Monday, June 20, 2016

Voltron: Legendary Defender Reviewed

After almost forty years since Voltron was first formed, after watching the mighty robot trudge through one half-hearted remake after another, we are treated to an update of Voltron that is both mature and modern. Fun, funny and well-placed, Voltron: Legendary Defender succeeds where it's predecessors failed; by delving into its own lore, providing solid backstory and character development.




The following contains spoilers for the show.

Voltron has never been this cool. Epic battles in space, pulled straight from a Galaxy Far, Far Away? Check. Awkward and hilarious attempts at forming Voltron? Check. Deep, layered characters that feel both familiar and like old friends? Check, and that's truly where this revival is at its finest. The animation, while not on part with Pixar, conveys a tale of a universe under harsh oppression and a group of misfits forced together to do something about it.

The Gang's All Here!

Voltron Legendary Defender does not take itself so seriously that it forgets who it's original fans are, but this is a dark, cold universe.
Zarkon, once a hokey, ancillary antagonist, is now a brutal and horrifying reality. As the shows primary villain, he isn't just a name, or a faceless ruler of a merciless regime. He's a presence, felt in every episode and in every corner of this universe. His power is no more apparent than the moment he singlehandedly engages Voltron itself--and proceeds to rip the robot apart.

Witch Haggar and King Zarkon.

Keith and the others are together, but they're not a team yet. Shiro stands in for the doomed Sven, but his tenuous role as leader puts him the Black Lion. Keith, a young, headstrong maverick is paired with the Red Lion. This is not his team yet, and while Dreamworks is in no rush to get there, it will be his one day. Hunk has evolved from the tough guy with a heart of a gold to the jittery, anxious guy with a heart of gold. Lance's irascible relationship with Keith is intact, made more enjoyable by Keith's immaturity. Still flirting with (almost) anything female, Lance gets the Blue Lion--by opportunity, rather than assignment.

Lance's First Flight With The Blue Lion Goes Exactly As Planned.



Allura has undergone a drastic and welcome change. She is a woman out of time, who has lost everything to her enemy, and she is well-played by Kimberly Brooks (Mass Effect). Simultaneously a princess, a warrior, and a rebel, her conviction is without question as she commands the now-mobile Castle of Lions in her quest to take back the universe from Zarkon.
Speaking of remnants of Altea, Coran may have best been left in the past. The shows only misstep took the wise and somber elder and essentially reduced him to comic relief. Though he does grow on you, the jarring change in such a familiar and beloved character is alienating.

Dreamworks Animation and Netflix should be applauded for the new Pidge, who is now transgender, real name Katie. S/he is not transgender simply for the sake of being. She begins the story purely female, though her orientation is never explained or explored. She actually transitions in the show for reasons that drive her arc throughout the series, an arc that threatens the fragile unity of the team. Her coming out is handled masterfully, with hopeful optimism for the real world.

The new Pidge.


This first season is very much getting to know a new world, and the characters feel just as new as the viewers as they stretch their legs. The battles are fun, the action is wonderful, but it's strength in subtle advances in the plot, nuances in the characters and it's dedication to the universe Voltron is tasked with, this is where the revival shines.

It is not perfect. The iconic theme seems to be, sadly, a thing of the past. A key antagonist has yet to reveal himself, and we'd be curious to see how he fits in to this universe. The commentary when Voltron is actually formed is absent (though, to be honest, I never cared for that so much).

Loved By Good. Feared By Evil.


But it is the best version of Voltron to arrive since the original. I cannot wait to see where the second season goes.

Thanks for reading.


All Images are the copywritten property of Netflix and Dreamworks Animation. I do not own these.

Avery K. Tingle (aka The Gamer Author) is a nomadic multigenre author and martial artist currently residing in Eastern Washington. His works, called "Fast Paced and Thrilling" can be found for Kindle and Kobo.

Monday, June 13, 2016

We Have A New Enemy.

On June 12, 2016, a radical extremist walked into the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida. He proceeded to kill between forty-nine and fifty people and wound fifty-three more before dying in a shootout with police.

Those are facts. That is what happened.



Let's start with the basics. The man who engineered one of the worst shootings in our nation's history was, in fact, a radical extremist. He was not indicative of everyone who shares the Muslim faith, anymore than Timothy McVeigh was a shining example of Christianity. We need to recognize that there are extremists in every faith, and while they most certainly should be dealt with before they can do damage, we need to recognize that the ideologies of a few radicals do not represent the entire sect.

That's step one. Bear with me, because we have hard times ahead.

We have a new enemy, people. Traditionally, we could use the fear of torture (whether or not you agree with it, we do it) and death to attempt to stem this sort of thing, but not in this case. What makes this enemy so dangerous is not just their single-minded devotion to our destruction but the fact that death is not only the expected outcome, it is the goal. We can make jokes and post memes, sure, but the fact is we are dealing with an enemy who believes their violent actions will earn them reward when they shed this mortal coil. How do you go about fighting that?

That's step two. Acknowledge your enemy. Enemies who are understood are easier to defeat.

If you're waiting for me to start touting stricter gun laws or speaking against one candidate or another, you're wrong. In fact, that rhetoric is not only divisive but it plays right into our opponent's hands. We fight with each other while they destroy us. Because make no mistake; they are destroying us.

It would be easy to provide broad-stroke solutions, or eliminate entire groups, but that's just not the case. Banning Muslims will do nothing for the extremists who're already here. Threatening those who legally own and operate firearms, even fully automatic firearms, will do nothing for the millions of weapons in the street.

To paraphrase V, there is something terribly wrong in this country, and our enemies are taking advantage. If we truly wish to preserve our way of life and triumph over this new enemy, we will each of us have to make compromises none of us want to make. We will--we must--set aside our petty differences. We must realize that it's no longer about who is sleeping with who, who is marrying who, who is using what bathroom. Fifty people lost their lives senselessly because someone fell through the cracks. We are beyond our petty squabbles now.

Our screening measures need to intensify--now, not later. We need to be taking a look at individuals, and individuals of all races, religions, creeds, and nationalities when their behavior becomes suspect. We really need to stop looking at someone based on their orientation and their skin color, and look at their actions, because the latter will tell you everything you need to know about that person. We all know that.

Therein lies the last step. Rather than blame, hate, and accuse one another, we each of us need to take a look in the mirror and ask ourselves what we are willing to do to protect ourselves, our families, our children and our futures from incidents such as these.

Then, as one nation, we turn to ISIS and all others who would oppose us and say "If you attack is, we will destroy you."

I hope no more people need die, not ever, before we wake up and do what needs to be done.

Thank you for reading.

This Blog Post Is Dedicated To The Victims at Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, Florida. Go with God.


Sunday, March 20, 2016

To Become A Better Blogger

I've been blogging for about three years now. I've had minimal success, but not the groundswell I was hoping for. No, this is not me quitting. This is me changing tactics.

Traditionally, my blogging process involves something I thought of or saw on the fly, writing it, and then publishing it. I've whittled the time to about two hours total, but that's not enough. Not when you're trying to grow a brand and people are taking your opinions seriously.

CLICK TO TWEET: Something Not Working? Change Tactics.

The fact is, instinct will only take you so far. True success is planning, execution, and improvisation when things go south. I admit I'm best at that last part, but not so much the first two.

It was Joanna Penn's interview with Matt Herron that made me realize how little I knew about this aspect of the business, and how fortunate I've been to achieve this level of success.

So I'm going to take a step back from blogging for a little while. Partially because I just published a book, because I'm developing a game based on said book, and my mind could use the break.

I'm also going to follow the advice in this post and try to write six months worth of posts so when I return to blogging, I'll be aiming right at my target audience.

So the Road Home is on unofficial hiatus until June 6th, 2016. After that, posts will resume weekly. You may still see an on-the-fly post when I review a movie or drop a short story, but otherwise, I'm going to fade into the background, learn, write, and build.

CLICK TO TWEET: Success In The Execution.

In the meantime, I'll still promote others. I'm also going to find some new blogs to read, new people to learn from, and I'll keep the newsletter going since there's a lot going on behind the scenes.

Thanks for reading. See you around.

I’m an author living out of place wherever I am, and right now that’s Eastern Washington. I’m an avid gamer, storyteller, and dedicated troublemaker. 

Want notifications and discounts? Sign up here.

Pick up “Reclamation”, my debut novel and the first book in the “Era of the Scourge” series. Soul Calibur meets Castlevania meets Chronicles of Narnia in this new, dark epic fantasy. Available from Amazon, Kobo, Nook, and iTunes.

Pick up the free short “Prophecy” and learn about the world of Era of the Scourge before diving into Reclamation.


Also available; “The Price of Justice” (free), “The Anniversary” (scifi/romance), “Era of the Scourge Visions: The Ring of Asarra” (Dark Epic Fantasy)

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

How To Score New Dark Fantasy For Free

Kobo is a writing platform that works exactly as Kindle does, complete with app and bookstore. Authors enjoy it because it's extremely friendly to us, while readers get their choice of reads from not just the indies but from legends like Stephen King, Brad Meltzer, JRR Tolkien and JK Rowling.

Since Kobo is a relatively new platform, they're giving a five dollar dollar credit to everyone who creates an account with them.

CLICK TO TWEET: Free Dark Fantasy Alert!

This credit, right here.



Here's how it works.

1). Download the free Kobo app from either Google Play  or iTunes.

2). Create an account. No credit card info required, should take about two minutes.

3). Here's where you can find Era of the Scourge: Reclamation. Also, you can score scifi/romance the Anniversary AND Era of the Scourge Visions: The Ring of Asarra and stay under five bucks. See, this is why I put Reclamation on sale. Just because you get a good story doesn't mean you should go broke.

4). When you check out, the credit will be applied and you just got three stories for free! TELL ME IT DOES NOT GET BETTER THAN THAT!!!

CLICK TO TWEET: Kobo Will Give You My Debut Novel Freely

Reclamation will remain on sale for ninety-nine cents until March 22, 2016. Even when it returns to the full price of 2.99, it will still be affordable with the credit.

Please share this with all of your reader friends!

Thanks for reading and I hope you've enjoyed the story.

Monday, March 14, 2016

The Gamer Author

About eight years back, I was sitting in the Missouri River Regional Library in Jefferson City, Missouri. I was at the beginning of my career, at a monthly writers group, populated by some of the most creative people I'd ever met.

And man, did I feel stupid.

They were tossing around classic works of literature, written by names I'd never heard of.

Faulkner.
Hemingway.
Austen.
Burrows.
Shakespeare.

No, wait! 
Shakespeare. 

I'd heard of him. Yes. Now I don't feel so stupid anymore.

Soon the group was asking me; if I haven't read all of these classics, or heard of these authors, then where was I getting my inspirations? One must read in order to write, right?

Right.

And while I did delve into the classics, my inspirations for storytelling came from a most unusual source.

I grew up at the birth of gaming and the multimedia that followed. I didn't just play Yars Revenge on the Atari 2600,my parents bought me the accompanying LP. Destroying the Quotile wasn't about running up the score; it was about settling the score, ensuring this monster would never wipe out another world.

Capcom's Final Fight was family time, my sister and I tearing through the Mad Gear gang to get Jessica back. Kidnapping her was wrong. We had to set it right. As a kid, I used to fashion all kinds of stories for the games I played. If it didn't have a story (Space Invaders) I'd make one up. Simply doing it wasn't enough. There had to be a reason for what was going on, and I wanted to be involved in that reason.

Street Fighter II changed everything. This game, this larger than life display of lights and sound and overcomplicated controls was made maddening by a simple phrase;

"You Must Defeat Sheng Long To Stand A Chance."

"Who The Hell Is Sheng Long?!"



I didn't know who he was or what he was about or anything. I always thought my defeated opponent was saying that to me. So I figured that I was playing this game, hoping to meet the elusive, enigmatic Sheng Long and at last, get the ending to this game.

Yeah, that didn't happen.

I was enraged. How could this epic title have absolutely no story to speak of? I give a damn about beating M. Bison. BRING ME SHENG LONG!

My mind refused to accept this, and I wrote story after story of utter crap (Street Fighter III: The Arts Master will never see the light of day) as I tried to somehow reconcile all of these wonderful characters into a world that made sense.

But it threw a chink into my writing. Who could I relate too? Who would read the work written by a guy who's favorite reads were basically marketing schemes for old NES games?


My First Foray into Hideo Kojima's Metal Gear Universe. Good Read!


What's a writer who doesn't read?

CLICK TO TWEET: What's A Writer Who Doesn't Read?

Years passed, and a lot of time would be wasted before I got the message.

I stopped waiting for permission and began writing.

I wrote a bevy of free shorts, some of which led to my first real novel. My second short story reached the top of one of Amazon's charts and hung there for a little while.

It turns out I'm extremely particular about the fiction I read (I'm partial to Brad Meltzer) and I read a ton of how-to books. I also support indies, not because I know them but because they write captivating stuff.

CLICK TO TWEET: It doesn't matter what inspires you. Act on it.

It doesn't matter what inspires you. What matters is that you act on it.

So my name is Avery K Tingle, and I am the Gamer Author. And I'm okay with this.

Thanks for reading.

Still have no idea who Faulkner is.

I’m an author living out of place wherever I am, and right now that’s Eastern Washington. I’m an avid gamer, storyteller, and dedicated troublemaker. Want notifications and discounts? Sign up here.

Pick up “Reclamation”, my debut novel and the first book in the “Era of the Scourge” series. Soul Calibur meets Castlevania meets Chronicles of Narnia in this new, dark epic fantasy. Available from Amazon, Kobo, Nook, and iTunes.

Pick up the free short “Prophecy” and learn about the world of Era of the Scourge before diving into Reclamation.


Also available; “The Price of Justice” (free), “The Anniversary” (scifi/romance), “Era of the Scourge Visions: The Ring of Asarra” (Dark Epic Fantasy)

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

How To Get My Stuff For Free


Look What's Here!


Yesterday, I received the proofs for Era of the Scourge Reclamation and was overwhelmed with requests for signed, free copies.

Thank you for that.

The number one thing I keep getting asked is how they can score a free copy, a signed copy or both.

And here's the thing. I really, really want to give you free stuff.

The stuff I can give away is limited; this is my living, after all. So if you really, really want my free stuff, here's how you can get it.

I run a newsletter. All you have to do is sign up for it.

Specifically, the Feral Inception newsletter. I keep your email confidential and here's what you get.


  • All blog posts on the Road Home delivered to your inbox before they go live on the net.


  • Early access to new releases, discounts, promotions and contests. All newsletter subscribers received a free e-copy of Era of the Scourge Reclamation and are currently vying for a Samsung Galaxy Tab 4. 
  • The Indie Author series; a guide/course explaining the writing and self-publishing process. Also includes tidbits on living creatively, like balancing a day job, a creative career and a family life. 


So if you really want to score my stuff for free, this is how you get it. Sign up here and see how it happens, as it happens.

The first new sign up will receive a free, signed copy of Era of the Scourge Reclamation.

Thanks for reading.

I’m an author living out of place wherever I am, and right now that’s Eastern Washington. I’m an avid gamer, storyteller, and dedicated troublemaker. Want notifications and discounts? Sign up here.
Pick up “Reclamation”, my debut novel and the first book in the “Era of the Scourge” series. Soul Calibur meets Castlevania meets Chronicles of Narnia in this new, dark epic fantasy. Available from Amazon, Kobo, Nook, and iTunes.

Pick up the free short “Prophecy” and learn about the world of Era of the Scourge before diving into Reclamation.

Also available; “The Price of Justice” (free), “The Anniversary” (scifi/romance), “Era of the Scourge Visions: The Ring of Asarra” (Dark Epic Fantasy)

Monday, March 7, 2016

Five Aspects of Batman Ben Affleck Must Get Right

If you haven't heard, Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice is coming the theaters soon. I'm a big Batman fan, I liked Zack Snyder's take on the Man of Steel, so I'm looking forward to this movie but I'm approaching it cautiously. I want to believe in Ben Affleck's ability to pull of a convincing Dark Knight. The trailers have left me unimpressed.

Christian Bale's recent self-deprecation on his performance through Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight trilogy also got my mind running. I enjoyed his performance but he was right; something was missing. The gravitas he brought to both Bruce Wayne and Batman in the first two films felt watered down in Rises. A great performance, but he left something on the table.

I've been reading Batman my whole life, even through DC's dubious New-52 run. The ideology is something I aspire too, so as we once again prepare to take on a new (controversial) face in the Cape and Cowl, I wanted to take a moment to figure out exactly who and what Batman is, and what one must bring to the character to match or exceed Keaton's outing.

1). Conflicted Darkness.

Campy Adam West aside, the Batman is a dark character. Not black like Wolverine or the Punisher, but dark. This is a guy carrying around the trauma of witnessing the most horrible thing in the world every single day of his life. His relation to criminals is layered and deeply ambivalent. He hates the criminal act but believes in redemption, a fact he struggles with. He has a burning hatred for the irredeemable but will not take a life, even when he believes the taking of said life would serve a greater good. He internalizes or lashes out at his allies with this hatred, which costs him in the long run. This is an aspect of the Dark Knight Christian Bale explored well in the Dark Knight, but not its prequel or sequel.

The Dark Knight Hit A Breaking Point in Infinite Crisis



2). Fear.

This is one aspect Christian Bale got right, and where I wonder if Ben Affleck will struggle. The Batman, even today with ubiquitous, omnipotent technology, is a scary dude. He comes out of nowhere. He disappears. He seems to dodge bullets. He gets into your head. He knows you better than you know yourself. If you see him, it's too late.
The Dark Knight Rises failed miserably to get this aspect of the Batman right. Maybe because Batman spent so much time in the light or Bale's campy delivery of "WHERE IS IT?!" after he beat down Bane, but in the final film, Batman was no longer frightening.
Ben Affleck is all but typecast as a nice guy at this point, making his assuming of Batman a challenge. In the trailers of Batman V Superman, he evokes no fear or intimidation. He does the Dark-Knight-Returns, world-weary vibe well, but this Batman doesn't seem scary.

Christian Bale's First Appearance In The Light in "Batman Begins" Was Spot-On

3). Physicality.

I was unexpectedly impressed with Ben Affleck's showing in the Batman V Superman trailer and Christian Bale made Batman a nightmare-hitting, formiddable adversary. Batman is one of the greatest fighters in the world. He often appears invincible. You can surround him with ten of the most trained warriors on the planet and somehow, he will come out on top. Michael Keaton provided a fast, agile Batman while Christian Bale just knocked the holy shit out of you. I preferred the latter. The few action sequences we've seen of Batman V Superman lead me to believe that Ben Affleck will pull this off.

4). Brilliant.

A woefully underused aspect of Batman's mystique in Dark Knight Rises, Batman is, first and foremost, a detective. In possession of a keen, analytical mind and almost superhuman powers of observation, his powers of deduction rival Sherlock Holmes. Watching Michael Keaton delve into this helped make the 1989 Batman film so enjoyable, and Christian Bale did the facet justice in the Dark Knight. It would be a waste to not have Ben Affleck's Batman plot out the process of taking down one of the most powerful beings in existence, and simply throw him headlong into battle. Ben Affleck can pull off the mind of the Dark Knight. I hope he gets the opportunity.

5). Bruce Wayne.

Arguably the greatest weapon in Batman's arsenal.
Michael Keaton got it right.
Christian Bale mostly got it right.
There is no reason why Ben Affleck, the nice guy of cinema, can't get this right.
Bruce Wayne may be a facade, but he's a necessary one for Batman to be successful. The nonchalant playboy without a care in the world, but if you look into his eyes for too long, you'll see who he is. Any successful Batman must have Bruce Wayne's carefree ignorance and Batman's deadliness. This is the greatest tightrope to walk when playing the Dark Knight.

Both Bruce Wayne and Batman
No one wanted to see Ben Affleck get this part, and that uproar has subsided somewhat since trailers started coming out. Now that we've settled into wait-and-see mode, let's see if Ben Affleck has what it takes to bring one of DC's most iconic characters to life.




I wish him luck.
"Tell Me. Can You Do This?"

Thanks for reading.

I’m an author living out of place wherever I am, and right now that’s Eastern Washington. I’m an avid gamer, storyteller, and dedicated troublemaker. Want notifications and discounts? Sign up here.
Pick up “Reclamation”, my debut novel and the first book in the “Era of the Scourge” series. Soul Calibur meets Castlevania meets Chronicles of Narnia in this new, dark epic fantasy. Available from Amazon, Kobo, Nook, and iTunes.

Pick up the free short “Prophecy” and learn about the world of Era of the Scourge before diving into Reclamation.


Also available; “The Price of Justice” (free), “The Anniversary” (scifi/romance), “Era of the Scourge Visions: The Ring of Asarra” (Dark Epic Fantasy)