Welcome to my blog!

Welcome to my blog! This is my journey, my first steps into the world of fictional writing. This blog is an online journal of sorts, where I share the progress of my work as well as what I have learned along the way. I hope you enjoy your time with me and that my experience may be of some use to you.

Monday, November 28, 2016

By the Book - The Incredible Hulk: Abominations

Welcome back!


           This month's book review marks another first for me. In order to experience something different, I tried reading a story based on a popular comic book franchise, to see how well it would translate from one medium to the other. The book in question takes place in the Marvel Universe, and is The Incredible Hulk; Abominations by Jason Henderson.    


           I was lucky to get my hands back on this book! Originally it had come to me from a family member who gave it to me, knowing I was a fan of comic books. This was before I started reading again, so instead of reading it, I donated it to my campsites free library. It wasn't until two years later that I came across it again, so I decided to snatch it up and give it a read.


For those unfamiliar with the Hulk’s mythology, this story takes place during a period when Doctor Bruce Banner was permanently stuck in his monstrous form, but retained his human intelligence (roughly during the late nineties). So at no time during this story will you see the transformation between Banner and Hulk, nor will there be a mindless, rampaging Hulk. Which can be misleading to current generation fans.


The story provides some good mystery and intrigue, and covers a few thought-provoking themes. We see both the Hulk and the Abomination fighting against each other, while playing the puppet to government agencies (SAFE and URSA respectively). Along the way, we explore the inner workings of Bruce Banner, as we see him struggle with fate, relationships, his powers and being the misunderstood monster.


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Back of the Book
Dr. Robert Bruce Banner. Emil Blonsky. One a brilliant scientist, the other an agent of the KGB. Both men whose lives were irrevocably altered by gamma radiation -- transforming Banner into the incredible Hulk and Blonsky into the deadly Abomination. For years, the two super-strong creatures have clashed. Now they are brought together for their most deadly confrontation yet.
The Abomination has allied himself with URSA, an organization dedicated to restoring the Soviet Union -- but he is using URSA to further his own mad quest for vengeance on all who have wronged him--especially the Hulk!
The Hulk must turn to the American intelligence agency SAFE for assistance against his old foe. But since the head of SAFE is one of the Abomination’s targets, even that assistance may not be enough…


What I learned
  • Exploiting one’s weaknesses: A popular character in the Marvel Universe, the Hulk is known to be a powerhouse of monstrous proportions with a temper as explosive as an atom bomb. In this book, the version of the green giant being utilized is the ‘’smart Hulk’’ (Hulk's body with Bruce Banner’s mind) which was popular back in the nineties. The author did a good job of showing that, despite all his strength and intelligence, there is still some things that the Hulk struggles with, like swimming/floating, trying to do CPR on an accident victim or using tools for a delicate operation.
  • Exploring character: One of the themes of this book revolves around one's character. The main antagonist, Emil Blonsky (a.k.a. the Abomination), commits dastardly acts of terrorism, saying that he is merely acting the way God intended; as an abomination. Blonsky attempts to push Bruce to act out as the rampaging beast he believes the Hulk to be. This leads to Banner’s internal struggle between trying to act reasonably or lash out as the Hulk (classic struggle with inner demons).
  • Using many POV: To cover the many different themes in this book, the author jumps between several Point of View characters. This tactic is a sound one, as it helps gather information a single PoV character cannot acquire or translate to the reader. However, too many can be a bad thing as well, as it can start to distract from the story’s main focus, which in this case should have been the Hulk.
  • Using the mirror image: In order to underline the differences between the protagonist and the antagonist, the author cleverly created a few distinct similarities in order to get certain themes across. Both characters are super strong, green, irradiated monsters; both are in the service of a government agency (SAFE and URSA); both have love interests (Betty and Nadia). The similarities help highlight the differences between them, which is what the Abomination tries to show the Hulk throughout the story.


Jason Henderson is an American based author, currently residing in Colorado. He graduated from the Universities of Dallas (1993) and Columbus (1996),  earning degrees in both History and Law. He has written in many different fields, ranging from video games scripts for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, manga like the Tokyopop series Psy-comm, novels such as the Alex Van Helsing series, and several comic book series like Sword of Dracula from Image Comics.


For those interested in finding out more about the author, Jason Henderson, you can find out more at the following pages:


           Each chapter of the novel opens with an illustration from comic book artist, James W. Fry. If you are interested in seeing more of his work, simply follow these links:


In closing, I would like to thank my extended family for giving me this book, and to thank all of my readers for the tremendous amount of encouragement you have  shown me since I started my journey.


Until next time!


Cheers,

            Patrick Osborne

Friday, November 18, 2016

Interview - G.J. Weigand and D.N. Palting


Welcome back!


           Words cannot express how excited I am about November’s author interview! I am very happy to invite two friends of mine to this month's article;  Greg Weigand and Denielle Palting.


           Unlike any of the previous interviewed authors, I have known Greg and Denielle for several years. Our paths crossed in the streets of Paragon City, the setting of the now defunct Massively Multiplayer Online game known as City of Heroes. We played together for several years, until we drifted apart due to the games untimely closure and real life responsibilities.


           While looking for new additions for my reading list, I came across Magi Emerging and The Overlord. I immediately recognized the author names, and left a message on their Amazon page. Greg’s wife, Victoria, contacted me soon after and put me in touch with Denielle. I was ecstatic to hear from them again, and we have been in contact ever since.


           So on to the interview!


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Name: G.J. Weigand and D.N. Palting


Short Bio: Greg and Denielle currently reside in the desert of Arizona, where they enjoy spending their winters in the outdoors, while hibernating in the heat of the summer.  Greg and his wife, Victoria, love to spend time with their children, grandchildren, and two pampered papillons that don't seem to be able to emerge from their terrible two's.  Denielle and her husband, Chris, spend their evenings riding trails on their mountain bikes, their dog in tow, and then curling up with a good book or perusing the interwebs.


Published Works: Magi Emerging, The Overlord


Current Projects: Dragon Queen


Links:


When did you begin writing?  


Greg began writing over 20 years ago as a hobby, when Denielle was still just a kid.  It wasn't until we started talking about our favorite authors and books that we realized we both had ideas that could jive well together in a contemporary fantasy series.  So we started writing and got our first book self-published about a year ago.


Did you receive any special training or attend a school?  


Greg took writing classes in college and Denielle has a Bachelor's degree in biology and a Master's degree in linguistics, but other than that we got our training through experience.  We both love to read!


Where do you get your inspiration from?  


JRR Tolkien.  Love him.  But really, Greg used to come up with the coolest mythology and fantasy stories when we would go camping as a family.  Some of those stories evolved into parts of our books now.  Big inspiration is from the authors we read: David Eddings, Raymond Feist, Isaac Asimov, Frank Herbert, just to name a few.


Do you use any special resources when writing? (other books, computer programs, etc)  


We're both into astrophysics, and Denielle has a strong background from university in genetics, so we definitely like to research and incorporate those ideas into our books.  It's important to us to make our fantasy novels mirror reality as we know it in the 21st century, which is fun and challenging!


What is (in your opinion) the most important thing to remember when writing, and why is it so important?


It's important to always remember the central idea and the core progression of your story.  Otherwise, you'll wander too much and start losing your readers.


What is (in your opinion) the most challenging part of writing, and how do you overcome it?


lol... see above!  But also, when you fall in love with an idea and write yourself into a dead-end or a trap, so then you have to cut it out even though you love it.  That's rough.  It's easier to overcome those obstacles with two authors though because inevitably one of us (usually Denielle) will highlight and delete in one fell swoop.  It's brutal, but efficient.


Did you use an agent? (why or why not?)  


Nope, nowadays you can pretty much do everything yourself with the internet.  Plus, we both have day jobs, so this is more of a hobby than a full-time job at this point.


Did you use an Editor? If not, what process did you use to edit your work?  


We didn't use an editor because of Denielle's background with linguistics.  We have a pretty solid process of rough draft, edit, edit more, copy edit, line-by-line edit, and then final read.  It's tedious, but it's always been worth it.


How did you get your book published? (self-published, Vanity publishing, Mainstream publisher).  


Self-publishing through Amazon.


Do you handle your own marketing?  


Yes, but that's probably our least favorite part.  If we ever decide to get serious about writing as a full-time occupation, we'll get a marketing team, for sure.


What is your best marketing tip?  


If you're on Amazon, use their marketing.  It's very cost-effective and gets you great initial exposure as a new author.


Do you have any advice for other writers?  


Find a partner.  Bounce your ideas off each other and get organized.  It's tempting to "just write", but you'll get lost in your ideas that way.  Have a clear vision, some definitive plot points you know you need as goals along the way, and then start to it.  And most importantly, have fun!


In closing, I would like to thank both Greg and Denielle for doing this interview, their participation is truly appreciated. As someone who is still in the process of finding himself as a writer, I found their insight to be quite motivating. I look forward to sharing more about them in the future.


Until Next time,


Cheers,


Patrick Osborne

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Inspiration Part 16 - Tanks


Welcome back,

           In honor of Remembrance Day, I decided to try and have this inspiration post military themed. For those reading this who are not part of the Commonwealth, Remembrance Day is a memorial holiday celebrating the end of the First World War and commemorating the members of the armed forces who have died in the line of duty. It is observed on 11 November in most countries to recall the end of hostilities of World War I on that date in 1918.

           Now, I did not have much in terms of military photographic content, but I did come across some that could serve today’s purpose. The pictures below were taken back in 2015, while doing some exploring in the town of Kemptville, Ontario. I was there for a vendor event, and decided to walk around the area to see if there was anything interesting to photograph. Not far from my location was a forest center, where a tank was parked in front as a monument.

After some research, I discovered more background information about this tank. It’s an American-made M109A4+ 155-mm Self-Propelled Howitzer, use by the Canadian Forces from 1967 until they were phased out in 2005. It carried a crew of six, composed of the section chief, the driver, the gunner, the assistant gunner and two ammunition handlers.  The gunner aims the cannon left or right (deflection) and the assistant gunner aims the cannon up and down (quadrant).  It’s cannon is an M185 155-mm Howitzer, and carries secondary armaments such as various models of machine guns and an automatic grenade launcher.


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Having the opportunity to get an up-close look at military vehicles such as tanks can contribute to invaluable research. Seeing small details like it’s parts, shapes and texture is good information that can be used in a story. Obviously, this kind of information is important when writing a story filled with military inspired elements. Here are some examples:

  • In tales that takes place during one of the World Wars, either fictional or historically accurate. One example I can think of in this case is the movie Fury, a story which follows the crew of a Sherman tank while on a mission in Europe in 1945.
  • In Horror stories, tanks could be used to fight against monstrous creatures, or as back drops for the setting. Any fans of the The Walking Dead series will remember the famous scene in the first season, where the main protagonist, Rick, gets trapped in a tank while trying to escape a zombie horde.
  • Tanks and other military vehicles have appeared in Science-Fiction for many of the same reasons as horror; as weapons or setting pieces. We have seen this approached used in many alien invasion stories, such as the movie adaptation of the classic novel War of the Worlds by author H. G. Wells.

I hope you enjoyed this month's inspiration post. I encourage you to go out there and learn more about the military; visit a war museum, check out some documentaries or better yet, talk to a vet.

Before closing, I would like to thank all those who have served for their incredible dedication, and for their sacrifice.

Until next time.

Cheers,

            Patrick Osborne

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Current Projects part 22

Welcome back,

After going through a life altering event recently, I found myself feeling lost, insecure, sad and a little afraid. A considerable amount of time over the past few weeks was spent asking myself what do I do now, what do I really want and where do I go from here? I will spare you all the Kierkegaard inspired existential ranting and move on to this month's progress update.

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           My current situation has made gaining progress somewhat of a challenge. Even though I find myself with more free time, motivation and inspiration have been lacking. In an attempt to deal with all this change, I have tried to come up with a daily routine to keep me busy. Try as I may, my thoughts always deviate from my writing back to my problems.

So the only answer I have right now is to face these thoughts as they come. I must live through this experience and learn from it; both from a life lesson perspective, as well as potential writing material for later use. It may prove useful if I ever decide to describe heartache, sadness or depression.

           So in terms of my projects, the only real writing I have done lately is for the following month’s blog articles. Though ideas for content did not come easily, I managed to put a few things together. Despite not having an overall theme for the month, I hope you will all find November’s articles both useful and interesting.

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           My work for Missing Worlds Media has been getting some attention lately, as introductory news articles are being prepared regarding content I contributed to. MWM staff writers have been asking me to review documents they wrote that contain information on characters I created in order to check for accuracy. Seeing so much interest for my work gives me a much needed confidence boost. Though I am unsure of when these articles will be posted, you can be sure I will be sharing there here once I can.

For those interested in following Missing Worlds Media and the progress on our project, City of Titans, please visit our website at  http://cityoftitans.com/

           As for my story, it has pretty much grinded to a halt. Whatever motivation I could muster this month has been used to create these blog articles, so my book did not see much attention. The only progress made was on the current character sheet I am working on, Vivian Winters, and a few entries were made in my timeline spreadsheet.

That covers pretty much everything I have been up to this month. I wish I had more to report, or that the tone would be livelier. Hopefully things will settle down for me soon and I will be able to get back into the swing of things. Until then, I thank you all for your support and wish you all good luck in your endeavours.

Cheers,

Patrick Osborne