Sep 16, 2014

Coming Up: Eight Books in Six Months

Here's a rundown of what I've got coming out between now and March...

Season 2 of Sleepy Hollow is just around the corner, and to get you warmed up for it, here's The Secret Journal of Ichabod Crane, out today!


Also, next month you'll be able to pick up the Marvel Vehicles Owner's Workshop Manual...


Then in November, it'll be Captain America and Iron Man kicking off the Phase One series of young-reader adaptations of the Marvel Cinematic Universe...

 

Then in January, Hulk and Thor keep Phase One going, while my prose adaptation of Secret Wars also hits shelves...

 



Then in March, the Phase One Avengers book! (For which there is as yet no cover...)

Also I've got five books in the pipeline that I can't announce yet. Whew.

Sep 13, 2014

Marvel Secret Wars Novel

Here's the catalog page for the Secret Wars prose novel I just finished up...coming January 20!


Covers to Marvel Phase One Books

Take a look at these beauties. I'm writing a series of middle-reader novelizations of the Marvel Phase One movies, taken directly from the films themselves rather than the scripts. This has meant watching the movies again a whole bunch of times. (My job's pretty miserable.) I'm working on the fifth book right now, but here are the covers for the first four:

 

 

Pretty cool, right?

Jul 14, 2014

Marvel Vehicles Cover

I used to have a Haynes manual for my old Land Cruiser. When I sold the Land Cruiser (nicknamed Igor), I left the manual on the seat for the next guy. Sad day.

To fill the void, I got myself this Haynes-style R2D2 shirt a few years later.

I still have the shirt, but now I also have the cover of the Marvel Vehicles Owners Workshop Manual...


It's out in October, and you should probably have one for the next time you run across an old Battle Van in an abandoned Oscorp warehouse, right?

May 24, 2014

SHOTS AND SEQUENCES OF SHOTS THAT SHOULD IMMEDIATELY AND PERMANENTLY BE STRICKEN FROM THE FILM VOCABULARY: A BRIEF RANT


There are shots so fundamentally stupid that no excuse will justify them. They exemplify lazy thinking, bad storytelling, and a total disregard for the intelligence of the audience. One often sees them even in otherwise enjoyable movies, which just goes to show you that even skilled directors are sometimes thralls to dumb traditions (or dumb executives who think they’re creative). Here are four shots that should never appear in a movie again save as parodies.

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The long drop to one knee and both hands, with the head down, after which the head is slowly raised

Why: Let’s start with the physics of the situation. If you’ve ever jumped off something high, you know that you try to land with both feet braced evenly, more or less shoulder width apart. Why? Because if your feet are even, they keep your center of gravity between them, with the impact evenly distributed. If you land with one foot behind the other—as is necessary for this shot—the momentum of your falling body turns into sideways momentum because your center of gravity is not directly between your feet. It’s off to one side, which would tip the body that way unless the rest of the body was leaning the other way, which you can’t do if you’re busy trying to get both hands on the ground. Also, the leg bent to put a knee on the ground can’t absorb nearly as much impact as the leg with the foot planted, which again would mean that one foot takes more force and the falling body would overbalance. One more problem is that if you shift your torso so that your center of gravity is over your lead leg, to maintain your balance, you stand a pretty good chance of kneeing yourself in the face (actually facing yourself in the knee) and either breaking your nose or knocking some of your teeth out.

Then we get to the tactical reality of situations in which you might fall a long distance and desire to arrive in a combat-ready stance. If you’re fighting a dangerous opponent, why the fuck are you staring at the ground when you land instead of at the bad guy? If I’m Villain-O, and I see Hero Man jump from somewhere high and then take his own sweet time checking out ants and spent bullet casings and whatever after he lands, I’m on him before he can lift his chin and gaze pitilessly at me through his artfully disheveled forelock…unless I’m on a film set, in which case Villain-O will goggle uselessly at the posing Hero Man until one of them (probably Villain-O) gets the opportunity to commit the next sin on our list. Which is:

*

The grabbing of an opponent by the throat and lifting of said opponent off the ground

Why: This one is simple. If you’re strong enough to lift someone off the ground by the throat with one hand, you’re strong enough to crush that person’s larynx like an egg without lifting him off the ground. If your goal is to kill the opponent, all the rigmarole of lifting him off the ground and watching his feet kick uselessly in the air is an indulgence of sadism—which is boring, and also a serious failure of tactics…unless you’re on a film set, where someone has decided that the ol’ let-‘em-dangle-by-the-throat shot isn’t quite played out yet. A variation of this is:

*

The throwing of an opponent some distance away, followed by slowly approaching the opponent with an air of great menace

Why: Because if you’re strong enough to do that, you are also strong enough to put both hands on that opponent and strangle him, break his bones, or do whatever else you want to do in furtherance of your goal of killing him. If you are able to pick someone up and throw him across the room, you are already in control of the combat. Throwing an opponent across the room gives him a chance to recover and counterattack. In other words, you relinquish control. If the objective is to kill the other guy, this is dumb. There is no fight-to-the-death situation where the party in control has anything to gain by releasing the party being controlled…unless you’re on a film set where some kind of protracted fight is deemed necessary and everyone is too lazy to choreograph something that makes sense. And this isn’t only a problem with fight scenes. It pops up in simple conversations as well:

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The tense moment in a conversation, when one party gets up and walks three or four steps away from the other party, then stops for no visible reason and delivers the next line still facing away

Why: Because nobody ever does this. In every single conversation in the history of humankind, each party either a) wants to continue the conversation or b) doesn’t. 

Let’s take b) first. If you don’t want to talk to someone, you don’t get up, walk away, and speak with your face turned away from that person. You might get up and walk away, but if you’re going to do that you don’t keep talking. You especially don’t keep saying things that demand a response. Why? Because you want the conversation to be over.

Now we’ll look at a). If you do want to talk to someone, you don’t get up, walk away, and speak with your face turned away from that person—because people can’t fucking hear you when you talk with your face turned away from them. They also can’t read your lips or see your expression or interpret any of the other nonverbal cues necessary to really get what you’re saying. Therefore it is not something you do if you’re trying to have a conversation with someone…unless you’re on a film set and the director is trying to come up with a way to change the shot with no narrative or character justification.

*


For the love of all that is good and right and holy—not to mention a love of good movies—all of these cliched, nonsensical, self-indulgent shots should be banished to the hell of Intro to Film seminars, where they may continue to serve as examples of how lazy people try to pantomime telling stories onscreen without actually doing anything but proving their own lack of imagination.

Apr 11, 2013

Double Scoop of StarCraft

If you're keeping track, today's launch of "Great One" makes two new StarCraft stories in the last two weeks from me (the other one being "Command Performance"). What does the future hold? We'll see...but in the meantime, enjoy these. I love this game and I'm proud to be part of the lore.




Mar 1, 2013

Avengers Alliance Is One Year Old!

Pretty excited to celebrate this birthday. I've actually been working on the game since November of 2010, but it's been live for a year. I'm writing this post at the same table in the same coffee shop (Coffee by Design on Congress Street in Portland, Maine) where I waited for the game to go live a year ago today. Plus ├ža change, right?

If you want to get me a present (you do, right?), you can read one of my books and tell all of your friends about it. May I suggest Buyout or The Narrows to start...? There's also the novelization of Pacific Rim coming out this summer. Thanks!

I'm Agent Irvine on Alliance if you need allies...I'll send you a piece of cake and maybe a shawarma.

Here's to another year, and more!

Jan 23, 2013

Freelancer's Anxiety Formula

X is the optimal amount of time (expressed as hours per week) committed to pitching new projects.
Y is the amount of time committed to existing contracted projects.
A is time spent with family, friends, and daily household activities.
B is sleep.
Z is the amount of time reserved for projects of no current financial value, or Z is leisure, but it can only be one of those.

(A+B)/(X+Y) defines the Family Happiness Coefficient (FHC).
When FHC < 2, Z = 0.
There is an inverse correlation between Y and Z regardless of the values of A, B, X, and FHC.
X remains constant regardless of variance in values of A, B, Y, Z, and FHC.

Solve for X such that the sum of A, B, X, Y, and Z is equal to or less than 168 and FHC is greater than 2.

Nov 8, 2012

Places I Used to Write, and Sometimes Still Do

Thinking of all kinds of places I used to write, in loose and sometimes overlapping order...


  • Drake's and Brown Jug and Monkey Bar and Amer's and Espresso Royale and Continental Diner and Bill's Coffee Cup (Ann Arbor)
  • Penny Lane and Trident and Aristocrat Diner and Sundown Saloon (Boulder)
  • Dom Bakeries and Mudd House and Ugly Mug (Ypsi)
  • Pat's (Orono)
  • Stella's and Cosmic Crossings and Pete's and Mercury Cafe (Denver)
  • South St. Diner (Boston)
  • Ruski's and JavaNet (Portland)
  • Atlas and Roebling Tea Room (Brooklyn)
  • Broken Cup and Yaffa and Cafe Pick Me Up (Manhattan)


I miss little things about each and every one of those places, the way they used to be when I worked there. Now it's Coffee by Design and Hilltop in Portland. Dipping a toe into Local Sprouts. Also, of course, home.

I know I'm forgetting some place. An internal tour of your past is never really complete. Interesting to remember how I felt as a writer, where my horizons of expectation were, when I was spending time at each of those places.