Yes, I know I’m late to the party, but needing a sitter to go out and catch a movie with the wife will do that to you. Regardless, I finally saw The Avengers last weekend and thought it was a great (but not perfect) flick. I know a lot of people are saying that this is the greatest comic book movie ever made, but I’ll have to politely disagree with them. It’s probably the best Marvel universe superhero movie (Captain America and Iron Man are right on its heels). However, Batman Begins and The Dark Knight are both better films (and if The Dark Knight Rises is as good as the trailers appear, that will be pushed ahead of The Avengers as well). I’m not sure where I’d put Hellboy and The Incredibles in my ranking, but both of those movies would also make my top ten list of comic book films.

Anyway, back to The Avengers. Below are my thoughts. There will be some spoilers.


  • Scarlett Johansen (Black Widow)  - She really came across as a stronger character than her cameos in Iron Man. Good acting/backstory. Really showed why she was made a member of the team.
  • Captain America - Evans continues to be perfectly cast as Steve Rogers. I loved how in the end everyone deferred to him as the leader of the group and he came up with the tactics/strategy for the situation.
  • Bruce Banner/The Hulk - As others have said, this was the best version of the characters in film. Norton was good in the role, but Ruffalo was great. I also thought it was a huge plus to actually give the Hulk some personality and lines which is consistent to his portrayal in the comics.
  • Iron Man - What can I really say about Downey that hasn’t already been said? Another good performance.
  • The fight/battle scenes - Throughout the movie, they were awesome from an entertainment standpoint and also in that they played off of the rivalries present in the comics. Whedon did a good job showcasing each character’s strengths and weaknesses.
  • Lots of cool nuggets/phrases/references dropped throughout the film that comic fans like me enjoyed (i.e. Agent Coulson’s girlfriend).
  • The extra scene of Thanos at the end was nice. I only hope that he is actually the main villain of the third film and we just see him pulling strings in a second film to set up his big appearance. Otherwise, I’m not sure where you go after Thanos if you use him in the second film.


  • The opening sequence - It really soured my opinion immediately on the film. The entire scene just didn’t really work for me: bad dialogue, illogical character decisions, etc. I remember thinking, “Wow, please tell me THIS isn’t what people were going crazy over.” Because of this, it took awhile for me to actually start enjoying the film and it probably skewed other parts of the movie because I kept thinking about how bad the opening had been.
  • Dialogue - Ok, I know Joss Whedon is considered a god in geek culture and I do like a lot of his work. However, I’ve always felt that for every 2-3 great moments he has, there is one really cheesy moment that doesn’t work. The trend continued here. A couple of really awesome bits of character exchanges and momentum would be derailed by trying to force humor into a situation that didn’t need it. As a result, the execution felt awkward.
  • Overall cheesiness - I know this is definitely meant to be a more “fun” movie which I’m fine with. However, certain scenes/moments didn’t come across well and often brought me down from a great high. For example, we see this unreal battle at the end of the movie which ends with Loki crawling away. He turns and we see the Avengers standing over him in their movie poster poses (blah). This only gets worse when Loki makes a sheepish joke about wanting a drink. Ugh, that quick scene almost bothered me as much as the opening sequence.
  • Hawkeye - I never was a huge fan of his in the comics, but I can understand his usefulness as he was really The Avenger’s leader/tactician when Captain America wasn’t around. In the film, they make him a spy which seems redundant based on Black Widow’s character. So, he’s basically relegated to someone with great eyesight. It would have been much cooler to have The Wasp or Ant-Man in his place (both founding members of The Avengers). He just seemed like a filler character.
  • Thor - I like the character and Hemsworth is good in the role. However, it felt like he got lost in the superhero shuffle.

Despite several missteps, The Avengers is still a great movie that’s worth seeing.


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Great band that was ridiculously influential in the Hard Rock Pantheon. Any band that boasted Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, and Jimmy Page as guitarists has to be good.

Heart Full of Soul

Smokestack Lightning

I’m a Man

Train Kept A Rollin


It’s been a few months since my last writing update so I’d thought I’d take a minute to chime in and talk about what I’ve been up to.

  1. Steel and Sorrow: Book Two of the Blood and Tears Trilogy – This went to Betareaders a couple of weeks ago. I’ve already gotten some good feedback and positive reactions which is great. I’m not expecting to get all the comments in until late June so I’ll be working on other projects in the meantime. Then I’ll make my final pass and send the MS to my editor by July 15th.
  2. Hero of Slaves: A Blood and Tears Novella – I managed to outline and write the rough draft of this since turning in Steel and Sorrow to Betareaders. This was one of the harder things I’ve written. At one point, I had to stop and rewrite a large part of the beginning and completely change my originally planned ending. But the first draft is done at around 13K words. I’m taking a couple days off before I begin revising it so I can approach it with a fresher perspective. My goal is to get it to a decent state as soon as possible so I can get it to Leah (my alphareader) for her initial reaction.
  3. Various Short Stories – While taking those days off from Hero of Slaves, I’m polishing a few unrelated short stories. Two will be submitted to different contests. The third (Horror Flash Fiction), I’m going to hold onto for a bit and then later submit to online ezines.

Those are my three most immediate goals right now. Besides getting Steel and Sorrow to my editor, I’ll spend the next two months or so outlining (and probably starting) Book Three of the Blood and Tears Trilogy (untitled), get Hero of Slaves ready to go to Betas as soon as I can, and hopefully write another short story.

What have you been up to?

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Since I did Bruce Dickinson’s solo work last week, I thought I would do a Music Monday on my favorite Heavy Metal singer, Rob Halford of Judas Priest. Just like last week, there are a lot of songs below since it’s so hard to narrow down his solo work.

You may notice that I didn’t include any songs from his band Fight. Those will be covered on a future blog post.


The One You Love to Hate (duo with Bruce Dickinson)

Silent Screams

Slow Down


Trail of Tears (A lot slower, but great all the same)

Til the Day I die (Awesome Bluesy song)

The Mower


To see the previous posts in this series on what makes a great story, check out these links:
Openings - Part 1
Openings - Part 2
Dialogue and Internal Thought

Writing a good action/battle/fight scene can be pretty hard. It seems like the line between too much and too little, too descriptive and not descriptive enough, too violent and not violent enough, etc., is a hard one to balance. Like romance, politics, and many other areas of creating a good story, some authors are stronger with this aspect of writing than others. And like those other areas, just because it may be a weakness for a writer, it shouldn’t be a reason for the author to avoid action all together.

Here a few things I both look for when reading and try to portray when writing action.

  • Make it Personal – Whether you’re writing about a general watching a struggle from afar, a soldier on the front lines, a guy jumped in an alley, or a young child running from a Doberman, it needs to be personal. I want to know what that person is going through physically, mentally and emotionally. I want to know what they see, hear, and smell.
  • Focus on the characters – At first glance, this may seem redundant to the point above, but it’s not. The above point deals with that moment in time. Within that moment characters still must act as themselves. Everything they experienced before the action scene factors into their behavior during the moment. And the action scene should also affect their behavior/motivations afterward in the story.
  • Think about all the senses – It's easy for an author to only write what the character sees or even hears. However, don’t neglect smell or even taste. I have to remind myself of those senses from time to time. The taste of blood or the smell of someone voiding their bowels in fear has a much greater impact on the reader (and character) than just seeing those things.
  • Leave the reader wanting more – Like most writers I had a tendency early on to give too many details. I think I've improved on cutting down the unnecessary elements. Details are good, but shouldn't be overdone. Otherwise, the fight can feel mechanical and void of emotion. On a grander scale, if you have the opportunity to tell a fight from multiple POVs, then use it. That gives the battle a greater sense of scope and urgency. Remember, we want the reader to wish we hadn’t stopped so soon, not to get bored or numb to the actual action.

The authors I think handle action the best are as follows (in order):
Paul Kearney – Land or sea, no one does a military battle better than Kearney.
Joe Abercrombie – Excellent at showing the personal stakes involved in any battle. You really get a feel of what each character is going through as the events unfold.
Larry Corriea – Larry is actually the only one on this list who hasn’t released any epic fantasy yet and instead sets his fantastical tales in a modern setting. Be prepared for the best gunfights you’ve ever read in your life.
Steven Erikson – Grand epic battles (sometimes lasting over a hundred pages) using explosives, swords, magic, spears, etc. or a personal duel up close and personal. No matter the setting, Erikson seems to get it right.
Ian Esslemont – He writes in the same world as Erikson and his battles have a similar feel to them.

Who do you feel does a great job of writing action (regardless of genre)?


Right away I notice that this top 10 lacks any female characters (though they make my honorable mentions). I’ll chalk this up to being less familiar with the Marvel universe than DC. The female Marvel characters I’m most familiar with (i.e. Jean Grey, Black Cat, etc.), I just don’t care for.

My Top 10 Marvel heroes

10. Cable

9. MoonKnight

8. Deadpool

7. Wolverine

6. Colossus

5. Captain America

4. Thor

3. The Hulk

2. Black Panther

1. Spiderman

Honorable Mentions: Gambit, Rogue, Emma Frost, Luke Cage, Ms. Marvel, and She-Hulk


Everyone knows Bruce Dickinson from his time fronting Iron Maiden. However, if you aren’t familiar with his solo work, you’re really missing out. In my opinion, several of his solo albums are actually better than many of Iron Maiden’s studio albums.

As you can tell from the number of videos below, it was next to impossible to choose just a couple of songs to showcase. There’s a good mix of style below so give each song a shot.