Goodbye Team Arrow, and Thank You!

This is way too early, but with the recent farewell video by the CW crew in saying goodbye to the flagship show, I felt the need to write a post.
It is no surprise to my fans and followers (hi mom!) that I’m a huge fan of the CW Superhero shows. They are an enjoyable shared universe that keeps me thoroughly entertained.
It should also come as no small surprise that I’ve been influenced in my works by these CW shows. The first major influence came in how I approached my series/universes. The way that each of these shows can be part of it’s own thing while still managing to dip into the chaotic pool that is a crossover episode, sharing a universe and then ducking back out into it’s own with the grace of Fred Astaire, is not only impressive, but insanely good marketing. I know that a lot of people don’t watch all of the CW Shows and I can only vouch for my own experience, but my interest in Supergirl skyrocketed when the Flash jumped over to CBS to meet Kara and the crew. Suddenly, my “I’ll watch it this weekend maybe,” became a “Everybody shut up! Supergirl is on!”
That isn’t to say that the show doesn’t have merits of it’s own, of course. I thoroughly enjoy Supergirl even more than ever simply because of it’s stand alone commentary on political, social, and Kryptonian events.
But that’s the point! When they started knitting these shows together, I started caring more about them and their individual plots.
Marketing genius on scale with Marvel’s Cinematic Universe (a smaller scale….but on scale…).
So, I began incorporating that into my works. I’d be remiss if I didn’t add that C.T. Phipps, and his approach to interweaving each of his stories into a much larger multiverse didn’t also lend itself toward my own marketing change up. While the CW told me “Yeah! Connect them all!” Phipps books said “Ease them into it.”
My die hard fans will have seen the small introductions of elements from one work bleeding into the others.
  • Jason Night’s doctor when he breaks his arm has the same name and general physical description of a certain secretary from Andrew Doran Series.
  • My horror novel, Satan’s Salesman, has several references to Darden Valley, TrinCo, and other elements of the Broken Nights universe.
  • Satan’s Salesman also mentions The Statement of Andrew Doran as a movie that everyone wants to go and see.
These things are the beginning of a vast, and subtle, shared universe. You don’t need to read the other stories to enjoy the individual novels, but consider it an added treat for those who do.
In the future, we’ll see a little more as I do what the “Arrowverse” has done and give Coven (introduced in Broken Nights: Strange Worlds) and a few others from that series their own spinoff books.
That’s only the first thing I wanted to thank the CW’s Arrow for.
The second, and in slightly less subtle ways, would be for the fight scenes in my Broken Nights series. I’ve always been impressed by well-choreographed fight scenes and Arrow (as well as Netflix’s Daredevil) both created great fight scenes that I used as templates for some of my own.
Thank you, Arrow, for your entertainment and your inspiration. I hope that Stephen and the team are available for the occasional drop ins in the future episodes of The Flash, Legends of Tomorrow, Supergirl, Batwoman, and Black Lightning.
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Progress Report

Normally, I make posts like the previous one (the declaration of writing again, not the review) and then get swept up in a new life thingy that makes me out to be a liar.
That is not the case this time. I have yet to nail down a solid writing schedule, but am happy to say that I’m at least writing again and using my beautiful writing corner in our new house!
My wife even said the words “I like hearing you typing again!”
My project list hasn’t changed, only my urgency.
Even though I have a total of 5 Andrew Doran stories (The Early Adventures of Andrew Doran, The Statement of Andrew Doran, Andrew Doran at the Mountains of Madness, Andrew Doran and the Crawling Chaos, and Andrew Doran and the Obsidian Key), there are only two complete novels. I think that finishing the Andrew Doran trilogy with my current Work-in-Progress will push me in a lot of ways. In the first, I think it’ll help bring more visibility to the Andrew Doran series. In another way, it’ll free me up to start on finishing another trilogy I need to get done. Once the big trilogies are out of the way, I feel like my mind will be a little more freer to play in other yards.
That’s not my way of saying that Andrew Doran is or the other series (Broken Nights) will be done after the trilogies are completed, that’s just me saying that once a completed trilogy is done, I won’t feel like those stories are obligations so much as they are fun universes that I can play in whenever I want to again. As I’ve explained to several fans in the past, Andrew Doran is my enjoyment writing. I don’t know that he’ll ever be done. As long as he can continue to take the punishment that is being doled out, I will continue to dole it.
This new Andrew Doran story takes place almost directly after Andrew Doran at the Mountains of Madness, only leaving enough time for the novella (Crawling Chaos) and the short story (Obsidian Key) to take place before diving directly into the adventure. Whereas previous titles have explored the Cthulhu Mythos lore provided mostly by Lovecraft himself, this novel touches on some aspects introduced by some of his inheritors. We’re seeing the mention Hyperborea and we’re exploring the backstory of Carol, Andrew’s administrative assistant.
Additionally, we’re exploring Andrew’s dynamic with his newest “Watson” and introducing more elements from the mythos that are going to change the way Andrew approaches the world entirely.
In the last year I’ve had a lot things to distract me from the progress on this book, but no more. They’ve all been excuses and now I’m pressing forward to complete this book and have another horrifying adventure under Andrew’s belt.
After that, I intend to tackle where we left off with the Broken Nights stories. Originally the title for that sequel was “Broken Nights: Endgame” and then Marvel overheard me and stole the title, so we’re still working on that. The story is more than started and we know where we want to take it (femme-fatale, prison fights, government conspiracies, and how a heart-broken AI can cope in a world where she’s the only one like herself out there.
Anyway, that’s my updates for now. If you’re not caught up on any of these stories, then get there, I’m on a roll and not slowing down for anyone.
–MD–

Review: The Future of Supervillainy by C.T. Phipps

516tdgmchdl._sy346_I’ve been remiss as of late, and have fallen behind on my book reviews. In an effort to correct that, here is the long anticipated review of The Future of Supervillainy by C.T. Phipps.
The previous book, The Tournament of Supervillainy, ended with some interesting future stuff, some rules having been changed in the universe, and me lightheaded with excitement after reading all of the cameos that made it into that story. Normally, the next Supervillainy book tends to jump right into dealing with whatever mess was left behind by the last one but that wasn’t so much the case with The Future of Supervillainy (henceforth to be referred to as TFoS).
The Future of Supervillainy starts with the very specific premise that Gary is retired and doesn’t know what that actually means for someone with his reputation, his children, and his kind of associates. He doesn’t have a quest in front of him and it leaves him kind of aimless, but he still feels responsible for providing a certain way of life for so many different people that have come to depend on him, including a few from other Universes. It’s almost a Supervillain Mid-Life Crisis and Gary doesn’t know how to deal with it.
Until we get another Universe to add a few more characters to the mix. John Henry Booth and Mercury Halsey, from the Cthulhu Armageddon series of books, arrive with a problem going on in the center of the Earth. Suddenly, we’re examining not only classic comic book tropes, but also classic pulp tropes as we JOURNEY TO THE CENTER OF THE EARTH.
We get a lot of great homages to classic battles and of course a lot of punching Nazis. Some of my favorite things were the references and parodies of comic book characters and events (Superboy-Prime, anyone?).
The book is great, and filled with the usual mix of snark and pop-culture references as well as giving us some answers to some big questions that the series had put together.
A great 5 out of 5. Keep them coming Charles!

Giddyup!

Life has a way of knocking you out of your patterns, derailing you from your well-structured writing habits and laying waste to “writing time.”
I’ve recently had a huge life event that did just that, planting a nuke right in the center of my writing efforts and knocking my novels a little off course. On the bright side, it was a great life event with the potential of only getting better (I moved into a newer and bigger place across town). I’m incredibly happy with the changes that have happened. Unfortunately, the destruction of those writing habits was a side effect, and I’ve only recently managed to begin picking up the pieces.
I’ve got a new writing desk in a private writing corner of the house. The saddle is dusted off, the reins are new, and I’m ready to get back on the horse.
Here goes.
Andrew Doran and the Scroll of Nightmares (book 3 in the series, not counting all of the short stories) is just under half done. I’ll be putting all of my efforts into that for the immediate future. I want that trilogy completed. Don’t worry, though, it’s only the first trilogy of Andrew’s life. I’m planning on returning to the good doctor on many occasions.
My next project is a quiet one with a September deadline, which kind of gives you my schedule for Andrew Doran as well.
If I can keep to those plans and get a great groove going, this will set me up to have Broken Nights 3 done by the end of November.
That’s ambitious, but not impossible.
Fingers crossed.
Let’s get back on this horse and ride it hard.
–Matt
PS: I’ve been watching The Sinking City “Let’s Plays” on YouTube, and can I just say that if they wanted to rename it “Andrew Doran and the Sinking City,” I’d be alright with sharing marketing efforts with them. The game is one snarky Frenchman away from being my books. I love it.

Review: 100 Miles and Vampin’ by C.T. Phipps

With the newest addition in Phipps’ United States of Monsters series, 100 Miles and Vampin’ picking up where the first book in the collection left off, I had to read it as soon as it was available. With only subtle references to the Weredeer saga, this story returns to down and out vampire, Peter Stone, as he’s still trying to earn a dollar and not ruin the fragile relationship between Vampires and the rest of the world. At the end of the last book, Stone had become the Belladix (read that as Sheriff) for the vampire nation residing in New Detroit. His job is to police the vampires who break the laws. Unfortunately, he doesn’t get paid for it and has to keep his job at the gas station. When his financial woes are bringing him to peak distress, he’s assigned to protect Stephanie Meyer….err I mean Rebecca Plum. A romance/vampire novelist who’s also a vampire that’s a little too into the killing aspect of her species. Vampires hate her for being a psycho murderer, but humanity loves her simply because they love her books and know nothing of her murderous tendencies. In pure Phipps Fashion, everything goes horribly wrong, leading to a chain of events that results in a lot of fun for the reader and a lot of distress for Peter Stone and his friends. Normally, Phipps’ books tend to be about character reflection and this one definitely had a lot in it, but not nearly as much as is usual. That’s not a negative comment, just something that I observed. When we’re not stuck in the moral feedback loops of the character, there’s room for more action and adventure. In the first book (Straight out of Fangton), Peter Stone was able to self-analyze plenty and that left room in this book for a lot more action while still giving us the necessary character development (his relationship with his brother and brother’s killer) just in a much smaller dose. Upon my own reflection, I might be wrong and this book just had the self-analysis interwoven in the character discussions and events. Either way, this book benefits from however it was done. The only thing that seemed to keep haunting me throughout this book was the technically second murder (The big one, not the guy in the bathroom). I kept on wondering what the motive was until it was finally answered, but the answer was so fast and shadowed by the bigger events that had happened since that I had to go back and double check. I’d been waiting so long for the answer that I was left a little uncomfortable with what a minor moment it was. That didn’t detract from the story at all, but played more like a magician’s slight of hand. I don’t mind being frustrated with how simple the answer was when other authors might have left it unanswered and would have left me frustrated to no end. My favorite parts of this book were the powers that Stone showed in manipulating time as well as the action scenes. Every fight played out like a movie, making this book feel more like a proper Blade sequel and that much more enjoyable. Of course, I loved this story, and can’t wait to read the next one. 5 out of 5 stars.

Tales of the Al-Azif

My Works-In-Progress page isn’t entirely accurate.

In September 2017, I made an interesting realization: I was associated with authors who write the same thing as I did (Lovecraftian Adventure) but we all wrote our plots during different eras. This realization also popped into my head right after I watched another of those CW crossovers that I love so much, so it didn’t take much for me to begin reaching out to my friends and explaining this vision.

C.T. Phipps helped me organize and collect the authors while David Hambling helped us come up with the McGuffin.

Enter the Al-Azif. The ancient first draft of Lovecraft’s Necronomicon, written in the language of the insects and more powerful than even Alhazred could control.

Tales of the Al-Azif cover5

Tales of the Al-Azif is a crossover collection of Lovecraftian adventure written by a circle of trust in much the same way that Lovecraft and his own circle built the Mythos. This is a labor of love and a project that all of the authors involved put their hearts, souls, and insect-fueled magic into.

It’s coming out soon, so you won’t have long to wait for the history of the Al-Azif as told by C.T. Phipps, David Hambling, David Niall Wilson, David West, and Matthew Davenport as you get more stories involving your favorite Mythos heroes, including Harry Stubbs, Andrew Doran, and John Henry Booth.

Leave any questions in the comments and I’ll do my best to answer and keep you up to date!

NaNoWriMo 2018: In Review

NaNoWriMo is my annual holiday. Every year, I put forth an effort to actually succeed at finishing around 50,000 words in one month. Unfortunately, I failed to reach that goal this year.

I did not fail NaNoWriMo, though.

The good news is that I’m not alone. A lot of people across the world failed to meet their 50,000 word quota for the month. A lot of things come up to distract us from this effort, all easily placed under the header of “Life.” In my situation, I spread myself too thin. I chose to write on three projects at the same time, two of which were collaborations, and because of this my cadence broke and I became lazy.

That’s alright as well, though.

NaNoWriMo is meant to remind you about your writing commitments. It’s meant to help you self-analyze your writing habits and learn more about yourself in the process.

When I first started doing NaNoWriMo, I failed two years in a row to hit that magical 50k, but those first two years were a huge success. They were a success because, before that, I had only ever written around 15,000 words to any one story. In my first NaNo, I wrote around 25k, surpassing my old standard and showing myself that it could be done and that such an insurmountable seeming task wasn’t difficult if I just approached it one piece at a time.

In my second year I was able to feel the success that came with having a completed novel. It was indescribable. A piece of art that was in my hand, crafted and molded to the best of my abilities and able to project images directly into someone else’s mind. Stephen King said it himself in “On Writing” when he compared writing a book to the closest thing we’ll ever achieve to telepathy. I was feeling that power from the moment that I typed “The End.”

Success during NaNoWriMo has little to do with hitting that magical number. That number is just there as a goal for the masses to aim for, but at the end of the day we’re only held accountable to ourselves.

While I was distracted by multiple projects and phony excuses to myself, that wasn’t any different than my October had been. The difference was that I wrote 12,000 words in two different titles that I’m working on. I also finished an anthology piece. It was a productive month that only served to highlight a weakness of mine that I had forgotten I had. In an effort to produce as many titles as I could this year, I overbooked, underperformed, and failed to provide. It sounds like failure but it’s the furthest thing from it.

NaNoWriMo moved me forward on projects that I had and showed me what I have to do to finish titles in the future.

I hope you all had a successful NaNoWriMo, no matter what your word count was.

Review: Cthulhu’s Minions & The Innsmouth Look

Cthulhu's Minions (The Arkham Detective Book 1) by [Craft, Byron]

Cthulhu’s Minions, by Byron Craft

The Innsmouth Look (The Arkham Detective Book 2) by [Craft, Byron]

The Innsmouth Look, by Byron Craft

This review is for two books, as I read them back to back, got swamped with packing up a house, and have finally found time to put together a proper review.
The Arkham Detective series follows a no-name pulp detective in the city of Arkham, Massachusetts. While most of the residents have heard rumors and stories regarding all of Lovecraft’s beasties doing their dirty work in the town, most of them don’t believe them, and neither does our protagonist until a gory encounter and a witness who claims some rather horrendous things.
Cthulhu’s Minions is a great primer to the world of the Arkham Detective in that it’s a great origin story for the guy who makes it his job to hunt down the weird stuff while also being a short read to get you psyched about the bigger stories in the series.
The action doesn’t stop with Minions, though, and my intrigue kept me going straight from the last page of Cthulhu’s Minions and directly into the sequel, The Innsmouth Look.
Depending on the day, my favorite story from the Lovecraft Mythos is Shadow Over Innsmouth. The dark tale of a city cursed by it’s fortune in more ways than one makes for a great setting for some pulpy adventure (as myself and other authors have noted). Unlike those other authors, and even myself, the adventure here is nonstop pulpy goodness that only Byron Craft could have put together. On the trail of a murderer and kidnapper from that doomed city, the Arkham Detective takes grit to a new level as he interrogates the town and puts his best detective shoe forward, stumbling upon Government spies, trapped locals, and, of course, a dark ritual that the town wants to happen while the rest of the world obviously doesn’t.
Craft knows his Mythos and weaves that into a series of books that reads like a great Lovecraftian story, but with more adventure and less fainting. I give both of these books 5 out of 5 stars for just being great and fun reads.

Review: Lucifer’s Nebula by Phipps/Suttkus

Lucifer's Nebula (Lucifer's Star)Lucifer’s Nebula, by C. T. Phipps and Michael Suttkus is the second novel in the adventures of Cassius Mass, a devilishly handsome former prince of a cruel planet that no longer exists. This is like Star Wars if it were written in a darker and more cruel (and arguably fun) universe.
Lucifer’s Nebula is a sequel to the first book, Lucifer’s Star, in which we learned that the universe has experienced governmental turmoil, civilizations have been ravaged, and an ancient set of beings known as the Elder Races have left their mark on the current civilization. This book picks up where the first left off in a way that doesn’t make you feel like you’ve missed a step between the books.
We find our reluctant hero, Cassius Mass, as the hesitant Captain of the Melampus, the ship that he had been flying on during the previous book. His crew is filled with variously colorful characters, including his two lovers, the aggressive First Mate, Clarice, and the ship’s medical officer, Isla. Isla is also a bioroid, which is like a fleshy C-3PO who’s artificial intelligence is so advanced that it’s considered (by some) to be a sentient being. Many of the bioroid’s of this universe are enslaved, as most people see them less like people and more like machines. Isla’s struggle, in this book and the last, reminds me of Pris from the original Blade Runner. She was made for one purpose (in Isla’s case, sex), but rebels against her users to follow her true calling. At this point, that mostly consists of being a medical officer and hanging out with Cassius’s pirate crew.
Most of the cast of Lucifer’s Nebula (and the whole series, really) is incredibly broken or has experienced some sort of trauma. One of my favorite characters, William, had to deal with his entire world being ravaged and destroyed by one of the warring governments. Major Terra (introduced in this book) is a brainwashed soldier from that same world as William. She was kidnapped by her conquerors and brainwashed to be their loyal assassin. Everyone’s broken. The Melampus wouldn’t be remiss in renaming itself “The Isle of Misfit Toys.”
This broken aesthetic doesn’t end with just the crew, as their Captain is the most broken of them all. Inside his head he relives and can never escape the memories of all of the people that he’s killed or led into a battle that’s gotten them killed. One of those ghosts is his dead wife, who seems to have lost much of her humanity in her transition from living flesh to digital ghost. He’s wracked with guilt and anger over who he was and what he’s lost and he desperately wishes to atone for the life he’s lived.
In book one, this led us into the great character arcs that Phipps and Suttkus are famous for. Phipps always manages to introduce you to an utterly broken person and show us their path toward healing. When book 1 ended, we had hope for Cassius.
Then book 2 started, and we were saddled with an uncomfortable reality. While a lot of what was broken in these characters was healed, life doesn’t let you forget about the parts that you haven’t fixed yet. Cassius is still addicted to his alcohol and self-destructive tendencies, and the character journeys in this book help us to see the more human side of addiction, abuse, and violence on both a global and a personal scale.
There’s politics, huge twists, and adventure galore, but the big win with any book that has Phipps’s name on it is the character development (and the action. Lots of great action.).