Friday, April 21, 2017

Short Film Screening - Zion Curtain

Went to a screening of my buddy Wendell Nielson's new short film Zion Curtain last night at a local pub where he'd made the arrangements. Good times!

Wendell, who wrote and also directed the piece, calls it a tale about silly laws.

It's set in Utah in the early '90s and draws its name from a law there that seems to be on the way out requiring a shield in front of bartenders in some restaurants and other establishments. Supposedly that discourages drinking, out of sight out of mind.

The story's not set in a bar. It's a slice of life among a group of friends including one who's facing jail time, and he's building to a fateful decision as the slice of life evening with friends unfolds.

The show was on a double bill with a short Wendell wrote in the early aughts, Deep Down in Florida, which was directed by Sam Esmail, who created Mr. Robot, so we had a pretty full evening with lots of friends and writers on hand.

Orlando's a fun area for me, always loads going on.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Michael August's Young Adult Horror Newspaper Entry

I worked in newspapers for years. Toward the end of my engagement with Kensington Books, I wrote three young adult novels under the pseudonym Michael August.

Around one Halloween-time, I was asked to write a short piece for the newspaper's youth section. Or maybe I volunteered. Woulda been like me. But anyway my two worlds converged.



I re-wrote and updated the piece a couple of years ago. Since it was a short, Crossroad Press, which issued the Michael August novels in audio and ebooks didn't seem interested in adding it to the lineup, so I added it to Kindle myself to have the whole Pembrook High canon out there. It's my only self-published ebook to date unless my memory's missing something.

I recently removed it from KDP, though it will still be on Amazon. It's now on Smashwords and rolling out to other venues. Should be available on Barnes and Noble soon.

Get it here

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Biblioholic's Bookshelf - Harvest Home

Haven't done a biblioholic's bookshelf in a while. Here's the paperback tie-in edition of Thomas Tryon's classic horror  Harvest Home released at the time of the NBC TV miniseries, The Dark Secret of Harvest Home.

Needed to be clear it was scary to viewers, I suppose. The book's out in an ebook edition that was on sale the other day, so I'm re-reading it on my Kindle.


Sunday, March 05, 2017

Disciples of the Serpent Lovecraftian Novel Cover Reveal


Order from:


 
Here's the cover art for my new novel Disciples of the Serpent with artwork from multiple Hugo-winner Bob Eggleton.

My entry in the O.C.L.T. series is a Lovecraftian tale set in Ireland. Here's the full synopsis:

In Dublin, Ireland, academics and historians are dying. An unidentified venom is to blame. Strange markings from deep in the Emerald Isle’s past suggest adherents to lost and forbidden knowledge may have reorganized. Detective Aileen O’Donnell of Ireland’s National Police Service, An Garda Síochána, has never heard of the agency’s sub rosa unit devoted to investigation of the strange and paranormal. That is, until a shooting incident leads to her suspension from the Special Detective Unit.

While awaiting disciplinary proceedings, she’s pressed into service by the secret division to investigate the deaths and what might be the tip of a conspiracy and academic cover-up. Soon O’Donnell’s teamed with Geoffrey Bullfinch and Wendell "Mack" Macklemore of O.C.L.T. On a race through medieval ruins and holy sites, she must collect puzzle pieces, fragments from a forgotten pulp writer and bits of secret Druid history to stop the shadowy band of disciples before it awakens something long sleeping beneath one of Ireland’s most famous landmarks, something modern technology and firepower can’t defeat.

 This novel, which stands alone, is a tie-in with the ongoing O.C.L.T. series. There are incidents and emergencies in the world that defy logical explanation, events that could be defined as supernatural, extraterrestrial, or simply otherworldly. Standard laws do not allow for such instances, nor are most officials or authorities trained to handle them. In recognition of these facts, one organization has been created that can. Assembled by a loose international coalition, their mission is to deal with these situations using diplomacy, guile, force, and strategy as necessary. They shield the rest of the world from their own actions, and clean up the messes left in their wake. They are our protection, our guide, our sword, and our voice, all rolled into one.

They are O.C.L.T.

 Other books in the O.C.L.T. series include the novella "Brought to Light," By Aaron Rosenberg, the novel The Parting, by David Niall Wilson, the novella "The Temple of Camazotz," also by David Niall Wilson, and the novel Incursion, by Aaron Rosenberg (in which the existence of the O.C.L.T. as a cohesive unit is finalized). Another stand-alone adventure can be found The Noose Club, by David Bischoff (writing with David Niall Wilson). 

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Recent Panel: Comics & Graphic Novels in the Digital Age

I sat in on a comics panel recently at Full Sail Hall of Fame 8. A host of other cool folks were on hand also including Roland Mann, Barry Gregory, Tom Lucas, Daniel Corey and Troy Devolld.


Thursday, February 09, 2017

Cord Cutting

A cable sales rep called the other day offering me a deal on service.

"Do you have cable now?"

"No. I go with over-the-air. I get HD plus a lot of local digital channels that weren't on basic Prism from CenturyLink."

I use a Mohu Leaf, and I'm fortunate to live in a good location--major networks plus Decades, Heroes and Icons, Me TV, My TV, Cozi, Bounce Laff, Escape, Univision, Telemundo, Get, Antenna, this, Retro, Grit, Escape, QVC, ION, NASA, PBS, Create.

I really don't want for stuff not to watch. There are as many things to flip past as I ever had. Sometimes the weather affects reception, but then that happened back when I had Dish TV.

"But, do you have a way to record programs?"

"Yeah I have an over-the-air DVR."  It's a Tablo. It's fabulous and plays through Apple TV,  an Amazon Fire Stick or on a tablet if I ever need television, say, in the laundry room.

I have to wait for a few cable programs to show up on streaming services, but otherwise I do OK.

I guess a DVR was the best arrow in the quiver. The sales rep and I said our goodbyes.

I suppose all this might be affected by loss of net neutrality if it comes to that, but at the moment I'm not missing cable about one year out. I've built my own à la carte and the wheels don't even wobble.

At the moment, I'm streaming musical performances from Pluto TV's Live Music channel via Apple TV. You don't even get that on MTV anymore do you?

Upgrading to the new version of Apple TV's one of the best moves I've made since cutting the cord. It allows providers to offer their own apps, making it a little less of a closed environment than Apple TV used to be.

I've found a pretty good set of alternatives even for surfing mindlessly.  Pluto's one of the best. There's a lot to be said for MST3K any time. 
Besides that, the news junkie in me is fed by a variety of sources, some on Pluto TV like the new Chedder--CNBC for Millennials but I like it too--and others. CBSN is available on just about every device, and I supplement it with UK's Sky News feed and a few others plus podcasts of the Rachael Maddow show, a day late, but still handy.

And there are free streaming services beyond Netflix and Hulu. Shout Factory, Tubi TV, Popcorn TV, Crackle they have a few commercials and a lot of niche selections the premium services aren't bothering with.

 As I said, way, way more than I need, but it's not the having, it's the getting for the geek in me.







Wednesday, February 01, 2017

Home Tech Echoes


At my house, we're not quite to the point of Scotty in Star Trek IV in our expectations of audible communication with computers.

You remember:





We're getting better, however, and surprisingly Christine, who is usually skeptical of new technology, is leading the way.

Last Christmas, 2015, I asked for a couple of things, and an Amazon Echo was on the list. For most of the holiday season, I thought the Echo-shaped package under the tree must be the fulfillment of that request.

Turned out to be a new martini shaker. Good gift,  just not an Echo.

I re-submitted the request last September and got an Echo for my birthday.

Since then it has moved from the living room, where I spend a lot of time grading and used it for random Wikipedia questions, to the master bedroom where Christine can access it as she gets dressed in the mornings.

Bondage
Christine's kind of bonded with Alexa, Amazon's voice assistant persona app thingy, in fact. It's to a point I think they talk about me when I'm not around.

Christine's even a little defensive of Alexa if I slip and call her Siri. They may talk about Siri when I'm not around also.

 I now hear weather and news updates being conjured along with a lot of song requests, playlists and calming nature sounds. Also: occasional arguments over station changes in Pandora. Alexa doesn't give up on Willie Nelson easily.

My use of the Echo "skill" Ditty isn't quite perfect either. Echo's features are called skills in this new world nomenclature, and new skills can be periodically applied. Ditty lets you create songs from random phrases, taking your words and assigning tunes from a variety of musical styles. I got a reasonably good country tune out of the words: "Welcome home Christine." Tunes, er, ditties about the cats haven't produced anything I want to save and share via Twitter, though that's an option.

Activating the meditation-themed Thrive "skill," can be challenging at times as well. Makes you need a calming meditation after talking Alexa into activating it.

We progressed recently to being able to  turn on a couple of lights by voice command, something they promise in the ads. That requires smart home plugs, though they're not quite as smart as I'd hoped. Some routines can be established, but you have to sweet talk Alexa for that also.

I thought that was going to throw Christine off, but she's taken to that as well after an unfortunate incident in which she discovered her phone charger had been crowded out of its usual outlet.

We've moved past that, though I think she takes a bit of pleasure in saying: "Alexa, turn on the bedroom lamp" while I'm still asleep.

Things have a ways to go before we get to where the 21st Century home looked in the 20th Century. I'm just hoping they don't turn out like this old Warner Brothers cartoon:





Wednesday, December 28, 2016

In St. Pete's by the shore



Walking early in St. Petersburg this morning, the horizon was an array of colors: gray-blue layered with rows of a pale coral and streaks of pink, sky meeting blue water with a splash of yellows and more pale pinks and oranges reflected.

I've never been here before, so it's a new sky, and in the morning quite I felt calm and detached, kind of what you want in a holiday break. 

There are a few reminders 'tis the season. On one condo building I passed, the balcony railing on one unit was decorated with lights, and an inflatable reindeer decoration stood beside their deck chairs, not Hallmark Movie Christmas, but a vestige. 

The birds were everywhere, more plentiful than tourists or locals, gulls on shore of multiple varieties,  a few geese diving amid the waves and a couple of big birds with what I think of as heron-like features, though I'm not sure of their species. 

The first I ran across tolerated my presence for a while as I snapped pictures on my phone then stepped off the sea wall and strolled away, wanting his privacy and a return to his placidity, I suppose. So it goes.

Christine says the infinity of it all is what's amazing. I suppose that's true. 

There are boundaries out there somewhere across the blue water, but you can't see them from here.




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