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Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Review - Cloud Atlas

Cloud Atlas is a masterpiece.

I could ramble on all day about how much I loved this movie. It has everything: love, comedy, action, romance, mystery, drama, tension, horror and pure joy. Cloud Atlas will be written about and discussed for years even if it doesn’t do great business at the box office. Remember, many movies now considered to be masterpieces (e.g. Brazil, The Princess Bride, etc.) did not do well initially at the box office.

Then there is the acting.  Tom Hanks has never shown this much range and emotion. That includes the movies for which he’s won Oscars. This is easily his best performance. Halle Berry and Jim Broadbent are also unbelievably good. And Hugo Weaving…speechless. I’ve always been a fan; however, seeing him play so many roles in the same movie shows you the extent of his talent. Doona Bae shows fragility, strength and heartbreaking beauty. Hell, even Hugh Grant shows substance and depth.

As a writer, what moved me the most about Cloud Atlas was the writing and the pacing.  It is fast, each scene like a phrase in a symphony. Within the first few minutes, one character, a writer, admits that flash-forwards and flashbacks can be jarring but asks the audience to indulge him. The reason will soon be apparent. 

A word of caution: if you struggled to understand Inception, this movie will probably confuse the heck out of you. Should it have been dumbed down? Anyone that says yes should be smacked in the head and sent back to watch more Kardashians.  We should praise Cloud Atlas and everyone involved with it for expecting the audience to be intelligent.

One of my favourite scenes talks about how creating art is similar to St. George battling the dragon: sometimes you slay the dragon, sometimes the dragon slays you. And even if you create the most beautiful masterpiece in history that does not guarantee that the audience will ever hear it. But still you create.
It is written as a series of six stories woven together as tonal variations are merged in a symphony. The pacing is pure music. Six stories all happening at the same time implying that time is just an illusion. All stories are happening at the same time. There is no past, no future, only now. At the same time it shows using subtext how the karma of past events and the ties we have with others shapes our future. When characters die there is a sense of beauty and tragedy and also joy because you know they are going to live again in another life.

And here’s my problem. This movie was a spiritual experience for me. It affirms the importance of every single action, every single choice. There are no small people , no small relationships. I’ve felt the kind of instantaneous love these characters feel. That moment you first see someone and immediately a part of your soul remembers everything you’ve ever shared. That instantaneous click that makes you want to throw away everything you’ve ever known about your life and move in a different direction. It is indescribably powerful, like suddenly the voice of god is whispering in your ear: pay attention.

This is the sort of movie that makes me wish I was a better writer. I feel like Salieri watching Mozart in the movie Amadeus. I am moved at once by the genius of the story telling. I realize my inferiority of my talent while also thanking the gods that there is so much wonder in the world.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Archive of Orpheans

I've been pretty calculating about how I wanted to publish my stories. My idea, back when I was in high school, was to publish a group of short stories to create a universe before the real events of Activation hit book form.

Nowadays, there are faster ways to create a universe. Thank you Goodreads.
So I will be updating the Archiver of Orpheans on a bi-weekly bases. Most of the stories in the collection have already been written. There are no spoilers for the main series but it will help you give you a better understanding of the main creepies from the series.

Hope you enjoy.

Archive of Orpheans (Chapter One now available)

Friday, October 26, 2012

Marketing 101 - Customer Driven Marketing Strategy

Raise your hand if you have too much time and you don't know what to do with it? Seriously. Raise your hand I and I will send you some work to do.

Most of us have too many things we want to accomplish and it feels like we don't have the time to do everything. You're right. You can't do everything; you can focus on doing the activities that will accomplish your goals.

Let's go back to the graphic I used before from  Principles of Marketing (Kotler, Armstrong, Cunningham, Trifts, Toronto: Pearson, 2011) Principles of Marketing 

Let's focus on the second step now: who will you serve and how will you be different?

Some writers seem to be only writing for themselves. And that's fine if you don't care about anyone ever reading (or buying) your work.  If you want readers, focus on what's in it for them.

Whether I'm teaching writing or straight-up marketing, the first question I ask my students is "Who is your audience?"  You'll never please everyone so tell me who you audience is. You should have a rough understanding of their demographics. For an example of the types of questions you should be able to answer go here: NetMBA Business Center article on Market Segmentation

For your first draft I would tell my students "vomit on paper". First drafts are not the time for critical thinking or calculated marketing. Just get it down first. On your second draft, however, start thinking about how the audience will react to what you are doing.  Does it suit their needs? If not, change it or delete it. 

We already have a Stephen King, a Clive Barker, a Stephenie, Meyer, a J.K. Rowling. We don't need any more.  What we need is you. We need your voice, your story, your characters. So what do you bring to the table that is different.

This is usually stated as "write what you know". But if we only did that there would no speculative fiction, fantasy or horror. 

 When you read think about what you would do differently.  And why. You may think this will take some of the enjoyment out of escapism. Well, tough. If you want to be an serious artist, get critical. Visual Artists (e.g. paint, sculpture, etc.) study the masters. Actors, musicians, directors all look at work in their genre with a critical eye. For some reason, writers do not start off with mimicking the greats. The greatest copier of all time was Shakespeare. I think he's not a bad role model.

Well, you have to think about how your target market makes their purchasing decisions. Focusing on epubs is long as your audience reads epubs. Do they normally purchase from online or from a physical store? If you don't know, ask them.  

What shows to they watch on TV? Once you know, consider live tweeting during these shows. Connecting with the people in your target market does not mean spamming them every few hours with "buy my book". It means building a relationship. Be witty. The more fun you are the more you will be retweeted. The more you will gain followers. The  more follower you have the more people will check out your book. Follow Neil Gaiman or Joe Hill. See how often they say "buy my book".

Think of your favorite movie (or book). Now, rewrite one of the scenes from the movie. Describe what you see, what you hear the characters say. Don't cheat by re-watching the movie. Go with what's in your head. That's where the real fun is anyway.

Now think of a movie (or a book) you hated and repeat. Only this time, what could you do to make it not suck?

Note: The first part of the Marketing 101 can be found here:  Understanding the Marketplace


Amazon: M Joseph Murphy on Amazon: Paperback and ebook
Smashwords: M Joseph Murphy Author Page on Smashwords
Kobo: M Joseph Murphy Books on Kobo

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Failing Successful (Winner's Circle Network)

Received this email today and thought it absolutely perfect to share.

Do you feel that half the things you do turn out all wrong? If so, take heart, because today we will discover how to fail successfully.  

After over forty years in business, we consider ourselves pretty successful. The company started by Lou and Diane Tice in their basement is in over 60 countries, and the education in seminars that Lou once gave to small groups of teachers and coaches now reach millions of people every year. Many of these recipients are world leaders and corporate executives.  

But one of the reasons we are successful is the same reason that Ty Cobb, one of the greatest baseball sluggers of all time, was as good as he was. If you look in the record books, you will find that Ty Cobb's lifetime average was only .367. That means he got a hit once out of every three times at bat. It's the same story for Babe Ruth, Hank Aaron, and for virtually every other successful person in the world. 

We are not afraid to try and we are not afraid to fail. In fact, for us, the only real failure is not trying at all. It turns out that people really don't remember the times Aaron swung and missed, only the times the ball sailed out of the park. And we don't remember the projects we started that, for one reason or another, didn't work out.  

The fact is that successful people try more things more often than average folks do. Whether it's playing baseball or building an international business, if you try enough things, you're going to succeed a lot. And if you don't try anything, you are guaranteed to fail. So go for it! What do you really have to lose? 

The Pacific Institute

If you would like to sign up for daily inspirational emails from the Pacific Institute, check out their website

The Pacific Institute

Review - The Trivium Proportion

The Trivium Proportion

This book has all the good things and all the bad things about the original Aeon Flux animated series. There are some great ideas and interesting world building here; however, it is almost impossible to follow the story line because it moves in jumps and spurts.

I really wanted to like this book. I've talked to the author briefly on twitter. He seems like a great guy and I hate delivering bad news. I look at the reviews on Amazon and they are all very positive: five stars. I wonder which book they are reading because it is not this one.

A series of vignettes can be disjointed and still enjoyable. I'm thinking specifically of the series of matrix shorts (Animatrix). This might be an issue of too many people trying to be supportive without having the guts to be honest. This book should have received much more work before it was published.

There truly are some great ideas in here. Fantastic characters that deserve stronger writing. This book needs at least 2 more re-writes, one to add the parts of the story that didn't make it on to the page and one to improve pacing.

I look forward to whatever comes next from Mr.Phillips. Hopefully it is more polished.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Why You Should Be a Beta Reader

I just finished beta reading for the first time since university. The whole process reminded me why it's such a smart idea for a writer to volunteer to beta read for other people.

In my creative writing classes at the University of Windsor, whether it was led by Professors Wanda Campbell or Alistair McLeod, the real learning was between the students. We shared our work and gave each other gentle nudges to push a little hard. To improve our the craft part of our writing.

Imagination is easy. The crafting and the technical part of writing takes practice and honest, gentle critiques. I'm sure you've heard the story of the friendship between Shelley, Keats and Byron. If not, Google it. Or you can watch the movie Gothic. A warning, they may have taken a few liberties with the movie version.

 Sharing your work with your peers often provides the required push to make your work just a touch better. Or, in my case, it can propel it out from mediocrity into something new.

Having other people read my work was invaluable. They saw plot holes and failings of the story I never could. However, I probably learned more by looking at what other writers were doing. I could easily see what was working and what wasn't working.  Those writing circles made me a better write.

Today, your writing circle can include people from all around the world. Consider starting a circle today for the sake of your own writing and your peers.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Review - 32 Fangs

David Wellington has created a perfect, satisfying and brutal end to his vampire series. On the last page I felt like applauding. It was the same feeling you get at the theater or during a concert when you watch someone perform so masterfully you are overcome with the urge to cheer.

When you have a strong, powerful series, the pressure to deliver a polished and satisfying series can be too much for some. I mean, look what happened to the Matrix trilogy. This series actually became better and better with each book. All the story lines are wrapped up neatly and you get the impression that David knew how the series was going to end from the very first book.

The book ends (non-spoiler) with an acknowledgement that nearly had me in tears.  When discussing the impetus for the series, he mentions another vampire series while having the grace not to publicly state which one.  He expresses the frustration many horror fans had with this series (look at me being graceful here) and how he longed for a return to the monster. You can tell he is truly grateful for his fans. And David, we are grateful to you.  I look forward to whatever you write next.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Review - Grave Encounters

If you like horror that makes you afraid of the dark and won’t let you sleep at night, you will love this movie.  It is a true successor to the first Blair Witch project.

To be clear, the trailer for Grave Encounters sucks. It’s cliché and devoid of the real terror you will feel once you’re in the film.  A friend brought it over for an early Halloween party and he normally has good taste. Last year he brought Trick or Treat which was also amazing.  I couldn’t sleep after watching Grave Encounters. It feels real which doesn’t happen in most found footage horror.

So will you like this movie? Well, if your version of a horror experience is Hostel or Saw, you probably won’t like it. I loved the first Saw and the second Hostel but neither of them really scared me. Grave encounters did. 

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Marketing for Writers 101 – Understanding the Marketplace and Customer Needs

I’ve noticed a trend. Articles on idea generation or developing the discipline for writing are rare.  The reason for this is simple: if you’re serious about being a writer, you will find the time and you’ll find the ideas.

The not-so-simply part is what to do with the work after you’ve finished.  Apparently, selling or promoting their own work does not come naturally to many writers.  It’s like we hope the publishing fairy will sweep through our windows at night, wave their magic wands, and suddenly we are doing the talk show circuit.

But what do you do if the fairy godmother doesn’t show up?

That’s when I remember: oh right, I’ve taught marketing for over 8 years now. I wrote the new marketing curriculum for my college and I spent about a decade in sales and customer service before that. I should know how to sell my book. Shouldn’t I?

I think the problem is selling and being creative seem a bit, I don’t know, oxymoronic. What about artistic integrity? Blah blah blah. For me, art for art’s sake is nothing more than masturbation: you are the only one having any fun. Not that there’s anything wrong with that but I’m not writing just for a giggle. I want people to actually read my work and give me money.

A word of caution: if you are looking to become a poet laureate or gain notoriety only after you’ve been dead for a hundred years or so, these lessons probably do not apply to you.  If you want to make money…well, now we’re talking.

To make things simple, I’m using references from the textbook we’re currently using for our marketing courses.  It is Principles of Marketing (Kotler,Armstrong, Cunningham, Trifts, Toronto: Pearson, 2011).  If you can pick up the book, do. If not, get any book on marketing. Heck, you may even want to take a few marketing courses. Let’s start with the basics: the marketing process.

Kotler, Armstrong, Cunningham, Trifts, Principles of Marketing. Toronto: Pearson, 2011. Print
Today I’m only focusing on the first step: Understand the marketplace and customer needs and wants.
Any serious writer or publisher will tell you to read the work that is already published in your genre. The text states: “Human needs are states of felt deprivation”. Why do people read your genre anyway? What is the motivation or incentive to read horror, romance, mystery, or the type of literature that wins the Booker or Pulitzer Price? People read different genres for different reasons. Learn the elements what must be in place for a piece to be acceptable. For example:
a)      Horror must be scary. If there is no fear of death or injury there will not be any real fear.
b)      Romance  must have tension. Boy meets girl, they get married, the end is not going to sell
c)      Mystery needs a puzzling crime. Preferably a murder

To stand out from the competition we need to give more than just the bare essentials. Again, critical reading helps. Remember to read as a peer (someone at the same level as the author), not just a fan. Analyze what they writer did well and try to figure out how they did it. Aside from reading, ask.  Get to know a whole bunch of people who read and like the genre you hope to write in. Ask them what they liked and didn’t like about previous books.

Sometimes the customer does not even know exactly what they are looking for.  They may think they want something they actually don’t want. For example, sometimes in a scary movie we “want” the hero to live. But would The Exorcist have been as scary if the devil said “Okay Father, you win” followed by a fade to black?   Would Titanic be so successful if Jack stayed on the raft with Rose? If you think back to the most “romantic” stories of all time, how many of them had a happy ending?

Price matters. For completely non-rational reasons, many people see $1.00 as much more expensive than $0.99. For equally irrational reasons free is often interpreted as disposable. So, be careful about what you give away for free or you may damage your image as a credible artist. Let me ask you a question.

Imagine you have two books in front of you. One you downloaded for free, the other you paid $4.99 for. Which one do you read first?

Spending money is tied into the artistic experience.  If you are giving away all your work for free you are, unintentionally, diminishing the experience of the reader.

My next article will be on how to develop a marketing strategy that is focused on your customers.


Amazon: M Joseph Murphy on Amazon: Paperback and ebook
Smashwords: M Joseph Murphy Author Page on Smashwords
Kobo: M Joseph Murphy Books on Kobo

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

What Writers can Learn from the movie Sinister

Sinister is a brilliant example of what horror films should be. It is quiet, claustrophobic and fundamentally creepy. It avoids the hacky-slash gore of movies like Saw and Hostel because it is no focused on making you vomit. It is focused on making you afraid of the dark. And it works.

So why does it work? 

Great actors really help. Ethan Hawke hasn't been this good in years.  Juliet Rylance plays his loving but not unrealistically supportive wife. But what makes this movie stand out is strong directing and (gasp!) strong writing.  Imagine that in a horror film.

The film never bashes us upside the head with violence. All acts of violence as actually subtle, often done in complete silence. The real horror happens in our heads, not on the screen. The result, one man in the theater behind me said "I think I have to leave now". Another said "I completely just shit my pants."

There were a few cheap scares, the kind that make you jump out of your seat. But, without spoiling anything, the hardest part of the film to watch involves a lawn mower. I'm sure just saying that creates a ton of nasty images in your mind. And that's the point.  

I had a great professor, Wanda Campbell (profile: Wanda Campbell) for several creative writing courses at the university of Windsor. My strongest memory of her it the reaction I received from a short story I'd written in the horror genre. I was trying to mimic the tone of Clive Barker's Books of Blood. Her response "this made me sick to my stomach". 

At first I counted this as a win; my writing had an emotional impact on the reader. Then she schooled me, gently. She reminded me that the scariest of movies (Alien, Rosemary's Baby, etc.) do not take a sledgehammer to you head; instead they slither into your, quietly in the darkness. It is always much scarier to NOT see what you are afraid of.

Those fifteen minutes changed the way I wrote forever. So thank you to Professor Campbell for teaching me this and to the movie Sinister for reminding me.

Sources: Information from IMBD: IMDB for Sinister

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Short Story - Dinner

Here's a short story in anticipation of American Thanksgiving. It's in the horror genre so maybe don't eat while you're reading it.


Why Prometheus Was Such a Disaster

So I watched Prometheus last night  That's quite a movie. I mean, this movie should be taught in film schools and creative writing classes. It's a perfect example of what NOT to do in fiction.

About halfway through the movie I started to get a little fuzzy. At first I thought it was the gravol I'd taken to help me sleep. Not so much. The fuzziness was a side effect of poorly constructed storylines and even worse characterization.

So why did this movie suck?

The first half was amazing. Avatar-quality special effects. Interesting character types played by actors that were easy to look at and capable of delivering emotive performances. It had big ideas. At one point I felt like I was watching a Kubrick film. Then suddenly it was like Michael Bay came along and "crash boom pow"....the end.

I loved the engineer as Prometheus. The rebellious titan that steals fire from the gods and gives it to man. That is a movie I would have loved to see. Unfortunately we never see against whom Prometheus is rebelling. We don't get a clear idea of what "fire" he's stolen but it appears to be the gift of life. And if the engineer is not representing Prometheus and there was no "fire" stolen, they shouldn't have called the movie Prometheus. Mixed metaphor much?

I can guess at what the writers wanted to do. After my degree in English I could write papers on how William Blakes paintings related to quantum mechanics. Here, I'm guessing the engineer at the beginning was rebelling against the rest of his war-like race by trying to create life instead of destroy it. But the audience shouldn't have to guess this much. Writers are commonly told to put it on the page.

That doesn't mean we have to beat them over the head with it....which is something this movie did.  There were several points when a character stated something that was completely obvious to any intelligent view. Which left me thinking the makers of the movie did not expect their viewers to be intelligent. Groan.

And then there was the way the film makers completely wasted Charlize Theron. She is an amazing talent. She managed to put a lot of humanity behind the shell of a character she was given. Yet somehow she manages to become completely superfluous in this film. She does absolutely nothing that could not have been accomplished by the captain of the ship.  One of the things that made the original Alien so great was the way Ripley evolves into a hero to survive. Charlize Theron's character actually devolves until, at the end, I couldn't have cared less if she lived or died.

Writers can learn a lot from this movie.

1) Every character in your work needs a purpose if you are going to devote more than a few sentences to them.. They need a life and they need motivation. If your character has no use, get rid of him/her and weave their actions into another, more necessary character.

2) Starting big means you better end big. Do not get the reader's hopes up by waxing philosophically on the nature of creation and the parent-child relationship if you're only going to end with things exploding.

3) Create characters the audience can connect with. The most human character was actually the android. And I loved that android. I wanted the entire movie to be based on his experiences because everyone else in the film was fluff.

4) Sometimes smaller is better. It became very obvious that the movie was only focused on setting up the sequel.  Sequels are good as long as your first movie doesn't suck. Sucky first movie means no one will bother with the sequel. Sometimes a small, self-contained story actually feels more completely than a meandering world-building blob.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Marketing 101

Now that I'm getting serious about getting myself published (and read by actual human beings) I've started to look into ways to market myself.  Like many other authors, I really wish I could just hand the whole marketing thing over to someone else. I'd rather spend my time, you know, writing...which is apparently not going to happen.

I'm lucky. I have a sales background. I teach marketing at a local college. I also wrote the curriculum for several marketing courses for Everest College Canada. So I know how the importance of creating a brand and building brand recognition.  But just because I have the theories behind making your product (e.g. your writing) a household name doesn't mean I have to like it.

Let's be honest. Marketing and publicity can be a lot of work. But it's easy and, for the most part, doesn't cost you a dime. In the era of Facebook  twitters and various other social media sites, authors shouldn't have to spend money on getting their names out there.

Here are a few articles I've seen with some easy information on getting your name out there.

How to Market Yourself Successfully as a Writer
This lists several different websites you can use to increase your branding. I'd recommend starting with GoodReads. It's incredibly easy to use. It can also be kind of fun.

5 Ways to Market Yourself Even if You Don't Want To
And for a dose of reality this is a great article.  Whining about how much work is involved getting your work out there doesn't get your work out there any faster. Use the time and energy you could spend whining about how much work it is on actually getting the work done.

How to Market Yourself Through Social Networks for Books
This is similar to the first article but gives more details on the pros and cons of the various sites. This is how I learned about Shelfari (a social network site tied into

If you have any other suggestions or methods of marketing please sent me a message via email or twitter.


Amazon: M Joseph Murphy on Amazon: Paperback and ebook
Smashwords: M Joseph Murphy Author Page on Smashwords
Kobo: M Joseph Murphy Books on Kobo

Friday, October 12, 2012

So this one time I wrote a novel and...

I have samples of my writing at goodreads for you to read online for free.

Goodreads: Sample writing M Joseph Murphy

You'll find sample chapters from the first two books in the Activation series. Just enough for you to get an idea of my voice and scope of the stories without ruining the full editions.

But the best part about putting them up? In the process, I found a novel that I had completely forgot I wrote. Seriously, how can you forget about writing a novel. I also found four partially completely novels. Time to get my but in gear.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Story Review - Midnight Meat Train

Unfortunately I have to admit to being a little underwhelmed by my re-read of the Midnight Meat Train. Honestly, the movie that came out in 2008 was 1000% better than this story. That's beyond unusual with Clive Barker stories. Usually his movies suck major ass. And not in the fun way.

The prose is okay but the story just feels a little too rushed. Unformed. That was solved by the movie. Everything felt more fleshed out in film.

So what do I like? The conspiracy of the city and the creatures. The agelessness of the things in the dark. I like Kaufman losing his tongue. His ability to speak. I liked the subtext about the loss of identity in the big city. The lack of humanity. The city literally eats people up. The scene on the train. The use of sounds to create a picture.

Purchase from: Amazon

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Story Review - The Dead Have Highways (Clive Barker)

This is the first line of the short story that starts Books of Blood. It's been about 25 years since I read it for the first time and it still creeps me out.

It implies a complexity to the unseen world that is unsettling. It's uncomfortable to think that we don't really understand out world. The only way most of us can make it through the day is because of a self-imposed illusion of predictability. Order.

Highways bound the Roman Empire together. If we lost our cars and our planes and our fancy interstate connections, how long would it be before we settled back into barbarism?

I've seen ghosts. Often. They don't scare me though. Not outside of stories. To me, they've always seem like sad little echoes that do not have the good decency to fade with time. They just seem to pop up some times. Like farts. Inconvenient, embarrassing and troublesome but hardly dangerous.

But what if I'm wrong? What if the world I live in isn't really the world I think it is.
That's what this short story does. It quickly and subtly crafts a world that is not in the least chaotic. It has a certain order to it...its just not an order we are able to understand.

I'm also humbled by how WELL it is written. Many horror writers are kind of hack and slash with their words. In some novels Stephen King, god bless him, comes off like he just had a first draft published. And then there's one of my guilty pleasures Richard Laymon. My god, when that man got it right he got it EXTREMELY right. And when it was wrong I felt like I'd just walked in on my grandmother with a dildo. Sick, scarring and wrong. Truly masturbatory writing at its worth.

But Barker took his time with these words. He craft them. You can feel the weight of his patient choices with each sentence. Polished. Pristine in form as a counterbalance to horrendous imagery.

Purchase from: Amazon

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Finally, submission

So I just sent off a novel to a publisher for the first time. Harper Voyager had calls for open submissions. It was a clear sign from the universe saying "Joseph, stop being a lazy bum and submit the damn novel anyway".  Odds are pretty good they won't pick it up. I mean, it's open submissions for gods sake. Everyone on the planet who wants to publish and hasn't yet will be applying. Still, it was the kick in the but I needed.

Here's the query letter I sent with the novel:

Query Letter
Book Title: Council of Peacocks
Series Title: Activation

The Council of Peacocks is an urban fantasy set in modern times. There are two main characters: Wisdom – an immortal sorcerer and Josh Wilkinson a young man with telekinetic abilities.

After centuries of freedom, Wisdom is once again pursued by the powerful Djinn that kidnapped him as a child. We start with Wisdom bloodied and wounded but victorious: the Djinn is dead. However, Wisdom’s victory is short lived. He learns the Djinn’s sudden appearance was nothing but a distraction. While he fought his father, the Council of Peacocks has been busy. They captured Wisdom’s students and turned them into monsters.  Wisdom also learns the woman he loves was killed by the leader of the Council, a rival sorcerer named Propates.  When Wisdom realizes this he transports himself back in time to stop the Propates.

The goal of the Council of Peacocks is simple: the forced evolution of the human race.  Their members are among the most rich and powerful on the planet.  They also have magical powers themselves. They use these abilities to contact a shadowy group of demons, the Orpheans. Together, they have created half-demon humans with brutal Psionic abilities. These young men and women, the Anomalies, are intended to be lieutenants in the Council’s attempt to seize control of the world.  Josh Wilkinson is one of those humans, an Anomaly, but he doesn’t know it. Yet.

While on summer vacation in the Laurentians Mountains, Josh and his friends are kidnapped by employees of the Council.  After several of his friends are killed and tortured, Josh’s dormant abilities activate.  He uses them to escape and rescue his remaining friends; however, using his power sends out a signal to the Council. Strange reptilian creatures pour of the shadows to recapture him. Wisdom arrives just in time to save Josh.

Wisdom recruits Josh hoping this new addition to his team will be enough to prevent the future he has seen.   However, even though Wisdom has seen the future, there is another force at work, one Wisdom knows nothing about.  A stranger from another planet, Defksquar, has been tracking Josh for years. He is always one step ahead of Wisdom and it appears he has been guiding the Council in their activities for reasons of his own.  Wisdom learns Josh is central to the Council plan to activate ancient terra-forming technology to re-write Reality on Earth. Wisdom realizes stopping the Council of Peacocks is no longer just about saving Echo: it is about saving the world.  

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Thoughts - Writers Block

Recently we had a meeting of Poet Laureates from around Canada in town.  During the question and answer period, an elderly woman asked the Poet Laureate of Windsor, Marty Gervais, how he dealt with writer's block.

His answer was simple.

Writer's block is nothing but laziness. Half the crowd responded with thundering applause. I'm guessing that was the half that were actual writers.

So what's my excuse for not writing more? Apparently I'm too happy. My life is so bloody perfect on nearly every level you wouldn't believe it. And maybe that's the problem. Creatively anyway. It's no secret that sometimes artists who are emotionally distraught create amazing pieces of work. And sometimes when their lives are settled they produce crap.

I mean look at Clive Barker. The man is happily married with kids now and what does he put out? Nothing. At least not like the old days. Don't get me wrong. I will take a happy life over producing art ANY DAY.

But these books aren't going to write themselves.

For More on Marty Gervais: Marty Gervais Poet Laureate Windsor, Ontario

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