Monthly Archives: September 2017

The first chapter from my newest book Finals: The Dolbin School Book 4

Finals: The Dolbin School Book 4

This is the first chapter from my next book, in pre-proofed form.  It’s still in the final editing phase.

You can preorder the book on Amazon now.  I hope you check it out.

Chapter 1- Spring Time

Bam!  The sound of the ball hitting leather echoed through out the field.

Jake Cooper took the ball out of his mitt and shook his glove hand.  “Nice throw, Mark.  Have you been working out?” he said.  He went to throw the ball back.  “I’ll try not to hurt you when I throw it.”

“Just throw it!”

Jake adjusted the bandage on his nose before he threw the baseball to Mark.  His nose still hurt, from fighting Brad Cushing.

Jake threw the ball.  It zipped through the air.  The loud sound of the ball smacking Mark’s hands came from eighty feet away.  “Did that hurt?”  Jake asked.

“Nope.” Mark replied, gritting his teeth.

The warm weather on the first day of May, brought the student body of Dolbin School for the Extraordinary out.  Jake Cooper and his friends Mark Daniels, Bruce Johnson, Red, Cal Jacobs, and Henry Cho tossed baseballs between them.  There was no game planned.  It was just a lazy Sunday afternoon.

“Throw to someone else, I going to get out the PGX,” said Mark.  He put his glove down and walked over to his backpack.  He pulled out a drone.  It was white and shiny.  He pulled out a tablet and tapped in instructions.  The PGX hovered four feet above the ground.

“You’re not going to take our pictures with that? Right.” Bruce asked.

“No.  Did you forget to put on your make-up today?” Mark replied, without looking away from his drone.  “But we could record practices with it, or even games, and review defensive adjustments and other things.”

Bruce paused from throwing the ball.  “That’s not a bad idea, Daniels.”  He threw the ball back to Red.  “We need to remember that once we get to the 6th grade and are able to play D-Ball.”

“I would think the coaches in middle school would already have that idea, and that they would already be doing that,” Mark pointed out.

“I thought you guys would be here,” said a female voice.

The boys turned and saw Maggie Crenshaw running to the field.  She was carrying a backpack.  She stopped and put down the bag.

“Brad isn’t here, if you’re looking for him,” said Jake.

Maggie ignored Jake’s comment and motioned to the drone floating above the field.  “I have a PGX as well.”  She pulled it out of her bag.

Mark looked at the drone and then at Maggie, “I thought you were more of an athlete.”

She frowned at Mark, “Simply because I am athletic, and play sports, doesn’t mean I don’t like tech as well.”

Maggie pulled out her tablet, swiped and tapped instructions.  Her drone rose next to Mark’s.  Maggie smiled, “Want to race?”

Mark smiled, “Of course”.

Maggie smiled.  Her tilted to the side and took off toward the outfield at blazing speed.  Mark’s drone was pushed backwards from the force of the air from her drone.

Mark turned his head.  “Did you make some modifications on yours?  I didn’t think that a PDX had accelerant thrusters?”

“They don’t.  I added them myself,” Maggie grinned from ear to ear.

Mark lowered his drone to the ground, and pointed at Maggie’s drone “Can I try?”

“Sure.”  Maggie stopped her drone, it floated waiting for the next instructions.  It was a 100 feet away and floating 20 feet in the air.  Mark took the tablet.   He saw himself standing next to Maggie on the tablet, from the drone’s cameras.  Mark swiped on the tablet.  He could see the campus as he viewed the different cameras.

“The accelerant app is right there,” said Maggie reaching over Mark’s shoulder and pointing to a red icon.  Mark tapped instructions for the drone to head back to him.  He pressed the accelerant icon.  It zipped right back, and stopped, floating twenty feet above his and Maggie’s head.

Red pointed to the drone and then at Mark, “Hey, do you think you could race that thing?”

“I could race it.  But I am pretty certain that I would lose.”

“Maggie, did you bring your baseball glove?  You can ball with us as well if you are done showing the drone off,” said Bruce.  “You seem pretty athletic.”

She shook her head, “I’m not Extra Strong or a Runner, I’m a Healer.”

Bruce shrugged his shoulders.  “You can still play with us.”

Mark handed the tablet back to Maggie.  She brought the drone down to the ground and turned it off.  She set it next to her bag.

She pulled a baseball glove out of her bag.  She smiled and pounded her glove. Mark picked up his glove and a ball and threw it to Maggie.

Jake continued to throw to Cal as he turned to ask Maggie a questions, “Maggie, if you like playing ball, why didn’t you come with us before?”

“No one asked me.”

“Not even Brad?” Jake replied.

Maggie stopped looked at Jake, she threw the ball at Mark.

Jake smiled, “Sorry.”  He turned to throw at Cal.  He adjusted the bandage on his nose and threw the ball at Cal.

His nose hurt.

Cars 3–Finally a Cars movie worthy of the Pixar name

Cars 3 finally gives us a Cars movie that worthy of the Pixar name.

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The first Cars was at the time of its release (2006) the least successful of the Pixar movies, that honor now lies with The Good Dinosaur.  Which made the release of Cars 2 a little of surprise, but then Cars 2 went for the James Bond spy angle, throwing Mater into the main role.  Because everyone loves Mater.  For a Pixar film, it still flopped.  And for my money, it is the least Pixar of all the Pixar movies.  (But then again, a bad Pixar movie is a winner for other studios, that’s how good Pixar is.  And that could be the subject of another essay.)

Which made the release of Cars 3 surprising.  But with director Brian Fee, we finally get a touching, human movie about Cars.

Lightnin’ McQueen is at the top of his game, winning most of the races he runs.  When he loses it is to competitor that is his equal. Until he is beaten by Jackson Storm, a rookie car, who is clearly the younger stronger car.  Jackson Storm, like a up and coming young athlete is arrogant and cocky.

And when other of Lightning McQueen’s contemporaries begin to retire, he begins to feel the pressure to retire as well.  McQueen doesn’t want to be told to retire.  Like many us, we want to make that decision ourselves, being told it is time for use to hang it up is difficult for any of us.  So at the final race of the season Lightning McQueen over extends himself, ruptures a tire, and flips in a crash, injuring himself badly as the season closes out.

McQueen goes into a deep depression for several weeks until his gril friend Sally Carrera tries to convince him to retire, but McQueen demands that he will be the one to decide when it is time to go.

This Cars movie is different because McQueen finally acts more grown-up than the arrogant, cocky, clueless kid we see in the first Cars movie.  Here we finally get a McQueen that is clearly vulnerable and, dare-we-say-it aging.  And that gives the movie more human touch than the other two combined.

Chris Cooper plays the voice of the coach to Doc, Smokey.

Cristela Alonzo plays the voice of trainer Cruz Ramirez.  source

The movie does have the regulars from previous films.  Amazingly Larry the Cable Guys’-Tow Mator is regulated to maybe ten minutes of screen time.  And you know what?  It works.

There is a pretty funny side scene of McQueen at a demolition derby.  source

Lines from Paul Newman and Car Talk brother, Tom Magleozzi, who died years before this movie was made, and their lines were archive recordings.

Paul Newman as Doc.  source.

Not the greatest Pixar movie, but Cars 3 tones down the sheer silliness and brings back the Pixar touch to the Cars series.

I would recommend on checking this out on Netflix when it becomes available or catching a matinee.

This post originally appeared on my Steemit blog.

Atomic Blone Review

Atomic Blonde is a visceral experience.

Based on a the graphic novel, The Coldest City, by Antony Johnson and Sam Hart.

The time is 1989 just days before the fall of the Berlin Wall.  Which occurred when I was in high school, but now seems to be a time regulated to history books.  By setting it during this time, we can now tell spy stories between waring states, as opposed to hidden terror threats.  The good ol’ days of spy stories.

Directed by David Leitch, who was a co-director on the first John Wick movie.  David Leitch got his start in Hollywood as a stuntman, and it shows in Atomic Blonde.

Charlize Theron, plays Lorraine Broughton a highly skilled MI6 officer, is perfect for this role, tall, blond, attractive, and physically fit.

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James McAvoy plays David Purcvell, and John Goodman plays Emmet Kurzveld a CIA operative.

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The story is told from a deep briefing room, where a beaten and bruised Charlize Theron is telling the story of tracking down a double agent who has a list of all the spies who work for MI6.

And that’s really all you need to know for the story.

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The movie is all atmosphere and action.  And it is great action.

Unlike the action other movies, where the hero is never hurt, does get exhausted, and takes on thousands of faceless bad guys, here fight scenes have weight.   When protecting a Russian defector, Theron is in an elevator and stops the elevator and instead of coming out blasting, she waits with heavy breathing and waits for one of two bad guys to come at her.  In a fight with two bad guys, it is heavy and intense.

She gets hurt, injured, and the bad guys don’t die easily.  As the scene progresses she becomes more injured and tired.  She eventually narrows down her opponents to one, and at one point they are both so injured and tired they just stand across from each other with labored breathing and staring each other down.  Each opponent running on empty, bullets have run out, and fighting with only the items left in the room, in this case a wine opener, the director brings a real excitement to what could have been just another easy shoot up the bad guy scene.

The movie is a great who-done-it, but ultimately this movie is about atmosphere and style.  And what wonderful, fun style it is.  I recommend it.

Rated R-for extreme violence, nudity, and sex.

Cover for new book and now available for preorder

Book Cover Reveal

My next book Finals–The Dolbin School Book 4 is almost here, so I am happy to share the cover.

The cover is a different style than the other books in the series.  Frank did the cover for my last book, Irving Williams and the Mystery of the Lighthouse Ghost, and I liked his style so much I asked him to do this book.  And now he his going to create new covers for the Dolbin School 1-3.

I serialized the previous Dolbin Books and I plan on doing that with this one as well.  Will probably start tomorrow as I need to get myself organized.

Click here to preorder the book.

Click here to see the Dolbin School page on Amazon.

The writer that wrote stories in bookstore windows

Could you write a story on demand?  In a store window?  With a first draft that is error free?

Harlan Ellison writing in a bookstore window.  Source

Apparently that is what award winning sci-fi writer Harlan Ellison did.  And he didn’t do it once.  He did it several times over the years.

I first heard about this feat from Dean Wesley Smith’s blog, and then I decided to do some research on it, and I found this post on Mental Floss.

Ellison would sit with a typewriter.  A TYPEWRITER—not a laptop.  You see you little whippersnappers you couldn’t always go back and remove a letter or a word.

Ellison says that he did this because:

“I do it because I think particularly in this country people are so distanced from literature, the way it’s taught in schools, that they think that people who write are magicians on a mountaintop somewhere,” he told NBC after one such performance in 1981. “And I think that’s one of the reasons why there’s so much illiteracy in this country. So by doing it in public, I show people it’s a job … like being a plumber or an electrician.”

After doing this several times people began to question if he already had the stories in his head.  So, he started taking prompts from people.  One came from none other than Christ Carter, the creator of the X-Files.  His prompt: There was a 102 year old corpse.  Harlin would hand the pages as they finished and a clerk would post them in the window.  The pages were immaculate, double spaced, and error free.

I would love to be at this level.  

But as I think about this, I contemplate how many myths of writing Ellison takes down here.

Outlining–He doesn’t outline here.  He writes.  He stops to read and research, but there is no outline here to his process.

No rewriting—Have you ever heard of such a thing!  No rewrites!  Try telling that to your English teacher.

Writing taking a longtime—These are short stories, but he didn’t slave over these stories for years on end.

Ellison shows that writing doesn’t have to be a big esoteric exercise.

Solid creative writing is work—just like a plumber.

(This post originally appeared on my Steemit blog.)