Journalism returns to its roots of “yellow journalism” in this time of political agnst

Most of you don’t know about a one of the first comic strips called “The Yellow Kid” that appeared in the pages of the New York World from 1895 to 1898, and later William Randolph Hearst’s New York Journal. Created and drawn by Richard F. Outcault in the comic strip Hogan’s Alley (and later under other names as well), it was one of the first Sunday supplement comic strips in an American newspaper.

It also has a connection to the term “yellow journalism” that was used in that time period to describe the two newspapers’ editorial practices of taking (sometimes even fictionalized) sensationalism and profit as priorities in journalism. Today, we seem to be returning to that same kind of “sensationalism” in journalism.

Now, I’m not trying to say that the press are “the enemy of the people” but a lot of them are partisan in their reporting. That fact is undeniable, and not what journalism should be. When you have websites and organizations dedicated to “fact checking” the media, you know something is wrong.

I have some experience in this matter. I spent more than 30 years in military journalism and public affairs, having one-on-one interactions with the media. I found most of them to be driven by the story, and not looking for that “gotcha” moment. That agenda has done a complete 180° by today’s standards.

A key purpose of journalism is to provide an adversarial check on those who wield the greatest power by shining a light on what they do in the dark, and informing the public about those acts.”–Glenn Greenwald

That is what journalism is supposed to be, but I stead we get stories with little to no facts being published. It’s done to be the first to get it out, not be accurate. Then, when those stories are proven wrong, the editors publish an update or retraction, but the false story is already out there. By the time the retraction is posted, the inaccurate story has been retweeted, shared, and sent out hundreds, maybe thousands, of times while the retraction gets little to no puah.

This is why the media has become so untrustworthy. They are driven by agendas, not facts. That’s not what journalism is supposed to be.

If you want to see what journalism was meant to be, watch the 2005 movie “Good Night and Good Luck” starring David Strathairn as Edward R. Murrow. The movie surrounds the infamous hearings of Senator Joseph McCarthy surrounding communism in our country. When I watch this movie, it saddens me that we don’t have journalists like Murrow in the media today. Today’s journalists act more like wanna-be celebrities than journalists. Add to that, anyone with a social media account, blog, or just a smartphone tries for their “15 minutes” of fame. Its shameful and most of the time quite inaccurate.

I think journalism gets measured by the quality of information it presents, not the drama or the pyrotechnics associated with us.”–Bob Woodward

As writers–whether or not you’re a journalist–we have a responsibility for accuracy in our words. Even writing fantasy stories, as I do, I strive for accuracy by researching the myths and legends I use in my novels. People who read my stories expect it, just as we should expect it from the media today.

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Mark Piggott is the author of the Forever Avalon book series. Forever Avalon is available for purchase as a book/ebook at Amazon. The Dark Tides is available for purchase as a book/ebook at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and iUniverse publishing. The Outlander War, Book Three of the Forever Avalon series is coming soon from Austin Macauley Publishing.

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It’s no wonder I can’t sleep with the constant storytelling running in my head

“Writing is literally transformative. When we read, we are changed. When we write, we are changed. Its neurological. To me, this is a kind of magic.” — Francesca Lia

Some people find it hard to write. It’s called “writer’s block” for a good reason. I seem to have a different problem. I have multiple storylines running in my head, like a Broadway play on steroids.

These storylines are for two different books I’m currently working on. I see them in my sleep, when I’m walking my dog, waiting in the elevator, or riding on the metro. It’s a constant barrage of ideas and they won’t stop.

At times, it can be maddening. Paul Goldman said, “Closing my eyes, the scene within unfolds as it has for thousands upon thousands of years.” That’s what it feels like inside my head at times. Even when I’m doing the simplest of things, like eating dinner or watching TV, I still find my mind wandering into my stories.

I think that’s the curse of being a writer. Maybe ‘curse’ is too strong of a word, but it’s accurate. I am a storyteller. My job is to tell people the wild and wierd stories, flights of fantasy, that stirs the imagination of my readers. It’s what drives me to be a writer. I love it, no matter how much it bugs me, I absolutely love it.

This kind of inspiration is what drives me to be a writer. It fills my pasion, forges my imagination, and makes my life worth doing. I need to be driven to write even better. Whenever I speak to groups about writing, there’s a story I tell about where the Forver Avalon series comes from. I’d like to share that with you.

I joined the U.S. Navy in 1983. Back then, we didn’t have the internet, video games, or satellite TV. Many Sailors spent their off duty time playing board or card games. Me… I played Dungeons & Dragons. My friends and I would seal ourselves away in the #4 aircraft elevator mechanical room late at night and spend our off duty time playing D&D. It helped pass the time when you’re deployed for more than six months from your wife and kids.

dnd5For me, these late night D&D sessions fueled an already active imagination. Combine that with missing your wife and newborn baby daughter and it can lead to some rather strange dreams. During my first deployment, I started having a recurring dream of being with my wife and daughter on an island of fantasy and magic, lost in time and space. That dream evolved and grew with each of my deployments and subsequent birth of my other children.

In 2001, I was deployed aboard the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise (yes, lucky me to have served on my favorite starship’s namesake!). Although I wasn’t playing D&D at this time, the dream stuck with me. However, it was more detailed and elaborate than ever before, so I decided to start writing it down. I spent my off-duty time writing my story, putting it together in a cohesive story. By the time my deployment was done, Forever Avalon was born. My story was complete.

The funny thing is, after I finished writing the book, I stopped having the dream. It disappeared completely. It served its purpose, and I can’t tell you how much I appreciate it. D&D helped me develop my imagination and writing has given me an avenue to use it. Its who I am, in my heart and in my soul. I am a writer. So let the band play on. It just fuels my passion.

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Mark Piggott is the author of the Forever Avalon book series. Forever Avalon is available for purchase as a book/ebook at Amazon. The Dark Tides is available for purchase as a book/ebook at AmazonBarnes and Noble, and iUniverse publishing. The Outlander War, Book Three of the Forever Avalon series is coming soon from Austin Macauley Publishing.

We could all use a good Doctor in our life

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“There’s no point in being grown up if you can’t be childish sometimes.” — The 4th Doctor (Tom Baker)

Many people turn to parents, grandparents, best friends, or even a priest or pastor to turn to for advice in times of need. For geeks, nerds, and other assorted misfits, we have a different source of comfort and advice.

The wisdom of Yoda, Captain James T. Kirk (or Picard, depending on your preference), Thanos, Gandalf, or many other characters from the various realms of sci-fi/fantasy are a bastion of wisdom. For me, there is only one really, and that’s the Doctor. Whenever I need some sage advice, I just listen for the wheezing sound of the Tardis, open the door and look for the Doctor.

Doctor Who has been around for more than 50 years. In all that time, you can find relative truths and insightful wisdom in his various incarnations. That was the great thing about regeneration’s, or how the Doctor has survived all these years for those non-Whovians.

For example… What do I bring to a party? “Always take a banana to a party!” (The 10th Doctor, David Tenant) or Will you read me a story? “We’re all stories, in the end… just make it a good one, eh?” (The 11th Doctor, Matt Smith) and When can I go to sleep? “Rest is for the weary, sleep is for the dead.” (The 6th Doctor, Colin Baker)

The wisdom of the Doctor extends beyond the simple and the straightforward advice one would expect from a family member, friend or confidant. The writing in the show was poignant, provocative, and has kept the fans enthralled and enticed new fans to the show.

“A straight line may be the shortest distance between two points, but it is by no means the most interesting.” — The 3rd Doctor (Jon Pertwee)

That’s the beauty of Doctor Who. Each Doctor has been played by a different actor, each with their own personalities and charm. It’s like a wealth of advice from a long line of long, lost uncles (and a soon-to-be aunt) right at your fingertips. The Doctor has always been a source of insight into humanity and our various idiosyncrasies that define us, both good and bad. The Doctor has made it very clear that humans are far from perfect, but with potential. I think longtime Doctor Who showrunner, Steven Moffat, said it best.

“When they made this particular hero, they didn’t give him a gun, they gave him a screwdriver to fix things. They didn’t give him a tank or a warship or an x-wing fighter, they gave him a call box from which you can call for help. And the didn’t give him a superpower or pointy ears or a heat ray, they gave him an extra heart. They gave him two hearts. And that’s an extraordinary thing; there will never come a time when we don’t need a hero like the Doctor.” — Steven Moffat

So as we prepare for the next Doctor (Jodie Whittaker) to take the controls of the Tardis along with new showrunner Chris Chibnall this Fall, we can look forward to more words of wisdom that I know I’ll be adding to this list.

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Mark Piggott is the author of the Forever Avalon book series. Forever Avalon is available for purchase as a book/ebook at Amazon. The Dark Tides is available for purchase as a book/ebook at AmazonBarnes and Noble, and iUniverse publishing. The Outlander War, Book Three of the Forever Avalon series is coming soon from Austin Macauley Publishing.

The Dark Tides is heading to Germany!

This past week, I received a once-in-a-lifetime invitation to have my second novel, THE DARK TIDES, displayed and marketed at the 2018 Frankfurt International Book Fair in Frankfurt, Germany, Oct. 10-14. This is an incredible honor for an independent author like me.

The Frankfurt International Book Fair is a major cultural event: around 7,300 exhibitors from over 100 countries, more than 275,000 visitors, over 4,000 events, around 10,000 journalists and around 2,400 bloggers make Frankfurter Buchmesse the world’s largest trade fair for publishing every year – and Frankfurt, the metropolis on the Main, the centre of the international media world.

Just thinking about the thousands of people who will get a glimpse of my book gives me hope that someone like me has a chance to make it as an author. I’ve been writing stories since high school–the early eighties, yes I’m old–but I didn’t become published until 2009.

I’ve struggled, as I’m sure many independent authors have, with the cost of artwork, editing, publishing and marketing. This is a huge event, but it’s also a risk that one book like mine could stand out among millions.

I want to thank LitFire Publishing for seeking me out and believing in my novel for this event. If it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t be heading to Germany.

For those who may be unfamiliar with my novel, here’s an excerpt from THE DARK TIDES, explaining a bit of the background of the story in a conversation between Sir Percival, the first Gil-Gamesh, and Bryan Drake, the new Gil-Gamesh.

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Bryan’s dream were jumbled, filled with pain. He watched Donegal fall into an endless black void. His deathly screams caused Bryan pain. He also saw others floating in the darkness; a variety of men, women and creatures he’d never seen before. They writhed in anguish, as if their souls were being tortured by the darkness within sword.

Then his dream shifted; he saw a knight standing on a hillside surrounded by an eerie mist. The early morning sun began to rise in the distance. The man wore the two swords Bryan had used earlier around his waist. He turned around as Bryan walked up to him. He was an older man, dressed in plate mail armor, with brown hair and a beard, flecked with gray. He smiled at Bryan, putting him at ease.

“Greetings Bryan Drake, we have been expecting you,” he proclaimed.

Bryan was confused. “We?” he asked. “What do you mean?”

Appearing out of the mist were other knights like him, each wearing a different type of armor, clothing and hairstyles, as if he were looking at a timeline of history. The only thing similar about them was that they all looked very much alike, as if they were related in some way.

“Where am I?”

“I am Sir Percival Peredyr, first Gil-Gamesh of Avalon. We …” he exclaimed, motioning to the others, “… have been the protectors of sacred Avalon for thousands of years.”

“Gil-Gamesh? What is that?”

Percival placed his hand on Bryan’s shoulder and walked him through the ranks of knights. “It is a name I heard on my quest for the Holy Grail for good King Arthur. It was the name of a great hero in ancient Persia. It is the name I took as the champion of Avalon.”

“Avalon? You mean the mythical island from the King Arthur legend?” Bryan questioned him. Percival grinned with a devilish smirk, something he does from time-to-time.

“Yes, Bryan Drake, this is Avalon. But my story doesn’t begin here. It begins nearly 3,000 years ago. I was witness to the death of King Arthur at the hands of his son Mordred at the battle of Camlann. I retrieved his sword Excalibur and was about to return it to the Lady of the Lake when Merlin stopped me.”

“Merlin the Magician? The wizard who advised King Arthur?” Bryan asked. “He’s real too?”

“The one and the same … Merlin told me that with King Arthur’s death, the age of magic was coming to an end. He thought the only way to preserve the magic and all magical beings was to bring them here to Avalon.” Percival explained how Merlin combined his magic with that of Excalibur and opened up a mystic portal. Anyone touched by magic was whisked away to Avalon.

“Touched by magic? You mean like the dragon I saw earlier and the Dwarf too?” Bryan implied.

Percival nodded his head. “Dragons and Dwarves, unicorns and Elves, goblins and trolls … All things created by magic, as well as humans imbued with magic themselves. A new age had begun, but at a great cost.

“Excalibur was shattered, the Knights of the Round Table were decimated and the forces of evil began to gather themselves together. They wanted to wipe us from the face of Avalon forever. To aid in the coming battle, the Elves of Alfheimer and the Dwarves of the Gilded Halls took the broken pieces and forged them into the Twin Swords of the Dragon Moon … Twilight and Dusk.”

Percival drew the swords and showed them to Bryan. “Twilight is the light of Avalon, a shining blade of pure starlight that can cut through anything. Dusk is the darkness within Avalon, a soul reaper that feeds on the souls of its victims to power the ungodly blade. I took up these swords, but not as a king, a champion for justice. I was the first Gil-Gamesh and that honor has been passed on from generation to generation.”

“I still don’t understand what any of this has to do with me?”

“Because, Bryan Drake, you are of my blood … my kin,” Percival told him, “And now you are the new Gil-Gamesh of Avalon.

“You wielded Twilight and Dusk in your battle with Donegal. The swords represent the balance between order and chaos, a balance needed to maintain the peace in our troubled lands. Only a true heir of Percival can wield the swords and become the Gil-Gamesh.”

“But why me and why now? I have a family that needs me. I need to get back to them,” he declared.

“Fate has brought you to Avalon, Bryan Drake” Percival chimed in. “It has always been your destiny to be the Gil-Gamesh. It is up to you to accept your destiny and determine the future of Avalon.”

Percival held out the swords to Bryan, as if to pass on the legacy of the Gil-Gamesh to him. Bryan seemed unsure to take them and Percival sensed his apprehension. “Avalon has been without a Gil-Gamesh for more than 500 years Bryan. The people need you.”

His words rang true—duty, honor and commitment—the same things that made Bryan join the Navy all those years ago. Somehow, someway, he was brought here for a reason. He didn’t like it but it was his only chance to live. Perhaps someday he could find a way home, but now he had to accept his destiny.

Bryan took the swords from Percival. “I don’t know what the future holds for me, but for now, I will do what is right.” The dream began to fade and the last thing Bryan saw before he floated back into darkness was the proud look on Percival’s face.

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Mark Piggott is the author of the Forever Avalon book series. Forever Avalon is available for purchase as a book/ebook at Amazon. The Dark Tides is available for purchase as a book/ebook at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and iUniverse publishing. The Outlander War, Book Three of the Forever Avalon series is coming soon from Austin Macauley Publishing.

If you’re not watching Overlord, then what the Hell is wrong with you?

Although Overlord is in its third season, it doesn’t seem to be getting the hype like the third season of Attack on Titan or Sword Art Online. To be frank, that really pisses me off. This is an anime everyone should be watching.

It has relatable characters, a fantasy world we’d all want to jump into, formidable allies, and magical power beyond belief. Add to that a bevy of gorgeous vampires, succubus, and battle maids at your command, and you’ll realize it’s every nerds dream come true.

Overlord, in a nutshell, is about a gamer who stays logged into his favorite fantasy game while they shut the server down for the last time. Then he suddenly finds himself and all the NPCs (non-player characters for any noobs reading this) transported to a fantasy world with all their powers and abilities intact. He decides to set out and take over the world.

Anyone who has spent a weekend playing D&D nonstop, or pulled an all-nighter on Warcraft can relate to the main character, Ainz Ool Gown. Here is a guy who spent all his free time away from social angst by gaming, creating the most powerful undead sorcerer ever. Now he really is that sorcerer in a real fantasy world. Besides his constant monologing, it’s fun watching him read self-help books on being a good leader, learning how to interact socially with others, and ward off the affections of a certain succubus who lusts after his bones.

Other guardians who serve him are also creepy and fun. Demiurge is the coolest demon ever. You never know what he’s capable of. Shalltear is a vampire who will kill you without thinking and yet is the biggest where (when it comes to Lord Ainz that is). Albedo is, well, Albedo. She wants nothing more than to love Ainz, serve his every whim and wish, and have his baby too. These guardians are as ridiculously overpowered as they come, and yet, they have some very human flaws. It’s what makes them endearing.

That’s what I find so interesting about this anime. Here you have a collection of the most evil undead monsters ever assembled and yet you want to be with them. Their funny, cute, sexy, and even caring (at times). Even some of the people in this new world are more monstrous than they are.

Anime has its share of gamers going to worlds based on their in-game experiences, but Overlord is different. Because the main characters are not human, you see more of the humanity in them, and less in the other characters.

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Mark Piggott is the author of the Forever Avalon book series. Forever Avalon is available for purchase as a book/ebook at Amazon. The Dark Tides is available for purchase as a book/ebook at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and iUniverse publishing. The Outlander War, Book Three of the Forever Avalon series is coming soon.

Take a trip back to your childhood through the Hundred Acre Woods

nullWe all want that magic formula for staying and feeling young. For some, it’s exercising, eating right, no smoking or drinking, etc. For me, it’s watching things like anime, cartoons, and other movies and TV shows from my youth. We’re talking about the 70’s and 80’s, so that includes the classic Winnie the Pooh cartoons. This past weekend, I did just that when I went to see Christopher Robin. I will keep this SPOILER free so as not to ruin the movie for you.

This is definitely a movie that will make you laugh, make you cry, and give you that shot from the Fountain of Youth. I felt so alive after watching this movie. It has your basic plot of man working too hard, ignoring his family, needing a visit back to his childhood to make him see the error of his ways; but this is even better because it includes Winnie the Pooh and friends.

The first thing you have to understand about the movie is the setting. We’re talking England in the early 1900s, so for a young boy its boarding school, responsibilities after a parent dies, war, marriage and family, etc. This was the world of author A.A. Milne, and it was recreated with such precision. Another thing that was done perfectly was the characters. Don’t look for the cartoon Pooh, Piglet, Tigger, Eeyore, etc., but rather a faithful recreation of the art of Ernest H. Shepard. They look like stuffed animals that have been left outside in the yard, but they move and sound like the beloved characters.

Along with the story, you get to hear some of the familiar songs from the original Disney cartoons, like the Tigger song and Pooh’s morning exercise song, as well as some familiar quotes made famous by the characters. That’s what will tie it back to your childhood, at least for the adults going to see the movie; but there are plenty of new moments that will make you laugh and make you cry.

Pooh is as delightful and as charming as ever. He had a certain wit about him that you come to expect from Winnie the Pooh. For a “bear of very little brain” there is a wisdom to what he says that makes him a joy to watch. Personally, I am a diehard Tigger fan, and really expected him to stand out, but it was Eeyore that stole the show. The scene where he and Christopher Robin fight of the Heffalumps is hysterical. He had some of the funniest lines that made me laugh the hardest. Piglet is as adorable as always and, believe it not, former Doctor Who alum Peter Capaldi surprised me as the voice of Rabbit. It was a great ensemble for all these beloved characters.

227679_1063370351891_734_nThe human cast was also quite wonderful. Ewan McGregor, Hayley Atwell, and Bronte Carmichael were brilliant as Christopher Robin and his family. The whole movie was so much fun to watch, from beginning to end, that I actually called my grown-up children afterwards and told them they better go see this movie. It not only reminded me of my childhood, but my time with them too. Want proof? Here’s me and my son with our “idols” at Disney!

You may or may not be a fan of these beloved characters, but I really don’t think that matters with this movie. It such a joy to watch, you won’t be able to help yourself. This a great movie, for couples, families, teenagers, young adults, anyone! I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

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Mark Piggott is the author of the Forever Avalon book series. Forever Avalon is available for purchase as a book/ebook at Amazon. The Dark Tides is available for purchase as a book/ebook at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and iUniverse publishing. The Outlander War, Book Three of the Forever Avalon series is coming soon.

 

Book written… Check! Publisher found… Check! And now, onto the next

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So, the good news is I have a publisher for the third book in the Forever Avalon series, The Outlander War. My manuscript and author’s package has been submitted. They are currently editing the manuscript, creating the cover and interior artwork, etc. Now the fun begins.

I’ve been told by my publisher that the process can take up to ten months. I hope to use this time to talk about the publishing process here in my blog. First and foremost, I went with Austin Macauley Publishing. I know I’m going to get some backlash because of all the negativity surrounding them on the internet, but I read through all of that and saw a growing publisher with worldwide outreach.

Yes, I am paying them to publish my book, but I would be paying a cover artist, interior artist, editor, and marketing service to do all the things my publisher is doing for my book. To me, it even’s itself out. We’ll have to wait and see if my expectations pan out.

I tried to submit as “clean” of a manuscript as possible. I went through it a dozen times myself, with spell check, and I had a co-worker edit it as well. I’m hoping it will make a difference. I’ve had some good and bad experience with my previous publishers.

My first publisher, which is now defunct, barely edited my first book, Forever Avalon. They were only looking for punctuation, repeat words, and paragraph edits for layout. After my book was published, my mother gave me two pages of edits that I had to pay $75 to update the print. Harsh!

I had better luck with my second book, The Dark Tides. The publisher, iUniverse, gave me constructive criticism on my writing style, story line, story length, as well as grammar and punctuation. They would have done more, but that costs more money.

That’s the problem with being and independent author, self-published. You are paying out money to get published, editing, artwork, etc., until you get that big publishing contract we all dream about. It’s the old adage politicians and entrepreneurs love… “You have to spend money to make money.”

But writing isn’t about making money. Oh, dont get me wrong, I would love to spend my days writing my stories, and I hope it’ll come to that one day. I’m a storyteller and I love to tell you my stories. In the end, that’s enough for me.

As my journey progresses, I’ll keep you updated on the publishing process, through marketing and book events. Wish me luck!

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Mark Piggott is the author of the Forever Avalon book series. Forever Avalon is available for purchase as a book/ebook at Amazon. The Dark Tides is available for purchase as a book/ebook at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and iUniverse publishing. The Outlander War, Book Three of the Forever Avalon series is coming soon.

The best thing about July is COMIC-CON!

sdccThis past weekend was one of the best reasons to be a geek… San Diego Comic-Con! SDCC is the pinnacle of geekdom with tons of cosplayers, celebrities, and plenty of new trailers of upcoming movies and TV shows. It is, without a doubt, the mecca for nerds.

This year was no exception. With the debut of the most anticipated trailers for Aquaman and Shazam, along with the debut of Jodie Whittaker, the 13th Doctor in Doctor Who, as well as the premiere of the new DC Comics “streaming” service and their flagship TV series, Titans, and the return of Star Wars: The Clone Wars, this was a monumental comic-con. I think, though, DC Comics stole the show with the myriad of movies and television to show off.

I have to start with television. There were plenty of trailers for the complete line-up of the CW’s DC shows, from The Flash to Arrow, Supergirl, Black Lightning, and DC’s Legends of Tomorrow. The biggest announcement from that is the theme for it’s mid-season crossover event and next new series… Batwoman. This character has grown in popularity as part of the mainstream Batman universe over the past few years and now, she gets a starring role on her own. From the looks of things, she’ll be part of Supergirl’s Earth. It should be exciting come December.

The DC’s new series, Titans, is a lot darker than the cartoon. When you have Robin declaring “F*#k Batman!” you know it’s got a grim future. The other characters appearance was questionable, at first glance, but with the added CGI, it’s a lot better. Starfire and Beast Boy are looking more like they should, and Raven’s coming along too. It should be a great start to their new service.

Star Trek: Discovery made a surprise showing with Captain Christopher Pike (first Captain of the Enterprise) taking over the helm and the hint of Spock as well, bringing the mainstream Star Trek universe in line with it. On the opposite side, the return of the popular Star Wars series, The Clone Wars, it seems that Star Wars universe is back-tracking after the end of Rebels. I know fans of the series like this, but personally, I wish they would go forward instead of backwards.

Doctor-Who-Series-Eleven-posterThe big TV debut at SDCC was Jodie Whittaker and the new companions to Doctor Who. The new trailer definitely showed us a strange, new world for the 13th Doctor, but not a lot of teaser-worthy material. There is still plenty of mystery about the new Doctor, her companions, and what they will face. “I felt if I was very much in someone else’s shoes,” Whittaker herself said of her first days playing the character, “which is an amazing way to start this journey.”

The one thing we do know is that the Daleks will not appear in the first season. Sad, but true, according to executive producer Chris Chibnall. “We need a pillar of hope in these times, “Chibnall added later to a roar from the fans about Whittaker being handed the keys to the Tardis. “That pillar of hope is Jodie Whittaker as the Doctor Who,” he added. “This Doctor treats everything with a sense of awe, wonder and respect.”

The last thing to mention about SDCC is the movie trailers. There were so many awe-inspiring trailers this year that there is not enough space in my blog to talk about them all. Aquaman was, by far, the best of the trailers. I mean, as soon as I saw a comic book accurate Black Manta, I was done. Give James Wan the award for best comic book movie director because this was awesome! It has lived up to the hype, so take my money and let me see the damn movie.

Shazam was on another level as it accurately portrayed the origin from the comics and gave us the movie Big in comic book form. Seeing Billy Batson learn to use his powers, complain about how to pee in his superhero suit, and generally act like a kid in a super-powered form is exactly what we were expecting from Shazam. Zachary Levi was perfectly cast as Shazam and his comedy props are definitely in use here. This is going to be a bright spot in the DC Universe movies.

Wonder Woman ’84 was shown to the audience at SDCC, but no trailer as of yet. The thing I found out recently is that it was being filmed at a defunct mall just blocks from where I live in Alexandria, Va., and I didn’t know about it. That could have been a big moment for me and I missed it. Unreal!

Besides the stars, celebrities, and the merchandise on display at SDCC, it’s always great to see the cosplayers come out in full force. These people know what it means to be a fan and show it in the hard work they do in making comic and movie accurate costumes. And yes, the women who cosplay are incredibly beautiful and sexy, so it makes it easy to watch them bring your favorite characters to life.

SDCC is a treasure to end the summer, at least for geeks, filled with plenty of surprises. This one was no exception. I wish we had a little more from Marvel, but I guess they’re keeping things under wraps, for now. In any case, I hope that one day I get to attend SDCC. It would be a blast.

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Mark Piggott is the author of the Forever Avalon book series. Forever Avalon is available for purchase as a book/ebook at Amazon. The Dark Tides is available for purchase as a book/ebook at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and iUniverse publishing. The Outlander War, Book Three of the Forever Avalon series is coming soon.

 

 

 

Monsters, myths, and legends are on my pages and in my dreams

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You know how your dreams can seem real, even though you know it’s just a dream? For a fantasy writer, it’s like living with an entire world inside your head. When I played Dungeons & Dragons, it was even more vivid when you played. It was like living in that world, even though you know its not real.

That’s what I love about being a writer, especially a fantasy writer. No matter how bad things are in the real world, all I have to do is sit at my computer and step into my fantasy world. You have to wonder if this is how it was in centuries past. When people sat around and listened to the storytellers spinning their yarns about giants, dragons, and Gods, did they feel the same as me?

I’ve been talking with other writers via social media and we all have the same ideas behind our stories. It’s like there’s a genetic quirk for fantasy writers, or if you like, geeks in general. We all have that same built-in mechanism that lets us close our eyes and open them into a whole new world (no, do not start singing the song from Aladdin!)

It’s crazy, but lately my mind has been totally focused on a new story I’m writing, The Last Magus. Don’t worry, I’m not stopping the Forever Avalon series. I’ve already written Book 4 and I just sent Book 3 to the publisher to begin editing and layout. It’s just an idea that came to me and I’ve been running with it for the past few months. It’s been dominating my mind when I’m walking my dog, sleeping, and writing. The story plays out over and over again in my head, from wherever I’m at in writing it to the end. It’s like it’s on a frickn’ loop.

As its playing out, I’m writing dialogue, creating background imagry, character development, the works. It’s like I’m a movie director and the set is inside my head. I don’t know whether to love it or hate, mainly because it can be all consuming. When you’re at your job, and you’re trying to get work done, and all you can do is think about the next chapter in your story, it can be frustrating. It’s times like this that I wish I could be a fantasy writer full time.

It’s hard being a part-time writer, which I’m sure many others can relate too. You want to spend every waking moment writing, but there’s just not enough time in the day. I think that’s why I spend my nights dreaming about my story. Even when I’m asleep, I’m writing my novel.

I think for some people, this can lead to sheer and utter madness. But for a writer, it’s just another day at the office. We’re already a little mad anyway.

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Mark Piggott is the author of the Forever Avalon book series. Forever Avalon is available for purchase as a book/ebook at Amazon. The Dark Tides is available for purchase as a book/ebook at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and iUniverse publishing. The Outlander War, Book Three of the Forever Avalon series is coming soon.

Fahrenheit 451 remake speaks of social influences changing from books to social media

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I recently watched the remake of the Ray Bradbury classic “Fahrenheit 451” and, unlike some remakes, this one was spot on. It was updated to reflect the influence of social media and the control it has on society today. It still paid homage to the original, including the original movie, while bringing it into the modern world.

The casting of Michael B. Jordan and Michael Shannon was brilliant. They were a perfect foil for the other, each one with their own demons and secrets. I loved how Shannon (as Beatty) spends his nights at home, writing down his own thoughts on tissue paper with an illegal pen, burning them at dawn. At the same time, Jordan’s Montag kept a collection of relics including a Blockbuster videotape of the movie “Taxi Driver” in his bathroom vent.

All under the watchful eye of Yuixi, a futuristic version of Alexa which scares the Hell out of me. The movie talks about the influence of social media, bringing back memories of Mark Zuckerberg and his testimony about Facebook controlling what people see. Everything they do is broadcast live with emoji’s littering the screen from the millions of viewers. The movie showed us the future we are heading to in our social media driven world.

Then there’s the books. I found it interesting that the only three books available to people is the Holy Bible, Moby Dick, and To The Lighthouse. The rest? As the firemen teach the little kids… Burn them! It’s sad to see all the classics burn like this. It’s a testament to the staying power of literature that’s represented in these books. That’s why I love this book, this movie, this story… Ray Bradbury wrote a classic that stands the test of time.

The ending may have changed in this newest adaptation, but the story stayed true. When you erase literature, you erase history. Beatty talked about this when he showed Montag a copy of Huck Finn, how it offended black people so they burned it, erased it. That’s the bigger meaning of this story. You may not like what was written before, but you can’t erase it completely. To do that would wipe away the history as to why it was written and lessons we can learn from it.

Image result for fahrenheit 451 movieFahrenheit 451 remains to be a classic, in any form. It should be a required read for every child in school today just for the fact that it will show them the right way and the wrong way when it comes to books and history. We have to teach them the right way, otherwise the story Fahrenheit 451 will go from being a fantasy to being a reality. Remember that next time you toss a book aside.

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51nd6H6sATL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_SKU-000941753Mark Piggott is the author of the Forever Avalon book series. Forever Avalon is available for purchase as a book/ebook at Amazon. The Dark Tides is available for purchase as a book/ebook at AmazonBarnes and Noble, and iUniverse publishing. The Outlander War, Book Three of the Forever Avalon series is coming soon.