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by Adam

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by Adam


Meddling Kids and Reimagining Classics

Scooby-Doo, that classic mystery cartoon involving a dog and his sleuthing pals, makes for a tempting adaption target. There’s a genre, mystery, baked into the premise, a cast of interesting characters, and even an animal with a personality – there’s a reason the animated series has been around in some form or another since 1969.


Ray Bradbury’s Gabriel’s Horn and the other side of Sci-Fi

It’s common in the ol’ realm of science fiction to have spaceships. To have lasers and stars and monstrous alien creatures battling hordes of space marines in galaxy-spanning wars. Technology is often at the core, and devices that would seem like magic to us are used like we use our phones now. The story starts


Tomb Raider and character through action

We’ve seen so many of them – the fast-moving sequence where a character dashes, dodges, darts and dives through one stunt after another, with maybe a pinch of violence thrown in there to spice things up. It’s hard to find an original action sequence these days, and harder still to find one that helps build


Black Panther and the well-drawn side character

There are numerous reasons to like Ryan Coogler’s Black Panther, but if I have to pick one, and given the standard size of these posts, I do – then it’s the full, dynamic characters the movie constructs. This goes beyond the titular Black Panther himself and Killmonger, the villain. Most stories are going to invest a


What “Last Week Tonight” teaches me about Exposition

Wait, I hear you saying: this here is a nonfiction show! It’s got comedy, sure, but the crux of what Oliver’s doing is spreading facts! Guess what, folks: Novels, short stories, and comics are in the same business. The sole difference is the world to which those facts apply. For folks who don’t know, Last Week


Lester Dent and Formula

Productivity and creativity are two concepts often placed at odds with one another – the idea being that good art takes time. This isn’t really borne out by evidence, and a statement I rather prefer is this one: The art takes the time the artist requires. Lester Dent, a pulphouse author from the late 20’s and 30’s,


Wyoming is Cold

You rarely see temperate desolation. It’s either scorching desert, or, as in Wind River‘s case, an expanse of Wyoming wilderness where, as Jeremy Renner’s wildlife ranger states, “It’s too cold to snow.” The movie, which is available on US Netflix now, is a taut, interesting thriller that uses a familiar combination of young, naive hero out


A Snowy Morning

There’s a thing with March in Wisconsin (and, I imagine, with anywhere in the chillier parts of the world) where the ground can go from muddy grass to covered with a half-foot of snow in an evening. It remains beautiful for a few days before descending back to its brown sludgy awfulness. It’s still gorgeous



There are interesting phrases that come up in NK Jemison’s Broken Earth Trilogy (and this happens in virtually all Sci fi and Fantasy novels) which have, from time to time, broken immersion for me. Concepts that are so layered in the current “Earth” history that to present them as things characters would know or use in


Archivos and World-Building Tools

The Internet is, in many ways, like an island on which random chests of treasure appear. While wandering its jungles, you might stumble upon something new, something incredibly value and entirely not what you thought you needed. The most recent treasure for me is called Archivos. It allows you to strew about all the little nodes sticking


A Better Aquaman: The Shape of Water

I saw The Shape of Water recently and found it functioned like a beautifully rendered vision of someone’s dream. Someone who had either been reading a lot of Aquaman comics, or doing a fair amount of drugs while sitting in front of an aquarium. That’s the thing about movies: they are visions. Those of the director, the


New Covers, because I like fire, apparently

Branding is a toxic word for me. It comes loaded with connotations, with expectations of corporatized life where the creativity has been sucked away by a vacuum, taken outside, and beaten into oblivion by a bunch of faceless goons. This, of course, is stupid. Branding (I tell myself), is better thought of as the way


House Rules

You’ve been there. We all have. You’re sitting around the table with six people instead of five and all the games you brought only work for five instead of six and you want to panic. Chills, the sweats. You start to mumble up things like maybe if you can just find a deck of playing


Bob Ross and the Art of Chill – A Boardgame that Actually Exists

Gag gifts. Those things given for laughs that, often, become nothing more than Goodwill fodder after the mirth has fallen away. Bob Ross: The Art of Chill Game, given to me by my brother-in-law for Christmas, is not a gag gift. Or rather, it is, but one with substance. Not a lot, but even a small bit


Ben Bradlee and character depth

There’s a movie out now, The Post, that acts as a sort of prequel to the 1976 film All the President’s Men. Both of these concern The Washington Post and, in major and supporting roles (respectively), the newspaper’s editor at the time, Ben Bradlee. Played by Tom Hanks in the newer one and Jason Robards in the older (in


The Broken Earth Trilogy by N.K. Jemisen

For Christmas, for my father, I purchased the Broken Earth trilogy, by N.K. Jemison. It’s a fantasy, but with a fair bit of steampunky-sci-fi stuff in there too. Floating obelisks and post-apocalyptic societies and whatnot. The blend of settings works, though, and if you can make two disparate concepts mesh together, well, I’ll pay attention.


Pottersville: Finally the Furries get some Respect

There’s a Netflix movie, at least I recently saw it on Netflix though I don’t know that it’s actually their own, called Pottersville. It concerns, among other things, furries. Attacking weird concepts is a great strength of comedy. If you inserted, say, characters who like to dress up as costumed animals into a serious drama,


Thoughts from Holiday Travel

There are so many costs to travel: Long plane flights and shifting time zones kill sleep. The lack of one’s usual spaces in which to do things like, you know, spin wild stories about adventures through time and space and magical worlds. Turns out those are easier to come by when staring out your own


A Letter to Our Cats

Dear Anna and Elsa (our cats): You are the best winter day blankets we have ever had. Your presence on our laps makes for warmth better than the thickest blanket, and your constant, deep purring brings about some sort of contentment we didn’t know existed prior to your furry place in our lives. Somehow, despite


A brief, late word on Star Wars: The Last Jedi

There’s not really much to say that hasn’t been said about Star Wars: The Last Jedi. The film has been talked about to death by just about every media outlet, twitter feed, and squawking parrot out there. And you know what? That’s good. It’s supposed to happen to a cultural phenomenon. It’s something that, I


Cool facts can ruin stories

It’s the truth, darn it, and there’s no way getting around it. Readers should be treated like people without security clearance – information on a need to know basis, only. I’m working on this story that involves Aztecs and Mayans and all sorts of awesomeness about, well, Aztecs and Mayans. Unfortunately, for all the pages


Why Wind pants are Great

You might have seen the title of this post and wondered, rightly, if I’d lost my mind. In truth, probably. But that’s not what this is about. These words about wind pants, a glorious invention that deserves a place in your ward robe, especially if you work from home. A disclaimer: This is not a


The Sleep Imperative

You’ve doubtless seen, read, or had shouted at you dozens of articles, studies, and artistic renditions on the necessity of sleep. Going into that dream-filled or dream-less state is, the many “they” say, required for life. At least, for a life well-lived. And for a long time I’ve maintained a loose relationship with that idea.


Going Mad in the Mountains

There are certain lines drawn between what might be called “casual” games and “serious” games – the latter being the type of thing you come to after having had some caffeine and with a readiness to bust your brain plotting out the most effective way to move little pieces around to accumulate points, and the


Thor: Ragnarok and making stereotypes triumphant

An action-packed November meant, despite all the enthusiasm, a viewing of Thor: Ragnarok eluded me until this past weekend. With the ol’ MoviePass in hand, Nicole and I settled into the front row and had our faces melted by the Thunder God and his green Hulk friend. Action aplenty, of course. CGI-drenched. One liners flying hot and


The Power and Problems of On-The-Fly Storytelling

The heroes have burst into a bar looking to slake their thirst with a flagon of the good stuff. Alas, before the sweet golden nectar can be theirs, a gruff ogre of a man demands entertainment as the slovenly town has little more than dusty dandelions to enoy these days. As such, the heroes are


The pros and cons of writing a novel with Scrivener

The last post in this series, and it covers the program I’ve now used for at least three years, Literature and Latte’s Scrivener. It’s anecdotally the most prevalent “creative writing” program, though it’s general enough to be used for non-fiction and I’ve also written screenplays with it. General Impressions: There’s no getting around it –


The pros and cons of writing a novel with StoryShop

And here we come to the first of the two fiction writing programs I’ve played with. Storyshop comes from a group of indie authors that, frustrated by a lack of programs they thought served novel writing well, hired software developers to make this. It’s early on in Storyshop’s life, and plenty of changes are expected,


The pros and cons of writing a novel Google Docs

The last of “non-novel” writing programs that I’ve tried. I last used Google Docs for fiction writing for a while after college, when I attempted some collaboration work with folks. It did not last after those efforts ended. General Impressions:  Take your neighborhood bar. The one that you might wander to on a random evening


The pros and cons of writing a novel with Evernote and OneNote

Continuing this week’s look at tools to write books, here’s what I think of trying to use Evernote and OneNote to write novels. I tried both of these a few years back, and while I don’t use either today (having substituted other things for their functions), so there’s a chance major revisions have outdated my


The pros and cons of writing a novel with Microsoft Word

So this week I’m going to take a look at the various programs and such that I’ve tried for writing, and explicitly from the perspective of someone looking to write a novel or longer work (not necessarily fiction) with a given tool. Each one will be organized as a general impressions paragraph followed by a


When Murder is the Name of the Game

Lying, trickery, murder. With up to 11 of your friends talking past each other, trying to hint and push each other to incriminate someone else. Dramatic accusations and hilarious denials. Loose logic and double-takes. All in less than 30 minutes, most of the time. Deception: Murder in Hong Kong is a grand way to rope in


Coco and the non-essential villain

Yes, Coco is a good movie. It’s fun, it takes on a unique culture and history with reverence, seeking to entertain and inform and succeeding on both counts. You walk away with a better idea (if you didn’t know already) of why the Day of the Dead is such an important holiday. It’s a movie about a


The Best Part of Vegas – Red Rock Canyon

In early November, I spent a few days at a writing conference in Las Vegas (which I’ll write about at some point, probably). Because my flight home, due to prices and whatnot, didn’t depart till late Monday afternoon and the conference closed on Sunday, I had a lot of time to wander around. Casinos, even


Ignoring the Work

There aren’t many jobs that let you take a vacation as easily as this one. There’s no boss approving days off, and, aside from some questions about when the next book’s coming, nobody really holding you accountable for your time spent wandering off in your own mind. So when events yank you away from the



How many times have you taken a closer look at something you initially thought was simple only to discover a web of complexities so vast that you are left astounded, amazed that, somehow, society left you so bereft of even a hint at the full extent of the topic? Tequila has blown my mind over


Get Out and See the Stars

There are plenty of grand things about living in a swarming metropolis (not that Madison is a metropolis, exactly, but we have more than one streetlight), but a washed-out night sky isn’t one of them. Sure, the brightest stars might shine through, giving the impression of a blank and empty universe. Take a trip a


The Buried Giant – Kazuo Ishiguro

What if you forgot most of your life? If your past only came to you in flickers, rather than memories? In The Buried Giant, Kazuo Ishiguro explores the many ways we interact with our pasts, but does so in an Arthurian fantasy landscape. There are knights, dragons, ogres and malevolent magic, but there is also love


Blade Runner 2049 and the beautifully slow

There was a certain moment while I sat there in the comfy recliners (most main theaters in Madison have swapped to this style of bigger chairs and reserved seating – I don’t mind) and recalled, with technical wonder zipping by in front of me, that Harrison Ford was supposed to be in this movie. The


Rakers Week 7 – The Seventh Novel

It’s strange to type this, but Rakers is my seventh novel. Going back, to college, high school and before, there’s always been (as I feel most people would say about their dreams) this outward belief that I’d write a novel “someday”. That belief would be accompanied by a silent, smaller, infinitely more honest voice expressing doubt. Stating


Rakers 6 – The Open Ending

There’s a certain advantage to setting out when you want a story to conclude – namely, you know the space you have to tell it. The number of side plots you can include. The number of characters and where they’re going to go. So on and so forth. There are, of course, disadvantages. Maybe your


Rakers Week 5 – Taking Leaps

One of the crazy beautiful things about writing fiction is that you can literally go anywhere with your words. It’s something movies, paintings, and most other forms of art can’t do. There’s nothing stopping you from writing a novel about a talking plant, or a series of mysteries as solved through the eyes of a


Rakers Week 4 – Thrillers Vs. Space Opera

So I’m labeling Rakers as a “thriller” as opposed to a “space opera”, which is the genre for Wild Nines and its sequels. There are obvious reasons for this, namely that Rakers doesn’t take place in space. But also more subtle ones – namely, Rakers has more suspense. More mysteries. There are points of view on both sides, as in Wild Nines, but


Rakers Week 3 – The Evolution of an Idea

There is a question at the heart of Rakers that I won’t spoil here and that, frankly, doesn’t get explicitly answered in the novel. I’m not sure I want to definitively answer it in the series as a whole either, because some queries don’t have clearcut choices. When I started thinking about the book, this question did


Rakers Week 2 – Fade Out

Bond. Bourne. That guy from Kingsman. You know the type – the brutal, no-mercy man. It’s a compelling character type to write because they can convincingly do just about anything. Insane risks don’t take much consideration for these characters because they have so little to lose. If Bourne dies in a fire, who’s going to mourn?


Rakers Week 1 – A Modern Setting

You might think that there’s something easy about choosing a “current day” setting. After all, it’s the world in which we live, right? If you, the writer, are in it every day, then naturally you know it, don’t you? Rakers takes place right around now. Maybe a little bit in the future, but not far


Rakers is Launching

Yep – the title pretty much says it all on this one. Rakers, my next novel, is launching. It’ll be available in all the places in ebook and some of the places in print. I’ll have a link up for it shortly and all that jazz. Rakers is about a pair of ex-special forces members who


Cauliflower Rice and Experimental Cooking

If you handed me a bowl of cauliflower rice without telling me what it was, I’d probably guess some form of cheese. Goat cheese, or maybe a thick Parmesan. However, it lacks the flavor of those two delectable treats. Like normal rice, it takes on the taste of whatever you pair it with, acting as


Donkey Kong Country – Where Setting Makes All the Difference

As a child of the 90s, the Super Nintendo played a distinct part in my elementary school life. There was Mario, sure, jumping along on mushrooms and pipes in worlds full of fireballs, turtles, and Bowser. But, when compared with the lush jungles, dark caves, and haunting seas of Donkey Kong, I couldn’t help but


Conquer the Galaxy – Star Wars Rebellion and a Board Game Feast

There are board games, just like there are stories, at every level of scale. Some put you in control of a single piece with one ability – often just being able to move in a direction. Others give you mountains of rules, pieces, and options and it’s up to you to parse what to do