Monday, June 22, 2015

Best Father's Day Ever!

This year's Father's Day was easily the best one I've had yet--the perfect combination of family time and fun activities that I'll remember forever.

The day began with my wife and kids giving me a brand new chair for my writing desk. I have had a crappy, cheap computer desk chair for probably fifteen years, and they replaced it with this beauty:

After testing out my new chair for a bit (the words seem to flow a little easier from this baby), we went out and had an awesome breakfast, then headed to what might be my new favorite place in the world:

The Quarters is an amazing place that is part pub and part arcade. Rather than try to describe it, I'll let the Phantom Gourmet show it to you:

We spent a couple of hours playing everything from BurgerTime, NBA Jam and X-Men to 1943 and The Simpsons. All of the machines are in good shape, and the retro game theme extends to everything from the decor to the menus. It was a blast, and I cannot wait to go back there.

We wrapped up this amazing Father's Day be heading out to see Jurassic World. The theater was as packed as I've seen one in years, and the movie was the perfect summer blockbuster.

One of my favorite things about the ages that my kids are at is that they enjoy a lot of the same things I do. Sharing old arcade games with them and going to the movies together is so much fun for me, and it was the perfect way to spend Father's Day. And knowing that my wife isn't a gamer, the fact that she helped the kids plan this day means a lot to me, and I really appreciated it. It was an awesome day from start to finish.

Monday, June 15, 2015

The Super-Secret Project is Revealed! Announcing HARROWED (THE WOODSVIEW MURDERS #1)!


Those of you who follow either Jolene Haley or I on Twitter have seen us posting about a "super-secret project" for over a month now. Today, we can finally tell everyone what we've been working on!

Jolene and I are beyond excited to announce HARROWED, the first book in our new WOODSVIEW MURDERS series. It's a YA horror story inspired by our love for both '80s slasher flicks and '80s rock/metal.

This book marks my first foray into the YA genre, and I could not found a better partner to work with than Jolene Haley. This has honestly been the most fun I've ever had on a project, as apparently Jolene and I share the same brain.

There's so much we want to share right now, but we're going to pace ourselves, so today let's start with the blurb for HARROWED:

Journalism Rule #1: Always report the story. Never become the story.

Avery Blair has accepted the fact that nothing exciting ever happens in her small town of Woodsview, Massachusetts. As the editor of the high school blog, she prays for something--anything--to come along that would make for a great headline.

When Beatrice Thompson’s body is found in the girls’ bathroom, Avery has her biggest story ever. The rumors circulating the school say that Beatrice took her own life, but Avery doesn't believe it for a second. Her instincts prove true when the next day brings another body bag.

The tiny community of Woodsview has become the hunting ground for a killer known as The Harvester. The killer targets Avery and her classmates, stalking their every move and terrorizing them with morbid messages.

With the help of her boyfriend Jason, her best friend Quinn, and an aging detective who can't keep her off the case, Avery dives head-first into her own investigation. She discovers that the secret of the Woodsview Harvester is buried in the town's history and its annual Harvest Festival celebration. With every clue she uncovers,

Avery grows closer to unmasking the killer--and becoming the next victim. Avery Blair has finally found a story to die for...if she can stay alive long enough to write it.

And here's a little more about my amazing co-author, Jolene Haley:

Jolene Haley is an author and the curator of the best-selling horror anthology The Dark Carnival through Pen & Muse Press. She also runs a YA horror blog The Midnight Society, the author resource site Pen & Muse, and Hocus Pocus & Co., a small horror press. She writes every genre under the sun, but prefers horror. When she’s not writing she can be found cuddling her two dogs and enjoying the beach, where she lives. 

HARROWED (THE WOODSVIEW MURDERS #1) will be released on September 22, 2015 through Horror Twin Press. We'll be revealing a lot more over the next couple of months, but for now you can add HARROWED on Goodreads and follow the #WoodsviewMurders tag on Twitter to keep up with all the fun.

Stay tuned! Check out Jolene's blog as well for updates!!

Monday, June 8, 2015

Collaboration is Making Me a Better Writer

A lot of the time, writing is a very solitary process. We write alone, and the worlds and stories we create exist in our head alone until we share them with our readers. We spend a lot of time in our own heads, which is not a bad thing. In fact, it's one of the reasons many of us write in the first place.

But letting someone else into that headspace--or better yet, creating a shared headspace with another writer--can be a very powerful thing. And in my case, it is making me a better writer.

Now, I have collaborated on projects before--specifically comic projects. Mo Stache is something I created with artist John Cordis. I write, he draws, and together we make Mo. I have a couple other comic projects as well (one you'll see very soon), and so I've had that writer-artist experience a few times over the past several years.

But not with fiction. With fiction, it's always been my vision, my world, my story.

Until now.

For a little over a month now, I've been working with Jolene Haley on what I consider a dream project. It's a story that is inspired by two of our favorite things--'80s horror movies and rock music. It's so much more than that, as you'll see when we start sharing details, but those two things are at its heart and I love it.

There are so many ways my writing has benefited from this collaboration so far. Take the characters, for example. They are much more fully-realized right now than in previous first drafts I've done. This is especially true of the the supporting cast. It's not uncommon for a writer to have a very clear vision of their main character, but at least for me, the supporting cast usually comes into its own during the revision process. This is especially true because I am more of a "Pantser" than "Plotter" (or as I like to call myself, a "Signposter").

The world of this story is also more well-defined with the two of us building it. From the town's history and traditions to the people and places that populate it, our little town is filled with places inspired by those Jolene and I have visited in our own lives. The setting of our story is much richer because of our collaboration.

But where I think the collaboration process has had the most profound effect on my writing is in the areas of style and voice. The way I write dialogue, the rhythm of my prose, etc. Working with Jolene and learning her style has really helped me reflect on my own. I've realized where I need to get better, and I've learned a lot from Jolene because she writes relationships and character interaction in such a wonderful way. We've found a common voice together, and it's really a great combination of both of our styles.

We crossed the 47,000-word threshold on our project this week, and it's amazing how much we've accomplished in just over a month. I could not have asked for a better writing partner than Jolene, and I cannot wait to share our project with everyone. Stay tuned!

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Come See Me at Special Edition: NYC This Weekend! (Booth #852)

I'll be heading down to New York early Saturday morning for two days of comics, creators and friends! Special Edition: NYC, the sister show to New York Comic Con, will be taking place at Pier 94 in New York City Saturday and Sunday. I'll be at booth #852 all weekend.

At Special Edition: NYC I'll be conducting interviews for the Secret Identity podcast, hanging out with friends, and selling some books!

Not only will I have copies of my podcasting "how-to" book Making Ear Candy, but anyone who purchases a book will get a FREE color print of a page from Mo Stache, the webcomic I do with John Cordis, featuring alien mustaches, robots and more. The prints are not for sale, and they're very limited in number.


So, if you're going to be in the New York City area this weekend, head on down to the show and say hi!

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Tuesday Review: Kung Fury

I like to think of Kung Fury as a manifestation of what's going on inside my head at any given moment. It's a thirty-minute nostalgic assault on your senses that takes the whole "love letter to childhood" concept to an entirely new level.

For those that may have stumbled upon Kung Fury for the first time when it made the internet explode last week, there's actually a great story of how it came to be. Swedish-born director and star of the film David Sandberg initially tried to fund the project himself, then turned to Kickstarter with a modest $200,000 goal in mind. He ended up with about $630,000 from the campaign (although I'm sure it was significantly less after Kickstarter took their cut and rewards were doled out). Had he gotten $1 mission, the stretch goal was to make a full feature film, but I think the thirty-minute version is exactly as long as it needs to be.

The movie itself is really a loving homage to the Cannon action films of the 1980s. Cobra, Invasion USA, Bloodsport, the Ninja series--all of them are given a wink and a nod in Kung Fury. And like those movies, Kung Fury features cartoonish levels of violence, with exploding heads and people getting chopped in half with ninja swords. Throw in a million other 80s references to everything from the Nintendo Power Glove to Terminator to Miami Vice, and you've got a movie that lends itself to multiple rewatches.

But as much of a visual buffet as Kung Fury is, my two favorite things about it are the soundtrack and the dialogue. The soundtrack features popular synth artists like Mitch Murder and Lost Waves, and it's freaking amazing. Oh, and then there's this little diddy by the man who is still worshiped by most of Europe--David Hasselhoff:

Not only is the soundtrack available now, but there's a special edition coming out on vinyl as well.

As far as the dialogue, I think everything I love about it can be summed up with this one quote:

"Before I could pull the trigger, I was hit by lightning, and bitten by a cobra."

I absolutely loved Kung Fury, and apparently so did everyone at Cannes, because there is a feature film now in development. Watch it, and then watch it again.

Oh--I'd be remiss if I didn't mention something that i think was a big inspiration for Kung Fury--Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon. Like Kung Fury, it's an homage to '80s movies, and it's a game that I highly recommend if you thought Kung Fury was amazing. here's the trailer:

You can also get the soundtrack for Blood Dragon, which was done by the amazing Power Glove. DO IT.