More advice for authors

Seth Godin has a post featuring his short-list of advice for authors. While Seth is a non-fiction author, and his advice was aimed specifically other non-fiction authors, much of the advice holds true. He has some great advice on hiring your own editor, giving away copies, the value of blurbs vs. blog mentions and much more.   [Read more...]

Lessons from Mur

For those of you who enjoyed Mur's Geek Fu Action Grip essays on tDP Wingin' It!, you can now buy the collection of those essays and more in print or as an ebook from Lulu Press!   [Read more...]

The Dragon Page...totally Airwolf!

So I'm listening to Mur Laffery's First Birthday for Geek Fu Action Grip and her friend, Jason Adams of the Random Signal podcast, suddenly says "Your podcasts are so Airwolf!"   [Read more...]

A promising podcast...

You know Successories? Those inspirational posters, desktoppers, and other merchandise with sweeping epic, panoramic pictures and goose-bump worthy quotes from people like Eleanor Roosevelt, Vince Lombardi, Henry David Thoreau, and others?   [Read more...]

Wiley Press like me more than Evo...

So, I'm gearing up for Astronomicon 2005 in Rochester, NY, when a box of books arrived on my front door step. I was hoping they would be MOREVIs (as I am currently fresh out of the title!) but instead, it turned out to be a most welcomed surprise...   [Read more...]

Tee Morris presents his first solo podcast...

With a lot of help from "He" and Nicole Simon and some feedback from The Mighty Mur, I've launched my own podcast:   [Read more...]

Ever seen insanity like this for PC laptops?

I was born and raised in Virginia, not West Virginia as Evo likes to believe, but just Virginia. The real Virginia. The state-where-everything-started Virginia. And while people from the Deep South like to say "You in Yankee Territory...", I hold my tongue to remind them that I was born and raised in Richmond, the capital of the Confederacy.

I liked living in Richmond. To a point. A lot of people have asked me, after noting the history, the beauty, and the "big city with that small town feel" in its people and its manners, why I never went home after graduating from college.

One of my reasons just hit national news this week...

iBook sale creates chaos

Chaos erupted yesterday morning at Richmond International Raceway as people stampeded through the gates in a rush to buy used iBook laptops for $50 each. Mothers clutched their children for protection, people screamed as they were knocked to the ground, a stroller was demolished, cars inched through the crowd.

"I can't believe people are so barbaric," said Grace Wang, a rising senior at Henrico County's Godwin High School.

Anyone want to imagine what the scene would have been if they had been selling used iPods for $10?   [Read more...]

A great AMC afternoon...

So I'm trying to get this chapter for Podcasting for Dummies done, but I'm hitting a brick wall. I turn on the television and on AMC I find a pleasant distraction: Dragonslayer. 1981. Walt Disney/Paramount Studios. WOW! I had forgotten what a completely cool movie it was, one of those movies that laid a goose egg at the box office, but on looking at it now you realize how ahead of its time it was and how bad ass it really is. And that dragon...damn!

Following Dragonslayer, AMC's afternoon at the movies conitnues its streak with Blade Runner, and this was the Blade Runner I liked: The Blade Runner with Harrison Ford's Bogie-style voiceover.

But here's my question: What was so wrong with this version? I would so much love to have this-the original theatrical release-on widescreen...but all I can find is the "Director's Cut" where Ridley Scott added in leftover Legend footage, cut the voiceovers, cut the ending, and said "Well, now it's clear that Dekard's a replicant." It took a few people to explain to me how "clear" this was, and now, kinda sorta, yeah, maybe I can buy that...but I don't get the whole "unicorm dream" which is vague at best. We see Dekard in his apartment, a fade into the unicorn, and then he's analyzing the photo. This, along with the origami Adama -- er, sorry, Gaff -- is creating throughout the film makes Dekard a replicant.

Yeah, Ridley, clear as mud.

Am I in the minority here that the Director's Cut is not all that? I miss the voiceovers. The voiceovers add to the film's SciFi Noir aspect that I thought Ridley was going for. The "happy ending" cut...yeah, okay, if you want the "nitty gritty" ending, that's cool to cut. But lose the voiceover and add in a slo-mo unicorn?

Nah, this is the better Blade Runner I'm watching now.   [Read more...]

Review: "Not Your Father's Horseman" by Valerie Griswold-Ford

When you ask author Valerie Griswold-Ford how she got her contract for Not Your Father's Horseman, she will tell you, ?Well, Tee suggested I finish the manuscript and then pitch it to Dragon Moon. What Tee didn't tell me was he pitched it for me to Dragon Moon and got me a contract.? So, yeah, I figured a great motivator in getting your first novel done was a contract.

And it was. I got a copy of the first draft, and was thrilled when Val asked me to give it a blurb. From the original version I read, I knew this book would be a winner: a terrifying techno-thriller that embraces you in its spell. I was also excited for Val as she would be premiering it at Westercon 58 alongside Legacy of Morevi?

?then Val tells me ?I completely revamped it. Started over, more or less, and it's completely different.?

I was a little worried now because I was knee-deep in Legacy finals, so I wouldn't be able to read the new version and give her a new pull-quote. Also, I liked what Val had before. Why change it? Will this change work?

Just finishing the novel this morning, all I can say is "Head's up, folks, Valerie Griswold-Ford is here, and she is taking no prisoners!" She took a terrific story and made it bigger, badder, and ballsier!

The reality Valerie has created is an Earth, set in a modern day setting. In this world we have mobile phones, Toby Keith, digital cameras, cute guys in white boxers, hot chicks in tight jeans and camisoles, and magic?lots and lots of magic. We've got all kinds of magic: good, bad, and ugly. Reminiscent of Stan Lee's X-Men Universe, magic is a ?sensitive? subject with the world. Some people dig it, some don't. (An aspect of this series I sincerely hope Valerie explores in future volumes!) The reason mages work alongside Jimmy Buffett and satellite TV without a fuss is that everything is Balanced. The Balance is just that: Shadow Magic, Light Magic, and Earth Magic all work together to keep things copasetic.

Problem is, if there is a buck to be made, some corporation in the States is going to see just how far they can tip that Balance to one side before completely throwing the world out of whack.

One such corporation is Gene-Tech. Their slogan: We Play God for the Right Price.

Far away from Gene-Tech's dark projects reactivated, Shadow Magic with agendas, and selective breeding experiments, Nikki Jeffries is celebrating her graduation from college. She is setting off to carve her niche in the world with a photographic study of the paranormal. Something just tells Nikki that ?Death becomes her,? and a coffee table book of haunted houses and spooky graveyards sounds like her true calling?

At her first photo shoot, Nikki is about to discover exactly what her true calling is!

Valerie Griswold-Ford's debut novel is part techno-thriller with sinister forces hard at work in genetically generating super soldiers of tomorrow, part dark fantasy as these super soldiers are actually part of a higher plan to resurrect the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. She creates a believable alternative reality where magic exists openly and interacts with the world on a daily basis, provided the Balance is maintained. This world is so convincing that you begin to sweat a bit whenever that Balance is threatened. Along with earnest concern, Valerie evokes other emotions with every page, with every scene, and with every character's action. And applying much of her know-how showcased in her articles for The Complete Guide to Writing Fantasy and The Fantasy Writer's Companion, Not Your Father's Horseman sets up believable and dynamic magic systems steeped in mythology and legend that, while you know are fantastic elements, ring with credibility. On so many levels and with its many layers, Not Your Father's Horseman is a delight to read and a wonderful start to what promises to be a terrific series.

With Not Your Father's Horseman, Valerie Griswold-Ford has announced her arrival to the Fantasy genre. It is an arrival that will have you asking her, "That was very, very cool, Val! So, what's next?" It also stands as a testimony that, yes, a book contract can motivate you better than a fire under your ass to create a terrific read.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Not Your Father's Horseman by Valerie Griswold-Ford
Published by: Dragon Moon Press; July 2, 2005
ISBN: 1896944272
Genre: Dark Fantasy
Author's Webpage:
  [Read more...]

Fantastic Four

Marvel Comics has been heading back to their seemingly bottomless well of superheroes since discovering their creations were a bankable commodity at the box office. While we have been enjoying terrific departures like both Spider-Man and X-Men films, we have also survived less-than-stellar offerings like Hulk and Elektra.

This summer, Marvel told us to ?Prepare for the Fantastic?? as director Tim Story was bringing to the big screen The Fantastic Four. I was really on the fence about whether or not this was going to live up to the hype?and the lovable legend?of this Marvel institution. I wanted this film to rock because I'm a fan of actor Ioan Gruffudd since getting into his A&E Horatio Hornblower films. I really want to see him make an impact in film because he's one of those actors you can't help but like?but Reed Richards? I wasn't too sure the more I thought about it. Then there was the issue of Jessica Alba playing Sue Storm. Why would you even think of having her be invisible?! It also didn't help that my summer got a good comic book kickoff with Christian Bale and Batman Begins.

Then I heard Michael Chiklis would be playing Thing. Slam dunk. So, even with the looming deadline of my current writing project, I caught Fantastic Four?and it was time well spent.

Dr. Reed Richards is a brilliant mind with a bankrupt payroll. He's on the cover of Wired, but it's because he's in search of a sponsor. With his straight-talking compadre, pilot and astronaut Ben Grimm, at his side, Reed goes to pay a call on his college acquaintance, mega-mogul and megalomaniac Victor Von Doom to ask for financial help in analyzing this nasty cosmic cloud that will be passing close to Earth, close enough to study. Victor can't help but enjoy this humbling moment for his academic rival, and even rubs salt into Reed's wounded pride by inviting his own team on the launch?Reed's ?mart and ?ot ex-girlfriend, Sue Storm, and her brother, hotshot pilot Johnny Storm. With their sponsor tagging along to keep an eye on the investment, these five head up to the Von Doom Space Station to observe the oncoming cosmic cloud.

Things look okay on arrival, but quickly go wrong (of course?) when the cloud picks up velocity and hits the station full force. Von Doom hides himself in a shielded section of the station, but everyone else is hit by the radiation. The team makes it back to Earth in one piece, but gradually Reed, Ben, Sue, and Johnny start showing some odd after-effects to the cosmic energy.

As for the safely-shielded Victor Von Doom?well, that radiation was pretty darn powerful. He's going through some changes, too, and he's not taking it too well.

What makes Marvel Comics and their movies (when done right) so cool is how Marvel treats their superheroes. Spider-Man is a hero to the general public, but vilified by Chief Editor J. Jonah Jameson's The Daily Bugle. While continuously saving the world from Magneto and his mutated homies, Professor Xavier's X-Men are lumped into the same category as the villains. The house that Stan built loves to take conventions of the superhero and give them a spin that wouldn't break but flip the finger to them. What Stan and co-creator Jack Kirby did with Fantastic Four was unheard of in the comic book community. These four weren't exalted heroes, feared vigilantes, or misunderstood evolutions. Secret identities were chucked out of the window, and our heroes were regarded as celebrities, complete with paparazzi! I actually own an issue where the team is interviewing a new Public Relations agent. Now, how many superhero teams have a PR rep? This is part of the charm of Fantastic Four, both the comic book series and this movie.

My major beef with Fantastic Four is the writing in the first hour felt a little rushed and somewhat choppy. They crammed a lot of stuff in that segment between Victor's gradual transformation to Dr. Doom, and our reluctant heroes becoming The Fantastic Four. We then see one fantastic rescue by Reed, Sue, Johnny, and Ben?and that's it. I would have liked another feat from the team, or perhaps a quick montage of daring-do as we see in the Spider-Man films. Sure, the vignettes with the four of them ?adjusting? to their abilities was clever and amusing, but I would have liked to see them doing more. While the subplots with Johnny Storm at the X-Games and Victor losing his business helps develop the genesis of both the Human Torch and Dr. Doom, these plotlines could have been edited better or just toned down to leave more room for heroic feats. The running time of the film was 109 minutes. Another half-hour on this film would have been nice. Really, really nice.

Why so nice, you ask? The actors. I loved watching them do their thing! Julian McMahnon was a real delight as he tapped back into that evil streak he showed so well on Charmed as Cole, bringing Dr. Doom to life. Michael Chiklis was?as I thought he would be?a wonderful Ben Grimm/Thing, never letting the extensive make-up effects hinder his performance. Ioan Gruffudd shines as Reed Richards and Jessica Alba shows that sexy kick-ass side of her as Sue Storm, but Chris Evans steals the movie with his rock-and-roll extremist approach to Johnny Storm, staying true to the Marvel character and keeping the spirit of fun alive that this franchise is famous for. Once we are deep into the ?Let's figure out what the heck is happening to us?? plotline, the banter between characters is quick, snappy, and sharp. We do get ?It's clobberin' time!? from Thing, but we also get some other terrific exchanges between heroes and villain, and between the heroes themselves.

Fantastic Four is a far cry from Batman Begins, but it is solid entertainment. This is a comic book movie, and one I hope will see future installments. Much like the original X-Men film, a stage has been set. The only direction they can go from here is up. Until that sequel, enjoy the popcorn with this one.

Rating: 4 out of 5   [Read more...]

A good omen from the Great White North

I got great news in the shape of a review, from a Canadian-based website...

...a review for the podcast of MOREVI!
  [Read more...]

Review: Batman Begins

After licking the wounds left behind from Batman Forever and Batman and Robin, I was wondering if the world needed another telling of the Dark Knight. Did we truly have to go to the well one more time and rehash the old story of millionaire playboy Bruce Wayne becoming the most feared detective of Gotham City?

No, we didn't. Instead, we all got what we really needed: a re-inventing of a DC Comics icon, the re-telling of one man's journey to find his destiny, and the re-claiming of a legend.   [Read more...]

Our podcasting audience just got cooler!

Embrace the power of the iPod!

Image found at The iPod Lounge   [Read more...]

Movie Review: Mr. & Mrs. Smith

Anyone remember Danny DeVito's War of the Roses? Yeah, I'm trying to forget it, too. I thought that flick was supposed to be a comedy. I know, I know, it was a dark comedy, but the key word is still "comedy." War of the Roses kind of missed the mark for me. Wouldn't it be […]

2005...The Year of DeSmedt

You might think Bill DeSmedt is doing a happy dance over the IPPY Award for Best Science Fiction of 2005...

Folks, Bill's about to dive into a mosh pit!

Singularity by Bill DeSmedt (per Aspera) is the winner for ForeWord Magazine's Best Science Fiction of 2004!

And guess who will be joining him in the mosh pit...ME! Billibub Baddings and the Case of the Singing Sword (you know, my book from Dragon Moon Press?) was given an Honorable Mention in the General Fiction category for ForeWord's 2004 Book of the Year. I am thrilled!!!

Allright, about that "Winner's Circle" show I proposed last time? ;^)   [Read more...]

In Good Company -- Episode II: Billibub Versus the Black Hole

Don't let that title fool you. I am really thrilled with this news!   [Read more...]