Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Book review: Masks, by RM Hendershot.

To begin with, all of the heroes were dead. Dead as a doornail. Ten years ago, they were all slaughtered as part of a supervillain’s killing spree after he learned that he was dying of cancer. After that, no superheroes call LA their home anymore.

Enter Rae Masterson , the “mask” known as Peregrine -- powerless, unless you count snark as a superpower. She has nine arrests under her belt, even though five of them have been of Captain Catastrophe, whose name is suitable in more ways than one. Our story opens with Rae witnessing the kidnapping made by one of the local supervillains, Cobalt.

In another part of the universe, Trevor Gray, a former sidekick, modeled somewhere along the lines of Tim Drake, has been recruited by one of his fellow homeless to find his friend – someone who had been kidnapped by Cobalt.  He's a genius-level detective ... but he still can't understand girls.

As Rae and Trevor investigate the abduction from two different angles, they run into each other, and hilarity ensues.

Welcome to the world of Masks, by RM Hendershot, a superhero novel that openly states that this will be "different" from all the others out there.  Is the author right?

I generally don’t like Young Adult novels. You have to get someone very specific and very good to get me to bother with one. Timothy Zahn, David Weber, Peter David, CS Lewis, are the few authors of YA books that I’ve read and that I’ve liked. Take your Hunger Games and your Twilight, and I’ll sooner given you back Sherrilyn Kenyon’s Chronicles of Nick first.

However, I like this one. It’s witty, and it’s fun, and it’s smart. It’s better than anything comic books – the usual medium for such things – has put out in years.  Unless you count J. Michael Straczynski.  I thoroughly enjoyed the book, and that’s not because I helped with one of the death traps. It has a lot of stuff most comics lack – character, for one. Everyone here has a surfeit of personality, even the bad guy, and the sidekicks, and the local superman equivalent (everyone has at least one). Chapter eleven has a shootout between three female characters, and not one mudwrestling joke…. someone should send it to DC Comics.

Everyone in it has a solid story arc ... or a character arc, if you prefer. And our hero and heroine have some good, natural chemistry.

It has the snobbery of high school, the stupidity of bureaucracies (in short, it's very realistic) and, the most important part: this book doesn’t treat the audience like they’re stupid.  The last time I saw someone treat the audience like this with superheroes it was Straczynski. It has offhand references to the Fischer King of Arthur, and even Universal monster movies. They also have some nice nods to actual comic books -- there is a Busiek hall, named after the creator of Astro City, a Lieber hall, named after Stanley Martin Lieber, who also goes by the name Stan Lee.

Not to mention, I also like the art. I’d post a few samples, but they’re not mine to post. No, this isn’t illustrated; they’re just pictures at the opening of each chapter, that’s all. But they’re nice and straightforward, and I can tell who’s who. Which puts the artwork above some Marvel comics I’ve read.

All in all, it was fun. There were some nicely executed Hitchcockian moments along the way, as well as some moments that J. Michael Straczynski would love.  Is it Les Miserables? No, of course not -- the book's too short.  But it's fun.  But Ms. Hendershot also has a plan, and a multiple-book arc, so we'll see how it all shakes out. 

The novel is quite enjoyable. I recommend it to anyone who believes in truth, justice, intelligence, and heart.  And ghost cowboys. Can't forget the ghost cowboys.

Buy it here -- seriously, for some reason, it's disappeared from Amazon and B&N.

Monday, August 27, 2012

I Have an Evil Plan, with Zahn, Ringo, and David.

Holidays are generally not great days for my blog traffic.  This upcoming labor day, that's a good thing, because I'm going to be at DragonCon.

Yes, DragonCon, in beautiful downtown Atlanta, Georgia.  You can check out their guest list here.

I intend to enjoy myself, and unleash my evil plan.

Okay, it's not necessarily evil, but it should be interesting.

For newcomers, It Was Only On Stun! is a murder mystery at a science fiction convention. And, since I've published this bloody book mostly through my own stubborn efforts, I'm going to try selling as much as possible, and one thing that would help would be blurbs from authors, giving me positive reviews. Really positive reviews.

In short, I hope to give a copy of my book to Peter David, Timothy Zahn, and John Ringo. Why these authors?  You mean aside from the fact that they are all kick-ass writers, and popular in the science fiction community?

Peter David and John Ringo have a similar sense of humor to mine ... or I developed my sense of humor by reading them, pick one.  I find Ringo inspiring, and David usually entertaining, when he's not putting his politics into it.

Timothy Zahn is "only" an amazing author, and most likely responsible for resurrecting Star Wars as a franchise (sadly, the book franchise might be the only reason Lucas felt comfortable trying the prequel trilogy.  Bonus: Zahn has gone everywhere that Lucas has, and has outperformed the little sot.)

Right now, my major hope for the convention is that I don't have security sicced on me for trying to hand an author a novel.  Signed, of course.

On the plus side, I know Peter David has out-and-out advocated this procedure, so I can at least tell him that I'm only following his own advice. 

On the other hand, if Zahn found it creepy, he could call the 501st Imperial Stormtrooper Legion (see my Sean Ryan Trailer.).

And John Ringo ... well, he's ex-82nd airborne, and legions of his fans are military vets. I really hope he doesn't mind. And that he likes the book.

It's going to be amusing.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Music Blog: Nightwish's Last ride of the day

A regular job has come my way, so it's starting to eat up time I would otherwise use for the blog. So, you'll find more and more music blogs popping up as we go along.

This I grabbed from both John Ringo (see: recommended reading), and Mookie, of Dominic Deegan.

The group is Nightwish, who I've had in prior music blogs. The song is the "Last ride of the day."

And I suggest you hang around for the lyrics. They are truly something to be inspired by. I couldn't get the video I wanted, mainly because it couldn't be embedded. I'll live.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Hitting the big leagues -- being interviewed at Fortnight of ... Mustard?

Today, I"m going to be a little bit lazy.  I'm going to let someone else do the work for me.....

Sort of.

I'm actually interviewed over at A Fortnight of Mustard (yes, seriously.) and at Catholic Once Again.

It's always nice to deal with someone who likes my books. :)

Anyway, enjoy the interviews.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Promotions Update: Read the Book for Free

Yes, you can read It Was Only On Stun!, the prequel to A Pius Man, for free....

But you don't think it's that easy, do you?  Of course not.

Let's talk talk promos.

As I've mentioned previously, Amazon.com allows me five promo days for people to read my book whenever and wherever they like.

But only as long as it's on a Kindle.

So, I've expanded the dates.  Anyone can read my novel, It Was Only On Stun!, from September 2-6.

Why those dates?  Because I'm going to be dropping these fliers all over the place at DragonCon (okay, it's slight hyperbole; I'll be dropping a ton of these fliers on the tables with all the other promotions).  I don't see anyone stopping their fun at DragonCon to read my book. However, I can see them downloading a free book so they can read it on the plane ride home.

And if you don't like the flier, this is only a first draft. I've been a little busy lately.

Twelve days to DragonCon.

Monday, August 13, 2012

The Singing in the Wood: Guest Blogger:

So, some things are happening today.

Number one, I have a little job out in Brooklyn. Since I live in the back end of Queens, I will essentially be driving over the hill and far away.

However, that doesn't mean I will be doing nothing.  I have already written a blog .... for someone else.

I suppose you're an internet celebrity when you can do guest blogs for other people.

Karl Erickson, who I met through the Catholic Writer's Guild, let me write a guest blog. When I asked for a topic, he said Catholic writing.

This is what he got. Enjoy my blogging from the hip.

The Singing in the Wood: 

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Music Blog: A Stirling Phantom

I'm starting to run out of ideas for blog posts.

Actually, it's 3:48 in the morning as I write this, and I just finished sending a manuscript to Baen Books -- you know, the guys who publish John Ringo, David Weber, et al -- and I just learned I'm not going to hear back from them FOR 12-18 MONTHS!  So, ahem, shoot me now.

Either way, I'm in no condition to write.

You know what that means.


And, what better way to relax as you read It Was Only On Stun! than another bout of Lindsey Stirling, this time doing a rendition of Phantom of the Opera (the two themes anyone knows), complete with electric guitars in the background.


Monday, August 6, 2012

Promotions and self publishing.

Did you know that one of the advantages of publishing exclusively on Amazon.com's Kindle e-reader actually allows the publisher five promotional days?  Yes. Surprise.

Basically, for those five days, anyone with a Kindle can read my book for free.  After that, Amazon will pluck the book out of their e-book shelves, up until the point where the readers buy the book.

Advantage: people who read the book may like it and pass it along, telling everyone they know about the book.

Disadvantage: people may read it, not like it, and not buy it.

It's a risk I'll have to take, I guess.

This is a flyer ... at least a temporary flyer.  I'm not sure I'm done with design yet.  I"m also not sure if I want three days, or blow all five at once.

And why these dates?  Because those are the last days, and the day after, DragonCon, in Atlanta.  You could say they're a target demographic. :)

You could ask -- why not hold out for New York Comic Con?  Because I get 5 days every 3 months.  July, August, September are the first three.  NYCC is in October, so that would be the next round.

If you're wondering what the dates are -- here. If you've got a Kindle, mark the dates.