About My Book

Learn more about my first book, Six Pack: Emergence.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

From Watchmen to Doomsday Clock

More than 40 years ago, Alan Moore, Dave Gibbons and John Higgins introduced the world to The Watchmen, a team of superheroes that were intended to deconstruct, examine and parody the concept of superheroes.

Late last year, DC Comics rolled out its latest miniseries, Doomsday Clock, involving some of the characters that trio created, but incorporating them into its mainline DC Universe.

Starting with The Watchmen, who would have guessed that the characters Moore and company created would have become such a critical success that Time magazine would recognize the single volume edition as one of its 100 best novels published in the English language since 1923.

I have come to appreciate the introspection that Moore brought to the world of superheroes, asking the larger questions about what role do they really play in a society and how do they really benefit people, if they do at all. His characters are multi-dimensional, their flaws are highlighted for all to see, but they are given qualities that people can identify with and question who really is in the right.

Ozymandias is considered the world's smartest man and seeks to prove how brilliant his ideas are to save the human race. Rorschach is a skeptic of human nature and see no issues with going to great lengths to ensure the guilty are punished. Nite Owl longs for the days when superheroes were accepted in society. Dr. Manhattan questions whether or not life is really worth living. Silk Spectre must answer questions about her upbringing. And The Comedian is cynical yet more than happy to advance whatever cause the federal government backs.

Watchmen works in large part because it's never clear as to who is really right or wrong as events unfold. It utilizes an interesting technique, with a "story within a story" that features a youth in New York City reading the fictional comic "Tales of the Black Freighter." The fictional comic serves as a parallel to the story of Adrian Veidt, aka Ozymandias, and his plans for saving the world from the threat of nuclear war.

The popularity of The Watchmen was a blessing and a curse for Moore, because language was added into Moore's contract with DC that the rights to the characters would revert to him after a period of time. But as The Watchmen increased in popularity, DC continued to release bound volumes of the series, thus claiming the right to the characters as long as the series remained in print.

That has made the decision to utilize several of The Watchmen characters in the limited series Doomsday Clock a controversial move for some of Moore's biggest fans. That series has had three issues released thus far and has been interesting to see how events unfolded. There is already much evidence that Dr. Manhattan has been messing with the timeline in the main DC Universe (it's been alluded to ever since DC launched its Rebirth effort) and it appears Dr. Manhattan and Superman are due for a confrontation. The series has already presented the first meeting between Ozymandias and Lex Luthor and Batman meeting up with the second person to take up the Rorschach mantle.

Whether or not Doomsday Clock can live up to Watchmen remains to be seen, but given the way the plot is unfolding, it appears we may have yet another critical examination of what superheroes are really all about.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Book Review: Kistishi Island

Kistishi Island follows the tales of Serena Cole, who gets constant advice from two women only she can see. Her family tries to convince her that her friends are imaginary and others think she has a mental health problem, particularly with how she handles herself against bullies at school.

No longer trusting her aunt, Serena goes out to join her mother at an archeological dig, only to learn that the friends that only she can are goddesses who are native to the island. A mystery unfolds around Serena about the island, the goddesses and what her role will be in saving everyone.

Serena is a strong character, somebody who is easy to sympathize with. Author Jordan Elizabeth Mierek does a great job with Serena's portrayal, particularly how much she wants to be with her mother and how she remains convinced her friends are real (and ultimately proves that is indeed the case).

Though it does take a while for the story to get going, the latter chapters in the book are where I found it harder to put the book down. Mierek does a good job building tension in the latter half of the book, by which point I was rooting for Serena to come through on her journey.

There were a few minor characters who seemed superficial to the story, though. Otherwise, this was an enjoyable book with an interesting concept.

Kistishi Island is a recommended read.

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Twenty Questions With Carolyn M. Walker

My guest for Twenty Questions is Carolyn M. Walker, whose debut novel Immortal Descent will be released April 3 by Clean Reads Publishing. The brief blurb about the book: "Twenty-year-old Ethan unknowingly inherits a rare and ancient power, instantly making him a target and a savior all at once."

You can learn more about Carolyn's work at her website or you can follow her on Twitter here.

So let's hear from Carolyn about her upcoming release.

1. How did you get interested in writing?
I have been interested in writing since I can remember, to be honest. Writing has always been like an art to me. From an early age, I began writing short stories. I love creating worlds and characters and then breathing live into them. My mother’s deep love for books became my own, growing up among hundreds of books in the home.

2. What inspired you to come up with this story?
I have long been fascinated with the supernatural. A few years back, during the angels and demons craze, I began research into the story of the fallen angels and their cursed offspring, the Nephilim. I wanted to explore the ‘what if’ when it came to these beings possibly having “children” of their own. From there the Lorns of Immortal Descent were quite literally born!

3. Tell me about the main character, Ethan West, and what inspired you to create him.
Ethan West’s character was inspired by a couple different things. He’s a lot like me in his love for history, art, and being a seeker of answers. Ethan also struggled with anxiety, something I dealt with at his age. His anxiety particularly comes from his dark past and broken family. When he was young, his mother died of cancer and his father was an alcoholic. Not only is he haunted by his past, he faces an uncertain and terrifying future. It was important for me to show how Ethan must face both his past and his future in order to survive the present.

4. What characters, other than Ethan, did you find enjoyable to write as you progressed with the book?
I enjoyed writing all of the characters but I particularly enjoyed writing about the characters of Rue and Tristan. Ruenna Dawe is a strong and complex female character. She is a very old and powerful Lorn with the capability to hear the thoughts of others. Rue forms a special bond with Ethan early on, as his protector. She represents a conflict for Ethan because he was attacked by a Lorn at the start of the story, yet he must entrust his life to one. Tristan Lowell was probably my favorite character to craft. He is the ultimate Machiavellian character as a cold, calculating, and ruthless tyrant. Yet despite his cruel and sadistic nature, Tristan is refined, with impeccable manners and an alluring disposition. As a Lorn with the ability of mind control, he is very manipulative and enjoys exploiting others. I really enjoyed creating a character you can’t help but love to hate, yet hate to love.

5. What are some of the themes you explored in writing the novel?
I explored the theme of loss, heavily throughout the book. So many of my characters have lost something significant, be it loved ones, their innocence, even their lives. For example, one of my characters named Victoria, is one of Tristan’s minions and she has the power of Banishment—the ability to erase another’s memories. Tristan forces her to use her own ability on herself, erasing her own past. Victoria constantly struggles with the fact that Tristan knows who she really is but because he controls her, she is powerless to do anything about it. That loss repeatedly defines the angry character she has become. Another theme I explore is “good vs. evil.” I expand the idea to encompass “order vs. chaos” on a universal level and the idea that both forces exist in every being. I tie this closely with the recurring theme of immortality and the quest for discovering its origin.

6. What things did you learn along the way as you wrote and edited the book?
I have learned that reading makes you a sharper writer. I have also learned that over-editing can be deadly! I continue to read, even as I write. I have found that some of the best inspiration can be found in reading other works of fiction and non-fiction. When it comes to editing your work, I have learned to be careful! As a professional writer and editor, it’s easy to edit something to death, taking away some of the magic it once had! When I edit, I have to remain constantly aware of this!

7. Tell me more about your short story: Swing High, Miami!
It was a short story I wrote when I was in my early twenties, about a weekend vacation down to Miami for my now-husband’s birthday. The entire trip was a whirlwind of disasters, one after another, making it more of a nightmare than a vacation. Looking back, I realized that the trip was such a series of unfortunate events that it was unbelievably comical. When I saw the call to submission for a “Best or Worst Vacation Story,” I knew I had to share this with the rest of the world.

8. What do you find is the right environment for you to write?
When writing, I like to be in a secluded or private place. Sometimes I like to have complete quiet to concentrate. Other times I like to tune in to instrumental music to “get into the zone” for a particular scene.

9. Are there specific programs or tools you find useful to help you with the writing process?
I used to write out all my stories long hand in a spiral notebook. These days, I use Microsoft Word. I often use Notepad for note keeping. While I type up all new works, I still like to use the old-fashioned pen and paper method for new ideas, character bios, and even outlines. I keep notebooks everywhere—by my bed, in the kitchen, at work, in the car…just in case an idea hits me. And they often do! I have a whole filing case of spiral notebooks, filled front to back with just “ideas” for future stories.

10. What have you found to be useful methods for promoting your writing?
I have a long background in digital marketing, so I find a comfort zone there. I do think that word of mouth has been extremely valuable, if not sometimes the most valuable method to promote my work.

11. Tell me more about the home library your mother had and how that inspired your interest in writing and reading.
My mother’s home library was like no other! She had everything, from fiction, to non-fiction, to poetry, to reference, to picture books! A lot of the books she had were rare books, collectors sets, limited editions, banned volumes, and those no longer in print. In our den, she had custom bookshelves made from hand painted pine wood, to house her books. The shelves covered entire walls and ran from the floor to the ceiling. She even got an old-fashioned library ladder chair for reaching the topmost shelves. I was fortunate to grow up among so many great books, which inspired my love for reading and writing.

12. What would you say is your favorite genre or genres to read?
I absolutely love psychological thrillers. I love how nothing is as it seems! I’m also a sucker for a good mystery! History is a wonderful way to blend mystery and suspense, so I love historical tales too.

13. What are some of the famous books or authors you have enjoyed or inspired you?
Richard Matheson and Neil Gaiman are among my favorites. I also love Nora Roberts, Anne Rice, and John Grisham. Classics I adore are by Edgar Allen Poe and CS Lewis.

14. Any aspiring or independent authors whose books you’ve read that you liked and want to mention to others to check out?
My sister Lynn Veevers just published her debut novel “Pinnacle” with Clean Reads as well.

15. What advice would you give to those who want to write a novel before they actually get started?
Keep writing! Starting can be exciting but it’s the keeping on that’s the real challenge. There will probably be a point that you might begin to wonder what you are doing, or if your story will really go anywhere. You might even wonder why you are trying to write a book at all! Whatever the questions, don’t let them lead to doubts that have you pausing. Even if you only write 100 words in a day, don’t doubt and don’t stop. So many great books never get finished because the author doubted themselves and then stopped.

16. What can you tell me about your work for The Southeast Review and what you learned from that experience?
I worked at the Southeast Review as an intern during my junior year at Florida State University. I wanted to learn more about the inner workings of a literary journal, so I served as a contributing writer and editor for a semester. It was a wonderful experience, and I got to meet with and interview some amazing writers, authors, and talented literary connections that helped me to better understand the industry.

17. I see you enjoy traveling – are there certain places you’ve visited that you particularly enjoyed or were an amazing experience?
Years ago, I was a travel agent and I loved booking people on vacations around the world. Learning so much about travel inspired me to do as much of it myself. Though I’m originally from California, I also spent some time in Washington State where I enjoyed some of the most beautiful snow days ever up there! The mountains are simply breathtaking! My family enjoys diving and snorkeling so we have visited every beach in the state, plus many springs. I’ve also visited Mexico and the Cayman Islands, but my biggest goal is to go abroad to Asia and visit Japan! That’s next on my bucket list.

18. Any particular scores and soundtracks you listen to that inspire your writing the most?
Some of my favorite composers and artists are Hans Zimmer, Philip Glass, Nathan Barr, and E.S. Posthumus.

19. What would you say is the biggest difference between living in southern California and living in Florida?
The humidity, hands down! I have been in heat so dry it was like trying to inhale blow dryer air on the highest setting. But the moisture in the air that is humidity that gets me every time!

20. Who would win a battle of superhero skills: Superman, Batman or Wonder Woman?
Wonder Woman, of course! 😉

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

The Last Jedi Review (Spoilers)

As with The Force Awakens, I watched The Last Jedi twice to take it all in and decide whether the movie really worked for me or not and where it ranks among the Star Wars films.

My thoughts about The Last Jedi are beyond the break -- there are spoilers, so don't read past the break if you haven't seen the film yet.