Russ’ Newsletter​, Vol. 5, No. 6 — Barnes & Noble, July 4th Sale + Convention Schedule

Hey Gang-

I hope everybody had a great July 4th weekend. Besides their first Independence Day, so far this summer Liz and I also took Nate and Abby on their very first family vacation to Rehoboth Beach in Delaware, where we all soaked up some pool time and stared out at the ocean as the sun set. Plus, Liz and I had our very first weekend away together — without the babies — notching up some beach and restaurant time at Spring Lake, NJ, while my in-laws had a wonderful weekend babysitting their grandkids. They very seriously thought about not giving Nate and Abby back, but exhaustion changed their minds!

And on that note, I’ve got a slew of summer fun to share about Finders Keepers:

* A few months back I announced that Small Press United signed me to a deal to distribute Finders Keepers to booksellers across the country. Well, we’re starting to see some momentum! It’s still early in the process, but to date, Barnes & Noble has ordered more than 50 copies of Finders Keepers, to be sold in various locations! Not sure yet which particular stores will be carrying it, but it sure is a good feeling to know that at long last Finders Keepers will be on the shelves. I will update as I know more.

* Speaking of being on the shelves, I am extending the Finders Keepers summer sale throughout the month! To order you signed copy of Finders Keepers for the freakin’ sweet summer sale price of just $10, visit:

Plus FREE shipping in the U.S!

* But wait. You say you want to see me in person at a convention this summer. Well … you’re in luck! Throughout July you have not one, but two chances to stop by my booth where I’ll be selling and autographing copies of Finders Keepers. Here’s where you can find me:

Long IslandToy Show,
Holiday Inn Hotel, 215 Sunnyside Blvd, Plainview, NY
– July 17

East Hanover Comic Book Expo, Ramada Inn Conference Center
Hotel, Ramada Inn Conference Center Hotel, 130 Rt 10 West, East Hanover, NJ
– July 23

* In addition, the latest round of reviews are in. Check out this one from Ruled by Books, who said: “[Finders Keepers is] incredibly funny. … When [Colchamiro] becomes a best seller, you’ll be able to say you knew him when.” For the full review, click here:

* And for this month’s shout-out, if you haven’t already, check out the collective works of Rich Henn (Zoomies, Timespell,, Finders Keepers publisher and cover artist Rich Koslowski (BB Wolf and the 3 LPs, The King, The List, 3 Geeks, and JD Arnold (BB Wolf and the 3 LPs,, will all be attending this year’s San Diego Comic-Con. They are all excellent creators and big Finders Keepers supporters, so even though I won’t be there for the usual summer mayhem, join me with them in spirit.

That’s all she wrote for this edition. I’ll be back later in the summer with new updates, plus some BIG, BIG plans I’ve got in the works.

All the Best,



Russ’ Review: The Good Wife, Season 1

My initial reaction to The Good Wife, before even having seen it was, meh. Not interested. But then I kept hearing how great it was, so I gave it a shot. Having watched all of Season 1, I can say that the quality of the shows is somewhere in the middle.

What Works: The chemistry between the characters is generally good, and the actors all do pretty well with their roles. There’s good tension between the characters and as the season progressed the relationships started to develop. There’s also good, inherent drama with the premise. Julianna Marguiles is Alicia Florek, the spurned wife of Chris Noth’s ridiculed former State’s Attorney, who had an illicit affair and went to jail for alleged crooked dealings. Now she’s a lawyer trying to make a career for herself—despite her husband’s name—but keeps running into those who either judge her for it, or want her to use the political influence she wants to deny she actually has. Plus there’s a potential love triangle here, so lot’s of pulpy drama.

What Doesn’t: Man oh man the plots be dumb as a post. My biggest problem with The Good Wife is that it isn’t really sure what kind of show it wants to be. A pulpy political/office workplace love drama, or a case-of-the-week lawyer show. Problem is, the cases are very silly and often implausible. There are too many examples to list here, but for one, how about the episode where the building managers in the Floreks’ building just happen to be diamond smugglers? Naturally.

Or the one where an injured plaintiff’s wife just happens to have access to a jury pool, so she can screen for someone who’d be open to a bribe … and then has the mojo to arrange back alley payments to throw the case? Wow. She’s good.

Or that the Florek’s 15-year-old son can detect uneven light patterns reflected back in his dad’s eye in a photograph to prove a steamy, drug-fueled photo was a fake—but all law enforcement missed it. Uh. Yeah. I can go on and on. And why does every case need to be wrapped up each week? Lazy plotting.

Final Thoughts: Despite the show’s inherent flaws, it’s still enough of a fast-paced, love-triangle/political chess match to keep me interested. Good characters with juicy entanglements overcome the silly and often implausible storylines, although there are many times when I cringe at the ridiculous plotting. I will say that the second half of the season was much better than the first, so I’m hoping this bodes well for future seasons. As for the first run, fun trumps logic. But just barely.

Season 1 Score: 6 Stars out of 10

Finders Keepers at Barnes & Noble

If you are looking to pick up a copy of Finders Keepers, you can always order it through this very site, and I’ll sign your copy!

And if you want the whole book store experience, you can find a copy of Finders Keepers at Barnes & Noble throughout the country. Here’s a complete list:

#2988 – Fox Run Crossings, 45 Gosling Rd, Portsmouth, NH

#2791 – 235 Daniel Webster Hwy, Nashua, NH

#2966 – 98 Middlesex Pkwy, Burlington, MA

#2957 – 60 Pine St., Pacific Place, Downtown Seattle, WA

#2965 – 106 Court Street, Brooklyn, NY

#2784 – 200 East Northern Lights Blvd, Anchorage, AK

#2876 – 267 7th Avenue, Park Slope, Brooklyn, NY

#2942 – Hacienda Crossings, 4972 Dublin Blvd, Dublin, CA

#2575 – 1201 3rd St Promenade, Santa Monica, CA

#2281 – Kitsap Mall, 10315 Silverdale Way, Silverdale, WA

#2280 – Northgate Mall, 401 NE Northgate Way, Seattle, WA

#1979 – 82nd and Broadway, NY, NY

#2278 – 86th & Lexington, NY, NY

#2262 – Clackamass Town Center Mall, Portland, OR

#2536 – Arboretum, 10,000 Research Blvd., Austin Texas

#2703 – Spectrum Center, 1851 Fountain Dr., Reston, VA

#2573 – University Village, 2675 NE University Village St., Seattle, WA

#2675 – Union Square – NY, NY

#2234 – 555 Fifth Avenune, NY, NY

#2764 – 12089 Rockville Pike, Montrose Crossing, Rockville, MD

#2238 – Tysons Corner Mall, McLean, VA

#2275 – 131 Colonie Centre, Albany, NY

Russ’ Review: Rise of the Planet of the Apes

Based on the trailers alone, I was not at all excited to see the Rise of the Planet of the Apes. Man, I love being wrong! We have a winner!

What Works: Disregard the trailers. This is not a full blown apes vs. man action movie. This is a mostly character-driven story that centers around Caesar, the Ape that ultimately went from rescued orphan to leader of the Apes. There is a strong emotional center, with a two-pronged approach. Caesar and his maturity/development into “adult,” as he is first raised by, and then rebels against, his scientist/adopted father, played capably by James Franco.

The second is his realization that he — and his fellow apes — have been forced into being “pets,” rather than a “free” tribe allowed to follow their own destiny. I will not give any spoilers here, but Andy Serkis, who provides the motion capture performance for Caesar, gives the character — and the movie — its true heart.

‘Rise’ also takes its time to develop. For us to believe — or suspend disbelief — that these Apes could ultimately secure their freedom with human-level intelligence (and perhaps even greater than that), we need to follow the journey, which has more setbacks than success. We get that. There are a few gaps in logic here, but it is a journey that’s well worth the ride.

What Doesn’t Work: As good as the motion capture was at times, the Apes looked a bit too computer generated at others, which was a slight distraction. Also, the secondary characters, for the most part, were just caricatures, rather than full blown individuals. The “evil tormentors” and corporate baddie were too generic, and some very good actors were mostly wasted.

If I had any frustration with ‘Rise,” is that as much as I enjoyed it, this could have been a classic, and it doesn’t quite get there. With a little more time on the script to flesh out the additional story threads, this version could have risen to the level of greatness.

Final Thoughts: One of the better popcorn sci-fi action movies I’ve seen in quite a while, ‘Rise’ re-instates the ‘Apes’ franchise with a winning formula, with a central figure you can really care about. And while it didn’t reach its full potential, missing out on some opportunities for greatness, I’ll gladly come back for more.

My Score: 7.5 Stars out of 10

Russ’ Review: X-Men: First Class

X-Men: First ClassX-Men: First Class is another thumbs up chapter in the comic-book movie franchise. The first 30 minutes are rousing, and after two plus hours we get the chance to discover how two incredibly powerful minds end up on very different ends of the same spectrum.
What Worked: ‘Class’ is a pure origin story where we follow a young Charles Xavier and Erik Lehnsherr into their evolution to Professor X and Magneto, respectively. The challenge was two-fold: first, take enough time to demonstrate how young men with super-human abilities develop not just their powers, but a code that will define how they view their place in the world–and do so such that we are invested in their evolution. Given the decades of stories we already know about them, this was no small task. And the movie delivers. Big time. Second, was finding two actors who could match the gravitas of Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellan. Once again, James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender, respectively, rise to the occassion. This movie would have failed had they not been as terrific as they were.
What Didn’t: ‘Class’ was a bit long, dragging in places. And the secondary and tertiary characters fell pretty flat. They didn’t necessarily have to shine, but I found them to be almost too silly for the larger story going on around them. I would have liked to have seen a bit more mojo there. In addition, Kevin Bacon’s villain starts out strong, but is surprisingly absent for most of the third act, which I found a bit disappointing, given his role in the larger story.
Final Thoughts: While not quite as entertaining start to finish as the first two X-Men movies, ‘Class’ more than holds its own, and delivered an origin story that could have easily been a waste of everyone’s time. A worthy effort.
My Score: 7 out of 10 Stars

My Top 5 Subway Pet Peeves

There’s some wonky mojo going around these days, and it’s showing up on the subway, big time.

So to let some of the steam out of my head, here are my Top 5 Subway Pet Peeves, in descending order:

Peeve No. 5 – Pushing your way onto the subway before I can get off the train. I know, I know. You are so totally important, and you MUST get a seat or you’ll, like, totally die. I get it. But hey, jackwad. Let the passengers off, THEN you get on. And if you can’t get a seat … wait for the next train. They run every two minutes.

Peeve No. 4 – Refusing to squeeze over. Look. We all want to be comfortable on the subway, but this is simply a matter of physics. There’s only so much room for all of us to sit. Most cars have benches that seat three people. If you’re there first, fair enough. You get to choose where you sit. But it’s a public subway car. It ain’t yours. So shift your keister over like three inches and let someone else squeeze in. Refusing to budge because, well, you’re a jackwad, doesn’t impress me. If you can’t be just a little accommodating, take the bus.

Peeve No. 3 – Singing along to your iPod let everyone know how cool you think you are. I’m an iPod guy. And I’ve been known to get a little funky with the music. We all get our groove going now and again. But if you want to try out for American Idol, do it at the auditions. Or The Voice. Or X Factor. Or in the shower. There’s getting caught up in the moment, and there’s “yeah, that’s right, I’m singing along to my music and what the f–k are you gonna do about it?” If you need that much attention, get a dog.

Peeve No. 2 – Throwing trash on the floor. I realize that holding onto your gum wrapper, empty soda bottle or extra french fry is a total drag. It’s so totally unfair to be expected to throw your garbage in, you know, a garbage can. As if! But guess what, jackwad. Subways are subways, just like garbage cans are garbage cans. And guess what again? They’re not the same. We share public transportation. It’s for everyone. Even most of the homeless people have the decency enough to clean up after themselves. So if you you want to throw trash on the floor, go back to your apartment, and you and dump all the trash you want. But until you get home, find a place for your trash. And if you’re having difficulty in finding a temporary storage space, I’m sure I can recommend a place for you to stick it.

And finally …

Peeve No.1 – Clipping your friggin’ finger nails! Dude! Are you serious? When you’re trapped in a metal box going 50 miles an hour underground, packed in like sardines, the last thing you want to hear is …. clack … clack … clack … with little shards of you on the floor. Gross. If you need a manicure, the city is loaded with salons. You got gunk under your fingernails, you need a full blown clip session … for the love of all that is holy, wait until you’re off the damn subway and you can shed pieces of yourselve wherever you like.

Russ’s Review: Community, Modern Family, The Office

Last week I blogged about some intense dramas — The Killing, Boardwalk Empire and Moon. This week … time to laugh! Here’s my take on three comedies, some into their second season, another on its wind down.
Community: Started off with an OK premise — lawyer who loses his license goes to back to community college to re-instate himself, and is surrounded by quirky characters — but was headed toward the land of Meh. And since then it has gotten so surreal and wonderfully weird that I simply can’t look away. Breaking from the traditional mode and going “out there” did the trick, going for satire and pop culture spoofs at every turn. From paintball and Quentin Tarentino spoofs to stop animation specials. Hilarious, strange and fun. I never get tired of Community’s brand of bizarre.
Modern Family: Season 1 was great, and season 2 has been a very solid sophomore effort. It’s been a little over the top at times, losing just a tiny bit of the groundedness it showed from the beginning, but it’s refreshing to watch a comedy that is smart, packed with great characters, and centered around a family that actually likes each other, despite getting on each other’s nerves. A winner. Phil’s waggy-dog personality. Gloria’s va-va-vaoom. And if you can’t love Manny, who can you love? That kid cracks me up.
The Office: Well, this old gal is starting to get long in the tooth. Season 7 has been a little uneven. It started slow, but as we got closer to Michael Scott reuniting with his true love, the season just got better and better, although Steve Carrell’s final episode was a little anticlimactic, given how his character had until that point lived and breathed Dunder Mifflin. Meanwhile, Will Ferrell’s guest role just hasn’t worked out anywhere near like you would think. I can’t imagine The Office surviving for long without Steve Carrell, but I’ve been in from the beginning, so I’m willing to see if they can bring in someone new to breathe fresh life into it. I’m not expecting much, but then again, nobody thought The Office would get this far anyway.

Russ’s Reviews – Boardwalk Empire, Moon, The Killing

It’s been a while since I’ve had the chance to update on the TV and movie front, so here’s a collection of a few I’ve had the chance to watch of late:
Boardwalk Empire: I went in really wanting to love this. Great cast, excellent production values, quality performances across the board and a gangster saga with politics, sex, violence and macabre humor. I’m in.
And yet while I enjoyed Boardwalk Empire … I didn’t quite love it. There’s a certain episode-to-episode intensity that wasn’t quite there. Don’t get me wrong. Quality show, and I’ll keep watching. But for all the expense and hoopla surrounding it, I was hoping for a little bit more. Overall, I’d give it a B/B+. Maybe season 2 will bring it up to an A.
Moon: There aren’t too many “indie” sci-fi movies, but Moon certainly qualifies. Part 2001, part Solaris, this slow burn of a movie offers a terrific, multi-layered performance from Sam Rockwell. The first half of Moon is really creepy, while the second resolves the conflict.
Again, I went in with high expectations and came away a little disappointed. But for a debut movie from director Duncan Jones (who recently directed Source Code), he shows that he definitely knows what he’s doing. Moon is not for everyone, but worth a look.
The Killing: Yikes. The title says it all. If you’re looking for fun and laughs, you are so totally in the wrong place. I’ve only seen the 2-hour pilot so far, but if the rest of the series is the same, it’s going to be a long, intense run. Brilliant on almost every level, this series will rip your heart out, especially if you’re a parent. Not easy viewing by any stretch of the imagination, but after 2 hours it has established itself already as one of the best shows on TV.
Next up … The Office, Community, Modern Family

Russ’ Guest Blog – Bart Simpson and Finders Keepers

Hey Gang-

Eat my shorts! Below is a link to my latest Wattpad guest blog, where I manage to link Bart Simpson to Finders Keepers.

Cowabunga dudes!


Russ’s Guest Blog: Simon’s Battle with a 4,000 Pound Car!

Hey Gang-

This week’s guest blog for Wattpad is up, with photos of Alex and Simon.


(This blog is updated, from an original post in October 2010).

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