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Rape Culture is pervasive in every culture


I’ve been spending some time watching an interesting video about men and rape culture.  Moderated by Eve Ensler, with panelists Peter Buffett, Jimmie Briggs, Joe Ehrmann, Tony Porter, Dave Zirin. I’ve seen a few of Tony Porter’s talks, there’s TED talks I’ve seen with him talking about the man box and how to tear that down.  Here’s the video, make some time to watch it as it’s two hours long.

There was a comment that Tony made that struck home in something that I’ve heard before in another aspect of culture, and that being in the media.  Tony mentions that men are not taught to be interested in women’s interests.  If you see a man or two men in a college environment that happen to be enrolled in a women’s studies class, there’s an assumption that either those men are trolling for a date (especially if there are two or three men in a class of thirty women), or that they happen to be gay.  There’s an automatic need for men to question that aspect.

And we see this in another area; comic books.  We have this very ingrained and stereotypical view of women who enjoy and read comics.  Women are questioned and grilled and forced to justify why they read comic books.  A woman walks into a comic book shop (for this shop, it may be her first time even though she’s an avid reader).  The men in that shop will automatically justify the reason why she’s there.  Say there’s ten men in the shop, chances are that only one will think “she’s here to pick up some comics or reserve a pull box for comics for the week”.  The rest will think she has either A) come in to meet her boyfriend B) come in to see if there’s some crappy indie comic C) has come into the wrong shop D) needs to get out of the rain/snow/wind and the shop was the closest.  There’s probably other automatic instances that come to mind, but for me those things are things I’ve actually thought of in the past.

Take that stereotype of women in comics and how readers and creators who happen to be women, and now exam the reactions to seeing men taking an interest in women’s interests.  It’s pretty clear that those men who question the validity of a man in a women’s studies course are exactly the same men who question the validity of a woman who reads comics.

This idea is present in every aspect of culture.  Rape Culture is merely a sub culture throughout everything.  And it starts with idiotic preconceptions about women, and idiotic preconceptions about men taking interest in women’s interests.  Which also goes hand in hand with homophobia.  Which also goes hand in hand with sporting events and athletics.  Which goes hand in hand with movies, television and books.  Which goes hand in hand with advertising.

Now at this point, someone is screaming “Whoa, hold on!  That’s too much!  We’re talking about rape culture”.  But rape culture isn’t a single thing you can point at.  There’s hundreds of venues where rape culture lives.  It’s lives in NFL stadiums, in CFL stadiums, in NHL arenas, on NBA courts, on the mound at the local ball park and in the MLB,  It exists at comic book conventions, right from San Diego down to Brandon, Manitoba and Humboldt, Saskatchewan.  It exists in Hollywood.  It exists in the business world.  It exists in high school.  It exists in the church.  And it exists in the home.

You might say that rape culture and violence against women doesn’t happen in the locker room, but the athlete doesn’t stop existing once they leave the locker room.  Look at what happened with Ray Rice.  Look further back to what happened to the young men that were sexually molested by their head coach who played with the Swift Current Broncos of the WHL.  Look at the case of Ben Roethlisberger charged with rape.

If you say that violence against women isn’t pervasive in movies, tv and advertising, you need to crawl out of the rock you’ve been living under.  If you say it isn’t pervasive in the church, you’ve been ignoring years of abuse committed by Catholic priests.

This aspect of culture becomes worse when you look at race.  Black women suffer a greater deal of violence than white women.  First Nations women, even worse.  In Canada, there is a call to launch a public inquiry.  That’s how bad violence against First Nations women and children is in this country.

I can hear that lone cry, which happens to be really loud, coming from the opposite corner of the room.  “But men get raped too”!  I’m not saying they don’t.  But men don’t live their day to day lives in fear of being raped, sexually assaulted, or beaten.  Women do.  Men go on a blind date and think “I hope she’s not fat”.  Women go on a blind date and think “I hope he doesn’t kill me”.  Men may be victims of rape.  Boys may be victims of rape.  Women definitely are victims of rape.  But the primary perpetrator of rape is men.  A woman who rapes is nearly unheard of, even though it does happen.  But it does not happen nearly often as men who commit and promote acts of violence and acts of sexual violence.

Rape culture isn’t just one place that we can solve with something magical.  We have to understand that it exists everywhere.

I’m not gonna say that I came up with this all on my own.  This has come from the past few years since I wrote that little book about gunslinging elves.  I’ve listened to men and women talk about the male gaze, the female form in media, rape culture, the objectification of women, the issue of women of colour and violence perpetrated against them, women who discuss popular culture, and men who have discussed it as well.  But the key is not just repeating information, the key is listening and understanding what’s going on.  Take the blinders and remove them.

It’s scary when you do, but you’ll be able to move forward and work to improve it.

 
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Posted by on September 20, 2014 in Life, randomness

 

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The Problems With MMOs


MMOs, or Massive Multiplayer Online games (once also called MMORPG, where RP stood for Role Play), can be a fun time to get together with some friends and hack and slash or send a photon torpedo spread into an armada of ships, or pull a jedi mind trick on someone.  Let’s just put it this way, if there’s a genre out there, it’s a good bet that there’s an MMO about it.

There's even a porn MMO out there.

There’s even a porn MMO out there.

But MMOs have a slight problem.  It’s the immersive entertainment factor of the game that sometimes just seems to drag.  For a lot of people, the point of an MMO is to level up a character and get as much of the best stuff as you can get to make your character pretty awesome (I’m not sure if that’s how it works in a porn MMO, to be honest).  For others, it’s a chance to meet with friends and take part in a past time that explores a world in a genre one really likes, or even a setting from a movie or TV franchise.

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Have to ask yourself, how many people tried to name their character Darth Maul and get their hands on a dual lightsabre.

Some MMOs have an issue, however, that makes playing the game a complete and total drag.  The first part is what’s called the fetch quest.

We’ve seen it before, those who have played MMOs that is.  You go to a contact, the contact asks you to fetch them five or ten or fifteen of something.  In some games at higher levels the number can be a lot higher.

Really?  You want me to kill 200 of those?  Do I look suicidal?

Really? You want me to kill 200 of those? Do I look suicidal?

It’s part of the story progression in some MMOs.  Others have done away with the fetch quest.  Some have implemented it in another way where it’s not necessary to do the quest if you don’t want to.  For others, this is the bread and butter of the game (especially for smaller MMOs by lesser known companies).  Others have made more of a story like aspect that has a complete narrative.

In Star Trek Online, there is a progressive story arc, and there’s even added seasons, just like the actual television series.  The attention to detail is incredible, as a player will run into historical information that points to an episode of The Original Series, Next Gen, DS9, Voyager, Enterprise or one of the movies.  I can only imagine that as much, if not more detail was done to Star Wars: The Old Republic.

Even obscure references in Star Trek are found, as Captain McKenzie Callhoun, from Peter David's novel series Star Trek: New Frontier, can be found at Deep Space Station K-7.

Even obscure references in Star Trek are found, as Captain McKenzie Callhoun, from Peter David’s novel series Star Trek: New Frontier, can be found at Deep Space Station K-7.

Guild Wars has taken up the story aspect, giving the players a full and detailed story which helps the player level up their character.  There are higher level and more difficult dungeons that a player can go into, but they aren’t necessary in order to have fun.

One dungeon is connected to the story, but it's a dungeon players will want to take part in.

One dungeon is connected to the story, but it’s a dungeon players will want to take part in.

A lot of games also have a problem once the players hit the level cap.  Some games are at level 50, some at level 60, others at level 80 (and some are higher).  What do you do once a player hits the level cap in order to encourage them to keep playing their character?  Some games sort of have that solved in a way.

Both Star Trek Online and Guild Wars 2 have added more story content.  In the case of STO, it’s new seasons and new places to go.  Sadly, you have to pay for the new content, treating it like an expansion to the original game.  They did that with the Legacy of Romulous and it’s being done again with Delta Rising, as characters can now go into the Delta Quadrant.  In Guild Wars 2, the content is free, and it’s completely separate from the original game content.  New characters and new stories.  There are other games that do this as well, but these two I’m familiar with.

STO has gone a step further, adding in reputation marks in different tracks allowing a player to “level up” beyond the level 50 cap (soon to be level 60).  There’s Borg, Romulous, The Voth and Dyson Spheres, and Species 8472, and soon to be a Delta Quadrant rep system.  This rep system allows a player to get extra active and passive abilities, plus craft specialty space and ground gear which includes armour, weapons, shields, warp core, and so on.  A complete set will give an added bonus.  Which sounds great, but there’s a big draw back.

All of the content for these rep tracks have the same task forces for each track.  Some, it’s the usual four or six different task forces that take a five man team.  Some are ground, some are space.  The first rep track, with the Borg, had five space and five ground task forces (with normal and elite settings).  That’s fine for the first level of the rep system, but once you get to level two it becomes repetitive.  This is even more so with the Species 8472 track, as there is just one ground and two space task forces.

Didn't we just protect this temple yesterday?  And the day before?

Didn’t we just protect this temple yesterday? And the day before?

The Romulous rep track was better, as it had a story to go with, but it was by no means perfect.  It too got very repetitive.  Even Guild Wars 2 gets a touch boring after a while, especially when waiting for the new content.

Some games have a shelf life, some have a long lasting life.  Some games get yanked and shut down that were good way before their time (City of Heroes).  But all MMOs have an issue with their content.  Some enjoy, others don’t.  It’s more a case of buyer beware, and take the time to explore all of the aspects of a game.  Do you see yourself playing it three, six, or twelve months down the road?  If so, then great.  If not, are you willing to sink all of that money into it?

 
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Posted by on September 15, 2014 in Fun, randomness

 

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Darkness Within


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I was going to do a piece on women in history, sort of a match to yesterday’s history versus fantasy, but I became distracted by the final book in Gail Simone’s run on Batgirl.

The NewDC has taken the characters of all the really good things about their characters and stripped them back to basics.  This happened when the New52 launched.  Since then, there’s been nearly 52 failures.  As of May of this year, there were 47 cancellations in the New52.  Some were really fun books (All-Star Western, Blue Beetle), some were really well written (The Movement, Firestorm), and some were just plain terrible (The Savage Hawkman, Hawk & Dove).

But with stripping down the characters, something was left out.  Something that was left behind.  We read superhero comics as a form of escapist entertainment, but also with a mirror reflecting real life.  What if Superman came along to save some kid who was contemplating suicide?

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Gone are the everyday comedy and drama of the antics of Booster Gold and Blue Beetle (even the Young Justice versions of Kid Flash and Blue Beetle).  Gone is the on again off again relationship with Ollie and Dinah due to Ollie’s infidelity.  Even the aspect of family that came about with Connor, Roy, Dinah, Mia, and Ollie.  Gone is the dynamic of Birds of Prey, an all female book which showed you don’t have to write women in some male gaze way, that they can be smart and funny and loving to one another.  And gone is any aspect of a disabled person as a superhero (though, the Movement tried, it really did).

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According to DC editorial, you can’t be a superhero and be happy.  That’s a defeatist attitude, and sheds off any concept that superheroes bring to the table.  Hope.  If superheroes can’t be happy, why should I be happy.  The brooding darkness works for Batman, but even the Batfam can’t live in perpetual darkness.  Even Batwoman, who may be the antithesis of Batman, needs that light.  After all, it was Kate Kane who said that it could be anyone under the cape and cowl, even her.  So she became an aspect of Batman that wasn’t so scary.  She even came close to getting married to her partner (Renee Montoya before the reboot, Maggie Sawyer after).  But no, she can’t have that.

Meanwhile, at the Marvelous Competition, the heroes aligned with the Avengers and X-Men continue to have their everyday dramas and comedies hit them.  And they survive.  They survive having relationships, meaningful relationships, and even manage to crack a few jokes.  These things are very telling about superheroes.  The ability to laugh, as opposed to being dark and brooding 24/7/365 is far more entertaining and far more healthy.

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But DC has moved away from that, feeling that success of the Batman trilogy is the way to go.  Forgetting completely that dark and brooding works for Batman, but doesn’t work for everyone else.  This isn’t the early 90s, we’re past the awful stages of grim and gritty.  Were they good?  At the time they were, because it was different.  But it’s 2014 now.  We need to move past that and into a place where diversity of character and emotion is just as diverse as people and culture.

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Essentially, we need hope in our comics again.  I could walk away from DC completely and ignore it, but I care about the characters a little too much, I suppose.  I’d like that future generations would care just as much, and give them something to hope for.

I was going to talk about the final issue of Batgirl, but there’s a much better article that sums it up completely, found here.

 
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Posted by on September 11, 2014 in Fun, Life, randomness

 

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Historical accuracy versus fantasy


hogwarts

Hogwarts Founders presented as Idris Elba, Lucy Liu, Hrithik Roshan, and Angel Coulby.

Lately there’s been this cry heard whenever someone makes a post or even writes a book based on fantasy and includes people of colour in the story.  Not just as background characters, but as main characters.  Here’s a recent example of a comment made about the founders of Hogwart’s, all racebent.

While I do love that whoever made this did a good job matching actors to characters, the one issue I have is that Hogwarts is in England and what founded several centuries ago. I’m not saying that there wouldn’t have been blacks or asians in England at the time, but it’s still a historical inaccuracy to depict them as anything other than white Englishmen, since the culture of England at the time wouldn’t have had room for blacks and asians as anything other than slaves or traders.

Please don’t take this as me being racist, this is just me with a debilitating and incurable need for historical accuracy.

The last paragraph of the comment is the telling one.  Before claiming to want historical accuracy, the defensive is automatically put on for a wish to not be considered racist.  The opposite in fact happens.  Is it historical ignorance?  Is it racism?  It’s a lazy form of racism, yes.  The reason I call it lazy is this.  When presented with something that is different than what the person has been taught, instead of researching and discovering true history, they will automatically claim it is historically inaccurate.

Let’s really get a focus on this problem here.  The Harry Potter series isn’t the first series to have this issue.  And it’s also strange how in the movies themselves one character, Lavender Brown, went from being black to being white within a year once she was to become Ron’s girlfriend.  In Thor, there was an outcry for having Idris Elba as Heimdahl.  Yet, in the recently announced Exodus: Gods and Kings which is a retelling of the Biblical story of Moses, all of the principle actors playing the roles of Egyptians and the Middle Eastern Jews are being played by white people.  I’d love those who claim for historical accuracy to try and defend why there seems to be only white people in a movie about a location that has historically been home to black and brown people.

Whenever a black or brown person is cast in a role for a fantasy film, there’s always a demand for historical accuracy.  Whether the person riding this ignorance train realizes it or not, they’re basically making a claim of how racist they actually are.  You’re not okay with a black or brown person in a fantasy film, but you’re completely fine with dwarves, wizards, dragons, magic, pixies and elves?  Basically, creatures that don’t exist in reality.  You’d rather see fictional beings that do not exist at all than see black or brown people, who do exist, and have existed for thousands of years.

There’s gonna be somebody who’s going to complain about this post, I just know it.  Someone who’s going to say I need to prove that what I’m saying is accurate.  Fine.  Here’s a list.

  1. Black Moors in Scotland
  2. Moors in the Court of James IV, King of Scots
  3. St. Deiniol in Wales
  4. Ghanaians in London
  5. Art from the 1600s showing brown men in turbans
  6. Here’s an Indian man who in the 1700s ran a successful restaurant in England and taught white people to shampoo their hair
  7. Japanese emissaries came to Europe as early as 1584
  8. Mongolian Genghis Khan made it to about Poland-ish in the 1200s

And these are just a few examples.  Do a proper search, you’ll find hundreds more (unless you’re search engine happens to link to Fox News, then good luck with that).

There’s also many more articles on this subject matter which say things and explain things far better than I can.  Here they are!

  1. The problem with colourblindness
  2. Racism in fantasy
  3. United Colors of Albion: Race in Fantasy Media
  4. Can I Just Watch Game of Thrones In Peace? (Brown Feminist Fan Rant)

Bottom line is the world is made up of more non-white people than there is white people.  Yet, media portrays both fantasy and sci fi as a hugely white area.  That only white people lived in those times.  And fans are duped into believing this by shouting “historical accuracy”.  But your historical accuracy is completely wrong.  People of different colours have been a part of Europe for over 2000 years (and maybe even longer).  If there’s a chance white people can exist in Ancient Egypt, then you bet your ass that black people can exist in a Viking village.  Take the “historical accuracy” argument and throw it away, because it’s easily disproved.

If, after that, you still rail against such things as a black or brown person in an English court, then I guess it’s time to realize that you don’t want historical accuracy, you’re just racist after all.

 

 
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Posted by on September 10, 2014 in Life, randomness

 

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Summer ends on September 21st


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This morning as I woke, at 5:30, I checked the weather app on my phone.  It read 4 degrees Celsius.  Which means overnight it could very well have hit zero.  This is technically still summer.

But the darkness and the impending cooler weather says otherwise.

Just two days ago, the temperature got up to 26 Celsius.  It was hot.  Not a wickedly stifling hot, but a nice hot that you can relax in outside in the shade.  The next day began with a temperature of 7.  I think it only reached 10.  Summer is not over yet.  It doesn’t technically arrive until the 21st of September.  I’m not backing down on that one at all.

The days are growing increasingly shorter as well.  This morning was a little bit harder to get out of bed.  I managed, even with it being dark outside at 5:30.  A month ago, while I was enjoying my two weeks off, the sun was shining at 5:30.  Although, I’d merely get up to use the bathroom, then immediately crawl back into bed.  That’s what one does when on holidays.  Now, back at work, the weather has taken a turn from the pleasurable warmth to something a tad more cooler.

On the different social media networks there’s already discussions of what to do for Halloween.  Which is over a month away.  I shouldn’t be too surprised, after all Christmas is celebrated with such vim and vigor in the preceding weeks before the December 25th arrival.

But I’m standing firm.  Until the 21st arrives, it’s still summer.  I don’t care if I have to wear a sweater, it’s still summer.

Dammit.

 
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Posted by on September 9, 2014 in Life, randomness

 

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GamerGate and why it could ruin the industry

GamerGate and why it could ruin the industry

I love games.  I’ve been playing them for years.  Whether it’s board games like the Game of Life, Monopoly, or even something simple as Mouse Trap, or even card games.  Yes, from Cribbage all the way up to Magic: The Gathering.  And this includes video games.

I have an angel deck from M:TG, which includes Akroma Angel.

I have an angel deck from M:TG, which includes Akroma Angel.

When Marvel Comics got into the collectible trade card game, I even scooped that up.  Then DC, and Image got involved.  I had an Avengers Deck, I had a Spider-deck, I had a Hawk deck which had Huntress to fill it out with Hawkman, Shadowhawk and Falcon.  I played these games for hours and hours with friends.

There was table top D&D.  From creating the characters to playing the campaigns.  This sprang into video games.

But the first video games I played were some of the old Sierra adventure games.  Hero’s Quest, Space Quest, Police Quest.  I played the original Wolfenstein 3D.  I played Duke Nukem 3D.  Doom.  And Quake.  I played the Tomb Raider series, even getting excited for the movie series (which I went out and bought and still watch).

gw565The games have changed today.  I don’t play a wide range of them as I’d like.  There’s no M:TG group I’ve found in Humboldt.  No table top gamers I’ve found.  But that doesn’t stop me from appreciating a game.  Guild Wars, Guild Wars II, Skyrim, Star Trek Online, City of Heroes, Champions Online.  And each has taken a step toward becoming a true artform.  Becoming the ultimate in interactive storytelling.

For years, video games have struggled to be accepted in the mainstream.  Same with comic books.  That’s starting to change.  When you’ve got the Marvel Studios juggernaut churning out hit after hit (not all, but most) and drawing new audiences not only to the movies but to the comic books as well, that’s a good thing.  It’s wide spread, main stream acceptance.  Video games are piggy backing onto that trend.

But things like GamerGate, the continued harassment of female game journalists, the open harassment at conventions.  That’s undermining everything that gamers have done to propel games, comics, and the geek genres into the mainstream.  When you have magazines like Forbes or Time taking a look at GamerGate and critiquing it for what it is, you’re sending a message that you’re not ready for the main stream.

Oh, and what it is is pretty simple.  GamerGate includes those who believe that game journalists are taking payola, corrupt and in the pockets of the developers and can’t produce true critiques of games.  Which is bullshit.  Being a friend of a developer doesn’t mean automatically you’re in their pocket.  It means that as a journalist, you’ve got the opportunity to say to said developer that they may have done something really shitty without getting pissy in public.  As a friend, you can warn your developer friends that you might actually have to write an article detailing some crappy things about the game.

I know this from another standpoint, far and away from game journalism.  I worked in broadcast journalism for ten years.  I worked with police agencies to report on serious criminal investigations, being given names and having to give my word on fear of prosecution that I wouldn’t reveal them until an embargo was lifted.  I’ve had to work my way through the ins and outs of politicians, both conservative and liberal (both little c and big C, for Conservative Party and Liberal Party), in order to get a comment for a story.  You get to learn when a politician can talk (when they’re in Opposition) and when they can’t (when they’re the Government).

While game journalists don`t have such things to deal with as police investigations (all the time), they do have a consumer aspect to report on.  They`re basically the ones who are reporting facts to the consumers.

But let`s face facts.  GamerGate isn`t about game journalism.  It`s about getting back at a woman.

Comics and games have seen a huge influx of female readers and gamers over the past few years.  They`re making their mark.  This was the stuff that as a younger gamer I really wanted to see.  Not only women involved, but more people.  But the truth is, I don`t need main stream nods to validate why I play games.  I do it for my enjoyment.

But things like GamerGate are getting attention.  The wrong kind of attention.  The kind of attention that says `see, I told you they were a bunch of whiney losers`.  Because those who are behind this “operation” are the ones ruining it completely.  Instead of striving forward and making something great out of games, they’re burying their toys in the sand, demanding the “wrong people” stop playing with them.

If this keeps up, the familiar lament of “why aren’t there any girls who game” will soon sound out again.

 
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Posted by on September 8, 2014 in Life, randomness

 

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Tales of Six Gun & Sorcery : Shameless Self Promotion


Tales of Six Gun & Sorcery : Shameless Self Promotion.

It’s time for another round of shameless self promotion.  There’s nothing wrong with it, after all.  I didn’t write a book to be humble about it.  I’m humbled by the process, but not be the result.

From time to time I’ll post up information about the first book I’ve written, called the Adventures of Black Mask & Pale Rider.  Here’s a little synopsis about the book, which is a western/fantasy.

Elven magic meets gunslinger grit. What happens when two elven travellers find themselves in the United States in the middle of the Civil War? The Adventures of Black Mask and Pale Rider tells the story of two elven women who’s curiosity gets the better of them.

The wild ride takes them from the Union to the Confederacy and back again. Along the way they make enemies and friends and learn a little bit about this world, and about themselves. An adventure of six guns and sorcery.

The Adventures of Black Mask & Pale Rider isn’t the only book I’ve written, Canyons of Steel is also available.  Here’s a quick synopsis.

What happens when an old gun hand makes a decision to turn his life around and set a new course? In Canyons of Steel, Johnathon Tiberius Walker makes the choice of turning his back on the underground military of the Red Hand and try to make right his own sins. All because he wants his daughter to live in a better world than he does.

Both my first book, Black Mask & Pale Rider, and my second book, Canyons of Steel, are available for purchase online through many different online book sellers.

Lulu.com (where both books were published)

  1. Tim Holtorf Author Spotlight the front page store for my books on lulu.com.

Amazon.com (both in paperback and in kindle versions)

  1. The Adventures of Black Mask & Pale Rider
  2. Canyons of Steel

Amazon.co.uk (both in paperback and in kindle versions)

  1. The Adventures of Black Mask & Pale Rider
  2. Canyons of Steel

Amazon.ca (price not listed and currently out of stock)

  1. Canyons of Steel

Barnes & Noble (for the Nook)

  1. The Adventures of Black Mask & Pale Rider

iTunes iBook store

  1. The Adventures of Black Mask & Pale Rider

Also, I have a tumblr dedicated completely to the adventures of the gunslinging elves.  Click the link and follow it above.

 
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Posted by on September 6, 2014 in Black Mask and Pale Rider, Writing

 

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