Monday, December 12, 2011

Screenwriting

I've also done some screenwriting, and actually co-produced two ulta-low budget features based on my material. Here are links to the trailers for both movies, No Witness and Sex & Consequences (which was also released as Last Sunset and possibly First Offense). You may recognize some of the actors: Corey Feldman, Jeff Fahey and Michael Damian were in No Witness along with Marisa Petroro, who was one of the Deal or No Deal girls and has also been in episodes of TV shows like Las Vegas and Reno 911; Corbin Bernsen and Joan Severance were in Sex & Consequences.

No Witness

Sex & Consequences

Here is the Amazon.com page for my short story collection, Daydreams Undertaken: & Expanded & Revised.


Daydreams Undertaken: Expanded & Revised
Here is the Amazon.com page for the ebook edition of my novel, God Drug. The cover for the ebook edition is below, as is a link to a "book trailer" I had made by a friend of mine.

God Drug page on Amazon.com.
Here is the Amazon.com page for my ebook The Z-Files! An X-Files Parody. I love the cover!

The Z-Files! An X-Files Parody

Sunday, December 4, 2011

When Will the YA Fiction Bubble Burst?

The article in the LA Times only reinforces what many writers already know, that YA fiction is where it's at in publishing right now (and as source material for major motion picture, threatening to supplant comic books & graphic novels). As I write this I am 64,000 words into the first book of a YA sci-fi series. I hope to have a first draft completed before Christmas, and to have a final draft ready to submit some time in the Spring. Assuming that it turns out to be good enough for publication, I can't help but wonder if I am going to beat the inevitable bursting of the YA fiction bubble. It will burst eventually, of course; they always do. It's part of the nature of a bubble.

J.K. Rowling is the primary reason behind this bubble, although one can point to R.L. Stine as having had an incredibly impressive run; he didn't raise the tide, as it were, the way Rowling did. Following hard on the heels of Rowling, Stephanie Meyers managed to achieve a similar level of success with her Twilight books, and then Riordan's Percy Jackson series came along and kept the trend going...and then bam, along came The Hunger Games and reignited that same fervor that Harry Potter and the Twilight books ignited, albeit in a completely different manner.

I see the YA fiction bubble as part of a larger, more solid expansion of the audience for what I call "genre material," meaning sci-fi & fantasy and horror, superhero comic books and related areas. The way I see it, Harry Potter, the first Spider-Man movie, and the rise of manga were a trifecta that brought the genre world back from the brink of oblivion. One could definitely make the argument that games were the sole torch-bearers for the genre with an significant audience. However, here's my argument for why the three I picked are the reasons why we are seeing such successes as The Walking Dead, The Vampire Diaries (which has been around longer than most people realize), Twilight, the X-Men movies, the Batman movies, True Blood, the Iron Man movies, The Hunger Games, Percy Jackson, etc.

First, Harry Potter brought children back to fantasy. Until Harry Potter came along, most fantasy was what we in the field term "phat fantasy" books, massive tomes that made up even more massive series and, while officially some of them were "bestsellers" they did not contribute to raising the profile of the genre. However, Harry Potter brought kids back, and kids are the engines that drive the genre. They become familiar with fantasy tropes with Potter and then move on to other works, possibly even sci-fi and horror as they become teenagers and adults.

Second, the Spider-Man movie delivered what comic book fans had long been dreaming of: a cinematic portrayal of a super hero character that did not suffer from crappy special effects or a tragic misinterpretation of the character. Spider-Man opened up the movies for comics in a big way, and brought normal, non-comic book fans into the theaters to see something worth seeing on the big screen. It helped that the X-Men movies also delivered, as did the Iron Man movies and the first Batman movie...and then The Dark Knight hit a grand slam, forever giving comic book inspired movies a place in the realm of serious filmmaking. Yes, before Spider-Man there had been the Superman movies and the Batman movies of the 1990s, as well as Men in Black and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, but none of those managed to do what Spider-Man did, which was to bring his fellow super-heroes to the party with him.

Manga, which are essentially Japanese-style comic books, sneaked up on the American comic book scene, and soon were outselling regular comic books in the U.S. What made manga important, though, was the appeal it had as a "genre" to females. At one point, 60% of all manga sales were to females. This was unheard of in comics and related fields, such as sci-fi publishing. The influx of females changed everything. Suddenly, comic books went from a dying form of media to having a massive resurgence. Of course, Harry Potter also appealed to girls (starting younger), but manga created a real sea change in the business of comic books.

To me, these three things are what saved what I collectively call "the sci-fi genre" even though most of it is fantasy or "paranormal romance" or what have you. This does not discount the fact that other events helped bring fans in or keep fans loyal, sometimes arguably so, as in the second three Star Wars movies.

The question, to me, has to be: Is this all part of a big bubble that's now twenty-plus years old, or is it now part of the fabric of our national identity the way baseball, NASCAR, the assassination of John F. Kennedy, the Vietnam War, and the Space Race all were at one time or another? Even if the genre as a whole is, I still think the current boom in YA fiction, particularly YA "genre" fiction, is a bubble. It will pop eventually...but when?

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Reviews

I've been writing for long enough now that reviews don't have that big an effect on me. Oh, sure, I like seeing a good review, but I also like seeing more critical reviews (as long as they are insightful rather than simply mean-spirited or negative). Here are two reviews of short stories of mine that are available on AnthologyBuilder.com. I agree with both of them to varying degrees, actually, although I agree less with the review of 'Eschersketch' than the review of 'Tyche's World.'

Review of 'Tyche's World' here: http://anthologybuilder.com/blog/?p=292

Review of 'Eschersketch' here: http://anthobuilder.livejournal.com/53216.html

I've known writers who get all offended and up-in-arms over bad reviews (or rejections, for that matter...but that's for another post). I don't see the point. Nobody in the history of literature has ever written anything that everyone likes! My very first short story sale was reviewed as "embarrassing" because it was so bad. Obviously, the editor liked it well enough to buy it, but the reviewer disagreed.

A writer -- any artist, really -- has to be honest with himself (or herself) when it comes to their output. Despair can be part of the deal, especially when the artist is young and dreaming of grandeur but not quite achieving it.

As an artist you ultimately have only one person to please: yourself. If you like what you're doing enough to keep doing it, you come to realize that critiques and criticisms are merely tools you can use to continue to develop your art.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

My New YA Sci-Fi Novel

I've been remiss in keeping this blog up to date, but there are several reasons for that:

1) I got laid off in June, and have been focused on trying to find a job.
2) I've been taking classes at Georgia Perimeter College to get my prerequisites out of the way for my (planned) transfer to GA Tech.
3) Most importantly, I finished my novel, The Oracle Paradox, and sent it to an editor at Penguin Books, and started a new book, a YA sci-fi novel.

I'd been planning on writing a YA book for about a year, and to that end I read all the Harry Potter books, the Hunger Games trilogy, the Percy Jackson series and even the Twilight books. I feel like I got a pretty good look at what makes a YA book successful with those works. I also quizzed the kids of friends of mine (they're all readers) to get some idea about what draws them in and makes them want to keep reading. Of course, I realize that I need to write my book so it appeals to grown-up editors, too, but that's a completely different challenge.

I had in mind a different book than the one I am working on now, a fantasy along the lines of what I imagined Michael Moorcock might write if he were writing for the YA market. However, I had been having trouble with that particular idea, and it was languishing. So, I decided to try something else. A sudden inspiration to combine elements for a comic book idea I had been developing with elements from a science fiction story I was writing presented me with what I think is an awesome idea for a YA sci-fi series.

I started writing it in July and am now eleven chapters in, having passed the 35,000 word mark. It is going well, although of course it will require a solid rewrite, but I am not going to worry about that now. I plan to press through and crank out a first draft without looking back. I think it will be complete and ready to submit to agents or publishers by the end of the year!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Ebook Sales Top Paperback Sales

This is one of the reasons I've decided to publish my book solely as ebooks!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

My process for transitioning to ebook publishing: Helpful Guides

THE NEWBIE'S GUIDE TO PUBLISHING is the first book I got to help me decide whether or not to transition to ebook publishing of my own stuff. Packed full of information by its author, J.A. Konrath, himself a successful author both in print and in ebooks.

FORMAT YOUR EBOOK FOR KINDLE IN ONE HOUR has very practical, useful information for doing just that.

BECOMING AN INDIE AUTHOR is a well-written book by another successful ebook author, Zoe Winters. Goes beyond ebooks to print-on-demand, which is something I'm less interested in, but nice to have the info available.

Using 99Designs.com for my X-Files parody ebook cover design.

If this works, I will use 99Designs.com for my other ebooks, too. I have 3 more right away, and another probably by the end of the year.
99Designs.com Design Contest for THE Z-FILES! AN X-FILES PARODY.