Episode 17: Demons

In today’s show I talk about demons – not necessarily the ones living in my head but rather the ones used in stories to terrorize your children. But first things first:

I apologize for the intro voice. I thought I could pull off a demon voice but the end result sounds like a constipated minion from a Saturday morning cartoon.

Following some rockin’ tunes I talk about my latest cover which is still in progress, my writing schedule which looks like crap on a cracker and my issues with finding a suitable host for my podcast. WordPress is all well and good, but this thing is suited for blogs, not a podcast.

And now, for the topic of the show:

I talk about demons in stories and try to properly categorize them. However this topic is so vast and vague, that it’s largely uniquely dependent on the creator rather than an established trope. However there are some common elements I pointed out such as ‘creator of chaos’ (which bdw, if I ever get a band, I am so using that name), Harbinger of destruction and sometimes, a minion for something much worse.

The main distinction however is between Western and Eastern types. The western version usually is more about evil and chaos itself, using monsters of destruction, whereas the Eastern is more about reincarnation into something evil and determinate to destroy something specific. Essentially revenge or retribution. Usually, if the Main Character is a demon, there is a heavy element of Redemption too.

Take a look at this comparison.

Your typical iconic demon
Your typical iconic demon

That one is western as opposed to this eastern version:

 

feel my heat, ladies
feel my heat, ladies

 

See what I mean? But enough talk. Here’s today’s show, enjoy.

 

 

Music:

Rapid Fire

Blue Stahli
www.fixtstore.com/bluestahli 
www.youtube.com/fixtmusic

Marvel’s plans for world domination and why I don’t mind

I am writing this about five minutes after having woken up on a Saturday so don’t expect anything too serious. Saturdays exist only for the sole purpose of sleeping in, classic cartoon reruns and late morning sexual activities. Nothing else!

But I have been contractually obliged by my friends who plan to drag me out to watch Winter Soldier and so here I am, ranting.

I read somewhere yesterday that Marvel has a 15 year plan to dominate the media world as we know it – triggering an apocalypse by making high octane CGI enhanced movies about imaginary people from the 70’s golden age and rendering us a bunch of 3D glass wearing comatose consumers, some of whom will have I’m Blue stuck in their heads after watching Iron Man 3. (daba dee, daba daiiii, daba dee daba daiiii.)

That being said, and this comes from one who has been described as overly paranoid (the generous term for it) or Tin-foil-hat fucking bat-shit crazy (the term my loved ones use), I’m not sure that Marvel conquering the world will be such a bad idea. Let’s have a quick rundown of their catalog shall we:

  • Spider-Man 1-3. OK I have to admit, this is a bad start. Anything with Toby McGuire in it is cause for suspicious, but this superhero movie takes the shit cake. I loved him in Wonder Boys but he was a bad choice for Peter Parker. Then again, anyone is better than Ryan Reynolds.
  • Blade (1-3). Wesley Snipes as a sword wielding, street talking vampire slayer? He was born to play that role. Hell yes!!
  • X-Men 1-3. The movies varied in awesomeness and a lot of fans complained about the unoriginal plot lines or maybe the mutilation of some classics (anyone remembers the 3rd movie and Rise of the Phoenix? It’s a wonder the world didn’t end – oh, wait that’s a fictional character. Never mind), but hey, I liked them. I love the X-Men for various reasons, one of which is that it not only makes you think you’re an outcast with awesome powers but you will also find a family in a giant big-ass mansion full of mutants run by Captain Kirk – I mean Professor X.
  • Daredevil. I was never a huge follower of this guy but as far as movies go – meh. Still, cool jumpsuits.
  • Hulk. Can’t comment here, haven’t watched it and don’t plan to. Was never a Hulk fan.
  • The Punisher. Here’s your homework for the day: go rent the Punisher played by Thomas Jane. DO IT!! (But hide your family first.) Rock music, guns, war and John Travolta? Sign me up!!
  • Elektra. It’s like Marvel can read my mind. They took the best elements from Daredevil (that would be the hot chick in leather and kick ass moves, in case you had any doubts) and gave them an Asian ‘House Of Flying Daggers’-esque feel. The fantasy element was amazing, and of course Jennifer Garner . . . . pant, pant, pant.
  • Fantastic Four (both movies cos I’m lazy). First one had some of the most insidious over-acting imaginable but the second one got way better with the Silver Surfer. Then again, anything is better with the Silver Surfer. Not Marvel’s best movies but hey, the comics are awesome.
  • X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Gotta say, after the Transformers (not a Marvel thing) fiasco, I expected this movie to be garbage on a hot summer’s day. It wasn’t. In fact I’d say it was better than most X-Men movies by far. And of course Ryan Reynolds as Deadpool, or rather Wade Wilson – please excuse me while I slam my head on a desk. (CAN WE STOP CASTING THIS DUDE FOR ACTION MOVIES?)
  • Iron Man (1-3). First movie – loved it. Second movie – could have been a little better. Third movie – I cried in the cinema. Fuck you, I did. Marvel showed it can do the one thing it was notoriously good at failing at – nailing a good ending. Also, I remember I’m Blue just coming out (No, I’m not old. Yes I just had my birthday, but no, I’m not old!) and I couldn’t resist singing along.
  • Thor (1-2). Loved the first movie. Second one sucked big baby chunks in a blender. But we all know the reason why that movie was successful, right ladies?
  • X-Men First Class. I loved this movie. They picked out my favorite mutants, put in Jennifer Lawrence before the Hunger Games trauma, and had some of the best lines in a superhero movie to date. A must watch.
  • Ghost Rider (1-2). No. Just fucking, no!
  • The Avengers. I cannot begin to describe how awesome this movie is. There are no words to properly convey what an awesome idea this was. Also Joss Whedon wrote and directed it and I have a feeling he’s going to be very preoccupied by a lot of sequels.
  • Captain America. First movie was OK. Second movie – I’ll get back to you in a few hours. Check my tweets.
  • The Wolverine. Honestly now we’re pushing it. Give the guy a rest. Where’s the DEADPOOL MOVIE, huh Marvel?
  • The Amazing Spider-Man. I’ve watched the Toby McGuire ones. Nothing can ever apologize for that.

Movies in the making:

  • X-Men: Days of Future Past. If they pull it off this may just be Movie of the year. If not, Marvel studios will be ransacked by torch-wielding and plastic hammer bearing fans.
  • Guardians of the Galaxy. After that teaser at the end of Thor one – ABOUT FUCKING TIME!
  • Avengers: Age of Ultron. Yes, oh Loki Almighty, hell yes.
  • Fantastic Four reboot. This just gives me a knotted stomach.
  • Ant-Man. No. Please don’t. There are a million ways this can go wrong. Then again, anything is better than Ghost Rider isn’t it?

 

See? Apart from some ranting and heart palpitations, Marvel didn’t do anything wrong. Sure, they keep teasing us with movies like Deadpool and Black Widow (Scarlet Johannson in leather – I wonder who would watch that?) but at least they don’t take children, market them as pristine and untouchable and then abandon them when they are of age, like some sort of slave-house from Oliver Twist. Now wonder their most precious end up dry humping a middle aged man in a Beetlejuice outfit. Personally I would take Marvel reign on the world any day over Disney’s.

Think about it. Disney’s job is to parade young underage girls in front of the masses, market them like a piece of meat and then dump them the moment something drastic happens like – they have mental issue due to disorders or stress. Or worse, they grow up. Oh the humanity! And seriously, whose idea was it to give 16 year old that much money and ego? They’re 16. Duh, motherfuckers!

So moral of the story . . . there isn’t one. Just go watch some Marvel movies. I know I am.

I’m Blue, daba dee, daba daiiii, daba dee daba daiiii.

I can’t get that fucking song out my head now.

Peace,

Ryan

Writing Advice – Bakuman-style

I’ve been wanting to write this post for a while but I could never find the right words to properly express myself. So in true Austin Kleon style I am going to steal like an artist. And my first victim today is a manga called Bakuman.

I’m not going to waste your time explaining what the manga is about – Wikipedia works just fine. Better yet, head over to mangareader.net and read it for free. The reason I love this manga is that it inspired me to keep going, having seen myself as both protagonists of the story.

The creators (the same duo who gave us Death Note bdw so you know this shit is cool) wrote down some rules which they had the characters struggle with.

Here’s the original 5 (from chapter 5, page 17):

  1. Never create a superficial work. Pour your blood into the ink! - this is fairly easy to understand. Be your own guy, or gal. The key word here is ‘superficial’. Believe in your work and that will show. Better yet, it’s like leaving a mark on your work. Feeling, passion and love are transmissible, and it is your job as a creator to touch the lives of your patrons.
  2. Never chase after popularity, which is as transient as a flower. Dig deep in the earth and put down roots. - Rules and tropes don’t make a genre. In fact, nothing makes a genre. Stop being anal and just do whatever you want. So long as you ‘keep it real’ both to yourself as a person and yourself as an artist, that work is SOLID.
  3. No matter how much status you attain, you must never have regrets. If the choice is between peace and the storm, chose the storm. – Don’t settle for anything. If something feels wrong, upset it. Flip that table, explore the scary black hole. Always chose the storm, because only withing the very heart of the storm will you find true peace. (Some Shannon Thompson-esque poetry going on here.)
  4. If you should fail, never cry. Study your failure and let it give birth to success. - Remember a few posts ago when I said there are no ‘overnight’ successes? This is what this rule is all about. It took Tolkien (the original dude) a lifetime (no kidding) to get the Lord of the Rings world in shape. Failure is imminent and there’s jack shit you can do about it. When you fail you have 2 choices: Cry and stay down, or cry and get up again.  

“Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better” – Samuel Beckett.

5. Even if you obey the previous rules, never think you alone are right. Learn         from everything and everyone around you. - This may be a little tricky for us             Westerners to grasp, but the gist of it is to not let your ego inflate. Adopt a bit of Tibetan Buddhism in your life and question everything. Go into this with an empty cup so to speak. Accept everyone’s advice and then judge for yourself. Let me give you an example of this, fresh from yesterday’s emails. My proofreader emailed me with a few updates and stated what some of my weaknesses are. I got the email at 8 am and was still in bed since I had gone to bed 4 hours earlier. So I read the email and went back to dreamland. My mistake was that I forgot to email back, which she took as a sign that she may have offended me. It was a genuine mistake mind you, and I instantly emailed back to excuse my scatterbrain and reassure her that no, she did not offend me by pointing out my mistakes. At one point I reply with “any writer who gets offended when someone tries to help them with their weakness, should not be in the business in the first place.

Moral of the story is: open your mind to success.

However the protagonists of the story take it a step further and dilute it. I quite like the diluted version because they are the universal rules of not just drawing manga, but creating art in any way shape or form.

Rules to Create (from Ch 5 Page 18):

  • Be Conceited. Believe you can do better than anyone else. – OK yeah, I get it. You’re confused. Let me explain. This is referring to believing in your work and in your talents. Believe that you CAN reach the golden apple. Believe you CAN become #1 on the Bestseller List. If you act like a successful person, then inevitably you WILL BECOME a successful person. It’s all about attitude: don’t be a dick, just be a believer in yourself.
  • Work Hard. – I’m not going to explain this. In fact, if you need someone to tell you that being an artist is HARD fucking WORK, then you should just quit. If you think that doing this as a hobby (hate that word!!) will make you successful, then please click the red X button on the top right and get the fuck out of my blog. Unsubscribe even – I have nothing to tell you. Art, in whatever you do, takes hard work. If you’re not pouring your blood, sweat and soul into it then there’s no point in doing it. This is a lifestyle, not a cheap way to make a buck. And a true artist never complains no matter how hard it gets, because we LOVE what we do.
  • Be Lucky. - This is tricky. It has nothing to do with actual luck, which is just a bullshit societal notion to explain the Law of Large Numbers and Probability to the masses. And no, it has nothing to do with bribing people to do your shit for you. Here’s a little life lesson – YOU MAKE YOUR OWN LUCK. This is one of those few times that the Maltese language I grew up with makes sense. We have a lot of sayings along the lines of ‘help yourself, and the universe will help you’. Point is, no one is gonna give you success. You gotta go and grab that sucker with your two hands. No gives you opportunities; you make them happen. Take control of your life and you will be able to guide yourself to your goals.

 

Requirements to Maintain your Publishing/Success (Ch 50 pg 18):

  • Physical Strength. - Your health will determine your productivity. Simple fact, true fact. I have a lot of friends who maintain an artist’s lifestyle, somehow confusing it with the student’s lifestyle. All of that is a bullshit excuse to eat junk food and vile processed shit. The idea that artists sit down all day and work is WRONG. Do yourself a favor and set yourself a schedule. Exercise (at the very least it’s a break from your routine and it does wonders to clear your head, kinda like a ‘refresh’ button.). Go out on walk. Enjoy the damn sunshine. Eat right. Your diet makes a significant difference in your thought process. Personally, I don’t consume alcohol in any way and am a vegetarian. Now, for fuck’s sake, I’m not telling you to imitate me. I don’t need you to be me – I do a wonderful job of that myself. I’m just saying, stop getting wasted, high or bloated from McDonald’s squalid necrotic concoctions. Take your fucking life seriously. 
  • Mental Fortitude. - This thing called a brain is very fucking useful. This is where all of your ideas come from. Take care of it. Being an artist has one prime requirement: GROW UP. You’re gonna have bad days. You’re gonna have missed deadlines. You’re gonna argue with your editors, managers and others who tell you that no you cannot publish everything right the fuck now (that got a little too personal). Worst of all, you’re gonna find people who will be utter fucking trolls who deserve to be on the receiving end of a Dothraki army invasion for being so goddamn mean. Just GET OVER IT. (Bdw did anyone catch the Game of Thrones reference?)
  • Guts. - Perhaps the most important one of all! Find the courage to not only find your voice, but scream in that VOICE from the top of a mountain so that everyone below can hear it and wonder in awe. Have the guts to go in your own direction, to sound your voice and to be yourself as an artistic mark in history.

 

And on that note, I shall conclude today’s post. I hope all of you enjoyed it, and I hope this inspired some of you to start engaging with the gremlins in your head. If you are already going down this rabbit hole, I hope you are inspired to go deeper. If you’re thinking of quitting or giving up, think again. This is a wonderful life and it only takes a few adjustments to make it work.

All you need to succeed is some willpower. 

Till next time. Peace out,

Ryan

Star Wars Special

My plan for this week was to have a nice relaxing SHORT show where I just ramble and improvise some crap for your enjoyment.

However, due to a Star Wars marathon and me being an EPIC Star Wars nerd, I couldn’t resist the temptation to talk about this.

A word of warning: this is a long, intense show where I fully delve into a world spanning over 30 years (and nearly a billion in the real galaxy). It’s over an hour! That should give you an idea.

However, and I’m not ashamed to pull out this card – it’s my birthday on Friday and this is my reward: Nerding out to a microphone, and penetrating you through your ears.

Enjoy:

 

PS. I have no shame about the shitty impressions. No shame!

PSS. This a video one of those friends I mentioned earlier sent to me. They have no respect for Star Wars.

Topics of discussion (so you can follow my fucking rambling):

- History of Je’daii and Ratakan Empire

- The Force

- Nomi Sunrider (I mispronounce her name), Satele Shan, Yoda (again sorry for the voices)

- Exar Kun

- Sith

- Darth Bane, Darth Tenebrous, Darth Plagueis, Darth Sidious AKA Palpatine

- Rule of Two vs One Sith

Lightsabers

 

Some Actors

- Han Solo (Harrison Ford)

- Darth Vader/ Anakin Skywalker (James Earl Jones / Hayden Christensen)

- Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill)

- Leia Skywalker (Carrie Fisher)

- Qui-Gon Jinn (Liam Neeson)

- Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor and Sir Alec Guinness – sorry for the mistake)

- Padme Amidala (Natalie Portman)

- Mace Windu (Samuel L. Jackson)

- Count Dooku (Christopher Lee)

- Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid)

- Darth Maul (Ray Park)

 

For those of you who are interested in my Pre-AEC days (back before I even finished Firstborn) this is my fanfic:

Wraith: Agent of the Force

 

Till next time,

Ryan

Interview with Shannon Thompson

OK fair warning. This is the longest show yet – a little below 2 hours. So plug your earbuds and multitask, and prepare to laugh your ass off.

My guest today is Shannon Thompson, boss-lady of AEC Stellar and author of November Snow, The Timely Death Trilogy (One and Two)  and a whole load of poetry.

Now, I’m not gonna spoil anything, but Shannon is one of those pure artistic souls with a dark side (Darth Shannon) and we talked about everything. And I mean everything.

I was caught off-guard when the interview took place 3 hours before it was scheduled, so no prep whatsoever. I end up examining Shannon’s brain, only to find both a lovely girl who enjoys playing with herself (that is ad verbatum from the interview) and a steadfast woman ready to take over the world, one word at a time.

For the first 20 minutes of the show I talk about something or other that concerns me:

-a family party I had to attend and the rude girl I met there,

-the accidental dance class I took on Monday and

-the episode of Back Porch Writer I partook in, again with no preparation whatsoever.

I would also like to clarify that the art and cover issues have been resolved for now and we can progress with getting Birthright out to you guys.

But enough about me: you guys are here to hear Shannon talk and here she is.

 

PS. Do not be intimidated by the weird intro voice – it’s done on purpose (and it’s supposed to be Jeremy Irons. Yeah, I failed)

 

Music:

Rapid Fire

Blue Stahli
www.fixtstore.com/bluestahli 
www.youtube.com/fixtmusic

Quality Vs Quantity – the podcast

Continuing on yesterday’s post, today’s show is an expansion of Quality versus Quantity and how it;s best for every author to have both.

This is the first of my ‘marketing’ episodes: bringing you inside knowledge of some of the tactics and strategies I use.

I hope you guys will find them useful.

This is a short episode, running about 20 minutes. For the first ten minutes I talk about getting back into the creative zone and then ramble on about Disney (yeah they come up again).

Then begins the lesson of sorts. I expand on my blog post from yesterday and try to come up with better examples to clarify my points. On a personal note, this episode was somewhat annoying because I’m out of my usual comfort jokes of dick jokes and fanboying.

No matter though – I listen back to it and I actually like it.

Next week we have Shannon Thompson, so that will be one crazy cornucopia of thinly-veiled innuendos and epic writer geekiness. You’ll also get to compare the two of us:

She, being the beautiful fairy that graces each and every word like a flower, gently tracing fairy dust, or whatever she uses, to create magic that bounds around like streamers on a Christmas tree or someone who’s really really high on LSD – and me, who trudges through like a trucker, or a camel rider like that battle scene from Lawrence of Arabia.

So keeping that mental image in mind and hoping I have helped you get on step closer to making it as an artist, here’s today’s episode.

 

 

Music:

Rapid Fire

Blue Stahli
www.fixtstore.com/bluestahli 
www.youtube.com/fixtmusic

The Writer’s Journey: Quality vs Quantity

There are two main reasons why I’m writing this blog post. (Well, actually three, but I can’t really talk about that last one so let’s all pretend I’m whistling innocently here.)

Reason number one: I have a shit ton of writing to do and I just finished two more chapters for Legacy book 3 (gotta write in advance, you see). Essentially I need a break so why not blog?

Reason number two is that I’m gonna talk about this on tomorrow’s podcast (a special episode where I talk about the business side of mah business – see what I did there?) so I might as well give you a preview.

This post will serve well as an artist’s guide cos really, we are all artists. It’s just our medium that differs. I’ve heard tons of arguments about quality versus quantity – mainly along these lines:

(Pretend these are in pretentious voice)

“Good art takes time.” “If you spend two years on something instead of one, it’ll be a better piece of work.” “You can’t rush greatness.”

BULLSHIT

Our reality nowadays is that of the video-game generation: we want content hard and fast, today instead of tomorrow and as perfect as possible if you please. Our market is changing by the month, as opposed by the year as was the case merely five years ago.

The reality is that we can no longer rely on our work to represent us. Whatever idea you just had, a million and one other people just had it. So how on Earth do you establish yourself?

People have always looked for a voice in someone – that thing that makes the artist unique. THAT is what you sell.

Look at my story. Wizard detective. It’s been done a billion times. Almost every Urban Fantasy story is based on that concept.

But only I can do LEGACY series. ONLY Ryan (me) can write it in that specific way with those specific elements, because that story has my VOICE.

Hence, you must establish you voice first and this is usually done with your debut work. A singular work to give people a taste of what has yet to come.

But we live in a gluttonous world, where people cannot wait any longer. There are way too many distractions around and you are easily forgotten. What I’m talking about here is basic Supply and Demand.

So instead of waiting a year to release that sequel, you better have it ready to ship out in a few months. That way people will have not one but two books of yours to buy that year. They will hear your VOICE not once but twice.

Quod Est Demonstratim – you are TWICE as hard to forget.

I can hear you say it already: “Ryan what if I have a trilogy? Won’t that be two years of making money instead of three?”

Yes.

Which is why you must write something else.

Almost every established author got their name from one hit series, but let me assure you Mr. Purist, that even seasoned writers will tell you that you cannot eat with just one series.

And guess what: writing a second, or third, series will be nothing but positive.

First off: if you can’t write book 2 of series 1 quick enough, just write book 1 of series 2 and then guess what – by the end you’ll have 2 books of TWO different series.

TAA DAA.

Also you have to Genre hop – i.e. write in more than one genre.

If you’re one of those people who think artists should stick to just one thing and do it well, then you gotta pull your head outta your ass.

This boils down to simple math.

You write in market A and have 1000 loyal followers.

Then you write in market B and gain 500 followers.

Then when you release you next book for market A, those 1000 followers will buy it, but you’ll also have a few from market B checking it out just in case they don’t care about your genre and LIKE THE WAY YOU WRITE.

Your voice.

So, to conclude this:

  • write well (no substitute for this)
  • write constantly
  • at least 2-3 novels per year and publish them (about a novel every 4-6 months)
  • write in more than one genre

 

Tune in to The Lurking Voice tomorrow for more about this.

See you then,

Ryan