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            The Charlotte Heroes Con http://www.heroesonline.com/heroescon.html is 2 ½ months away, and I’m nowhere near prepared.  Not to mention, that the closer we get to this thing, the scarier it gets.  I’m officially on the site now as a Small Press exhibitor for Riders of the Storm: The Legend of Skull and Talon.  This may not seem like a big deal to most, but it means a great deal to me.  This is it.  I’m going to be dumped right in the middle of my element, amongst all my fellow geeks and writers while someone off stage screams: “Dance, monkeyboy, dance!”  It’s like the world’s biggest interview.  You either shine, or you rust.  So, let me go into a little more detail about what’s going on here…   This may take awhile.  “You should have gotten a snack.”  That’s an ATHF reference for those that don’t know. 

            So, I wrote this book back in 92 or 93 (I don’t really remember which) called ROTS (see above).  It wasn’t the greatest thing since slice bread, but I liked it.  The story culminated out of roleplaying characters that Matthew, Will and myself had created and played during high school; with some help from Will’s sister Julie (during the early, early days with the dragon that crapped acid.  Don’t ask).  The world grew, and the characters changed as we “retired” Skull and Talon, and began playing with the sons of Skull and Talon.  During that summer of the 90’s I took a bunch of our adventures, and some extra stuff, and put it all together into ROTS, with the sons of Skull and Talon.  Now, Matthew and I had written a few non-game stories back in college for the fun of it.  We had talked about doing a book, but had never officially planned anything.  We batted ideas for this and 117 around for years.  It was writing these little stories, and a few others, in high school that I discovered my passion for writing.  So, “skipping the witches,” (that’s a Four Rooms reference, you really need to keep up.  If I have to, I’ll post a glossary of my random thoughts and pop culture references.) Skull and Talon kinda collected a bit of dust while life swept me up in its tornado of unexpectedness.  It wasn’t officially gone, and had gone through a clean up or two in the meantime.  It’s always been too close to my heart to really pull an Invisible Man; “Wells, not Ellison, in case you decide to get cute again.”  MI: III, you need to keep up.  Next week I promise I delve more into my crazy pattern of thinking and randomness in the blog: Non-Linear Thinking, or Adapting the String Theory.   *Note: promises made by the writer are not real promises and cannot be held against him in a court or law.  He’s does the best he can, so cut him some slack.  Thank you.  Message 9932-B.

            While Skull and Talon were in mental Carbonite freezing, I was writing some other stories, like what you see on the right hand side, and worked with a local comic publisher.  Unfortunately, non of those stories saw print.  During this period, something I think every writer does, or should do, my style and mood changed.  The things I wrote became less lighthearted and carefree.  The stories came out with a heavy tone.  They weren’t dark, per se, but seemed to illicit a sinking feeling.  Not at all like early S&T.  This became a problem.  See, writers will tell you, just like anybody else in any form or entertainment, you will get told “no” so often that it’s crushing.  You just have to believe in yourself, and persevere.  Well, here’s the problem” What if you really do suck and need to quit?  You all know some one, or ones, that you look at and say: Dude, give it up?  Now, you couple that with a hundred or so rejections, and… well, you get my meaning.  So, dilemma #1.  No. 2 is, the wonderful world of Catch 22.  This time I’m talking about the book.  Not really, but yeah.  To get a full foot in the door, you need an agent; a real agent, not one of these scammers that are everywhere on the net.  Well, most good agents won’t take you unless you’ve had something published.  Most publishers won’t even push you in front of traffic without an agent.  “Hence, Like a Virgin.”  Reservoir Dogs.  Seriously, this is the last time I’m helping you out.  So, I decided to eliminate the middle man and self publish.  I figured I’d build up a decent fan-base, generate some buzz, and then go to a publisher with book and fans in hand and voila; who could say no?  Well, much like Robert Paulson starting a fight, this was/is harder than it looks.  First, I had to revise ROTS.  Yeah, this wasn’t working well.  Remember lighthearted and ridiculous fun was the writing style ten years prior, and we’re heavy tone and mood now.  This is one of the combinations that Reese’s threw out before settling on chocolate and peanut butter.  Throwing it all out and starting over wasn’t an option.  So, I had to treat it like a painter touching up a Van Gogh.  Light touches to bring out what’s already there, and not imprinting your style on the.  Before you ask, no, I’m not comparing the book to a Van Gogh.  

           Now, we have a plan, albeit not very well thought out (I’ll get to that later), and a revised book- Let’s publish!  Well, my editor did a less than fantastic job of cleaning up the grammatical errors and other little things.  Jerk!  So, the book got published with too many errors to make me at least content.  So, this left me with a book I wasn’t really strong on for two reasons.  Oh, did I mention that editing the book was my job, too?  Yeah.  Jerk.  Anyway, on top of all that you have to publicize the book and talk about it like it’s the greatest thing since Hamburger Helper.  You get the picture. 

            All this brings us to the present.  I’ll leave out the slackers and flat-leavers, and just get to the heart of the matter.  I’m now in the process of reprinting ROTS, with corrections and a slightly new cover, plus the bonus story Prelude to Exile; which I mentioned in a previous post.  BTW, if you bought a copy of the original, you can get the revised version from me for only $5.00.  What a bargain!  Back to the Con…

            So, here we are.  For those of you who aren’t in the know, amongst all the other professionals (that I’m going to try and blend in with) is Brian Michael Bendis.  Well, for those that don’t fully know him, go to: http://www.jinxworld.com/ and read his bio.  I met Bendis over a decade ago when he had just gotten under the Image imprint and was promoting the Sam and Twitch comic.  Super cool guy.  I talked to him about Jinx and Goldfish, his other books, and he told me about Sam and Twitch.  I had no interest in the book, not being a Spawn fan, but I checked it out because of him.  It was pretty good.  Great story, with such a well written thriller element.  I was hooked.  I was working at a comic book store at the time and told everyone to check it out.  Here I have a chance to meet him again, only this time as a *gulp* peer.  But, how do you approach someone like that and say: Hey, I’m a writer just like you.  That’s like showing my Lego house to Frank Lloyd Wright.  You get it now?  And I only have 2 ½ months to get my ass in gear.  Whew!  Cathartic my butt, now I’m even more scared. 

 

Jerale C

Mindseyechronicles@comcast.net

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            I’ve come to realize that Hollywood is stealing my ideas.  The worse part about it, is that they’re screwing it up.  So, as I sit here wearing my tinfoil hat I wonder if it’s going to keep them out, or just strengthen the signal? 

            So, about 2 years ago I had this idea about doing a remake of Death Race 2000.  Obviously, it can’t be as full out crazy like the original one was.  Isn’t it odd how the more we “advance” the less tolerant we become?  Think about some of the movies and tv shows from the 80’s that nowadays would be completely decried by the public.  Moving on.  Now, I’m not a fan of remakes.  As a whole they don’t work.  Some things need to stay the way they are.  You only have 2 approaches with remakes.  One, you “re-imagine” and modernize it.  Which is basically taking everything that made it watchable in the first place and throwing it out the window.  Two, is to completely remake the movie.  In which case, you might as well watch the original.  Now, most of what we’re getting in the way of remakes now are horror movies from the 80’s.  Anyone who’s done they’re homework knows why these movies were popular then, and that they can’t be redone in a modern setting.  Watch Going to Pieces: The Rise and Fall of the Slasher Film and The American Nightmare.  These movies give you the history of horror movies and says why they can’t be remade.  The sad part about this is that many of the people that go to see these movies aren’t even aware that they’re remakes. 

            There are a few exceptions to this rule.  There always are.  Sometimes a good movie is so dated that it’s hard to see past the hippie beaded vests, bell-bottom pants, and polyester suits.  These movies need to be updated for modern audiences.  Now going back to this damn itchy hat…  Death Race wasn’t a great movie to begin with, but there was something about it that could be made into something better.  This is the main reason to remake something.  If you can make it better.  That doesn’t mean you should go out and find everything half-assed movie from the past 30 years and try to make it grand.  Still, I’m getting off track.  So, I decided to take this tongue-in-cheek movie about a cross country race where the contestants run people over for sport and make it something better, while keeping its heart intact, i.e. running people over for sport.  So, while I’m putting it all together in my head, I learn that they were already developing a Death Race remake.  Well, we all know how that turned out.  Honestly, did someone really think that was a sound concept for a movie?  Almost every prisoner in the world is thinking, “Man, if I had a car, a weapon, and a hot chick I’d be outta here.”  And we all know that prison is filled with hot chicks.  You should see the girls in my Women of Rikers Island calendar.  “Hey, prisoner #00153729.  I’ll see you in 5 to 10.” 

            So, around the same time, The Incredible Shrinking Man came on tv.  So I said, hmm, that could use some modernizing.  Now, I’m a fan of the original, but it’s not a great movie.  It could be, with a little more depth, and a change in perspective.  Not as fully fleshed out as my Death Race, it was really coming along.  As the character shrinks, his perspective changes.  You see how the change in size affects the way he sees the world.  When he’s around 4 inches tall everything looks enormous to him.  What he used to view as his everyday household items become something more to him now.  His house becomes a foreign land.  A couch with a knitted arm cover to him is now a mountain with hanging vines.  Shag carpet is now like walking through a wheat field.  A ten foot trek to the kitchen is now a half a day’s journey.  At one point he finds an M&M on the floor, but to him it’s like a coconut.  It’s enough food to last him a day or more, but he can’t get through the candy shell.  At one point he climbs up on the ottoman and falls asleep, and when he wakes up, he’s shrunk a little more, and now has to figure out how to get down.  Try this experiment to help you get a better idea.  Go to the dollar store and get a 12 inch fashion doll, a 3 ½ inch action figure, and a plastic toy soldier.  Start with the fashion doll and walk her around the house.  Look at her size in proportion to everything else.  Have her climb up to the top of the stairs, or to the top of the couch.  Now switch to the action figure.  Make them climb down and walk the same path as the doll.  Now switch to the toy soldier.  Pretty interesting, huh?  Imagine viewing a cricket at doll size, then action figure, then toy soldier.  It would scare the hell out of me.  Well…

            All that’s going to pot now that Hollywood is remaking it for a 2010 release starring Eddie Murphy.  Yes, it’s going to be a comedy.  Or, as much of a comedy that Eddie Murphy makes anymore.  Vast potential for something grand, squandered. 

            I’m not as upset that they’re stealing these ideas from my brain.  If you’re going to take it, then take all of it, not just a little of it.  Just gleaming the idea and running with it is like trying to watch scrambled porn.  You can’t tell if you’re looking at a boob, an elbow, a butt, or a knee. 

            So… Another movie enters my head, and I said: “Hey, that would be good to update.”  I’ve even mentioned it to a few people who’ve never even heard of the original.  Sorry, not telling for now.  Check out my Death Race idea and let me know what you think.  Whew!  This hat is making my head sweat. 

 

Jerale C

Mindseyechronicles@comcast.net

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            Quentin Tarantino’s got a new movie coming out.  Inglorious Basterds.  So, as the world’s biggest QT fan – Hey, screw you, I am!– I’ve decided to make this blog about him.  Not really.  The art of conversational dialogue.  That’s what I love about QT, and one of the things that is so hard to do.  To write genuine dialogue that flows and sounds true.  Conversational speaking between two people that has nothing to do with the overall plot of the story, but at the same time doesn’t distract or ramble.  Think about it.  How many movies or books have entertained you, but the dialogue between the characters in some way is related to the story?  Or, in reverse is so inane and pointless that you say “Who cares?”  It’s a tough balance.  And, I think no one does it like QT.  I can recite the “Hash Bar” scene from Pulp Fiction with every syllable and pause.  Now, you’ll say, but it does come back in the story.  True, but when it does, it’s abruptly ended with Mia’s line: “Why would you?”  It’s hard to stray from your story without straying from your story.  I’ve always said that once I create a character what they do is beyond my control.  I create the situation, but how they respond to it is entirely up to them.  I was explaining this to someone and they said that my thinking was irresponsible.  I beg to differ.  The characters are how you make them.  For them to act in a manner of your choosing is not having them be true to themselves.  If you want them to behave in a certain way, then you need to tailor the situation to make them do so.  This is never more true when it comes to dialogue.  Take for example the movie Punisher: Warzone.  Now I realize we are moving to the complete opposite side of the spectrum from QT, but bear with me.  Warzone was utter crap, I won’t lie.  It was freakin’ Citizen Kane compared to the Spirit, but I won’t go into that.  Frank Miller’s a great writer, and every one’s allow to have an off night, or two.  Back to my point…  The scenes in Warzone with the Punisher were well done.  The character himself was handled very well.  He was always true to the character in his words and his actions.  He never betrayed who he was for the sake of moving the story in a particular fashion.  Now, the story itself forced him to veer a little off track now and again, but it was never the character himself.  Speaking of getting off track…  So, dialogue.  It’s hard.  You’d have to straddle the line between schizophrenia and normalcy to be able to give every one you’ve ever written their own distinct voice.  The trick isn’t to make each completely different, but to make what they say sound true to who you say they are.  So, what about me?  It’s a struggle.  Sometimes is very easy, and others it’s very hard.  But it all ties in to everything else.  Take for example when picking your voice for the story.  Even though your story may be told from a third person POV, you still force the view through your main character.  The story isn’t told completely unbiased.  You filter it through the person you need to achieve the effect you want.  Dialogue is easy to do for these people.  Why?  Because this person is fully formed in your mind.  You know everything about them.  You know exactly which buttons to push.  Essentially, it’s the same with the others.  You don’t have to know them as well, but you need to know what it takes to make them respond in the manner that you want.  So, what does this have to do with non-plot driven dialogue?  Well, to come round-robin, if you know what it takes to move them about, then it’s easier, not easy- easier, to have them speak in a general manner.  This also helps to establish and ground the character more.  Even if that’s all the character does.  Take for example Floyd from True Romance.  No plot driven dialogue at all, but he’s genuine.  His character is not forced into the story.  He exists because he’s true.  Wow, this is getting long and preachy.  Free dialogue helps to establish the character sometimes more than the direct dialogue.  Another example is the “commode story” from Reservoir Dogs.  The entire point of this story is to ingrain “Mr. Orange” with Joe and the other guys.  Does it have a point in the movie?  No, not really.  But it does among the characters because it tells them who he is without actually going into full detail.  It makes him relatable to the other men.  I’m not telling you anything new, cause this is said in the movie when he’s told to learn the “commode story” and make it his own.  The entire opening scene in the diner with them talking about Like A Virgin and K Billy’s Super Sounds of the 70’s is not plot driven dialogue.  It’s honest and true, and I love it.  It makes them feel more real, and because of that, it pulls you in. 

            In honor of QT, I’ll be posting my Pulp Fiction parody, Phantom Fiction, later this week.  The basic premise is Star Wars combined with Pulp Fiction because Samuel L. Jackson was in both of them.  Fairly simple.  If you’re a fan of both movies you might find it kinda funny.  Everyone seems to like the “Nock chops” part. 

            To QT, from your biggest fan – I am, too! – thanks for showing me how it’s done right.

 

Jerale C

Mindseyechronicles@comcast.net

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            I’ve run a little behind, and haven’t had the chance to update things the way I wanted.  Between trying to work on this, finish putting the final pages to Pray Predator, getting things together for Aural Surgery *insert shameless plug* (Aural Surgery is a music review site run by myself (J-Rock), Mark “Fender Bender” P., Kevin “K-Mac” McG., and Simon “Simon Sez” G.  Site should be up and running by the weekend.  http://AuralSurgery.net ), and helping with the pilot episode of The Metal Chef (more on that as it develops.  Pilot looking to post online April 1st.) things have been busy.  So, with that said.  I haven’t had a chance to do my about me and all that jazz.  And on that note…  About 2 years ago, give or take, my brother and I did a small printing of our book Riders of the Storm: The Legend of Skull and Talon under our pseudonym j W. matthews.  You should buy a copy.  Really.  Anyway, with promotion being 9/10ths of your sales, things haven’t quite moved the way we wanted.  Then came along *fanfare* The Charlotte Heroes Con.  Applesauce, (for all you Larry Sanders fans out there).  Come June 19th – 21st, I will be at the Heroes Con promoting ROTS: The Legend of Skull and Talon.  Getting things together now for some nice giveaways and plenty of information on the book and the forth coming sequel.  Looking at having a handout of a side story to ROTS that ties into the third book and has never been posted or published.  Don’t hold me to it, but I’m aiming for it.  If it doesn’t work out, I will post it here.  Speaking of which- I’ll also be promoting the site there, too.  Hoping to put together a bound version of The Unknown to hand out with a cool cover.  Somewhere in all this I try to work in some sleep and the paying job. 

            I’m going to tell you right now doing the Con- it’s scary.  You have to prepare yourself for all sorts of things, and understand that you won’t be prepared for anything that’s going to happen.  You have to consider the possibility that you’ll be that one guy sitting at a table with no one interested in what you have to offer.  That kinda thing makes you think twice.  Three times even.  But, you have to push through it.  I’m actually really excited and scared, like Oscar from Armageddon.  “Can you strap me in really tight, I mean, almost to the point of cutting off circulation?”  Now for the “Shadowman under your bed” scary part.  I want like crazy to meet Brian Michael Bendis.  The “It” guy of Marvel now, and the past 4-5 years.  I’ve met him once before, before all this, and he was really cool.  I want to sick down and talk shop with him.  That, to me, would be the equivalent of meeting Michael Crichton, RIP, or Ray Bradbury. 

            So, I have been busy.  I’ve had so much going through my mind, it’s really hard to put everything in order.  Trying to get my brain to work properly right now is like Ultra Magnus trying to open the Matrix.  I’ll post some more info about ROTS in the very near future.  In the meantime, you can check it out on Amazon and read the first 5-6 pages.  Until next time.

Jerale

Mindseyechronicles@comcast.net

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