Category Archives: Writing

Summer 2018

Summer 2018

It’s been a crazy but interesting summer and I haven’t even really gone anywhere vacationy. I suppose I should start with the fact that there’s been some drastic changes in my life in the last year or so, well drastic for me, mostly centering around my health. I’ve dropped a boatload of weight and worked hard to strengthen and rehab my knee, which twelve months ago I (and my doctors) thought was beyond repair. Those two issues alone have made this the most productive, fun and enjoyable summer that I can remember. I’ve never liked the heat and humidity of the typical New England summer but I have this year.

Those changes also bring a big bunch of adjustment though. I understand what people say now when they complain about “Not having enough hours in the day,”  I have a ton more energy than I ever remember and it allows me to do a lot more than I’ve ever imagined doing in the past. I Mow the lawn, pick up around the house, trim the hedges, work on my car, fix things around the house, voluntarily run errands I would normally try and get out of, work out four to five days a week, socialize more than once a week and have started getting guitar lessons from a friend, which also requires daily practice. All of this on top of all the normal hum drum things I had been doing plus trying to squeeze in working on the new book a few hours a week at least.

Now I know that for some people this might not seem like a lot and I’m not actually saying it is. I don’t have kids to cart around and take care of, or elderly parents to care for so I know I could be far more busy. But considering how pared down my life had been for the last decade or two this is a huge amount more than I ever would have tried to take on in the past. The best part is that I’m actually enjoying it. I like challenges and now that I know my knee won’t fall apart on me, anymore than it already has, I keep adding in new things to try and accomplish (I walked on the treadmill the other night for my 35 minutes of cardio instead of riding the stationary bike which is much easier on my knee).

The only downside has been that I feel hurried all the time now and I forget some of the stuff I wanted to get done because I get busy doing something else that I wanted to get done. Both of which I’m hoping will get better as time goes on since this is all still pretty new to me. It seems to make me a bit flustered and unorganized which I’m not a fan of. So I think my next challenge will be to work on getting more organized and maybe make some lists to help me keep track of the things that have started to slip out of my brain only to show up later to haunt and annoy me.

I am also going to start working on a better and, hopefully more effective, marketing plan so that I can increase book sales, as well as finding some more conventions to attend and updating this site more often (I’m shooting for a couple times a week). Oh yeah and I have to throw in finishing the next book in the Strand series, which I’m really enjoying writing so far. There’s a bunch of other stuff too that I’m sure I can add to the list I’m going to go make as soon as I get done with this. Actually I may need a list of different lists to keep all of this straight.

Thanks for reading.

Don

P.S. If anyone has any tips for organizing or marketing please feel free to leave a comment

Movies

Movies

I watch a good amount of movies. I find them to be inspiring in a way good or bad. The good ones make me want to write stories just as good if not better and the bad ones remind me to not be the guy that takes the easy way out and to put in the effort to tell a good story.

I watched two movies tonight that I thought might be similar to sort of compare them. In some ways they were and in others they were very different. The movies I picked were John Wick and Jack Reacher. Both are stories about a lone warrior type with nothing to lose fighting for a righteous cause. In both cases the lead is somehow dragged back into their former life (one an assassin, the other a military type police investigator) and has to do wonderfully violent things to right the wrongs. Oh and in the end they both went back to their life of retirement/seclusion after said wrongs had been righted.

The stories were both solid but JW was much more slick, it was also straightforward and unapologetic in its brutality. JR tried to be more of a mystery thriller/action movie and it was mediocre at best. it was supposed to show us that Jack was a top notch investigator who saw things that no one else could ever piece together but the opening sequence shows me that this guy shoots 5 different people all from the same spot in succession. the first thought that occurred to me was that he shot 4 of them to cover his real target. I’m not saying that I had the whole thing worked out from the jump but it was pretty obvious that it was a frame to me as well and why no one on the police force or the DAs office could see how perfectly set up everything was just seemed odd or lazy to me.

The characters were both fine as well but JW made you care about the lead from the start and you actually like the ex assassin and root for him even though you know hes going to win. JR on the other hand gave us his backstory and some junk about being a recluse to have freedom and thats about it. JW was at its base a love story while JR was attempting to be a thriller but it wasn’t very thrilling. I don’t know if the fact that Jack Reacher character seemed like a pretentious douche because it was Tom Cruise or if its because he was written that way. I think it may have been a bit of both.

In the end I’d like to tell stories more along the line of John Wick and would have tried harder to make Jack Reacher more likable so that you actually give a fuck if he lives or dies. I also would have made it a much more complex mystery. its no fun if you have everything figured out before the end of the first act. Neither movie was awful but definitely watch John Wick first.

 

Don

The Last Jedi

The Last Jedi

I sit here late at night trying to get through the Last Jedi again. I saw it in theaters and was excited since I really enjoyed the Force Awakens. I was disappointed the first time around but I can’t even bring myself to care about it the second time. I’ve seen a lot of people online complaining about certain aspects of it, most of them having to do with it not being Star Warsy enough for them or that Disney is far too concerned with its princesses and diversity and is ruining their childhoods. Neither of those things are my issues with this movie. My problem comes down to one thing alone, bad storytelling.

I’ll try to be as brief as possible but there’s quite a few things that make this movie awful.

  1. The opening battle scene. Ok I get it you want to show us a war, that’s cool, but if the first order has been in control or at least a contender in this war why are they so incompetent? All the main ships were well within range and escaping but yet all your main guns fire on the deserted base on the planet? So all those guns and no one can target two different things? The answer is of course they can its just bad storytelling.
  2. How do bombs fall out of a ship and onto another ship in space since theres no gravity? I’m sure you can come up with something but you didn’t you just expect us to buy it because it looks cool. Oh and the pretty sister who is laying in the bomb bay seems to have no problem breathing without a mask of any sort even though the bay doors are open. I’d say there’s a force field or something but the bombs seem to have no problem falling through so I guess there can’t be… anyway, bad storytelling.
  3. The resistance bombers are made out of paper mache? They seem to be since the smallest tie fighters seem to chew right through them. good thing they had a fighter escort to do absolutely nothing to protect them.
  4. An 18 hour low speed chase through space? It got old when I watched OJ do it but I paid money to see this one. So you can’t catch the smaller ships because they’re faster but yet you also say that they can’t outrun you? Huh? that makes absolutely no sense at all. Rian did you even read the screenplay you wrote? Oh and your fleet is composed of Snokes ship but also smaller ships. I don’t suppose any of them could catch it either huh? I’m hoping that some day in the far future you admit to us that you were just full of shit the whole time and knew that this was all ridiculous.
  5. You recall all your smaller tie fighters because the cruiser is too far away and you can’t cover them… What? They blew up the fighter bays within 30 seconds so who did you need to protect them from? and since when does the bad guys care about their cannon fodder? Oh wait, they care when they need a convenient way to drag this crappy story out for another 2 hours.
  6. Leia getting blown into space. Yup, got it, force powers, its fine I’ll buy it. What I won’t buy is how did you get her back inside the ship since the bridge was a vacuum and if you opened the door you’d have all been sucked out into space to die. How do you fix that you say? You show her at the door and cut to the next scene where shes in a coma in sick bay. So again you just don’t feel like explaining something impossible because you’re either fucking lazy or just not smart enough to figure out an answer. (By the way, it took me all of 20 seconds to come up with a plausible way to do it that you could have shown us. It involves Leia creating a force bubble just long enough to open the door and get through to safety.)
  7. The only issue I have with the beginning of the Rey/Luke plot line is that you thought cutting the scene where Luke find out and mourns about Han was a good idea… You spent like 45 minutes on that stupid Canto bight sidequest that got us nothing but spending 3 minutes on Luke mourning Han was out of the question? what kind of idiot does that?
  8. Somehow the incompetent first order has figured out how to track someone through hyperspace which is something no one else has ever been able to do. Once again calling bullshit on this. I guess targeting their hyper drives was beyond the first orders capability since they can’t target more than one thing at a time with hundreds of guns on dozens of ships. Idiot.
  9. I won’t even go into how poorly written Finn is or his pudgey asian side kick except to say that she was so disgusted that other people jumped in escape pods to run away but yet somehow still thinks Finn is awesome after she catches him doing the same thing… umm yeah, sure.
  10. The whole side quest of Canto bight. Yes please preach to us about how horrible war is and how it’s only run by rich white guys while we all watch a movie called Star WARS which is owned and run by a bunch of rich white guys. assholes.
  11. oh and suddenly some lady you met once is your go to for advice on who to hire? and Maz kanata has been running a smugglers bar for like 900 years and she recommends the shadiest guy in the universe to help you out and has no idea that he could betray you? and she didn’t even give you a heads up that he might not be trustworthy? You’d think after 9 centuries she’d be a better judge of character like she seemed to be in the force awakens.
  12. Oh and they had time to sneak away from the convoy that is under siege and hop off to a distant star system to go pick up this guy but no one thought to get on the smaller ships and run away even faster than your already faster cruiser? its hyperspeed not instantaneous teleportation.
  13. Snoke goes from loving his star pupil to treating him like the stepchild he never wanted for some unknown reason. oh and he just happened to now dislike the stupid helmet he’s been wearing for years at this point. Wait let me guess, it was just another convenient way to get rid of something you didn’t like from the first movie. here’s an idea you idiot. Write what you want for the series of movies that they gave you to ruin on your own and give the rest of us a bit of continuity in the MIDDLE episode that you were paid to write you hack.
  14. The hangar deck explodes while everyone is grouped together yet somehow they’re seemingly a quarter mile apart right afterward and it also happens that the good guys got blown in one direction and the bad guys in the complete opposite direction even though the good guys were surrounded by bad guys when it happened. yeah I’m getting tired of saying how stupid this all is.
  15. Neither Finn nor Rose were injured in the horrendous crash to save Finns life and they both can manage to run back to safety, which is like half a mile away, without getting blasted by the still incompetent first order.
  16. We still have no idea why Kylo hated his dad so much or why he loved vader so much because well I guess you probably didn’t feel like thinking about it for more than a minute or two.

I could easily go on but I’ve annoyed myself enough thinking about all of this so I’m just gonna wrap this up and try not to list anymore off in my head. Let me know if there’s a bunch you think I missed or if you disagree and think all of this equals great storytelling. Thanks for reading and hopefully episode 9 will be awesome!

Don

its almost spring!

its almost spring!

Oh shit I have my own website! I keep forgetting since no one ever reads it. I’ve been a bit out of commission for the last few weeks since I broke my hand at the Arisia sci fi convention back in January (I got into an altercation with a metal door and lost). I mean I could have typed out something I’m sure but well to be honest I hate winter and things always seem to take so much more effort in the winter so a broken hand was just the thing to keep me from doing anything really productive. It’s all better though, the hand I mean, and spring is almost here so it’s time to start working again. I’ve started plotting out the next strand book and should begin writing soon. oh you didn’t know? yeah the second book has been out for a little bit now and everyone (all three of you that MAY read this) should go and buy it now on Amazon in kindle format or paperback!

I’m excited though because I get to go back and visit some of my favorite characters in the new book and to be honest I’ve missed writing them and I cant wait to see what happens to them. Yeah I have no idea at this point whats going to happen or who is going to live or die in this new book so I’ll let you know when I get it all figured out. In the mean time enjoy the coming spring and I’ll see if I can’t update this more often.

 

Back to work with me,

Don

Arisia sci fi con

Arisia sci fi con

I once again will be appearing at the 2018 arisia on Martin Luther king jr weekend where I will be on 3 different writing panels. 2 on Friday and 1 on Sunday so I will most likely be spending Saturday drunk and frolicking.

I was thinking about one of my favorite scenes to write on my drive this evening so I figured I’d post a snippet of it since it is my website and I can do as I wish with it. enjoy.

 

I hit the bottom of the stairs and listened at the corner for a moment. Thinking it was clear, I swung myself around the corner. There was a feeling of abject terror as I saw this massive hand wrap around the barrel of my M-16. As it shoved the barrel toward the ceiling, I pulled the trigger and fired blindly, as the other hand pounded me just in front of my left temple. A quick glimpse was all I caught of the behemoth in front of me as my left eye started to swell shut. He nailed me again in the same spot while he twisted the rifle, pulled it out of my hands and tossed it behind him. I tried to gather myself but he connected again with the side of my skull this time. He sent stars shooting across my field of vision. I stumbled, he grabbed me by the throat and pinned me against the wall. I kicked hard at his gut and got a smile in return. He squeezed tighter as I reached down and pulled my blade out of the sheath in my boot. I flipped it around and drove it straight up into his arm. He grunted, but his grip held. I was starting to black out, the edges of my vision were beginning to go dark. I brought the blade up and tried not to close my eyes as I drove it down into the back of his meaty hand. It bit into my flesh and dinged off of my collarbone. It hurt like hell, but it worked. He screamed and dropped me.

He stumbled back and pulled the knife out of his hand while glaring at me and roaring. Leaning against the wall coughing and choking, I tried to suck in as much air as possible. He charged at me and I dove to my left as he barreled into the wall where I had just been. Yanking out my other boot knife, I pushed myself up. My legs felt like rubber. He spun and charged me again with a growl from deep in his throat. Flipping the knife in my hand, so the blade was flush against my forearm, I slashed him across the cheek and sidestepped as he dove at me. He was all brute strength, no finesse. He was in a rage and the blood was freely flowing down the side of his face as he grabbed at me.

I felt his fingers graze against my ribs as he went by. I stuck my left hand out and caught the back of his collar. I pulled back, trying to rear him like a horse, while stuffing my blade deep into his kidney. He howled and thrashed, slamming me again with that beefy paw of his, swatting me like a fly. He flailed at the wound on his back as I pressed the attack. I caught him up under his ribs. He stopped howling and stared blankly down at me. I put my hand on his shoulder and shoved the blade deeper as he gasped.

He leaned forward onto me, his hands still reaching for my throat. I could feel his ragged breath on my face. I jerked the blade again. He had slouched down so far now that we were eye to eye. He stumbled forward a few steps driving me backwards down the hall. He was gurgling as he took a breath and I could see the fear on his face. Blood began to run out of his mouth and he gasped, one last breath, before his head hit my shoulder. I felt him tremble a few times before he went still.

The body dropped as I leaned against the wall. I gasped and choked while trying to catch my breath, just praying to not throw up. Still winded and shaking, I stumbled down the hall, ducking around a corner trying to find my way out. I saw the small rectangular window a couple yards down the hall and made my way toward it. Strangely, it was silent as I limped down to the window. I could hear my breathing and as the adrenaline started to wane, began to feel the pain in my legs, chest, collarbone, neck, and most especially my head. I undid the latch and groaned as I shoved it open a couple inches. Using the last of my strength to pull myself up and wedge my shoulders through the frame. I planted my hands into the soggy, snow covered ground. I wiggled the rest of the way through and out to freedom. Smiling, I pushed myself off the wet ground a second before I heard someone yell “Take him!” and then everything went black. 

 

Conventions and stuff

Conventions and stuff

I’ve been looking into attending a bunch of conventions over the next year. I had been meaning to start doing this for a bit now but I hated the idea of spending the money in case it didn’t work out. I’ve come to terms with investing the money now and made a nice long list of cons all across the US to go to. So it looks like I get to travel a bit and see a bunch of places I probably would have never gotten to see otherwise.

I’m also still working on rewrites for the second Strand book as well as a re edit of the After the Storm books. I’m hoping to start the third Strand book soon as well.

Oh yeah and I’d like to get around to updating this more as well as the travel pages. I still have to finish writing about England and start writing about Florence.

Back to work with me,

Don

old stuff

old stuff

So I took a break from editing the second book in the Strand series the other day and went rummaging in the closet of my office. I came across my old portfolio case that had a bunch of old drawings from my college years (Oh so long ago). Today, I figured I’d put a few of them up here since I finally took pictures of them. Read the rest of this entry

Arisia 2017

Arisia 2017

I managed to survive another Arisia sci fi convention despite having a lingering head cold, a large lack of sleep, and a pretty decent intake of booze. Thankfully attending Arisia is nothing new to me so I was well aware and somewhat prepared for it. Considering I only had one panel to be on, this year was a cake walk compared to the ones I had attended in the past as part of the Rocky Horror cast that performs at the convention every year. Read the rest of this entry