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Saturday, November 22, 2014

Badass Movie Mogul - The Highlander Edition

So there's a lot of talk about a remake of Highlander.  Or reboot.  Or whatever.  Basically, if it's an existing property, there might be a remake/reboot.  Highlander is ripe for this treatment.

Look, the first movie is good.  Not great and certainly flawed but, at the same time, is all kinds of awesome.  Whether it be the bizarre casting (hey, let cast Sean Connery, a Scot in a movie about a Scottish immortal, but he'll play an Egyptian with a Spanish surname)(oh, and let's cast a French guy with a thick accent to play a Scot), or the mid-80s soundtrack heavy on Queen, or just the fact it's a bunch of dudes cutting each others' heads off to steal their essence... Look, it's batshit crazy but fun.

Now, with all this awesomeness, Highlander should be more legendary.  But it's not.  Mainly to a fucking godawful piece of shit sequel followed by not as bad but still bad follow-ups and a decent syndicated series.  Basically, it deserves a reboot if done correctly (I'm looking at you, Clash of the Titans fail!).

So, how to do a really good reboot that still honors the past?  Here are my suggestions:

1.  Do not cast Tom Cruise as Ramirez.  I don't hate Cruise but, hell, Connery wasn't the best choice either.  If we're going to say Ramirez is Egyptian who's lately been spending his days in Spain, then, let's cast a Spaniard or Egyptian.  My personal favorite: Javier Bardem.  But hey, if you can't get him, then why not cast Antonio Banderas?  My wild card: Peter Mensah.

2.  Do not cast a smart ass as Connor McCloud.  There were rumors that Ryan Reynolds might take the part.  No, no, no.  I like Reynolds but he's Deadpool, not the Highlander. No, you need tough and aged and learned and someone who can quip.  My choice: Toby Stephens.

3.  Do not cast a big dude to play the Kurgan.  Look, no one will be as big and intimidating as Clancy Brown.  He is the motherfucking Kurgan.  However, you can still have a Kurgan that has presence and is a badass.  Who you don't want to fuck with.  To me, the only person who could pull that off is Mads Mikkelsen.

4.  Keep it mysterious.  Don't go trying to explain why these guys are immortals or why they have to cut each others' heads off, or why the get power when they do.  The mystery is what makes it intriguing.  Unlike Highlander 2.

5.  Get a director who can direct action sequences and understands good fight choreography.

6.  Keep it simple.  Fighting.  Few special effects.  Something to care about, not something to behold yet ultimately forget (looking at you Transformers).

You'll notice I didn't go with big names for most of the mains.  I think this movie succeeds on the concept and execution, not Big Names.  Get good actors, a decent director, and a good script and shoot it for under $50 mil and you'll make money.

Well, Hello There!

I wasn't supposed to post this yet but hey, it's already up on Amazon!  So why not?

Behold, the cover for the forth-coming GUARDIAN, sequel to DEMON!



And hey, the e-book is also available for pre-order!

And while you're at it, why not pick up the e-book of DEMON?

So, what it about?  Here ya go:

The heart-pounding, action-packed sequel to Demon

A secret order at war with itself.
A Syrian official who wants to set the Middle East ablaze.
And all of them want nothing more than one unlucky CIA agent . . .

CIA agent Mike Caldwell just confronted a fallen angel and survived. But he wasn’t the only one tracking down Semyaza, and the demon’s escape from an ancient tomb has caught the attention of several powerful entities. And now they will stop at nothing to get Mike to play by their rules.

Heading off on an international mission to confront the covert brotherhood that is mercilessly murdering people he’s close to, Mike must risk everything in an effort to save the world from certain destruction.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Kids, Star Wars, and Proper Viewing Order

About a week ago, I was watching the girls, trying to figure out something to do.  They wanted to watch TV.  My oldest, five years old, specifically wanted to watch LEGO Star Wars cartoons, which she's nuts over (well, all three are nuts over Yoda).

Those are funny cartoons but I wasn't up for watching them again after watching them the day before and the day before that.  Instead, I figured why not watch the real thing.  The oldest had already seen the first Star Wars (A New Hope).  Let's try Empire.

We did.  And it was awesome.  She couldn't stop asking questions.  I told her to be quiet and listen and most of her questions would get answered by WATCHING.  She then states, "I ask a lot of questions when I'm excited."  From there, it was the start of a question followed by her putting her own hand over her mouth to check it.

When we got to the end of the flick and we find out who Darth Vader really is, she bugs out.  Not just because, SPOILERS, he's Luke's father.  But because it's Anakin Skywalker!  You see, she knew Anakin from the LEGO cartoon.  He was a good guy!  She had no idea his relation to Luke.  So this was a double-mind stomp.

Of course, the next question, "Well, how did he turn bad?"

Roger, let's check out Phantom Menace.  Which was cool (although I'm not the biggest fan), because she got to learn about Darth Maul (also knew from LEGO) and how he lost his legs (in the cartoon, he has robot legs).

Then we checked out Attack of the Clones.  Which was cool because she learned where the Clones came from (also in LEGO) and why everyone is fighting.

So, now we come to the present.  Rather than jump to Revenge of the Sith, we're working our way the The Clone Wars cartoon series.  She loves it.  When we're done with it, we'll do Revenge and then finally move on to Return of the Jedi to wrap it all up.

Why am I sharing this with you?  Well, this is an important question for responsible parents.  In what order do I introduce Star Wars to my kids?  Start with the prequels and you ruin the Darth Vader surprise.  Do the originals first and you kind of risk confusing them going backwards in time for the prequels.  My way, you get the best of both worlds.

My order:

1. LEGO Stars Wars cartoons.  These introduce the kids to characters, are funny, and gets them asking, "Who's that?"  or "Why is that important?"  Good primer.

2. Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope

3. Star Wars Episode V:  The Empire Strikes Back

4. Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace

5. Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones

6. Star Wars: The Clone Wars

7. Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith

8. Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi

Do it this way and you get the introduction to the key characters, the Rebellion, and the mythology of the Jedi/Sith (1-3 above).  Follow that with the Tragedy of Anakin Skywalker and the Fall of the Republic (4-7 above).  Wrap it all up with the Redemption of Anakin Skywalker and the Fall of the Empire (8 above).

Quick Movie Review - Killing Them Softly

I actually dug this movie quite a bit.  Good cast.  Nice, slow pacing.  Great dialogue.  It's a modern 1970's era crime flick.

Hell, if it had been made in the '70s, it'd probably be considered a classic.  Simple, straight forward, violent, reflective, funny.  Yeah, there's no shaky cam or car chases or tons of action.  But that's OK.

I guess you can say it breathes.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Winding Down of the Promotion Sledgehammer Swinging

I have a few more guest posts at other people's blogs and then the onslaught of DEMON promoting will pretty much be over.  Well, it'll never be over.  But the "hitting you over the head with a sledgehammer" portion will be.

Thank you for your patience and support and overall coolness.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Drive-By Updates

1.  If you didn't see, Demon came out in paperback on Veteran's Day!  It's now available in both mass market paperback and e-book from Harper Voyager.  Hit the link for all the different places to snag a copy.

2.  I did a Mind Meld at SFSignal in which I discussed books outside of spec fiction that are more than worth your time (and may be even inspiring or scary).

3.  I did an interview at My Bookish Ways where I discuss Demon, what scares me, and conspiracies!

4.  I discussed Demon, my Navy experience, and how my experience has influenced my writing over at the Harper Voyager Veteran's Day edition of their blog.

5.  I discussed Paperbacks and Childhood Dreams here.

6.  I apologized for all the self-promotion but why it's necessary here.

7.  And I made my Star Wars Episode VII predictions here.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens...Predictions!

If you know me and this blog, you knew this was coming.  So, here are my predictions for the next Star Wars flick.

Okay, so here's what we know: it's set 30 years after Return of the Jedi, it stars Luke, Han, Leia, Chewy, and a bunch of new people, and the Rebels (or New Republic, whatever they're called now) are still struggling against remnant forces of the Empire that, hey, don't buy their Democracy shit.

Now, I won't go into all the different spoilers floating around on the web.  None are confirmed and some read as wishful thinking.  However, there is one I think is more than likely true and makes perfect sense.  So, beware of possible spoilers if this all proves true.

Ready?

Okay, one of the rumors is that Luke has kind of disappeared.  The thought is he's voluntarily imposed exile on himself.  Why?  Well, this is where everyone has an idea they think is right.  And I'm no different!

I buy the self-imposed exile angle.  Let's go back to the end of ROTJ.  Luke has redeemed his father and brought him back from the dark side.  He just cremated the remains (which more than likely is just the armor and the mechanical parts, as we see Anakin as a Force Ghost a few moments later).  He returns to his buddies and parties it up with the Ewoks and shit.

Only, he doesn't really.  If you watch those last few scenes with Luke, he's got a look of grim accomplishment on his face.  He did what he had to but he's not dancing or, hell, even smiling.  In my opinion, he's kind of like Frodo at the end Return of the King.  He succeeded but everything is different.  Things can't go back to the way the were for him.  He's seen and done too much.

But he doesn't know a lot.  What I mean here is he's a powerful Jedi but without the wisdom or the learning or the foundation of, say, a Jedi Temple full of learned masters to fall back on.  He's on his own.  And if you think about it, he got, what, a few days of training with Kenobi? Mostly sword play and the basics of the Force.  Then he got a few more with Yoda, a lot of mental training and the basic rubrics of how the Force works but that's it.  And then he went and defeated the most powerful Sith apprentice ever and was more than willing to confront the Emperor.  Shit, the Emperor wanted Luke to strike down his prize, Vader, because he knew Luke was even more powerful.

That's a lot of fucking power in a young man who, by the start of the third movie, was already a great pilot, skilled with a light saber, and mastered his emotions (for the most part).  At the start of ROTJ, he was force choking and Jedi mind-tricking with the best of them.  He'd already gone toe-to-toe with Vader and held his own (even though he lost his hand).  By the end of ROTJ, he was willing to sacrifice himself for everyone.  That's a lot with very little training.

Which is why it makes sense that by the end of ROTJ, Luke might be like, well, now what?  I got all this power but not nearly enough of the wisdom to teach someone.  Heck, if he took an apprentice, it'd probably turn out disastrous.

My theory, he tried to tutor Leia.  It makes the most sense.  She's his sister.  They have a bond.  She has Force power.  And it gives Luke someone to work with while he fine tunes his teaching skills.  But it doesn't work out simply because Leia's not interested.  She's the politician, the natural leader.  The galaxy needs her wielding a pen, not a light saber.  Luke can't argue with the logic but he still knows he's in no way ready to be a Master.

So he goes in search of wisdom.  He decides, if he's going to become a learned Master, he needs to learn the history of the Jedi and the Sith.  And since there are no Jedi archives, he literally goes on a scavenger hunt for history, artifacts, and relics.  Maybe in some grand vision to rebuild the Jedi archives.

But things go wrong.  Remember, he's super powerful.  Maybe all Leto Atredies powerful.  Not a man that becomes a sand worm but a man who's become more of the embodiment of the Force than he's capable of controlling.  Ever seen the show Carnivale?  Think the avatars and how much damage they could do if they didn't have complete control of their powers.

Which means he goes into exile.  There, he meditates and learns to master his power, like Banner mastering the Hulk change.  Meanwhile, he uses agents to find the items and information he needs.  Trusted agents.  Confidants.  Maybe even blood relations.

Through this hunt for information, he discovers a dark force who is doing the same thing.  After all, there is a vacuum created by the defeat of the Sith and the complete lack of Jedi other than Luke.  Someone's going to fill the dark side vacuum.  And they're doing the same thing.  They're have power but not the grasp of Sith history.

So, there's a thirty year race between Luke and his agents and the dark force that's employing similar tactics, all while the Rebels struggle to quell the Empire's loyalists.  Plots with plots, wheels within wheels.  By the end of the flick, I think Luke will have exposed this dark force and will emerge from exile, in full mastery of his powers, ready to go to work.

Last predictions, Luke can manipulate things across time and space, mostly space.  He's had the gift of vision since Empire Strikes Back when he told Yoda what he saw and Yoda confirmed, "The future you see."  From the same movie, we learned he could communicate over long distances to both Leia and Vader.  By this next flick, I think he'll be able to Jedi mind trick or even manipulate objects across vast reaches of space.  And the whammy, he'll manipulate and control the mechanical remains of Vader, using them to infiltrate this mysterious dark force.

Finally, the adversary, the dark force.  This one may be a bit of a stretch but let's look at some evidence.  In the original Star Wars, Vader went toe-to-toe with who? Leia.  He captured her, tortured her, and failed to break her even after the destruction of her home planet.  In all that time, he never caught a whiff that this was kin.  He did with Luke.  So much so by the time ESB starts, he's fully acknowledge Luke as the son of Skywalker.  But not Leia.  She just rebel scum.

In ESB, when Luke has his visions of Han and Leia in danger, maybe even being killed, Yoda and Kenobi both try to keep him from leaving.  We're meant to think, hey, he's not ready to face Vader.  He needs to finish his training.  When he leaves, Kenobi declares, "That boy is our last hope." To which Yoda says, "No, there is another."  This, of course, is in reference to Leia.  But Kenobi already knows Leia exists.  He was there for the birth.  So why does Yoda say this.  Clearly, Kenobi believes Luke is the only one who can save the galaxy. Yoda laments, and yes I mean laments, that there is another.  But in his voice you can tell he doesn't believe the chances are as good as they are with Luke.  You might say, that's because Luke is more powerful in the Force.  I say, "Nope!"

They chose Luke because he was powerful but also because he was less likely to turn.  That's why Kenobi remained on Tatooine while Luke grew up.  Leia, all but forgotten, being raised by a rich senator with no exposure to Kenobi or Yoda.

Fast forward to ROTJ.  Luke and Vader face off for the last time.  Luke's thoughts betray him.  It's only then that Vader learns about Leia.  And what does he say, "If you cannot be turned then perhaps she will."  Luke freaks out and kicks ass.  You might think, oh, Vader was just baiting him. And I'm sure that's exactly what he was doing.  However, there's truth in that statement.  Up to that point, Luke had resisted (and would eventually resist all the way).  Perhaps Leia, if confronted with the same challenge, would not be as successful.

Kenobi even seems to confirm this earlier in the film when he speaks of truth and points of view.  He then admits to Leia being Luke's sister with this caveat: "The Emperor knew, as I did, if Anakin were to have any offspring, they would be a threat to him.  That is the reason why your sister remained safely anonymous."

If you read it in the context of how the Sith operate (i.e., only two at a time, a Master and an Apprentice) and if you know the history of the Sith (apprentices always killing their Master and taking new apprentices), then it makes sense what Kenobi is saying, from a certain point of view, is that the Leia posed the most risk at joining Vader, becoming his apprentice, and deposing the Emperor (an offer he made to Luke at the end of ESB).  Hell, Vader even says the Emperor has foreseen it.  Perhaps he foresaw the wrong kid.  In the second sentence,  Kenobi says that's why Leia remained anonymous.  He doesn't say, "that's why you both"...And that's why Luke retained the surname of Skywalker.  He was the Hope.  Leia was always the potential Threat.

So, in short, Leia is the dark force and has turned to the Dark Side and this will be the twist at the end of the film.

Anyway, I'm sure I'm 90% wrong on all this but it's always fun to speculate!

On Demon and Self-Promotion

Hey, my name's Erik.  I wrote a book called Demon.  You're probably well aware of this because of all the self-promoting I've been doing for it.  First of all, thanks for your patience, especially if you've already picked up a copy.  Second, apologies.  I know promotions can get tiresome.  I get it.  There's something odd about an author essentially begging you to buy their book.  Yet it's also a required reality.

Back in the oldin' days, artists would "sing for their supper" so to speak.  They sung, got paid, and then figured out how to live on what people were nice enough to toss in their hat.  Unless they had a rich benefactor, who covered their costs so they could "art" it up.

Self-promotion is essentially singing for one's supper.  If I was a bestseller, I could rely on my rich benefactor (my "brand") to move copies.  I'm not there yet.  Just don't have the built-in audience salivating for my next book.  Brick-by-brick, so to speak.  Nor do I have some incredible big time review or some mega-selling author dropping my name out there.  Again, not yet at least.

So, it's self-promotion I must rely on.  That, and word of mouth.  You know, when all of you wonderful people who like my stuff and tell a friend or family member about it.  Maybe hand them a used copy or e-mail them a link to my latest.  That's where the brick-by-brick really comes into play.  It's like a wonderful pyramid scheme, if there is such a thing.

The mass market paperback of Demon hit the street today.  I like that it released on Veteran's Day.  Why?  Well, cuz it's chock-a-block full of military stuff.  Marines, the Navy.  It's got spies.  It's got chemical weapons.  Tons of action.  And yes, some supernatural horror, too.  But I'm also a Veteran and take the military stuff very seriously.  I don't use it as a gimmick.  I treat it as it should be, with the utmost respect.  I share how my experience in the Navy helped shape Demon over at today's HarperVoyager blog.

That's not to say it's not a fun book.  I think anyone who likes military fiction will dig it.  I think members of the Armed Forces who like a good yarn will love it.  If you are a member or know a member, pass the word along.

Anyway, I wrote a book called Demon.  The mass market paperback was released today.  You can find it at most known bookstores and below at the linked online retailers.  Again, that's for your time, patience, and support.  Mucho appreciated.

AMAZON

BARNES & NOBLE

BOOKS-A-MILLION

POWELL'S

HarperCollins

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Re-Blog: The Monologue

The Monologue

So, I've talked about dialogue a few times but haven't gotten to monologues. You know, speeches or stories. These are often used to not only impart important information, but also to underline the main theme and/or provide significant character depth. When poorly used, they come across as rah-rah horseshit.

First, an example of the bad. President Thomas Whitmore's horrible speech from the horrible film Independence Day:

Whitmore: Good morning. In less than an hour, aircraft from here will join others from around the world. And you will be launching the largest aerial battle in the history of mankind. "Mankind." That word should have new meaning for all of us today. We can't be consumed by our petty differences anymore. We will be united in our common interests. Perhaps it's fate that today is the Fourth of July, and you will once again be fighting for our freedom... Not from tyranny, oppression, or persecution... but from annihilation. We are fighting for our right to live. To exist. And should we win the day, the Fourth of July will no longer be known as an American holiday, but as the day the world declared in one voice: "We will not go quietly into the night!" We will not vanish without a fight! We're going to live on! We're going to survive! Today we celebrate our Independence Day!

God, that sucks, huh? I mean, it underlines the title of the movie and it underlines the basic theme of survival in an all too on the noise way. But what depth does it provide other than stating the obvious?

Read the Rest Here

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Guest Post Up at SF Signal

In which I talk about novels you didn't know were horror novels.  Hop on over and check it out.  And if you dig, leave a kewl comment.

Monday, October 27, 2014

MADHOUSE Final Push

Hey, just wanted to drop a quick note and let you know the final push for the Indiegogo campaign for the MADHOUSE anthology is on.  Only $1700 short of the overall goal with 6 days left!

Check out the press release here.

Friday, October 24, 2014

On Paperbacks and Childhood Dreams of Being a Writer

That's a pretty heavy-handed blog title but it does accurately reflect my feelings.  You see, I got these in the mail the other day:



Now this ain't my first rodeo when it comes to seeing my name on a physical book I've written and published by someone not me.  My first book, Blood Spring, came out in 2010 from Bad Moon Books.  It was a lovely trade paperback with original art by Jill Bauman.  The first hardcover was a super limited edition of Demon from Bad Moon Books.  In both instances, it was a profoundly cool and deeply humbling experience to see my work in a format I had, up to those points, only hoped to one day see.

Yet they weren't knock you out experiences.  Don't ask me why.  I was happy but ultimately I moved on to the next thing (the next thing being the unfortunate task of me begging others to buy the books).  And don't get me started on e-books.  I like them, but it is incredibly hard to build a tactile and sensory nostalgia with whatever preferred electronic reading device you use.

I guess that's what it boils down to: a tactile and sensory nostalgia.  I grew up reading mass market paperbacks.  My folks had a bookshelf at the top of the stairs pretty much dedicated to paperbacks.  I used to pull them off and just stare at the covers, imagining what they were about.  Dad had a lot of horror and sci-fi books.  I loved the art on those covers.  I used to draw a lot back then.  I was considered "gifted" for my age, whatever that means.  And what I used to draw a lot of were copies of covers.  Comic books at first but eventually paperbacks.  So I'd draw and start to imagine what the heck were the stories behind those covers.

Eventually, when I was in fourth grade, I finally cracked the covers and started reading.  The first book, Christine by Stephen King.  The cover to the movie tie-in.  You know, this one:



There was something strangely cool about that cover.  I remember thinking it was the ghost of a car haunting people, vice a sentient evil car that just likes to kill.

This one scared the hell out of me for some reason.  Of course, it never stopped me from looking at it:



And of course, this on just creeped me out.



I asked what it was about.  Vampires I was told.  My mom would then dutifully tell me it scared the hell out of her and she'd never read Stephen King again.

I was hooked.  And for good reason.  Mass market paperbacks boiled those covers down to emotion.  They had to lure you and hook you, even if the cover didn't match what you actually would end up reading inside.  Hardbacks work on the author's name selling it.  Trade paperbacks tend to be more "artsy" (which is fine).  But MMP, well, that's the stuff of pulp.

As time moved on, I shifted from drawing to writing.  I didn't think about getting published in some cool magazine or how great it would be to land a fantastic agent (still not represented, for any agents out there).  I didn't daydream of bookshelves line with my works.  I did daydream about being a bestseller and rolling around in a bed covered in c-notes, but don't we all?  No, the main thing I dreamed about was eventually holding a mass market paperback of my work with my name on it.

That day has come.

So when my book showed up this week in MMP format, well, I was just tickled pink.  I held it.  I sniffed it (not ashamed to admit that).  I flipped through it.

For the first time, I felt like the author I dreamed of becoming all those years ago.

I've been writing since I was young.  I've been writing for publication since 2005.  But earlier this week, I felt like I'd arrived.

Thank you, HarperCollins (and my wonderful editor, Kelly O'Connor), for taking a chance on me and helping me fulfill a dream.


End of the Week Wrap-Up

So this week I guest blogged at author Nicholas Kaufmann's site as part of his continuing series The Scariest Part.  I talked about fear and personal experience and how they both fed into the writing of Demon.

I did a Q&A with My Bookish Ways.  Still TBD on when it will go up on the site.  Trust me, I'll let you know as soon as it does.

I also wrote guest blogs for The Skiffy and Fanty Show as well as SF Signal.  Again, TBD on when they'll go up.  Stay tuned.

Lastly, I received two advanced copies of the mass market paperback for Demon.  I think I'm gonna do a separate post on how awesome it was to received those.

Of course, if you're interested in picking up a copy of Demon in e-book or paperback format, hit the link at the top of the page that says DEMON and it'll take you to a page with a buffet of purchase options.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Quick Movie Review - The Counselor

People get head.

People get beheaded.

People die in other ways.

Something about drugs.

But the whole thing that starts it off with a scummy lawyer (our main character) who decides to get into the drug trade so he can afford to buy a really expensive engagement ring for his girlfriend.

And why are we supposed to care about any of these characters?

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Talking Demon at The Scariest Part

Today I'm guest blogging over at author Nicholas Kaufmann's site.  He does a recurring feature called The Scariest Part in which authors, comic book writers, filmmakers, and game creators tall about what scares them in their latest works of horror, dark fantasy, dark science fiction, and suspense.

My topic?  Why Demon of course.

Hop on over and check it out.