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Wednesday, December 17, 2014

The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies Reviewed (Spoiler Free)

Martin Freeman appears as Bilbo Baggins in the Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies

A Long Way To, and From, Return Of The King

At long last, we are met with the conclusion of Peter Jackson's sweeping epic fantasy inspired by J.R.R. Tolkien's "The Hobbit". Arguably the darkest entry of the series, Peter Jackson trades lengthy scenes of dialogue and tension-building for two hours of flat-out action. This may or may not be for you.

It's as though Peter Jackson couldn't wait to unleash all he had built up in the first two films. More than two-thirds of the movie is spent on the battlefield. Very little time is spent on character development; it is assumed that we've seen the first two films, we know who's involved and what they're after. Virtually nothing new is introduced to keep the movie's rapid-fire pace moving. To provide an example, this is the only one of the six films that actually opens in an action sequence.

This sequel could almost be a standalone; the events of the last film are pretty much wrapped up within the first ten minutes. A new antagonist reveals itself, and the only way to resolve new issues is to have every army in Middle Earth wage war against each other. While fun, very little thinking is involved while watching. You strap in and hold on.

Martin Freeman brings Bilbo Baggins full circle in this outing. He turns a sheltered, timid Hobbit into a fledgling warrior no longer afraid to fight beside--or stand against--his allies. His is easily the best performance of the film.

The action sequences are breathless and harrowing. Peter Jackson has come a long way from the battles of Return of the King; he uses less cuts, thus leaving you squarely in the center of the calamity. These are not battles of triumphant heroes and the light outfighting the darkness; this is the darkness encroaching, the protagonists desperate and consistently on the verge of being overrun, leaving you gripping the arms of your chair as you wait to see who will and will not survive.

Beyond a ham-handed segue way into the original Lord of the Rings trilogy, a feeble attempt at a morality tale at the end and Orlando Bloom appearing far too old to be in a prequel role, very little is wrong with this movie.

I enjoyed this film from its fiery, violent opening to its righteous, bittersweet conclusion. Battle of the Five Armies wraps up the Hobbit in good fashion and leaves you feeling as though the story is, at last, complete.

Monday, December 8, 2014

UW: The Ring of Asarra Is Now Available For All E-Readers!

Cover art provided by Graham Roberts, @IAmSaulHudson




Universal Warrior: The Ring of Asarra, is now available in all formats.

Part one of the four-part short story Era of the Scourge, the Ring of Asarra tells the origin story of Death. As one of the four sent to the Third World to usher in its destruction, he faces a terrible crisis of conscience that causes him to do the unthinkable. He is rescued from damnation by the elven goddess Asarra, who presents him with a choice; to forsake his identity and live his life as a mortal, and attempt to be with the woman he loves, or to accept his destiny and restore balance to the universe, at the expense of his own happiness. 
And if Sephtis, the mortal form of Death Incarnate, chooses to forsake his path, there are those far more malicious eager to wrest power from him...

Universal Warrior: The Ring of Asarra is now available at the following links;






If you enjoy the story, please feel free to leave a review; it's how I can keep going. Thanks for reading and your support.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

When Police Become Bullies, What Then?




I set down my tablet and look to my editor, best friend, confidant, and girlfriend. She's in her own little world, binge-watching one of her favorite shows on Netflix. It's her way of de-stressing after the day's work.

I tell her that I want to tell a story. It is a story borne from anger, inspired by events revolving around Michael Brown and Eric Garner. It is a story of blood, violence, and in my opinion, what must be done to stop our country from truly becoming a totalitarian state.

I know what she will say before she says it. Subconsciously, I know I tell her these things because she's going to set me straight, even if it means telling me what I don't want to hear. Write the story, she says, but don't publish it for a year.

The fact is, I'm angry.
I'm angry as an American citizen.
I'm angry that within six months, two black men (that we are aware of) have died at the hands of police and grand juries have found that neither officers were criminally responsible. According to the "law", they did nothing wrong.

I am angry about the message that sends, that police may do anything they want to anyone they want without fear of prosecution. That if they choke, shoot, or beat an unarmed civilian in the street, they will not face criminal charges for those actions.

I am angry about where that might lead, when a police officer may take things too far and someone chooses to defend themselves, to fight back.

Police abuse is not limited to race, despite what the media would have you believe. Over a month ago, my girlfriend was accosted by law enforcement to the point of tears. She was berated, yelled at, and had personal items shoved in her face. This is a woman who's never broken a law in her life. She was pulled over for not having a license plate on the front of her vehicle.

And I am angry.
And I say things need to change.
Not through riots or more acts of violence, but methods that force members of law enforcement to be accountable when situations like this arise.

Methods such as body-cameras to verify all actions of an officer on shift.

Methods such as criminal prosecution when an officer clearly steps over the line of duty to demonstrate that police officers are held to the same standard of law they are supposed to enforce.

Methods such as a unified code of conduct for every police officer in the United States that must be upheld, practiced, and enforced to such a degree that behavior such as what we've witnessed recently becomes a thing of the past.

You can only push something so far before it begins to push back. Police officers cease to be effective when they become bullies, and eventually, people stand up to bullies.

Badge or no badge.

I'm angry that it might come to that.

I pray it does not.

Thanks for reading.



Monday, November 24, 2014

IT IS NOT OKAY.



Moments ago, a grand jury decided not to indict Darren Wilson, the police officer who shot and killed Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager in Ferguson, Missouri on August 9, 2014.

After Michael was killed, authorities allowed his body to remain in the street for four hours.

Michael Ferguson was not armed. He was shot six times.

Darren Wilson was put on paid administrative leave. He stayed home and continued to draw a salary from the city in the aftermath.

Then, a grand jury decided he did nothing wrong, and the police department punished him with what was essentially a paid vacation.

The message this sends is that the law may gun down an unarmed black teenager without reprisal.

That shooting an unarmed civilian teenager is okay.

Well, it's not okay.

It is not okay to draw a handgun, fire six bullets into an unarmed child

It is not okay to receive a paycheck while you are being investigated for a questionable shooting.

It is not okay for Darren Wilson to continue to carry a badge or enforce the law.

IT IS NOT OKAY.


Universal Warrior: The Ring of Asarra Now Available For $1.79!



Universal Warrior: The Ring of Asarra is now available across all formats for $1.79. Pick it up from for Amazon, Kobo, and Smashwords.

There Is No Choice Without Consequence.
On a conquered Earth, one of the last elven must choose to accept or forgo his identity, a choice that will not only affect the coming battle but the entire universe from now until the end of time.

Current owners, expect an updated copy.

Thanks for reading.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Three Lessons Learned From My First Release

The initial goal was simple; complete and publish a project.
I knew I wasn't going to get rich. I didn't even expect to make what I did. I just wanted to complete and publish something that I believed was worth paying for.

Well, mission accomplished.

When Universal Warrior: The Ring of Asarra hit Amazon and other retailers, the secondary goal became to sell a certain number of copies. Goal obtained in the first few days, and was feeling pretty good about myself.

Then, reality hit like Thor's hammer.

Of the seven copies I sold, one was returned. I have not sold a single copy since.

I have to admit, this was almost disheartening. I've read all the horror stories about indies who only manage to sell one book a month and fade into obscurity. I was mentally prepared--to a point--to see the sales eventually die off.

Preparing for something and then having that event happen are two very different things.

So these past few days, I dove back into the story, did some research, and this what I plan to apply to my next endeavor.

1). Make Sure You Know What You're Selling

I pitched the Ring of Asarra as a novella. I was wrong.
Writer's Digest defines a novella as anything from 30,000 words to 50,000, while a short story runs anywhere from 1,500 to 30,000 words. The Ring of Asarra clocks in at just under 27,000 words. It's a short story, and I should have presented it as such. That being said..

2). Price Appropriately

Had I done my research, I might've had a different result in my opening week. The Ring of Asarra is priced too high for a short story. The price is more appropriate for something a bit longer.

3). If It's Part of A Series, SAY That It's Part of a Series

Though I wanted to tell standalone stories leading up to a big event in my first novel, I thought the stories could stand on their own. I've been asked since the release of the Ring of Asarra is part of a series, and it is. I just hadn't thought to name it when I released it.

I think I'll be better prepared when I release the next installment of the Universal Series. Warblooded will be released sometime next year.

Thanks for reading.


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Monday, November 17, 2014

Consumers Beware; Scammers Posing As Amazon


I have to admit; this almost got me.
If you receive an email that looks like this DO NOT CONFIRM YOUR DATA. Please note the domain name in the sender's email does not originate with Amazon. This is an attempt to steal your data, otherwise known as phishing.

If you receive an email like this, do not follow the link. Delete it, mark it as spam or phishing, but do not give your info to these people. Google does not recognize this address and it has no affiliation with Amazon.

Just wanted to provide a heads-up.

Thanks for reading.