Duel of the Marvels

So, in this past week I have seen both Captain Marvel and Shazam! Hence the title there. If you know your comic history, you know that the heroic protagonist of Shazam! takes on the name Captain Marvel, a deliberate choice by his creator’s to stick it to Marvel comics at the time. There’s a lot more history with that which went bouncing back and forth, but there are comic historians who’ve delved into that particular legal and trademark battle and produced write-ups for you to read with a little Google-fu, so I won’t go into that here.

No, instead, I’m going to drop my thoughts about both Marvel movies. One film #21 in Marvel’s massive and magnificent Marvel Cinematic Universe, or MCU, the other the newest entry in DC’s own attempts to mimic Marvel with a DC Cinematic Universe. Which was good? Were either? Were both great? Well … let’s talk about. And I’ll start with the more controversial Captain Marvel first.

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Being a Better Writer: Chemistry

Welcome back readers! It’s Monday, which means it’s time for Being a Better Writer! But first, some quick news. Really quick. Then today’s topic.

Prior Alpha readers, look for an Alpha invite in your e-mail box today! For something short; the Halo novel pitch! That’s right, I’ll be sending out Alpha read e-mails for that today. Just for three chapters, since it’s a pitch.

Meanwhile, the Hunter/Hunted Alpha is about two-thirds of the way done. Then Beta! The next project for me? Getting Jungle into Alpha, and then writing Axtara: Banking and Finance, followed by Fireteam Freelance.

That’s the news. So, chemistry …

It was my worst topic in school. No joke. It took … I want to say the fifth time someone explained the periodic table to me for me to get it. Chemistry in the science portions of my education was always a struggle.

Thankfully, when we start talking about chemistry in a book setting, it often takes on a different meaning. Unless you’re writing a chemistry book. Or a character that’s a chemist.

See in stories something you’ll hear a lot, discussed everywhere from movies reviews to games, is chemistry between the characters. If you’ve ever read a review, or talked about a film you enjoyed (or didn’t) you’ve probably heard someone comment on the characters, saying something like “Oh yeah, those two really did have chemistry.” Or maybe, if it wasn’t good something like “those two had no chemistry.”

Sure, you’ve heard it. But what does it mean?

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Human Resource – A Free Short Story!

All right, guys, a bit of a warning with this one. It’s … dark. Very dark, especially if you stop to think about it. And grim.

Worse still, it’s not entirely untrue.

A bit of background: I wrote this story after my second frustrating workplace injury and experience dealing with Worker’s Comp and my part-time job’s Human Resources department. If you’re interested in hearing the details about that, you can check out this post here, which is all about how I acquired the injury and the recover I underwent. But the short of it is that within days I was already feeling like I had when I’d had my knee injury. In other words, very much like my company just wanted to practice horse medicine and shove everything under the rug.

In my frustrations, I ended up writing this short to blow off a little steam. It’s dark. It’s grim. And, worst of all, it’s actually pretty true, and like most good fiction, that makes it all the more alarming.

The microphone monitoring tech? That’s real. A certain massive mega-conglomerate retailer patented it last year and has already started rolling it out into stores. It monitors all employees at all times. And yes, they do warn that ‘certain problem words’ can trigger an automatic, computer-driven firing. Boop, a text to your phone, go home, you’re done here.

That’s what scariest about this story: It’s really not that far off. The tech involved here is very real, and already being rolled into the workplace much in the same way you see it in this story. It’s just all in one package, and seeing the sudden jump from where we are now to where we may be in five, ten years really does seem jarring, compared to coming in to a new bit or piece every day.

Am I worried we might go as far as this story? Well … in a way, yes. We were once already there, if you know your history of what jobs used to be like before labor laws were put in place.

But I’ll stop waxing on it now. You’re here to read a story. So, without further ado, I present to you Human Resource. Enjoy!

And try not to let it depress you too much. I can tell you it was therapeutic to write.


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Being a Better Writer: Your Opening Tone

You know, this is the first time I think I’ve had a post fall on April 1st, also known as April Fools’ Day. And part of me really wondered if I should do an April Fools’ Day post with this week’s Being a Better Writer.

But I decided against it. For starters, while it’d be fun for the holiday, then there’s the catch of it being left up for the rest of the internet to stumble across, ignore the date, and quite possibly take very seriously. So that ruled out gag advice.

So I figured why not do a normal post and just roll with it. It’ll probably get no views until tomorrow, because you can’t really trust anything today, and well, oh well. It’ll be written and out there helping folks out, and that’s what really matters.

So then … why not jump into it. As you can see from the title, today I want to talk about your opening tone.

Confused? It’s fine. This is a high-end concept that doesn’t get brought up much, But it’s best illustrated, of all things, with a Pixar film. Ever seen Monster’s Inc.?

I really hope so, because it’s a fantastic film. Today I want to start by talking about the opening of the film. Or rather, the two openings and how they affect the film.

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March Patreon Supporter Reward Up!

Hey readers! Just a short, quick update today to let you know that the March Patreon Supporter Reward is UP! That’s right, head on over to my Patreon Page, and as a supporter you’ll see a brand-new post for this month!

What’s the inside look this month? It’s an excerpt from the Halo novel pitch I’m putting together. In this case, it’s about half of the first chapter (it’s a long chapter). Currently, I’m hard at work on chapter two, which I’ll hopefully wrap up today, so I can get chapter 3 pumped out early next week.

If my part-time job doesn’t throw a complete wrench into things, that is. We’ll see.

But that’s neither here nor there. The March Supporter Reward is up, and you can go read it right now!

The Tale of My Wrist (With Pictures!)

Okay, first up, all the pictures in this post are going to be hidden behind the jump. There’s not even a featured image for this one, despite me having ten pictures of my wrist at the ready for the post. Why?

Because some people do not want pictures involving even a little blood or pain. And some of these pictures are a little gross. So if you’re squeamish about that kind of thing … Yeah, this post past the jump is going to be a little unwelcome for you.

Anyway, that warning out of the way, today’s post, as promised, is about my wrist injury. How it happened, what’s been going on since then, and my recovery. Because it’s a fun, interesting tale.

I do have one small bit of news on an upcoming thingamajig before I get rolling on this however: This month’s Patreon Reward! It’s going up tomorrow, and it’s a doozy of a preview. What of, you may ask? Well, my current project is, as I’ve mentioned a few times, a Halo novel! The first three chapters of one, anyway. The plan is to pitch the first few chapters and the outline at Gallery/343 and see if they pick it up.

But since that’s what I’ve been working on, this month’s preview is going to be an excerpt of the first chapter, which I finished yesterday. Pre-alpha, naturally, but it’s a lot of fun. I’m enjoying it so far, and in fact really want to get back to work on it, so let’s get to this post so I can continue working on it! But if you’re a Patreon Supporter, check back tomorrow!

Now, about my wrist injury. Let’s start at the beginning …


I have a part-time job working at a local convention center. While my full-time hjob is writing, which takes about 8-10 hours of my day, often more, it doesn’t pay all the bills yet. So I have to work part-time in order to make ends meet. This means that my average workweek ends up being around 60-70 hours, but hey, sacrifices for the job, right?

Writing, to be precise. The other job, well … let me tell you about it.

I work in the operations department, which is setting up, taking down, cleaning, and other assorted tasks vital to a convention center. If you’ve ever been to a convention or a vendor’s conference of any kind and seen hundreds of chairs set in nice neat rows, huge panels of staging, drapery, dozens of tables all set up with nice tablecloths and skirts …

Yeah, we do all that. We set it all up. We keep it clean. We straighten it up. We take it all down. And more. If I listed all the things we do, it’d be a post into and unto itself.

We’re also the absolute lowest of the low where I work. So low that most of the time our department feels like an afterthought to the office part of the building. Lately there’s been one manager who’s started to reel that back (great guy, him I back) but it’s been pretty common with our job to be handed incomplete diagrams, measurements that don’t conform to reality or the laws of physics, and other things like that which we’re just expected to “fix.” Our shifts have gradually been pushed further and further into the night so that events can run later and later (the current common shift is 9 PM to 3 AM or 10 PM to 4 AM), with no compensation offered for the extreme lateness of the hour. The pay is also low, so low that we’ve had serious retention problems and our department is quite understaffed. Right now about half our department is made up of high schoolers, because they’re the only people we’ve managed to attract with our low wages (which are below the living wage—not minimum, just living—in our area). Which comes with its own problems as minors can’t work certain hours, but that’s another story.

Why do I work there? Because the hours are flexible enough that I can focus mainly on my writing, and just sort of somewhat disconnect and do the job to make it through. But if it sounds like the place may have some issues, well … yes. I’m explaining this because it leads into how I got this injury by kind of giving you an idea of how it is in our department.

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Being a Better Writer: So You’ve Discovered Writing is Work, Now What?

Hello readers! Welcome back to another glorious Monday Being a Better Writer post! Yeah, I’m in a good mood this morning. The Halo novel pitch draft is coming along nicely, I’ve got a fairly relaxed topic for the day, and a bunch of new music to listen to while I work!

This work included. Which doesn’t include too much in the way of news before I dive into it. Just one or two things coming up worth discussing.

First, the long-promised wrist post, complete with pictures and a sequence of events, will go up this week. Look for that around Wednesday or Thursday. I have to keep the actual date a little fluid, because tomorrow I find out whether or not I’m going back to work Wednesday, and from what I understand my job has been extremely strapped for workers lately.

It’s amazing. It’s like locking wages for seven years and paying below average market value with really bad hours (9 PM to 4 AM is common, with no compensation like most jobs would have for such a late shift; in fact it’s the lowest-paid job in the place) makes it really hard to keep employees. Especially in a place where the cost of living is currently skyrocketing. It’s like people want money or something in exchange for their labors. Weird, right?

Anyway, long way of saying that they may, if I am cleared for work tomorrow, have me in ASAP because yeah, they don’t have nearly enough employees.

Second bit of news? My books are almost at the halfway point for the end-year goal of 400 reviews and ratings. Seriously, three reviews away. 197 out of 200. So … close!

And that’s it for the news! Like I said, just one or two things. Now, onto today’s post!

So, this post may sound a little familiar to many of you. And that’s because I’ve written a bit on the subject before. Today’s is just from another angle, because surprise surprise, this topic is one I hear requests for constantly.

And in part, it’s because there are a lot of young writers out there who, well, to put it bluntly, with no sugar, think that they are different, that their situation is unique and different from the other new writers when it’s really not. I’m sorry to have to pull the band-aid off, but let me make something clear: It’s not. You may feel that because of the story you’re writing, or your circumstances, or your characters, or your genre, or any number of other reasons, that your story is unique, that if you were working on any other story or if it were some other individual’s writing, the trials you’re facing in these early moments wouldn’t occur.

But you’re wrong. Sure, there might be a small detail here or there that can make your situation a bit different, but at the end of the day?

Writing is work. Even when you love it.

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