Monday, December 30, 2019

Monalisa Foster's Ravages of Honor

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Sometime, in the course of human events, consuming a form of entertainment that is in your favorite genre but it is different in a lot of ways than the works that you usually consume is a good thing. Seriously. Listen, if you read this blog frequently (Hi, Mom!) you know that I usually take my Science Fiction with a huge helping of gun/blaster shots and a heaping side of BOOOOOMMMMMM!!!!! I like that. But let's face it, not all SF has to be that. That's a good thing, because not all SF is that. Take, for example, Monalisa Foster's Ravages of Honor. 

Seriously, it's a good book and there is enough gratuitous violence to keep us all entertained. We get everything from veiled threats to outright carnage. I love the fact that Ravages of Honor has a futuristic setting, but a lot of the weapons are things that Richard the Lionhearted or Tokugawa Ieyasu would have recognized. Some of this stuff is just amazing and it fits. Morgan-Foster does a great job blending old with the new. That in and of itself is a bit of a change (and no, lightsabers don't count as ancient weapons) but it's not the one I'm referring to. Don't get me wrong, a sword wielding donai (what's a donai? Well, you can either take my word that it's a genetically engineered person bred for war OR you can read the book and see if I'm telling the truth.) is a lot of fun and not someone I'd want to run up against, but that's not all there is to it.

I've read a lot of Science Fiction over the years. I mean, I started reading SF in the early eighties when I had to go to the public library to get it because I wasn't allowed in the big kids part of the school library. That was a long time ago, seeing as I just hit forty-three. In three plus decades of reading/watching Science Fiction and Fantasy, I have read precisely one other SF/F author that does romance as well as Foster and that's Catherine Asaro. Asaro has won multiple awards from the Romantic Times so I'm guessing that someone with more experience with works in that genre can back me here.

The main characters name is Syteria and she goes through a romance arc unlike anything I've read since probably Radiant Hawk by the aforementioned Asaro. It's weird because I haven't really read any pure romance since I was a kid raiding my Aunt Janice's book collection (yes, it happened. Don't tell anybody though, k? This is just between me and you.) and that's because I'm not really a fan. But if you add it to a SF narrative, I'm in and boy, am I in.

I don't want to give too much away about the arc itself. Suffice it to say that at one point, I thought it might go a different way. I was actually rather surprised that it didn't. I have a habit of predicting the end of a book based on gut feeling and half-considered plot points and I'm nearly always wrong but I was absolutely sure I had this one figured out. Oops.

There is also a David Weber-esque amount of political intrigue. There might actually be more than what he would typically put into a novel, since political machinations in the Honorverseor Safehold, for example, are typically between an established authority and the loyal opposition or a force from outside the state itself. The political scheming in Ravages of Honor takes place within a kingdom. It's a rough galaxy out there and it's one I'm glad I don't have to try to navigate, unlike our heroine.

No, Syteria is not native to the Imperium. She comes from a far off planet and finds herself thrust into a place where she doesn't speak the language and doesn't understand the customs. This is a technique used by a lot of authors. Gene Roddenberry put both Spock and Data into their respective Star Trek series for just this reason. Heinlein used Thorby to show us how Free Trader culture worked in Citizen of the Galaxy. An outsider learning about how a culture works in a work helps the reader/viewer learn about the culture that a writer has created without forcing us to feel like we've been spoonfed information. Foster's use of a time honored technique does her credit. Even for a science fiction author there is no need to reinvent the wheel, especially when it works this well.

Of course, the other characters in the story have to make sense as well, and this is where Foster really shines. I'm guessing she's done some serious research into how real world cultures work because I can see flashes of things here and there that make sense based on a real world perspective. She's mixed things together really well to come up with something that feels authentic but that is original. The characters in Ravages of Honor act in ways that are human. They may not be purely logical, but they make sense given the motivations of the character and that's huge. One of the things that drives me out of my gourd sometimes is when characters act in ways that they have no reason to. Foster's characters do things based on their own thoughts and feelings and the cultures they were raised in.

Don't let all of that fool you though. This is still a strong SF story, complete with starships and secret technologies. There's even a mad doctor and some alien fauna that has the potential to really ruin your day if you're not careful. The thing is that this story would probably work without  the SFnal backdrop if it were rewritten that way. There aren't a lot of stories I'd say that about but ,for this one, it's true. I'll confess to not having read anything by Mrs. Foster prior to this, but I look to be changing that in the near future. If her other stuff is this good, it'll be worth my time. Oh, and it wouldn't hurt my feelings to see this one nominated for a Dragon Award, either. I'll be keeping it in mind when it comes time to fill in my ballot in a few months.

Bottom Line:  5.0 out of 5 Concealed Daggers

Ravages of Honor
Monalisa Foster
Polite Society Enterprises LLC, 2019

Ravages of Honor is available for purchase at the following link. If you use my link to get to Amazon and buy basically anything I get a small percentage at no extra cost to you:

Saturday, December 28, 2019

Lucasfilm's The Rise of Skywalker

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Look, I know my opinions on the first two installments of the latest Star Wars trilogy have not been all that well received in certain circles. I have been casigated by some simply for posting links to trailers. So be it. The rules listed in the very first post on this selfsame blog state flat out that it's okay to trash me. I'm a big boy and I'm putting myself out there. I'm perfectly okay with someone telling me I'm full of poo-poo. Seriously folks, bring it.

That much having been said...

I loved The Rise of Skywalker.

I mean, flat out loved it.

My most favoritest Star Wars flick will always be Return of the Jedi because that's the first one I ever saw, at the old Chesterfield Cinema I think it was called (it's been thirty-six years, I may be wrong) with my mama. I laughed through it mostly. My mom kept me laughing because she didn't want me to be scared by all the crazy looking aliens. I was young enough that she might have had a point.

After that, my next favorite is Empire, followed by Star Wars. After that, I'm going with Rogue One. After that though, it's The Rise of Skywalker. Seriously. Solo would come next, but whatever.

I'm struggling here because this is a tough one to review without spoiling it. Seriously. There is a lot of good stuff here, but I don't want to talk about any of it in specific. Wish me luck. I'm going to need it.

Let's start out with Kylo Ren. His character arc is amazing. At one point, he almost had me in tears. Adam Driver is pretty amazing this time around. I found myself enthralled with the way this worked out. Others have criticized the way things went, but honestly it turned out better than I expected it to.

Rey's character arc was pretty awesome as well. It was pretty apparent that she was afraid of the way she was going to turn out but it went the way I wanted it to for the most part. I have heard that Daisy Ridley has publicly refused to be involved with the Star Wars franchise in the future. That sucks, because if I were the one writing it (Hey Lucasfilm! I'll work for half of whatever your current writers are getting. Wait. What? Whaddaya mean credentials? Resume? CV? Who needs those?) she'd get a whole trilogy in the future centered around herself especially considering the thing that happened at the one part. It would totally fit.

And if I couldn't get Rey, I'd go with one about Finn. Or maybe I'd do both. Except I think I heard that he won't be back too. That puff peppies though, because there was enough of a development with Finn that it needs to be explored. I'm not going to say what it was, except that it was something I picked up on in The Force Awakens lo those many years ago. I was surprised though, because...

Yeah, not going to reveal that. Watch the movie.

And yes, Poe had his moment too. I'm wondering if the people who are running around claiming that there was no planning done for the trilogy have watched the first two though, because his was a fairly typical character arc but it was performed beautifully. Mix Finn and Poe and there is strong evidence that things were planned from the beginning. I mean, if you were paying attention instead of whining incessantly about forced political correctness. \

Listen, I'm as anti-PC BS as anyone you know. I was once threatened with expulsion from a graduate program by a freaking Social Justice Bully because I said I wasn't ashamed to be white. That much being said, not EVERYTHING is SJB crap just like not EVERYTHING is race. Grow up, no matter what side you're on.

Having said that....

I was glad to see less of Rose this time. I kind of felt like she was always there just to show a female Asian  face and not to accomplish anything as a character. This time she actually did more than deliver one cheesy line and be diverse. It's nothing against Kelly Marie Tran. She's a good actress.

It's not that I'm against diversity. I'm all for diversity if the character has a point in existence. Look back at Star Trek:The Original Series. Hikaru Sulu, played by George Takei was, to the best of my knowledge and belief, possibly the only Asian on TV in the US at the time. Nyota Uhura, played by Nichelle Nichols, was one of a very few black women on TV in the US at the time as well. There weren't very many shows with integrated casts earlier than that, either.

The difference is that Uhura was the Communications Officer. She had an important job keeping her captain informed of things going on outside the ship. Sulu flew the ship and took part in some away teams. Rose, well, uhh...

She delivered a cheesy line at the end of The Last Jedi and didn't do much else.

If you want an example of a couple of  good “diverse” character in the same trilogy, look at Finn and Poe. Oscar Isaac (Poe) is Latino. He was born in Guatemala. John Boyega (Finn) is, of course, black. That's how to do it right.

I am, of course, a fan of story uber alles. There is a reason for that. It's because that's what fiction, and some non-fiction if you're into popular history, is all about. That's always been my main focus. It always will be.  As far as I'm concerned if you're reviewing fiction and story isn't your main focus you're doing it wrong. Sometimes though, other forces effect entertainment value, and this IS Star Wars, so...

The special effects for The Rise of Skywalker were completely amazing. I don't want to list them all. I can't list too many without giving up too much of the plot. I will say this though: OH MY HOLY FREAKING WOW! This movie was gorgeous. Whether it was stormy seas or space battles, everything looked great.

And, being a band geek, I can't NOT mention John Williams. He has stated that this is his last Star Wars. That makes me sad. John Williams has been with us since the beginning. Even so, he's earned his retirement. His music has always been amazing and, if I got in trouble for whistling the Princess Leia theme at my daughter when her mother thought she was my princess, that's not his fault per se. We played a John Williams show for marching band my sophomore year of high school and I loved it. I wish you well Mr. Williams and you can always count on having me as a fan. And I'll be an even bigger fan (in more ways than one) if I never have to march to Liberty Fanfare again. That tempo was just too fast for us non-athletic types.

Oh, and by the way...

That's because he can put a score like this together. Seriously. Well done music can enhance a mood and make a story work better. John Williams gets that and his music does that. The Rise of Skywalker is one of his best.  I probably should've (not should of) mentioned that first. Oops. Ah well, my blog my goofiness.

Overall, the only thing I found disappointing about The Rise of Skywalker was the Knights of Ren. Yep, we see them. I don't remember any of them speaking a single line. I mean, they look all intimidating and stuff and there was a pretty awesome fight scene with them in it but by and large, they've got a bad case of Rose Tico disease: Show up for looks and don't do much else. They all wore armor and masks, so I have no clue if they were “diverse” or not.  Overall, they should have just left them out of the trilogy completely. It would have changed basically nothing and there would have been no whining after the first two were released without them in it. Oh well, maybe Disney will make a bunch of loot selling the toys based on these guys.

Let's face it, too: A lot of us are getting a little long in the tooth. If you're going to a movie in your forties or fifties expecting to get the same feeling that you got from another movie when you were in your single digits or teens you're fooling youself. You're not that person anymore.Watch the movie for what it is and who you are and not for what the originals were and who you were then. You'll like it much better that way.

Overall though, this was a damn good flick. I mean that. I had my eyes glued to the screen the whole time this thing was on. I plan on watching it again in the future, many times. One of my friends posted a meme on Facebook the other day, asking which movies you've seen twenty times or more. This is something I will be able to mention on that kind of a meme someday. It's that good.

Bottom Line: 4.75 out of 5 Lightsabers

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker
J.J. Abrams
Lucasfilm, 2019

Some Star Wars related products can be found at the link below. If you use my link and buy anything on Amazon, I get a small percentage at no cost to you.

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Dark Moon Arisen by Chris Kennedy and Mark Wandrey

(Disclaimer: I am not just a member of The Mercenary Guild: The Official Fan Club of the Four Horsemen Universe. I am its Public Relations Officer. I'd like to think that I'm being perfectly non-biased here, but I'd also like to think I'm rich and famous. Read at your own risk.)

 So, why exactly has a Dark Moon Arisen? Do I look like Mark Wandrey or Chris Kennedy? So why are you asking me? Look, I know this is my blog and I'm theoretically the one in charge here, but it's not my day to know what's going on. That would be on the eleventy-first of Aintgonnahappenuary and today is December twenty-fourth, so it's clearly not my day. See me on my day if you want an explanation of what's going on.

Of course, if you've read the book (and you should) then you know that this is the third book in the Omega War Series and life pretty much sucks for humanity, so that juuuust might have something to do with it. I'm going with possibly on this one. I mean, in the Four Horsemen Universe, which Dark Moon Arisen is part of, and in the Omega War series in general, it's Earth against the galaxy, or at least the Mercenary Guild. There are thirty-seven mercenary races in the Galactic Union. Humans are one and we're at war with the other thirty-six and a few traitors from our own side. Things look bleak.

Of course, being the Omega WAR series, there is a lot of action and this is where Kennedy and Wandrey excel. Things go boom. People end up bleeding. Troops seem to be short of everything but the enemy at times. In short, this is a work of military (and, given the setting, it does feel a little more military that mercenary at this point. It's not so much about the contract at this point. These mercs may be a little more free-wheeling that a typical standing military, but they our focused on the end of the conflict and not just on the current objective and how much it pays this time around.) fiction. If you're looking for some high-class lich-rit-you-er that your college professor would approve of, then you're in the wrong place. This is something you can actually enjoy reading. I mean, I read it and it wasn't even assigned by anybody. I loved it.

Seriously, this is the finest in escapism. I've been there and done that as far as reading “important” stuff and I have to tell you that I'd rather read Kennedy and Wandrey than Bartov and Woods (those are historians if you missed it.) They write  scholarly books that are like, peer-reviewed and stuff. Unless you're looking for scholarly cred, you're better off with Stephen Ambrose.) any day. They're like Michael Bay if he knew how to make a good story instead of just a bunch of exciting explosions. Seriously, this is good stuff.

Of course, if you've read anything in the Four Horsemen Universe then you already know that the Horsemen are the four largest human mercenary corporations; Cartwright's Cavaliers, Asbaran Solutions, The Golden Horde and The Winged Hussars. The first four books in the Four Horseman Universe were known as the Revelations Cycle and featured each company. They're pretty awesome too.  At any rate, they're running things and the rest of the human mercs that haven't sold out are following their lead.

I like watching the leaders of the various Four Horsemen units working together. When I first started reading the series I was a bit dubious about how well that would work. The different units are all human but they're also kind of rivals, right? Well, maybe not. They've all got different specialties, but they're also working within the same market. I wasn't sure if they'd get along. I can assure you all that the old saw is true here: Nothing unites within like an enemy from without. And if Nigel wants to get a little closer to one of his allies than everyone else, can you blame him? I like bad-ass women too. Seriously. The only reason I haven't married Susan Ivanova is because she doesn't really exist. Nigel has good taste.
What? Oh, you want to know who he's after? I bet you do. If you got the book and read it, I'm willing to bet you could figure it out pretty easily. Don't worry. I'll drop a link at the bottom of the review, because you need to pick this up.

The villains are villainous as well. I like having bad guys that I can hate. General Peepo is well deserving of a MAC round to the head. I'd love to be the one to give it to her. Unfortunately, if she ever does get it, it won't be from me. That's alright though. I'm keeping hope alive. Somebody's gonna get that wench someday, right? RIGHT? Somebody has to. I hope.

It's weird too, because a lot of science fiction has humanity at, if not the top of the entire pyramid, at least at the top of a smaller one. Humanity ran first the Republic and then the Empire in Star Wars. The headquarters of the United Federation of Planets is on Earth. In Battlestar Galactica it's humanity versus the robots that they built. The same holds true in most fantasy. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings series  features a war primarily between humans, in the form of Rohan and Gondor, and admittedly with some help from dwarves and elves, against orcs and goblins. The largest armies on both sides of the War of the Lance in Weis and Hickman's Dragonlance Chronicles were human, but it's not that way in the 4HU.

No, humanity is comparatively new to the Galactic Union. We're a small, poor, weak race and we're up to our backsides in manure. Things are rough for the little guy out there. This is, in many ways, an asymmetric conflict and humanity is the small combatant. They need friends and they're looking for them. Of course, in any asymmetric conflict, the smaller side must act in a surprising manner. Think Washington crossing the Delaware on Christmas Eve. I'm not going to say what, but there just might be something that happens here that Peepo didn't expect. I'm not saying I found myself chuckling at certain points. I'm just saying that my belly shook like a bowlful of jelly. Or sumfin'.

Anyway, check this thing out. I'd recommend reading the first six books first, but you don't really have to in order to get it.

Bottom Line: 4.5 out of 5 Broken Repair Bots

Dark Moon Arisen
Mark Wandrey and Chris Kennedy
Seventh Seal Press, 2018

Dark Moon Arisen is available at the following link (I get a small percentage at no cost to you if you use the link):

Saturday, November 30, 2019

Reclaiming the Blade: The History of the Sword directed by Daniel McNicoll

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For decades, and possibly centuries, there has been a myth that Eastern swords were superior to European swords. That Eastern swordsmen were light years ahead of their European brethren in the ability to use their weapons, despite the fact that swordsmanship training in Europe started at the age of seven.  Meaning no disrespect to Eastern swordsman, they weren't the only ones who knew how to fight and had good steel to use.

Enter Reclaiming the Blade:The History of the Sword. It covers the history and traditions of European swords and swordsmanship.It also covers the struggle to rediscover what was taught by our (well, some of us anyway) ancestors. Oriental Martial Arts are of course well known and well thought of. There are two reasons for that:

1.) They're effective. If you don't believe me, step into the ring with a kickboxer. When you wake up a couple of days later, call me and tell me how you're feeling. But it's not just with empty handed techniques. The  art of Kendo, or the katana, AKA the samurai sword is still well remembered, even it if is not currently taught as it was classically per the practitioner, whose name I didn't write down.

2.) They survived. Especially in the case of Kendo, it seems that Eastern Martial Arts were tied even more closely to their culture than those of the west. This was particularly true in Japan, where guns were outlawed for centuries. Why? Because the thought of some unwashed peasant being able to kill a samurai was unthinkable. A commoner with a gun had too much power over his samurai masters. As a result, the sword remained the most popular weapon in Japan until the late 1800s.

This didn't happen in Europe. In Europe, there were external enemies to fight and, although no nobleman want to think about their own peasants shooting them, the thought of a peasant putting a hole in an opposing noble was welcome to them. English archers had already earned a reputation for piercing armor with their arrows. Guns were just a continuation of the same tradition.

And now that the goofy host is going to step down off of his soapbox:

Reclaiming the Blade is well written. Don't make the mistake of telling any of my college professors I said that. It's not "scholarly" or "peer-reviewed." The fact that there are actual primary sources pictured on screen and the techniques demonstrated by actual people seconds later would not matter as much as the fact that there hadn't been 5456465655465465 other scholars who had nodded sagely and given their approval. Then again, what do I know? I've only got a bachelors degree.

The thing is that Reclaiming the Blade is also very entertaining. Part of this is the cast. Jonathan Rhys-Davies narrates. Half the cast of the Lord of the Rings trilogy is featured . Blademaster Bob Anderson is featured, and he's the guy that taught everyone form Errol Flynn to Johnnie Depp how to fight with swords on stage. I'll be honest. The Errol Flynn thing blew my mind. Those are some old movies. I'd have thought that anyone who worked with Mr. Flynn would be retired at best by now...

But I digress.

Actually, I kind of don't digress. All of those guys are my justification for discussing a historical documentary on a Spec Fic blog.

But anyway...

The best part of the thing, at least to me, is the part with all of the people I hadn't heard of. The movie goes into the work being done by members of both the Association for Renaissance Martial Arts (ARMA) and the Society for Creative Anachronism (SCA). I really enjoyed this part and for a very simple reason:

It's real. It's really real. These two groups (and probably some others like them) are working with the remaining written records (there are still period manuals of arms in existence. Some have been copied and the copies distributed.) to restore what has gone before. This is important historical work. I makes me very happy to know that someone is doing it. Maybe someday I'll get the chance to help out. I'm guessing it won't be anytime soon though.

Something they mention that I hadn't realized is that movies typically mix Martial Arts styles on screen. So a sword battle might feature the same  combatant using techniques that were originally developed in Italy at one point, in England at another point, and in China at some other time. The people in the film feel that the audience of a film would enjoy it more if the fencing techniques used in movies were kept correct to one style. I'm going to disagree with that for one simple reason: If I don't know the difference, I'm guessing most of the rest of the audience doesn't either. What they don't know might hurt them, but it's not going to effect their enjoyment one way or another.

And that, to me, is the point of the whole documentary. It's all about trying to find something that has been lost and educate the general public about it. The cool thing is that, despite the educational aspect, this is a really fun thing to watch. It killed a couple of hours when I felt like absolute crap and kept me enthralled enough that I stopped worrying about my belly aching and got into the story of something fascinating. I hate it when I feel like that and I needed something like Reclaiming the Blade to help me through it.

The only bad part about this movie is that it's only available on Amazon Prime. Don't get me wrong. I love Prime, but if you don't have Prime you can't watch it. That makes me a little bitter since something like this should be on like DVD or something so that it can be shown to high school level history students, at least in my opinion. It may be Hollywood history, but it comes closer to being right than anything else I've seen from the movie industry.

Bottom Line: 4.75 out of 5 Bladed Weapons

Some movies that were sampled for Reclaiming the Blade are available at the following links. If you use my links, I get a small percentage of the sale at no extra cost to you.

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Umm... Wow

I find myself a bit unhappy about a bookseller I've been buying from ever since they first came to Michigan back in the Late Pleistocene or some junk. It appears that Barnes and Noble has laid off all of the freelance writers that work on their blogs. I'm a bit unhappy here since I am, personally, a freelance book blogger.

Now listen: I don't write for Barnes and Noble. I never have.The economic cost of this to me personally is going to be zero dollars and zero cents over the next infinity years. That's not what this is about. I mean, I know other people got paid to write for them. I don't know how much they made or how this is going to effect their bottom line. I wish them well and I hope they do well in their post Barnes and Noble career, but that's not what this is about, either.

No, this is a post about something that I'm a big believer in. This is a post about the voice of the fans. Yes, I'm a fan. Yes, I have a voice and I express it right here on this website. Thank you Blogspot for the opportunity. I'll admit that right off rip. The fact remains that if you think I have as big a voice on Jimbo's as I would have on Barnes and Noble, you're fooling yourself. And yes, I said yourself because you're not fooling me. I know better.

I have had authors (David Guenther comes to mind.) contact me after I've published a review and tell me that they experienced a sales bump. I'm pretty proud of that, because I've reviewed some really awesome authors and I've helped some fans get the SF/F fix. That's what I'm all about. But a site like gets millions of hits a day and that I can't compete with. I hope I'm not disillusioning anyone by saying that.

I don't read Barnes and Noble blogs as much as I probably should given the fact that I have a blog myself, but I have read them in the past and they're uniformly well written and informative. There are times when I may not agree with some of the opinions of the person who wrote the piece, but so what? If I find myself disagreeing, I'm more than capable of firing off a response right here at Jimbo's. I do feel bad that they've lost their jobs though, and here's something else to consider:

The last line or so of the piece states that, " The company will continue to have blogs, but “they will be blogs that express opinions of booksellers.”" I respect that. Booksellers have a right to voice their opinions too. I have no problem with them having a blog or nine million putting out what they want us to hear. (And make no mistake about it, whatever your affiliation, if someone is putting out content they're telling you what they think you should know. Yes, that includes li'l ol' me.) So you know what, whether it's Barnes and Noble as an institution or individual publishers or authors giving their point of view (and all of the above sell books) I think that's awesome. Seriously. Do your thing. Market your product. Let us know what we should buy and why we should buy it. I'm good with that.

Now, before I make my next point, I want to be careful. I'm friend with some publishers and authors on Facebook. Some of them I consider to be just as much friends as the people I see and talk to in real life. I have a lot of respect for both the art and craft of both publishing and writing and I want to make that clear. What I'm about to say should be common sense on one hand and on the other hand, it's easy to misinterpret. So straight up guys, you get much love from Jimbo.


I'm not really all that interested in what a publisher thinks when I'm deciding whether or not to buy a book. Authors, I love you, but I know you're not going to call your own baby ugly. I'm not stupid.  Seriously. When I'm considering trying a new author (and I don't really need a blog to tell me I should read a book written by an author I'm already a fan of) I want to hear another fan's opinion. Why? Because they'll tell me what they really think. A bookselling company, or a publisher, or an author is going to tell me to buy their book. It's natural. They're trying to promote their product.


Yes I see you with your hand raised in the back of the class. What's up? Yes, I do get free copies of books so that I will review them. Yup, that sure is a form of marketing. Here's the difference:

I'm going to give you my personal opinion. I'm not going to sugar coat a book that sucks. I'm not going to hold back on a book that kicks ass either. I'll give you the straight goods and I'm proud to do so.

So, while Barnes and Noble Certainly does have the right to make this move, it's going to cost them some trust I think. I know I won't trust their content as much as I used to. I would think that most thinking people won't either.

Ultimately though, who you trust is your decision to make and not mine. As my father would say though, "When evaluating information, always consider the source." When the source of your information is someone who wants to sell you something, remember that. They're not giving you an unvarnished opinion. They're pushing you to give them your money.

I'm not hating. I've worked in sales and it's a tough job. Monthly goals, high pressure and long days were the result of having to get people to buy things so that I could make my living. I'm just urging you that, before your take what you read on Barnes and Noble seriously, you seek a separate opinion. Find someone who has read what you were thinking about buying and see what they think.

Oh, and click one of the links below and go buy stuff so that I can get paid. (See what I did there?):

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

What I'm Thankful for As a Fan of SF/F

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It's Thanksgiving week here in the States. I just heard a sermon about being thankful at church on Sunday. So, in the vein of sharing an attitude of gratitude, I thought I'd share my thoughts about what is going right in Speculative Fiction with all of you. I'm actually thankful that the list is such a long one.

1.) I'm thankful for publishers like Baen Books, Chris Kennedy Publishing, Silver Empire and Superversive Press.

Why? Because Science Fiction does not, and never should, belong to the wokescolds. All of the above publishers put a good story before political correctness. I love the fact that I can pick up a book and be confident that I'll be reading something entertaining. Seriously. Pick up a copy of any of the Four Horseman Novels, or any Declan Finn series (he's on Silver Empire). Do it. Then pick up a copy of another one of the same series. You'll be smiling, because you'll know that something good is on the way.

2.) I'm thankful for indie publishing.

Independent publishing provides an outlet for a lot of works that wouldn't get out any other way. Not all of it's good, but a lot of it is. You can read about the good stuff here at Jimbo's. I love promoting the little guy, and I'm thankful that I'm able to do it. Read reviews first, but if you haven't tried an indie author do so. I know a few and they're all good people as well as being good authors. We've all seen the meme about supporting small businesses right? Well, supporting an indie author helps them a lot more than being the 445465465464654646464645546th person to buy a Steven King novel. I kid you not.

3.) I'm thankful that Science Fiction and Fantasy still matter.

I've been hearing for decades that Science Fiction was dead. I've heard claims that we're already in a Science Fiction future so there's no need to write about it anymore. I may have even read a Facebook post written by a published SF author complaining about how reality was making his job harder. I chuckled about it but it would appear to be true. However, until one of my grandchildren inhabits a distant star system, I'm going with the belief that we're not there yet.

4.) I'm thankful that geekery has reached such unbelievable heights of popularity.

Seriously. Marvel made twenty-two movies and they all rocked. DC has some unbelievably awesome TV shows. You can watch people play Dungeons and Dragons (and dammit, Blogger, I want my ampersand to work!) on Youtube. There are conventions all over the place. Seriously. When I was a kid (yes, they had kids then) Star Trek conventions were a new thing. There was no such thing as DragonCon. I remember a commercial coming on about a local ST con and my dad and I looking each other in the face and getting all excited because we had never heard of any such thing. It's not like that anymore and it stopped being just Star Trek a Loooooooong time ago. Speaking of which...

5.) I'm thankful for the passion of the fans.

Not only does the fact that people care about Spec Fic fuel the readership of blogs just like mine, but it makes it fun, too. I even enjoy being told that I'm crazy for promoting the new Star Wars movies. I mean, I'm probably the only person on the planet that enjoyed TLJ but whatever. I love the fact that fans will argue and debate things about the series. I find it a bit perplexing that people my age and older expect the new movies to feel the same way the old ones did when we were six, but that's on them. Keep caring folks. KEEP TREK vs. WARS ALIVE!!!!! (For the record, I'm a fence sitter, but don't tell my oldest that because she is Wars from now till the cows come home.) Oh, and that reminds me:

6.) I'm thankful for Fan Orgs like The Royal Manticoran Navy and The Mercenary Guild.

Feel free to holler out your org in the comments if you belong to something else, but those are mine. There is nothing better than sitting around with someone else who loves what you love and talking about it. There is nothing better than the feeling of camaraderie that is built with friends over drinks and debating the actions of your favorite characters. Seriously. Being in a Fan Org is an open excuse to have a mini-con that doesn't charge admission any time you can get your crew together. If you're a member of an org, find an excuse to have a gathering today. I'll be there in spirit if not in the flesh.

7.) I'm thankful for my gaming group.

Ok, so this one is a bit more specific to me than the others but hey, it's my blog. Not only do we get together once a week to do nothing but roll dice and eat snacks, but my oldest daughter is now a member. I get to spend more time with her now than I have since I divorced her mother and we both enjoy it. When she was younger, she used to complain about going to Daddy's house because it was boring. Now she asks what new spell she should pick because she just leveled up. Thank you geek culture!

8.) I'm thankful that there is still so much to come.

Seriously all. Think about it. Marvel is preparing a new round of movies. There is a new Star Wars due out in a few weeks (and who's coming with me to see it, BTW?). There is talk of another Star Trek movie in the Abramsverse. Streaming services like Netflix and Amazon Prime are producing new content all the time. The large publishing houses are losing their death grip on the industry and we're sure to see an upsurge in what we love from smaller presses because those presses have leadership that doesn't come from the wokescold land of academia. It's not over folks. It's just getting started. As Steve Miller once said, "Time keeps on slipping into the future."

Some products that were mentioned above are available at the links below. If you use my links, I get a small percentage of the purchase at no extra cost to you.

Saturday, November 23, 2019

Elizabeth Banks is Wrong

First off, go to this link and read the article.

I'll wait.

Ok, now before I start my rant, I want to make to things absolutely clear:

1.) If a filmmaker, whether large, small or somewhere in between, wants to make an action flick with one or more female leads, their right to do is absolute. If it's their money and their movie it's their choice. I will stand by that statement always. If, by my life or death, I can further the cause of free speech by movie makers, I will do so. I mean that.


1.) Their right to make a movie does not equate with a responsibility on the part of men to see them. Seriously. What I decide to spend my time and money on is a choice that belongs to me and not Elizabeth Banks.

If you read the article as I urged you to, then you already know that she mentioned that female lead superhero movies succeeded because they were part of a broader universe. I'm not convined tgat she's right but I'm also not sure she's wrong. I'm willimg to be comvinced either way. If you have a link drop ot in the comments.

Having stated that she may be right about those movies, I won't use them in my argument. It's very rare for people who make these kinds of arguments to have the self awareness to acknowledge that there may actually be an exception. I congratulate Ms. Banks on her self awareness. It's a breath of fresh air.


This is Ripley. She was the lead of the 1979 movie Alien. She is very obviously female. To this day, Sigourney Weaver's most famous role is Ripley. Now it is true that Alien later spawned a franchise. There have been multiple movies, novels, comics, board games and video games that I'm aware of. But that came later after men and women alike supported it in a major way.

Alien was most definitely an action movie. It features guns, aliens and a nonstop plot. So yeah, this one had male support.

Oh and by the way...

This is Sarah Connor. Astute fans will recognize her from the Terminator franchise where she is the lead of just about everything they've ever done. (Except for Alien vs. Predator which doesn't count because it sucks.) The film has since turned into a franchise, but it was not part of any other universe for decades. It was (and remains) wildly popular among dudes, not the least reason for which is that Linda Hamilton is a spectacularly attractive woman.

Terminator is another franchise, with not only multiple movies, but also books, comics, a TV series, toys and only God knows what else. Toy collectors, in particular, are overwhelmingly male. So how did that happen? It happened because men support this female led action series.  They love it. I'll be honest in stating that I came to the Terminator franchise late (my parents wouldn't let me watch them when they first came out because I was a wee little Jimbo, and I always start from the beginning) but that's my bad, because The Terminator is an awesome franchise.

I hear you working. Someone out there is thinking:

"But... but... Jimbo, maybe it's just an SF thing? I mean seriously, those are both Science Fiction franchises and arguably so are the superhero movies."

Given what I've written so far, that would be a valid point...

Except that this is Beatrix Kiddo of Kill Bill fame. There's no Science Fiction here. This is just a straight up ass-kicking delivered by a badass, pissed off female. And look, she has every right to be upset. I mean, they tried to kill her. I'd want some payback, too.

Kill Bill has at least one sequel with rumors of another on the way. There is Kill Bill line of merchandising. I didn't see this one when it first came out because it's not SF/F and was ordered to do so by my cousin Ron. He was right. Don't tell him I said that. At any rate, men have supported this franchise since it came out and any rumor I've heard about a third movie (hmm... remember that thought) has been on a comic book related website. Men love this movie because men love badass women.  Oh, and by the way...

This is (from left to right) Alex, Natalie and Dylan. They are the crew from the 2000 movie Charlie's Angels. Of course, there was also the TV show that the movies were based off of. Both did very well. Both had and audience that was primarily male. The TV show spawned a movie franchise.

Now I want to be careful here. Elizabeth Banks was quoted in the article as stating that it's okay for Charlie's Angels to have a remake given the amount of times Spider Man has and, on that point, she's right. My only quibble would be that she could have added Super Man, Batman, Star Trek, Battlestar Galactica... I could go on. I don't have a problem that this is a remake.

My point is that men supported the previous iterations of the same franchise to the point where the previous movie spawned a sequel: Charlie's Angels Full Throttle.

"So," I hear you thinking, "What is the difference this time, Jimbo? Why did this Charlie's Angels  fail where the others succeeded?"

In my opinion, there are two reasons for that.

1.) Lack of marketing.

Look, I'm one guy and that's really too small of a sample to produce any conclusions, but I will say this:

I'm plugged into everything. I watch SF/F sites. I watch nostalgia sites. I follow movie trailer sites. I am everywhere and I have shared trailers that I was excited about in the past, right here on Jimbo's. I found out that Charlie's Angels was coming the day it was released. Seriously. I was researching movie times for Midway and Charlie's Angels came up when I pulled I checked my local theater. Seriously. Maybe I'm wrong and I just somehow missed it, but I'm guessing part of the fizzle was the fact that no one knew that it was coming.

2.) People like Elizabeth Banks.

Yes, I mean that literally. I'm too young to remember when Alien came out. I was born in 76 and it came out in 79. I mean, I had been born but I was far too involved with issues like potty-training and thumb-sucking to watch any movie, really.

I do, however, remember the release of The Terminator in 1984. Yes, it had a female lead. When people talked about it though, they didn't talk about "Oh, look, the lead character has a vagina." They talked about how good the movie was. The only person I knew who cared about Beatrix Kiddo being female was me, and that was because I have a major thing for Uma Thurman. Being a heterosexual male, that never would have occurred with a man.

The thing is that times have changed, and not for the better. It used to be that when you went to see an action flick you went to see an action flick. If the star of the movie was female, then that was really kind of irrelevant as long as it was a good movie. Fans went to theaters and bought pops and popcorn. They watched the movie and they told all of their friends how good it was. It was a good time. That is no longer the case.

In the last few years, we've been treated to not just Charlie's Angels, but Oceans 8 and the Ghostbusters reboot. I have heard precisely nothing about the quality of Charlie's Angels. To the best of my knowledge none of my friends or family have seen it.

I heard bad things about both Oceans 8 and, especially, Ghost Busters. Listen ladies, I hate to bring this to you, but your attitude needs to change if you want female driven action movies to succeed. What you are doing is treating action flicks with female leads as homework assignments. When an action flick is no longer a form of entertainment and instead becomes something you have to see to avoid being accused of mysogyny it is no longer worth our time. Seriously. Oh, and just as an aside, Oceans 8 was part of an existing franchise and it still tanked.

If you haven't seen Alien, then do so. It's a wild ride. We spend an entire movie watching people die and rooting for Ripley to make it out alive. It's a pulse pounding, high adrenaline action flick. That's what made it worth watching.

My point here is this: If you want a female driven action flick to succeed, then here is the two-step recipe:

1.) Market the thing.

I mentioned this earlier. Even if I would love your movie, I can't go see it if I don't know it exists. I'm not blaming Elizabeth Banks for a marketing failure, because marketing wasn't her job, but the fact remains that no one knew it was coming, or at least no one I knew was talking about it.

2.) Make a good movie.

When the Ghostbusters reboot dropped, I was skeptical. The trailers all looked kind of meh. All of the online commentary I saw about the movie was about how little girls needed heroes too. None of that focused on anything about the movie other than the fact that the main characters had boobs. So I waited because it was well marketed and I knew that some of the people I knew would see it. Most of my friends online that went to see it hated it. One of my friends took his sons to see it. They all hated it. I decided to save my time and money for something that was worth my time.

So seriously, come off your pedestal. Understand that if you want our money you need to give us a good product that we know is coming. When that happens, as it has in the past, we'll support your movie. If you make crap and don't market it, that's your bad, not ours.

Some products related to the above named movies can be found below. I receive a percentage of all money spent if you use the links.

Thursday, October 31, 2019

The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance on Netflix

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(I would never do this before a book review, but I doubt that the people at Netflix would mind, so here goes: I'm geeked. I get Kacey Ezell's newsletter and I see that she is nearing completion on the third novel in the Minds of Men series. I reviewed the first two here at Jimbo's. Write faster Kacey! I need to feed my habit! Oh, and you heard it here first! Well, unless you get the newsletter and you've checked it already, in which case I got scooped. *SIGH* The life of a blogger is a hard one.)

So one day, I received a tip from a friend of mine named Tom. He stated that I should watch and review The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance for my blog. He was right. This is a damn good series. I was vaguely aware of the existence of the comic before I heard from him (Meaning that I had walked past it in my LCS) but I had never really read it. My bad.

So yeah, The Dark Crystal is pretty awesome. I mean, it's got all the neat stuff that I look for. It's got characters that I care about, either hoping they'll succeed or wanting to see them get the tail-kicking they so desperately deserve. It's got a plot that moves and entertains. The special effects are over the moon awesome. And guess what? It's got something that reminds me of the greatest video game of all time. (YMMV)

That's right folks. If you can look at the Skeksis and not immediately think Arakkoa then you've never played World of Warcraft. I mean, the look, the mannerisms, the voices, it was scary. I felt like I was watching the Skeksis in Skettis. Or maybe like I was running Skyreach looking for ah uhh... Dark Crystal? Yeah, I know. That wasn't even a real pun. Yes, I know there is a special place in Hell for people who pun. I'll save you a spot.


This is the type of show that you don't watch when you have to leave the house. It kept me riveted. The show writers all deserve raises. I would watch an episode or two and then go to work or off to church and find myself wondering what would happen next. It's that good.

I find myself thinking of both a particularly bloody and horrifying event in history and also Harry Turtledove's portrayal of it while watching this. I don't know if the story was lifted straight off the pages of the comic or if it was written fresh for the show, but I'm willing to get that whoever wrote the scripts for The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance has read some history. The details aren't even close to what actually happened and that's okay because it's fantasy fiction and doesn't need to match up. As a matter of fact, it's probably better that way. It was really grisly in real life.

I can't do this review and not mention the puppets/muppets/whatever they're called. They were terrifical. I really want to know how you get that much emotion out of a face that doesn't move. Even Keanu Reeves has never managed that. So kudos to the people who made the Muppets and the people who controlled the Muppet strings (or however that works.) Saying I was impressed would be a serious understatement.

I can't say enough about the sets that were used to produce this series. I'm not sure if they were actually fabricated or if it was all just CGI, but it was gorgeous. Everything from the Sanctum Sanctorum of the Skeksis to some of the outdoor scenes were amazing. There was even one setting that reminded me somewhat of Yoda's home on Dagobah. The look of The Dark Crystal itself was amazing. Seriously, someone deserves a pat on the back. I haven't watched the Emmies since..uhh..

Well, maybe once because I went to a party since there was a cute girl there. Then again, that might have been the Oscars because I don't really watch those either.

As I was saying...

This thing deserves some type of award for special effects and maybe scenery if that's a thing. We all know it won't win best show because it's something geeky and enjoyable, but I'm thinking it might win a couple of other categories. I'd be happy, anyway. Well, that's assuming I heard about it. One of you will let me know, right?

Speaking of categories...

I'd love to see The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance get Best Science Fiction or Fantasy TV Series from the Dragon Awards this year. I mean, I'm kind of bitter toward the Dragon Awards because I thought David Weber deserved Best SF Novel instead of Best Mil SF Novel but then again I'm happy because Brad Torgersen got it because A Star Wheeled Sky was a great book and he's a great author. And I'm willing to forgive the Dragon Awards voters for getting this one simultaneously right and wrong because they're pretty amazeballs. Okay, so my feelings on the matter are somewhat complicated. Just vote for the show and I'll feel somewhat vindicated. Maybe we can get Casey Ezell a win this year instead of just a nomination, too. Assuming that the new book is as good as the first two were, anyway. No pressure.

(And yes, that was a horrible run-on sentence. I left it in because confusion. Don't you love me?)

The characters in this thing rocked too. The Skeksis were evilly evil with evil tendencies. Like, I hated those guys. Seriously. I'd love a chance to run  their emperor through. The Chamberlain was a stinker too. I'd stand in line for a chance to slap that guy. The Gelflings, on the other hand, were my people. All was not well for them, but when push came to shove they banded together to do the thing. There were some Gelflings who wouldn't cooperate because people are people and the writers did a good job with that but overall I loved these guys.

Deet in particular was my kind of character. She knew how to take a licking and keep on ticking. That girl has spunk. Seriously, as a descendant of the McCoy/Hatfield feud, I love a person who is too stubborn to admit that they're beaten. She stayed upbeat through it all. She pushed hard to get through it. She found a way to do what needed to be done. She... Is she busy later?

Nevermind, fictional character. I do that sometimes.

For real though, if you have Netflix and you're a geek you have no excuse. It's not like you'd have to pay extra for the content. It's ten one-hour episodes so, while you probably won't have time to binge it all in one sitting (Lord knows I didn't) you don't have to. It's original content and it just came out at the end of August so it's not like it's going anywhere. You've probably binged something much longer. So take your time, make your popcorn and hie thee off to Netflix to witness some awesome. You'll thank me when you're done. Even if >redacted< never got to >redacted< with his >redacted<.  

The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance
Jeffrey Addiss, Will Matthews
Netflix, 2019

Some The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance related merchandise is available at the links below:

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Stop With the Discrimination

Apparently Amazon does not approve of Christian authors writing Christian books.

Declan Finn and Jon Del Arroz, both authors which I have reviewed and am a fan of, have had their latest pre-release ebooks have been cancelled. No explanation has been given. That's fine. I'll provide one:

It's religious discrimination. Both men are Catholic authors selling Catholic themed works. They were banned because Amazon doesn't like Catholics. You know who else doesn't like Catholics? The Ku Klux Klan. Seriously. Yes, they are best known for their hatred and acts of violence toward black people. Yes, those happened. I'm not going to catalogue every bad thing the Klan has done to black people because the list is too damn long. If someone has a list they can put in the comments because fuck the Ku Klux Klan.  Here's the thing though: They can, and do, hate more than one group.

But really, how badly does the KKK  hate Catholics? (They term them "papists") Badly enough to have burned a cross on the ground of the Shrine of the Little Flower church in Royal Oak, Michigan just a few miles from my house. It has long since been rebuilt and looks magnificent on the outside. I have not been into the Basilica proper so I can't comment directly, but I'm told that it looks great on the inside too.

I have a hard time believing that two Catholic authors having their pre-orders cancelled on the same day, less than a week before they release to be a bit more than just merely coincidental. Apparently Declan Finn agrees. When I asked him for an opinion he stated, "I'm usually not paranoid, but in this case, the timing is too suspicious." I agree.

Jon Del Arroz gave me the following statement:

"I will never equivocate not water down my message proclaiming the Glory of Jesus Christ -no matter what it costs me!"

Apparently that would be a decent amount of money since all of your pre-orders were cancelled. 

Of course, the Klan weren't the only group of White Supremacists to hate others. Hitler's Third Reich was also known for deplatforming authors of a religious group they didn't like. Yep, book burnings were common in Nazi Germany.  Of course, you can't burn digital books, so Amazon would have to just ban them instead. Anything that doesn't get downloaded can't be passed on. You can stop the signal before it starts.

These series both sell extremely well as compared to their respective authors. Declan Finn recently extended his Saint Tommy, NYPD series because it was his best selling series to date. Del Arroz stated on his live stream that his Nano Templar series was his best selling series to date. This is nothing other than an attempt to ruin two men because of their religion.

I am, quite frankly, incensed. Seriously, I am not - myself- Catholic. My ex-wife is though. Both of my daughters are growing up in the Catholic church. Both have been baptized as Catholics. Both have made their First Confession and First Communion as Catholics. My oldest is set to make her Confirmation as Catholic next spring sometime. (My ex hasn't given me the date yet. I'm assuming that's because she doesn't have it yet either.) This blatant attack on the religion of my children has me fuming. This is not okay.

I'm hoping that this is some rogue employee doing the wrong thing. I'm hoping that this is one person's attack on the worlds largest religion and not the beginnings of a the systematic pattern of deplatforming of a major religion by Amazon. I truly do. If that's what it is, Amazon is free to remove the problem. I won't call for a boycott until I hear how this is resolved.

What you can do to show your support for these two victims of hate is simple: Buy their books.It's not hard to do. I'll drop the links at the bottom. I have not read either, although I am in possession of an Advanced Review Copy of Deus Vult. I have enough confidence in both writers to recommend their works sight unseen though, because I've read enough of their stuff to know how good they are. I will, at some point in the future be reviewing both. I can say that with confidence, because I have put my money where my mouth is:

So go forth and support these two brave authors. Buy their books from a non-Amazon source, since you can't get it where you want to get it from. You can still read them on your Kindle.

Deus Vult is available for purchase here:

Glorified by Jon Del Arroz is available for purchase here:

For the record, I don't get paid for things bought from links to the Silver Empire website like I would if I use Amazon affiliate links like I usually do. That sucks. Buy them from Silver Empire anyway.

Friday, October 25, 2019

How did I get started writing and how did that affect Writing the Entertaining Story? - Wendy S. Delmater

 Some people might find it odd that I have chapters in Writing the Entertaining Story on what I call “related markets”: Essays and Articles. But my belief is that good non-fiction follows the same rules as good fiction. Well-written non-fiction is just stories about real things and real people. Storytelling rules make non-fiction saleable, and make it sing.

Perhaps this belief is a product of the path I came into the craft from: nonfiction. My fiction writing and editing career followed an odd path. I started with actually enjoying writing papers for various classes in school, and when I graduated that translated into writing letters to the editor, and an occasional paid editorial. Oh, so I could get paid for this writing thing? Cool. But I wrote to fill needs.

My first regular writing gig was for a newsletter for parents and educators working with children with Attention Deficit Disorder. As a volunteer, I wrote a very practical and helpful humor column that was a big hit with subscribers. I got a job doing construction safety management and did newsletter articles for the corporate rag. Then I started writing articles for my local American Society of Safety Engineers newsletter, which got reprinted at the regional and national level. Within two years I was editing their national construction division newsletter. I had an article published in ASSE's peer review journal, Professional Safety, the same month I graduated with a BS in Safety Science.

By this time I'd started to write fiction for pleasure. I joined an online writing workshop. I not only honed my craft there, but made many writer friendships, some of which have lasted for decades. From there I started publishing short stories and poetry, and once the time-pressure of things like single parenthood, caregiving for an elderly parent, and an 80-hr-wk job were removed, I started writing books. I have fiction novels on my hard drive, but considering my path to publication it's not surprising non-fiction books like Writing the Entertaining Story came out first.

So it was natural that I’d suggest that fiction writers consider writing nonfiction, too. After all, nonfiction pays much better than fiction, and if you’re a good writer of fiction you already have most of the skills you need!

I cover two kinds of non-fiction writing in the book: essays and articles. A large number of literary magazines that accept fiction also accept essays, usually university presses or those related to scholarship. Many of them are entirely regional or only publish a certain segment of the population. For example, Ricepaper magazine (Canada) is a literary journal that showcases the work of emerging Asian-Canadian writers.

It’s best to stay within your lane when writing essays for literary journals. If you’re a disabled writer, there are literary journals just for you. If you are a writer of color, live in a particular region, are someone of Norwegian descent, or are a member of any other distinct group, it’s just a matter of finding a place that would prefer to showcase your work.

Obviously, if you are a fiction writer who has a scholarly background, these will be an easier market for you to break into than other people. But I know writers without scholarly backgrounds who have gotten into prestigious literary magazines writing essays, and made good money doing it.

Please note that many literary magazines require a submissions fee, but this is offset by the fact that they can pay pretty well — much better than fiction. The decision to pay an entry fee is entirely up to the writer, but in this case it is not a cause for concern. There are also legitimate essay and fiction contests that have entry fees. Just be aware that it is customary for many literary journals to have submissions fees.

As far as articles are concerned, in Writing the Entertaining story I give a short excerpt from an extremely well-written piece about Mike (Dirty Jobs) Rowe’s testimony before congress, regarding getting more people into the trades. It uses all of the fiction writing tools and tricks I mention earlier in the book, including a hooky opening line and engaging characters.

There is absolutely no reason writers cannot use their fiction-writing skills to write nonfiction magazine and online articles. Again, one of the sad, unavoidable truths of the writing life is that nonfiction pays better than fiction. Unless, of course, you give it all away.

And sometimes giving away articles will actually make you money in the long run. For example, what is a typical blog post except an article? As Samuel Johnson said, “Only a fool doesn’t write for money,” but that’s not entirely true. Johnson didn’t live in the digital age, and one of the first rules of internet marketing is that you have to give people a taste of whatever it is you’re selling, for free. Digital marketers say that a certain percentage of those who read a writer’s blog or — better yet, sign up for their newsletter or Patreon — will spend money on whatever it is they’re trying to sell. In the case of fiction writers, they’re trying to get people to buy their novels, or anthologies that contain their short fiction. So that “taste of free” can be an excerpt from a work-in-progress, a chapter from a novel, or a teaser for one of their short stories.

Blog posts, newsletters, and a Patreon articles are a way that writers can keep in touch with their fans and build the online friendships that make them into deeper fans. And they are a great places to practice learning how to write articles for pay.

Writing articles for pay is not all that hard to break into. Most, if not all, print or online magazines have sites with a submissions guidelines link, and you follow their guidelines in the same way that Writing the Entertaining Story suggests you follow the guidelines for short fiction markets.

You can find more in my book, here:

Writing the Entertaining Story is available for purchase at the link below. If you click my link, I get compensated with a percentage:

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Check This Out!

Listen, I know that some of you out there in Blog Reader Land didn't appreciate the last two Star Wars movies. I get that. I disagree, but to each their own. I loved them but you do you.

As for me though, I'm geeked. The Rise of Skywalker will be here in December and I'm going if have to sell my soul for ticket money.

This looks sweet. It doesn't give much away, but that's a good thing. I don't want to know the plot of the movie before I see it.

I do see a whoooole bunch of Imperial ships though. It's on like a neckbone!

So let's see it! Let's hear it! I can't wait for December.

I'll see you at the theater!

Some Star Wars related items are available at the links below. I get compensated if you click my link and then buy something while you're there.

Monday, October 21, 2019

Declan Finn's Crusader: Saint Tommy NYPD Book Five

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Guess who's back? Back again? Tommy's back! Saving men!

And women, and children, society in general, probably a dog at some point...

Kidding. I made up the part about the dog.

 I think I did anyway. At least if Tommy saved a dog in Declan Finn's latest novel Crusader: Saint Tommy NYPD Book Five I missed it. I do remember a bunch of dead stuff at one point though, so maybe he tried and just got there late. I mean, no one is perfect, even if they are a saint in the making. 

The fact remains that Tommy is a hero and the kind of guy we all wish we could be. I mean, unless your goal is to be a bad person in which case you probably don't like him much. He puts his life on the line to do the right thing and even has to leave his family at an important time to do what is necessary whether he likes it or not. Fortunately for him, he has a good wife who understands what he needs to do. I like Mariel too.

If you've been following the series then you know the basics: Bad stuff happens. Tommy gets called in to solve the problem. Chaos ensues and bad things happen to bad people. Bad things also happen to bad things, since demons are not people too. And yes, I know I don't do spoilers, but it's a Saint Tommy book so you already knew there were demons in it if you were paying attention.

It really is good to see a Christian man get treated with a little respect. A lot of society mocks Christians for doing nothing to help people while shutting down our soup kitchens because they hand out Bibles. Finn's Christian is a man who helps people. He saves the downtrodden. He rescues the innocent. He does what he is supposed to do, which includes praying.

At some point, I'm going to borrow my ex-girlfriend's blog (if she'll let me) and go off on a rant about people hating on prayer, but let me tell you something that Finn gets: Praying for someone doesn't mean that you don't help them otherwise. I recently had a money problem that my church helped me with. One of the deacons drove me back from the bank after I deposited said funding, provided by God in the form of my church, and then we prayed. They're not mutually exclusive.

At any rate...

For those of you who may not be Christian, this is still an ass-kicking adventure novel. There are gun fights and fist fights and insanity. There is even some sexual depravity. There are chases and woundings, quite a bit of blood, some things turned to ash and a seriously creepy setting in one spot. There are surprises. There is a conspiracy. I mean, you can't go wrong with a book that has oodles and bunches of people with AK47s in it, right?

The worst part about this review is that I can't talk about my favorite part of Crusader because spoilers. Trust me though, it was awesome. I definitely didn't see it coming but it hit at just the right time. Of course, I read it electronically. I'm a big enough nerd that I have, on occasion, come up out of my chair and cheered for something that happened in a book Reading something on a Kindle app makes that kind of scary to do because I can't really afford to replace my phone if it goes flying. Trust me though when you get to page such and such and the one thing happens, you're going to love it. Seriously. It made me think of two of my favorite cartoons from childhood and I'm pretty sure that's not what Finn intended, but who cares? It was fun.

I guess the thing that I've always enjoyed about Finn's writing is that it has a message but it's not message fic. Finn doesn't have his protagonist constantly harping on the evils of whatever. Yes, Tommy is a Christian and he prays a lot. His enemies tend to be demons or at least influenced by them. That's fine. At no point have I read a diatribe about the evils of non-Christians or been subjected to a lecture ala David Gerrold in Jacob. Tommy is simply a man doing what he needs to do. If he has a few extra gifts to do it with, so much the better.

Nope, not going to spoil this part either. Let's just say Finn throws in a non-Tommy character from outside the books and it's someone I've always admired. An important and august personage. Actually, two of them but I'm thinking of one in particular. It's always cool to see someone else's take on someone you admire, and I think Finn pulled it off really well. Oh, and I know what you're thinking but I promise you that it's not George Patton, even though a lot of the book takes part in Germany. Great, I thought of it, now I have to write it.

One of the most exciting things about Crusader is that there is a sequel coming soon. It's due out November fourth. This is good. I can't wait to read it. The thing about a guy like Tommy is that you're always wondering about what he'll be up to after the current adventure. I have it on good authority that there are a number of books coming after Deus Vult too. My top secret sources have revealed to me that they'll be out soon and that I should keep myself from losing it too much. I mean, it's good to know that there will be more soon but I'm going to have to wait no matter how excited I get and like, I'm a geek and I get excited about stuff, so... yeah. I'll hold it together. At times like this I'm reminded of the fact that for the longest time I wouldn't read a series unless it was already completely published. Thanks J.K. Rowling! You've ruined me!

It's all good. I'll make it through the waits the same way I did for Harry Potter... somehow. Thank God that Finn writes fast.

Bottom Line: 4.75 out of 5 Paintballs Filled with Holy Water

Crusader: Saint Tommy NYPD Book Five
Declan Finn
Silver Empire,2019

Crusader: Saint Tommy NYPD Book Five is available for purchase at the following links. I am compensated if you click the link and buy something afterward: