A New Contributor Approaches!

I’ve recently become a contributor to GeeklyInc, home of the popular Game of Thrones podcasts Cast of Thrones and the Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition real play podcast Drunks and Dragons.

You can read my articles here.

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One Word After Another: Wonder Woman, Fantasy, D&D, Game of Thrones S6.

My draft section on this blog has become mighty daunting. The problem isn’t that I don’t have anything to say, but it never felt like enough to fill how long I expect a post to be. So I decided to title this amalgamation of posts into posts called “One Word After Another” named after this Neil Gaiman quote:

“The process of writing can be magical. There are times when you step out of a upper floor window and you just walk across thin air and it’s absolute nutter happiness. Mostly it’s a process of putting one word after another. The process of writing can be magical. There are times when you step out of a upper floor window and you just walk across thin air and it’s absolute nutter happiness. Mostly it’s a process of putting one word after another.” – Neil Gaiman, Nerdist Podcast.

I believe in my archives I titled posts of random links the same, but this is not the same.

Since my last post, Wonder Woman has premiered in Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, Wonder Woman Rebirth began with Greg Rucka back on writing duties, the trailer for Wonder Woman’s solo movie came out, a trailer of Justice League Action premiered at San Diego Comic-Con, and I read The Secret History of Wonder Woman by Jill Lepore.

I believe, thanks to my love of fantasy and my continuing adventuring playing and DMing Dungeons and Dragons, Wonder Woman has risen to #1 status as my favorite member of DC Comics’ Trinity. Don’t get me wrong, Green Lanter and the Flash can always count on me to have their back, and have no love loss for Bats and Supey but the ways of Wonder Woman have  swayed me. A complex female character taking on Greek gods and monsters balanced by her stranger in a strange land story is very appealing to me. In my head, she balances a lot of the qualities that I’ve always loved about Superman and Batman while also bringing new ideas to the table. Ideas of that delve into whether can be both the peacemaker and the warrior.

The Secret History of Wonder Woman‘s title, by Jill Lepore, should come with a caveat or written beneath in small letters it could say “‘s Creator,” since this book is barely about Wonder Woman but mostly about William Moulton Marston.  The question one is left after reading this book is what to think of her creator. Is he a con artist, by manipulating his students , his mistress, and his colleagues to boost his respect / standing in the academic community? I mean, at one point there is no denying he is a fraud with what he tries to pull with Gillette Razors and his Lie Detector test. Is he a feminist, an advocate for the women’s movement or is he a hypocrite for his lifestyle of a patriarchal figure to two women fathering children with both Olivia Byrne and Zadie Holloway plus a third woman involved.

The author does an excellent job balancing Marston’s good traits with his bad subjectively, not by offering her own opinion on the creator of Wonder Woman. At some points, Marston sounds like a strong advocate for women’s rights, and at others, he sounds like he’d prefer a harem of women if he were allowed. Question: How many women must there be to be considered a harem? Is three enough? In general, it isn’t a good sign when Joye Hummel is introduced as his co-writer for Diana and I wondered whether she was going to be Marston’s next mistress. However, the author made me admire Marston’s strong will to defend Wonder Woman’s agency, the agency of women in general, and the kink community that in his day-and-age was seen as a perversion. That be said, when I really thought about W.H. Marston I believe if I knew the man in real life his arrogance mixed with denial would make me want to punch him in the face.

Dungeons & Dragons have made me appreciate writers with a deadline and improvisers. Every week I’m left trying to write what’ll happen next in the campaign on a framework of a story that does not have enough time for a second draft. There are no second drafts of a campaign when you write while you’re playing each week nor if you did would it necessarily work. A common saying I hear from Dungeon Masters is “any preparation you make is destroyed upon contact with players.” It would be so easy for me to railroad my player characters but I want them to choose and sometimes that leads me down a road of making it up on the spot. Sometimes adding information to the canon of my world that I’m furiously writing down less I forget. It’s not easy, and I learned from reading The Introvert Advantage by Marti Olsen Laney that this disconnect I feel between my thoughts and the words I speak versus the words I write is normal but sometimes it gets in the way when I am telling my story.

Rereading A Storm of Swords by George R.R. Martin I am blown away by this book even more than I was the first time. It has been since 2012 since I read it, before season 2 of the show ever came out, and boy, it makes the show look bad in comparison. It isn’t the show’s fault, though, I have come to realize again, but the fault of the basic principals and foundation of creating a television show. There is all these little details missing from the show that makes it seem like the Sparknotes version of the books but that is because there are very real limitations. The show can only be so long, they can only spend so much money, they can only include so many characters, they can only hire so many actors, they only have so much time to fill it. The other problem is, the little changes in the show that seem idiotic, is due to this prevailing nature in films and television that pisses me off to no end. This idea that television and movie audiences are stupid, every little thing has to be explained (especially when it comes to magic), and nothing can be confusing for any single member of the audience in order to read a wider audience. That’s why Tyrion’s wife was cut from the show, it’s why Hodor’s real name isn’t Walder but Willis, and why Asha is now Yara because that’s too close to Osha. There is subtly to the books the show lacks, and it loses some of its sparkles because of that. After watching season six of the show I am even more excited to get my hands on The Winds of Winter because they built a pyre around subtly and burned it to the ground. All this being said, what kind of idiot reads A Dance with Dragons and goes “Hey, you know what part would be really cool to add to our show? The horrific rape scene! *Writer’s room cheering:* YEAH!” Real bad, fellas.

In two weeks time, I’ll be done proofreading my novel, having finished editing the story back in April. So far, the beta readers I’ve sent it out to have sent some very kind things. I’ll have to remember them when the rejection letter begins coming in when I send it out to literary agents.

You Should Read: A Crown of Cold Silver by Alex Marshall, Blood Song by Anthony Ryan, The Secret History of Wonder Woman by Jill Lepore.

You Should Listen To: The British History Podcast, The Adventure Zone, Drunks and Dragons Podcast, My Brother, My Brother, & Me Podcast.

 

 

Brandon Sanderson’s Cosmere Beyond The Well of Ascension.

If one shouldn’t judge a book by a cover, even though that’s basically what book covers are for then one might also try to never judge an author by one book.

Where Brandon Sanderson was concerned I did exactly that. While the first two books I read by the fantasy author, Elantris, and Mistborn: The Final Empire belong with some of my favorite fantasy novels the second Mistborn novel, The Well of Ascension, left a bad taste in my mouth that has kept me away from  all Sanderson novels since 2012.

We find Vin after having defeated the Lord Ruler, who has acted as their god for a thousand years, and being reunited with the man she loves has become an angsty teenage brat in her early twenties. Elend and the remaining members of Kelsier’s crew from the first novel don’t act any better. Then there’s Zane. Oh, Zane, you are a shitstain of a villain.

This isn’t about shitting on The Well of Ascension, and believe me, I could for at least a thousand more words. The point is, the second Mistborn book left a bad taste in my mouth that stopped me from reading anymore Brandon Sanderson novels from 2012 to late 2015.

Fellow frequents readers and bibliophiles will empathize with this. Your “To Read” pile increases much faster than your “Read” pile. Therefore, you may own a book but not necessarily have read it yet. Then one of your friends starts reading one of those books you own and it awakens a fire in you. “I have a competition in me,” you might say, “I want no one else to succeed.” They can’t finish that book before you, you’ve owned that book for years! You have the first edition!

Maybe it’s more like, you want to be part of something, a story, a world, or an experience along with your friend at the same time he’s going through it. Simultaneously, this happened me to with Sanderson’s
series and the 2nd Era of Mistborn. I had one friend who long since read The Alloy of Law and was breezing through The Shadows of Self. Another had started The Way of Kings with praise all around for it.

So, despite my apprehension, I dived in. The Alloy of Law immediatly grabbed me. I had missed with the world of Scadrial. The powers of Alomancy and Feruchemy greeted me like an old friend. The book was sprinkled with hints of a history I was familiar with.

The Way of Kings beginning was a slog through muddy swamp water. The beginning is mind-bogglingly slow but when you reach the other side it’s like walking into an oncoming storm. Everything is happening, everything is connected, and nothing will be the same. I was hooked.

I ate up books from the Cosmere like I was starving. Shadows of Self, Words of Radiance, and The Bands of Mourning were all read before March 2016 even hit. I reread the first two Mistborn books and while I still hated The Well of Ascension I knew it was one bad book out of many amazing ones.

Finally, after refusing to read it back in 2012 I picked up the third Mistborn book, The Hero of Ages. You have to remember I had already read three of the books from the second Mistborn series. I knew the fates of Vin, Elend, Sazed and the rest of Kelsier’s former crew. You’d think already knowing what happen it wouldn’t hit as hard but that third book’s ending is still devastating.

All this in mind, when I finally read Sanderson’s new novella, Mistborn: Secret History I wasn’t prepared for what happened. I wasn’t prepared for the reunion with some of my favorite characters. I wasn’t prepared for this interwoven plot that is Brandon Sanderson’s Cosmere. I was blown away.

Finally, I ended my journey where I began with Elantris. That was the book that made me fall in love with Sanderson’s writing that I had somehow lost struggling to hate-read through The Well of Ascension.

Maybe, though, that break from his book is what I needed. I washed the bad taste of the second Mistborn book out of my mouth and returned to his Cosmere older and with a new perspective on stories and writing. I am highly anticipating my next chance to go exploring through the Cosmere when Oathbringer, the third Stormlight Archive book comes out.

Should Book Readers Watch Game of Thrones’ Sixth Season?

On April 24th, for the first time since the show premiered, readers of George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series will be completely in the dark about the fate of Westeros and its characters.

Martin recently announced that The Winds of Winter is not finished nor will it be in time for release before the premier of season six. As far as whether the next season will spoil the books Martin answers “Maybe. Yes and No.”

Season five saw the biggest divergence of the stories yet with the death of major characters that still live on within the books. Not only that but budgetary and time restraints has certain characters from the books completely absent from the show. So no, their stories will not be spoiled.

The bottom line is that all the most beloved characters will have their stories spoiled for readers of the series. That includes Tyrion, Jaime, and Cersei Lannister, Arya, Sansa, and Bran Stark (Maybe Rickon too?), Daenerys, her dragons, and all of Meereen. The Greyjoys, the Martells, the Boltons, the Baratheons, the Tyrells, the Night’s Watch, the Brothers Without Banners, The Wildlings, and even the Others will all have their stories spoiled. The amount of characters free of being spoiled is negligent compared to this amount.

Readers are then left with a decision, to continue or stop watching Game of Thrones. With HBO looking to renew Game of Thrones for up to eight seasons that leaves those on the fence with some math to consider. It is likely that within those three years The Winds of Winter will be released, but what of the final book in the series A Dream of Spring? That might likely not be released until after the series has ended, based on the time the sixth book has taken to release.

So are you, dear A Song of Ice and Fire readers, able to resist not only spoilers for three years as the show airs but also five years and change for the release of the next two books?

Let’s be clear, A Song of Ice and Fire has a huge audience but the show’s is even larger. It’s not simply a series you watch but a social event that you discuss. To avoid spoilers for five years plus may ostracise you socially unless you fill that void by talking about other shows, events, and sports that take up pop culture. That’s an extreme view of it, you may go about your life avoiding spoilers all the times like it’s no big deal. It’s not like Game of Thrones is always publically discussed

It’s not like Game of Thrones is always publically discussed, covered constantly by the media, or posted about across social media. It’s not as if HBO releases a string of trailers and preview for seasons that recap the previous ones while discussing upcoming ones. It’s not as if the amount of spoilers released between the time of the first Star Wars: The Force Awakens teaser and the time of its release are any indication of the difficulty it will be avoiding spoilers.

That’s one year. One year between the teaser and the release of Episode VII. In that time, it had two localized trailers, an international trailer, a teaser, and television footage. It’s actually quite remarkable how we collectively agreed as a fandom not to spoil the movie for each other.  Can your recall Game of Thrones viewers

Can you recall Game of Thrones viewers being that kind? Were you one of those who lorded over your knowledge from the book to your friends? Did you record their reactions to the Red Wedding? Do you think they may be petty enough to get their revenge? Seeing videos of people reading books while their friends cackle in the background doesn’t sound as exciting.

Still, this may be an opportunity for the showrunners to completely diverge from the direction of the books. They may have no choice with the elimination and death of certain characters. HBO may get their wish, in the end, to have a season nine happen giving Martin more time to release the next two books. Even less likely, but not impossible, is Martin may have A Dream of Spring better planned out in his head as he envisioned the series ending after three books, then five, and now seven (and even contemplated an eighth book.)

No matter the outcome, some spoilers are inevitable. You’ll have to decide if you will remain unsullied or not from them.

 

If You Want To Keep Your New Year’s Resolutions Start Them Now.

People don’t like seeing Christmas decorations when Halloween hasn’t arrived. We all hate hearing about Black Friday before Thanksgiving has even arrived especially when stores try to convince us to shop the night of Thanksgiving. Christmas ends and suddenly we’re thinking about our New Year’s Eve plans and how we can make it less disappointing than the year before. It’ll always be disappointing because it’ll never be as magical as it is in your brain.

Everyone makes New Year’s resolutions, including the people who say there New Year’s resolution is to not have one. The problem is the majority of us don’t keep them. For most of us, January is cold, we’re still broke from Christmas, and goddammit, every treadmill at the gym is taken up again. We decided on that one special night when we countdown to the new year that the next will be different but different can be difficult.

So instead, let’s just start our New Year’s resolution now that way when January 1st hit we’ll already be on track during the regular days of our lives instead of making promises we can’t keep on the tail end of the Holiday season. Here are some of mine.

But wait, I’m not going to do this alone. So for all of mine I’m going to make some suggestions of resolutions some people who I’ve encountered should make for themselves.

We did it you and me liquor

  • I’ll either figure out how to “fake it until I make it” or just give up on faking it entirely and dedicate endless amounts of time researching on how just to make it.
  • Drivers, when making a turn, you will go completely in your lane rather than staying halfway in mine blocking me from going forward.
  • I’ll keep the words in mind “You can only control yourself” whenever my life feels out of control.
  • When you see someone reading a book you won’t ask them “What are you reading?” or strike up a conversation especially if you don’t know them. If you’ve read the book, you’re permitted to say “great book,” and continue walking when they don’t engage.

YesAndNo

  • I’ll completely shut off once a week. Desktop, laptop, tablet, television, and smart phone completely turned off. I’ll write in notebooks and read on the floor if I have to keep my devices out of view.
  • You will stop playing videos and music out loud in public places with no regard for the people around you.
  • I’ll take a walk once a week and not to work out or lose weight but just to be outside.
  • Fall and Spring in New York, you will have those moderate temperatures you’re known for instead of flip flopping between being too hot or too cold all the time.
  • I’ll say yes just as often as I say no and vice versa.
  • You will take no for an answer.
  • I will go to BookCon, NY Special Edition, New York Tolkien Conference, and New York Comic Con.
  • Con-goers, you will shower, wash, and put on deodorant before a convention. It’s already hot enough.

Sogood

  • I will find, pitch, attempt, or whatever I have to do to find some freelance writing work. It’s something I have to try to do.
  • You will stop asking English Majors “But what are you going to do with that?”
  • I will go to Madison Square Garden. I will go to a stand-up comedy show. Not just some random night at Carolines but for a comedian who is touring that I love.
  • Stand-up comedians living on West Coast, you will come to New York.
  • When I go to BookCon, NY Special Edition, New York Tolkien Conference, and New York Comic Con I will say hello and talk to new people.
  • New York Comic Con, you will have more authors coming to your con.

theandys

  • I will think better of myself.
  • You will also think better of yourself.
  • I will only buy one book after I’ve read three I’ve never previously read.
  • Favorite authors, you will release the next books in your series in 2016.
  • I will write every day. Five of those days will be for four hours each day.
  • Everything else, you will stop distracting me from writing.
  • I’ll give up coffee for one month, maybe two, and deal with the caffeine headache.
  • Coffee mugs, you will stop tempting me with your bad puns and pop culture references.
  • I will write and submit a short story, even though I hate short stories.
  • Words, you will stop before my short story turns into another novel.
  • I will follow and comment on someone’s WordPress blog including someone who follows this one.
  • Pizza, you will stay exactly as you are. Maybe be fewer calories.
  • I will fill at least four notebooks front to back.
  • Pens, you will stop running out of ink just as writing is going so well.
  • I will allow only ten minutes to take it personally when friends and family criticize my book or just plain don’t like it.
  • Game of Thrones season six, you will be better than season five.
  • I will talk less about writing than actually writing because “talking about the thing isn’t the thing. The doing of the thing is the thing.”
  • Time, you will stop passing by so quickly.
  • I will break out of more comfort zones.
  • Comic book readers, you will stop being so afraid of change.
  • I will spend less money on things and spend more on experiences.
  • Experiences, you will stop being so expensive.
  • I will draw a map of the world from my book whether I can do it well or not.
  • Knicks, you will at least have a 27 win record this season.
  • I will communicate better with friends and family.
  • You will keep asking me when my book is going to be finished, it reminds that I need to get my ass in gear.
  • I will start my second book.
  • New Year’s Resolutions, you will stop making people feel guilty when you become unrealistic goals that no one can keep. Instead, you will become goals that people work towards all year to better ourselves.

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