Archive for the 'All the Rest' Category

30
Dec
15

Looking back at 2015

Tomorrow, 2015 rolls over into 2016. So like everybody else, I guess I should be taking the time to take stock of the year. It’s kind of strange to do that, though. Some big things happened this year, but it’s not exactly like I need to look BACK on any of them. They’re still with me. I think about them all the time.

015I almost died, for example. For once, this is not hyperbole. I spent 12 days in the hospital in March and April, recovering from an ailment that has clearly been afflicting me for years and, what’s more, that the doctors can’t be sure won’t happen again. So I’m always going to be a little paranoid, but I know what to look for in the hopes that IF it happens again, I can cut it off before it gets bad.

IMG_4539The good news is, as a result of this, I’m now healthier than I have been in years. I feel better, I move around better, I’m more flexible and agile. I walked a 5K in September. I know that doesn’t sound like much to a lot of people, but I’ve never even dreamed of doing something like that before. Hopefully it was just the first one. I know Erin and I both want to keep trying to get into better shape and do more stuff like that. She keeps talking about actually running in one of these things some day. I tell her to not get ahead of ourselves.

IMG_3436And if not for that change, I couldn’t have achieved one of my dreams this summer, playing Max Biyalistock in The Producers. It’s one of my favorite musicals, and it’s a role I’ve wanted to play since I first heard the music. This is one of the things I have on my theatrical bucket list. And I did it.

014I was also lucky enough, this year, to revisit one of the best shows I’ve ever done in the past, “The Complete Works of William Shakespeare [Abridged],” this time sharing the stage with the amazing Seth Pontiff and Chance Simoncelli, and directed by Melanie Bird. It was wonderful to do it again, and I only wish I could have done it AFTER I got sick, because if I had the energy for that show that I do now… man. At any rate, I hope I get to work with both of these guys again, and if it can be in a show with this kind of wild, zany energy, all the better, because I really think we worked well together.

There was a new Star Wars movie. That was pretty awesome.

IMG_6556I celebrated an entire year of marriage to a wonderful woman that I love more every day, and I only wish Erin’s job allowed us a little more time together during my Christmas break. Retail, man — it’s brutal at the end of the year.

I wrote this year. I put out some stuff. I released a new book, Everything You Need to Know to Survive English Class. And I turned it into a series of YouTube “lecture” videos, which I intend to continue into 2016.

SurviveEnglishClassFinal2

Everything You Need to Know to Survive English Class

But I’m also at something of a crossroads, creatively. I know what I want to do. I don’t know how to do it. I don’t know how to get my work out there, to put it in front of more people, to actually (and I know this is a dirty word) monetize it. Don’t misunderstand me, friends — each and every one of you reading this, I’m grateful. I’m thrilled that you care. I just wish there were MORE of you. So let me remind you guys again that the BEST way to help a creator whose work you enjoy (not just me, but anybody) is to tell other people about it. When you see a video you like, share it. When you read a book you like, write a review on Amazon or Goodreads (or both). And follow your creators on social media. Look, you can find me on Facebook, on Twitter @BlakeMP, or on Instagram @BlakeMP25.

(I’ll be honest, I’m still trying to figure out how to use Instragram. I like it, though. Facebook and Twitter turn so negative so fast. Instagram is almost always positive. “Look, here’s my kitten! Look, here’s my kid! Look, here’s my lunch!”)

The point is, I’m still working things out, guys. I know that isn’t really a satisfying conclusion to a “year in review” sort of piece, but it’s as honest a conclusion as I can give. All I know for certain is that I’m going to keep trying.

And I hope you’ll all join me for the ride.

23
Dec
15

Now FREE: An All-American Christmas (and other tales of the holidays)

AllAmericanXMas_ORNAMENTHey, everyone! Like I promised you yesterday, my new collection of three holiday short stories is now in the Amazon Kindle Store, and as my Christmas gift to you, it’s absolutely FREE until Dec. 27! Bounce on over and grab your copy now!

An All-American Christmas (and other tales of the holidays)

If you like the stories in this book — or any of my work — there’s two things I’d like to ask you to do. First of all, pass the link along. Let people know there’s a free book they can snag for the next few days. Second, write a little review there on Amazon. Having reviews of your work helps boost the profile of the book in the store, and it also helps my other books as well. It only takes you a couple of minutes, but it means a lot to me

“But Blake!” you are shouting at me. “I don’t have a Kindle! How can I read your eBook?”

No problem, guys. Amazon has made apps for pretty much any device to allow you to read books from the Kindle store.

So you see, no matter WHAT you’re reading this post on, you can read the eBook SOMEHOW.

And finally, in case you’ve forgotten just what it is you’re about to read, here are the stories inside this collection:

An All-American Christmas: A group of crooks decide to pull a holiday heist while the city’s superheroes are occupied with their annual Christmas party. But what none of them stopped to consider is that not everybody celebrates Christmas…

Akkis’s First Christmas: Akkis of the Thrung never expected to have to raise a human child. After the death of his best friends, though, he’s tasked with making their young son merry. For an alien who has never experienced one to give a five-year-old the perfect holiday may just take a Christmas miracle.

Baby New Year: A New Year’s Eve party is thrown into chaos when a group of monster-hunters realize that the holiday’s most important set piece is not what anybody thought it was.

This collection of three short stories takes us to the worlds of Siegel City (OTHER PEOPLE’S HEROES and THE PYRITE WAR), The Curtain (THE BEGINNER and OPENING NIGHT OF THE DEAD), and to author Blake M. Petits newest storytelling realm, Shadows of Earth.

22
Dec
15

Coming tomorrow: An All-American Christmas

AllAmericanXMas_ORNAMENTIt’s almost time, guys! Tomorrow is the premiere of my NEW short story collection, “An All-American Christmas (and other tales of the holidays)”! This eBook will include THREE stories, featuring each of the three worlds of my realms. Inside you’ll find…

An All-American Christmas: A group of crooks decide to pull a holiday heist while the city’s superheroes are occupied with their annual Christmas party. But what none of them stopped to consider is that not everybody celebrates Christmas…

Akkis’s First Christmas: Akkis of the Thrung never expected to have to raise a human child. After the death of his best friends, though, he’s tasked with making their young son merry. For an alien who has never experienced one to give a five-year-old the perfect holiday may just take a Christmas miracle.

Baby New Year: A New Year’s Eve party is thrown into chaos when a group of monster-hunters realize that the holiday’s most important set piece is not what anybody thought it was.

This collection of three short stories takes us to the worlds of Siegel City (OTHER PEOPLE’S HEROES and THE PYRITE WAR), The Curtain (THE BEGINNER and OPENING NIGHT OF THE DEAD), and to my newest storytelling realm, Shadows of Earth.

The collection will be priced at 99 cents on Amazon, but from Dec. 23-27, you’ll be able to download it absolutely FREE.

18
Apr
15

Finals are coming…

Everything You Need to Know to Survive English Class

Everything You Need to Know to Survive English Class

Books are a good thing, my friends. Not just mine, but so many others — works by the likes of Mark Twain, Charles Dickens, and that British guy that stole all those plays from Sir Francis Bacon… Billy something, I think. But after almost a decade of teaching high school students the joys and wonders of the greatest works of literature, and also the Transcendentalists, I’ve come to an important conclusion.

Some of our best works of literature are the works of deranged minds.

And to help us all comes to grips with that, on May 11th I’m releasing my new book, Everything You Need to Know to Survive English Class!

Not a novel, this new book is a critical look at the foibles of some magnificent works of art. And by “critical look” I mean I “poke fun at everything I hold dear.” What do Game of Thrones fans have to learn from Don Quixote? How did Odysseus convince his wife that nothing went on during the extended period when he was trapped on not one, but TWO separate islands controlled by lust-crazed goddesses? What’s “wuthering” anyway, and how can a height do it? For thousands of years, the greatest storytellers of all time have been producing timeless works of art, all so that here, now, today, I can use them in the context of a joke about the Transformers.

The book is currently available for pre-order for your Amazon Kindle or Kindle App, or in the Smashwords bookstore for every other eBook format. Not only that, but we’ll soon be adding it to the Barnes and Noble Nook, Apple iBook and Kobo bookstores, and we’re finalizing the print version as well. But for now, place your pre-orders! Tell your friends! Get in on the ground floor!

What, that isn’t enough? Fine. How about if we give you a sneak preview? For your reading edification, ladies and gentlemen, we’re going to give you a sneak preview of what you can expect in this soon-to-be classic. Here, in its entirety (including the footnotes), is the Everything You Need to Know to Survive English Class entry on that play you all read in high school, but still didn’t understand, William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet.

ROMEO AND JULIET

This is Shakespeare’s most popular play, despite the fact that many of the others — Titus Andronicus, for example — are way funnier. It is also considered the greatest love story of all time, mainly by high school students who don’t understand what they’re reading, songwriters who think it makes them sound more intelligent than it actually does, and people who have never read The Princess Bride. The themes of drugs, underage sex, and suicide have resonated with overdramatic teenagers for over 400 years.

Romeo and Juliet is set in Verona, Italy, although one can be forgiven for not realizing this, since everyone in the play speaks with a British accent. For as long as anyone in Verona can remember, the wealthy Montague and Capulet families have been feuding with each other, and the play begins with a violent altercation between members of the two households. The Prince, Richard Dawson, is fed up with this behavior and declares that anyone caught fighting in public again will be put to death, which at the time was considered a rather strict punishment.

Meanwhile Romeo, son of Montague, is bummed. He’s in love with a girl named Rosaline, who has told him in no uncertain terms that she’s just not that into him, even going so far as to take a vow of chastity in the hopes that he can take a hint.[1] After an illiterate messenger lets it slip that Rosaline has been invited to the Capulet’s masquerade ball, Romeo’s buddies Mercutio and Benvolio agree to help him crash the party and talk to her, as stalking apparently wasn’t a thing yet.

Lady Capulet, meanwhile, is worried that her daughter Juliet will become an old maid, as she’s now at the ripe age of 13. The Capulets arrange a meet/cute for Juliet and Paris (the Prince’s cousin) at the masquerade ball, but everything is shot to hell when she meets Romeo instead. The two of them fall in love in approximately the space of 15 seconds, holding hands, mumbling some nonsense about Pilgrims, which seriously confused Juliet since they weren’t scheduled to leave for America for about 120 years. The next day, Romeo convinces his friend Friar Laurence to marry the two of them in secret. He agrees in the hopes that a marriage will end the feud, because in-laws always get along, right?

That afternoon Juliet’s cousin Tybalt, pissed that Romeo crashed the party, picks a fight with him in a public square. Romeo resists fighting his new cousin-in-law until Tybalt kills Mercutio, who takes four acts and a trip to the bathroom during intermission before he actually dies, cursing both of their houses. Enraged, Romeo kills Tybalt, declares himself “fortune’s fool,” and hauls ass.

The writers of this book would like to remind you that, at this point, Romeo and Juliet have known each other less than 24 hours.

When the Prince arrives on the crime scene, Tybalt and Mercutio’s respective corpses festering in the harsh sun of Verona (or, in the Baz Lurman version, fishing Tybalt’s bullet-ridden corpse out of a convenient fountain), he realizes Romeo was avenging Mercutio, an uninvolved party and yet another of the Prince’s many cousins. So he’s going to go easy on the fugitive: exile instead of execution. This would go on to hurt him at re-election time when his opponent tried to paint him as being “soft on violent criminals,” but that’s a different play.

In a section Shakespeare included to help literature teachers learn how to use the “skip” button on their DVD players, Romeo decides that — darn it — he may be an admitted murderer and subject to death if he’s found in Verona, but it’s still his wedding night. Shakespeare knew how teenage boys thought, what can you say? Romeo hooks up with Juliet before fleeing to his exile in the town of Mantua, where he hires a spaceship piloted by Han Solo and Chewba– wait, it’s possible we’re getting this confused with something else.

Juliet’s dad, whose nephew Romeo just killed, decides that a wedding would be just the thing to perk up everybody in the family, so he orders Juliet to marry Paris. She turns to Friar Laurence for help and he comes up with another brilliant plan, because the first one worked so well. He gives Juliet a potion to make her look dead, then sends word to Romeo to come get her out of the family crypt after her funeral. That way, when the potion wears off, they can run away together with nobody noticing she’s gone, at least until the next Capulet dies, which couldn’t be until next Tuesday or so, at least.

Once again, though, Fate screws up Friar Laurence’s plan.[2] Laurence’s messenger, Friar John, gets trapped in a house where one of the residents is suspected of having the black plague. At the time, in this era before antibiotics or immune booster smoothie add-ins, there was only one real treatment if you found a house where someone was dying of the plague: board it up from the outside, walk away whistling innocently, and hope the agonized screams from within didn’t take too long to stop. As a result, Romeo never gets the Friar’s message, but he does hear from his pal Balthazar that Juliet is dead.

In anguish, Romeo returns to Verona and encounters Paris at Juliet’s grave. If we may be allowed to editorialize a bit here, the writers of this book have always felt Paris gets kind of a raw deal. People look at him as an interloper, an obstacle, the jackass boyfriend in every romantic comedy who has to be done away with so Meg Ryan can find her true love. But really, what does Paris ever do that’s actually wrong? He attempts to arrange a marriage with Juliet, yes, but that was both common and acceptable at the time. What’s more, he seems to genuinely care for her, displaying his love when he tries to convince her to marry him. In his grief, he even guards her tomb after her “death.” And what does he get for it? Killed, that’s what. Romeo kills the shit out of him.

With Paris[3] dead, Romeo enters the tomb and, standing over the quiet Juliet, kills himself. Friar Laurence — who has realized his plans have as much of a chance of working as the castaways have of getting off Gilligan’s Island this week — arrives to find Romeo dead just as Juliet is waking up. He tells her to wait while he checks out a noise, giving her the opportunity to stab herself with Romeo’s dagger, which is actually not a double entendre.

The Prince, the Capulets, and the Montagues all arrive at the tomb to investigate who the hell is making all that noise, only to find the remnants of the bloodbath. We also learn that, in a scene the studio cut for time, Romeo’s mother has died of a broken heart after her son’s exile, which is kinda funny since his corpse is, like, right there. The Montagues and the Capulets embrace, end the feud, and pinky-swear to never, ever fight again.

This play, of course, is widely regarded as a masterpiece and is still studied today in high schools all over the world, where teachers attempt to impart upon their students the true message of Shakespeare’s work: teenagers, shut the hell up and listen to your parents or six people will die for no damn reason.

Although the text explicitly gives us Juliet’s age as being 13 (or, as her father says, she “hath not seen the change of fourteen years”), it has no such specificity about Romeo. Speculation tends to run from him being 13 himself to being somewhere in his 20s, or, “still young enough to make a complete ass out of himself.” Although today such an age gap would result in him being arrested in every state in the union,[4] in the middle ages it would not have been unusual at all. Women at that time were expected to marry older men, who would then die and leave them rich at a relatively young age, at which point they would immediately embark upon a scandalous relationship with the stable boy. Juliet’s mother, in fact, tells us she was already a mother at Juliet’s age. Since Juliet is apparently an only child, this means Mama Capulet is about 26 years old at the time of the play, and she was looking to be a grandma. Be prepared to have a frank discussion with certain students in your high school class who mistakenly consider her a role model.

Partially because it’s a classic, but mostly because it’s public domain, Romeo and Juliet remains Shakespeare’s most-produced play, with thousands of high school and community theater productions annually. It has also inspired dozens of movies, including versions where the characters are radioactive mutants, one where there are car chases and gunfights, and the Disney-distributed film Gnomeo and Juliet, in which the characters are garden gnomes and nobody actually dies, because Disney lost their stones after they offed Bambi’s mom.

[1] Spoiler alert: he can’t.

[2] In Act V the Friar coins the classic Shakespearean quotation, “Boy, Fate is a real asshole, huh?”

[3] Played by Greg Kinnear.

[4] We sincerely hope.

20
Sep
14

I guess it’s up to me to fix the NFL…

Okay, everybody, I guess it’s up to ME to fix the NFL. AGAIN. Listen up, here’s what we have to do:

1. First of all, we all agree that Roger Goodell is a lying sack of crap that needs to go, right? Nobody is buying this “I didn’t know” garbage regarding Ray Rice anymore, and we know Goodell wasn’t going to do anything because there was no chance of the Ravens playing in a home field Super Bowl this year, so why wouldn’t he try to cover it up? What’s more, with the two or three or 19 (I’ve lost count) other players currently being investigated for assorted violent crimes, the fans are finally good and fed up with this stuff. The thing is, the NFL doesn’t actually care what we think. Hell, they don’t even care what the majority of players and coaches think, save for a few pets in the Commissioner’s pocket. Our opinion is worthless, they just want our money.

So we need to stop giving it to them. Stop watching the games. Stop attending the games. Stop buying NFL merchandise until Roger Goodell and anybody else involved in covering up violent crimes is unceremoniously removed from their position. Of course, even if we COULD convince millions of football fans to do this, that would only be a drop in the bucket to the money this “non-profit organization” pulls in annually, so that brings me to step two:

2. We need to stop supporting their SPONSORS. The companies that give the NFL their REAL money are already pissed off about all this, and they have FAR more influence than we do, so it wouldn’t take too much to get THEM to turn up the heat. So until Goodell and company are gone, we need to stop supporting companies including — but not limited to — Anheuser-Busch, McDonald’s, Coca-Cola, Gatorade, Visa, FedEx, Nike, etc. Oh. And Covergirl. Why the hell the NFL has an official cosmetic brand is beyond me, but there you are.

3. So let’s say we take out the trash in the front office. The NFL will still have a black eye as long as we’re convinced this crap will just keep happening… and it WILL keep happening with the NFL’s current policies. Here’s the most absurd thing — to me, at least — about this whole affair. As ludicrous as Ray Rice’s original two-game suspension was, it was IN KEEPING WITH NFL POLICY FOR THIS TYPE OF INCIDENT. SERIOUSLY.

So the policy needs to be changed. Any player (or coach or staff member, for that matter) indicted for a violent crime needs to be placed on immediate suspension pending an investigation. Anyone CONVICTED of a violent crime needs to be expelled from the League. Permanently.

There we go, football is saved. You’re welcome. Call me back tomorrow, I’ll tell you how to fix Hollywood.

28
Feb
14

Blake has written books Day 5: Everything Else

Throughout the week, guys, I’ve given you glimpses into the full-length novels I’ve got available. But that isn’t the extent of my work. There are several shorts and collections available as well, and darn it, don’t they deserve their day in the sun?

Tales of Siegel City:

The Restless Dead of Siegel City

The Restless Dead of Siegel City

In this novella, it’s Halloween night and the city of faux superheroes finds itself overrun with the REAL undead — mummies, zombies, vampires, and all manner of creatures of the night have come to wreak havoc. Copycat, Animan, and their crew have to dig out the root of the infestation, and Josh has to confront the ghost of his greatest failure.

This is the first direct follow-up to Other People’s Heroes.

Lucky Penny: A Christmas Story in the World of Siegel CityLucky Penny

Gill Lutz is a Las Vegas runner — a man employed by a casino to make sure that everything runs smoothly with no interference by people with “special” talents, which in a world full of metahumans is no small task. When the Vegas-based superhero called Lucky Penny uses her powers make Gill’s casino pay out jackpot after jackpot, he’s got to stop her before the casino goes bankrupt or, even worse, he’s out of a job.

This new story is set in the world of the novel Other People’s Heroes and the short story “The Restless Dead of Siegel City,” but can be read independently of those works. This eBook edition also contains a bonus short story, “Stowaway.” It’s Christmas Eve, 1827, and Louis Baudreau is determined to find something in the skies over the Gulf of Mexico he never thought he would see again. Instead, he finds a visitor on his boat that may take him places he never imagined.

GhostofSimonTower2The Ghost of Simon Tower

Every Christmas Eve the heroes of Siegel City come together to raise a glass to their fallen friends. On Josh Corwood’s first Christmas among them, he learns of an apparition that has haunted Simon Tower for years… a mysterious, nameless phantom, who may hold some of the Tower’s biggest secrets yet.

Set the Christmas after The Restless Dead of Siegel City, This short story continues the tale of Other People’s Heroes with a gateway into the past of Siegel City, and a glimpse into its future.

AssociatedPressure_HiAssociated Pressure

After the battle of Simon Tower, there are a lot of questions… heroes missing, villains who have changed sides, evil twins, and rampant confusion. The new LightCorps is holding a press conference to place everyone’s minds at ease. Unfortunately, one of the new superheroes can’t keep his story straight…

This very short story takes place in-between the final two scenes of Other People’s Heroes, with a humorous look at a Josh Corwood taken totally outside of his comfort zone.

Christmas Stories

A Long November and Other Tales of ChristmasA Long November

A Long November was written as my National Novel Writing Month experiment for 2005 and became my first Podcast Novel. Duncan Marks is just like you — sick and tired of Christmas coming before the Thanksgiving turkey even comes out of the oven. But this year, a Spirit of the Season takes him on a journey that tests his resolve… and upon which Christmas itself may rise or fall.

This short story, along with eight other Christmas themed stories of mine, has been collected into an eBook. Some of these shorts, including the Siegel City storyLonely Miracle,” have been included as bonus content in some of my feature length novels.

Making Santa AdventMaking Santa

Making Santa is my first effort at a true serialized novel, a lighthearted sci-fi story for the holidays. Yes, you read that right. It’s planned to be released in four installment, one each year at Christmas time. Here’s the info on part one:

Advent:

Nicholas Grace and 199 other men have been abducted by a strange alien race called the Yool — a “benevolent order” that travels the galaxy helping undeveloped worlds by providing them with the things they lack. On our world, the Yool are trying to give us our missing icons. With the help of the Yool and their advanced technology, one of the 200 abductees will be chosen to fill some of the most legendary boots in history. One of these men will become Santa Claus.

Geek Punditry

Reel to Reel - Monsters NO BLEEDReel to Reel

The Reel to Reel project is my ongoing effort to study, document, and pontificate on different genres of movies. Once or twice a year, I intend to run the “first draft” of each project, a day at a time, online. I’ll then come back later with the expanded eBook editions, including more movies and more content. Here’s what’s available so far.

Vol. 1: Mutants, Monsters and Madmen

The first project looks at 40 of the greatest, most entertaining, and most influential horror movies of all time.

The Obligatory Everything But Imaginary

For years now, I’ve offered up my geek punditry at CXPulp.com and various other sites across the internet landscape. Now I’m gathering together the best of those columns and articles in a series of short, low-price collections around different themes. Here’s what’s available so far.

RevolvingDoor_MockupVol. 1: A Revolving Door in Heaven
A look at the phenomenon of life, death, and the rapid turnaround between the two in American comic books.

SuperSanta_HiVol. 2: Is Santa Claus Super?
In this volume we look at Christmas comic books, Christmas music, how to shop for the Geek on your list, and we answer the most burning question of all… is Santa Claus a superhero?

24
Feb
14

Blake Has Written Books Part 1: Other People’s Heroes

Hey there, everybody. I’m working on a lot of stuff right now — some of it all-new, some of it new versions of things you’ve seen before. In both cases, the cylinders are firing and I’m having fun shaping my own weird worlds.

Other People's HeroesWith all of those worlds in play, however, I find myself in a position of wanting to push harder to spread the word of my existing work. After all, I’m the sort of writer who enjoys linking all of my various worlds and works in a way that rewards readers who stick around. The only way that sort of thing pays off, though, is if people are aware of the previous works in the mythos.

That said, this week I’ve decided to step back and remind folks of my current work in print. Let’s spread the word, guys. If you enjoy my work, talk it up. Posts reviews on Amazon.com, Goodreads.com, or any other place you talk about books. And by all means, when you see this post, share it. And “like” it. And “retweet” and “reblog” — do whatever you can to tell people about my stuff.

So let’s start today with my first novel, Other People’s Heroes…

OPH is the first published tale of Siegel City, a world full of superheroes that are sweetly similar to heroes you’ve all met before. Josh Corwood, a reporter covering the exploits of the world’s greatest champions, thinks he’ll be able to join them when he discovers a power of his own. Once he begins to immerse himself in the world of Siegel City’s most famous Capes and Masks, though, he realizes nothing in his world is as it seems.

This adventure tale approaches the world of superheroes with a sense of humor and a good-natured eye at deconstruction, while at the same time, telling a different sort of story about a different sort of world. OPH remains my most well-known and most popular work, as well as the linchpin around which many of my future stories revolves. If you haven’t read it yet, what are you waiting for?




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