Wednesday, January 9, 2013

The Next Big Thing? Me, apparently

The Next Big Thing has become an internet meme in writing circles. An author “tags” four or five others, who then answer ten questions about their current work in progress.

My friend and author R.J. Sullivan tagged me for The Next Big Thing a while back. He and I have become writing buddies over the last couple years. He writes dark fiction and paranormal, with his latest release being Haunting Obsession. He’s my “original” Next Big Thing tagger. A few days later, Michael R. Underwood also tagged me. He’s the author of Geekomancy, a pop culture-obsessed book that my main character Crimsonstreak would absolutely cherish. The sequel, Celebromancy, is due out this year.

Since I've been tagged, it's up to me to answer a few questions about my current work in progress.

1) What is the title of your next book/work? I, Crimsonstreak 2…or as I like to call it, II Crimsonstreak: Subtitle Undetermined (but probably involves running or a bad speed pun)

2) Where did the idea come from for the book/work? Um…the first book, I, Crimsonstreak. So to answer this question I have to go back to the first Crimsonstreak book, which was my attempt to play around in the superhero genre. I wanted to write a book about a superhero whose sole superpower was speed while his mother and father both had multiple abilities (flight, super-strength, etc.), which makes the protagonist feel like he has a lot to live up to. At the same time, as a big fan of pop culture, I wanted to include several references to movies, books, and comics.

3) What genre does your book/work fall under? Blast it! I just answered this. [Drew Rosenhaus voice] Next question!

4) What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition? For some reason, I keep coming back to Chris Pine for the role of Crimsonstreak, a fast-talking, kind of cocky pop culture junkie. The guy from Arrow could also work since he’s basically a clone of Chris Pine except sociopathic and with stubble.

I would also accept Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Because he's JGL and he's rumored to be in everything.

My favorite character in the book, a sarcastic butler named Mortimer P. Willoughby, would be a pivotal role. I need someone with great comedic chops, the aura of a disciplinarian, and a British accent. Sort of an evil Michael Caine. However, since he’s already played a superhero’s butler, I couldn’t use him. Perhaps someone like Ian Holm or Jim Broadbent would work.

5) What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book? Super-speedster Crimsonstreak finds himself the key pawn in a war between a group of malevolent aliens and mysterious intergalactic space cops, with the fate of not just one Earth…but all of them…on the line.

6) Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency? No. I’m a small press author…so II Crimsonstreak will come out from Vermont-based Candlemark & Gleam, purveyors of fine fantastika.

7) How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript? The first draft of this one took about three months. It was not very good.

8) What other books would you compare this story to within your genre? I always come back to Soon I Will Be Invincible because it’s a first-person superhero novel that deconstructs comic book tropes.

9) Who or what inspired you to write this book? I hadn’t really considered writing a sequel to I, Crimsonstreak, but after I dug into revisions on the first book and got to know my characters all over again, I decided I liked these people. I had an idea that would raise the stakes from the first book and spill over into a third book.

10) What else about the book might pique the reader¹s interest? The book will have a series of appendices, like the first book. I, Crimsonstreak contains five separate appendices that provide background on the characters through newspaper articles, magazine features, bios, and journal entries. You don’t have to read any of it to understand the main narrative, but I tried to give all my characters a rich sense of history despite the general lunacy and comedic touches found elsewhere. The sequel will also have appendices, though I did reduce the amount of extra material.

And…you’re it!

As the guidelines for The Next Big Thing dictate, I’ve tagged four other writers.

Witness the awesomeness of:

Justin Robinson - Much like film noir, Justin Robinson was born and raised in Los Angeles. He splits his time between editing comic books, writing prose and wondering what that disgusting smell is. Degrees in Anthropology and History prepared him for unemployment, but an obsession with horror fiction and a laundry list of phobias provided a more attractive option. His most recent release, Mr Blank, is out from Candlemark & Gleam.

You can find out more about him at his website.

Follow him on Twitter: @JustinSRobinson

He blogs every Friday at the Satellite Show.

Jay Faulkner - Jay Faulkner resides in Northern Ireland with his wife, Carole, and their two boys, Mackenzie and Nathaniel. He says that while he is a writer, martial artist, sketcher, and dreamer he's mostly just a husband and father. His work has been published widely, both online and in print anthologies, and was short-listed in the 2010 Penguin Ireland Short Story Competition. He is currently working on his first novel.

Jay founded, and edits, With Painted Words – a creative writing site with inspiration from monthly image prompts, and The WiFiles - an online speculative fiction magazine, published weekly.

He can also be found as a regular co-host on the Following The Nerd radio show. Check out his website for more information.

Find him on Twitter: @thejayfaulkner

Dwain Smith - Dwain Smith is the writer of several autobiographical novels detailing his experiences as a detective that can communicate with inanimate objects, a middle-aged supervillain, and a modern day mythological hero. He lives in the Washington, DC area.

For more information about Dwain and his books, visit his website.

Follow him on Twitter (he’s the one in the banana suit): @dwainsmith

Ben Langdon - Ben is an author of neo-pulp/superhero fiction, including the Small Gods series, which follows the lives of former teenage supervillains. He hails from Portland, Victoria, Australia, and teaches high school English and literature. His favorite heroes-in-training are his three children. Ben has written for The Age newspaper served as editor and publisher for This Mutant Life, a ‘zine for superhero fiction.

Find out more about Ben at his website.

Follow him on Twitter: @LangdonBen

Tony Bird: Tony is an estranged husband, father of four, blogger, ukulele enthusiast and staff sergeant in the United States Air Force. Originally from Indiana, he now lives in Okinawa, Japan with his wife, kids, and a big white cat. In his rare spare moment, he likes to study foreign languages and write fiction.

For more about Tony, check out his website.

You can also follow him on Twitter: @TheRealTonyBird

Monday, January 7, 2013

Colts Observations: Wild Card

The ride ends. I expected the Colts to win three games this year, maybe a maximum of six if things went really well. Instead, they won 11 games and a young team has a playoff appearance under its belt.

It's a down payment. The Colts had a puncher's chance against the Ravens. As good as the team has been this year, they weren't favored to win. Perhaps I became complacent in thinking that they would pull it off. The truth is that this season--which on the surface looked like a rebuilding effort--is really a down payment on the team's future.

Can we get a touchdown? The Colts had a decent game in terms of moving the ball against a very good but not great Ravens defense. The Colts failed to get into the end zone--and paid the price for it.

Costly mistakes. A missed field goal from a turnover, a fumble as the team drew within scoring range--these are the kinds of mistakes that lose ballgames, especially in the playoffs.

Coach down. Offensive coordinator Bruce Arians couldn't make it to the game after going to the hospital for dizziness. I don't think this was a huge blow from a tactical standpoint, but it certainly would've been nice to have Arians on the sidelines as he's been all season.

The Mayor delivers, again. At first, the numbers weren't great, but at the end of the game, Vick Ballard had 91 yards on 22 carries and punished the Ravens defense. Seriously, the guy lowered the boom on several defenders.

And then the Mayor forgot how to use his hands. If there's one issue with Ballard, it's inconsistency in the passing game. Look, converting on fourth down wouldn't have won the game, but it could have made things interesting. I mention this because it's not the first time we've seem him drop a fairly catchable ball.

While I'm on the subject of drops... The Colts had too many. Coby Fleener, Donnie Avery (what seemed like a billion times), Ballard. The Colts needed to play nearly flawlessly to go deep into the postseason. They did not.

Em-Boldin-ed. Remember when Anquan Boldin was the great fantasy football receiver? It's been a while. Someone should've told him he's not a big-time receiver these days. Boldin absolutely killed the Colts and abused Cassius Vaughn on some key plays.

Ray-Ray plays big. Ray Lewis played his last home game for the Ravens, finishing with 13 tackles and treating all of us to his seizure dance at the end of the game. I've made fun of Ray Lewis pretty much forever, but it'll be strange to watch a Ravens defense without him. Well, unless you watched most of Baltimore's games this season.

From the Nate Nocton files. My friend Nate usually sends me a Facebook message each game with an observation of his own. This week's comment: "Why is Davis not covering Boldin?" A fair question indeed.

Not able to convert. The Colts forced two Ravens turnovers, both from the usually sure-handed Ray Rice. They didn't convert either into points. I thought Indy needed a fortuitous bounce here or there to win. They got a couple...and still couldn't pull it off.

Not so special. This was one of the worst performances from the punt/kick coverage units in a long, long time. Again, the Colts couldn't afford to give Baltimore anything. Old Houston Texans nemesis Jacoby Jones had himself quite a day.

Big plays. Big plays. Big plays. The Ravens feasted on the big play, including a game-changing 47-yard screen pass to Ray Rice and a 50-yard pass to Anquan Boldin. On a third and 18 deep in Ravens territory, Joe Flacco hit Boldin for another huge completion.

It's a weird game. The Colts controlled the clock, rushed for 152 yards, and ran 31 more plays than the Ravens yet lost the game. How does that happen? See previous entry. The Ravens averaged 11+ yards per pass, too.

Keeping it close. After the Ravens went up 10-3 just before the half, the Colts mustered a field goal with less than a minute left. They overcame an intentional grounding call with a big-time throw and catch involving Andrew Luck and T.Y. Hilton. After Ray Rice's second fumble, the Colts had a pulse. They didn't roll over.

Reggie Wayne. Reggie Wayne capped off a fantastic season with nine catches for 114 yards. Every time the team needed him, he stepped up.

That's it for the season. As the Colts bow out of the playoffs, Colts Observations also come to an end. What an amazing season!

Friday, January 4, 2013

Post-game of the Future

Note: The following is an attempt to predict the reaction following the Colts-Ravens game that operates under the assumption that the Ravens win. It is a purely fictitious representation of what will really happen in the game. Unless this is 100% accurate, in which case that's totally what I meant.

Ray-Ray’s retirement. The Baltimore Ravens play inspired football after Ray Lewis announces plans to retire after this season. His decision sends a stabbing pain through the entire team, which hopes to make a Super Bowl run because anything else would be a double stabbing pain.

Rice, Rice, baby. The Ravens give the Colts a big dose of Ray Rice, one of the most dynamic running backs in the game. After the Colts are unable to contain him, the Ravens commission Vanilla Ice to redub his signature tune with lyrics changed to reflect general Raven-tasticness. Another possibility: Ice targets a lesser-known song, changing the title to “Havin' a Ray-ni.”

It’s Flacco, not Falco. Finally, the best QB no one cares about does something in a big game. Joe Flacco tells reporters he feels unshackled by the dynamic play-calling and outgoing personality of (former Colts coach and current offensive coordinator) Jim Caldwell. “Everything that man does is entertaining and innovative,” Flacco says after the win.

Ed Reed grows wings. “They’ve always called me a ball hawk,” Reed says, flapping away after a three-interception game.

Revenge game. “This is for what they did to us, for what they did to the people of Baltimore,” cornerback Jimmy Smith says after the game, failing to note that he’s from California and that the Colts have been in Indianapolis for his entire life.

It rhymes with cook. “For the love of Pete, it rhymes with ‘cook,’” insists punter Sam Koch. “This is the last time I’m saying it.”

Different guy. “Look, I’m a defensive back. I don’t run the football and I don’t have 4.2 speed,” says defensive back Chris Johnson, reminding reporters that he’s not that Chris Johnson.

Not a Bing Crosby song. “Ma’ake Kemoeatu is not ‘Hawaii’s way of saying Merry Christmas to you,’" says Ma’ake Kemoeatu. “Do you understand how offensive that is?”

The Chuck stops here. “It’s been a great story and Chuck Pagano was a valuable member of our staff before he joined the enemy. The magical unicorn of Chuckstrong died today. I know that sounds insensitive, but I’m a Harbaugh,” says head coach John Harbaugh.

Elaine Benes? Elaine Benes. “I’ve never really told this to nobody, but that ‘Seinfeld’ episode where Elaine dances is my primary inspiration,” says Ray Lewis of his famous pregame seizure dance.

Needed more rest. “I think the starters didn’t look fresh for the Colts,” says former Colts GM and future dictatorial headache for another NFL franchise Bill Polian. “With so many young players hitting that proverbial rookie wall, they would’ve been better served to take off week 17. It’s a method that’s proven to work except for that one time we lost the Super Bowl.”

Held something back. “They didn’t win because they held something back,” says analyst and Hall of Fame quarterback Dan Fouts.

They still let him talk? “And that’s why I think the Colts should’ve traded the first pick and drafted nine receivers, one for each round,” says Mitt Millen, somehow unaware that the NFL Draft involves only seven rounds.

Maybe a bit harsh? “The Ravens are a really likeable team,” says no one ever.