Book Review: The Gospel According to St. Rage by Karen Eisenbrey

Loser girl turned punk rock superhero…Those six words should sell you on The Gospel According to St. Rage alone.  But you know what, that still doesn’t do this book any sort of justice.

Barbara has spent the majority of her life invisible.  Whether she’s been literally invisible or not is not entirely clear.  Neither is it all that important, as whichever is true, no one at her school seems to even know she exists…until one chance meeting leaves her with a brand new hat and a new lease on life…and sudden visibility. And superpowers?

Well, to be honest, I’m not sure where the superpowers come from either, but again it doesn’t matter, because Barbara is no longer the type of person to concern herself with where good fortune comes from, she’s now one to take that fortune by the horns and ride it into the sunset.

Suddenly she’s the leader of a rockin’ new girls band and making waves in the school.

There is so much I want to say about the actual content of this book, so much I want to tell you about what happens, but I honestly believe you need to experience it for yourself.  You see, this isn’t really a superhero book.  Sure, Barbara may have the powers to cause flocks of birds to release their…um…payload onto her enemies with the simple flick of a finger, but she’s not out to save the world, she’s just out to finally live the life she’s been hiding from.

And that she does in an incredibly amazing way for this previously quiet choir girl.

This is a story about high school.  About finding yourself.  About doing what you need to be doing…about destiny?

Eisenbrey brought me back to my own high school days with this book that feels like a punk rock song itself.  To those days of trying to make friends, of trying to define who I am.  And she does so with rock star class.

This ain’t your momma’s young adult novel.  And it ain’t your daddy’s comic book.  It’s a real story, based in reality, with a little bit of fun superpowers thrown in…and I have to say, the powers themselves are some of the most creative I’ve seen.

Give this book a read…seriously.

Buy it now!

Project Updates September 2016

Hey folks, thought it was just about time to let you all in on what’s going on, now that I’ve started getting the regular writing thing going on once again.

And the answer is…a whole heckuva lot.

First, I’ve completed the first book in my chapter book series, Chippewa Chao and the Marvelous Macaroon Mission.  I’m pretty excited about it.  Going to get it in the hands of my kids this weekend for a first read thru to see how my built in test audience responds and start making some moves based on that.  I honestly think this series is going to be a ton of fun once it gets going.  Of course…it’s still got a long way to go before it gets onto store shelves, but the first part of the process is complete and I’m really happy with how it worked out.  I’m actually quite excited to get working on book 2 of the series…but one thing at a time.  Well, one thing at a time for this particular series because:

Are you one of those folks who have been eagerly awaiting to learn how things turn out for Cyrus, Eve, and The Geek?  Well, I’ve begun the process for Agora Files Part 3.  I’m still admittedly quite early on in the process.  Doing some basic plotting out.  Re-reading the first two books in the series to make sure I capture all of those unanswered questions, as well as to make sure I remember all those finer details that will play out in the end.  And, of course, finding some really cool things to include in the finale of my favorite high-octane young adult series.  Sure, it’s still going to be a bit before this book’s completed…but it’s a high priority for me and I’m really quite eager to see how the end finally plays out…well, you know, I mean, I know how it plays out, but to see how it all actually comes together once its written.

But that’s not even close to all, folks, because I just so happen to have accidentally started work on a completely new book (which may end up becoming a series, depending on how I can piece everything together).  What do I mean by accidentally?  Well, you see, I was in need of doing a bit of a  brain exercise yesterday and decided to try and come up with the most complex and ridiculous plot possible…and what I came up with, although still quite rough around the edges, was too much fun to let go.  The little brain exercise ended up becoming a full synopsis, a minor amount of character development, and even the writing of a test chapter to see if I could get the vibe right.  This one falls below the previous two items as far as priority goes, but I have to admit that the concept has been too intriguing for me to let go.  Too cryptic?  Well, what if I tell you that it’s Wayward Pines, LOST, Good Omens, and Portal, tossed in with aliens and video games and a whole bunch of other random things to create the most insane adventure/mystery novel ever…well, you know, at least in this very early conceptual stage.  But honestly, I think this could be something incredibly special, and I really can’t wait until I can make it my full priority.  For now, it’ll be the thing I go to when I need a bit of a break from my other projects.

Of course, there are still several other things in the pipeline as well.  I’ve got a short story in another upcoming anthology from Cake and Quill.  I’ve got a collaboration that’s still in the very early conceptual stages with the always amazing Ken Mooney, and I’ve still got some editing to do on the already-completed Right to Liberty novel, starring the man who will soon be everyone’s favorite cranky old revolution leader.

In other words, I’ve just gotten myself back into the game, and I’ve already got a whole host of things in the pipeline.  Unfortunately, I’m not sure any of these will make it out before the end of 2016 (which will mean I won’t have published anything this year), but if I can keep up the momentum I’ve already built, we should see a thunderstorm of things coming out in 2017.

So…you know…you’ve got that to look forward to🙂

Fat Mogul vs. Pumpkin Spice

You know what my kids had for breakfast this morning?

Pumpkin Spice Life cereal…

That’s right, folks, the season is upon us.  The season of death.  The season of terror, the season of …fall *grumble*.

Look, I know, it hasn’t been that long since I talked about how much I love summer and I’m already here to talk about how much I despise the autumn.  But it’s true.  I hate it.

Things like pumpkin spicing up every single thing under the (not going to be around for much longer) sun doesn’t make things any better.  Just makes the whole season feel…terrible.

Now, sure, I love me some Halloween.  I’ll admit that I’ve driven down country roads just to look at the fall colors.  And I’ve been aching to get out to an apple orchard and down a few pints of apple cider.  (Speaking of which…why can’t we have more Apple Spice stuff instead of all this Pumpkin Spice crap?)  I even love me some pumpkin pie and Thanksgiving and…okay, you get it, there’s a ton of things I really dig about fall.

But I really really really hate fall.  Maybe it’s that my seasonal allergies kick up right about now and don’t allow me to feel like a real person again until the snow’s on the ground and I’m stuck inside for nine months.  Maybe it’s that I really really hate how everything has pumpkin spice in it nowadays, without using any pumpkins, of course (which, to be fair…I’m not sure I actually dislike pumpkin spice…just the concept of pumpkin spice keeps me away from it all).

Or maybe…just maybe…it’s because I see fall for what it really is.  The death of summer.

Honestly, fall, in general, really is just all about death.  Ignore that the Day of the Dead and All Hallows Eve occur during the season.  Just look at the leaves on the trees, the migrating birds, and the fact that we harvest all our crops up and leave our fields dormant for the following months.  Fall is just preparing for winter.  And I really don’t like winter.

Fall is, of course, some of the best time to play outside.  It’s not like gross wet spring where you still don’t have all the grass on the ground and everything’s muddy so you just feel dirty…not to mention you still haven’t had all of the gross stuff that got stuck in the snow get washed away yet.  Nope, fall even means there are a ton of leaves covering the ground to give you a little cushion when you get tackled to the ground after deciding to throw the pigskin around.

It means sweatshirts and long pants.  No longer needing to escape to the air conditioning to feel human again.

But it means summer is over…and that makes me very, very sad.

So…although my lovely city’s International Fall Festival doesn’t seem to know it (seeing as it’s happening this Saturday), I’ve still got a week of summer left.

Now I just need to figure out how to use it…

Have fun out there!

Fat Mogul vs. Stranger Things

Bandwagons are awesome.  That’s why I’m jumping on this one really hard.  And late…

Honestly, if you don’t know it already, you’re obviously out of the loop, but I’m here to say that Stranger Things is one of the most brilliant pieces of scripted television entertainment I’ve seen in a very long time…since I’m re-watching Lost right now, I’m really struggling to fight the urge to compare it to that terribly-concluded saga of awesomeness.

But honestly, I’m not really here to talk about how awesome it is.  Well, not directly anyway.  If you haven’t heard that it’s awesome already, well, it is, but being told that won’t sell you on the series.  What will sell you is turning that thing on and giving it a good watch.  I was hooked from the first episode.  My wife took until the second.

What I am here to talk about is WHY that show, or other shows, like Lost, are so simply amazing.  I mean, Stranger Things, from the basic description, isn’t doing anything new.  It proclaims itself to be an homage to action/adventure/horror films of the 80s.  And it’s based in the 80s.  Really, it should jus be a rather by the books B-movie.

In fact, for reference, Stephen King, after watching the series, tweeted that it felt like a Stephen King novel.  Which I wholeheartedly agree with.  And if you’ve ever seen a film based on a Stephen King novel…well, you know what to expect.

So why is it so amazing?  Why would I feel the need to come on here and talk about it with you from more than a perspective of just how much fun and engaging of a story it is?

The answer is simple…because of the writing.

There are so many things about Stranger Things that work really really well.  The central cast are almost all spectacular.  Millie Bobby Brown alone makes the show worth watching, as her performance of Eleven is quite simply some of the best wordless acting I’ve ever seen.  The sets are great, the costumes really put you in the middle of the 80s, the music is spot-on, and even the monster, who is a little on the goofy-looking side, never really pulls you away from the story because of it.

Nearly everything about this series is spotless in its implementation.  But I wholeheartedly believe the series would have been able to skimp on all of these things and still achieved such an amazing response simply based on the writing.

Sure, as a writer, I may be a little biased.  But from the first moment, they’re building toward the ending.  The dialogue between the characters, and the interaction of how each piece fits into the larger puzzle, the specifics on how everything plays out in just the right way to add suspense while also continue to reveal the final story, it’s all just brilliant.

So, while everyone is focusing on those cute little kids being super awesome, or the spectacular turn Wynona Rider takes as crazed mom, or how much it just feels like something you would’ve watched in the 80s, I want to say, none of that would have mattered if it weren’t for the absolutely pitch perfect script which made the whole thing come together.  Even more than that, it made the whole thing worthwhile.  It made you actually care about what was going on in the Upside Down, it made you continue to question what was going on afterward, and it made you want to know more.

When an episode ends and you NEED to watch the next one, even if it’s well after your bedtime, that’s a sign that the writers have done their job exceptionally well.  And if you’ve watched this show, you know that’s the case.

Have fun out there!

Fat Mogul vs. Unhappiness #365HappyThings

I’m just going to go right out and say it:

The last year has been pretty crap.

Now, to be fair, there have been plenty of great things about the past 365 days.  Things like getting my biggest paycheck to date from being an author, my short, but amazing stint as a mailman, countless fantastic moments with me and my family, and, really, there have been a lot of great fantastic things that have happened.

Yet, the bad things won out.  They just seem to overshadow any of the good that may have come about during the last year.

This may seem like complaining, and, you know, maybe it really is, somewhere.  But I promise that’s not the true intent.  The true intent is to state that I plan to make that not the case for the new year.

Oh, I should probably mention, I just got a little bit older this last Saturday, which is how I mark new years.  Who cares about standard year calculations, this is year 35.  No notations after needed.

Anyways, so, since I’ve done such a terrible job of making note of the good things, amid the bad things like animals dying, getting a job offer rescinded because of questionable background check methods, and…you know what, no, I’m not going to list them.  Because that year is done.  New year is here.

And so, because of my need, no, my intention, to make year 35 a far superior year to year 34, I’ve decided to institute #365HappyThings.  And so far, it’s going pretty darn well.   Here’s the list so far:

#1 : Spent my birthday at the Minnesota Renaissance Festival.  Played hard with the kiddos and wife and had an all around great time, followed by a dinner of great cheeseburgers at an award-winning cheeseburger joint called The Lions Tap (my kids claim my burgers are still better), and all around felt mighty loved as I got to spend a lot of necessary recreation time with those who are the absolute most important people in my life.

#2:  We introduced two new family members to our household.  Flash and Iris.  Two little kittens we adopted from the Humane Association and who I want to snuggle with constantly…although my allergies seem to debate me on that.  They’re currently getting adjusted to their new home, but last night got mighty playful when the house quieted down, and this morning came out to see what was going on as  the kids got ready…so, soon…prepare yourself nose!

#3….I haven’t decided yet.  You see, the day is young, and I’ve got plenty of things that I’ve already got prepared to tell you that are happy things for the coming year that I can choose from, should nothing else spectacular come about.  So…I’m holding off on this one until later in the day.  Which means next week for you folks, should I remember to update here regularly enough.

So, yeah, year 35 is going to be the best year yet.  I’ve begun writing again (in fact, the first draft of my early reader chapter book is complete and according to my wife, mighty adorable…the daughter wants to start reading it tonight).  I’ve begun some early attempts at marketing my books again.  My house is getting back in order.  There’s some job stuff going on which I’m waiting to reveal officially.  And, well…actually, there’s a ton of stuff I want to announce, btu that would spoil my future HappyThings…so, I’m waiting.

For now…

Have fun out there!

Fat Mogul vs. The Summer

I love summer.  Always have.  Probably always will.  My wife always says fall and spring (with a focus on the spring, I believe) are the best, but I’m a summer man.

I’m sure it comes from the childhood experience of months with no responsibilities, just reaching for the stars and doing what you want.

Which is probably why I find myself questioning how that love of summer still exists.

When you become an adult, unless you have one of those special jobs like a teacher or something, summer isn’t really that different from the rest of the year, except hotter.  And in Wisconsin, A LOT HOTTER.

When you have kids, there’s actually probably more responsibility  (instead of the hoped-for less) placed on you because you want to make sure your kids have that same concept of summer you loved so much, which means getting them out to explore the world, getting them to feel the wind through their hair, and overall just getting them to have a few months where their lives are theirs.

Of course…at the ages of my children, even school is special, so perhaps my focus on that isn’t entirely necessary yet…which is good, because I think overall this summer, I’ve failed in that attempt, mostly.

This summer has been an odd one.  As mentioned recently, change has been in the air heavily in the Oster household.  Change which has been ongoing since early 2015, but seems to be coming to a head at the end of this summer.  There’s a lot of things up in the air, a lot of things we’re working on, and really, just a larger feeling of responsibility than ever before.

Could it be that three kids really does become that point in which the senses are completely overwhelmed?

Regardless, because of this realization that summer has been a mite more scheduled than would be generally expected, the wife and I have been making an effort during these past few weeks to cram in as much summer goodness as possible, if not for any other reason, than to give the kids something to report on their “What I did this summer” projects they’ll inevitably get when school starts up next week.

And I’ve been digging it.  Sure, I’m much more exhausted than I already was, which was pretty darn exhausted.  But getting out and enjoying the world has been a necessary refresher for this family of mine, and I can already see the spirits lift a bit from the rather heavy hot months we’ve been experiencing.

But, you may be asking, what does this have to do with anything you might care about?

Well, you see, I’ve been feeling like I’ve been living under something of a rock for the past 6 months or so.  I’ve been so focused on getting through the days, that I haven’t seen much of the light.  So, in addition to getting the kids to enjoy their summer, I’ve been working on getting myself back on that summer-time horse.

Which, for me, means spending time with family and friends, doing some reading, and, you know, getting some writing done.

That last one has been pretty minimal so far, but I’ve finally developed a schedule which will allow me a greater amount of writing than I’ve been seeing lately (which you might remember from my previous post has been nearly negative levels of words to page).  And I’m pretty excited.

You see, I’ve found that I’ve been in a really long summer.  But, the wrong kind.  My summer, which was intended to be an opportunity to focus on the things I had most interest in, has been a move where I’ve fallen all but completely away from writing…the thing that I have the most interest in (well, you know, outside of the family, of course).

So, I’m calling an end to summer.  Which, considering the actual end of summer is already nigh, isn’t really that much of a declaration.  But I’m getting back to work.  I’ve begun developing a schedule, crafted my daily word count goals, and I’m getting right back to it.

My summer has been too long.  I need to get back to work.  I need to get back to what I do best.  Putting my stupid ideas into words.

Be prepared for new content very soon, peeps.  And if I don’t give it to you, throw something at me the next time you see me.  I’ll know you’re doing it out of love.

School’s in suckas!

(too much?)

 

Have fun out there!

Fat Mogul vs 2016 (redux)

So, I had a bit of a post on this concept at the top of the year, as it became apparent early on that this year just wasn’t going to be as amazing as I had kinda hoped it would be.  Turned out, the trend was to continue.

But I’m not here to mope.  Yeah, the Oster’s have had not the most spectacular year, but at the same time, a lot of good has happened.  I mean, I did get over to Ireland, Scotland, and England this year, and before the whole brexit thing too.

So, there have been ups and downs, even if sometimes the downs have felt a little stronger than the ups over the course of these past 8 months.

But 2016 (as well as a large portion of 2015) have been about change.  And most of the things that could be considered negative about this year really come down to exactly that, change.

Let’s back track a bit…I’ll do my entrance again.

Just a few minutes ago I became aware that the yearly reader poll for the local arts magazine had gone up, causing me to suddenly realize how much time has really flown by.  Not that I generally gauge time by this method, but that when I became aware that I had been again nominated for favorite local author, I realized how little writing I’ve done during the course of the past twelve months.  I did publish a book at the start of the year, get two of my short stories included into two different short story anthologies, write a murder mystery and have it performed by a local theatre group, as well as adapt The Long Chron into a screenplay, begin development on my children’s chapter book series, AND start up an entirely new blogging adventure through 30minutes2bedtime.com, but…honestly, I feel like I haven’t written squat.

And the reality of it is that I haven’t.

I haven’t put any words to the page for at least a month…probably quite longer.

But here’s the thing.  This year has been about getting my life in order.  I love writing, but I had to get back into the real life game.  Get myself a job, get myself situated, get myself smarter.  And that I’ve done in spades.  I’ve taught myself three.five programming languages, developed some serious data analysis skills, and overall have really rocked the whole career-type person thing.

In other words, I made the decision to take a step back from writing for a bit to focus on the things that actually make money.

And it’s been working…I think.

Well, I’ve got a lot of things up in the air, but things are looking like they’re about to come up Milhouse mighty hard, and I’m feeling quite optimistic.

And you know what that means?

That I can get back to writing.

Which is important…because I’ve got some great stuff I’ve been slowly working on that I really want to finish…including that good old third part of Agora Files where we finally get to learn who all will die before the end of the series.

So…yeah, you know, more empty promises that I’m coming back soon.  But I’m really feeling it.  I’m working on it.  It’ll happen.

For now, just remember that I still have 6 books out there to read.  And you can get them pretty much anywhere…I think.  At least at places like Amazon and Books a Million.

So, do that. Or don’t.

 

Book Review: Invasion of the Dumb Snatchers by Scott Erickson

Full Disclosure:  I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

As the title suggests, Invasion of the Dumb Snatchers is an homage to the classic film, Invasion of the Body Snatchers.  However, Erickson takes this title in a completely different direction than the very serious B-movie of 1956 flick, in that this book is anything but serious.

Although I believe the satirical nature of this book is intended to serve a much more serious ideal, the book itself focuses on the purely stupid.  The main character is so insanely stupid that it becomes a question of how he is able to continue moving forward without constantly getting lost.

And that’s where the plot takes off.  Miles, the hapless hero, starts getting concerned because everyone in the world seems to suddenly be interested in things like conservation, quality food products, and *gasp* books!  People are having conversations that come out as more than just grunts and everything that he used to hold dear seems to be falling through his grasp.

So, Miles must save the day.  He must do everything he can to keep the aliens from turning everyone into smart weird liberal things who don’t like guns.

There are parts of this book that I really dig.  I kept hoping to find out that Miles was completely mistaken and was just going around as a crazed maniac killing people who disagreed with his personal beliefs, which might allow to lead into a more directly deeper thought.  Instead, the book doesn’t seem to move on from its very shallow beginnings.

I think this book shows a lot of promise, but instead seems too focused on bashing conservatives instead of wanting to actually make a point.  As someone who despises how bipartisan America culture has become, this book’s seems to be entirely focused on making fun of conservatives that it tends to get downright mean.

In short, the book has its moments, but ultimately serves no purpose but to bash an opposing political party.  So, if you’re a diehard liberal, you’ll probably find it pretty amusing. If you’re a diehard conservative, you’ll find it mighty offensive.  If you’re like me and fall somewhere in the middle, you’ll probably find most of it needlessly mean.

But, I tend to miss the boat on humor like this.  So, maybe give it a try anyway.  Buy it now!

Fat Mogul vs. Destiny

I’ve had a computer in front of me for as long as I can remember.  My parents had an Atari computer, you know, the one with the floppy disk drive and a keyboard, instead of the much more popular dedicated video game system.  Oh, you don’t know?  Not surprising.

Also doesn’t matter.  What matters is that for as long as I can remember, I’ve been working with computers.

Which is why it was so odd that when time came to choose a career, one in computers was one I wanted to hide from.  I know my reasons, but even I knew they were off.

Especially since every job I’ve ever held has led to me being deeply involved in the computers and/or technology of the company.

Last week I made a decision to begin my education again (more on that later), and in the past 2 weeks of working with(learning) the Python programming language, I have been able to create a computer program which is capable of doing pretty close to everything I had already been doing in my job.  I have already figured out how to create a new tool which will fix an issue that the company doesn’t even realize it has yet, which I believe I’ll be able to craft tomorrow.

In other words, with just a little bit of effort (okay, I’ll take a bit more credit, I’ve been cramming hard for the past 2 weeks), I’ve been able to completely change my skillset, and suddenly today I’ve started looking at what I’ve been doing for the past 10 years in a completely new light.

All because I allowed myself to actually study something that interests me, something that’s a marketable skill, I’ll add.  Something that I should have been studying for the past 20 years.  Something I was doing when I was 8…

Destiny.

So, yeah…I started taking classes online, mostly just to see if I could actually get into it again.  The idea was that I would start with some of these free classes just as a test and if so, then I would go full bore…I didn’t get through the testing phase before plowing much more deeply into things than I had intended to at full bore.

And I’m pretty darn excited about the stuff I’m learning.

What does this have to do with writing?  Well, actually, both very little, and a whole lot.  Now that I’m thinking about what I can new with my newly burgeoning skills, I’ve got some ideas for new forms of written entertainment…things that are still percolating.  Things that could be a heckuva lot of fun.

But mostly, I’m just really excited to be learning new stuff again and wanted to share it with you.

By the way, since they’re giving me all sorts of free knowledge, I feel I should give them a plug in return.  Udacity.com is an incredible site.  Purely incredible.  And they offer every single class for free. They have something they call nanodegrees you can pay for, but if you’re purely just looking for knowledge, they’ve got more than you could want.

And they do a damned good job.

Have fun out there!

30 Minutes 2 Bedtime

Hey folks, big news for you today.

I just launched a new site!

I know I haven’t been too active on here as of late, which I’m working on a return for, but me and the family have been hard at work lately on a very new idea that I know many of you are going to love.  30minutes2bedtime.com is a parenting blog that focuses on the adventures that can be had with your kids, whether at home or out in the world.

It’s a lot of the stuff you’ve seen here over the years, but more directly focused on the family.

Need more reason to go check it out, then catch a glimpse at our first post and video.  I think you’ll agree it’s going to be a lot of fun!

 

 

Contact Links: