from the archives: movin’

A year ago, we signed the lease on our current home, the end result of a whirlwind search after an unexpected termination of the lease on our previous home. Here’s the whole saga from my LiveJournal a year ago today:

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So, as those of you who’ve been following me on Facebook know, a couple weeks ago, we were notified by our landlords that our lease was being terminated as of 31 August 2016.

Now, we don’t have a formal lease in place, which under New York State law means we’re on what’s called a “month to month” lease. The advantages of this are that we don’t have to do a new lease every year, and it also means our rent hasn’t gone up in all the time I’ve been here. It also means that we can break the lease and are only obligated to give 30 days’ notice. The disadvantage is that the landlord has that same privilege — and our landlord actually gave us 40 days. Now, our apartment hasn’t been remodeled in, um, a while, and it rather desperately needs it. Our landlord can do those renovations (which would of necessity include an overhaul of the kitchen) and charge about $800/month more than we’re paying right now. I can’t really blame them for wanting to make more money off the place, especially since the apartments around us (we’re in a row of identical townhouses, so there are about a dozen apartments exactly like ours on either side) are charging that much.

As a result, the last couple of weeks have been one big stress-ball of apartment hunting. We’ve been looking both in our neighborhood and in my parents’ neighborhood, and we have looked at a lot of places.

Our first choice was in our neighborhood, through a broker. It was a bit small, but it had a huge kitchen (seriously, I’ve never seen a kitchen this big in an NYC apartment), on a ground floor, laundry in the building, a parking space, and back yard access. We thought everything was good, we gave our financials over to the broker, and we just had to meet with the owner, which we were told would just be a formality. And then the owner kept putting off the meeting, and nothing was happening, and then the broker admitted that the owner hadn’t even looked at our financials yet, and then we were told — a week later! — that the owner decided to give the apartment to a friend of his, thus screwing not only us, but the broker.

Our second choice was in our parents’ neighborhood, and it was truly magnificent. If it had been in our neighborhood, had a parking spot, and was on the ground floor, it would’ve been perfect, honestly. But the owner looked at our financials and was not impressed — we’re both freelance, and our nontraditional and inconsistent income stream made him nervous, so he turned us down.

Our third choice was actually the first place we looked at, and the one we actually got. It has several disadvantages: no parking spot, no laundry in the building, and the kitchen is not great (then again, so’s our current kitchen). It’s a duplex, taking up part of a house that’s been subdivided into three units. We have half the second floor, which has the kitchen and living room, then you go upstairs to the three bedrooms and the bathroom.

There’s a lot to like about the place, including a landlord we like very much (and who likes us — he pretty much held the place for us while we got dicked around by our first choice), and enough space for our stuff. And the cats will love it. In particular, the largest bedroom will make a great home office/guest room. Wrenn and I will set up our desktops there and we’ll put a sofa bed and the bean bag in there for guests.

Our lease starts on the 15th, which gives us a two-week overlap between the two apartments, which will make moving much less stressful.

This mishegoss forced us to postpone the wedding and for me to cancel Dragon Con, which is horrible, but at least we’ll be settled in a new place by the end of Labor Day weekend. Wheeeeeee!

Meanwhile, the deadlines don’t care about moving stress. I’m jamming to finish one project today and tomorrow, then it’s the next Super City Cops novella, then back to the thriller…..

announcing Kingdoms Fall

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Cohesion Press is launching a new imprint called SoulBlade Books, and their first title will be a Jonathan Maberry-edited anthology called Kingdoms Fall, to be released in 2018. here’s how they described it in the release:

“Imagine Forgotten Realms/Dungeons & Dragons combined with Game of Thrones, and some Lord of the Rings thrown in for good measure. Sword & sorcery, magical might, monsters, thieves, assassins, and kings. All must fight and some must die. A star-studded lineup of writers, featuring many New York Times best-sellers.”

Here’s that star-studded lineup:

Kevin J. Anderson, New York Times bestselling author: the Dune series, Star Wars, Hell Hole, X-Files, and many more.

David Annandale: Warhammer 40,000, The Horus Heresy, and Warhammer: Age of Sigma.

Keith R.A. DeCandidoStar Trek, Supernatural, Orphan Black, Marvel, and many more.

Jacopo della Quercia: The Great Abraham Lincoln Pocket Watch Conspiracy and its sequel License to Quill, contributor to the New York Times best-selling You Might Be A Zombie and Other Bad News.

David Farland, New York Times best-selling author: Star Wars, The Mummy, the Runelords series.

David Fitzgerald, award-winning fiction and nonfiction author and editor: Nailed, The Complete Heretic’s Guide to Western Religion, Demon Lovers (co-edited with Dana Fredsti), Under the Kilt, and the upcoming TimeShards trilogy (with Fredsti).

Dana Fredsti: the Ashley Parker “Plague” trilogy, the upcoming trilogies Spawn of Lilith and TimeShards (with David Fitzgerald), stories in V-Wars: Shockwaves and Joe Ledger: Unstoppable.

Paul Kupperberg: the GLAAD Media Award nominated and 2014 IAMTW Scribe Award-winning young adult novel Kevin, writer of the Harvey and Eisner Award nominated Life With Archie series (including the controversial “Death of Archie” storyline), executive editor of Charlton Neo Comics.

Seanan McGuire: New York Times award-winning author of urban fantasy and (as Mira Grant) biomedical science fiction.

Victor Milán: founding member of George R. R. Martin’s Wild Cards, author of The Dinosaur Princess.

John Jackson Miller, New York Times bestselling author and comics writer: Star Wars, Star Trek, HALO, Mass Effect, Conan.

James A. Moore: Aliens, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, World Of Darkness, and his own Seven Forges series.

Lee Murray: award-winning writer of fantasy, science fiction, and horror, multiple recipient of New Zealand’s coveted Sir Julius Vogel Award.

Weston Ochse, Bram Stoker Award winning author: SEAL Team 666 and Grunt Life.

James Ray Tuck Jr.: the Deacon Chalk series, co-author of the Robin Hood: Demon’s Bane series, and (as Levi Black) the Red Right Hand trilogy

 

My own contribution is called “The Fall of Iaron,” and it’s sorta-kinda a Dragon Precinct story — that is to say, it takes place in the same general setting of the world of Flingaria, but the Cliff’s End Castle Guard isn’t part of it. You won’t need to have read any of the “Precinct” tales to follow it, but those who have should recognize many of the places and appreciate the history I’m providing in it.

I had a lot of fun with it and between that, and “Gan Brightblade vs. Mitos the Mighty,” I think there’s definite possibilities for more Flingaria stories that aren’t police procedurals……..

 

I’m going for my third degree

In 2004, I turned 35 and the warranty ran out on my body. I developed a hiatal hernia, my knees and feet hurt so much I was on prescription pain meds, I had the stamina of an asthmatic ant, and my doctor said, “Hey, maybe you should try exercise, y’know, once.”

Since most exercise bores me (I prefer only to run when chased), I decided to go for martial arts, since that was a subject that always interested me.

That first day, 20 September 2004, was one of the most physically grueling, awful days of my life. I did everything horribly, I barely managed three or four of the thirty push-ups that we did over the course of the hour (three sets of ten spaced out throughout the class), and I finished it a sweaty, exhausted mess.

I can be rather stubborn, so I was determined not to let this beat me. I don’t like it when I can’t do something I want to do, so I swore that I would get the hang of this.

This was no easy task. That comment from my doctor was only a little facetious. As a kid, my only athletic accomplishments were to be part of the worst grammar-school soccer team in the history of Westchester County (we not only never won a game, we were never in any danger of winning a game) and a last-place Little League team. By high school, I had foresworn athletics in favor of theatre and writing. I pursued a career in publishing as an editor, and then as a writer, a profession that involves sitting at a computer all day long.

So this was uncharted territory for me, trying to actually be in good shape.

Five years, one month, and five days after that first class, on 25 October 2009, the year I turned 40, I was awarded my shodan, my first-degree black belt, after an intense promotion.

The journey since then has been amazing. I’ve learned a ton of stuff, I’ve really come into my own as a karateka. And then on 24 March 2013, after an even more grueling (but even more satisfying) promotion, I got a second stripe on my belt, making me a nidan.

I’ve also started teaching, now responsible for the Friday night kids’ sparring class as well as a couple of afterschool programs at local facilities. I’ve also taught a bunch of classes in the dojo, generally as a substitute for Shihan or other black belts who can’t make their assigned classes for whatever reason. I’ve taught adult beginner and color-belt classes, I’ve taught all of our kids classes.

What really blew my mind recently was when Shihan was out for a full month, and he asked me to teach the Monday black belt class. I’m only a nidan, but he let me teach that class (which sometimes has sandans attending it!), which showed amazing trust of my teaching abilities.

Last night, I attended both the regular color-belt class and the sparring class that followed it. During the former, Shihan was quizzing me on several things, and at the end of class, he had me perform a kata in front of everyone (after doing the same for the three advanced brown belts in the class who are also going for their shodan this fall); during the latter, he kept pairing me up with the best fighter in our dojo. These were all unmistakable signs that I was going for promotion, which was confirmed by Shihan after class.

So this October, I will be going for my sandan. It’s going to be a big one — seven other people from my dojo are going for promotion, including another nidan going for sandan (Senpai Charles, one of the people I went up for nidan with four years ago), four advanced brown belts who have been coming up through the ranks together going for their shodan, and a couple of kids going for junior black belts. Plus our sister dojos in South Africa and Italy will be joining us, and they may have some candidates going up as well.

I’m at once elated, frightened, honored, humbled, confused, eager, and about five billion other emotions. The little kid who got made fun of and beat up and was always on the losing side and was the last one picked for dodge ball and softball and basketball teams is now going to try to get a third stripe on his black belt. Holy cow.

introducing “4-Color to 35-Millimeter: The Superhero Movie Rewatch”

As announced today on Tor.com, starting next week, I’ll be doing a weekly rewatch of live-action movies (theatrical and TV) based on comic book superheroes. It’ll kick off next week with the 1951 George Reeves Superman and the Atom Men and the 1966 Adam West Batman, and continue through to the various adaptations that ran from the 1970s to the Marvel and DC Cinematic Universes of today, and everything in the middle.

From my intro post:

We’ll examine Marvel’s TV movies of the 1970s featuring Spider-Man, Dr. Strange, and Captain America. We’ll look at the Christopher Reeve Superman films and the Keaton/Kilmer/Clooney Batman films. We’ll wade through the B-listers who got their own films in the 1980s and 1990s, including Supergirl, Swamp Thing, Howard the Duck, Steel, Spawn, and Nick Fury. We’ll dig up the unreleased 1990s disasters featuring the Justice League, the Fantastic Four, and Captain America. We’ll look back at Marvel’s first attempt at a cinematic universe in their three Hulk movies of the late 1980s, as well as other movie series featuring the Crow, Blade, and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, not to mention the three separate attempts at a film starring the Punisher. We’ll take a gander at the spate of independent comics turned into movies in the 1990s and 2000s starring the Mask, Tank Girl, Barb Wire, Mystery Men, Witchblade, and the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, as well as pulp heroes the Shadow, the Rocketeer, the Phantom, and Judge Dredd.

And once we hit the 21st century, we’ll really kick it into high gear: the two sets of Spider-Man films; the tortuous history of the X-Men films; poorly received versions of Daredevil, Elektra, Catwoman, the Hulk, Constantine, Man-Thing, Green Lantern, Ghost Rider, Jonah Hex, and the Fantastic Four; better-received adaptations of V for Vendetta, Kick-Ass, and Hellboy; Christopher Nolan taking on Batman, Zack Snyder taking on Watchmen, Bryan Singer taking on Superman, and Frank Miller taking on the Spirit; return engagements for Judge Dredd and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles; plus, of course, the Marvel and DC Cinematic Universes that have come to dominate the hero-in-cinema landscape, the former since 2008, the latter since 2013.

Star Trek The Original Series Rewatch: Movies Overview

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All good things must come to an end……

Six years ago, Tor.com finished up their Star Trek Re-Watch. Originally by Eugene Myers & Torie Atkinson, they departed after finishing the second season, and my buddies Dayton Ward & David Mack did the third season. Tor wanted to move on to The Next Generation, but Dayton and Dave didn’t think covering the seven-year series would be possible with their schedules, and they recommended me instead.

And so on 9 May 2011, I wrote my rewatch entry for “Encounter at Farpoint,” and from that point on twice a week (more or less), I looked at each episode of TNG. After finishing off that series in April 2013, and after I and several others looked at the four TNG movies, I moved on to Deep Space Nine. That took me to February 2015, and I then asked if I could look back at the original series. The fine folks at Tor went for it, especially since I planned to not only look at the 80 episodes of the original series (counting the unaired pilot “The Cage“), but also the animated series and all ten movies.

Today on Tor.com, my last entry in that TOS Rewatch has gone up, with my overview of the ten Kirk-and-the-gang movies.

An excerpt:

It’s weird, the movies are both the best thing and the worst thing to happen to Star Trek.

The best part is obvious: after ten years where the only new screen Trek was a (sadly easily dismissed) Saturday-morning cartoon, the movies provided new Trek for an audience that was starved for it, as the franchise really found its audience belatedly in syndicated reruns throughout the 1970s. While the novels and comic books produced during the period between 1969 and 1979 were okay, the tie-in material didn’t really come into its own until after the movie series started. And it was the success of the first three movies that led to Paramount giving the go-ahead to The Next Generation, which got Trek back where it belonged: on television.

And don’t worry, I’ll still be writing stuff for Tor.com. Mostly I’ll be focusing on screen adaptations of comic books, with pieces on Marvel’s The Defenders when it hits later this month, as well as a new feature on Tuesdays: “4-Color to 35-Millimeter: The Superhero Movie Rewatch,” which will kick off next week with a look at the 1951 Superman and the Mole Men and the 1966 Batman.