Thursday, October 31, 2019

Fall Review 2019: Prodigal Son

From the mind of the creator of Chuck -- Prodigal Son.

So, our hero, Malcolm Bright (Tom Payne) is the offspring of Doctor Martin Whitly, alias the serial killer named The Surgeon (actor Michael Sheen). Bright discovered what his father was and turned him into the cops, let by Gil Arroyo (Lou Diamond Phillips).

Fast forward twenty years and Bright is very ... intense for the FBI. When they declare that they're afraid he's about to break, Bright goes back home to New York. To his mother the blue blood, and his sister the reporter.

Now that Bright is out of a job, he's recruited to the NYPD by the very man he turned his father in to.

This series is dark. But it's also got a dark sense of humor. The father and son are delightfully deranged and demented. Everyone is slightly broken and nuts. I love it. 

Michael Sheen is so wonderfully creepy. He is so evil, and the actor is clearly having fun being Hannibal Lecter with a personality. He's so joyful as he chews the scenery. This smiling psycho is so normal, and yet so freaking creepy at the same time. The camera angles and the lighting are so perfect at highlighting him.

Tom Payne's Malcolm Bright is also wonderfully insane. He has PTSD up one side and down the other. He's only really doing "okay" when he's working on murderers. He's so intense in his performance, he's the right kind of over the top.

Prodigal Son is a fun, insane, dark romp that makes Criminal Minds look like ... okay, Criminal Minds is still flipping dark. But this is more enjoyable in a lot of respects.

Let's call it a 9/10 right now.

Speaking of dark, check out the kickstarter for my current horror series, Saint Tommy, NYPD. It's got a dark, twisted sense of humor, a strange perspective, and generally ... dark. And having fun with it.

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Deus Vult Preorders might be delayed

So, a funny think happened on the way to publication of my latest novel, Deus Vult, Saint Tommy NYPD, #6.

If you've pre-ordered the ebook, you'll find it had a little .... accident. The sort of accident that happens when you don't make your mafia payments.

Now, according to Amazon's story, my publisher failed to upload the internal files of Deus Vult. Which is a cute trick. He loaded up the files weeks ago. In fact, he even handed out the e-ARCs weeks ago for people who supported the original kickstarter.

Now, I'd expect this sort of thing to happen in the first book or two. Hell Spawn, maybe. It's a strange freaking time for things to go sideways, and pretend that Silver Empire doesn't know what they're doing.

Especially since, as a self-publisher, Amazon sends me reminders to upload my materials whether I have or not. Yet somehow, Amazon didn't alert Silver Empire about failure to upload materials? Curious that.

I might be less concerned if it weren't for another item. One, another book pre-launch was discontinued. Aside from the same publisher, the books have only one thing in common -- this is the first one of my novels that has been explicitly referred to as Christian fiction. THe other one was as well.

Normally, I'm not the type to indulge conspiracy theories. But two books? On the same day? With (if I recall directly) two different launch dates?

Sorry, but this requires me to believe that my publisher, after publishing 50 books with only one hitch, suddenly screwed up two in a row.

Let's just say that I am not giving Amazon the benfit of the doubt on this one.

Anyway, no worries. If you're still interested in pre-ordering Deus Vult, you can get it directly from Silver Empire. Or you can order the whole set from the current Kickstarter. 

Let's take the best view of things, and teach Amazon that it's not nice to screw around (or screw up) with writers.

New Release: Dances With Werewolves, Part 2

And now, we finish up Dances with Werewolves,** just in time for Halloween.


Secret Service Agent Wayne Williams is dead. But he has to keep busy somehow. When a coven of witches reports a threat to the President of the United States, it's the sort of threat that must be investigated. But it sounds like a vacation for Wayne.

When the witches start to die, and his consultant seems to be magic, it's time for him to get nasty.
CIA Assassin Catherine Miler is on a mission to kill Baron Samedi," a Prime Minister sacrificing American Tourists. When she chases him down to America, things start to get ... hairy.

Author Matthew Kovach is looking for his own version of Derry Maine. What he finds is the "Community of the old time religion."

All three are about to find themselves embroiled in San Francisco pagans, want to be vampires, pharmaceutical zombies, and New Orleans.

And all three have to survive their consultants on this case -- the Kraft Brothers.

This one has shootouts in the Muir woods, car chases in San Francisco, gun battles in New Orleans, Chicago and New York. They have satanists with horn and fang implants, drugged out zombies, witches, mad gunmen, and for the first time in my books, all three Kraft brothers -- Merle, Dalf, and Tal.

I enjoyed writing this one. There was a ton of madcap action, a lot of insanity, and just plain fun.

If you've picked up part one already, you can get part 2 right here.  

And if you haven't, you can get part one here while you're at it.

Just so you'll have something to read when you're done with Too Secret Service and Dances, then you'll want to stop by the current kickstarter....

Also, if you're interested in starting your Christmas shopping early (EG: I'm done already) then you might want to shop for some good books at a solid price.

**According to new, stupid rules on Amazon, I have to inform you that the links to my book give me a little bit of extra cash for you buying the book from my referral link. all links on my blog are like that.

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Fall Review: the returning shows

As you all know, in previous years, I've done reviews of the new fall lineup as I see it. I get some of these continuing shows, even after I've given up on them, so I can give you slight updates about some of the crap that's still crap. But I can give you the best reporting on the stuff that isn't garbage.

So, previously on ....

God Friended Me... As noted in my original review, this is a bit of Person of Interest, only they have managed to show off how to show all of the problems of being a prophet, without making it necessarily about religion. Frankly, when this show ends, its best move may be to either leave it entirely vague, or have a direct visitation. Frankly, the writing is getting better, and it was really tightly written before. I think someone plots out an entire season in advance, which is the only way they can pull some of the plot points they use here. Perhaps the best show on TV right now. Even though they've had plenty of opportunity to go full social leftist nut bar, they haven't. And I am so grateful for that.

The Rookie-- Now on Sunday nights, it may be doomed to a time slot that will eventually kill it. But ABC has had some success in that time slot, so who knows? Nathan Fillion is finally starting to expand some of his acting chops, so he's no longer playing just Mal Reynolds or himself -- which, so far, seem to be his own two modes of acting. Believe it or not, the series is actually getting better. And frankly, I think Joseph Wambaugh or Michael Connelly would both appreciate this show. 

Magnum, PI -- Still sucks. In fact, I'm not even sure why they called it Magnum, except to skin the original property and wear it like a skin suit. There were originally plans for a Magnum spinoff series with his Eurasian daughter ... but apparently, making him a lazy Hispanic played by Jay Hernandez, and turning "Higgins" from a stuffy English WWII vet to blonde Bond girl was apparently the ... better option? (No, it wasn't). Totally unwatchable crap, and probably even worse than my original review. The only positive is that Tim Kang from The Mentalist has got work in Hawaii.

SWAT -- they went full SJW BS. It's crap. Worse than the knockoff Magnum. Worse than the new thing calling itself MacGyver. For more details, see my Agit-Prop TV article.

NCIS -- It's the same as ever. So your mileage may vary, depending how what you thought of it before.

NCIS LA -- I watch it for Linda Hunt, and the banter between two sets of characters (Hint: neither one involves LL Cool J or Chris O'Donnell). There is no plot, no matter how much they pretend otherwise. But the banter is fun.

NCIS NO -- Mediocre. Though it's nice to see that Scott Bakula has work.

Bull -- Original review is here. And frankly, it's largely the same thing, different day. Last season was ... my last season of it. Screw it, I'm out.

Blue Bloods -- The writing is actually getting tighter on this series. Character development is still ongoing for most of the major players, and several of the minor recurring characters. I'm not going to say it's Babylon 5 level writing and planning, but the recent episodes are handling 3 or 4 plotlines at the same time, and usually tying together their issues around the Sunday dinner table. It's a nice balance, and every actor gets a workout over the course of the episode. In competition for best TV show out right now.

Hawaii 5-0: I was fed up with this show a few seasons ago. Strangely enough, though, they managed to breathe new life into the show by bringing in new blood and letting them take up most of the screen time. That's good, because Alex O'Loughlin and Sonny Corleone's kid were getting tiresome.

New Amsterdam -- It's a fun show, though our main character is a little stupid at times. He thinks he can cut through bureaucracy with a personal touch and face-to-face communication. The answer is usually no. While he talks a game of socialism every so often, the solutions offered tend to be capitalistic or Catholic. (No, seriously, someone needs to explain to him what the concept of Solidarity is.) There is one particular new character who's a vet, who seriously needs to make a comeback, as he got in some solid hits to our lead's head, and his ego. (EG: "This person needs a home health aid to check on her twice a day." Solution: "Get her a puppy. And a dog walker. The dog walker will check in twice a day to walk the dog, and cost $20, instead of $200.") It's actually getting better from last season, and if it continues like this

The Blacklist -- While I admit, they had some sucky moments for a while, it got better as they have dropped a lot of the family drama and replaced it with the insane Bond villain of the week. Again. They've made what little family drama they have into spy thriller. Even their computer nerd has become a badass. Who knew? 

However, to be perfectly fair, since there are only three shows here that have my full-throated endorsement, how about you check out the latest kickstarter -- because books don't need wifi to stream, or TV's to view on, and they'll go with you anywhere, even the bathroom. Just please don't drop it.

Monday, October 28, 2019

Catholic Politics

After weeks of having nothing but writing on the brain, it's occurred to me that I do have something else to talk about aside from writing.


Thankfully, I don't have anything particular to talk about. I just want to talk about politics in general. Especially since politics are over half of the top ten posts on my blog.

Some of you may not know this, but my faith informs my politics.

Quell surprise, right?

This means I'm pro-life, pro-death penalty, pro-gun, pro-closed borders, anti-taxes, anti-communist, pro-community, pro-capitalist, anti-consumerism, pro-charity, pro-isolationist, pro-just war, pro-assassination, anti-regulation.

How's that for a fun time?

"How can I be any of that?" you ask. "It seems a little contradictory."

Because I follow the catechism of the Catholic church as laid down by the magesterium.

Meaning that I follow the Catholic Church, not whatever random crap is spewed out by the Pope's latest wingnut interview... or whatever the media tells us the Pope's whims are this week.

The magesterium is basically "what the church believes." It does not include "the opinion of the Pope on non-theology matters."

So, no, I don't follow "the Pope," I follow "THE CATHOLIC CHURCH." If you don't see that there's a difference between the Church and the Pope, then you can't tell the difference between Trump and the Presidency, either.

So, let's break this down.
  • I'm pro-life.
Do I need to explain that part? I like to play it safe and say that life begins at conception. Democrats like to play it fast and loose, and think that life begins whenever the paperwork is issued to give a baby a social security number.

There are ramifications of this that are non-political. As children are best raised in a two-parent environment, I kept it zipped until I got married. Since that is best, I waited until I found the perfect woman to get married to. Etc, etc, blah blah. I guess this is also theological and political, but eh.

When you consider how little I like other people most days, you'll see that this is a tough one for me. 
  • Pro-death penalty.
Some idiots like to think this is a contradiction. If you're one of those people, you're a fool. Protecting the unborn is protecting the innocent, who have committed no crime and deserve no punishment.

The death penalty is as close as we can come to justice, in certain cases. Life sentences, and no death penalty, is a nice way of saying "Murder all the guards and inmates you like, the next kills are free." There is no justice there; it's merely a license to slaughter.

"But oh, we're so much more enlightened now." Bullshit. Life sentences are for suckers. They are a luxury afforded by how good we have it right now, and we have it better than everyone else who has ever been born. If you're going to base your theology on current conditions, you are the fairest of fair weather faithful.

For 2000 years, the Church has been pro-death penalty. For over five thousand years, Judaism concurred. If you think that doesn't fall under "tradition informing the faith," then you can just throw out tradition entirely. And if you want to see the size of this baby you're throwing out with that bath water, it's called the Baltimore Catechism. It can stop bullets.
  • Pro-gun 
Self defense is a fundamental, God-given right, and we need the proper tools for it. The political implications of this is simple -- everyone needs to be armed. It should be part of metalworking shop classes and PE. First you build your own gun, then you fire your own gun. When you graduate high school, you get your owners permit. You fuck it up, it's revoked.

Though if I had my way, people would own machineguns, but no one asks my opinion.
  • Pro-closed borders
This may be a little strong on my part. Largely because the Church (1) insists on welcoming refugees, BUT (2) also insist that the immigrants FOLLOW THE LAWS OF THE LAND THEY'RE MOVING TO. 

Obviously, there seem to be some people having a problem with #2.

In America, sorry, but we need to lock the border, create an opening that's more narrow, and check everyone's paperwork as they come in. Frankly, we need to lock down the border and make sure no one comes in until we know what to do with everyone in the country illegally already.

THEN we need to revise the stupid immigration process, because last time I checked, people have bitched about how screwed up it is for 30 years, but no one wants to do anything about revising them. 
  • Anti-taxes
I'm against theft. It was on a collection of stone tablets. And government spending seems to be an endless series of excuses for why the government needs to keep taxing you.

And frankly, the tax system is either rigged to make certain that no one pays their "fair share"-- it's all an excuse for politicians to exert more control over more people. Thank you FDR, you pig.
  • Anti-communist
There's an entire encyclical dedicated to why Communism is evil under Catholic law.

Short version -- again, we're against theft. And stealing someone's work is theft. Wage slavery is bad. Communism is worse. Because it's slavery while dressing it up in language of "communal good," and lately "social justice."

The longer version is here.
  • Pro-capitalist
Catholics invented capitalism. Don't believe me, ask the Medicis. 

And why? When done right, it creates the fairest exchange rate for man's labor.

When done wrong, you get crony capitalism, where only the people with money rig the economy in their favor.

Every time you see something on Catholic economics in the catechism (seriously, check the magesterium, not news articles), they're largely about making certain the capitalism we have is as not as rigged as Socialist dumbasses whines it is.
  • Anti-consumerism
One should not worship anything that isn't God -- this includes worship of the Home Shopping Network. 

Yes that could just boil down to being shallow, but I've known people who worshiped their precious things like Gollum and his ring. (Not only have I known them, I've been related to them.)

That's one of the problems with things broadly labeled "capitalism." It has been used as an excuse to cover greed instead of good business. And when I mean good business -- consider that most of the "robber barons" didn't actually rob anybody, but envy will will slap a label on any success as "greed" and "theft,"

On the other hand, I will admit that "capitalism" has been used to cover a multitude of sins. That's why there's laisse faire capitalism, and there's crony capitalism.
  • Pro-charity

Charity isn't government enforced. It comes from below, not above. Meaning we can and should be helping one another. It's one of the many reasons taxes are an abominations -- how can anyone be charitable and help out their fellow Man if we spend more than a quarter of the paying off our slave owners in the government? It's pretty damn hard unless you have a lot to start with.
  • Pro-community

I, like the church, believe in solidarity. "Hey, look, we're going to treat each other like human beings." You work, you get paid. You sell, you get paid for it. You're neighbors, you help each other out. You see someone in trouble, you help them. The goal is to work out every problem on the most local level. If you can work it out within the family, you do. If you can work it out within the parish, great.

... I think it was once called "living in a community."

Not these forced "diverse communities." Please. Actual community has been heartily discouraged, replaced by photo ops of "look at how diverse we are." Please. I want to show off my "diverse" acquaintances, I'll take a photo of the masses I go to.

The Catholic church -- we take in everybody.

This should also apply to "pro-small government."

  • Pro-isolationist
I largely believe in leaving people alone. Including other countries. 

The church likes to talk about international solidarity, where other countries live in peace with each other. Doesn't mean they give up their sovereignty. 

Of course, the IMF, the EU, the UN all like to believe that there is no sovereignty, but they're a bunch of dictator friendly schmucks. 
  • Pro-just war
As the old saying goes, War is not the answer... unless it's about freedom, slavery, communism and Nazism.

Pardon me, I just eyerolled so hard, I strained something.

Sometimes, the evils of war are the lesser evil, especially when doing nothing allows evil to persist.

(And the first schmuck to insist that industrialization would have ended slavery without a war, the American South was already looking into training slaves for factories, so I doubt that.)
  • Pro-assassination
Sometimes you don't need a war. Sometimes you just need a bullet. It's call tyrannicide. I believe Thomas Aquinas was all for it.

Now we're just back to, "If you're against the death penalty and Catholic, you're a heretic."

  • Anti-regulation
No, seriously, how can the Catholic church be against regulations?

Because the more regulations you pass, the more you abridge individual rights and freedoms.

And most regulations passed in the past few decades have all been about punishing people for ... well, breathing, really.

I think that's it for now. Most of the ranting and raving can be held off for another day.  If anyone wants to go "but you could have done more about X!" ... well, yeah, I could have done a blog post on each of these bullet points. Or I could have added more bullet points.  I still might. But for right now, thanks, but this has been more politics than I like talking about at any one sitting.

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Music blog: Sabaton - To Hell and Back (Cover by Minniva)

Like the rest of Sabaton's songs, this is about a historical figure in the military.

In this case, that figure is Audie Murphy, who not only won medals for his fighting at Anzio, but they made it into a movie .... starring Audie Murphy.

The film was called To Hell and Back.

Sabaton is heap big subtle.

NEW RELEASE: Dances With WereWolves, A Merle Kraft Novel (part one)

From the creator of Too Secret Service (me) comes the latest self-published thriller....

Dances With Werewolves.

Yes, really. I'm a smartass. If you didn't know before, now you know.

Sigh .... and, according to Amazon, I have to warn you that every link in the entire blog is to connect to an Amazon Affiliates link-- and if it isn't, let me know -- which means I get additional money for selling you my books. And anything else you might purchase from that visit. So if any of you are interested in buying a $1000 television from Amazon, please, click on a link, then buy the tv. :)

Anyway, back to being serious, this book is special.

Because it's a Merle Kraft novel
Secret Service Agent Wayne Williams is dead. But he has to keep busy somehow.

When a coven of witches reports a threat to the President of the United States, it's the sort of threat that must be investigated. But it sounds like a vacation for Wayne.

CIA Assassin Catherine Miler is on a mission to kill Baron Samedi," a Prime Minister sacrificing American Tourists.

Author Matthew Kovach is looking for his own version of Derry Maine.

All three are about to find themselves embroiled in San Francisco pagans, want to be vampires, pharmaceutical zombies, and New Orleans.

And all three have to survive their consultants on this case -- the Kraft Brothers.

If I were to give you a one-sentence summary of the book? Think of it as a modern Live and Let Die.

Take a look, and see what you think about the insanity that is Dances with Werewolves.

And if you're a fan of audio books, please remember the ongoing Kickstarter campaign for Hell Spawn.

Tuesday, October 22, 2019


Because you demanded it...
Silver Empire is creating audio books for Saint Tommy, NYPD.

Yeah, so this is going to get fun.

The books are going to be narrated by Jon Mollison.

If you don't know who he is, he's the author of one of the upcoming superhero novels Silver Empire is working on -- Overlook.

For those of you who don't know Jon by voice, you can hear him in Vox Day's audio book The Irrational Atheist, books by Martin van Creveld, Chuck Dixon, and John C Wright's Somewither.

Or you could just click here and listen to Jon do a first pass on chapter one.

Now, yes, I know, there are some audio issues. But that's why it's the first run -- and why Silver Empire is hosting a kickstarter to produce the audio book.

Yes, a kickstarter. Here we go again.

But sound engineers cost money.

Audio book readers cost money. 

(And really, do you want me to listen to me do an audio book for four hours? Or more? If you want an idea of what that's like, you can click here.)

But I recommend that you click here and just buy the audio book version, if you're into that sort of thing.

The first tier that gets you an audiobook is $15. Last time I checked, this was half the price of the cheapest audio book I've ever seen on audible, so it's a good deal. (Seriously, when did audio become so expensive? ...Says the man whose last audio book was on audio cassette or a free copy of Tom Stranger).

Right now, only Hell Spawn is being made... but even I don't know what the stretch goals are. If we break the barrier, I suspect that books 2-6 will be on the table.

Come on, who's on first?

Click here for the kickstarter

Sunday, October 20, 2019

RELEASE UPDATE: Moon Anthology is (sort of) canceled

The Planetary Anthology series is being discontinued.

In fact, even the five anthologies that have been published already have been discontinued. They will no longer be available for sale online from the publisher.

Which is odd for me. Especially after a year where the Area 51 anthology I was in this year was conceived of, edited, and released in 3 months from call for stories to publication.

So, yeah, the original publisher isn't doing them anymore.

However, the anthologies have all been picked up again by Tuscany Bay Books.

Which means that they're going to be published by Richard Paolinelli, a great author, Dragon Award Finalist, and he's only been doing this for about 30 years.

So he might know a thing or two.

Oh, yeah, and we have a new cover and a new art style.

The next anthology up is Pluto, edited by Richard himself.

After that, however, is The Moon.

Previously, I had announced that the moon would be broken up into two parts -- the moon, and the dark side of e moon.

As of now, the authors include the following.
  • Me
  • Ann Margaret Lewis
  • Margo St Aubin
  • Lori Bowman
  • AM Freeman
  • Richard Paolinelli
  • William Lehman
  • Karina Fabian
  • Justin Tarquin
  • Mark Wandrey
  • Steven Johnson
  • Bokerah Brumley 
  • Karl.Gallagher
  • Paul Go
  • Penelope Laird
  • Caroline Furlong
  • Lou Antonelli
  • Jody Lin Nye 
  • L Jagi Lamplighter
  • Lloyd A. Behm II
  • Josh Griffing

But this one has everything, more or less. 

We have two sets of werewolves ... maybe. 

We have psychotic elves in libraries. 

We have mining on the moon where people have delved too deep. 

We have HP Lovecraft insanity on a fishing trip.

Demonic poker games with the dead. 

The end of the world.

A jail break from a space station for the deranged, making a deal with the devil.

We won't even go into the stories I didn't accept. Heh heh heh.

Next book up in the anthology is Pluto. Edited by Richard himself.

After that? Luna. At long last.

Sorry, I've been ready to get this published for a year now. It's a bit of a relief.

Anyway, while you're waiting for Luna to come out, take a look at the list of my publications. See if you're interested in any of them.

Buckle up. This is going to be a heck of a week for news.

Monday, October 14, 2019

Review: Bane: Conquest, by Chuck Dixon

As a rule, I avoid comic books. I find most of them overpriced and under quality. The last time I went out of my way to collect comics it was J Michael Straczynski's run on Amazing Spider Man. (No, I don't blame him for One More Day.)  Right now, there is so much political crap going on in comics, or so much poor writing (See: Batman's wedding) that you can't drag me to a comic book with a ten foot pole.

But recently, I found myself making an exception for Chuck Dixon, creator of my favorite comic book villain -- Bane.  

Commonly known as an antagonist for Batman, Bane has been largely ill-treated in Bat-media. I find him more interesting that Batman, and more likable than the majority of Bat villains. While many of them are tragic figures (not Riddler, Joker, Catwoman and Penguin, they're arrogant, evil, and larcenous, in that order) Bane is one of the few I genuinely like. When first introduced, he was intelligent, efficient, and not half as crazy as most of the rest of the Gotham crowd. And he had a plan executed so well, I want to see DC writers try to pull it off again to see how they can Mary Sue Batman out of it this time.

In short, he's a villain who plays chess and speaks Latin.

Once again, DC was smart enough to get Chuck Dixon back to once more write Bane. And this time, they allowed Bane to be the main character. (I was largely happy with Forever Evil ... then they dropped the ball in the endgame.)

This is Bane: Conquest.
In the dark waters off the coast of Gotham City, a mysterious crew of smugglers has made a deadly mistake--they tried to bring weapons of mass destruction into Bane's city!

After tracing the illicit arms back to their source, Bane and his henchmen uncover a criminal conspiracy that seems to span the entire globe and encompass every illegal activity under the sun.

But if there really is a secret empire behind all of the world's crime, Bane should--nay, must--be the one running it. And no one--not assassin cults, super-hackers, Catwoman or Batman himself--is going to stand in his way!

Twenty-five years after bringing Bane to life in Batman: Knightfall, creators Chuck Dixon and Graham Nolan reunite to tell the most epic tale yet of one of Batman's most dangerous foes! Collects issues #1-12.

This one puts Bane up against a worldwide criminal organization called Kobra ... If you're having flashbacks to GI Joe, please don't. They're not into the world domination business. But they do amount to the biggest crime family in existence. 

The execution is everything I've missed about the character, and about comic books, for quite sometime. The character is smart yet vicious. The action and the odds are over-the-top. There are cameos from terrorists and space aliens. Every frame is on point. Nothing here is gratuitous. The story arc ends with an action sequence that's one part The Magnificent Seven, The Dirty Dozen, and Where Eagles Dare.

This is comic books and their best. Where else are you going to have a close quarters combat duel with a mech on one end... and an unarmed man on the other?

By the end of the issue, you get to see why Bane is the best Batman "villain." It's a moment that comes after the shooting is over and all the scheming is done. It's moments like this where I think Bane should get his own series, as long as Chuck Dixon writes it and everyone in upper management leaves him alone.

Amazon has it right now for (checks price) $18. For nearly 300 pages of comic books, that's a darn good deal.

If you like Bane: Conquest, then I will also recommend to you my Saint Tommy NYPD series, or my Love at First Bite quartet -- they're as close as I come to writing comic books of my own.

Balancing Characters: A Writing blog

I've been watching Lynda Carter's Wonder Woman recently (and seriously, look at her in costume? Wouldn't you?) and found it curious. For some reason, I had always remembered Steve Trevor was the damsel in distress that had to be saved every episode. Though watching it now for the first time in three decades, he was fairly well-balanced against a superheroine that deflects bullets. Even though he was often the damsel in distress, it was largely because he was taking on more than made sense to handle solo (taking on a half dozen guys in hand to hand combat? No, not a great idea). He was smart, capable, and occasionally was even allowed to save himself. He even had to serve the plot and tackle some villains because Wonder Woman couldn't be in two places at once. She was feminine. He was manly. The occasional "Sisterhood is strong" message was stilted even coming out of Carter's mouth, and she was apparently never to the left of Mitt Romney. (Yes, I know what I said.)

I only bring it up because I enjoy balancing my characters. I also enjoy having a cast of characters. The latter I probably got from Babylon 5 -- a large swath of people of different viewpoints who can come up with interesting dynamics when combined in different permutations.

One of the reasons that A Pius Man had so many various and sundry people is that they were built up over time... well, they were built up as I wrote the books.

When I wrote the novels, they were in the following order

  1. Summer Death Camp (A Matthew Kovach Mystery)
  2. HT  (coming soon)
  3. It Was Only On Stun!
  4. Too Secret Service 
  5. Dances With Werewolves 
  6. Night of the Assassins 
  7. The Pius Trilogy

Those books included characters from all over the place.

  • Sean AP Ryan and Maureen McGrail you saw in It Was Only On Stun! 
  • Blaine Lansing and his girlfriend Jennifer Lane were in Too Secret Service as a subplot.
  • Matthew Kovach and Jonathan Koneig ... gets around.
  • The Williams family and Giovanni Figlia are from the Too Secret Service series.
  • Scott Murphy shows up in Night of the Assassins.

So A Pius Man was actually supposed to be the end of six other books which is why you might have found some of the balance a little off.

But by and large, I prefer to give everyone some airtime. X person gets screen time because they're smart. Y person gets screen time because they're doing all the fancy shooting.

With the Love at First Bite series, I take plenty of time to balance out the bloodthirsty natures of both characters. The first half of every novel is character moments, punctuated with action and plot .... the second half of every novel is action and plot punctuated with character moments. I have a collection of side characters to season the stories ... some of them have plenty of interest by the readers as well. The vampire Rory was a particular fan favorite. Trust me, one of these days, I may do an anthology about individual characters in the Bite universe. But nearly everybody has a moment ... even if it is their last moment.

You may have noticed in the Saint Tommy, NYPD series that I'm taking a minimalist approach. Everyone who has a name ends up playing a role in the plot, and there are no more characters than that. The balance is inside Tommy's head, balancing horror, action and prayer life. I nearly delete every other character from the book. In part because I'm told "that's how people do it."

.... I still end up with Tommy having his own little cadre around him. But then again, he ended up with a wife, children, a partner, a medical examiner, and a second partner. Also, two IA detectives who were modeled on heckling Muppets, who I also didn't expect to get through more than one book.

Then there's Too Secret Service et al, where I was so interested in balance, I made a running gag about having them save each other's life. I forget if I removed the running gag. Hopefully, I didn't.

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Agit-Prop TV

Blanket statements annoy me.

For example, "All TV shows are propaganda."

Frankly, that's not true, even with CBS shows, where there is at least one episode of agit-prop per season demanded from the higher ups. (You can tell it's a command from above when you get a character in one episode being a monumental jerk in one episode, then the character returns in the very next episode, and it's like nothing ever happened. For whiplash like this, see Blue Bloods Season 5, episodes 3 and 4).

However, this season I can make you one very exact generalized statement.

All TV lawyer shows are propaganda... Especially this season.

I think it's been a near constant over the past 20 years. David E Kelly was broken by the existence of George W Bush in the White House. As far as I can tell, every lawyer show he's done since then has been less about the law and more about whatever BS agit-prop agenda du jour the writers wanted to push.

Fast forward to the two TV lawyer shows of today. All Rise and Bluff City Law. They are both crap shows with lousy acting and writing -- in one case from a halfway decent actor.

All Rise... my Lord, is this such insulting garbage. The TV show is supposed to be about a new judge appointed to the LA bench. But the first episode spends a few seconds on how she's "different" from other judges -- mostly that she's black and female. The casual racism is very casual, and is even insulting to the people of Los Angeles ... about which I don't care, though; LA can burn for all I care. And while the first episode was mostly trying to treat Night Court scenarios in a straight fashion, it was largely harmless.

However, you know the entire series goes straight to garbage in short order when the second episode is all about agit-prop. And I mean all of it. From minute one to the last.

First, you have to believe that an ICE agent can charge willy-nilly into an LA court in pursuit of an illegal alien. Then you have to believe that ICE stakes out the LA court houses in order to "go fishing" to "get easy catches"...

I'm sorry. I'm wrong. The first thing you have to believe is that ICE is even allowed in the City of LA or the state of California.

But then you have to believe that the "solution" to the episode involves an LA prosecutor, judge and defense attorney all conspiring against the federal government to make certain to enforce the "sanctuary" status of California ... which, if anyone was honest, is a flagrant disregard for the actual law.

This is the same week that real life California released two men charged with rape and murder because they were illegal aliens. So the idea that ICE is even some sort of threat is ludicrous.

This was followed by Bluff City LawSomeone wanted to make Erin Brockavich, the TV show, so it's "small lawyer versus big business" every week. Which works fine if you're Leverage and you want to do a cross between The Sting and Mission: Impossible. But this is more like Matlock -- where the writers cheat and pull out a deus ex machina solution for everything.

I would feel sorry for Jimmy Smits being part of this garbage on Bluff City Law, but apparently, he's one of the producers. 

Even the "villains" are stock cardboard cutouts from the communist playbook. Evil chemical company. Big Agra. I'm relatively certain that they even stole the antagonists from Leverage episodes. 

Both of these would be bad enough as they are for the main plots alone. We won't even go into the tonnage of schmaltz and soap opera crammed into each of the episodes. And of course, the curse of every "legal drama" -- the speeches. The endless, lengthy, "heartfelt" speeches that have no place in a courtroom, and dialogue that has never been spoken by a living person who knows how to actually use the English language.

And while we're at it, let's throw in another bit of agit-prop TV. S.W.A.T.

No, not the 1975 TV show, the PC crap starring Shemar Moore. I can tell you how most of these plots are developed.
  • "Hey! Let's make a story around illegals!"
  • "Hey! Let's make a story around LGBTBBQ"
  • "Hey! Let's make a story around evil white people."
  • "Hey! Let's make a story around commie protesters who hate cops, but make them smarter than our heroes."
I've actually being watching the 1975 TV show S.WA.T. on DVD. Why? Because it was $10 remaindered in the Edward R Hamilton catalog and I'm cheap.

The funny thing about the 1975 show? The plots are smarter than the current edition. The writing is stronger. The tactics ... exist (S.W.A.T 1975 knew what vertical movement meant, and what rappelling was for).

Hell, the 1975 version has better characterization. How is that possible? I've seen 70s TV. It largely sucked. But this is so much better than the current edition, I used it to convince current viewers of the new show to stop watching it.

But you know how bad all three of these the current shows are? Here's how bad.
  • I would rather watch Bull, which is average on its best day.
  • I would rather watch the current thing that calls itself MacGyver, which is barely even watchable on its best day.
  • I would rather watch the current Hawaii 5-0, which makes me want to take a power drill to my ears.
  • I'd rather watch the thing call Magnum, PI, which has exactly one actor I even find tolerable, and he's only there for three minutes every episode.
Frankly, I'm going to recommend a laundry list of books rather than this current batch of suck. Only some of them are mine. But you can check out any review on this website, I'll back it over the current schlock.

Start here, though, if you wouldn't mind. :)

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

#EatTheChildren / #EatTheBabies

I fucking hate politics. I hate it so much, I'm happy to use R language on a blog that's usually PG-13.

The latest news is so insane, I literally tried to make it up, and reality decided "Hold my beer."

For those of you who read Hell Spawn, I had a possessed serial killer. It was as monstrous as I could make him. There were call backs to Aztecs, who ripped people's hearts out, and reference to Moloch and Crowley.

But nope. Leave it to politicians to take the most demonic shit I can think of, and then say "Challenge accepted".

Everyone knows that Alexandra Occasio-Cortez, the ex-bartender and current congress critter, comes from my home city... Damn it. 

Though, to be fair, AOC ran from a district so gerrymandered, it's painful to look at. (Sure, have a district that's part East Bronx and part Chinatown, there's nothing sketchy about that whatsoever.) It's 51% Hispanic, and she ran on the "I look like you and will disband ICE" ticket. And she's made so many friends, there are people on both sides of the aisle lining up to take her out in the next election.

One of her more infamous statements (lately) is that how the Earth will be destroyed by climate change in a matter of years / months/ weeks/ days, something like that.

So is it any wonder that we end up with a town hall meeting that ends like, well, this...

One woman stood up in the middle of the town hall meeting (about two from the front row, if I see it correctly) who proposed that AOC's Green New Deal didn't go far enough when fixing the planet. This woman cited the Swedish professor who suggested eating dead people, and stated that it, too, wouldn't be fast enough. 

She suggested that AOC's next slogan should be "We’ve got to start eating babies."

The nutcase kept going.
"..I’m so happy that you are supporting a Green New Deal, but it’s not enough. Even if we were to bomb Russia, it’s not enough. There’s too many people, too much pollution. So, we have to get rid of the babies. That’s a big problem. Just stopping having babies just isn’t enough. We need to eat the babies. This is very serious. Please give a response.”
The woman was at least on message. She even wore a shirt that said “Save the planet. Eat the Children. We don’t have enough time. There’s too much CO2."
Ocasio-Cortez responded by thanking the woman and saying, “One of the things that’s very important to us is that we need to treat the climate crisis with the urgency that it does present. Luckily, we have more than a few months.”
The woman shouted back, “no, we don’t!”

On the one hand, to her credit, AOC talked to her like any New Yorker would talk down any crazy person. Kudos. Granted, she burned all of that good credit when she started spinning it the very next day as trying to blame all of this ... on Republicans. Because endlessly claiming that the sky is falling will never create neurotic messes out of people in the public. 

AOC can't seem to figure out what to blame the Republicans for -- if this woman was a plant, or that "they" are focusing on this poor unfortunate soul who's a total nutcase...

But I'm not focusing on that. Because endless fear mongering is going to spark neurotic messes into a full psychotic meltdown. Duh. It happens. Nutcases are gonna nutcase. Especially when you tell them the fucking sky is falling and keep giving an ever-shrinking timeline in order to justify idiotic taxes.

What is truly disturbing isn't that some random nutter in the crowd suggested something so insane. Random nutcases happen. No. What's really and deeply concerning is that NO ONE IN THE AUDIENCE EVEN BLINKED. No, look at the audience. Eating children? Bah. Not the craziest thing they've ever heard on the climate change discussion. If they rode the subway, it probably wasn't even the craziest thing they'd heard in the last few hours.**

Though let's face it, this woman, and this audience, have been fed a steady diet of "WE'RE ALL GONNA DIE" for their entire lives. They're true believers.  Apparently, they've all come to the conclusion that if the world's gonna end, then all things really are permitted. Even if you buy into the spin that it's a Republican setup (and if the establishment right had enough chutzpah to pull this in New York City, they'd actually run candidates anyone would remember long enough to vote for).

Hell, the only person in the entire room who looks put off by this is Occasio-Cortez herself. Which makes me suspect there might be a flicker of synapses in there... somewhere ... buried deep. Otherwise, AOC puts on a great act as a raving lunatic. But seeing what we have of her, I wouldn't bet on brains.

But even in my darkest dreams, I couldn't have imagined a mass political movement suggesting a proposal as insane as cannibalism ... and no one in the audience even making a face at it. And trust me, for Hell Spawn and the rest of the Saint Tommy series, I'm doing my damnedest. Literally.

But seriously, this once again proves that no matter what I do, no matter how much of the deepest, darkest, savage inhumanity and mass murder in the history of the world I research, nothing I create or assemble can top whatever horrors are thought up the the far left.

Apparently, being creative about evil can't top real evil.

Then again, I probably could not have created

  • A cruelty to animal group that murders puppies by the ton.
  • An environmental group that starts or encourages fires
  • A civil rights group that tries to deny civil rights to people they don't like.
  • "Child protective services" that abuse children.
  • "Education" that's indoctrination.
  • Enacting legislation to help child abuse victims while ignoring pedo-friendly BS enacted in public.

People wonder why I don't generally like talking politics on my blog. Or in general. Because it makes the thugee look like teddy bears and the Temple of Doom look like a tourist attraction for newborns.

I'd ask what was wrong with people, but if I liked people as a rule, I wouldn't be in a profession that locks me at a solitary desk all day.

Here. Something upbeat and cheerful -- a horror novel where a lone man kicks the everlasting shit out of the forces of darkness, fueled only by the Power of God.

**To be fair, there are conflicting opinions about the crowd reaction. Some people hear audible gasps in the crowd. I'm looking at faces, and have had crappy audio. If I missed it, mea culpa. But seriously, will someone blink, damn it.

Monday, October 7, 2019

Review: Brand of the Warlock by Robert Kroese

Review: Robert Kroese, Brand of the Warlock 
Book 1 of The Counterfeit Sorcerer 
A hooded man, his face marred by a mysterious black brand, walks the Plain of Savlos. Some say he has the power to summon demons. Others say he is the only one who can vanquish them. His name is Konrad, and he has a secret....

Once an ordinary soldier, his life was forever changed by a fateful meeting with a dying sorcerer. Now he is all that stands between civilization and the creeping evil of the shadow world. The Brand of the Warlock is the first book in the fast-paced sword & sorcery series THE COUNTERFEIT SORCERER.

Pick up The Brand of the Warlock and start your adventure today!
Robert Kroese seems to specialize in characters who are cynical, capable, and that may just be too smart for their own good. His character of Rex Nihilo is a good example (okay, in the case, there’s also the additional elements of “He’s so smart he’s stupid” and he’s totally insane).

Now we have Konrad. Poor Konrad. All he wants to do is be wealthy and respectable enough to marry the girl next door – who is kind, intelligent, and about four levels about his station.  His plan was to join the army, find honor, glory and rank, come back home and live happily ever after.  His military stuff is... very military.
"The officer who had developed the idea for the Corps had been reassigned to the southern frontier, and another officer, who was nearing retirement and had no interest in the program, had been assigned to run it until a better choice could be found."
Followed by a description of the Scouts as 
"the effectiveness of the Corps was largely due to our chaotic method of operating."
The Brand of the Warlock (The Counterfeit Sorcerer Book 1) by [Kroese, Robert]Which is very JSOC.

Then when Konrad tries to stop a fugitive fleeing hot pursuit, with his lady love as a hostage, things go sideways for everybody. The fugitive is a warlock, and has transferred his brand to Konrad’s face. He is tried and convicted – and instead of being thrown into Chateau d’if, he’s thrown under it. As salt is a traditional ward against magic, the only fit prison for a warlock is … a salt mine. With minimal lighting.

Once he is released from prison, we’re off to the races. Konrad has only one mission – to make certain that the girl next door survived the encounter with the fugitive who stole years of his life.

To be honest, there are many elements here that belong in a traditional novel. Or as my family calls them, a Novel novel – classical literature. Our hero has one goal in mind, and a lot of other things happens to him along the way. Superficially, it almost looks like there’s no plot, merely one damn thing after another. However, I can assure you that this is not the case. Eventually, everything ties together. And I do mean everything. Even one or two random encounters turn out to be important. And I suspect that at least one random encounter from this book will come back to bite Konrad in book 2.

On the one hand, it feels very much like a “BOOK ONE,” or a pilot episode of the series. The best example of this feeling comes from the very first Hugh Jackman X-Men movie. It doesn’t really feel like a complete story, just act one. 

One the other hand, it sets up everything quite well. A good chunk of the book is dedicated to avoiding a deus ex machina moment at the end. Trust me, you’ll know it when you see it.

All in all, Rob has written yet another fun, readable world. Minimum four out of five. I’ll grant him a five out of five, subject to being revisited upon reading the other novels in the series.

Tuesday, October 1, 2019


My serial novel, Too Secret Service, has come out with a second part today.

The first part was Wayne Williams meeting Catherine Miller. And I really did like the chemistry between them. The rest of part one was Northern Ireland, and a shootout in an old army barracks. 

Part two is a trip to Rome, where our heroes will encounter some familiar faces. There are shootouts above and below the streets.

Much to my surprise there was a natural break down of the book into a serial format. 

Part 1: Wayne, meet Catherine, and Ireland.
Part 2: Rome.
Part 3: Masada, and the finale.

For those of you who have read The Pius Trilogy, you may remember some minor characters here and there.

Blaine Lansing and Jennifer Lane were both introduced to you, the reader, in A Pius Legacy: A Political Thriller. I met them both here. Much to my surprise, it wasn't hard to rewrite Too Secret Service so that it came after Pius. In fact, thanks to the rewrites I had to make there, the book became a little shorter, and some of the melodrama I had written in when I first wrote it.

Yes, while I had written a fairly solid novel, that needed minimal changes, there was one slight problem I had in the rewrite was part of the background material for the hero. This sucked up a lot of page time. When I replaced the reason for Wayne's exile to the back woods -- let's just say his family pissed off the last President in Pius -- all of that other detail went by the wayside. It made the book shorter, the action a little tighter, and the overall novel less moody.

But yeah, I had a great deal of fun with this serial.