Some Writing Updates, and a New Project!

Hi everyone!

Once again, I apologize for the amount of time between posts for me–with everything going on in my life, I tend to get distracted from things like, say, keeping my website up to date. I’ve got quite a bit of news to share this time around, but I’ll try to keep it short and sweet. It’s a bit of a bad news, good news, better news situation.

The bad news: Unfortunately, due to some ongoing edits and other projects, I’m going to have to push back my anticipated release of Jack Ferguson Strikes Back (book two of the “Camp Ferguson” series) to sometime next year. When exactly? I’m not sure. Right now I’m in the middle of some re-edits for the original Camp Ferguson, inspired by my ongoing grad school learning and some awesome feedback from friends in the writing community. I know it’s already a self-published novel, but I want to make sure anything I put out there is the best it can be, and the great thing about being a self-published author is if you want to, you can do things like this! I’ve been working on my Camp Ferguson rewrites for a couple of months now, and I’m more than halfway through. The other half of the bad news is that I’m also going to be putting this project on hold, at least temporarily. That’s because of the good news, though…

The good news: I’m doing NaNoWriMo this year! I’ve avoided this in the past because I’m uncomfortable working on deadlines for creative projects, but what can I say? This year I’m just in the writing spirit. Originally I thought about just keeping up with my revisions through NaNo, but after working on Camp Ferguson for several months now, I feel like I need a break, and I’ve been dying to do something new.

Hence, the even better news: I’ve got a new book project! Because I wanted to start something new for NaNo, I’ve settled on a long-delayed idea as my work for the month–it’s a military sci-fi thriller, and the first book in a series I’m tentatively calling “Megacyte.” Following the model of books like DuneThe Expanse, and others, it’s an epic saga involving a giant, planet-sized parasite and the fate of the human race. Ambitious? Yes, probably. But this story is SO cool and I can’t wait to get started on it. For those of you who want a teaser, he’s my jacket blurb so far:

In the not-so-distant future, a mining operation on Earth’s moon goes awry and reveals a terrifying truth: the object orbiting our planet was never natural, but is in fact a long-dormant, planet-sized extraterrestrial parasite of unknown origin. The organism latches onto the Earth and starts burrowing into its core, causing untold devastation across the globe.

Three years later, Lt. Diego “Ash” Ashford is transferred to a new survivor’s base as conditions worsen on our now-hostile world and remaining pockets of humanity struggle to hang on. There, he’s reunited with his superior officer and longtime friend Mj. John Anderson and his brilliant scientist wife, Dr. Ellie Cho–with whom Ash shares a complicated past. Anderson has an ambitious plan to take the fight to the aliens and stop the destruction, and wants Ash along for the ride–but infiltrating the massive construct known as the “Megacyte” is only the beginning of their ordeal.

No one is prepared for the wonders–or horrors–that await in the belly of the beast, and as simmering nationalistic tensions threaten to divide the team and undermine the mission, Ash, Ellie, and Anderson are all forced to battle demons both without and within. Their success, or failure, may determine the very future of the human race.

Hope you’re interested, because I’m thrilled to get started on this! You can follow my progress on my NaNo page, or just find my username (krobnovelist, same as Twitter) if you want to be buddies with me! I can use all the accountability I can get. Thanks for listening, and happy reading and writing!

Hey, I’m a Freelance Editor Now!

Hi all you faithful followers and writing friends!

Since I started graduate school for creative writing and publishing last year, and even before that, something I’ve always wanted to do for a living is help other people with their writing. For me, one of the most satisfying and worthwhile things I can do with my time is to read someone else’s great story, and then try to give them the advice and tools to shape it into something even better. I love helping people make their writing the best it can be, but I’ve struggled looking for an outlet for this that I might be able to make a living off of.

But I’m pleased to say the first step has been accomplished–I’m now an honest, for-real freelance editor with Represent Publishing! You can read more about the company on the website in the link, but the short version is it’s been around for a few years in varying forms as a pet project of one of my closest Twitter friends. Recently, she and some other team members have renewed their drive to get the business on track, and are offering a variety of self-publishing help packages and services (all very reasonably priced), including editing of all kinds: line editing, developmental editing, proofreading, manuscript critiques, etc. And I’m thrilled to be one of the people they’ve seen fit to bring on board as an editor!

If you’re interested in publishing your own book, having control over your work, and getting away from the stress of the traditional publishing world with all the agent queries and rejection letters, Represent Publishing might be for you! Right now we’re looking to add some new authors onto our roster, and we’d love to have you and take a look at whatever work you might have. Check out the website and send us an email–we’re always available to talk. Plus, until the end of this month there’s some great deals on publishing packages and even a contest to get 50 percent off a service.

 

Please help support our self-published authors and the people who want to support them! I look forward to possibly talking with you about your work in the near future.

On the Road with “The Road to Ithaca”

Greetings, fellow writers and loyal readers! After months of grueling rewrites and agonizing over plot details, characters, and other things, I’m pleased to announce that I’ve finished the second draft of my latest novel, The Road to Ithaca. If you’re looking for a peek at what it’s about, here’s my current back-cover blurb!

Odysseus Wyatt Turner–Wyatt to his friends, of which there aren’t many–is lost at sea, stuck at a dead-end job with no prospects and no future. But that’s about to change when he gets a letter from far-off Ithaca, New York, informing him that his estranged father has died and left him something in his will. Wyatt knows he has to act fast, or risk having whatever that something is yanked away by the rest of his no-good, selfish, greedy family.

His solution: enlist a motley crew, including his aloof ex-girlfriend, his surfer bro best friend, and a driver who’s only in it for himself for a wild, wacky road trip across the country to claim what’s rightfully his. They’ll face many obstacles on their sometimes perilous, sometimes hilarious, and always ridiculous journey into the heart of America, including a grudge-bearing gang of women bikers who want Wyatt’s inheritance for themselves. What they all find at the end of the trip may be much different than they expected.

Yes, that’s right–in case any of you are reading about this project for the first time, this novel is an adult contemporary story that’s in many ways a modern-day retelling of Homer’s Greek epic, The Odyssey. It’s been one of my favorite books for a very long time, ever since I first read it in middle school and was fascinated by Odysseus and his adventures.

 

But that’s not to say you can’t enjoy this novel without reading The Odyssey first–as far as retellings go, I admittedly took a LOT of liberties with the script on this one. For me, there’s two big selling points for this story. One, unlike pretty much everything else I’ve ever written, there are NO fantastical or mythological elements of any kind (other than a little reference drop here and there). All the mythical creatures and otherworldly places portrayed in The Odyssey have been adapted into believable, real-life counterparts–some a bit closer to the source material than others, but being creative is half the fun! And two, this story deals with some very real issues facing young 20-somethings like myself and the main characters, including depression, cynicism, a lack of good jobs, family problems, and the value of friendship.

If all that didn’t sell you, maybe this will: with my full second draft done, that means I’m in the stage now where I’ll be needing some beta-readers! If you’d like to check out a fun new retelling of a Greek classic and have your suggestions and feedback taken into account on my eventual rewrites, drop me a line via email, Facebook, Twitter, or anyplace you can get a hold of me and I’ll send my manuscript along for you to read.

Thank you in advance for all your help. It’s only with your support that I’m able to continue to grow and develop as a writer and increase my following. I really hope you enjoy the book!

“The Showstopper!” is Back!

“Welcome back, my friends, to the show that never ends. We’re so glad you could attend. Come inside, come inside…”

–Emerson, Lake, and Palmer

Hi, all you readers and fans! I’m coming at you today with a really big announcement: as of Friday, June 28, my first novel The Showstopper! is coming back, and it’s better than ever.

Allow me to explain…

A while back, the self-publishing platform I’ve been using on Amazon went through a few changes, and as such I had to reformat and resubmit some elements of my two published books. It’s been a while since I wrote both of them–especially The Showstopper!, which I first published back in 2014–and I feel like through my own personal writing and publishing journey, along with joining an MFA program for creative writing, I’ve grown a lot since then. However, I’m still basically in love with the stories I created–they just needed a little tune-up and attention. And since I’m self-published and the books need updates anyway, why not take a little look back through them and give them a face-lift while I’m at it?

My other self-published novel, Camp Ferguson, is currently undergoing the same process. But the great news here is that The Showstopper! is now available in its new, edited form on Amazon via print and Kindle versions! If you’re not familiar, here’s a little teaser…

The time is 1922. The place is New York City–specifically, on Broadway: where the days are short, and the nights are long and filled with every kind of entertainment you can imagine. But all is not well in this dazzling, decadent world. A masked criminal is stalking the streets and haunting the theaters, leaving disaster in his wake. No stage production is safe from his devious methods of sabotage.

In the opinion of janitor Tom Wilkins, the snobbish actors and managers surrounding him are getting exactly what they deserve at the hands of the vigilante known only as “the Showstopper.” But a chance encounter will soon plunge him into a deadly game of cat and mouse against a madman whose goal is nothing less than the total destruction of Broadway and all of its inhabitants. Caught in the whirlwind along with a beautiful young actress, a refined gentleman theater owner, and a rookie Irish police officer, Wilkins will have to use all his skills to expose the mastermind behind the curtain pulling all of their strings, before the lights go out on show business–and his own life–forever.

The Showstopper! blends a bunch of my favorite genres, including historical fiction, crime/detective, mystery, thriller, and even fantasy/superhero into a darkly entertaining journey behind the curtain of the world of 1920s New York City, and the world of theater in particular, with edge-of-your-seat action and a plot twist that’s sure to blow you away. If this sounds like your cup of tea (or illegal, prohibited whiskey), pick up a copy on Amazon! I’d greatly appreciate all the readers I can get, both new and old, and I’d love to hear all of your feedback.

Feel free to share this wherever and with whomever you’d like, and as always, thank you for your support!

P.S. Unlike most of my books, The Showstopper! wasn’t created with a definitive soundtrack in mind–just the usual Glenn Miller and other stylings of the 1920s. But if there was ever to be a theme song for this novel, I refer you to the above lyric and “Karn Evil #9: 1st Impression”.

“You’ve gotta see the show, it’s a dynamo. You’ve gotta see the show–it’s rock and roll!”

Enjoy, and break a leg!

Writing Update and 3,000 Follower Giveaway!

Wow, it’s been a while, huh?

Anyway…hi everyone! And thanks as always for reading. I’ve got a rather large announcement concerning another follower giveaway to get to, but first, I’ll give you a brief update on the state of my writing. I promise I won’t ramble on too much!

So since you last heard from me, I’ve completed my second semester of grad school, and I’m currently taking summer classes and assisting with administrative jobs at school to occupy these couple of months between semesters. In the fall I plan on taking a few more courses, especially since I’m not a double degree student in creative writing AND publishing–I figured since I’m here anyway, why not? One of those fall courses will be a workshop for novel writing, and this is where my most recent project comes in.

Over the past several months, I’ve (almost) completed a rough draft of a brand-new work: it’s a realistic fiction retelling, set in the modern day and contemporary U.S., of the Greek classic The Odyssey. I love The Odyssey and have always been dying to do a retelling of some kind because it’s so ripe for parody and satire–my version features Odysseus Wyatt Turner (everyone calls him Wyatt), my moody, cynical, down-on-his-luck 25-year-old protagonist, learning his estranged father has died in far-off Ithaca, New York, and has left him something in his will. Believing it’s a fat stack of cash that could turn his dead-end life around, Wyatt drafts his genial best friend, his reluctant ex-girlfriend, and a shady driver to form a motley crew with which he intends to road-trip across the country and get to Ithaca to claim his fortune. It’s a complicated journey involving many obstacles–including Polly, head of an all-female biker gang with a major bone to pick with the main characters, friction between the characters, and Wyatt himself. What they all find at the end of their journey may not be at all what they set out to find.

Sound interesting? I hope so! I think this will be the first book I attempt to traditionally publish–after it goes through a few years of this program, workshopping, beta-reading, and revising first. Right now I’m taking a bit of time off from new writing to focus on revising my already self-published works, The Showstopper! and Camp Ferguson. Then I’ll be readying the second book in the Camp Ferguson series, Jack Ferguson Strikes Back, for publication. After that, I’ll be finishing off my current WIP–which I’m tentatively calling The Road to Ithaca–to have it ready for workshopping in the fall. It’ll be a busy summer, but I’m confident I can do it! Oh, and for you Camp Ferguson fans, Jack Ferguson Strikes Back is due out by the end of the year. Stay tuned!

Okay, now that that’s all over with, here’s the big news: I’m at 3,000 Twitter followers and climbing! I still honestly can’t believe it. I thought 2,000 was huge, but this is even better. Once again, I’m extending a sincere and heartfelt thank-you to all the friends I’ve made on social media and all my fellow writers who’ve taken an interest in my work and supported me however they can. You’re all the best. And in that spirit, I’m going to combine my first two giveaway ideas into one giant gift-fest!

For the winner of my 3,000 follower giveaway, not only will you get a signed copy of both my currently-published books (The Showstopper! and Camp Ferguson), but I’ll also be reading some of your work, too. Send me whatever you’d like: some poems, a short piece, a chapter from a manuscript–the length and content is negotiable, but I’d like it not to be too long. Then, I’ll make a video and upload it publicly of me reading your stuff in my best dramatic fashion! I’m no actor, but I love doing this stuff and I think the first time turned out pretty well. If you want to take a look at what I mean, the link to my 2,000 follower giveaway reading is here!

This is really just a small repayment for all you’ve done for me, but I hope it’s an enjoyable one! Remember, a like or a retweet will earn you one entry each into the winner drawing: do both, and that’s two chances to win! So share and like as much as you want. Your chances get better each time you do!

Thanks everyone! I’m looking forward to hearing from you, and getting to share some of your work with the world.

Movie Review: Captain Marvel

I know it’s been quite a while since I did a movie review, but you know how it is: life just gets in the way. Between school, work, karate, and all the other things I do, going and sitting in a theater for several hours just hasn’t fit into my agenda. This past week though I finally got a prime opportunity to see, and talk about, a movie that’s still current and timely. Of course I’m talking about none other than the latest MCU blockbuster, Captain Marvel.

In this film, which takes place long before most other inclusion in the MCU (1995 to be exact), Vers, an elite soldier of the alien Kree Empire, is captured by the Skrulls (whom the Kree are at war with), and crash-lands on Earth. While awaiting rescue by the rest of her team, she learns the shape-shifting Skrulls have infiltrated Earth and the planet will likely be destroyed by the Kree. This brings her into contact with then low-level SHIELD agent Nick Fury, who she teams up with to stop both the Skrulls and the Kree from destroying the planet–while at the same time going on a journey of self-discovery that reveals to her she is actually long-lost human pilot Carol Danvers, with powers that rival anything in the known universe.

First of all, let’s just acknowledge that this movie had a little hype surrounding it. And by a little, I mean A LOT. Seriously, it was crazy. And honestly, the trailers made it look pretty awesome. But does the actual Captain Marvel film live up to its illustrious reputation?

Umm–kind of?

Look, I won’t deny that this was a fun movie. I certainly didn’t check my watch during the whole runtime and I was pretty engrossed in the action, of which there was plenty. It filled in some plot holes in the MCU, like where the heck the Tesseract has been for the last 50-plus years if humans had it since the original Captain America movie. Come to think of it, there’s a lot of captains in Marvel, aren’t there? So is Carol Danvers or Steve Rogers the superior officer? Just kidding, it’s Carol. No contest. I mean, come on. She single-handedly defeated a fleet of Kree warships and beat up her entire team of super-soldiers without breaking a sweat. She’s far and away the most powerful hero we’ve seen in the Marvel universe, with the possible exception of Doctor Strange (and that’s a whole different argument). So if you came to this movie looking for a good time and plenty of light-hearted humor combined with quippy one-liners and awesome CGI-laden fight sequences, you’ll probably have a good time.

Oh, and did you know this was a feminist movie? I sure didn’t. Also, that was sarcasm. Obviously one of the big selling points for Captain Marvel is that it’s headlined by a female superhero–a leading lady being a first for the MCU and a fine addition to what’s honestly a criminally male-stuffed lineup. Really, who else is there? Black Widow. Scarlet Witch. And Gamora! Oh wait, she’s dead. Yep, that’s pretty much it. Geez, Marvel. This much-needed injection of diversity into the MCU goes a long way toward solving that problem, making Carol Danvers the most powerful of the Avengers and also just a really fun character. Brie Larson did a fantastic job in this movie–with what she was given to work with. More on that in a second. But her attitude instantly endears her to the audience, as well as her struggle with balancing her cold, logical Kree warrior side and her emotional human identity–pretty much the crux character arc of the entire movie and a pretty thinly-veiled jab at how women are treated in society at large. With all the cultural shifts that are going on right now in this country and around the world, I think Captain Marvel couldn’t have come at a better time. A lot of young women seeing this movie are sure to be inspired, and Danvers serves as a pretty good role model with an understandable inner struggle. Seriously, Kree culture is pretty sexist if you ask me.

That said, all the feminist imagery in the movie can sometimes come off as–how do I put this?–heavy-handed. There’s certainly not much effort put into making the women-empowering message of the movie subtle. Not that there should be, at all! I’m just saying that sometimes when a story becomes more about making a social point and less about filling out its fictional world and characters, that’s were you can run into some problems–and it’s where Captain Marvel stumbles a bit. The big picture is there, but the details are missing. As great as it was seeing Samuel L. Jackson playing a younger, more carefree version of taciturn super-spy Fury, there’s not a whole lot of explanation put into why he lost his sense of humor between now and The Avengers (unless he’s bitter about the whole eye thing, which was hilariously underplayed). I also appreciated the movie’s pivot to the Kree being the real villains and the Skrulls being basically persecuted refugees (hey look, there’s another social commentary point!). Jude Law was criminally underutilized in his role as Carol’s mentor-turned-nemesis and was pretty much totally forgettable. And remember how Lee Pace made a big deal about how his stiff-as-a-board character Ronan from Guardians 1 was going to be delved more deeply into in this movie? Yeah, so much for that. Ronan was unfortunately just as snore-inducing as ever. And for someone who just found out her best friend is back from the dead, half-alien, and with superpowers, Lashana Lynch’s Maria Rambeau seems to be okay with it pretty fast. I’m not saying any of these actors were bad or it’s their fault some of these plot strings seemed contrived and uninspired. I’m just saying.

It didn’t feel like the movie went into a lot of trouble to fill out any characters other than Carol herself, and even that’s pretty questionable. I mean, for someone who believes she’s an interstellar alien warrior and superior to humans in every way, she takes the whole you’re-actually-one-of-us shocker pretty well, doesn’t she? Too well if you ask me. I just think the movie could have made a much bigger deal about her coming to terms with her identity and the struggle of logic vs. emotion, human vs. Kree if it really wanted to make a feminist point, instead of reverting to the much more ham-fisted tactic of her blasting Yon-Rogg through a mountain when he tried to mansplain her (which admittedly was a pretty awesome scene).

My Rating: 7/10

Look, after all that, please don’t get me wrong: I thought Captain Marvel was a good movie. Good, but not great. It was an engaging but ultimately rather uninspired addition to the Marvel universe that felt at times like it was just an extended prequel chapter to Avengers: Endgame. It was fun, but it didn’t feel like it brought anything new to the table that other MCU films before it hadn’t–other than a female lead, which was totally awesome. I respect that Captain Marvel was trying to be a movie of ideas with its heavy reliance of the plight of women and refugees, and just people who are different. I just think the whole thing could have been done with a little more art and finesse. It’s not even close to the worst Marvel film (that is solely forever the domain of Iron Man 2), but it’s not the best, either. I will say though that I look forward to seeing more of Danvers’s interaction with the other Avengers, and hopefully her taking charge in the fight against Thanos–based on Larson’s performance in this movie, that promises to be very rewarding indeed.

My 2,000 Follower Giveaway (Finally!)

Hi everyone! So I know at this point it’s been several months and I’m way behind the times, but I’ve been thinking a lot about what I wanted to do for a giveaway as I reach 2,000 followers on Twitter (I’m now up to over 2,300, so thanks guys!). When I hit 1,000 followers, I sent out a signed copy of both of my books to the winner, but this time, I wanted to do something a little more special. I just couldn’t figure out what.

But then it hit me! I actually can’t take all the credit for this because I’m borrowing the idea from someone else I saw on Twitter. I just thought it was so genius and fun that I had to give it a try. Not only is this giveaway about promoting me, but it’s also about promoting YOU and your work in a way that’s entertaining for everyone! I can’t think of a better way to thank the people who follow me and all the friends I’ve come to know.

So here’s how it’s going to work: for every like and retweet you give my posts about the contest on Twitter, I’ll add your name to the drawing once, so more likes and retweets means more chances to win! Then I’ll randomly pick the winner out of a hat, as it were, just like the last giveaway. But here’s where the difference lies: the winner I pick will get to send me some of THEIR work, whether it be a chapter of a story you’re writing, a poem or two, a short story, whatever. I don’t care if it’s published, from a work in progress, or anything like that–just as long as it’s something you want out there. Of course I reserve the right to screen for content and length, but I’m sure we can work something out. I know all your work and it’s fantastic!

Then–and this is the fun part–I’ll publish a pubic video of myself doing a dramatic reading of whatever you sent me, audiobook style. Not only will you get to see and hear me that way, but you’ll get to see and hear your work read aloud too. How cool is that? I promise I’ll make it as good a performance as I can–I did high school theater, you know. And of course I’ll make sure to credit you and share whatever information you want about how to find you, what you do, where it’s published, or what it’s from. Again, this is about helping YOU just as much as helping me.

Sound like your cup of tea? Or just a fun, goofy thing to try? Well that’s the point! Best of luck, and I hope to see a lot of you brilliant writers entering. Looking forward to finding a winner and getting to enjoy your work as much as you do!