Category Archives: Books/Literature

Star Trek/Dr. Suess Mashup…

Stumbled upon this article posted by a friend on Facebook. The article is by Eriq Gardner and presented on hollywoodreporter.com:

Star Trek/Dr. Suess Mashup Deemed Copyright Fair Use by Judge

The book in question is Oh, The Places You’ll Boldly Go!, and the cover to the book looks like this:

A judge praises the "highly creative" nature of "Oh, the Places You'll Boldly Go!" and doesn't see sufficient evidence that the book will harm Dr. Seuss' position in the children's book market.

Which is, of course, a parody of…

Image result for oh the places you'll go

So the judge felt the Star Trek book was “fair use” and didn’t harm the Dr. Suess estate.

I… I don’t agree. Yes, Mad magazine exists for many years doing “fair use” parodies of pop culture icons…

Image result for mad magazine star trek

And…

Related image

…and…

Image result for mad magazine star trek

…and I totally get that being “fair use”. Mad magazine essentially exits (in large part) of parodying A LOT of cultural icons.

But the Oh, The Places You’ll Boldly Go! is not part of some series. It is a one off book that clearly makes use of Star Trek AND Dr. Suess to make its point of sale and I strongly suspect what’s inside the book also takes its point from Dr. Suess’ works (though, having not seen the whole thing, I don’t know).

I also strongly, STRONGLY suspect Paramount Pictures, the company that has the copyright to the Star Trek property, approved of/holds the copyright to this particular work and therefore “OK’ed” it for release.

Why, if that is the case, is the Dr. Suess estate considered not as important on OKing this?

I have to say, if someone used my stories/properties and created a one-off book that very clearly used my concepts to sell their work, I’d be plenty pissed at the judge who made that ruling.

Yet more signs of the times…

A while back I noted, with great sadness, the closure of my local go-to comic book store, Villains (you can read the post here), which previously was known when owned by different people as Starship Enterprises.

The sadness was related to the fact that in that location a comic book store existed for some 30 plus years, and after my trip to California over the summer I was saddened to find that Villains was gone.

Even worse, and to the best of my knowledge, there are NO comic book shops anywhere around/near me which I can now go to to get books.

And yet…

Since the closure, I’ve found myself getting more and more into digital comics via either Amazon.com or ComiXology (which, it should be noted, is an Amazon company).

I was already into getting digital copies of various favorite books of mine, but since the loss of Villains, my only real choice for getting the latest comic books or graphic novels is via the internet and Amazon/ComiXology.

I have to say, it has turned out to be a pretty good thing.

ComiXology often has sales on books from various companies and, very quickly, I found myself not only finding stuff I loved from the past and wanted to re-acquaint myself with, but increasingly I’m finding newer works that I didn’t even know existed and which, sadly, a small store like Villains simply couldn’t keep up with.

To date I’ve spent entirely waaaaay too much money on these various works, discovering some “new” favorite authors (I particularly like much -though not all- of what I’ve read from Jeff Lemire) and new -as well as some old and recently “printed”- favorite works.

I’ve noted before that I used to love going to the local Borders, before that store chain closed down, and couldn’t imagine not going to a bookstore at least once or twice a week.

Now, I have neither a bookstore or comic book store close to me to visit and… its ok.

If anything, I’ve spent even more time than before finding and reading new and interesting works because so damn many of them are available at my fingertips via Amazon or ComiXology.

But…

I do wonder if the younger souls out there who are not initiated on books or comic books and the love of them will ever get that same kick I get out of reading in general. Is it possible there will come a point in time where younger generations do not get into books or comic books like previous generations did?

Its a worrying thought and ironic given the moment in time we’re in. Never before has there been such easy access to so many wonderful works, be they novels or short story collections or comic books, yet only in the digital environment.

As I said above, perhaps more signs of the times.

Corrosive Knights, a 2/7/19 Update

Been a little while since I’ve written about my lil’ ol’ series.

So, what’s new?

First, its been a very good couple of months since the release of Legacy of the Argus, the seventh and concluding chapter in the Corrosive Knights series.

I’ve seen a big increase in people both reading the books (almost all of them are available to be read “free” if you have Kindle Unlimited) and purchasing them (to then, very hopefully, read as well!). I’m also incredibly honored to find the increase in positive reviews of the books in Goodreads.com as well. Please, keep it up and bring on more reviews in Amazon.com as well!

In the time since releasing that book, I’ve also been writing a new book set in the Corrosive Knights “universe”, though I have to admit I’m still kicking ideas around and I’m not entirely certain how things will shake up in the end.

Originally, I was intending to release an 8th Corrosive Knights novel which would serve as an “Epilogue” to the CK series. However, since releasing Legacy of the Argus and after giving it some thought, I decided to put that book on hold for now. The reason being is that the story, which is already pretty much done though it is much shorter than any of the books in the series, serves as a good conclusion to the series and I find I’m not willing to end it all quite yet.

BUT…

I feel I’ve set a very high bar for myself with the CK series. Without sounding incredibly obnoxious, I feel the series is pretty damn great as is and if I’m going to add to it with “new” novels, they better damn well not be lame add-ons but full-fledged great stories in their own right.

So I started writing this new CK book shortly after the New Year and, I’m not going to lie: It has been a bit of a struggle to figure out where I want to go here. I spent a few weeks working on one particular set of story ideas but found my mind moving in other directions and effectively re-started later in the month with another concept.

I’ll keep working at this. I’m nothing if not bullheaded and will eventually crack this nut, but in the meantime, THANK YOU GUYS SO MUCH for giving my books a try and for the positive reviews you’ve given.

I truly, truly appreciate it!

Corrosive Knights – A VERY BIG Thank YOU!!!

At the risk of bragging/sounding like some kind of blowhard, today I went over to my author’s page dashboard at Goodreads.com and found the following:

What you see here is the overall statistics my novels have earned over time. The important stuff is toward the top, which shows people have offered 77 ratings between 1-5 stars (5, of course, being the highest) to my novels and at this point I have a 4.19 average.

And I want to say with all sincerity and humility: THANK YOU SO MUCH!

Not just for taking a chance on my novels, not just for reading them and getting enjoyment out of them, but for also taking the time to offer your opinion on them.

So, to among others, a very, VERY big thank you to:

John Warden in NC, Fred in CT, Thomas (grumpid), Jon, Mike, Jason Naro in OK, John Stephens in TX, Kevin J. Brinkschroeder, Michael in GA, Ken Thompson in NY, Edward Corey, Jonathan, John Sammons in FL, Zachary Goldbeck, “C”, John H. Wise, Jon in Iowa, Cory Rose in TX, Brian Deacon, Cindy Lee Andron (finally, a woman… come on, I know there are more of you out there!), Cindy Lee Andrus (same person? I hope not!), Tim in Oregon, Bob Wolff in IA, Leon in South Africa (hello out there!), Christopher Vairma in MD, W. Gregory Kett in MN, Henrik Sørenson, Brandon Bridges, Philip Heathman, Nicolas C., Brett in WA, Sarah (I know you didn’t like the original Chameleon cover… I must admit I didn’t like it very much myself and of the covers I did, it was my least favorite -even after doing several fix-ups- and the reason I was determined to do the new covers. I hope the new covers are more to your liking!), and last, but not least, Robert S. Feeley.

To date, and unless I missed someone, these are all the fine folks who have offered ratings to my Corrosive Knights novels over at Goodreads.com and, once again, my most sincere, humble thanks for taking the time to do what you did.

The fact of the matter is that writing is a very difficult and lonely profession. You’re competing against an army of other people who are also releasing books and hoping to gain your attention with their wares even as I’m trying to do the same.

The best way to “break through” to a larger audience is to impress people enough with your work that they will, like those fine folks above, give their opinions on the books and, even more hopefully, recommend the books to their friends and so on and so forth.

If you want to see more of my novels on a more frequent basis, its up to you guys to be my promoters. If the books succeed and sell to larger audiences, I will need less time to worry about such things as paying my rent, paying for food, etc. etc. (you know, the little stuff! 😉 ) and more time in getting these lovely novels finished.

Again: THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR YOUR RATINGS.

You don’t know how happy they make me!

Corrosive Knights, a 1/8/19 Update

It’s the 8th of January and, since yesterday for many people and students, its back to work.

For me, the release of both Legacy of the Argus, the concluding chapter of my Corrosive Knights series, and the fact that I was able to get all the covers re-done and revise the first book in the series, Mechanic, couldn’t have been accomplished at a better time. By finishing all that tough work by mid-December, I was able to take a very much needed two week vacation -at least from writing!- and recharge the ol’ battery.

For quite a while now I’ve been showing people this graphic of the Corrosive Knights books:

As you can see from the graphic, I planned an 8th Corrosive Knights book, one that would serve as an “epilogue” to the series/story. I’ve even noted that the book is mostly written, though to be fair the story I wrote is actually more of a novella rather than a full novel (I believe the total word count of that draft wound up being around 20,000 words versus the usual 100,000 words -give or take- of the other novels).

Thing is, the “epilogue” as written is something of a concluding chapter to the Corrosive Knights series and I’m not sure I want to go there quite yet.

Don’t get me wrong: The Epilogue doesn’t “kill off” every/any character or provide some kind of Apocalyptic scenario. But it is set in a future farther from that presented in Legacy of the Argus and, again, I’m not sure if I want to go there yet.

Why?

Because the story is indeed something of a wrap up of the Corrosive Knights series and I feel like there’s more storytelling to do with the characters and the various timelines they’re set in.

Even though the seven books present a nice complete story, over my writing break, I thought about what I wanted to do next and considered the Epilogue and, because it was so short, felt it was best to bulk it up and add a few more elements to it.

And as I did, I started to think about another interesting story line apart from what was in the Epilogue. Yeah, though I may have taken a writing “break”, that didn’t mean my brain wasn’t working on another story.

At this time, I have the building blocks to a new story and, over the next few weeks, I’m going to work on it, chip away as well as build up. See where it takes me.

The story looks like it will NOT be part of that Epilogue, but rather another story set in the Corrosive Knights universe which could serve as an interesting add on without seeming like something I’m pulling out of (excuse my French) ass.

If all works out, it will be a stand-alone story which might just lead into other stories set in my beloved universe.

Give me a little time to work things out.

If you’ve liked what’s come before, you know I won’t release anything unless I’m really happy with it.

I’ll keep you informed!

Automation gone wild…

As I’ve made it known for a while now, I just released Legacy of the Argus, the 7th and concluding chapter in my initial Corrosive Knights series.

Now, getting this book ready to be released required plenty of steps beyond simply “writing” the book itself. For the Kindle (digital) release, I had to prepare the manuscript properly along with the cover art, etc. For the print copy, the same had to be done but, as I’m very careful to make sure everything works out fine, I request a “proof” copy so that I can hold the book in my own two hands and see that everything on it is proper.

I did this with Legacy of the Argus and once I gave it a good look I approved the book and now both Kindle and paperback versions are available.

Now, for those who order things from Amazon.com, you may be aware that once you do order something from them, once in a while you’ll get an email pointing out your purchase and asking you to rate it on a 5 star basis. I’ve had books, household items, etc. ordered through Amazon and now and again get these emails asking for me to review the item.

This is the first time I received a request to rate a proof copy of one of my books!

So… I’m being asked to give a review for a product -the proof of my novel- for… what reason exactly? The way this is presented is not me telling Amazon they’ve done a good job… indeed, they already knew that when I approved the book for sale!… but instead this form email is being sent as if the proof of the book is a product in and of itself and is available for purchase through Amazon to all clients…!

Only, of course, it isn’t. The proof copy is something that comes only to me and, should I wish it, to others I may want to get it and see it. But now that the book has been formally approved, the proof copy is a thing of the past. If people want Legacy of the Argus, they can order it and it will come without that “Not for resale” notation over the cover/backcover. If I want to get copies of my book, I will likewise order the approved version and don’t have to worry about proof copies anymore.

I wonder… if I were to “review” the proof, would my review appear on the book’s listing itself? I suspect it will.

And how obnoxious would it be for the author of a book to give his own book five stars?! 😉

Corrosive Knights: Mechanic, one more update!

I’ve said it before and I’ll repeat: It’s been an incredibly busy month plus for me.  I’ve finished off Legacy of the Argus, the concluding chapter in the Corrosive Knights series (but there will be more stories set in this universe to come, stay tuned!).

Because we were reaching the end of this seven book series, I wanted to go back and re-do all the covers to the various books (all but one, we’ll get to that in a moment) as well as do something different with the cover to Legacy of the Argus.  I found the ebooklaunch.com company and they’ve done a smashing job getting the covers done for me.

Along with all that work, I revised Mechanic because a) it is the first book in the series and I wanted to make sure it was as good as it could be and b) because it was the first book in the series and I did so much work since that point I was certain I must have improved as a writer if only a little and therefore it was worthwhile to give the book one more -quite possibly final!- revision.

So I did that but, afterwards, felt there was one more thing that needed to be done.  Of the various Corrosive Knights books covers I did, Mechanic was my favorite and, even when I hired ebooklaunch.com to do the covers, I wanted to keep Mechanic as it was.

The problem, though, was that as I got all those other covers done, the cover to Mechanic began to look less and less like it was part of the series.  I wanted to make the book’s spine and back cover fit into the work of ebooklaunch.com and decided, several days ago, that I would also do a slight change to the Mechanic’s cover.  To wit: Have the logos on the cover fit in with the other covers.

So, without further ado, the “new” cover to Mechanic!

Now, all the covers together…

I’m as happy as I am exhausted but the work is done.  The complete seven part Corrosive Knights series is finalized and, as a very welcome bonus, I’ve got time to enjoy the remainder of the Holiday season and New Years without having to go back and work on these particular books!

But that doesn’t mean I’m doing absolutely nothing for the rest of the year.  Remember the Epilogue book I promised, the book that would be #8 of the Corrosive Knights series?

Suffice to say, I’ll now get to focus on it as I wanted to.  Properly!

Corrosive Knights, 12/13/18 update: Mechanic (redux)

A few days back (you can read it here) I noted that I was revising Mechanic, the first novel in my Corrosive Knights series…

I wrote back then that I’d announce when the book was revised and listed at Amazon and that day has indeed come.

The Kindle version of the book is online and available (if you bought the book before, you can “reload” it and the new version will appear).  I just posted the paperback version and, hopefully, later today or tomorrow the revised version will be the one available for purchase.

As I noted in the previous column, I decided to “revise” the first book because it had been many years since I last looked at it and figured there were likely things within it -mostly be grammatical/spelling issues- needed to be addressed.  After all these years, I reasoned, I’m likely a better author and given that this is the first book in the series and should be as “good” as it can possibly be, it was incumbent on me to give it one more, and perhaps one last, revision to make sure it was as absolutely good as I could make it.

But what worried me, and what I absolutely DID NOT want to do, was make any major changes to the story.  I also didn’t want to do what George Lucas did with his revisions of the original Star Wars trilogy, add a bunch of new nonsense that didn’t necessarily add to the story and might well slow it down.

I feel I’ve accomplished what I set out to do.

Mechanic, as it stands now, is a slightly shorter novel (the final page count was exactly 1 page less than the original page count!).  The vast majority of things I fixed were small, usually involving unnecessary or awkward words/phrasing.

There were also two pieces of information, one presented in the opening chapter and one later on, which needed to be revised because they didn’t fit in with the continuity I established in later Corrosive Knights novels.  Again, nothing HUGE, just stuff I originally wrote in Mechanic which, as the series played out, was refined for the better and needed to be fixed so that it fit in better with what was to come.

Believe it or not, the dialogue in this book remains at least 95-98% unchanged.  There was one tiny paragraph where a character thinks about something and I feltit  would be better for the character to say this out loud and then have someone else react to the comment.  Humorously, I hope!

But, again, really small stuff.

If you’ve read the book before and you were to read it now, I suspect you’ll wonder why I bothered since, in the end, the changes are smallish.  Its a fair question, but as I also mentioned in the previous posting, I always felt Mechanic was a shark of a novel:  Lean, muscular, without an ounce of fat and slicing through the water like a machine.

The changes made to this book, smallish though they may be, I feel makes it even more like that proverbial shark.

And I couldn’t be happier with the end result.

Give it a try if you haven’t.  It’s a blast! 😉

Corrosive Knights: Comments and Updates, 12/10/18

Lev wrote the following:

Love your series, just bought book #7. Will there be a book #8 – the epilogue and when?

First and foremost, thank you so much for the very kind comments you offer as well as the fact that you’ve decided my work was worthy enough for you to spend your hard earned money on buying it!

Will there be a book #8?  The short answer is: Absolutely.

But…

Here’s the thing: The 8th Book in the series is, as I’ve noted many times before and you’ve noted, is an “Epilogue”…

See, that’s how I’ve listed Book #8!

…as such, the Book effectively closes the door on stories featuring at least two of the major characters I’ve introduced in the series (I’ll not say who they are!) and I’m not sure I want to close that particular (pardon the pun) book on them quite yet.

Author Agatha Christie, during the heights of World War 2 and the London Blitz of 1940 and fearing that England -and she- would not survive the war, wrote the novel Curtain, which was the “final” and “concluding” story featuring what was arguably her biggest, most beloved creation, detective Hercule Poirot.

Ms. Christie put the novel in a lock box, intending it to be released only should she not survive the bombings and/or war.

Ms. Christie, England, and the world survived the war.  Ms. Christie kept writing new novels at an astonishing rate, including new novels featuring detective Poirot, but she kept Curtain in that lock box.  The novel would not be released until 1975, very shortly before Ms. Christie passed away in January of 1976.

Now, without sounding too obnoxious, I sometimes think that maybe Book #8 in the Corrosive Knights series, or what I call the “Epilogue”, once fully fleshed out (I already have most of the novel written, believe it or not!), should also be kept in my own little lock box and released when I’m certain I don’t want to write any more Corrosive Knights novels.

So the short answer regarding Book #8, “Epilogue”, is: I WILL write this novel in the next year.  It WILL be done.  But it may not be released right away.  I may give myself a few weeks/months to think through the whole thing and see if I do want to release it or, perhaps, work on a different Corrosive Knights #8 novel and, in time, release the Epilogue when I feel its worth doing so.

Moving along, Lev, I hope this answers your question!

To you and those who have read my books and enjoy them, I ask a big favor: PLEASE write reviews for the books and post them either to Amazon or, at the least, offer a star review for Goodreads (if you read the Kindle edition of the books, you get the chance at the very end to click how many stars out of 5 you feel a book merits).

I jokingly say that if you loved my books, write reviews praising my oh-so-magnificent work.  If you didn’t, then don’t bother! 😉

Seriously, though, tell your friends about them, write reviews.  If you want to see more of my works, make them successful enough for me so that I can devote even more time on ’em!