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Monday, September 5, 2016

Writing Through Hurricanes, Grumpy Spouses, And Maniacal Bosses: Finding Your Default Self


 [The following blog was first published at mylifemybooksmyescape on  Monday Aug. 29th, 2016.]


The universe is trying to keep you from writing. It will throw all manner of distraction and chaos at you, bind you with obligations--girlfriends who cry neglect, boyfriends who threaten to step out on your monogamy, bosses who insist that your not getting the work done in 40 hours is your fault not the workload. You will try to reason with the universe, work out a mutual arrangement where you borrow three hours here and two hours there to ply your craft--but the universe is a fickle bitch that knows full well you need uninterrupted blocks of time with which to craft your tales--time to let your story ferment and then time for revisions. You need a thousand hours to write two hundred decent pages. Lie to the universe, steal the time you need, sacrifice personal pleasure and socializing, and then maybe...maybe, you will have a story of note at the end of the run.

Monday, August 1, 2016

Guardians of Aandor Movie Casting Game


What author doesn't dream of having their work translated into another medium? Now that the final manuscript to the trilogy has been turned in, people are asking when we'll see a Guardians of Aandor movie? My people are  working to make that happen. But I thought it might be fun to play Hollywood casting director in the meantime and cast characters from Awakenings and The Lost Prince based on Hollywood's current talent crop. [Spoilers for those who have not read the series]

Monday, May 16, 2016

Review: You Know When The Men Are Gone


Writer Frank O'Conner emphasized that loneliness and isolation were the most compatible themes with the short story's formal qualities. In that spirit, "You Know When The Men Are Gone" by Siobhan Fallon is the quintessential short story collection, and Siobhan Fallon one of the best new writers to arrive in many years.

These series of stories are at heart about isolation even in the midst of a community that makes great efforts to reach out to those affected by deployment over seas. You never know the private battles your neighbor is going through, and they come in many shapes and sizes: PTSD, physical trauma, lost limbs, infidelity, graft...as if life isn't hard enough, being married and in the military dials up the pitfalls and trials to eleven. Fallon's voice rings true in these tales, and why shouldn't they? She was a military spouse stationed in Fort Hood while her husband completed two deployments in Iraq. A marriage that survives base housing and deployments has the legs to hold together a hundred years.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

The Star Wars Prequels Were More Creative Than The Force Awakens

I know I'm going to get crap for this--but before you throw that crate of tomatoes...

Say what you will about the George Lucas' Star Wars prequels (episodes I, II, and III), one thing that you cannot take away from them, despite flaws in the story and Jar Jar Binks, was that they were infinitely more creative than The Force Awakens.

I loved The Force Awakens and am a fan of the original trilogy, but visually, from a design and production standpoint, the prequels were stunning to look at. The new characters were exotic and interesting, even the ones that smacked of racial stereotypes. All our criticisms of those films had to do with story and casting, but the costumes, headdresses, ship and set designs, and characters were extremely novel, and Lucas directed them expertly. Lucas showed us a Jedi order in its infinite diversity--knights from all over the galaxy in all shapes and colors. The pod races on Tatooine were fun and exciting. Yes, the race might have been shorter and been written with more important context to the overall story, but Lucas has said over and over he always saw Star Wars as a soap opera for kids. Kids loved the pod races. Staying true to his belief, Lucas, as an artist, delivered the vision he intended. 

Friday, October 9, 2015

Fear The Walking Dull

I don't normally blog to slam creative work, preferring instead to focus on the things I like and have merit for success; but on that rare exception, when it's obvious that the sole reason for a series was financial instead of creative, and a half-hearted effort went into its writing, I have no qualms about speaking my mind. When I watch a zombie show, I expect to cringe at the gruesomeness of the undead eating people I've grown to love...people I am rooting for to live and be happy. When I am instead cringing at flaccid dialogue and actions that have no bearing on reality, I know there's a problem.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Free Art For Profit


Vincent Van Gogh: Starving Artist
On a seemingly innocuous Website called Internships.com resides an ad titled, Artist Needed for Graphic Novel, asking for an illustrator to help develop a 90-page graphic novel for free. The average illustrator can produce one to two comic pages per day, so at minimum, this is a 45-day, full-time commitment. To non-creative types, this internship looks innocent enough--the ground floor of something potentially career enhancing. But those in the creative fields know better, and ads like this in American business are a dime a dozen. 


To paraphrase my old friend Kevin, a working illustrator with a family: "It's infuriating enough that this guy is asking to get a 90-page graphic novel developed and drawn and is calling it an 'internship'--but the real jewel comes near the end of the pitch, when he casually drops the suggestion that the book will get shown to a *gasp* Hollywood producer, but fails to stipulate whether the artist will have any profit participation in a film deal, which of course guarantees none."

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Guardians Of The Galaxy Pages: Annual #4

In 1994, I was a freelance artist working mostly for Marvel Comics.  Craig Anderson hired me to draw six pages in the Guardians of The Galaxy Annual that year. To be honest, until the movie came out this summer, I had completely forgotten I had drawn for Guardians of The Galaxy. When the trailer started appearing in theaters earlier this spring, I kept thinking, "Gee, that title sounds awfully familiar."

Fortunately, I kept all my artwork from that era. I still have three of the six original pages (we split them with the inkers; in this case my friend Rodney Ramos). More importantly, I found xeroxes of my breakdowns.

I'll always be grateful to Craig Anderson and Lynaire Brust for thinking of me whenever there was work to be assigned as well as many other great editors (like Terry Kavanaugh, Don Daley, Renee Witterstaeter, and Mike Lackey) who I still consider friends to this day. The pages are presented in chronological order below with the breakdowns to the right of the published versions.

Friday, July 4, 2014

The Date

Playboy College Fiction Contest Winner 1999

The Date

Edward Lazellari

In 1999, I was a senior majoring in English literature at Rutgers University, with a concentration in creative writing. The Date was my second submission to Playboy; I had tried the previous year with a story about a NASA shuttle mission and astronauts getting it on in zero gravity. (It was not as good.) Somehow, under the onslaught of plodding through melancholy emo stories of student life generated by my classmates, I managed to find my way to this dark comedy. The inspiration was a Dateline NBC story about conjoined 10-year-old twins living in the Midwest, and thriving despite their condition. I was a big fan of the girls, cheering them on for making lemonade out of life's lemons. I remember being grateful that my problems did not come that big and that I should be more of a doer and less of a complainer.  I also remember thinking, "things would get a lot harder once those girls hit puberty, though." Duh! And of course, it clicked. I hit the computer like a force of nature for the next three days--and here we are.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Big Numbers And Easy Steps: Buying Granny A Cell Phone

Don't consign Granny to telegrams. Buy her a cell phone.
If your 84-year old mother is anything like mine, then she's not texting a whole lot. She's probably not surfing the Web, playing video games, tweeting, or updating her Facebook page either. So why does she need a smart phone or an expensive plan that locks her in until she's 87? Fact is, she doesn't. However, we need our senior loved ones to be able to reach us, especially in times of emergency. Some form of mobile communication is a must, and it's often the children that pay for it.


In researching this subject, I was not surprised to find that modern phones confuse the elderly. After all, this is the generation that could not figure out how to program their VCRs when they were still in their 40s. What an Octogenarian needs in a mobile device is simplicity, large numbers, and good volume. They need a Contacts menu with few steps; two clicks away from the loved one they want to reach.  And, they don't need a plan at all because they still use their house phones for everything (i.e. they need a prepaid plan).