Tuesday, May 31, 2011


I’d heard of the new Sherlock series released by the Masterpiece Theater in October 2010, and I’d been really interested. I’d grown up reading Sherlock Holmes stories and imagining the Great Detective and Dr. John Watson plunging through the fog shrouded streets of 19th century London, and I’d enjoyed Jeremy Brett’s interpretation of the character. I also love Robert Downey, Jr’s, portrayal of Holmes and am anxiously waiting for the second movie in that series.

This Sherlock is a bit different, though.  It is set in present day London, and Watson is a survivor of the Afghanistan War (it’s interesting to note that back in 1887 when the first Holmes novel came out – A Study in Scarlet – Watson was a veteran of the Afghan wars then too).  As a kid, I’d seen Sherlock Holmes transported to the future in The Return of Sherlock Holmes and in Sherlock Holmes in the 22nd Century (an animated series).  I wasn’t sure how this series would work out.

Benedict Cumberbatch (as Sherlock Holmes) and Martin Freeman (as Dr. Watson) totally won me over, though.  They’ve got chemistry between them that lights up the screen.  The murder is loosely based on the first Sherlock Holmes novel but it plays out quite nicely in this 90-minute movie.

Watson, always the more human of the duo, is an intriguing character and I can’t wait to see what they do with him.  Martin Freeman is excellent in this role.  However, Freeman is also on tap to play Bilbo Baggins in the two Hobbit movies, so his time is undoubtedly going to be precious.  Thankfully there are six episodes of this series (three haven’t yet aired) that will be available.

Cumberbatch is a wonderful Holmes.  Quirky and energetic and a pleasure to watch even while he’s lying on a couch pondering problem (the pipes have been replaced with nicotine patches), Cumberbatch delivers the Holmes fans expect, but he gives them something extra.

I loved the sequence of Holmes and Watson racing across the rooftops as they tried to intercept a suspicious taxi.  I’m glad that the series seems to be equally adept outside a flat as it is inside one.  I’d wondered if we were going to be stuck on sound stages.

The series also builds on the Holmes myth.  We get to see Holmes’s brother, Mycroft, and there’s mention of Moriarty, so that bad boy is coming.

"Paris Is A Bitch" by Barry Eisler

Review is on Bookhound.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Bionic Hand

Wow!  They've come a long way.

Check it here.


Recently I gave in to the dark side and picked up an iPad 2.  I work so much at the computer that I like to get away from the office (and from the need to get everything perfect) that I usually outline a book or writing project on yellow legal pads.  The problem is that I work on several projects at once (in various planning stages) and will sometimes lose track of the legal pads (primarily because I stray away from my desk and work everywhere -- outside, restaurants, in my car, etc.).

Keeping up with my handwritten thoughts has become problematic.  I'd been looking at the iPad since it came out.  I used to have an iPaq and enjoyed the freedom it presented quite a lot, but it didn't have the writing surface available that the iPad does (though it did offer handwriting recognition which was awesome!).

I didn't want to just type on the iPad because that wouldn't be far removed from working at the computer.  Thankfully, I found Notes Plus.

Note Plus allows me to write things out by hand.  I can think and dream and pace and work out characterization problems as well as plot problems on the "page."  With the ten-hour batter available on the iPad 2, I'm not tied to a wall outlet somewhere.  And the iPad isn't much heavier than a legal tablet.  I've gotten very comfortable with it.  And when I'm done with a project, I can immediately email a copy to myself at home.  Truly awesome technology and software.

"The Lost Coast" by Barry Eisler

Review on Bookhound.


The box art on The Alphabet Killer (2008) looked really interesting, the premise sounded intriguing – especially the fact that it was based on a series of real murders, and it starred Eliza Dushku (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Tru Calling, Dollhouse), so I Netflixed it and settled back with my wife to enjoy something of a cerebral romp as we chased a killer through the clues.
Well, the movie doesn’t quite cut it as a police procedural.  That became apparent the first time Megan Paige (Dushku) starts to see and hear the first dead girl.  The effects are totally creepy, with a skin-crawling voice and prosthetic visuals that definitely belong in a horror movie.  There’s one scene where Megan crawls under a bed to get inside the mind of the murdered girl that actually made me jump, and I don’t jump easily.

The storyline is uneven to a degree.  We never know why Megan Price is so obsessed with the case and I really wanted to know.  With stories like this, the motivation of the characters is really important.  We just don’t get it in this one.
Dushku does a good job portraying the character.  Megan Price is a far cry from Faith in Buffy the Vampire Slayer or Echo, the character she played on Dollhouse.  As Megan Price, Dushku is fragile and barely holding it together, and I instantly sympathized with her.  I bought into the portrayal, but that made the missing motivation even more apparent.

The scenes are pretty good overall.  The story is set in Rochester, New York, where the actual murders took place back in 1971-1973.  The world looks very gray and industrial, thick and oppressive.  The horror imagery is almost black and white at times and pops out as very stark, very attention-getting.
Overall, I just wasn’t as happy with the film as I wanted to be.  The movie doesn’t deliver full closure for either the character or the plot.  In real life, the murders were never solved either, but in fiction I’d like to have things neatly tied up.  Megan Paige’s resolution isn’t a happy one either, and I couldn’t believe when the movie ended where it did.
The movie is worth a look if you’re a Dushku fan or are wanting a curious blend of horror and mystery and true crime, and if you won’t mind being left somewhat abruptly at the ending.

X-MEN FIRST CLASS Coming Friday!

This movie is going to seriously screw with X-Men history timelines (of course, the other movies have kinda done the same thing), but I'm getting excited to see it this weekend.  When I first heard about it, I wasn't excited at all.

I like that it's set during the Cuban Missile Crisis, which is about the time the first X-Men comics came out (September 1963) and deals with some of the same themes.

Supposedly, this is the first movie of a planned trilogy featuring a young Professor X.  From what I've seen of the trailers, they've really gone all out to make sure this is a successful film.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

THE WALK by Lee Goldberg

My buddy Lee Goldberg has got a deal for you.  Not only has he co-created a new horror series (The Dead Man) with William Rabkin, and been writing some of the best television tie-in novels around, but he's also written some pretty spectacular books as well.

For right now, you can get The Walk for 99 cents!  And Lee is throwing in a FREE copy of the first The Dead Man book for free.  Simply email him here with proof of purchase and he'll send you a copy of Face of Evil.

Folks, you can't beat a deal like that with a stick.

ABOUT THE WALK:  It's one minute after the Big One. Marty Slack, a TV network executive, crawls out from under his Mercedes, parked outside what once was a downtown Los Angeles warehouse, the location for a new TV show. Downtown LA is in ruins. The sky is thick with black smoke. His cell phone is dead. The freeways are rubble. The airport is demolished. Buildings lay across streets like fallen trees. It will be days before help can arrive.

Marty has been expecting this day all his life. He's prepared. In his car are a pair of sturdy walking shoes and a backpack of food, water, and supplies. He knows there is only one thing he can do ... that he must do: get home to his wife Beth, go back to their gated community on the far edge of the San Fernando Valley.

All he has to do is walk. But he will quickly learn that it's not that easy. His dangerous, unpredictable journey home will take him through the different worlds of what was once Los Angeles. Wildfires rage out of control. Flood waters burst through collapsed dams. Natural gas explosions consume neighborhoods. Sinkholes swallow entire buildings. After-shocks rip apart the ground. Looters rampage through the streets.

There's no power. No running water. No order.

Marty Slack thinks he's prepared. He's wrong. Nothing can prepare him for this ordeal, a quest for his family and for his soul, a journey that will test the limits of his endurance and his humanity, a trek from the man he was to the man he can be ... if he can survive The Walk.

The book includes a free bonus excerpt from J.A. Konrath's best-selling, kick-ass thriller THE LIST.

ABOUT FACE OF EVIL:  From Lee Goldberg... bestselling author of THE WALK and the MONK novels...and William Rabkin, author of the wildly successful PSYCH books... comes the first in an exciting new series of original short novels that blends the horror of Stephen King's THE GUNSLINGER with the action/adventure of Don Pendleton's MACK BOLAN: THE EXECUTIONER...

Matthew Cahill is an ordinary man leading a simple life...until a shocking accident changes everything. Now he can see a nightmarish netherworld of unspeakable evil and horrific violence that nobody else does...

For Cahill, each day is a journey into a dark world he knows nothing about...a quest for the answers to who he is and what he has become...and a fight to save us, and his soul, from the clutches of pure evil.

This book includes a bonus excerpts of THE WALK by Lee Goldberg and DESERT PLACES by Blake Crouch.

Meet The Pulptress!

The Pulptress is a new heroine just blazing out into the world.  You can get her first story here for FREE!

It's from New Pulp!


So many good movies coming this summer, and I'm still waiting for this one next March.

THE HIDDEN MAN by David Ellis

Book review on Bookhound.

Three Musketeers in 3D

This one appears to be action-packed, but these aren't the Three Musketeers I'm familiar with.  Way too steampunky and the swordsmanship is more Asian than any European style.

Still, I'm probably gonna go watch.  This is one my 13 year old and I can lock into.

Rise of the Planet of the Apes

Didn't even know this one was coming.  Look interesting.

Pond Pals

Keith Birdsong and I have been friends for 20 years.  We met back at SoonerCon back in 1991.  A lot of people know him as "the" Star Trek artist.  He's done paintings of William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, and tons of other movie and television related materials, including Star Wars and Quantum Leap.  He's done covers for Dean Koontz and R. A. Salvatore, and games like Shadowrun.

A few years ago, he designed Shelby and Spike, two of the Pond Pals characters he's featured here.  He wanted to do a children's book, but that market is incredibly tough.  We wrote it, got it together, and really didn't know what to do with it next because neither of us had worked in that market so much.

Then along came Kindle/CreateSpace at Amazon, which is officially the Wild West for writers willing to risk their time on ventures.

This is a no-brainer.  Keith has got this whimsical side that he doesn't often get to let out, but now we can, and there's more kid/parent friendly stuff coming.

At the moment, POND PALS has been released on the Kindle.  Since the images couldn't be rendered in color on that one, we put it up in black and white, and they look pretty sharp.

The book has also been uploaded to the Nook in color and we're waiting for it to go live, so we'll be announcing that soon.

We've also uploaded it in color to Amazon for a paperback edition in color and we're waiting for it to go live.  As soon as it does, I'll let you know.

The book is written using the Dolce Word List, the list of words used in public and private school systems.  My son Chandler, whose incredibly bright, wanted to learn to read at an early age.  At that time, the old Jack and Jill readers became available at Walmart.  I bought those and we began teaching him from that.  He was able to read by the time he went to kindergarten.

Keith and I wanted to offer the same kind of learning experience with these books, as well as some interesting and fun characters that aren't anywhere close to Jack and Jill.  The Pond Pals live in a world Keith created, and there are a lot of adventures awaiting young readers and their parents.

Zombie Killer!

Took my 13 year old to the gun range for the first time yesterday.  I'd made arrangements to go with my buddy Michael.  Chandler found out we were going there (and out to lunch), so he got up, got dressed, and even brushed his hair.  I haven't seen him this excited about anything in a long time.

We went to Oklahoma City's H&H Gun Range, which is an awesome place to go.  I hadn't been in a while.

Turns out they have whole new target sheets to shoot at.  We had to shoot the zombies.  They were just way too cool.  I outfitted Chandler with a Ruger .22LR (he didn't want to shoot the 9mm stuff we were banging away with because he thought the recoil would be worse.  For those of you unfamiliar with weapons, a 9mm is cake to shoot) and he proved himself to be quite the marksman.  Kept dropping his elbow, though, just like in baseball (*sigh*) but we soon had that corrected.

Michael had a 9mm Baby Desert Eagle manufactured by Magnum Research.  The gun was really sweet to shoot and I'm seriously thinking of picking one up.  I like the high-capacity of my Taurus T-99 (15 in the magazine versus 10 for the Baby Eagle), but the balance on this pistol and the recoil is awesome.  It was a pleasure to shoot and dead-on for accuracy.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Have I Mentioned Rancho Diablo?

Since many of you have a long weekend and some slack time, now would be a great time to dip into the Rancho Diablo waters!

Books I'm Looking Forward To

I really enjoy Hart's writing and the premis on this one sounds great.

At the Iron Mountain Home for Boys, there was nothing but time. Time to burn and time to kill, time for two young orphans to learn that life isn’t won without a fight. Julian survives only because his older brother, Michael, is fearless and fiercely protective. When tensions boil over and a boy is brutally killed, there is only one sacrifice left for Michael to make: He flees the orphanage and takes the blame with him.

For two decades, Michael has been an enforcer in New York’s world of organized crime, a prince of the streets so widely feared he rarely has to kill anymore. But the life he’s fought to build unravels when he meets Elena, a beautiful innocent who teaches him the meaning and power of love. He wants a fresh start with her, the chance to start a family like the one he and Julian never had. But someone else is holding the strings. And escape is not that easy. . . .

The mob boss who gave Michael his blessing to begin anew is dying, and his son is intent on making Michael pay for his betrayal. Determined to protect the ones he loves, Michael spirits Elena—who knows nothing of his past crimes, or the peril he’s laid at her door— back to North Carolina, to the place he was born and the brother he lost so long ago. There, he will encounter a whole new level of danger, a thicket of deceit and violence that leads inexorably to the one place he’s been running from his whole life: Iron House.

And this one is just too intriguing to pass up.

When Simon Burns is fired from his job without warning, he takes on the role of stay-at-home dad for his three-year-old son. But his reluctance pushes his already strained marriage to the limit. In the nestled playgrounds of the Upper West Side, Simon harbors a simmering rage at his boss's betrayal.

Things take a turn when he meets a tight-knit trio of dads at the playground. They are different from other men Simon has met, stronger and more confident, more at ease with the darker side of life- and soon Simon is lured into their mix. But after a guys' night out gets frighteningly out of hand, Simon feels himself sliding into a new nightmarish reality.

As he experiences disturbing changes in his body and his perceptions, he starts to suspect that when the guys welcomed him to their "pack," they were talking about much more than male bonding. And as he falls prey to his basest instincts, Simon must accept that werewolves exist if he is to turn the tides of his fortune...

Friday, May 27, 2011

The Bionic Man Coming From Dynamite Comics

When I was in high school, The Six Million Dollar Man debuted on television and changed the lives of all young viewers.  Everybody wanted to be in a terrible accident so they could get turned into Steve Austin, cyborg.  Lee Majors did a great job of being the laconic hero with near-Superman powers, and we waited each week for a new episode.

Thirteen years ago, there was a rumor that the television series was going to be revived as a movie.  Didn't happen.  But Kevin Smith (Green Hornet, Clerks) did do a script that was never made.  Hollywood's loss is comicdom's gain, because now Dynamite Comics is unleashing a brand new series, The Bionic Man.

Can't wait to see what they do with this one.  Here are four variant covers.

You can find the news release here.

I'm Ready to be GREEN Lit, Baby!

THE LONG FALL by Walter Mosley

Review on Bookhound.

Want to Learn How to Toast?

My buddy Michael Kent, a professor at the University of Oklahoma, has entered the ebook jamboree.  His second nonfiction book, Toasts, Eulogies, Introductions, and Other Special Occasions Speeches, is now up at Amazon.

Michael is a professor of rhetoric at OU and a great conversationalist and friend.  We can argue about anything and do it well!  We often agree, and that's not as much fun, but sometimes it happens.

I got to see early versions of this book and I think it's great.  Easy to read and understand, laid out so you can find the different occasions you might be requested to speak at (or want to speak at), the book gives you what you need to feel confident and have an impact.

Max Allan Collins's Nolan Series

Just saw this on Paul Bishop's site and had to throw in my two cents.  I was just a kid when I first read these, and Max Allan Collins wasn't much older than me.  He still isn't, but he was already leading the life I wanted and eventually got to.

Some history:  the series was picked up by Pinnacle Books (the first two had been published by another company).  Pinnacle also had the long-running Mack Bolan, Executioner, series and had just lost the title to those.  Some people thought that the NOLAN name was intentionally done to capitalize on the BOLAN audience.  Most readers at that time didn't know the first two books had been out well in advance of the Bolan loss, and only four years after the Bolan series itself debuted.  Collins had written his first book in this series years before this and only sold the books later.

These books were cool.  Nolan was a professional thief, and his young protege, Jon, was into comics and music.  They were different, but worked really well together.  I wish someone would get around to reissuing these books on Kindle.  I'd love to read them again.

And if you happen to find a copy somewhere, pick it up and read it.  If you're a noir or crime lover, you'll enjoy these.

The first two books in the series have been re-released in a single paperback from Hard Case Crime.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

The Shadow

Just saw this cover and it reminded me of when I was 13 years old and living in Seminole.  I hunted down every used copy of Doc Savage and The Shadow that ever came out back then.  Man, that was good stuff to grow up on.

In the summers, I'd crawl up into the treehouse with a book and a cold Pepsi, and I wouldn't be seen again for an hour or two.  Kids these days don't know what they're missing.

EXPIRATION DATE by Duane Swierczynski

Review on Bookhound.

Grow A Brain!

The next time somebody does something really stupid and you tell them to go grow a brain, they CAN!

Yep, brain growing could soon be a hobby for interested folks.  Now you can toss out that old ant farm and get something interesting to do.

Hat tip to Bill Crider.

PS:  Can spines be far behind?

Goodnight Moom

Nope, you read the title right.  MOOM.  Not Moon.

And this ain't no story to read to your kid at night neither.

I've known Bill Crider for years, and there's sometimes he just disturbs me.  I mean, I know he's a college professor, and they're usually considered safe individuals.

But Bill has some...well, wrinkles in his personality that are downright shocking.  He's writing the Rancho Diablo Western series with James Reasoner and me, and he knows from heroes and villains.  However, when he lets his dark side out to play, bring the womenfolk and children inside.  Things are about to get nuts.

The above book is one he wrote back in the eighties when splatterpunk horror was king.  Bill doesn't pull any punches.  If you're sick and twisted, know someone who is, or have ever wondered what it would be like to be sick and twisted, this book's for y'all.

Right now you can get it on the Kindle for $2.99.  And you may not sleep nights for a while.  At least -- not with BOTH eyes closed.


Harry never cared for reading or writing. He never showed any interest in baseball or TV. Harry lived for other things — like the pleasing sound of living creatures screaming in agony. And the soothing feel of warm blood running through his fingers. But when his grisly experiments progressed beyond stray pets and farm animals to classmates, Harry’s dad decided to lock the boy away for good in the family basement. After all, the neighbors might begin to talk…

In the solitude of the dank, musty cellar, Harry waited and grew… and grew… and GREW! And while he waited, he was counseled by his one and only friend — the bright silvery orb in the inight sky that he called “Moom.” Harry spoke to Moom. And Moom spoke to Harry. Moom told Harry what he should do when he finally broke out of his subterranean prison …

Moom told Harry to kill…

and Kill…
and KILL…

Superhero Video Laughs

Just stumbled across these CollegeHumor YouTube bits and thought they were worth sharing.  They show Superman and Batman in much different ways than you'd think.  The Batman Vanishing bit it over the top, but I liked it.

The picture above is a mashup centered around Christopher Nolan's possible direction of Superman and Batman movies.