I'm not the only one who thinks that way.

While I can't always get out to the Occupy encampment near me because I need to make money to pay bills, I nevertheless stand with them against the 1%. I believe real change needs to happen, in our government and our businesses, before things get out of hand. I believe our representatives need to listen to the people crying out for help, not the corporations buying their attention. I believe that the system is broken, and that our elected officials have a responsibility to fix it.

I know that this change won't happen overnight. I also know that it WILL happen, sooner or later. Until then, I stand with the rest of the Occupy Wall Street movement, because I am the 99%.

I share every piece of news about Occupy Wall Street that I can on Facebook, Tumblr, Google+ and Twitter, but there's so much more that slips under my radar. Please, I implore you, read up on this movement and understand what it's really about, not what the traditional media wants you to think it's about.

Edit: And as a sort of OWS primer, here are a few links to get you started.

New York Times: Protestors Against Wall Street

Huffington Post: Capturing Occupy Wall Street movement Demands

Portsmouth Patch: Roemer Fully Behind Occupy Movement

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Everyday Divinities Has A Cover!

OK, yes, it's been a long time coming, but I can confidently make this announcement at last:

MY ANTHOLOGY HAS A COVER!!!

Everyday Divinities cover


That's right, Everyday Divinities has cover art at long last! We can thank Daniel Thayer for the image above, which will soon be on e-readers nationwide. Kudos for putting that together for me, Dan!

Now that there's cover art, I can move ahead with getting Everyday Divinities up as an e-book. Check back here soon for the big announcement!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

NaNoWriMo: The Halfway Point

Today is Nov. 16th, roughly halfway through National Novel Writing Month. Time for a pep talk!



For those of you still participating in this event, way to go! You're already a cut above the rest by sticking with it this long, regardless of what your word count is right now. Those of you who started strong but gave up due to [insert excuse here], it's not too late! Put the boots on and launch back into that word count with renewed ferocity. And to the rest of you who never crossed the start line, it's not too late for you, either! You'll have twice the work ahead of you than most NaNoWriMo-ers, but it's not unheard of to make that 50,000 word goal in half the time.

The halfway point was hard for me. Sure, I had kept with the daily word count goals I had set for myself, but I was still only halfway there. Real life was already doing its best to derail my progress and the last half of the month would bring with it the additional complication of the Thanksgiving holiday. An already uphill battle for a guy who had previously only done 3-page short stories was going to be even more difficult.

I had every reason in the world to stop. My friends wanted to hang out with me again. Family wanted to spend time with me around the holiday. Work drained my energy during the day, leaving me running on fumes at night. And then there was that ever-present noise in my head, telling me that I wasn't good enough, I'm not a real writer, I should stop trying so hard and give up now.

You know what I did? I kept writing anyway.

My friends understood that I had a passion and needed to stoke that fire in me. Family had to sleep, and there was always that time late at night or early in the morning when they weren't awake yet and I could lay down some more words. At work, I would write on my lunch break and during my commute to and from the office. I stole every possible moment I could from the day to meet my daily goals, and I'll be damned if I was going to let the world keep me from crossing the finish line.

As for the noise in my head? It was always there, and always will be there. Self-doubt is nothing new to writers. Even the seasoned vets still hear that voice drilling doubt into their brain. The trick is to hear it without giving in to it. Recognize that voice, smile and nod at it, then go ahead and write anyway. If you have to, say aloud, "I will make it to 50,000 words." Make it your mantra. Don't worry about sounding crazy, everyone assumes writers are weird anyway.

You can do it. I know you can, and deep down, you know you can, too. Stick with it, you'll be glad you did.

See you at the finish line!

Friday, November 11, 2011

My Awkward Adventure at Comikaze Expo

So, I covered my first comic book convention this past weekend, Comikaze Expo. It wasn't the first convention I've ever been to, not by far. That honor goes to San Diego Comic Con 2002, which instilled in me a love for conventions when I got to meet Peter "Chewbacca" Mayhew in person and ended up sitting at the booth with him talking about Star Wars. That was before SDCC turned into the absolute clusterfrak of pop culture that it is today.

Comikaze was almost perfectly situated in my life, too: I got sick before the convention, not during, and my beloved broke up with me right after it. The timing of these two events meant that I was able to enjoy the convention well enough without coughing or sneezing all over the people I was meeting, or in such a heartbroken funk that people would avoid me on sight. Timing, as they say, is everything.



It was a great event, though, even with so much going on. I spent most of the time that weekend in the company of my friends Eric and Jessica, then met up with my friend Jesse, and even spent some time with my mother (pictured above with me and Marina Sirtis) and her boyfriend. I met a lot of new people, made some new friends, and ended up with one of the best convention experiences I've had since 2002.

You can read all about My Awkward Adventure at Comikaze Expo, Day One and Day Two at Comic Booked!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Friday, October 28, 2011

An Update & A Request!

It's time for another writing update, don't you think?

My anthology is almost ready for release into the wild! The formatting is done! I just want to go over it one last time to make sure it meets all the formatting requirements for ebook conversion, and I'll be doing that this weekend. It's so exciting to get something I've written ready for online publication. I can't wait for you all to see how snazzy it looks when it's not displayed on my blog!

There is, however, one major stumbling block for me in getting this anthology out the door, and it's a problem I've mentioned a couple of times before. I still have no cover image!



It's a sad thing to see an ebook with no cover image. It makes me feel like it isn't a real book, just something that was cobbled together and hastily slapped onto an ereader. I want to deliver a quality product to the people, hence all the time I've invested in making sure it's as ready as it can possibly be before I put it out there, and it's obvious to me now that I can't do this alone.

I turn to you, loyal followers, to help me find a cover image! If you've read the short stories of The Everyday Divinities Project, you already know that it focuses on inanimate objects and the secret lives they live under our very noses. They're tales that highlight the objects that surround us everyday that we take for granted so often. If you're not familiar with them, or you want to brush up on your Everyday Divinities lore, links to the project are on the right hand side.

So here's the deal: If you're a photographer, artist, photoshopper or other visual artist, send me a picture that you feel best places inanimate objects on the pedestal they so rightly deserve! The image must be your own creation - no stealing someone else's copyrighted or watermarked work. Please don't add your own watermark to the image, I'll give credit for the cover in the opening pages of the book. The picture must be in either JPEG or TIFF format, with dimensions of at least 500 by 800 pixels and a maximum of 2000 pixels on the longest side, and saved at 72 dots per inch (DPI) for optimal web viewing. Ideally, the image will have a height/width ratio of 1.6 and display beautifully in RGB color mode so your work will shine on an ereader.

The image that I feel best captures the essence of The Everyday Divinities Project will be used as the cover for my book, and its creator will get credit for the cover image in the book itself!

All entries must be sent in to robertlemoyne[at]gmail[dot]com by midnight on Friday, November 4th and the winner will be announced on this blog by Monday.

Good luck to all my artistically inclined followers! I can't wait to see what kind of images you all come up with!

Edit: Due to being under the weather and preparing for a convention this weekend, I'm extending the contest through the weekend to midnight on Monday, Nov. 7th. Enjoy the weekend!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Quick Take On My Comic Booked Widget

Take a second to check out the new feature on my blog! It's over there in the far right column, between my NetworkedBlogs and Goodreads widgets. Yes, it's my very own Comic Booked widget!

That's right, thanks to a code-savvy co-worker, you can now stay up to date on ALL of my Comic Booked writing, not just the event and movie reviews that I've posted here on my blog so far. You can scroll down to see the opening text of my last 15 articles and click directly on the article title to go straight to that entry, all without leaving my blog. How awesome is that?!

I'll post later in the week about my upcoming ebook release, so stay tuned here for that update. In the meantime, check my new widget to see what else I'm writing about these days!

Edit the first: And, of course, the day I decide to draw attention to it is the day it's not working properly. Check back later in the day, it should be fixed by then.

Edit the second: And it's working again! Yay! Enjoy!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Happy Birthday To Me!

Yes indeed, another year older, another year wiser. Although some might debate that last part...



I look back at this previous year, and while I haven't come as far as I had the year before, I still made some excellent progress this year. I've grown as a writer, both in my creative writing and as a blogger, which landed me in the role of staff writer for Comic Booked. It's been an amazing experience working for them, and I look forward to growing with them as we hit the big time.

I moved out of my old place, which was a big step for me. I hate moving, but I recognized a bad situation when it was staring me in the face and took steps to change my situation. I also survived my first real car accident, and I couldn't have made it through both of those experiences without the foundation that the previous year had built. I also owe a lot of that to the love and support of the people closest to me.

Finally, I'm in the first great relationship I've had in years with a wonderful woman. Miss Loki is a constant source of joy in my life. I wasn't even really looking for that special someone, but that's often when magic happens. It's so good to be with someone who shares some of the same interests I do without being a carbon copy of me. And even better, she's OK with me being a writer!

All of the above has had a profound impact on my year, and I've come through it stronger than I was before. Now I have a new year ahead of me, full of new trials and triumphs, with a great foundation to meet it head on. You hear that, birthday? I'm ready for you! BRING IT ON!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Quick Take on DC Comics/Barnes & Noble

For those who aren't up to date on recent comics news, Barnes & Noble is taking 100 graphic novels off their shelves nationwide because DC Comics has given the Amazon Kindle exclusive digital rights to those books for the next 4 months.

Personally, I don't think DC or B&N are thinking this through very well. Publishers should not be playing favorites when it comes to getting their content out, all it does is hurt their customers. Likewise, if you're a store in competition with another retail outlet, the last thing you want to do is give your customers a reason to go to your competitor to get the products they want. DC Comics has declared that they're sticking to their guns, and it looks like Barnes & Noble is doing the same with their response. Both sides look like spoiled children in all this who don't want to share their toys or play nice with the other kids.

As for me? Don't think that just because I'm formatting my short story anthology for Kindle self-publishing, I'm going to ignore all the other epub formats. Kindle is by far the trickiest part of formatting something for digital distribution, in my limited experience, so I want to leap that hurdle first. After that, formatting to the other digital book types will be a snap.

Rest easy, Nook and iPad fans! I've got your back!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Coming Soon to a Kindle Near You

...And this time, I mean it!

After a sizable delay, my Everyday Divinities anthology is finally getting formatted! It's a tedious process of going through the Kindle self-publishing checklist to make sure everything conforms to their standards for proper conversion, but it's going to be so worth it to see my writing on a Kindle. I even downloaded the Kindle app to my phone so I can make sure it displays properly on any device!

"Wait, what about those of us who don't have a Kindle?" Don't worry, the Kindle formatting is a stepping stone to converting it into any ebook format. My goal is to have my anthology available on this blog in all of the major format types so you can read Everyday Divinities on any device you own. Ebooks for all!

I'll give you more updates as I move through the process, including an announcement once it's available for purchase later this month. This is so exciting for me as a writer, I can't wait to share my first ebook with you!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

The DC New 52 Wrap Party!

For those of you who haven't seen the commercials or read about it in the blogosphere, comic publisher DC Comics carried out a massive relaunch of their characters, both new and iconic, in an event they call The New 52. The goal? To bring new fans into the comic book fold and show them why these characters have endured for so many decades.

I confess, I haven't had the finances to buy a lot of these new books, but the ones I did read impressed me greatly. And as The New 52's first month came to a close, I figured I should cover the event's wrap party for Comic Booked to see what kind of crowd my FLCS (that's "friendly local comic shop" to the uninitiated) could pull in from this event.

It was HUGE. And I covered it all by my lonesome.



Jump over to Comic Booked and read all about The DC New 52 Wrap Party!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Between the Lines - The Coffee Machines

It's been a while since I've written one of these, so I thought it was well past time for another entry in the Between the Lines series! This time, we'll take a look at the third short story of The Everyday Divnities Project...

The Coffee Machines

First off, let me give the last of the three-part apology carried through this series thus far. Much like "The TV and the Remote Control" and "The Alarm Clock" stories, this one was self-edited, and I have a hard time being objective about my work. I can proofread my own stuff, but it takes an editor who is not so attached to the characters or the themes to make the tough decisions regarding the voice of the characters and the economy of words. If you can't tell, I tend to be verbose, and I have this deep-seated need for ALL OF THE WORDS to go into my stories. Fortunately, this behavior is being corrected.

I kept with the previous mission statement for these short stories and focused on the gods within the inanimate objects as opposed to the humans who used them. Unlike those previous stories, there are no humans at all in this tale. They're referenced, absolutely, but they don't show up as actual characters in the story. I felt that the past two stories had eased people into the concept of a hidden world of inanimate objects and the divinities that made them work, allowing me to delve deeper into the world of the Inanimates without using people as the bridge to cross into that setting. In fact, the last two short stories I'd written are set up in a similar way, with the narrative set fully in their world from start to finish instead of our own.

The absence of humans in this story is balanced by putting two divinities in a very human situation, that of a job review. Even teenagers can relate to the tedium of a performance review at whatever mundane job they've taken on to make some money. I know I could! At the same time, it humanizes the characters by putting these all-powerful gods in a very mundane scene and gives some insight into how the Inanimates hierarchy works. How does one move up the ladder in this modern-day pantheon? Well, now you know.

For those who are wondering, the character of Taryn is an amalgamation of every boss I've ever worked for in my life, but the name has no relation to any of them whatsoever. Maybe you see a little bit of your supervisor or manager in Taryn, maybe not, but little pieces of each of my bosses over the years is represented somewhere in the story. (And no, I won't name which traits are from which boss!) As for Mr. Caulfie, whose name is a very obvious pun on the Mr. Coffee coffeemakers, I'll be honest and say that he's very much based on me in those situations.

My favorite part, though, is the employee record on Mr. C. These are all actual scenarios that I incorporated into the story, some that I'd seen firsthand and some that were relayed to me by others. I had a boss who used her coffee machine to brew tea, and there actually is a Mrs. Tea teamaker (made by the Mr. Coffee company) that has unfortunately been discontinued. Water leaking out onto the counter has been a fairly common problem I've noticed in office coffee machines in the various offices I've worked at, too. And the quote that Taryn gives from the file comes directly from my own mother, who was having problems with her own coffee machine. I'm pleased to report that it has since been fixed and brews amazing coffee once more without spilling a drop.

Incidentally, the goddess of coffee that Taryn will be working for is a prominent character in my trilogy. Does that mean that Taryn will show up in the course of that story? Only time will tell!

Got a question you'd like to ask about The Coffee Machines story? Feel free to post it in the comments section below, and I'll answer it right on this very page!

Quotables

"Writing isn't about making money, getting famous, getting dates, getting laid, or making friends. In the end, it's about enriching the lives of those who will read your work, and enriching your own life, as well. It's about getting up, getting well, and getting over. Getting happy, okay? Getting happy."
Stephen King, Author, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Tell The Truth Tuesday

It's that time again!

Yes, it's Tuesday morning, and it's about time I turned out another Tell The Truth Tuesday. So, by the numbers:

1. Speak Out With Your Geek Out was a fun event, and I'm glad I got to take part in it. I've always tried to display my geekitude in positive ways to show that it's not as scary as some people make it out to be, and I'm glad so many others felt the same way. It was a busy week for me, though, so I didn't get to delve into as much detail as I wanted to for my three posts last week. Then again, maybe that's a good thing. I could write an entire book on my geeky life, rife with more pop culture references than any two Tarantino films.

2. Did you know I was once asked to help create a horror movie that would feature RPGs? It's true! The players of the game would have been killed off through the movie by the villain/GM, and while character death is not foreign to gaming, I was not about to help facilitate the demonizing of the gaming community by working on that kind of project. I do, however, have a script in my head for a film that would put RPGs firmly in the fantasy action/adventure category. Maybe one day I'll put it down on paper...

3. ...But first, I should finish my trilogy. I must admit, the past few months have been hard on my creativity, and the next month isn't looking too much better. Sometimes, you need to take care of business to allow that creative energy to flow freely. Once I'm back on track, then I'll be able to rededicate myself to finishing my trilogy once and for all!

4. My anthology is almost ready to be digitally released to the wild! Just as I haven't had much time lately to dedicate to my trilogy, I haven't had time to get it formatted properly or to get a decent cover to my short story collection. Rest assured, though, it's coming!

5. My readership has gone up! Thanks to my Comic Booked reviews and the "Speak Geek" event, there's been a pleasant increase of readers on my blog, and I'm very grateful for the new page hits. Welcome, new people! I hope you enjoy what you read here and stick around for a while, there's plenty to get you caught up in the archives.

6. Star Wars was re-re-rereleased (again) this past week. I have not bought it. I probably won't buy it until the DVDs I have are no longer viewable, and by then, we'll have the entire series in 3-D for a re-re-re-rerelease. Sheesh!

7. I link to some of my Comic Booked articles here, but not all of them. While I like giving you all an easy way to see what else I'm writing when I'm not on this blog, I don't know if you really want to read all of my press releases, or my write-ups of comic book movie-related sightings, or even my reviews of comic books. But then, I've never asked you, my loyal readers, what you think of that content. Do you want to see more of it, and if so, how much? Would you rather I not link to it at all here? Let your voice be heard in the comment section below!

8. On a related note to the above question, are there any writing topics you'd like me to focus on for future posts? I try to give a little of everything and pass on information that might be useful or insightful to writing and being a writer, but the worst part is writing in a vacuum. Feedback is always welcome, and greatly prized by writers of all stripes! Just put it in the comment section below!

9. I love autumn because of the Pumpkin Spice Latte. I hate autumn because the changing season screws with my head, both mentally and allergy-wise. When is Daylight Savings Time over? I can never remember...

10. I almost forgot! I have a Tumblr account now, where I put all of the geekiness that I refrain from bombarding you with here. You can check it out at the link here, but be warned, it's pretty crazy geeky!

And on that note, I think I'll call it here. Until next time, loyal followers!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Epic Game Night of Epicness!

I started this week of Speak Out With Your Geek Out with a look at my geeky life as it is today, then wrote about the long road it took to get here on Wednesday. Now I'll finish out the week by delving into my favorite geeky hobby of all time. No, not comic collecting, and not video games. Today, I'll write about tabletop roleplaying games.

Tabletop RPG has carried a huge stigma for decades. People condemn it as evil, demonic, and completely unsuitable for children. This could not be further from the truth. In fact, I'll bet if these naysayers actually sat down and took part in a game session, they'd understand just how harmless the games really are and why those nasty words are so undeserved.

Let's put it this way: Tabletop RPG is about as evil as amateur improv actors sitting and talking out a scene together, or children engaging in a game of cops and robbers. The only difference is that the "actors" have a sheet (or sheets) telling them what the character they're playing can do, and the argument of "I shot you, you're dead, you can't run around anymore" is easily solved by rolling dice. That's all it is at its core, really. It's a game of Let's Pretend played with friends around a table instead of a stage or the back yard.

I first got into tabletop RPGs in high school because my girlfriend at the time was into them and I wanted to spend more time with her. I was skeptical about the whole dice-rolling, stat-making part of it all, but she taught me the joy of creating a character and playing that character out in a scenario that the Game Master creates. That's the other difference here from the above example: The players all create their single character, speaking on behalf of that character, while one person takes up the duty of playing all the other characters that the players interact with. The GM also keeps the game moving by introducing story elements for the players to overcome, and has the final say when dice are rolled to see if a player succeeds in an action. The GM is like director, background actor and referee all in one.

Playing in a game is one thing, but running a game is something else. I discovered that particular joy fairly early on in my gaming pursuits. Running a game is a lot like writing a story, actually. You create a setting, you populate it with characters, and you develop a backstory to give it depth. You create a plot that draws the characters in and gives them something exciting to do. You make it fun and entertaining for yourself and your audience. The only thing you don't do is create the story's main characters. That's the players job, but you can work with them to make sure that their characters fit the kind of story you want to tell. In that way, it becomes like a "Choose Your Own Adventure" book that is read aloud by one person, with everyone else making the choices to move the story forward.

I could see where some people might have a problem with kids pretending that they're witches and wizards, or vampires and werewolves, but those aren't the only RPGs out there. There are superhero games, science fiction games, historical games, any sort of game you can think of, and more than a few games set in your favorite TV show or movie. The only limit to what you can play is your imagination... and your GM's approval.

Give it a try at some point, you might surprise yourself and have a great time!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

My Secret Origin

On Monday, I posted about my geeky life and how awesome it is. But how did I get to that point? To answer that, I'll turn to the age-old comic book tradition of the superhero secret origin. Every hero, after all, has a great secret origin that gives meaning to their Hero's Journey. As a firm believer that we're all heroes in the midst of our own journey, it should come as no surprise that I also think we each have our own "secret origin" that gives it meaning. This is mine:

Looking back on my early life in New Orleans, it was no surprise that I turned out to be a geek. After all, my earliest memories were filled with programming my own video games, playing with my friend's Transformers, and watching Star Wars with my mom. Ghostbusters triggered my love of the supernatural, and Back to the Future led to my fascination with time travel. Sharing those interests with others was never easy for me to do as a kid, though. I was lucky in that I found a small group of kids like me in elementary school who were into Super Mario Bros. Super Show and playing "Let's Pretend" with Jedi and Sith instead of cops and robbers, but there weren't many of us. I'd wear my Ghostbusters belt to school and get made fun of for my interests. It was hard dealing with that as a kid, but at least I had my friends to geek out with after school.

Then I moved away from home to live with my mom and stepdad, leaving my geeky support group behind.

I took the loss well enough, but moving around to three different states in middle school made it hard for me to build a new circle of geek friends again. I never found friends I could geek out with in Florida, and just as I was making some good geeky friends in Indiana, we moved again to California. I understand why we moved so much, but man, it made life hard for me to start high school without knowing anyone. It's not like I was a social butterfly to begin with, and each move made it harder for me to open up to potential friends.

Fortunately, I found a good group of people to run with in high school, and I could be comfortably geeky again. I got into collectible card games and tabletop roleplaying games around this time, in addition to opening my wardrobe choices back up to geek attire. It was as though I had found myself again, and I made a vow to myself that I would never suppress who I am and what I like again. Granted, saying that's what you're going to do and actually doing it are two different things, but nothing worthwhile is ever easy.

It's been a long, long road to being comfortable in my geeky skin, but it's been a good one. I'm proud of who I am and what I like, and no one is going to convince me that my passion is wrong just because it's not mainstream.

Then again, looking at today's pop culture, it seems that geek is becoming the new mainstream more and more. I'm glad I've got a front row seat for the new geek order!

Monday, September 12, 2011

I Speak Out With My Geek Out!

I'm freestyling this one instead of writing it up in Word first, because it's late but I still wanted to get something up for Speak Out With Your Geek Out. My apologies if this is not as polished as some of my other posts here, but I hope you'll bear with me.

I won't retread any geeky ground as I revisit my path to geekdom here. I've already done my fair share of, well, sharing little peeks into that world of video games, comics and roleplaying games here, here, here, here and here. I try to keep from going geek overload on this blog, instead using my Tumblr for the kind of stuff that doesn't quite fit into a blog about writing. Still, this event focuses on writing about being a geek, and since I'm a geek who writes, I should take the time to address that huge part of my life.

As I write this, I'm surrounded by pieces of my geek life. Cloud and Tifa stand atop my computer, guarding it with a wild-eyed dragon, though my name tag from the DigitalLA panel on digital comics infiltrated one side. When I pause to take a drink and consider my words, it's from a travel mug adorned with J!NX stickers. Behind my monitor, Cap's shield peeks from behind like a rising sun, a souvenir from my coverage of a comic book store event for Comic Booked. To the left of me are boxes of comic books and my World of Warcraft hoodie. To the right, a bookcase that is patrolled vigilantly by Optimus Prime, Spike, and a trio of characters from Kingdom Hearts. Behind me lies another bookcase full of role-playing books, predominantly from White Wolf Publishing, and mostly Mage books.

My life is filled to the brim with geekiness. On Tuesday nights, my friends and I get together around a conference room table and roll dice for Game Night. On Wednesday night, I'll get together with other friends and tear it up on either Xbox or Wii. I drive to work with fuzzy d20 dice hanging from my rear-view mirror, and my rear bumper is decorated with the blood elf emblem. On my wrist is a bracelet that says GEEK. I may be dressed in a button-down shirt, but my undershirt says "U.S. Department of Gaming Affairs" on it... and I may or may not be wearing Transformers boxers. And that's only my work attire. Once I'm out of the office, I fly my geek flag proudly with a legion of geeky t-shirts that declare my dragonslaying prowess, or my love of 8-bit games, or that my d10 does indeed go up to 11.

I love my geeky life. I love that I write about comics and pop culture for Comic Booked. I love that both Star Wars and Star Trek are part of my lexicon thanks to my mom. I love that I can quote Ghostbusters or The Princess Bride and my friends will follow it up with the next line of dialogue. I love that I have friends who draw comics and create shows for the web and sing about Buffy the Vampire Slayer villains. And I love that the world is full of people just like me who live geeky lives and aren't ashamed to admit it.

I also love that my gorgeous girlfriend Miss Loki brought over The Crow tonight... both the graphic novel and the movie. I'll cut this short, but expect more geekiness later in the week!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Quick Take On Speak Out With Your Geek Out

Geeks have always had a hard time with public acceptance of their geekiness, but it's a sad state of affairs when your fellow geeks are giving you a hard time about your corner of geekdom. Speak Out with your Geek Out aims to turn back the tide of negativity with positive, upbeat stories about geeks and their passions. Do you love Pokemon? Is your bookshelf cluttered with roleplaying books? Can you name every character in the Mos Eisley Cantina? What do you geek out about, and why should others try it out?

I'll be writing up my own story to contribute to this event, and I encourage you to do the same. Don't have a place of your own to fly your geek flag? Not a problem! I'd be happy to host your story here so you can join in the fun. Leave a comment about your participation below and we'll work out the details. The most important thing is to have fun with this and leave all the negativity outside. (That includes your edition wars and reboot gripes!)

What do you geek out about?

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Quick Take On Klout

So, in addition to social networking, I've also gotten into this Klout thing, which measures your influence online. In addition to showing you who you influence and who influences you, it also gives you charts that show how your influence has played out online over time, as well as a list of your influential areas. My influence, according to the site, includes authors, writing, movies, comics, and... food? Well, Klout is still in beta, so it's probably not perfect, but if you want to see how my influence is apparently felt across the internet, check it out here!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Don't Be Afraid of the Dark

Isn't this an awesome house? Wouldn't you want to live there?



Not if you knew what kind of nightmares lived in the basement.

Miss Loki and I went to the drive-in near her the other night and took in a double feature of "Fright Night" and "Don't Be Afraid of the Dark" horror remakes. It was my first time at the drive-in, and I had a lot of fun. It's nothing like you see in the movies. The speaker boxes have been replaced with radio stations for each screen, and the parking spaces are angled so you can see above the cars in front of you. And while there are some issues in watching the movie that you don't have to deal with in a theater, seeing two movies for $7 per person is so worth it.

While I liked both movies for different reasons, I gave the full review treatment to "Don't Be Afraid of the Dark" over at Comic Booked. Jump on over and read my Movie Review: Don't Be Afraid of the Dark!

Monday, August 22, 2011

WriteOnCon 2011 Review!

First off, let me just say that I'm bummed I missed out on so much of the awesomeness that is WriteOnCon this year! There were some awesome live chats and ninja agents prowling the forum, and I wish I'd been able to partake of those. Maybe next year.

That being said, there's still a TON of stuff that rolled out across all three days that is still available for all!

WriteOnCon


Rather than covering the convention by days like I did last year, I'm going to group them by general topic. That way, you'll have a better idea of what WriteOnCon offers the writers of the future.

For starters, there's a lot of good YA-specific material for those writing kidlit fiction, such as "Pacing in Contemporary YA," "Middle Grade’s Got Heart," "Marketing 101 for Children’s Book Authors" and "Chapter Books, Graphic Novels, & Hybrids: Exploring the Potential of the Young Reader Market." The first one was especially helpful to me at the stage I'm at now, trying to figure out how to get the pacing right in each book of my trilogy so it doesn't feel too rushed or too slow. The last one was surprisingly informative to me, despite having pretty much grown up with graphic novels.

There's also some really good stuff here that spans the age gap, presenting itself as useful information for any sort of writer, regardless of their audience. I'm speaking, of course, of "How to Write A Killer First Sentence," "Myths and Misconceptions," "Setting," "LGBT Lit" and "How Two Write." And that's just the first day! There's plenty here for all types of writers, covering the aforementioned topics and more, such as the dreaded synopsis, queries, character development, critique groups, marketing, revision, and more. If you're a writer and you think you know everything there is to know about your craft, you should check these out anyway. They might just surprise you.

Finally, and most importantly, the sense of community that WriteOnCon has built between its first year and this sophomore outing is made stronger with its amazing inspirational offerings. "10 Questions to See if You’ve Got What it Takes," "You’re Already Invited: Connecting to the Lit Community Online," "R-E-S-P-E-C-T," "Don’t Give Up!" and "Using Intuition to Balance Writing and Life: Advice from an Editor and Life Coach for Writers." That last one especially spoke to me through my love of the Hero's Journey, and its relevance to writers not just as a story template but as a road map for life itself.

There are plenty more essays to read and vlogs to watch, but hopefully this will have intrigued enough of you aspiring writers (and agents, and editors) to check out the full schedule and see what WriteOnCon has to offer you. Poke around the website, visit the forums, and become a part of an amazing community of writers who want their fellows to succeed. (And if you make some friends in high places, tell 'em I sent you!)

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Quick Take On WriteOnCon 2011

WriteOnCon is over! Long live WriteOnCon!

I was busy for the first half of WriteOnCon 2011, but I still kept tabs on what was going on and I'm still digesting a lot of the information presented over the past 3 days. I'll do a write up on it after I've had time to process, complete with links!

Friday, August 12, 2011

WriteOnCon 2011 Is Coming!

I'm so excited! WriteOnCon is kicking off its second year next week, and I'm excited to see what they've got lined up for this year!

For those of you who have no idea what I'm talking about, WriteOnCon is a convention geared toward kidlit writers (like me) with speakers including fellow writers who are already at where we want to be, editors who can help us make our writing the best it can be, and agents who can get our writing where it needs to be. This is no ordinary convention, though. There's no registration table, no attendance fee, no long lines, and no scurrying about a convention floor to get from one panel to another. Nope, this convention is FREE and takes place ENTIRELY ONLINE in the form of written essays, chatrooms, forums and vlogs. It's the new wave of conventions, where you don't even have to leave home or change out of your pajamas to participate!

As the Fabulous Five Founders get everything lined up for this year's convention, take a look back at my quick review of their landmark first year starting with Day One, Day Two and Day Three! If you're a children's or young adult writer, you'll definitely want to check this out. Even if you're not, there's plenty here for writers of all types to walk away with some extra knowledge to kick their game up a notch.

Check out their website here, and stay tuned for my review of this year's WriteOnCon!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Print vs. Digital: Can They Coexist In Peace?



"Print is dead."
—Egon Spengler, Ghostbusters

Not yet, Egon, but those words definitely mean more in today’s publishing world than they did back in 1984. While concrete statistics vary depending on source and the increased availability of devices that can be used as e-readers over the years, one thing everyone can agree on is this: Sales of digital books are dramatically rising, and sales of printed books are not.

Jump over to Comic Booked and read all about Print vs. Digital: Can They Coexist In Peace?

Friday, August 5, 2011

Zak Hennessey and the Cybertooth Project

I first met Zak Hennessey many years ago over a shared pastime: pen and paper role-playing games. Not only did he exhibit some impressive storytelling talents by running some of the best original scenarios our game table has ever seen, he added an amazing visual aspect to the games by drawing our characters and illustrating both key scenes and “what if” parody images. It came as no surprise, then, to find out that he was a comic book creator.

Though it’s been a long time since those game nights, the Colorado resident and I have kept in touch through the interwebs and the occasional convention-related visits, reminiscing about those long nights of dice-rolling and sharing stories of our new projects. Zak’s latest comic book creation, The Cybertooth Project, is an exciting new foray into the world of digital comics for him, and one that is set to be the cornerstone of his new publishing company, Biotoxic Studios. In-between prepping this new series for launch and the varied demands of running his own independent comic book company online, he answered a few questions about his new project and the decision to move into digital publication.



Jump over to Comic Booked and read all about The Cybertooth Project: An Interview with Creator Zak Hennessey!

And when you're done there, head over to The Cybertooth Project Kickstarter page and donate a few dollars to help a creator's dream become a reality!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Tell the Truth Tuesday

I’ve been pretty busy this past week. Not so much with the Comic Booked articles, though I’ve been doing that, too, but generally trying to keep an income flowing in. Also, spending time with my beloved, who is celebrating a birthday this week. (Everyone say “Happy birthday, Miss Loki!” in the comments below!) But with everything that’s been going on, I didn’t want you to think I’m only going to be linking to my Comic Booked articles on my blog. So, let’s take it by the numbers, shall we?

1) Working for Comic Booked is exactly what it is, work. I used to go to events and talk to comic book creators as a fan, now I’m doing it both as a fan and as a professional. I talk to people and pull together information for an article, then go home and write it all up in MS Word. Then I edit the piece, maybe even have someone look it over for me if I’m lucky and have the time. I log into WordPress and copy over everything I’ve written, adding in links and uploading images to flesh it out and appease the SEO requirements, along with tags, article title, description of article, etc. Then I submit the article for the editors to review for publication on the site. All in all, it’s pretty involved and not nearly as simple as writing up a little piece and sending it in.

2) Though it may be work, writing for Comic Booked is an excellent learning experience. I didn’t even know what SEO was until I started working for them. Getting trained in how to put together an article for them has helped my own writing significantly (specifically in terms of my own blog), and I’m sure there’s still more to learn.

3) I don’t work in a vacuum. There are other members of Team Comic Booked out here, like Nicole Sixx and Cousin Matt, and they’re good people. I’ve covered three events now with Nicole, and I’ll likely cover more with her as time passes. Cousin Matt, it should be noted, is the Comic Booked forums guru, and a fellow gamer!

4) As awesome as it is to write about comics and comic-related events for Comic Booked, they’re not paying my bills. No, I’m picking up every odd job I can to make ends meet, and I’ve been hired as a consultant for two people who own their own businesses this past month. I’ve also been working my organizational magic for a law office, and I’m hoping to get steady office work again soon. Gotta find a steady gig again so I can afford to write, right?

5) In other writing news, I haven’t forgotten about my trilogy or my anthology, it just got pushed back a bit in the wake of everything else happening in my life. More news on this soon, I promise!

6) Captain America was a much better movie than I thought it would be. Tommy Lee Jones is awesome in it, and Chris Evans really sells Cap as more than just an overgrown boy scout. Hugo Weaving did an excellent Red Skull, even if the role was pretty two-dimensional. Very much looking forward to The Avengers, and if you haven’t seen Cap yet, stay for the awesome after-credits sequence!

7) I’m seeing Cowboys vs. Aliens today, which I’m totally hyped about. C’mon, you have James Bond and Indiana Jones in a western version of the alien invasion movie! What’s not to love?!

8) I got Jim Butcher’s new Dresden Files novel, Ghost Story, and blew through it in record time. I maintain that each Dresden book is better than the last, and this one is no exception. Wow. Very powerful story.

9) The completion of Ghost Story means I can get back to the next Percy Jackson book on my list, The Titan’s Curse. So far, it’s pretty entertaining, and I really like this series. It’s no Harry Potter, but that’s not a bad thing.

10) I’m very hungry, and I should probably get my day started. Lots to do, so it’s time to get to it! …Right after I eat.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

After Comic-Con Monday Meet-Up Party!

The San Diego Comic-Con has come and gone, leaving geek culture reeling from the flood of news that pours out of the convention. For those who spent the better part of a week roaming the convention halls in search of their favorite artists, writers, creators and celebrities, it’s a time to wind down and take stock of everything they walked away with; be it autographs, exclusive comics or just plain booth swag. They’re not the only ones enjoying the downtime, though. The same artists, writers, creators and celebrities also take time in the aftermath to decompress from the hectic schedule of signings and panels and reconnect with their fellows in ways that they can’t while in the midst of the Comic-Con crowd.

This is where Golden Apple Comics in Los Angeles steps in.



Jump over to Comic Booked and read all about the After Comic-Con Monday Meet-Up Party!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Captain America-Fest!

Captain America: The First Avenger is coming to theaters on July 22! To celebrate the movie’s upcoming release, Golden Apple Comics in Los Angeles, CA hosted a Sunday Cap-Fest, and the turnout was amazing!



Yours truly was there with Nicole Sixx to capture all the fun as Golden Apple Comics converted their parking lot into a patriotic festival ground. There was so much to do, I scarcely knew where to start!

Jump over to Comic Booked and read all about Captain America-Fest!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2

A couple days ago, I was able to see this last installment of the Harry Potter film franchise as an exclusive screening, thanks to the L.A. Times Hero Complex. My partner in crime, James Lentzsch, braved the increasingly crazed L.A. drivers to get to my neighborhood, and we drove down together to experience the journey’s end in IMAX 3D. We also got there astoundingly early for fear of a mind-bogglingly big crowd, and ended up this close to the start of the line:



Because of that, we got astonishingly good seats, free popcorn and drinks, and a night of epic sorcery and witchcraft.

Jump over to Comic Booked and read my Movie Review: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2!

And if you'd like to see any of the video from the Q&A after the movie, you can see clips from it here and here.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Quick Take On My First Comic Booked Article!

Ladies and gentlemen, I'm very proud to present to you my introductory piece for Comic Booked! It's all official and live on the site, and so exciting to see on the site's main page!

Follow the link to check it out!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Settling In

For those of you who have been following my blog for the past month, you know that there's been some pretty major events in my life recently. Fortunately, my life is starting to calm down now. I have my car back, I'm personalizing the room I'm now occupying, and I've been getting to know some of my fellow staff writers.

Now it's time to settle in.

After every major event, there's the downtime to reflect on the past, how this event has impacted the present, and what sort of future is built out of it. Even though the car accident wasn't my fault, you can bet I'm more paranoid than ever when I drive in Los Angeles. That accident also lit a fire under me to step up my move from that part of town, and now I rarely venture into that area. While my employment with Comic Booked is still in its infancy, I'm already making plans for articles, interviews and more with the staff.

More than that, "settling in" to me means getting comfortable. I've definitely settled in to my used car that runs like a new car, and I'm starting to find a nice comfortable rhythm with the couple that has graciously allowed me to take up residence in their house for the time being. I'm not quite comfortable in my Comic Booked role, but the staff has been nothing but welcoming and available to me, and I expect that I'll be comfortable with them all in no time. And while I do that, it's always with an eye to the future, looking for ways to better myself and my life and, by extension, the lives around me.

Settling in is a perfect time to form new habits, too. I've already started employing greater awareness of my surroundings when I drive. I'm keeping very good relations with my housemates and even striving to make each room I leave a little better than when I walked in. But all of that pales in the face of the other habit I need to work on: WRITING.

Now that I'm a staff writer of a growing website AND a kidlit author, I'm going to need to step up my dedication to reserving time in the day for my writing. Articles can't get neglected for a scene I'm especially inspired to write, and my trilogy can't be forgotten while I focus on churning out reviews and interviews. Now more than ever, I need to call upon the focus that got me my first novel written and forge my passion into a pursuit like none other.

Don't worry, I won't neglect this blog, either. To the contrary, I may be posting here even more soon...

Sunday, July 3, 2011

I Got Comic Booked!

This has been an exciting week for me as a writer and as a comic book geek!

It started on June 24th over Twitter. I was hanging out in my corner of the Twitterverse, as I do from time to time, and a tweet from Comic Booked got my attention. Now, it should be noted that I’d only recently started following them. I don’t do the random follow thing on Twitter very often, and I’m certainly not one to follow back just because you started following me. (Here’s a tip: Engage me in conversation and I’m much more likely to follow you.) But as it turns out, my timing was impeccable. The tweet read:

Want to write for Comic Booked? Email admin@comicbooked.com for more information today! Positions will be filled this weekend!

Now, the first thought that went through my mind, after the initial shock and excitement passed, was that this was my chance to make my dreams come true. It’s no secret that I’m a huge geek. From a very early age, I’ve been collecting comics since the first Transformers issues and watching Adam West’s cheesy take on the Caped Crusader every morning in my terry cloth Batman robe. The years have not diminished this in the least, and I can argue both sides of the Marvel vs. DC debate with the best of them. (And yes, I still have some of those Amalgam Comics issues the two companies published together.) I watch my favorite heroes come to life in movies and TV, both live-action and animated, and I put myself in their shoes in many of their video games. And back when I had a budget for such things, I’d visit as many of the comic book conventions in the area as I could, if only for the chance to shake hands with some of my favorite writers and artists.

I could go on, but you get the picture. Comic books have been a part of my life since I was a little boy, just as much as writing. So you can imagine my excitement at the opportunity to merge my two great passions into one awesome position on the Comic Booked writing staff! I just had to make sure my email to them conveyed two things clearly:

1) I really want to write for them.
2) My geekitude knows no boundaries.

Apparently, it worked as well as I wanted, because I got a response back that Sunday morning, June 26, from the Editor In Chief of Comic Booked. They liked what they read, and bumped me up to the second phase of their staffing process! That meant I had to write up a sample article for them to make sure I was a good fit. Normally, this would be a slam dunk for me. I’d spend the majority of the day working up a stellar article that would make Perry White exclaim “Great Ceasar’s Ghost!” and email it in, no problem. There was just one little hiccup: I was about to embark on a day-long process of moving furniture that would effectively remove me from my computer and any ability to churn out a quality article!

As I tend to do, I bemoaned this new torture in my life on Facebook. In moments, I had a private message from the CEO of Comic Booked that read:

If you're busy today, you can send something in tomorrow. Or, you can let me know here why you want to join the team and we can go from there. I know how it is when you're busy, so no worries at all.

Yeah. The CEO of the company I wanted to work for friended me on Facebook and gave me, a hopeful recruit, permission to submit my sample article a day late because of my dilemma. My desire to join their staff doubled in that moment, and that's a conservative estimate.

After killing myself to finish moving my stuff in record time, I went home and spent the rest of the night working on my sample article. I knew I had an extra day to submit it, but I didn’t want to waste any time. (I might also have wanted to prove that I can meet crazy deadlines by getting it in as early as possible.) I wrote up a great review of one of my favorite DC Universe animated movies, Wonder Woman, gave it a quick self-editorial pass, then sent it off before passing out from exhaustion. Maybe I would have an email from them waiting for me when I woke up.

Or maybe not.

As the week progressed, I grew more and more worried that I hadn’t heard from them yet. Was my writing not up to their standards? Did they not like my review? Hundreds of “what if” scenarios played out in my head, all revolving around what I could have done differently in my sample article to make it more interesting, more exciting, more more. It was agony, I tell you, of kryptonite poisoning proportions.

Then, early on Saturday morning, I got an email from the EIC. I made the grade! I'm now part of Team Comic Booked!

As of the posting of this entry, I’ve made the acquaintance of some of the other new writers who were hired alongside me, as well as the site’s editors. (And I already know one fellow recruit!) My pic and mini-bio have been submitted for inclusion on their Meet the Team page, and I’m already privy to some of the inner workings of this amazing group of fellow geeks. In the coming weeks, I’ll know more about my role on Team Comic Booked, and you can expect many posts from here on out linking to my articles on their site. In the meantime, I’ll be over here, basking in the glow of realizing a dream come true.

Friday, June 24, 2011

I Hate Moving

As if the stress of getting into an accident isn’t enough to make me want to hibernate for a month, I’m in the middle of that other life-changing event that adds unnecessary stress to one’s life: moving.

Yes, it’s time to move once again, to pack up everything I own and move from one home to another. When I was younger, this wasn’t such a big deal. Sure, the inconvenience of having everything I own packed up and largely unavailable to me as a kid was mildly irritating, but I didn’t have a lot of stuff that was really mine back then. Clothes, toys, video game consoles, and a few odds and ends were all that I claimed as my own. I also lived in apartments for most of my life. I’ve lived in 10 homes up to this point, and only 4 of those were houses. Living in an apartment meant you couldn’t have too much stuff, there’s no place to put it all. It also meant that non-essentials could be kept in that box until you needed it. That made moving again so much easier, if it was still in a box for ease of storage and transport.

Now that I think of it, I’ve never really lived in one residence for more than a handful of years. I do believe I set a record with this last apartment, having stayed there for over 7 years.

In preparing for this move, I promised myself that I’d toss anything that I hadn’t used or even looked at since the last move, and I did a fair amount of house cleaning in the past couple weeks. It gave me something to focus on other than dealing with insurance companies and car repair places, and helped me deal with shock from the accident. It’s been tricky getting this move going since my car is still being repaired, but I’m blessed with some wonderful friends who, for the most part, haven’t complained about me using them as substitute transportation. Miss Loki, especially, has been very helpful in getting me settled into my new place, but my beloved is always so wonderful to me.

So, it’s safe to say that this isn’t my first move, and it certainly won’t be the last. The difference between this move and so many others is that I’m the one doing all the legwork to make it go smoothly. There’s no one else to delegate to, no one else to make all the decisions for me. Nope, this is all me, and I’m happy to say that I’m doing a pretty good job of handling this, all things considered.

You’re maybe wondering how I’m going to link this into my writing. Well, it just so happens that this journey of moving from one place to another, of trying to find home, plays in perfectly with my trilogy, particularly Book Three. I can’t say much about it, but there are certain characters who have been moving for as long as I have, and my current ordeal is helping me remember what it was like to live that kind of life. Between this move and my accident, it’s been a very inspirational (if stressful) month for my writing, and I hope bringing that to bear in my writing will make it that much more engaging to readers.

Do you have thoughts, comments or rants about moving? Leave ‘em in the comments below!

Monday, June 20, 2011

I Don't Want To Read The Book! ...Yet

The last episode of Game of Thrones season one has aired, and damn was it good! I must confess, however, that worse than the cliffhanger final scene the show ends with is the response I get from everyone who has read the books when I bemoan the 9 month wait for season 2: "Read the books!"

I've had people trying to get me to read these books for years. In fact, name any popular book series adapted for TV or movies, and odds are good I've had at least one person trying to sell me on reading the books. (Except the Twilight series. Those who recommend books to me know I have good taste. Besides, I'm done with the whole vampires in the media thing now. Moving on...) And there's one thing I'd like to tell those of you who insist that I should read the books, that they're so much better than the show/movie, that I'm missing out on so much story by not reading them:

LAY OFF!!!

As an author (albeit unpublished, but that will change soon), I know full well the depth of storytelling that goes into a book, and how little of that actually makes it into any adaptation for stage and screen (both the big screen and the one at home). When I was younger, I read Jurassic Park before it was made into a movie and walked out of the theater wondering where 2/3 of the story went. I did the same more recently with The Dresden Files. Having read Harry Dresden's adventures and come to know the people around him in the story, I spent more time wondering why they changed things as arbitrarily as it seems they did, instead of enjoying the show for what it was.

Enjoying something for what it is. It needs to be said again, because some people let loose with both barrels when a movie or TV show doesn't include all of their favorite bits from a series. Comic book fandom is especially guilty of this whenever a big-budget movie comes out and liberties are taken with their continuity-laden comic book heroes and their sometimes cheesy, often rewritten backstory and adventures. The Harry Potter movies have taken their share of liberties with its literary source material, but each film is better than the last. Some movies leave out and/or change so much that it's almost an entirely different story (I'm looking at you, Percy Jackson and the Olympians), and that's OK, too.

Why? Because it's impossible for a movie to express everything that a book can. A book isn't limited by budget constraints, or available actors, or studio politics. A book is limited only by the talent of its writer and the imagination of its reader. OF COURSE a movie isn't going to be able to give you all the backstory and hidden thoughts that a book can. OF COURSE the big CGI effects aren't going to be as grand as what your imagination conjured. OF COURSE it's not going to be the same experience, because it's not meant to be. Unless you get out there and direct your own fan film imagining of your favorite book, you're never going to get the exact experience you'll expect from reading your favorite story. That's the wondrous power of books, and why I'll always love them over any blockbuster movie. Sometimes, though, the imagination needs a rest and wants to be spoonfed a good story.

I'll always want to explore the literary world of whatever awesome series ends up in movies or on TV. But personally, if I haven't read it already, I like to wait until after I see the adaptation before launching into the book series, especially if it has a definitive beginning, middle and end, and that end is in sight. That way, I feel like I'm getting a special behind-the-scenes look at the real story behind the story!

What are your thoughts on book adaptations for stage and screen? How do you tackle the "read the books" retort? Leave your comments below!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Paradigm Shift

"Seize the moment. 'Cause tommorow you might be dead."
—Buffy Summers, S1Ep1 Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Buffy had amazing insight into how to live life for a teenage girl. And while this is wisdom from a fictional character, the quote stands as a very good way to live one's life.

A couple of days ago, I was in a car accident. Nothing too serious, I assure you. I'm fine, though my car is currently at the body shop having the damage assessed. The other guy was not nearly so lucky. For a motorcyclist, he was not practicing safe driving by hurling down a street in front of a school well in excess of the speed limit, and paid the price for his lapse in judgment. That didn't stop him from getting back on his bike, despite suffering heavy injury to the leg that got trapped under the motorcycle, and speeding off to put more lives in danger. Blood loss + reckless driving = another accident waiting to happen.

In the aftermath of the accident, I've been reflecting on how it could have been much, much worse for both me and the guy who hit me. Thankfully, none of the kids getting out of school at that time were injured. My car was damaged, but not nearly as much as it could have been. And, of course, my lack of physical injury could just as easily have gone the other way if the motorcycle's trajectory had been different, or if I'd been moving instead of stopped at a red light.

We go through life never really understanding that it can all change in one catastrophic moment, and not even through any consequence of our actions beyond being in the wrong place at the wrong time. I used to envision certain dangerous events that could happen in the course of stepping outside my front door for use in my writing, but it's something else entirely when one of those scenarios comes true. This is not the product of my overactive imagination. This is real catastrophe, with real consequences and a very real impact on my life.

I haven't really been in my right mind since that day, and I'm fortunate to be surrounded by wonderful people who love and care about me enough to look out for me and help me through this ordeal. I think part of that altered mindset is that I'm going through a paradigm shift, for lack of better phrasing, a change in my way of thinking in the face of a dramatic and life-changing moment. Old assumptions are being cast aside as a new reality asserts itself in my way of thinking, a reality that I'm still trying to come to terms with.

I'm not sure where my writing fits into this reality, but I know that I've come too far to simply declare it insignificant in the grand scheme of things. I want to revisit parts of my trilogy and write all new stories, now that I have a different vantage point on potentially life-threatening moments that might occur within the course of the narrative, but I don't know if I'm ready to tackle it so soon after the accident. Naturally, I'll keep you all posted here once things settle down and my life isn't in upheaval.

Have you had a brush with fate that changed your way of living, or been close to someone who has? Share your stories in the comments below.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Judging A Book By Its Page Count

I'm always highly resistant to starting a book that has more than 400 pages to it. I like to take my time with reading, so when I see a book with 900 pages between its covers, I automatically think "This book is a massive project that will keep me from enjoying other books for MONTHS." You see, I'm not one to jump between different books while reading. I commit myself to one and see it through to the end before starting up a new one. (If it's good, that is. If the writing doesn't grab me after the first couple chapters - or scares the crap out of me, like Mark Z. Danielewski's House of Leaves did - I don't care if it has a great ending, I'm going to put it down and move on.) A long book, to me, is worse than a long movie. I can sit still for a long movie if it's good. I don't know if I can say the same for a long book.

My beloved, however, gave me this piece of literary wisdom: "Large books aren't a big deal. There's just that much more to read!" I had to sleep on that to wrap my brain around it, but she has a point. There are some books I've read that I wanted to be longer. Much longer. The last Harry Potter book, which is sizable already, could have been longer and I would have been perfectly fine with that. Same for most of my favorite writers. And the large book I'm presently faced with, Anathem, is written by one of those favorite writers of mine, Neal Stephenson. So why am I having such a hard time starting this up?

I could give a list of reasons, all of which would be a smokescreen for the fact that simply looking at the book makes me want to pick up my Highlander prop replica katana and cut it in half. That would not be nice to do to a borrowed book, though, especially since my beloved's father loaned it to me and I'd like to stay on her family's good side. The thing is, if my imagination is so vivid that I can imagine cutting that page count by half, why can't I simply alter my mode of thinking and pretend that each page is a unit of measurement that represents my enjoyment of the book?

So I did. And let me tell you, I have no problem picking up that weighty tome now.

What's your take on the page count issue? Is it something that you take into account when choosing a book to read, or is it a non-issue to you? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below!

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Tell the Truth Tuesday

It’s that time again! Let’s cut to the chase, shall we?

1. All of the stories for my anthology are edited! Yay! I’ve compiled them all into one document, along with an introduction, and I’m working on the formatting now.

2. My goal is to make my anthology available across the board, from Kindle to Nook and everything in-between, and I have a program to help me with the conversion process, but I don’t know if I’ll be able to accomplish this right off the bat. Anyone know Calibre well enough to give me some pointers? Also, I'm likely going to make a PDF version available for those who want to make their own dead tree edition. More on this another time.

3. Nutella ice cream is epically delicious. This needs to be mass-marketed so I can have it all summer.

4. My Star Tours review is officially my most-viewed page! If you haven’t read it yet, check it out here. And if you have, check it out again because I put up a link to some video I made of my in-line experience!

5. Colorado is a great place to visit, but I wouldn’t want to live there. I like my SoCal weather way too much.

6. Thor was more fun than I was expecting. There are a lot of big summer movies coming out, and this one was a strong start to the season. I can’t wait to see The Avengers movie coming out next year! (On a side note, I really need to start making some good money so I can see all these movies coming out.)

7. Game of Thrones is seriously my favorite show on TV right now. I rarely watch TV, but I make it a habit to see this one every week, even inviting friends and family over to catch the show with me. There are only 3 episodes left to the first season as of this writing, but I’m sure HBO will run a marathon of all the episodes once the season wraps, and it should be on DVD by the end of the year. If you have the means, I highly recommend catching this series from the beginning.

8. My beloved’s dad let me borrow Anathem, which I was very excited about because I love Snow Crash and I’ve been looking forward to exploring more of Neal Stephenson’s writing. I’m ashamed to say that, since borrowing it last month, I’ve read a total of 5 pages of the book. The thing is MASSIVE, and I have a hard time getting through large books like that because the size always turns me off from picking it up. I feel like it’s a massive undertaking to read it, like I’m about to face down an army of a thousand pages. I suppose I just need to bite the bullet and just knock ‘em out, one page at a time.

9. I need a new day job. Badly.

10. I need a new apartment, too. Fortunately, I have a room lined up so I can get out of my current place, but I need a new apartment, STAT. A new job would help here, too.

And that about covers it for this Tell the Truth Tuesday. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to help my gorgeous girlfriend make a half-elf ranger for tonight’s D&D game….

Thursday, May 26, 2011

100!

This is it! Historic blog post number 100! And to mark the occasion, I made you all a little something special…



I’m in awe of the fact that I made it to entry number 100. I’ve had a historically bad record of letting blogs drop by the wayside, and the only people who followed them have been close friends. This is the first one I’ve started that I’ve actually kept with, all brief lulls aside, and gathered a following far beyond my small circle of friends. (Seriously, you should see where some of my followers are from. Hi, Russian followers! Hi, Netherlands followers! Hi, Peruvian followers!) Truly, you all keep me going.

Thank you all so much for your support. It means the world to me.

Now, let’s see how long I can keep this winning streak going!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Disneyland Star Tours Preview Day

NOTE: You can also view video highlights from that morning here!

ST Me


I was only supposed to ride Star Tours once. By the time I left Disneyland, I’d been on it five times.

How is that possible? Let me start at the beginning.

I won’t bore you with how I woke up far earlier than anyone had any business being up in the morning, or where I met my guest so I could get someone else’s measure of the ride without all the judgment I was carrying with me, or how astoundingly long the line and the wait was that Friday morning. (But seriously, if your event check-in closes at 7:30 AM, and the event itself starts at 9 AM, what’s going on in that hour and a half in-between? At least we had good music.) I won’t wax poetical about what the park was like without people in it so early in the morning. I won’t even go into the awesome guy we met in line whose excitement for the ride was so infectious, we carried it with us through the whole day. No, this post is going to be long enough as it is, maybe even longer than my short stories. I’ll focus instead on the event itself and what it was like to be one of the first non-cast members (that’s what they call Disneyland employees) to experience what is both the most anticipated and most dreaded ride in all of Disneyland.

“Dreaded?” I can hear you thinking. “Why dreaded?” I’ll get to that in a little bit.

The Disneyland Star Tours Early Departure was promoted as a preview event, granted initially to a select 1,200 or so randomly selected contest winners and the one guest each that they were allowed to bring with them. Even if only half of the winners brought a guest like I did, you’re still looking at around 2,000 people who all wanted a sneak peek of the newly revamped ride.

The assembled participants were gathered outside the gates of the park and led in, single file, to fill in the queue outside of the new ride. Once the blast doors officially opened, under much media coverage, everyone in the queue would be able to ride Star Tours once and only once, trading in their ride wristbands for an exclusive button marking their participation in the event as “First in the Galaxy” to ride the new attraction. Then the ride would shut down until its official grand opening on June 3rd.

At least, that was the plan.

While full details of what happened are hard to come by, I was able to gather from certain employees around the ride that someone from ABC 7 News accidentally extended an open invitation for people to come down and participate in this private event. As Disneyland has a strict “truth in advertising” policy, they had no choice but to open up the preview for anyone who wanted to ride Star Tours in the afternoon. While this pretty much defeated the purpose of a private sneak peek event, it did give those of us who wanted to ride again (including myself) a chance to get right back in line for a second go. Or third. Or fifth!

“Yeah, that’s all very interesting, but what about the ride? Is it any good, or did Lucas screw up one more piece of our Star Wars childhood memories?” I’m so glad you asked!

ST Day


From the moment you step into the Star Tours building, you’re faced with the antics of R2-D2 and C-3PO as they banter while performing diagnostics on the spaceship that will take you to the far-flung corners of the galaxy. This part is very familiar to those who have been on the ride before, and the only real changes made here are the new lines of dialogue referencing the all-new Star Tours videos that play on the big screen and the new color scheme. As this takes place between trilogies, the Starspeeder 1000 isn’t as stark as the original ride’s 3000 counterpart and has a paint job reminiscent of the Jedi starfighters. So far, I have no complaints.

In the next room, visitors come face to metallic face with RX-24, AKA Rex, who fans of the original Star Tours will recognize as your bumbling droid pilot. Since this takes place before the original ride, Rex is still in his shipping crate and is, in fact, marked defective for return to the factory. This status is made more apparent in his stuttering attempts to activate and recite lines of dialogue from the original ride. The pang of nostalgia for the little pilot droid is soon replaced with awe directed toward the two security droid occupants in the room, one scanning luggage and the other scanning people, both utilizing all-new special effects that really impressed me. You can see some nifty 3-D effects at work even here in the scanners and control panels, but it’s mostly subtle and adds to the atmosphere of the ride. Aside from poor Rex’s condition, I have no complaints.

The boarding area that comes up next holds my only real complaint about the ride, and why I and many other Star Wars fans initially dreaded going on it. After picking up your “flight glasses” (AKA 3-D glasses) and going through the turnstile for placement at a “departure gate,” you’re treated to the usual instructional video, this time narrated by spokesdroid Aly San San, preceded by a short bit of story featuring C-3PO and pilot droid AC-38 (Ace for short) to set up the circumstances of the ride’s adventure. While both videos do include live actors in their segments, the story video in particular seems as heavily CGI-centric as the prequels are… which is to say that the whole “Golly gee, look at how awesome our CG characters are!” approach makes the featured droids look obviously fake and detracts from the realism they’re trying to build to sell the storyline of the ride. This was my greatest fear, that the fakeness of the prequels would worm their way into my beloved ride and ruin it beyond recognition. Seriously, if you can take the time to film guys in jumpsuits as they prep your Starspeeder for take-off, can’t you get someone to put on Threepio’s suit and act out his bits? You’ve already got Anthony Daniels voicing him, you may as well put him in the suit, too. Or at least work on improving the realism of your CGI effects so they’ll hold up after multiple viewings over the years. My guest complained about the videos, too, but only because a particular hand gesture of Aly San San seemed particularly bitchy. I had to agree. At least the videos are short.

After watching the CGI spectacular, the doors opened, we took our seats inside the largely unchanged but subtly upgraded passenger cabin, and were instructed to put on our flight glasses.

I want to address the matter of the 3-D glasses separately, because it’s going to be a concern for some people who can’t stand 3-D movies or the headgear that goes with them. Personally, I love watching 3-D movies. I don’t get the headaches that some people complain about when watching them, but the glasses annoy the hell out of me. I wear eyeglasses to see any detail more than 5 feet away from me, so it’s obnoxious to put those cumbersome and ill-fitting glasses over them. The glasses for this ride, however, are incredible. They fit over my prescription glasses without a fuss and didn’t slip at all. I didn’t feel like I was wearing a fire hydrant on my face. They felt light and natural, and looked awesome, too. If I didn’t think it’d raise the prices of 3-D movies higher than they already are, I’d start a petition to have them made for movie theaters everywhere.

As for the 3-D ride itself, I won’t spoil anything in regards to the story that plays out on your journey. I doubt I could ruin everything in the ride, anyway, even if I wanted to. With 54(!) different combinations of characters and locations to experience, you could ride Star Tours every week for a year and still not see every scenario. I went on it 5 times, and each ride was different from the last. I can say, however, that I visited four of the six destinations listed on the Star Tours page (you get to see two locations every time) and saw each of the featured characters at least once. Some characters pop up that you don’t expect to see, and one character made an appearance that I had hoped to never see again. (Meesa dun wanna give it away to yousa, but I’ll bet you can figure out who it is on your own. Thankfully, his cameo is mercifully brief and SILENT.)

All that said, I’m happy to report that Lucas and co. did not, in fact, totally ruin Star Tours. Quite the opposite, they finally made the attraction I had wished for after the umpteenth time of riding through an ice crystal asteroid to attack the Death Star. Sure, there are some parts that irk me (I’m looking at you, CGI extravaganza), but the majority of the original Star Tours experience remains the same and is made even better in all the ways that really count. Truth be told, I’d really like to renew my annual pass so I can become a regular Star Tourist.

Now, how do I get a pair of those 3-D glasses so I can take them with me to the movies?

ST Night