Two Day Book Sale and One of the Worst Superhero Movies Ever Made

If you want to save a few bucks on my novels, the Kindle versions will be $0.99 each this Friday and Saturday (April 1st and 2nd). Just go to Amazon after 8AM PST on the first, and enjoy the discount:

A Count of Five
A Tide of Ice
For Love of Children

My collection of short fiction, Tending the Fire, is normally $0.99, so I've marked that down to $0.00 - completely free - for those two days.

Other news - I'm hard at work on more novels in the Citadel of the Last Gathering series. I've got drafts of books three AND four now, and I'm getting ready to start on book five. So don't think I'm slacking!

I haven't done a lot of online writing other than that (isn't that enough?), but I did find a few minutes to jot down my thoughts on Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice. Fair warning, though - I included some light spoilers in my review, so if you'd like to be surprised at the elements that leave you utterly disappointed, disillusioned, and pissed off, you should probably hold off on reading it until after you've sat through the excruciatingly bad movie.

Toys, Movies, and a Very Wet Winter

Sorry I haven't chimed in lately. I've been extremely busy working on the next few novels. The Citadel of the Last Gathering is by far the most complicated project I've ever attempted. I'm not setting an arbitrary number of volumes that I plan on sticking to, but I'm estimating this will be somewhere between nine and twelve books when complete. The current plan is to put these out at a rate of at least one a year. The third novel, A Unique Sickness of Spirit, should be available sometime this fall.

I haven't been doing much adventuring this year, largely due to the weather, which is still less extreme than the stories I heard prior to moving to Seattle. In the meantime, I've been checking out movies and indulging my fondness for action figures, toy cars, and dolls.

Yes, I said dolls. And, yes, some of them are Barbies. And, yes, I am absolutely comfortable with that, because there are some phenomenal dolls on the market these days.

For example, I've already picked up most of Hasbro's DC Superhero Girls 12 inch "Action Doll" line (the last one I'm missing should be arriving later this week). I reviewed the first two I bought, Supergirl and Wonder Woman over here, if you want my thoughts (spoiler alert - they are awesome).

And speaking of Wonder Woman, I also wrote up the new Barbie from Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. It's a good doll overall, but a little more mixed than the cheaper and brighter Superhero Girls line.

Moving on to movies, I recently put together my annual list of summer movies, complete with a set of guesses as to how good they'll be.

I've also seen a few movies recently. I don't think anyone will be surprised to hear I enjoyed Deadpool - more or less everyone else did, too. Mainly, I was impressed what how seriously they took the superhero aspect of the X-Men, something Fox has been slow to embrace until now.

I had a very mixed reaction to Kung Fu Panda 3, a movie I wholly acknowledge I was unable to offer a fair review. In many ways, I thought it was an excellent action/comedy, but I just couldn't get over where I felt like it betrayed the series. Kung Fu Panda 2 is a favorite of mine, and this definitely felt like a step backward. You can read my complete thoughts here.

By far the best new movie I've seen this year was Zootopia, which offered a fantastic look at some very complex issues. I was astonished by how seriously this movie addressed its themes, providing an honest look at bias, stereotyping, and racial scapegoating. The fact it does this without ever feeling preachy or moralizing makes it even more impressive. If you haven't seen this yet, do so before reading my review.

I also recently saw a few older movies that really caught me off-guard. I didn't review them (as a rule of thumb, I don't write up movies long after they've been released, with the exception of Christmas stuff). However, if you haven't seen any of these movies, I highly recommend remedying that as soon as possible.

Paddington, a film centered around a CG bear, was almost unbelievably good. Sweet, funny, poignant, and touching, it demonstrates that there's nothing intrinsically wrong with this genre. In the right hands, a movie featuring an anthropomorphic talking bear can be one of the year's best movies.

Seeking a Friend for the End of the World caught me off guard for entirely different reasons. Arguably the darkest romantic comedy ever filmed follows a couple as they go on a road trip in the last days of civilization. The movie plays with tone and point-of-view, showing the humor of a situation before turning around and revealing tragedy. And, in its most touching moment, joy. It's a film about love and mortality, hope and despair. It's fearless in its approach, and shockingly honest.

Lastly, the Feig-directed Spy, starring Melissa McCarthy, might not have moved me emotionally, but I absolutely loved it. Funny, exciting, and suspenseful, it accomplishes precisely what it sets out to do: delivering an authentic spy movie that's simultaneously a hilarious comedy. If there was any doubt that Ghostbusters is in the right hands, it's gone now.

That's it for now. I'll try not to let so much go by between updates, but no promises: I'm busy these days, and I rather miss a few blog posts than fall behind on the novels. Until next time!

Stories, Lists, and Other End of Year Nonsense

Well, the end of the year is upon us, but there's no need to panic: since 2015 was neither a prime number nor a year ending in zero, I don't think anyone's prophesying the end of the world. And yet... and yet... wouldn't that be the ideal time to strike? When we're all complacent in our assumption that this December 31st WON'T portend the end of civilization as we know it?

Ah, well. If it happens, it happens. It's not like we haven't all lived through worse.

Lindsay and I wrapped up another year of holiday gluttony over at Mainlining Christmas. I already mentioned one story I posted, The Collector of Old Toys, so I won't do that again. I had two more, as well: The Society of the Worldly Mind is sort of a spin on a murder mystery, while Old Gods of the North is best described as post-apocalyptic Christmas sword & sorcery. So go click on that if you want to find out what the hell I'm talking about.

Also, I'd be remiss in omitting Lindsay's first piece of holiday fiction, Juliette and the Christmas Invitation. It's a short fantasy piece you should definitely check out.

Of course, that's just the tip of the Christmas iceberg. We reviewed dozens of movies, TV specials, and holiday episodes this year, including (surprisingly) quite a few that didn't suck. Also, I posted a list of ten deadly Christmas elves. Go read that, if nothing else.

But, as much as I might wish otherwise, not everything can be Christmas. I wrote up a retrospective of all the 2015 movies I've seen, organized by preference. It was a good year for movies, overall, even with Age of Ultron being kind of a letdown. I'm particularly happy to see Hollywood investing in (and being rewarded for) genre movies with female leads. I've been doing these lists for quite a while, and this is first time I was able to give the #1 spot to a film where the main character was a woman. More than that, the top three fell in that category. There's a lot more that needs to be done in terms of representation, but it's a fantastic sign.

Setting aside pop-culture for a moment, 2015 was an extremely productive year for me. Without getting into detailed page counts, I more or less wrote and revised two novels this year, which is more than I've ever managed in the past.

I'm hoping to keep that momentum going into 2016. I've already written a draft of the third novel in the Citadel of the Last Gathering, and I've started the fourth book. For those of you who haven't reached the last page of A Tide of Ice, the title of book three is "A Unique Sickness of Spirit."

It's due out next fall, hopefully in time for Halloween. If you enjoyed the first two, I think you'll like this one, as well. It's still early in the revision process, but I really like how it's coming along.

One more thing: my New Year's Resolution. Actually, it's the same I've had every year since I was seventeen - to give up New Year's Resolutions once and for all. For some reason, I've never managed to pull it off.

Thanks to everyone who's been following along. I hope 2016 treats all of you well!

What's this Under the Tree?

This is unexpected. There's an extra gift here, and it's addressed to you.

I know we usually wait until Christmas, but it says to open now. We probably shouldn't argue. But what in the world could it be?

It looks like a book. Only... I think there's more here.

I was right! It's a whole bunch of books. In fact, it's ALL MY BOOKS! And you're getting them absolutely free.

Well, the Kindle copies, anyway. Hey, what do you expect - paperbacks don't grow on trees. But, from now through December 26th, you can download free copies of For Love of Children, Facsimile, A Count of Five, Tide of Ice, and Tending the Fire. Get them now; read them later.

And the best part of digital copies is you can keep them and still re-gift them. Just send your friends the links in lieu of a real gift and remind them it's the thought that counts.

Short Holiday Story: The Collector of Old Toys

I'll be posting three (at least I think it'll be three) short holiday stories over at Mainlining Christmas this year. The first is a piece of magical realism called The Collector of Old Toys. Head over and check it out if you're interested.

Christmas is Coming

The way I see it, there are two responses to Christmas. The first is to run from it, try to escape its reach. You won't succeed, of course - it's too large, too encompassing. Entire religions have vanished into its maw: what hope do you have getting away?

There's an alternative, but few are willing to seriously consider it. You can turn around and face it. Stare it in the eye and gaze upon its awful majesty. Some say this path leads to madness.

But I am not one to flee, and I understand well enough that, while you can run from Christmas, you can't hide.

This cheerful yuletide revelation lies at the core of an annual project my wife and I work on during the holiday season, a little something we call Mainlining Christmas. It's a blog we started in 2010. Every year, we gorge ourselves on as many Christmas specials, movies, and books as we can stomach. I listen to nothing by Christmas songs from Thanksgiving until Christmas Day, and - for fun - we chart our descent.

I've published thirty pieces of holiday fiction on the blog over the years, and I'm planning to add at least a few more stories this year.

I'd like to invite any of you to join us. At a distance, of course.

Either that, or you can run with the others, try to convince yourselves there's a place where the holidays can't reach you.

Now who's crazy?

A Tide of Ice is Available!

My new novel, A Tide of Ice, is now available in print and for Kindle.

A Tide of Ice is the second novel in The Citadel of The Last Gathering, continuing Alaji's story from A Count of Five as she travels into an era of sword and sorcery. Here's the sales pitch:

A New Land. A New Gate. An Age of Steel and Blood.

Alaji has seen impossible wonders and faced incredible dangers in places beyond imagination. She has already traveled in time over a thousand years, but she is about to learn that is less than a heartbeat in the life of the world. To reach the Citadel of the Last Gathering, her journey will need to take on a far grander scale, one where geology changes like the seasons, where nothing is constant.

Now she finds herself in an era where imperious wizards create powerful monsters and unleash them upon the lands of their enemies. But these threats may be nothing compared to the men and women who are able to thrive in such harsh times.

If you haven't gotten a hold of the first book, you'll want to give that a read before picking up the sequel. To make it easy, I'm making Kindle copies of A Count of Five free this coming Saturday and Sunday. Grab a copy, give a read, then buy the sequel if you like it.

I think you will.