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Posts Tagged ‘Voidhawk’

Late to the Show

Unless I’m mistaken, The Avengers set a new record for biggest opening weekend. Everybody I talked to and everything I read said that the entire world had seen the movie, yet I had not. It was a busy weekend spent out of state visiting relatives. Good times, but devoid of any spandex wearing superheroes. So last night after work we decided it was time to stop living in the dark – we rounded up the kids and headed off to the theater!

As another point of interest, we saw the 3d version of the show. We hadn’t planned on it, but our timing made it so that we could walk in to the 3d movie or wait 40 minutes for the next one. Ever tried spending 40 minutes in  crowded theater with a 3 and a 5 year old? I shelled out the extra cash and expected to not be wowed by the 3d.

I was shocked by how much better the 3d was than I expected. Even the previews were impressive! Granted, they could have cut at least three of the previews out, if not four or five, but I still did my best to enjoy them. Then the main show came along and it was a nonstop good time. Not to worry, I won’t share any spoilers, but I do have some thoughts.

As entertaining as The Avengers was, in hindsight there were parts that just don’t seem necessary. Maybe I missed something or maybe there’s behind the scenes work that will be more apparent in Avengers 2. As it was, I just didn’t understand why it unfolded the way it did. Sure, the scenes worked to pull the heroes together and make a team out of them (well, mostly), but looking back it seems forced or contrived. Does it detract from the enjoyability or entertainment factors? Hell no! It’s just the writer in me that doesn’t like a cop out.

Even with that said, Joss Whedon is the man. I’ve been a worshiper from afar ever since Firefly came out. Now, with the Avengers behind him, I see no reason for my faith to waver.

My favorite character / superhero? That’s an easy one! A little past halfway through the movie I had both my kids on my lap. They weren’t scared, just enjoying it. Acting on a hunch, I leaned in between them and whispered, “Are you guys ready to see Daddy’s favorite superhero?”

They were, and they even asked which one. I hushed them, we were in a movie theater after all, and told them to keep watching. Sure enough, in a few moments Bruce Banner got angry. Then he proceeded to spook the crap out of my son when he took off after Black Widow.  I was thrilled by the superhero deathmatch throughout the movie as well. Trust me, that’s not a spoiler, I was just reminded of the special run comics I’d enjoyed as a kid that pitted this badass against that badass. Very fun!

And as The Hulk kept on getting better and better, I felt he really dominated the latter third of the movie. I was cool with that, I’ve been a Hulk fan since I was old enough to watch The Incredible Hulk starring Bill Bixby and Lou Ferrigno. I don’t doubt that played a part in me becoming a competitive powerlifter a few years ago (and setting a couple of state records).

Now where did the movie fall short? I’m not sure it did, to be honest. I was disappointed to see Mark Ruffalo instead of Ed Norton as Bruce Banner – but that doesn’t mean Mark Ruffalo didn’t do a great job. In fact, it might have been necessary to not have Ed Norton in it. I have a feeling Mr. Norton might have stolen the show. Captain America was a heck of a lot better in The Avengers than he was in his own movie. Sure, I get the necessity to have the first Captain America to set the stage for much of what occurred, but wow was it boring. Tony Stark and Iron Man? Great, as usual. Pepper Pots in some short shorts in the beginning? Can’t go wrong!

That leaves Thor. My wife got my daughter to agree that Thor was there favorite because he was so “dreamy”. Barf. I used to like Thor before that comment. I think he’s too scrawny to play the Norse God of Thunder, but at least in this one he wasn’t prancing around with his shirt off. I want my superhero tanks to be big and beefy. Well defined is a must and I understand the physique I’m asking for is either the result of computer graphics or a lot of anabolic chemicals. All the same, when I’m talking about bigger / better than human – I expect bigger / better than human. At no point did Thor disappoint me though.

Natalie Rushman / Natasha Romanov / Black Widow. I actually thought the actress had changed between Iron Man 2 and The Avengers. Scarlett Johannson bulked up for The Avengers, and I don’t feel she did so in a good way. I much preferred how she looked in Iron Man 2. Even better though was how she acted. She kept it real, displaying a hint of weakness at the appropriate times and even showing how terrified she’d been whenever she was within the same time zone as The Hulk. Black Widow truly kicked ass, but compared to the superheroes involved, her performance was outstanding.

That leaves Hawkeye. Personally, I think they could have left him. Behind. Out. Whatever. Seriously, a bow and arrow? I’m a hunter and I’ve spent a lot of time hunting and on the range with a bow. I love shooting, but there are so many reasons why bringing a bow to a Ragnarok level event is not a good idea. Especially when the people around you have firearms, energy weapons, and mythical hammers that are capable of summoning lightning strikes. As a kid I was never into The Avengers much. The Incredible Hulk and X-Men were my comics of choice, so I didn’t know much about Hawkeye. I don’t feel like I missed out on anything either.

So what’s next? Avengers 2? Count me in! Iron Man 3? I’m there. Captain America 2? Er…okay, why not. Another Hulk movie? Yes, please! But until then I have to stick with my own superheroes in the stories I write. Most of them can only aspire to the Black Widow / Hawkeye level of prowess. Although there’s one guy in the Voidhawk series that seems kind of hulkish…

To learn more about Jason Halstead, visit his website to learn about him, his books, sign up for his newsletter, or check out some free samples of his books at http://www.booksbyjason.com.

The Awkward Review

November 7, 2011 1 comment

Sooner or later a writer’s nightmare comes true – a negative review rolls in. The knee jerk reaction is to dig deep and find out who the identity of the reviewer is so you can hunt them down and scream at them…or worse. That moment passes quickly though, and what remains is a jumble of emotions.

As a writer we want everybody to like our work. Unfortunately the universally liked manuscript has not been invented yet. Not only that, but if it was, sales would blossom and then fall away once people stopped talking about it. A negative review can help a book more than a positive one, in fact.

Negative reviews are not things to be feared. In fact, I recommend embracing them. Read and understand the review, then see if there is merit to it. It’s not possible to please everybody, nor should a writer attempt to, but that doesn’t excuse us from wanting to make our work as flawless as we can.

The real problem comes when a negative review rolls in that doesn’t offer any help. I recently had just such an incident occur, although fortunately it came in the form of an email rather than something posted publicly. The reviewer requested a manuscript from me several months ago and I sent it off, then forgot about it as time passed. It came back to me last night out of the blue and, I’ll admit, it took some time for me to even remember who the guy was and what was going on.

He was polite and respectful throughout his review, I’ll give him that much. As a counter-balance to that he was also very condescending, which amused me. This reviewer is not a professional, or at least does not review or blog professionally. Yet he went on to opine about how characters and flow and so on and so forth weren’t right, not to mention formatting issues that were so distracting he couldn’t read more than a few pages of it.

Let me take a moment and expose that more clearly. He wrote up a damning review and sent it to me based upon six pages of text. Six pages out of a 128,000 word novel. Some of his complaints were a lack of depth and a failure to understand many of the concepts of the novel. He read six !#%^ing pages!

To his credit he was correct in some of his assertions about formatting. Such is a bane of all writers who publish in an electronic format. In this particular case I also grabbed an older copy of the book on accident and used a conversion program to make it available to his e-reader. In my experience Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and even Smashwords do a bang up job of converting documents to their various reader formats. Outside of those I haven’t seen much of anything that isn’t rife with flaws. I pointed that out to him but he had no interest even in pursuing a copy off of Smashwords that I could have given him via a coupon code. Instead he hoped I could be honest with myself regarding the book.

The book in question, Voidhawk, is a niche piece. It’s part fantasy and part science fiction. I prefer to think of it as space fantasy, but even then it’s definitely in its own niche. It sells quite well for me, and aside from this one individual I’ve received lots of love regarding it. Or, in the case of my wife and family, they gave up after attempting to read it. Seems the book and its sequels, being such a specialty niche, are either something you love right away or just can’t get into. I don’t blame anyone for that. Wooden ships sailing through space harnessing magical solar wind definitely requires a powerful suspension of disbelief!

This reviewer though didn’t make the connection. That’s not his fault, it just wasn’t his niche. Trying to speak knowledgeably about it without having read more than a handful of pages, however, is just bad form. If you’re going to review something for somebody, read the entire thing. If you can’t, feel free to tell the writer as much but don’t offer an opinion beyond that because all you’d be doing is judging a book by its cover.

Voidhawk, by Jason Halstead

Voidhawk, on Amazon

Amazon

Amazon UK

Barnes and Noble

Smashwords

To learn more about Jason Halstead, visit his website to learn about him, his books, sign up for his newsletter, or check out some free samples of his books at http://www.booksbyjason.com.

Why Twitter Rocks or On The Fly Cover Art

I had a few moments of peace today and I wondered how I could ruin it. Well I just recently finished writing the rough draft for my second part of Vitalis so I thought, why not work on the cover for it?

Book 1 of the Vitalis series, by Jason Halstead

Book 1 of the Vitalis series, by Jason Halstead

Many thoughts came to mind, most unreasonable or way beyond my ability. Ultimately I decided to see if I could find a critter that is featured in the novella. To risk a minor spoiler, said critter is a combination of a dinosaur, a bird, and a gorilla or feline. Not a chimera, per se, but an alien critter that developed thusly. Oh, and the characters call it a “chickasaurus”. Yeah, you’re curious now, even if it’s only to understand just how off my rocker I really am!

So anyhow, I’m looking for this critter online, hoping for some way to either find a free pic that was similar or something I could photoshop together. I ran out of time quickly without any luck. So I posted on Twitter that I was looking for a free pic of a cross between x, y, and z.

Almost immediately I got a response from a guy by the name of @joekawano on Twitter. He threw something together and offered it up to me. It was clearly an amalgamation and cartoonish, but it was amazing and cool. No, it doesn’t fit what I’m looking for but that doesn’t detract from the plain coolness of the out-of-the-blue situation. I mentioned I was just kind of venting a little and he went another step to actually throw together a sample cover for me with a silhouette of the “monster” in question. Here’s his cover:

T-rex / Chicken / Gorilla

Cover concept by @joekawano

It’s wrong in many ways, but that doesn’t diminish the fact that I thought this was downright cool and entertaining. Joe thought this was for Voidhawk, not a new series, and again the creature just doesn’t work for me. It’s still a pretty cool image and offering though, and I wanted to make sure I drew as much attention to Joe’s work as I could as a way of saying thank you for both his offer and the entertainment I got out of the process.

So if you’re on Twitter give this guy a follow and a shout! @joekawano

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