And just like that…

…I’ve begun my next novel.

It’s the way it goes, you never really stand back and admire your work but rather put it aside when its done and start up something new.

While I’m not totally done with Terminus Island -I’m still waiting for the paperback proof copy of the novel to arrive- the fact is the creative aspects of that novel are pretty much finished and, therefore, its time to think about what’s next.

I started doing so and certain ideas started creeping into my head. Next thing I know, I’m putting some of those early rough ideas into a brand new Word file and I’m off and running…!

I suspect this next novel will not take place in the Corrosive Knights universe, making it the first book in many a year that is set apart from that series.

…but…

Does that mean I may be leaving the Corrosive Knights and the various characters behind?

Hard to say. I still have that one “Epilogue” story sitting in my hard drive and I do mean to one day get to it but we’ll see about that.

Further to all this, given that I’m at the very, very early stages of writing this new work and there’s little doubt it will go through a lot of changes before I’m done with the first draft, much less the final draft, it is certainly possible it might wind up tying into the Corrosive Knights universe when all is said and done.

So, for now, stay tuned!

Coming In Late To This Party…

So two nights ago we had the first of three Presidential debates and… well… it sure was something.

Interestingly, the first impressions seemed to be: “Well, that was a shitshow” with the implication being both candidates, Trump and Biden, didn’t do much for themselves…

But, as is usually the case, after some reflection, the immediate reactions went away and a consensus built that Trump was the deranged one, especially toward the very end of the debate when he couldn’t get himself to speak ill of the far right-wing Proud Boys.

Further to that, though, was a feeling that Trump was flailing and interrupting, perhaps desperately so, because either a) he realizes he’s losing and wanted to claim every moment of the debate or b) he’s just that desperate for attention.

Regardless, the next day evaluation seems to be that Trump was the one that looked terrible in the debate. Polls bore this out, with most feeling that Biden “won” simply by not taking the bait, even though he did lose his patience at a couple of points and not only told Trump to “shut up” but also called him a “bozo”.

Certainly never saw anything like that in a Presidential debate before!

If we were to look past the highlights, however, there was plenty of other strange stuff Trump said during the debates. While they may not be quite as startling as being unable to say anything negative about the Proud Boys, it was nonetheless startling.

Ben Mattis-Lilley over at Slate.com offers this list of…

Eight things that were somehow not takeaways from the debate because everything else was so deranged

My favorite bit was this, presented at the very end of the article:

This was, according to Trump, one of the reasons he should be reelected:

The greatest, before COVID came in, the greatest economy in history, lowest unemployment numbers, everything was good. Everything was going—and by the way, there was unity going to happen. People were calling me, for the first time in years, they were calling and they were saying, ‘It’s time, maybe.’ And then what happened? We got hit.

Time for what? And who was calling? Unfortunately, we will never know, because we got hit.

Terminus Island: Now Available In All Formats!

As of today, September 29, Terminus Island, the 8th Book in the Corrosive Knights series, is now available both in Kindle/Digital format as well as in Paperback:

Whew…!

It’s been quite a bit of work getting it out the door but its for the most part all done on my end. I have yet to get the “proof” copy to verify everything’s ok, but since I’ve already seen the PDF and it all looks good through and through, I felt confident enough to make the paperback available despite not having the proof copy yet.

So for those who prefer to get physical copies of the book, you can get ‘em starting today.

And if you do get the book -I know some of you have already picked up and read the Kindle version!- if you like what you read, please put in a review.

I would appreciate it!

The Trouble With Comic Books…

It’s an interesting paradox -of sorts- these days: Until COVID-19 came and disrupted our lives, some of the biggest box-office hits were movies based on comic books.

I’m referring, of course, to the Marvel Comics films and the DC Universe films. Each release seemed to bring out audiences (some, granted, more than others) and bring their studios, Disney and Warner Brothers, huge returns on their investments…

…and yet…

Comic books themselves -or graphic novels, if you prefer that term- seem to be floundering. Sales have been falling for decades now. Hell, I recall interviews with artists/writers from the 1980’s where they talked about how in the 1970’s they were certain the comic book field would die out.

It didn’t, of course, but the scariest thing to realize is that sales of books back in the 1970’s, again, a decade where many thought the industry was on the verge of elimination, was incredible considering sales of books nowadays.

Back then, comic books were present in many places, from drug stores to supermarkets to large stores like Woolworth or K-Mart.

The first comic books I bought way back then were indeed in these places. In fact, Swamp Thing #10, still my all around favorite comic book and the one that made me realize comic books could be art, I found in a local drugstore one day in 1974 (its cover date release is June of that year).

During that time, comic books that sold less than 100,000 copies were considered failures and cancelled. Nowadays, its not unheard of that a relatively popular book sells no more than 20,000 copies and some struggle to sell even 10,000.

Compare this, by the way, to sales figures of comic books in the 1940’s, where some comics boasted sales approaching one million copies!

So, yes, there has been a downward spiral here of sales of comic books over the many years and, nowadays, that number is becoming downright scary and, considering how popular many of these characters seem to be on the big screen, its rather perplexing, no?

There is no lack of opinion as to what’s wrong with the comic book industry and what can be done to aid it.

Writer/creator Gerry Conway, perhaps best known for creating The Punisher and writing the Gwen Stacy storyline in Spider-Man, offers his perspective on what can be done to help the comic book industry:

His plan isn’t new. Artist/writer John Byrne has expressed similar sentiments for quite some time now.

But what gets me is that people like Gerry Conway and John Byrne are somewhat responsible for the predicament comics are in today, even if they correctly point out how things could be made better.

John Bryne, for those unaware, is probably one of the bigger influences on film. He worked on X-Men when they started to go nuclear, making Wolverine (who, it should be noted, he didn’t create) into the character we’re familiar with on the screen. He also had well received runs on both The Fantastic Four and Superman, among others.

Mr. Byrne, as Mr. Conway does in this statement, has noted that one of the biggest problems with comic books occurred when the fans became the creators. Before, up to perhaps the late 1960’s, comic book work was considered a proper job and many of the people involved in them worked them like a 9 to 5 affair, showing up, doing their work, then clocking out when done. They may not have had any special affinity to any of the characters or stories, doing their best each time they were assigned a job and finishing it in its proper deadline.

Books back then also were simpler: A story would be told usually in one issue (rarely more than one) and when the next issue came out, just about anyone could pick it up and get enjoyment out of it.

Not so for more recent books. There has been soap opera levels of backstory ingrained into just about every book nowadays to the point where you are expected to know far more about a character, side-characters, villains, etc. etc. to get enjoyment out of books.

Frankly, even as a fan of many characters and someone who picks up the odd book here and there, its not easy nowadays to just pick some random comic book and get your money’s worth.

Often, the book will be but a part/chapter of a bigger story. This is the result of trade paperbacks (TPBs) which are increasingly popular nowadays but have rendered the individual comic less and less necessary.

Why would I pay for a single comic book issue, say a part of a 4-part story, rather than simply wait for the book to be collected into a TPB?

One of the better comic books runs of the 1970’s, IMHO, was the Michael Fleischer written Jonah Hex. For some 12 years, Mr. Fleischer wrote issue after issue of Jonah Hex, a western book, and each issue was essentially a self-contained story. Anyone could pick up any issue of his run and get a complete story presented, with a clear beginning, middle, and ending and get their money’s worth.

The stories, by the way, weren’t simplistic. They were often quite adult. There was a longish storyline snaking through the books for maybe a year or so, but as a reader you were never confused or left wondering what the hell was going on. Recaps were clearly presented and you were rarely, if ever, left with a “to be continued” blurb at the end of any one particular issue.

Not so with comic nowadays.

Mr. Conway -and Mr. Byrne before him- laments this fact, that you can’t just pick up a comic book and get enjoyment out of an individual issue, that you somehow have to get up to date with so many storylines and concepts that turn off any first time reader.

I think they’re not wrong but, again, it seems to me some of the books they worked on in the past were guilty of this as well.

Mr. Conway, and again Mr. Byrne beforehand, also feel comics should cater to younger audiences. Mr. Conway notes that when visiting the offices of DC comics in the 1960’s and before he became a pro, he talked to editor Julius Schwartz about some story idea and when asked his age -and telling Mr. Schwartz he was 14- was told he was “too old” for the comic book audience of the time.

So Mr. Conway and Byrne feel that comics need to cater to younger audiences, that they cater to people who are older.

To which I say: They should cater to younger audiences and its a shame they currently do cater to older readers, it seems, almost exclusively.

And yet again, Mr. Conway and Byrne, I feel were participants in the way comics were molded in the 1970’s and 80’s to cater to older readers. Their stories (not all, granted) tended to be more “mature” in their perspective. Certainly Mr. Conway’s best known story, that involving Gwen Stacy -and her fate- was a hard-hitting story involving loss and grief. Mr. Byrne, for his part, molded what was arguably one of the first of the bloodthirsty anti-heroes with his portrayal of Wolverine.

Still, even if they had a hand in the way things have shaped up today, they’re not wrong.

Comics should cater to younger audiences and they should once again be available in all the venues possible rather than simply in specialty comic book stores.

They should remove the barnacles of continuity and become less complicated/complex and more new-reader friendly.

Thing is: There’s nothing to say we can’t do both and in this I also agree with Mr. Conway: Have TPBs released which cater to older readers and have regular books which target the younger reader who is curious about the character but finds themselves overwhelmed and unable to just “dive in” to any book without becoming overwhelmed by backstory.

It’s a way forward, certainly, but can it bring back the comic book industry?

Until and unless its implemented, we won’t know.

Megadeth’s Rust In Peace at 30…

Wouldn’t you know it, I just finish writing up my glowing tribute to what I consider David Bowie’s best later career album, 1. Outside, and then go looking around the internet and discover that what is arguably Megadeth’s all time best album -and quite possibly all time best metal/thrash album- Rust In Peace was released on this date, September 24th, 1990!

Wow!

I got into metal/thrash in the mid to late 1980’s, finding myself liking the works of Megadeth (natch) and Anthrax the most. I wasn’t too big on Metallica, who were on the rise back then, but did like their first album Kill ’em All. It’s possible I liked that album because, for those who don’t know, the brains behind Megadeth, Dave Mustaine, was a member of Metallica but was booted from the band shortly before they released that first album.

Several songs on it are listed as being co-written by Mustaine, and Mustaine, to his credit, took that rejection and founded his own band, eventually releasing Rust in Peace.

Sadly, over the years I’ve found it difficult to read interviews with Mr. Mustaine. While in the early years he appeared to have a very liberal temperament, even going so far as to pen the song Hook In Mouth, which lashed out against the PMRC, an organization that tried to rein in foul lyrics on albums, he’s subsequently turned into a rather… extreme individual who seems to eat up Alex Jones and -if memory serves- being a proponent of some of the more extreme right wing religious candidates out there.

Yes, I do believe he bought into the “Barack Obama wasn’t a U.S. citizen” crap, too.

Ah well.

Love the art, not necessarily the artist, no?

Rust in Peace is an absolutely terrific album, regardless of what has become of Dave Mustaine, and I whole heartedly recommend it to anyone interested in checking out that type of music…

…however…

Dave Mustaine issued a “remix” of the album and that, unfortunately, is mostly what’s available nowadays on streaming services and… it’s just not as good as the original version of the album.

Sadly, Mr. Mustaine has done that to many of his early albums and, for the most part, the end result has been less. I prefer the original version of Rust in Peace and So Far, So Good, So What (their third album) over the remixed versions.

On the other hand, their first album, Killing Is My Business, actually sounded better in the remix, though its a shame one can’t hear the original lyrics he put into his remake of the Nancy Sinatra song These Boots.

But I’m drifting here…

Give Rust in Peace a listen if you’re curious.

It’s damn good stuff!

David Bowie’s Outside at 25…

My how the time flies…

Twenty five years ago, in 1995, David Bowie released 1. Outside (as it was designated, though the album does seem to have different titles, including leaving off the “1.”).

When it was released, I recall purchasing the CD -that’s the way music was being sold back then, what with the internet in its infancy and MP3s either not yet available or in the process of becoming.

It’s admittedly difficult as the years pass to recall specifics of a time so very long ago, but I do recall eagerly picking the album up -as I did with every new Bowie album- and finding it at first difficult to get into but, after a couple of listens, finding myself really loving it.

Alas, critics -again if my memory is right- weren’t quite as enamored. Many felt the album was simply too much, bursting to the rim as it was. Indeed, the album runs dangerously close to the maximum 75 minutes a CD allows, and a subsequent re-release of the album, featuring the song Get Real, allowed quite literally only a minute or so of time to spare on the CD!

Over at popmatters.com, Adam Trainer offers a very in depth retrospective of this album, which I found very intriguing and, if you’re a David Bowie music fan as I am, might find intriguing too:

What a Fantastic Death Abyss: David Bowie’s “Outside” at 25

I’ve said it before ’round these parts and I’ll repeat it: I feel that of all of David Bowie’s later albums, 1. Outside is my favorite, with Blackstar, his final work, coming in a close second.

Outside (I’ll refer to the album by this designation… It’s easier to type this than putting that damn “1.” in front of!) is, IMHO, a terrific work, one that flows through so many different musical styles and themes and… its mind-blowing. So mind-blowing and so filled to the brim with material that I totally understand why some people may find it just too damn much to take.

This is an album that demands you give it your attention and time and, if you’re unable or uninterested in doing so, then you likely won’t care for it.

Ah, but if you do have that patience and do give it a look-see, there is plenty here to love.

In his article, Mr. Trainer correctly notes that The Buddha of Suburbia, the album that preceded Outside, is almost like a dry run and does indeed feature an early version of the song Strangers When We Meet, which would close out both albums in their original forms. Worth checking out as well, even if many don’t consider it a “true” Bowie album. It is, even if it is a “soundtrack” to a BBC miniseries.

Anyway, I don’t disagree with some of the criticism Mr. Trainer also levels against the album: Perhaps if Mr. Bowie had whittled the material down to, say, 40 minutes, we might have had something many would have considered a spectacular album. Further, I wouldn’t argue with the fact that some of the album’s “segues”, which are snippets of dialogue that tell the story of various characters involved in the songs, may be disposable…

…and yet, I love the album as it is, start to end.

And when it soars, as it does with songs like The Heart’s Filthy Lesson, The Motel, I Have Not Been to Oxford Town (in my opinion one of the cleverest of the songs on the album, taken from the point of view of someone who’s been accused of a murder they didn’t commit, and realizing while sitting in jail they’re about to take the fall for the crime), I’m Deranged, Thru These Architect Eyes, and, yes indeed, Strangers When We Meet.

The album, frankly, is bursting with so much good stuff and, as time passes, I’m more and more impressed with it.

So often people compared the latest Bowie album and wondered if it was as good as Scary Monsters and Super Creeps, which many considered the last great Bowie album.

Sorry folks, much as I love Scary Monsters, and I do love it, I think Outside is overall even better.

Terminus Island Is Available Now…!

A while back, while still working on Terminus Island, I mused that I might have it done by late Summer. Welp, today, September 22nd, is officially the first day of Fall…

…but…!

Terminus Island was officially listed for the Kindle (ie, digital) yesterday, September the 21st, which means on the very last official day of Summer, the novel was available!

She lies hidden in the frozen northern seas, a dark island with even darker secrets.

For seven survivors of an ill-fated cruise ship, she offers hope at first, then terror.

They will meet forces they can’t understand even as some in their group prove they are not who they seem.

The fight for survival begins and before their stay is done, they will learn the terrifying secrets of Terminus Island.

To get your copy or read it free through Kindle Unlimited, click here:

Given the book was just listed, there’s still some stuff Amazon.com has to do. For example, the Corrosive Knights book listing at this moment has the previous 7 books in the series listed but not this book, with is #8.

…but…!

I’m here to tell you it is a part of the series and in the next day, hopefully, I’ll be getting the paperback material (ie cover and back cover graphics) and will have the proof sent to me. Once I review it and if it all looks good, the paperback follows. I’d give it a week or two, though.

Meanwhile, if you want to read the latest Corrosive Knights book, there it is!

Corrosive Knights: Terminus Island…!

Ladies and gentlemen, its been a long journey but we’re just about there now.

Without further ado, here is the cover to the latest book in the Corrosive Knights series, Terminus Island!

She lies hidden in the frozen northern seas, a dark island with even darker secrets.

For seven survivors of an ill fated cruise ship, the island at first offers hope, then horror.

These seven survivors will meet forces they couldn’t possibly understand even as some in their group prove they are not who they seem.

The fight for survival begins and before their stay is done, they will learn the terrifying secrets of Terminus Island.

******

Terminus Island will be available via Kindle (ie, digital) by this week. I’ll give you the exact date when it is released but it should be in the next couple of days.

The paperback will be available a week to two weeks later, as soon as I get my proof and feel everything is ok.

Feels nice to finally update the eight cover picture…

Terry Goodkind (1948-2020)

Just read of the passing of author Terry Goodkind and wanted to share some thoughts about his novels, for what they’re worth.

Years ago I found, purchased, and read this book by him:

The Pillars of Creation (Sword of Truth Series #7) by Terry Goodkind,  Paperback | Barnes & Noble®

Don’t know how I stumbled upon this particular book, the 7th in the “Sword of Truth” series, but I enjoyed it quite a bit even if I was unfamiliar with the cast of characters.

But it did intrigue me and later on, I bought and read the first books in the series, starting with…

Amazon.com: Wizard's First Rule (Sword of Truth Book 1) eBook: Goodkind,  Terry: Kindle Store

This book, the first in the series, I felt was damn good, a wonderful fantasy epic that, while quite long (it’s listed as running nearly 600 pages in paperback form!) it really was an incredibly beautiful and immersive book.

I bought the next book and the one after that, Stone of Tears and Blood of the Fold and…

…they were good but it seemed with each new book I got the feeling Goodkind was either becoming repetitious or, frankly, just filling in pages.

Then came book #4 in the series, Temple of The Winds

Temple of the Winds | Sword of Truth Wiki | Fandom

Sadly, that was the book that wound up being the first to end my interest in Mr. Goodkind’s novels, in spite of the enormous good will I had toward them at the beginning. I believe I tried to read the next book in the series, Soul of the Fire, but by that point I was done.

Temple of The Winds was an excruciatingly long, padded, and ultimately pointless, IMHO, book which tried my patience like no other. Somewhere around the half-way point of reading it (and, like his other books, it ran some 600-800 plus pages… I don’t recall exactly) I began scanning through paragraphs rather than reading them, focusing on dialogue to try to move things along and get to the story’s point.

I say this not to insult Mr. Goodkind or his works, but to express my sadness at discovering what I thought was a damn good author who for a time really grabbed my interest but who I ultimately had to leave.

I still love Wizard’s First Rule and Pillars of Creation and do not hesitate recommending them to anyone who wants to read some really good fantasy works.

But, I’d be lying if I said my interest in Mr. Goodkind’s works continued much longer beyond that point.

According to the Tor website, which I’ve linked to in the first sentence above, 21 books in The Sword of Truth series have been created and I will absolutely give him this much: He was very dedicated to his craft and published an incredible amount of works.

For Mr. Goodkind’s family and friends and those who were fans of his series, who kept reading his works long past the point I gave up on them, my sympathies.

While I wish I could have continued enjoying his works beyond the initial two I read and the subsequent 2 which weren’t bad but not quite as good, Mr. Goodkind nonetheless provided me with many hours of enjoyment.

As an author, I view that as one of the best compliments one could receive.

On Writing… Wear & Tear

The other day my daughter was on my desktop computer and complained it was hard to use it because the letters were rubbed off in places.

I have two main computers I use for my writings, and both of them have K350 wireless Logitech ergonomic keyboards like this one…

Logitech K350 Wireless Wave Ergonomic Keyboard w/Unifying Receiver | eBay

I like ergonomic keypads and have used different types. I think my favorite is the Microsoft version but the one I like is a wired keyboard versus wireless and I prefer the wireless version, as I like to sometimes kick up my legs and type while its on my lap. To do so, I need a full, robust keyboard like the one above, one that can -natch- fit comfortably on my lap. With the wired version, I can only pull it so far!

Anyway, this is what my daughter was complaining about, the current state of that keyboard on my desktop computer:

As you can see, the letters S, D, F, C, L, and N are pretty much obliterated because of my heavy typing.

As I said, I have a second computer, a laptop, which I’ve also paired up with a K350 keyboard. I use the laptop in another room, away from everyone, so that I can concentrate on my work and not distract/be distracted by my family. Here is it:

I know the photos look about the same and the same letters are essentially missing: S, D, C, N, and L. Unlike the desktop’s keyboard, though, the F key is still visible and, showing the laptop’s keyboard has seen less use, you can still see a little of the S, C, and L buttons, though not enough to actually read ’em.

Worth noting, too, is that if you look closely at the pictures, you see that the letters M and V, while still visible, are also showing signs of heavy use. In the desktop picture at the top, both letters are quite chipped away while for my laptop the M is going but the V is still relatively intact.

I point this out not to denigrate the Logitech keyboard, though I would say that maybe the letters should last a little bit more, but it is intriguing that those letters, S, D, C, F, L, and N seems to get the most wear… at least when I’m typing, with the M and V being the next level of most used letters.

Because you had to know!

😉

The Blog of E. R. Torre

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