Blackwood Gazette: Update

Hello! I just thought I’d drop in and let what few regular readers I have know that I’m still alive, and the Blackwood Gazette is still a priority. I’ve got big plans for the Gazette this year; the Triumvirate faces some major changes in the form of shifting alliances and technological developments, not to mention this mysterious destabilizing force known only as the Cartographers. And with Adella Chatelaine back in the game, who knows what secrets may be uncovered? Expect mystery, intrigue, and high adventure on a semi daily basis!

So what have I been working on in the interim? That’s a bit of a secret, as I have no idea if it will ever happen and I don’t want to risk looking like an asshole by announcing some huge thing and not delivering…although, I suppose it might be too late for that, so who knows. Hopefully this project I’m writing works out.

Also, full confession time: I’m playing Fallout 4, and working retail during the holidays. Anyone who’s familiar with either should know what that means for productivity without me having to get too into it.

The Gazette will resume in January. In the meantime, you can play catch up, or check out my novel, Where, No One Knows, starring recurring characters such as the agent provocateur Pixie Sinclaire, the mad alchemist Rigel Rinkenbach, and the disgraced pirate captain Roderick La Pierre.

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Blackwood Gazette: Update

“Where, No One Knows” is LIVE!

Whew! Hey everyone, just let me get rid of this dust…

I’ve been away for awhile, and while I wish I could say it was because I was toiling diligently away on my NaNo project, such wasn’t the case. I completely failed to manage my time between writing and working a job in retail, and as such was unable to complete the required 50,000 word goal.

Boo hoo. There. I’m over it. Moving on!

I am pleased to announce, however, another small victory. The other novel I’ve been chipping away at for the last couple of years is now available to purchase through Createspace and Amazon.

Right now, it’s only available in paperback, but a Kindle version is incoming once I fix some of the formatting issues that came with converting the files from Createspace.

So, go on! If you’re looking for a light-hearted, pulpy adventure to curl up with this holiday, go check it out. And if you do, let me hear what you thought and if you have any suggestions to help improve future projects, let me know. I’m always open to constructive criticism.

Book cover, concept art

“The Blackwood Empire is facing a bit of an energy crisis. Everything runs on steam, and the fuel for the fires, an alchemical substance called Blackwood, is running out. Only the brilliant scientist, Sir Rigel Rinkenbach, knows the secret, and he’s gone missing!

He’s been taken to Where, No One Knows, a massive prison ship that patrols the Imperial seas. There’s only one way onto Where, No One Knows, and only one way out. It’s a delicate job requiring finesse, and in the Blackwood Empire, cutthroats are a dime a dozen. Pixie Sinclaire, former agent provocateur, outclasses them all.

Pixie and Rigel have a rocky past, but the flame persists. When the NorEastern Nations hire her to infiltrate the impenetrable floating fortress, Pixie takes it as a challenge and opportunity to set things right.

Once on the ship, things quickly go south. Pixie must deal with a jail break led by a charismatic political prisoner hoping to use Rigel in the creation of an independent nation state, a pair of air pirates looking for revenge on Rigel, and others who stand to lose everything should the secret of Blackwood ever reach Imperial shores.

Oh, and did we mention the nine foot tall death machines roaming the ship? Will the world know the secret of Blackwood? Or will it be lost to the waves forever?”

“Where, No One Knows” is LIVE!

And so it begins (NaNoWriMo 2014)…

Tomorrow, writers from all over the internet will embark on our month long journey to reach 50,000 words in thirty days. For some, that means spending a week staring at a blank screen or page, unable to conjure a single word. For others, it’ll mean starting, highlighting, deleting, and starting over again.

For me, it means starting and getting through. For me, NaNo is a partly an exercise in getting over all those little perfectionist quirks we develop over the years, the constant fear that what we’re writing is bad, that no one will ever read it, or the anxiety that our story zigged when it should have zagged 25,000 words ago. It’s means starting and not stopping, no matter what. Who cares if that character I killed on page 35 really needs to be on page 235 for the plot to keep going? Bring her back…you can iron out the details later. No one is going to know but you (I understand, though, that for some people, only you knowing is enough for people to freak the hell out…it used to freak me the hell out, too.)

This year, I’m doing something a little different. I’m going to be what the NaNo community calls being a “NaNo Rebel”, in that I’m not going to be writing a novel, but a screenplay. More accurately, it’ll be a series of screenplays, ultimately intended to find its way onto the web (one day, fingers crossed). It’s still going to be a long work of fiction that shares theme and characters and an overarching story, which the mods of the Nano Rebels forum assure is completely acceptable.

It’s also going to be set in the Blackwood Empire universe, because a web-series was always the ultimate goal. All the stories and fake news articles are, in a way, just world building and backstory for the on-screen endgame. Something I can point at and tell potential investors “Look, I’ve done the groundwork, here. I’ve built this world, developed these characters. I have the script ready. All we need to do is shoot.” It’s not that simple, of course…I’m just simplifying for the sake of brevity. Visual story telling is much more involved than written. When you write, all you need is a pen and paper (or a word processor, or other writing medium), and your imagination. Making something for the screen…that’s a completely different animal, even if the basic purpose, to tell a story, is the same.

So, my fellow writers out there. Are you participating in NaNo this year? If so, tell us what you’re working on, and good luck!

And so it begins (NaNoWriMo 2014)…

Vicarious Viewing: Game of Thrones- “The Mountain and the Viper” Review

pedro pascal, oberyn martell, gregor clegane, the mountain, the red viper, the mountain and the viper review, game of thrones review, game of thrones season 4

This week on Game of Thrones: The Wildlings come to Mole Town, A Bastard becomes a Lord, Oberyn Martell fights Godzilla, and Sansa Stark goes full Sith.

Continue reading “Vicarious Viewing: Game of Thrones- “The Mountain and the Viper” Review”

Vicarious Viewing: Game of Thrones- “The Mountain and the Viper” Review

Vicarious Viewing: Game of Thrones-“First of His Name” Review

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Image via Forbes

This week: Cersei and Margaery play nice, Sansa arrives in The Vale, and Jon Snow deals with the mutineer situation in an episode made up largely of original material.

Continue reading “Vicarious Viewing: Game of Thrones-“First of His Name” Review”

Vicarious Viewing: Game of Thrones-“First of His Name” Review

Friday Free For All- Person of Interest and GODZILLA!

Okay, so I don’t want Friday to be another review day, but this week I’m going to make an exception. I also apologize to anyone who followed this blog because of my PoI reviews, because I haven’t kept up. The schedule with which CBS decides to release new episodes is hardly stable; an episode here, two or three episodes there, with a week or sometimes three weeks in between. I also don’t want this to be solely a review blog, which I feel it was close to becoming.

Continue reading “Friday Free For All- Person of Interest and GODZILLA!”

Friday Free For All- Person of Interest and GODZILLA!

Vicarious Viewing: Game of Thrones- “The Lion and the Rose” Review

Game of Thrones continues a strong fourth season with an eventful second episode. I’m a bit surprised that this played out so early in the season, but the big development isn’t necessarily who died, but what that death means for certain characters.

The crowd pleasing moment of the death of the show’s most despicable character (a title that must now be passed on to Ramsey Snow, if it hadn’t already) should have been immediately undercut by the fact that Tyrion was immediately blamed, and Sansa had to be whisked away by Ser Dontos (the drunk dude she saved way back in season two who suddenly reappeared last week). I would think fans would be FREAKING OUT now that Tyrion is on his way to the dungeons, but I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that people’s hatred of Joffrey blinded them to that little fact. Perhaps next week it will sink in.

I’m also a bit surprised that people are just happy that he’s dead, and not calling bullshit on how he died. I know a few people who are upset that it wasn’t Arya who done the deed. Perhaps they need time for that fact to sink in, as well.

With the death of Joffrey also comes another problem…a lack of a central character for everyone to hate. I’ve been wondering how many people have stuck around just to see how he gets it, and now that it’s happened, I wonder if the show’s ratings will fall off (not that it will matter, the show’s already been renewed through season 6).

With those nuggets out of the way, on to the rest of the episode.

We open on Ramsay Snow as he and a young woman hunt down another young woman, a broken Theon Greyjoy in tow. Perhaps opening with this scene wasn’t coincidence…with Joffrey out of the way, this guy is now the resident Nasty in Westeros. Even his father, Roose Bolton (the guy that sold out Robb) can’t stand him.

With everyone talking about the final scene, its easy to overlook the brilliant scene between Ramsay and Roose, the first solid indicator on the show that these two are related. Roose berates his bastard for flaying and castrating Theon, claiming that he wanted to trade Theon for a place called Moat Cailan that has been occupied by the Ironborn (I’m assuming this is where we’ll catch up with Yara, Theon’s sister). Ramsay demonstrates the psychological damage done to Theon by having the broken man (now calling himself Reek) into shaving him with a straight razor and confessing to Roose that he did not kill Bran and Rickon Stark. Theon is so terrified of Ramsay that he dare not attempt to murder his tormentor, for fear of what may happen. Roose sends men to look for the wayward Starks.

Alfie Allen, the actor that plays Theon, is great in this scene, and it’s the strongest performance in an episode filled with killer performances.

In King’s Landing, everyone is preparing for Joffrey and Margaery’s wedding. We get a nice scene between Tyrion and Jaime, who haven’t appeared on screen together since the first few episodes. It was good to see them interact, with Tyrion calling himself and his siblings “The Dwarf, the Cripple, and the Mother of Madness”.

Soon after, Tyrion learns from Varys that Cersei knows about Shae, and Varys is no longer able to protect them unless Shae leaves. This leads into what is probably one of the weaker scenes in the episode, where Tyrion berates Shae into leaving by reminding her that she is a whore. Its all bit overwrought, and since we know that Tyrion is just doing it to protect her, we’d think Shae of all people would realize it as well. Nevertheless, Bronn takes Shae to a ship, where she’ll be taken to Pentos. Or so we think. Bronn is a sell-sword, after all, and Tyrion’s money is Tywin’s money…and Tywin seemed keen on having her brought to his tower.

Elsewhere, on Dragonstone, Lady Melissandre is torching infidels and is sent to discuss religion with Lady Selyse, Stannis Baratheon’s daughter. I’m not entirely sure what these scenes were meant to do except reintroduce these characters. Since Stannis now knows about the threat at the Wall, it would seem he should be preparing to head that way about now, but he isn’t.

We also catch up with Bran, north of the wall. He’s spending more and more time warging out, and the others fear that he may end up forgetting himself and becoming part of Summer, his dire wolf, permanently. The group later comes across a heart tree, and Bran wargs into that, apparently. He has another vision of the three eyed crow, a decimated throne room similar to the one Dany saw in the House of the Undying, and the shadow of a dragon flying over King’s Landing. He also hears a voice telling Bran to keep going North. I have no idea what any of this means, but the implications are interesting. Is Bran going to be set in direct opposition to Dany eventually? If so, what does that mean? Is Bran being duped into unleashing Winter? Or is Dany’s coin going to land on the side of madness? Again, this is another scene that begs a lot of speculation, but will probably be forgotten in the wake of the Wedding.

Speaking of the wedding. The events leading up to the episode’s climax where rife with awkward tension. It was good to see Diana Rigg still killing it as Lady Olenna. Another high point was Oberyn and Ellaria’s conversation with Tywin and Cersei as they smiled through their teeth at each other while trading barbs. The look on Tywin’s face when Oberyn suggest that princess Myrcella is safer in Dorne where “the rape and murder of young girls is considered distasteful”, as opposed to Westeros, is priceless. There was also the great exchange between Jaime and Loras, and Cersei and Pycelle. Then Cersei and Brienne. Cersei was pretty much ruining everyone’s day.

Finally, there were the events leading up to THE event, in which Joffrey has a troupe of actors re-enact a farcical version of the War of Five kings, in which Joffrey is depicted as single-handedly taking down Stannis, Renly, Rob, and Balon Greyjoy (despite the fact that Balon is still alive and the Ironborn are still raiding the North). Joffrey is pretty much the only one laughing as Loras storms off and Sansa goes catatonic watching her brother’s death turned into a joke. The looks on the faces of those in attendance, from Varys to Olenna to Margaery, all show that every one thinks the show is in bad taste, and that there is little love for Joffrey. And yet, when he begins to choke, it is Lady Olenna, ever the shrewd power player, who screams for some one to help him. No one wants to be seen as happy over the King’s death, although most are probably feeling it.

Finally, there was the perfectly paced sequence in which Joffrey systematically humiliates Tyrion in front of everyone, to the point where even Sansa takes pity on him. All of which leads to Joffrey’s final dastardly act, pointing to his uncle as he dies and laying the blame squarely at Tyrion’s feet, tying off what was very nearly a perfect episode.

He just has one of those faces…you know, the kind you want to punch.

In terms of VFX, this episode was pretty light. There was a beautiful matte painting of the Red Keep during the approach to the wedding reception, and the effect of Joffrey’s dying face, likely a combination of make up and digtal enhancement, was also well done. The imagery during Bran’s vision was appropriately stylized and dreamlike, as well.

Season four continues to truck along. Previews for next week promise Dany’s arrival in Mereen and the Night’s Watch preparing for Mance Rayder’s attack. Only two episodes deep, and things are popping off left and right. Let’s just hope they leave some big moments for the second half of the season.

Vicarious Viewing: Game of Thrones- “The Lion and the Rose” Review