Review: Brightblade by Phipps and Suttkus

Brightblade (The Morgan Detective Agency Book 1) by [Phipps, C. T., Suttkus, Michael]

Brightblade is the newest book in Phipps’s and Suttkus’s United States of Monsters world. This is the world of New Detroit, where supernatural beings decided to make themselves known to everyone a few years back and now the world has to deal with them on a daily (or nightly, in some instances) basis.

Brightblade sticks out because it’s both a new story as well as what I can only describe as the linchpin. This story helps to show you how every other story is connected, aside from that big reveal of monsters being actually under your bed. It does this really well, reminding the readers that outside of the obvious books in the United States of Monsters series, there’s also the Red Room series by these guys.

If there’s one thing that these guys know how to do, it’s building a huge universe to play in.

Brightblade is much more than the “missing link,” though. We have a strong tale of a woman trained to be this generation’s Buffy the Vampire slayer, but much like Buffy, she is quickly learning that everything she’s trained to kill is too intricately woven into her personal life. The MacGuffin for the story lends itself well to her turmoil, as it seems to be the only thing that can untie the complicated knot that is her family and friends and potentially save her from joining them, but she’s struck with the realization that no one wants their “problems” to be undone.

The struggle is real as Ashley (the main character) has to decide if she can love her friends and family with the stains on their souls or if she should go against their wishes and cure them. Which is the bigger evil? How can she learn to unhate everything they are?

This was just another great story in the Phipps and Suttkus catalog and I’m a huge fan. The little nods to characters I’ve learned to love from other books helped to propel me into this story and introduce these new characters in a manner that made them feel new but also as if they were old friends.

It’s a great book and I give it 5 out of 5.

Unfortunately, it’s also made me yearn for the next Weredeer book… Get on that guys!

Alien: Legion (Fan Fiction Effort)

In case you were curious about my process or the amount of effort I put into writing a fan-fiction, I decided to give you a little peak with the notes I wrote for my take on where the Alien Franchise should go. Someday I’ll type this up. Hopefully before Ridley Scott steals it.

If you actually read through this and want to see more, let me know. My fan-fictions usually sit until I either want to remind myself how fun writing can be or someone demands more. Please feel encourage to comment on my concept or my writing process (notes like these before I type it up).

Additionally, if you can’t read my chicken scratch…well, I just don’t care. Go check out Gaiman’s, King’s, or any other author who’s posted their notes. My writing is gorgeous!

–MD–

This Year In Writing (2019)!

No one who follows my adventures in penmanship will be shocked to hear that this year didn’t go quite as I intended it would in regards to my writing.
There were a lot of hurdles that stopped me from getting in front of a computer. Hurdles are detrimental to one thing, but aren’t necessarily bad.
For example, some of my hurdles were a big move that took up much of my spring, getting fired from a job that I was sure I had a great future from, a surgery that I hadn’t known I would need, and a toddler that (in defiance of my previous post about kids and writing) decided to become wonderfully clingy. I say wonderfully because it’s nice to be clung too, but at the same time it’s difficult to get anything done when you have a 30 pound, squirming weight attached to your ankle.
All of those things, even the surgery and getting fired, were great in there way and helped me succeed in my life in new and interesting ways. They were hurdles in that they stopped me from getting as far as I had hoped I would with my writing.
I fell behind on three major novels I’m working on, one anthology, and my blog. Somewhere in the middle of that, I started to lose faith in my skills as a writer and I’d be remiss to ignore the effect of mental health on writing (don’t worry about me, it was a brief period of time in which my self-confidence wained, but I’m back on track now).
My writing successes were hidden in there as well, though. We published The Tales of the Al Azif and I managed to make some serious forward momentum in regards to the third Andrew Doran novel. I’ve restarted the anthology project I’m working on with fellow writers David HamblingByron Craft, and John A. Delaughter, about 4 times and now their only waiting on me.
Needless to say, don’t surrender your Daven-verse Fandoms, yet. Each project I’ve mentioned in the past is still on the table and being worked on. Expect more from Broken Nights, Andrew Doran, spinoffs to the Broken Nights books, Satan’s Salesman 2, and the Multiverse Protection Bureau, as well as a few other projects I’m currently putting notes together for (including a potential radio drama styled serial. We’ll see.)
To my chagrin, my blog has turned into a list of apologies for derailed writing efforts, and that’s going to change. At the very least, I’m going to be writing here more frequently in the hopes that it encourages my other endeavors to stay on track.
Stay tuned for a great Lovecraft-inspired time travel book by four great authors as well as the next Andrew Doran novel – Andrew Doran and the Scroll of Nightmares.
At the end of the day, I know what I need to do to be a successful writer, and that’s to get the biggest hurdle out of my way: ME. Schedules and steady effort are what it’s going to take. It won’t be overnight, but I’ll get there.
Expect more reviews of things, as well! I just finished reading 7 Hard Luck Hank novels and I really want to talk about them.

NaNoWriMo is UPON US!

Holy banter, Batman!
The most wonderful time of the year is finally upon us!
No, not Christmas. I’m talking about NaNoWriMo!
Any followers or potential fans of mine will know that I tendto use my blog to apologize for falling behind in my writing and then give updates for lunges in plot that I finally manage to type out. Not this time.
Today I’m writing to tell you about my intense schedule for NaNoWriMo.
I’ll be working on four different stories during the month of November. I don’t plan on getting the required 50,000 words done all four, but instead to get 50,000 (and hopefully more) done in the combined works. Each work is well advanced to the point where even a quarter of the total 50,000 will bring me close to finishing at least a few of them. So hopefully this will be another month of lunging forward with with my plots and hopefully I’ll have something to send to the publishers by December.
Fingers crossed, anyway.
Anyone else jumping onto the NaNoWriMo bandwagon?

If you are, than good luck and keep me posted on your progress!

–MD-

The Universe is out to get me!

It’s odd how the Universe will randomly fill my schedule with thousands of things to do right when I think I’m finally going to have a week or two to work on my projects.

About 8 days ago, I thought I was going to have a ton of free time to finish Andrew Doran 3 (seriously, how long is this Davenport guy going to take to put that out), a September deadline for an anthology story, and a chance to prep for NaNoWriMo. Unfortunately, that’s not the case at all.

Well, in an effort to combat the Universe’s attempts to thwart my efforts, here I am providing an update.

I’m around 60% done with Andrew Doran and the Scroll of Nightmares. I am taking (and have taken) a break from that in order to hit that Anthology deadline. I’m hoping to finish it quickly enough to get back to working on Andrew Doran to finish it before NaNoWriMo. If I can get it done before the end of October, than Broken Nights 3 will be my NaNoWriMo project. Assuming that I can’t (waves at Universe), I’ll most likely be finishing up Andrew Doran and the Scroll of Nightmares in November.

In other news, the star of my life, my wife, Ren, has started an awesome podcast called “Are We Still Afraid of the Dark?” In it, her and her co-host, Maria, watch and review every episode of the 90’s show “Are You Afraid of the Dark?” They offer commentary, reviews, and dissections in a comical manner and I produce the show! Check it out here. https://www.stillafraidofthedark.club/

Apple Link

Spotify Link

–MD–

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.

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.