Defender HQ

Hey, you’ve still got this weekend to pick up Rise of the Fat Mogul for the low low price of 99 cents.  Get it now!

When I began writing The Legend of Buddy Hero, I knew that I would need a cool base for the old Defenders to have hung out in.  I also knew that I wanted a sweet base for the bad guys to hang out in.  It took me a while before I figured out that I wanted to have them be the exact same place.

So, when Buddy was first introduced to Arthur Flores, I had him get to the parking garage in the same way he does now, but outside of an unmarked door was to sit two large mafioso types, smoking cigarettes, who Buddy would pass to enter a hallway with a series of doors.

The original version of what became The Bunker was much more maze-like, in that there would be doors upon doors upon doors where the only way you could get to where you wanted to go would be to know the exact path, or else you would be lost in the labyrinth.

Unfortunately, much of that was lost when I realized that I wanted Arthur to have set up camp in what used to be Buddy’s home base. So when I started up work on Rise of the Fat Mogul, and realized how I wanted them to break into The Bunker, this back door system started where I had left off in my initial designs for this underground lair.

Of course, if you’ve read Rise of the Fat Mogul, you’ll see that it became much more like a video game filled with puzzles than the Minotaur-style maze I had originally envisioned.

But here’s the thing: if Buddy and co. had made it deeper into the back door areas before *spoilers*, they would have found themselves right in the midst of that maze as the final point.

Of course, also because of *spoilers*, it looks like we’ll never actually get to see the final levels of the back door system…

Unless…

Honestly, there’s a lot of design that’s gone into the entirety of the Bunker which will probably never get to see the light of day, which is more than a little disappointing, but for the future of the series, the Bunker needs to serve less of a focus.  Because these guys need to start doing all their business above ground.

Which is what you’re going to see moving forward, a much more visible Defenders.

And I can’t wait to show you what I’ve got planned!

Have fun out there!

History of The Fat Mogul

Hey there folks, Rise of the Fat Mogul is still on sale for a mere 99 cents.  You should really pick up a copy!

And while you’re waiting for that to download onto your kindle or other electronic reading device, I wanted to take a moment about how the character of the Fat Mogul came to be.

Obviously, one could be convinced that I feel a certain kinship to this character who plays a pivotal role in the lives of Buddy Hero and the rest of the Defenders, and honestly, it would make a lot of sense for me to feel that way, considering how by the end of Rise of the Fat Mogul, it becomes apparent that this mafioso shares a lot in common with the person plotting out the book.

But the truth of the matter is…this website and the coinage of the term Fat Mogul comes well before I even considered the idea of a mafia-style supervillain group.  And well before I ever came up with the idea of Arthur Flores.

It came from a time where I thought I could direct movies and I felt I needed a name for my production studio.  Fat Mogul felt right as a name for the studio since it was so far from what my studio actually was.  I had even come up with a character who went by the name of Fat Mogul who would be the fictional leader of this production studio.  I had written a few shorts, SCTV-style, where this character would come into the limelight as the fearless leader of this organization which put out these little indie films.

But ultimately, none of that came to fruition.  And I gave up on the filmmaking.  And I was left with this catchy little domain name.

I had actually completed several drafts of The Legend of Buddy Hero before I ever realized how much Fat Mogul was a perfect character for Arthur Flores, the riff of the trope showcased by such villains as The Kingpin and Lex Luthor.

And so, the usage of this character’s name within the books came to be…simply because I realized I already had a great villain name that was just plain ridiculous enough to work within the confines of this rather goofy series.

In the chicken v egg scenario here, the chicken definitely came first…but I’m alright with it feeling the other way around, as it certainly plays toward the character of Arthur Flores a little bit more that the author of the books uses his name to identify himself.

Alright, well, that’s it for today, next, I’m going to talk a bit about The Bunker itself, the place where The Defenders used to hang out…and how much fun it was developing all that it had come to be…and how difficult it was to destroy it.

Have fun out there!

Make 2017 Great Sale: Week 4

We’re past the halfway point on my sale to make 2017 great.  And this week we’re going to focus on my first ever sequel, the glorious Rise of the Fat Mogul, on sale right now for 99 cents!

When going in to writing my first sequel, I felt quite a lot of pressure to get it right.  It’s one thing to right the first book in a series, where no one really has any expectations about what’s going to happen, but when you’ve already developed a tone and a world and characters that people love, you have to remain true to them while also making sure to take the new story in an entirely new direction.  People want more of the same, but with new twists, things that make them see things from entirely different lights.

And, if I may be so bold, I’d like to say that Rise of the Fat Mogul does this quite overwhelmingly.

If you’ve read the book, you’ll know that by the end of it, things are completely different than they appeared at the beginning.  People have died, other people have been resurrected, and honestly, there’s a lot more questions about what all has been going on over the course of the two books than you started with.

Which is entirely the point of this book, to introduce the grander story of the whole saga.  The first book, serving as an introduction to everything, had a lot to do already, and could really only take the time to hint at the grander scheme, but once we got into book two, we’re able to spend a bit more time developing some of those side stories.  Stories which I can’t wait to spend more time on to get into future books, as I’ve talked about already during this reflective sale.

But for now, I just want to note that if you want to get a good glimpse of where the Buddy Hero saga is going, there’s no better place to look than at the very end of Rise of the Fat Mogul, where the day is won, but…well…is it?

One of the hardest things about tackling this book is to introduce the much more sinister and serious parts of the series while still keeping to the lighthearted tone of the original.  While I never really considered the series to be a comedy when I was putting it together, the rather tongue-in-cheek narration makes it necessary for these characters to find themselves in rather outrageous situations, like, for instance, the moment in Rise of the Fat Mogul where The New Defenders go to a comic book convention and have a battle right  there on the convention floor.

Balancing the action with the goofiness of having the convention attendees being completely unaware of whether this was a part of the event or something they should be running from was a delicate act, which I hope plays off nicely for the reader.

Of course, one of my favorite pieces in the whole book is the first moment in the book where we get to see Buddy Hero in his superhero garb…which just so happens to involve a port-a-john.

When re-reading this book recently, I found myself being amused time and again by the little pieces I threw into the novel, things that won’t truly make sense for another book or two down the line, but things that I really can’t wait to give the payoff for.

So, that being said, this week is all about the Rise of the Fat Mogul…and I can’t wait to talk more about how this book developed and where it really takes the story next.

The Future of the Dead

Hey, you’ve still got through the weekend to pick up my zombie filled homage to fatherhood, Daddy of the Dead, for 99 cents!

And today, I’m going to talk about the future of the world and characters of Daddy of the Dead.

Now, this book (like many of mine, oddly enough) was originally intended to be a one off book.  Heck, it was actually intended to be a one off short story, just a few pages which would express a basic concept and that would be the end of it.   And as I’m prone to do…I got a little carried away.

Now, while I don’t have any actual current intentions to write any additional stories in the Daddy of the Dead saga, I have to admit that there are quite a few which have been percolating in my brain ever since I wrote the novella.

The obvious one is to explore what happens next with Bert, Zelda, and Guy.  These three characters are left, at the end, to be traveling north to see if they could find a place to wait out the storm (both actual storm and zombified one).  Their story felt like it was just beginning as they drove off into the sunset (you know…at 10:30 am or so).

But more than that, I wanted to explore some of the side characters we met along the way.  Like the guys in the truck who drive by blaring their music and flashing their lights.  It becomes quite obvious that they’re trying to draw the zombies after them…but why?  Well, I know…but in the situation I ever do decide to write that story, I feel like I should keep it a secret.

Or Charlie, the incredibly helpful gas station attendant who we last saw in the rearview mirror cuddling Stormy, the lovable little puppy.  When the zombies came, instead of running, Charlie decided to stand his ground, while also dedicating himself to helping people who are making their way through his little berg.

What about the kid we hear on the radio at the very onset of the story?

Or the guy who we see jumping out the hotel window just before Bert decides to try the same?

Or Peterson, the salesman that Bert really wanted to prank?

Or what about the people who were watching Zelda?

Or Zelda herself, while she watched everyone around her turn into zombies?

Or…most importantly…what about those zombies?

You see, I added some nuances to my zombies which aren’t part of the standard zombie lore.  I know, I know…I hate it when writers take the history of monsters and throw it out the window.  But there was a reason for that.  There’s a reason these zombies stare at the sun.  A reason why they glow red.  And a reason why we saw a horde of them barreling down the highway…

But…if I told you now, I’d have no reason to write the stories…and I’m kinda thinking I still may want to one day.

But for now, Daddy of the Dead tells its very important story.  The rest is all just placed there to make the world feel real.  To make it feel whole.  To show that there’s a heckuva lot going on during a zombie apocalypse than just a few intrepid survivors making their way to their next safehouse.

Have fun out there!

How Daddy of the Dead Came to Be

Hey, Daddy of the Dead is still just 99 cents on Amazon right now!  You should pick up a copy of my ode to fatherhood and zombies.  But for right now, I’m going to talk a little about the background of this little novella.

After finishing up The Legend of Buddy Hero and The Agora Files, I was looking for a little refresher.  I had spent the better part of four years on these two books and although I had big ideas on where those stories were going, I thought I just needed to cleanse the palate completed.

So, I decided to write a little short story based on a dream I had, a dream which actually plays out almost precisely as it did in my sleep as it does in the final pages of this story.

Of course, what should be quickly apparent if you’ve read Daddy of the Dead is that it is NOT a short story.  It’s quite a bit longer than that.

Because, unbeknownst to me, I actually had a lot of story to tell.  And most of it, obviously, came down to the concept of trying to express what it might be like to be a guy who isn’t necessarily all that strong-hearted or strong-willed, but will do anything to keep his children safe.

And then, it also happened that writing about zombies was a ton of fun.  There’s just something about the playground of an empty world, filled with mindless cannibals which allows the creative juices to flow heavily.

And what better way to show a dead world than to show the midwest in the middle of winter.  So often do we get to see zombies in the nicer weather (outside, I suppose, of Game of Thrones, but we’ll ignore the white walkers for now), but we don’t get to see them when it’s difficult enough to just survive outside.  What’s it’s like to run from the walking dead when running brings about the risk of slipping without merely falling over because it’s a trope of the horror genre?

Cars don’t start?  Well, again, that’s a fairly normal standard of winter in the midwest.

Also, I just had fun with playing with the area of the world I know best.

So, although this story was really all about my own feelings about fatherhood, written shortly after I was introduced to the world of being a father, it also allowed me to have some fun with the horror genre, which is one I hadn’t played with at all before this moment.

It also happens to be one I wholeheartedly expect to return to soon…but I’ll talk about that in my next post.

 

Make 2017 Great Sale: Week 3

Hey, it’s week three in my crazed sale of one book a week at 99 cents.  And this week we’re focused on a book which is incredibly dear to my heart, a book which broke me a little to write, a book which is so much me that I sometimes forget that it’s actually a book people can read.  Daddy of the Dead.

It’s not difficult to glean that this is a book which showcases my own fears and promises as a father.  As such, this book wasn’t as much inspired by anything as it was merely a need to express my love of my children and what lengths I would go to in order to keep them safe.

But…I had to throw in some zombies as well, of course 🙂

Anyway, this week I’m going to focus on the book I talk about the least.  And there’s an awful lot I’ve got to say about it.

Have fun out there!

The World of The Agora Files

On Wednesday I talked about how the concept of The Agora Files (which is still on sale for just 99 cents!) was based on the very simple premise of a dude running from something.

Obviously, as I began piecing the story together, I had to flesh some things out, like who the dude was and who he was running from.

Before long, I realized that another story concept I had long held, about a hapless individual finding himself the center of a revolution, would end up playing a big role in the actual story being told.

But that did very little toward actually developing what the tale would become.  It just gave me another small piece of the overall puzzle.  That this guy was running and it had something to do with overthrowing a government.

Of course, I had just recently read The Hunger Games at this point and realized that the genre of dystopian novels would be where this tale would end up fitting, not to mention that I still had the concept of this character being a Han Solo-type and what’s more dystopian than Star Wars, right?

But I wanted to base this story in a sense of truth.  Where my first book was focused solely on the fantasy of superheroics, I wanted this one to feel like it could really happen.  So I took a look at the country of today (well, technically the country of 5 years ago) and tried to see how it could become the evil empire of so many of these dystopian tales.

As you might imagine, it wasn’t too hard to visualize.  But I needed to determine a moment in America’s history where we could really pinpoint that shift in politics to being something a whole heckuva lot more oppressive than the one we actually have today.  Events like the September 11th attacks immediately came to mind, but then I thought about the bombings of August 6th and 9th, 1945 in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

It is my opinion that there is no greater example of the United States flexing its muscles than those two days in history.

And had we not realized the devastating effects of the decisions that led to those two attacks, it would easily have been a terrible turning point in our nations history where our government realized nothing could stop it, not even the American people.

(Obviously, some debate could be had regarding whether or not this is what occurred, especially looking at how our country has run since that day)

So, I had my moment in which the country deviated from our timeline and the timeline of The Agora Files, but that just meant I had to fill in so many details.  Nearly seventy years of details, to be more precise.

And I did.  I went through and looked at how a government run by someone like Emperor Palpatine might take things from that moment, where he would use the system against itself until finally the system controlled everything.

And following that guideline, I found a rather interesting development.  I found that although this world may look a lot different than our own, that it might still not look all that incredibly much different.  That people might not even be aware of how they were being oppressed.  That so much of the country would have just become accustomed to the changes because of how they would occur on such a small scale, that without even considering it, they would find themselves inside this 1984-esque setting, and be completely cool with it because of the narrative they were fed which got them there.

I spent a great deal of time developing this history and the methods in which this history developed…but then there was a big issue that came into play.  This story was not one about exposition. It was about running.

Having this book be completely dedicated to the concept of high adrenaline adventure meant that my ability to get out this information in a way which wouldn’t slow down the story would be nearly impossible.

Which is why Cyrus (the protagonist, for those of you who haven’t read the book yet) was the perfect person to have sitting in the middle of all this.  He was uninvolved and disinterested.  But when he got stuck in the middle of things, he felt like he had the right to know certain pieces of the puzzle.

But he still didn’t care that much.

Which meant that The Agora Files was able to stick to a fairly high level detail on the subject of how the world got here, while still feeling very real and focused in our actual world.

Of course, this is also why one of the main comments coming back from readers after reading the first book is, “How the heck did things get this way?”

Because they want to know more.  And that makes me incredibly happy.  To know that this world feels real, but still feels wrong.  Still feels like it needs those answers to ensure our own world doesn’t wind up there.

Which is why The Agora Files – Part II is so much fun, because it gets to really dig into those details on a wholly different level, while throwing much of what you think you learn in Part I on its head.

And…spoiler alert…you can probably feel confident that Part III will do it to you all over again.

Have fun out there!

The History of The Agora Files

Hey, The Agora Files is on sale all this week for only 99 cents!  Pick up your copy right this very second. It’s perfect for those who wish they had the motivation to run for exercise, but would rather sit on the couch curled up under a blanket.

As promised, today I want to focus a bit on the history of The Agora Files.  Now, I’ve talked in the past about how it was inspired, in part, by a series of dreams I have had over the years, dreams, which, interestingly enough, stopped occurring shortly after I began writing the series.

But what I haven’t really discussed is how those dreams were actually inspired by a different story I had intended to tell.

Heading back to the golden year of 2007, I had just finished editing the ill-fated Jack and Jill film which I spent the majority of a year writing, filming, acting, editing, and crying over.  To be completely fair, it’s probably not quite as bad as I felt it was when completed, but the technical issues alone, caused by my lack of preparation for things like wind and light and all sorts of other problems with the massive on-location shoot this film was, means that there are a lot of things to look past to be able to see the fantastic on screen talent doing their very best at making my sub-par script sound amazing.

However, I didn’t want to allow my perceived failure to stop me, so I immediately jumped into working on a new project, using a couple characters from the film (and one of the other films I had developed) which was intended to be something of a comedy.  The basic premise is similar in some ways to The Hangover, I suppose.  Two hapless dummies end up under House Arrest due to a night they don’t remember because of an excess of drinking.

The idea would be that these two would slowly work to figure out what had happened, over a series of rather short webisodes, all within the confines of their house.

I actually got rather far in the development of this project, working with a frequent collaborator, we actually even shot most of the footage for the first episode…but it just didn’t seem to work.  And then life got in the way, meaning that the project fizzled.

But I couldn’t get this idea of that forgotten night out of my head.

And then one night I had a dream about these two happening upon a DeLorean, which led them off into a crazed adventure.

And that dream was the first of the series of dreams which would plague me until I finally began writing Agora Files (which was initially titled, simply, Run).

Those dreams mostly involved the pair running from some unknown evil throughout the most outrageous of locations.  Undersea laboratories, enormous greenhouses, and, well, just a ton of random places.

So, obviously I couldn’t get this very vague concept out of my head, and I began developing a film idea called Jack to the Future (one of these two idiots just happened to be named Jack), which would begin with the idea of them finding the DeLorean and took off in some pretty crazy ways from there.

But I just couldn’t come up with a way for me to actually film this.  And by this point, I was starting to feel rather broken down about my ability to even put together a film by myself.  Not to mention the sheer scale of this project.  So it was put on the back burner.

Around this time is when I actually began writing The Legend of Buddy Hero.  But the dreams kept coming the whole time I was writing it.

When I finished Buddy and was in the period between writing it and officially publishing it where I was feeling really down on myself, I determined I should try writing something completely different, something to get me away from that project which I had been working on for two years already.

So, while I was sitting in the shower one day, I was remembering the dream I had had that night involving the two running and I came up with the idea of putting together something which had very little background given to the reader at the start, simply that this guy was running.  I lost the entire Back to the Future plot (a lot of the ideas from that concept actually found their way into my later book The Long Chron) and began developing something which very quickly became what you know as The Agora Files today.

Simply put, a Han Solo-type kid runs away from some unknown evil.  I picked Han Solo as my template simply because I wanted this cocky figure in the center of it all who simply didn’t know what was going on, but followed through with his promises because somewhere within his seemingly selfish self, he really does want to do something real, something better, something stronger.

And the rest of the story fell into place rather easily.  I brought in the concept of The Geek from an earlier film I had produced, called Deadline, introduced a pseudo love interest who was really there to serve as a female who could show Cyrus he wasn’t as amazing as he thought he could be, and then got to Google Earth and scoped out a path for these characters to traverse the country.

A lot of the back story came together, then, as I was working on the rest of it.

And that’s how The Agora Files came to be.

Next I’ll talk about the world of The Agora Files…a world that feels like it’s becoming more and more of a reality as the years tick by…

Make 2017 Great Sale: Week 2

In my hopes to brighten up the prospects for 2017, I’m putting all my books on sale, one at a time, for a week at a time.  And this week’s book is my second release, the book I get the most requests about sequels on, The Agora Files.

That’s right, for the next seven days you can get yourself a copy of this fast-paced action/adventure dystopian young adult novel for a mere 99 cents!

As with last week, I want to spend some time this week talking about the history and future of this book/series.

But for today, I just want to take a second to talk about how much I absolutely love writing about the adventures of Cyrus Rhodes, Eve Gardner, and The Geek.

Because, honestly, outside of writing about zombies (which we’ll get into next week when we start talking about Daddy of the Dead), these books are some of the most intense writing I’ve ever done.  The first book was written in just 30 days, because I was just so deeply invested in what was going on.  I had a difficult time stopping writing each time I got into it.

That’s also one of the main reasons the series hasn’t yet been completed, because these books are absolutely exhausting to put together.  I would tend to feel like I had run a marathon after each and every writing session for both released books in the series, and I still can’t re-read them without getting a little winded.

That being said, I’m really eager to get the final book in this series released, intended on being later this year.  I’ve got a large portion of the final book plotted out and ready to go, I just have to sit down and  get the darned thing written.

So, if you’re ready to sink your teeth into a book so wild and outrageous and filled with as many conspiracy theories as I could find, I’d highly suggest picking up a copy of this book today.

The only thing people have said bad about it so far is that the book had to end.

 

The Future of Buddy Hero

You’ve still got a few days left to pick up The Legend of Buddy Hero for the low low price of 99 cents.  Monday’s the final day.  But why wait?  This weekend is sure to be a cold one where you’ll want to just hunker down inside, wrap yourself in a blanket, and keep your eyes glued to your favorite ereader.

But since I promised all sorts of DVD-style extras this week to celebrate the sale, today I’d like to focus on the future of Buddy Hero and the Defenders Saga series.

You see, I’ve got so many stories I want to tell about this world that Buddy and his cohorts live in.

For those of you who have read  the sequel, The Rise of the Fat Mogul, you’ll be well aware that the series has left off in a rather weird spot.  One of the Defenders has been drastically changed, we’ve learned something entirely new about the Fat Mogul himself, we’ve gained something which could give all the answers Buddy has been looking for, and…well…it looks like our old chum Kid Zero could be in a lot of trouble for things that happened while he was out in space.

The end of that book definitely leads into quite a few of the stories left to tell in Sun City and beyond.  But there’s a ton more.

And one of the characters I’m really excited to get to focus on further is Kid Zero himself.

Sure, on the surface, he appears to be nothing more than a rip off of Adam West’s Batman, but as is easy to see by the end of Rise of the Fat Mogul, there’s a lot more going on there.  As I was developing this character, I quickly came to the realization that he might actually be one of the most tragic figures in literature ever.  Not that it’s been made all that obvious yet.

Zero Hamilton has quite the history.  Simply looking at how, to him, the world changed from loving him to not even knowing he existed overnight, well, you can see that things just don’t feel awesome for this giant of a man.

I’m also a big fan of how his powers are powers of the mind, yet he allows himself to be such a simpleton.  This juxtaposition of mind and brawn amuses me to no end.

And it is for these and many more reasons that Kid Zero is easily my favorite character in the Defenders world, even if he’s one of the few characters in the books which is not, in any way, based on myself.

In short, what can you expect from the future of Buddy?  Diving deeper into the world and mind of Kid Zero.  But at the same time,  I can’t wait to give you more insight into the background of all the rest of the Defenders, old and new.

Although this series may be, on the surface, a satire of the golden age of comics, it’s really a story about characters.  Characters that I can’t wait to give you more of.

Have fun out there!

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