Women's History Month / Comic Books

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Women's History Month / Comic Books

"Women's History Month is an annual declared month that highlights the contributions of women to events in history and contemporary society." -- Wikipedia. So, since we’re nearing the end of March, I wanted to highlight my favorite comic books created by women. These are some of my favorite books of all time, starring some awesome women protagonists! I’ve provided the links where you can grab them on Comixology.

First up is Bitch Planet written by Kelly Sue Deconnick and rendered by Valentine De Landro. This is an ongoing series, and has two volumes out at the moment. It takes place in a patriarchal dystopia where women who don’t conform to a submissive 1950’s American standard are shipped off to a prison planet. There’s a longest yard plot element thrown in that involves an ultra-violent sport. This is feminist exploitation, with some great art.

Next up is another one written by Deconnick, Pretty Deadly (illustrated by Emma Rios). This is a surreal weird western about Death’s daughter. It has a folklore feel where animals are portrayed as humans and the arcs are all mythical. There are two trades of this one out too. Before I move on to the next one, I think it’s worth pointing out that Deconnick’s 2012 reboot of Captain Marvel is worth reading and a great introduction to the character. It’s probably what the upcoming MCU movie starring Brie Larson will be based on.

Monstress written by Marjorie Liu and drawn by Sana Takeda was my favorite comic of 2016. It’s the only comic book series that I’m actually subscribed to (I usually grab trades and singles willy-nilly). It feels like an earlier Final Fantasy game, only much, much darker and with some Cthulhu thrown in there. It’s epic Asianic fantasy set in a matriarchal world full of war, magic and intrigue. Each panel is a work of art. Vol. 1 is on sale right now for $6.99.

Nimona written AND illustrated by Noelle Stevenson. This is a complete graphic novel about Nimona, a shapeshifting super villain that terrorizes villages. It’s charming, heartwarming and good for all ages. Here's a few panels:

Stevenson's humor rocking those panels

Lastly, Marvel’s Patsy Walker, A.K.A. Hellcat! by Kate Leth and Brittney Williams is worth picking up. Forget what you saw of the character in Netflix’s Jessica Jones. This comic feels like a mix between an Archie comic and a Marvel comic. The first arc starts off with Patsy losing her job as She-Hulk’s personal legal assistant and ends with her saving the world from an Asgardian sorceress. It’s funny and contemporary.

Psst! Go back and look at those links! If you act fast, you can grab all of these for less than $20. That's like one craft beer in Austin!

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Chappy's Top Movies of 2016

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Chappy's Top Movies of 2016

The Oscars are on tonight! Last year I went to the movies a ton so I wanted to write a top 10 list, but there’re a lot of movies on that list that’d be rehash, movies every critic has talked about, movies you, in all likelihood, have already seen. In a city like Austin, we have a unique chance to see movies that don’t show in every theater across the US, so I’ve decided to shed some light on the movies I enjoyed this year that my friends may not have heard of. Descriptions are brief, spoiler free.

Swiss Army Man is an oddball film about being yourself. It stars Paul Dano as a marooned man and Daniel Radcliffe as a farting corpse he finds washed up on the beach. It has great original music that begs to be hummed after viewing. It might not be for everyone, but I found this hour and a half long fart joke strangely endearing.

Tickled this was a film funded on Kickstarter a few years back. It’s a documentary about “competitive endurance tickling”. It starts off light and funny in tone and progressively gets dark and mysterious. The less you know about this one going in, the better.

Kubo and the Two Strings this movie actually might get an Oscar. It was nominated for Best Animated Feature, but I don’t remember anyone talking about it when it came out. It’s Laika’s fourth feature (Coraline, ParaNorman and The Boxtrolls) and it hardly made its 60 mil budget back. The story takes place in a mythical ancient Japan, so the setting feels fresh. A half-dozen of A-listers are doing the voices and the animation is great.

Green Room is a masterwork suspense film. A punk rock band gets tricked into playing at a neo-nazi club out in the middle of nowhere and witness something they shouldn’t’ve seen. It goes downhill from there. The gore is great, the suspense is good, the kills are brutal. It's punk AF; like so punk a fight broke out in our theater at the end of the movie! It’s worth noting it’s Anton Yelchin’s last leading role. Opposite to Yelchin, Patrick Stewart plays the leader of the neo-nazis.

10 Cloverfield Lane Okay. I know you probably already know about this movie. Anyways, I loved it. Way more than that other Cloverfield movie.

Hell or Highwater Though mostly shot in New Mexico, this movie bleeds Texas. I know. I’m a Texan. Hell or Highwater is a neo western. Chris Pine and Ben Foster are two brothers robbing banks; Jeff Bridges and Gil Birmingham are the rangers on their tail. Everyone is a cowboy. It's nominated for an Oscar, but it's the darkest horse.

Men and Chicken is a Danish dark comedy starring Mads Mikkelsen. There’s a lot of slapstick humor here, people getting bashed in the head with two-by-fours or beaten to a pulp with a taxidermied chicken. But there’s also very rich darwinian and religious allegory. This is another film that’s going to turn a lot of viewers off. The main character is a chronic masterbater and makes Will Ferrel’s usual man-child characters look docile.

The Wailing is my favorite film from last year. It’s a South Korean horror directed by Na Hong-jin. It’s about an incompetent policeman who must deal with mysterious killings in his little rural town. There’s religious symbolism, the fear of foreign Japanese, zombies, comedy, gore. I was pondering its meaning days after seeing it.

Well, that's it for now. For the housekeeping: I've got another anthology in a primordial form. Stay tuned for that.

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Time Travel Tales is here!

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Time Travel Tales is here!

It's been a long year since I opened Chappy Fiction up to Time Travel submissions. Just yesterday we officially released the book! You can grab it on Amazon here. It will be available on ibooks, nook and other online retailers shortly. You should also be able to order it from bookstores too! Here's a peak at the front cover!

The cover! In all its glory!

The cover! In all its glory!

So what's next? I've gotta market it. That means blasting my social media with tons of temporal activity. I've also got an ad coming out in my favorite podcast Geeks Guide to the Galaxy, a podcast for SF fans, fiction lovers, geeks and other scum and villainy that would likely be interested in reading time travel short fiction. Lastly, I'm going to design some flyers and stick 'em in some local Austin spots. It was my wife's idea to use QR codes that when scanned will land on the amazon page (or maybe a splash page, I haven't decided). We're going to get creative with it and push the whole time travel theme.

Anyways, here's some long overdue thanks:

I'm grateful to all of the authors, Brian Trent, Catherine Wells, Sean Williams, Stewart C Baker, Robert Silverberg, HL Fullerton, Auston Habershaw, Brenda Anderson, SL Huang, Tony Pi, Steve Simpson, K Kazul Wolf, Rasheedah Phillips, Martin L Shoemaker, Alter Reiss, David Steffen, John A Frochio, Alisa Alering, Desmond Warzel, and Rosemary Claire Smith, my amazing friends and family Dan Chapman, Taylor Fox, Daniel Shallue, Nick Tchan, Daniel Jose Older, Kyle Shepherd, Lou J Berger, Alex Shvartsman and Dan McCarthy.

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Batman Day

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Batman Day

I think I need to blog more. That’s what writers do, right? They blog all the time?

Yeah. So it’s Batman Day. What better thing to write about on Batman Day than my suggestions for Batman comics? Or I could write about how terrible the Zac Snyder DC Cinematic Murder-verse? Er, if you follow my social media, I’ve talked to death about that.

Back to the former. What Batman comics should you read? The essentials for sure. The Killing Joke by Alan Moore. It’s okay. It’s short. It’s controversial because some people are idiots and see things that literally are not there. If you haven’t read it, it’s worth considering just to be in the know. Or you could watch the apparently terrible movie. For the book, I wouldn’t pay more than 4 bucks for it, seeing as it’s not graphic novel size, more like an annual sized comic. You can get it through interlibrary loan.

The other essential Batman read is The Dark Knight Returns by Frank Miller (but written before he went insane). Without TDKR, we wouldn’t have the Tim Burton Batman, and we likely wouldn’t have the darker style Batman that we’ve grown to know in the comics, movies and video games today. Written in the mid 80s, TDKR was a response to the zany camp of the 60s and 70s batman. This one, I fully recommend. It’s a good length, at four beefy issues. At the start Batman is older, retired and looks to get back into the vigilante game. Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises borrows a lot from the second TDKR issue, basically replacing The Mutant Leader with Bane. Also, the horrible BvS has some roots in here too, with the Batman power suit and the fight against Superman. Except in TDKR, Clark and Bruce have been friends a long time, so there’s real emotion to the fight. Anyways, check it out. It’s worth owning.

Look at dat crazy Frank Miller art!

Look at dat crazy Frank Miller art!

Okay, so on to some stuff that isn’t considered to be “essential reading” for batman lovers, but stuff that I think is just as good as anything Miller or Moore ever wrote.

Batman: Death of the Family. No, not Batman: A Death in the Family, where you dicks killed off Jason Todd via poll! Death of the Family was an event across a ton of Batman related titles, published in 2011. It’s 20+ issues long, but you don’t have to read all the tie ins. Like, who cares about Red Hood and the Outlaws or Catwoman? All those comics may seem daunting, so my suggestion, all you really need to read is Batman, but I also read Batman and Robin. It’s classic Batman v Joker, though you might not recognize him because he got his face cut off right at the start of New 52.

It's written by Scott Snyder, the far superior Snyder, in my book. You can find just the Batman only arc on sale (today) here

My word not enough for you? Look at the critical response:

It should be considered a modern Batman classic...

It should be considered a modern Batman classic...

Last, I’d like to throw some love to Grant Morrison who did my favorite run on Batman and Robin. After Batman RIP, Bruce Wayne is dead (or just gone, in different dimensions or timelines or something….) and Dick Grayson must take up the Cowl, while the murderous assassin Damian Wayne, Bruce’s son, fills in as the new Robin. Their dynamic is so much fun, and the take on the characters is refreshing. There are all new weird bad guys like Professor Pyg, as well as old throwbacks like Jason Todd making appearances. It’s fun, it’s dark and it’s insane and only Grant Morrison could have orchestrated it. Vol 1 is on sale here (today).

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Chappy Fiction’s Time Travel Tales Update!

It’s been a while since I’ve made a formal update on Chappy Fiction’s Time Travel Tales. I’m sorry about that. This has been a busy year for me. I sold an option to Talisman Films and am still very much involved in writing for the project. I’ve also started a new day job, so my days are packed!

First, I’d like to thank everyone who submitted. I read many fantastic stories, and so did my friends and slush readers Nick Tchan, Daniel Shallue, and Lou J Berger. But we can’t publish every story! BTW, these three guys… Fantastic.

So, all contracts are signed, all payments have been made—speaking of, I had this feeling when paying the last author. I’d just received funds in my PayPal account from a short story sale. Something about getting paid for writing, then paying an author for their writing with those same funds is extremely satisfying. Paying writers for their work feels awesome. Using your own writing money to do it… magical? Like when you land play of the game with Hanzo in competitive Overwatch.

Anyways… who are those authors that I paid? And what did I pay them for? Here’s the table of contents.

Auston Habershaw - The Day it All Went Sideways
Martin L Shoemaker - Visits (with a Stranger)
Tony Pi - Dragon Father's Wounds
Stewart Baker - Proceedings from the First and Only Sixteenth Annual One-Woman Symposium on Time Manipulation
H.L. Fullerton - Grandma Was a Time Machine
Desmond Warzel - I Only Time-Travel During School Hours
Brenda Anderson - A Murder of Crows
SL Huang - The Documentarian
K. Kazul Wolf - Come One, Come All
Steve Simpson - Danta in Black
Brian Trent - Omnipunks
Rasheedah Phillips - The Convention
Alter Reiss - If the Stars Reverse their Courses, if the Rivers Run Back from the Sea
David Steffen - A Switch in Time
Catherine Wells -  Into the Desolation
Alisa Alering - Absolute Pony
John Frochio - The Time Traveler's Accountant
Rosemary Claire Smith - Not with a Bang
Robert Silverberg - When We Went to See the End of the World
Sean Williams - A Map of the Mines of Barnath

We’re still on schedule for a release on or before December 1st. In the next month or so, be on the lookout for the cover art reveal! Oh yeah, and I'll be updating the site too. This theme's real shitty.

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Nebulas Nominations are here

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Nebulas Nominations are here

They're here. And I'm pretty damn happy. 

As a reader, gamer, editor, writer and creator I have many different circles. So for some of you, explaining what the Nebulas are is redundant. But for those of you who don’t know, the Nebulas are kind of a big deal. Nebula awards aren’t just the Hugo’s with a different title. They're awards for writers by writers. If you're a film buff, think of the SAG (Screen Actors Guild) awards. You have to be a member of SFWA (Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America) to nominate and vote for Nebula Awards. To be a member, you have to be a SFF industry pro. 

This morning they just announced nominations for this year. See the list here. 

Wow. Last year was a great year for SFF. Here’s what I consider the highlights.

On the lit side we have The Grace of Kings Ken Liu, a short form juggernaut, finally published a novel. It’s on my list to read. I love his short stories.

The Fifth Season, by N.K. Jemisin is the best book that I’ve read that was published in the last five years. That said, I’m behind most of my peers in reading, so much of my time is dedicated to catching up on classics (when I’m not reading submissions or critiquing my pals!). But I read this fresh take on high fantasy late last year. If you played the Dragon Age games, you’ll find some parallels with this book. This is a tale of oppression, prejudice, and dangerous magic. It’s also beautifully crafted.

Today I Am Paul by Martin L. Shoemaker. Am I allowed to talk about this? I’m biased. I get it. Transparency: Martin is a good friend of mine and I read this story before it sold (I read it before it was famous, eat your heart out SFF hipsters!). But if you think that’s going to stop me from telling you to read this story, you’re out of your damn mind.

I’m not pandering. Today I am Paul is mastercraft. It’s sold to a billion year’s best and foreign markets. It’s an android story. It’s a dementia story. As you read it, you know it comes from the heart.  

Today I am Paul is THE android story of the year. And it murders the competition, sorry Ex Machina.

 

My non-writer pals may be more interested in the Outstanding Dramatic Presentation category, so I’ll go into a bit more detail here. Just looking at this list as a whole, I don’t see agendas. I see diversity. And good fiction.

The Martian, Didn’t see it. Yikes! Sorry guys. I wanted to read the book first, because who doesn’t? But then submissions. Option. Work. Don’t worry though, I’ve got stuff to say about the rest.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens, After my first watch, I didn’t know if I loved ep 7 or just liked it. Then I thought about it for about two weeks straight. I loved it. That said, I think they played it a tad safe. Nothing particularly new, other than the cast. Oh, and this time they can really act and they have damn good chemistry. I’m very, very excited to see what Rain Johnson does with it. (He only directed the greatest episode in television history: Ozymandias)

Inside Out, My wife cried while she watched this. I didn’t. Really. I promise. I definitely didn’t. No. Psh. It’s the best Pixar movie since (the first fifteen minutes of) Up. If you haven’t, see Inside Out. Keep some Kleenex at the ready. 

 Jessica Jones, Really worked for me. While the fight scenes left a lot to be desired in comparison to Daredevil (what’s JJ’s super power anyways? Breaking locks? Shoving people?), I thought that the story is only second to Better Call Saul, which isn’t genre. JJ has my vote for Outstanding Dramatic Presentation because this is an award for writers, not special effects teams or story board artists.

My only complaint is the formula. Introducing the big baddie in ep 1 and setting the stage so that you know his defeat won’t happen until the season finale saps quite a lot of tension. They’ve caught The Doctor in episode 4! But you know he’ll give them the slip. I’m currently doing some contract writing work for a TV series, so this is the kind of thing I’m trying to avoid.

Mad Max: Fury Road, Pretty much the exact opposite of JJ. Eh, story. Epic action, sets, world building, artful direction. I hear their screenplay was a storyboard—that would explain a lot. Great, great movie, despite the plot.

Ex Machina, 92% on Tomatoes? It felt fairly derivative. It didn’t have an interesting take on the human condition, androids or the singularity. So I looked to the characters. None of them are particularly compelling, except for the androids. It’s a bottle film and a well acted one, which is essential for what they’re going for.

More interestingly, it’s a $15 million dollar budgeted genre film, a rarity these days. It’s seems Hollywood is shrinking on it’s budget types. We have the Blumhouse slog budget. Take chances on movies, throw whatever into theaters and see what sticks… but each with a low $1 million. Get ADT security cameras to direct your movie (looking at you, found footage films). Spend the rest on advertising. And then the blockbusters like Interstellar with budgets over $150 million.

Not much room left for the medium budget SFF flick. I like to support “the little guy” movies like this.

Budget politics aside, I’d still recommend watching Ex Machina, it’s worth staying awake for almost 2 hours and spending $2/3 at RedBox, Youtube or Amazon.

OR wanna know a better way to spend your time? Read or listen to Martin Shoemaker’s story. It’s free. And it won’t take you 2 hours.

 

 

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Slush Update!

To everyone who submitted, thank you. Your stories have been fantastic. Yes, even the ones I rejected. Yes. Even the form rejections.

 

To everyone who is still awaiting a response, hang tight. I’m a writer too. I just received a contract on a story that I’d had pending for 160 days. I understand the nagging thoughts that pester your mind as you await a response. Did she read it? How many are left that I’m up against? I think I’ll go check Submission Grinder for the hundredth time. I'd tell you to chill, but I know I never can.

 

Here’s the news. Right now every story has been read. It’s going to take a few more weeks for me to decide which stories will make the most diverse and well rounded time travel themed anthology for my taste. Stay tuned. If you haven’t heard back from me by this time next month, feel free to query.

 

Oh yeah. Contracts are in order (a few have been sent). Chappy Fiction Inc paper work has been filed. We’re legit.

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Response Times, Voices and Homework

We are up on Submission Grinder!

We’ve been receiving some great submissions. As much as I’d like to keep reading this awesome slush forever, I’m updating the submission page to say we’re closing submissions on January 1st because I have some other creative commitments early next year. Because of all these wonderful submissions, we may take a while getting back to you. Query if you haven't heard back from us by February of 2016.

Here’s some more detail on what we need in the anthology: We want a variety of voices and would like to showcase a diverse cast of voices and ideas involving time travel. We are suckers for genre and sub-genre mashups. Create a unique voice, combine some sub-genres, have interesting characters and make it all work, we'll fall in love with your story.

Don’t know what to write? Or maybe you have some writer’s block? Here’s some homework that might help you through it. These are a few of my favorite time travel short stories:

Needle in a Timestack and When We Went to See the End of the World by Robert Silverberg. All You Zombies by Heinlein. Respectively you can find them here, here and here.

 

 

 

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To Kickstart or Not

Hey everyone, I’m just doing some house keeping via an update on the anthology and where everything stands.

 

This operation is a humble project. I want to be transparent about that. It will be epublished and printed on demand for the physical copies.

 

About the possible Kickstarter:

 

There are many benefits to running a Kickstater. Funding and exposure for our time travel anthology being the main perks.  However, there are some draw backs. I’ve been contacted by some authors with concerns after hearing that I was doing a Kickstarter. What happens if the Kickstarter doesn’t fund? Are you going to cancel or change your pay rates? There’s definitely a stigma if I run a Kickstarter. If the campaign fails, we don’t want that to stain our image either.

 

The successful kickstarters that I have studied came from well established editors teamed with authors like Scott Lynch. Zombies Need Brains was able to fund $15,000 for their last project. That’s impressive, but I am not sure how realistic it is for our little anthology to fund like that.

 

I want to reassure the authors that have been submitting their stories. I’ve already secured an investor for this anthology. My idea for the Kickstarter was to help fund the book. Not fund it entirely. The 6 cent pro rates are solid. That isn’t changing. However, if we decide to run a Kickstarter, the more successful it becomes, the more authors we can include. And possibly, the more we can pay.

 

With all that said, I’m curious what the authors have to say about Kickstarter. Should we run one? Do you see a lot of folks backing our project? If you have an opinion, let me know.

 

On to cooler topics. We need a name. Many have been suggested. I posted on social media and had well over 40 suggestions, some of them serious. Have an idea? Feel free to email us a name or post in the comments. If we choose yours, we’ll email you a free e-copy of the anthology for your contribution!

 

Authors Auston Habershaw and Martin Shoemaker will be our anchor authors for the anthology. They both have great contributions that we can’t wait to share with the world. Auston is the author of The Oldest Trick published by Harper Voyager. Martin is the author of Today I am Paul, a Hugo worthy short if ever I’ve read one.


Thanks for stopping by. I am grateful for your support. Continue to submit! For your time travel fix, check out Tim Napper’s blog on the subject http://www.nappertime.com/time-travel-and-its-discontents/


Or watch Don’t Hug Me I’m Scared Episode 2:

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Time Travel Anthology Call for Submissions

ChappyFiction LLC is now accepting submissions to its new science fiction/fantasy anthology on Time Travel (title pending).

The anthology will contain new short stories centered around time travel. How does it affect our society, our humanity, or the characters? We want new stories. Create paradoxes. Make us laugh. Make us cry. If you have a killer reprint, query us first before submitting.

Length:

We prefer stories under 7,000 words. We will look at stories over that, but the longer the story is, the better it has to be. We want to include many authors, so shorter stories will have the edge.

Format:

We're not picky. However, standard MS format will communicate to us that you're professional. Pink text on a black background will make our eyes bleed. In a bad way. Send over a doc or docx attached to your email. In the body of your email, write a quick, short cover letter. List sales. Don't summarize your story. Put the word count and your contact info somewhere in the cover letter. In the subject line put "Submission: (title of your story)". Send email to chappyfiction at gmail.com. We will close the submission period sometime in January 2016.

UPDATE! We accept multiple submissions.

Payment:

6 cents a word. That's pro rates! Word! Upon acceptance, you'll receive an industry standard contract (6 months exclusivity, with the exception to year's best anthologies).

What not to do:

Do not submit stories that don't contain Time Travel! It'll be a waste of your time and our time. And you'll be black listed from future Chappy Fiction anthologies!

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