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Monday, December 9, 2013

There will be Without Bloodshed

We would all like to consider ourselves 'original.' And why not. Far as we're concerned, the crap we're creating is the best thing since sliced bread. You've never *really* seen anything like it before. But you've never really seen anything like it before because... We haven't written it yet.

When I wrote Kulture Vultures with my dad, we made out influences so apparent that they're PART OF THE STORY

Matthew Graybosch has a different -- and uniquely Graybosch -- take on the idea:

He's already taller than the Empire State Building. YE GODS WHAT MORE DO YOU WANT FROM HIM.

WHAT ANXIETY OF INFLUENCE?



At risk of alienating my audience from the outset, I suspect that the last guy to tell a truly original

story was the Mesopotamian poet responsible for the Epic of Gilgamesh. Examine a story in

sufficient detail, and you'll find parts of other stories with their serial numbers filed off.



This is especially true in folktales and poetry arising out of cultures with an oral tradition. Young

people in such cultures compile a rhetorical toolkit composed of tropes, stock characters and

scenes, and descriptions. They then use this toolkit to compose their own contributions to their

culture.



If my first assertion hasn't driven you off, try this: at least half of a novelist's art lies in filing off

serial numbers with sufficient skill that most readers and critics can do little more than suggest that

an older work influenced the newer one. However, even the notion of being influenced by one's

reading can trouble novelists, who may hope to write in the tradition of a predecessor or

contemporary they admire, or avoid association with one they despise.



The latter desire is one I find best expressed by William Blake, who is reputed to have written, "I

must create my own system, or be a slave to somebody else's."



Since I dance along the line between science fiction and fantasy like Angus Young on stage

busting out a badass guitar solo, I risk comparison to old masters in both genres. In fantasy, I might

expect critics to evaluate me in the context of Tolkien, Moorcock, and Zelazny. In science fiction,

I may contend with the likes of Heinlein, Asimov, and Haldeman.



With the shoulders of such giants as these beneath my feet, I might reasonably be expected to

worry about how I stack up, and whether I'm telling my own story and not just recycling theirs. If

you expect such anxiety from me, your disappointment pleases me.



I am as proud of my influences as a heavy metal band is of theirs. I learned my craft by reading my

chosen genres. I read the best, the worst, and a fair amount in between.



I'm not worried worried about readers associating Imaginos with Saruman because they're both

wizards and cunning linguists who wear white. Of course, we don't know how skilled a tongue

Saruman has, because what happens in Lothlorien stays in Lothlorien.



If readers meet Claire Ashecroft and think she's a Heinlein heroine gone terribly wrong, I'll just

turn around and write a story about the first time Claire posed for the Heinlein Grrls pinup calendar

for charity.



This isn't a demon-­ridden competition. I don't care about writing a better book than Brandon

Sanderson or John Scalzi. I have more than enough to do just writing a better novel than my last

one. I'm not afraid of my influences, and I don't care much about what you think of my work. If

you got your money's worth, I'm happy for you. If it wasn't to your taste, I'm sorry I disappointed

you.


Graybosch has enough guts to tell you exactly what he thinks.
The truth, whatever color it may come in, is hard to find these days.
So you'd be well off sinking your teeth into his work.
At least, if you're smart you will.

Without Bloodshed is out now, on Amazon.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Soldiers, Gaming & the USO

This piece originally appeared at NYPost.com just ahead of July 4, 2013-- it has since disappeared due to technical issues. But I decided that it's too important. So here it is again.


These toys do hard work


By William Vitka and Ben Moore

Video games are generally viewed as entertainment. Under that broad umbrella, you can add business and art. There's money and beauty in those digital hills, after all. But, video games have grown to encompass a heck of a lot more than even that since they debuted on an oscilloscope.

They encompass so much, in fact, that the question is slowly becoming: What can't be done with video games?

Well. What about helping our men and women in uniform?

For Christopher Broman, video games served as a distraction and refuge from long days on patrol in Afghanistan. Broman has been part of the Army National Guard since 2007. He’s been deployed twice, in Iraq from 2007 to 2008 and Afghanistan in 2010-2011.

“We were in the middle of nowhere,” Broman says about his deployment in Afghanistan. “Our platoon was out for almost 10 hours every single day.”

Broman delved deeply into games. He says games allowed him to escape to another place.

“When I play games, I’m not thinking about the mission tomorrow,” Broman said. “I’m just thinking ‘get the bad guy.’”

Some of the games Broman fell in love with while on deployment include Skyrim, Persona 4, and L.A. Noire. Each of these are single-player games with a heavy focus on narrative. For Broman, these games were familiar and comfortable. They acted as a safe haven after a long day of patrolling a foreign place.

Games also helped Broman socialize with his platoon. Even though each member of his platoon came from a different place and background, games served as a common ground where they could connect with one another. Broman specifically remembers playing a lot of Call of Duty: Black Ops.

“That’s what we did because there was nothing else to do,” Broman said.

Broman still plays Battlefield 3 with members of his platoon even though he’s no longer on deployment.

Recently, the media has claimed a link exists between video games and real-world violence. Broman argues against this, saying video games are too abstract to be mistaken for reality, which is why his platoon could enjoy military games like Call of Duty, despite having to work as soldiers every day.


In fact, Broman and his platoon would collectively laugh at the discrepancies between Call of Duty and actual military life, such as how a .50 caliber rifle in the game sounded like a “peashooter” when compared with a genuine gun.

Broman thinks it’s the competitive element of games that attracted his platoon, not the violence. He says they would also play family-friendly games like Mario Kart, which he believes is equally competitive.

Like Broman, Clayton Stratton also played video games while serving in the military. He served in the United States Navy for six years, deployed on the USS Nimitz, a supercarrier and one of the largest warships in the world, and on the NAS Lemoore in California.

Stratton says that games are a perfect social conduit for servicemen and women since the military already has a “built-in” group mindset and a mental culture that fosters both cooperation and competition simultaneously. He thinks video games can encourage a stronger sense of belonging.

"As a result," Stratton said, "video games can foster or further encourage closer-knit military units and a stronger sense of belonging, leading to potentially more efficient and cohesive military units."

Stratton's words are now being echoed by researchers at Duke University who say that video games may actually make better soldiers. At least in the sense that they can ascertain and process critical information more effectively on the battlefield.

In an article by The Daily Mail, Professor Greg Applebaum of the Center for Cognitive Neuroscience is quoted as saying, "Gamers see the world differently. They are able to extract more information from a visual scene."

It's pretty obvious how important this can be for the lives of the men and women on the front lines. To say nothing of the emotional impact video games have.

That's a fact not lost on USO Chief of Staff and Executive Vice President John Pray -- a retired Brigadier General. The United Service Organizations was founded in 1941 by President  Franklin D. Roosevelt. Those folks know a thing or two about helping our troops on the front lines. They've evolved with the times and know what kinds of entertainment can help our soldiers.

John Pray, USO Executive Vice President and Chief of Staff, watches as troops participate in a Pro vs. GI Joe event with the Florida Marlins in 2011. 


"Our goal, our mission, is to lift the spirits of troops and families … We support and comfort ... We connect families and their loved ones ... And then we entertain," Pray said.

"MEGS [Mobile Entertainment Gaming System] is a project that we started several years ago. We have listened to our service members and we understand that gaming is a big part of their lives before they got in the military, it is a big part of their lives while they're in the military. It's a great way [for them] to relax and recharge."

Pray said that the MEGS system is precisely what it sounds like. Built from the ground up, it's a ruggedized case loaded with equipment: A system, controllers, flatscreen TV, games and movies. It allows them to respond to requests from a unit or a group of soldiers serving overseas and provide them with a contained gaming experience.

It does, however, need to be plugged in, which obviously presents some difficulties. Though we here at Parallel Worlds think folks in the gaming industry should really get their act together and find a solution for that. We're thinking: Solar power.

The USO also has about 160 locations around the world where there are providing troops with a homelike environment to relax, recharge and many feature entertainment rooms for gaming . There are nine such centers in Afghanistan, Pray said.

"Within those centers, we have areas where we have banks of computers. [Troops] can either play by themselves or use the bandwidth that we buy that allows them to play maybe with friends back home or with others," Pray said. " We realize that not every service member can make it to one of our centers. Particularly in Afghanistan, serving in a lot of austere locations," Pray said.

You read that right: The USO has to buy bandwidth. Which seems particularly unfair. But the USO has a good relationship with 3Di Technologies, which helps the organization with its connectivity.

Pray said, "Another program that we have, to provide gaming out to our troops wherever they are, is USO2GO. Units can order one of eight modules -- they can actually order all eight if they want to -- one of which is gaming.

"That's our most popular."

Once the order is validated, the USO fires them off -- through the U.S. Postal service, no less. Once the package gets to Kuwait for example, one of the major staging areas, the military takes over and delivers into the destination theater.

Another fascinating program the USO hosts is 'Pro vs. G.I. Joe,' where professional athletes will game with soldiers stationed overseas. The communications are done via Skype, and, again, the USO usually needs to purchase bandwidth for these events.

The Call of Duty titles are the most popular, Pray said. In fact, CoD voice stars James Burns and Kamar de los Reyes were most recently working with the USO in Afghanistan. They were out with the troops while we spoke with Pray.
Pray also echoed what Broman and Stratton said: Even single-player games become group events. "It's amazing to watch," Pray said. "Maybe just one person is playing, but everyone is engaged."
It gives them a chance to escape their harsh realities.
Of the psychological aspects, Pray said, "There's an intensity [in the games] that keeps you interested and focused, but is not like you're bringing other combat experiences into that environment. It allows them to play. [The troops] understand that it gives them the opportunity to recharge their minds in a different way."
Another harsh reality of the situation is that the billions and billions the gaming industry pockets does not find its way to those gamer troops. The USO operates almost exclusively through game and system donations. Though they do purchase some systems with donated funds.
Activision is a notable exception. They work closely with the USO.
"They do some marvelous stuff for us," Pray said.
In our opinion, it's not enough. These are our troops. Men and women who quite literally put their lives on the line for us. They do it so we don't have to. We can sit here and stay home and enjoy our games in safety (or sit here and write an article about it on a nice computer we'll be gaming on later).
The troops don't have that option.
And this isn't a matter of politics. Nobody cares who you voted for. It doesn't matter what 'side' you're on.
This is just a matter of people helping people.
Please: Donate. Be it money or games or movies or books or time, through volunteering.
Pray left our conversation with this message to the troops: "The USO is America’s way of saying thank you to our troops and their families."

Saturday, September 14, 2013

STRANDED LIVES

Go get it, you fools!

An invasion tale like no other. It's THE GREY meets ALIENS.

Men isolated at a logging camp in Alaska spend their days working and driving dogs. Drinkers. Smokers. Tough guys doing a tough job.

In the middle of a terrible storm, a black circular shape careens overhead. None of them want to admit that they saw it: A goddamn flying saucer. A ship not only carrying extraterrestrial creatures, but also their weapons of war. Nightmare beasts meant for a battlefield far from Earth.

Loggers, alien Pilots and American soldiers forge a wary alliance to stop the horrifying warmachines from ripping the planet and the galaxy to pieces.


Thursday, August 22, 2013

STRANDED COVER REVEAL

Let's get this thing out there, the big, huge, gorgeous STRANDED cover.


More of the ship because FUCK TABLES.


Sunday, June 30, 2013

EMERGENCE Theme

Music to triumph over monsters by. Free, of course, like the book.



Get your fight on.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

STRANDED cover reveal ...

Will be in pieces. Thanks to an awesome idea by Ted B. A little here. A little there. Until BOOM! The full glory.

Friday, June 28, 2013

STRANDED

So, here's the current question: When do I reveal the cover for my forthcoming scifi novel STRANDED? Obviously, it looks awesome, since my brother does not produce crap.

But when do I do it?

Ye gods. Someone halp.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Comic Con and the United Independents' Declaration of War - Independent Writers and Independent Publishers, We're With You

Update: Mr. Shane Vidaurri just contacted me. He sent along a particularly nice email, which I won't quote here because I'd rather not violate the personal nature of the note. But he reached out, and rather kindly, expressed his regret that we were offended. For the record, I don't believe Mr. Vidaurri himself said anything rude to us. And, moreover, his effort to reach out speaks volumes about him. It is appreciated. I've slightly amended the text below to reflect that. I'll gladly shake Mr. Vidaurri's hand when our paths cross next. The rage post below is not directed at him, at all. And, in fact, I apologize for including him originally. Hell, he should join the Kindle All-Stars with us.

Arch Enemy, can I get an opener?



Whether you like it or not, we will rise.

Me, Bernard Schaffer and Alexander Maisey had a wonderful time today speaking together at Philadelphia Comic Con on a panel about independent writing and publishing. We missed our comrade-in-arms, Michael Shean. Though he was there in spirit, and nameplate.

Here's mine:




And I gave out a lot of these:


I am lucky enough to have a brilliant brother who designs my artwork. And I tried to promote my partner Jessica's editing services, because she's similarly brilliant and I am similarly lucky.

(guzman.editor@gmail.com for your editing needs, kids!)

It was wonderful. Really, truly wonderful. Especially the crowd (without them, who are we? These are people endeavoring to be writers. Hell, most were writers just looking to learn some more. The world needs more!). Even if we three (totally new to speaking on a panel) were a bit scattershot.

The crowd was earnest. They asked questions. And, bless em, they were patient as we stumbled through our answers to their questions. Though I'll apologize now because 45 minutes is simply not enough time to get through everything.

And like I said, we're rather new at this panel business.

But whoever was there, we meant it when we said: Contact us. Email us. Twitter us. We've been through the crap, all the shit, and we want you guys to succeed with us. So ask us more questions!

Indie writers need to stick together. For at least one rather depressing reason:

The panel before us was the old guard, so to speak. Folks who, to varying degrees, had gone through the rigmarole of 'traditional' publishing:

"COMPELLING STORYTELLING 
Whether you are a seasoned writer or a brand new one, the journey of writing a compelling story is a tumultuous one. Creative writing is often fill with all kinds of discouraging land-mines or creative dead-ends. Hear from Bob Layton (Iron Man; Uncanny X-Men; Avengers; Captain America; Batman), Shane Vidaurri (Iron: Or, The War After), Daniel Boyd (Chillers; Paradise Park) and Rebecca Housel (The Pop Culture Professor) as they share some of their secrets to not only completing a compelling story but also how to develop habits to be a more effective writer. (ROOM 109)"

So, hey, that's cool. 

Except, ye gods, were they some of them rude. I've met scores of traditionally published writers who were wonderful. But these folks ... They a couple of these folks lacked any humility or grace or just courtesy ... At least when dealing with filth like us independent writers. They went over time. They Someone openly dissed us before leaving. One -- the voice was feminine, and I can't say for certain who it was, as I had my back to them and was carrying twenty pounds of books -- said with alarm when I stood next to a walker: "Get away from that."

As though I was going to steal it. Or perhaps graffiti it.

Since I am a filthy indie pulp author and clearly not to be trusted.

It was a bit like marching into war. Because we hadn't done anything. We were just snidely attacked. We're not even going as far as 'Don't Tread On Me.' More like 'Don't Shit On Me.'



This post, and there are a few like it, are reactions.

Maisey has a particularly funny, and poignant, writeup here.

"What pissed me off was twofold.  After running ten minutes over their allotted time, the host of the prior panel was asked to announce our panel since the crowd they had gotten clearly had an interest in writing and might be interested in what we might have to say.  He got on the mic and mumbled, “Hang around for the Independent something,” and walked away.
I asked a simple question of the members of the prior panel as our group entered the hall, not knowing their identities.  (It’s worth mentioning that none of their names struck a bell after I did find out who they were; a Google search at home cleared that up and did not impress.)  I asked, very simply, “Are you writers, too?”
They literally guffawed at me in that, “This guy doesn’t know who I am” way.  One snickered, “You could say so.”  His particular curriculum vitae includes a number of comic books for a company that failed terribly in the late nineties and little else afterwards ... "We have places to be," announced a [person who writes 'serious' 'philosophical' bullshit about Twilight and True Blood]."

Go read it.
It gets better, too.

But there are two possibly alarming issues at play here. One is: Either they love sniffing their own farts and really truly believe they are the gold standard (and let me put it this way: We weren't going on after Stephen King or Elmore Leonard -- both of whom are wildly successful and, as it happens, wonderful people who don't act like snobs).

OR (and this just gives me fuzzy feelings of war):

The old guard is terrified of us. They don't want to deal with us. They don't know how to deal with us. We're killing their dying industry. And they'd like to deride us, insult us, marginalize us, mock us as often as possible because that's the easiest (read: laziest) way to keep us down.

Either way, OK.

I don't need them and they don't need me. Eat a dick. Perhaps a bowl of dicks. Maybe even a goddamn bushel of dicks. (But I don't want you to get too full, so watch your dick intake, all right? Scarf only as many dicks as makes you feel satisfied. Do not over-dick. As a friend points out: The FDA recommends eating only 6 to 10 dicks a day.)

[_____Insert (heh) a whole lot more dick jokes____]

But more importantly: We don't need them. We indie authors can stand up for ourselves. And we can kick ass by ourselves. Especially not if their reaction to new, up-and-coming writers is some kind weird, smug derision.

Indie writers don't have the luxury of hiding behind anything. Any publication or publisher. We are the beginning and the end of ourselves. Not uroboros. Alpha and Omega. We can't blame anyone, because we are the only people accountable for our work.

So, all right. You want to treat us like dirt? We'll be proud in the filth. But we'll still fight. And we'll write. And you'll keep opening for us at panels.

You want to be scared? That's all right, too.

We'll give you something to be scared of.

Except Mr. Vidaurri. He's a stand-up fellow and just an awesome dude.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Ray Harryhausen and Chuck Jones

I sit here. Smoke a cigarette. Pour a few fingers of whiskey into a tumbler (Evan Williams). Follow that up with a bit of Yuengling. Listen to Mick Jagger not realize he's old yet with "Doom and Gloom."

And I think: Would any of my monsters exist without Ray Harryhausen?

The answer is: Probably not.

No parasite people from INFECTED. No Stilt-walkers (humans stretched out with long limbs). No towers of flesh born of amalgamated people. No hundred-foot-tall Hroza from EMERGENCE (my lumbering ancient creatures, spawned from crustaceans and arachnids and mammals). No gargoyles. No gremlins (Well, that was Joe Dante ... Who also would have nothing without Harryhausen). No Pilots from the forthcoming STRANDED and no warmachines from the same book.

The same goes for the humans. Who, though more in line with Elmore Leonard's palettes, fit the Jones-Harryhausen mold.

Chuck Jones and Ray Harryhausen are the reason those beasts -- all my beasts -- exist. Or, if not the monsters themselves, then, certainly, the personalities. Jones and Harryhausen are responsible for the emotive characteristics of those fuckers.

I'll quote myself here, from EMERGENCE:


The people of Brooklyn had no idea what they were witnessing.
A few miles north of the Verrazano Bridge, in Bayonne, New Jersey, a towering black hundred-foot figure stumbled. Jumped. Spasmed. It crashed into the Hudson River. Sprayed up jets of white foam in its frenzy.
At first glance, it seemed some enormous piece of construction equipment had collapsed. That in and of itself was unusual, but they'd seen it before.
Watchers along the riverfront snapped blurry shots with their phones. Remarked on how odd it was. Kept walking.
Farther south, more eyes saw the big tentacular thing as it burst up from the water and latched onto the underside of the Verrazano. It hung there, making a terrible animal noise none had ever heard before. The screaming of a whale, distorted. A howl of pain. Shaking the steel of the bridge. Splashing back down under the waves.
More disbelief. More blurry phone photos. Some video now.
The shape came ashore. Emerged from underneath the Verrazano. Pounded its massive eight legs. Crawled up from the direction of the Hudson. Whipped its tail back and forth. Knocked around cars and trees in the park. Knocked around people who happened to be in the way.
Its mammalian skull glared, eyes rolling and staring and showing nothing but hate.
The thing barked. Howled. Roared.
The mass of feelers along its body snapped out. They sounded like whips in the air. Snapped again. Split a man in half. Then a woman. Both died running from the monstrosity.
It tripped on its own legs. Destroyed a Chinese food place at 101st. Dust and debris skittered around Brooklynites as they made for cover.
People screamed. Ran. Covered their ears and pinched their eyes shut as though the worst headache they'd ever experienced was bludgeoning their brains. They all felt a powerful white static blare. The neural noise made it impossible to think. Many collapsed. Grunting and grimacing and staring up at this tartarean behemoth in disbelief.
The lobster spider squid thing stopped. A confused look played across its face as troops from the Fort Hamilton Army Base surrounded it and established lines of fire. It sneezed. Coughed. Used one of its chitinous legs to scratch its face and then its head. It looked up to the sky, and then its eyes rolled back in its head.
It teetered and tottered. Wobbled to and fro.
It crashed face-first into the asphalt on 4th Avenue, shattering and sheering up sheets of road. Its legs shook once. It laid still.
NYPD officers and soldiers made their way around the massive body.
When one of the thing's tendrils curled in a death rattle, a trooper unloaded a full magazine from his M4A1 carbine into it. Just to be sure. The enormous body responded by jetting out gouts of gore that covered the street in a wash of blood.
At the center of its thorax, they heard a sound.
A faint buzzing.
Cops and soldiers backed off. They formed a defensive ring around the spot.
They watched in horror. They expected some new attack.
A whirring metal blade jutted out from the monster's flesh. It cut up and around in a circle. Even more blood streamed onto the street and splashed into pools.
A grunt. The sound of a kick against something heavy but squishy.
The circular door of skin flopped down from the beast's side.
Behind it stood a kid.  A goddamn teenager holding a chainsaw. A goddamn teenager with a six-gun strapped to his thigh. A goddamn teenager lighting a cigarette as he stepped out of the carcass of the creature.
Like it was no big deal.
The teenager said, "That was fun." Pulled on his cigarette. Dropped the chainsaw. "Someone's gonna have to take me back to Bayonne. I left my car there." The kid lifted his hand to his head. Said, "Shit, hang on." He disappeared back inside the corpse. Came out a minute later adjusting a cowboy hat on his head. "Almost left my Stetson in that awful bastard."

I write cartoons. Just ... Y'know ... Horrible ones.

When the monster sneezed? That little bit of personality? I never would have thought about that without Jones and Harryhausen.

For me, it's all about watching Wile E. Coyote realize - rather late - that gravity will assert control. It's physics. Just in cartoon form.



It's the fantastic and the real. That's what made both of these men superb in their own right.


Have you ever -- especially with the utter ONSLAUGHT of CGI -- seen a creature as emotive as this?


 It's perfect. The Ymir breathes. Responds. Wakes up -- not in the best of moods. And you know it's feeling something.

It's feeling something because Ray Harryhausen spent so much goddamn time animating it. One slight movement for every 24th of a second, so he could meet all 24 frames per second that would go on the silver screen.

Bringing it to life. It was, is, a being he birthed.

All of his creatures were alive, as Doctor Frankenstein said of both his monster and his monster's bride-to-not-be.

We don't see that now.

We have commercials telling us what decongestant we should buy because there's an animated snot rocket. Or maybe a bee voiced by Antonio Banderas because, hoo shit, our noses are stuffed up.

Ray Harryhausen gave his monsters soul.

They were awesome in their terror. Awesome in their celluloid life.

But there was a beating heart behind it. And it's gone now.

I was lucky.

I met Ray twice.

The first was at a SciFi horror convention in the apocalyptic Meadowlands. Me, being twelve, turned sponge the day before at the behest of my old man, who happened to be the right age to see this shit when it originally graced films reels

Still,  I knew it was a BIG THING.

We spent the day before, when my brother was a mewling idiot infant and not the awesome person he is today, watching Ray work his magic.

King Kong was first, so that I understood some more about the history of the medium and who Willis O'Brien was (though this would doom me later). Then Mighty Joe Young, to keep the theme alive. Then, ye gods, it was a slew of awesome.

The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms and it's astounding cop-eating scene. It Came From Beneath The Sea (Tentacles! Kenneth Tobey!). Earth Versus The Flying Saucers. 20 Million Miles To Earth. First Men In The Moon. Valley Of The Gwangi (suck a dick, Cowboys Vs. Aliens) ... Then, man, the biggies.

Jason And The Argonauts.

Clash Of The Titans.

You can't touch that. Nothing you do will ever be as amazing as the skeleton-hydra scene from Jason or the Medusa scene from Clash.

I'm twelve. Thinking about this.

My own attempts at stop-motion had been met by "Ye gods, don't do that again" by my peers. So.

My dad has an interview lined up with Ray. Big thing. Gonna happen when some NBC asshole gets done.

Yeah, OK, it's a convention and blah blah. And my dad does blah blah.

I'm staring at some neoprene replicas of the facehuggers from Alien and a goddamn way-too-expensive custom model of Ripley's POWER LOADER from ALIENS when my dad taps me.

My old man says, "Hey. Stop. We gotta go up to talk to Ray."

I say, "Nyrrgh? Ray who?" Still looking at figures from the United States Colonial Marine Corps and the xenomorphs they'd face when I decided to have a war in my backyard.

"Harryhausen."

The name goes off in my head.

Oh, Jesus. Oh, God.

It's the first time in my life I remember panicking. Real, bowel-stilling panic. Like a chunk of concrete had settled in my intestines.

But, hey, I'm twelve. So I go, "Yeah, cool." Like, hey, whatever.

Close to peeing myself the whole time.

And I go over all the movies I know are Ray's.

Just stay cool man. Just stay cool.

Clash Of The Titans. Jason And The Argonauts. Mighty...Something... Joe...Kong?

My brain poops itself.

I meet Ray Harryhausen, twelve years old.

He's huge. Tall. Towering over me.

My brain craps itself.

I blurt out: "King Kong was awesome."

Ray, with his perma-bald down the center head, laughs. "I didn't work on that one."

And I spend the next forty minutes watching my old man and Ray have a grand time.

Thinking: I screwed it up. I screwed it all up.

A decade later, I was lucky enough to get another chance. Thanks, again, to my father -- who had apparently vowed with Ray Bradbury and Ray Harryhausen to never quite grow up.

We were at the Angelika in New York City.

My dad dragged me, already a journalist who'd spent time in the ditches, over to Ray.

Ray looks at me and smiles.

I grab his hand. Say, "You have no reason to remember this, but about ten years ago, I was small, and I said that your work on King Kong was awesome."

Ray says, "Did you?"

"Yeah. I'm sorry."

Ray laughs. I mean really laughs. This kind of deep chuckle that doesn't stop. A belly laugh that has nothing to do with his stomach. "There is no reason to be sorry. I wish I could take credit. You know what I remember?"

I shake my head.

Ray says, "I remember being young and I remember having a wonderful time doing what I was doing. It was different then. But ... Imagination is what matters. Use yours."

Cheers, Ray.

(I will amend this if/when my old man corrects me.)

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Philly Comic Con: Yep, I'm gonna be speaking there

June 2, and 1pm, I will be gracing this year's Philadelphia Comic Con with my presence (read as: I'll be embarrassing myself there) for a panel about independent publishing and writing.

More details are here.

But: There'll be four of us bastards up there.

Bernard Schaffer, Alexander Maisey, Michael Shean, and myself. Will we be drunk? Will we even be wearing pants?

Alas, I can make no promises.

But we will have cool shit with us to give away. Including maybe possibly some of Sean Vitka's amazing artwork.



Tuesday, April 9, 2013

EMERGENCE is on sale now!

The spiritual prequel to INFECTED, EMERGENCE is now live on Amazon.

EMERGENCE is a dark, gritty Young Adult Horror Fantasy.

Twelve-year-old Caleb Svoboda is a little Einstein. And even if his older brother Jack doesn't set the best example, they're part of a loving family. They know they're lucky.

But that luck looks like it's going to run out when an ancient creature awakens under Brooklyn ... Reality is cast into nightmares ... Everything changes when the ancient creature's evil kin decide they want to take planet Earth back ...

The only thing standing in the monsters' way are a few super-powered kids from Brooklyn.

Get it here.

Friday, April 5, 2013

A Little EMERGENCE art preview

Nope. Not finished. But here's a taste look at some of the interior art Sean Vitka is working on.

Full amazing cover reveal still scheduled for next week. Hold onto your butts.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Emergence

We're still a couple weeks from publication -- I believe under the publishing name my brother and I are heading -- but I'm wondering ... When should I do the cover reveal? Hmm?

Thursday, March 14, 2013

News And Whatnot

Next week, the awesome Gef Fox -- a writer, reader and reviewer -- will be hosting a post written by yours truly. He tells me my piece doesn't suck, so I'm pretty thankful for that. Check out his blog here.

In other news, I'll be debuting the cover of my next novel, EMERGENCE, in the coming days. So hold on to your butts.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Open Call For Beta Readers

All right, you weird wonderful fuckers. Who wants to beta-read my next book, EMERGENCE? I'm going to *gasp* self-publish it. It has a wonderful and terrifying cover (which you'll see first) from the same artist who tackled INFECTED. If you're down, contact me at williamvitka(at)gmail.com

You can be the coolest kid in school.