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Friday, November 27, 2015

Jessica Jones vs Supergirl?

Yesterday I was running through my Facebook feed and usually I know better than to get sucked into such things, but I decided to answer a question that was thrown out there asking which team was I on, Jessica Jones or Supergirl? For the uninitiated Jessica Jones is part of the Marvel comic universe (MCU) and she's a private investigator who was once a superhero. In fact, she was an Avenger, but in the MCU it's hard to find a character that wasn't at some point. It's kept the team fresh over the years. She hangs out on the same streets with Daredevil, Luke Cage, Iron Fist and the group of them team up eventually to form the Defenders. I like these "street" heroes. There's something appealing about a hero not trying to save the world, but just their little corner of it.

I wrote the following to answer the question: I'm not sure why I need to choose. I like having the light-hearted Supergirl and the dark and gritty Jessica Jones. Just as I like having both Daredevil and The Flash. It a great to have both The Avengers and Man of Ste... ok, that's a poor example, but it's a great time to be a geek.

As a response, someone, not the one asking the question responded: You don't need to or have to, it's just a fucking regular question dude, not a life threatening one.

Obviously, my answer annoyed this person, but hey, it's the internet. At best, the internet is as kind and forgiving as the Spanish Inquisition if the members were velociraptors with explosive diarrhea and menstrual cramps, but the question itself rubbed me the wrong way. Why exactly did I have choose between the two? Why does there have to be choice at all? Certainly there's enough space on my DVR for both. In fact, one doesn't take up space on my DVR at all. I switch over to Netflix and can binge watch until my heart's content.

For the record, I didn't answer back. I suspected it was a flame war in the making and he was looking for a fight. I worded my question carefully, there wasn't an exclamation point, anything in all caps, it contained a joke and an affirmation and I certainly didn't intend for anything to be "life threatening." I checked out his feed to see what kind of rabbit hole that would lead down and it's better to let sleeping trolls lie.

The be fair, I could have just skipped the question, or answered it with one of the choices, but there always seems to be a need to compare one thing to another. That has been especially true with the first two headlining female superheroes since Wonder Woman. I'm going to discount Dark Angel and Terminator: The Sarah Conner Chronicles, while they're genre, I'm going to stick with known (mostly known) superheroes. First, I applaud both Marvel and DC for putting both characters up on screen. It's huge. It's been too long. I love the sunny, upbeat Supergirl. Just I love The Flash and Arrow. While they're on different networks, I wouldn't be surprised to see a crossover at some point. Tonally, the show is innocent, fun and certainly brings out the child-like wonder that's buried in me. I'm very happy with what the DCU has brought to TV. If I were a kid watching it, I'd lose my shit. As an adult watching it, I think it's a refreshing change from the hard drama that fills my DVR to the brim. Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead are amazing, but there isn't much joy in them. I like DC for bringing the traditional superhero to my living room. I will never not love watching superheroes. I've been a fan as long as I've been able to read comic books. Props to Agents of Shield, I don't want to forget a shoutout to you. Jessica Jones on the other hand fits into the latter and is a hard hitting drama. It's dark, gritty and very much set on the same streets with Daredevil. Both shows hit me on very different levels. To me it's like comparing The Beatles to the Rolling Stones, or Elvis to Frank Sinatra, Star Wars and Star Trek. You can but why would you?

That brings me to the first show, Supergirl. She's part of the DC universe (DCU) and she's Superman's cousin and was sent to Earth to protect him as a baby, but her ship was stuck in the phantom zone for a while. When she eventually arrives on Earth Supes has been saving the planet for a while and she's the hero that has something to learn. She's often in her cousin's shadow, but very much a hero in her own right and she's trying very hard to prove it.

Melissa Benoist plays her with a gee-shucks kind of charm that's both adorable and fun to watch. The character is struggles with cute everyday problems and much deeper ones about identity, living up to expectations and trying to fit in to world that doesn't always under her and she's trying to understand. The show is kind and light-hearted and very watchable. They did a great job of folding in a lot of the Superman lore into the show and the show has been great. I think the exception was an episode they undercut Supergirl and seriously dropped the ball. *Editorial Opinion Alert* It was an episode Kara needed a rescue from her cousin with a nuclear powered villain Superman had never beaten. I think it was a poor choice and if Superman isn't available for the show, then please don't bring him in. Superman has left Earth more than once. Let your character breathe! *End* Fortunately, they followed up that episode with one called Live Wire, who is a great villain with the best use of electrical powers I'd ever seen. It was the best episode to date.

On the other hand Jessica Jones is dark, gritty and has a hardboiled, noir style that appeals to my love of Mike Hammer, Phillip Marlowe, Archie Goodwin. She's a hard-drinking, self-loathing and down-and-out detective, battling personal demons with a seriously sick antagonist who made her do things that haunt her very soul. She suffers from PTSD, she doesn't think she's a good person, she feels incapable of love, while she has sex in the series, there's nothing romantic about it. It's need and to help her feel something. The repercussions of it come later and it's heartbreaking. She has super strength and can jump into something that resembles flight. She's tough, but not invulnerable and she has no idea where her powers came from. Her protagonist is the sick and perverted Kilgrave acted with twisted glee by the former 10th Doctor, David Tennant. Kilgrave is mad, delusional and played to note perfection. This may be Marvel's finest villain after Tom Hiddleston's Loki.

Krysten Ritter plays Jessica from a place of pain and loss. She's lost her identity and she would like to shuck it off entirely and find a deep hole to crawl into and pull the darkness in behind her. The character keeps coming in contact with people that need help and if she doesn't there are dire consequences. She has to make hard choices and for her it's about survival. It's a marvelous role.

The two shows couldn't be further apart in narrative. It's a miracle that we have one strong female superhero on the screen, let alone two. What I find distressing is article after article pitting the two against one another. The internet is fine in doing that on it's own, just pick up any twitter feed with #JessicaJones or #Supergirl. This article from shows the point perfectly:

There has been several articles that contain some backlash. For instance:

I'm trying really hard not to be preachy and there will always be those who need to choose between Kirk and Picard. Discussion is fine, but one doesn't negate the other. Jessica Jones certainly doesn't mean the end of Supergirl, or vice-versa. It means we finally have something that propels a very underserved demographic into the forefront. I roll this back to the original question. Are you team Supergirl or Team Jessica Jones? And for the life of me, I can choose one over the other in terms of writing and production, but that isn't the question. I think I need them both. I think both serve a crucial role in terms of storytelling, in introducing good, powerful female characters into the TV landscape, into the public consciousness and into the our hearts.

My newest book Knight and Dex is available in paperback and e-book on, Barnes and Noble and don’t forget my publisher has copies also! Support small business and please buy from them direct.

Dex Territory and Knight and Dex are on sale!

Keep those reviews coming!!

Where can you find me?

You can find Dex Territory for every possible device at:

Monday, November 23, 2015

Back in the saddle

The time has come and it's time to dive back into my Dex world. Book 2, Knight and Dex, (available now!) was quite a challenge, but the story was so worth the sleepless nights. Lots of lessons learned in writing my second book and I'm carrying those with me into book 3, Dex Machina. That should please my editor. I'd previously written most of book 3 when Knight and Dex took over, I've gone through the book and scrapped most of it. Don't worry, it needed to be scrapped. I needed to exercise some demons and now they are put to rest.

Book 3 is shaping up to be one of those theme park rides that drops the reader from two hundred feet with barely a safety harness. New London is in for a very bad day. Rick O'Shea is working hard for his pay. New villain, new threat and as always new levels of complication. It's going to make the first two books feel like a warm up.

I've been working for a few days with the odd break to catch a movie, eat, sleep...the things that are luxuries when I'm in my writing process. Everyone's process is different. Mine is to cut off from the world as much as I'm able. Write all hours. When I get stuck I take a walk and talk things out. It's very important to wear a headset while in public, or else be prepared for strange looks and a possible psych hold. That completely depends if I'm trying to work out a love scene, or a battle. The battles are easier to work out.

What made book 2 so hard? The story itself was easy, I'm still working on my writer muscles and I've read books on writing, taken some classes and had an online writer group and all of those things while technically right, didn't account for a first person past tense narrative. While I'm learning all these great things taking out the word was in past tense novel should not be attempted. It's an important word. Also keep an eye out for adverbs. Adverbs (Word that mostly end in ly) are evil and should only be used in the most dire of circumstance. Don't avoid them in the first drafts, but keep note, what adverbs are flags to add an action.

For instance: "Whatever." She said coarsely.

Could be: "Whatever." She sneered.

The second sentence is much more powerful and I did it with one less word. Sneering evokes a particular action. I know what it's like to be sneered at, but I have only a general idea what someone being course is like. It could crude, rude, angry, her voice might be horse.

By no means stop writing, the adverb is an opportunity to go back in a future draft and to make the story a powerful.

Another weak spot of mine is the use of a passive voice.

For instance: Jane was punched in the nose by Sara.

Could be: Sara punched Jane in the nose.

In this case the subject Sara acts upon the object Jane. When writing it's always more powerful to act upon and object rather than an object be acted upon. This is crucial in writing any kind of action.

Use of the first person. While first person has gained a lot of popularity over the years, some still consider it a poor way to tell a story. I've been told from a potential reader that she wouldn't read my story because it was written first person. I'm good with that. It's a very specific writing style that can be really difficult. It's really easy to get first person wrong. I've needed reminders that my main character needs to do A before he can do B. He can use and object he didn't pick up. I had once sequence in my book where Rick threw out a glowstick. Certainly not an unusual item for a cop to have, but I needed to have him pick one up at some point and throw it in his pocket. If a sword is needed in the third act, make sure it's stilling somewhere in the first.

I'm drawn to first person, because I want to be in the head of my character. It a trade-off as I don't get the luxury of jumping around and let the reader in on the whole story. I tell my story from one angle and i's both a blessing and a curse when dealing with a mystery. I think it gives me a decided advantage. While I don't get in the mind of my killer, or victim. The story advances when my character finds a clue. As a writer I need to be more visceral as Rick only know what he discovers, his conclusions may often be wrong until he puzzles it out. Otherwise, there are leaps in logic and while he can suspect something, until he knows something, he's unable to act within character.

In order to get enough information, he has to rely on the world around him and the people he comes in contact with throughout the story. Rick can't be everywhere, but those around him can be. It can be someone in passing, or someone intimately involved with the events. Then Rick has to take what he's learned roll it around with his own experiences and knowledge, which can be unreliable and spits out a conclusion. Then then fun part, acting on it.

In Knight and Dex, I was able to write these very large, crazy action sequences. I have two particular fights in there that are my favorite things I've ever written. I think if I had to chose one, it would be the first one. When I wrote it, I creeped myself out. With the feedback I've gotten, it comes across the page. Hearing that was the happiest moment of my writing career. Is it bad I take perverse pleasure in giving someone nightmare fuel? It most certainly is and I love it.

What I like most about first person is that I can feel, taste, touch, hear and smell the world. I get to do this through someone I get to know on the most intimate of levels. I know a pizza tastes to him, what he feels when he drives his car, what it's like to be in love with his partner, and I know what annoys the shit out of him. The greatest gift it to experience his pain and his joys. To not just experience, but to actually live Rick's adventure. It's truly a treasure to me.

I've written two and it's time to move onto three. New challenges await and it's time for Rick to be on his toes once again. This time, I'm going to see what makes the metal at the core of his being. Is it steel, or tin. My guess is a chunk of rusty, pitted iron.

With these final words, I move once again into my world of daring deeds and foul villainy, of a city in peril and a savior that is all too human even if those around him are not. I move into my world. I hope you'll join me once again on the other side.

My newest book Knight and Dex is available in paperback and e-book on, Barnes and Noble and don’t forget my publisher has copies also! Support small business and please buy from them direct.

Dex Territory and Knight and Dex are on sale!

Keep those reviews coming!!

Where can you find me?

You can find Dex Territory for every possible device at:

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Trying to make sense out of the senseless

I'm going to do something I generally don't do, I'm going to get topical and perhaps a touch political. These are usually taboo, because first it's nobody's business about what I believe and second, what I think doesn't matter. What you think is all that should matter to you, anything else is just seeking validation. To quote Terry Cole Whittaker, "what you think of my is none of my business."

With that out of the way. I need to purge. It's a good morning for that as the world and especially, France, deals with a new terrorist attack. If you haven't heard, just turn on any news station. I'm a writer not a reporter.

First, to give some context I was a soldier in the US Army. My unit participated in Operation Desert Storm and has been deployed several times to the Gulf. I was incredibly fortunate to not have been deployed. It was very close, but by the time we received our desert training at Fort Devens, in the snow, the ground war was over. We remained rear support, and sent contact teams over to Saudi Arabia. We had an important job and we did it to the best of our ability. I'm very proud of my time in the military. I understand how different it could have been. I am lucky beyond measure.

Here's the thing. I was a trained soldier and was ready to face a known enemy. Terrorism doesn't work that way. The only hope in stopping it once a plan is in place is to discover actionable intelligence. Then it's law enforcement's job to figure out what's about to happen and stop it. If they don't, we have the attack. Some famous misses are the attacks on the USS Cole, the embassy bombing in Beirut, 9/11 and today in Paris. We're shocked and angry about all of these things. What we should also be angry at are the attacks that happen in Israel, Jordan, Syria, Iraq and more and more. It's a real problem. These are real people being maimed and killed.

This isn't meant o scare anyone, but here's something I found doing a google search. It's an impact map that shows the areas most a risk for attack. Makes me want to think about changing my vacation plans.

People are being trained, probably not unlike I was to use their bodies as a weapon to destroy and enemy, the difference being, I was trained to face an enemy force, they're targeting civilians, the people we swore to protect. We swore to sacrifice ourselves for the greater good. Terrorist sacrifice themselves to spread fear. I get it, I truly do. They have no voice, no one to listen, so their reaction is to take a hard line, turn to the extreme in their belief system to find comfort, to find righteousness and lash out in hate. You know what? here's the interesting part is I (we) have people that hate us that we've never met, never had a conversation, or shared a meal, shook a hand, or even nodded to each other in the street in passing. How fucked up is that? I had no more control over the circumstances of my birth than anyone. Granted our cultures differ, the places we came to understand as we grew are different, our languages vary, sometimes it's hard to understand one another...or is it? I know when someone is in pain, or feeling joy, depression, anger, love, indifference, these are not hard concepts to understand in one another. Hell, I understand these things in my dogs.

I'm asking the same question that everyone else is asking, why?

I don't expect an answer, but it's not stopping me from asking the question.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

When The Laughter Dies: A True Account Of A Firefighter/EMT And His Struggles With PTSD by Paul D. Barnes Sr.

In my first of a featured author series. I'm featuring a conversation between a husband and wife, Paul and Fiona Barnes. Paul is a an EMT and firefighter and his book: When The Laughter Dies: A True Account Of A Firefighter/EMT And His Struggles With PTSD was just released.

Fiona is also an author and she has two book one is a non-fiction, self help book that tells their family's struggles with PTSD. It's a very intimate look into their lives and the effects of this disorder on their lives. It's powerful. Fiona has just released her second book called, Meet Cate. Here's the book's blurb:

Set at Christmastime, Meet Cate offers deliberate description designed to speak to the dreamer in you.
Cate battles the Post Traumatic Stress Disorder symptoms of her ex-husband while balancing her professional life. Will she even come out sane?

First he was a man, then a firefighter. Through it all, he was a dad. His book, When The Laughter Dies, A True Account of A Firefighter/EMT And His Struggles With PTSD is available now.

Fiona Barnes: You mentioned ambulance crew nights. Was Mark your partner? [ Not the blog owner; the name is merely a coincidence. ]

Paul D. Barnes, Sr.: I actually had two crews. (I had two nights.) Mark was the one I ran with the most.

Fiona: Remember that call with the ladder? The lady who−

Paul: How could I forget about her. Mark's at the top of the ladder. I get there, I put my gear on quick, I go up the ladder behind him. She's hanging out the window from the shoulders up, smoke billowing out. He looks down at me, and says, "I can't get her to come out the window."

I looked at him and said, "If you have to grab her and pull her out by the ****ing ears, make her come out!" And at that point she started coming out the window. That was the first time her house caught on fire.

Fiona: What about a little probie that came along, adorably cute? Really really really cute? In a Jeep?

Paul: You?!

Fiona: [ Rolls eyes ]

Paul: The thing that stood out to me the most−

Fiona: Don't say my−

Paul: No−the day I happened to look out the window and there was a yellow Jeep out on the front ramp. Somebody jumps out, all smiles and the Jeep... starts to leave the area. By itself. Nights sitting on the counter in the kitchen talking. The overseeing father figure of the department keeping an eye on us.

Fiona: Showing up at a brush fire, in full turnout gear and there you were, in clothes. You said to wear turnout gear at a brush fire.

Paul: No, I said wear your full gear at every call. I just didn't specify.

[ Faces are made ]

At a brush fire, we wore blue jeans, work boots and long sleeve shirts. Helmets and gloves, too. Do you have any idea how hard it is to drive in those boots?

[ Roars with laughter ]

Fiona: Then you put me to work looking for hot spots, and I'm pretty sure you stood back and laughed, shaking your head..
Rookie blues...I remember the call you're talking about.

Paul: There was a really cute firefighter there. She was really cute. Really really really cute.

[ Laughs ]

Fiona: Favorite memories in the book?

Paul: The dog rescue, that's my favorite.

Fiona: What did you think when we found the video the other day? (You can view it here: Best viewed on a computer.)

Paul: I thought it was great, I really did. It's nice to watch it. It's nice to see a favorable outcome that I can watch over and over again. One that I did.

Fiona: Favorite memories writing the book?

Paul: It was nice to think back to when I started. Brought back a lot of good memories. Brought back some bad memories but for the most part, it was a nice trip down memory lane. Made me remember how excited I was when I first joined. Nice to see I still maintain that excitement, even today. Nice to know some part of me hasn't changed.

Fiona: What do you think of the outpouring of support you've received?

Paul: It's not what I expected. It's humbling. It's incredibly encouraging.

Fiona: Do your pre-sale numbers surprise you?

Paul: Yes, actually. Yes they do. I'm not going to say I'm shocked, but it's the wow factor is way up, lemme tell you that.

Fiona: If you had to write a review for your book, what would you write?

Paul: Read with caution.

Fiona: Why?

Paul: Because reality is it's not always glamorous, sometimes it's hurtful or scary. Sometimes it's funny. But it's all true life.

Fiona: Would you be surprised to find that I laughed through a lot of it?

Paul: No, because when I wrote it, I laughed through a lot of it. I wrote it that way purposely. I tried to interject a little bit of humor into something that could potentially make people very sad or frightened. I don't want people to put the book down because it's too real. I wanted to keep them gripped. But that's also my personality.

Read part I on
Read part II on
Read the final word Friday on
Paul's book is available now on, (no relation) and at Details in Norwich, Connecticut. Follow him on Facebook ( He's currently thinking about a second book.

Thank you Paul and Fiona! Best of luck with the new releases.

My newest book Knight and Dex is available in paperback and e-book on, Barnes and Noble and don’t forget my publisher has copies also! Support small business and please buy from them direct.

Dex Territory and Knight and Dex are on sale!

Keep those reviews coming!!

Where can you find me?

You can find Dex Territory for every possible device at: