Edgar Rice Burroughs: A Personal Discovery


Edgar Rice BurroughsEdgar Rice Burroughs is a favorite author of mine, however my interest in him and his work is relatively new.  Burroughs captures some of my favorite genres easily and comfortably by exploring science fiction through character development and creating modern day fairy tales which represent philosophical movements.  His prose his clean and simple which really wasn’t a popular style till about a decade later after his first foray into publishing.  Both accounts amaze me, but alas I was and still am a neophyte.  I was clueless and ignorant (as I often am), until I watched Disney’s film adaptation of Burroughs second most popular series, “John Carter.”

Personally, I enjoyed the quality of the film, but what I got most out of the movie was the love and appreciation for an author that (at the time) I knew next to nothing about.  I dived headlong into his work.  I quickly read the first three John Carter novels in a collection that I purchased off of Amazon for a small, paltry sum.  They are truly magnificent.

If you ever get a chance, gobble ‘em up.  They are incredibly well-written, but the human quality and realism that Burroughs brings to his writing makes the otherworldly settings and characters background noise rather than the main spectacle.  From there I dived into Tarzan.  Contextually it seems oddly, but in actuality it is a fairly logical segue considering Burroughs’ work.  I’ve made limited headway on the series (partially because there are over 20 novels), because honestly I am not a big fan of the character.  Unfortunately, I am several generations removed from enjoying the meaning of the series.  The primitive movement was big after the second World War and it just has never connected with me as it did to so many upon their release.

At the Earth's CoreHowever, I did dive into Edgar Rice Burroughs’ “Pellucidar” series, which begins with the Vernian “At the Earth’s Core.”  “At the Earth’s Core” is a quick read (it only clocks in at roughly 150 pages), but it does create a great founding point for Burroughs to expand upon and unlike Jules Verne’s “Journey to the Center” Burroughs builds an entire franchise (and thus universe) upon the back of the ideas originally laid down by Verne a generation before.

I have yet to find a copy, but I have heard that there was a film adaptation of “At the Earth’s Core” in 1976.  I haven’t explicitly removed everything from my plate to seek it out, but I am positive that I will one day find a lazy afternoon in which I will be able to sit down, find, and watch “At the Earth’s Core.”

Tangentially, I first discovered “At the Earth’s Core” at a wonderful bookstore out in Coeur d’Alene, ID called, Browsers (not to be confused with Mario’s archenemy).  I ended up purchasing “At the Earth’s Core,” “The Land that Time Forgot,” and “Llana of Gathol.”  All of which were copies re-published throughout the 1970’s, which greatly pleased me because I am exceedingly tired of solely coming across movie and television book covers.  For whatever reason, they sour the experience for me.

Regardless of cover, I encourage all to read at least something of Edgar Rice Burroughs.  He is an amazingly talented author, and his breadth of work has spurred various schools of thought, inspired millions, and ultimately helped shape current pop culture even though he began writing over 100 years ago.

 

Reblog: “To Read or Not To Read…Reviews” by Jeremy Robinson


I am huge fan of the author Jeremy Robinson.  I try to follow his posts and updates through Goodreads, and for the most part I am successful.  This post particularly caught my eye, because the act of critiquing and being critiqued is a hard pill to swallow for anyone especially a writer.  I think that Jeremy Robinson sums it up best in his latest blog entry.

Check out his post, and visit the original at Goodreads.com and his website by clicking the aforementioned links.

To Read or Not To Read…Reviews by Jeremy Robinson

ben-661x1024I’ve seen a good number of blog posts recently from fellow authors focusing on the issue of reviews, which can be, and often are, posted by folks with rude dispositions, grudges, agendas, etc. For a new author, even an honest negative review can be soul crushing. To the experienced author, with thicker skin, negative reviews can be a distraction. So the advice being given is generally this: don’t read reviews for your books. Sounds good on the surface. By not exposing yourself to these negative opinions, you are protecting yourself from the pain delivered by Internet trolls with nothing better to do than harass an author. The troll might be angry after reading the first line of a book sample, or might disagree with the pricing, or might be annoyed that Harriet Klausner gave your book 4 stars, or any number of silly reasons for an anonymous rant. And YES, these people should be ignored. They’ve likely taken to the Internet for attention, because the people in their real lives have begun ignoring their sour mood.

BUT, by ignoring ALL reviews you are also missing out on some well thought-out critique. Many readers, including some die-hard fans who know your books better than you do, take time to offer honest opinions, often based on a lifetime of reading. To discount this suggests a few things that I don’t think are good for any writer, new or experienced:

1) That your writing is flawless, or at least so far advanced that Joe-reader can’t find a flaw.

2) That you can’t learn from your fans, or even from your detractors.

3) That readers are, in a way, the enemy, if they don’t like your book.

4) That you are detached from your fans.

Now, before anyone hates on me for implying authors who ignore reviews are fan-hating ego-maniacs, that’s not what I’m saying. The point is that they’re missing out. On connecting with readers. On improving as authors. On increasing sales (in the long run). As someone who has received his fair share of angry, spiteful and even hateful reviews, I understand the temptation to turn away from reading reviews entirely. A bad review, especially a scathing one that is…accurate…can ruin your day. But they can also make future days brighter, if you pay attention to what is being said.

I didn’t begin my creative career as a writer. I went to art school. And every day, we would draw or paint, carve or shape, pouring ourselves into the creation of an image in the same way that an author does a novel. And at the end of every day, we would line them all up and spend a half hour critiquing. And not always gently. And this is universal to art schools. There is something about visual arts culture that recognizes the best way to improve is through frequent honest critique and listening to that critique. This process became part of my creative experience and still is today. I love critique, because whenever someone takes the time to work out the flaws in my art, or writing (and there will always be flaws), I get better.

A few years ago, after the release of THRESHOLD and before I started writing SECONDWORLD, I went to my editor and said, I’ve done three hardcovers for you now. I want to take things to the next level. Tear me apart. Tell me what I can do better. And he did, but not before saying, with a trace of amazement, “You are the first author to ever ask me to do this,” which surprised me at the time, but I’ve since learned that authors really don’t enjoy being told what’s wrong with their writing, or stories, and maybe their blog posts on the subject. :)  But the result of this critique, and my applying it to SECONDWORLD, was that sales doubled, the book got a lot of press and my audience grew.

As a writer, I began as a self-publisher. Without any connections in the writing world, I had only two sources of honest critique: my wife and my readers. I released five novels on my own (what I now call the Origins Editions), and the improvement from book to book is pretty obvious. Without honest readers, I’d never have improved, and I’d never have signed a deal with Thomas Dunne Books and 47 North, or become a bestselling self-published author.

But why am I still reading reviews? I have an editor. Hell, I have FOUR editors. And an agent. And lots of author pals. Why still read the reviews?

Because I am not writing for my editors, or my agent, or my author pals. I am writing for YOU, the reader, and for ME. While I pick the content most of the time, I listen to my fans. I’ve written and am writing sequels, because of requests from fans. I’m currently writing I AM COWBOY because of how many people expressed their love of the Czech Cowboy from SECONDWORLD. And I’m still reading reviews because I want my future books to be better than they are now. And that’s only going to happen if 1) honest people speak their mind, and 2) I listen.

Last October, I released RAGNAROK, the fourth Jack Sigler book, co-authored with Kane Gilmour. Kane did an amazing job at matching my style, and we worked closely throughout the process, but I knew it would be different than the previous three. That it would feel different. That there would be flaws introduced simply because it was a collaboration and because I’m not perfect, and neither is Kane (and he would agree). So I was very pleased when a few reviewers spotted these flaws that I couldn’t see and pointed them out in reviews. And after reading them, I agreed with many of them and discussed them with Kane. We’re working hard to apply them to OMEGA, which will be an even better book than RAGNAROK, which I should point out was my first Amazon.com bestseller and has a 4.5 star rating after 110 reviews.

So, if you’re an author, buck the trend that says you don’t need to read reviews. Yes, ignore the nut-jobs. Skim the 5 stars if time is short. But pay attention to those 2 – 4 star reviews. Critiques shouldn’t be feared, ignored or undervalued. They’re good for you. Sure, there are tons of people reviewing books, and not all of them are right, but those nuggets of insight from dedicated fans and readers are invaluable. If you really believe that a reader can’t possibly improve a writer, you’re mistaken. My readers, who are awesome, dedicated, intelligent and invested, are the very BEST people to critique my books.

And if you are one of my readers, know that I am listening, that your opinion matters and that I am doing my best to make sure each and every book is better than the last.

– Jeremy Robinson

 

“(500) Days of Summer” Posters, Stills, & Quotes


During the composition of my “(500) Days of Summer” review I came a cross a mountain of alternative posters, movie stills, and inspirational quotes tied to the film.  There is an insane amount of material for this movie.  The fan have successfully ‘cultisized’ it, so I decided to do a supplementary post showcasing some of the cool promo pieces that the studio and the fans have come up with–check it out!

A KickStarter Campaign to Fund the Self-Publication of my Short Story Anthology, “Human.”


For the past two years, I have been writing and compiling an anthology of short stories, quotes, and nonfiction interludes in a collection named, “Human.”  At this juncture, I now have enough material to finish my anthology, but now I need backers.  I have decided to self-publish this go-around, because I wanted to get people involved–I want external support to make this a successful project, and with the popularity of KickStarter rising I decided that it would be a good idea to use it to finance the self-publication of “Human.”

I am trying to raise $3,800 to pay for the publishing, marketing, and editing services of Amazon’s CreateSpace, the rewards that the backers will receive, and the fees that KickStarter and AmazonPayments will deduct on a successful campaign.  I want this to be a success; a first of many.

Check out my KickStarter campaign page by clicking the KickStarter logo below and please donate what you can.  $8 will nab you an electronic copy of the anthology and $20 will get you a signed paper back with the rewards only climbing from there.  However, feel free to donate even just a dollar, or at the very least spread the word.  Share this post on your blog or your Facebook/Twitter account–I would greatly appreciate it!

Thank you for reading this post, and I hope you will give this project a chance.  I look forward to reading your name in the ‘Thank You’ section of the short story anthology, “Human.”

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“Dorian Waters”


I’ve been slowly working on a new short story titled “Dorian Waters,” which will be an Amazon exclusive upon release.  I wanted to take the charisma of 007, the cheesiness of a ’70s sci-fi flick, and the ridiculous strength of Stallone’s Rambo–with all that being said…let me introduce you to Dorian Waters:

Dorian Waters

Dorian rocketed towards the outer crust of the lush planet at speeds almost intolerable for his Tibranium launch suit.  At just the precise moment he jotted in his PI code and the blackened outer shell of suit unbuckled from his frame in a thousand fractured pieces, rocketed past him, and immediately burned up in the upper atmosphere.  Dorian repositioned himself as he fell into a sort of Swan dive and fell headlong into a thick layer clouds.  With a flick of his wrist he yanked the ripcord and his blue shoot billowed from his back pulling him upwards briefly before eventually allowing him to slowly descend into the dark green canopy below.

“Terra de Verde,” Dorian muttered in awe as he came into the canopy lining.

The landing was a bit rough, but with only a couple scratches from broken branches, and the consideration that little to no preparation time was had when he rashly jumped out of the low orbit Skirt Pod, it could have gone much, much worse.  He hung gently swinging, listening, and thinking about the sounds he was hearing before finally unsheathing his knife and cutting himself loose from the thick, brown branches that held him captive.

He awoke flat on his back, clutched for his knife which was missing.  He glanced upwards towards the canopy where he had fallen through several strata of branches–loll and behold he could see the glint of steel lodged into the bark in the distance.

Quickly thinking, he pawed for something close by, found a rock, and struck the cat-like creature as it leapt for his prone body.  The 180-lb creature growled in pain and fell to its side in a hiss of dust and a belabored roar.

“Kitty’s got claws,” Dorian mumbled to himself and then promptly passed out.

He awoke in awash of his own blood and rain.  Dorian sputtered water as he jolted awake in a nightmarish-like fashion.  He grimaced and propped up on his elbows.

“Fuck…it’s wet.”

Waters was ironically drenched and thoroughly pissed.

Joseph Nassise’s “By the Blood of the Heroes: The Great Undead War: Book I”


Joseph Nassise is written a slew of supernatural, dark fantasy thrillers that have all hit my Kindle at one time or another.  My mother turned me on to him several years back and I remember vividly reading the Templar Chronicles–which if you haven’t read them I would highly recommend picking up a copy.  It is a high-octane thriller that takes the supernatural genre and puts a great new lens on it.

When I started professionally writing I emailed several of my favorite artists and authors for advice, and Nassise was one of the few authors who emailed me back.  He was more than willing to chat with me about his work.  That alone kicked him up a notch in my book—punned intended.

Earlier this month I attended a virtual launch party for Joseph Nassise’s newest novel, “By the Blood of the Heroes: The Great Undead War: Book 1”  A company by the name of Shindig hosted the event, and basically it worked like a traditional launch party except from the comfort of your own home.  Mr. Nassise’s video feed was front and center, and he began by reading the first chapter-and-a-half of his novel, and then as people joined the event a smaller video would pop up onto the screen down below in the ‘audience’ section.  The whole event was placed over a snazzy a library background and run by a Shindig moderator who ‘pop’ in every once in a while to provide information and direction.

After Joseph Nassise finished his reading, he did a brief Q&A, and then ‘mingled’ with the crowd in private chat sessions.  Overall, I was quite impressed.  I can definitely picture Shindig’s virtual launch parties taking off.  It cuts down on the overhead costs of a traditional book tours and provides people who normally wouldn’t be able to go to a launch party a chance to attend one.

If you get a chance to pick up Nassise’s new novel, or any of his others, definitely snap it up.  “The Great Undead War” replaces the invention of Mustard Gas during WWI with the fictional Corpse Gas, and centers around a ‘what-if’ scenario involving zombies.  It has already released and is available on Amazon for a scant $10.00.  Check it out!

The Deepness in Jenga


Life is a jumble.  Sometimes everything stacks up nice and neat, but all it takes is one slight maneuver and the Jenga Tower just comes tumbling on down.  The part of the puzzle that is different for all of us is the quickness in which we build the tower, how high we build it, and how we rebuild it after it has collapsed.  I could probably expound on the aforementioned metaphor and say that each color represents a facet of our personality and that the flaws that cause the collapse of the tower are the ones that makes us stronger in the rebuilding of our beacon; however that level of detail is in a mindset and post of its own, so I’ll segue from ideological digression to something more grounded.

The last several weeks have been filled with craziness.  My girlfriend’s parents recently moved out of state leaving her feeling slightly uneasy.  All of her family now either resides in Idaho, or on the Westside of Washington State.  In their move, we helped whenever we had a chance to, and at the end of the day we ended up adopting one of their dogs to ease their move.  His name is Cody (aka Kodiak) and he is an incredibly well behaved and cute Chihuahua.  The sad part to the whole affair is that when he was a pup someone decided that negligence and abuse was the way to proceed, so unfortunately his back legs are horribly skewed because both of them were broken after being caught in a mesh kennel and then left to mend improperly.  The same individuals who left his legs shattered and misshapen, also felt it was necessary to solely feed him human food, which subsequently rotted out all of his front teeth leaving him with only his more sturdy back ones to do the munching.  When he pants he looks like a little old man, but even throughout all of the torment he is a well-adjusted, sweet, and handsome son-of-a-gun.  As I’m writing this, he is tightly wound into a little ball softly snoring away.  I’ve already become incredibly partial to him and hopefully with some diet and exercise his little chub will slowly dissipate and his legs can begin to heal.

Along with the adoption of the Chihuahua, I have been fervently writing as Celeste and I gear up for the Spokane Comic-Con.   I was fortunate enough to be able to cover the Vertigo relaunch and restructure last month, which led to quite a swell in viewership.  The Avengers vs. X-Men, which is the big Marvel summer event, just released last week and looks to be a promising 12-part arc that will pit the mightiest of the Marvel Universe in an epic slugfest.  And, at the moment, I am working on a review of Scott Snyder’s “Gates of Gotham” miniseries that premiered last year, before the DC’s new 52, as a kind of prologue to a series of articles that I will be composing about Snyder’s new Bat Family crossover story arc dubbed “The Court of Owls.”  Snyder is a superb writer and continues to push the boundaries of storytelling in both of his critically acclaimed Batman and Swamp Thing runs, so if you get a chance grab a Snyder graphic novel or comic—you won’t be disappointed.

As for the novel, “Jack and the Lilac Butcher,” I’ve kept up by fleshing out scenes here and there, and I am hopeful that the first act of the novel will be wrapped up in a couple of weeks.  It’s been a blast to write and it seems as if inspiration abounds, but I suppose once you are in love with something, whether it be a person, an idea, or a character, it is difficult not to be inspired.  In all likelihood I will post several chapters of the novel back-to-back here on WordPress, at the Writer’s Café, and at Wattpad.  I have been meaning to become more involved in Wattpad.  It seems like a great community of writers and readers that definitely deserves more of my time.

Just the other evening I finally wrapped up Clive Cussler’s “The Race” after slowly slogging through its whimsical pages.  My haste was deeply lessened with work and various sidetracks, but I was eventually able to finish the novel.  I greatly enjoyed it.  It was a fantastic period piece set in the early part of the twentieth century, specifically focusing on the early days of aviation, and the fictional Van Dorn Detective Agency’s various Pinkerton-like exploits.  I have now moved on to finally finishing King’s “Wizard in the Glass,” so that I can dive into his newest Dark Tower novel, “The Wind in the Keyhole,” which releases later this month.  Even though I have not finished the Dark Tower saga I am greatly intrigued by the fact that King has returned to his masterpiece after all this time with a fill-in novel.  Hopefully, this will give me the necessary push to finish the series that I have so longed to read, but never ‘found’ the time to enjoy.  With a stack of books at my bedside I have found that Goodreads has been an excellent site to virtually house all of my reads and want-to-reads, while simultaneously engaging in literary discussions.  If anyone is interested, or already as an account, send me a follow and I’ll make sure to follow back.  I always love to see what others are reading.  There is always a hidden gem in someone’s library.

Well, I am off to dive into the endless sea of pop culture that I ‘oh-so’ love.  A latte, a cozy Chihuahua, some Queen on vinyl, and a bought of writing are in order for this blogger.  A hat off to everyone, and hopefully the sun is shining wherever you are.

Cheers,

Anthony Schultz

Helter Skelter


Helter Skelter by Sir Stanley Spencer (1937)

Life is crazy.  Super crazy—no joke.  I spend my nights working graveyard shifts in order to retain some semblance of healthcare, and I spend my days writing, promoting, reading, and absorbing as much pop culture as Borgly possible.  During the rare occasions that I actually find some shuteye I dream of two things: electric sheep and the one-day that I’ll live abroad as a fulltime writer.  Even if it is just ever so briefly I will feel fulfilled; honestly who knows maybe the path to literary greatness only resides in alcoholism and sadness, but I am going to try my damndest to repave that yellow brick road with moderation and wit. I’m definitely not one to try and rekindle the Beat Generation in some desperate plea to find an ends to a means, but in a world where craziness runs wild like a lost bumble bee in a snow storm I think my odds of running against the grain are at least an even fifty-fifty.  To read about Billy Burroughs maybe be intriguing, but to live the life is another thing all together.

Thus far I’ve been fairly successful.  I’ve finally begun to save for that journey abroad and every minor success seems to be slowly adding together towards a fulltime writing gig.  I’ve built a following from absolutely nothing.  I’ve had complete and utter strangers shred my work as well as provide it with glowing terms of admiration.

We live in such a dichotomous life that it’s heard to believe in the gray at times.  We’re bombarded with this black and white perception of reality, when in fact we all live in a varied gray-space.  For example, when I write I listen to music.  This by itself isn’t all uncommon, but at times I like to curl up and click, clack away like a childish Bull listening to the soft crackle of my record player as the decades gone by lyrics of Sinatra sooth and influence my prose; however, at other times I sit in my study with a Bacardi and cola fervently penning my next chapter of “Jack and the Lilac Butcher” to various hip-hop legends.  This is the just a mere example of the gray that I have created for myself.

We all have it, and it extends far beyond my shallow music example.  It resides within our day-to-day interactions as well as more philosophical ideologies as they pertain to religion and politics.  I’m an agnostic liberal who tries to be a student of all faiths and politics.  I may not agree with everyone all the time, but I will always stay deeply nestled within the French cuff of knowledge—folded nicely away like a cybernetic fly on the virtual wall.

I live in a constant state of flux.  I’m constantly evaluating and re-evaluating every decision I’ve ever made as well as every immediate decision I will make.  I take different angles on all predicaments and try to proceed with the utmost care by jockeying back and forth between caution and impulse.  It’s a rough ride like all of our own personal journeys, but there is one thing that I have learned over the course of twenty some odd years: live for your desires.

So, many people live in this habitual bubble that just slowly dissipates over the years–until it just pops one day.  There is no point in existence if life is lived that way.  Just like the Force, there needs to be balance.  A beam needs to be carefully walked across as you enter every and any situation.  Caution and impulse need to be wed, and the gray needs to be embraced.  Nothing is black and white, and everything that appears to be so—isn’t.  True story.  Look it up.  I read it in a book.

Cheers,

A.R. Schultz

“Jack and the Lilac Butcher” and “The Well”


“Jack and the Lilac Butcher” is a novel that I have been slowly working on for the past several months.  It follows two Pinkertons in 1920’s Seattle/Spokane as they hunt for a serial killer that has been dubbed the ‘Lilac Butcher’ by the locals.  Thus far my published previews have been quite popular and I am hopeful that this will be the transcendental ‘one’ once completed.

You can check “Jack and the Lilac Butcher” out in the “Samples and Previews” page, on this very blog, or you can watch as it progresses over at Wattpad (dot) com.  On Wattpad the interaction is more fluid and transparent, so if you’re curious about the Pinkertons journey head over there to give it a thumbs up, a share, or even a comment/suggestion.  Thanks again for the support and the read!

“The Well” is a short story that I composed on a whim after work one evening and serves to amalgamize various points in my childhood, while simultaneously experimenting with point-of-view and style.  I published “The Well” as an eBook over at Smashwords (dot) com and it is available for FREE! as a download for almost any eReader imaginable including the popular Kindle, Nook, and Sony eReader.  So, check it out, and don’t forget to provide some feedback!  A review would much be appreciated.

 

Cheers,

A.R. Schultz

 

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