New Cover and Paperback Edition

Okay, it has definitely been too long since I’ve posted. But I will try to make up for that. Anyway… A lot has happened since my last blog entry. First of all, The Last Stop has since undergone some editing, a new cover design, and a paperback edition! Here is the new cover design:

The Last Stop

In other news, I’ve recently started a new horror novella… that’s in addition to the novel I’ve been working on for a few years now… I know it’s probably not the greatest idea to start something new when I haven’t finished something I’ve been desperately trying to finish, but have been unable to due to lack of time, but hey… it’s hard to let a good idea go unstarted…

So, that’s the latest… more updates to come in the future and more frequently!

Download THE LAST STOP for Free This Weekend

In honor of Friday The Thirteenth, my short story THE LAST STOP is available for free this weekend!

Six strangers find themselves on a subway train that seems to have no destination. Defying logic and reason, this train has no beginning and no end. These six strangers will find themselves pushed to the limits, overcoming fear and suspicion of their fellow passengers as they attempt to explain the unexplainable circumstances of being trapped on an endless train while trying to find a way off before it’s too late. It’s a train ride they’ll never forget, if they survive.

Readers have likened THE LAST STOP to an episode of The Twilight Zone. A paranormal thriller that will make you think twice before taking a late night ride on the subway.

My New Short Story

As I mentioned in an earlier blog post, I have written a short story and published it through Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing.

The story is called The Last Stop, and it is about six strangers on the last train of the evening back to the suburbs. These strangers soon discover they are trapped on the train, which isn’t making any stops. Tensions rise as they try to figure out the nature of their predicament, and how, if possible, to get off the train before it’s too late.

The idea for The Last Stop came to me in a dream I had over a year ago. I rarely remember my dreams, but this one stuck. From this dream I saw potential for a compelling short story based on the idea of strangers stuck on subway in an infinite loop. Subway commuters typically keep to themselves (especially late at night) and I couldn’t help wondering what would happen when an inexplicable problem arises that affects all the passengers.

I never expected I would ever write a story with any supernatural or paranormal elements to it, but the more I thought about the idea the more fascinated I became with where I could potentially take it. Still, at its core, it’s a story about a bunch of strangers in a high stress situation who are forced to deal with that situation as a group.

The Last Stop is available on Amazon as an eBook download for only 99 cents.

My New Short Story

As I mentioned in an earlier blog post, I have written a short story and published it through Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing.
The story is called The Last Stop, and it is about six strangers on the last train of the evening back to the suburbs. These strangers soon discover they are trapped on the train, which isn’t making any stops. Tensions rise as they try to figure out the nature of their predicament, and how, if possible, to get off the train before it’s too late.

The idea for The Last Stop came to me in a dream I had over a year ago. I rarely remember my dreams, but this one stuck. From this dream I saw potential for a compelling short story based on the idea of strangers stuck on subway in an infinite loop. Subway commuters typically keep to themselves (especially late at night) and I couldn’t help wondering what would happen when an inexplicable problem arises that affects all the passengers.

I never expected I would ever write a story with any supernatural or paranormal elements to it, but the more I thought about the idea the more fascinated I became with where I could potentially take it. Still, at its core, it’s a story about a bunch of strangers in a high stress situation who are forced to deal with that situation as a group.

The Last Stop is available on Amazon as an eBook download for only 99 cents.

Novel Update #3

It’s embarrassing how little I’ve managed to work on my novel since my previous update two months ago.

That said, the urge to get it done is coming back, and I am definitely feeling like I can get back into it like I’ve been previously hoping to.

Of course, the undeniable truth is that my first draft won’t be done by my original target date. On the plus side, I’ve started taking steps to get my first short story published through Kindle Direct Publishing. My short story, “The Last Stop” is nothing like my novel. It’s based on a dream I had, and leans more towards the supernatural/paranormal — not my usual genre. It’s probably a risk putting it out there before my novel, since doing so might alter any expectation as to what kind of writer I really am. As I’ve mentioned before, if I wanted to compare myself to any authors (in terms of genre, anyways) I’d say Nick Hornby and Jonathan Tropper. “The Last Stop” is about a late night train ride. The story is something you’d expect from a Twilight Zone episode.

Anyway, my hope is have it up by the end of next week.

Back to the novel.

When I can’t get myself in the right state of mind to write, I think about the novel’s cover. I’ve been thinking and rethinking and designing and redesigning my novels cover for at least a year and a half now. It seems silly to do that, before novel is even done, but since I don’t have the money to hire a designer, I have to do it myself, and the last thing I need is to put off the novel’s publication because I can’t settle on the cover’s design. And I think I’ve finally come up with something I am happy with. I will unveil it when the first draft is done.

7 Comedy Actors Who Should Start Taking More Serious Roles

Actors hate to be typecast by playing the same role (or the same type of role) for too long or too often. Yet, there are some actors who have (or run the risk of) typecasting themselves into a genre that severely limits their talents as actors. We all know plenty of actors who are extremely talented and have a good run of high quality flicks in their filmography… only to eventually have miss after miss after miss.

Goofy comedies may be proven box office gold with the right leading actor, but it seems like there are a lot of actors appearing in movies that make you think “I can’t believe he accepted this role.” Enough of these movies will force you to lose respect for once highly praised actors.

One remedy for this could that these actors who typically appear in comedies to take more dark or dramatic roles. All of the actors listed here have done darker, more dramatic roles, and have shined doing so. There’s nothing wrong with comedy, but these are actors who have demonstrated their talent that should be accepting better roles in more serious films.

Continue reading “7 Comedy Actors Who Should Start Taking More Serious Roles”

Novel Update #2

This update is long overdue. But, the truth of the matter is that I have not been able to put as much time into finishing this novel as I would have hoped. I have done some minor edits, thought of some new scene, and considered retooling some. A lot has been going on in my head about the novel, but not enough has been written. With any luck, I’ll be fixing that problem soon.

In other news, a short story idea that I’ve had for a long while now popped back in my head recently and I started writing it down. I’m liking where it is going, and hope to finish it up in a couple weeks and use Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing to make it available to the world to read. The story is not quite the same genre as my novel. I don’t want to say too much about it, yet. But it feels like a good, short and intense read I think many will enjoy.

Yes, I have to admit, writing the short story derailed working on the novel, but sometimes, if you think the idea is good enough, you just have to write it before it goes away. So, once it’s written and editted, the novel will have more of my attention.

Originality in Writing

My latest piece for What Culture lists 8 examples of television sitcoms that had an episode where a baby was born on an elevator. Truth be told, it has happened more than eight times. I did the research.

The heart of the issue here is not silliness of the circumstances that lead pregnant women in TV world to get stuck on elevators moment before birth, but the complete lack of originality of writing in the entertainment industry. I say the entertainment industry, and not just television because it happens in movies, too… the recycling of old ideas. How many reboots and sequels are being produced right now? I have no idea, but it seems like a lot. Sam Raimi’s Spiderman trilogy made have ended poorly, but who really wanted a reboot so soon? Chris Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy became the definitive Batman for at least a generation, but there’s still talks of another reboot.

I can’t think of any examples at the moment, but I don’t doubt that the same thing happens in fiction writing. Given the explosion of self-publishing—and even without it—the market is supersaturated with content. Even if everyone’s ideas were conceived individually, and without prior literary influence, there will be storylines that are similar.

When I conceived the idea of my novel, I actually made an attempt to determine if the idea had been done before. I’m fairly confident that it has not. If the plot idea had been done before, in largely the same way, I’d have likely scrapped the whole thing and come up with a new idea. I want to tell my own story and not rely on old, overused plotlines and gags in an attempt to gain interest. I wonder why television writers don’t feel the same way?

My First Piece for What Culture

I’m excited to report that I was recently accepted as a contributor to What Culture! I applied last week, citing my recent blog entry on dystopian movies worthy of remakes as an example of the kind of pieces I’d be contributing.

My first piece is titled “5 Seinfeld Spin-Offs You Wish Had Happened”, here is a snippet:

Sitcom spin-offs are so common we often don’t realize that some of most beloved sitcoms are spin-offs. The Simpsons is a spin-off of The Tracy Ullman Show. Of course not all spin-offs enjoy the same kind of success, like the Friends spin-off Joey, or M*A*S*H spinoff AfterMASH. There have been many over the years.

But one show that never got a spin off that many of us with had, was Seinfeld. It’s hard to believe that Seinfeld, now a staple of comedy syndication, is still earning Jerry Seinfeld loads of money. His show about nothing went off the air 15 years ago—feel old?—and is still funnier than most of what passes for comedy these days.

So what were the spin-offs on my list? You have to click here to find out!. Be sure to share it on Twitter and Facebook!

On The Lad-Lit Genre

If I were asked what genre my novel-in-progress could be described as, my instinct would be to say “lad-lit.”

It sort of fits, according to this definition:

n. A literary genre that features books written by men and focusing on young, male characters, particularly those who are selfish, insensitive, and afraid of commitment.

This may fit my novel to an extent. Mostly because I am a man and my novel is narrated by a young male character. But the main character hardly resembles the aforementioned stereotypes of being selfish, insensitive and being afraid of committment. This preconception of what lad-lit is makes me hesitant to put myself in the lad-lit category.

Some of the best lad-lit there is comes from Nick Hornby (often called the King of Lad-lit) and Jonathan Tropper. Do they fit the above the description? Perhaps some of these elements are found in their novels, but I’m inclined to say no. Nick Hornby’s High Fidelity centers around Rob Fleming’s desire to get back together with his girlfriend who left him. Rob is insecure, and does temporarily find advantages to being single, and yes, when his girlfriend Laura says she wants to get back together with him, he does have a moments of relishing the possibilities of remaining single, and is tempted by another woman… the character of Rob Fleming is far more complex than what can be boiled down in the definition cited above.

What about chick-lit? It is defined as such:

n. A literary genre that features books written by women and focusing on young, quirky, female protagonists.

That probably makes sense, but it avoids tagging the genre with absurd stereotypes, such as “likes to shop,” and “loves shoes,” or “works in the fashion or publishing industry,” that latter example being ridiculously common from what I’ve seen. I’m not knocking chick-lit, don’t get me wrong, I’m just saying… but, there’s aren’t many books classified as chick-lit that clearly aren’t written or marketed in a way to appeal to men.  This, in my opinion, is the real reason behind a perceived problem of author Jennifer Weiner, who has spoken out about how male and female writers are allegedly treated differently:

I don’t write literary fiction – I write books that are entertaining, but are also, I hope, well-constructed and thoughtful and funny and have things to say about men and women and families and children and life in America today. Do I think I should be getting all of the attention that Jonathan “Genius” Franzen gets? Nope. Would I like to be taken at least as seriously as a Jonathan Tropper or a Nick Hornby? Absolutely.

I personally don’t believe that women authors are slighted the way she suggests in the interview linked and quoted above. But, I’ve read one of her books, and felt, as a male, that the story didn’t speak to male readers. That’s not to say that other women authors haven’t.

Perhaps the real issue is the splicing of the fiction genre into categories that tell readers “These books are for women, and these books are for men.” The limiting of a book’s audience by gender is further exasperated by the book cover designs. When you look at the book covers of novels by Jennifer Weiner, Jodi Picoult,  Sophie Kinsella etc. etc.. they look like books that men wouldn’t want to be caught reading. The book covers of novels by Nick Hornby, Jonathan Tropper, etc. etc. they often feel less gender specific in design. Maybe I just see it that way being a man, but that’s just the impression I get.

Truth be told, not all “lad-lit” is created equal. Some of it is more than willing to exaggerate stereotypes for comedy. There have been some lad-lit novels I’ve not been able to finish. One lad-lit author I have recently become a fan of is Nick Spalding. I started reading his stuff a few weeks ago. I’m enjoying it. Though I should note, he plays up the male stereotypes in his “Love…” novels… but it’s done well, and finishing one book makes me want to read the next. But, in terms of lad-lit style, his writting is very different from the novel I’m working on.

I’d like to believe my premise is unique, plausible, and entertaining… a generally serious story that uses occasional humor when appropriate, but not a situational comedy full of self-deprecation, where everything goes wrong all the time.

So, in many respects, I don’t want my novel to be looked at as a novel for men to read, and women to ignore. Honestly, the main female character in my novel is the most compelling character in the book, and I’ve spent far more time thinking about her backstory and how that impacts her behavior and lifestyle than with any other character. The story is narrated by the lead male character, but the story is about her. So, while it might make sense to market my book as lad-lit, and put it in the same category as the authors I most admire, I’d still sooner refer to it as contemporary fiction.