Rants

Russ’ Newsletter​: Vol. 5, No. 10 – Top 3 Comedy Authors – Douglas Adams, Christophe​r Moore and … Russ Colchamiro​?

Hey Gang-

Thanksgiving is just around the corner, so with the leaves changing and some gobble gobble in the air, here’s the latest tasty meal I’ve got to report about my adventures in publishing:

* About a month ago I went through a three-day span that had me super high, super low and then pretty jazzed up again. The short version is that I received an email from USA Best Books 2011 announcing that I was a “finalist” in their book of the year contest in the new fiction category. Sweet! But …. the next day I discovered that it was actually a bogus “contest,” and that unsuspecting authors such as myself sent in a $65 “entrance” fee to compete for their “awards.” Needless to say, I was pretty freakin’ miffed.

But with the Universe unfolding as it does, a few days later …

Ruled By Books reviewer Jaime Chambers said the following about me: Comedy writing in any form is hard to do well. The intangible stuff that makes people laugh can be hard to grasp and even harder to deliver. There are only a handful of comedic authors that I enjoy, tops among them being [best-selling authors] Douglas Adams and Christopher Moore. After reading Finders Keepers, I was happy to add Russ Colchamiro to that list.”

So now I’m being spoken about — in some circles at least — as one of the best comedy authors … of all time! Um … overall I’d say I agree with Jaime’s assessment! Ha!

Here’s a link to the full interview:  http://www.ruledbybooks.com/author-interview-with-russ-colchamiro/

* Keeping up with the Finders Keepers mojo, last weekend I hung out with the gang at PhilCon, an annual sci-fi convention that has since relocated to Cherry Hill, NJ. Sales were a little on the slow side, but I signed books, hung out with returning and new fans, caught up with my fellow authors and made some initial inquiries about a possible Crossline publishing deal. Very early stages, nothing concrete to report, but progress nonetheless.

For my full PhilCon blog: https://russcolchamiro.com/2011/11/philcon-2012-fans-authors-and-the-bupkis-effect/

* On the family front, Nate and Abby are happy little monkeys, racing around and generally loving life. More and more Nate is developing into that Bill Murray/John Belushi-type rascal with the Jack Nicholson raised eye brow thing, who is also so darn cute you just can’t get mad at him no matter what kind of mischief he gets into. Meanwhile, Abby seems pretty intent on ruling all of Metropolis, which, at the rate she’s going, should happen any day now.

* And for this month’s shout-out, give up some big props to my good pals in powerpop band The Turnback, whose video for their single “Celophane Sky” went over the 100,000 view mark. Their album — in support of lead guitarist and film director Todd Gilio’s great little movie DRAWING WITH CHALK — is now available: www.theturnback.com

* And with the holiday season in full swing, here’s a joyous invitation to pick up your very own copy of Finders Keepers! It is readily available at many Barnes & Noble locations, and of course you can buy it online through Barnes & Noble as well:
http://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/colchamiro?keyword=colchamiro&store=allproducts

That’s all she wrote for this edition. I hope everyone has a festive Thanksgiving, and I’ll be back at the end of December to wrap up with some final 2011 thoughts and well wishes into the New Year.

All the Best!

Russ

PhilCon 2012 – Fans, Authors and the Bupkis Effect

PhilCon was a bit of a mixed bag this year.

For an annual sci-fi convention celebrating its 75th anniversary, there wasn’t so much as a banner to mark the event, and more than one author — including myself — was more than slightly annoyed at not having been invited to speak on panels, which is one thing. But we didn’t even get so much as a “Sorry, we’d love to have you, but we’re all filled up. Hopefully next year.”

We got bupkis. Nothing. Nada. Not a peep from anyone.

We all appreciate that conventions are run by volunteers and they can often get overwhelmed with requests, but silence isn’t necessarily the most thoughtful form of communication.

But I digress.

As always it was great to mingle with new and returning fans of Finders Keepers, and though I didn’t sell a ton of books, I got to catch up with some of my fellow authors and editors, and even laid the groundwork for a potential Crossline publishing deal.

Nothing in stone, but at least conversations are taking place that could result in some exciting news next year.

Here’s me at the table, which I shared with fellow author James Chambers, whose own work tends to focus more on horror and the supernatural, including tales about zombies, gouls, fairies and other creatures that go bump in the night.

Part of the fun at these shows is just getting our geek on, chatting up our favorite (and least favorite) comic book movies. I’ll mention that the Spiderman franchise come up quite a bit, but I’ll save the rankings for a separate blog entry.

I also met up with the editor of Space & Time Magazine, who said that Finders Keepers is next in line for a review. So fingers crossed that they actually like it!

PhilCon was actually my last show of the year, so I’ll be taking a breather until spring 2012, when I’ll be back with a number of shows, which I’ll announce once I’ve locked in my appearance. Until then I’ll keep plugging along online and keep you posted on all the news that fit to print.

 

Douglas Adams, Christopher Moore and … Russ Colchamiro?

I’m always appreciative of kind words about Finders Keepers or my writing in general. In that spirit I’d like to share this intro, from book reviewer Jaime Chambers of Ruled By Books, who had these very kind words for me during our interview, comparing me to two of the best — and best selling — comedy authors of all time:

“I cannot believe that I read and reviewed Finders Keepers by Russ Colchamiro all the way back in June. I still find myself telling friends with a bent sense of humor about this book that had me laughing heartily. It was a well written first novel that, I have to admit, surprised me. Comedy writing in any form is hard to do well. The intangible stuff that makes people laugh can be hard to grasp and even harder to deliver. There are only a handful of comedic authors that I enjoy, tops among them being [best-selling authors] Douglas Adams and Christopher Moore. After reading Finders Keepers, I was happy to add Russ Colchamiro to that list.”

 
   Click the link below to read the full interview: http://www.ruledbybooks.com/author-interview-with-russ-colchamiro/

Author Interview with Russ Colchamiro … with a Zombie Twist

Ruled By Books reviewer Jaime Chambers interviewed me about my novel Finders Keepers, advice for new writers, and thoughts on my latest project, Crossline.

Plus … final thoughts on what I’d read if I had time to kill on my way to becoming a zombie.

 
Here’s the link:

http://www.ruledbybooks.com/author-interview-with-russ-colchamiro/

My Pavlovian Batman Response

One day after school, I was only in pre-K at the time, and I was on my way home on the bus. The day was slightly overcast, but I didn’t care. I only had one thing on my mind: get back in time to watch my favorite show.

Do you remember the theme song?

Denna-nenna neh
Denna-nenna neh
Batmaaaaan

It was the cheesy POW! OOF! Adam West Batman, and I freakin’ loved it.

But in one of those rare scheduling snafus, when the bus driver was set to drop me off at the stop, my mom wasn’t there.

 Not good.

 We waited a minute, but then had to move on. More stops to make.

 I didn’t say much, I just sat there on the bus, four years old, not sure what to do. Since this was 1975, in a world before cell phones, the driver took me with him to his other stops, and each time those doors opened and closed—farther from home—I had two thoughts: where’s Mommy and … I’M MISSING BATMAN!!!!!!!!

 Of course, as an adult, the new incarnations of Batman are far more sophisticated than the original show. Michael Keaton’s first Batman movie put the Caped Crusader back on the map. The sequel, Batman Returns, was lousy. And despite its flaws, I enjoyed the Val Kilmer-led Batman Forever, and then the movie franchise just collapsed with the final (and awful) Batman & Robin, with George Clooney and Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Then the animated Batman returned with a darker, more serious edge, and my hero was back again.

And now we’ve got Batman Begins and epic The Dark Knight from the team of Christian Bale and Christopher Nolan, and Batman is cooler than it’s been, maybe ever. Not to mention The Dark Knight Rises is still on its way.

And yet … as my mother often reminds me, when I was that young boy, no matter where I was or what I was doing, as soon I heard that theme song, I would stop whatever I was doing … and freeze.

My eyes would just light up as I heard:

Denna-nenna neh
Denna-nenna neh
Batmaaaaan

 

With a Pavlovian response, to this day, I’m no different.

Funny how some things never change. In this case, I’m totally OK with it.

Batman lives on.

And by the way, on that day back in 1975, the bus driver circled back to my stop, my mom was waiting for me, and I was able to catch the second half of Batman, with action in the Bat Cave, which, of course, was better than not seeing it all.

NY Comic-Con 2011: Nugget Man, Batchicks and Chicken Fett

The NY Comic-Con was its usual array of spectacle and madness. I was there for the Friday showing, and despite the pure overwhelm of the event, I found it to be much better organized than in years past and easier to navigate.

As always, I was there to promote Finders Keepers and see the gang. I hung out with partners in crime (and Zoomies creator) Rich Henn and Crossline editor James Chambers, and stopped by the booth of Terry Moore, who signed his latest paperback editions of Echo for me.

The big attractions I saw were a Q&A about the new Avengers movie, and a long line for the Walking Dead comic, tied into the AMC show.

Also where I was there, here are a few fans I picked up along the way:

Holy Batchicks, Batman. This is what crime fighting is all about:

Abracadabra. This magical beauty was all about Finders Keepers:

Only at Comic-Con can you say that Chicken Nugget Dude has joined the fray:

And of course, what would a Comic-Con be without Chicken Fett?

Physically, NY Comic-Con is tough, between the constant blaring of noise, navigating almost 100,000 people, not to mention those convention floors are unforgiving! Maybe I’m just showing my age, but my back is still aching. Invest in some padding carpets! Yikes.

Still, NY Comic-Con was a good show for me, where a good time was had by all. In fact, by night’s end a bunch of us made it up to Heidelberg on 85th Street and 2nd Avenue for some beer and Bratwurst.

And for those of you who missed out last year, here’s a link to my video interview for the debut of Finders Keepers:

https://russcolchamiro.com/interviews/

Russ

Subway Stories: The Pick and Wipe

OK, so … I’m on the subway heading to work. It’s about 7:30 a.m., and I’m reading the newspaper, just minding my own business. We make a stop, the doors open, which draws my attention.

In the corner there, is a guy, sitting by himself. He’s maybe 25 or so, in jeans a t-shirt and sandals.

And he’s digging.

Yep, he’s a picker.

I’m not saying he should be up to his elbow in a public place, but to quote Seinfeld:

“An’ what if I did do it? Even though I admit to nothing, and never will. What does that make me? And I’m not here just defending myself but all those pickers out there who’ve been caught. Each an’ every one of them, who has to suffer the shame and humiliation …”

Yet my judgment of Mr. Pick isn’t that he did the picking, per se. It’s what he did after the pick.

I don’t know if on that finger he had a nugget, some goo or just general crusties. But I do know that he reached over by his leg, and, presumably thinking he was being sly, wiped his whole hand over the plank next to his seat.

I mean he just smeared it all over.

And then he did it again!

To quote George Costanza in that same episode:

“I guarantee you that Moses was a picker. You wander through the desert for forty years with that dry air. … You telling me you’re not going to have occasion to clean house a little bit.”

The picking, while nasty, is, I suppose, forgivable.

But the wipe?

Hell no.

I just hope the MTA calls in a HAZMAT team to hose down that subway car before anyone else gets back on it.

Russ’ Newsletter: Vol. 5, No. 8 – New Web Site Launch + E-book!

Hey Gang-

Now that we’ve survived tornadoes, earthquakes and hurricanes, I hope you had a festive end to the summer with a joyous Labor Day celebration. As for me, Abby is practically climbing the walls and Nate is venturing out with his first steps, so we’ve got quite the jungle gym going on at our place.

On the writing front, there’s loads of updates to share, so here we go …

* With a new wave of awesomeness in the works, it was time to deliver a new Web site to match. So thanks to the Web stylings of Mike Rende at SiteByMike, welcome to my brand, spanking new web site!

www.russcolchamiro.com

You’ll see that it’s neatly organized, easy to navigate and loaded with all the bells and whistles you’d want, including new reviews of the latest X-Men movie, the new Planet of the Apes and my take on Season 1 of The Good Wife, among others.

Plus ….. you can now buy Finders Keepers directly through my site! So if you want a personalized, signed copy, it’s just one stop and you’re done!

I’ll be making some minor tweaks along the way, but feedback on the new site welcomed and appreciated. 🙂

* Speaking of new stuff … the Finders Keepers e-book is finally out! With the distribution contract I signed it took a little doing to get new files created, but alas … look no more. No matter what device you use, whether Nook, Kindle or Ouija Board, you can order your e-copy of Finders Keepers through Barnes & Noble, Amazon.com and other outlets that will be popping up before too long.

* Believe or not, I’ve already got 2012 on the brain! The end of 2011 and leading into next spring brings an entirely new wave of conventions where I’ll be signing Finders Keepers, so I’m now in the planning stages for my next round of appearances. Check back soon and I’ll have more to share there about that.

* Also on the promotion front, I’m participating in some new Q&As about my crazy trip in the world of book publishing, so I’ll be sharing those as soon as they pop up.

* And now that we’re moving into the cooling air I’m putting the finishing touches on Crossline before I pass it along to my editor extraordinaire, so I’ll be making the hand-off by the end of the month. After that, I’ll finalize the manuscript, get that ready for publication, and then move onto book No. 3.

That’s all she wrote for this edition. Stay tuned for regular updates, be sure to check out my new Web site, and who knows? I may just have another awesome announcement to make before too long …

All the Best!

Russ

 

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

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

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