Tuesday, July 14, 2015

How Awesome was the Trailer for Suicide Squad?!?

San Diego Comic Con, the Granddaddy of all Comic Cons, delivered yet again the single item that can get the masses stirred up - movie trailers.

Several awesome trailers were shown, such as: Batman vs Superman, Star Wars, Deadpool (probably the fan favorite), and of course the much anticipated Suicide Squad.

Suicide Squad, directed by David Ayer, takes a brilliant concept where a secret government agency recruits imprisoned supervillains to execute dangerous black ops missions in exchange for clemency. The movie will feature an array of acting talent, such as: Margot Robbie, Will Smith, and probably the most talked about - Jared Leto.

Jared Leto is tasked with recreating The Joker. A very tall task considering the shoes Heath Ledger has left to fill. However, this will not be the same Joker, and that is a good thing. There are a few observations made of this "new" Joker by Cinema Blend. Cinema Blend Joker Observations

1. He’s Based On The Dark Knight Returns Version
It’s well-known at this point that Ben Affleck’s Batman is partially based off The Dark Knight Returns version the character, specifically his older age and Bat-armor. The classic 1986 miniseries will also be inspiring the DCCU Joker, especially concerning his look. The report states that he is "lean & scarred but his suit does have broad shoulders." In the original story, Joker has been catatonic for years, and it was only when Batman reappeared that he regained consciousness and began another murder spree. It doesn’t sound like the unconsciousness aspect will be adapted for Suicide Squad, but if/when he escapes, perhaps he’ll be wearing the white and purple suit he rocked in the original story and animated movie.

2. He Has Killed One Of Batman's Sidekicks
One of Joker’s most ruthless acts in the comics was brutally murdering Jason Todd, the second Robin. Evidently that will be the same case in the DCCU. In addition to the movie including references to his past crimes, Suicide Squad also reveals that this Joker killed one of Batman’s sidekicks. The article won’t state which specific sidekick bites the dust, but if these movies ever plan on using Dick Grayson as Nightwing, then Jason is the likely choice. This also might line up with a potential character being played by actress Jena Malone in Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice. When The Dark Knight Returns first came out, Dick and Jason had been the only two Robins, and Carrie Kelly was the third to take the mantle. Perhaps like in the comics, the DCCU Batman doesn’t want to take another partner after Jason was murdered by Joker, but later decides to accept Malone’s Kelley as the new Robin, or even Batgirl as a substitute.

3. He Is Muscular, Not Skinny
Okay, so he won’t be as beastly as when he took Bane’s Venom steroid in Batman: Arkham Asylum, as seen above. However, this Joker will certainly be muscular rather than gangly. During his imprisonment, he’s been working out hardcore, specifically by doing handstand push-ups. This explains why Leto has been putting on weight. Although Joker has been shown to be a competent fighter in the comics, the ways artists have drawn him in the comics varies from being extremely slender to slightly bigger in stature. Joker is already a criminal genius, but if he’s been working out in prison, that going to make him much more dangerous. Even if he doesn’t have any of his trademark weapons, he could still kill anyone who gets in his way with ease.

4. He Has Bleached Skin, Not Makeup
The last time we saw Joker on the big screen, director Christopher Nolan decided to have the villain wear makeup to produce his terrifying look. Not this time around; Suicide Squad is bringing back the classic bleached skin appearance. Joker arguably has one of the most well-known supervillain origins. While committing a crime at a chemical factory, the man who would become Joker got into a fight with Batman and was knocked into a giant vat of chemicals. The chemicals bleached his skin white, dyed his hair green and turned his lips red, snapping whatever sanity this man had left and turned him into The Joker. Heath Ledger’s Joker obviously looked creepy as hell, but it’s good to see they’re doing the character’s look in Suicide Squad the same way they did Jack Nicholson’s Joker in the 1989 Batman film. 

5. Amanda Waller Is Interrogating Him
This is a small detail, but the report says that Suicide Squad overseer Amanda Waller will be interrogating the Joker during the film. A rumor from earlier this year stated that Joker is brought into the Belle Reve prison complex by Waller so that she can use him to keep Harley Quinn in check. While he’s there, it sounds like Waller will also be grilling him on any other criminal activity he’s involved in. Joker isn’t often cooperative with his enemies, be it Batman or government officials, so it’s hard to imagine him assisting Waller in any way. However, one thing is certain: he has a plan, and if the reports are true, this will result in him escaping prison. Waller should have known better than to have any type of interaction with the murderous clown.

So what about you? Are you excited about this movie or what?

IMDB - Suicide Squad
Suicide Squad Wiki

Monday, July 13, 2015

Insurgent Z - A Zombie Novel That Just Couldn't Stay Dead.

The first novel I wrote was a disaster of a story titled Hollow Point. It was a simple zombie yarn influenced by the screen play of my cousin. At the time, I had a few short stories published and thought I was hit shit. In reality, I still had a tremendous amount to learn in how to craft a tale.

Dane T. Hatchell, a friend and fantastic author, shot some ideas my way one time over coffee, and said how he would have liked the novel to have started off. He and I had both been jerked around by the defunct Living Dead Press, and like many of its authors, were struggling to not only be taken seriously as story-tellers, but also to build up our confidence in getting our work in the hand of readers.

Dane and I made plans to re-write the book, and I am glad we did. We were able to take a boring and predictable novel and turn it into a fun, fast-paced zombie thriller with military themes. Severed Press, a press based out of Australia agreed to publish the novel, and Dane and I have seen some nice success from a book that was almost given up on. It has also received some great praise from zombie-fiction heavyweights, like Jonathan Maberry, Joe McKinney (who wrote the intro), and Dana Fredsti.

For lovers of zombie fiction, check out this story. I think it will certainly scratch the undead itch many of us get when wafting through the tides of zombie fiction.

Insurgent Z - Amazon
Severed Press - Home Page

Welcome Back...Me?

It appears it has been almost 2 years since I have last updated this blog. In that span of time, I have gone through many personal highs and lows, with the major low being the ending of a marriage I thought was one that would last forever.

Such is life, and the beautiful thing about life is that no matter what happens, things keep moving forward.

I love to write. I love to talk. I love to entertain. With that, I hope to do so now and keep this thing updated maybe 1-2 times a week. And not just the typical plug of buying my books, but discussions about all matters of literature, pop culture, movies, music, comics, sports, politics...everything!

Thanks for joining.

Monday, February 25, 2013

A Sample of Hollow Shell: Part One

“What have I done?” Chris said as he slid down the living room wall.
A faint trail of gray smoke rose from the gun, slowly dissipating into the atmosphere and stinging his running nose. His hands shook uncontrollably, so bad the gun almost fell from his limp grasp.
“Why, God? Jesus…Why?” he gasped, the tears starting to roll down his stubbly face.
With each passing moment, panic at the realization of what he had just done started to settle in. It was a sickening feeling developing deep in the pit of his stomach. He felt a wave of nausea wash over him. He closed his eyes, drew in a deep breath, and let it out slowly.
Why am I calling out to God? he thought, as the idea of asking an all-mighty and benevolent creator for help had proved to be a waste of time. God didn’t seem to be present at the moment he put a bullet right between the eyes of his loving parents and once beautiful sister. Those same eyes that gazed down on him the day he was born. Eyes at one time filled with unconditional love, now glazed over in a pale aqua-blue glow. The look they once bore replaced with an insatiable hunger. Chris couldn’t let them live like that. His sister, so beautiful and caring; so young and full of dreams, had been turned into a deformed creature. There was nothing left of who she once was. The same sister Chris beat up a playground bully for. The same sister whose ice cream cone hit the floor and Chris readily gave her his. The thought of her pain made him tear up and the urge to scream rushed up through his throat like vomit.
She had come toward him with the same look as his parents, those hungry, lifeless eyes. His hand made steady by a surge of adrenalin gave him a brief moment of clarity and precision, though his vision had become blurry with tears. The sound of her moaning and shuffling feet became louder as she moved closer. He aimed, closing his eyes as he pulled the trigger, feeling the hammer kick back and the gun jolt in his hand. The abrupt discharge was followed by a soft thud. He opened his eyes and in that moment came to the sick realization that he was an only child and an orphan. All done by his own hands.
One more bullet left in the chamber, he thought to himself, and that one is going to be for me.
The searing heat of the gun singed the inside of his mouth, but he didn’t care. One squeeze and everything would be all right. Just a loud noise, maybe a little pain and his troubles would cease to exist. Or maybe there wouldn’t be any pain at all. It would be a coward’s way out, but given the current events and his decaying mentality, it felt like the right thing to do. He closed his eyes tight as his finger slowly depressed the trigger. Just a little more, he thought. Just do it!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

The Inspiration Behind “The Lady With Teeth Like Knives”

It’s pretty cool when you get to a point in your career where publishers invite you to anthologies. The days of blindly subbing a story to an anthology are dwindling, but with getting an invite, added pressure mounts. The publishers trusts you to deliver them a good story, and believe me there is nothing more embarrassing than being invited to participate in a book (usually with names much bigger than yourself) and then getting that rejection letter in the mail. Ouch.

Stuff of nightmares! 
I’ve come to admire the awesome people of Blood Bound Books. Marc, Theresa, and Joe are some of the nicest people in the business. However, much like the way I conduct business, friendship comes second when dealing with stories and books to be published. In fact, I received a very kind rejection from them for one story, and while it sucked because I wanted in the book so bad, it was the right thing to do. (Remember, when writing for an extreme horror anthology, make your story gross.)

I received an email from them for their new anthology titled Blood Rites. I’m not really into short fiction so much, so when tasked to write a story, I try to think of something a little unique and original. I had just watched the movie Insidious, and there is a part where it focuses on this horrific ghost lady, smiling with a row of sharp teeth. That image stuck with me the most from the movie, and I decided to make a story around it. In fact, I wrote the entire story while sitting in my truck at work one day. Just penned it out quick on a yellow paper tablet, went home, and then typed it up. Don’t you love it when inspiration strikes?

The tale is simple, and follows the story of a man who thinks he got away with murder. However, he finds himself haunted by the sinister ghoul, a lady whose teeth resemble knives. To my delight, the Blood Bound Staff thought enough of it to include it in their anthology, and what an anthology it is! I highly recommend getting it and adding it to your collection.
Buy this book, seriously!

Authors include: Brian Lumley, Joe McKinney, Nathan Crowder, Lisa Morton, Daniel O'Connor, Jeff Strand, John McNee, K. Trap Jones, Maria Alexander, Ed Kurtz, Desmond Warzel, Mark C. Scioneaux, Brad C. Hodson, Gregory L. Norris, Monique Bos, Aric Sundquist, Christopher Hawkins, Chad McKee, Adrian Ludens, Bryan Oftedahl, Angela Bodine, Matt Moore, and Douglas J. Lane. 

Visit the Publisher: Blood Bound Book Website
Buy the Book: Blood Rites

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Hollow Shell and The Walking Dead

I start this blog post begging you not to misunderstand the intention of comparing my fledgling zombie serial to one of the greatest zombie sagas of all time. This is merely a way for me to get along the point of why do people love zombies so much, when it seems plenty consider them some sort of hot fad. I have news for you: zombies aren't going anywhere.

The Walking Dead is one of my favorite zombie stories ever, and that is because it focuses on what I like to focus on when I write about our ghoulish friends: the people. Post-apocalyptic stories have always been popular because it allows the reader a chance to reset their life and start on a platform where everyone is equal. Whether they have been a CEO or a janitor, when society collapses, it doesn't matter. A story like TWD holds our interest so well because the world has just been reset. As we see, some of the strongest and most ruthless survivors in the series came from low-level jobs. The world ending allowed them a new beginning, and a chance to act how they always wanted to; free from rules and societal norms. People love TWD because they place themselves in these crews trying to survive, and as their favorite characters struggle on with life, so does the reader contemplate what their decisions would be.

The zombies are merely a catalyst for the world to end. Whether it be an epic plague, a natural disaster, or even a nuclear attack; society has collapsed. The zombies are just one more thing to survive against in a world gone mad, and with people becoming hardened psychopaths, one must ponder who is just more evil: a mindless ghoul or a savage person?

I wrote Hollow Shell before TWD was even created, but waited six years before working on it and introducing it as a Kindle serial.  There are plenty of unintentional similarities (as there are in most books that focus on a zombie infested world) but the strong bond they share is the attention to human interaction. I try my best to write strong characters that the reader will care about and resonate with. When I read a book, I want characters I will care about, characters I will hate, and characters whose pain and emotions I will feel alongside them.

Though not a complex as TWD universe, Hollow Shell forces two very different people to become friends and start a journey together that will lead them down some very dark paths. Their faith and sanity will be tested as they learn to adapt to this unforgiving land that will kill you in the blink of an eye if you let your guard down. Part One and Two are both available, and for only $0.99, I think you’ll find it to be a fun, quick read that will hopefully have you wondering what happens next.

Cover Art for Hollow Shell: Part One 
Buy Part One: Hollow Shell: Part One

Buy Part Two: Hollow Shell: Part Two


Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Understanding the Mind of Anthony Giangregorio

Tony gave me my first start in the business, and I will always remember him for that. I had just written my first short story titled, "Faye Believes," and was lost at what to do next. I had no idea I could be a writer, let alone any clue on how to get my story in print. I went to Google, and typed in ZOMBIE SHORT STORY SUBMISSIONS. His company, Living Dead Press, was the first to pop up. I sent him the story, and to my surprise I received a phone call from him the next day.

He loved it. Raved about it. Said I was the next big thing; I had real talent; etc. The person who had never written a story before was told he had a home with him forever. Real mind-blowing and overwhelming for a newbie author such as myself. I was flattered, I had tears in my eyes, I was a writer! A published one!

I read his contract. No money...hmmmm...but my story in print! Yes! Yes! I signed the dotted line and off we went. There was no open ended editing conversation, but I just assumed that was how its done. I'll still remember the feeling when I got that book in print. It was breath-taking. So I wrote more, and only sent them to him. His tag line had always been "some publishers take months to print books, I make them fast." I thought I was building my resume. "Look at me, Horror community! I've been published in a dozen books!"

The problem was, no one cared. No one read them. And after reading the books (my contributor copy), I realized the majority of stories weren't very good. The editing was poor, and more than one of Mr. Giangregorio's stories would appear in his own anthology. "It was his press," he said, and true, it was. He makes the rules and we choose to follow. But a young author doesn't know the rules. They don't know they are giving away their story for free and it will be read by no one!

This is the first book I appeared in from Living Dead Press

Time marched on, I wrote more and gave it all to him. He was my friend, my buddy. We spoke on the phone often. He told me about his past problems, how people were out to get him, how it was everyone's fault that his name was ruined in the writing community. I believed him. He was so convincing, and I wanted so bad to be "The Man" for this press. I was the golden boy, and I loved it. Of course, not all phone conversations were good. He would take shots at other authors who I considered friends (I never agreed with him). He would also take shots at me because he would start to feel threatened, knowing I was going to leave him at some point and if I could "take him with me." 

I finished my novel, Hollow Point. It is a zombie novel, and a damn fine one at that. It is entertaining, there is a slight twist to it, likable characters, and plenty of action and gore. It is a zombie novel. Period. I submitted it to a few companies, one of them being the newly formed Open Casket Press. I was thrilled to hear about the opening of OCP. It was a new start for Tony. A way for him to put aside the demons that followed and plagued him constantly with LDP. I told him on the phone how exited I was. This would be a chance to form a company that focuses on quality, not quantity. Tony didn't see it like that. It would be the same company, just a different name. My heart sank. 

OCP accepted Hollow Point in a day. I received emails from other companies who wanted the book as well, but the contract had been signed. It was a mistake I rushed into because I didn't know better. Ignorance isn't an excuse, but an inexperienced writer relies on people who are supposed to have their back. This is what I did. The royalty rates were very low. The contract was for five (5) years. Hollow Point was the debut novel for OCP.

I put aside my negative feelings and got excited again. I was a published author of a novel! I told everyone, and the congratulations flowed in. Tony edited my book. I never received galley copies of his edits, but I was allowed to read his edits over (I was the proofreader of my own novel). He did this because I was one of his star authors. He'd never do this for most of the people who write for him. Once again, I was special. The entire editing process took maybe two weeks (if that). Luckily, I had a friend do the cover art for the book. Tony is very cheap when it comes to art (he readily admits its the Italian in him) and he will not pay for art. If he does, it won't be much. He wanted to originally go with this awful looking zombie woman for the cover (which had nothing to do with the story). Fortunately, he allowed me to seek art on my own. I was also encouraged to add to my novel. He wanted more gore, more brains, more sex, more everything. I refused and he was dissapointed. This was MY story told the way I wanted to tell it. I wasn't making changes because he felt my characters should smash a bunch of zombies for no reason.

My book came out and I received my author copy. It was littered with grammatical errors, spelling errors, and there were sentences added to the book that weren't in the master copy (I checked). It was depressing, and instead of being happy, I was embarrassed. But I continued on with him. My confidence was shot and I was at a low point. I went on to "edit" an anthology for him called Bigfoot Tales. I love this anthology. The stories are good and I met a lot of great people while putting it together. But it isn't my work. I didn't edit it. Tony made sure to edit everything for me. I had original art for the book (cover and inside). This book was something special, but it sadly will never be read. I was paid $50 to do this book, and I worked my ass off collecting and reading stories. Toward the end, when it was obvious what was going on, I checked out. It wasn't right, but I was at the end of my rope.

I was done after this. Working directly with him was stressful and there was just no point. No one read the books. I received no feedback for my work. No one knew me even though I was the author of multiple short stories and a novel. It sucked and I needed a break. I needed to prove myself all over again, and that is what I set out to do.

Do not fret for me (haha). My novellette "The Glass Coffin" was a hit on Kindle. I am the proud editor of Horror for Good: A Charity Anthology, and the owner of Nightscape Press. I am working on two novels currently, and am preparing a novella for submissions soon. I am well-known and have made a ton of friends in the horror community. I have pulled myself out the muck that is the vanity press.

In closing, hear me out. I do not believe Anthony Giangregorio is an evil man. He is a man who simply lost his way. He was an author once. He dreamed like we all did. But something happened, and it jaded him forever. He ruined his name early on, and instead of working to get out of the hole he dug, he just dug deeper. He started his publishing companies with good intentions, but sadly they went down in a hurry. To try and understand him is pointless, because one cannot. He truly believes he is giving brand new authors a chance to be published, and he is, but there is also plenty of lying and deceit in the way he does it.

I spoke with him yesterday on the phone for a hour. He called me and apologized to me for everything that was happening. He wouldn't free me of the contract for my novel (I asked him), but he was sorry I was embarrassed to have my novel with him. He shouldn't be apologizing to me. He has wronged others far worse than he ever wronged me. Though he was defiant as usual, there was a tone to his voice. A worried, nervous tone. He was a man hunted, and he knew it. One cannot simply feel a tinge of remorse for a person in this state. It is only being human. He deserves all he gets, but its still sad it got to this point.

Will he recover from this? Who knows. There have been several times his name has been splashed across the internet, but not like this. This is a movement. This went viral. Everyone knows and all have united to stop him and all publishers they view as taking advantage of novice writers.

So to the new author, take the time and research who you submit to. Ask other authors questions. Do not get swayed by the idea of being a published author. It can be great, but it can also be your worst nightmare.