Edgar Rice Burroughs: A Personal Discovery


Edgar Rice BurroughsEdgar Rice Burroughs is a favorite author of mine, however my interest in him and his work is relatively new.  Burroughs captures some of my favorite genres easily and comfortably by exploring science fiction through character development and creating modern day fairy tales which represent philosophical movements.  His prose his clean and simple which really wasn’t a popular style till about a decade later after his first foray into publishing.  Both accounts amaze me, but alas I was and still am a neophyte.  I was clueless and ignorant (as I often am), until I watched Disney’s film adaptation of Burroughs second most popular series, “John Carter.”

Personally, I enjoyed the quality of the film, but what I got most out of the movie was the love and appreciation for an author that (at the time) I knew next to nothing about.  I dived headlong into his work.  I quickly read the first three John Carter novels in a collection that I purchased off of Amazon for a small, paltry sum.  They are truly magnificent.

If you ever get a chance, gobble ‘em up.  They are incredibly well-written, but the human quality and realism that Burroughs brings to his writing makes the otherworldly settings and characters background noise rather than the main spectacle.  From there I dived into Tarzan.  Contextually it seems oddly, but in actuality it is a fairly logical segue considering Burroughs’ work.  I’ve made limited headway on the series (partially because there are over 20 novels), because honestly I am not a big fan of the character.  Unfortunately, I am several generations removed from enjoying the meaning of the series.  The primitive movement was big after the second World War and it just has never connected with me as it did to so many upon their release.

At the Earth's CoreHowever, I did dive into Edgar Rice Burroughs’ “Pellucidar” series, which begins with the Vernian “At the Earth’s Core.”  “At the Earth’s Core” is a quick read (it only clocks in at roughly 150 pages), but it does create a great founding point for Burroughs to expand upon and unlike Jules Verne’s “Journey to the Center” Burroughs builds an entire franchise (and thus universe) upon the back of the ideas originally laid down by Verne a generation before.

I have yet to find a copy, but I have heard that there was a film adaptation of “At the Earth’s Core” in 1976.  I haven’t explicitly removed everything from my plate to seek it out, but I am positive that I will one day find a lazy afternoon in which I will be able to sit down, find, and watch “At the Earth’s Core.”

Tangentially, I first discovered “At the Earth’s Core” at a wonderful bookstore out in Coeur d’Alene, ID called, Browsers (not to be confused with Mario’s archenemy).  I ended up purchasing “At the Earth’s Core,” “The Land that Time Forgot,” and “Llana of Gathol.”  All of which were copies re-published throughout the 1970’s, which greatly pleased me because I am exceedingly tired of solely coming across movie and television book covers.  For whatever reason, they sour the experience for me.

Regardless of cover, I encourage all to read at least something of Edgar Rice Burroughs.  He is an amazingly talented author, and his breadth of work has spurred various schools of thought, inspired millions, and ultimately helped shape current pop culture even though he began writing over 100 years ago.

 

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Reblog: “To Read or Not To Read…Reviews” by Jeremy Robinson


I am huge fan of the author Jeremy Robinson.  I try to follow his posts and updates through Goodreads, and for the most part I am successful.  This post particularly caught my eye, because the act of critiquing and being critiqued is a hard pill to swallow for anyone especially a writer.  I think that Jeremy Robinson sums it up best in his latest blog entry.

Check out his post, and visit the original at Goodreads.com and his website by clicking the aforementioned links.

To Read or Not To Read…Reviews by Jeremy Robinson

ben-661x1024I’ve seen a good number of blog posts recently from fellow authors focusing on the issue of reviews, which can be, and often are, posted by folks with rude dispositions, grudges, agendas, etc. For a new author, even an honest negative review can be soul crushing. To the experienced author, with thicker skin, negative reviews can be a distraction. So the advice being given is generally this: don’t read reviews for your books. Sounds good on the surface. By not exposing yourself to these negative opinions, you are protecting yourself from the pain delivered by Internet trolls with nothing better to do than harass an author. The troll might be angry after reading the first line of a book sample, or might disagree with the pricing, or might be annoyed that Harriet Klausner gave your book 4 stars, or any number of silly reasons for an anonymous rant. And YES, these people should be ignored. They’ve likely taken to the Internet for attention, because the people in their real lives have begun ignoring their sour mood.

BUT, by ignoring ALL reviews you are also missing out on some well thought-out critique. Many readers, including some die-hard fans who know your books better than you do, take time to offer honest opinions, often based on a lifetime of reading. To discount this suggests a few things that I don’t think are good for any writer, new or experienced:

1) That your writing is flawless, or at least so far advanced that Joe-reader can’t find a flaw.

2) That you can’t learn from your fans, or even from your detractors.

3) That readers are, in a way, the enemy, if they don’t like your book.

4) That you are detached from your fans.

Now, before anyone hates on me for implying authors who ignore reviews are fan-hating ego-maniacs, that’s not what I’m saying. The point is that they’re missing out. On connecting with readers. On improving as authors. On increasing sales (in the long run). As someone who has received his fair share of angry, spiteful and even hateful reviews, I understand the temptation to turn away from reading reviews entirely. A bad review, especially a scathing one that is…accurate…can ruin your day. But they can also make future days brighter, if you pay attention to what is being said.

I didn’t begin my creative career as a writer. I went to art school. And every day, we would draw or paint, carve or shape, pouring ourselves into the creation of an image in the same way that an author does a novel. And at the end of every day, we would line them all up and spend a half hour critiquing. And not always gently. And this is universal to art schools. There is something about visual arts culture that recognizes the best way to improve is through frequent honest critique and listening to that critique. This process became part of my creative experience and still is today. I love critique, because whenever someone takes the time to work out the flaws in my art, or writing (and there will always be flaws), I get better.

A few years ago, after the release of THRESHOLD and before I started writing SECONDWORLD, I went to my editor and said, I’ve done three hardcovers for you now. I want to take things to the next level. Tear me apart. Tell me what I can do better. And he did, but not before saying, with a trace of amazement, “You are the first author to ever ask me to do this,” which surprised me at the time, but I’ve since learned that authors really don’t enjoy being told what’s wrong with their writing, or stories, and maybe their blog posts on the subject. :)  But the result of this critique, and my applying it to SECONDWORLD, was that sales doubled, the book got a lot of press and my audience grew.

As a writer, I began as a self-publisher. Without any connections in the writing world, I had only two sources of honest critique: my wife and my readers. I released five novels on my own (what I now call the Origins Editions), and the improvement from book to book is pretty obvious. Without honest readers, I’d never have improved, and I’d never have signed a deal with Thomas Dunne Books and 47 North, or become a bestselling self-published author.

But why am I still reading reviews? I have an editor. Hell, I have FOUR editors. And an agent. And lots of author pals. Why still read the reviews?

Because I am not writing for my editors, or my agent, or my author pals. I am writing for YOU, the reader, and for ME. While I pick the content most of the time, I listen to my fans. I’ve written and am writing sequels, because of requests from fans. I’m currently writing I AM COWBOY because of how many people expressed their love of the Czech Cowboy from SECONDWORLD. And I’m still reading reviews because I want my future books to be better than they are now. And that’s only going to happen if 1) honest people speak their mind, and 2) I listen.

Last October, I released RAGNAROK, the fourth Jack Sigler book, co-authored with Kane Gilmour. Kane did an amazing job at matching my style, and we worked closely throughout the process, but I knew it would be different than the previous three. That it would feel different. That there would be flaws introduced simply because it was a collaboration and because I’m not perfect, and neither is Kane (and he would agree). So I was very pleased when a few reviewers spotted these flaws that I couldn’t see and pointed them out in reviews. And after reading them, I agreed with many of them and discussed them with Kane. We’re working hard to apply them to OMEGA, which will be an even better book than RAGNAROK, which I should point out was my first Amazon.com bestseller and has a 4.5 star rating after 110 reviews.

So, if you’re an author, buck the trend that says you don’t need to read reviews. Yes, ignore the nut-jobs. Skim the 5 stars if time is short. But pay attention to those 2 – 4 star reviews. Critiques shouldn’t be feared, ignored or undervalued. They’re good for you. Sure, there are tons of people reviewing books, and not all of them are right, but those nuggets of insight from dedicated fans and readers are invaluable. If you really believe that a reader can’t possibly improve a writer, you’re mistaken. My readers, who are awesome, dedicated, intelligent and invested, are the very BEST people to critique my books.

And if you are one of my readers, know that I am listening, that your opinion matters and that I am doing my best to make sure each and every book is better than the last.

– Jeremy Robinson

 

“(500) Days of Summer” Posters, Stills, & Quotes


During the composition of my “(500) Days of Summer” review I came a cross a mountain of alternative posters, movie stills, and inspirational quotes tied to the film.  There is an insane amount of material for this movie.  The fan have successfully ‘cultisized’ it, so I decided to do a supplementary post showcasing some of the cool promo pieces that the studio and the fans have come up with–check it out!

A KickStarter Campaign to Fund the Self-Publication of my Short Story Anthology, “Human.”


For the past two years, I have been writing and compiling an anthology of short stories, quotes, and nonfiction interludes in a collection named, “Human.”  At this juncture, I now have enough material to finish my anthology, but now I need backers.  I have decided to self-publish this go-around, because I wanted to get people involved–I want external support to make this a successful project, and with the popularity of KickStarter rising I decided that it would be a good idea to use it to finance the self-publication of “Human.”

I am trying to raise $3,800 to pay for the publishing, marketing, and editing services of Amazon’s CreateSpace, the rewards that the backers will receive, and the fees that KickStarter and AmazonPayments will deduct on a successful campaign.  I want this to be a success; a first of many.

Check out my KickStarter campaign page by clicking the KickStarter logo below and please donate what you can.  $8 will nab you an electronic copy of the anthology and $20 will get you a signed paper back with the rewards only climbing from there.  However, feel free to donate even just a dollar, or at the very least spread the word.  Share this post on your blog or your Facebook/Twitter account–I would greatly appreciate it!

Thank you for reading this post, and I hope you will give this project a chance.  I look forward to reading your name in the ‘Thank You’ section of the short story anthology, “Human.”

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“Dorian Waters”


I’ve been slowly working on a new short story titled “Dorian Waters,” which will be an Amazon exclusive upon release.  I wanted to take the charisma of 007, the cheesiness of a ’70s sci-fi flick, and the ridiculous strength of Stallone’s Rambo–with all that being said…let me introduce you to Dorian Waters:

Dorian Waters

Dorian rocketed towards the outer crust of the lush planet at speeds almost intolerable for his Tibranium launch suit.  At just the precise moment he jotted in his PI code and the blackened outer shell of suit unbuckled from his frame in a thousand fractured pieces, rocketed past him, and immediately burned up in the upper atmosphere.  Dorian repositioned himself as he fell into a sort of Swan dive and fell headlong into a thick layer clouds.  With a flick of his wrist he yanked the ripcord and his blue shoot billowed from his back pulling him upwards briefly before eventually allowing him to slowly descend into the dark green canopy below.

“Terra de Verde,” Dorian muttered in awe as he came into the canopy lining.

The landing was a bit rough, but with only a couple scratches from broken branches, and the consideration that little to no preparation time was had when he rashly jumped out of the low orbit Skirt Pod, it could have gone much, much worse.  He hung gently swinging, listening, and thinking about the sounds he was hearing before finally unsheathing his knife and cutting himself loose from the thick, brown branches that held him captive.

He awoke flat on his back, clutched for his knife which was missing.  He glanced upwards towards the canopy where he had fallen through several strata of branches–loll and behold he could see the glint of steel lodged into the bark in the distance.

Quickly thinking, he pawed for something close by, found a rock, and struck the cat-like creature as it leapt for his prone body.  The 180-lb creature growled in pain and fell to its side in a hiss of dust and a belabored roar.

“Kitty’s got claws,” Dorian mumbled to himself and then promptly passed out.

He awoke in awash of his own blood and rain.  Dorian sputtered water as he jolted awake in a nightmarish-like fashion.  He grimaced and propped up on his elbows.

“Fuck…it’s wet.”

Waters was ironically drenched and thoroughly pissed.