Loading: The Rest of Video Games in 2019

The 50-foot monster known as E3 is upon us. Every year is filled with ground breaking reveals, previews into upcoming games, and the occasional kerfuffle. But I’m not here to talk about E3! (That will be an article later this month!) Because of E3, my brain is all about video games right now. So I thought I would just make June a month dedicated to games! In the remaining six months of the year, I have a laundry list of games/goals I want to complete. So let’s tally them up and see where the score is at…

Play all that new hotness

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‘Control’ – Remedy Games

 

While E3 is good at showing us some stuff for 2020, what about the games we already know about? I have a couple of preorders in already, and I waiting eagerly for me to crack them open and then wait patiently while my PS4 downloads all them thic files. Games like The Sinking City (Lovecraftian detective creepathon), Control (bizarre-world shooter), Borderlands 3 (massive cartoon shooter) and Hideo Kojima’s new IP, Death Stranding. And that’s not discounting all the exciting indies dropping across multiple platforms!

Pokemon Sword and Shield
‘Pokémon Sword/Shield’ – Game Freak

But my Nintendo Switch gets some love too! Both Fire Emblem: Three Houses and Pokémon Sword & Shield come in summer and fall. These are two of my favorite franchises, featured on a home console. I can catch and battle wild Pokémon on my big screen! Plus Fire Emblem’s unique blend of fantasy tactics and melodrama is kind of a sweet spot for me.

Hello, Mr. Backlog

Night in the woods
‘Night in the Woods’ – Infinite Fall, Secret Lab

My backlog is quite hefty. I’m putting the finishing touches on Platinuming Days Gone before moving onto Rage 2. But I also have a million indie games (Tacoma, Firewatch, What Remains of Edith Finch, Void Bastards, Paratopic and Night in The Woods) all queued up. I generally like to play these little indie games in-between 50 hour monsters like Days Gone or Assassin’s Creed. A few of them will be perfect fall/Halloween games. I also have the Dreams beta, Ni No Kuni 2, the Uncharted games, Fallout 76, Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Persona 5. It’s a wealth of games, but I don’t have a wealth of time. I’ll of course dive into them when I’m not adulting. Which is like 67% of the time.

Write about them games

One of my writing goals for 2019 was to do more freelance work. I want to write more non-fiction pieces about games! I’ve read a lot of stellar game journalism this year (see my interview with Alex Kane) and it made me realize how much I enjoy doing it. I’m writing a review for Days Gone that I plan on sending to a couple of venues to see if they’re interested. My passions change by the day, but I never stop writing.


Do you have any gaming goals? And as we gear up for E3, do you have any wild predictions or wishes?

Interview: Georgina Bruce

Hello everyone and welcome to June’s Author Interview! Every month I’ll be interviewing authors and creators about their newest works, their lives, and what influences them. This month I’m talking to myth-maker Georgina Bruce! Her debut collection This House of Wounds has a physical release this month (previously released digitally in March). Let’s see what she has to say!

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Hello Georgina! I’m happy to have you on my blog today! Let’s start this interview with the ultimate icebreaker request: tell us a little bit about yourself! What made you want to be a writer?

Thanks for having me! I wanted to be a writer ever since I realized it was a thing that people could be. I loved reading from when I was very little, and thought that writers must be the best kind of people. So that was always my ambition. I had a somewhat troubled family background and when I was 17 I got kicked out of home and recruited into what is probably best described as a cult. I extricated myself from that and put myself through university in my twenties – I was working full time while also studying full time, which was fairly tough going but I graduated with a first class degree so it was worth it! Then I worked abroad for many years, teaching English in Okinawa, Cairo, Essaouira, Antalya, other places. I moved around a lot, eventually fleeing from London to escape a dangerous and violent man. I found myself broke, homeless, traumatized and in the middle of nowhere. And so I thought: I’ll just start writing. Because I really had nothing else at that point. Within a couple of years I’d sold my first short story and was getting commissions for screenplays and teaching gigs. Fifteen or so years later, I have a short story collection. As a path to becoming a writer, I wouldn’t recommend it! But hey, I’m here now.

Your debut collection released digitally earlier this year. I have it in my TBR pile and everyone I know that has read it has loved it. What can you tell me about This House of Wounds? What did the road to publication look like?

This House of Wounds

Mike Kelly reached out to me in 2017 to see if I had a collection. At the time I didn’t, but I thought if Undertow was interested, I better see about putting something together! The stories in THOW are selected from around ten years of writing, plus four new, previously unpublished pieces, so I guess it’s a pretty good snapshot of what I’ve been up to. Undertow are absolutely brilliant to work with and Mike and Carolyn did a lot to transform my random bunch of stories into a coherent collection. We were also very lucky to get a fantastic piece of art by Catrin Welz-Stein for the cover, showcased by Vince Haig’s genius design. They say you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but in this case, I do think it’s a pretty good reflection of what you’ll find inside! It’s fairly bloody, twisted and weird.

I saw on your site that you won the British Fantasy Award for your short story White Rabbit (published in Black Static) in 2017. What an accomplishment! Can you tell us about that experience?
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Thank you! When it was originally published in Black Static, Vince Haig did the most spectacular illustrations for it, which I think was a big part of why people noticed the story. It was fantastic to be nominated but I convinced myself I wouldn’t win. I was practicing my “I’m so happy for the winner” face for the awards ceremony! I’ll never forget the cheer that went up when my name was called out. It was a huge surprise and a very emotional moment. Winning that award opened a lot of doors for me in my career. I have a lot to be grateful for.

A lot of young writers I talk to get discouraged with the grind (sending stories out on submission, etc.) and the constant struggle that is the publishing world. Do you have any general advice for any writers looking to get published?

It’s not just young writers, that’s the first thing I’d say. I’m forty-seven. A lot of writers don’t get going until later in life – especially women, working class people in general. We don’t all have the time or money or the inner resources to devote to writing until we get a bit older. So the first thing I’d advise writers is not to be put off by the idea that they have to be published before they hit 30 or whatever. There are some incredibly talented young writers who are nonetheless very lucky and privileged to be getting published straight out of university or in their twenties. As an older writer, you may face more obstacles, but you also have a unique voice and wisdom that only comes with time. In general, I think all writers should cultivate resilience. You have to cope with failure, and then you have to cope with success (which is nearly as bad) and you have to keep writing through it all. It’s not easy. Get resilient.

Let’s talk about books for a moment. What’s in your To Be Read pile right now? Any books you’re looking forward to in the future?

I’ve just finished Rebecca Gransden’s ANEMOGRAM which I loved. It’s completely mesmerizing, frightening, and weird. I think she’s a writer that more people should be paying attention to. I’m reading Christina Henry’s latest, THE GIRL IN RED, which is an apocalyptic take on Little Red Riding Hood – absolutely masterful and very gripping. I’ve also just started THE WORST IS YET TO COME by S.P. Miskowski, and Nina Allan’s THE DOLLMAKER. I’m a huge fan of both those writers. I have a ridiculous number of books in my TBR pile that all look completely brilliant, but I’m especially looking forward to Sandra Newman’s THE HEAVENS. It sounds like my cup of tea.

A temporal oddity is sucking up your book collection and you can only save one book from your library! What do you grab!?

This question is traumatizing me! What temporal oddity? What’s it doing with my books? Is it taking them to the past or the future? How do I stop it? Okay, well in that case, I would probably save LONESOME DOVE by Larry McMurtry. A friend gave it to me for my birthday a few years ago and made me promise to read it. I’m sure it’s brilliant, but it’s flipping enormous! And it’s about horses? Or cowboys or something. I’d definitely read it if it was the only book left on my shelves, and it would keep me going for a little while, at least until I could defeat this temporal oddity and restore meaning to the universe.


Another incredible interview! Thank you Georgina! For some more exciting news… this month’s interview tips me over the double digits! I’ve included links to all the previous ones below. Every creator has answered every question intelligently. I’ve learned a lot about the craft and have grown my TBR exponentially. I’d like to thank every single one of them for their honesty and candor.

The first interview with Lovecraftian extraordinaire Pete Rawlik! 

The insanely talented Kristi DeMeester!

The spooktastic Michael Wehunt!

Horror’s favorite skeleton Orrin Grey!

Artist and cryptid king Trevor Henderson!

Haunted radio jockey/author Matthew M. Bartlett!

Horror podcast maverick Gemma Amor!

Horror author (and birder!) Carrie Laben!

Video game critic (and video game Jedi) Alex Kane!

Strange story specialist Simon Strantzas!

Monthly Review: May 2019

April showers bring May flowers. I guess. Here in Ohio, it really hasn’t stopped raining all month. Normally I like the rain, but May showers just bring humidity. Which is one of the items on my ‘No Thank You’ list. Since this cursed month is almost over, it’s time for another Monthly Review!

Story Submissions:

New Submissions: 1

Stories Still Out in the Wild: 2

Acceptances: 0

Rejections: 1

As of this, no new Acceptances! I did get a story out the door at the end of last month that I’ve included in the stats for May. As is my custom, I’ll be over here refreshing my Inbox.

What else have I been doing?

Interview with Simon Strantzas!

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This month’s interview was with strange story specialist Simon Strantzas! I enjoyed this interview and I’d like to thank Simon again for joining me! Next month’s interview will be with horror author Georgina Bruce!

My Favorite Horror Films of the 1990s!

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As part of my ongoing series outlining my favorite horror films from each decade, this month’s entry was all about the 1990s! While this was kind of a weak decade overall, there was enough gems to fill about all nine years. If you want to see me do some more decades, click here!

‘The Eldritch Film Club’ was featured in Weird Mask Zine!

My Lovecraftian flash story was featured in Weird Mask Zine’s newest issue! I’m proud of my weird little story, and I’m glad it was able to find a home.


And that’s it for May! Do you think I missed any ’90’s horror classics?

My Favorite Horror Films of the 1990s

Welcome to the second Feature outlining the Decades of Horror. Each entry I’ll be picking my favorite film from each year, and then some runner-ups. The 1990s aren’t in the running for the all time greatest decades, but it certainly deserves a spot at the secondary table. Let’s talk with the year of…

1990:

Misery

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With Stephen King film adaptations all the rage right now, it’s easy to forget about some of the classics. Misery is one of my personal favorites. It’s a nail-biting thriller anchored by Kathy Bates’ unhinged performance. She’s just so wacka-do crazy. Poor Paul Sheldon. How are your legs?

1991:

The Silence of the Lambs

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Thank heavens for The Silence of the Lambs, because this year sucks. Not even any cheesy classics. Just trash from wall to wall. And thank heavens again for The Silence of the Lambs because this is one of the few movies that I see as perfect. Some of the best performances in modern cinema, coupled with a genius script and unstoppable direction from Jonathan Demme. Seriously, SO GOOD.

1992:

Bram Stoker’s Dracula

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Big bad Vlad… Gary Oldman does the character some serious justice here. Every frame of Francis Ford Coppola’s horror film is pure Gothic gold. Deep shadows and brilliant crimsons are splashed across every minute. While it does feel a little overlong, it was the best horror film that ’92 had to offer.

1993:

The Dark Half

or Cronos

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And now for the year I was born! A semi-grand year… Cronos very nearly stole the top spot (because it’s very good). But no! Stephen King’s The Dark Half was a childhood favorite of mine. A little pulpy, super violent and kind of gross. Timothy Hutton kills it as both the nebbish author and violent psychopath. Watch this one!

1994:

In the Mouth of Madness

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I love me some John Carpenter… So 1994 was an easy year for me. In the Mouth of Madness is a little cheesy, but it’s a blast of Lovecraftian (cold) air. Sam Neill is excellent, and we get some fantastic creatures along the way.

1995:

Se7en

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Trees worth of paper have been written up about David Fincher’s nihilist serial killer film Se7en. So I won’t waste too much of your time. This film is grim and brilliant, a stark, nasty little masterpiece.

1996:

Scream

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Scream helped make me the writer that I am today. When I was 10 or 11, I watched this movie endlessly. Kevin Williamson’s script and Wes Craven’s able direction helped create what I still view as the perfect slasher film. This earns a spot in my 10 Favorite Movie list. Easy.

1997:

Event Horizon

or Scream 2

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What is it with Sam Neill making cheesetastic horror movies that I love anyway? He makes them, and I watch them. Event Horizon is not a smart movie. It’s a mess from nearly top to bottom. But… this film does have it’s charms. It’s Hellraiser splatter. Haunting set and sound design. Visually, this film is grand.

1998:

I Still Know What You Did Last Summer

or Blade or Urban Legend

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A good year! Finally! Though Blade and Urban Legend are better movies, I Still Know What You Did Last Summer holds a special place in my heart. Dumb, funny, but with a setting and premise that makes me smile. (And Ben-SON is the dumbest twist ever. Fight me).

1999:

The Sixth Sense

or House on Haunted Hill

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The end of the decade! And what a way to end it. The Sixth Sense is remembered for it’s twist. But I’m here to tell you that this film is SO much more. Number one: this film is terrifying. The Mother ghost, the girl beneath the blanket, the closet scene. And it’s emotional and sorrowful. Bruce Willis was rarely better than he was here. I love this movie through and through.


That’s the My Favorite Horror Films of the 1990’s! A weaker list overall, but there is a couple of true gems mixed in with the absolute cheese. What’s your favorite 1990s horror flick?

Want more Decades of Horror?

My Favorite Horror Movies of the 2010s 

Interview: Simon Strantzas

Hold onto your hats, because it’s time for this month’s Interview! For the uninitiated, every month I’ll be interviewing authors and creators about their newest works, their lives, and what influences them. For this month’s interview, I’m speaking with strange story specialist Simon Strantzas!

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Hello Simon and welcome! I like to start my interviews off with the world’s toughest simple request: tell us a little bit about yourself! What’s your author origin story?

My origin story is rather mundane, actually. I didn’t originally start out wanting to be a writer. I thought, for a good number of years, I’d be a comic book artist. Then, as I got older, as someone who wrote and drew his own comic. After a failed attempt at selling one I realized I wasn’t all that good at it, and put everything away. During these years I read a lot, and I had a notebook I’d write flash fiction ideas in, but nothing serious. Just before I turned thirty I realized I needed more than a nine-to-five job, and asked myself what it was I really wanted to do. The answer was to write, so I dedicated myself to it and haven’t really stopped since.

Over the course of your career you’ve put out five collections and edited three anthologies. You clearly have an affinity/love for the short story. What draws you to this form?

I like the short story for aesthetic reasons: primarily because it encapsulates and explores a single idea or concept, allowing for the sort of deep dive a poem couldn’t, and the sort of focus novels rarely allow. A short story can be a beautiful crystal in that way, opening a specific dialogue with the reader. But I also like the form for a practical reason: I can start and finish one in a short period of time, which provides the sensation of forward momentum. Whenever I’ve tried writing something longer than a short story, I inevitably feel lost in the weeds at some point, and somewhat stuck in place. The idea of extending that sensation further in an effort to write a novel doesn’t much appeal to me.

And following up with the previous question, I want to talk about the anthologies you’ve edited. Do you enjoy doing that kind of work? And what are some of the challenges of editing?

Do I enjoy editing? Frankly, no. I have no deep love for it. Well, perhaps I should clarify: I enjoy brainstorming the idea for an anthology. I enjoy reading stories written aickman's heirs.jpgspecifically for me, for the anthology I’ve proposed. I enjoy putting together lists of writers not everyone has heard of or yet read and enjoy it when the anthology allows new readers to discover those writers’ work. I enjoy putting the anthology together, finding a rhythm for the story order, and determining how the book will present itself to its readers. And I enjoy seeing people read and like the anthology I’ve assembled, and share that like with others. What I don’t enjoy is the time it takes to do all this, time I could be using to work on my own writing. And I don’t enjoy telling established writers, some of whom are friends, that their work isn’t quite right for the book. I empathize with everyone who gets a rejection, and I dislike being the cause of that. For these reasons, and a few others, I don’t intended to edit any further anthologies. But, as they say, never say never.

A lot of young writers I talk to get discouraged with the grind (sending stories out on submission, etc.) and the constant struggle that is the publishing world. As an editor and writer, do you have any general advice for any writers looking to get published?

The grind will never go away. It’s a constant grind for every writer, no matter how big or famous. The grind just changes as time goes on. But that’s life, isn’t it? Everything is a grind, from cradle to grave. The only question is whether this particular grind is worth it to you to continue suffering. Because you don’t have to, and you probably shouldn’t.
But you’re asking for encouragement, not discouragement. What advice to have to impart? Lots, but for those looking to get published, the biggest mistake I see young writers making is playing it safe and aiming low. Striving to too little. Accepting mediocrity. A writer owes it to her or himself to write the best story they can, and then send that story to the most professional markets that might publish it.

Let’s talk about books for a moment. What’s in your To Be Read pile right now? Any books you’re looking forward to in the future?

My reading has slowed down tremendously this year, but unfortunately my book buying has not followed suit, so my stack of unread books now threatens to topple and crush me beneath its weight. This year so far I have books by Helen Marshall, Nathan Ballingrud, and John Langan to read, and expect books from Paul Tremblay and Brian Evenson over the next few months. And that ignores books from previous years I haven’t had a chance to read yet, like the new Jean Ray collection and books from Lafferty and Enriquez. I’m looking forward to reading all of them at some point before I die, and maybe for a short time afterward.

Last question: where can people find you online?
The best place is Facebook, where I’m the most active and engaged. The next best place is Twitter, where I don’t say much, but I’m often lurking. Otherwise, my blog contains longer thoughts on my own fiction, as well as occasional recommendations for books by other writers. If you’re interested in what I write, that might be the most interesting of the three (though least often updated).


This was a tremendous interview! Thank you Simon! It was a great end to the month of May. If you’re interested in reading more interviews like this one, you can read them here.

 

Monthly Review: April 2019

Apparently, April was an unofficial Star Wars month for me.

I had two Star Wars specific pieces come out this month, but more on that later. We have other business first!

Story Submissions:

Submissions: 2

Stories Still Out in the Wild: 3

Acceptances: 1!

Rejections: 0

Acceptance! That means it’s time for a Nic Cage GIF!

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My story ‘The Eldritch Film Club’ has been picked up by Weird Mask Zine! Weird Mask Zine is doing a Lovecraftian issue, so I thought I would throw my hat in the ring. And luck has struck again! More information to come as I get it.

I submitted a slasher story for a ‘Axe Murderer’ anthology. It’s a little wild, but I have a good feeling about it.

What else have I been doing?

An interview with game journalist and writer Alex Kane!

Alex Kane

This was a very cool interview. Video games are one of my many passions, and my recent obsession has been focused on the creation of video games. The entire process is completely insane. I spoke to gaming journalist Alex Kane about some of his favorite games and his new book, Knights of the Old Republic. Speaking of which…

I reviewed Boss Fight Books’ Knights of the Old Republic!

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See my thoughts on the link above! I’ll say this: I’m not the biggest Star Wars fan ever, but I found this book fascinating. Bioware went through hell to get this RPG masterpiece made, and this book draws attention to it.


And that’s it for April! Next month I’ll be interviewing strange story author Simon Strantzas. I’ll also be talking about my Favorite Horror Movies Released in the 1990’s! It is… kind of slim pickings.

 

 

Book Review: ‘Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic’ by Alex Kane

Set an even longer time ago in a galaxy far, far away, BioWare’s 2003 Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic wowed players with its compelling characters, lightsaber customization, complex morality choices, and one of the greatest plot twists in both video game and Star Wars history. But even for veteran studios like LucasArts and BioWare, the responsibility of making both a great game and a lasting contribution to the Star Wars canon was no easy task.

Featuring extensive new interviews with a host of KotOR’s producers, writers, designers, and actors, journalist Alex Kane weaves together an epic oral history of this classic game, from its roots in tabletop role-playing and comic books, to its continued influence on big-screen Star Wars films. Whether you align with the light or the dark side, you’re invited to dive into this in-depth journey through one of the most beloved Star Wars titles of all time.

Plot summary taken from Amazon.

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If you made a list of the best RPGs released before 2010, what would be on it? Post-apocalyptic masterwork Fallout 3 late in the decade. Space-opera shooter Mass Effect? Of course. But there is one more RPG that belongs high up on that list. And it just so happens to be made by Mass Effect developer Bioware.

2003’s Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic (or KotOR) is a masterpiece. Praised by both Star Wars fanatics and the general public alike, it has lived on in the minds of gamers for nearly two decades. Alex Kane and publisher Boss Fight Books have taken a dive into the history and creation of this beloved game. Game development is a tricky business. Developers and studios are hammered by brutal crunch times, budget problems and expectations. Now include the protective gaze of Lucasfilm, and it gets even worse.

With a quote from Ben Kenobi to get the book started off right, Alex Kane puts us directly into the early days of KotOR’s development. From there we are pulled through the day to day, the E3 crunches and different colored light saber drama. If you enjoy the nitty gritty details of game development, this is the perfect book for you. Alex Kane presents the story of Old Republic’s creation in a sharp, clear manner. The new interviews shine light on some of the lesser known aspects of the game’s production.

If you love video games or Star Wars, this book is a fascinating read. Books like this give me a true appreciation for the entire process of video game creation. I think I’m going to have to find more Boss Fight Books to read.