Dec 31, 2015

The best Movies and Video Games of 2015 ... aka the time waster year in review

All work and no play make Rick not only a dull boy, but a highly irritable one as well. As much as I'd love to claim that I lock myself in my cave 24 hours a day so as to crank out words, the reality is I need my downtime just like everyone else, lest I burn out and have a psychotic episode.

No, that wouldn't be pretty.

So that said, I thought I'd give some highlights as to the ways I wasted my time in 2015.

Note: just to be on the safe side Here Be Possible Spoilers...


Avengers Age of Ultron
Pros: It's awesome to see some of my favorite comic book heroes brought to life and the original Avengers kicked so much ass that I'm still trying to wash its boot prints out of my jeans. Lots of cool comic cameos hinting at future movies, and some fun new faces to the franchise. Also, tons of bad guys getting blown to pieces. And let's not forget that awesome three way make-out session with Black Widow, Scarlet Witch, and Agent Hill.  Oh wait, maybe that last one was just a dream.

Cons: Definitely not as good as the original. The Hulk / Black Widow romance is out of the blue and feels tacked on. There's a lot that happens for the sake of it happening.  Scarlet Witch's power on paper is apparently "can do anything the plot requires." Ultron, while having moments, is mostly another wasted Marvel villain.

Jurassic World
Pros: If you don't love seeing dinosaurs on the big screen then you're dead to me.  An overall fun movie to watch.  Chris Pratt is so likeable that he could have spent the last half of the movie disemboweling kittens and I would have still cheered for him. Also breathed some needed new life into the franchise meaning we get to see more dinosaurs on the big screen in the future. I is happy.

Cons: This is a movie that one shouldn't think in ever.  Once you do, you realize that everything that happens here can only happen if the majority of the characters in the movie are cataclysmically stupid.  Also, what's up with those brothers: the younger one feels like they plucked him from 1980 and the older one is on the fast track to get onto the sexual predator watch list. They should have saved the assistant and fed both of them to the mosasaurus.

I is Doom...Derp!
Terminator Genisys and Fantastic Four
Didn't see them. They were on my list, but bad reviews turned both into "Meh, I think I'll save my hard-earned sheckels.  From the sound of things Terminator was okay at best, confusing at worst. As for Fantastic Four...*sigh* will we never get a good Doctor Doom on the big screen?  Fox, do yourselves (and us fans) a favor and sell the franchise back to Marvel!

Oh and put some fucking pants on the Thing.

Ant Man
Pros: Paul Rudd and Michael Pena own this movie.  It's like everyone here was aware that Ant Man is kind of a joke among heroes and they ran with it anyway.  End result is a thoroughly enjoyable movie from end to end.  Also, much like Captain America Civil War, spawned some awesome memes. Heh, he kicked Falcon's ass too.

Cons: Another forgettable bad guy.  His madness is explained, but he still comes across as little more than evil for the sake of evil.

Star Wars The Force Awakens
Pros: Felt like a Star Wars movie.  Lots of action and a good story set in a universe we all desperately want to be awesome again...and now is!  Rey kicks ass!  Was also cool seeing many of the classic characters again even if a few of them were little more than cameos.

Cons: Kylo Ren is kind of weak sauce as a bad guy.  The entire movie seems to revolve around coincidence.  Oh, I'm sorry, I mean "The Force".  Sorry, some of it still feels like lazy writing to me.  Han Solo felt like a doddering old man rather than the experienced rogue he should have been. Mark Hamill got paid a lot of money to turn around and look pensive.  Where can I sign up for that gig?

2015 Winner: Ant Man
Sorry, Star Wars fans, but as awesome as it was, I enjoyed Ant Man ever so slightly more.  Yeah, I'm just as surprised as you are.

Video Games

Alien Isolation
Pros: A non-sucking Aliens game.  Brings back the paranoia and fear of the original movie quite effectively.

Cons: Have I mentioned how much I suck at sneaking games?  Yeah, well the second the Alien made its appearance, my death rate shot up to the point where after a while I just walked up to the stupid thing and let it gut me.  You're given way too many weapons for the bad guy to be this unkillable.  Seriously, why does the shotgun do jack-shit against the Alien when it's already been established in Aliens that you can blow one's head off with it???  Never finished it, probably never will.

This rabbit is making better game choices than me
Shadow Warrior
Pros: I picked this up off the Playstation Network after getting sick of being continually disemboweled in Alien Isolation, Was the perfect counter to it.  An old school shooter that revels in blowing the shit out of bad guys and then spouting one-liners.  This game shouldn't have been this much fun in 2015.

Cons: Dated game play. Not a con as long as you accept its retro nature, but could be a turnoff for some.  I consider this a pro, but for others the non-politically correct nature could be a turnoff. Now, who wants some Wang?

Witcher 3
Pros: An absolutely stunning game in terms of depth, story telling, characters, and action.  A game you can easily get lost in for weeks. Hell, this is one of those games that can make people think you up and died because you'll be playing it so much.

Cons: I seem to have a singular talent for picking exactly the wrong combinations for Geralt when it comes to his would-be sexual conquests. If I were the Witcher in real life, I would end up - well, probably playing a video game about one...alone.  The fighting controls could be a bit wonky at times. I reached level 30 and town guards were still able to kick my ass.  Why the hell weren't they out there saving the world???

Okay, time to load that save and try again.
Come on, Triss, give me another chance. I swear I'll pick the right button combo this time.

Batman Arkham Knight
Pros: Improves upon an already tried and true Batman video game formula.  The Batman / Joker interactions are perhaps the best that there's been in this series. The different Batman costumes are lots of fun. Sorry to say, but I had way too much fun kicking everyone's ass as the Adam West Batman, Holy Commissioner Gordon is an incompetent douche, Batman!

Cons: The driving sequences could be frustrating.  I don't play many driving games and had to have my kids help me with those parts. Talk about embarrassing.   So far the DLC has kinda sucked.  Oh, and that ending.  Seriously, could they have given a more frustrating ending to the franchise?  BTW, how much fucking money does the Scarecrow, Two Face, Penguin etc have?  I mean, there's an entire city full of their minions. With that much cash at their disposal, you'd think they'd just buy out Google and call it a day.

Transformers Devastation
Pros: An awesome filler game for those times when you have only a half an hour to kill.  There are few things as satisfying as playing as Grimlock and smacking the shit out of Decepticons with a big-ass hammer. Oh, did I mention you can play as Grimlock?  Yeah, well you can, and that pretty much sums up my goals in life. 

Cons: A pretty useless item-customization system. As fun as the game is in small doses, it's ultimately about as shallow as an empty kiddie pool.  Button mashing fun, but not much more.

Fallout 4
Pros: It's Fallout, there's a lot to do, a lot to see, and a lot of heads to smash. The open world is huge and it's fun to wander the ruins of Boston going, "Hey, I know that place. Everyone who worked there was an assshole. I'm glad they got blown up in a nuclear apocalyse."

Cons: Missions can be repetitive.  Some odd bugs. Companions are cool, but once you reach a certain point they cease being "people" and become your mindless minions.  Seriously, Piper, I just banged that singer, traveled with Cait until she fell in love with me, and butchered my son in front of you with a chainsaw. Yet you're still all like, "There's nobody I'd rather be with." Damn, that's some commitment, woman.

2015 Winner:  Witcher 3 
Although Fallout comes close (especially since I can make some headway with the honeys in the wasteland).

I will just add, though, my kingdom for an open world game that combines Fallout and the Transformers. I'd sacrifice everyone I know to the dark gods for that...err...except maybe you people reading this post that is.  :)

I, for one, can't wait to see how I waste my time in 2016!

Dec 17, 2015

Only a moron would do otherwise...

As some of you may know, I have a series of YouTube videos aimed at helping my fellow authors - primarily focused on those just starting out in this business.

As such, I get the occasional questions about it - clarifications, things I may or may not have explained to their fullest etc.  One such recent question stood out, though.

"Hey Rick,

I'm enjoying your videos, but wanted to know what your thoughts were on mixing and matching some of your strategies. I've been reading different books on publishing and am trying to come up with my own mix of ideas to try.  For example, in video (redacted), you advise a person to (redacted) and (redacted).  So what if I only did the first, but not the second?  Would it still work?

- Newb Writer"

Thanks for reaching out, Newb. Glad to hear you like my videos. However, that happiness is greatly overshadowed by the despair of learning that my wisdom has apparently fallen upon deaf ears. The advice I give is to be followed to the letter. To do otherwise is to court disaster. In such case, all I can do is wish you good luck in striving for the mediocrity you are sure to fall short of.

ps: It's Mr. Gualtieri if you don't mind.

Okay, so maybe that sounds just ever so slightly egomaniacally assholish  Not to mention just a wee bit arrogant, too, eh?

Well, the sad truth is it's not too far from some stuff I've been seeing out there lately. Maybe most aren't quite as obnoxiously direct about it, but I've been seeing an awful lot of advice posts lately, some from really big sellers, that essentially boil down to "Here's the way I do it, only an idiot would do otherwise."

We're talking topics such as whether or not to join Kindle Select / Kindle Unlimited, formatting, all the way down to whether or not you should *gasp* dare to write a prologue.

Forget my videos. If I have even one bit of advice to give it would be run, don't walk, whenever anyone veers onto any topic (outside of maybe professional editing, good blurbs, or covers) where they offer opinions such as "Anyone who takes this business seriously would never...", "No true professional would ever...", or just outright telling you you'll fail if you do otherwise.

There is no one true path to success in this industry. Heck, even repeating someone else's process to the letter doesn't offer any guarantees that you'll ever sell a single book. The reality is that perhaps the only universal factor that successful authors have in common are compelling stories that have found their audience. How they may have found that audience, however, differs as much as New Jersey weather from day to day.

That's not to say you shouldn't seek help. Far from it. I've found the Indie author community to be full of generous people willing to share their strategies and advice. And the truth is some of that advice can go a long way toward tipping the odds in your favor.  For example, Mark Dawson's, excellent videos on Facebook marketing have paid off for a lot of authors (myself included).

The thing is, in the above example, while he does caution against some strategies that haven't worked for him, he never insinuates that success is impossible if you go against the grain.

That's the stickler for me. Some find their path and then conclude that all other paths lead straight off cliffs into a lagoon full of crocodiles.  That is simply not the case.  We each have to find our own path to success in this industry. And often times that means following many different maps, lots of them leading to dead ends, until we hopefully blaze a trail to a better place.

Once there, though, we should have the hindsight to realize that others can't or won't follow in our exact footsteps - or that sometimes it doesn't even make sense for them to try. However, that doesn't mean they won't eventually find their own way.

Success is a dessert with many different recipes and all of them taste just as sweet.

Dec 11, 2015

Make Your Weekend a Wicked One!

I am pleased to announce that...

THE WICKED DEAD (The Tome of Bill 7) has been released in all of the major ebook markets.

Paperback and Audiobook versions will follow shortly.

There are reasons we fear the night. Now he must become one of them.

Bill Ryder has a powerful destiny. He just never expected it to involve an amnesiac bloodsucker, a bunch of D&D dorks, and a hormonal witch. It's time for the gamer, geek, and legendary vampire to embrace his fate. Ordered to storm the vampire stronghold in Boston, Bill must approach the doorstep of the invincible undead warlord he's destined to face. It's his only chance of stopping Armageddon.

As his enemies stand in his way and his allies falter, the vicious beast inside of him wants out. If he stands tall and faces his fate, the world might just have a chance of surviving. If he fails, an unquenchable evil will destroy everything Bill knows and loves.

Why can't the end of the world ever be easy?

The Wicked Dead is the seventh book in the Tome of Bill saga, a series of foul-mouthed horror comedies with a nasty overbite. If you like bloody fight scenes, geeky in-jokes, and breakneck-paced action, then you're gonna love the penultimate chapter in The Tome of Bill series.

Available Now For:
Amazon Kindle
Amazon UK
Apple iBooks
Google Play

Help spread the word and enter for a chance to win autographed paperbacks!

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The Wicked Dead - make sure your weekend is a wickedly good time!