What the f#*k is wrong with swear words in a novel?

*This blog contains some salty “sailor” language. Reader discretion is advised!

I am having a hard time deciding whether or not to use some more profane langauge in my stories. I’m a retired U.S. Navy Chief Petty Officer, so I am no stranger to swearing. But to be honest, I didn’t start using the “f-bomb” until I joined the Navy. Even when I started writing the Forever Avalon series, I didn’t include a lot of profanity in it (except for the occasional damn or Hell) because I wanted my kids to be able to read it.

But now, my kids are all grown up and I’m wondering if I should give a shit and let the old sailor out and pump up the volume. It seems more mainstream, but does it go against who I am as a writer? More importantly, does it help me tell my story?

I have found that, as I got older, I tolerate swearing even less. When my family gets together, I find myself reprimanding my kids when they swear, even though I’ve used those same words myself. I’m turning into my father as we speak… Never thought that would happen. But the strange thing is, I’m comfortable with it in my stories.

I don’t think it’s a matter of being mainstream, but rather is part of the story. I’m currently working through a new novel, The Last Magus. As this story developed, it was more graphic, in both language and sex. This isn’t a story about a family, like Forever Avalon, but a man coming into his own. It seemed the right thing to do, and it flowed naturally as I wrote it. I mean, what’s wrong with a goblin swearing like a New York gangster?

It may be something I don’t use as much as I use to, but profanity is a part of everyday life. I don’t want to distract from people reading my novels, but I also don’t want to change it if it doesn’t seem right.

When I’m writing dialogue, it has to flow as if the conversation is actually happening. A great example for me is The Sopranos TV series. Believe it or not, the producers made a video of every single swear word spoken in the series. It was 27 minutes of non-stop profanity. Yet, in his ow home, Tony didn’t tolerate that kind of language from his kids. I think that illustrates the kind of balance I’m looking for.

There has to be a balanced approach, not a constant stream of profanity-laden diatribe for the sake of being “out there” for all to see. Usually, profanity involves an emotional response or outburst. But, don’t use it for the sake of using it.

I like to think of war movies, past and present, as an example of that. I remember those old John Wayne movies where he would throw out the occasional damn or hell but nothing more. Move it up to today’s war movies where they swear worse than Tony Soprano. Is that accurate? Who can say, but like I said, the balance is between those two extremes.

Let’s not go full George Carlin “7 words you can’t say on television” on it unless that’s your target audience. Be true to you, and your story, just don’t fuck it up.

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Mark Piggott is the author of the Forever Avalon book series. Forever Avalon is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook at Amazon. The Dark Tides is available for purchase as a paperback/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.

GATE is an anime worthy of a weekend binge for any fantasy geek

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Never underestimate an anime series that brings all the right elements together to make it enjoyable, dramatic, and exciting to watch. Gate is such a series. I just finished “binge-watching” this series and it was a blast. It had all the fantasy elements a geek like me enjoys, mixed in with drama, political intrigue, and heart.

The full title is “Gate – Thus the JSDF fought there!” By the way, JSDF stands for the Japan Self-Defense Force, and (as a retired U.S. Navy veteran) I can see that this series was used as a promotional tool for the men and women who serve in the JSDF. It may be a fantasy anime series, but as far as the military is concerned, it demonstrated actual tactics that could be used in even the most outrageous situations. I mean, fighter jets squaring off against a fire dragon to measure its capabilities. Who’d a thought?

The synopsis of Gate is quite simple: “Off-duty Japan Self-Defense Forces (JSDF) officer and otaku, Youji Itami, is on his way to attend a doujin convention in Ginza, Tokyo, when a mysterious portal in the shape of a large gate suddenly appears. From this gate, supernatural creatures and warriors clad in medieval armor emerge, charging through the city, killing and destroying everything in their path. With swift actions, Youji saves as many lives as he can while the rest of the JSDF direct their efforts towards stopping the invasion. Three months after the attack, Youji has been tasked with leading a special recon team, as part of a JSDF task force, that will be sent to the world beyond the gate—now being referred to as the ‘Special Region.’ They must travel into this unknown world in order to learn more about what they are dealing with and attempt to befriend the locals in hopes of creating peaceful ties with the ruling empire. But if they fail, they face the consequence of participating in a devastating war that will engulf both sides of the gate.”

First off, let’s talk about the characters. Itami is the quintessential Japanese male, as he constantly admits that “he works to support his hobbies”… His hobbies being doujinshi (self-published magazines, manga, or novels). With all his quirks, he is a capable leader, smart and with the heart to match. I think that’s why the women of the “Special Region” fall for him. Rory Mercury is a 900-year-old demi-god acolyte of the God of War who gets aroused by battle. A “gothic loli” with incredible power is the most outrageous (and fun) character to watch. Lelei is a human sorceress that combines science from our world with the magic of her world as her “thesis” to become a master of magic. Her calm demeanor is an abstract to the others in this group. Tuka is an elf who lost her entire village to a fire dragon (her emotional breakthrough is a great part of the series). Her story is central, at times, though I think she was rather unused. Finally, Princess Pina Co Lada (yes, that’s her name) is the third princess of the human Empire who wants peace between Japan and the Empire. Also, she loves Japanese Yaoi manga as “art” she calls it.

There are also great characters within Itami’s own squad, all with their own quirks and personalities. I especially loved it when Kuribayashi (a tiny little woman) brutally beat up the crown prince after it was discovered he took Japanese as hostages and abused them. That was poetic justice.

There is a lot of political intrigue within this series, from other countries wanting in on the “Special Region” and the possibilities that exist there, to the political turmoil in Japan itself by sending the JSDF through the Gate. It was funny when a female politician tries to grill Rory as a “little girl” when in fact she was a 900-year old demi-god. It was terrifying when special forces from the U.S., Russia, and China tried to kidnap the girls during a trip to Japan and Rory, with her giant halberd, sliced right through them.

If you ever wondered what it would be like having modern troops invade a medieval fantasy world, look no further than Gate. I myself wrote this into my upcoming third novel in the Forever Avalon series, The Outlander War, but that was before I watched Gate. My interpretation was different from theirs, but Gate had a unique approach to this cross-connected world. They even went as far as to explain how the gate connected to not only our world, but others as well, leading to the variety of humans and demi-humans that inhabited the “Special Region”. And since the demi-humans range from cat girls to warrior rabbits and other creatures. It’s a menagerie of half-human/half-animal creature beyond the regular orcs, goblins, etc. The best part is watching the otaku (a young person who is obsessed with computers or particular aspects of popular culture to the detriment of their social skills) like Itami and others who fawn over these demi-humans as their fantasies come to life.

But what I really enjoyed in this series was the humanity. The JSDF went out of their way not to be “invaders” but rather they acted in self-defense of their country, their world, and the innocent people of the “Special Region” in the surrounding villages. They used their advanced medical skills and military technology to help the people and demonstrate that they weren’t there to hurt anyone. Itami’s squad was the focal point of this. They even went as far as to help the women of the capital “red light district” with their medical issues.

The villains in this series were equally repulsive and endearing. It was fun to watch them think themselves all-powerful only to be brought down by the JSDF. Here was an empire, similar I think to the might of the Roman Empire, a military machine as powerful as any in this world, attacking an enemy with all they had, only to be brought down in a hail of bullets. I enjoyed watching the crown prince squirm every time he heard a gunshot. It was glorious.

I hope that they make another season of Gate, although I read where the next part in the series (in the light novels) includes Alien-style Xenomorphs. That would be a little too strange, even for me. I read that a script for the next season is in the works, so hopefully one is coming, but let’s stick to the fantasy aspect of this story. There are still a lot of stories to tell with Itami and his “harem” of fantasy girls. that’s every otaku’s dream come true.

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Mark Piggott is the author of the Forever Avalon book series. Forever Avalon is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook at Amazon. The Dark Tides is available for purchase as a paperback/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.

“Authors supporting Authors” is the real deal

I saw this great meme on Instagram the other day. It said, “Other authors are not my competition! I stand with them, not against them!” Among the independent authors I have engaged with regularly on social media, that is absolutely true.

Believe it or not, we are a rather enlightened community. We give advice, like posts, share ideas and creative criticism to make us better writers. We might not be the most social bunch in public, which makes sense since most of us rarely see the light of day except for the soft glow of our laptop. But we are stronger together.

We all have the same problems… Writer’s block, manuscript editing (take 11), finding a publisher, getting reviews, book sales, etc. We share that common bond through our love of writing, and being a storyteller. And its through that bond that we reach out to one another for help, advice, and support.

I’ve edited manuscripts, swapped books for a review, promoted other authors books, all for free. Why? Because I know that someone will see what I’m doing and will maybe do the same for me. That’s what we do.

We all have the same goals and same aspirations. We want to achieve the same thing… Recognition for the thousands of hours of work, sleepless nights, and spending vacation money on marketing, publishing, and artwork.

Working together helps our community of independent authors grow, learn, and become a force to be reckoned with. We may not be signed up with a publisher, agent, or publicist, but we have each other. That’s what makes us unstoppable.

So let’s help each other out. If you need a book review, message me and we’ll do an exchange for reviews. I am here for my fellow authors.

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Mark Piggott is the author of the Forever Avalon book series. Forever Avalon is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook at Amazon. The Dark Tides is available for purchase as a paperback/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.

Captain Marvel is better than the hype and the bad reviews it’s getting

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WARNING! SPOILERS AHEAD IF YOU HAVEN’T SEEN CAPTAIN MARVEL YET!

I’ve never been one to rely on reviews, which is kind of weird since I write them on my blog now. Anyway, I go the movies because I want to see it, ignoring the bad reviews or condemnation. I don’t regret going to see 1980’s Flash Gordon but I really regret going to see 1995’s Waterworld. In any case, the same can be said for Marvel movies.

I have seen every Marvel movie in the past 10 years. I do have some regrets there too (i.e. Iron Man III and Thor: Ragnarok) but they still had some good moments in them too. In any case, I saw Captain Marvel this week and, despite the weeks of awkward publicity and bad stories, it was a genuinely good Marvel movie. In fact, I would say it’s one of their better movies.

First and foremost, Brie Larson was great. Although, I think she went for the emotionless route too much. She has Danvers’ grit and determination down pat, and she finally showed some emotion in her reunion with Maria Rambeau near the end, but still… She’ll need a little more than that sly grin to carry her down the road in future movies. She has the look and the attitude, and now she has an origin.

Did they change her origin for the movie? Yes, but they stayed true to it while making her story fit into the MCU. Overall, they did a great job, especially since they did it as a prequel to the current Marvel universe. They changed a few things, like making Mar-Vell a woman (great performance Annette Benning) and turned the Skrulls from villains into a race to feel sorry for. However, Marvel’s been making these adjustments to the MCU since the beginning (i.e. making the villain Ghost a woman, casting Heimdall and Valkyrie with black actors (best decision to date), and making the Mandarin an idiot). Even a comic book purist like myself can appreciate the brilliance behind the casting and creative license.

I loved the fact that you had to sit through the whole movie to understand her complete backstory. It wasn’t difficult for someone like me, who knows her origin like the back of my hand. But for anyone else, it’s a great way to learn about her character. Also, by adding in the younger versions of Agent Phil Coulson and Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson). I especially loved finding out how Fury got his eye scratched out. There are plenty of “Easter Eggs” in the movie too, from how Fury came up with the Avengers Initiative, how the Tesseract got back into Shield’s hands, the space-pager and plenty more.

The Kree are turning into the true intergalactic villains of the MCU, in both movies and television. The movie left things open for the return on Yon-Rogg (Jude Law) and the Supreme Intelligence, although I’m hoping for the floating green octopus head next time around. As for the Skrulls, who can say. Even though Marvel got back the Fantastic Four from Fox, I doubt we’ll see them terrorizing Earth or the “Super Skrull” anytime soon.

The plot kept me engaged the entire movie and it was fun. It had a good mix of serious and humor. The movie made a big statement about sexism in the 80’s and 90’s, showing the bad side of men in the military (“You know why they call it a cockpit…” Gimme a break!). This was the time of “Tailgate” and other scandals like it, so bringing it into the film showed how far we’ve come with women pilots in the military. You really get the feel for that with the “Women of the Air Force” commercial they showed before the movie.

Captain Marvel got a lot of bad press and internet “trolls” trying to bring it down, but the movie is too good for that. It’s a fun movie that brings together the MCU, heading into Avengers: Endgame. That’s only a month away, and I can’t wait!

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Mark Piggott is the author of the Forever Avalon book series. Forever Avalon is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook at Amazon. The Dark Tides is available for purchase as a paperback/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.

FROM SPACE BATTLESHIP YAMATO TO STAR BLAZERS How the story changed, yet still remained the same!

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I began watching anime as a little kid in the 1960s. We’re talking Speed Racer, Marine Boy, Gigantor, and Astro Boy. The original anime, as it were. In the 1970s and 1980s, I graduated to Captain Harlock, Star Blazers, and Robotech. Today, its Sword Art Online, Fairy Tail, and A Certain Magical Index. I just wanted to lay all that out to demonstrate that I am a lifelong “Otaku” from New Jersey.

That being said, I have been obsessed with Space Battleship Yamato. As a veteran U.S. Navy Sailor, I love the “old school” aesthetic of the space battleship. It is a spaceship I would put up against the Enterprise, Millenium Falcon, Serenity, and any other sci-fi spaceship in the history of movies and television. Beyond that, it’s the characters that make the story.

After the original Star Blazers went off the air, I discovered Space Battleship Yamato and its infinite movies and companion shows. It made it even better. Although the live action movie didn’t live up to my expectations, the rebooted series has.

In the new Space Battleship Yamato 2199 and 2202, we got an in depth storyline, new characters, a more diverse crew and aliens, as well as backstories for Gamilas, Gatlantis, and other characters. As a fan, it’s been overwhelming and exhilarating. Captain Okita is a leader to look up to, Kodai and Yuki a romance to envy, and I wish I had Dr. Sado’s tolerance to alcohol.

First, the crew of the Yamato is finally more than a ship full of men, one woman and one robot. The crew is now a mixture of men and women, each with their own stories. They added some great new characters, from the Mars-born pilot Akira Yamamoto to the Gamilas Lower Storm Leader Melda Dietz. At the same time, there’s even more romance, intrigue, excitement and adventure, just like the original but better.

There is a lot of undertones about the dangers of mass warfare, using power to gain peace, something more prevalent than in the original. In the original, I thought it was more about saving the planet, a stern environmental statement about our future. But now, the series has taken a more serious approach to modern warfare and its consequences.

Image result for space battleship yamato 2199 desslerEven the villains are more complex. The Gamilas Leader Dessler is still a megalomaniac, but he cares little about Gamilas and more about consolidating his own power base with Iscandar. And yet, some of the Gamilas officers are more honorably, trustworthy and don’t follow Desslar like dogs on a leash. At the same time, Emperor Zwordar and the rest of the Gatlantians of the Comet Empire (sorry, I can’t call it anything else) are a clone race bent on the destruction of humanity. They can even self-destruct upon command from the Emperor.

Watching Space Battleship Yamato is like watching a soap opera, but with inter-galactic battles and aliens mixed in. Besides that, it has heart that you find in many anime, but in this one, it never changed. Just listening to the opening theme song makes you stand at attention, or the dark organ from the depths of the Comet Empire quiver in fear.

To be honest, I won’t call it anything but the Yamato anymore. I grew up with it being called the Argo, but all that’s changed. I respect and honor this show by staying true. It’s the Yamato, always has been and always will be.

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Mark Piggott is the author of the Forever Avalon book series. Forever Avalon is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook at Amazon. The Dark Tides is available for purchase as a paperback/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.

Social media is the easiest, and cheapest, marketing tool for Independent Authors

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Independent authors are just that, INDEPENDENT! We don’t have a publisher, marketing team, agent or publicist working for us to sell our book. They have to rely on friends, family, and word of mouth. In this day and age, that means social media.

According to Statista, 70% of the U.S. population has at least one social media profile. By 2018, the number of worldwide social media users is expected to reach about 2.5 billion people. With so many consumers using social media every day, this presents a great opportunity for independent authors to reach their online audience.

Social media platforms offer a fun and creative platform to promote you book through videos, GIFs, and creative JPEGs for a broad audience. In fact, according to MarketingSherpa, 95% of online adults ages 18 to 34 are likely to follow a brand on social media. However, when users engage with their social media profiles, it is because they find the content and information valuable. Whether they are looking for deals, enjoy entertaining content, or just want to learn more about a certain brand, social media users are open to engaging on social media channels.

That’s where independent authors can find their niche in marketing their novels. Your social media profiles provide yet another way to get more inbound traffic to your website. This makes marketing through social media an excellent strategy to complement your search engine optimization efforts. Each piece of content that you post to your social media profiles is another opportunity to bring new visitors to your site.

There are different platforms that can provide access for a variety of users. Facebook is one of the best social media platforms, with nearly two million monthly active users. Facebook is the world’s largest social media platform with the most diverse audience. When it comes to age, users of all ages are logging onto Facebook, with the largest demographic being those ages 25-to-34. Owned by Facebook, Instagram is another popular channel that promises to be one of the best social media platforms for small business and entrepreneurs. Instagram has more than 700 million active users who log onto the app to enjoy photos and video posts from their friends, family, celebrities, and yes, even certain brands. In fact, according to BrandWatch, 50% of users follow brands on Instagram.

With an average of about 328 million active Twitter users worldwide, this channel is yet another one of the best social media platforms for your 2018 social media marketing strategy. As one of the top 10 websites in the United States, Twitter is the go-to place for the latest news and trends on a variety of topics. The audience on Twitter also tends to be a bit younger with 36% of users between the ages of 18 to 29. Then there’s YouTube. Founded in 2005 and acquired by Google in late 2006, YouTube has quickly become the second largest search engine in the world, right behind Google. What’s more is that YouTube users are watching a billion hours of video each day and generating just as many views. This makes YouTube an excellent channel for reaching and engaging target consumers by creating and publishing compelling video content.

I have one other recommendation for you. If you plan to cross multiple social media platforms with your posts, I would suggest checking out Hootsuite. With this online program, you can put one post on all your social media platforms simultaneously. It also allows you to plan out your posts days in advance. You can find more, in depth information on the best social media platforms for brand marketing at Lyfe Marketing Blog.

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Mark Piggott is the author of the Forever Avalon book series. Forever Avalon is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook at Amazon. The Dark Tides is available for purchase as a paperback/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.

I never saw a documentary like this! My review of “They Shall Not Grow Old”…

I’ve watched a few documentaries in my day, but I never paid movie theater price to see one… Until now! If you get a chance, go to the theater to see “They Shall Not Grow Old”. It is worth the price of admission.

Peter Jackson did a great service to the men who fought in World War I in producing and directing this film. What I learned about the war in history class and other films doesn’t compare to what I learned from this movie.

Hearing the stories from the soldiers themselves, and seeing the images as clear as if it was filmed with modern equipment stands out and shows the real horror, and sheer bravery, of the men who fought in this war.

The technology used by Jackson not only colorized the footage, but also turned 2D to 3D. Some of it was footage never seen before, like bodies sinking in the mud and much of the trenches, rats crawling everywhere, “trenchfoot” and other wounds. I know it sounds gross, but this isn’t a Friday the 13th remake. This actually happened to men as young as 16.

It was funny how Wonder Woman brought World War I to the silver screen recently, even movies like Flyboys or classics like Goodbye Mr. Chips and All Quiet on the Western Front. These movies showed the war from a film perspective but without the realism that a documentary. What made Jackson’s film different is the great work his crew did in cleaning up, colorizing and turning 2D to 3D. They even added sound effects and people talking as if it was footage taken today. It made the war real for me, 100 years after it happened.

Watching this documentary reminded me of the opening scene of Saving Private Ryan. Steven Spielberg went out to make the Normandy landing real for those watching the movie, shooting with hand-held cameras and really showing the horror of war. I saw that in this movie, but it wasn’t done through special effects. It was real.

To hear the men who fought in this war talk about the training they went through, the day-to-day life in the trenches, even their off-duty time in France was a great way to tell the story. It was scary to hear how, on the last push against the German line, the British soldiers readied themselves in the trenches and they had guns in front of them, and guns behind them (aimed by their officers, ensuring they would charge across the field).

We need every school child watch this movie. It needs to become a teaching tool for educators to teach about World War I, about what these men went through and what happened when they got home. I always though that those who served in Vietnam were forgotten heroes, but so were the men who returned to England after World War I. It’s sad that anyone who volunteered to serve their country should be treated that way.

This is a FIVE STAR documentary and I highly recommend you see it in the theater if you have the chance. You won’t regret it.

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Mark Piggott is the author of the Forever Avalon book series. Forever Avalon is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook at Amazon. The Dark Tides is available for purchase as a paperback/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.

The Arrowverse has gone stale on the CW

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I was so happy when the CW started the “Arrowverse” series. Since Smallville ended, there wasn’t any really good superhero TV series out there. Then came Arrow, followed by The Flash, DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, and Supergirl. While most of these series have brought out a variety of great story arcs (especially the crossover events) lately, the stories have gone stale. Instead of dark, superhero stories, we’re getting reality show drama.

Arrow started out as a dark vigilante, out for revenge. Now, he’s worried about his son being gay and his relationship with Felicity. The Flash had more of an upbeat storyline with Barry learning to use his power while fighting off the foes of Central City, including the start of The Rogues. However, those villains went on to become “sometime” heroes in DC’s Legends of Tomorrow and the Rogues never really came together. The storylines have gone on to try and cover every “politically correct” drama, twists, and story arcs with a lot of “B” villains and heroes filling out the cast.

Arrow, The Flash, and Supergirl are supposed to be about the individual heroes, yet they are really teams of heroes instead, so all those background stories and plot holes get lost in the main character’s story. Meanwhile, DC’s Legends of Tomorrow (the actual superhero team show) is a time travel romp that lost it’s focus after the first season. It seems to be more about comedy relief than actual superhero storylines. If you want comedy, they should add Booster Gold, Blue Beetle, and Guy Gardner into the mix. That would make it a better show.

The one bright spot in the CW’s shows has been the epic crossover events. The “Nazi-themed” Earth-X storyline was epic and the last one introduced Batwoman (who’ll be added to the mix with her own show next season). Unfortunately, they handled her with kid gloves. She barely saw any real action. She was mostly used for “Batman-esque” establishing shots with Batwoman standing atop a building, looking down on our heroes.

I realize that throughout this rant I haven’t mentioned Black Lightning. That’s because (a) I didn’t read a lot of his comics so I don’t really know the character or his villains; and (b) he’s not part of the Arrowverse. I grew up with “Black Vulcan” on Superfriends, and that’s a whole different character, so I don’t really watch his show. It might be more interesting if he was part of the Arrowverse, but DC and CW decided not to include him.

They keep bringing more drama and less action. We also get villains that many people, even avid comic book readers, don’t know for the main seasonal arc. I mean, Cicada? Seriously Team Flash? You haven’t even given us a proper Rogues storyline and you give us Cicada. At least Supergirl has gone the Legion route, since she played a big part in the future league, and they’ve handled it well, and I’m waiting to see Jon Cryer’s Lex Luthor. That should be fun.

The point of all this is that if you’re going to do a superhero TV show, then make it a damn superhero TV show. We want to see intrigue, action, and cliffhangers like we get when we read a comic book. I don’t mind the occasional love story (i.e. Cisco and Gypsy) but Barry and Iris dealing with their teenage daughter from the future is a bit much. Plus, the comedy is a bit overboard at times, especially on DC’s Legends of Tomorrow. I’m getting tired of the pop culture references between Ray and Nathan in every single episode.

The Arrowverse is fading, and I hate that. Make it fresh again, like it was in the beginning. Otherwise, you risk losing your audience. It doesn’t matter how many “Crisis on Infinite Earths” events you do, it won’t save an entire season.

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Mark Piggott is the author of the Forever Avalon book series. Forever Avalon is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook at Amazon. The Dark Tides is available for purchase as a paperback/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.

My writing interferes with my sleep, but in a good way

Image result for dreamingMost of us get things stuck in their head, from time-to-time. After watching the new Aladdin trailer the other night, for some odd reason the “Prince Ali” song was rolling around in my head the next morning. I couldn’t get rid of it, not even in the shower (which is another whole level of embarrassing) until I put my headphones on, started the Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2, soundtrack and got on the metro.

Beyond that, dreams put things in my head that helps me in my writing. The problem I have is that it’s usually four-to-five different things at once. I’ve started the outlines for three different novels in the past month, and on top of that, I had a distinct dream last night that gave me an idea for another project. I love it when the “creative juices” start to flow (it’s better than writer’s block) but it can also be considered on overload.

My dreams have always been a big part of the inspiration I draw on for my novels. I think it’s a culmination of years of playing Dungeons & Dragons and video games, reading comic books and various sci-fi/fantasy novels, and watching anime, Saturday Morning cartoons, and everything from Star Trek to Game of Thrones. All that “input” has to go somewhere and it’s usually into my dreams.

It’s amazing how this play acts out in my head, but it can also be quite frustrating. I CAN’T GO BACK TO SLEEP! When I wake up from this incredible dream with a story playing out right before me, it’s so damn hard to get back to sleep. That’s especially difficult when I have to work the next day.

How can you compartmentalize your sleep so you can (a) you can put those wonderful dreams to good use, and (b) you can still get a good night’s sleep. Some people suggest keeping a tablet next to the bed. I tried that but I can never wake up enough to write anything down. I’m also afraid that, if I would get up to start doing that, I would never get back to sleep.

I think that’s why I am working toward being a writer, so I can wake up and start writing without having to worry about making the metro on time. It would be great to be able to write whenever these crazy ideas pop into my head. I don’t want to lose what could be a great idea to sleep.

The last time I had a dream like this was this past year. Back in June 2018, I had a simple dream–waking up on a crossroads, nearly dying, and studying magic from a hermit-like caster to become a bad-ass warrior/caster. This led me to the book I just finished writing, The Last Magus. From the original dream, six months later, I had a manuscript of more than 180,000 words. That’s the power of dreams.

I usually get my best ideas from recurring dreams, like my last one, and it sticks with me until I finish writing. So, then I know it was meant to be. I haven’t had a repeat of my dream from the other night, so I’m not sure if that’s one to go with just yet. Even still, when I close my eyes tonight, I will wait and see if another new idea hits me.

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Mark Piggott is the author of the Forever Avalon book series. Forever Avalon is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook at Amazon. The Dark Tides is available for purchase as a paperback/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.

Is an anime about cooking in a “Restaurant to Another World” that good? Yes, yes it is!

Ok, I am thoroughly confused. I’ve never watched the cooking anime’s because they didn’t seem interesting to me. I mean, I watch enough cooking shows on Food Network with my wife, not to mention the Great British Baking Show she’s addicted too. But, as a fantasy fan, I decided to watch this anime Restaurant to Another World, and I was instantly hooked! I mean, I binged it in a week. I couldn’t help it. It’s one of those shows that, once you start watching, you can’t stop.

The basics of the story is that a door to a restaurant to another world appears once every seven days at various places across this fantasy world. Some revere the door as a gift from the Gods while others see it as doorway to a magical place whose knowledge has been passed down for generations. In any case, the patrons are mostly regular customers (with a few newbies thrown in for boot) who are not known by name but rather by the name of their favorite dishes.

I mean, it highlights two dishes per episode, and yet, they weave them into such fun fantasy stories that you’re hooked! As patrons eat the dishes, they talk about the distinct flavors, textures, and complexities of the dish. It’s like Myron Mixon talking about barbeque (yes, I watch those cooking shows too! Like I said, addicted!). And it varies from a pork cutlet to an ice cream soda. But like I said, it’s no ordinary cooking show.

What makes it so fun to watch is how the dishes match the personality of the character eating it. I mean, I would expect an Elf to eat only vegetarian food, so naturally the chef serves her grilled tofu, rice balls and natto rice; but tuna carpaccio for a siren and chicken curry for a dragon? Who’d of thought! The food not only compliments the diner, but it tells a lot about them–human or not! And it’s all protected by a Red Dragon Queen who loves her beef stew. She even brings a large pot with her for take-out. Now that’s unique!

The cooking is not the only aspect of this anime that makes it interesting. The backstories of all the characters are so well developed, and in a way, interconnected. We even discover that the chef and master of the restaurant is descended of a warrior from the fantasy world who accidentally fell into our world; and let’s not forget that the waitresses are a demon girl and a dragon in human form! This show just doesn’t let up!

I can’t even imagine trying to write a story like this. We always talk about finding your niche, something unique in fantasy to stand out from the rest, and sure enough, this is it! I mean it has all the basics of a fantasy story:  Knights, dragons, wizards, Elves, Dwarfs, demons, magic, etc. It’s all there, just like your basic Dungeons and Dragons game, but with food.

So, unfortunately this anime only had one season so far. Now, it’s time to get the original source–the manga–to see where this story’s going.

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SKU-000941753

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