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Still Alive!

RobbieWilliamsIt has been a heck of a week. Things change so very fast that it can really make your head spin. I’m appreciative for all the support I’ve gotten from friends and fans via social media, though. It’s made a difficult time a little bit easier.

The good news? I’m still here and I’m still swinging.

Writing-wise, I’m still working on the final story for Lazarus Gray Volume Five and I agreed to do a short story for a new (to me) publisher for later in the year. Can’t tell you anything about that one yet but it should be fun. If I can finish off Lazarus this week, then I can hopefully get to work on the crossover novel soon.

Approved some more edits on the fourth book in the Lazarus series this past weekend so that should be on Pro Se’s schedule soon. I think you guys will really like it.

The Shadow Fan’s Podcast is on hiatus for now and I don’t know when it will return. I apologize for those of you who have been missing it. Dynamite did announce that the monthly Shadow book is ending with # 25 and they promise it will return in some other form. We’ll see. The monthly has been much more up-and-down in quality than the Year One or Dark Nights limited series but I’m sad to see it go.

I’ll be back tomorrow with more wacky fun. Enjoy the days, kids.

Robbie Williams: The Albums, Best to Worst (Updated)

Robbie Williams Wallpaper @ go4celebrity.comGenerally I stay focused on my writing career on this blog but from time to time I like to venture forth into other passions that I have. For instance, I’ve posted rpg writeups and talked tv shows. When it comes to music, I have many favorites – David Bowie, Marina and the Diamonds, Led Zeppelin, Prince and Fleetwood Mac are just a few of them. But my absolute favorite music artist is Robbie Williams, the British pop superstar who’s well known everywhere but here, in the jolly USA. Robbie started out in a boy band called Take That back in the Nineties before going solo. He then began selling records… lots and lots of them. A few years ago, he even patched things up with the rest of the boys in Take That and released an album called Progress that dominated the UK charts and spawned a huge tour. Today I’m going over my favorite Robbie solo albums in order from the very best to the bottom of the barrel. I’m not including compilations or live albums here.

1. Reality Killed the Video Star (2009) – Kind of an odd choice, given that it’s the only album in Robbie’s career that didn’t hit # 1 in the UK. But I love this record and think that from start to finish, it’s an enjoyable listen. My favorites include Bodies, You Know Me, Starstruck and Won’t Do That. I just feel it’s a truly solid album that speaks to the wide range of talents that Robbie possesses. I actually listen to it quite often and think it works as both background music while I work and for when I want to just sit and listen to the lyrics.

2. Escapology (2002) – Considering that my two favorite Robbie songs are both off this album, I’m sure a lot of my friends would expect this to be in the top spot on my list. But while it contains many, many wonderful tracks, it does contain a couple of clunkers – How Peculiar and Cursed, for instance, are two songs that I can go the rest of my life without hearing again. Still, it contains Feel (my all-time favorite Rob song), Come Undone (my second favorite), Something Beautiful, Handsome Man, Hot Fudge and Me and My Monkey, all of which I really dig.

3. Take the Crown (2012) – A really strong outing that shows how much Robbie has matured. He’s a married man and a father now and you can see that all of that has helped calm his manic nature a bit. The lyrics remain deeply personal but are of a different sort. Now we see a Rob who’s promising to never betray his love, who thinks about where he’s been and where he hopes to be, etc. Contains some real gems like Candy, Be a Boy, Gospel, Different and Not Like the Others. A lot of people really enjoy Losers and while I dig the lyrics, the actual track isn’t one of my favorites.

4. I’ve Been Expecting You (1998) – Robbie’s second solo album is a classic, with perennial favorites like Strong, No Regrets, Millenium, Win Some Lose Some, She’s the One and Jesus in a Camper Van. Really, there are no stinkers on this album and it could easily be higher on this list… but I think that it’s very much of it’s time, as well, in terms of sound and Rob’s state of mind. As such, while I adore all those tracks I listed above, as an album it feels a little lighter than the ones I’ve ranked ahead of it. Still, a great one.

5. Sing When You’re Winning (2000) – A truly strong effort that, for me, solidified that Robbie was going to be around for the long haul. More mature than previous releases, it also displayed stunning self-assurance and confidence in his abilities. My favorite tracks include Supreme, Rock DJ, The Road to Mandalay, Kids and Better Man. There are a couple of tracks that are fairly weak, though, and that’s what moves it down to the fifth slot. I remember being so excited when this album was released and I wasn’t disappointed at all.

6. Intensive Care (2005) – While a fine album with a few stellar tracks, there remains something… off… about this one. I think we can begin to see the things that eventually veer off-track with the next album. I think that at this point, few people were questioning Rob’s decisions. He was selling tons of albums and singles so why should they doubt him? But there are tracks on here (Sin Sin Sin, which was actually released as a single) that feel a bit phoned-in and by the numbers. Still, I love Ghosts, Advertising Space, Please Don’t Die and The Trouble With Me. It’s a good album, just lesser than those above it on this list.

7. Life Thru a Lens (1997) – Rob’s debut album. It contains mega-hit Angels, which single-handedly transformed him into an international superstar. Lazy Days, Old Before I Die and Let Me Entertain You are all fine tracks and have rightly become classics in their own right. There are other songs, though, that reflect Rob’s struggle to become a solo star and which, no longer viewed in their 1997 context, just don’t hold up well. It’s definitely a flimsy record compared to his later works — a few wonderful songs surrounded by fluff.

8. Robbie Williams Swings Both Ways (2013) – Rob returned to swing in this follow-up to the 2001 Swing When You’re Winning. I rank this one higher because it contains several new tracks and two of them (“Shine My Shoes” & “Go Gentle”) are absolute classics. I really enjoy several of the oldies on this album, too, especially Rob’s versions of “Little Green Apples,” “16 Tons” and “Dream A Little Dream.” Is this as good as a pure, 100% Robbie album? Nah. But it’s a damned fine record.

9. Rudebox (2006) – Okay. I don’t hate this album and, in fact, think it has some very good tracks on it. But overall, it is a bit of a mess. The album doesn’t feel cohesive and contains a few embarrassing blunders (the title track wouldn’t be too bad as album filler but as the lead single? Very bad move). There were also a surprising number of covers (Bongo Bong and Je Ne T’Aime Plus, Lovelight, Kiss Me and Louise). I do really enjoy The Actor, The 80’s, The 90’s and Summertime but this was an album where someone should have stepped in and said “No, Robbie, this isn’t working.” It’s an example of excess to the extreme.

10. Swing When You’re Winning (2001) – This album only contains one new song (I Will Talk and Hollywood Will Listen), otherwise it’s covers of old swing jazz songs such as Mack the Knife, Something Stupid (which hit # 1 on the UK charts as a duet between Rob and Nicole Kidman) and Mr. Bojangles. It’s fun stuff but I rank it at the bottom because it’s certainly the least “Robbie Williams” album he’s ever done. Rob loves this stuff and has incorporated some of it into his stage shows ever since.

If you’re looking to get into Robbie’s music for the first time, I’d say start with either The Ego Has Landed, a 1999 compilation album that takes the best tracks off Life Thru a Lens and I’ve Been Expecting You or In and Out of Consciousness: Greatest Hits 1990-2010. The Ego Has Landed was actually my own introduction to Robbie so it obviously worked. In and Out of Consciousness has 2 CDs and 39 tracks so you get all the major hits but you lose the cohesive feel of an album. It’s a compilation, you know the routine.

I’ll be back tomorrow to talk about New Pulp and what lies next for me, writing-wise. Take Care!

The Writing Doldrums

1335184765-Knhyugmoijmlop-So… I’m still working on this Pulse Fiction story. Honestly, I feel like I’ve spent a whole freakin’ month doing these 10,000 words.

And I’m still 1,700 short!

I really don’t get it. I’ve written entire 60,000 word novels in a month before! I’ll be glad to put the end on this one and surely I’ll be able to do that sometime this week.

Sometimes stories just click and sometimes they don’t.

To be honest, while I have a lot of enthusiasm for Lazarus Gray Volume Five and the upcoming “Crossover” novel, I’ve been been feeling a bit bummed about the writing world in general. There are days I want to tell everybody from my publisher on down to just go jump into a lake. I made a bid for a licensed character last year and thought I did a pretty good job of selling how I’d revive a dormant property. Hasn’t gone anywhere. I made a pitch to a publisher for a shot at working on a character who’s been one of my lifelong dreams… not even a “Thanks but no thanks.”

And the politics of the New Pulp world just exhaust me. It’s not just there, of course — politics exist everywhere. It’s just when everybody’s fighting over a frayed piece of carpet to begin with, you just wonder what they’re going on about.

It gets frustrating.

And then there’s the day job, where I’m working on The Georgia Literary Festival, which will be held on November 9, 2013. I’m the co-chair of this thing and If I had possessed even the tiniest notion of how much time this would end up taking, I would have run away screaming. I really want to have it over with.

I did end up signing on for another two years with Pro Se Press, which means they’ll be the exclusive publisher of all my pulp adventure characters. I really want to get the rest of The Rook series back into print, along with Rabbit Heart and The Damned Thing.

So… this has been a post where I’ve spent the entire time whining.

On a lighter note, I watched This Is The End and thought it was hilarious.  I also really, really like the two most recent songs that Robbie Williams has released for people to hear — Shine My Shoes and Go Gentle. Here’s the lyric video for the latter, which is a song written for Robbie’s daughter. I think it’s really sweet and I hope you enjoy it!

Robbie Williams: The Albums, Best to Worst!

Robbie Williams Wallpaper @ go4celebrity.comGenerally I stay focused on my writing career on this blog but from time to time I like to venture forth into other passions that I have. For instance, I’ve posted rpg writeups and talked tv shows. When it comes to music, I have many favorites – David Bowie, Marina and the Diamonds, Led Zeppelin, Prince and Fleetwood Mac are just a few of them. But my absolute favorite music artist is Robbie Williams, the British pop superstar who’s well known everywhere but here, in the jolly USA. Robbie started out in a boy band called Take That back in the Nineties before going solo. He then began selling records… lots and lots of them. A few years ago, he even patched things up with the rest of the boys in Take That and released an album called Progress that dominated the UK charts and spawned a huge tour. Today I’m going over my favorite Robbie solo albums in order from the very best to the bottom of the barrel. I’m not including compilations or live albums here.

1. Reality Killed the Video Star (2009) – Kind of an odd choice, given that it’s the only album in Robbie’s career that didn’t hit # 1 in the UK. But I love this record and think that from start to finish, it’s an enjoyable listen. My favorites include Bodies, You Know Me, Starstruck and Won’t Do That. I just feel it’s a truly solid album that speaks to the wide range of talents that Robbie possesses. I actually listen to it quite often and think it works as both background music while I work and for when I want to just sit and listen to the lyrics.

2. Escapology (2002) – Considering that my two favorite Robbie songs are both off this album, I’m sure a lot of my friends would expect this to be in the top spot on my list. But while it contains many, many wonderful tracks, it does contain a couple of clunkers – How Peculiar and Cursed, for instance, are two songs that I can go the rest of my life without hearing again. Still, it contains Feel (my all-time favorite Rob song), Come Undone (my second favorite), Something Beautiful, Handsome Man, Hot Fudge and Me and My Monkey, all of which I really dig.

3. Take the Crown (2012) – A really strong outing that shows how much Robbie has matured. He’s a married man and a father now and you can see that all of that has helped calm his manic nature a bit. The lyrics remain deeply personal but are of a different sort. Now we see a Rob who’s promising to never betray his love, who thinks about where he’s been and where he hopes to be, etc. Contains some real gems like Candy, Be a Boy, Gospel, Different and Not Like the Others. A lot of people really enjoy Losers and while I dig the lyrics, the actual track isn’t one of my favorites.

4. I’ve Been Expecting You (1998) – Robbie’s second solo album is a classic, with perennial favorites like Strong, No Regrets, Millenium, Win Some Lose Some, She’s the One and Jesus in a Camper Van. Really, there are no stinkers on this album and it could easily be higher on this list… but I think that it’s very much of it’s time, as well, in terms of sound and Rob’s state of mind. As such, while I adore all those tracks I listed above, as an album it feels a little lighter than the ones I’ve ranked ahead of it. Still, a great one.

5. Sing When You’re Winning (2000) – A truly strong effort that, for me, solidified that Robbie was going to be around for the long haul. More mature than previous releases, it also displayed stunning self-assurance and confidence in his abilities. My favorite tracks include Supreme, Rock DJ, The Road to Mandalay, Kids and Better Man. There are a couple of tracks that are fairly weak, though, and that’s what moves it down to the fifth slot. I remember being so excited when this album was released and I wasn’t disappointed at all.

6. Intensive Care (2005) – While a fine album with a few stellar tracks, there remains something… off… about this one. I think we can begin to see the things that eventually veer off-track with the next album. I think that at this point, few people were questioning Rob’s decisions. He was selling tons of albums and singles so why should they doubt him? But there are tracks on here (Sin Sin Sin, which was actually released as a single) that feel a bit phoned-in and by the numbers. Still, I love Ghosts, Advertising Space, Please Don’t Die and The Trouble With Me. It’s a good album, just lesser than those above it on this list.

7. Life Thru a Lens (1997) – Rob’s debut album. It contains mega-hit Angels, which single-handedly transformed him into an international superstar. Lazy Days, Old Before I Die and Let Me Entertain You are all fine tracks and have rightly become classics in their own right. There are other songs, though, that reflect Rob’s struggle to become a solo star and which, no longer viewed in their 1997 context, just don’t hold up well. It’s definitely a flimsy record compared to his later works — a few wonderful songs surrounded by fluff.

8. Rudebox (2006) – Okay. I don’t hate this album and, in fact, think it has some very good tracks on it. But overall, it is a bit of a mess. The album doesn’t feel cohesive and contains a few embarrassing blunders (the title track wouldn’t be too bad as album filler but as the lead single? Very bad move). There were also a surprising number of covers (Bongo Bong and Je Ne T’Aime Plus, Lovelight, Kiss Me and Louise). I do really enjoy The Actor, The 80’s, The 90’s and Summertime but this was an album where someone should have stepped in and said “No, Robbie, this isn’t working.” It’s an example of excess to the extreme.

9. Swing When You’re Winning (2001) – This album only contains one new song (I Will Talk and Hollywood Will Listen), otherwise it’s covers of old swing jazz songs such as Mack the Knife, Something Stupid (which hit # 1 on the UK charts as a duet between Rob and Nicole Kidman) and Mr. Bojangles. It’s fun stuff but I rank it at the bottom because it’s certainly the least “Robbie Williams” album he’s ever done. Rob loves this stuff and has incorporated some of it into his stage shows ever since.

If you’re looking to get into Robbie’s music for the first time, I’d say start with either The Ego Has Landed, a 1999 compilation album that takes the best tracks off Life Thru a Lens and I’ve Been Expecting You or In and Out of Consciousness: Greatest Hits 1990-2010. The Ego Has Landed was actually my own introduction to Robbie so it obviously worked. In and Out of Consciousness has 2 CDs and 39 tracks so you get all the major hits but you lose the cohesive feel of an album. It’s a compilation, you know the routine.

I’ll be back tomorrow to talk about New Pulp and what lies next for me, writing-wise. Take Care!

Sunday Morning Thoughts

RobbieWilliamsIt’s been an odd week around Ye Olde Blog, as I’ve been spending most of my time hanging out with my son while my wife is away on a trip. We’ve explored all over the place and had a good time, though we definitely miss having the third member of our family trio around.

I posted another installment of The Shadow Fan’s Podcast the other day, focusing on the wrap-up to Dynamite’s MASKS series. To be honest, I didn’t really like the issue or the series. I also replied to some Listener Feedback. Definitely check it out if you’re a fan of The Shadow (and if you’re NOT a fan of The Shadow, why the heck not?!).

Work continues on Gravedigger Volume Two as we’ve reached the midway point of the novel. Our villains are united and their evil schemes are in motion… while our heroes are suffering through a number of emotional upheavals. Good stuff, if I do say so myself.

Reviews continue to be positive for my most recent releases, The Adventures of Gravedigger and The Adventures of Lazarus Gray Volume Three: Eidolon. Please, if you’ve read these books, do post a review on Amazon. Even if it’s not a positive one, I’d still appreciate the effort. Reviews really do help boost sales!

I hope that all of you have a wonderful day today — and I’d like to encourage everyone to spend a little less time complaining about things you don’t enjoy and a little more time spreading the word about the things you love. It only takes a small change in your attitude to have a major impact on not just yourself but those around you.

Our image today is a combative shot of Robbie Williams, one of my favorite musical artists. I like the picture so I’m sharing it.

The Rotating Cast of Assistance Unlimited? Say What Now?

gorgeous-mellisa-clarkeWelcome to another day at ye olde blog. The big news for the morning is that a new episode of Ubergeeks has been uploaded so if you enjoy hearing Cari & I talk about every geeky topic under the sun, you’re in luck. This is our 43rd episode so we’re slowly making our way towards the big 5-0. Maybe we’ll do something special for that one.

Made good headway on Lazarus Gray Volume Four yesterday. I’m now approaching 54,000 words on the book and I think I’ve got a real firm grasp on where the story is going to go from here, though the very, very end could go in a couple of different ways. I’m not sure if I want a relatively happy ending or a downer ending, lol. A similar thing happened with Volume Two, when I came *this* close to killing Morgan Watts & crippling Eun Jiwon. My plan was to remove two members from the active team and replace them with Jakob and Abby. In the end, I decided that I didn’t want to shake up Assistance Unlimited quite so much, so the team simply expanded. If I had stuck to my guns, it would have led to the group being more like a ‘suicide squad’ of sorts where the reader never knew who was going to make it out of each adventure alive and I’d be shuffling in new people on a regular basis. I really like the family aspect of the series, though, and decided that I wanted to grow old with Samantha, Eun & Morgan… so I made the creative decision to avoid killing them. You can let me know if you think it was a good one — especially after you see what happens to the newly expanded crew in Volume Three!

I’ll be recording a new episode of The Shadow Fan tomorrow and while I’m still deciding what all I’m going to cover, I do know I’ll be reviewing The Gray Ghost, a classic novel involving an apparently-supernatural foe. If you have any novels or comics that you’d like to hear me discuss, drop me a line and I’ll add them to the queue.

Some folks have asked how I choose the images that go with each blog entry. Well, sometimes it’s obvious (I would think) — when I’m talking about a specific book or character, I’ll use an image that is appropriate. Sometimes I just choose something that’s thematically linked — my Monday post felt kind of contentious to me, so I used an image of pop star Robbie Williams in a fighting pose. And some days, I just use a picture that I like — such as today. Our model here looks a bit thoughtful and maybe somewhere in between melancholy and inviting… which is pretty much my mood at the moment.

All of that is a long way of saying that I use pictures that A. I like and B. feel emotionally appropriate to me at the time. Plus, if it’s a pretty girl, there’s nothing wrong with that! 😉