Now on Substack!

I started a Substack!

It’s part blog and part email newsletter. I’ll email only once a week unless there’s some pressing update, like a new release. And I’m not charging anything for it at this point (maybe later if it’s doing well, but that would be a while off).

I’ll write about books, comics, TV, movies, writing, and occasionally my own work. Just a few posts so far, but more to come!

I call it “And the Quest for Pop Culture.” Please consider subscribing!

Time for an experiment — one month without social media!

I’m going to experiment and try a month with no social media whatsoever, August 22 – September 21.

I shall take the red pill and unplug from the Matrix. Granted, I run the risk of finding myself in a dystopian wasteland in which machines have conquered the world and are using everyone I know as living batteries, but that’s a chance I’ll have to take.

I won’t be checking any notifications during that month. I’m sure Facebook will send me emails telling me I have notifications, but I’ll ignore those and carry on with my day. And then Facebook will no doubt email me again, informing me that so-and-so has shared a link! And Friend X has liked Friend Y’s photo! And Friend Z has posted an update! Don’t you want to see what Friend Z has posted? Don’t you? Don’t you?

I wonder how desperate Facebook will eventually get? Will it show its true colors and go full-on General Zod? “You will bow down before me, Facebook User. I swear it, no matter that it takes an eternity! You will bow down before me! Both you … and then one day … your heirs! “

This will be not only a month with no Facebook, but also a month with no Twitter, Instagram, or even Goodreads. No YouTube either, as that counts as social media (though I may make exceptions for legitimate research or practical how-to videos, if needed). Scrolling will not slay any of my time.

If you really miss me, there’s a certain superhero novel that’s worth hundreds and hundreds of posts … and whose sequel I’m very behind on because I keep thinking of better ways to do it. That will be the priority during this month.

Behave yourselves while I’m away.

Sequel: The Sequel

I encountered an unexpected obstacle while working on the sequel to The Flying Woman. After months of writing and revising, I realized I was actually working on the third book in the series. Unfortunately, math tells us that among the second and third books, the second should come first.

The main issue was that I jumped too far ahead in time, inadvertently skipping much of Miranda’s development as a superhero. The first book is all about accepting the responsibility and building the superhero persona, but how does she get good at it? How does a superhero receive training when she’s one of her world’s first ever?

That gave me a way in to an actual second book. I don’t have a title yet, but I’ve got the premise locked down. Describing the premise in too much detail would risk spoiling the first book (which you should of course read first), but it involves a superhero/fantasy genre mash-up.

There’s an old comic book trope in which the superhero gets sucked into another world, dimension, or reality and gets involved in whatever conflict is going on there. The superhero figures out who the good guys are, helps them out, and eventually finds a way home. It’s not my favorite trope, but the reasons for my ambivalence showed me how to make it work for my story.

In the comics, especially in the ’60s and ’70s, these outings would often feel inconsequential. Yeah, it might be fun to see a familiar character navigating an unfamiliar environment, but these issues tended to feel like a break from the main storylines, the superhero equivalent of a vacation. Then the main character would return home, and that would be that.

The concept fits perfectly in the Voyage and Return plot type, in which “[t]he protagonist goes to a strange land and, after overcoming the threats it poses or learning important lessons unique to that location, they return with experience.” In the old-school comics, though, the superhero didn’t always come away with any lasting lessons.

Experiences in far-off lands should leave indelible marks, especially on a young superhero who’s still trying to figure it all out. And thus I have my second book.

Admittedly, this puts me a bit behind schedule. However, I’ll be ahead when it’s time to resume work on the third book (unless I realize the third is actually the fourth).

My goal is to have the second book out this fall, though it’s too soon to promise that. I’d rather take extra time to get it right than put out something below par.

So in the meantime, continue to enjoy The Flying Woman.

Upcoming events

I’ll be at three thrilling events in the near future. If you’re nearby, come check it/them out!

The Hanover Book Festival — Saturday, April 27, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Richmond Times-Dispatch Building in Mechanicsville, Virginia. Come meet a bunch of Virginia authors!

Hayfield Comic Con — Saturday, May 4, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Hayfield Secondary School in Alexandria, Virginia. The students are organizing this event, and they’ve got some fun events lined up, including an Escape Room. Plus, this will be an excellent place to celebrate Free Comic Book Day!

GalaxyCon Richmond — May 31 to June 2 at the Richmond Convention Center. I will truly be a very small fish in a huge pond here, but I will have a table, so come say hello!

Help me support the 2019 Walk to Cure Arthritis

One in four Americans have arthritis, and this number includes about 300,000 children, according to the Arthritis Foundation.

The 2019 Walk to Cure Arthritis is taking place in Richmond, Virginia, on Saturday, April 27. I encourage everyone to follow the link and make a donation.

I’ll be donating, and on top of what I already intend to donate, I’ll also donate all book and ebook royalties I earn today, Wednesday, April 3. (This is a personal promise from me, and only I am responsible for it. No other person or entity is responsible except me.)

So, please consider making a direct donation via the above link, and that would be wonderful. Or buy any of my books today, April 3, to increase the amount that I will donate. Or do both!

Thank you!

Avenging The Fantastic, Part 12: Meet the Falcon…And His Falcon!

Continuing the read-through of as many Avengers and Fantastic Four–related Marvel comics as possible!

Books Read

Avengers #64-72; Fantastic Four #82-93; Thor #160-171; Incredible Hulk #116-124; Captain America #114-119; Captain Marvel #15-19; Iron Man #15-20; years: 1969-70.

Avengers_Vol_1_71The Revolving Door of Avengers Mansion

Captain America, Iron Man, and Thor are back in action…at least part of the time. And the Black Knight becomes an official Avenger though not an active one, as he resides in England, which would be quite the commute.

The Dawn of the ‘70s

As this read-through finally hits the 1970s, and after we’ve all been subjected to the super-serious monstrosity known as Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, let’s appreciate how nice and innocent these old comics are. True, they are infected with the prejudices of their era (i.e. no shortage of sexism), but otherwise they depict many fine role models for the children who were reading them back in the day. These characters always try to do the right thing and make their world a better place. In the Marvel Comics Universe, superheroes err, but they tend to find their way back on track.

In DC’s rush to copy the success of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and establish a different tone from the MCU, they’ve given us a Superman who’s not very heroic and a Batman who’s willing to indirectly kill criminals, and that’s a loss for today’s kids. Adults can enjoy superheroes, too (as I certainly do), but we shouldn’t take the classics away from children.

These comics, for all their faults, depict superheroes as originally intended, in colorful, action-packed stories that excite the imagination and encourage us to be the best that we can be. But enough with the soapbox—on to the comics!

Thor_Vol_1_168The History of Galactus – Thor #160-161, 168-169

Some stories can only be told in the comic book medium—stories such as a big world-eating guy fighting a sentient planet. Galactus squares off against Ego the Living Planet, with Thor and others caught in the middle, and it’s epic indeed. Totally ridiculous, yes, and no other medium could do it justice, but it works wonderfully as an action-packed comic.

The fight puts Galactus on Odin’s radar, so shortly later he sends Thor to find and battle Galactus. But since we’ve just had a world-shattering Galactus fight, Stan Lee and Jack Kirby give us something different—the origin of Galactus. Turns out, Galactus is tired of fighting, and he just wants to tell Thor how he came to be. Why now and why to Thor? Because he’s Galactus, and his prodigious mind is such that we cannot comprehend, so don’t question anything that seems convenient or coincidental.

Anyway, Galactus is the sole survivor of his planet, Taa. Weird radiation happened. The Watcher observed it all and was tempted to stop this destructive being from coming into existence, but ultimately the Watcher takes his watching seriously. So if countless planets need to get eaten, fine, so long as the Watcher never interferes. Again, it would probably make sense to minds less mortal than ours. Continue reading

Embrace Change…and Excerpts!

I’ve tweaked one little aspect of my website here…I’ve created a drop-down menu under the “Books” tab up top.

Now, you can visit a new page dedicated to each of my books. You’ll see the cover image, description, and sales links as you always did, but now I’ve included a permanent excerpt for each title. I’ve incorporated the reviews there rather than in a separate “Reviews” tab as before.

This change will also provide a dedicated space for folks to leave comments specifically about that book and discuss it amongst themselves.

So scroll up and check it out, please, and have fun reading.

The 25 best-mannered people of the past 25 years

jimmy_fallonThe National League of Junior Cotillions has announced its list of the “25 Best-Mannered People of the Past 25 years.”

I came across it as a press release and thought it might be worth sharing as a reminder to start 2015 off on a kind note. (Though I do question ranking a comedian as more well-mannered than Mother Theresa, but the concept as a whole is still a nice thought.)

So, happy New Year! Behave yourselves.

Let us look now…to the future!

I made a bunch of progress today on my next book, the one that will come out after Earths in Space vol. 2.

What is it? Well, we have to keep some of the mystery alive, now don’t we?

But here’s one little tidbit: It’s a concept and characters I’ve written first as stage plays, then years later as a television pilot script, and recently as comic book scripts. Now all that work spanning eleven years and multiple media comes together in a novel.

And then after this unannounced project…more RIP! I shan’t neglect the ghost fights for too much longer.