Gracepoint and the Doctor

Rose!!!

Rose!!!

I <3 David Tennant. He is my favorite Doctor (even though I consider his span of episodes to be the weakest of nu-Who).

For the longest time, I’ve wondered why he’s not been a bigger breakout star. In my opinion, he’s a great actor with a lot of onscreen charisma. He can be sweet and quite. Flip him over, and (despite his skinny frame) he can become angry and imposing. Sure he does a heck of a lot of TV work in the UK. And, sure, he had that brief glorious moment as Barty Crouch Jr. in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Sure, he did voice work in the superb How to Train Your Dragon. But all that does not add up to ‘breakout star’ material.

When I heard he was starring in an American production of Broadchurch, I thought Yes, finally! A chance for the world to see this wonderful man perform! He’ll be like Clooney in ER. Folks will see the shining star that he is and he will become a big screen idol!

Alas, the American production of Broadchurch–named Gracepoint–probably will not be the springboard into the upper echelon of actors for David Tennant.

Gracepoint is a one-shot 10 episode mystery-thriller starring Tennant in the role of an ostracized big city detective searching for the murderer of one of the town’s children. The show co-stars some talented thespians, namely Anna Gunn and Nick Nolte. Sadly, the poorly written show does all three actors a grave injustice. In particular, Tennant’s Detective Carver. In the premiere episode, all Tennant is given to do is act smug, growl at people, yell a couple of times, and stare at things. Stare at a lot of things.

To complicate matters, Tennant struggles with his American accent. Perhaps he should take some pointers from Hugh Laurie.

To further complicate matters, no matter how much scraggle he grows on his face, no matter how weirdly he combs his hair, that’s David Tennant, and he’s My Doctor. If the show was better, this wouldn’t be an issue, as I’d become invested in the dramatic narrative and be less conscious of who is acting what.

I’ll stick it out until the bitter end, though. Because Tennant. And sometimes shows like these become much better after the premiere ‘setup’ episode.

Let’s hope tonight’s episode shows much needed improvement.

Gracepoint Trailer:

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THE FRAME coming soon by Jamin Winans

First, the trailer:

THE FRAME is Jamin Winans’ follow up feature release to the incredible dark fantasy INK (perhaps my favorite indie film of all time). There’s not a lot of information about THE FRAME available, even the trailer is quite cryptic. If you’re in Boulder, CO (October 17th) or Los Angeles, CA (October 23rd) you might be lucky enough to land tickets to the sneak peek showings.

As you might guess, I am incredibly excited about the movie. I’ve seen INK 5 times, and it never fails to give me an emotional gut punch.

You *need* to see INK. Even the movie’s soundtrack is fantastic (easily one of my favorites).

INK trailer:

The Sacrament

sacrament

The Father, so kindly

The Sacrament directed by Ti West and starring genre vets AJ Bowen, Joe Swanberg, and Amy Seimetz is another entry in the flourishing found footage sub-genre of horror. If you absolutely hate the found footage conceit, then you’re probably going to miss The Sacrament, and that is a damn shame. The film is quite interesting, well-acted, and has at its emotional core one of the great tragedies of the 20th century.

The story rolls into action when three Vice reporters accept an invitation by Caroline (a sister of one of the reporters) to visit Eden Parish. Upon arrival, they’re met by men with automatic rifles and baleful glares. Things are tense until Caroline shows up and escorts the visitors into Eden.

Inside, the three men are looked on by suspicious but friendly people. There are few modern comforts, but to talk to a parish member you would think such things are the toys of sinners. Every so often, you here the voice of ‘Father’ over the loud speakers dispensing with Bible quotations or reminders to be kind to one another. The surface of the utopia seems nice enough and everybody acts happy.

All through this period, there is a slight unease to the situation. The three men are vulnerable to the whims of the Father and his people.

The Father (played by Gene Jones) doesn’t make his physical appearance until halfway through the film in a dynamite scene involving Sam (AJ Bowen) and the Father doing an interview in front of the congregation. The way Gene Jones works his charisma and the skill involved in exacting the emotions he wants you to feel gives you insight into how Jim Jones might have accomplished the same in Jonestown. By the end of the interview, both the viewer and Sam are feeling wrung out and mesmerized by the Father’s presence.

Sam later discovers a group of people wanting out of Eden Parish. Word gets back to Father, and in a chilling climax, Ti West takes us through a reenactment of the group suicide of Jonestown. A helicopter providing possible safe passage fuels the final 15 minutes of the movie as Sam and friends attempt to escape.

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Saying Good-bye to a good person

It was a Saturday at Context when Jason Sanford shared the news with me that Eugie Foster had passed away. The news crushed and stunned me.

I’ll be upfront and admit that I only met Eugie a few times. And for those few times, just a few minutes each. At three different DragonCons I had the pleasure of engaging in a brief chat with her. She was an editor of the Dragon Daily, so DragonCon was a manic time for her. Despite that, she was always kind enough to spare a moment to hug, chat, and charm. She smiled. A lot.

We had had plenty of online interactions. Shared lots of emails. I had the opportunity to publish her several times. Her fiction never failed to amaze and entertain our readers.

Eugie was the type of person who ‘paid it forward.’ Always helpful, willing to do what she could for her fellow writers, editors, and publishers. And during some of the most difficult periods of my life (particularly professional), Eugie stood by me as a friend. I will always remember her as being one of the nicest individuals I’ve had the pleasure to know.

It is crushing to think of the shared sadness all the people who came to know and admire and love her feel right now.

We can take solace in remembering the happiness that she gave to those who knew her.

Finally, we are all blessed to have the legacy of Eugie’s fantastic writing. Go here. Read it all. Buy it all.

 

Workshop: Writing Horror — From Start to Finish

I’ll be leading a four week workshop at the Carnegie Center for Literacy and Learning in Lexington, KY beginning Monday, October 6th, 5:30pm.

Join three-time Hugo Award-nominated editor and writer Jason Sizemore as he takes you through the process of writing a horror short story. You will study popular modern stories as a guideline to the the craft of writing shorter works. We will cover the mechanics of short fiction, and the elements of effective horror. Every student will create a new science fiction short story that will be polished so it is ready for submission to a publications [ALL LEVELS]

For more information about the Writing Horror workshop and to register click here!

Each class is on a Monday and starts at 5:30 and runs for 1 hour and 45 minutes.

I would estimate that 60% of the material from the SF/F version of the workshop will be covered in this one. I do think you’ll gain enough new knowledge to make this class worth your time even if you took the previous one.

Context 27: Post Mortem

The weekend has passed and thus has my convention season. I love doing conventions, but they sure take a lot out of me. Attending Imaginarium and Context in back to back weekends was the first time I’ve ever pulled that stunt. Yesterday I hit a wall and did not feel that great. Today, I’m bouncing back.

Context is the convention I look forward to the most every year. A huge bus load of my good friends always attend. There is a sizable Apex fan base. And we generally have a good weekend at our vendor table. Fun. Friends. Cash. A winning trio if there ever was.

I meant to take more pictures, but again, I managed all of 3.

The highlight of the weekend was the Apex party held on Saturday night. I mixed up a 3 gallon jug of the ‘purple’ stuff and a 3 gallon jug of the ‘red’ stuff. They both were hits, if perhaps a bit strong. Geoffrey Girard did a knock up job of running the music and after all us book nerds had a few drinks, some dancing happened.

Elaine Blose models next to the purple jug and the red jug.

Elaine Blose models next to the purple jug and the red jug.

Another highlight was the Friday night flash fiction contest that I judged with Betsy Mitchell, Matt Betts, and Geoffrey Girard. Participants read their story to the crowd and then each judge gave a constructive criticism of the work. At the end of the night, we selected the winning story. This was a cool event and one I might try to put together locally ever month or so.

Lesley Conner and Awesome Dawn wait patiently for the party to begin.

Lesley Conner and Awesome Dawn wait patiently for the party to begin.

I had a hard time getting out of bed Sunday morning and like a chump I missed my 10am panel. Here’s a selfie I took prior to the Apex party. You can tell how pert and happy I am. I meant to do an ‘after the party’ selfie but forgot.

Pert and Happy

Pert and Happy

In the grand tradition of name dropping all the cool people you had fun with, I present you my roster of names: Elaine Blose, Lesley Conner, Awesome Dawn, Geoffrey Girard, Janet Harriett, Maurice Broaddus, Andrea Johnson, Elizabeth Campbell, Matt Betts, Jason Sandford, Brick & Lori Marlin, Monica Valentinelli, and that one guy who did that one thing.

Until next year, Context. Until next year.

Context 2014

Over the years, I’ve done a lot of conventions. The one that is consistently the best and most fun is Context.

Context is held in late September near or in Columbus, OH. It focuses heavily on the craft of writing with workshops and many panels on publishing/editing/writing. At the same time, it does a good job of catering to fandom and is a fun event for fans.

This weekend I’ll be heading to Context!

DETAILS
When: September 26-28
Where: Worthington, OH
Website: http://www.contextsf.org/

I’m on several panels, judging a flash fiction contest Friday night, and Apex will be co-hosting a big party Saturday night. Apex will also have a table in the vendor’s hall. I’ll have copies of Irredeemable available for purchase!

MY SCHEDULE
Flash Fiction Judging 9pm Friday
Small/Large Presses/DIY 10am Saturday (M)
Reading: 11am Saturday (I will probably read Caspar)
Signing: 1pm Saturday
Book Covers/Copy 7pm Saturday
Apex Party Saturday Night

Due to the…level of fun of the Apex Parties, we have a strict “No Tweets/No Photos” rule while you’re enjoying the festivities. :P

See you this weekend!

Imaginarium — Post Mortem

Last weekend I was a guest of Imaginarium, a new writers’ conference in Louisville, KY. To say I was pleased with how it turned out would be an understatement.

Full Disclosure: Imaginarium is the brainchild of Stephen Zimmer. Stephen Zimmer operates Seventh Star Press, the publisher of my collection Irredeemable.

I’ve been to several “first year” conventions over the years. All of them suffered birthing pains in one form or another: disorganization, poor venue choice, lack of interesting panels. Birthing pains are to be expected and I never hold them against a new convention. Imaginarium suffered from none of these problems. If you’re a genre writer or filmmaker, this is an ideal event for you. If you’re a fan of genre writing and films, then this is a great event for you.

Respect, yo

Respect, yo

The venue, while out in the middle of nowhere (nowhere to eat for miles except for the hotel restaurant), was the right size and had a great layout for a small literary convention. Most of the panels and workshops looked interesting. And the convention ran smoothly and was incredibly organized. The vendor hall had plenty of room for attendees to walk and browse.

The only thing Imaginarium lacked were attendees. Again, birthing pains. One hope I have of writing this post is that it encourages you to give Imaginarium a try next year. Stephen Zimmer and his team did a top notch job.

Author Jettie Necole and that one guy

Author Jettie Necole and that one guy

I did sell a whole bunch of copies of Irredeemable. Yay!

Despite the small attendance, outside of World Fantasy and World Con, this had to be one of the most successful professional networking conventions I’ve been to. I made a bunch of new friends, and I met at least a dozen people I knew only via Facebook or Twitter. I also discovered that playing Cards Against Humanity while *very* drunk is *very* fun.

Sadly, I failed to take many photos. In fact, I managed to take 3 pictures, all shared in this post. I’m doing Context this coming weekend (look for my schedule of events post tomorrow), and I promise to try and photo document the shenanigans better.

Stella Price, Todd Necole, Jettie Necole, and that one guy

Stella Price, Todd Necole, Jettie Necole, and that one guy

10 Question FAQ: Apex Magazine has a new chief

It is true. I have taken over as Apex Magazine editor-in-chief.

Here’s a brief FAQ about the self promotion:

1) Why the switch? Because I foresee life changes in my future and I felt that placing myself back in the role of EiC of the zine would help the odds that these life changes are successful.

2) But wasn’t Sigrid Ellis doing a great job? Absolutely! Sigrid is a fantastic person and a fantastic editor. I’m proud that I am able to say that she worked for me.

3) Okay. Then why the switch? See question 1.

4) Will Apex Magazine change dramatically? Nope. As publisher, my editorial directive to all the editors I’ve had work for me has remained the same over the years. Apex Magazine strives to publish boundary pushing, thought-provoking work with a goal of presenting a diverse set of authors (age, nationality, race, gender, sexuality) and voices.

Certainly, the stories will reflect my own editorial vision and will probably be noticeable to constant readers, but if you like what we published under Cat, Lynne, and Sigrid’s time as editor, you’ll like what we publish going forward.

5) What makes you think you can be EiC? Hey now, this ain’t my first rodeo! I edited Apex Science Fiction and Horror Digest for 12 issues, edited the first 14 issues of Apex Magazine, and I’ve edited 6 anthologies.

6) Aren’t you a bit of a goofball to run such a serious zine? While I do like to maintain a lighthearted online presence, I take anything and everything to do with Apex Publications (the books and the zine) in a serious and professional manner.

7) How do you have time for this? I don’t.

8) I’m intrigued and want to work for the zine. How do I become a submissions editor? You can email me at jason@apex-magazine.com. We currently have a need for a couple more submissions editors.

9) Sigrid selected beautiful art for every issue. You’re red/green color blind, how will you manage? Let’s just say there might be an occasional odd choice…

10) What are some of your goals as editor-in-chief? Increase our subscriber base and circulation. To raise our author per word pay rate. To maintain the quality of fiction the zine is known for publishing.


Any other questions? Leave a comment and ask! No trolling, unless your trolling is amusing.

Let’s talk Blue Ruin

Netflix. That collection of digital entertainment where television series and bad movies go to retire.

Netflix. That collection of digital entertainment where a patient subscriber can find the occasional gem.

Last weekend I watched Blue Ruin. I had read the AVClub review of the film and knew it had received some critical love. Sign me up!

Blue Ruin is a revenge film. Many revenge films are stylized and done with the visual flair of an auteur. Blue Ruin is quiet, darkly humorous, and quite depressing.

Directed by Jeremy Saulnier, Blue Ruin stars Macon Blair as Dwight. He’s no Charles Bronson or Uma Thurman. He’s small in stature and speaks barely above a whisper.

Dwight is a introduced as a homeless man living in a beater car park by a beach in Delaware. He lives a sad, despondent existence. For 15 minutes, hardly a word is spoken as we follow Dwight digging through garbage for food and breaking into people’s homes to steal a bath.

All this character background pays off throughout the rest of the film.

A kindly police officer visits Dwight and shares the news that the man convicted of the murder of Dwight’s mother and father is being released from prison.

Dwight cleans up. It’s a startling transformation. He wants revenge, and that means he wants to kill the man who killed his parents.

The film is unflinching in showing how pathetic Dwight is as a person. A particularly harsh scene occurs where his sister tells him he is weak. Despite being pathetic, Dwight is determined and endures much pain and fear to accomplish his goals. He has nothing to lose and is not afraid to die. Much of the dark humor spins from this fatalism. Dwight disables a car only to have to use it for a getaway (in his anger he stabbed a tire with a knife that nearly cuts his hand off). He’s shot in the leg with an arrow and there’s a great scene in a pharmacy where Dwight buys needle, thread, pliers, rubbing alcohol, and bandages (the self-surgery…way less amusing).

Blue Ruin shows how dangerous a person can be when they have nothing left to lose. Dwight could be a character straight out of a Coen Brothers film. Hapless, quirky, lacking in respect, but dangerous.

In fact, this film compares well with several Coen Brothers movies (one of the highest compliments I can give as I am a worshiper of their work).

Check it out. Blue Ruin.

Trailer: