Monday, October 29, 2012

Colts Observations, Week 8

Twice as good? The Colts aren't at the halfway point in the season yet and they've already won twice as many games as last year. They're certainly twice as good as last year...actually, they're much better than that.

Cue Jim Mora. It's early, but the Colts are 4-3 and finding ways to win games. Playoff talk is certainly premature, but think about it: if the playoffs started today, the Colts would sneak in as a Wild Card because the AFC is terrible.

On the road. The Colts have been lackluster and uninspired in their other roads games, getting dominated by the Chicago Bears and New York Jets. While the Bears look legit, the Jets are a mess. In both games, the Colts struggled. This wasn't a pretty win, but it's the first road win for Luck and if the Colts hope to think about the "P" word, they'll need some more away from Big Oil.

Give me a break, give me a break. The Colts got some help. The Titans committed a few stupid penalties that derailed their drives. A Vick Ballard fumble got called back because of an offsides penalty. Dwayne Allen's fumble wasn't ruled a fumble because the officials determined his forward progress was stopped before he coughed up the ball. The Colts needed some breaks to win on the road. They got a few.

Offensive pass interference. Apparently, this is a thing. The referees flagged Tennessee for three offensive pass interference penalties of varying degrees of actual offensive pass interference. One absolutely killed a drive; another took a touchdown away. I don't think I've seen offensive PI called so many times in one game.

Running. Always running. The running game didn't really click until the second half, but the Colts stuck with it. By the end of the game, they had more than 170 yards. Their game-winning drive was predicated mostly on the running game.

Taking his shots. As has become a weekly observation, Andrew Luck got hit a lot. Again. While watching the Sunday Night Game, I opined that it's a good thing Peyton Manning didn't have to play behind the Colts line. He would've been killed.

Fleet of foot. When the pocket breaks down, Luck can make something happen. He carried the ball six times for 28 yards, picking up a few first downs along the way. I love how he's always got his eyes downfield, waiting for someone to flash open. For the season, he has 26 runs for 143 yards--a 5.5 average per carry.

Sometimes a sack is a good thing. Luck does not like to give up on a play. I respect that. However, when the defense has you in its grasp, don't make a throw that looks like a fumble (and is, in fact, a fumble). Don't throw it into the breadbasket of a linebacker with a clear path to the end zone. Sometimes, you just have to take the sack.

Now your passes are complete. I've been surprised at Luck's completion percentage. It's not so terrible that it's cause for alarm, but I expected him to hover around 60 percent. Instead, he's been consistently in the lower half of the 50-percent mark. He was very accurate Sunday, completing about 68 percent of his passes. That was good to see.

O Canada, our home and native land. Jerrell Freeman, 14 tackles. He's always near the ball and remains one of the season's best stories.

Slowing down CJ. For the most part, the Colts kept Chris Johnson out of the game. He almost had a 100-yard day, but most of that came in the second half. They prevented him from having a monster day. With a guy like Johnson...containment is the key and he never hit the "home run."

No orange? No problem. Reggie Wayne continues to be a revelation. Seven catches, 91 yards. He's having a career year. For the season, he's caught 54 passes for 757 yards through seven games. Somehow, he always comes up with the big grab, including a monster catch in overtime on a key third down.

Fake Toss 39 Taxi Naked Right Screen Left. That's the name of the play Bruce Arians called to win the game. On the Frankenstein play, Luck faked a toss left, rolled right, scanned the right side of the field, scanned the middle, and then lofted a ball to running back Vick Ballard.

The Ballard-Copter has liftoff! This could be the play of the year, Ballard going airborne and doing a Superman/submarine/helicopter/inverted airplane maneuver to get inside the pylon and win the game.

Friday, October 26, 2012

The Horror of Superheroes

I've been very, very busy since the end of August, when I decided to teach a semester of Writing News for Broadcast at Franklin College. That's meant less Crimsonstreaking. Sure, I "finished" a sequel and "started" the third book in the series, but I haven't had time to blog or do events.

So I have an upcoming event with a bunch of peers from the Indiana Horror Writers coming up on November 3.

Friend and fellow author R.J. Sullivan describes the event, Hoosier Horror for the Holidays, as a gathering of authors with "vampires, ghosts, pirates, superheroes, fantasy warriors, wizards, and more!"

I'll be supplying the superheroes.

Here's the information:

Saturday, November 3
1 p.m. to 3 p.m.

Mooresville Public Library
220 West Harrison Street
Mooresville, Indiana 46158

In addition to me, check out the other authors involved:

Maurice Broaddus: Indianapolis, co-editor of the Dark Faith anthologies (Apex Books) and author of the urban fantasy trilogy, Knights of Breton Court (Angry Robot Books). King’s Justice, King Maker, King’s War, Dark Faith, Dark Faith: Invocations, and more.

Eric Garrison: Indianapolis, dark supernatural fantasies: ghosts, demonic possession and sinister fairy folk. Road Ghosts (3-in-1), Blue Spirit.

Roberta Hoffer: Indianapolis, three words: Romantic Vampire Series. Silent Heart, Silent Madness.

R.J. Sullivan: Camby, author of edgy ghost stories and paranormal thrillers. Haunting Blue, Haunting Obsession, Contributor to Dark Faith: Invocations

Kathy Watness: North Salem, serial contributor to fantasy anthologies, such as the Blue Kingdom series, “Terribly Twisted Tales,” and The Crimson Pact, V.1.

Michael West: Indianapolis, prolific author of traditional horror and scares. Cinema of Shadows, Wide Game, Poseidon’s Children, Skull Full of Kisses, and the just-released Spook House.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

III Crimsonstreak in Progress

I've sent II Crimsonstreak: Subtitle Interrupted to my publisher. After spending a few weeks revising the manuscript, I got into the Crimsonstreak groove, making now the perfect time to start working on the third book in the trilogy.

I can't really say much about III Crimsonstreak other than it'll wrap things up. I have a broad outline of where things will go, but I have no idea how I'll get there.

That's why I write.

You can expect more multiversal hijinks, the resolution of an interstellar war that's been simmering forever, and stuff.

Yes, stuff.

Monday, October 22, 2012

II Crimsonstreak sent off!

I sent the "final" draft of II Crimsonstreak to Mastermind Kate at Candlemark & Gleam. That means the continuing adventures of Crimsonstreak & company are now "out in the wild!"

By "final draft," I mean "submission draft"...not the final "professional people have read this and given you feedback so make it better" draft.

Obviously, I spent a lot of time on the book, which is bigger in scope than the first one. We shift from an earthly threat to universal one (actually, a MULTIuniversal one). Our familiar characters return (Crimsonstreak, the Crusading Comets, Jaci, Miss Lightspeed, and the Colonels Chaos -- yes, BOTH versions of Colonel Chaos).

We also meet some new ones:

Falcon Gray - The "Misplaced Birdman of Aviary XII," Falcon Gray is a noble, well-meaning man-bird with arm-wings, feathers, and a heart as big as the sun. Perhaps he channels some of the Tick's earnestness and has a tendency to take things too literally, but he's good to have around in a fight.

Sapphire Twelve - The (supposed) deposed queen of a distant star, Sapphire Twelve is a commanding hero who walks the fine line between good, evil, and crazy. The wielder of mystical blue energy, she is in charge of the Champions of Justice, a group of ex-Enforcers that's never happy with the Heroic Legion.

Samson Knight - Acting leader of the Heroic Legion, Samson Knight wears a mechanized suit of armor fused with a mystical helmet. He has no love for the Fairborne family (well...some of it) and believes Crimsonstreak poses a threat to his leadership. His bravery is sometimes overshadowed by his love of bureaucracy.

Crossworld - She made a cameo in I, Crimsonstreak as a fellow inmate at the Clermont Institution for the Criminally Insane and got her own bio. A big, BIG fan of Colonel Chaos, this gorgeous hero isn't afraid to make romantic advances toward his son. In II Crimsonstreak, she's a complete wild card. You better watch your back.

Kilgore - The "Darth Vader" of a group of aliens known as the Kiltechs, Kilgore's a nasty SOB who doesn't care much for humanity. Strong-willed and overbearing, Kilgore believes his people are superior to human beings in almost every way.

Orange Bands - Arrogant "space cops" (think Green Lantern Corps), the Orange Bands believe they're the real power in the universe. They take a distant interest in Earth only because the Kiltechs have returned after a failed invasion referenced in I, Crimsonstreak. Equipped with a mighty Band of Power, these guys don't mess around--despite the fact their weapon sounds like an Eighties superhero hair band.

Colts Observations: Week 7

A win is a win. Call it ugly, boring, milquetoast, the Browns...I didn't expect the Colts to be around .500 at this point in the season. They've won more games than last season and have matched Peyton Manning's win total as a rookie. They could have a winning record...if not for Cecil Shorts.

Running? Running? The Colts were extremely efficient in the running game this week. I was excited when the team drafted Vick Ballard, and he showed a good burst, effectively putting the game away late with a 26-yard scamper. Delone Carter also had a nice game.

Reggie Forever. Reggie Wayne flashed his magic orange hands again this week. He wasn't quite as jaw-droppingly terrific as two weeks before, but he was still solid. I can't emphasize how big it was for the Colts to bring him back.

Pass rush, underwhelming. Robert Mathis is out and Freeney's missing his burst because of an ankle injury. It meant Brandon Weeden had plenty of time to find receivers (and sometimes they caught the ball). The Colts hurried Weeden a few times, but never sacked him.

Solid "D." Despite the lack of a pass rush, the Colts defense was solid. I know, I's the Browns. Still, the Colts held them to only two touchdowns and didn't give up "the bomb" (even though they were very, very close to doing so). The Colts surrendered only 55 rushing yards after last week's disaster against the Jets.

Reeling him in. Joshua Cribbs is frequently regarded as one of the Browns' top playmakers. The Colts kept him in check all game, including a great tackle by LaVon Brazill near the end of the game.

A unique style. So...Bruce Arians has a unique coaching style. There was the time he threw a challenge flag even though he knew it wouldn't do any good a couple weeks ago. This week, he called a timeout just before halftime, allowing the Browns to attempt a Hail Mary after the Colts were flagged for having too many men on the field. And then there was his aggressive call on fourth and inches in Colts territory. The hard count worked. I guess what I'm saying...I don't know what I'm saying.

RG3? How 'bout AL1? Luck has made plays with his feet all season, but this week he put points on the board by scoring two rushing touchdowns. In both cases, it looked like he read the defense quickly and then took off. I don't expect we'll see the read option any time soon, but Luck's athleticism can't be overstated.

Who are those guys? Look, the Colts had enough roster turnover after Veteran Fan-Favorite Cut Day. With so many guys injured, I didn't recognize many of the players out there on defense. Still, the unit played a pretty good game.

Tight ends. As the games go by, tight ends Coby Fleener and Dwayne Allen seem to be getting more touches. The Colts need to keep this up...I especially like how Allen finishes plays. Fleener is doing a better job of holding onto the ball as well.

Angerer returns. Good to see linebacker Pat Angerer back in the fold. He saw limited action, but did give Weeden a couple love taps during the game.

Not cracking 200 yards. I know Luck can't pass for 300 yards every week, but I was surprised that he failed to crack 200 yards after having a very productive first half. The second half turned into this grind 'em, pound 'em game where the Colts played defense and field position.

Them's the breaks, Cleveland. A botched hold on an extra point. A dropped, sure-fire touchdown pass. These are the kinds of things that seemed to happen to the Colts last year; I bet Browns fans will tell you these are the types of things that have been happening to them forever.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

II Crimsonstreak Update

I wrote about 1,700 words of "extra" material for the book tonight. It's looking like II Crimsonstreak will be in the range of 94,000 words. Main story is 83,000 words; I have about 11,000 words of stuff for the appendices.

For reference, the first Crimsonstreak novel has 72,000 words for the main part of the book and 23,000 words of material for the appendices in the back.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

II Crimsonstreak blurb

I've been playing around with some ideas for a back cover blurb for II Crimsonstreak. Here's what I've come up with so far as I prepare to submit the manuscript:
Three years after the climactic battle at the Clermont Institution for the Criminally Insane, Chris Fairborne AKA Crimsonstreak chases down escaped supervillains while working feverishly to reestablish world governments in the wake of the New World Common Wealth.

His father, Colonel Chaos, sits in front of a Heroic Legion tribunal to answer for crimes against humanity. His mother, Miss Lightspeed, doesn’t seem herself following her unlikely resurrection. To make matters worse, Crimsonstreak encounters a being of pure speed not even he can outrun.

Sounds like the perfect time for an alien invasion, an encounter with a group of snobbish space cops, and the mysterious return of a long-dead friend with an unbelievable secret.

War will strain friendships. A multiversal threat will test loyalties. And you will believe a man-bird can fly in II Crimsonstreak: Must Go Faster.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Colts Observations: Week 6

Back to earth. After emotion carried the Colts into the stratosphere last week with an unlikely win against Green Bay, the team came back to reality. In the NFL, road games are unforgiving...and the Colts just didn't have it.

Off target. Luck couldn't match last week's performance and spent much of the game against the Jets with a completion percentage under 50 percent. Right out of the gate he was high on several throws. He missed Coby Fleener high in the end zone, Reggie Wayne high to the left, and Fleener high again in the flat. The team will go as Luck goes...and he was off.

Ground and pound. Again. Again. Again. I had flashbacks to the infamous Jacksonville game from the Super Bowl season. The Colts let the Jets manhandle them and run right over and through them. They couldn't tackle, get off their blocks, or hold their gaps. When they had point-blank shots at Jets running backs, they whiffed. I wonder if we'll hear the phrase "correctable mistakes" this week.

No Freeney, no Mathis. Listen, I know Dwight Freeney suited up for the Colts...but that wasn't Dwight Freeney on the field. He didn't have his burst and wasn't the Freeney we're used to seeing. Mathis didn't play, and it was noticeable. The Colts got some surge on the pass rush in the second half, but it didn't really matter.

Dwayne Allen. Allen continues to impress me in the passing game. Get him the ball more, please.

What running game? The Colts stuck with their running game last week and Donald Brown had a decent performance. I was excited to see Vick Ballard get the start, but Indy came out throwing instead. By the time the Jets started to assert their dominance, the running game went out the window.

Settling for field goals. Luck's high throw to Fleener in the end zone was the closest the Colts got to scoring a touchdown until Luck later threw an interception in the end zone late in the game. Field goals can win ballgames, but they more often lose ballgames when you have the chance to score touchdowns and fail.

Fourth and Ten, do it again...go...field goal! The decision to kick a field goal on fourth and ten with the game pretty much over left me baffled. Yeah, you're probably not going to win the game, but the field goal does you no good.

Luck in their sights. Protection was decent in the first half, but once the Colts got behind, the Jets hit Luck over and over and over again. The rookie took a pounding.

Tebow! Tim Tebow proved what a valuable commodity he is by passing for a first down out of the punt formation. Other than that, Tebow wasn't a huge factor. That play, however, was key. The Colts wouldn't have won this game, but that conversion prevented the Colts from getting a stop while the game was still within reach.

Looked like a rookie. Luck has amazed us most of the season with his poise and precision. This week, he looked like a rookie. He made bad throws, poor decisions, and looked overwhelmed at times.

Let Sanchez beat you. It's pretty simple with the Jets: let Mark Sanchez beat you. The guy still hasn't proved that he can make the plays with the game on the line. Instead, the Colts let Shonn Greene run all over them, taking the pressure off the beleaguered Jets quarterback. Sanchez threw for less than 100 yards (although he was on target in the red zone).

Defense beaten up. Mathis was were Fili Moala and Martin Tevaseu on the defensive line. Cory Redding got hurt during the game. The Colts' front-line players stack up well against most opponents; but they have little depth. What does that mean? 254 rushing yards and 35 points.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Colts Observations, Week 5

That seems...unlikely. The Colts didn't stand a chance in this game. That's what I thought. That's what just about everyone thought. When the score was 21-3 at halftime, the question wasn't whether the Colts would lose but rather how bad would it be.

Reggie! Freaking! Wayne! I don't care if Reggie Wayne gets fined for wearing orange gloves. I don't care if he wears an orange jersey next week. Wayne was simply phenomenal. When it was all said and done, he had 13 catches for 212 yards and the game-winning touchdown. He added a great one-handed catch and caught the ball seemingly at will. That may have been the best game of his career.

Dr. Jekyll, meet Mr. Hyde. The first half was tough to watch. Defensively, the Colts got no pressure on Aaron Rodgers and their defensive backs couldn't cover. Offensively, they didn't have a lot going on either; Luck took a lot of hits. That 21-3 score at halftime looked daunting. Then, Jerraud Powers intercepted Rodgers and everything changed. The defensive coverage tightened and the rush was in Rodgers' face. Luck and the offense moved the ball and, more importantly, scored. Indy outscored Green Bay 27-6 in the second half. Astounding.

Efficient and effective. The running game still won't strike fear into anyone's heart, but the Colts were effective in the second half. Donald Brown showed a burst and some elusiveness on some big carries. It was just enough to make the running game a factor and open up the play action game.

Just another 300-yard game. Luck threw for 362 yards and two touchdowns, adding another one on the ground. His most impressive throw was a third-and-12 strike to Reggie Wayne that Luck delivered while Green Bay defenders were hanging all over him.

Makeshift line, makeshift performance. After letting Luck take a beating in the first half, the Colts shored up their protection (mostly) in the second half, giving Luck a clean pocket and clearing room for Donald Brown.

You knew it wouldn't be easy. Even after the Colts scored a late touchdown, all the Packers needed was a field goal to tie it. Armed with a couple timeouts and a kicker with good range, Aaron Rodgers got the team in position. Mason Crosby's kick was Vanderjagtian.

Uncharacteristic mistakes. Let's make this clear: the Colts beat the Packers. The Packers didn't give the game away. However, Green Bay made tons of mistakes including stupid penalties and dropped passes. Even on the final drive, they had to use a timeout to avoid a delay of game penalty instead of running a play that may have resulted in an easier field goal.

Vinatieri swings and misses. For the third game this season, Adam Vinatieri missed a field goal. At least the miss was from 53 yards instead of 36 or 37. Still, I'm getting to the point where I'm holding my breath each time he comes out to kick.

Not just a passer. Andrew Luck can move. He's got good speed for his size, and he uses this to good effect to scramble. During that last drive, he had two big runs that resulted in first downs. The kid has a good sense of how the game flows and knows when to bail. The quarterback draw was a thing of beauty.

Chuckstrong. The team clearly loves its coach...and it showed. From Luck pounding on the "Chuckstrong" banner in the end zone to the emotional tenor of the team before and after the game, there is no doubt the players won this one for their coach.

Getting the tight ends involved. The numbers don't pop off the stat sheet, but Dwayne Allen and Coby Fleener caught nine passes for 79 yards. It seemed to me that Luck looked to his tight ends more this week than in previous games.

Sacks machine. The Colts harassed Aaron Rodgers in the second half, sacking him five times. Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis each had one, Cory Redding added two, and Moise Fokou came away with one. The Colts made life miserable for Rodgers in the second half after being unable to touch him in the first one.

Reggie Wayne is the 58 percent. That's the percentage of passing yards that went to Reggie Wayne. Again, #87 was absolutely phenomenal. There was no bigger move for the Colts than bringing Wayne back with a new contract.

He's tough, man. The Packers battered Luck early and often in this game. He even took a huge hit that certainly rattled him a bit (although you'd never know it). He bounced back from mistakes and hits to lead the Colts to a comeback victory. We saw this even in the preseason, where the Steelers hit Luck and forced him to make bad plays. He picked himself right back up.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Five Things to Expect from Crimsonstreak 2

Beloved characters will return, but you'll be especially happy to see one of them. All the usual suspects are back, including our titular hero, Jaci Graves, the Crusading Comet (both of them), Colonel Chaos, and Miss Lightspeed. Things may get a little Masterpiece Theatre at times, if you catch my meaning.

You will believe a man-bird can fly. Get ready to fall in love with Falcon Gray, a noble, kind, and somewhat obtuse hero who may or may not be completely crazy.

The multiverse gets...complicated. Not only is the world at risk this time...all the worlds are at risk. Prepare yourself for a brain-bending game of multiversal Boggle.

Someone will outrun Crimsonstreak. Christopher Gregory Fairborne is the Fastest Man on Earth; he may even be the fastest man ever to exist. least he used to be. He doesn't take this particularly well.

Not a happy ending. At the end of I, Crimsonstreak, everything seemed to work out for our hero. His father wasn't evil after all, his mom came back, and he reunited with an old flame. In II Crimsonstreak, we learn the fallout. Colonel Chaos is on trial, Miss Lightspeed isn't exactly herself, and our heroes have a lot to do before the Kiltechs come back for revenge.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

On Appendices

I have always liked books that give you something extra. Sometimes I really get into little facts and minutiae that have little bearing on a story.

That's why I wrote so many pages worth of extra content from I, Crimsonstreak. To be honest, I probably went a little overboard on the appendices. I didn't want to get involved in info dumping or spend too much time talking about the histories of individual characters.

The appendices were my way of solving that problem. I tried to give the information that people needed in the main story without getting bogged down in the details. If you wanted to, you could read the extra content and get a better sense of the Crimsonstreak universe.

I like it; I think it was successful. I've heard that perhaps it was too much. People finished the book and had a good chunk left to read. This left them confused; they thought the book was over.

I, Crimsonstreak 2: II Crimsonstreak: Chapter IV: Episode XII: Revenge of the Kiltechs and the Wrath of Morty will indeed feature appendices. I'll have newspaper articles and bios on some of the characters; I may even have a magazine feature or two up my sleeve.

This time, though, I'll take it easy. The sequel is about 10,000 words longer than the original novel, so I'm going to halve the amount of extra content. I'm looking in the ballpark of 7,000 to 9,000 words.

Lean and fast, baby.

Just like my Crimsonstreaking hero.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

New Crimsonstreak review

Ashley over at Game Vortex took the time to review I, Crimsonstreak over at the site.

What does she think?
"It’s got a good bit of humor interwoven with the action and some fun back-and-forth dialogue..."
You can check out the whole review over at Game Vortex.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Transformers: The Movie

I caught my buddy David Plough from The Bastard Gentlemen talking on Twitter about Transformers: The Movie.

I couldn't help but weigh in on a movie that's so eighties that you feel more radical just by watching 30 seconds of it.

We had a little back and forth about the "film" through a few tweets. Check out our thoughts--including why I think Ultra Magnus has a slight problem with ED--right here.