Category Archives: Comics

The Past Week

The past week has been one of editing. Editing is a solitary job and sometimes it’s a depressing one. But it needs to be done, so you just get on with it. When the book is ready, I’ll post the Prologue and first two chapters like I did with Crimes Against Magic.

Until it’s ready, I figured I’d go through what impressed me and what didn’t during the past week. And something that didn’t.

The good.

Batman #13 – Death of a Family part 1.

I imagine most people have seen Heath Ledger’s excellent portrayal of the joker in The Dark Knight. He captured the insanity of the character very well.

Scott Snyder goes one further. This is a joker I would be terrified of. It takes him 3 sentences to turn the Joker into the kind of character that wouldn’t be out of place in a horror movie.

If anyone out there wants to know how to write suspense or horror, read the first 5 or 6 pages of this book. And then read the rest of it. This is only the first part, but I can imagine it’s going to be a hell of a nasty journey for the reader. And I can’t wait.

Oh and the art work is incredible. Easily the best book DC puts out.

Avengers Vs X-men

It’s done. Over. Finished. And I enjoyed it. It was probably the best ‘summer event’ from comics I’ve read in a long time. Yeah some of it was stupid, and some of the character work was… off. But other than that, well worth your time.

Uncanny Avengers

Well that was great. Firstly the art is superb. Incredible work from John Cassaday, who makes everything look like fantastic.

The story was good too. Rick Remender is an excellent writer, and I for one am very interested in seeing where it goes. Judging from the end of the book, it’s going to go to somewhere very interesting.

The Bad

 

Dark Shadows

I watched this the other day and basically it’s saved by two things. Jonny Depp is great. Eva Green is stunningly beautiful. I mean she can act too, but it’s her beauty in this film that wins out. Other than those two things, it was dull and didn’t seem to know what it wanted to be, horror or comedy and it didn’t really work as either. On the plus side, once more… Eva Green.

 

 

There’s no ugly, because nothing I watched or read was that terrible, and I tend to avoid reality TV like the plague.

I did get some writing done on book 3 (With Silent Screams), although not enough to consider it impressive. I’ll be doing Nano this year, because I’m insane apparently. My plan was to get a lot done then and finish book 3 in Jan/Feb when I take time off work. But they turned me down to take the time off, so I need to re-think it.

Until next week, have a good weekend. And it’s almost Halloween soon. That’s something to look forward to.

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I’m Back. And a Chance to Win.

It’s been a long time since I last wrote my own blog posts. So, it’s been a little difficult to figure out what I’m actually going to talk about. Instead of imparting whatever pearls of wisdom I happen to think of, I thought I’d just talk about what I’ve done in those last 5 weeks.

First of all, thanks to every single person who gave their time to be interviewed or write blog posts for me. I have a few more coming up in the next few week, and if anyone wants to take part in an interview or guest blog post on my blog then you’re more than welcome to contact me. And bribes work great. Just saying.

So, what have I been doing for the last 5 weeks? Mostly I’ve been taking care of my new baby daughter, Harley. She was born on 16th Aug and the time since has flown by. Her two older sisters, Keira and Faith, have both been very good with her, although that interest vanishes the second she needs a nappy change.

My beautiful daughter. She has quite the set of lungs on her.

So, my family has taken up the majority of my time. My 7th wedding anniversary was a few days ago, for which my lovely wife got me The Avengers on Blu-Ray and an impressive canvass with some old comic book art on it. She came to terms with being married to a geek a long time ago. Although I think my comic book collection is starting to take up a little more space than she’s always happy with.

My eldest daughter, Keira also started Junior School (I don’t know what the equivalent is elsewhere), which depresses me greatly as the past years appear to have flown by. It’s her birthday tomorrow, so she’ll be 8 going on 16 (at least in terms of attitude).

I saw Dredd the other day and it’s excellent. They’ve captured the character very well, along with the brutal world he lives in. It’s a very violent film and certainly doesn’t shy away from some very graphic scenes. It’s definitely not one you want your kids to watch. Unless you like the idea of screwing them up for a few weeks.

The film also has a great poster. Which is somewhat of a lost art these days.

The one thing I will say a night feed allows me to do is catch up on my TV watching. I finished the first series of Newsroom, which is excellent and caught up with the latest seasons of Castle  (about bloody time with that ending) and Leverage. I also finally got round to making my way through Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood and Soul Eater. I’d seen about half of them, but am now near the end for both shows and they’re equally good to watch, although Soul Eater is more than a little weird and offbeat in places.

Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood is probably one of the best Anime TV shows ever made.

See the girl with the Witch outfit on? She’s actually a cat and likes to walk around naked. And that’s not the oddest thing that happens in the show.

And on to the writing side of things. Crimes Against Magic is currently doing quite well, although sales have dropped from July. I’ll do a full post about the sales side of things in a few weeks. Hopefully someone out there might find it interesting. Amazon.com has 36 reviews, 33 of which are 4 or 5 stars. Amazon.co.uk has 17 reviews, 16 of which are 4 or 5 stars. It’s an incredible reception and I’m glad so many people have enjoyed the book.

Speaking of books, Born of Hatred is back from my wonderful crit partners, Michelle Muto and D.B. Reynolds and they both liked it. In fact they both said it’s much better than Crimes Against Magic, with better writing and a tighter story. Which is just about the best news I could have received.

I’m currently making lots of edits and then it’ll go to some other wonderful people to have a read. I’m aiming for a Halloween launch, but best laid plans and all that. Which means that if I can’t manage Halloween, it’ll be launched sometime between Halloween and Thanksgiving (not that we celebrate it over here), but at least that gives you an idea of the timeframe.

My talented friend, Eamon, is currently getting the cover to Born of Hatred ready, which I’ll show as soon as he’s done.

I have tried to get some writing done on book 3, With Silent Screams, but have managed about 5k. Which isn’t great, but I’m hoping that I’ll get more done once my edits to Born of Hatred are finished.

 

Lastly, it’s competition time. 

If you’d like to win a signed copy of Crimes Against Magic, then read on:

There are four things you can do to get an entry:

1. Like my Facebook Author page https://www.facebook.com/Hiddenrealmspublishing

2. Follow my blog (click on the ‘follow’ button on the top right of this page).

3. Tweet about this competition or RT my tweets (if you tweet, you’re going to have to include me so I can keep track – there’s a widget at the bottom of this page with a link to my Twitter account).

4. Share my posts on Facebook (Look for contest posts on my Facebook page).

Every time you do one of the above, your name goes into a hat. Each additional action, means an extra entry. So in theory, if you do all the above and then share and re-tweet every day, you’ll get loads of entries.

In one week’s time, on the 27th September, my daughter will draw one name out of the hat, and I’ll announce the winner on my blog. They then have one week to contact me with their address.

If you already follow me or like my author page and don’t want to take part (maybe you don’t like free stuff) then let me know and I’ll make sure to remove your name from the hat.

So, until next week. Good luck and have a good weekend.

Super Heroes and Intermissions

I turned 33 years old yesterday. It’s weird to think that in the last year, I’ve gone from wondering if anyone ever was going to pick up Crimes Against Magic, to being a published author with a some-what successful first book published. It’s funny how fast things happen once the ball starts rolling.

I didn’t do much yesterday, it was far too hot to be outside for any length of time. So, I went to watch The Dark Knight Rises at the cinema. I don’t get to go very often, but I was never going to miss watching the last movie in the Batman trilogy. So how was it? Ummm, I’m undecided. It was a very good film. Let’s get out of the way first. I really enjoyed it. Everyone was excellent in it, especially the new members of the cast. Catwoman is a wonderful character and Anne Hathaway goes some way to show everyone else what comic book readers have known for years. Catwoman kicks ass.

The fact that she’s incredibly sexy is neither here nor there, obviously.

Bane was an interesting and pretty impressive villain and I loved the little nods to the comics as the movie continued.

So, why the ‘ummm’?

Well, first of all, it’s the weakest of the three movies. Easily the weakest. I don’t mean Godfather 3 territory, but more like Back to the Future 2. But while it may be the weakest movie of the trilogy, it’s still better than most films that get put out there. My main problem contains a small spoiler.

Mild Spoiler –

Batman looks like an idiot by the end of the movie. Over and over again things happen that as the ‘World’s Greatest Detective’, he should have seen them coming a mile off. In fact one of the ‘twists’ is so obvious that they may as well have just done it a few seconds into the movie, just to save time.
Also, while I’m doing Spoilers. Cillian Murphy’s cameo was fantastic.

Spoiler End

So it was good, but not Avengers good. Nothing I’ve seen this year has been that good. Over all it was a good end to the Nolan trilogy, but not necessary the best end it could have been.

It also lacked any Hulk smashing. An oversight on WB’s part, I feel.

…..

This is going to be my last post for a few weeks. What with the new baby imminent in a few days I felt it best not to write any more blogs until I’m actually able of coherent thought, which admittedly could be a while. But all is not lost. Because I’ve lined up some fantastic writers with interviews and guest blogs to take my place starting next week.

I’d like to leave you with one final thought. A picture of my eldest daughter, Keira on her dress up for school day. My daughter doesn’t do pink or girlie.

….

To save time, you should probably just start fearing her now.

Painful Art

When I was 21 years old I was dating a complete nutcase. We’ve all had one relationship with someone who, as it turned out, was an utter dick, and that was mine. And if you haven’t had one of those… well that could be because you’re that person for everyone else.

To celebrate the fact that I not only broke up with her crazy ass, but I also left my soul-sucking job, I decided to get my first tattoo.

This tattoo in fact

I wanted to get something special and something that was meaningful to me, so i picked something I loved (comics) and a character from it I enjoyed reading about (Daredevil). It wasn’t a terribly painful experience, although it wasn’t without it’s moments, but it was nice enough that I didn’t once think about stopping there.

You see there’s something no one really told me before I got the Daredevil tattoo. They’re really addictive. Now for the most part I’ve restrained myself from having too many done and only get one when I find something worthwhile having done. So over the years I got a tattoo of my daughter, Keira’s name wrapped around my arm in Japanese. A Samurai when Keira was born.

It looks a little like this, but not like this. Which I’m aware is a dreadful way of describing something.

And two anime wolves next to one another when my second daughter was born.

Imagine two of them, sleeping together with small amounts of colour on their head and without the leg irons.

So, when my wife and I discovered she was pregnant, I knew I was going to get another tattoo. It was just a question of what. After getting the wolves, I knew it had to be something just about the new baby. But it wasn’t until we settled on the name Harley that I knew with a hundred percent certainty what I wanted.

Ignore all the little bits around the outside.

So, next thursday I’m off to get a new tattoo on my forearm and I can’t wait.

Now there are a few things that people should know before they get a tattoo.

1. Yes, of course it bloody well hurts. How much depends on where you get it done and what you get done, along with who is doing the work.

2. If you get something done, try and make it personal to you. Just because everyone else has tribal tattoos on their arms, doesn’t mean you have to.

3. Don’t go with a tattooist just because it’s cheap. Cheap and tattoos are not good friends. Research the tattooist and find out how his/her work looks.

4. Eat before you go. Seriously this is incredibly important unless you like the idea of passing out. At least drink something sugary.

5. Research. Not only the pic you want, but also where you want it and how big. If you go to a tattoo parlour with a copy of a picture you’ve already found, it’ll make everything much easier.

So if you’re thinking of getting a tattoo done, just try to be original and above all enjoy the experience, it really isn’t all that scary.

And now for a Born of Hatred update:

It’s still almost done. Seriously, I’ve got about 2 chapters to write.

As for Crimes Against Magic. Well, this week has been insane. In a good way. I sold 104 copies on Monday and averaged about 70ish books for the other days (so far only 57 today, but you can’t knock 57). I also now have 23, 5 star reviews, which is incredible.

At the moment this is where it sits.

Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,562 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)

Once again it’s been a superb week and I wouldn’t change it for anything. I’ll do a post about full sales when I’m back after my Aug break once Harley is born. So, until next week, have a great weekend.

Five Things That Impressed Me

This week, I thought I’d take the time to go through five things that have impressed me the most in the past few weeks.

But first, an update. March madness is going quite well.  I’ve averaging the 1000 words a day that I need (just about) and making pretty good time. The story has changed slightly though, as I sort of wrote myself into trouble and then had to write myself out of it again, but what’s the fun in writing if you can’t challenge yourself?

I’ve also done some research for book three. Primarily, I’ve been looking into the Great Freeze of 1709. I don’t know if I’ve mentioned it before, but I love research. I learn so much that I didn’t ever think I’d need to know.

And now onto the point of this weeks blog.

1. Saga

As some of you know, I’m a big comic book fan. And Brian K. Vaughan is one of the best writers in the business.

He’s the writer of Y: The Last Man, Pride of Baghdad and Ex Machina. All of which are superb and come highly recommended by me, so his new comic series was always going to cause a bit of a stir. And Saga lives up to every inch of that promise.

It would be easy to say that Saga is just Romeo and Juliet in space, but that does neither the characters nor story justice. More was done in this first issue, than most writers manage in five or six these days.

Praise must also be given to Fiona Staples who does some wonderful art, both on the fantastic action scenes and the more dialog and emotional heavy stuff too.

I don’t want to say any more, because this is the kind of comic that you should go into without knowing the story too much. But be assured that this is the start of something a bit special, much like Y: The last man. If you have any interest in comics, sci-fi or just good writing, you owe it to yourself to pick this up.

2. Hunger Games

I’d never even heard of this book up until about a month ago, when I saw the trailer for the movie and immediately thought – Americanised Battle Royale for a teen audience. (For those of you who don’t know, Battle Royale is one of the finest films of all time and is about a group of kids stuck on an island who all have to kill each other until one remains. It’s incredible, dark, funny and very, very violent.) I held off reading the book because I didn’t want it to be another Twilight ‘will they, won’t they, how can she decide between the two’, which really isn’t for me. Turns out I was wrong so far. I’ve not finished it yet, but damn is it ever dark.

I’m also finding it to be very well written and gripping. I don’t know if the film will be any good, and maybe the end of the book goes all pear shaped and I’ll hate it, but at the moment I’m very glad I got myself a copy.

3. Mass Effect 3

I love Mass Effect. Love it. I love the characters, I love the setting. Pretty much everything about these three games scream “Steve, buy me, love me.” And Mass Effect 3 took me 32hrs to complete. And I loved 31hrs and 45 minutes. Then it all went horribly wrong.

I’m not going to spoil the end of the game because that would be a really shitty thing to do. But it was the biggest let down I’ve had from an ending in a very long time.

But those 31 hrs and 45 minutes before then, pure gaming gold. Characters I’ve seen grow and develop over the three games came back to fight once more, and I had quite the touching romance with a certain alien female as I did my best to save the galaxy. It was all heading towards being the best way Bioware would have ended the trilogy. But, damn. Just… damn.

4. PS Vita

You may have guessed that I’m a big fan of videogames. I have been for many a year, and will probably still be playing when I’m old and sat on my rocking chair, waving my walking stick at youngsters and demanding that they stay off my lawn.

I’ve played most handhelds since the Gameboy back in 1989/90. The PS Vita is the most impressive I’ve ever used since… well, since ever. It’s an incredible piece of technology with a fantastic launch line up. The touch screen on the front is wonderful (as is the screen itself), the controls feel right, and even the rear touch pad is a nice touch. There are issues (PS1 and PS2 games should be playable, Wi-Fi should always connect and every single one of the ‘compilation games’ like Sly Racoon should be playable on it) but they’re tiny compared to how much fun I’ve had playing Uncharted on a handheld.

Sony deserve to do very well with this as it blows the Nintendo 3DS out of the water in terms of features and capability. Hopefully that success will come for them.

5. Suits

I’m not a big TV watcher. I like Supernatural, Burn Notice, Lost Girl and Psych. And I watch a few things with my daughters (Ben 10 and Phineas and Ferb are big hits in my house), but there’s very few other things that I’d consider to be unmissable.

Suits is now on that very short list. In the 6 or 7 episodes I’ve watched, I’ve grown to love this show. It’s smart, funny and very well written, with characters that are both believable and entertaining. Long may it continue.

And that’s it for this week. Enjoy your weekend.

Returned for Batman

Apart from being a fan of anime, videogames and foreign films (all of which I’m sure went towards me getting my wife), I’m also a big comic book fan. “Comics? Why that’s for young whippersnappers and ruffians. Not the stuff a grown man should be partaking with,” some of you will say, in what I’d like to imagine is a stuffy British accent. But, as much as I’d like to go through and explain why those who think like that are wrong, I’d destined myself to not enlightening the masses a long time ago. Anyway, as much as I love comics, two years ago I stopped. Went cold turkey. You see, I’ve always collected Comics, ever since I purchased Uncanny X-men #272 when I was twelve years old (There’s no point explaining what happened in that comic, because I still don’t totally understand the storyline after all these years).

Like any 90s X-men comic, it was full of large breasts, metal body parts, guns that were far too large to be useful and manly poses. It was a simpler time.

From that moment on, I was a Marvel fan and picked up what I could when I could afford it. Then when I reached an age of having a regular income, I picked up a lot on a regular basis. Then two years ago I go so fed up with so much about what was happening in the industry, the constant cross-over’s for the most part, that I just stopped. DC never really got a look in. There’s was a minefield of history that was nigh-on impenetrable and characters I just didn’t care about.  Oh, there were bright points-Flash and JSA by Geoff Johns and Secret Six by Gail Simone, but for the most part very little DC (that doesn’t include Vertigo) made its way onto my regular reading list. So, I was comicless for 2 years. And then I started to hear about DC’s 52. The idea behind it being that all of the regular monthly comics would be cancelled and replaced with all new comics with no history to concern yourselves with. My first look around a comic store after it started led me to five titles, but one really stood out. Batman, written by Scott Snyder, with art by Greg Capullo.

This isn't issue 1's cover, but most people wouldn't know that anyway.

I’m not a huge Batman fan. I’ve always preferred the idea of him to what was actually written. The past five months have changed my mind. #5 came out a few weeks ago, and I think it’s fair to say that Scott Snyder has written something that will stack up as one of the best Batman stories I’ve ever read. It’s creepy, cruel and although I know that somehow Batman must win, I have no idea how. He seems outmatched, outthought and genuinely out of his league. On top of this, #5 contained one of the most impressive pieces storytelling I’ve ever seen (it’s to do with how you read the comic, but I don’t want to spoil it for those who want to read it and haven’t). Scott Snyder also writes the wonderful American Vampire, a book that anyone even slightly interested in Vampires as actual beings of fear should read. He brings that sense of terror at places it in a book about superheroes and the end results are something that more people should witness.

How can you look at that and think it's not creepy?

This is a mainstream superhero comic which genuinely does something compelling. The writing and art have formed a perfect match, and that’s a rare thing these days. So after 2 years without comics, Batman, Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo was what brought me back to a medium that has given me so much joy over the years. It’s good to be back.

A Very Special Announcement

I had a nice idea for my first solo post that included telling everyone about my book that will be coming out this year, Crimes Against Magic.  The best laid plans of mice and men, and all that.

I was going to wait for a few weeks to announce this. But seeing how a lot of people seem to already know, I figure I may as well make it official.

My wife and I are going to have our third child, due in early August.

Originally, I was going to wait until the first scan had gone, and then let people know. But, as per usual, that’s flown right out the window. So, to stop the haphazard way in which people find out, I figured telling everyone at once was probably a good idea. And what’s a blog for, if not to put all information in one place.

For those of you who don’t have children, you won’t know the mixture of joy and mortal terror at discovering you’re going to be a father. Well, that’s true of baby 1 anyway. By the time you get to the 3rd, it’s mostly a case of figuring out when I might actually get some sleep again. Short answer. Never.

We don’t know what the sex is yet, but so long as it’s healthy and happy I’m not fussed. Besides my wife and I rock on the baby name front, so we’ve already got some cool names picked out for either eventuality. My eldest daughter wants to call it Harley Quinn if it’s a girl. My wife is not coming round to the idea as much as Keira would like.

So that’s the blog for this week, thanks to everyone who came and looked around or commented last week. You never know, next time I may actually get to talk about writing.