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Amanda Patterson (Happy Birthday, Max Brooks, born 22 May 1972 Five…)


 

Amanda Patterson (Happy Birthday, Max Brooks, born 22 May 1972 Five…).

Today is Max Brooks’ birthday!  Don’t know who he is.  He is the author of World War Z.

Happy Birthday, Max Brooks, born 22 May 1972

Five Writing Tips (From Publisher’s Weekly)

  1. Just do it. Writing, like anything, takes practice and discipline, and I’ve found that discipline comes from a lifetime of repetition. I started writing when I was 12 and it’s made the action as normal as any other activity.
  2. Drafts. Nothing is more intimidating than a blank page. Writing in drafts helps to diffuse some of that pressure. My rough draft has one goal; to write “The End.” I have the next 200-300 drafts to make it good.
  3. I always write for me. I write what I want to read. I have no idea what will be popular, but if it’s a story I like, at least I can guarantee that it’ll have one fan.
  4. I’m very careful who I let proofread my unfinished work. Too often people will want to rewrite the entire story or take it in a direction I never intended. Vetting proofreaders over time allows me to find eyes and brains that want to help me get where I originally intended to go.
  5. I married the right person! That’s the most important tip I can give to any artist. It’s hard out there, unpredictable, distracting, and, at times, heartbreaking. My wife knows me better than I know myself and is critical in keeping my mind and heart on the right track. Without her as my battle-buddy, who knows where I, and my work, would be.

Three Quotes

  1. Before I’m a zombie nerd, before I’m a science-fiction nerd, I am a history nerd.
  2. I wrote ‘The Zombie Survival Guide’ because I wanted to read it, and nobody else was writing it. All I’ve been doing with everything I’ve written is answering questions that I had.
  3. Zombie books were going to be my passion projects, but certainly not pay the bills. I thought I was going to have to get a real job on a sitcom or something, and have my zombie books to remind myself I was still a writer at heart. I never thought I could actually pay my bills and write what I wanted.

Brooks is an American horror author and screenwriter. He is the son of comedy filmmaker Mel Brooks and actress Anne Bancroft. He is well-known for World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War.

Source for Image

by Amanda Patterson for Writers Write

 
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Posted by on May 22, 2014 in Fun, randomness

 

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It’s May! Which means…


…shameless self promotion!

From time to time I’ll post up information about the first book I’ve written, called theAdventures 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

At present, I am working on a science fiction adventure called Rocket Fox.  If things go as planned, it should cover nine books in total.

 

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Differences in mature content


originally posted on my tumblr

There’s a major difference perceived in what is called mature content.  Content not suitable for a certain age group.  I can speak to this with some measure of expertise due to the fact I’ve received comments on my book, The Adventures of Black Mask & Pale Rider.

The book follows the adventures of two elven women through the Union and the Confederacy during the height of the American Civil War.  They face all kinds of obstacles, such as the way they are treated due to their elven heritage, and even face many monsters that take the forms of a vampire, a lich, zombies, the Devil’s Rider, and even oppressive gunslingers who want to force their own form of law on a town.  As they’re doing that, they are chased by a Union captain and his men on direct orders from the President that they be arrested for their crimes of banditry.

Throughout the book the two elves, Shani Wennemein and Pania Alow, fight various different creatures and people, slipping in and out of trouble.  They travel from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania to Shreveport, Louisiana to Thief River Fall, Minnesota.  Right away in the book I make it known that Pania is a lesbian.  I even wrote a scene with Pania engaged in post sex cuddling with the mistress of a brothel.  There was no description of sex, just the after glow (which was interrupted because Pania had to help Shani kill a lich).  Even Shani got a bit of play when she realized the brothel had “boy whores” (one scene has Shani leaving a bedroom grinning and saying aloud “rode hard, put ‘way wet” and just mentioned that the young man was soundly sleeping in a disheveled bed).

Throughout the book, Shani and Pania also take the lives of several monsters (and a few gunslingers).  It’s mentioned they’ve both killed (though, arguing many of those were in self defense).  Pania uses her rapier tip against the throat of a brigand to extract information, pushing the blade into his neck to keep him still.  Shani has a high noon gun fight with the gunslinger Dorval, putting several bullets into his chest and through his head.  They killed a vampire (twice), sent the Devil’s Rider back to hell, destroyed a lich, been in a massive gunfight with the aforementioned Union cavalryman and his men, shot and destroyed zombies, and Shani ended the life of a plantation owner by shooting him square between the eyes.

Of all the comments I’ve had about the book where people raised concerns, they focused on the aspects of sexuality.  They complained about Pania’s outspoken and openness, how she wasn’t one to hide the fact she was a lesbian.  They were concerned the wrong impression might be introduced when Shani has sex (though, never described, merely assumed) with a male prostitute.  There was concern that the fact Shani and Pania sleeping in the same bed would be taken the wrong way (when, they were both sleeping, and neither one engaged in a sexual act, though Pania did tease Shani a bit).

There was no mention of the two men Shani killed, no mention of Pania’s use of a rapier to extract information, no mention of the violent acts that the two elven gunslingers performed.  The focus was entirely on their sexuality.  On the fact that Pania was a lesbian, and that Shani might dare enjoy sex.  One is an act that gives two people (when consensual) a great deal of pleasure (when done right), the other is an extremely violent act that ended lives.  Yet, the complaints I received were all about the scenes of sex (which were never described, they were always implied).

One email I received even said that they would petition their library to ban the book (W00T! My book got a bannin’!) primarily for scenes which contained sex.

That’s very telling about our society, how we’re more accepting of violence than we are of sex.  Kill a person, that’s fine.  But have two people engaged in sex, even if it’s showing that they had sex and not describing the act in detail, well that’s just wrong.

I’d rather have people feel comfortable about the book when there are points when the characters have sex.  Not to be titillated, but to feel safe and to know that the characters were safe and enjoying themselves.  I’d rather have violence viewed in the way that sex is currently viewed in media.  Where violence is frowned upon, but sex, consensual sex, is fine.

 
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Posted by on May 8, 2014 in Life, randomness, Writing

 

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Dwayne McDuffy and the Tommy Westfall Multiverse


This got brought back to my attention thanks to someone linking to a post I made about the character of Tommy Westfall, who was a minor character in the St. Elsewhere series.

St. Elsewhere ran from 1982 to 1988, and it featured a lot of actors who would go onto success on the big screen (Denzel Washington, for example).  So, what’s all of that got to do with Dwayne McDuffy.

McDuffy wrote a piece years ago, siting that comics are often far too stringent in their continuities.  And to prove his point, he brought up Tommy Westfall.  You see, the big shocker with Tommy Westfall in St. Elsewhere is that in the series finale, it was revealed that everything, doctors, nurses, patients, the actual building, only existed in Tommy Westfall’s head.  This brought about a rather odd multiverse, as television in the 1980s had the habit of shows crossing over with other shows.

The end result; all your favourite shows don’t actually exist.  That’s right, they only exist in the mind of an autistic child named Tommy Westfall.  To date, the number of shows that are linked to this universe inside Tommy Westfall’s imagination are over 300 and counting.  And they’re all connected.  Here’s a few examples of some of the shows that are somehow connected to Tommy Westfall’s imagination.

  • Every Star Trek series and movie (including the Alternate Universe)
  • Aliens
  • Predator
  • Firefly
  • Red Dwarf
  • Doctor Who
  • Alf
  • The John Laroquette Show
  • The Buffy-verse
  • Degrassi

That’s just a few of the shows linked together thanks to St. Elsewhere.  How, you might ask.  As I mentioned before, cast members of St. Elsewhere appeared on Cheers at one time; Cheers spun off into Fraser, and crossed over with the John Laroquette Show; the John Laroquette Show makes reference to a large corporation called Yoyodyne, which comes from the book The Crying of Lot 49, and Yoyodyne is mentioned as a client of the law firm Wolfram & Hart in Angel.  Yoyodyne was also the company that made starship parts in the Star Trek universe (mentioned in ST:TNG).  Another client of Wolfram & Hart’s is Weyland-Yutani.  That company should sound familiar, as it’s tagged to both the Aliens and Predator franchises.  It also includes Firefly (Weyland Yutani created the UA 571-D Ground Sentry which was used at the Battle of Serenity Valley).  Also, a Weyland-Yutani destroyed space ship was seen in a garbage dump in the series Red Dwarf.  Another craft seen in the dump; The TARDIS.

Other shows that ended up being included in this universe in Tommy Westfall’s imagination included all the CSI series, all the Law and Order series, Luther with Idris Elba, the X-Files, the Wire, The Lone Gunman (most of that thanks to the character of John Munch played by Richard Bellzer, who first appeared on the show Homicide: Life on the Street… where two St. Elsewhere characters ended up being), Millenium, and the Simpsons (because Scully and Mulder appeared on the Simpsons).  You can add the Critic (crossover with the Simpsons), Family Guy (crossover with the Simpsons), and King of the Hill (appeared in a Simpsons episode).  24 and possibly Dragnet is also in there somewhere (both had Simpsons crossovers).

There’s way more connections to this, but the Tommy Westfall effect proved Dwayne McDuffy was right; comics are too stringent in their continuity.  But the Internet being the Internet, is actually having a blast discovering all of the little connections that would end up being in Tommy Westfall’s imagination.

Don’t think this is a thing?  MovieBob at the Escapist Magazine does a much better and more detailed presentation (he has pictures) of the Tommy Westfall-verse.

Tommy Westfall Multiverse

The original post that I made which brought this back to mind.

Dwayne McDuffy’s original article.

 
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Posted by on May 2, 2014 in Fun, randomness

 

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Here it is… again


Wherein I talk about Wonder Woman… again

It’s short, but I need to be clear on this.

We have 300, a story that takes place in Ancient Greece, about 300 Spartans who stand against the Persian Army.  We have Thor, about a Norse god who joins a team of human super heroes.

But we can’t have Wonder Woman be an Amazon princess, a figure pulled directly from Greek myth, because people won’t get that?  That it’s easier to believe if she’s an alien?

I just need to be clear about that.

Ya know what…

Marvel needs to reboot the Spider franchise in a different way.  Instead of bringing back a third incarnation of Spider-man, they need to say “Screw it! Peter and M.J. are married and they have a girl who lives in the same universe as Tony Stark and Steve Rogers and Bruce Banner and Black Widow”.  Then they should release Spider-Girl, have Tobey McGuire as the older, father figure, Kirsten Dunst as M.J. and they could be the parents of a young May Parker who inherits her father’s spider abilities.  She dons a costume, calls herself Spider-Girl, and eventually joins the Avengers.

So, why are we still struggling

Why, exactly, is it so difficult to get multiple women into a movie franchise?  I’m side eyeing Star Wars with this one.  Granted, it is J. J. Abrams, and his Star Trek run was pretty sexist.  And to be honest, not in anyway reminiscent of the old Star Trek series.  So does that mean the upcoming Star Wars is gonna be equally in aspect to what Abrams did with the other Star Franchise?

But this is something that’s not just confined to the realm of sci fi.  Lord of the Rings, for example (and the prequel, The Hobbit) had a lot of dudes walking around doing dude things.  Admittedly, Peter Jackson did have more screen time for two of the female characters in the first trilogy.  And he basically had to create one for the Hobbit.

I’m still not sure as to why we need to take baby steps when it comes to representation in movies.  This goes for race, sexual orientation, gender, and so on.  But seriously, we shouldn’t have to take baby steps.  Because the ones who’d complain just need to get over it and move out of the 17th Century.

 
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Posted by on April 30, 2014 in randomness

 

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A Question About Writing; from Gail Simone


Gail Simone didn’t reach out to me personally and ask this.  She made a general call on her tumblr, which I answered there, but decided to share it here as well.

gailsimone:

Yesterday, I asked a seemingly innocuous question on Twitter and was completely flooded with responses, many from quite famous and successful writers. I was surprised by the wave of responses, and found it all very interesting.

So I thought I’d ask the question here, as well, for writers of fiction only, please.

What part of the writing process is your favorite? I’m talking about the actual writing, not the aftermath or the effects of it. During your writing of a story, what is your favorite part of doing that work?

I sent Gail a comment about this, but it deserves a longer answer.

So far, I’ve written material in three decidedly different worlds: western fantasy with Black Mask & Pale Rider; super heroes with Canyons of Steel (and the work I’m doing on the Heroic League Project); straight up sci fi with Rocket Fox.

While I love the aspect of plotting and getting things down into a cohesive time line, it’s a long process.  Especially for a work like The Heroic League Project.  The story covers more than 40 years with different characters coming in and some leaving.  With each, it’s my hope that I don’t portray characters and interpersonal relationships as stereotypical.  With Rocket Fox, it’s been a bit easier, because the characters are a completely fictional species, though they are based on observations and research on human cultures.

A lot of research is needed to make sure everything is right.  In Black Mask & Pale Rider, the smallest thing I had to do was make sure that the towns and cities mentioned actually existed in 1863.  I also had to ensure that when I mentioned people who were a part of a Native American tribe, that they were the right tribe (Pania helps three Natives in Pennsylvania, it would be lazy to just say they were Mohawk or Dakota or Apache, especially considering that those nations might not have inhabited what is now Pennsylvania).

Historical facts are also necessary.  One might think that in the Heroic League, you wouldn’t have to do much research, but you do.  This story takes place in our world, beginning in the 1970s.  It happens around the October Crisis when the FLQ was terrorizing Quebec.

Getting all of the plot points down is fun, but actually writing the scenes is the best part for me.  All of the grunt work is done, and it’s time to breath life into the story, the scene, and the characters.  It’s especially gratifying when the scene works out well.  Shani’s gunfight with Dorval; Pania’s duel in the caboose of a train; Shani climbing onto the roof of a train to avoid a passenger car of vampires; the reveal of the Nighthawk in Rocket Fox; the rough ball match between House Ocelot and House Fennec.  Stuff like that is the part I love.  It’s the stuff that keeps me going, and even expanding on the character interaction.

 
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Posted by on April 30, 2014 in Writing

 

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The Wild West


I’ve recently, and in the past, received many questions about Black Mask & Pale Rider, and at some point I’ll do an FAQ about the book and post it up as it’s own page.  But one thing I wanted to focus on was the question of why I decided to change things to African American gunfighters.  The character of Clayton “Slowhand” Johnson (changed in the rewrite to Adams) is a former slave who escaped bondage and became a part of the Underground Railroad in Indiana and Arkansas (in the book, he’s not an actual historical figure).  Many have asked, and even stated, that such a thing is very fictional, that most gunfighters were white.

This is inherently incorrect.  What history lets us see, and what Hollywood promotes, is the fantasy and romance of the white gunfighter.  Billy the Kid, Pat Garret, Jessie James (who, for his own part, was a psychopath who used the Civil War as a way to feed his own addictions).  A vast majority of actual gunfighters that Hollywood doesn’t touch on were in fact African American and even First Nation.

We are fooled by the romance of the kindly white freedom fighter who is trying to help the victimized slave obtain their own freedom.  In truth, many blacks were finding their own freedom through their own agency, and helped along the way through kindness of strangers, many of whom were other escaped slaves or free blacks who lived in free territories in the United States and even Canada.  For many African Americans, they fought for their own freedom through their own agencies and helped others obtain freedom later.  A good example is Harriet Tubman.  Tubman is even further seen as an anomaly because she is a woman, and a female gunfighter is considered even more rare.  Annie Oakley was called a trick shooter, even though she did the same things other male gunfighters did.

African Americans proved they were some of the best cattle ranchers, gun hands, farm hands and land owners.  Many who escaped wanted to own their own land, work land that they owned and they tended.  There was a large urgency for family, because slavery often stripped African Americans of any semblance of family.  They were, after all, treated no better than cattle.

So having Clayton Adams as a gunfighter in the rewrite to Black Mask & Pale Rider (and even making it known that Shani’s ethnicity is First Nation) isn’t that far from the truth of what actually happened in historical events.  The book is fantasy fiction, but the time it’s placed in has some aspect of accuracy.

 
 

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