Hyper Light Drifter – 8-bit Gaming with Modern Esthetics

Caught this video via IGN on YouTube. The game is called Hyper Light Drifter and evokes memories of the classic games on NES and SNES. I love the look of it and will fork over a couple of bucks to own it on my PS4.

It’s an Indie game that got its funding via KickStarter.

Check out the video below. If you’re a fan of anime, I think you’ll agree that the designers took some influence from the genre. I’m excited for this. I think it’s amazing that Indie games are starting to get the same freedom and wide availability that we Indie writers are enjoying.

You can currently pre-order the game for Mac/PC/Steam from their website

How Did Captain America Become the Most Pivotal Character in the Marvel Film Universe?

shield_of_captain_america-HDI’ve always been more of a Marvel fan.

In terms of Comics, Batman was the only DC character whose monthly issues I purchased regularly. On the other hand, I had numerous Marvel titles including the heavies, X-Men & Spiderman.

I never got into Captain America. To be honest, I always assumed he could never exist outside American patriotism. Since I wasn’t American, I wasn’t overly interested.

The first Captain American film was a surprise. An engaging every-man’s tale, it had all the things a movie needs to be decent; good directing, excellent casting, and a strong script. I admit it, I ate humble pie. Captain America’s tale was more than just American breast beating. It was a tale about a man who wanted to do the right thing, and when the opportunity came, he did the right thing.

Still, despite Marvel’s above average batting score on films, I had to wonder if Captain 1 had been a fluke.

Thor 2 dispelled some of those fears. After all, Thor seemed like even more of an unlikely film franchise, and I enjoyed both movies.

When the trailers for Captain America: The Winter Soldier came out, I was excited. It looked thrilling, an action feast.

What I didn’t expect was it would prove to be the biggest game changer for the entire Marvel Film Universe. What I didn’t expect was a strong script that featured some amazing character moments and even elevated secondary character, Black Widow, to feature character material.

I don’t want to spoil it, though I suppose most fans have seen it already, but now that I see how this played out, it’s so obvious Captain America was the only character on screen who could’ve told this story. Only Cap, with his patriotism, fight for the truth attitude, could possibly make this work. It also helps that of the current Marvel roster, Cap is the most human. He lives on the government dime, he’s stuck in his past while trying to figure out his future. He’s strong, fearless, and a master using a shield, but take that away, he’s very human. Stark without the suit is still brilliant and wealthy, Banner can’t exorcise the Hulk, and Thor is…well, a demigod. Captain America is a man with principles, and while his abilities allowed for some stunning action and fight sequences, he still bled, he still bruised, and he still felt every betrayal.

Some reviews have compared this film to the espionage films from the Seventies. They’re not wrong. Despite the action sequences, which were stunning, this movie had a lot of exposition, a lot of plot and twists. And funny enough, it actually did what many amazing Indie comics have, and continue to do, which is act as social commentary. Captain America has a message, and it’s timely. It made me think about our world and current society. It gave me pause, because its ideas weren’t all that implausible.

Unlike¬† Thor 2 and Iron Man 3, this film didn’t feel like a stopover while waiting for Avengers 2. It felt vital and refreshing. It left the Marvel films, and especially the TV show Agents of SHIELD, in a different, and thrilling, place.

Comic Book movies have often fell into a paint-by-numbers rut. Hero meets girl, girl (and world) get in trouble, hero saves both, teaser for the next film, The End.

Captain American didn’t do that. It broke a few of those conventions. And I’m going to spoil this… MINOR SPOILER… Cap doesn’t end up with Black Widow. Which I thought for sure they would angle for. I mean, every DC movie would have. But Winter Soldier manages to avoid it plausibly.

Yes, I loved this movie. Because it was everything I would want a movie to be, comic book based or not.

The Marvel Universe has been greatly altered, and it all hinged on Captain America. It’s awesome.

And my humble pie continues to be delicious.

JR

Join My New Mailing List

1215930_14474450In an effort to stay better connected with my readers, I’ve created a mailing list.

Privacy

I’ve set up the list with MailChimp. They’ve been around for many years and comply with international standards on Spam, and Privacy, controls. Also, I am the one acting as list admin and the one sending out all the updates, so there aren’t any other hands involved with your contact information. Your email will never be sold or provided to any other parties.

And no worries on the volume of mail you’ll receive, the updates will only occur for big news items such as sales, new releases, or exclusives.

Which brings me to the next point…

Why Should I Sign Up?

Mailing list members will get the following benefits:

  • First news about new releases
  • An early heads-up on any book discounts, including exclusive discounts for list members.
  • Contests, including signed book giveaways, free ebooks, and more!
  • Previews on upcoming releases, including sample chapters.
  • Exclusive story content not available anywhere else.

If any of that sounds good to you, then use the widget to the right to sign up. I look forward to communicating with you!

Some Other Ways to Reach Me

In addition to the new mailing list, the Contact page now has a direct mailto link if you wish to send me an email, and it also has an address you can send snail mail to, if you still prefer to communicate that way.

Thanks everyone,

JR

Progress on Bleeding Worlds Book 3

Bleeding Worlds Book 3 - TeaserHi everyone.

I’m lousy at maintaining this blog. I often say that, but I’ve yet to find a cure.

That said, I think it’s important to keep you all up to date with The Bleeding Worlds and progress on Book Three, Resonance.

So, the short answer is, things are going slowly.

The longer answer is to say the book has become a victim of my failings as an author.

Failing number one is my inability to outline. I start with an idea, get excited about it, follow it down the rabbit hole, and reach about 15,000 or so words. And then I hit a wall. Not just writer’s block, no I could probably handle that. Instead, it’s the inescapable sense that I’ve taken a wrong path and the book no longer meets my vision.

The solution usually takes the form of a mass purge.

I start over.

The few things that survive do so in thought only, they require total rewrites.

The happy news is starting over always makes me happier with the book and, certainly in the case of Suture, delivers a superior story than the one I started with.

The second failing I have as an author is not being able to work through my moods. Those authors who attain true success sit down everyday, crank out their desired word count, and move ahead in their work, regardless of their mood. I’ve yet to master that skill.

When I’m depressed, words don’t flow.

When I feel overwhelmed, or tired, ideas don’t take shape.

And the worst part is the longer inactivity continues, the more depressed I get because I’m not making the progress I want.

I hoped Resonance would be nearing completion by this point.

It’s not even close. In many ways, it’s just starting to live again.

But I will not fail you, or myself. The story will be told. I will write the best book I am capable of, and The Bleeding Worlds will come to a conclusion.

This happened with Suture last year, and I was able to release the book in the first week of August. I think I’ll be a little earlier than that with Resonance, but I don’t realistically see it being released before July.

Which is still faster than a lot of authors release their novels, but I had hoped to improve my release times by now.

So there’s the update. I’m still writing, the new direction is a huge improvement over the first words I wrote, and the book will be out this summer. I hope you’ll hang in there and join me when that time comes.

Thanks for all the support,

JR

Harbinger Free During Read an Ebook Week @ Smashwords

RAEWbanner1Ebook retailer/distributor Smashwords is holding their annual Read an Ebook Week from March 2-8, 2014.

I’m joining in the celebration this year by offering Harbinger for FREE and Suture at 50% Off.

They’re both available in Epub format, but should be easily convertible with a number of free programs as they are DRM free.

You can see my books on my Smashwords Author page.

In order to receive the discounts, you need to enter the applicable coupon code during checkout.

To receive Harbinger for free, enter coupon code RW100.

To receive the 50% discount for Suture, enter coupon code REW50.

Remember, these codes are only good from 12:01am March 2nd to 11:59pm March 8th. After that, the codes expire and the books will be full price once again. I admit, I don’t often offer discounts on my books, so this is a great time to pick them up if you’ve been on the fence about purchasing them.

And hey, since you love to read, be sure to check out Smashwords’ special category for Read an Ebook Week which lists all the books that are available at a discount. The full catalogue can be browsed at https://www.smashwords.com/books/category/1/newest/

So hit Smashwords the first week of March and get a year’s worth of reading for an amazing price.

And as always, if you pick up the books from The Bleeding Worlds, let me know what you thought either via social media, or by filling in the contact form on this website.

All the best,

JR

And happy reading!

My Books Have Been Pirated

Pirate skull and bootyBeing an Indie Author is an odd thing.

So far, most of the work on my books has been done in-house. My wife and I designed the covers, I did all the formatting for the eBooks and print versions, and the editing/beta reading was kept to a few close, and trusted, individuals. When the books released, they flew off into the ether and the only way I knew anyone was reading was by sales and comments left on websites.

It’s a very solitary production.

I never see lines of fans, nor do I have thousands of ratings and/or comments. When I walk into a bookstore, none of the staff are excited. Heck, I hardly have over a thousand followers on Twitter.

So to have Google alerts send me an email directing me to a website where someone requested pirated copies of my books, and then see said link, is odd. Someone wants to obtain my books illegally? Why?

My initial reactions is to freak out-a mix of anger, sadness, and disbelief-and mourn all the lost sales.

Then I take a deep breath, and think about the times I’ve seen Neil Gaiman talk about piracy. He basically equates it to book lending.

As we avid readers know, book lending, either from friends, or from libraries, has been an integral part of author discovery for ages. I think, Perhaps this link will lead more fans to my other work.

Then a pissy inner voice screams “But the friggin book is only $2.99!”

Which is true. My books cost less than a specialty espresso drink at Starbucks. I remind the voice you can buy songs for $1.00, and those get pirated all the time. Price doesn’t seem to be a factor.

That same voice grumbles, “It’s easy for Neil Gaiman not to care, he gets a fat advance and always ends up on the NY Times Bestseller list.”

Yes, that’s true too. The only money I make is from copies sold.

I ask the voice, “What would you have us do?”

“Email the website. Threaten lawyers,” it responds.

“But we don’t have a team of corporate lawyers.”

“They don’t know that,” it sneers.

I stroke its back, taking time to massage the shoulders.

“Here,” I say, “have a cookie.”

“Mmmmm…Cookie…”

From where I stand, I have three options

  1. I could contact the website and request they remove the link.
  2. I could ignore the link and act like it never happened (not likely, as I’m writing a blog post about it).
  3. Or, I could accept that it’s out there and trust the reading community to make their own decisions.

My novels have never had DRM (Digital Rights Management). I did this because I’d heard of readers having a hard time reading a legally purchased novel on multiple devices. But I also did it so friends could share the books and maybe find me some new fans in the process. Based on that intent, which has existed since my first book was published, option three best represents who I am.

In fact, here’s the link to the pirated version of Harbinger.

I’ve downloaded the file myself. It’s complete, but it’s not the most recent format. Still, the story is all the same. According to the website, it’s been downloaded ninety-nine times.

Just to avoid lawsuits, I’d like to point out I can’t guarantee how long the link lasts, or the safety of it. It’s strictly a Use at Your Own Risk kind of situation.

All I would ask (well, hope, really) is if you decide to download Harbinger, and enjoy it, that you be kind and purchase Suture. As I said earlier, the only money I make is from copies sold, no one has paid me an advance.

So there you go.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go medicate that pissy voice of mine. He’s going to blow a gasket when he finds out I posted that link while he was eating his cookie.

All the best,

JR

Ignorant GOP Candidate blames Autism on God!?

1155587_69316675I try to steer clear of political discussions on the internet. But this, I couldn’t leave alone.

Some GOP candidate in Chicago has said in an interview that, among other things, Autism is a punishment from God because of abortions and allowing same-sex marriages. Read the article here.

As a father of two boys with Autism, this makes me furious.

First, we had all the anti-vaccine people saying our children’s autism was all our fault because we listened to the Doctors and had them vaccinated.

Then, we had the “Autism is due to diet” folks make us feel like dirt because of what we fed our kids.

And this doesn’t address the daily brow beating you get in public by people who don’t know your situation and just assume your child is acting out because you’re a lousy parent.

Now, we have some self-righteous politician telling us our children’s plight is due to us living in a society that believes in people’s right to control their bodies and choose who they love.

The funny thing is, it seems it’s never entered her mind that Autism could be due to gene mutation from all the chemicals that politicians have allowed to be put in our food and air. Perhaps it isn’t rights that are the problem, other than those granted to corporations to poison us for a profit.

And yes, there’s no definitive proof that even those things are the root cause of autism.

Truth be told, scientists and medical professionals are still considerable lengths away from finding a cause of autism. Though numerous recent studies are increasingly finding genetic links.

And guess what, every kid with autism is different. And every child with autism reacts differently to whatever treatments are tried. Some do show improvement with diet. Others with medication. Heck, I’ve heard of some showing considerable improvement through the use of marijuana.

This woman, and there’s others like her, is a disgusting example of some person being given a microphone and spouting entirely unfounded and uneducated crap. And worse, she might be put into government. What will she do when she’s there? How many rights and/or lives might be lost in her crusade to appease her god?

Look, I don’t want to keep ranting. I just want to say this; Autism is still largely an unknown and complex state of being. There are many who believe it a gift. But I know this, it isn’t a punishment from any God I have ever known or prayed to.

Keep this woman, and anyone like her, out of government. Don’t allow her to make decisions for you or your loved ones.

And full disclosure, I’m Canadian. Whether this lady gets elected or not means little to me outside of my considerable moral outrage.

I now return you to the regularly scheduled content of Lego videos, action figures, and wonderful books.