Saturday, March 30, 2013

DLC Quest

If you're a gamer, you're probably painfully aware of the fact that the video game industry has adopted the practice of overusing DLC, which is short for downloadable content. You buy the base game, and then, either on the day the game releases, or scattered throughout the following months, the developers add content to the game, allowing you to run new missions or get new weapons or stuff like that. For example, in Mass Effect 3, we have the following DLC packs that have been released (some for free, some for up to $15 a pop):

  • Alternate Appearance Pack 1
  • Leviathan
  • Extended Cut
  • Reckoning
  • Citadel
  • Groundside Resistance Pack
  • Omega
  • Firefight Pack
  • Retaliation
  • Earth
  • Rebellion
  • Resurgence
  • From Ashes
Somehow, typing that list out made me more depressed, although to be fair, the vast majority are free multiplayer upgrades.

Regardless,  the inclusion of DLC has a lot of players steamed. And where there's anger, comedy quickly follows. Enter Going Loud Studios' DLC Quest where everything is DLC.

You start as an 8-bit character. You have no animation, no sound, and you can only move to the right. As you move, you collect coins in the game and meet up with a shopkeeper, one who will sell you the DLC necessary to rescue a kidnapped princess. So you buy the ability to move in every direction. You buy the ability to double-jump. You buy everything you need to actually play the game as microtransactions. And along the way, there are ridiculous jokes about current gaming trends, other popular game titles (such as my beloved Mass Effect games), and even more DLC.

When I bought the game on Steam, it also came with an expansion called "Live Freemium or Die." All told, playing the whole game took me about two hours. It's not a lot of time, but I was laughing out loud through most of it.

If you're a gamer and you're not happy with the current trajectory of gaming when it comes to DLC, this is a good game to check out. And hey, it's only like three bucks. Not a bad deal!

Friday, March 29, 2013

FFF Part III -- Something's Rotten in Garretsburg

Professor Veronica Weathers, after being told by the police that they couldn't investigate the disappearance of four college students without further evidence, headed to their last known location. In the little town of Garretsburg, she couldn't find anyone who would admit to seeing them, but she did find an empty suitcase in the local motel's dumpster. She also found a camera bag in the woods with a tag on it, identifying it as belonging to one of the students.

Veronica is back in her office and wants to document what she's found. She shows the camera she found, along with the portable hard drive. She reveals that there were dozens of videos taken around the time that Staci called her cell phone with her frantic voice mail. Veronica has uploaded all of the files onto the department server and she's going to start going through them...

We cut to the first entry and get our first look at Staci Fowler. She's around 20 years old, perky and nice looking. She's seated on a couch in a dorm room, one that obviously belongs to a guy. She smiles at the camera and teases someone she calls Leon about finally getting it working. Leon, who remains off camera, mocks her back.

"At least now I can get to work on my film studies final project," he says. "But now I have to come up with something to actually film." He zooms in on Staci. "Wanna make movies with me?"

Staci smirks but then says, "Actually, I have an idea about that. You know I have that big journalism project coming up, right? Why don't we team up and do a documentary?"

Leon makes a fake snoring sound. Staci picks up a pillow and throws it at Leon.

"Seriously, though, a documentary on what? Isn't your project supposed to be about politics?"

Staci nods. "Exactly. There's this girl in my econ class. The other day, she was telling me about some crazy stuff that happened in this town she lived in a while back. It sounded like the perfect thing to investigate. What do you say?"

"I don't know," Leon says. "I mean, yeah, I'm supposed to put together a movie, but a documentary? That sounds like a lot of work."

"Oh," Staci says. "That's too bad. Because you know, I asked Bethany to help us on the project and she seemed excited. Just think. The two of you would probably have to spend some time alone together."

"Oh, come on! That's not fighting fair, and you know it!"

Staci smiles. "So what do you say?"

Leon sighs. "Fine. What do we do first?"

"Let's go interview the girl from my econ class and get the story from her."

The footage cuts to another college-aged girl. We catch our first glimpse of Leon as he clips a microphone to her her shirt. Leon is also twenty years old, a little on the pudgy side and definitely average as far as looks are concerned. He then steps around behind the camera again.

Staci's voice comes from off camera. "Okay, Lisa, we're just going to talk about that story you told me in econ, okay?"

Lisa takes a deep breath and nods. She then starts to tell her story, with Staci interjecting questions from time to time:

"Several years ago, my family moved to this little town called Garretsburg. It seemed like a nice enough place at first, very friendly. You know, typical small town.

"My dad, he's an avid hiker and he couldn't find any trails or anything nearby. But there was this large wooded property  right outside of town. It was a couple of acres with some old rundown buildings in it. Dad thought that it would be perfect as a park. He had some money my gram left him, so he tried to track down the owners to see if they'd be willing to sell it.

"The weird thing is, no on in town seemed to know who the land belonged to. They all knew about it, but whenever Dad would ask about it, he got what he called the royal run-around. He finally found out that the land belonged to the city. He offered to buy it, but the mayor wouldn't even talk to him. When he tried to track down the records about the land, he found out that they had disappeared. Not only that, but the mayor was becoming really rude to him.

"So when the next election came around, Dad decided to run for mayor. But that wasn't easy. He said it was like everyone in city hall was against him. They lost his paperwork three different times. His lawn signs kept disappearing. The town newspaper kept misspelling his name.

"Then, when the election was held, the old mayor won in a landslide, which Dad thought was fishy. Sure, he knew he had an uphill battle, but based on what the newspaper reported, it sounded like no one voted for him at all. Dad thought maybe the election was rigged, and so he started making noise about contacting the state's Attorney General's office. That's when the sheriff stopped by and 'suggested' that Dad take it easy.

"Two nights later, our house burned down. Strange thing is, none of the smoke alarms went off. Dad took it as a sign that we should just forget about it and get out of town.

"So there you go. That's my story."

The camera swings around to Staci. "Sounds like there's something rotten in Garretsburg. I think we should go find out what."

Keep the comments coming. I know this was another "wall of text" scene, but it will get better. I hope. LOL!

Thursday, March 28, 2013


It had been a while since I've been to the dystopian future that Veronica Roth created in Divergent, but I finally got a copy of Insurgent for my Kindle for Christmas. I finally managed to eke out some time to actually read it to find out what happened to Tris and Tobias.

In some ways, the hiatus left me a little confused. I could barely remember where I had left off. I vaguely remembered something about Tris switching factions to become Dauntless. I knew something bad happened toward the end of the first book. So when I was dumped back into futuristic Chicago with very little by way of introduction, I'll admit that I floundered.

But it's a testament to Veronica Roth's abilities that I didn't care. Once again, the characters came to life and drew me into their story as the Dauntless tried to take on the Erudite. Tris learns more about Tobias's family and about herself, leading up to a dramatic conclusion that left me ready for the last book.

I know that I'm a little late to the game and I also know that YA dystopian books are all the rage. But Veronica Roth's are the best of the best. You would do well to check them out.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Let's talk Prom!

This last Saturday, I hosted a release party for Failstate: Legends. As a result, I didn't post my usual "Let's talk..." column about the new book. So I'm making up for it a little late. But instead of talking Legends, let's talk about prom.

More specifically, what happens when a superhero goes to the prom?

While I was editing Legends, I realized something kind of embarrassing. There was a continuity glitch between the two books. Not a major one, mind you, but it was enough to make me realize that I had left a major thread dangling, one that I felt had to be tied off. But doing so in Legends would take up a lot of space and, I realized, it wouldn't really contribute much to that book.

What to do, what to do?

Well, I decided that I would write a short story to help bridge the two books. It could deal with that loose thread and provide a little fun.

Thus Gauntlet Goes to Prom was born. It's not very long, approximately 44 pages, but it helps bridge the two books. I had a lot of fun writing it and I had a lot of fun working with Carlo and Kat, the artists who created the covers for the books. And now I'm glad to say that for a little while longer, it's FREE to download from Amazon.

But it won't stay free for long.

So if you want to see what happens when a superhero goes to the prom, be sure to click on over to Amazon and pick this up.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

The Extroverted Writer

In the interest of fairness, I'll just get this out of the way up front. Amanda Luedeke is my literary agent. She's a big part of the reason that I'm published and she's great at what she does. What makes her unique is that before she became a literary agent, she was a marketer, a subject that usually gets most authors tied up in knots. For a while now, Amanda has been doing regular posts on marketing at Chip MacGregor's blog. Well, now she's gathered all of that advice together in one easy-to-read place: The Extroverted Writer: An Author's Guide to Marketing and Building a Platform. It's a short book, easy to read, and easy to digest.

Amanda covers a diverse range of topics, like how to use Facebook or Twitter efficiently, what you should blog about, and what should be on a website. Unlike a lot of marketing books, this isn't just empty cheerleading, she gives practical advice with good suggestions on what to do.

If you're an author, either published or not-quite-there-yet, this is a good resource for you to have. I'm sure you'll get a lot out of it. Although you may not have the experience of hearing Amanda's voice in your head while you're reading it. LOL!

Friday, March 22, 2013

FFF Part II -- Retracing Staci's Steps

When we left off last, Professor Veronica Weathers had received a frantic voicemail message from one of her students, Staci Fowler. Staci had been on the trail of some sort of expose when she and several of her friends disappeared. The message made it sound like Staci was being hunted by someone in a town called Garretsburg.

We pick up with Veronica driving in her car. She has her video camera going on her dashboard. She explains that she tried calling the police to let them know what she had heard. Unfortunately, that turned out to be a dead end. The police contacted their counterparts in Garretsburg and were told that everything was fine. Without further evidence, they couldn't do anything.

So now, Veronica took it upon herself to dig up that evidence. She's heading to Garretsburg with a camera of her own to see what she can find. Maybe she'll be able to find something that will get the police to act.

Next we see small snippets of her arrival in Garretsburg. It's a small town, a population of about 4,000. There are deep woods outside the town, a brick church near the downtown, a few pleasant parks. There's only one motel to speak of. Veronica goes there first. While filming, she goes to the front desk with a picture of Staci. She asks the attendant if Staci stayed at the motel. The clerk barely glances at the picture but informs Veronica that no one has stayed at the motel recently. Veronica presses the clerk, but she insists that Veronica leave.

Veronica does, but she goes around to the back of the motel and finds a dumpster. She sets the camera aside and sifts through some of the trash. She quickly finds what she's looking for, namely a bag with a tag that has Staci's name on it. The contents of the bag are missing.

Vernoica sets out with her camera into Garretsburg. She shows Staci's picture to some folks in the local diner and asks if they've seen Staci or her friends. Everyone claims to have not seen them, but there's an underlying tension to the townsfolk. It's clear that they don't appreciate this outsider asking questions. When Veronica goes out to a local park to ask some of the mothers gathered at the playground, she spots the sheriff's car parked a block away and it's clear that she's being watched.

Most of the mothers at the playground ignore her, but one little boy seems ready to help. He claims to have seen Staci and her friends and says that they got themselves into trouble. When Veronica asks where they went, the boy claims to not know but says that if she goes out of town and finds the "bad place," she might find what she's looking for. One of the mom's shouts and the boy runs away, along with the rest of the kids.

Veronica gets in her car and drives to the edge of town in the direction the boy pointed. She finds a dense woods and goes in, wondering aloud how she's going to find this "bad place." But then, she spots something in the underbrush. She brushes away some dirt and dead leaves and discovers it's a camera bag. The tag marks it as belonging to Leon Johnson, one of the missing college students. She opens it and discovers that the videocamera is in there, along with a portable hard drive. She pulls it out of the ground and gets back in her car. She drops the camera on the dash, revealing that the sheriff is right behind her. She throws her car into drive and roars away. The sheriff follows her for a while until she manages to lose him on the freeway. She wonders what she'll find when she gets the camera back to her office.

So what will she find? Come back next Friday to see what Leon's camera reveals.

Oh, and thanks for the comments! I like the fact that people are thinking about how this could be filmed best. I'll be honest, I really don't think this will ever get put on film. I don't have the technical know-how to do so. But I'll be even more honest and say that I briefly considered starting something on Kickstarter. LOL!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Wordcount Wednesday

As I announced last week, I've taken a break from Failstate #3. Instead, I've spent the last week sifting through my old friend Numb, cleaning up the text so we can hopefully do some advance reader copies. It's been interesting revisiting this one. It took me a while to get going, but I think I've done pretty good. As of right now, I've made it through 153 pages out of 330. Not too bad.

Hopefully I'll have this one done in the next few days. Then it's back to Failstate #3's first draft.

And now I have to get off the computer and get some sleep. I seem to be coming down with some sort of cold and that's not good, especially since the Failstate: Legends launch party is this Saturday. Even if you can't be there in person, there are details in the Facebook invite about how you can join us via Ustream.

Good night, all.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Let's Talk Title!

As I promised last week, I'll share the story of where Failstate: Legends's title came from. It's a tale that's filled with mystery, heartbreak, and a little salsa.

Okay, not really. But it was a stumper for a long time.

See, I hate titles. Either I have an idea right away for a book or story's title or I have no idea what to call it. That latter was the case for Legends when I first got started. I kept working on it, hoping that at some point, a word or phrase would magically fall into my lap. That didn't happen. For a long time, when I was discussing this book with my wife, it was simply known as "Failstate #2." Not the most inspiring of titles.

Eventually what I did was sit down one night and write down every name that occurred to me. No judgment on quality, just different possible titles. I knew I wanted it to be "Failstate-colon-something-or-other." So I came up with a list of about a dozen titles or so.

Then I went to my colleagues at Marcher Lord Press. I shared a back-cover copy of the book, along with my list of possible after-the-colon subtitles. A bunch of the titles got rejected outright, including a few that I really liked (I don't remember what they were, so I guess it was a good thing in the long run).

The one we landed on was "Legends," partially because Failstate is striving to establish his own legend, and also because . . . well. Hmmmmm. How to do this without spoilers? Let's just say that he encounters some living legends along the way.

So there we go. It's not the most exciting of stories, but that's where the title came from.

If you have any questions for me, be sure to leave them in the comments. Otherwise, I'll be stuck trying to come up with questions on my own. And we wouldn't want that.

Friday, March 15, 2013

FFF Part 1 -- Staci's Gone Missing

Time to start writing my really bad found footage horror movie. I don't have a title for this. I have no idea where this is going. I don't know how long this series might last. But that's not going to stop me.

So let's get started!

Our untitled movie opens with news footage talking about how a professor and four students have gone missing from New Belton University. Professor Howard Erickson holds a press conference, explaining that he thinks his colleague, journalism professor Veronica Weathers, and the students were victims of foul play. He claims that he has evidence of this. When the local police chief is asked about this evidence, he dismisses it as a hoax.

Cut to an interview with Professor Erickson. He explains that he received an odd e-mail one evening from Weathers, claiming that she had uploaded some video footage into the department server and that it had to do with four New Belton students who had missed classes for several days. Erickson said he retrieved the footage and it disturbed him enough that he called the police. Now that the police have dismissed his concerns, he's put the footage together as best he could and now he's releasing it to the public in hopes that someone will be able to shed some light on what happened.

We cut to an image of Veronica Weathers. She's a nice looking middle aged woman. She's obviously set up a camera to record herself talking. She explains that she's a journalism professor at New Belton. She goes on to talk about how she's concerned about one of her students, a young lady named Staci Fowler. Staci is a promising student with aspirations for being a political reporter. Several weeks ago, Staci approached Weathers, asking for advice on how to do a big expose. Staci didn't go into details at the time, but she claimed to be on the trail of a story that could help make her mark before she's even graduated from college. Weathers says that she humored Staci at the time but thought that her student was exaggerating.

Then Staci and three of her friends left campus. Several days later, Weathers received an ominous voice mail message from Staci. Weathers pulls out her phone and plays the message for the camera.

At first, we don't hear anything, just rustling and what might be heavy breathing. But then, we hear the gasps and sobs of a young woman crying. "Dr. Weathers? It's Staci. We went to Garretsburg anyway, and now . . . I don't know what happened. Cynthia is dead and . . ." A burst of static drowns out her words. When they come back, she's crying harder. "We should never have come here. The sheriff is in on it." Another burst of static. "He's after me now and I don't know if---"

The line goes dead. Weathers explains that she looked it up on the map. Garretsburg is a small community to the north of New Belton, so she's planning on going up there to see what she can find out.

Want to know what Weathers finds in Garretsburg? Come back next week to see. And if you like what you're reading, be sure to let folks know what I'm up to. The more the merrier.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Wordcount Wednesday

Ever have one of those days? I've been having one of those days for the last three months or so. Okay, so that's a bit pessimistic. At the least, it's been one of those weeks. Unfortunately, I had a hard time getting it out of first when it came to writing. As a result, I didn't get a lot added to Failstate #3.

As of right now, Failstate #3 weighs in at 22,248 words, meaning I added 4,980 words over the past week.That may seem like a lot, but I think most of that was added at a writing retreat I was at today.

And, truth be told, I'm not sure if I'll be able to add that much in the coming weeks either. I realized I need to start work on an old story, the one that prompted me to start Wordcount Wednesday in the first place. It's been almost four years since I started it, but Numb is going to be published by Marcher Lord Press this fall. Thing is, I (hopefully) have grown a bit since I wrote that, so at the prompting of my publisher, I'm going to do a sweep through it to see if I can polish it up even more.

So Failstate #3 might be put on hold for a few days so I can do that edit sweep. But once that's done, I'm intending to crack down and get #3 finished.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Angel Eyes

So I'd been hearing a lot of buzz about Shannon Dittemore's Angel Eyes. The Christian Science Fiction and Fantasy Blog Tour, of which I used to be a member, did this book recently. So I decided I should check this one out and see what it's all about.

The story is about Brielle Matthews, a young woman who has been pretty much forced to move back home to the small town of Stratus. Brielle had left town to be a dancer and a model, but a tragedy around her best friend Ali has forced her to return home. She's haunted by the guilt of Ali's death and, as a result, feels perpetually cold.

But then she meets Jake Shield, the new kid in town. Jake practically radiates heat. At first, Brielle doesn't want anything to do with him . . . or anyone else, for that matter. But Jake is persistent. He's always around, offering his heat and maybe more.

Pretty soon, in spite of herself, Brielle finds herself warming to the mysterious Jake. And a good thing too. Because without realizing it, Brielle has stumbled into a dangerous situation, one that stretches from this world into one that can only be seen by angel eyes.

Okay, I'll say this up front. I thought the chapters told from Brielle's perspective were really great. The prose was almost poetic. And the dialogue was great also. Dittemore was extremely creative in the way that she put this story together and the way she portrayed spiritual warfare.

And yet . . .

And yet this is another spiritual warfare book, angels taking on demons in unseen realms. It's ground that's been covered before. Yes, Dittemore adds some interesting twists to it, but it didn't really make me sit up and take notice.

There were also some sections of very lengthy dialogue (more like monologues) that kind of threw me. And this may sound harsh, but Brielle as a character kind of bugged me. It's almost like she was just a whisker shy of crossing over the border into being conceited. Or not. I'm not sure what it was about her, but I had a hard time relating to her.

This isn't to say that it's a bad book. Not at all. A lot of people have read it and really enjoyed it. Perhaps I'm too old and the wrong gender. Whatever the case, it was good, but I'm not lining up to purchase the next book in the series. Maybe some day, but not when I've got somewhere around 50+ books in my to-be-read pile and waiting on my Kindle.

Saturday, March 09, 2013

Let's Talk Legends!

Last week, I announced the release of Failstate: Legends, the sequel to my debut novel. I also promised that I would tell some stories about the writing of this book and answer any questions that you might have. Well, a question arrived from my website's e-mail from Christina:

The question is: Zombies?
I'm not too certain about having things like that in my books.I Mean, reanimated brain-eating corpses? that is something that makes me more than a bit uncomfortable. Especially in christian fiction.
What are your thoughts on paranormal (Namely Zombies) in christian speculative fiction?
Thanks for the question, Christina!

Actually, it's funny. This wasn't my first idea for a sequel for Failstate. I tossed around a few ideas with Jeff Gerke, the phenomenal publisher of Marcher Lord Press, and Amanda Luedeke, my excellent agent. It was Amanda who first suggested the zombies and, I'll admit, I was a little hesitant. I mean, zombies are hot right now, as evidenced by the popularity of The Walking Dead, Warm Bodies (both as a book and in the recent movie that I haven't seen yet), World War Z (again, both as a book and a movie that no one has seen yet), plus video games that I've played like Plants vs. Zombies and Left 4 Dead 2. I could keep going, but you get the idea. Zombies are hot right now.

I think part of my initial hesitation on this was that I didn't want to be seen as trend-following. That's never a good idea for authors, especially since by the time most writers hop on board the bandwagon, it's moved on to something different. But the more I talked with Amanda, the more I liked the idea. I started playing with how it might all play out for Failstate and what it could mean for the series. And I came to love the idea.

But I know, Christina, that that doesn't completely answer your question. I guess my answer is, why not?

That may sound flippant, and I don't mean for it to. But Christian speculative fiction in recent years has been pushing the envelope a little in regards to the subjects that we're willing to portray and explore. For example, a few years ago, it would have been taboo to portray dragons as anything other than harbingers of evil, especially given the role a dragon plays in the book of Revelation. But then Bryan Davis and Donita K. Paul wrote books that had dragons as the heroes and it worked. The same could be said for magic. Given the hue and outcry among some circles at the Harry Potter books, you'd think that Christians should never do anything with magic. But again, some Christian authors have woven magical systems into their books and made them work well.

And really, the concept of zombies is actually pretty Biblical, if you think about it. And I'm not talking about resurrection stories, like the widow of Nain's son or the saints who were raised on Good Friday. Instead, I'm talking about the on-going zombie apocalypse that we have going on around us right now. If we take Ephesians 2:1-4 and Colossians 2:13 seriously, then those who are without Christ are dead. And yet they still get up, walk around, and go about their business like they're alive. You could say that we're surrounded by zombies in need of new life right now. Not only that, but if you take John 10:28 seriously, then that means that there are people who are physically dead and yet still alive. Both of those situations sound a little like zombies to me. All of these ideas are explored in two very excellent books, Night of the Living Dead Christian by Matt Mikalatos and Undead: Revived, Resuscitated, and Reborn by Clay Morgan.

So ultimately, I'd say that using zombies, if done from a Biblical perspective (which I've tried to do; I leave it to my readers to tell me how well I've done), is fair game. So long as we don't compromise the message of the Gospel, that Jesus is the one who gives us true life that cannot end, we're good.

Christina also had one other question:

And when is your Failstate mini novella coming out? It will be out in paperback right?

I am still working on getting the mini-novella out. There are some final details to be hammered out, but once those are taken care of, it'll be out as an ebook via Amazon. I believe that eventually it might be available as a paperback, because I think that Amazon is doing print-on-demand for their Kindle books, but I don't know for sure.

So there we go! Next week, I'll talk about where the title came from. That is, unless someone wants to hijack the discussion with a question!

But before I go, two bits of business. First of all, I'm holding a Failstate: Legends Giveaway on Goodreads that will end on my birthday. That's right, it'll be my birthday, but you could be the one getting the present!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Failstate by John W. Otte


by John W. Otte

Giveaway ends April 10, 2013.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter to win
Pretty good odds so far.

Also, in two weeks, I'll be having a launch party for the book. If you're in the Twin Cities area, I'd love to see you there! But even if you're not, you can participate via Ustream. We'll be broadcasting it live!

So see you all later, and happy reading!

Friday, March 08, 2013

Freaky Fun Friday

This past Tuesday, I made a promise on my Facebook author page. To wit:

Well, I kept my promise about resurrecting Wordcount Wednesdays, so now I have one more promise to keep. Welcome to Freaky Fun Friday, a miniseries that will officially start next Friday and continue until . . . well, until I run out of what I want to do with it. I have no idea how this is going to work.

Maybe I should back up and explain what I'm up to here.

When I was in college, I tried my hand at writing screenplays. I wrote a grand total of three. One was a knock off of The Boys from Brazil, where a creepy cult cloned their dead founder not once but twice (and the second time, turned her into a girl. Don't ask. It made sense at the time). The second was a mash up of "Romeo and Juliet" and Enemy Mine (out of the three, this one is the one I'm still proud of). The third was an abysmal romantic "comedy" about an angel sent to date a guy and make him more of a catch for women. Seriously.

Anyway, I eventually returned to the world of "serious literature," i.e. stories of superheroes fighting zombies, because I figured I didn't know the first thing about selling a screenplay, let alone filming one. But that doesn't mean that my brain has given up on coming up with movie ideas.

It happens every now and then. Not often, but recently, I've been beset by ideas for a new movie.

More specifically, a horror movie.

This really surprises me. I'm not a fan of horror usually. I'm a little squeamish when it comes to slasher stuff. But I do make an exception for a certain kind of horror movie: found footage movies.

I don't know why, but for some reason, I love movies that pretend to be footage from real events. My younger brother and I once had a great deal of fun dissecting a made-for-TV movie called Alien Abduction: Incident in Lake County. I'm probably one of the few people who actually enjoyed The Blair Witch Project, even if the ending did make it impossible for me to enter my own basement for a week. I've watched the Paranormal Activity movies and I especially loved Trollhunter (seriously, go watch that movie now!) and Chronicle (which, granted, wasn't a horror movie).

Anyway, the point is, for the past couple of weeks, I've had the idea for a found footage horror movie rattling around in my brain. And here's the thing, folks. While I've written three screenplays, I have no idea how to write a found footage one. Even if I did, I still don't have any idea how to produce it (although I'll admit I briefly toyed with the idea of taking it to Kickstarter to see what would happen). But I can't seem to exorcise this idea.

So that's what I'm doing. Over the next few weeks, on Fridays, I'll be telling you the story of this found footage idea. A lot of it is extremely rough. Big chunks of it are completely nonexistent right now. I've got a beginning, some scraps of stuff for the middle, and an ending. But I need to share this so it'll leave me alone.

Buckle in, folks. I can't promise that it'll be scary, but I'm willing to bet it might be a little fun. See you next week for the first installment of this still untitled found footage horror film.

Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Wordcount Wednesday

Don't call it a comeback!

Or do, I guess. It's time to resurrect an old standard here at the Least Read Blog. It's time for me to resurrect Wordcount Wednesday, mostly because I need a good kick in my rear to keep me writing. So every week, come back here and see how far I'm making it in my current work-in-progress.

So what's that new project? Why, Failstate #3. The working title is "Failstate: Reflections," but it might change to "Failstate: Refractions" at some point. I'm still mulling that over.

As of right now, Failstate: Reflections is weighing in at 17,268 words. Hopefully that number will grow every week. If it doesn't, I hereby give you permission to yell at me.

Tuesday, March 05, 2013


So I've been wanting to read this sequel for a while now. When I read Cinder, I really enjoyed it, the odd blend of fairytales and sci fi. I knew that I had found something special in that book. So when I heard that Scarlet was coming out, I knew that I had better hop to and get it right away. Once again, I'm blown away by Marissa Meyer's creativity and craft. This was a very enjoyable book that added to the Lunar Chronicles and makes me want to learn more.

Scarlet is a young woman who lives with her grandmother on a farm in France. Well, at least, she used to. Her grandmother has disappeared. The police have pretty much given up on finding her grandmother, but Scarlet knows that something bad has happened. Grandma wouldn't just run away from home, would she? On a run into town to deliver some vegetables, she meets a young street fighter who calls himself Wolf. Soon Scarlet finds herself on a cross-country adventure as she and Wolf travel to Paris to find her grandmother.

But we haven't lost track of Linh Cinder, the fugitive cyborg who starred in the first book. Cinder has escaped from prison and is traveling with a dashing ne'er-do-well named Carswell Thorne. She's still reeling from everything she's learned about herself and her past, but she doesn't have time to really process any of it. Queen Levana of Luna is still after her and she will stop at nothing to get her hands on Cinder.

So let's talk about my one minor gripe, a trifle, a quibble. This was predictable. Again. I saw the big twist coming in Cinder, and I saw the twist coming in this one too. As a matter of fact, I'd be willing to bet that anyone reading this review can see it coming without reading the book.

But you know what? I didn't care! The characters are engaging, the stakes are high, and I'm finding that Scarlet and Wolf are just as much fun to travel with as Cinder was in the first book. I really can't wait to see where the story goes from here, but from what I can see, I've got a year to wait. I'm guessing that in this case, absence really will make the heart grow fonder. I can't wait to see what Cinder and Scarlet do next, and what the next fairytale plundered will be.

Saturday, March 02, 2013

Failstate: Legends is here!

I know I've gone mostly silent on my blog. For some reason, I seem to have migrated my attention over to my Facebook page. I'll still do book reviews, game reviews, and so on, but I do a lot of my ruminating over there.

But today, I'm proud to announce that my second novel, Failstate: Legends, was officially released by Marcher Lord Press. Well, it was released yesterday.

Here's the backcover copy, in case you're curious:

A young superhero.
A legend reborn.
And a whole mess of zombies.

Failstate (a.k.a., Robin Laughlin) thought his life would get easier after he’d earned his superhero license. But now a legendary superhero has returned from the dead…along with a horde of shambling horrors who want to eat his brains.

New Chayton’s other licensed heroes are indisposed, meaning that the whole weight of protecting the city has fallen on Failstate. And nobody thinks he’s up to the challenge. At least he has help from his older brother, Gauntlet, and his best friend, Veritas. Or does he?

As if the zombie apocalypse weren’t enough, complicating things are not one but two beautiful girls vying for Failstate/Robin’s affections—and his own powers are doing something…interesting.

In the superhero business, interesting is bad.

Legends walk the streets of New Chayton. If Failstate can somehow survive the next few weeks, he could become one of them.

Or, if you're more of a visual person, here's a book trailer I put together about a week ago:

As of right now, if you want a print copy of the book, you can order it direct from the publisher. You can also find the ebook on Kindle , the Nook, and the Kobo.

But let's have some fun also. Over the next few weeks, I'll be telling little stories about writing this one and I'll answer anyone's questions about this story or the series. Got a question about Failstate and his world? Ask it in the comments. Then come back next Saturday for the answer!