Anything Boys Can Do…

…boys can do better.

Okay so I met up with a couple of Internet bros last Saturday (sup guys) for lunch at a Thai place. Predictably we got to talking about books. One of the bros, who will go unnamed here, but who has a character named after him in Howling Wilderness, mentioned that he doesn’t read books by women any more.

People will have predictable responses to this and I frankly don’t care what they are. Literally everyone should read what they want and literally nobody should tell anyone else what they have to read or cannot read. In the meantime, make recommendations to each other.

That said, out of curiosity I perused my last several dozen books and realized almost all of them were written by dudes.

A couple of women snuck in there and I don’t know how, but I’ll do better, you guys. Must have Y chromosome to ride.

Lol, but seriously. I don’t care who wrote a book, I care that it’s good, it just turns out that guys generally do it better.

“But JK Rowling! Stephenie Meyer! They made money!”

Sure, fine, cool, good for them, I literally do not care.

Read

What

You

Like

If you think it’s good, it shouldn’t matter what anyone else thinks.

Unless it’s super pedo or something, in which case, burn it with fire.

Bye.

Fresh Meat, Not Reboots: Brian Robeson

Like me, you’re probably tired of every new movie franchise really just being a retread, reboot, sheboot, or genderbend of an old classic.

There are plenty of other characters out there who deserve to make it to the screen besides Sherlock Holmes, Robin Hood, King Arthur, and so on. I could list a million more.

We’ve seen every damn iteration we should see. Studios will just milk a property that has no trademark but enjoys high brand recognition.

Here are some book series that you should jump into so that we increase the chances of seeing them on screen someday.

How the hell do we not have a blockbuster adaptation of HATCHET? This is BS. Get on it. This kid was The Martian before there was The Martian.

Fresh Meat, Not Reboots: Aleksander and Deryn

Like me, you’re probably tired of every new movie franchise really just being a retread, reboot, sheboot, or genderbend of an old classic.

There are plenty of other characters out there who deserve to make it to the screen besides Sherlock Holmes, Robin Hood, King Arthur, and so on. I could list a million more.

We’ve seen every damn iteration we should see. Studios will just milk a property that has no trademark but enjoys high brand recognition.

Here are some book series that you should jump into so that we increase the chances of seeing them on screen someday.

Scott Westerfeld’s Leviathan trilogy is an alternate World War One story. The Allies have genetically altered animals and the Germanic powers have heavy iron machinery. “Darwinists” vs “Clankers.”

Aleksander is the fictional only child of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, and Deryn is pulling a Scottish Mulan so that she can be an aviator. Their paths cross after the Archduke is assassinated, and a British airship crashes near an Austrian safehouse in the Alps.

Excellent series that plays with history in a fun way. Strong story, strong characters, great illustrations. Go read it.

Fresh Meat, Not Reboots: Silas and Josie

Like me, you’re probably tired of every new movie franchise really just being a retread, reboot, sheboot, or genderbend of an old classic.

There are plenty of other characters out there who deserve to make it to the screen besides Sherlock Holmes, Robin Hood, King Arthur, and so on. I could list a million more.

We’ve seen every damn iteration we should see. Studios will just milk a property that has no trademark but enjoys high brand recognition.

Here are some book series that you should jump into so that we increase the chances of seeing them on screen someday.

DID YOU THINK I WOULDN’T?

HA.

Go read SLEEPLESS HOLLOW. Silas and Josie are time-traveling ghost hunters who have to save Sleepy Hollow on Halloween in 2020. I published this book pre-pandemic, so I didn’t write the lockdowns, the riots, or the election BS into the story, because that stuff is stupid.

Get me on the big screen.

Fresh Meat, Not Reboots: Vin and Elend

Like me, you’re probably tired of every new movie franchise really just being a retread, reboot, sheboot, or genderbend of an old classic.

There are plenty of other characters out there who deserve to make it to the screen besides Sherlock Holmes, Robin Hood, King Arthur, and so on. I could list a million more.

We’ve seen every damn iteration we should see. Studios will just milk a property that has no trademark but enjoys high brand recognition.

Here are some book series that you should jump into so that we increase the chances of seeing them on screen someday.

Vin and Elend are the central characters in Brandon Sanderson’s first Mistborn trilogy. She’s a street rat, he’s a noble, and they both live under the oppressive regime of an immortal ruler, in a landscape that is almost barren and devoid of life.

Also, Vin can drink alcohol with metal fragments in it and gain superpowers. The first book is a heist, the second is a siege, and the third is an all-out war. Strong religious overtones about as well, but not from real-world religions.

One of my favorite epic fantasy series. Keep reading these books, Sanderson will make a movie of this eventually.

Fresh Meat, Not Reboots: Courtney Crumrin

Like me, you’re probably tired of every new movie franchise really just being a retread, reboot, sheboot, or genderbend of an old classic.

There are plenty of other characters out there who deserve to make it to the screen besides Sherlock Holmes, Robin Hood, King Arthur, and so on. I could list a million more.

We’ve seen every damn iteration we should see. Studios will just milk a property that has no trademark but enjoys high brand recognition.

Here are some book series that you should jump into so that we increase the chances of seeing them on screen someday.

From the graphic novel series by Ted Naifeh. Courtney Crumrin is a social outcast who has to move with her parents into her weird great-uncle’s house. Turns out said great uncle is a warlock, and from him Courtney starts learning magic.

This ain’t no Hogwarts though. Bad stuff happens and it costs dearly to undo it. Courtney learns valuable lessons along the way. And the aesthetics are to die for, especially if you read these books as part of your Halloween stack.

Get us an adaptation of this instead of Minions 873, please.

Fresh Meat, Not Reboots: Darrow of Lycos

Like me, you’re probably tired of every new movie franchise really just being a retread, reboot, sheboot, or genderbend of an old classic.

There are plenty of other characters out there who deserve to make it to the screen besides Sherlock Holmes, Robin Hood, King Arthur, and so on. I could list a million more.

We’ve seen every damn iteration we should see. Studios will just milk a property that has no trademark but enjoys high brand recognition.

Here are some book series that you should jump into so that we increase the chances of seeing them on screen someday.

Darrow is the protagonist from Pierce Brown’s Red Rising trilogy. I say “trilogy” because I don’t care for anything that comes after book 3. The first three stories end fantastically and after that, the story unwinds itself. I wrote about this over at UpstreamReviews.

As for Darrow, he’s a low-class drill operator who was genetically remade into a ruling-class warlord, joining a group of underground rebels who want to destroy a pseudo-Roman empire in the future. They killed his wife. He’ll burn everything they love to the ground.

Read RED RISING, GOLDEN SON, and MORNING STAR. That is all.

Fresh Meat, Not Reboots: Ashok Vadal

Like me, you’re probably tired of every new movie franchise really just being a retread, reboot, sheboot, or genderbend of an old classic.

There are plenty of other characters out there who deserve to make it to the screen besides Sherlock Holmes, Robin Hood, King Arthur, and so on. I could list a million more.

We’ve seen every damn iteration we should see. Studios will just milk a property that has no trademark but enjoys high brand recognition.

Here are some book series that you should jump into so that we increase the chances of seeing them on screen someday.

Ashok Vadal is the protagonist from Larry Correia’s Saga of the Forgotten Warrior series, an epic fantasy that moves at the pace of a thriller and has a distinctive Indian flavor to it. (Dots, not feathers.)

Why is he cool? The man is a killing machine, carrying a sword that has been borne by hundreds of men before him. Their skill is grafted onto it and Ashok knows how to fight like the previous bearers.

On top of that, he’s powered by The Heart of The Mountain, a magical source of healing and strength that makes him unstoppable. To make things really interesting, he’s an atheist…

…and he’s on a mission from the gods.

That’s all I’m gonna say. Read this series. Get us an Ashok movie.

“Scrub the serial numbers.”

Have you ever read a book that was REALLY similar to another book, or seen a movie that was a flagrant re-skin of another movie, but was just different enough not to be suable?

There can be a lot of reasons for this (cash-grab, marketing piggyback, etc). Among my fellow creatives it’s frequently a matter of “I wrote a fanfic and it’s actually good but I don’t own the IP so I’ve got to switch some things around to sell the book.”

At this point you introduce a practice called “filing off the serial numbers,” i.e., removing the elements that are protected from someone else’s intellectual property, and doing enough to make it your own.

I can’t put an exact number on it, I’ve heard “twenty-five-percent-different” tossed around here and there, but basically if it’s similar to an existing thing, it has to be distinct enough so as to be clearly your own.

This isn’t the same as parody, which is protected under a different set of laws. Something like Amazon’s THE BOYS would work as a parody, since there are characters that clearly match up with Superman, Wonder Woman, Captain America, Aquaman, Flash, and so forth.

I’m thinking more along the lines of Nick Cole and Jason Anspach’s GALAXY’S EDGE series, which they had in print before Disney branded their Star Wars park with the same name. Cole and Anspach specifically advertise their books as “Star Wars Not Star Wars.” The first book is told from a not-stormtrooper’s POV.

You get a setting that’s similar to the original, but different enough to not be a copy or a rebrand.

I’ve done my own version of this thing a few times, namely with GUILD and KILL THE BEAST. Lately I’ve been trying to analyze my works and make them more original than they’ve been in the past. I don’t want to pigeonhole myself as “the guy who writes things that are tweaked versions of more popular things.”

Certainly there’s fun to be had in doing it. I just don’t want it to be my only thing, or even my main thing.

But right now I find myself boxed up with my character Graveheart, from HOWLING WILDERNESS. No spoilers, but he’s got magic, and he uses it in a way that is…very similar to a superhero that I like. I had a couple of different ideas for his origin in the Engines world that I came to organically, and when those ideas all came together, I started to draw him up…and then I realized what I was doing.

It was incredibly frustrating because he’s SUCH A COOL CHARACTER. And he has a huge role to play in the Engines timeline and the DreadVerse at large. I just need to write up a list of details and rules for him so that he’s not just a flagrant copy of two other characters that I really enjoy.

Once I get this book finished and I write up the Afterword, I think it will all make sense. I just have to be thorough in scrubbing off the serial numbers. It’s frustrating because again, his origin is very organic and true to the world of Engines, it just ended up making a roadmap that takes him right up alongside an existing character in someone else’s IP.

Shoot…two characters, now that I think of it.

You’ll see. Back to work.

Growing the Library: July 2022 Edition

I grabbed a few books off of ThriftBooks this last week and they finally came in.

I’m big on Thanksgiving and I have enjoyed learning more about its history in North America. Sarah Josepha Hale played a key role in establishing the cultures and traditions of it in the mid-19th century, so this will be good to read with our kids.

I finally read SKULDUGGERY PLEASANT in 2018 and it was a lot of fun. The series is up to 15 books or so, and I bailed on (I think) the 4th because it started to just…drag, and not really go anywhere, but those first three were really good.

Both of these were included in my Audible catalog and I heard about them from the Claremont Review of Books. Excellent reads, and fuel for many future videos.