I’m Giving Away Books!

Getting published is a pretty awesome thing. Having people buy your book and want it signed–all the better. I am still very happy to have a book out, so I’m going to give away 5 books via Goodreads. Head over and enter!

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The Carnivorous Vegan

I love steak. I mean, it’s one of the best things created by any deity real or fabricated or both (yeah, figure that one out!). The taste, the texture…this is why man invented fire. Not to keep warm, but to open up a Longhorn (look at cave paintings—they were totally drawing Longhorn Steakhouses). You know what else is awesome? Meatballs. It is a fact that I make the greatest meatballs on planet Earth. Grown men have wept to have my balls in their mouths…yeah, I know what that sounds like, and I’m sticking to it! Also awesome: sausage, bacon, Canadian bacon, chicken, turkey, halibut, prosciutto, salami, pepperoni, ground beef, duck, pulled pork, brisket, hamburgers. You know what goes great with anything listed above? Cheese. By the brick.

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Drinking with Strangers

What is better then reading one really good story?

How about reading 10?

That’s what we’re giving you in Strangers (Of Different Ink)

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My contribution to this collection is a short story called “Capeless City,” about Philadelphia in the superhero age…and their resistance to the idea of Philly having a hero. But they can’t ignore that the rate of powers in the city is growing exponentially, and that’s where Detective Dashiell Cain comes in–a private investigator who unofficially handles all of the city’s superpower occurrences.

You can already buy the book on Amazon (see link above). But on October 25th, the Strangers will gather (as many of us as we can) at 1518 Bar and Grille in Philadelphia to talk and sign. Buy it on Amazon now and bring it, or pick up your copy there, and enjoy a beer with us. We’ll be there from 7-10. It’ll be a good time.

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Top Ten Literary Magazines To Send Your Best Flash Fiction (and maybe get accepted pt.2)

Originally posted on michaelalexanderchaney:

part two

part two

Seasoned writers follow a tiered system when submitting to lit mags. They read the markets and target them wisely. Then they organize their submissions accordingly, in tiers.

Here’s the rule: Only after hearing back from the journals at the top of your list should you move on to those on lower tiers. Otherwise, you might miss out on a great opportunity–not to mention all that salubrious rejection, which is Vitamin X for budding and intermediate writers keen on honing oomph, endurance, and that precious “thick skin” everyone talks about.

Submitting isn’t just about rejections, though. There’s a lot to learn about your own writing in the process and so much other great writing to read and to learn from in the magazines you target. There’s nothing quite like finding the long lost twin or soulmate of some flash you’ve written. Look for broad family resemblances and see if…

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The Novella (Brigning it back)

Technically not a statue of angels, but I used it because fuck you, it works.

Technically not a statue of angels, but I used it because fuck you, it works.

What you see in the image above is the front cover (well, most likely) of my upcoming novel (novella, but shhhhhhh) Trading Saints for Sinners. The fact that this novel is being published at all is kind of a little miracle. Publishers don’t make as much money with novellas as they do with novels. But that’s where the awesome people of WragsInk are different–they believe in the story and the author. A good story is a good story, and that’s what matters to them. No bulking it up, no making sure a hardback is 17 dollars more than it should be. It’s all about the story.

And if I say so myself, Trading Saints for Sinners is a pretty damn good story. I won’t get into much of it here…because I kind of want you to buy the book, but it does involve prostitutes and devils, so you know it’s going to be good. But the history of this work goes back to when I visited Germany in 2003 and 2004 and witnessed some of the more interesting parts of the city. I had wanted to write about Europe for years, but didn’t know what kind of story I wanted to tell until I was working on my undergrad thesis and wanted to tel the story about a fraudulent journalist.

The thesis had to be at least 50 pages of fiction, and while applying for the Honors program at USF–for which the thesis needed to be completed for–I was wanting to write my own Heart of Darkness (enter: CONRAD). That book hit me hard in the creative crotch. Before that book, I wanted to be Tolkien (hell, I still want to be Tolkien…he’s TOLKIEN!), and was trying to create long epics that spiralled and spiralled (I still want to, but just one). Then I read Conrad’s novel and witnessed a writer doing in 90 pages what Tolkien did in 1000.

What.

The.

Fuck.

Turns out, some of my favorite books were novellas. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sleep, War of the WorldsThe Great GatsbyAnimal FarmOf Mice and MenThe MetamorphosesThe Death of Ivan IlychThe DeadChronicles of a Death ForetoldNotes from the UndergroundThe OvercoatNightThe Postman Always Rings TwiceThings Fall ApartI am Legend, UtopiaPedro ParamoThe Thief and the DogFarenheit 451The Screwtape Letters, The Subterraneans, Red Harvest, and probably many more.

The novella is an incredible form. To accomplish the tasks of a full length novel (or novels) in a scattering of pages is like a watching someone complete an Iron Man triathlon in half the time it takes someone to walk a 10K. Or watching a chef prepare an incredibly filling meal and finding out that it only had a third of the calories of a regular meal (calories being pages. Delicious pages!) It’s easy to convey everything you need to convey when there is no limit to the pages you have (Looking your way, George R.R. Martin, you brilliant bastard), but to do so in such a small space shows an incredible amount of skill and mastering over Fiction (one that I so obviously possess).

But now, the term novella isn’t used very often. They’re still around, they just aren’t called novellas any more. And I wonder what happened to them. Why the term “novella” became taboo in the writing community. Is it because the consumer somehow feels cheated out a full novel? Am I robbing a reader of another 100 pages of story? Am I a Swindler (oh, another great novella! The Swindler!). Or am I lazy? I have novels too, just not published yet.

Or maybe it’s something different. Maybe novella is just not manly enough. The term “novel”–now that’s a manly term. Maybe people find novellas effeminate just because of the term. Manly means stronger, right? So what use could a novella possibly have? What is it, trying to be a novel but  just can’t?

Or maybe there is another reason altogether. I’m just the writer, not the marketer or publisher. But the funny thing is, we live in a time where the novella should be king. A complete book that has the same depth of one three times longer and you can read it in an afternoon? Isn’t that the perfect scenario for our fast-paced world? Have a thirty minute train ride, why not read a THIRD of a book? Imagine the bragging rights?

“Hey man, how was the train ride?”
“Not bad. Quiet. Cute girl was across from me. I read most of a book.”
“Most of a book?”
“Yeah, I’m awesome.”
 

Want to read a novel a week? That can be a bitch, but a novella a week? You got this, you literary son of a bitch, you!

So, try reading novellas. Try writing them. What’s a good one to start with?

I suggest Trading Saints for Sinners by Roman Colombo, coming December of 2013. Great gift too, so make sure you buy one for you and your family and all of your friends and office workers. You know, so that you can all talk about it later. Bond. Over my book.

backcoversaints

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Movies∞ #274: We’re the Millers

  • Director: Rawson Marshall Thurber
  • Starring: Jason Sudeikis, Jennifer Aniston, Emma Roberts, Will Poulter, Ed Helms, Nick Offerman, etc.
  • Seen in theaters: Once
  • My Rating: 7/10
  • IMDB: 7.2/10
  • Rotten Tomatoes: 47%
Rose: You’re making $250,000 and giving me only $30,000?
Casey: $30,000? I’m only getting $1000!
Kenny: You guys are getting paid?!

What works best for this movie is the four members of the “family,” Sudeikis, Aniston, Roberts, and Poulter. They all have great chemistry together and it’s easy to believe that they could be a real family if they wanted to (or in a different movie entirely). Poulter in particular really steals the show here as the awkward 18-year-old virgin who has never even kissed a girl (remember when it was weird to have a 40-year-old virgin? Isn’t a little bad that they’re making 18 bad for what was once 40? Different post). He has great reactions and plays along with the antics very well. And the family was so fun, it would be great to see a follow-up to the movie someday.

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Summer Top Twenty Movies

It’s been a while since I’ve posted, but since the summer is over, I figured why not look back at the movies. It wasn’t the best summer, but it still had some great ones. I’m actually doing two lists, one for the big guns, the Hollywood heavy hitters. And another for the underdogs, the little guys, the Indie flicks.

Why the two lists? Well, narrowing to just ten films with so many to choose from is like picking your favorite children. That and it’s a case of apples and oranges. How do you put something like Blue Jasmine and The Wolverine on the same list? What’s the litmus test that compares these two films. And sure, some are harder to define (like The Great Gatsby and The World’s End), but two lists certainly works much better.

So…Indie first?

  • 10. Before Midnight
    • Great dialog, but not as good as the previous installments.
  • 9. Lovelace
    • Great performances all around. Plus the film took some a big risk with the narrative structure…and while it wasn’t always succesful, it was interesting.
  • 8. The Way Way Back
    • A solid bildungsroman, with great support from Steve Carrell and Sam Rockwell.
  • 7. Blue Jasmine
    • Cate Blanchett is amazing and elevates the movie, along with Sally Hawkins…but Woody Allen’s directing is a little all over the place. It’s never sure what kind of movie he wants it to be. A story of healing? A drama of struggling?
  • 6. The Butler
    • Pacing issues aside, it was a refreshing take on the civil rights movement, and a nice return for Forrest Whitaker.
  • 5. Fruitvale Station
    • I expect great things from Michael B. Jordan, who managed to make you care and be shocked for something you were told was going to happen in the opening of the movie.
  • 4. What Maisie Knew
    • Great child performances are hard to come by, and while Onata Aprile might not get the same accolades as Quvenzhane Wallis, she was still wonderful. As was the bitter-turned-sweet story.
  • 3. Mud
    • Matthew McConaughey could get his first Oscar win from this movie, depending on what we see in the fall. The only thing wrong with this movie was the pacing.
  • 2. Much Ado About Nothing
    • Honestly, 1 and 2 are interchangeable and were two of my favorite films this summer. But Much Ado proved that Shakespeare sounds great with American dialect and doesn’t have to feel like people reading Shakespeare. Amy Acker and Fran Kranz really stole the movie.
  • 1. Ain’t Them Bodies Saints
    • Texan Noir is coming along, started by No Country for Old Men. This film is another great example. Stellar performances by Ronney Mara, Casey Affleck, and Ben Foster anchor David Lowery’s steady pace and directing. Lowery is certainly on my watch list now.

Blockbusters

  • 10. The Great Gatsby
    • This is an English Teacher’s confession: the movie was so Fitzgerald, it’s hard not to love. Dicaprio, Maguire, and Edgerton all portray their characters perfectly, but Mulligan was a little too sentimental and sweet for Daisy.
  • 9. Iron Man 3
    • Shane Black really went out of his way to make this Iron Man his own. In many ways, it was better than the previous two, but some of the risks were a little too Shane Black…and the ending being Lethal Weapon 2.5 held it back from achieving greatness.
  • 8. The Wolverine
    • Another superhero film that set out to be different from every other superhero film. Wolverine was more internal and quiet. But at the last moment, it devolves into a regular superhero slugfest complete with a giant samurai robot/armor. Still, a vast improvement over X-Men Origins: Wolverine.
  • 7. Fast & Furious 6
    • Balls Awesome
  • 6. The Conjuring
    • I don’t watch a lot of scary movies. Not because I am easily frightened, but because they suck. The Conjuring did not–at all. It was scary, fun, and excellent in every way.
  • 5. Elysium
    • Though heavy-handed on morality…and Matt Damon being a bit miscast as a thug…Elysium had two things going for it. One is visual appeal. Damn does the movie look good. The other is Shartlo Copely as Kruger, one of my new favorite villains of all time.
  • 4. Star Trek: Into Darkness
    • Not as good as the last one, but it has one thing that elevates the film drastically: Bennedict Cumberbatch as Kahn. Sure, they whitewashed Kahn, but Cumberbatch was so great, it;s hard to fault the filmmakers for choosing to do so. He’s great.
  • 3. This is the End
    • With Seth Rogen and friends playing themselves during the apocalypse, This is the End was one of the funniest films of the year, but not as funny as…
  • 2. The World’s End
    • Two comedies about the world coming to an end? In one summer? And they were both great? Yep. The World’s End was just a little better though, with Nick Frost, Simon Pegg, and Edgar Wright bringing a wonderful end to the Three Flavours Cornetto Trilogy.
  • 1. Man of Steel
    • Ask my friends, and they will tell you that I am one of Superman’s biggest haters. Or, I was. I could just never believe him to be a hero worth caring about, I mean…he’s SUPERman. Just boring. But Nolan and Snyder changed that and humanized the boy scout wonderfully. Was there a lot of destruction? Yes. But it IS a summer blockbuster, and it still had meaning. Plus, I don’t think Batman is going to let him off lightly in 2015′s Superman vs Batman.

The Worst films this summer?

  • Lone Ranger
  • The Internship
  • The Iceman
  • You’re Next

And there you have it. It was still a great summer. I wish I could have seen more, but I got a good amount in. In total, I watched 53 first-run movies this summer and STILL missed a lot (In a World, The Kings of Summer, The Spectacular Now, etc.). And feel free to strike back, just keep it civil (I don’t want to hear how Shane Black hates Asians or that Zack Snyder is a fascist, or Woody Allen is a pedophile….keep it about film). And tell me what your favorites were.

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